The Buddha taught that we should question everything, and investigate with our own minds to determine what is valid. And most recently, I have found myself doing a lot of questioning and examination. A lot more than I have done in the past.
This is not to say that I lost confidence in the teachings, but that I have a thirst for greater understanding and knowledge that is free of any blind faith.
The first questions is in regard to the Tipitaka.The Tipitaka (Pali ti, “three,” + pitaka, “baskets”), or Pali canon, is the collection of primary Pali language texts which form the doctrinal foundation of Theravada Buddhism. The Pali canon is a vast body of literature that comprises thousands of printed pages. All of these teachings were passed along through memorization by Monks until 1000 years after Buddha’s death, at which time the Indian monk Buddhaghosa began the laborious task of collating the ancient Sinhala commentaries and translating them into Pali text. This was the culmination of the Buddha’s 44 years of teachings on this earth.
My question here, is that I am often encouraged by monastics not to concern myself with all of this. One Monk has even told me that I don’t need to read anymore, that I know everything. He said “now you just need to practice”.
Really? After only 13 years of Buddhist study and practice, I now know what it took the Buddha 44 years to teach, and a thousand years of monastic dedication to pass along? Really?
I’m sorry, I don’t believe that. I believe that everything the Buddha taught had value. I don’t think that sometimes he was just bored and wasting his breath to fill the time.
Another disturbing question that has come to mind is that of loving the self. And while I completely see the value in loving the self first, I have to ask a question. If there is in fact no-self, what am I really loving? Isn’t this just encouraging another illusion, attachment, desire and separation? It certainly would seem that this is the case.
Even love and the heart have come into question for me. We all know that the heart is a muscle, and no one can put love into a box and show it to me. Love is a word. So in reality, we have a muscle and a word that we combine to create stories, attachments, passion, desire, sadness and suffering. But those too are only words, aren’t they.
Lastly, let’s discuss nibbana (Skt. nirvana). This is supposed to be enlightenment, and the end of suffering. Finally, we break free of samsara, that vicious cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Freedom, right!
Well what does that mean exactly? Where does the David go at that point. Nothingness? Do I become pure energy, and simply a particle of all existence beyond time and space? Hmm, not sure I’m anxious to check that out! But who’s to say, maybe that’s an awesome place to be.
So you can see, I have a lot of questions and cannot offer you answers. Perhaps you have the answers to share with me, or perhaps I have raised questions for you to consider. Maybe none of it matters, and we only need be concerned about this moment and living it wholesomely and with virtuous intention.
Truth is, we cannot control the future anyway. So why not live in the present. But in this moment, I have questions. And I believe they require further investigation.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.