Sati1 wrote:It is commonly said that this is a degenerate time for the teachings of the Buddha. Nevertheless, I see plenty of reasons to actually consider this a bright time for those who have a potential interest in finding a deeper meaning to life and eventually embark on the path:
Sati1 wrote:1-teachings about almost any topic are available for free online as PDFs in English
Sati1 wrote:2-other followers can be contacted from anywhere in the world, as in this forum
3-lessons can be learned anywhere in the world from highly qualified teachers, as on Dharmaseed or Buddhist Geeks
Sati1 wrote:4-with the advent of machines, robots, computers and the internet, new time is made available in one's day-to-day life for practice (eg with washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners and online shopping)
Sati1 wrote:5-with better medical care, including painkillers, people who would previously not be able to practice due to illness and intense pain can now practice
Sati1 wrote:I understand that there are some obstacles that this time also presents, such as more distractions and the spread of materialism, Christianity and oppressive regimes in some parts of the world. Still it seems to me that for anybody who has that initial interest to find out more about "what life is all about" there could not be a better time in human history than now.
As Western technology and its offshoot, the consumerist culture, spread to the far corners of the world, the breakdown of meaning and the sense of self-alienation became endemic to many lands, and today this sense of meaninglessness has reached a truly global scale. The culture of narcissism, which exalts the reckless quest for self-aggrandizement, has spread its tentacles everywhere, leaving behind the same debris: agitated minds and hollow lives. Bent on quick and easy gratification, we pass our lives perpetually shadowed by a fear that all our achievements are worthless, unable to deliver any deep and stable satisfaction. And when this fear reveals itself, the abyss opens up, the realization that we have wasted our lives in the pursuit of empty dreams. Thus the high incidence of mental illness, drug dependence, alcoholism, and suicide, particularly in the more affluent parts of the world.
It is a telling sign that despite the impressive achievements of science and technology, a culture built on mere mastery over external nature is far from successful in meeting the deep demands of the human spirit. For those adrift in the sea of meaninglessness, the Buddha's teaching offers a sense of meaning stemming from a profound spiritual tradition that combines metaphysical depth with psychological astuteness and the highest ethical standards. Without calling for blind faith in dogmatic creeds or speculative postulates, the Buddha points directly to the invariable universal laws that underlie happiness and suffering. He insists that we can discover these laws for ourselves, simply by clear reflection on our own immediate experience, and he offers us methods of practice by which we can gradually dig up the buried roots of suffering and cultivate the causes culminating in the highest happiness...........................
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