B1 Intermediate 3272 Folder Collection
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Tonight I'm going to do little bit of
PR Job on the Buddhist Suttas
I'm gonna talk about the Discourses that the Buddha taught
about two and a half thousand years ago, and these are, the interesting thing
about this, wonderful kind of historical
reality, is that those discourses that we have today that we
call the Buddhist Suttas, they are essentially just that
the Buddhist Suttas, they are the word of the Buddha and
I'll talk a little bit later about exactly how we can know that
how we can be so sure of that? it is an amazing
historical thing, when you think about it. two and half thousand years later
we still have pretty much what the Buddha talked about at that time
and I wanna talk about why these are important
and why as a Buddhist or people who are even
interested in Buddhism, why we need to study
these things and what they can actually do for us and what's kind of is there
place in the Buddhist practice, these are the things I want to discuss
and hopefully my idea is to hopefully to
encourage some of you to actually start looking at those Suttas some
strart reading them and get some inspiration from the word of the Buddha
himself. Because as far as I'm concerned this is actually
very important part of the Buddhist path and one of the things
that I have always noticed when I have been travelling
I travel occasionally, not that much. Compared to Ajahn Brahm, I travel hardly at all
[Laugh] I still occasionally go in different places
overseas even, and from then I've been a monk now
for about 16 years, it's quite a while and I've seen quite a lot of the Buddhist
world. and one thing that you realize when you travel around is that
the sort of things the sort of talks that people listen
to, the sort of teachings that people read, is almost
always this teacher, that monk, this
nun, this lay teacher, it's
perhaps mahasi sayadaw tradition, or the Goenka tradition
or it's the Pa-Auk-Sayadaw tradtion, or it's the Vissudhi Magga Tradition
or the Abhidhamma tradition, or it's the Ajahn Brahm tradition
or it's the, where all the traditions are
all these traditions out there, everybody is practicing these kinds of systems
of thought, following a particular teacher
but how often do you hear anybody say simply I practice the Buddhist
or the Buddha's tradition and that's all there's to it
nobody says that, everybody has some kind of other tradition that
their practicing, this you see again and again
as your travel around the world, everybody is following a
certain teacher, somebody, somebody else and when
they read something they read the books of that teacher, when they listen to talks
they listen to the talks of that particular teacher
sometimes it's the tibetan tradition, sometimes it's the mahayana tradition
sometimes some kind of sub-tradition within theravada
but very very rarely is it actually the word of the Buddha himself
and this is, in my opinion, it's a
unfortunate, because these traditions may have a lot of good things
I'm not saying these traditions are bad or evil or anything like that
certainly not, but the point is that you can never really know
absolute certainty how accurately they reflect the word of the Buddha
unless you read it for yourself and you find it was actually
going on in those suttas
i think there is a good reason, why people tend to
reflect, rather why people tend to go to all
these different traditions rather than going to the word of the Buddha
the reason for that is a historical one, the historical reason is that
the suttas have only existed in the pali language or
even sanskrit languages up until very very recently
for the last maybe two thousand years before they were
translated into modern languages, they only existed basically
in pali and sanskrit and nobody could actually read them
except for a very small group of specialist
monks and also perhaps nuns, that's a long time ago now
they were actually able to read these suttas and these were
only accessible only to this tiny little group of elitist monks
and nuns, around monasteries in asia and
apart from that nobody had direct access to these suttas
and if you were lay person or if you were a monastic who didn't understand
pali, you had to rely on these other experts
to actually be able to understand the word of the Buddha
you has this filter if you like, you had it filtered through other people
and because of that what happened
overtime we got this traditions that certain teachers
were the ones that would transmit the word of the Buddha to you
and that's why people started to go to the teachers and to use these teachers of various
traditions as their guidance for how to practice the Buddhist path
and they weren't able and they didn't have access to the Suttas
to the word of the Buddha himself and this is
a problem and this is quite an important and significant problem, if you think about it
for those of you who have read some of the suttas, you will probably know that the Buddha himself said
that the Dhamma should be taught in the local language
of people, so that when the Dhamma comes to the west
when it comes to australia, it should be taught in english
when it goes to thailand, it should be taught in thai, when it goes to china
in chinese, when it goes to norway which happens to be my home country
it should be taught in norwegian, when it goes to anywhere else, it should be taught
in that language which is there, so that people can understand
what the Buddha actually taught and this is
kind of one of the foundational things in the Buddhist practice
is that, this is how this Dhamma should be taught and yet
we have gone so far away from that foundational thing
today, or not today anymore, or up until very recently people have
no direct access to these suttas at all and I understand even today
if I go to places like Sri Lanka for example and you try to read
the suttas in sinhalese which is the language spoken in Sri Lanka
it's actually quite difficult, because the language is like a very lofty and
elevated sinhalese language
and it's a language which is very formal
and very full of pali words and pali phrases and it's hard to understand
if you go to Thailand it's the same problem, in Thailand as well the language used
to actually translate the suttas
into Thai, is again a very formal one and it's very difficult
for ordinary people to understand and grasp that language and even in
English, if you look at some of the first translations that were done into English about a 100 years ago
they had this kind of victorian feeling
to them, there were all of these 'thes', actually pre-victorain I think, all of 'thes'
and 'thous' and that sort of stuff and when you read it, you felt like
transported into alternative reality, it wasn't really english it was
some kind of Shakesperian thing some times, and that is
unfortunate because that's not how the Buddha taught, he taught
in the contemporary language of the day in India
and fortunately now we are beginning to see very good
and very reliable translations and very easy to read translations
in the modern Engligh which are very pleasant and very easy to read
and that is a great thing and that is exactly how the Buddha
said it should be and for that reason we should take the opportunity
now that these suttas are available, we should take the opportunity
for ourselves to try to access those suttas
and see why it was, what it was that
he taught and get a clear understanding for what these things were all about
because it can be very dangerous to rely on a teacher
I have seen myself during my lifetime as a monk
you see teachers doing all kind of crazy things, they may seem
often very inspiring in the beginning often they can be very charismatic
and they have a lot of metta perhaps and people are like you know magnet
it's almost like a magnet to people, people get drawn into these people
and then it turns out that even though they have these external
charismatic appearance, when it comes to the internal qualities
they are not as solid as people think they are
and then they start doing crazy things like, you know they
start having, if they are monastics they start having relationships with other people
or if it isn't that bad atleast they start geting sliding into all kind of
luxury and all kinds which are unseemly for a monastic
and ofcourse what happens when this happens is that the people
who think they have faith in something which is Buddhism
they get very very disappointed and sometimes they lose their
faith, they lose their willingness to practice and they throw out the
whole baby with the bath water, because they think Buddhism is some kind of corrupt
religion which is no good for anybody and ofcourse that is very very
unfortunate and that is what happens when you rely
or as what can happen when you rely
on like a teacher to teach you rather than the Buddha himself
and sometimes it isn't that bad and sometimes it's not as if the teacher
goes completely berserk and does wild things
sometimes it's simply that the teacher teaching which isn't quite in accordance
with the way the Buddha taught, sometimes the teachers thinks
which is slightly different, slightly maybe
not leading exactly in the same way, it doesn't actually take you
on exactly the same path that the Buddha taught, it doesn't take you to the same states
of deep peace and bliss that the Buddha said are
available for people, they're not actually
go to the same goal that the Buddha talked about
and because of that again this is a much more subtle difficulty
and is very very difficult sometimes to know whether the teacher have
is teaching the right path and the only way you can know that
is by going back to the word of the Buddha and using
that as your foundation stone. that should be
where you find your ultimate, kind of reference point
as to whether anybody is teaching the right path and this is
very important and ofcourse that also goes for Ajahn Brahm's teachings
I mean, what I say as well ofcourse
anybody's teachings, it's not as if one person just because
happens to be the teacher here, is somehow elevated above that criteria
he's not, it goes for everybody, everybody should be checked
out in this particular way. And the problem that you are seeing
here, the reason why it is so
dangerous to rely on individual teachers
this is a problem of refuge, it's a problem
of going for refuge in the wrong place and
in Buddhism, there is no where does the Buddha say that we should go for refuge
to individual people, that we should take an individual person as our teacher
and place all our confidence in that person and when that person
does something stupid we lose all that faith and confidence
infact that is against the idea of Buddhist refuge
Buddhist refuge is always the refuge in the triple gem
the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, that is the real refuge
and what does that mean. Now first of all, the idea of refuge
just simply means that there is a place that we can
go a place where we can ask for questions, a place
where we can seek solutions to problems in life when they arise
we all are going to have problems from time to time, it's wonderful to have
source of like wisdom and inspiring teachings
of understanding which can help us when problems arise
not only that but ofcourse they can also help us to actually improve our lives
even if we already have a pretty good life
it can always be better, it's not as if anybody
doesn't want to be more at peace, more contented
more happy in their life, we all want that. everybody wants less problems and difficulties
that's just the way it is. and if we find some kind of teaching
which can help us with that ofcourse that is we should
again, that is what we should be doing. So
the point here is that, the refuge
here is the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha. And
the Buddha is the historical Buddha that lived two and half thousand years
ago. Now you cannot go to the Buddha now and say I've
got these problems, I've got this I want to do. He's not around anymore
so what should we do instead we go to his teachings
and this is the Dhamma which are his teachings so that is
where we go for refuge. So the Buddha Dhamma comes
around this one thing which are the Suttas that are available today
this is where the refuge is now, both
the Buddha refuge and the Dhammma refuge are found
in those suttas. That is important
as two of the refuges straight way points straight back to the
suttas. The third refuge is the Sangha
now the Sangha, is the monastic usually
known as the monastic commmunity, but ofcourse it doesn't just mean that
there is a refuge in any kind of individual monk or individual nun
it's a community as a whole that you take refuge in
because that community is the carrier of Buddhism traditionally
so this is the community which normally specializes in Buddhism
so just as if you feel ill, you go to the doctor you don't go to the plumber
the plumber might give you some dangerous things if you go there
in the same way if you have a spiritual problem, you go to the Sangha rather
than go to you know, somewhere else that is
the traditional way of doing it. because the Sangha specializes
in this teachings and practices and hopefully to the best of their ability
and within that Sangha and the reason why that Sangha
is so powerful is because it's within that Sangha your
supposed to find the ariya sangha
the noble ones, the ones who have practiced the teachings to the point
where they understand the teaching of the Buddha, so in a sense
that is where you find your refuge, in the Ariya Sangha
and that Ariya Sangha because they have realized the teachings of the
Buddha, becuase they understand them, their teachings are
exactly the same as the teachings of the Buddha
they use their own words, they may use their own phrases they may explain it in a different
way from what you are used to but it points back to the same source
the same Dhamma, that is what they are teaching
so again it is pointing back to
the Dhamma that the Buddha taught two and half thousand years ago
the Suttas, the things that we have available today so again
even the Sangha is pointing back to those same Suttas
To that thing which we know today is the word of the Buddha
so there you are that is the triple gem for you, that
whole triple gem points in one direction to
the Suttas, to these beautiful teachings that we have available
from the Buddha, there is another way of looking at this as well
and that is to if you think about it, if you think about
well, you know we all want to have a teacher who is enlightened who understands these teachings
who has a lot of compassion and kindness
who is wise and peaceful and all these kind of things and everybody's always
competing about who is most enlightened and who is not enlightened
if when you travel around the world and you meet monks and lay people
they, everybody says my teacher is enlightened, my teacher is an arahant you know
I don't know about all these other teachers, but my teacher is definitely an arahant
and you find this happening again and again. And after a while you think that gee! there must be a lot of arahants in the world
if all these people are arahants. and you start to realize that actually you can't
trust this you know, just because their people say that their teacher is an arahant
It doesn't actually all that much, because we all want our teacher to be somebody special
We have to justify why we are a disciple of this teacher right
why your a disciple of somebody who hasn't got his act together, ofcourse you have that's why
you think your teacher is an arahant
so it is not really a very good criterion. We realize we can't really go about all this heresay
and all this things that other people say, that doesn't actually work
and in the end of the day even when we have a teacher that we have been around for a long time
and we have watched them and when we have seen that their conduct is pure
and beautiful and kind and all these kind of things, still at the end of
the day you can never be absolutely sure whether they really teach the true teaching
and this is the problem in life,
the only person that we have to assume is awakened has
understood the Buddha's teachings is the Buddha himself.
If the Buddha is not awakened, if the Buddha doesn't know what he is talking about
basically this whole thing we call Buddhism just collapses into absolutely nothing
It doesn't exist anymore. All these other teachers, all these teachings that we have
they rely on one thing, they rely
on the assumption that the Buddha actually was awakened.
two and half thousand years ago. Take him away, everything else is null and void.
and it collapses. For that reason, because the Buddha is really at the end of the day
is the only person we have to assumed was awakened, that is where we should place
our confidence, that is where we should read the teachings
because that is what has to be right.
Everything else has to be compared to that, everything else has to match up
to those teachings and only then should they really be accepted as genuine
if they do not contradict what was said
by the Buddha himself.
So these are some of the ways, that I urge you to think about the Dhamma
Don't go searching too much for teachers, it
is actually I should say it's very important to have teachers, it's very useful
to have somebody, you feel has, you know understood things
and it is this two things in Buddhism which personally I find very powerful
And the one thing that we have an ancient tradition which goes
back two and half thousand years which has been proven again and again
and that for me is very powerful, that you can read these Suttas which are so ancient
and yet feel a sense of familiarity when you open them, that is very very
powerful, that is one kind of leg one which this
edifice where Buddhism sort of stands on, for me, the Suttas.
The second one is that you find that people today who practice these teachings
and actually attains or they seem to attain some of the results
that the Buddha talked about two and half thousand years ago
there is the ancientness and the
there is also the contemporariness of these teaching coming together
that is also very very powerful blend
imagine that you find somebody, some kind of guru
who goes around saying I'm awakened and but has absolutely no tradition that he follows
he only praises himself and he doesn't have anything to look upto anything over himself
or herself, now that is always a bit dodgy
you always feel a little bit, oh! ok wait, I'm not really sure about this, it sounds maybe a little bit
selfish or little bit self centered or whatever, but when you have that
combination of an ancient tradition of even the most highly
attained spiritual master in Buddhism will bow down to the Buddha.
Now that is a very powerful thing and it has a kind of egolessness to it, which is very very useful.
So, um
that is, that is why this is important, again why the suttas matter so much.
And I would like you to show you maybe now, in practice
how this can actually work out, and I like you to remind you
one of the stories in Ajahn Brahm's book. I'm sure most of you have read Ajahn Brahm's book
"The opening the door of your heart". Now there is a story in that book about
when Ajahn Brahm went to Central America to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and that is where the Ancient Mayans
civilization existed about, I think I'm not sure now
I get my dates wrong, maybe a thousand or one thousand five hundred years ago something like that
And ofcourse this Mayan Civilization, they built pyramids. They weren't as large as the ones in Egypt,
but nevertheless they built pyramids. And Ajahn Brahm tells the story when he went to this yucatan Peninsula
and he was travelling through the Jungle and the Jungle there is very dense and very thick
you can only see a few meters ahead of you. And he gets to this pyramid and he walks up to the pyramid
the first time in days, he can actually see the landscape all around, he can see the roads going through the jungle
he could see the little rivers, he could see maybe the other pyramids coming up through the Jungle cover
And he realized suddenly that this was an amazing metaphor for what happens in meditation practice.
Meditation practice is just like this, when you have a deep meditation for the first time, it's like you elevate yourself
above the jungle of life, with all the problems, all the things that are happening in life and suddenly you can see all around
and you can understand life, understand this thing we call sensuality, understand how we operate as human beings
for the first time. And I always thought that was a very interesting simile, well I thought that this is quite powerful
and then one day, I was reading the suttas and I came across this and I want to read this to you to
Give you a feeling for what the suttas are like, it's very nice to talk about the Suttas in abstract but here
I'm going to give you the real deal as what they say.
So this is a simile straight from the Suttas, and it goes as follows,
"Suppose,there were a high mountain not far from a village or town and two friends would approach that mountain
hand in hand. One of them would climb to the top and the other stand at the foot, the one at the foot of the mountain
tells his friend at the top, Friend what do you see from the top of the mountain?
The other replies, I see pleasant parks, pleasant forests, pleasant lands and pleasant ponds
The one at the foot of the mountain says it is not possible that you can see pleasant parks, pleasant forests, pleasant lands and pleasant ponds
then the one on top of the mountain comes down and taking the one at the foot of the mountain by the arm leads him to the top.
after giving him a few moments to catch his breath, he asks, well friend what do you see from the top of the mountain
he says I see pleasant parks, pleasant forests, pleasant lands and pleasant ponds
the other says, friend it was about this, that you said, it is not possible to see pleasant parks, pleasant forests, pleasant lands and pleasant ponds
from the top of the mountain, and now you say I see pleasant parks, pleasant forests, pleasant lands and pleasant ponds,
and the other replies, friend I was obstructed by this huge mountain and did not see what was there to be seen
So that is the simile, this is from the Suttas and to give you the framework around this, this is after a discussion about meditation
There is a monk, who says to a prince that it is possible in the Buddha's teachings to gain Samadhi, deep states of meditation
one-pointedness of mind, this is possible in the Buddhist meditation. And the prince says Rubbish! no such thing is possible
and then the Buddha says to this monk, that well ofcourse he couldn't understand because he was obstructed by this big mountain
this big mountain is a word here for ignorance or for the five hindrances, the things that obstruct you from seeing things
and only when you get to the top of that mountain when you get the over-view, can you actually understand what is going on.
And for me I must say, it was very powerful when I read this Sutta, and I thought to myself gee, I don't actually know to this day
would Ajahn Brahm originally read this Sutta and then maybe sub-consciously applied it to his own teaching
or whether it just happens to be almost virtually identical to what is found in the Suttas.
That is powerful and for me, it is I was already I already liked Ajahn Brahm's simile but the point is that when you read it
And when it comes from the word of the Buddha it gives it much more authority, much more power and you realize the importance of this
And it also makes you respect Ajahn Brahm as a teacher when you see that the way he teaches is so close to the word of the Buddha
And infact this is one of the things, one of the reasons why the suttas are so useful because they give's us a guidance
as to who actually has understood these teachings and who hasnn't. That is actually very useful and it doesn't mean that we
should become very judgemental as people, that we should go around denouncing this teacher and praising that teacher
ofcourse not, what it means that it gives us a rough idea of where we should place our confidence and that matters
we have to be honest about it, it does matter some people are worthy of confidence, other people less so and that's just the way things happen to be
Some people are good meditators, some people are not, some people are wise, some people are not so wise
Doesn't mean that we should become upset, negative about people who aren't so wise. It just means that we are dealing
with a reality here and this is just the way things are and it is important to have some sense for where we should place that confidence
and that is what the Suttas do, and this kind of thing for me, this is a very simple way of seeing how this works
it's very simple because it's so identical the two similes, very often it isn't that easy, nevertheless as you get acquainted
by the Suttas, you start to be able to make your own judgement about things and that is a very very powerful thing
there's one thing that I should have mentioned before which I didn't say and this is one of the things that the Buddha said
I don't know when he said this, but he talked about the future perils for Buddhism.
And this is one of those future perils, is that in future people will listen to all these poets and poetry.
They will listen to what he called the outsiders, outsiders are people outside of the Buddhist religion
He said they will listen to the Savakas, the Savakas are the disciples of the Buddha or the disciple of the Buddhist teachings
and they will be interested, they will lend an ear and they will try to understand when these things are happening
these things are being spoken but when the word of the Buddha, profound teachings connected with emptiness
as it says in the Sutta are being spoken, they will not be interested, they will not lend an ear and this I feel sort of
sums up what has happened in large parts of the Buddhist world. People are not so interested often in leading an ear
when the profound suttas of the Buddha are being taught and yet they will often listen to these people who are really just disciples of the Buddha
So this is important and this amazing that this text is actually found in the Buddha's teachings it shows how
presient he was understanding how things are going to actually, what sort of course Buddhist will take in the future
fortunately today I think that there is actually a movement, many places around the world to read the suttas again
that's a great thing, you find that some of the best sellers for example in some of the spiritual publishers around the world
like big Wisdom Publications in the US is one of the big spiritual publishers. Some of the best sellers that they
have these days are actually the Suttas and they sell them in the thousands, thousand probably tens of thousands of copies
of these things. That is great and that is the kind of development, that I personally think should be encouraged and it's
great to move in that direction.
But I want to bring up one more issue which I think is very important for people, to give you a sense of confidence
and what we are talking about when I say use the word suttas, I use the word the Buddha's discourses actually are
The words of the Buddha because you may think you get this book and people tell you as this, these are the Suttas
these are the word of the Buddha and how do I know that these things are the word of the Buddha
and how can I tell this, and this is infact very important and this is very important because there is a lot of research
out there today among researchers, linguists people who call themselves Buddhalogist which is a rather funny term
in my opinion, it is an interesting term, but anyway these people they do research in these kind of particular areas
there's lot of research out there and I'm gonna summarize for you what this research says and it's very important
to actually take this kind of research seriously, because if the word of the Buddha is as important as I'm trying to say
it actually is for us, it is so incredibaly fundamental that it important that we are absolutely honest about where that
word of the buddha is to be found. We can't really afford to delude ourselves and pretend that something is the
word of the buddha when infact it isn't. So how do we know that something is the word of the buddha, one of the most
powerful ways that we can know that and that is that it's simply that these teachings have been preserved in
different traditions over a very very long period of time. So you find the word of the buddha for example, it has been
translated into chinese for example, it also some of the word of the buddha is in tibetian, some of the word of the buddha
is found in sanskrit sources, some of them, lot of it ofcourse in Pali, some of them is found in languages you probably
never heard of before because they are dead languages which don't exist anymore, languages such as Sogdian
which is like a Turkish language, or Cotenese which is also another Turkish language which existed in Central Asian
about two thousand years ago and these languages preserve these teachings and what is amazing to know is that
these lineages, these different sects of Buddhism that give rise to these different translations, different languages their
separated from each other about two thousand two hundred years ago, maybe two thousand one hundred years ago
so that means that the teachings that we find today in chinese for example and the ones that we find in the Pali
they have been separated for about two thousand two hundred years, and then the amazing thing is you take
the chinese, you read it, if you read chinese that is, you take the Pali, you read the Pali again if you read Pali and you
compare them and you see, wow! it is virtually almost identical, the same. After two thousand two hundred years, it's not exactly
the same, there are small changes there which you would expect because of corruptions over time, but they are
virtually the same and that is an incredibly powerful thing, if you think about it. That these texts are so similar after two
thousand two hundred years and it gives you a very powerful ground to actually know that what we have today is
indeed the teachings of the Buddha. Your almost back to the time of the Buddha when these things were separated
and they are still almost exactly the same and that is the first thing it shows you, and the other thing that it shows you
is that um those things which exist in common between the chinese between the Pali between the Sanskrit it is that
commonality in teachings which are also the most original teachings, because all the different schools have these teachings
it means that they came from a source which lay before those schools separated from each other. So again it is very
easy then to actually decide, what is the Word of the Buddha and what we have to be much more careful with
and which may not be the Word of the Buddha and to make a long story short when it all comes down to is that those
teachings that you find in the Pali canon, some of the very best, some of the very most original teachings that are
available today, sometimes you can also use the teachings in the chinese canon and you can use that sort of help you
correct some of the mistakes, that might have crept into the Pali, but generally speaking the Pali canon the four main
Nikhayas of the Pali are the place, the Long Discourses, the Middle Discourses, the Connected Discourses and the Numerical Discourses of the Buddha
That is where you find the word of the buddha. So I would encourage you to take those discourses up, we have lot of
them in the library over here, take them up and start reading them and I think you will find that they are sometimes
inspiring sometimes you have no ideas what's going on because sometimes they can be quite hard to understand these teachings
and that is why it is useful after all to have a teacher as well somebody who can guide you in these kind of things
So I'm not saying that the teachers are useless that you should just read on your own, on the contrary teachers can
be very useful to guide you, but as you start reading these things as you start learning them you start gaining a sense
of independence, a sense of being your own man or own woman and being able to actually to read these things in
your own way and seeing what's actually going on there and making your own judgement about these things.
And that is a very powerful feeling to gain that sense of independence in Buddhism, where you feel that you are a
Buddhist and you are sort of running your own life so to speak. Of course, this again having a teacher is powerful
and important and very useful but you also have this independent source that you can use it's very very beautiful
and don't think that these teachings are very difficult to read and hard to read. Sometimes I know people think that all the
Suttas, their so kind of elevated, how on earth can I you know, ordinary me expected to understand these things
they are not that elevated not that hard to understand. They are meant for ordinary people, it was ordinary people that
ordained at the time of the Buddha that became monks and nuns. It was these ordinary people that attained stages of
enlightenment, that attained Samadhi under the Buddha. So we are no different from those people, we are just the same
if they can understand them, we can understand them. If we can understand them, so could they. So their not that hard
Yes! it is true, they look a little bit different when you start reading the Suttas, Boy, this is quite repeatitive, for example
and the reason for that is because it comes from an oral tradition so they actually read quite differently from how you
read literature today. But once you get used to that, once you get past that kind of barrier you find that they actually
speak quite directly to you. And that is great and there are simple practical teachings, very often extraordinarily practical
and sometimes you can apply them directly to you life. And sometimes, their also very evocative, they are very
beautiful, they have like the simile of the mountain that I talked to you just now.
There is an enormous number of similes to be found in the Suttas everywhere, it is very evocative, very powerful
when you read that and you feel inspired and you feel emotionally uplifted, you feel a sense of joy when you read
these things sometimes. That is also very powerful. So reading the Suttas is not just about gaining intellectual
understanding, it's also by gaining kind of spiritual nourishment a sense of being lifted up, a sense of being
inspired. A sense of wanting to meditate and wanting to practice the path and all of these things are found in the
Suttas and it's very powerful. And then you come here and listen to a talk by Ajahn Brahm on friday night and you
understand the talk in entirely new way when you have read the Suttas beforehand, sometimes people say
Oh! Ajahn Brahm, he just tells stories and jokes but there's always a lot of serious dhamma as well with Ajahn Brahm
it's like a mixture and sometimes to grasp the serious dhamma behind all the kind of happy fascade, you have to
sometimes, it's very helpful sometimes to read the Suttas, to understand what is actually happening there then
everything becomes more fouldful, everything builds itself up and then when you have a problem you go to one of the
monks, if you can, you go to Ajahn Brahm or to anybody else and ask them, what does this mean, I don't understand
this. After a while, when I sit here and I give a sutta reading on a sunday, you know your sutta so well that you can
sort of pick me up on places where I make mistakes for example. That is where you know that you have very good
understanding of those Suttas and to give you an idea of what I think is a very evocative Sutta which is very powerful
I would read one more Sutta for you, this is also about mountains, I personally like mountains a lot, many people do
because I think there is something Majestic about mountains. They are big heavy powerful and they also give
this beautiful view of the world, so there's something, something very attractive about mountains in my opinion
So this is ah, this other Sutta I wanna read out and this here starts off "The Blessed one said to King Pasenadi of Kosala"
this is one of the ancient kings at the time of the Buddha, "what do you think great king, here a man would come to
you from the east, one who is trustworthy and reliable and he would tell you for sure great king, you should know this
I'm coming from the east and there I saw a great mountain high as the clouds coming this was crushing all living beings
Do whatever you think should be done great king,and then a second man would come to you from the west,
then a third man would come to you from the north, then a fourth man would come to you from the south, one who is
trustworthy and reliable and he would tell you for sure great king, you should know this. I'm coming from the south and
there I saw a great mountain, high as the clouds coming this way crushing all living beings, do whatever you think should
be done great king, if great king such a great peril should arise such a terrible destruction of human life
the human state being so difficult to obtain what should be done. the king replies, if venerable sir such a great peril
should arise what else should be done but to live by the dhamma to live righteously and to do wholesome and to do
meritorious actions. I inform you, says the Buddha, i inform you great king, I announce to you great king
ageing and death are rolling in on you, when ageing and death are rolling in on you great king, what should be done?
King replies, when ageing and death are rolling in on me Venerable Sir, what else should be done but to live by the
Dhamma, to live righteously, to do wholesome and meritorious deeds. So it is great king, so it is great king, as
ageing and death are rolling in on you, what else should be done but to live by the Dhamma, to live righteously and to do wholesome
and meritorious deeds. Just as mountains of solid stone, massive reaching to the sky might draw together from
all sides crushing all in the four quarters, so ageing and death come rolling in over living beings they spare none
along the way, but come crushing everything.
So, that is, one of my, I like this Sutta a lot because I find it very evocative and very powerful, it gives a very, for me
when I read this it sort of gives me almost a bit of goose-pimples, it's so powerful and it makes it so clear that we
all heading in that direction of ageing and death. Simile there for me atleast is is powerful, ofcourse for you it may be
different so you need to take those suttas for yourself, read them find something that works for you and then find if you
also can find that inspiration in those suttas. So that is my talk this evening.
So does anybody have any questions or anything you wanna ask about or comment on or any corrections to
what I said perhaps or whatever. please don't feel shy to ask stupid questions, perfectly allowable in this place to ask
a stupid question usually they they are very good questions so whatever you, so whatever you want to do,
anybody want to say anything. Everbody is perfectly happy, amazing!
yes please ya,[question being asked]
I think, so what your saying is that you find that you have a teacher that you are sort of attracted to, maybe attached to a little
and there seem to be a good person and later on they turn out not to be as good as they actually are, what should our
reaction be, what should we do in the circumstance, and I think that maybe the first thing that you can try to point out
to the teacher, you know listen! you know,you are going the wrong way, what is happening here, why are you going the
wrong way, this is not in accordance with the Buddha's teaching. And maybe you find out that there has been a
misunderstanding, maybe there's been something which hasn't, maybe they don't really see what's there and if they
are a good and gracious teacher they will take your admonishment and correction very seriously and they will
point out to you why this happened and they will maybe change, their ways and become a different person in the
future, so that is in a sense one way of seeing, what sort of teacher you are dealing with here, cause if they are that
humble then ofcourse something which may have looked wrong may actually turn out to be a good thing after all
that is the first thing, the second thing is simply that if you find that out then it is a wonderful thing that you can you know
if it goes the wrong way, then very often you know you realize that you made a mistake and you don't take the
teachings of that teacher so seriously again in the future. ofcourse, it maybe that even the teacher who does the wrong thing
it maybe that they actually have certain aspects or certain ways of maybe teaching meditation which is powerful certain
ways of doing things which are very useful for you and you can still keep practicing those things according to those
teachings, if you want to, you don't have to throw it all out, if it works for you so to speak. but it means that you become a
little bit more skeptical about the teachings, it means that maybe you double-check again according to the Suttas
to make sure that everything is right the way it should be and you probably you won't have the same faith
and confidence in the future as we had in the past, that is fine. And, um, ya, does that answer, is that what you were
thinking of roughly, you happy with that, ok good. Anybody else have any, anything you wanna bring up
Yes,[Question being asked]
Well, I think that Numerical Discourses is quite nice to start because it's actually anthology it's not the full numercial
discourses, it's just related suttas so they have taken out the best ones which often is a good help, but usually
one of the best places and the two best places that we can start reading the suttas, one if the Majjhima Nikhaya,
the middle length sayings, and the reason is because they are often like more than just the teaching, often they are
also little bit of stories in there, there's all kind of things and it makes it a bit live and it makes you know, you get a feeling
for what life was like in those days in a sense also when you read that, then the teachings are often embedded in these
kind of narrative things, there's also very wide variety of teachings in the Majjhima Nikhaya, you get everything there
from the most basic teachings, the highest kind of teachings available so you can just flip through it. So the nice thing
about the Suttas, you don't have to read from cover to cover, you can flip through and read whatever inspires you
at the time and Majjhima Nikhaya is also very well annotated so when you read it as introductions, which explain to the
teachings, before you even start reading the Suttas. It has summaries of all the Suttas, so you can actually look at the
summaries and see what you think, what should I read today? and you can read that one, um, and, so all of these
things. makes it a very nice collection to read, so that's what I wanna recommend, another thing that you can read and
this is one of the probably the most favourite of all the Buddhist books, is to read Buddhist poetry and the
Dhammapada is the most famous book of Buddhist poetry. Everybody reads this one there exists I think about
I don't know what that the count is, 60, 70, 80 different translations into English of the Dhammapada
Because it's so, people really like this one, there's a lot of beautiful stuff in there, very very beautiful verse
it can be very very inspiring, you know, things like you know the, very simple thing, mind is the forerunner of all things,
you know just like the hoof of the cart, the cart follows the hoof of the ox. So all phenomenon follows the mind, or
something like that, para-phrasing, I can't remember exactly how it works. There's lots of beautiful, little verses like that
full of that, which is inspiring. So try a bit of both sometimes poetry can be nice , sometimes the straight suttas can be nice,
see whatever works for you and you can also come to Nollamara here, we have Sutta classes here as well
and if you have a chance to come to those, they can also be very useful, you can ask questions about these things
I think a lot of these suttas are actually often, pre, I think they are kindof advertised beforehand, so you actually know
which Sutta is being spoken that particular Sunday, so you can look up if there's a Sutta you like or not and if it's the
one you like, you can come and listen to it. Ya. Yes [Question being Asked]
you can, i mean, there is a lot of sutta study available around the world, people like Bhikkhu Bodhi, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
he does Sutta studies. They happen here in Nollamara, Ajahn Brahm, occasionally I come in here and do sutta studies
and you can listen to those sutta studies and they can be very inspirational. I think, the reason why the, it is more
inspirational to hear them rather than to read them, it's simply because if it comes from somebody with a certain
authority, somebody who is very peaceful, somebody who is very kind of happy and profound, you get this, it's like you
listen in a different way when it comes from somebody like that and that is why I think it was so powerful at the time
of the Buddha to actually listen to the Buddha giving these discourses, but it depends on who the person is who reads
these discourses, some people may find that very powerful, others may not be so powerful, it really depends
so because of that, i think reading can sometimes also be very very useful. Sometimes we have to do both, both have
to read and listen and sort of combine them all together. Sometimes you may be sitting at home, you may feel
very nice, you've had a nice meditation practice and you open a Sutta and you read and you think. Wow!
that is so wonderful and so beautiful and it gives a sense of happiness and joy to you. you just have to try, basically
and see,see, see how things evolve, okay
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Benefits of Reading the Suttas

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Hhart Budha published on June 13, 2014
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