Buddhist Teaching in India by Johannes Bronkhorst

By Johannes Bronkhorst

The earliest documents we've got at the present time of what the Buddha acknowledged have been written down a number of centuries after his demise, and the physique of teachings attributed to him endured to conform in India for hundreds of years later on throughout a transferring cultural and political panorama. As one culture inside of a various non secular milieu that integrated even the Greek kingdoms of northwestern India, Buddhism had many possibilities to either effect and be encouraged via competing colleges of inspiration. Even inside of Buddhism, a proliferation of interpretive traditions produced a dynamic highbrow weather. Johannes Bronkhorst right here tracks the improvement of Buddhist teachings either in the greater Indian context and between Buddhism's many colleges, laying off mild at the assets and trajectory of such rules as dharma conception, vacancy, the bodhisattva excellent, buddha nature, formal good judgment, and idealism. In those pages, we find the roots of the doctrinal debates that experience lively the Buddhist culture up till the current day.

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The vacillating attitude of the texts with regard to the exact content of this knowledge gives rise to the suspicion that the early Buddhist tradition had little or nothing to offer in this respect. That would not be surprising. In the abovequoted description of the path to liberation, a number of meditative, one might say mystical, states are depicted that precede the liberating knowledge; this knowledge is therefore attained in such a state. It is however known that mystical states cannot always be accurately described in words.

This is called sensation. And what, monks, is contact {sparsa, Pa. phassa) ? There are six classes of contact: eye-contact, ear-contact, nosecontact, tongue-contact, body-contact, mind-contact. This is called contact. And what, monks, are the six realms of the senses {saddyatana, Pa. saldyatana) ? The eye realm, ear realm, nose realm, tongue realm, body realm, mind realm. These are called the six realms of the senses. And what, monks, is name-and-form (nämarüpa)} Sensation, ideation, volition, contact, attention: this is called 39 4O BUDDHIST TEACHING IN INDIA name.

THE TEACHING OF THE BUDDHA 35 source that the cessation of becoming is nirvana. If this is true, the questioner concludes, the venerable Musîla is an arhat, one whose taints are destroyed. Musîlas silence betrays his agreement with this. Next Närada asks to be questioned in the same way. He answers the same questions in exactly the same words. He rejects, however, the conclusion that he is an arhat, one whose taints are destroyed. He explains this with the help of a simile. Just as when a man who is hot and thirsty finds a well in the wilderness, he sees the well and knows that it contains water, but alas, he cannot reach and touch the water.

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