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[Video] The Buddha’s Teaching On The Mind And Consciousness

 

Welcome to our long video series on meditation.

 

In this series we’ll cover a huge amount of ground, from deep theory to simple, practical applications.

 

In this video, we’ll cover the historical Buddha’s teachings on the mind and consciousness.

 

In addition to studying and practicing meditation in Asia for nearly the past 2 decades, I’m also one of the few Westerners who has studied at a highly orthodox Buddhist monastic university (see the About Me page).

 

It’s my goal to produce and deliver the most in-depth, high quality training on Orthodox Buddhist Meditation available anywhere online – for free.

 

We’ll cover lot’s of information in this long weekly series.

 

Here’s a quick overview of what’s to come each week:

 

  1. Buddha’s Teaching On The Mind
  2. The Buddha
  3. The First Noble Truth
  4. The Second Noble Truth
  5. The Third Noble Truth
  6. The Fourth Noble Truth
  7. The Idea Of “No Soul” – Anatta
  8. Core Frameworks
  9. Meditation – Bhavana
  10. The 37 Factors Of Awakening
  11. The Four Foundations Of Mindfulness
  12. Four Right Mental Efforts
  13. Four Foundations Of Accomplishment
  14. Five Faculties
  15. Five Powers
  16. Seven Constituents Of Enlightenment
  17. Eight Constituents Of The Noble Path
  18. The Development Of Mental Power
  19. The Foundation Of Meditation
  20. 10 Kinds Of Immoral Action
  21. 10 Kinds Of Moral Action
  22. The Training Of Concentration
  23. Samatha Bhavana (Samatha Meditation)
  24. The Objects Of Meditation (Samatha)
  25. 40 Objects Of Tranquility Meditation
  26. 10 Kasinas
  27. 10 Kinds Of Corpses
  28. 10 Recollections
  29. 4 Divine Abidings
  30. 4 Immaterial States
  31. Perception Of The Repulsiveness Of Nutriment
  32. Definition Of The 4 Elements
  33. 6 Types Of Temperaments
  34. Insight Meditation – Vipassana Bhavana
  35. The Meaning Of Insight Knowledge
  36. The Objects Of Insight Meditation
  37. The Five Aggregates
  38. The Aggregate Of Corporeality
  39. The Aggregate Of Feelings
  40. The Aggregate Of Perceptions
  41. The Aggregate Of Mental Formations
  42. The Aggregate Of Consciousness
  43. The Concept Of “I”
  44. The Twelve Bases – The 6 Internal Bases, The 6 External Bases
  45. The 18 Elements – The 6 Subjective Elements, The 6 Objective Elements, The 6 Intellectual Elements
  46. The Ten Stages Of Insight Knowledge
  47. The Three Ways Of Liberation, The Triple Gateway To Liberation

 

Here’s An Overview Of What’s Covered In This Video

 

BUDDHA’S TEACHING ON THE MIND

  • Among all founders of religions, the Buddha was the only one who never claimed to be more than a human
    • He claimed no inspiration from any god or external power
    • He credited all of his realization, attainment and achievements to human effort and human intelligence
      • A human and only a human can become a Buddha

And everyone has the capacity

  • Man’s position according to Buddhism is supreme

Man is his own master

There is no higher being or power over his destiny

  • “One is one’s own refuge, who else could be the refuge?” said the Buddha
    • He encouraged his students to be a refuge to themselves and never seek refuge or help from anyone else
    • He taught each person to develop themselves and to work out their own liberation
      • Because humans have the power to liberate themselves from all chains through their own personal effort and intelligence
    • The Buddha said: “You should do your own work, for the Tathagatas only teach the way”
    • If the Buddha can be called a “savior” it’s ony because he discovered and showed the path to achieve liberation – Nibbana
      • But we have to walk the path ourselves
    • No esoteric doctrine
      • Nothing hidden in the “closed fist” of the teacher
      • The freedom of thought allowed by the Buddha is unheard of in any other religions

But necessary because  mans liberation depends on his own realization of Truth

Not through grace

  • In a town called Kesaputta the people were known as Kalamas
    • They asked the Buddha about Brahmins and holy men who said that their truth was the only truth, and that everything else was false

‘Yes, Kalamas, it is proper that you have doubt, that you have perplexity, for a doubt has arisen in a matter which is doubtful. Now, look you Kalamas, do not be led by reports, or tradition, or hearsay. Be not led by the authority of religious texts, nor by the delight in speculative opinions, nor, by seeming possibilities, nor by the idea: ‘this is our teacher.’ But, O Kalamas, when you know for yourselves that certain things are unwholesome(akusala),and wrong, and bad, then give them up… And when you know for yourselves that certain things are wholesome(kusala) and good, then accept them and follow them.’

This kind of advice was unique in the history of religions

  • According to the Buddha, Doubt (Vicikiccba) is one of the 5 hindrances (Nivarana) to the clear understanding of truth and to making progress
    • However, doubt is not a sin because there are no “articles of faith” in Buddhism

In fact, there is no “sin” as is understood in other religions

The root of all evil is ignorance (avijja) and false view (miccba dittbi)

  • As long as there is doubt – no progress is possible

But there must be doubt as long as you don’t understand or see clearly

To eliminate doubt you must see clearly

Just before his death Buddha asked his disciples multiple times if they had any doubts about his teaching

  • Tolerance to other views
    • Once, Upali, a disciple of the Jain founder Mahavira came to debate Buddha on certain theoretical points about Kamma, because his views were different from Mahavira’s
      • In the end, Upali was convinced of the views of the Buddha and that Mahavira’s were wrogn so he begged the Buddha to accept him as a lay disciple (upasaka)
      • The Buddha asked him to reconsider and not be ina hurry, and to consider carefully

When Upali asked again, the Buddha asked him to continue to respect and support his old religious teacher as he used to

  • Religion or philosophy?
    • Label doesn’t matter much. Even the label “Buddhism” isn’t very important
    • Truth is not the monopoly of anyone
    • Sectarian labels impede independent understanding of truth and produce harmful prejudices
    • In the pursuit of truth, it doesn’t matter where an idea comes from
      • It’s not even necessary to know whether the teaching comes from the Buddha or Someone else
      • There is an important story in the Majjhima Nikaya which shows this

The Buddha once spent a night in a potter’s shed. In the same shed there was a young recluse who had arrived there earlier. They did not know each other. The Buddha observed the recluse, and thought to himself: ‘Pleasant are the ways of this young man. It would be good if I should ask about him’. So the Buddha asked him: ‘O bhikkhu, in whose name have you left home? Or who is your master? Or whose doctrine do you like?’ ‘O friend,’ answered the young man, ‘there is the recluse Gotama, a Sakyan scion, who left the Saka-family to become a recluse. There is high repute abroad of him that he is an Arahant, a Fully-Enlightened One. He is my Master, and I like his doctrine.’ ‘Where does the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Fully-Enlightened One live at the present time?’ ‘In the countries to the north, friend, there is a city called Savatthi. It is there that that Blessed One, the Arahant, the Fully-Enlghtened One is now living.’

‘Have you ever seen him, the Blessed One? Would you recognize him if you saw him?’ ‘I have never seen the Blessed One. Nor should I recognize him if I saw him.’ The Buddha realized it was in his name that this unknown young man had left home and become a recluse. But without divulging his own identity, he said: ‘O bhikkhu, I will teach you the doctrine. Listen and pay attention. I will speak.’ ‘Very well, friend,’ said the young man in assent.

Then the Buddha delivered to this young man a most remarkable discourse explaining Truth (the gist of which is given later). It was only at the end of the discourse that this young recluse, whose name was Pukkusati, realized that the person who spoke to him was the Buddha himself. So he got up, went before the Buddha, bowed down at feet of the Master, and apologized him for calling him ‘friend’ unknowingly. He then begged the Buddha to ordain him and admit him into the Order of Sangha.

The Buddha asked him whether he had the alms-bowl and the robes ready. (a bhikku must have three robes and alms-bowl for begging food.) When Pukkusati replied in the negative, the Buddha said that the Tathagatas would not ordain a person unless the alms-bowl and robes are ready. So Pukkusati went out in search of an alms-bowl and robes, but was unfortunately savaged by a cow and died. Later, when this sad news reached the Buddha, he announced that Pukkusati was a wise man, who had already seen the Truth, and attained the penultimate stage in the realization of Nibbana, and that he was born in a realm where he would become an Arahant and finally passed away, never to return this world again

  • Faith
    • Faith and belief rise from not seeing
      • or knowing
    • Once you see, the question of belief disappears
      • A disciple of the Buddha named Musila tells another monk: ‘Friend Savittha, without devotion, faith or belief, without liking or inclination, without hearsay or tradition, without considering apparent reasons, without delight in the speculations of opinions, I know and see that the cessation of becoming is Nirvana’. And the Buddha says: ‘O bhikkhus, I say that the destruction of defilement and impurities is (meant) for a person who knows and who sees, and not for a person who does not know and does not see.’
    • When it comes to the Dhamma, it’s always a queston of knowing and seeing and not of believing
      • “Ehi-Passika” – Come and see
    • Buddha gave advice of extreme importance to a group of Brahmins: ‘It is not proper for a wise man who maintains (lit. protects) truth to come to the conclusion: “This alone is Truth, and everything else is false’.’ Asked by the young Brahmin to explain the idea of maintaining or protecting truth, the Buddha said: ‘ A man has a faith. If he says, “This is my faith”, so far he maintains truth. But by that he cannot proceed to the absolute conclusion: “This alone is Truth, and everything else is false”.
      • A man can believe whatever he wants and an say “I believe this” and he is respecting the truth
      • If he says what he believes is he only truth and everything else is false – he is not a respector of truth
    • The allegory of the raft
      • Buddha compared his teaching to a raft for crossing over, and not for carrying on your back
        • Once the raft has been used to cross the stream – it’s no longer necessary to carry it on your back for the rest of your life
      • Metaphysical questions
        • There was a disciple of the Buddha who put 10 metaphysical questions forward to him and demanded answers
          • “There are these problems unexplained, put aside and rejected by the Blessed One. Namely, (1) is the universe eternal or (2) is it not eternal, (3) is the universe finite or (4) is it infinite, (5) is soul the same as body or (6) is soul one thing and body another thing, (7) does the Tathagata exist after death, or (8) does he not exist after death, or (9) does he both (at the same time) exist after death, or (10) does he both (at the same time) not exist and not not-exist. These problems the Blessed One does not explain to me.”
        • The Buddha’s reply would be useful to the millions of people in the world who are obsessed with spookism
        • ‘Did I ever tell you, Malunkyaputta, “Come, Malunkyaputta, lead the holy life under me, I will explain these questions to you?”‘ ‘No, Sir.’ ‘Then, Malunkyaputta, even you, did you tell me: “Sir, I will lead the holy life under the Blessed One, and the Blessed One will explain these questions to me”?’ ‘No, Sir.’ ‘Even now, Malunkyaputta, I do not tell you: “Come and lead the holy life under me, I will explain these question to you”.
          • And you do not tell me either: “Sir, I will lead the holy life under the Blessed One, and he will explain these questions to me”. Under these circumstances, you foolish one, who refuses whom? ‘Malunkyaputta, if anyone says: “I will not lead the holy life under the Blessed One until he explains these questions,” he may die with these questions unanswered by the Tathagata.
          • Suppose Malunkyaputta, a man is wounded by the poisoned arrow, and his friends and relatives bring him to a surgeon. Suppose the man should then say: ” I will not let this arrow be taken out until I know who shot me; whether he is a Ksatriya (of the low caste); what his name and family may be; whether he is tall, short, or of medium stature; whether his complexion is black, brown, or golden; from which village, town or city he comes. I will not let this arrow be taken out until I know the kind of bow with which I was shot; the kind of bowstring used; the type of arrow; what sort of feather was used on the arrow and with what kind of material the point of the arrow was made.” Malunkyaputta, that man would die without knowing any of these things. Even so, Malunkyaputta, if anyone says: ” I will not follow the holy life under the Blessed One until he answers these questions such as whether the universe is eternal or not, etc.,” he would die with these questions unanswered by the Tathagata.’
        • The Buddha explained that a holy life doesn’t depend on these views
          • Then the Buddha explains to Malunkyaputta that the holy life does not depend on these views. Whatever opinion one may have about these problems, there is birth, old age, decay, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, distress, ” the Cessation of which (i.e. Nirvana) I declare in this very life.” ‘Therefore, Malunkyaputta, bear in mind what I have explained as explained, and what I have not explained as unexplained. What are the things that I have not explained? Whether the universe is eternal or not, etc., (those 10 opinions) I have not explained. Why, Malunkyaputta, have not explained them? Because it is not useful, it is not fundamentally connected with the spiritual holy life, is not conducive to aversion, detachment, cessation, tranquility, deep penetration, full realization, Nirvana. That is why I have not told you about them.
          • Then, what, Malunkyaputta, have I explained? I have explained dukkha, the arising of dukkha, the cessation of dukkha, and the way leading to the cessation of dukkha. Why, Malunkyaputta, have I explained them? Because it is useful, is fundamentally connected with the spiritual holy life, is conducive to aversion, detachment, cessation, tranquility, deep penetration, full realization, Nirvana. Therefore I have explained them.’ Let us now examine the Four Noble Truths which the Buddha told Malunkyaputta he had explained.

 

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