Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

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Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Postby SamKR » Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:54 pm

Can we safely say that Malunkyaputta Sutta and Bahiya Sutta represent the most direct -- and the briefest -- essence or core of the high-level-teachings of the Buddha that could be practiced to realize nibbana?

Both Malunkyaputta and Bahiya were old and they had not much time left. Both were in a rush to know and practice Dhamma.
In both cases the Buddha taught in brief. Malunkyaputta even asked the Buddha to teach Dhamma in brief.
In both cases the students became Arahants after practicing:

"Then, Malunkyaputta, with regard to phenomena to be seen, heard, sensed, or cognized: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Malunkyaputta, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."


"Then, Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."
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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:58 pm

Good question, Sam,

Here is some previous discussion that may be helpful:
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=8361

:anjali:
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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings

Postby SamKR » Sat Apr 13, 2013 6:51 pm

Thank you, Mike for the link.
But the question is still there. These suttas seem to be the actual "meditation" instructions, and they are, of course, in line with MahaSatipatthana Sutta.
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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings

Postby daverupa » Sat Apr 13, 2013 6:59 pm

SamKR wrote:high-level-teachings


This is an odd partition. What is the context within which it is being made?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings

Postby Zom » Sat Apr 13, 2013 7:02 pm

Read MN 64 for full mediation instructions for Malunkyaputta.
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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings

Postby SamKR » Sat Apr 13, 2013 7:12 pm

daverupa wrote:
SamKR wrote:high-level-teachings


This is an odd partition. What is the context within which it is being made?

Perhaps. Maybe it's just my view that the Buddha's teaching can be categorized into common Dhamma-teachings (Sila, Samadhi -- already available at or before the Buddha's times -- which the Buddha "refined" perhaps), and higher-level teachings (related to Panna that was taught only by the Buddha). I could be wrong, and would like to be corrected. :)
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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings

Postby SamKR » Sat Apr 13, 2013 7:16 pm

Zom wrote:Read MN 64 for full mediation instructions for Malunkyaputta.

Thanks, Zom. When I searched MN 64 I found this: http://www.vipassana.info/064-maha-malu ... tta-e1.htm
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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings

Postby SamKR » Sun Apr 14, 2013 12:54 am

Still, Ven. Malunkyaputta (if he is the same person in both suttas MahaMaalunkyaputta Sutta and Malunkyaputta Sutta) becomes arahant after hearing the latter brief discourse.
But I find MahaMaalunkyaputta a great sutta -- teaching insight within jhana. I believe I had not read it before.
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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Postby Digity » Sun Apr 14, 2013 2:51 am

If these teachings alone were enough to liberate everyone it's all the Buddha would teach...but it's clear that the Buddha didn't teach just this. The Buddha tailored his teachings to his audience and the circumstance. I don't think these teachings would have worked for everyone. Others might have been too caught up with the idea of a "self" that teaching them this would make them shake there heads and not listen to the Buddha.

Although, I do think these teachings touch at the core of what the Buddha taught. That through mindfulness we can see the true nature of things and through that one sees seeing as just seeing...instead of all the stuff we layer on top of it through our greed, desires, etc. When I look at something attractive desire arises, a sense of suffering arises too if I can't get the thing I'm attracted too...then a whole causal chain of emotions, feels, etc. It could lead one into a frenzy if they lack control. To be disciplined enough to really see seeing as just seeing, hearing as just hearing and so forth seems to require, at least from what I can tell, a pretty disciplined mind that's well trained in concentration and mindfulness. In that sense, the teaching is challenging, because that training isn't easy.

So yes, I do think this teaching touches at the core, because it touches on dependant origination and that's truly one of the core concepts in the Buddha's teachings. It's through the senses and the causal chain that we're bound to suffering and it's only through relinquishment that we free ourselves. That's what the Buddha is getting at when he says see seeing as seeing, hearing as hearing, etc.
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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:04 am

I think the traditional way of practice is to develop the jhānas first, then insight, but the teaching of bare-awareness was given to individuals who wanted to develop insight in the shortest possible time.

The Elder Poṭhila (empty-headed Poṭhila) had been teaching the Dhamma to others and was a well-respected teacher with hundreds of disciples, many of whom were Arahants.

Bahiya was an experienced ship's captain who had been ship-wrecked, and was the only one to escape with his life. He then travelled right across India to meet the Buddha after hearing about his Enlightenment.

Mālukyaputta was already 80 years of age when he ordained.

All of them would have had a great sense of urgency to gain insight, due to not expecting to live for much longer.

Nowadays, many who take up meditation practice have limited time available for practice. They must earn a living and look after their families, or if they are young, they may be pursuing University degrees with a view to having good career prospects. There are few who are able or willing to renounce and become monks or nuns.

Even among monastics, many of us feel the need to study and teach to preserve the true Dhamma before the practical knowledge of insight meditation is lost.

The Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw taught the Mālukyaputta Sutta repeatedly and in many places. The practice of bare awareness is the most vital teaching for those who have limited time to devote to meditation. Others may have more time to develop samatha practices before proceeding to vipassanā.
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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Postby Digity » Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:14 am

*edit*...ignore question
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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Postby polarbuddha101 » Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:59 am

I think the 4 noble truths represent the core of the Buddha's teachings, because the whole path is essential.

Ven. Sariputta said: "Friends, just as the footprints of all legged animals are encompassed by the footprint of the elephant, and the elephant's footprint is reckoned the foremost among them in terms of size; in the same way, all skillful qualities are gathered under the four noble truths. Under which four? Under the noble truth of stress, under the noble truth of the origination of stress, under the noble truth of the cessation of stress, and under the noble truth of the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


As far as the concise teachings given to Bahiya and Malunkyaputta, they were ripe for that teaching. I not sure where that story about Bahiya being a ship's captain comes from but the suttas say he was an ascetic who lived near the sea who was revered, honored, worshipped, and he thought he might've been an arahant. Apparently he was one of those ascetics who made his clothes out of bark.

And Malunkyaputta went off for a while just like most of the other bhikkhu's who become arahants in the suttas so what's to say he didn't do jhana?

Then Ven. Malunkyaputta, having been admonished by the admonishment from the Blessed One, got up from his seat and bowed down to the Blessed One, circled around him, keeping the Blessed One to his right side, and left. Then, dwelling alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, & resolute, he in no long time reached & remained in the supreme goal of the holy life for which clansmen rightly go forth from home into homelessness, knowing & realizing it for himself in the here & now. He knew: "Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world." And thus Ven. Malunkyaputta became another one of the arahants.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī at Jeta's Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery. And on that occasion Bāhiya of the Bark-cloth was living in Suppāraka by the seashore. He was worshipped, revered, honored, venerated, and given homage — a recipient of robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites for the sick. Then, when he was alone in seclusion, this line of thinking appeared to his awareness: "Now, of those who in this world are arahants or have entered the path of arahantship, am I one?"

Then a devatā who had once been a blood relative of Bāhiya of the Bark-cloth — compassionate, desiring his welfare, knowing with her own awareness the line of thinking that had arisen in his awareness — went to him and on arrival said to him, "You, Bāhiya, are neither an arahant nor have you entered the path of arahantship. You don't even have the practice whereby you would become an arahant or enter the path of arahantship."

"Then who, in this world with its devas, are arahants or have entered the path to arahantship?"

"Bāhiya, there is a city in the northern country named Sāvatthī. There the Blessed One — an arahant, rightly self-awakened — is living now. He truly is an arahant and teaches the Dhamma leading to arahantship."

Then Bāhiya, deeply chastened by the devatā, left Suppāraka right then and, in the space of one night,[1] went all the way to where the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī at Jeta's Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery. Now on that occasion, a large number of monks were doing walking meditation in the open air. He went to them and, on arrival, said, "Where, venerable sirs, is the Blessed One — the arahant, rightly self-awakened — now staying? We want to see that Blessed One — the arahant, rightly self-awakened."

"The Blessed One has gone into town for alms."

Then Bāhiya, hurriedly leaving Jeta's Grove and entering Sāvatthī, saw the Blessed One going for alms in Sāvatthī — serene & inspiring serene confidence, calming, his senses at peace, his mind at peace, having attained the utmost tranquility & poise, tamed, guarded, his senses restrained, a Great One (nāga). Seeing him, he approached the Blessed One and, on reaching him, threw himself down, with his head at the Blessed One's feet, and said, "Teach me the Dhamma, O Blessed One! Teach me the Dhamma, O One-Well-Gone, that will be for my long-term welfare & bliss."

When this was said, the Blessed One said to him, "This is not the time, Bāhiya. We have entered the town for alms."

A second time, Bāhiya said to the Blessed One, "But it is hard to know for sure what dangers there may be for the Blessed One's life, or what dangers there may be for mine. Teach me the Dhamma, O Blessed One! Teach me the Dhamma, O One-Well-Gone, that will be for my long-term welfare & bliss."

A second time, the Blessed One said to him, "This is not the time, Bāhiya. We have entered the town for alms."

A third time, Bāhiya said to the Blessed One, "But it is hard to know for sure what dangers there may be for the Blessed One's life, or what dangers there may be for mine. Teach me the Dhamma, O Blessed One! Teach me the Dhamma, O One-Well-Gone, that will be for my long-term welfare & bliss."

"Then, Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."[2]

Through hearing this brief explanation of the Dhamma from the Blessed One, the mind of Bāhiya of the Bark-cloth right then and there was released from effluents through lack of clinging/sustenance. Having exhorted Bāhiya of the Bark-cloth with this brief explanation of the Dhamma, the Blessed One left.

Now, not long after the Blessed One's departure, Bāhiya was attacked & killed by a cow with a young calf. Then the Blessed One, having gone for alms in Sāvatthī, after the meal, returning from his alms round with a large number of monks, saw that Bāhiya had died. On seeing him, he said to the monks, "Take Bāhiya's body, monks, and, placing it on a litter and carrying it away, cremate it and build him a memorial. Your companion in the holy life has died."

Responding, "As you say, lord," to the Blessed One, the monks — placing Bāhiya's body on a litter, carrying it away, cremating it, and building him a memorial — went to the Blessed One. On arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As they were sitting there, they said to him, "Bāhiya's body has been cremated, lord, and his memorial has been built. What is his destination? What is his future state?"

"Monks, Bāhiya of the Bark-cloth was wise. He practiced the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma and did not pester me with issues related to the Dhamma. Bāhiya of the Bark-cloth, monks, is totally unbound."

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:


Where water, earth,
fire, & wind
have no footing:
There the stars don't shine,
the sun isn't visible.
There the moon doesn't appear.
There darkness is not found.
And when a sage,
a brahman through sagacity,
has realized [this] for himself,
then from form & formless,
from bliss & pain,
he is freed.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Anyway, definitely good teachings to keep in mind but you can't separate them from the rest of the path. But yeah, they are just about the briefest teachings and they do teach the core of how to become liberated which is to not grasp at anything in experience, just let the seen be the seen etc., and just let experience flow right by without accumulating dukkha or getting caught up in anything that happens.

:namaste:
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"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Postby ground » Sun Apr 14, 2013 4:21 am

SamKR wrote:Can we safely say that Malunkyaputta Sutta and Bahiya Sutta represent the most direct -- and the briefest -- essence or core of the high-level-teachings of the Buddha that could be practiced to realize nibbana?

If you practiced it and realized you might say this. :sage:
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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Postby Samma » Sun Apr 14, 2013 4:26 am

A summary of the gradual path:
Thus in this way, Ananda, skillful virtues have freedom from remorse as their purpose, freedom from remorse as their reward. Freedom from remorse has joy as its purpose, joy as its reward. Joy has rapture as its purpose, rapture as its reward. Rapture has serenity as its purpose, serenity as its reward. Serenity has pleasure as its purpose, pleasure as its reward. Pleasure has concentration as its purpose, concentration as its reward. Concentration has knowledge & vision of things as they actually are as its purpose, knowledge & vision of things as they actually are as its reward. Knowledge & vision of things as they actually are has disenchantment as its purpose, disenchantment as its reward. Disenchantment has dispassion as its purpose, dispassion as its reward. Dispassion has knowledge & vision of release as its purpose, knowledge & vision of release as its reward. In this way, Ananda, skillful virtues lead step-by-step to the consummation of arahantship.


Thanissaro notes the Bahiya story as essentially one of dispassion towards the senses.
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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Apr 14, 2013 4:31 am

Greetings Sam,

SamKR wrote:Can we safely say that Malunkyaputta Sutta and Bahiya Sutta represent the most direct -- and the briefest -- essence or core of the high-level-teachings of the Buddha that could be practiced to realize nibbana?

I don't think you can generalise, as it's about what works for the individual. Hence the Buddha had to teach the Dhamma in different ways to different people.

Someone might be able to grasp the intended meaning of brief teaching, but then there will be others who will ask "But what does that look like in practice?", "What does that mean?", "But what do I actually do?", "But what if x?" etc. and by the time those questions are answered, it's once again not a brief teaching... it's just another drawn-out explanation to go with the many that already exist.

If a particular teaching (whether brief or expanded) works for you, then great.

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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:01 am

retrofuturist wrote:I don't think you can generalise, as it's about what works for the individual. Hence the Buddha had to teach the Dhamma in different ways to different people.


:goodpost:

See also: viewtopic.php?f=44&t=16744

I think there is a tendency for some of us to want to find the one most essential teaching or practice, to simplify, to get to the heart of the matter / practice and just work on that. Different personalities, temperaments have different techniques that work for them, according to the teachings (especially in the Abhidhamma and Commentaries).

If we expand that further, as Theravadins, we can say that some will make better progress using Mahayana teachings and practices, based on their personalities and therefore, both Theravadins and Mahayanists are on the path or direction of enlightenment (without necessarily saying something New Agey like 'all paths lead to the same mountaintop').
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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Postby cooran » Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:35 am

Hello all,

About Bahiya:

http://archive.thebuddhadharma.com/issu ... grees.html

With metta
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---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Postby SamKR » Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:41 am

Thank you everyone for your replies. It is not necessarily my view that these suttas are the essential core of the Buddha's teachings. And with everyone's replies I am now even lesser inclined to have that view. :) But they are so great, aren't they? And may work for many people.

I agree with Retro and David that we cannot generalize and different teachings/suttas may be suitable for different people. Similarly, considering Jhana vs. Insight, we can say both may be necessary in different proportions for different people. I agree with Digity's post too.
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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Postby SamKR » Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:53 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:
As far as the concise teachings given to Bahiya and Malunkyaputta, they were ripe for that teaching.

That's interesting. What makes anyone "ripe" or fit for that teaching? Most probably Buddha Knew that for Bahiya and Malunkyaputta that particular teaching would work. But now we are in the time when we can't talk to a Buddha directly. Then how to know at what level or when we should start practicing this brief, direct and powerful teaching (ie, seen in reference to the seen...)?

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote: The practice of bare awareness is the most vital teaching for those who have limited time to devote to meditation. Others may have more time to develop samatha practices before proceeding to vipassanā.

I like Bhante's point too. We also may have limited time as did Bahiya and Malunkyaputta.
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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Postby reflection » Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:09 am

The core teachings of the Buddha to realize nibbana is not jhana, it is not vipassana, it is not bare awareness, it's not mindfulness. It is the 8-fold path. This path we see again and again in the suttas and I think we should read each sutta in this light, not pick out one and make it into something special. This is just like the erroneous translation of a part in the satipatthana sutta "this is the only path .. for the realization of nibbana". No, it's not the only path, the 8-fold path is the only path.

So this sutta must explain some part of the path that the Buddha taught was suitable to point out to those persons. It contains no secret shortcut to nibbana or the Buddha would have taught this way to everybody. In the end those students -if they indeed became enlightened- must also have walked the entire path.
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