Sometimes we forget all about gratitude and respect for the help we receive from others.
If one were to look at our attitude towards the many hardships and sacrifices of all the people who came before us who made it possible that we can meditate and practice and yes, also improve our understanding of the Dhamma … it sometimes is really pitiable.
Think of the millions of monks who fled from religious persecution and starvation during the centuries, their hardships of travel, of cold and heat, to simply hear or learn or preserve one line of the Dhamma…
I would like to share the following two paragraphs with you. It seems to me, they do reflect different mind-sets:
“Answering in this way when thus asked, Lord, am I speaking in line with what the Blessed One has said, am I not misrepresenting the Blessed One with what is unfactual, am I answering in line with the Dhamma so that no one whose thinking is in line with the Dhamma will have grounds for criticizing me?”
“Certainly, Bhumija, in answering in this way when thus asked, you are speaking in line with what I have said, you are not misrepresenting me with what is unfactual, and you are answering in line with the Dhamma so that no one whose thinking is in line with the Dhamma will have grounds for criticizing you.”
[Bhumija Sutta and many other places]
Buddhism is not a monolithic entity. It is rather a tradition from which people who consider themselves Buddhists draw inspiration and to which they add as they respond to the problems of their lives, sometimes reformulating the doctrine in new ways to make it more relevant, sometimes returning to earlier principles when they seem to be timely or in danger of becoming lost. The tradition is thus a history of what Buddhists think and do. [Book on Buddhism]
…which reminds me of this story. True, this post is almost off topic but after reading that particular passage in a “Buddhist book” I thought I might share this with you. There is Robert L’Orange’s famous quote “Na aññatrā tathāgathassa sotabbaṃ maññāmi”* – of course that is a bit extreme, but when you think about the above quotation…one really is intended to skip 90% of contemporary Buddhist literature. Why go for the bronze if you can tap into silver … Gold, obviously, being the practice of the Dhamma. 🙂
Between Blind Faith – Gratitude – Disrespect. Let’s find the middle path. 🙂
* Nice pali saying for Theravadin fundamentalists ;-). Translation: “I do not consider anything worth listening to which was not spoken by the Tathagatha” :-). Robert L’Orange was one of the first Europeans to embrace Buddhism in 18-something. He learned Sanskrit, Pali and was a good friend of Karl Eugen Neumann…before he vanished either into the desert or Asian jungle)
**Another quote on this topic from Sue Hamilton’s excellent book: “Early Buddhism. A new approach“:
Furthermore, it is in these very canonical texts that evidence can be found of their oral preservation from the very early stages of the Buddhist tradition. There is considerable evidence that conscious efforts were made to ensure accuracy in such preservation, and that accuracy continued to be a factor when teachings began to be written down. The prime reason why accuracy was desired was to preserve the teachings for as long as possible. The specialising groups who undertook this would have taken their task extremely seriously, not merely for the sake of taking pride in their accuracy but because the survival of the Buddha’s teachings, the Dhamma, depended on it.