Comprehensive Teachings of Buddha
The text of the book is based on teachings given by His Holiness The Dalai Lama in London in 1996. The theme of the teachings in the book is the four noble truths which is the foundation of all Buddha teachings. His Holiness presents a comprehensive explanation of the subject. His teachings on the four noble truth have been edited and presented here in a new context to helo the reader appreciate the rich cultural heritage of Tibetan Budhism. These four noble truths are the very foundation of the Budhist teachings. His Holiness opines that in order to develop a comprehensive understanding of the four noble truths, it is also necessary to be familiar with the truths, conventional or relative truth and ultimate truth.
According to His Holiness, these four truths provide an understanding of the relationship between causes and their effects. The first of the four noble truth is the truth of suffering . Suffering is the ground or basis of painful experience and refers generally to our state of existence as conditioned by karma, delusions and effective emotions. According to Buddhist teachings, there are three realms of existence: the desire realm, the form realm and the formless realm. A person whose mind is indisciplined and untamed is in the state of suffering, whereas whose mind is disciplined and tamed is in a state of Nirvana or ultimate peace. There are three types of sufferings: the suffering of sufferings, the suffering of conditioning and the suffering of change. The sight of a spiritual aspirants is supposed to have made the Buddha fully aware that there is a lot of freedom from the cycle of suffering.
Moving ahead, His Holiness discusses the next truth—the truth of origin of suffering. Effective emotions and thoughts are some other derivative causes and conditions. In this context, he defines Karma as one particular instance of the natural casual laws that operate throughout the universe, where, according to Buddhism, things and events come into being purely as a result of combination of causes and conditions. Karma is an instance of the general law of casualty. An important step in this direction, is to guard our body, speech and mind from engaging in negative actions so that we are not given in to the power and domination of our negative thoughts and emotions. He states that afflictive emotion is our ultimate enemy and a source of suffering.
The third truth, he quotes is the truth of cessation. The key question that arise in this respect is the appropriate understanding of Nirvana, moksha or liberation and the degree of possibility that it can be achieved. Liberation can be inferred through the process of reasoning. In this context, he refers to emptiness which is an absence of the object of negations. It is the process of grasping as an eternal principle or a substantially real soul that binds us to an unenlightened existence. The reason why it is so important to understand this is because of its implications for interpreting our own personal experience of life. Most of our strong emotions arise from assuming the reality of something that is unreal. It is a fact that the power of delusion and of ignorance can be reduced but the most important aspect is as to whether it is at all possible to eliminate it altogether to eradicate it from our minds. An important question arises whether it is or not actually possible to attain liberation.
His Holiness further states that if liberation is to be achieved , it can be achieved only through the further noble truth which deals with the true path. It should be understood in terms of developing a direct interactive realisation of emptiness which leads directly to the attainment of cessation. The experimental knowledge of emptiness must be bases on an intellectual understanding of emptiness developed through inference, without which attainment of a meditatively based experience of emptiness is impossible. It is known as path of accumulation. The threshold of the path is the point where the practitioner develops a genuine aspiration to attain liberation which is considered to be the very beginning of the Buddhist path. For this, the most important practice is that the three higher training: the training of morality, concentration or meditation and wisdom of insight. His Holiness emphasises that compassion is very foundation of Dharma.
His Holiness finally concludes that if ones understanding of the four noble truths arises from deep deflections, then he will gain a profound admiration for the Dharma, which is the true refugee and one will also develop a conviction in the possibility of actualising the Dharma within one self.
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