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Buddhist Outlook on the Individual (contd.)

By Dhammika - Courtesy Vesak Lipi

This unfortunately is the price that the Buddha-Dhamma had to pay for logicians par excellence, who in their eagerness to exhibit their dialectical skill conveniently let slip the clear and unequivocal teaching of the Buddha on the matter of individual deliverance from suffering. At verse 55 of the Dhammapada (this is only one instance among many) the Blessed One says:-

Appaka te manussesu, Ye jana paragamino
Athayam itara paja, tiremevanudhavati

" Few are there amongst men who go Beyond (Nibbana) the rest of mankind only run about on this bank (world existence where passions dominate).
(Trsl. by the Ven'ble Narada Maha Thera)

The Mahayana Buddhist philosophers do not speak of a vicarious salvation. They say that the Buddha was a human being who lived for men (did not die for men) and passed away as a human being. But they argue that He has not yet attained Nibbana. He and His Arahats (those who have been already saved) are in Sukhavati awaiting the event till all beings are saved to enter Nibbana together.

I have so far attempted to show that Buddha-Dhamma is not a religion in the sense of absolute resignation to the will of a divine power, unseen, unknown and unknowable, on whom one is asked to obey without question and pay pooja; nor does it accommodate in its Teaching substituted salvation en masse, nor does it state anywhere in the Buddhist Canon of universal salvation as advocated by the Mahayana Buddhist School of philosophy.

The Buddha-Dhamma is a teaching founded on ethical earnestness, absolute integrity of moral character is a sine qua non for the training of mind to elevate it above sense desires and evil unwholesome things! To gain the acme of perfect poise of mind, and thus penetrate phenomenal existence to see: its impermanence, its imperfectness and its impersonality. Hence the Buddha-Dhamma is to be realized by one's own self by following the middle Path is indicated by the Shower of the Way. This done, its purpose is over and the Arahant stands on the Further Shore secure from the Floods (ogha) of: sense-desire, of becoming, of false views and of ignorance.


The quotation from the Majjhima Nikaya with which I prefaced this Essay concludes with the words: "kamma as refuge" (Kamma patisarana). The accent is on the word sarana, meaning refuge. Undoubtedly it refers to the refuge obtained through wholesome actions (kusala-kamma) which can arise only in a wholesome consciousness (kusala-citta) which again with detachment from sensual desires lead to tranquility and to wisdom. It is through purity of word, purity of deed and purity of livelihood that one can gather wholesome actions or kusala-kamma, the prerequisite to the Walk to the Supreme (brahmacariya). It is for this reason that kamma is one's refuge (sarana). It is, also for this reason that the first book of the Abhidhamma Pitaka, the Dhamma-sangani examines different types of consciousness in the light of wholesome things ( kusala-dhamma) unwholesome things (akusala-dhamma) and indeterminate things (abyakata-dhamma). END <<Back


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