if you could ask the Buddha one question

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby Kare » Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:57 pm

Peter wrote:It doesn't take much to turn the OP into a realistic question:

"What do you think is the single most important question you could ask a wise teacher?"


Which is quite another situation.

Far from being a useless question I have found it to be very relevant. When I get an opportunity to talk with Bhikkhu Bodhi I have time enough for one direct question. As much as I'd like to sit and chat with him for an hour or three I am simply not given that opportunity. Or if a monk is traveling giving lectures to a crowd I am lucky if I get called on during the question & answer period. Again, no chance for lots of back and forth or multiple questions. I have a single opportunity and I have to make it count.


But is this really a realistic scenario? Would a really wise teacher give you an answer without knowing you well - without knowing your strong and weak sides, without knowing your past progress, your successes and your failures? A teacher who has not yet had time got get acquainted with his students, can of course give good general instructions. But in order to give a real meaningful answer about what is right for just you, he would need time to get to know you. And during that time you could, and should, ask him many questions.

Therefore this situation of putting a single question to a wise teacher, is a mirage. If a teacher really ventures to give you personal guidance without knowing you well, you may rightly doubt his wisdom ...

:anjali:
Mettāya,
Kåre
User avatar
Kare
 
Posts: 682
Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:58 am
Location: Norway

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Fri Jul 10, 2009 2:03 am

It's a good point, about what you might do with an opportunity.

I had a very short personal interview with a highly regarded teacher and I could have asked virtually anything.
I so totally blew it! It's okay though, it's where I was at. At least I got to chat with her :)

I don't mind the OP question. For me it was a happy thought, and even a useful exploration of what's important to me right now.

Best,
Drolma
User avatar
Ngawang Drolma.
 
Posts: 805
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:38 pm

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby kc2dpt » Fri Jul 10, 2009 2:51 am

Kare wrote:But is this really a realistic scenario? Would a really wise teacher give you an answer without knowing you well[?]

I think the answer is yes. To believe otherwise it to believe Buddhist scriptures are of no value. If you believe good instruction can only come from a personal relationship with a teacher then I guess that is one thing. But in my experience the teachings as they are recorded in the scriptures have served me really well. The times I have had questions or confusions I have been fortunate enough to have a teacher bring me clarification by pulling the right bit out of the scriptures, something perhaps I hadn't yet read or something I had forgotten.

But in order to give a real meaningful answer about what is right for just you, he would need time to get to know you.

I have found I am not special, my problems and difficulties are no different than other people's problems and difficulties. The five hindrances seem to cover everything that hinders, suffering always seems to come from craving, there don't seem to be any more delusions than the four, etc.

Therefore this situation of putting a single question to a wise teacher, is a mirage. If a teacher really ventures to give you personal guidance without knowing you well, you may rightly doubt his wisdom

If that has been your experience then what can I say? My experience has been different.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
User avatar
kc2dpt
 
Posts: 956
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:48 pm

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Fri Jul 10, 2009 3:23 am

Though I described that one incident where I blew it with that teacher, I've also had the experience that Peter describes. And I was so grateful!

It is noteworthy too what Peter wrote about what the scriptures tell us, about what the Buddha did for people.

:anjali:
User avatar
Ngawang Drolma.
 
Posts: 805
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:38 pm

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby Jechbi » Fri Jul 10, 2009 4:38 am

clw_uk wrote:Is it selfish to seek nibbana?

Nobody said it was selfish to seek nibbana. Jeez.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
User avatar
Jechbi
 
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 am

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby Jechbi » Fri Jul 10, 2009 5:09 am

jcsuperstar wrote:if you could ask the Buddha one question, what would it be?

Just checking to make sure I understood the question in the OP correctly.

Looks like some folks think it reads: "If someone besides you could ask the Buddha one question, what should that person ask?" That's a question about which I have no opinion, although it's clear to me that that's the question some here in this thread are trying to answer.

As for myself, me, personally, the first thing I'd do is bow down. I'd listen hard. I'd learn as much as possible. But if I were to ask a question, the very first question out of my mouth probably would be: Would you take me as your disciple? And if that was not the first question, then it would be: What can I do to help?

I'm just being honest here. For me personally, this would be the best question. You all may judge me as you wish (and at least two of you already have), but I cannot think of a different question I would rather ask. I don't have a lot of questions. I don't want to ask about rebirth. I don't want to ask about rules. I don't want to ask about any kind of random thought that might cross my mind. In the presence of the Buddha, I'd want to act, to listen, to be open, to be still. And if there's something I could do to help, I'd want to do that, first and foremost. If that's stupid, so be it. If I'd lose my golden opportunity, so be it.

What in the world is so objectionable about this personal observation? This is simply my answer to the OP. Sorry for participating.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
User avatar
Jechbi
 
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 am

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Fri Jul 10, 2009 6:03 am

Jechbi I'd love to have the opportunity to be able to do something for the Buddha too. Anything. What an opportunity that would be!

:anjali:
User avatar
Ngawang Drolma.
 
Posts: 805
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:38 pm

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby kc2dpt » Fri Jul 10, 2009 1:52 pm

Jechbi wrote:Looks like some folks think it reads: "If someone besides you could ask the Buddha one question, what should that person ask?" That's a question about which I have no opinion, although it's clear to me that that's the question some here in this thread are trying to answer.

Actually, all that is happening is that some people are giving their opinion of other people's answers. As this is a discussion forum, that seems like a perfectly acceptable thing to do.

if I were to ask a question, the very first question out of my mouth probably would be: Would you take me as your disciple? And if that was not the first question, then it would be: What can I do to help?

Those seem to me good questions. I imagine if you were already awakened he'd say you could help by teaching others; and if you were not yet awakened he'd say you could help by striving to awaken. The less greed, hatred, and delusion in the world the better for everyone. :woohoo:

What in the world is so objectionable about this personal observation? This is simply my answer to the OP. Sorry for participating.

Nothing whatsoever. It's a nice observation.

What is objectionable is to say that asking the Buddha what he needs is the best question on could ask and that asking a question related to one's personal practice is selfish. That is objectionable; it seems to show a lack of understanding of the Buddha's teachings.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
User avatar
kc2dpt
 
Posts: 956
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:48 pm

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby clw_uk » Fri Jul 10, 2009 2:43 pm

What is objectionable is to say that asking the Buddha what he needs is the best question on could ask and that asking a question related to one's personal practice is selfish. That is objectionable; it seems to show a lack of understanding of the Buddha's teachings.



Unless one follows Mahayana?
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3479
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby Prasadachitta » Fri Jul 10, 2009 4:04 pm

clw_uk wrote:
What is objectionable is to say that asking the Buddha what he needs is the best question on could ask and that asking a question related to one's personal practice is selfish. That is objectionable; it seems to show a lack of understanding of the Buddha's teachings.



Unless one follows Mahayana?


Whether one is thinking of a Mahayana model or a Theravada model it is the attitude of our intention that counts and not so much whether we ask for help or offer it.

:smile:
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
User avatar
Prasadachitta
 
Posts: 974
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:52 am
Location: San Francisco (The Mission) Ca USA

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby Jechbi » Tue Jul 14, 2009 4:37 pm

Peter,
Peter wrote:What is objectionable is to say that asking the Buddha what he needs is the best question on could ask and that asking a question related to one's personal practice is selfish. That is objectionable; it seems to show a lack of understanding of the Buddha's teachings.

Unfortunately it appears you did not read carefully what I wrote.

For me this discussion has been unpleasant.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
User avatar
Jechbi
 
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 am

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Jul 14, 2009 6:56 pm

Jechbi wrote:
Peter wrote:What is objectionable is to say that asking the Buddha what he needs is the best question on could ask and that asking a question related to one's personal practice is selfish.
Unfortunately it appears you did not read carefully what I wrote.

Fair enough. Here's what you wrote:

Jechbi wrote:
Kare wrote:"How can I help you, my friend?"
I think that's the best question possible.
I was going to say, "May I sit with you, Bhante?" But Kare's question snaps into focus just how selfish my question would be.

Perhaps you could clarify? Show me the difference between what you wrote and what I wrote?
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
User avatar
kc2dpt
 
Posts: 956
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:48 pm

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Jul 14, 2009 8:39 pm

i dont want to get into this fight but we should all know by now what help the buddha would need, maybe a drink of water, or if it's the right time some food. a cushion (maybe?) if you've got one....
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
User avatar
jcsuperstar
 
Posts: 1915
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:15 am
Location: alaska

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby phil » Wed Jul 15, 2009 10:13 am

Hi all.

Sorry, I haven't read the thread.

I'd ask him for the most suitable meditation topic for weakening the power of my defilements, which he would be able to read in detail thanks to his infinite wisdom.

Metta,

phil
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
User avatar
phil
 
Posts: 584
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2009 5:08 am
Location: Tokyo

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Jul 16, 2009 3:39 am

After continued thought, I'd like to revise my stance.

Jechbi wrote:
Kare wrote:"How can I help you, my friend?"
I think that's the best question possible.

I think for some people this will be the best question possible and for other people there are better questions.

Jechbi wrote:I was going to say, "May I sit with you, Bhante?" But Kare's question snaps into focus just how selfish my question would be.

I think some people might ask this question with a selfish mind and others might ask it with a selfless mind. If, Jechbi, Kare's question made you aware of selfishness arising in your mind then that is praiseworthy.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
User avatar
kc2dpt
 
Posts: 956
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:48 pm

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby Jechbi » Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:38 am

Hello Peter,
Peter wrote:Perhaps you could clarify? Show me the difference between what you wrote and what I wrote?

The difference is that I was trying to respond to the OP by describing what would be, for me personally, the best question. I thought I made that very clear. You responded as if I was saying that the question would be the best for everyone. So unfortunately you read my post in a way that was not intended. You told me that my response was "empty and hollow," and I have to admit I was caught by surprise by this, because I was just being honest about what I felt would be the best question for me. Why is my honest question empty and hollow? I took it personally, which I shouldn't have done.

But I also tried to clarify by posting in this thread:
Jechbi wrote:I was talking about myelf, not you.
By this time, the tone of my posts may have conveyed to you that I was feeling hurt and personally attacked. Nevertheless, you persisted in telling me that my understanding of the Buddha's teachings was flawed, and that I lacked humility and was not open to learning. All of these things struck me as personal attacks.

I told you in another post that I felt you had personally attacked me. You alerted the moderators, and at your request, that post was deleted in its entirety from this thread. Part of that post contained this:

Jechbi (from deleted post) wrote:
Peter wrote:In short, a] an offer of generosity is indeed taught to be good, but it is not taught to be the best and b] to ask a Buddha how one might work towards Nibbana is not taught to be selfish, but rather is taught to be the best. To think generosity is the best or that to strive for Nibbana is selfish seems to me to show misunderstanding of the teachings, misunderstandings I felt worthwhile to point out and correct.
I didn't say any of those things. None of those things were my point.

I also sent you a PM trying to point out to you that you misunderstood my posts. Despite these efforts to clarify this matter for you, you have persisted in confronting me with regard to what I wrote. I have felt throughout this discussion as if I have been on the defensive. I didn't post here in order to get a lesson from you, Peter, on how wrong you believe my understanding is of the Buddha's teachings, and how lacking in humility you feel I am, and how closed to learning you feel I am, and how empty and hollow you feel my question would be.

Let me try to be very clear: You wrote this:
Peter wrote:What is objectionable is to say that asking the Buddha what he needs is the best question on could ask and that asking a question related to one's personal practice is selfish.

My response is this: There is no question with regard to personal practice that urgently comes to mind for me. Why would I waste my time asking the Buddha questions that I don't have? (Which is not to say I have nothing to learn. I just think the Buddha would be pretty good at knowing how to instruct me in practice, so much so that I don't have to struggle for questions.) The best question for me is the one that I truly believe I would ask, as I noted earlier: Either "Would you take me as your disciple," or "How can I help?"

I've already explained this to you several times in language that is as clear as I'm capable of using, yet you persist in saying that my personal observation is objectionable.

I wish you would stop telling me that the best question for me would be objectionable. I wish you would stop telling me that I do not understand the Buddha's teachings. I wish you would stop telling me that my question would be hollow and empty. I wish you would stop telling me that I lack humility and that I am not open to learning.

I wish you could accept that for me, this is the best question. I wish you could simply listen to my contribution without trying to tear it to shreds.

Peter, I'm going to try to respond to you in the future as if this exchange didn't happen. You can help me by being sensitive to how I feel about what has occurred here. And to the extent that you feel personally affronted by how I've engaged in this discussion, I apologize and take responsibility for my role in that.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
User avatar
Jechbi
 
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 am

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby Jechbi » Thu Jul 16, 2009 6:37 am

Actually, this is the best question:
imagemarie wrote:Er..I'd hold up a flower. Am I on the wrong forum ? :jumping:















kidding ;)
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
User avatar
Jechbi
 
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 am

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Thu Jul 16, 2009 12:10 pm

I would ask Buddha:
"Where have you been all this time?" :alien:

Do I win a prize? :jumping:

Rick
User avatar
Spiny O'Norman
 
Posts: 851
Joined: Sat May 23, 2009 8:46 am
Location: Suffolk, England

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Jul 16, 2009 1:44 pm

Jechbi wrote:The difference is that I was trying to respond to the OP by describing what would be, for me personally, the best question. I thought I made that very clear.

No not really. What you said what "I think that's the best question possible." It was this statement, making a judgement of what would be best for everybody, that prompted me to respond. If you had said "I think that's the best question possible for me based on where I'm at in my practice" or something like that then I likely would have not felt any need to respond. Even "I like this question" would have been innocuous.

Jechbi wrote:You responded as if I was saying that the question would be the best for everyone. So unfortunately you read my post in a way that was not intended.

My mistake.

Jechbi wrote:You told me that my response was "empty and hollow,"

Actually, I said Kare's response was empty and hollow. But I can see I perhaps wasn't clear about this. I apologize.

Jechbi wrote:Why is my honest question empty and hollow?

Kare's question seemed to me empty and hollow because one cannot help a Buddha. A Buddha has gone beyond the need for help. Of course I am speaking from a teachings perspective. A Buddha still needs the four requisites. Which brings me to your point about generosity, and my point that while generosity is praiseworthy, it is not taught be the Buddha to be the best. Nevertheless, I realized last night that while it might not be the best in a general sense, it will be the best for certain people based on where they are in their practice. Which brings us back around to...

Jechbi wrote:But I also tried to clarify by posting in this thread:
Jechbi wrote:I was talking about myelf, not you.
By this time, the tone of my posts may have conveyed to you that I was feeling hurt and personally attacked. Nevertheless, you persisted in telling me that my understanding of the Buddha's teachings was flawed

I was wrong to say this implies a lack of understanding the Buddha's teachings. One may understand the limits of generosity and yet still feel that is where they want to direct their efforts. There is nothing wrong with that; this is something I tend to forget. Again, I apologize.

All of these things struck me as personal attacks.

It is not a personal attack to tell someone their post regarding the teachings displays a misunderstanding. That you took it as a personal attack is likely because you meant to say "this is best for me" but I took it as "this is what the Buddha teaches as best".

Jechbi wrote:Let me try to be very clear: You wrote this:
Peter wrote:What is objectionable is to say that asking the Buddha what he needs is the best question on could ask and that asking a question related to one's personal practice is selfish.

My response is this: There is no question with regard to personal practice that urgently comes to mind for me. Why would I waste my time asking the Buddha questions that I don't have? (Which is not to say I have nothing to learn. I just think the Buddha would be pretty good at knowing how to instruct me in practice, so much so that I don't have to struggle for questions.)

When you first said this a few days ago I conceded it was a good point. I still think it is a good point.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
User avatar
kc2dpt
 
Posts: 956
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:48 pm

Re: if you could ask the Buddha one question

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Jul 16, 2009 1:46 pm

Jechbi wrote:Actually, this is the best question:
imagemarie wrote:Er..I'd hold up a flower. Am I on the wrong forum ? :jumping:

Oh please, everyone know the best question is "What do you get if you multiply six by nine?"
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
User avatar
kc2dpt
 
Posts: 956
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:48 pm

PreviousNext

Return to General Theravāda discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 12 guests