What is Buddhism, Really?

March 20, 2009 - Kathmandu, Nepal


So, what is Buddhism? Looking at the different traditions - which are really just that: tradition, and tradition is not Buddhism. Yet there would be no Buddhism known as such without the traditions handing down the knowledge. Yet the knowledge is not Buddhism. Then looking at the practices within the different traditions, however differently presented and different the emphasize may be, when cutting through to the more essential elements, the differences become less and less.

It was an enlightening (ahum..) discovery to notice that Annapannasati as taught by the Theravadin school of Buddhadasa Bikkhu (Thailand) is leading down almost exactly the same path of Shamata and Vipassana  as the Tibetan Mahamudra and Dzogchen teachings, although using different techniques. These are actually different traditional representations of the inner path (Shamata, Vipassana, Nirvana / Enlightenment), the inner path, which is probably the one thing that comes closest to that which can be called Buddhism.

Buddh = Awake, Buddha = The Awakened One, Buddhism = the path to Awakening, Buddhist = the person on that path. Or, as Ven. Thubten Dhondrup explained it in the one-month introduction to Buddhism course in Kopan monastery, Kathmandu: "A Buddhist is an "Inner Being", as the path to Awakening is an inner path, a path that leads inward, not into the outer world", nor necessarily into outer representations of any tradition. Although as stated, tradition does play an important role in handing down the knowledge of Buddhism and thereby in its very existence - this is an eternal paradox.

"If we don't go within, we go without." (- Anonymous)

Pictures

HardRock Café, BKK
Another side of Bangkok
They sell Buddhas, don't they?
 
 

1 Comment

Hans:
May 26, 2009
The pictures are not quite in sync. Never mind..., just so you know and not start confusing Bangkok with Kathmandu :-)

Nevertheless, selling Buddha's is considered a controversial practice!
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