Although the spirit of inquiry is at the heart of Buddhist practice, there are some questions that the Buddha deemed to be unanswerable, and discouraged his followers from asking. These are the deeply existential questions that seek answers about the nature of the self, the origin of the self and the state of the self… Continue reading Which are the Unanswerable Questions?
The Surangama Sutra was influential in the development of Ch'an in China over the centuries and is particularly valued for its elaboration of samadhi and techniques of emptiness meditation that are available to everyone.
This well-known extract from the Kalama Sutta quotes a teaching from the Buddha in which he advises his audience - a group called the Kalamas of Kesaputta - about how to know their own spiritual paths, given the noise of the competing philosophies and teachers that would frequently present themselves in their communities. Bombarded by… Continue reading Know for Yourselves – The Kalama Sutta
This excerpt from one of Buddha's teachings, taken from the Nibbana Sutta, echoes the line in the Heart Sutra about form and emptiness, and the nature of reality, given that emptiness. There is a base, or state, where phenomena are not as we perceive them on a day to day basis, where the dichotomies of… Continue reading A State Where There is Neither Earth, nor Water, nor Heat, nor Air
Buddhist teachings put a lot of emphasis on compassion and caring for others, but we must also remember that that care needs to start with ourselves. This verse from the Dhammapada - one of the most popular and widely read Buddhist scriptures - reminds us that 'oneself is one's own protector. What other protector could there… Continue reading The Dhammapada: If One Knew Oneself to be Precious
Huineng was an illiterate woodcutter who became a Zen master and the sixth patriarch of Ch'an in China. His defining work is the Platform Sutra which emphasizes the importance of direct experience over intellect and learning in the study of Zen. In this extract from the second chapter of the sutra, entitled 'Prajna', he talks… Continue reading From Huineng’s Platform Sutra: What Does Maha Mean?
The Maha-Saccaka Sutta narrates the very interior journey of the Buddha's path to realization and this particular excerpt recalls when he was a boy sitting under a rose-apple tree while his father was working. The moment was one of the first times the young Siddhartha entered into a state of meditation and understood 'the pleasure… Continue reading The Maha-Saccaka Sutra – The Longer Discourse to Saccaka