Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Notes from the the Introduction to the Essential Tibetan Buddhism by Robert Thurman

[From the wisdom of the terrible things that happened to Tibet in the second half of the twentieth century is] "to challenge the Tibetan Buddhists to let go of the trappings of their religion and philosophy and force themselves to achieve the ability to embody once again in this terrible era their teachings of detachment, compassion, and wisdom, and to scatter the Indo-Tibetan Buddhist teachers and disseminate their teachings throughout the planet among all the people, whether religious or secular, at this apocalyptic time when humanity must make a quantum leap from violence to peacefulness in order to preserve life on earth." (8)

[The Buddhist Enlightenment Movement] "is rational, guided by a critical inquiry into the nature of the reality of self and of the world, and experimental, proceeding from solid conclusions to the experiential verification of those conclusion." (11)

"He [Buddha] knew that the only means for beings to gain freedom was their individual understanding of their unique situation, He was forced to try to help them come to such an understanding. [...] Buddha was thus compelled to create methods of education for beings, "education" in the true sense of eliciting in beings the understanding of which they are capable, without indoctrinating or conditioning them....[Buddhas] do not transmit their understand into others' minds; They introduce beings to freedom by educating them about reality." (12)

"The monastic organization was a kind of inversion of the military organization: a peace army rather than a war army, a self-conquest tradition rather than an other-conquest tradition, a science of inner liberation rather than a science of liberating the outer world from the possession of others." (14)

"Atisha upheld the master's personal precept as the lifeline of the true Dharma, more important even than the authoritative canonical texts. He said that the "instruction of the Mentor" was more important than knowledge of all the Scriptures and their commentaries. This is because the authentic guru, lama, master, or spiritual mentor, is the representative of the immediate applicability of the teachings of an individual who needs methods to put into practice. General knowledge of doctrine is useful but does not automatically come with the skill to apply it. The mentor is the key element that makes the teaching practicable." (23)

"This rule of interpretation means the enlightened mentor is necessary to extract the instructional bottom line from the discourse or Scripture, since it is his or her job to decide which teaching applies to which practitioner." (23)

"It does a sick person no good to have a suitcase full of medicines if he does not know which one to take for his condition." (23)

-Robert Thurman, Essential Tibetan Buddhism (New York: HarperOne, 1995), 1-47.