Buddhism has a problem, an unfortunate one, but such is life. And that problem is: there is no way to know for certain what the Buddha said. It is a problem with any spiritual teaching more than a thousand years old, or any history for that matter. It has to do with written texts and oral transmission.

The first written Buddhist texts are in the Pali language and are based upon 400 years of oral tradition. That means that whatever the Buddha said 2500 years ago was repeated generation after generation, from one man to the next, for four centuries. Even if the monks who recited the Dharma for 400 years didn’t add a single thing to the words they were taught, not a single new interpretation or correction or improvement, the chance for inaccuracy is huge. Remember playing telephone in elementary school?

When you consider that the … Continue Reading 

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Buddhism stands unique in the history of human thought in denying the existence of a Soul, Self or Atman. According to the teachings of the Buddha, the idea of self is an imaginary, false belief which has no corresponding reality, and it produces harmful thoughts of ‘me’ and ‘mine’, selfish desire, craving, attachment, hatred, ill-will, conceit, pride, egoism, and other defilements, impurities and problems. It is the source of all troubles in the world from personal conflicts to wars between nations. In short, to this false view can be traced all the evil in the world.

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In my last article, Desire, Part 1: The Agony of Lack, I discussed how desire often creates agony, primarily because, as I saw it at the time I originally wrote that article a year ago, desire comes from a place of feeling empty, of lacking, of feeling an emptiness that we want to fill. I would like to go much further in this article, and I will begin with a reader’s comment that got the ball rolling on the subject of desire. It sparked a mini-debate that spurred me into thinking more about it.

So, let me begin with my reader’s comment:

I notice that the Sedona Method, in its sidebar ad, promises that you will “have all that you desire” if you follow it.

I’d like to call your attention to a posting I got this morning from Tricycle’s Daily Dharma: “When we contemplate suffering, we

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I heard a story a few years ago that perfectly illustrates most people’s experience with the spiritual journey and personal growth.

It seems a well known Tibetan Buddhist was speaking to a rather large gathering. He asked the audience at the beginning of his talk,

“Who among you feel strongly that you are on a spiritual path?

About half the crowd raised their hands. Rinpoche then said,

“Those of you who didn’t raise your hands should probably leave and not listen to my talk. If you are not on a spiritual path, don’t start now. It is way too hard and demanding, and you will often hate it.”

The audience was stunned. They came to hear a spiritual talk, something nice and warm and fuzzy to make them feel good. And here they were being told that many of them needed to leave. Then Rinpoche said,

“And those … Continue Reading 

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