The recent interest in Buddhism, both East and West, has been
marked by a vigorous practical orientation and a drive to discover
through meditation the peace and freedom to which the practice
of Dhamma leads.
While opportunities for meditation instruction and practice
continue to grow, the study of the Buddha's teachings is often
neglected by practitioners. This course provides an opportunity
for you to balance your practice with a study of the Buddhadharma.
Not only is
the study of the Dhamma neglected today, it is
often a belittled. This thinking demands examination.
It is often said that study is concerned with
words and concepts that can lead to learning
but not to wisdom; that while study can change
our ideas it fails to touch the deeper realities
of our lives.
To clinch the case the testimony of the Buddha
himself is enlisted, with his famous remarks
that to learn much without practicing is like
counting the cows of others or like carrying
a raft on one's head instead of using it to cross
It is certainly true that learning without practice
is fruitless, but the other side of the issue
also should be considered. Should a person gather
cows if he knows nothing about how to take care
of them? Should he try to cross a rough and dangerous
river without knowing how to operate a raft?
You will explore this question — why study Buddhism
— in the first lesson.
Need to put together a "in this course
you will study"
As well we do need to address "from
the Theravadam perspective"- as Ashoka will have other
courses that introduce Buddhism from the perspective of other
traditions, e.g. Chan, Tibetan...
The presentation of the Dhamma in this course
is from the standpoint of the Theravada school
of Buddhism – which is the oldest
continuous Buddhist lineage that preserves the
teaching of the Buddha going back to the back
to the historical Buddha himself.
Other schools of Buddhist thought present the
Dharma from their own philosophical standpoint;
you can explore these in other courses on Ashoka.
The principle source of the teachings in this course is the
Tipiteka – the Pali Canon — which consists
of three collections of scripture preserved in the ancient
Pali language. The three collections are
- The Vinayana tipeca — the collection of disciplines,
the rules and regulations for the orders of Buddhist monks
- The sutta viteca — the collection of suttas, the
discourses of the Buddha and some of his great disciples.
- The abidharma tipeka — the collection of philosophical treatises
which present the dhamma from the standpoint of a very precise
philosophical and psychological analysis
Of these three collections, this course focuses on the sutta
viteca, the teachings found in the Buddha’s discourses.