And actually, actually the Sanskrit word Buddha is so, I think so beautiful. I think that, literally, trying to understand literally would be really helpful actually. What is it that we, people like myself who considered Buddhist, what are we trying to do, what is our aim, what is the aim of a Buddhist. Actually only two things, two qualities, that is all what we are looking for, two qualities. To be awakened, that is one quality. And therefore to be well equipped. These are the two qualities we are looking for.
As some of you know and for those who are new that you can find out Buddhism is a very reason oriented path or a system, whatever you want to call it. I just happened to have this book in my hand. I am not really talking about the book of course. The title I thought was quite catchy. It is written by Amartya Sen, it is called the Argumentative Indians. I like the title very much because I think Buddha was one of the most argumentative. And this spirit of argument and analysis is so crucial for the world in general and specially Buddhism, specially in the modern times.
Buddhism beyond boundaries and time, Nepal 2007
You know how Buddha teaches? When Buddha taught, many of his teachings are seemingly contradictory. For instance, in big chunks like the First Sermon, the Second Sermon, the Third Sermon, they are all seemingly contradictory. And contradiction was never really looked down as something bad. In fact many times the language of contradiction is necessary to express certain things. Like in this case for instance. And I mean forget about different time, different timing of Buddha’s teaching. But even one phrase, I think it is Lankavatara Sutra, Buddha said ??? . In one go, in one line, there is already two contradiction. He said: “Mind, there is no mind, mind is luminous.” So the first line he was referring almost, he was indicating there is something called mind. In the second line, the immediate after that, he is negating the mind. And in the third line, he wasn’t really negating, but he was not also asserting. He was describing a luminosity.
Question: Is there any value in western students making a pilgrimage to Thaktsang or to Bodhgaya?
Yes. Pilgrimage, although it has become very ritual now, sort of devotional, ritual thing. The essence of going to all this pilgrimage is to remind ourself that such beings exist. Not as a hero, not as someone who has done this, did this, but as an example. Even going to places like Hiroshima probably can, even if it is a minute, might remind you how we human beings destroy ourself. It is like that. Going to Kushinagar for instance can remind you that life is impermanent. Even the Buddha himself. Going to places like Saranath can remind you that one of the greatest – I will just wait until that thing pass – one of the greatest thing that has been said in this world was said there. And then it might invoke a little interest, what did he say. Know the suffering, abandon the cause of suffering, and so on and so on. So important to remind ourself. I mean of course if you are a good practitioner you don’t need these things. But I think one should help ourself with all kinds of help. Even it requires some kind of gross reminder like a holy land mountains, trees, whatever you know. It is like keeping the nostalgia, that is the word I was looking for. Nostalgia can open a door to many things. Nostalgia can be a fuel for creativity. Here we are talking about nostalgia of an enlighten being. And that may trigger the creativity in the sense of really valuing the Dharma, spiritual path. And seeing the futility of this worldly life.
Then rejoicing. This is a very good one. Rejoicing. Method of rejoicing other people good deeds is really like a merit up for grab. Basically we just look at somebody doing good and rejoice.
Buddha said, even if you cut all the mountains and put it in one scale and merit of rejoicing somebodies good deed, if you put on the other scale, if you scale them, the merit of the rejoice is bigger. Buddha himself said this. And not only rejoicing good deed but also the result of the good deed, if you see somebody having nice time. If you see somebody who is really good looking or somebody who is talented with something, that you have always wanted to. Instead of being envious, rejoice. This is really one of the easiest way of accumulating merit. And one of the biggest problems we have is jealousy isn’t it. Jealousy, all the other emotions have some kind of benefit but the jealousy not only does it have any benefit it is really, really, it is a loser emotion. In order to counter the jealousy, rejoicing.
In fact, bluntly speaking, when a Mahayana bodhisattva is taking refuge, not like all the other practitioners, who will take refuge to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha to protect them from samsara only. Mahayana bodhisattvas they take refuge to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha to protect them from both, samsara and nirvana.