The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

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The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby Element » Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:14 am

Dear Forum,

I thought to commence a thread on the teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa.

To start, the salient theme of Buddhadasa's teachings was his emphasis upon nature. Buddhadasa held that Buddhism had the nature of a science and was not a philosophy. This is because Buddhism teaches about "real things, which brings real results".

Buddhadasa used the following fourfold framework for the Buddha-Dhamma:

1. Nature. All things are nature. This is as the Buddha taught regarding all things as elements or dhatu, including Nibbana. In Pali, the words for nature are dhammajati and sabhavadhamma, which are close in meaning to the Pali word for elements, namely, dhatu. To realise all things are nature is the same as realising all things are empty of self.

2. Law of nature or natural truth. Dhammaniyama, saccadhamma. All things follow the law of nature, whether physical, social, psychological, mental or spiritual. The teachings of the Buddha are the expounding of the laws of nature.

3. Duty according to the law of nature. If we wish to live free from suffering, we are required to live according to the laws of nature. This is called duty.

4. Result of doing duty according to the law of nature. These are dhamma fruits or pativedhadhamma. The fruits of course is peace, harmony & happiness.

To end, this is part one about the scientific teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa. If we ask the question, what thing did Bhikkhu Buddhadasa most emphasise, we can answer, nature.

With metta,

Element
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Re: The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:12 pm

Hi Element,

One question I have: do you happen to know the provenance of Ajahn Buddhadasa's conception of "dhamma as duty"? Is it something that he attempts to ground in the Suttas? Or is it based on a lexical analysis of the word 'dharma'? Or a borrowing of the normative sense of 'dharma' in Hinduism? Or something else entirely?

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby gavesako » Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:47 pm

That's a good question. I myself have often wondered why is it that the Thai teachers mention the word "duty" (naathee) so much in their talks, emphasising that such-and-such is our duty to do towards X. I would guess that because the Thai society is structured along so-called "patron-client" relationships, nobody can just swim in it as an independent entity: your identity is defined by your role or duty towards others above and below you. What Buddhadasa probably tries to point out is that there is a higher and more impersonal principle called simply Dhamma or Nature, and that we should be looking primarily towards that as Buddha's followers.
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby Element » Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:55 pm

Dhammanando wrote:One question I have: do you happen to know the provenance of Ajahn Buddhadasa's conception of "dhamma as duty"? Is it something that he attempts to ground in the Suttas? Or is it based on a lexical analysis of the word 'dharma'?

Dhammanando

I would hazard a guess it is based on a lexical analysis of the word 'dharma', which means 'that which supports'. To both live physically and live without dukkha, I think all beings require nature itself, understanding of the laws of nature, acting according to the laws and nature and, of course, naturally deriving the fruits of those actions.

I would say by duty, Buddhadasa is deriving the word from Indian religion in general and from the Pali patti patti dhamma, meaning 'practise'.
Dhamma is the thing called " the Duty of all living things," that which they must do to survive both physically and mentally, both for their own sake and for that of society. Even when translating this word as "teaching," "learning" or "practice," the important understanding is still in its being the duty of salvation. Whenever duty is done, that is Dhamma practice.

The Dhamma in the temple and the Dhamma in the rice field is the very same Dhamma when they are carried out as rightful duties for genuine survival-salvation.

Buddhadasa Legacies
Last edited by Element on Fri Jan 23, 2009 2:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby Element » Fri Jan 23, 2009 2:03 pm

Element wrote:I would say by duty, Buddhadasa is deriving the word from Indian religion in general and from the Pali patti patti dhamma, meaning 'practise'.

For example:
The way to practice to solve such problems is called the Dharma. The actual problem of human beings is the problem of suffering, both in individuals and in societies. Sentient beings must suffer when doing wrong against the Law of Idappaccayatā in the moment of contact (phassa). I would like you to know this especially well, since it is the essence of the Dharma. Thus, I will repeat it. All sentient beings must suffer when doing wrong against the Law of Idappaccayatā in the moment of contact (phassa). Sentient beings will not suffer when doing right - that is, not doing wrong - according to this Law. This is especially true in the moment of phassa.

ABCs of Buddhism
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Re: The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby bodom » Fri Jan 23, 2009 2:05 pm

All contoversies about his teachings aside he was a wonderful teacher and continues to inspire my practice.

:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Jan 23, 2009 2:13 pm

Hi Element,

Thanks for the clarification and link.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby Element » Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:20 am

gavesako wrote:I myself have often wondered why is it that the Thai teachers mention the word "duty" (naathee) so much in their talks, emphasising that such-and-such is our duty to do towards X. I would guess that because the Thai society is structured along so-called "patron-client" relationships, nobody can just swim in it as an independent entity: your identity is defined by your role or duty towards others above and below you.

Gavesako

The Sigalovada Sutta is structured in this manner. Society is a system of interconnected, interdependant relationships. Thai teachers mention the word "duty" to teach laypeople as the Buddha taught laypeople.

What Buddhadasa probably tries to point out is that there is a higher and more impersonal principle called simply Dhamma or Nature, and that we should be looking primarily towards that as Buddha's followers.

In fact, Buddhadasa pointed out all principles are required, not only the higher more impersonal one. The last two lectures Buddhadasa gave in his life were on the same topic of "Samma". Buddhadasa said there are four kinds of correctness or samma practitioners require: (1) physical correctness; (2) social correctness; (3) mental correctness; and (4) correctness in line with sunnata or emptiness.

With metta

Element
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Re: The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby Element » Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:36 am

Dear Forum,

The second topic on the teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa is that of language.

Bhikkhu Buddhadasa in most of his published teachings emphasised the understanding of Two Kinds of Language.
There are two languages: Dhamma language and everyday language. Everyday language is based on physical things and on experiences accessible to the ordinary person.

By contrast, Dhamma language has to do with the mental world, with the intangible, non-physical world. In order to be able to speak and understand this Dhamma language, one must have gained insight into the mental world.


Bhikkhu Buddhadasa quoted from the Pali as such:
Appamatto ubho atthe adhiganhti pandito,
Ditthe dhamma ca yo attho, yo ca'ttho samparyiko.
Atthbhisamaydhro pandito ti pavuccati.

The wise and heedful person is familiar with both modes
of speaking: the meaning seen by ordinary people and
the meaning which they can't understand. One who is
fluent in the various modes of speaking is a wise person.


With metta

Element
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Re: The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:51 pm

Greetings Element,

To what extent did Buddhadasa believe that the Theravada commentarial interpretations had gotten the application of the two truths with respect to the Buddha's teachings mixed up?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby Element » Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:53 pm

retrofuturist wrote:To what extent did Buddhadasa believe that the Theravada commentarial interpretations had gotten the application of the two truths with respect to the Buddha's teachings mixed up?

To be honest, I have never seen why the two truths is necessary. The suttas have always been straightfoward to me and liberating from "teachers". For me, two truths may be useful to discern the mundane teachings such as rebirth & the lokas or realms but it is not necessary for the higher teachings.

Regarding Buddhadasa's Pali quote, this is from the SN but Bhikkhu Bodhi does not translate it with the same meaning.

Regarding Budddhaghosa's quote below, I do not agree with it. The Buddha did not teach Dependent Origination to laypeople or for the purpose of encouraging morality. To laypeople and Brahmins, I assume to supplant the Three Vedas, the Buddha taught the Three Knowledges. I would suggest the two truths or languages apply to the Three Knowledges but not to Dependent Origination. Dependent Origination was not something intended to be "conversed with the world and agreed upon by the world." It was a teaching for practitioners. I would suggest the Theravada commentarial interpretations simply butchered it.
tattha:
saṅketavacanaṃ saccaṃ
lokasammutikāraṇaṃ
paramatthavacanaṃ saccaṃ
dhammānaṃ tathalakkhaṇan ti

Therein:
The speech wherewith the world converses is true
On account of its being agreed upon by the world.
The speech which describes what is ultimate is also true,
Through characterizing dhammas as they really are.

tasmā vohārakusalassa
lokanāthassa satthuno
sammutiṃ voharantassa
musāvādo na jāyatī ti

Therefore, being skilled in common usage,
False speech does not arise in the Teacher,
Who is Lord of the World,
When he speaks according to conventions.
(Mn. i. 95)


In brief, if you wish to learn about Buddhadasa's position, you can listen to the lecture Noble Truth of Dukkha's Origin (part 1 | part 2).

E
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Re: The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby Jesse Smith » Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:01 pm

I've heard the name, but never carried out further investigation. I found a link to a three-part bio on UTube.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgw97YTOriw
Many may already be familiar, but for those who aren't, this may be a start.
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Re: The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby bodom » Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:27 pm

Element wrote: The Buddha did not teach Dependent Origination to laypeople or for the purpose of encouraging morality.


The Buddha taught Dependent Origination to lay people.

AN 10.92: Vera Sutta — Animosity {A v 182} [Thanissaro]. What it takes for a lay person to become a stream-winner.

Then Anathapindika the householder went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, the Blessed One said to him, "When, for a disciple of the noble ones, five forms of fear & animosity are stilled; when he is endowed with the four factors of stream-entry; and when, through discernment, he has rightly seen & rightly ferreted out the noble method, then if he wants he may state about himself: 'Hell is ended; animal wombs are ended; the state of the hungry shades is ended; states of deprivation, destitution, the bad bourns are ended! I am a stream-winner, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening!'

"Now, which five forms of fear & animosity are stilled?

"When a person takes life, then with the taking of life as a requisite condition, he produces fear & animosity in the here & now, produces fear & animosity in future lives, experiences mental concomitants of pain & despair; but when he refrains from taking life, he neither produces fear & animosity in the here & now nor does he produce fear & animosity in future lives, nor does he experience mental concomitants of pain & despair: for one who refrains from taking life, that fear & animosity is thus stilled.

"When a person steals... engages in illicit sex... tells lies...

"When a person drinks distilled & fermented drinks that cause heedlessness, then with the drinking of distilled & fermented drinks that cause heedlessness as a requisite condition, he produces fear & animosity in the here & now, produces fear & animosity in future lives, experiences mental concomitants of pain & despair; but when he refrains from drinking distilled & fermented drinks that cause heedlessness, he neither produces fear & animosity in the here & now nor does he produce fear & animosity in future lives, nor does he experience mental concomitants of pain & despair: for one who refrains from drinking distilled & fermented drinks that cause heedlessness, that fear & animosity is thus stilled.

"These are the five forms of fear & animosity that are stilled.

"And which are the four factors of stream-entry with which he is endowed?

"There is the case where the disciple of the noble ones is endowed with unwavering faith in the Awakened One: 'Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy & rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine & human beings, awakened, blessed.'

"He is endowed with unwavering faith in the Dhamma: 'The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One, to be seen here & now, timeless, inviting verification, pertinent, to be realized by the wise for themselves.'

"He is endowed with unwavering faith in the Sangha: 'The Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples who have practiced well... who have practiced straight-forwardly... who have practiced methodically... who have practiced masterfully — in other words, the four pairs, the eight individuals 1 — they are the Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples: worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, the incomparable field of merit for the world.'

"He is endowed with virtues that are appealing to the noble ones: untorn, unbroken, unspotted, unsplattered, liberating, praised by the wise, untarnished, leading to concentration.

"These are the four factors of stream-entry with which he is endowed.

"And which is the noble method that he has rightly seen & rightly ferreted out through discernment?

"There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones notices: When this is, that is. From the arising of this comes the arising of that. When this isn't, that isn't. From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.

"In other words: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

"This is the noble method that he has rightly seen & rightly ferreted out through discernment.

"When, for a disciple of the noble ones, these five forms of fear & animosity are stilled; when he is endowed with these four factors of stream-entry; and when, through discernment, he has rightly seen & rightly ferreted out this noble method, then if he wants he may state about himself: 'Hell is ended; animal wombs are ended; the state of the hungry shades is ended; states of deprivation, destitution, the bad bourns are ended! I am a stream-winner, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening!'"


:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby Element » Tue Feb 03, 2009 10:53 pm

bodom_bad_boy wrote:The Buddha taught Dependent Origination to lay people.

By laypeople, I meant the average lay devotee rather than a serious disciple or practitioner. In other words, dependent origintion is taught for stream entry rather than to encourage morality (for which rebirth is taught).
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Re: The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby Element » Tue Feb 03, 2009 10:56 pm

Element wrote:In brief, if you wish to learn about Buddhadasa's position, you can listen to the lecture Noble Truth of Dukkha's Origin (part 1 | part 2).

E

Greetings Retro

Did you listen to the lecture by Buddhadasa?

Regards

Element
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Re: The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Feb 03, 2009 11:06 pm

Greetings Element,

No, I didn't have a chance to, and then I forgot about it. :o

I have however read (twice) what he had to say in (the full book form of) Practical Dependent Origination about the subject.

Is there anything about it in those talks, over and above that?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby halwilson » Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:01 am

Element et al,

It's been years since I've read it, but Peter Jackson's book, Buddhadasa: Theravada Buddhism and Modernist Reform in Thailand should be of interest to those participating in this discussion. http://tinyurl.com/ba557e

Cheers, Hal
"We had the experience, but missed the meaning" T. S. Eliot
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Re: The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby clw_uk » Tue Feb 10, 2009 7:35 pm

What was his teachings reguarding Kamma.

Since he didnt teach it as part of dependent origination what was his view reguarding kamma being effective past a physical death? Did he state that it ended or that it carried on or didnt he specify?

Also what was his views reguarding the devas, hungry-shades etc, did he take them to be objective beings or just simply mental states?
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Re: The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby Element » Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:13 pm

clw_uk wrote:What was his teachings reguarding Kamma.

Also what was his views reguarding the devas, hungry-shades etc, did he take them to be objective beings or just simply mental states?

Hi Craig

Buddhadasa rarely taught about kamma. For Buddhadasa, kamma is a moral teaching and is simply about action and its result.

However, there is the talk Kamma in Buddhism, where Buddhadasa gives his views about kamma.

Buddhadasa also talks about kamma in the book Buddhadhamma for Students at quesions 14 and 21.

Regarding the realms of existance, Buddhadasa considered these to be psychological. This we can read in many books, such is question 47 in Buddhadhamma for Students.

I consider Buddhadhamma for Students the best book for those interested in learning about Buddhadasa's basic views.
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Re: The teachings of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Postby clw_uk » Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:51 pm

Thank you for the links, it is a very insightful book both into the dhamma and Buddhadasa's own teachings.

One problem I have though with the notion of Devas etc being purely psychological is the distinct presenation of them as actual living beings within the Suttas. I can see how they can be seen as both however.

Do you think he held them to be completely psychological or was this just focused on as a more important aspect.
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