Historical Background – Introduction

One of the earliest posts: Revised May 27, 2017

1. Today, we have three main “schools” of “Buddhism” that include the Theravāda Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, and few other South Asian countries,  Mahayāna Buddhism in the form Zen in Japan, China, and several other Asian countries, and Vajryāna Buddhism in Tibet.

  • All these are being practiced in other countries in varying degrees. How the original teachings of the Buddha got branched out over 2500 years is discussed in, “Historical Timeline of Edward Conze“.

2. The vast literature in Theravāda Buddhism, which is contained in the Tipitaka (three baskets of Sutta, Vinaya, and Abhidhamma) are mostly self-consistent.

  • Considering the vastness of the material in these documents, the consistency is amazing, and gives one confidence that any “contamination” would be small indeed.

3. However, even the Theravāda literature has been contaminated with incorrect interpretations of the Tipitaka.

4. It is hard for me to fathom how a normal human being, regardless of how intelligent he is, could teach the doctrine in such different ways over forty five years, yet be so consistent in multiple ways (the discourses range from simple one-to-one question answer sessions with individuals to lengthy discourses delivered to audiences of thousands of people, not to mention the complex Abhidhamma material).

  • Even with the help of a computer, it is hard for me to keep track of the intricacy of Abhidhamma. The complex workings of the mind has been analyzed in multiple ways, and they are all consistent within the Abhidhamma and also with the Suttas.

5. Teachings of the Buddha, as given in the Theravāda Tipitaka, are confirmed and solidified with each new scientific discovery (in contrast, the mythical aspects introduced in various forms of Mahayāna Buddhism are facing problems in light of scientific progress).

  • Buddha Dhamma is like a diamond covered in the dirt of ignorance. The more we find about the world through scientific methods (thus removing more dirt from the diamond), the more of the diamond’s luster become apparent. Not too far into the future, Buddha Dhamma will shine brightly and will greatly help the humanity all over the world.

6. It is ironic in a way how the “materialistic science” is helping to clarify and confirm the teachings of the “mind-based” Buddha Dhamma. Yet the humanity is still only enamored with the truly amazing materialistic advances based on scientific discoveries, and is for most part unaware of its primitive stage compared to ultimate knowledge contained in Buddha Dhamma.

  • The real breakthrough may come when science will be forced to embrace the mind as yet another fundamental property of nature.
  • The discovery of quantum mechanics has clearly laid the foundation for this next breakthrough. It has been more than hundred years since the advent of quantum mechanics, but it is only within the past two to three decades that real progress has been made in this direction. I discuss these developments in detail in the “Dhamma and Science” section.

Next, “Methods of Delivery of Dhamma by the Buddha“, …….

 

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