This is the first of a series of seven talks from the Study Retreat that interweaves reflections on Siddhattha Gotama's life, with critical interpretations of his teachings as recorded in the Pali Canon.In this first talk we sketch the early life of the Buddha.
A consideration of the Buddhist understanding of self as a process, based on passages from the Pali Canon. A critique of "perfection" as the aim of the teachings, based on the understanding of "freedom" as found in the Padhana Sutta. Followed by a reflection on the Buddha's SOCIAL VISION. This leads to comments on the nature of Buddhism itself as a religious institution, and concludes with a call for a CULTURE OF AWAKENING in a secular world.
A study of the Buddha's understanding of God (Brahma) as found in texts of the Pali Canon. The Buddha was an ironic ATHEIST, who did not take a fanatic position against God. This is followed by a reflection on the idea of BUDDHANATURE, starting with its origins in the Pali Canon and seeing how it evolves in later Buddhist thought in ways that both complement and contradict the early tradition.
A reflection on the nature of KAMMA in which the Buddha recognises that numerous conditions are responsible for our experience in this life. This is followed by an analysis of the ten UNDECLARED questions (is the world eternal, etc.) in terms of the Buddhist rejection of metaphysics in favour a pragmatic and therapeutic approach to living life in this world here and now.
An examination of the four ENNOBLING truths as a process of re9rienting one's perspective on life in a conditioned world. Fully knowing dukkha - in all its aspects - leads naturally to a falling away of craving, which culminates in moments of STOPPING, in which the path opens up, i.e., one enters the stream.
A reflection on the COUNTER-INTUITIVE nature of the Buddha's teaching - how the Dhamma goes against deeply seated intuition, e.g., that there is something permanent in this impermanent world. This is followed by a reading of and reflection on the first discourse the Buddha gave, which outlines the middle way and the four ennobling truths. To be followed in talk #4 by a detailed reading of the four truths as four injunctions rather than four things to believe.
A continuation of the study of the Buddha's account of his awakening in the ARIYAPARIYESANA SUTTA (M.26). Mindfulness as the way to GROUND oneself in the GROUND of Conditional Arising. the subjective pole of this ground is the stopping of greed, hatred, delusion. The Buddha was reluctant to teach because what he had awoken to "WENT AGAINST THE STREAM". The talk concludes with several passages from the UPANISHADS to illustrate this.