Which Buddhism is the Correct Buddhism?

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Which Buddhism is the Correct Buddhism?

Postby smiley.face » Sat Jul 30, 2011 10:25 pm

First, I am new to Buddhism. Second, I apologize if I seem frank. I am not trying to be rude. Rather, this is the best way I know on how to phrase discussion and get back results.

The first part of the Noble Eightfold Path says that we must have right (correct) understanding.

I have been trying to understand Buddhism and have arrived at two possible conclusions.

Buddhism seems, most logically, to be a methodology of detachment. The world is suffering. Thus, to alive our suffering, we must detach from it as suffering arises from our cravings.

However, I am perplexed. Why then do some people define Buddhism as non-attachment rather than detachment? And, are not the two different goals, two different methodologies, with different destinations?

Detachment would declare this world illusion. Thus, ultimate Nirvana would be to 'rise above' or 'go beyond' this world. We must let go of both forms of craving, aversion and attachment. Only then do we no longer bind ourselves to the realms of time and space.

However, others seem to say that Buddhism is a journey to the present. That our goal is not to deny ourselves this world. But rather that we are to find 'enlightenment in the moment.' To more or less love the world and accept the world as it is, including its faults.

That a glass that in the future shows its impermanence by falling of the table and breaking. One still appreciates the glass in the moment even though we know it is not permanent.

To me, these ideas seem contradictory in both their destination and their practices. As such, what is Buddhism?

Option A:
We are to neither attach ourselves to or avert ourselves from the universe of time and space (the illusion.) Instead, we are to let it melt away and then we move on to a state of being that is beyond desire and its illusory worlds. It is when we become supremely indifferent to everything of the illusion that we truly unhook ourselves from this wheel of suffering.

Option B:
Enlightenment is in the moment and we are to learn to love things as they are where we are. Everything else is the illusion as it is just us projecting our goals (desires) onto the future.

Option A says Option B is incorrect as Option B is falling in love with the illusion.
Option B says Option A is incorrect as Option A is attaching oneself to the desire of achieving enlightenment. It is averting the world as it is and longing instead for a state of being it hopes to achieve in the future.

Which Buddhism is the real Buddhism? As many documentaries and articles I have been reading have been, in more or less words, promoting Option A and Option B separately. It seems to me one of the two perspectives has a misguided idea of Buddhism.

It seems some also phrase this as detachment vs compassion. This is still very confusing to me. As if the goal is to detach, how then do we have compassion?

Some say that the goal is not total detachment, but only detaching from desire.

Yet, this still confuses me. As the goal clearly seems to me to be the breaking of the reincarnation cycle. This is the goal because this world is seen as suffering and we must break our attachments to it so that we are not born here again after we die.

How then do we care for the world, if our goal is to leave it and never come back to it again?

Buddhavistas are those who pretty much reach enlightenment but do not go all the way. They stay back to help others find the way. Perhaps this is the perfect balance of detachment and compassion. Yet, it bars them from their own reward until all have found it too. And that could take thousands of years. Many in this world aren't even looking for Nirvana. Are we expected to wait for all of them?

This is seen as noble in some Buddhist traditions. However, is this necessary? The Buddha himself, as far as I can tell, did not do this.

The Buddha saw formalizing a teaching, a path to enlightenment, as well enough. He spent the remainder of his life teaching his teaching and creating his monastery. His disciples then continue teaching his teaching after his death. After his death, the Buddha went on to Nirvana and did not stay behind to help others get there.

I think he was wise to not deny himself his reward, and rather realize that those who also want it are those who care to learn from his teachings and fallow the path he created.

If the goal is really to detach from the world, as it appears to be; then how can compassion (beyond teaching Buddha's teaching in the time we have left in this life) really be seen as a good thing? It appears to me to be exactly what Buddhism is trying to unhook, not promote. For, if we love this world and those in it, how then are we to leave it and them?

Another way of looking at this, I was raised Christian. I had to have a gut-check that I won't be going to the same place my family will be after death. They will either reincarnate on Earth or on some 'heavenly' realm that is still part of time and space, still part of the illusion and of the suffering; of desire and of craving.

Many talk about freedom to fallow our own desires. Others talk about freedom to fallow the will (the desire) of the Christian God. Buddhism is different because it teaches us to have true freedom; freedom from desire.

In seeking freedom from desire, my goal is a place (state of being) without desire and without suffering. That is not where my family is trying to go. I will, if I succeed in my goal, go somewhere different than they.

How is it that I am to wait for them? Wait for them and a large chunk of the world that isn't even seeking Nirvana? Rather, they are seeking the exact opposite.

Better that I find my way to Nirvana and leave the teaching to them should they seek to find it also. I am not my brother's keeper. It is not my duty to make sure everyone fallows the path; only that I fallow it and that it is open to those who also desire the same goal.

Compassion beyond caring to keep Buddha's path open seems trivial, pointless, and contradictory to Buddha's teachings.

But what of war? What of abortion? What of death and theft?

What of it?

This world, and all within it, are impermanent. Suffering binds those who are causing it to stay here. Better they understand that sooner than later so that they can eventually turn from their cruel ways and abandon this world as well.

My interfering in the world's suffering, as far as I can tell, only achieves two things.

1: It attaches me to the world that it is my goal to detach from.
2: It shields those causing suffering from the natural karmic reaction to their own actions.

Thus

1: I am acting counterproductive and getting in the way of my own enlightenment.
2: I am enabling suffering in the world; and acting as an enabler for others to attach to the world and get in the way of themselves reaching enlightenment.

If I am completely off the mark, please tell me. For I would honestly like to know.

I will try to list my questions in pieces also; in hopes that doing so will make them easier to answer.

1: How do Buddhists reconcile detachment and compassion?

2: Is the goal of Buddhism to reach a state of being beyond the illusion (world of time, space, and suffering) or is it to find contentment within the illusion that comes from realizing that the illusion is an illusion?

3: If the goal is to detach and go to a state of being beyond this world and its suffering, doesn't having compassion for the world fetter us to it? The Buddha himself left his wife and son to seek enlightenment. Does this not indicate that enlightenment is the priority and everything else second if counted at all?

4: Some seem to see Bodhisatta, if I am understanding the term correctly, as an idea to aspire to as they deny themselves from breaking the reincarnation cycle to stay back and help others reach enlightenment. But the Buddha himself goes on to Nirvana. If the station of Bodhisatta is necessary, why then did the Buddha not exemplify it?

5: Or is it not necessary but rather something some Buddhists still feel compelled to do out of compassion? If so, is this not compassion holding them back from their goal? The very goal that the Buddha achieved.

6: It seems that reaching Nirvana, achieving enlightenment, is an individual goal. Buddha achieved it, then created the formalized teaching so that others could fallow and achieve it also. It seems that the Buddha demonstrated compassion by teaching the teaching. It is the teaching that leads to salvation from suffering as it allows us all to detach from the world that is suffering. Does not compassion beyond teaching the teaching only attach us to this world? Why should we wait for everyone to fallow when the path is open if they want to fallow?

7: Does not compassion enable suffering? If someone is about to hurt themselves, they are about to learn that there is a reaction to what they do. By interfering; it seems I am doing two things. One, shielding the person from the lesson they are about to teach themselves. Two, acting out of attachment by caring for them and their suffering. This further binds myself to them, their suffering, and thus this world. Is it not wiser to let them teach themselves and detach myself while I continue on my journey?

8: Is compassion in Buddhism really something the Buddha teaches? Or is this a misunderstanding of his teachings that were added in long after his death? In all fairness I have only read the Dhammapada once. But almost all of it is about how foolish it is to have cravings, desires, and attachments. I don't remember reading anything about compassion for others outside of teaching the teaching. Perhaps I should read the book again.

9: Many Buddhists write about compassion. Does the Buddha? I don't dispute the four noble truths or the eightfold path. Rather, I have yet to read any work from Buddha that would suggest that compassion is a teaching of his. It seems he wrote a lot. Should I look outside the Dhammapada for this answer?

10: If so, which text of the Buddha teaches compassion and logically integrates it with the goals of detachment? They seem such polar and apposite ideas and goals. I don't know how to reconcile them.

Thank you.
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Re: Which Buddhism is the Correct Buddhism?

Postby Ben » Sat Jul 30, 2011 11:38 pm

smiley.face wrote:I apologize if I seem frank.

Hi Frank!

smiley.face wrote:Rather, this is the best way I know on how to phrase discussion and get back results.

Too many questions and its a bit much to expect our members will read everything you've written and attempt to disentangle your confusion.

smiley.face wrote:Buddhavistas are those who pretty much reach enlightenment but do not go all the way.

The word is Bodhisatta (Pali) or Bodhisatva (Sanskrit)

smiley.face wrote:What of it?

I don't know what you've been reading but you seem to have a patchy and poor grasp of the Buddha Dhamma. I suggest you return to foundation material and continue to read for awhile. Keeping in mind that you don't need to understand everything intellectually before you continue on the path.

The Noble Eightfold Path: the way to the end of suffering by Bhikkhu Bodhi
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... toend.html

We also have a pinned topic in the Discovering Theravada forum of introductory resources. Avail yourself of that.
Having read that material you may then wish to think about practice, that is sila (morality), samadhi (developing concentration/self mastery) and panna (insight, wisdom, actualization)
All the best

Ben
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Re: Which Buddhism is the Correct Buddhism?

Postby santa100 » Sun Jul 31, 2011 5:42 am

"Why then do some people define Buddhism as non-attachment rather than detachment?"


I think you pretty much answered your own question with your statement below:

"We must let go of both forms of craving, aversion and attachment"

Basically that'd mean letting go of even one's attachment to the detachment, thus "non-attachment" is the chosen word, not "detachment". If one really wants to be thorough, one can go even further and say: non-attachment to even the non-attachment.

"It is when we become supremely indifferent to everything of the illusion that we truly unhook ourselves from this wheel of suffering."

"Indifferent" might not be the correct word to use. The Enlightened One has both compassion (for those who suffer) and non-attachment (to greed, anger, delusion...). These 2 are not conflicting terms. They are both virtues of the Enlightened One. In fact, compassion with some kind of attachment is not true compassion.Ex: if you're helping a beautiful woman because you're attached to her beauty, then it's not really compassionate work.

"Option A says Option B is incorrect as Option B is falling in love with the illusion.
Option B says Option A is incorrect as Option A is attaching oneself to the desire of achieving enlightenment. It is averting the world as it is and longing instead for a state of being it hopes to achieve in the future"

They are not conflicting options at all if you closely investigate each one. The real message of "Option B" is to encourage mindfulness in the present moment and not letting the mind wandering back to the past or jump into the future. This is a realistic and effective approach that is crucial for one's training. How could that be associated with "falling in love with the illusion"? Similarly, what "Option A" really means to say is to encourage a healthy desire to strive for and perfecting virtues, meditation, wisdom,etc. all the required conditions to reach the final state of Nibbana, only until then can one afford to let go of all desires, good and bad. You gotto have some desire for the desireless, else you're not going anywhere.

So, which Buddhism is the real Buddhism?

Well, none and both. None, is because they're both skillful means to the end, but not the end itself. Both, because either one can get you to the final goal.

About the Bodhisattas, the term means sentient being who's working toward supreme enlightenment. I don't think they already achieved supreme enlightenment and then go back to help people. All the compassionate work they're doing are part of the training toward the final goal of Nibbana, the perfection of virtues and wisdom. This is not an easy goal. It takes enormous amount of energy, dedication, AND TIME. The Buddha in countless and countless lives before enlightenment, he was also an "unenlightened Bodhisatta". So, before one wants to "stay behind" or "graduate", he or she pretty much has to do the same thing for the same end goal: put in tons of effort AND time.

There's a huge different between writing or talking about compassion versus living compassion. The Buddha not only taught compassion but lived it every single moment of His life. He truely lead by example.

Using logic and analysis, reading more suttas (ref: www.accesstoinsight.org), and spending time with meditation will eventually shed light to the rest of the inquiries. Good luck..
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Re: Which Buddhism is the Correct Buddhism?

Postby David2 » Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:09 am

I will try to answer your questions, smileyface.

1: How do Buddhists reconcile detachment and compassion?

Real compassion is without expectations and attachments.

2: Is the goal of Buddhism to reach a state of being beyond the illusion (world of time, space, and suffering) or is it to find contentment within the illusion that comes from realizing that the illusion is an illusion?

The goal is to go beyond the illusion and get to see things as they really are which is called wisdom. The goal is to end suffering.

3: If the goal is to detach and go to a state of being beyond this world and its suffering, doesn't having compassion for the world fetter us to it?

No, compassion is completely without attachments.

The Buddha himself left his wife and son to seek enlightenment. Does this not indicate that enlightenment is the priority and everything else second if counted at all?

Of course, enlightenment is the priority. But leaving his familiy was probably also the best for the Buddha's family: Rahula became a monk and Yasodhara a nun.

4: Some seem to see Bodhisatta, if I am understanding the term correctly, as an idea to aspire to as they deny themselves from breaking the reincarnation cycle to stay back and help others reach enlightenment. But the Buddha himself goes on to Nirvana. If the station of Bodhisatta is necessary, why then did the Buddha not exemplify it?

The Bodhisattva is not a Theravada teaching, it is a Mahayana teaching.
You could visit the Mahayana forum www.dharmawheel.net to ask about the Bodhisattva concept.

5: Or is it not necessary but rather something some Buddhists still feel compelled to do out of compassion? If so, is this not compassion holding them back from their goal? The very goal that the Buddha achieved.

See above.

6: Does not compassion beyond teaching the teaching only attach us to this world? Why should we wait for everyone to fallow when the path is open if they want to fallow?

See above. Compassion is free of attachments. We don't have to wait for anyone. But teaching the Dhamma can be a way of getting deeper into it yourself and practising compassion at the same time.

7: Does not compassion enable suffering? If someone is about to hurt themselves, they are about to learn that there is a reaction to what they do. By interfering; it seems I am doing two things. One, shielding the person from the lesson they are about to teach themselves. Two, acting out of attachment by caring for them and their suffering. This further binds myself to them, their suffering, and thus this world. Is it not wiser to let them teach themselves and detach myself while I continue on my journey?

See above. Compassion does not lead to suffering.

8: Is compassion in Buddhism really something the Buddha teaches?

Yes, there a many places in the Pali canon where he teaches it.

9: Many Buddhists write about compassion. Does the Buddha? I don't dispute the four noble truths or the eightfold path. Rather, I have yet to read any work from Buddha that would suggest that compassion is a teaching of his. It seems he wrote a lot. Should I look outside the Dhammapada for this answer?

Yes, also look outside of the books. Look inside yourself. If there is compassion, it is more peaceful and detached than if there is no compassion. It begins with the compassion with yourself.

10: If so, which text of the Buddha teaches compassion and logically integrates it with the goals of detachment? They seem such polar and apposite ideas and goals. I don't know how to reconcile them.

See above. Compassion is free of expectations, so how can there be attachments?
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Re: Which Buddhism is the Correct Buddhism?

Postby Dan74 » Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:14 am

Hi smiley.face

I haven't read all of your post but I think your initial questions are good ones. The confusion comes from a common misunderstanding of the purpose of Buddhist practice, I think.

For instance detachment is really about equanimity - an attitude of clear-seeing that is impossible if one is tossed about on the see of gain and loss, possessed by cravings and fears, chasing success and fame, etc. This is precisely what makes truly compassionate action possible - when it's not about my wants, my ideas, my self-image, but rather acting appropriately to each situation.

This is truly being in the moment - see each moment with eyes not obscured by greed, hatred and ignorance, as it is. The world is quite a different place when seen like this.

The Buddha's teachings on detachment and the unsatisfactoriness of the world (dukkha) are meant to help us cultivate this equanimity - they are an antidote to the clinging, to intoxication with the world. But like all of the Buddha's teachings, they are a medicine one stops taking once one is cured, a raft one puts down when the other shore is reached. So they are not fixed positions but means to an end.

Buddhism is really a practice rather than a philosophical system and many misunderstandings arise from a failure to appreciate this fact. As one practices, the teachings and their purpose become clearer because we experience these states and learn to live with more equanimity and compassion, less invested in me and mine.

This is my take of course and other people may disagree.

All the best!

PS I wrote my reply before seeing the ones above so we may be repeating ourselves.
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Re: Which Buddhism is the Correct Buddhism?

Postby dhammapal » Sun Jul 31, 2011 12:17 pm

M O'C Walshe wrote:The Buddhist doctrine of anatta or 'not self' is a difficult one even for some Buddhists to grasp, but if we think of it in the ethical sense of utter selflessness we can see its practical application. True 'detachment'... means being 'detached' not from other people's problems and sorrows (or indeed from those of the various other beings with which we share this life on earth), but from our own worldly impulses: sense-desires, greed for power and influence and self-assertion, anger and hatred. It is not only not incompatible with 'love': it is in fact the only way in which real love – loving one's neighbor as oneself – can find full expression.
From: Buddhism and Christianity: a positive approach by M O'C. Walshe, Wheel 275/276, Buddhist Publication Society


With metta / dhammapal.
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Re: Which Buddhism is the Correct Buddhism?

Postby smiley.face » Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:22 pm

Thank you all very much. Your explanations have been helpful in understanding Buddhism. I am not sure if I could ever be a Buddhist, but nonetheless the information was very valuable and helped clear up misconceptions. Thank you.
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Re: Which Buddhism is the Correct Buddhism?

Postby unspoken » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:55 pm

Buddhist is just a name for you to use so that other religions won't try to convert you haha!

Lead a heedful life and cultivate your own mind, is the true quality we want. Doesn't matter if you are or you are not a buddhist
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Re: Which Buddhism is the Correct Buddhism?

Postby Dhammakid » Sat Aug 20, 2011 9:49 pm

David2 wrote:The Bodhisattva is not a Theravada teaching, it is a Mahayana teaching.


This is not true.

The Bodhisattva Ideal in Buddhism by Venerable Dr. Walpola Rahula
http://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebdha126.htm

Ven. Dr. W. Rahula wrote:"There is a wide-spread belief, particularly in the West, that the ideal of the Theravada, which they conveniently identify with Hinayana, is to become an Arahant while that of the Mahayana is to become a Bodhisattva and finally to attain the state of a Buddha. It must be categorically stated that this is incorrect. This idea was spread by some early Orientalists at a time when Buddhist studies were beginning in the West, and the others who followed them accepted it without taking the trouble to go into the problem by examining the texts and living traditions in Buddhist countries. But the fact is that both the Theravada and the Mahayana unanimously accept the Bodhisattva ideal as the highest.

"The definition of the three Yanikas (followers of the three yanas) given by Asanga is very instructive and clarifies some points. According to him, a Sravakayanika (one who takes the vehicle of disciples) is a person who, living according to the law of the disciples. By nature having feeble faculties (qualities), bent on his own liberation through the cultivation of detachment, depending on the Canon of the Disciples (Sravaka-pitaka), practising major and minor qualities, gradually puts an end to suffering. A Pratyeka-Buddha-Yanika (one who takes the Vehicle of the Individual Buddha) is a person who, lives according to the law of the Individual Buddha, By nature having medium faculties, bent on his liberation through the cultivation of detachment, he has the intention of attaining Enlightenment exclusively through his own mental development, depending on the Sravaka-pitaka, practising major and minor qualities, born at a time when there is no Buddha in the world and gradually puts an end to suffering. A Mahayanika (one who takes the Great Vehicle) is a person who, living according to the law of the Bodhisattvas, by nature having sharp faculties, bent on the liberation of all beings, depending on the Canon of the Bodhisattvas, matures other beings, cultivates the pure Buddha-domain, receives predictions or declarations (Vya-Karana) from Buddhas and finally realizes the perfect and complete Enlightenment (Samyaksambodhi).

"From this we can see that anyone who aspires to become a Buddha is a Bodhisattva, a Mahayanist, though he may live in a country or in a community popularly and traditionally regarded as Theravada or Hinayana. Similarly, a person who aspires to attain Nirvana as a disciple is a Sravakayanika or Hinayanist though he may belong to a country or a community considered as Mahayana. Thus it is wrong to believe that there are no Bodhisattvas in Theravada countries or that all are Bodhisattvas in Mahayana countries. It is not conceivable that Sravakas and Bodhisattvas are concentrated in separate geographical areas.

"Further, Asanga says that when a Bodhisattva finally attains Enlightenment (Bodhi) he becomes an Arahant, a Tathagata (i.e. Buddha). Here it must be clearly understood that not only a Sravaka (disciple) but also a Bodhisattva becomes an Arahant when finally he attains Buddhahood. The Theravada position is exactly the same: the Buddha is an Arahant -Araham Samma-SamBuddha - "Arahant, Fully and Perfectly Enlightened Buddha."

"The Mahayana unequivocally says that a Buddha, a Pratyekabuddha and a Sravaka (disciple), all three are equal and alike with regard to their purification or liberation from defilements or impurities (Klesavaranavisuddhi).

"This is also called Vimukti-Kaya (Liberation-body), and in it there is no difference between the three. That means that there are no three different Nirvanas or Vimuktis for three persons. Nirvana or Vimukti is the same for all. But only a Buddha achieves the complete liberation from all the obstructions to the knowable, i.e., obstructions to knowledge (Jneyyavaranavisuddhi), not the Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas. This also is called Dharma-Kaya (Dharma-body), and it is in this and many other innumerable qualities, capacities and abilities that the Buddha becomes incomparable and superior to Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas.

"This Mahayana view is quite in keeping with the Theravada Pali Tripitaka. In the Samyutta-Nikaya the Buddha says that the Tathagata (i.e. Buddha) and a bhikkhu (i.e. sravaka, disciple) liberated through wisdom are equal with regard to their Vimutta (liberation), but the Tathagatha is different and distinguished from the liberated bhikkhus in that he (Tathagata) discovers and shows the Path (Magga) that was not known before.

"These three states of the Sravaka, the Pratyekabuddha and the Buddha are mentioned in the Nidhikanda Sutta of the Khuddakapatha, the first book of the Khuddaka-nikaya, one of the five Collections of the Theravada Tripitaka. It says that by practising virtues such as charity, morality, self-restraint, etc., one may attain, among other things, "the Perfection of the Disciple" (Savaka-Parami), "Enlightenment of the Pratyekabuddha" (Paccekabodhi) and "the Buddha-domain" (Buddhabhumi). They are not called Yanas (vehicles).

"In the Theravada tradition these are known as Bodhis, but not Yanas. The Upasaka-janalankara, a Pali treatise dealing with the ethics for the lay Buddhist written in the 12th century by a Thera called Ananda in the Theravada tradition of the Mahavihara at Anuradhpura, Sri Lanka, says that there are three Bodhis: Savakabodhi (Skt: Sravakabodhi), Paccekabodhi (Skt: Fratyekabodhi) and Sammasambodhi (Skt: Samyaksambodhi). A whole chapter of this book is devoted to the discussion of these three Bodhis in great detail. It says further that when a disciple attains the Bodhi (Enlightenment), he is called Savaka-Buddha (Skt: Sravaka-Buddha)."


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Re: Which Buddhism is the Correct Buddhism?

Postby altar » Sun Aug 21, 2011 3:38 pm

Smiley,
I suggest you read more suttas. But in short, I think the answer is that the training is gradual, and the dhamma "indeed difficult and subtle."
http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/T ... ggo-05.htm
I am particularly fond of analogy of the floor of the ocean to the path.
I also like... http://kalyanadhamma.wordpress.com/vammika-sutta/ and
Non-attachment is what we come up with when we see through attachment, eh?
If you read more of the Buddha's words you will see that it is "beyond black and white." But I like the traditional recollection of the dhamma as "timeless" and "here and now, leading inwards, to be individually experienced by the wise."
An elder monk not far from me in Queens, NY taught that craving to detach and attachment both come from craving.
Good luck.
Last edited by altar on Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Which Buddhism is the Correct Buddhism?

Postby FaceaceRAWR » Sun Aug 21, 2011 5:33 pm

unspoken wrote:Buddhist is just a name for you to use so that other religions won't try to convert you haha!

Lead a heedful life and cultivate your own mind, is the true quality we want. Doesn't matter if you are or you are not a buddhist


I see that as very wise, unspoken. [at least the second part, hehehe] Thanks for the knowledge.

Sincerely,
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