ed: still editing
here is a book What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Sri Rahula. I have just found it online, have not read it, i do not know its worth.
Buddha says “Test things in terms of cause and effect. Whatever is unskillful, leading to harm and ill, should be abandoned; whatever is skillful, leading to happiness and peace, should be pursued. Apply the test of skillfulness to all teachings in all your actions. Where is this teaching taking you? Is it moving you in a direction that is wise and kind?”
We are all familiar with the quote attributed to Gautama,
Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.
As Bodhipaksa says, This is a bad translation of the Kalama Sutta — so bad, in fact, that it contradicts the message of the sutta, which says that reason and common sense are not sufficient for ascertaining the truth.
Even so, the incorrect translation has probably saved thousands of people from not using their own experience as a guide. As Larry Rosenberg says, ‘we have this great swirling spiritual marketplace, with lots of claims being made. It’s no wonder that many of us find it confusing.’
What the buddha really said (paraphrased) (full correct translation) was:
Test things in terms of cause and effect. Whatever is unskillful, leading to harm and ill, should be abandoned; whatever is skillful, leading to happiness and peace, should be pursued. Apply the test of skillfulness to all teachings in all your actions. Where is this teaching taking you? Is it moving you in a direction that is wise and kind? – The Right to Ask Questions by Larry Rosenberg © 2006
A conversation between a Seeker and an Observer:
S: I think I’ll practice meditation this year. I’m really fed up with these repetitive patterns in my life. At night, when I am home, I feel anguished and I realise how much this leads me to some sort of diversion into addictive behaviors, be it alone or in a group. I need to calm my mind down when this occurs, I have to contact my inner peace.
O: Well, bad news! Meditation is not meant to solve problems. Meditation is a technique that helps develop our attentiveness and ability to observe. It’s like a workout for the brain and its neurological effects have indeed been scientifically proven. To meditate regularly, in the morning for example, just as one would do some yoga exercises – without making it into a new cult of course – sharpens our mental capacities of perception of ourselves and of the world. In the long run, it can influence our life choices.
However, wanting to meditate when / because we are disturbed doesn’t solve anything. Doing so is nothing more than fleeing our our reality as it appears to us. Wanting to dissipate a suffering, a fear or an anguish has nothing to do with understanding it.
The only way out of this mental and emotional pollution and from the addictions that arise from it; the only way to actually experience psychological health is to cope. It is to observe in an honest way what is happening within ourselves at that very moment (Hey, not later with our therapist! OK?!), physically and emotionally; the thoughts, aches and urges that come about within ourselves. Only then can a deep understanding arise of what we keep on reproducing ad infinitum and of the thought-processes that sabotage our existence day after day.
S: I understand. I really have to discipline myself.
O: Discipline has nothing to do with this.
S: But isn’t the ability to preserve some time for ourselves and to put distraction and entertainment aside in itself the most important of disciplines in this world?
O: Can’t you see that discipline is a diversion too? A militarization of the mind to try (in vain) to control it. I’d say that the ability to put psychological distraction aside is an ability (!), not a discipline. It blooms as we allow some space for the analysis of the conditionings linked to our past, our memories and our existential fears, and as we understand how much this internal movement is powerful and fruitful. It’s not a discipline, it’s a game that arises from curiosity and some sort of pleasure. To try hard to put distractions aside has never led to any genuine result; quite the opposite, it accentuates the pendulum swinging from one absurd device to the other. When you look at it closely, these diversions represent an addiction in our lives and wanting to stop using drugs without an intimate understanding has never been and will never be efficient.
No really, it’s quite simple in fact. At a certain point, with no culpability whatsoever, with no specific will power, it becomes clear and lucid that we just don’t want these spectres in our lives. That’s all.
S: Striking a middle ground…yes, an ancestral wisdom. But how can we stay far from the extremes?
O: Haha! Seeking again, my dear Seeker?!
The extremes…Here’s another concept word full of skewed obviousness and demonising common sense! This word holds in itself an a priori judgement that is totally unnecessary – contra-productive actually – for the comprehension of what hinders us.
What is the extreme? That of yesterday, of a century ago, of some 500 years ago? Is it identical to that of tomorrow? Is the extreme here identical to that of elsewhere, over there? i mean: even the most extreme of extremes.
Let’s consider the torture of children. Until the 1940s in France, it was institutionalised, even to punish the theft of an apple. Another example: until the nineteenth century in Western countries, sodomy, which is nowadays a practice promoted in some women’s magazines, was considered as an unforgivable vice, worthy of terrible punishments or the death penalty.
Extreme, as defined by our times, is nothing hateful in principle. It’s just the definition by the fringe of a norm that imposes itself. All the same, if we want to find what’s right, we will surely not find it in the “middle” since, as for the extremes that mark it out and define it, the middle is often unfair!…Mostly unfair actually because it’s consensual, far, so very far away from personal realities!
What’s right, dear Seeker, is in ourselves alone and for ourselves alone.
It can’t be experienced without first understanding our own reality, freed from any subjection to external thinkings.
It emerges without effort from light-hearted and profound observation.