Buddhism - Lesson 3
The First Two Sermons (Part 1)
The First Sermon of Buddha
The First Two Sermons (Part 1)
The Voice of Dissent
II. The First Two Sermons (part 1)
A. The First Sermon
1. Four Noble Truths:
a. TRUTH # 1: All of Life is eventually sorrowful (Dukha)
b. TRUTH # 2: Sorrow (Dukha) is Caused by Desire (Tanha)
c. TRUTH #3: Cessation of Desire is the key to the extinguishing of the ego and putting out the fire/flame of ‘thirst’/ ‘craving’
Hinduism background #4: Hindu reflection on wheel of samsara and Moksa
d. TRUTH #4: There is a Path (Marga) which leads to the Cessation of Suffering (Dukha)
2. The Eight-fold Path
B. The Second Sermon
1. The Three Characteristics
Misery only does exist, but none miserable;
No doer is there, nothing but the deeds are found,
Nirvana is, but not the man who seeks it,
The 8-fold path exists, but not the traveler on it.
Terms to Know from this Lecture:
The First Sermon
The Second Sermon
Four Noble Truths
Definition of Buddhism and a description of how it began and its present status as a world religion.
Experiences in Siddhartha Gautama's life, and how they led the teachings that resulted in the formation of Buddhism.
The First Sermon of Buddha
Description of the five aggregates and the foundational doctrine of Buddhism.
Therevada emerged as the preserver of the Way of the Elders. The three jewels of the Therevada are the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.
The three insights of Mahayana Buddhism are that Buddha taught secret truths, the Buddha was a divine being and a dharmic concept, not just an earthly figure, and Gautama was not the only Buddha.
The Mahayana Sutras include the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, Lotus Sutra, Heart Sutra, Vimalakirti Sutra and the Lankavatara Sutra.
A bodhisattva is an enlightened one who, out of compassion, forgoes nirvana in order to save others.
In Buddhism, actual objects of worship and adoration are ultimately illusory and superseded by true enlightenment. (This lecture begins in the outline, point IX. The Rise of Buddhist Philosophy, point D, #2. The lecture covering IX, points A, B, C and D #1 is not available, but Dr. Tennent is planning to record it.)
Two invocational Mahayana Buddhist Schools are Chinese “Pure Land” Buddhism and Japanese “Pure Land” Buddhism.
Chinese and Japanese Meditative Buddhism includes Zen Buddhism.
Buddhist mudras are hand gestures which have physical and spiritual significance. Family ties in a shame-based culture may often place significant social pressures on a person considering converting from Buddhism to Christianity.
The incarnation means that Jesus is both fully God and fully man and came to earth as God in the flesh.
The doctrines of transmigration and reincarnation are central to Buddhism and provide no assurance for Buddhists of their ultimate spiritual destination.
Buddhism and Christianity have fundamental theological differences.
Guest lecturer, Todd Johnson, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, founder of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity.
In this course, you will gain an in-depth understanding of Buddhism, including its historical background, key concepts, and major branches. You will explore the life and teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, and learn about the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Additionally, you will examine the differences between the major branches of Buddhism, such as Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana, and learn about various Buddhist practices and beliefs, including meditation, karma, rebirth, and the role of the Sangha. Lastly, you will study how Christians can bring hope to Buddhists by sharing the truths of God's character and the salvation of His Son.
Dr. Timothy Tennent
The First Two Sermons (Part 1)
Well, good morning. And we had a good weekend. We're actually today going to focus on the first two sermons of the Buddha. We've kind of basically at this point, we've done a brief overview of his life. We looked at the four holy sites, define Buddhism in kind of general terms. But really today we began to actually look at some of the content of the Buddha's enlightenment, as he is now known as the Buddha. In order to do that, have kind of a outline for it to follow this through. This is actually extremely important material to to kind of have in hand, because as we'll see later on, the whole of Buddhism is built on this structure, even though there's so much diversity within Buddhism, mind boggling, bewildering diversity, there is continuity at this level. And so I actually am calling this the seminal content of Buddha's enlightenment, seminal here, meaning both important as well as able to be developed and nuanced in various ways. But this is the basic content. This is a general structure, and we'll look at each of these parts today. 13 Main teachings that are historically attributed to the Buddha's original teaching. Now, later on, we're going to see a bit later in the course that there are groups, major groups actually, that claim that the Buddha taught some things secretly, which they have and others don't have. But everybody acknowledges that this these 13 basic teachings here are or that which is shared by all of Buddhism. So this is very, very important because this provides the proper foundation, as it were, from which everything else emerges and developed and comes from. So you have the four noble truths, which we'll look at today, including what's called the Eightfold Path.
You have the three characteristics. Most important have been the rejection of the Ottoman. We'll examine what that means. The five aggregates and the one foundational doctrine for 351. Now, those 13 teachings are absolutely critical. In fact, if these two doctrines matter stood the rejection of Atman and the pendant arising Dr. Pada, we will find ourselves in deep trouble throughout the rest of the course. So these are essential to understand and be able to be reasonably conversant with because everything is trying to either react against it, define it, explain it, develop it in some way. These are the seminal teachings. So I encourage you, if there's any difficulty problems, to let me know and we can continue clarifying it because it's it's essential for it. So let's try to examine what happens after we we look last week at the two great pronunciations of the Buddha. What were the two renunciation? What was the first renunciation? All right. Renunciation of wealth. So you had the reaction against the dramatic kind of luxury that he had. In fact, in Buddha's day, there was a movement which today is no longer in existence. I mean, you could say it's existence in the Western world in some ways, but as a philosophy called Kavala. This was another dissent movement against Hinduism that was present in Buddhist day. Savarkar basically said that there are four elements to the human body. There's earth, water, fire and air. This is very, very typical of that time period, especially in the whole subcontinent, to try to examine what is the nature of the human existence. So they basically said there's earth water, fire in our air, everything. We have come to those four elements and when you die, those elements go back into the earth.
So it was extreme from materialism, basically, that said there is no afterlife, there is no eternal principles. Basically, all we have is this life. So it became extremely strong advocates of indulgence, sensual pleasures, whatever, because no, we eat and drink and tomorrow we die. Basically that kind of attitude. So the way Buddha represents a rejection of that. And then, of course, the second great renunciation was what? He renounced the extreme asceticism of the political group that he was involved in, especially the five ascetics that he met in Varanasi that were advocating extreme self-denial. So Buddhism, as we saw last week, represents the middle way. So all of these teachings here are often called teachings of the middle way. So we now have a rejection of curvature, a rejection of rabbinical dominant by the Brahmin caste, and we have this so-called middle way. So according to their tradition, he was underneath a body tree. I showed you a picture that last week, the night of this full moon, he ascended the four stages. Diana, we looked at last week, he got the six super analogies. Or he could do all kinds of things, walk on water, walk through a solid space and so forth. And then he began to gain an insight into the Wheel of Samsara. And we looked last week to the Wheel of Samsara. This is that Wheel of suffering, the Wheel of life. And he began to see the causes of why people are on this wheel of suffering because of karma. He saw people's karma. He saw the relationship of their karma to their liberation from the wheel of samsara, which the Hindus called Moksha. He was observing all of these things and the result is that they believed to be that he received an enlightenment as to the way out from this.
And we call this. Well, this begins that the two major sermons, he travels down to Varanasi, I think I showed you on the overhead when we started. Let me just show you this place is the location in Varanasi, just actually a couple miles out of Varanasi, first called Sirnas in north India. And instead of up where on this site he gave these two sermons. So this is where the whole Buddha's teaching begins. And we're going to look at the first sermon and we're going to go through the four noble truths, the beginning of the 13 teachings. The first is the four noble truths. Okay? The first noble truth is that you see on the overhead area, also on your handout, all of life is eventually sorrowful. The word that's used there is Duka. Duka is the word for sorrow, for extreme sense of alienation, deep depression. Now, it doesn't say all of life is sorrowful. You may find that actually in textbooks, but access should be all of life is eventually sorrowful because he's not actually denying the fact that you might have moments of happiness or joy or whatever in any particular time in your life. The point is that eventually everything is transitory, everything is fleeting, everything is changing. This is the realization, and I think that part of this is recognizing this whole sermon. Both of these sermons give a diagnosis of the human problem. You notice on the handout I have that here. The first sermon, the Buddha's diagnosis of the human race. Now, I want to really clarify a bit about this, because this is actually important. One of these you have to realize in looking at Buddhism is there's a big difference between the diagnosis and the prescription for for healing.
If someone if you go in a doctor's office and someone says, I've examined you and your heart is in bad shape, you have a failing heart. That's a diagnosis of a heart condition. But the next step is, okay, what do I do about it? Maybe you need a heart transplant. Maybe you just need some medicine. And so you have to distinguish between what the Buddha observes about the human condition and the Buddhist response to it. Because I think that the Buddhist description or diagnosis in many ways resonates with many observations that we find in the Bible about the human condition. So we don't have any actually any fundamental disagreement with many of the observations that Buddha makes that the human race is sick. There's a problem. The problem comes, of course, in the Buddha's description of the way out of this mess. So when you listen to the four truths you might want to think about reflectively, in what way is this true? In what way is this an accurate observation about life? In what ways? Maybe it is not accurate about life. Even as a Christian worldview, you should begin to assess and reflect on this. We're not at the point yet where we can really begin. They do a lot of thorough Christian critique of Buddhism because we don't have yet enough on the table. But eventually we will. And we need to have this kind of already germinating in our minds a little bit as we think through this. So he's basically saying all of life is transitory and fleeting. And this is actually the traditional statement he made to the monks. Now, this monks is the noble truth of Duka birth is do car, old age is do, car sickness is due.
Car death is Duka. Sorrow, lamentation, dejection. Despair Are Duka contact with unpleasant things? Is Duka in separation from what one wishes is Duka? In short, the five aggregates on the which one grasps are Duka. We haven't discussed the five aggregates, but he is basically saying here, all of life is sorrowful, all of life is fleeting. Now, this actually involves, if you analyze this three kinds of sorrow that he's talking about, as this is later posited by the Buddha. The first is the one we're already familiar with, and that's what we call the sorrow of the four sites, such as the three sites, the first three sites. You remember how he went out on the chariot ride and he saw encountered old age, sickness and death. Okay. So that is one dimension of this, Duka, is that it doesn't matter how young and vibrant you may be right now. We all realize that we're getting older, we get sick, we're moving toward death. That is a reality that is not going to be we can't wish it away, as it were. It's coming our way. And so you gradually begin to recognize that. I had a good friend of mine, in fact, his women in the summer who got back from India and the day after he got back, he had a stroke on his right hand side. He's about 70 years old. And he now has no he actually has use of his limbs and arm and leg, but he doesn't have any feeling on his right hand side. And so he touches something. He can't feel it, but he can use his hands and so forth. And he was saying that, okay, I'm 70 years old. I can live with the fact that I'm numb on the right hand side, but I can't.
I'm feeling depressed. You know, you get this depression because you realize, you know, I'm 70 years old. The clock is ticking. That kind of realization, you know, and he was telling you how he's a lot of times people have strokes. The hardest thing about responding to it is not the the actual physical condition of learning to do things. I mean, he's learning what he can walk. You know, everything is going to be okay in terms of that. But the depression about the situation, because they're saying it turned out he has a tumor in his brain. They're saying it's already done. His damage is probably not much is going to happen else. But we don't know. We can't it's too risky to go in and take it out. So you just basically just can't live with it. You don't have any feeling in your right hand side. You know, it's a very depressing thing when you finally that kind of sinks in the first time, the third or fourth day, you wake up and realize this is the way it is. So Buddha kind of has this sinking realization that, you know, everybody is headed toward old age, sickness and death, and that is a reality. The second I mentioned before, the connection, the body to this, the kind of the inner mental emotional state, is that how that plays out on your mind and your ability to plan and to think about the future is if you realize that you're headed this way. So the a mental kind of emotional depression. And then thirdly, there's a dissatisfaction which will come out in the next unknowable truth of it more clearly. But the fact that we are never fully satisfied with the things that we pursue in life, we have goals in life.
We want a certain job. We want certain things. We try to. He had lived in all these palaces and he had had all kinds of luxuries, and he never felt really satisfied. And so he's recognizing that there's never enough. It was Ecclesiastes five or ten which says whoever loves money never has money enough. It isn't like you have enough money. You'll finally be happy. I think it was Rockefeller who's once asked who had millions and millions of dollars. Someone said to him, How much money would you like to have? How much money would be enough? And he said, A dollar more than I have. And actually, it's very insightful into the human condition, because the more money you make, the more you find ways to you have to have that much and that it's going to cycle. And so he's aware of this, these kind of cycles in the human condition. So that's basically the first observation about the human race that all of life is suffering. You have these various aspects of that. All right. Questions about this concept of Duka. Yes. Yes. The three fold suffering of three aspects is the the outward, physical, the three sides old age self doubt. That's one. Two is the mental emotional state of suffering. The third is that you're never fully satisfy your desires. In fact, you know, they're trying to show that all of life is suffering. And in the monastery near where I work in India, in fact, Andrew was just there. You all went over to the monastery when you were there, the Tibetan monastery, yoga, right this next door as soon as a huge Tibetan monastery. And what you'll see them doing, they will spend months. And this is Tibetan. This is a this is not something you'd find in any Buddhist monastery, but this is a Tibetan thing.
But just to kind of also this point of Duka, they'll spend months taking pieces of colored sand and riding onto this walkway, onto this like a like an open little it's like a a like a tile kind of enclosed garden area. They'll spend months arranging the word duka and sand and socks. Looks like this. It goes like this. This is the looks like that. That's the dust sound. This is the sound that shaped right there. That's that's the word word. That means Duka and Sanskrit. And in Pali, the language of Buddhists is Pali and Sanskrit. So they take this make it this design in the sand, these letters, and they'll spend months laying it all out, just properly getting all I mean, just perfect. This is beautiful, you know, Duka onto the thing, and then the minute they're done with it, the monks will rush out with their brooms and they'll swoop in all the way. And it's just cause it maybe they'll be like spending months building something in a mint. The day you have your inauguration, you mutely tear down. And then they do this on purpose, because the whole point is they're trying to reinforce this. The idea was that you work, you strive, you labor, but in the end everything is transitory. So it really drives home when you spend weeks getting all the colored sand just right or so they do, a little pebbles and so forth, and then eventually it's all done. They just give it all away and just see how that affects your planning and your future. You knew that you were going to die tomorrow. Let's just say this as a if you knew that this was your last day on Earth, how many of you would continue taking notes? How many of you would get up and walk out right now? And what would we do? You know, if you news your last day? I mean, I probably would just say, oh, let's go ahead and go ahead with it.
I don't know, the Spanish the lecture, then I would probably go home. Well, you know, what would you do? I mean, by extension, do this then. Okay. We all know that if we knew that tomorrow, the last day, it would affect how we live. And so he said, okay, by projection, the same thing is true. It's just that because you may live 50, 60 years, it doesn't actually hit your radar. But that emotional fact that we have a limited lifespan and that affects how we live our life is something that emotionally affects you. I hope and pray that you all have many, many years left. Yes. An example. You just gave this for last day. We all go out and do something significant, something meaningful. But it seems that with the whole sand and everything, they're doing exactly the opposite. Since we know we're going to die or do something completely meaningless. And the fact that. Right. I mean, there's no question that this is a they're doing something a task that is meaningless, but they don't believe in the meaningfulness of tasks or as Christians do. So they just kill themselves like that. Well, we'll see how this develops. Definitely. That's a good observation. That's something obviously you have experience with this, so you're making these points already. But take note of all these observations and eventually they'll begin to put together into a little nice picture of the response. Yes. Yeah. Oh, you saw. Yeah. Well, there you are. Even here in the US. That's great. Okay, the second truth, the whole truth is that Duca. Sorrow is caused by desire. By Tannhauser. You may say also is Trishna. Because in this case, the Sanskrit, the Pali, are different. Duca is caused by desire.
Sorrow is caused by desire. This is the typical medical kind of analysis of that time period. You know, what is the problem? What's the source of the problem? The kind of further going down. So he's looking at the cause of suffering is desire. And again, this is the the statement made I should move this other way because it's caused me to start. Now this so monks is the noble truth of the cause of Duca. That craving, which leads to rebirth combined with pleasure and passion, finding pleasure here and there. This is the craving for sensual pleasure, the craving for continue it becoming and the craving for non becoming. Well, after there's a lot of this, what to look at and kind of take apart what he means by all this. But notice the repetition of the word craving that appears four times in this statement. This is the word for Tannhauser. It literally means a thirst, but it's talking about not just a bodily thirst, but a thirst for a desire for things, for certain things to take place. So we thirst for immortality, we thirst for joy, we thirst for escape from pain. We have all kinds of thirst. And these cause suffering in our lives. If we didn't have this longing for something greater, something higher, our suffering would would not be nearly as intense. We desire possessions, we desire our comfort. We desire a separate individual existence. We want to have personal autonomy. We want to have a sense of well-being. So just as we saw in the Duca, the threefold suffering, you also have threefold thirst that he brings out in this teaching. First of all, there's a craving for sensual pleasure. And he says, Listen, all sensual pleasure is fleeting.
It can never satisfy. It only leads to further emptiness, because ultimately it leads to frustration and despair. So you have this sense of sensual pleasures. A lot of Buddhism deals a lot with how you deal with your senses, your five senses in your in your mind. Now they're usually 4 to 6 centers, The five senses in the mind. And how you deal with that is always a critical aspect because that's part of how you cut off these desires. You see things, you want them, you hear things, you taste things, you want it. All this, the part is little more difficult is this idea of becoming and non becoming because the second two aspects of craving relate to the craving for becoming and the craving for non becoming. And we have to understand the difference as to things becoming has to do with how you exert your self and exert your ego into the world. It's both your desire to defend and protect your life and your possessions, but also to enhance your life, advance your own ego through social status and through power. We have an impulse in us that Buddha is observing that we desire status. We want recognition. Now, you remember he comes out of the whole from cynical worldview. He comes out of a worldview where everybody is placed on a pecking scale, you know, like a food chain, and the Brahmins are on top. Show three is vicious, Shooter is Dalits. And you know, you're in a well, they call Jati, you're in a little social grouping in their hundreds of Brahmin groups and thousands of shadowy groups. And all the way down to you finally have tens of thousands of Dalit groups and you know where you are and you desire so much to improve your status and to become recognized.
There's a lot of this pecking order. Someone once said to me, and I think this is a good observation, that when you meet an Indian in India, there are two things that are unconsciously ask them. The first time you meet somebody and the in their head, they may not knowingly think this, but this is like kind of the two default questions in someone's head when they meet anybody for the first time. Number one is this person above me or below me. And secondly, are they for me or against me? Those questions pervade the consciousness and subconscious of people in subcontinent. Because you're taught from the time that you're children to think in terms of who is above you, who is below you. This is part of the the kind of the whole status thing provided by caste in South Asia. So Buddha's acknowledging that this is there and that people are wanting to project themselves and to project their ego, their their status, their power and so forth. The third aspect of this is actually, in some ways rather modern observation. The idea of non becoming because this is something which counselors and and pastors that you've had pastoral experience passing, people are well aware of. When you finally get inside people's lives, you find that there's also this destructive side of people where people will do things that are self destructive. They now only have this desire to become to be, you know, healthy and powerful and all that. But they also can involve themselves in all kinds of self-destructive habits, self-destructive behaviors, things that they know are destroying them, but they can't seem to stop it. They can't seem to quit it. Buddha observed the same thing in the ancient world. The apostle Paul himself says, I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is I keep on doing oh, wretched man that I am who will deliver me from this body of death. Now Paul goes on to say Thanks be to God, to Jesus Christ. But I think the observation of the condition is consonant with the idea that we we are unable to do always what's best for our own selves. This is craving for not becoming not only self-destruction, but also our desire to destroy others, to remove unpleasant people from our lives. And he even found in his own experience as an extreme ascetic, when we go back to this two self pronunciations that when he was experiencing the time with the five ascetics and they had gone down to one grain of rice per day, that it becomes self-destructive. And he finally came to the point where he knew he was going to die, and that's when he went to the Bodi tree and had this long meditation when he took some food and then went broke his fast and went into this meditation. And you find this whole thing with today, with with bulimic activity and other kinds of food disorders where people everybody knows that it's unhealthy to be obese and therefore it's important to keep good weight control. Well, that makes perfect sense. But on the other hand, people have gone the other extreme with all kinds of anorexic and bulimic activity, which is self-destructive and will kill you just as quickly. They tell you every bit as much as obesity will. And so he's acknowledging that this kind of self-destructiveness is there in the human nature. So he's calling basic Tonya this the term for it is the the root of this or a cause of.
Duka It is not. Are we clear? This is not to be viewed as a first cause. There are no first causes in Buddhism. But this is a cause. This is everything is cause. And the fact every every cause is affected something else. But this is a important cause of suffering, though it would not be considered to be first cause or starting cause. Okay. Thoughts or comments about this, Tonya? This thirst that he's trying to observe about the human race? Yes, it is. I'm sorry, other three points. So, uh, yes, there are three parts to tonight as well. The first was just the general thirst for sensual pleasure. The second was the was the craving for cumin and craving for non becoming. So this is the three thirst right here. Sensual pleasure becoming a non becoming the problem with these two terms. It's a bit difficult for us to unwrap without some explanation. So we had more time with this. But this is this kind of projecting yourself and this is your self-destructive tendencies that we have the desire to realize you're going to fit in there about that or that that's part just the West. And I know that went to it later. We're not quite at that point yet to discuss that existent. So what is nonexistent? What is it that comes close to not be talking about really. Right. This is actually a different word for that than the word you're thinking of, because that is a really important concept in Buddhism. But we're not quite there yet. We will get there. The train is moving. Yes, the craving that's tied up with sexual pleasure. But this is just keeping that right. Yeah, he is. Buddha accepts the basic concept of karma and the wheel of samsara that's accepted.
We discussed it last time. So he does believe that because of karma, people are being reborn into this life. And until you can get rid of all your karma, you can't be released from the will of samsara. Well, we're going to look later on today about one of the big difference in Hinduism, Buddhism. And why is the descent movement that really isn't come out until the second sermon, the real breaking of Hinduism. So yeah, basically he is talking about this point, the being in Trapped on the Wheel of Suffering the Wheel of Life, reincarnation, transmigration. Okay. The third of the noble truths is the cessation of desire is the key to the extinguishing of the ego and putting out the fire of thirst or craving. Now, I use this metaphor of fire here, because oftentimes one of the major metaphors in terms of this cessation is the idea of blowing out a candle. That's why I have this idea of fire. Buddha was once asked, What is Nirvana? And he said, Nirvana is light. And by the way, he's very reluctant to define Nirvana. So we're going to have to wait to discuss that a little more later. But essentially, he said, Nirvana is like a person who has an oil lamp that's burning, but they quit putting fuel into the lamp. And so eventually the flame gets smaller and smaller and smaller and then it goes out just a whiff of smoke. That was a smoke, he says it's nirvana. Or he says, like a man who's hammering on an anvil. And, you know, if you're trying to beat out a piece of metal or iron and you're hitting it and the sparks are flying upward, he says, those sparks fly up and go into nothingness.
The word is Zenyatta. That is Nirvana. He's this is this whole it's actually a very interesting play on which it comes. Your question actually, between whether you define this as emptiness or nothingness, it will play a lot into how we interpret this kind of nonbeing or whatever. But the idea is that you have to cause these desires to stop, and the only way to stop this is to be blown out. And what it means to be blown out is something that will take us a little time to explore. But this is certainly the part of the diagnosis that we have to stop these desires. Now this so monks is a noble truth of the cessation of Tuka it is the complete cessation of that very craving, giving it up, renounce in it, release from it, detachment from it. And like everything else, you have these everything is three three of that. So you have the three routes of evil, greed, hate, delusion. These things cause desires in us. We have greed for things because of hate. We desire destruction and so forth. And we're deluded into thinking this world is all there is. So he's observing that, okay, the problem is suffering. Suffering is caused by desire. So we've got to find a way to stop this desire. If we stop the desire, we can stop the suffering. I mean, this is the basic logic of the noble truths. And the fourth truth is we'll see later is that okay, now I have a plan, a blueprint, which. Can lead you to cutting out desire. If you cut out desire, you'll no longer suffer. So this is kind of a circular system here where he is observing the problem, the cause of the problem. And then it gives the solution to how to deal with this problem.
So this is a cessation of desire. In order to maybe grasp a little clear, we need to actually clarify this whole idea of the will of samsara, because that is where we are going to see some differences. Where is the. I think we showed this we all last time. Just to be clear about this a little clearer, okay. This is a picture of the will of samsara. In fact, if you have, I think I may have. These are carried around with me. Yeah, I do. I have here. It's a little bit wrinkled. I have to apologize. But this is the flag of India. And you'll notice on the center of the flag is the wheel of the Indian flag. That is the wheel of samsara. It's. This is actually the Buddhist wheel on the flag of India. There's a lot of reasons for that, which we'll go into because. But this is a point of convergence between Hinduism, Buddhism, anyway. So it's actually a unifying symbol. But the idea of the wheel is absolutely central to Buddhism and Hinduism, because again, you have this circular things never in the recycling conception. And the idea is that you're born onto this wheel of suffering. All right. Now, the Hindus have worked out in elaborate schemes about how long it takes this wheel to go around, and it's like billions of years for this to cycle through one time before the universe is dissolved. But you're born at some point on this wheel of suffering you want to release from the wheel of suffering. You don't want to experience this suffering. So the concept for release in Hinduism is called Moksha. It's also called mukti. These are terms for it in the Hindu tradition. Release or Freedom from the Wheel of Samsara.
This is like a salvation concept. Now, hey, why can't you just get off? What's the problem? Well, the problem is you are embedded in the will of samsara because of delusions and various kinds of things that increased your ability to observe reality properly. So you are encrusted with karma. Now, in Hinduism, you have a lot of categorization, different kinds of karma. And what karma you're satisfying in this life? What's built up from previous lies, all kinds of different karmic conceptions, which we don't really need to worry about as much in this class, because Buddha tries to leapfrog over all of that discussion, basically. But you have various reasons why you, because of your birth or because of your deeds in this life. You have karma. The word karma, by the way, just means act or deed. And what it basically means is everything you do in life has consequences for this. So everything you do coming to class, eating, drinking, walking, everything you do is not just religious acts. Everything is either in some way helping to liberate you from the will of samsara, or is further embedding you into the wheel of suffering. And so Hindus have worked out everything on a karmic scale in a very elaborate way. In Buddhism comes out of the same worldview. So it accepts the basic notion of karma. I mean, there's this famous Buddhist conversation takes the servant comes in and says to the master said, Why are some people slaves and some people are kings? Why are some healthy, some sick? Why are some rich? Some poor? Why do you have so many differences among peoples? And he responded, said, Wow. He said, you have having unrest in the fields and you walk along the fields.
You have trees, you have grass, you have different kinds of things, all differences. And in nature. And this is. Yes. And so the master asked the son says, well, why do you have differences in nature? Why do you have some small bushes, some big trees, some little grasses? Why do you have these differences in nature? And he says, well, the seeds are different. And because the seeds are different things, different kinds of things grow up. And he said precisely the same as humans. The seeds are different, and therefore different kinds of people come from the seeds. So seed the seed is the karma that you're not just born off the starting blocks. All men are created equal. Okay, That is not a part of the Buddhist worldview. That's Thomas Jefferson. That's John Locke. That's. That's the Bible in the sense that we're all current image of God doesn't have that worldview. So all men are. Created unequal because of different karmic backgrounds. This is the whole caste system. The caste system. Looked at last week with our Rig Veda, 1090, says that God created some to be here, some to be here. Some to be here, some to be there. Some are created to be slaves. Some are created to be rulers. So what he's saying is there to see different. So if you are on the wheel of some Sara, you need to kind of improve your seed, as it were. You need to be able to become back at a better starting point. The way to come back to a better starting point if you're a Hindu, is to point yourselves toward becoming a Brahman because that's the only hope. How do you become a Brahman? Well, in this life, you're not one.
You do whatever the Brahmans tell you to do. If you're a servant and you be a good servant, this kind of keeps the society satisfied. And eventually your hope to come back. And a higher life form. And on and on. If you steal from a Brahman, if you eat meat, if you have intercourse with a Brahman woman, and all this, you'll be embedded down into this thing forever. So this keeps our society. This is how they govern morality in a society like this, because there's no Christian ethic. And Buddhism will jettison ethics in many ways, even more than Hinduism, though they don't claim to do so. Okay, so when you finally get yourself to the point in Hinduism where you are a Brahman and you are released from the will of samsara, that's called Moksha. And what that means for them is that you are united with the great reality of the universe. Hinduism has an ontology that undergirds the whole system. It's called Brahman. And if you are united with Brahman, they believe everything comes from Brahman. Everything. Go back to Brahman. So you have this reality. This is actually the only reality that there is in the universe, according to Hinduism, is Brahman. So they believe that you have an essence that they call Atman, because this is just standard Hinduism, that if you take away your body and your desires and your longings and all of the things that you're trying to do in your life, at the root of everybody here, there is the common reality of Atman. Now, Buddhism does not accept us, okay? We're just giving you a little allusion here to Hinduism because this shows you how the descent works. But essentially, the Hindus believe that your attention is what's really migrating along the will of samsara, seeking to be released in the wheel of samsara.
So your body gets in the way of that. Your body has to be denied or has to be brought in control of some kind. But eventually your attention is what migrates from body to body. So they actually view the body is like we will view clothes. You can change clothes from rags to normal clothes to a tuxedo, to the king's garments, and inside is the same person. And that's how they view the human body. You could be a Dalit, you could be a Qatari, you could be a Brahmin, whatever. But your oppman is migrating through those changes. And so you want to get out of all that gate from the wheel of Samsara. So a Buddha is going to accept the the wheel of samsara. But as we'll see later, I'm not he's going to deny that there's not man and deny there's a Brahman so that the whole link is going to be denied. But the idea of escaping from the wheel is the same. He wants to escape and the wheel of samsara. And that's only done by the cessation of desire. Now, when you go into art, we talk about nirvana. Let's be clear upfront with our this the precision of our language. When a Buddhist talks about Nirvana, it's something that probably the best word to use. It's there's no really good word to use, actually, it's hard, but the probably the best word to use is to say you experience Nirvana rather than something like you go to Nirvana is Nirvana is not a place you go to. It isn't a place that you would say is the best word to use. Okay. Don't even use the word experience. That's bad too. That's bad to experience. Okay. But it's better to say even better than experience is to say you realize it.
That's probably even better. You really you'll find people say, you know, you experienced nirvana, but I think realize even better. But you don't want to use language like as if it's some objective place like going to heaven or something. So he's trying to describe something that does not have an objective basis like the Hindus have. You can say it in Nirvana, but not really. I mean, if you mean my reach, if reach is used in the way of like, I'm getting the car and I'm hoping to reach the bus. It's an airport. You can't use it that way. But if you mean by reach, you reach a state of realization. Maybe you could use the word. Just be careful in any kind of spatial categories. That's the main thing to be careful about. This is all going to be explored in more detail later, but we're just trying to kind of get the the content on the board, at least for discussion. So you have the problem suffering. You have the the cause. The problem is desire. You got to stop the desire to blow out the candle. That's nirvana. You've got to extinguish the candle, the flame of desire. And then the force of truth is his statement that there is a path which is the word, Marga. There is a path which leads to the cessation of suffering or Duka. So here we have it. He's identified the disease is identified the cause of the disease. Okay. You have a heart condition. It's caused because you have this cholesterol buildup. And now we're going out what what to do about it. This is the kind of progression here. The disease is suffering. The cause of the suffering is desire. And now we have the procedure that he is going to give us to eliminate the problem.
And this is where I think Buddhism ultimately shows itself to be very weak. In my view. At this point, everything is actually a reaction against, even in their own teaching, about whether or not how reliable this path is and what this path means. But he's basically saying there is a path. Now this. So monks is a noble truth of the path that leads to cessation of do God. This is the noble eightfold path. Right. Understanding which terms is put his right views, right thought. Sometimes he call it right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood like effort. Right. Mindfulness and right concentration. Now, think on your handout. You'll see a little chart that I've included for you to help you to see how this is organized and how this actually works. On the left hand side of the chart, you can see that we have the four noble truths called here. The four holy truths of suffering are the source of suffering, of the cessation, of suffering, of the path leading to cessation of suffering. And then you have the Holy Eightfold path, which is the eight things we just mentioned on the overhead, and then that's subdivided into a three fold training, wisdom, morality and concentration, meditation, Krishna, Sheela and Samadhi. All right, Now, I told you the very first of the course that a lot of Buddhism involves various tensions between wisdom or knowledge, morality or ethics and concentration meditation. So you can see it comes out even in the initial sermon of Buddha, that everything involves being trained in three areas Krishna, Sheila Samadhi, wisdom, morality and concentration. So they essentially divide up these into various and you see it on the on the little brackets there. But the first two right views and right intentions or right understanding thought is part of the wisdom training.
The next three speech action livelihood are this whole morality in the next three effort. Mindfulness and concentration are in the third one, and that's how you work through this whole system. So you begin by going through a long series of training where you learn how to think properly about the Dharma and accepting the fundamental truths and the eightfold path. Learn to think properly. Then you go through a long period where you work on your speech and you should refrain from telling lies and from gossip and all of this and learning how to avoid certain actions like killing and stealing and line and sexual sins and alcoholic beverages and on and on and on, all kinds of. The monks will take hundreds of vows related to each of these to avoid certain kinds of actions, which, of course, produce bad karma and then certain practices which are more of the internal practices. When you deal with temptation, learning how to visualize the painful consequences of your actions, a very strong emphasis on your body sensations of your body, the feelings inside your body, controlling the mind, learning to develop this single point, hardness of the mind. And this is the. The gist of this that every path has every part of the eightfold path has various stages to it, and they have what they call fetters that will keep you from breaking through to a right view or right intention. And so this is a very elaborate thing, and it could take you literally thousands of lifetimes, not dozens, not hundreds, thousands of lifetimes to progress through this eightfold path. So this is not something that is done, you know, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday of this semester in order to graduate. This is done for lifetimes.
Now, how that can be assisted by others, how that can be, you know, sped up is matters of later discussion. But in the original seminal inside of the Buddha, the implication was that the Buddha had lived thousands of lifetimes, tens of thousands of lifetimes. He had learned all of these things, and now he was able to see the whole thing. He was able to see all of his past lifetimes, according to their belief. And under the body tree, most Hindus don't have any idea of their past lifetimes. I always jokingly say the only Hindu that knows about their past lives is Shirley MacLaine, who always says that she was like a great warrior or whatever. She never says, you know, in certain life I was cleaning toilets in Bihar. She never says that. She's always, Oh, I was the Roman emperor or here I was a ruler. There I was some guy. And this is Sheila MacLaine vision of Hinduism. But Buddha actually saw his whole life, all the suffering he had been through, all of the difficulties and his and up to this point of ultimate realization. So this is the eightfold path. Comments. Questions are reflections on the Eightfold Path. Yes. The whole reason for. Know. Stop it, you know? You know? But the way to get out would not be nice, but it could be part of the problem actually goes back a little bit further than what you said. I mean, you could argue that how can you have a desire to have no desires? That's one critique. But when you say how can you have a desire to not have desires, that whole thing presupposes a you which is either desiring or not desiring. So actually where this is headed is to realize there is no you that is desiring or not desiring.
So it's nothingness. Emptiness. Let's see if I can. This is the one you have. I think I have on here. Yeah. This is a little poem that they say that maybe will help you a little bit. Misery only does exist, but none miserable. No do. Or is there nothing but the deeds are found. Nirvana is, but not the man who seeks it. The eightfold path exists, but not the traveler on it. Now, if you understand that, then you're doing really well, because we're not at the point to fully appreciate. Why say this? This sounds absolutely ludicrous, I'm sure. But this is critical to the whole thing as it develops. The idea that, you know, you have to think about one more step from what the point you made, which of course, is a valid point. But there they they've already believe the thought of that. So they're thinking back to the the whole point. There is no traveler on this road. There is no you because see, if you accept the idea of a you or a me and I, that is of course the source of the desire. That is the all of the ego is the source of the whole thing. So you have to extinguish the ego, extinguish the I. This is not something that would be normally easily accepted in our worldview at all. Okay. So we'll have to see how this develops. But certainly this is the four noble Truths. The main thing to recognize is that we have a diagnosis of the problem and a solution that suggested that's really all you need to know at this point. Buddha has made it. You need to know what problem is. You need to know what his diagnosis of this, the cause of it is.
And the his solution is the eightfold path. That's basically where we are. There's a lot of philosophical kind of spinoffs, which we'll look at later, but essentially this is where we are at this point. That's the first sermon. The second sermon is more of a clear demonstration of how he breaks from Hinduism. And so up to this point, if you just have the front of all truths, an eightfold path, Buddha could be another Hindu teacher. The fact that we have the second sermon clearly shows that this is a different vision altogether. So we're going to briefly look at the second sermon. Then we're going to show six major differences between Hinduism, Buddhism to clarify why this is a descent movement. So this middle way is developed because samsara literally means kind of wandering on your own. This we were wandering on this wheel of wheel of Life trying to find escape. Buddha is basically saying, You're right, we're wandering along this wheel of suffering, but he's going to begin to attack some of the key ontological foundational substantive elements of Hinduism. And he does that by beginning to explore what he calls the three characteristics of life. And I think the first two, even those first two, could be acceptable if properly understood by Hindus. But the third is absolutely a break from Hinduism. The first is impermanence. This kind of repeats. We've already discussed that life is impermanent, everything's in instead of flux and change. So if you think about the Christian worldview, our worldview acknowledges that things are changing. The world is rolled up like a garment. We recognize that our lives are changing. We recognize that things change. But our worldview is anchored in an ontology that's unchanging Jesus Christ. The same yesterday, today, and forever, because that's a very critical, essential worldview.
Anchor That affects everything that we say. It affects everything that we do as Christians because we believe that God is the ultimate reality of the universe and in the beginning God that is the starting the first cause if we cease to exist, okay, But if God ceases to exist and everything else also ceases to exist. So we recognize there is that we have a ontology that is unchanging at the root of the Christian worldview. Okay. In Buddhism, even gods and goddesses are impermanent. There is nothing permanent. So this is why, as we'll see later on, as we develop this, that when Buddhist will say things like, Oh yeah, we believe in gods and all this and we worship this God or that goddess or whatever. This is not to be confused. With what we say when we say we worship God. And I say this to be, you know, well, we worship the true God. You don't I'm not saying that. I'm saying even by their own understanding of God, that this cannot be put in the same ontological category. This is not like talking to a Jew about Yahweh or a muslim about Allah. Because even though we have differences and we rightfully so, will critique our Muslim friends for not understanding the Trinitarian nature of God's ontology, we still understand that in the Muslim world view there is an ontology called Allah, who is the source of everything, who is the Creator, God who? And in that sense, ontologically, we're in the same category. In Buddhism, God, gods, goddesses. This this language does not belong to that category. There is nothing in that category. And therefore it's important to recognize this is at another level. So everything is impermanent. The second characteristic is angst.
We have this deep mental emotional state of realizing that we we lack permanence. We discussed it before the old age, sickness, death, all of this, this disconnectedness, all of that is part of the characteristics that we've already explored. The third is the most radical kind of defining doctrines of Buddhism. I mean, if you if you had to say, what are the two most important defining doctrines of Buddhism, this is one of them, and this is the doctrine of honor. Ottoman is the way they would put it on Atman. And this is in the case of Sanskrit. This is the provocative are like we use the word of theism for, you know, believe in theism or whatever. This is the same provocative R on the word ottoman. This means no ottoman. We do not accept the ottoman. Now, for Hinduism, everything in the universe is also reduced to Ottoman. So if you go through the entire upon a shard, which is the classical philosophical documents of Hinduism, and you say what is the key inside of openness shards is that after bright meditation reflection, they find determined that everything is impermanent, everything's in flux. They agree with the Buddhists that on that point. But at the root of everything, there is a seed behind the seed, there is a core, there is an ontology that everything is, let's call it ottoman, the you, the self, the essence of yourself is called Atman. And the great insight of the upon the shards is the realization that my Ottman or Ottman is Brahman. There's no distinction between the your essence and the essence of the whole universe. So the whole of Hinduism is trying to be reunited, your essence with Brahman. So you have an ontological core, a true sense of being there is an AI in Hinduism.
Ultimately it is not an I the way we would call it, but in the sense that there is a universal self that the whole human race is adhered to and that ultimately is to be reunited with Brahman. Hey, Buddhism is denying all that. So Buddhism cannot be classified in the Hindu subcategory because they deny the basic ontology of the whole of Hinduism. There is no foundational reality like Atman and Brahman and Buddhism. He denies that. And therefore this is a very dramatic break from Hinduism. And that's why he says, Oh yes, we agree with the Hindus, there is misery. But our insight is there's none miserable. There is no in Hinduism there's an ottoman that has been encrusted with misery and the ottoman is trying to break out of it the way a seed is trying to get out of the inside of an apple. And you're so encrusted with all this stuff, but you're down there in the middle somewhere and you got to get out of that somehow or another. And your argument can be free to be united with Brahman. There say no, there is no seed. Yes, there are deeds, there is karma. They're accepting the idea of karma. Karma means deed or action. There are there are deeds and actions, but there's no one who performs those deeds or actions. So they're denying the essence. The core nirvana is, but not the man who seeks it. There is no pulsating Atman seeking to be united with Brahman. There is no. Self that is trying to go to Nirvana or be brought in to this point. There is an eightfold path, but there is not a traveler on it. This really is the Buddha Buddhist critique of Hinduism at its core, that the flat out guts to deny the reality of the self that there is any core.
Okay. Thoughts comments on this point. Yes, it is. No, it's a good point. The word ottoman is used for spirit. I mean, in in fact, in Hindi, as you may know, the word for Holy Spirit, you know, is the spirit is Ottoman. So it's widely used for spirit because Spirit is used in English that way. We talk about the Spirit as is your inner self, you know, your spirit that will you that's a part of our language. So there's nothing wrong with saying soul or self or spirit. Those are all three of those soul. Self and spirit are often used interchangeably. The problem is often doesn't actually cast on any of those three. There's no exact English equivalent to Ottoman. That's part of the problem. So Mahatma Gandhi was called well, Mahatma Mahatma's great soul. They called him great soul, Gandhi. So there is there's the word soul being used. So I think you have to kind of hold these English equivalents with a little loose hand because it's difficult to make that connection. The other thing to be careful about is it's always a temptation because it's hard to start the cross at this point when we know we're going to point G. But we have to also recognize there is a lot of Buddhist development in how this language is used. And therefore, over time, the Hindus become more and more Buddhist, really, and their own thinking and the Buddhist become more and more Hindu. They have some compromise with each other and therefore they allow certain things to be said and describe in certain ways, which I think would be alien to this exact discussion here in some ways. But we'll explore it later. But essentially I've no problem. Nice way of calling it spirit less, but but I would not reduce it to being saying spiritual or spiritual.
That kind of distinction, I think that would be far afield to just say it's just about being spiritual or non spiritual because the Buddhist believe that what they are advocating is very spiritual and they wouldn't accept the idea of it being non spiritual in that in that kind of sense that we would use it at least other comments or thoughts. Yes, indeed. All right. Well, the actually the next stage of this lecture will address that question directly, because the very next question they ask. You guys are really you're great. You're already there, because that's exactly the question they ask. Okay. If there is no self, then how do you explain any existence? How do you explain our existence? Hindus say that the existence forms around the core of Ottoman, as you know. But the Buddhist deny that core. And so therefore, they have to explain the fact that if I pinch myself, I feel pain. If I interact with somebody, there seems to be an I thou we live in a world. How do you explain that? They have their explanation of that and we will look at that before the day is out. Yes, you are. How did that happen? Yes. We'll definitely look at all that. That's also part of the same question. How can you or how can you have the experience of self? How is that possible or multiple selves? If you can have one self, then you can have thousands. So the real question comes down to how can you have any manifestation of the perception of self? Once, twice a million times. If you can establish the fact that it can happen once, then it can happen multiple times. So that's the same basic problem that India brought out.
How do you explain the existence that we feel like and that we have an existence? We're here taking a class. Okay, why don't we stop at this point and take a break and relax a little bit? Because this is a good place to stop and we'll come back and actually address that question when we're a little fresher. Also now, a little research report on the Heart of Asia conference this Saturday. And I've given a little time to Jason to share a few minutes with us before we launch into this. So.