What would the Buddha teach today?

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What would the Buddha teach today?

Postby kmath » Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:21 am

One thing that I've always loved about the Buddha is how he gave different teachings to different people at different times. So I've often wondered what he would teach if alive in this day and age. I was talking to a monk about this once and he answered by simply saying: "I think the Buddha would teach the Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path." And right, I know he would do that. But how might he present the teachings or what might he emphasize today that perhaps he would not have back in his time? Any thoughts?

Thanks,

kmath

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Re: What would the Buddha teach today?

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:47 am

I agree with that monk; that the Buddha would teach dukkha and the way out of dukkha. It is very time-less. The forms of entertainment and sensual pleasures have changed a little, but they are very similar: sex, music, dancing, watching live theater (now it is on a screen but basically the same), participating and watching sports (the same now), indulgence in food (same now too), etc.

He might present the teachings differently. For example, to reach more people, he would most likely use the internet. I know some might find that strange, but why not? How many can you reach by preaching at the local forest or street corner versus going online with youtube videos, podcasts, etc. Of course he wouldn't be living a lavish life of a televangelist, like Joel Olsteen or one of those. He could still be a monk with simple living quarters and be online for teachings. The Buddha had wealthy donors including Anathapindika and Ambapali and I imagine in modern times a Buddha would also have wealthy donors who could foot the bills for the online costs, while the Buddha maintains perfect-sila with the Vinaya.
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Re: What would the Buddha teach today?

Postby kmath » Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:58 am

Is participating in sports a sensual pleasure?
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Re: What would the Buddha teach today?

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Oct 18, 2013 3:02 am

kmath wrote:Is participating in sports a sensual pleasure?


I don't know, I think it at least could potentially be sense pleasure. It could also be simply for fitness. I do stair climbing and I definitely would not call that sense pleasure. :lol: Sometimes it is pure hell, especially around the 60th floor on up.
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Re: What would the Buddha teach today?

Postby kmath » Fri Oct 18, 2013 3:07 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
kmath wrote:Is participating in sports a sensual pleasure?


I don't know, I think it at least could potentially be sense pleasure. It could also be simply for fitness. I do stair climbing and I definitely would not call that sense pleasure. :lol: Sometimes it is pure hell, especially around the 60th floor on up.



:clap:

Yah, I wouldn't call that a sense pleasure, lol.

Anyway thanks for the response. I'd have to think the Buddha would use the internet. It seems funny but why not?
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Re: What would the Buddha teach today?

Postby Dan74 » Fri Oct 18, 2013 3:40 am

When I look around me (and within me), the biggest issue I see is not overindulgence, but deep confusion and suffering. Overindulgence is more often the symptom than the cause, so sometimes it seems we put the cart before the horse as far as emphasizing not indulging and restraining the senses. Many just interpret it as more shackles and more puritan fears seeing that their indulgence is almost compulsive and springs from deeper underlying issues.

People have lost a sense of balance, a healthy sense of purpose and their own place in the community and the universe. There is deep self-loathing, alienation, disempowerment, the feet are everywhere but not on the ground and the head is overfilled with a vast array of stimuli that we are ill-equipped to process.

I think the Buddha would recognize what ills each person who comes to him and recommend the right course of action which often would be to heal sufficiently in order to be able to really practice. I agree with the OP that it's not the one-size-fits all. While the Dhamma is timeless, the path to be able to see the Dhamma correctly is different for every person.
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Re: What would the Buddha teach today?

Postby rohana » Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:38 pm

Not really sure there would be that much difference.

    Kāmesu Satta Sutta: Attached to Sensual Pleasures

    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, most of the people in Sāvatthī were excessively attached to sensual pleasures. They lived infatuated with, greedy for, addicted to, fastened to, absorbed in sensual pleasures. Then early in the morning the Blessed One adjusted his under robe and — carrying his bowl & robes — went into Sāvatthī for alms. He saw that most of the people in Sāvatthī were excessively attached to sensual pleasures, that they live infatuated with, greedy for, addicted to, fastened to, absorbed in sensual pleasures.

    Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:
      Blinded by sensuality covered by the net, veiled with the veil of craving, bound by the Kinsman of the heedless, like fish in the mouth of a trap, they go to aging & death, like a milk-drinking calf to its mother.
    Ud 7.4

The thing is, the Buddha can preach the Dhamma all he wants, but he can be of little help if people are not interested in what he has to say.
"Delighting in existence, O monks, are gods and men; they are attached to existence, they revel in existence. When the Dhamma for the cessation of existence is being preached to them, their minds do not leap towards it, do not get pleased with it, do not get settled in it, do not find confidence in it. That is how, monks, some lag behind."
- It. p 43
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Re: What would the Buddha teach today?

Postby m0rl0ck » Sat Oct 19, 2013 8:45 pm

He/she would probably have a lot of youtube videos and be dressed in modern dress. i cant see the message being that much different but i think Dan74's comment about confusion is right. Getting people to settle down and just be with themselves for a moment is probably a lot harder today than it has ever been for any traditional culture.
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: What would the Buddha teach today?

Postby manas » Sun Oct 20, 2013 12:15 am

kmath wrote:One thing that I've always loved about the Buddha is how he gave different teachings to different people at different times. So I've often wondered what he would teach if alive in this day and age. I was talking to a monk about this once and he answered by simply saying: "I think the Buddha would teach the Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path." And right, I know he would do that. But how might he present the teachings or what might he emphasize today that perhaps he would not have back in his time? Any thoughts?

Thanks,

kmath



Just my opinion, but I think he might have included Internet and other porn under 'sexual misconduct' for lay disciples. Even an otherwise virtuous man (or woman, though I hear it isn't nearly as common) striving to practice the Dhamma, can get lured down into a descending vortex of sensuality by this pernicious activity. A modern day man can see more naked or scantily clad women in one day, via the Internet, than a man in the Buddha's day would have seen in his entire lifetime. Very hyper-stimulating, and opposed to the cultivation of true metta for our fellow human beings.
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Re: What would the Buddha teach today?

Postby arijitmitter » Mon Oct 21, 2013 2:16 am

manas wrote:Just my opinion, but I think he might have included Internet and other porn under 'sexual misconduct' for lay disciples. Even an otherwise virtuous man (or woman, though I hear it isn't nearly as common) striving to practice the Dhamma, can get lured down into a descending vortex of sensuality by this pernicious activity. A modern day man can see more naked or scantily clad women in one day, via the Internet, than a man in the Buddha's day would have seen in his entire lifetime. Very hyper-stimulating, and opposed to the cultivation of true metta for our fellow human beings.


I will not have discussed this except that casual reading of this quote may cause some beginner Buddhists guilt. So I felt it necessary to point out the counter argument to spare them the pain of guilt.

Is porn a sexual misconduct, if it is seen by a person who is not married or in any relationship ? I doubt it will be misconduct for a lay follower. One of the attractions of Buddhism is, it is not puritanical and nor was Buddha puritanical.

Porn industry is legal in many places. Participants are extremely well paid. How is it a misconduct (if the said production is from an established tax paying business with a brand name) ?

The fact that barber massaging a man's scalp is not misconduct though it produces pleasure, but one person's genitalia touching another person's is misconduct is clinging to a notion.

Note I stressed two criteria - lay and single.

Unless it hurts / harms it cannot be a misconduct.

Then is visiting a topless beach at summer also misconduct for a lay, single follower ? I have heard Ajahn Brahm use the word "arse" in a lecture about meditation. In same session he also said Buddhism welcomes gays. So I hope this lends some perspective.

I am not advocating a lay, single Buddhist beginner watch porn or visit a topless beach. All I am saying is casual, non addictive indulgence in same is not a misconduct.
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Re: What would the Buddha teach today?

Postby fig tree » Mon Oct 21, 2013 3:39 am

m0rl0ck wrote:He/she would probably have a lot of youtube videos and be dressed in modern dress. i cant see the message being that much different but i think Dan74's comment about confusion is right. Getting people to settle down and just be with themselves for a moment is probably a lot harder today than it has ever been for any traditional culture.

From what I've read, dress for monks and nuns was initially very ordinary dress for the time, and I can easily imagine a re-emphasis on ordinariness.

The original poster mentioned teachings directed at people coming from certain points of view. Probably the outlook of the ancient brahmin religion would feature less prominently. I suspect that for people accustomed to the modern scientific results about how the brain works some different emphasis is called for in how things like dependent origination and the aggregates are taught. But for my best guess as to how to do that I would turn to present-day teachers, and simply presume that a fully awakened person would do a still better job of that.

Mass media has changed the practical details of fame, and I don't know how one would best deal with that. The canon describes incidents in which the fact of the Buddha being a famous teacher played a role, but at the time travelling to go see someone was a more tedious business. People who today are reputed to be arahants seem typically to teach in a way that doesn't draw a big spotlight to themselves, and perhaps this is best.

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Re: What would the Buddha teach today?

Postby nibbuti » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:01 pm

kmath wrote:What would the Buddha teach today?

Image :popcorn:
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Re: What would the Buddha teach today?

Postby kmath » Tue Oct 22, 2013 4:11 am

Dan74 wrote:When I look around me (and within me), the biggest issue I see is not overindulgence, but deep confusion and suffering. Overindulgence is more often the symptom than the cause, so sometimes it seems we put the cart before the horse as far as emphasizing not indulging and restraining the senses. Many just interpret it as more shackles and more puritan fears seeing that their indulgence is almost compulsive and springs from deeper underlying issues.

People have lost a sense of balance, a healthy sense of purpose and their own place in the community and the universe. There is deep self-loathing, alienation, disempowerment, the feet are everywhere but not on the ground and the head is overfilled with a vast array of stimuli that we are ill-equipped to process.

I think the Buddha would recognize what ills each person who comes to him and recommend the right course of action which often would be to heal sufficiently in order to be able to really practice. I agree with the OP that it's not the one-size-fits all. While the Dhamma is timeless, the path to be able to see the Dhamma correctly is different for every person.


Thanks to everyone who responded to my question. I especially appreciated this response from Dan, who seemed to speak right from the heart. I connected with this line in particular:
Dan74 wrote:People have lost a sense of balance, a healthy sense of purpose and their own place in the community and the universe. There is deep self-loathing, alienation, disempowerment, the feet are everywhere but not on the ground and the head is overfilled with a vast array of stimuli that we are ill-equipped to process.


I think it's why a lot of people come to Buddhism in the first place. Thanks Dan!
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Re: What would the Buddha teach today?

Postby greenthumb » Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:22 am

In this modern age would people think the Buddha was crazy proclaiming himself enlightened and talking to unseen beings? Or would he keep that to himself while teaching the way out of dukkha during these very scientific times? Wow, this thread has got my imagination going now….interesting. :popcorn:
Form is like a glob of foam; feeling, a bubble; perception, a mirage; fabrications, a banana tree; consciousness, a magic trick this has been taught by the Kinsman of the Sun. Phena Sutta: Foam
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Re: What would the Buddha teach today?

Postby Taijitu » Thu Dec 19, 2013 10:53 am

I think he would make funny youtube videos that everyone would enjoy maybe like this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzQUtElQXX0

Well I enjoy watching it at least. :yingyang:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/chat/
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I pass the old Zen barrier.
Mine is a traceless stream-and-cloud life,
Of these mountains, which shall be my home?
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Re: What would the Buddha teach today?

Postby binocular » Thu Dec 19, 2013 1:03 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:He might present the teachings differently. For example, to reach more people, he would most likely use the internet.

I don't think so.
Some drawbacks of online communication:
Online communication lacks the element of respect otherwise inherent in face-to-face interactions between a teacher and students or other listeners.
Online, there is also the issue of diminishing respect that comes from being able to listen to a teacher at one's own convenience, as opposed to at the will of the teacher.
Online, avenues of doubt open that are otherwise impossible or rare in face-to-face communication. Online, things can easily seem clean and sterile, quite different than they are IRL.
To say nothing of the role of simple human warmth.
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Re: What would the Buddha teach today?

Postby Mkoll » Fri Dec 20, 2013 4:06 am

manas wrote:A modern day man can see more naked or scantily clad women in one day, via the Internet, than a man in the Buddha's day would have seen in his entire lifetime. Very hyper-stimulating, and opposed to the cultivation of true metta for our fellow human beings.


AKA a supernormal stimulus.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernormal_stimulus

For example:

Pornography as already mentioned
Junk food - processed sugar and salt combined with fat (like chocolate and butter) gives the tastebuds a stimulus that is never found in nature
Synthetic drugs culled from plants giving much stronger effects than the plants could give alone
Television, movies, music, video games - special effects; you get to watch people without worrying about being watched back
Internet - stimulate your brain's desire for information in whatever way your craving takes it

:anjali:
Peace,
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