Buddhism - Lesson 4

The First Two Sermons (Part 2)

Description of the five aggregates and the foundational doctrine of Buddhism.

Lesson 4
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The First Two Sermons (Part 2)

The Voice of Dissent

Part 4

II. The First Two Sermons (part 2)

A. The First Sermon

B. The Second Sermon

1. The Three Characteristics


2. The Five Aggregates

a. RUPA - Material form (body)

b. VEDANĂ - Sensations of body (feelings)

c. SAMJNA - perceptions

d. SAMSKARA - mental life (attitudes / dispositions)

e. VIJNĂNA – consciousness (awareness)

3. One Foundational Doctrine: Pratītya-samutpāda

The Buddha’s theory of causality: The term refers to a chain of dependent causalities used to describe the process by which something is given apparent existence. All existence is causally conditioned and there is no first cause. The doctrine is often illustrated with twelve links called nidānas.

when this is, that is

this arising, that arises

when this is not, that is not

this ceases, that ceases

Samyutta-nikāya II, 28

C. How Classical Buddhism is Distinctive from Hinduism

1. Hinduism seeks Moksa as the final end.

Buddhism refuses moksa out of compassion for others.

2. Hinduism has a non-ethical base.

Buddhism is ethical and compassionate (at a certain level).

3. Hinduism affirms ultimate reality in atman and Brahman.

Buddhism denies any ultimate reality, including atman or Brahman.

4. Hinduism (in part) affirms self-mortification and extreme asceticism.

Buddhism portrays itself as a “middle way” between the two extremes of self-indulgence and self-denial.

5. Hinduism (in its classical form) embraces the superior role and knowledge of the Brahmin caste in mediating the terms of liberation.

Buddhism is, at its root, an anti-Brahminical dissent movement, challenging the stranglehold of the Brahmin caste on the terms of liberation.

6. Hinduism accepts many paths or margas to liberation from samsara.

Buddhism develops a specific 8-fold “path” or “prescription” to follow if one is to achieve enlightenment.

Terms to Know from this Lecture:

Buddhist Wheel of Life


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 2)
Lesson Transcript


Okay. I do appreciate the fact that many of you are already beginning to ask the questions that need to be asked because the Buddhism is a well thought out system, though ultimately it's a whole system based on error in its overall framework. Internally, there's consistency to it. So they have meditate upon all of these questions. And so a Buddha now is left in this sermon, the second sermon to develop. How do you explain the nature of reality as we observe it? And we talked about the three characteristics, and that leaves us to begin to discuss what is it that makes up the human condition, the human experience. Now, this is a little bit like doing cross cultural anthropology because we living in an age where we don't reflect on human life the way they did in the sixth century B.C. So because of that, we have to kind of change channels a little bit and think about what was very much a part of the human experience in the ancient world, and that was trying to determine what is the essence of life, what is the nature of life. So the Pontus charge is filled, for example, of people observing people while they sleep, for example, they're very it was sleep. What causes sleep? What's happening while you sleep? The Hindus believe that your atman goes out of your body and travels all over Creation does all kinds of stuff while you're sitting and comes back and you wake up. What's happening to your apartment while you sleep? Does your consciousness cease while you sleep? And so that gets in the whole question of dreams. They're really fascinate with dreams. They analyze dreams, they think about dreams. And so if you dream about fighting some battle somewhere in a dream, maybe you are doing that and there's all these kind of discussions going on.


So they're also concerned with what is what makes up the human body in the human experience. And so the Buddha is weighing in on this topic is very, very kind of classic discussion of the time period that all the philosophers dealt with. So even though Buddha is a patriot, he is engaging in the discussion that was verse of the time. And so he basically says that we are made up of five aggregates, and these aggregates will be first the material form or body and are the way I have on the back of the sheet, the terms you need to know for this lecture and you'll be happy to know you do not need to know the five aggregates. Okay, because I try to limit and make it only the most important topics. But you know they're here. If you're interested in your body, that's aggregate one material body, then you have the donor, the sensations of your body which involve your feelings. You have the sums now, which is perceptions. That would be your ability to recognize physical objects, your mental ability to picture things visually in your brain and so forth. Some scar would be your whole mental life, your attitude, your dispositions, the genre, which is your consciousness. This is your awareness or ability to discriminate between what you believe as yourself and a vowel. So these are the five aggregates. So what he basically says this is just like what you find in the Hindu discussion. Okay. Everything that makes up what we call self is found in these five aggregates. This is like this is like basically taking apart this, you know, this machine and you figure out what are the parts that make up this machine. Okay. So in the same way, he's trying to dismantle the human self and we're using the word self here in quotation marks.


But what he's trying to figure out is if we can determine that all five aggregates, all the parts of what we call self are transitory, therefore the self is transitory. There is no there's no true self. That's basically the problem. This is back to the whole curvature thing that where the material let's try to say there is no lasting essence to anything. So he is trying to find out if there is a an alternative way of looking at this. That would be part of a more of a spiritual approach than a materialistic approach. So he says, okay, the body, the body is impermanent, it gets old, it gets sick, it dies. The next three Madonna songs, not some scar. All three are connected to the body. So when your body dies, so do your senses. Your brain. Oh, they have all kinds of examination of brains. And people die. They very unceremoniously take a sledgehammer and they finally muster the courage up to bash somebody's skull open to look inside the skull. And they're very into what they find there. They they as they had never told you, we all grew up seeing pictures of the human anatomy and all that. Okay. Well, in ancient world, the only way you can really know, it's like really cut somebody up and look inside. This is not like, you know, antiseptic kinds of environment where they do analysis. They were actually sat down and they passed them and skull up and they looked instead of all this kind of gooey worm like material, and they spread it all over the floor and they watched it. And the course of time it all disintegrated and decayed. Oh, okay. Then The brain's no different than the body, and this sounds pretty amazing in it, but I'm glad that you guys have tough stomachs.


So did that. And then they they finally they actually even the Hindus accepted the first for all passing. Anyway, the Hindus agree with all that. The real problem has always been consciousness. Consciousness is very elusive. And the Hindus identified your consciousness with Ottoman. So the Hindus basically said, you're right, everything in the body and your senses and all that passes away. Another big candidate for the for the thing was your breath, because they were really they watched as they slept and they got down really close and they said, you know, even when you sleep, you're breathing, air is coming in and out. And so therefore, maybe air is part of this eternal reality. But they said, no, when you're dead, your breath is gone. How is your consciousness? Is it there or not? So Buddha basically said the only reason that consciousness arises is when sense sensory input occurs. So if you have if you see only by seeing someone can you have conscious about someone. So basically the Buddha is going to be trying to demonstrate that everything has a cause. There is no first cause that's fundamental to Buddhism. So he essentially carries this on down to finally he realizes there is no consciousness that is lasting. It also passes just the way everything else. So you have this statement. These are a couple of statements from the Buddha and primary source material. There is no been found here that is within oneself only a heap of karmic constituents, just as the word chariot is used. And we come across a combination of parts, spokes, wheels, frame, etc.. So we speak conventionally of a human being when the five aggregates are present. So he's saying this is just like, you know, a chariot.


We're made like really a glorified chariot. We have parts. And those parts when put together, have a function which is extremely sophisticated and it's very elaborate and very impressive. But when you take all the parts apart, you know, you've got a stack of wood that now over here is a chariot. Basically, it's just a stack of wood. So he basically says when you take the human apart, you have the five aggregates. That's all you've got from the middle. And the Tanya, in the final analysis, in the ultimate sense, there is no permanent self to be found within the five aggregates. So here are two primary source documents to to the Buddha that make the same point that he is denying that there is an item and there is a self, there is a soul, there is a spirit. If you only use that language, that's fine. There is no abiding essence in us that provides continuity with, you know, eternal life or union with God or anything like that. So which brings us within, I think, finally answers the question that's been raised to the final analysis doctrine we talked about at the beginning of this whole lecture of these various parts to these two sermons, the four noble truths, the three characteristics, the five aggregates, and the one foundational doctrine. This is core Buddhism. So we're going to have portable truths. We're going to have the three characteristics, the five aggregates, and now the one foundational doctrine. This is, by all accounts, the most important doctrine in Buddhism. So we cannot proceed without everybody understanding this doctrine. If we say it in 5 minutes and it's perfectly clear. Fair enough. If we had to spend an hour going through this, we'll go through whatever it takes.


We have to all be clear on this doctrine, because this is the foundation doctors, Carpathia, some old potter. You'll find a number of definitions of it. In fact, in my book, you have the textbook, the book I wrote. You will find a definition on the back. I think I may have actually. You know, I did. I, I put that on to the handout, actually, with a few minor changes. You have a doctor in there. I'll read it for you. Then we'll discuss the Buddha's theory of causality. This term refers to a chain of dependent causalities used to describe the process by which something is given apparent existence. All existence is causally conditioned and there is no first cause. This doctrine is often illustrated with 12 links called the Donnas. You don't need to know that term, but that is something which we'll look at in a moment. Now you'll find a number of translations of this into English. But at the time, Potter is the that's the term that's a little difficult to say. If you can say digital Potter, then you can graduate with honors. All right. From the class. But I'm going to probably use mostly the expression dependent arising. But you'll find writers that will say interdependent, arising, which is actually quite good. It does have side effect on occasions, but it does bring out this linking idea. You'll often find the expression contingent arising also a good if you understand the whole contingency language that makes perfect sense contingent arising. And there's even been a well-known writer that has advocated the definite the translation conditioned genesis. You don't see that too often, but it has been popularized in the West a bit, and so therefore it's worth at least being aware of it.


You know, whenever you see a part dependent rising contingent arising these Type A language, it's all referring to the same thing. This is not different nuanced. I mean, this is all trying to describe in English what lies behind this doctrine. So what is the doctrine? It's a way of the Buddha accounting for the very issue that was raised. How do you account for the existence that we perceive around us? If you deny Brahman and you deny Atman, then essentially have a free falling universe because there's no foundation upon which it's built. So what do you do with the universe that has no anchor, has no ontology? This is a radical vision that with all the rhetoric about Hinduism, I mean, at least Hinduism has an anchor, something objective, something that is ontologically stable. So this is met by this doctrine and the way it's usually described or the way it is described by the Buddha himself. And I have here the primary reference material, Samyukta Nicoya, where this is how he describes it when this is that is this arising that arises when this is not that is not. This ceases, that ceases. Now what he's doing is he is out of the way. In the original Sanskrit, it has beta for alliteration. People love it. And so you people go around reciting this. It's a mantra that you recite in Buddhism. So it's one of the first things that you learn. So this is not just a, you know, disconnected kind of definition. This is a kind of a metaphorical pictorial, alliterative device. They used to explain that when anything arises, it causes something else to arise. So you don't have any first cause when anything ceases, then it also ceases. There's another way of looking at it more analytically.


When A is B as A arising B arising when A is not B is not a ceasing BC thing. That may be more helpful to you to look at it from that perspective. But what he does is he basically says that the web of reality is caused by an interlinking of things which cause other things to arise. And when the whole nexus arises, then we have the five aggregates and the final world. We have the things that we perceive in the world around us. So it's pictured like this. This is how it works. And I believe on your handout I have a much more graphic example of it on the Buddhist Wheel of Life, found on page three of the handout. And you can see that you have the same exact thing. There's a few variations and you have it being held by Mara this this demon, which we'll say a little about later, but this is the wheel of samsara. As the Buddhist envisioned it in his the six super analogies. So what you basically have is when ignorance arises, it gives rise to current predispositions, which give rise to consciousness, which give rise to name and form, which would be your body. And the fact that you go by a certain name which gives rise to the five senses in the mind, which gives rise to contact, feeling, response, craving, desire, grasping action toward life, rebirth, old age, death. And then the whole cycle begins again. All right, so you have this nexus of contingencies where each thing is caused by the next thing. That's why you really shouldn't ever view this as a a chain without beginning like here and ending link there. It's always going to be viewed as a circle because each thing gives rise to the next thing.


So everything is linked together into this nexus and this gives you the perceptions of reality that we have now. The way it works is that Buddha, in his vision, realized that not all of these links were the same, okay? That some of these links were stronger than others. And so one of his insights is that one of these links is particularly, I shouldn't say weak. It's also all these are very, very strong, but it is weaker than the others. And therefore, if you can break that chain, then the whole thing breaks. If you ever can break the chain and the whole thing collapses because once you break the chain, then it can't, right? The next thing can arise. And this can arise once you break it. It isn't actually that the thing becomes a line. Once you break the thing, then the whole thing disappears. You go into nothingness because there is no person on the wheel on the road of its fateful path. There is nobody on this path. So the key is to break one of the links. If you can break the link, they all fall. So he discovered, according to the Buddhist belief, that number eight is the weak link, craving and desire. This is why, in the four noble truths that he identifies that suffering is caused by desire by time, half by craving. Because his whole point is not. That is the first cause. This is not number one on some kind of straight line. This is right in the midst of the whole thing. You could choose any of these. The number is insignificant. Really. The important thing is that this is the place where a break can be made. And once we the break, then the whole nexus can collapse.


So this curse is simply put, is the basic idea. So to give maybe an illustration of that, okay, a person is born into a abusive home. Okay. We'll just start at this point, just for argument's sake, a person is born in the abusive home, okay? Because of their ignorance, I have no understanding why this is happening to them. So they go through this horrible cycle of suffering, despair, and that creates mental images, a mental disposition which are very destructive. It predisposes them to engage in negative karmic accretions. It affects their physical health, it affects their mental life, their senses become activated. They search for satisfaction, they search. They try to find the wealth and through power, through prestige or maybe other self-destructive activities to somehow or another deal with this nexus that they found themselves in. And these desires and cravings cannot be stopped. This karmic build up spawns innumerable lifetimes, which all end up in the every new lifetime means yet another example of decay, suffering, old age, death and all things whatever again. So he kind of has this conception of how each thing is fueled by another thing, and it's just like a raging forest. You cannot stop it. And the only way to stop it is to, as we'll see later, at least the become a Buddhist monk, take certain vows, engage in serious discipline in order to learn from masters how to break number eight. Once number eight is broken, then you're liberated and the whole thing stops. Okay, I. Want to say a little more about this. We all and this real suffering and some sorrow. But let me just stop and see if we have any comments or questions about the whole kind of what we're laying out here or protected.


Tim Potter, what's your thoughts about it? Questions? Comments? Yes. When somebody dies, do their five advocates sort of fall apart? And then are you somebody. Something that. Yes. Because the aggregates go back to the earth. The what? What they would basically say, maybe make it very practical is that it will say you you die. You go back to earth that earth is used on that raises up food. For example, someone else is eating that food. So your elements are being recycled into the creative order through like wheat, barley, whatever, which is being taken in becomes someone else's life. So all of this is recast through the aggregates as opposed to the Hindu idea of an OTTMAN, which is, you know, traveling through the the multiple births. So then as you're in this cycle, I guess it how do you I mean, I understand like Buddha was enlightened and you could see his past lives, but you don't have that enduring consciousness. How can you really have. Yeah. It's like you're talking about this person who's kind of caught in this cycle of abuse and things like that. Right. How do they. I mean, so it's like you kind of start off with a clean slate trying to break. No, because the what they basically say we're getting ahead of ourselves here a little bit, but basically say you can't break it. You cannot because you have no idea about your past lives. You can't learn from it. But the Buddha has and therefore he has given the prescription. So if you go to a doctor, I mean, this is actually a similar point. I'll give you a modern example to what the Buddha himself said at one point. If you go to a doctor and a doctor examines you and says to you, I'm sorry to tell you this, but you have cancer or you have a heart problem, you don't have to know everything about that medically.


You just want to know, what do I do? You have to do this, this, this. Take this and you'll be better. Okay, fine. So in that sense, Buddhist saying don't worry about, you know, understand all this, just take my prescription for the eightfold path. So a family to give you a product example, where we live in India, they will bring their children when they get to be eight years old, they'll bring them to the monastery and present in monastery. And they teach my son that time go to a monk, and that monk will be taught, you know, all of this. And so you're gaining from the inside of others who claim that they have learned all this. Now, one other example the Buddha gave was when the Buddha was discussing this point is disciples asking these kind of questions. He once said, Well, suppose a guy's in the forest and he gets shot by an arrow and he's mortally wounded lying there on the ground. He said, Why do people sit around and debate about how he got shot? Who shot him, what kind of arrow pierced his body? Meanwhile, the guy bleeding to death, he said all those kind of just mutations are a waste of time because the real problem is the guy's dying. We've got to pull the arrow out and get him better. So Buddha, actually, even though this sounds and this gets into some like really high end philosophy in some ways, but the Buddha himself resisted a philosophical analysis of all this is instead just realize that I have the right insight and I have the prescription for it, man. Understand it. But if you follow this techniques of meditation, morality, knowledge, then you will be able to break free from this.


I was other than his name in life. But yeah, that later I was having a great time. So I have. All right. Well, the fact that the Buddha died is actually a point they're proud of because it actually illustrates the basic point that there is no lasting self or lasting, you know, isn't like he had to have a resurrected body to prove that he was true, whatever in the Buddhist scheme of things. The Buddhist death merely reinforces that everybody gets old and dies. There's a famous Zen saying that says if you meet the Buddha on the road, you should kill him. Now, that's a pretty shocking statement. But the point is, is that if you think that this inside of Buddhism is tied in to the Buddha, then you missed the whole point. It's the Dharma is the teaching of the Buddha. So Buddha actually at the body tree, was able to enter into Nirvana. He chose not to, which we'll look at why that so important later. But he chose to stay back and teach others and then finish out his life and go into Nirvana. So the fact that he certain people at times decide to not go into Nirvana, but just to refrain from that in order to help other people be enlightened is considered to be a great example of ethics. So they don't really have any problem with the Buddhas getting old and dying because the focus on his Dharma, not on his body per se or etc., will come up. Yes. So he chose to enter. I guess he just disappeared that he would have wanted to come back and be alive. Well, Nirvana, you know, Nirvana always involves you have to satisfy the karma of your present life that you're in.


So Nirvana is always identified as being entered into at the point of death rather than. But there are people who, you know, claim that they've already realized it, but they'll just say, But I'm staying on to help other people until I die. So that's not really a problem like someone vanishing or whatever. Yes. If everything I'm then just seven or eight. Well, the decision. I mean, I guess I guess the decision could be viewed as a step from the away from karmic dispositions, number two, which would allow you the freedom to decide something. But everything that could be caused because of you deciding to make to go into meditation, which could have been caused by your parents who bring you to the monastery, you know, which could've been the cause. But you know, everything is they have a cause of everything. So there's nothing wrong with saying because I did this. I meditated for a day. I decided to do that. They're not actually against the idea of cause and effect. They're not that what they are against is the idea of a first cause. So whatever cause there is, is the effect of something else. You may not always know what that effect is and what caused that that cause, but they just said there's there's never a first cause. One of the criticisms that nine leaders make is that it can be very deterministic, that that the fault is potentially there. They claim it's not. But the whole point is that you desire to be free from suffering and you want to be liberated from suffering. And so they they take that as a starting point, not a first cause, but that's the first knowable truth that there is suffering and therefore a person wants to be freed from the suffering.


So now they're giving the way to want to be free from it. So the fact that you had cancer, just to use the cancer analogy, if you had cancer, the fact that you have it, maybe you don't know you have it. So therefore you can't desire to be free of it because you don't realize you have it. So as people in the state of ignorance who don't even realize that they need all of this. So at some point you realize that you have cancer, well then you desire to be cured of it. So the fact that you desire to be cured of it, i.e. release the awesome does not imply a first cause it's just that now your knowledge has come to the point where you desire something. But the knowledge caused the desire to be free from the will of samsara. But it didn't change the fact that even prior to the knowledge of it, you had this disease. You just didn't know it wasn't part of the relationship. That's why you were seeing that. And I proposed incorrectly, or instead that they don't really know the link between one life and the other life or that there's not. Well, yeah, let me clarify that. Point it from the underside. They do believe on the upper side they don't. In other words, they believe that the perception of an ottoman is there. So you do have a self that is traveling. Thus they know that there's no self on the road. They know that you know the people. The Buddha knows that there's really no self on the road, but you are very much a self on the road. So you have that perception of a self on the road. So that why the that's why it's there.


If the self wasn't there, the whole thing would collapse. So that self is traveling is just not a true self. I mean that's maybe a better distinction is the the Hindus believe there really is a self. The Buddhists don't. You can put in this number 11 birth and rebirth. There is a put rebirth. There's only because you're reborn as a you know, as a baby, and then you get old and you die. But this birth is not a first birth. This is a rebirth. You're always being reborn. And so it's never it's a constant recycling. There's never a time when you are just born, you're always reborn. So the I'm not sure what it says on this one here. Excess has rebirth as well, but you also just see it as birth. That's fine. Birth or rebirth. Either way to them, there's no differences in it. To some of the changes aren't necessarily chronological. I guess I was thinking that was like a life cycle that you start at home. It's not really meant to be chronological per se, but it is meant to be essentially logical. There's a little logic to it because I guess what you're saying is what? Why don't they have rebirth as number one? Is that what you're saying rather than number 11? Um, I guess the better, the better way to look at it is rather than looking at it as something like this that cycles around this way to see something that arises like this. It's more that all 12 of the links arise at the same time. Then it is that you have this, this, this leads that. This leads to this because because it's a constant circle. It's always there in its totality. So it's a little difficult to visualize.


But this numbering thing actually, I mean, you can see the numbers on this chart as same as mine. They the numbers are consistently held like this. If you were to take 50 books about the patterns come apart, it would always have it in this order because the Buddhist are very careful about analyzing things in certain ways. And so they discuss these these different parts of the Wheel of Samsara. But it shouldn't be viewed in a chronological sequence, really. Yes, it does say that cycle was occurring in the light so that the person realizes that he's doing something wrong because the accident occurred. That that has caused quite a lot of. That. So it's not just like. It wasn't like. That's certainly possible. I don't know if that would be part of the original disputation about it in the second, the first two sermons. But certainly in modern day Buddhism, that kind of discussion definitely takes place in the discussion of Buddhism. So I think it's certainly possible. Yes. Something that was expected to be at. Somebody is calling. Logically of in. Explain that. I still want to talk to lot about it, but I think it has to be something. Yeah. Yeah. You know, it's. Right? Well, I guess. I mean, they what they would probably say is one of two things I've often told myself with what would be the say if you ask me that question. They would either say that you're in ignorance and that the Buddha himself said that this is extremely difficult to realize this truth. He acknowledged this is extremely difficult to recognize and therefore there was a not surprising because, you know, you you have never really given yourself to the disciplines required to see this this. Okay, give me, you know, 30 years of your life and we'll take you through a set of disciplines that you at the end of it, you will recognize the truth of this and then then it's back on to you again.


The other response is actually another one. The Buddha gave one, which is complete silence. They will not respond to such a question. That's a very, very famous technique. A Buddhist, when they ask the question, is really hard. They said, No, just be quiet and they'll say, You finally pressed on. I say, Well, to try to answer the question is to engage in speculation which the Buddha would not permit. It would be like a doctor trying to force out of a patient, trying to force out of a heart surgeon all the techniques and reasons I had. I heard a story professor told me. Now this is this is a true story. Gordon Conwell first walked into a file the officer's name. Well, first of all, they remain unnamed, but believe me, he is eminently qualified to teach the subject to a subject. And he teaches in this particular division. It's not in my division. The student asked him, What qualifies you to teach this class? How? That was a classic statement. Can you convince me that you've had the training, the background, the blah, blah, blah? This guy has written books on the subject that he was teaching, but, you know, he wondered if he was qualified to teach it. All right. And the way the boot was, that's that kind of thing, you know, why would you question a doctor about all of these procedures? And this is the way they often would say. They would say you shouldn't speculate about these things. The key is to get the insight. We want to have logical explanations. But but believe me, there are tons of Buddhist who will engage in this discussion and will claim that in fact it was the proper meditation and time you would gain this insight that there is no first cause.


In a way, it's like arguing with an atheist who says, Why do you believe there's God? That they don't believe there's a first cause? They don't believe that they believe everything you just happened. I mean, in a sense, the whole first cause thing is a perennial cosmological issue because, you know, now are going to go back to the Big Bang. Well, what caused the Big Bang? What caused the initial gases and the collapse of this time? You have to go back to some ontological anchor. And there's many in the modern world who are not prepared to be too troubled about that. They're prepared to kind of just let it hang out there. So it is not that dumbfounding really in the modern world to have people who walk around who don't really think about or talk about or discuss or debate the ontology of a first cause. Other thoughts or comments on protect yet some potter. Piece of the middle that, you know that. I would say that. But I'm the one that has to prove what I mean in order to run against the little. And the public. But just. Your by. Means we came into contact and anything that I need to go in and immediately before you die, you can leave. But sometimes you call it and you never know. There's only the other way around. You know, somebody thought, Oh, hmm, you couldn't do that. So I think that you deal with. They did understand that. Yeah, I think I think they do see a logic to it. I think they do. But I do think, though, that it's a logic that from the perspective of your life, perhaps you could be you could see it in some sequence. But I think it still has to be seen mainly as something that arises intact as opposed to something that gradually unfolds.


It may gradually unfold in your particular perception of your life cycle in that sense, but you know that you don't want to get the idea that number one is a starting point and the untitled. Somehow, in some ontology. In the beginning there was ignorance. Even though in your beginning as a baby, you of course, are born in ignorance. That's fair enough. But I think that you have to balance that between the whole the fact that even this newborn baby had a cause from a rebirth, which is goes back to previous karmic, you know. So according to their belief that when he had this four stages, Diana received a sick supernova. Just one of the super analogies gave the Buddha a divine eye and allows him to capture a glimpse of the will of samsara, which is what you have on your handout here. He watched as beings appeared and disappeared according to their karma. The 12 causal links are later systematized and picks on this wheel of life. This is a sense, a map, putting them apart or a map of the phenomenal world, the world of senses, the world of samsara. Now you'll notice that on the wheel of Samsara, there it is being held by Mana. Now, Mara is the God who tempted Buddha when he was under the body tree with all kinds of temptations. We briefly alluded to it in the first lecture. Mara came forth with these daughters of discontent and delight and desire and so forth. And you can see the way that this demon is holding the whole system and its hands and feet. Okay. This is a very dramatic I should bring in for you. I have a a wonderful depiction of this. I found in India a few years ago, four or five years ago, I was to my office.


But it shows this kind of close system of samsara. But what they do is they've taken away the 12 links that are here, and they instead have started with number one. All the way around them are 12, and they have pictures of depicting the life of Christ all the way around. But then they very cleverly have shown two things at the birth of Christ. They show a place outside the wheel and they're showing Christ incarnation down into the wheel. And then the most dramatic part of the whole picture is that it shows my way Tibetans one who drew the whole thing, a Tibetan Christian. It shows the resurrection of Christ. And Christ is rising up in Christ burst. The whole wheel is being destroyed. And so you see Christ emerging external to the wheel, you know, transcendent from the wheel of some story, and then this moral god that his demon is there, his hands are open, like this is always shown clutching his wheel, his hands are shown thrust back in falling away from the wheel of samsara. And it's a really dramatic it's used for gospel presentation on Buddhist authority and show you it's really a dramatic thing. But people walk in my office, say, What in the world is that? Let's say now the understand this. You can appreciate why a Christian did this, but he's looking at this. And you'll notice that the wheel of Samsara contains several chambers. Notice the three upper chambers and the three lower chambers. All right. You have the human realm, heaven, titan realm. And then near the lower realms of animal realm, hell and the realm of hungry Ghost is one way. That's input. Okay. Now, what this is depicting is. Is depicting essentially what can happen to you in your transmigration, which is your reincarnation.


So they don't use the term reincarnation, but transmigration when you are born. So when you die, you will in this delusion. An old cycle. You will travel to one of these six places based on your karma. Again, this you meaning this phenomenon or you that has no substance, no ultimate reality, but has very much reality as we experience it. So what happens is based on your karma, you can either be reborn into an upper realm or reborn into a lower realm. Now, if you're reborn into as another human, for example. So you have your life as a human. You die, reborn as a human. Now, that's very, very important because in both Hinduism and Buddhism, a human rebirth is extremely strategic, because the human is the main rebirth mode through which you can satisfy karma. You can pay off karma very well in the human mode. So in other words, it's a much easier to advance on this, you know, cycle than it is if you're reborn as an animal or you go to hell. But there's also there's heaven. Now, this is another example where you have to be very careful, because as I always tell people, when you talk to a Buddhist, it's like talking to a Hindu, but a Buddhist even more so. You have to make sure they're very clear on what they mean by terms they use. Because when a Buddhist says, Oh, I believe in God, I have faith in God and I am actually going to go to heaven when I die and live with this God in union, with this God or in fellowship with this God, I'm going to the happy land. I'm going to the pure land, I'm going to the Western paradise. I'm going to all kinds of expressions used in Buddhism to describe this heavenly state.


Or they'll say, You know, Amitava, I'm going to be with Amitava or a media Buddha. This, this these are all figures we'll look at later in the course. What they mean by that is they're going to this realm in the upper portion of samsara. In other words, they're going to a realm which it's in itself is part of the delusion, part of the greater it's they it's a more enjoyable part of the delusion, but it's that you still are suffering and you'll still be subject to rebirth and only eventually when you get nirvana does all of this whole thing fall away. So even the language of forgiveness heaven, hell, God, faith in God, this God saves me or helps me know all that language has to be seen in the context of contingency. Whereas when we talk about heaven and God, we're not talking about contingency. We're talking about an ontological state of truly independence where God is independent of the the cycle of life and death and so forth. So it's very, very important to see this as a dependent kind of contingency, not any kind of objective place that they're going to go to that is ultimately real. But the ultimate real world. The and there'll be actual places and there's a there's a saying in Thai everything's just in place in your heart basically mean that you're if you're in heaven or hell it's just sort of it's just self created. It's you go right It's one of the biggest problems that Westerners have when they go to work a Buddhist is that they assume ontological categories when they don't exist. So when you witness to a muslim and a muslim, it refers to heaven or hell. Believe me, even though his idea or her idea of heaven or hell is very different and in some ways dramatically different, the category is on the logically the same.


There is a belief that there is some ontological place with God that you go to upon death and judgment that is in the same category as a Christian from from a pure ontological point of not looking at Bible versus Koran, just philosophically, they're in the same category, whereas this is not the same category. So clarifying of terms is extremely important. And this is, by the way, one of the real hooks that has affected the Western Hollywood crowd, because actually, if you go into Buddhism with a Christian ontology or, you know, as a Christian, I mean, a queasy, you know, kind of background noise, Christian ontology. And you become listen to Buddhism. Then you can email or do kind of plug this in or add it on like a like an addition to a house onto your kind of vague Christian worldview. And then there are certain things about it which can be make sense and be helpful and on and on and on. And so therefore, a lot of the Hollywood people have advocated this. Buddhism is wonderful and we love it. And so are going peace of mind. I now I'm centered on myself that it's all about really for them. It's all about self, the establishment of self, not about the dissolution of self. So the Buddhism is, you know, can somehow or another float around the Western world in ways that are alien to the actual worldview. So we have a lot more to say about this actually as time develops. But this is critical to see that this heaven and hell human life is all in the wheel of samsara, all being held by mirror. It is not a it's not like heaven is somewhere up here. If you are heaven up here, that's a Christian ontology.


If heaven been here, we've got a big problem. Yes. Going back to the place where we have a place. A place where things are happening. You. You know it's a bit like that. Well, I'll give you the Bill Clinton response. It depends on what the meaning of the word is is. This is one place where that actually makes sense. If you mean do they use language and talk about heaven like it's a place you go and have enjoyment and be with your relatives and and be in the presence of God and all the kind of language. If if there's that language, how in Buddhism definitely do they believe that it actually exists? Of course not, because that's the whole Buddha's vision is that there is none of this. All of this ultimately does not exist. So because of your karmic activity, you can come to the point where you have less of a sensation of suffering than other people. So you can be more of like if you're believe is difference in your experience, if you're in heaven versus the realm of Hungry ghost. But ultimately, the greatest insight is to transcend all of this and realize it doesn't exist. Yes. This summer, what you're indicating getting. We were asking them about the relationship between them and the Buddhists and Obama and all the people that we. Talk to that separately and at the same. Right. Well, there's two reasons for that reply. Number one is because they don't really know what you mean by the word heaven. And so they're just grappling with the terminology. But Thailand is a poster child for syncretism. Thailand probably has the most discombobulated expression of Buddhism in the world. Now, that's not to discourage you. That's actually the part of the excitement.


The exciting reality of Thailand and Thailand is a place that is then famous for assimilating a lot of different ideas. And Buddhism is a very important strand of the Thai worldview, Thai reality. But it is not what you would find in Sri Lanka. It's a very different world. And so you're going to find some big compromise. And by the way, this is has understood throughout the whole class. I think I made this point early on that in order to understand the practice of Buddhism in some parts of the world, you have to understand more parts of the story than just the Buddhist part. In India, for example, to understand Hinduism and Buddhism and Islam is all kind of part of the pie because everybody is affected by what else. Secondly, I remind you that you were to stop 100 Christians on the streets and even point out of, you know, a good church, have a solid church. You'd be surprised what would come out of their mouths about the Christian faith. It's really I mean, there's a huge gap between the Gordon Conwell consciousness about Christian theology and what you actually hear pouring out of the lives of your parishioners. I mean, as it's my own shame, I was a pastor of a church for six years at one point where I was teaching and preaching and banging the pulpit every Sunday, trying to expose it the great truths of the faith. And there was a lady one night who said to me, you know, is it really that important that Jesus is coming back again? I, like, fell out of my chair. I was like, Have you been with me this long? And still you do not know me. You know, I mean, our Lord had the same frustration with his own disciples.


I mean, there's a big gap. And so you have to recognize that the theology in the streets is never the theology that is actually there. And yet, as important as it is to know what people that were walking the streets of Boston, who grew up in the Catholic Church, kind of nominally Catholic, if you stop and say, okay, what are you all a Catholic? What does that mean? All this confusing gobbledygook, some point is pouring out. So it's true. Some of it is bizarre. It is mixed up with who knows what. But in order to understand that person, you do need to know two things. You need to understand them. One, what is true Catholicism? Then you can understand what's gobbledygook and what's not. And then two, you need to understand that person in his own worldview and what he's or she's coming from. That's another part of the puzzle. That's part of mission work. Mission work is ultimately get inside someone's head. This class is only one part of that story. I mean, this class is helping us to unfold the Buddhist part of the story. But there's no even ghost of a thought here that this class represents the walking, living, breathing theological reality of Buddhists in Southeast Asia. If you were to throw an egg out the window of a car and at random hit a Buddhist and take him in for questioning, then you're not going to have the expositions of these classes come out of his lips. But you have a lot of things you recognize. I mean, Tali, I was really gratified. Why don't you share what you told me? Our break, Tali is in probably one of the most discombobulated parts of India in terms of Hinduism, because he doesn't a part of India that doesn't have a Hindu background.


But he was working with Hindus in Northeast. He's had the whole Hinduism class. So you actually have to write that He was very helpful, even though I don't know what all you found there, what ticket or topics you found helpful. But you know, it's important to have the background, even though you may find a lot of diversity on the ground. Okay. Other thoughts or comments? Yes. I really hope you don't end up just sitting up for a while and know all of these things without worry or get stuck there. No, they're all temporary. Right. So what happens is, if you're in this Ramos suffering, then karmic debt is satisfied. Once countries have at a certain point, then you might say you. It becomes possible for you to be reborn in the human realm and have another shot at it. Yes. At one point that the food actually denied the existence of any spirits. Coast Guard. All. All of that. Um, but here we have ghosts. Higher spirits. That's right. What? That reflects a system of levels of reality. And the Buddhists reply. And so at the highest level of reality, these things do not exist. So basically is the level of what they call that there's a there's different is called the level of Parramatta. Parramatta KA means what is real capital are real. One of the problems in the Western ontological categories is we have a language for real and unreal, but nothing for in between. They have a word for real paramount Attica, a real, a word for neither real nor unreal. What they call so does a Dewey like Shauna. And then they have a realm of unreality. So Buddha was asked, Is there a gods goddesses, moral? All this stuff in Parramatta in the highest reality says, No, there's not.


But that has nothing to do with this lower level of reality. That actually is the point we're making right now, is that there is an ontology and contingency. Can you see from any available evidence or like one we probably have to get to. No escaping ultimately has to happen in this realm, in the human realm. If I escape, I think you mean not you escaping, but the recognition of the ultimate of of nirvana happens at the human realm, and that actually gets picked up by the. Right now we're looking at this ancient form. But when we get this rebirth of Buddhism into Mahayana, which what they have in Thailand that gets carried on. So in both the major branch of Buddhism, the human realm is still considered priority for having this realization. Yes, the master of psychology was. He has a good point. That's a great point. Actually, Mara is holding the wheel. It, at least to me, gives you the visual impression that Mara has ontology, because since you have, you know, whoever is holding the realm, you know, is in control of it or creating or causing or whatever. So you could almost argue that visually it looks like Mara is some kind of first cause to the whole thing. But but they don't accept that. Absolutely not. So Mara is part of the contingency. And so when you break through the realm of it, when you work through ignorance and you have the realization of the the truth of of Buddhism, that there is no first cause, all of this disappears. And it's not like the circle collapse in Mara standing there. Mara also disappears in their depiction of this. But visually, you're right that it is a little bit misleading looking at the picture of it.


So, Mara, Personification. Mara is a projection of your consciousness. You're projecting Mara onto this. There's actually no substantive nature of Mara. It's a projection. And there's actually two philosophy. One theories. One philosophy says it's a projection from your mind, your consciousness. Another says, Mara never has existed, doesn't exist, and is just simply not there at all. But either way, if I think it's some kind of it's not. There's no ontology to Mara. Yes. So I'm sorry I missed it. Oh, yeah. Well, is this true when you have if your name is Mara or Maya or any of these terms, that is us. It's just shocked people because it's a it's a very it's a very negative word. It's like someone it's I mean, named, you know, death. You know, it's a hard thing to kind of get beyond. And so what? But this is the good news. The good news is, if you pronounce it slightly differently, it becomes a different word. So if you work in the East, you should say your name is Mara. Okay. You say Mara. That's okay. It's Mara. That's the problem. But. Yes, we went through that. Now, let's take. Outside. Yes. Yes. Okay. So now. Yes. But he also sees all of his lives passing through all of these realms. So he actually sketches in his mind these realms. And so he learns the realms and later recites into his disciples because he saw himself in this chamber, that chamber. He saw all of his cycles of birth through all of this. Yes. Thank you. We're talking like Goliath or What's going on? Yeah, Goliath. We're talking about super human giants. This part of the ancient world mythology that the idea that there are certain superhuman people walking around and they had to have some way to explain it, and so that they have a realm for that.


And this will occasionally slip out into the human realm and go around and smash people. So a little bit of an insight into ancient cosmologies as much as is into, you know, spiritual discernment and, you know, and those we had Hinduism class. Now if you don't have any of, you're going to turn this off, but just a little point of connection in Hinduism. Remember how you, we had the conception of mandalas that you would look at and it's like those different diagrams. The Buddhist will develop this extremely well. A little diagram will depict the whole universe or the whole of reality. And then all by folks in the diagram, you can gain insight into the world. It's called a cosmic homology. By looking at one thing, you can gain access to knowledge, everything. So this is a a mandala. From the Hindu perspective, this is a depiction you can't read. It has to be viewed somewhat symbolically. This is not meant to be a blue architectural blueprint, but more of a mystical depiction that the only way you can really understand it is through a lot of meditation on it. And that's why it's not particularly troubling that you have the word mera outside the wheel or the maras clutching and all that because it's considered to be just a depiction for meditation purposes. And Mara, you happy to know that we will not be talking a lot about Mara after today, so won't be like a regular refrain from here on morality, a wonderful word that we all just that roar of our tongues with great joy. Yes, that sense of what they do, they believe a lot of. All six of Buddhism except the basic concept of samsara. But many of them do not use this or accept even this number of the 12.


But that is a later development. And especially Tibetans don't accept us. So we'll have to come to that point. We get to it. The Tibetans accept some sorrow, but they do not accept this particular diagram like this. They have another another version of it. They do. They don't have the idea of a we are told you have that wonderful picture. The Tibetan Christian drew this based on the others. Well, yeah. So they have the basic concept, but the idea of these or the 12th thing, what they basically say is that the Buddha gave these 12 things as the root cause of the whole thing. We have secret insights about other things that are even more important, and we don't accept the number eight is necessarily the real weak link. We have other ways. We also can break through the chain, right? So, you know, so in a way it's like saying we accept the basic idea of it, but we have our own way of describing it and our own way of breaking free from it. That's but we have to learn this way. We can learn exceptions to it. It's the kind of classes be nice to download the whole class in the first hour, and then you can then have a whole 30 hours just to talk about it. But we do need to kind of get ourselves the enough piece on the table to work it. So this is really the major distinction between Moksha and Nirvana, because Moksha and Nirvana are equivalent if you're looking at them from the underside. That's why in the common language, people will say Moksha, nirvana, heaven, you know, whatever. They'll kind of use this expression because that from the underside they are very similar. That is, if you're in the way of going to heaven, it seems to be a perfectly logical kind of progression from where you are.


Moksha is released from the wheel of Samsara. Nirvana is liberation from the will of samsara, but from the upper side, they're absolutely different because on the upper side we see that Moksha is the release from Samsara because you realize that there is a you there and Atman that has a fundamental unity with Brahman who is not part of samsara. So you break free from it and you are united or reunited with Brahman, whereas in fact even the Hindus have as one of their famous saying that this called the great transmission. When a Brahman father is dying, he will bring his son in and he will have what's called the great transmission. And he'll say to him, Oh, come Brahman, which means I am Brahman. And the summary of Peter's, I am Brahman, I am the sacrifice, I am the world. They will say this several times together. The father will die. This is the legacy he passes on to his son. The recognition that you are Brahman. Okay? A Buddhist cannot say that. So from the upper side there is again back to the basic point. There is no on the logical foundation in Brahman Atman. And therefore ultimately, even though in common language people roll off their tongues, heaven, nirvana, moksha, mukti, all these terms from a point of view of analysis, the two are fundamentally different because one has ontology, one does not. I'm a quote, by the way, from Ruhollah, who has written one of the most used to be the textbook for this class some few years ago when we taught it with Hinduism. I'll quote what he says he's talking about Patel, his whole Pada. He said It should be clearly remembered that each of these factors is conditioned as well as conditioning.


He's talking about the 12 factors this this whole thing here. Therefore, they are all relative, independent and interconnected. And so relative dependent and interconnected and nothing is absolute or independent. Hence and I'm quoting here, no first cause is accepted by Buddhism, hence no first cause is accepted by Buddhism. This is the quote I showed you before, which is from our textbook in our class, in the part of through many a birth, I wandered in some sorrow seeking but not finding the builder of the house. Sara for it is a born again and again house builder. You are seen. You shall build no house again. All your rafters are broken. Your ribs, Paul is shattered. My mind has attained the unconditioned achieved is the end of craving. That probably makes more sense now than when you first saw it on to the on the board. So yes, with that I whenever that I just the hospital that I don't understand the concept if there's not a god or. Right. In other words, is basically saying that there is this structure of reality that we see around us. I mean, in this case, this will be the five aggregates that make up human existence. But, you know, these are things that we think have substance. You know, Rafters Ridge, Paul, this is just using ancient imagery of a some kind of structure. But what he's saying is he now realizes that, you know, all of this is now nothingness. There's no substance to it. It's all shattered, broken down. He has come to the point where everything is in this state of of dependance. So it is this is typical of the kind of metaphorical statements that are made. Most of the philosophy is talked in metaphors, not through the tactic analysis.


Yes. Well, Chris, just talk about the creator, God for his identify that housebuilder that's just given rise to. Reputation that created nonexistent but evil. At this point. Basically that would be true of innocence. That evil is a expression of Duca. I mean, I think the word evil, maybe a bit of a Christian imposition on the on the conversation. But yes, in the broader categories, our concept of God is part of the illusion that has to be dismissed from the Buddhist point of view. So they don't believe that faith in God is anything advantageous because it just further embed you in the will of samsara obviously is a big problem, isn't it? I believe that it seems like you know a lot about what I'm thinking of the. None of us did it on the reservation. It came out of my that once I went off of my life, I said, I think that's a good thing. So all of Buddhism was atheistic from my definition of theism. Yeah, that's true at that point. And then at that point it happened to so many people that followed through. Yeah, I mean, they are being they are living at a different level, I would say, with balance. And that's very, uh, I think that's very painful for ourselves to see that very sad, uh, you know, for nothing there quite a little bit. That's right. It's so true. I mean, Buddhism is definitely an atheistic worldview. So when you're witnessing to a muslim, at least you have a starting point of theism. And that's actually a huge advantage. You have a common belief that God created the world in six days. You have a a lot of burlap in the textual data, obviously major differences, but nevertheless there's a starting point with Buddhism.


Just getting to the theistic threshold is a huge challenge. So this is not an easy world to just jump into and it requires a lot of dedication and commitment, which is why we're taking time to do this. Let's just briefly summarize the six ways that Buddhism is different from Hinduism. This will be helpful for everybody in the class because, as I said, it's important to see Buddhism as a descent movement. And if we don't have that in our minds, it's hard to understand Buddhism. Obviously, we have to do some class. It'll help even more, but I think it's helpful for all of us to see kind of how these religions just part of each other and why we call them two world religions. Hinduism seeks Moksha as the final end. Buddhism refuses Moksha out of compassion for others. This is something which is part of the Mahayana vision, which we've yet to look at. But Buddhism is famous for this idea of refusing your moksha. We'll look at that more later. Hinduism has a non ethical base because everything is based on your karma. You're getting what you deserve. There's no problem of evil in Hinduism. Buddhism is very proud of the fact that they are ethical and compassionate. We'll explore this more later. And we see the role of ethics in Buddhism, helping people out of their delusion, out of their darkness. We'll see why I put at a certain level, I have a chapter in our textbook I've written on Buddhist ethics, which you'll understand why I've put at a certain level. Third, Hinduism affirms ultimate reality and Atman and Brahma, and that's what we've already discussed. Buddhism denies in the ultimate reality, including Atman, are Brahman. This is why we said Buddhism's atheistic Hinduism, at least in certain schools of it, affirm self mortification and extreme asceticism.


Buddha certainly explains that Buddhism portrays itself as a middle way between the two extremes of self-indulgence and self-denial. Hinduism, in its classical form, embraces the superior role and knowledge of the Brahmin caste in media and the terms. Liberation. Buddhism, at its root, is an Taiba, a medical descent movement challenging a stronghold of the Brahmin caste on the terms liberation Buddha saying, Anybody can follow this path If you are prepared to become a monk and undergird the proper disciplines. Therefore, it is not tied into the biomedical caste that is extremely radical in those days. Sixth, Hinduism accepts many paths or markers to liberation. The word Marga is the word for path, and it's a term that you should know to liberation. From samsara, Buddhism develops a specific eightfold path or prescription to follow if one is to achieve enlightenment. Hinduism says, Oh, there's many ways to God, many ways to reality. You follow this, you follow that. It'll help you eventually get to this point. Buddhism says, No, that's a hit and miss type plan. We have a prescription that will work and this gets nuance to massaged quite a. As we'll see, but essentially the eightfold path conception is there. So those are some differences. Some of those differences become more profound as we develop things I thought be worthwhile, at least to summarize some of the ways that Buddhism is different from Hinduism. The main point is the the main two points really. But the first main one is the ontological difference. The second would be the challenge of caste. Those are the two most important reasons why Hindus will not accept Buddhist and the only reason that Hinduism, the only way the Hinduism managed to absorb it a little bit, making the Buddha and incarnation of Vishnu.


I may have alluded this last time where I told you that according to Hindus, they have they have certain gods, one that come, one is called Vishnu, that has had a number of very famous incarnations. There's ten major incarnations of Vishnu. One of these is the as the Buddha. Okay. So that is a way of of trying to absorb Buddhism. But what they say is this was an incarnation that was given by Vishnu in order to deceive people. What a amazing view of God. The God looks down and says, Some of you are not worthy of true enlightenment. So I'm going to send someone who will lead you all astray so you can really focus on the people who are really able to handle it. So the Buddha comes to deceive and lead people astray. That's a Hindu interpretation of Buddhism and the Buddhist critique. If you really want to and this will happen later in the course, we began to unfold some of the Christian response to all this. But the Buddhist critique is best found in Hinduism because the Hindus are, if you want to insult a Hindu karma Buddhist, it really, really upset when you say, Oh, you're not a Buddhist. This comes all through the Hindu writings. Someone is saying, Oh, you know, how dare you call me a Buddhist? And then it launch into this powerful accusation why he's not a Buddhist. And they're able to actually see insights into weaknesses in Buddhism that have not been particularly talked about in the West as much. So we actually can learn a lot about responding to Buddhism by getting into the Indian critique of it. And so we'll do some of that before the semester is out. Okay, We will stop there and we will start the pronunciation lesson and we'll come back next week.