"When understood, the Buddha’s universe..is anything but alien and inhibiting. It is a world full of hope, where everything we need to do can be done and everything that matters is within human reach. It is a world where kindness, unselfishness, non-violence, and compassion achieve what self-interest and arrogance cannot. It is a world where any human can be happy in goodness and the fullness of giving." ❦ Eknath Easwara

March 31, 2016

Thich Nhat Hanh - On Not Getting Caught in the Buddha's Teachings

"It's the same with the [the Buddha's] teachings. If you are caught by the teachings you cannot be transformed, you cannot practice. You have to be very intelligent and very careful about receiving the teachings. So, the teachings that I give now, please do not be caught by them. "All teachings must be abandoned, not to mention non-teachings." It says in the Sutra on the Better Way to Catch a Snake that if we are caught by the non-teaching it is very dangerous. So the Diamond Sutra has taken the teaching from that sutra and tells us we should not be caught by the Dharma and we should not be caught by the non-Dharma either, in both the meanings of the word dharma: objects and teachings.
~
We say that the Dharma is very precious. But if we are caught by ideas then the Dharma becomes an obstacle to our practice. Just like someone who wants to cross the river. He needs to make a raft. But if he thinks the raft is so beautiful that he carries it on his head and does not want to cross the river, or if after he crosses the river he puts the raft on his head and walks away with it, that is ridiculous. The raft has served its purpose, it's no longer useful. The same with the teachings. The teachings are helping us. If we keep the teaching, if we boast about it, then it does not have any use. We should use the teaching like a raft to bring us across the river. And then when we've crossed the river we can leave the raft there for someone else to use.
~
If we look at ourselves we see we are more or less like that person. We learn a little bit of the teaching, we think we understand it, and we are proud that we are able to get in touch with the teaching. We think that the teaching is number one, the best. But if we don't want to use the teaching to cross the river, then we are that stupid person, nothing less. After I'd been studying the Diamond Sutra for twenty years I got in touch with the Sutra on the Better Way to Catch a Snake. Then I knew that the Diamond Sutra has it's origin in the Sutra on the Better Way to Catch a Snake. The French publisher has just put the two sutras together to make the book Thundering Silence.
~
So we should not be caught by the raft, and we shouldn't pursue the non-Dharma either. If we get caught in the non-teachings then we are also caught, we are not liberated. Being caught in the idea of non-Dharma is even more dangerous than being caught in the idea of the Dharma. For example when we are caught in the idea of "being" the Buddha taught many ways for us to overcome and transcend the idea of "being". But when we get caught in the idea of "non-being" then that is even more dangerous. In the Ratnakuta Sutra the Buddha says that it's better to be caught in the idea of being than to be caught in the idea of non-being. When you are caught in the idea of being you can use the idea of non-being to cure that sickness, but once you are caught in the idea of non-being you cannot overcome it with the idea of being. So you have to overcome both the idea of being and the idea of non-being. You should not be caught in the idea of a sign, a mark. But you also should not be caught in the idea of signlessness. Even if the Buddha has taught that if you can see the signless nature of signs, then you can see the Tathagata. We have a tendency to grasp at the signless when we leave the sign…"
~
Dharma Talk on The Diamond Sutra, given by Thich Nhat Hanh on December 11, 1997 in Plum Village, France.

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1 comment:

  1. This is a great reminder. Thank you!

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