Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What is Essential, by Dr. Rahula Walpola

"The question has often been asked: Is Buddhism a religion or a philosophy? It does not matter what you call it. Buddhism remains what it is whatever label you may put on it. The label is immaterial. Even the label “Buddhism” which we give to the Teaching of the Buddha is of little importance. The name one gives it is inessential.

In the same way, Truth needs no label: it is neither Buddhist, nor Christian, nor Jewish, nor Hindu, nor Moslem. It is not the monopoly of anyone. Sectarian labels are a barrier to the independent understanding of Truth, and they produce harmful prejudices in men’s mind.

This is true not only in intellectual and spiritual matters, but also in human relations. When, for instance, we meet a man, we do not look on him as a human being, but we put a label on him, such as English, French, German, American, or Latino, and regard him with all the prejudices associated with that label in our mind. Yet, he may be completely free from those attributes which we have put on him.

People are so fond of discriminative labels that they even go to the length of putting them on human qualities and emotions common to all. So, they talk of different “brands” of charity, as for example, of Buddhist charity or Christian charity, and look down upon other “brands” of charity. But charity cannot be sectarian; it is neither Buddhist, nor Christian, nor Hindu, nor Moslem. The love of a mother for her child is neither Buddhist nor Christian — it is motherly love. Human qualities and emotions such as love, charity, compassion, tolerance, patience, friendship, desire, hatred, ill-will, ignorance, conceit, etc., need no sectarian labels; they belong to no particular religion.

To the seeker after Truth, it is immaterial where an idea comes from. The source and development of an idea is a matter for the academic. In fact, in order to understand Truth, it is not necessary even to know whether the teaching comes from the Buddha, or from anyone else. What is essential is seeing the thing, understanding it."

The above extract is from a wonderful book by the Venerable Doctor Walpola Rahula. To download a free pdf copy of the book, click here: What the Buddha Taught
For a review, click here: Review: What the Buddha Taught


Was Once said...

Goenka's vipassana discourses have said this all along, and that is another reason why they are still popular.

G said...

Right, Was Once. "Seeing the thing, understanding it..."