Roots of Dhamma

THE PATH OF BUDDHISM – ‘There is no religion higher than truth’

Radha Burnier‟s article, “There is no religion higher than truth” emphasizes facts that are fully in accord with the preaching of Buddha. In his article, he clarifies, most of the Buddhist tenets, and as a theosophist, he enunciates facts that are closely allied to Buddhism. Buddhism may be called a philosophy, since it teaches how an individual should behave and the path leading to it. The Buddha Dhamma, in particular refers to the Noble Eightfold Path, which is the way to Enlightenment in rebirths yet to come. In the course of his preaching, he also stressed the Principle of Universal Kindness (Bodhisattva) and the principle that man has no permanent self (Anatta).

Buddhism is replete only with the truth that man needs to know, on the basis that higher truths will only be revealed when he attains the stage of Enlightenment. Hence man must question all his beliefs and adopt that which seems true in his present stage of progress. In Lord Buddha‟s preaching to the Kalamas, he stressed that they must only follow the truth and question all past beliefs, which confound them. Preaching his principles he held up a bunch of leaves in his hand and asked them what it meant. He meant that what he held in his hands represented only what he had taught them, but what he knew of the truths represented a whole forest.

This, he exemplified in his meeting with Vacha the Wanderer, who questioned him on rebirth. When asked by Vacha, whether Buddha preached rebirth, the Buddha remained silent. When asked whether, He preached that there was no such thing as rebirth, here too the Buddha remained silent. In disgust, the wanderer left Buddha and sought to gain his knowledge from others. Later when Buddha confided this to His favourite disciple Ananda he stated that, if he had admitted rebirth, the Wanderer would have conceived rebirth to mean that an individual is reborn in almost the same circumstances in which he died, which was wrong. Similarly, if he had agreed that there was no such thing as rebirth, the wanderer would have thought that a man could do anything and not still pay the penalties of his good and bad deeds. This too was a wrong view. What Buddha meant was that only on enlightenment that an individual would understand the principles of rebirth. It was a higher truth not known to the ordinary individual.

The above does not preclude the fact that every individual must understand the principle and practices necessary to attain the insight which is the truth in the course of many rebirths. Buddha preached the way of the Noble Eightfold path as necessary on

the Path to Enlightenment. This was exemplified by Buddha. When he stated that an individual wounded by a poisoned arrow, should first proceed to remove the arrow and staunch the wound, rather than question who sent the arrow, what was the type of poison etc. That knowledge would come with higher insight, leading to Enlightenment.

On the basis of truth, it may be understood, that almost all religious affirm that an individual must be virtuous, and guided by moral endeavor. For example, Hinduism as explained by Dr. Theos Bernard explains that the highest path to the Hindu religion was by Yoga, which must include moral endeavor, rectitude, and impersonality to be attained by concentration and meditation to attain the Goal of Samadhi, from the travails of Samsara. Here too, the accent is particularly by virtuous conduct and moral endeavor.

In the Islam religion, it is emphasized that virtue and moral endeavor is essential through its dogmas conflict in many ways.

However, it can be presumed that in the course of many rebirths can Islamic individual too would reach attainment by Enlightenment to the higher truths.

Meanwhile the truth of virtue and moral uplifting would ensure the path to Enlightenment. In Christianity too, it is enjoined that every individual of this religion must be virtuous with high moral endeavors.

Dr. Geddes MacGregor, a highly qualified Anglican priest, in his book titled „The Christening of Karma‟ stated that the Christian religion too admitted the Principle of Karma. Though other Christians may not give the matter an importance, in the view, that come this way but once, it is important to understand that virtue and moral endeavor is basic. Hence a Christian individual should understand basic truths, despite conflicting dogmas and should reach Enlightenment in the course of many rebirths, by understanding higher truths.

Buddhism holds the principle that sufficient truth would in time be given to each individual to enable every individual to reach the goal of liberation from the rounds of birth and death. Buddha has preached that human birth and death entails sorrow, and every individual must seek to understand truth relative to his state, until the goal of liberation, called Nirvana is attained.

However, it is perhaps important to state that lacking virtue and moral rectitude, no individual can see much truth, nor gain the Path to Enlightenment which leads to the higher truths.

Buddhists preach the highest need for meditation to understand the necessary truths relative to the stage of entering the „stream‟. Other truths necessary for his higher attainment would be revealed as insight grows. That then is the Path of Buddha Dhamma preached by Lord Buddha. However, virtue and moral endeavor by followers of other religions could also in time, reveal essential truths, as the individual progresses through many rebirths to the Stage of Enlightenment. Hence the concept of truth, despite conflicting dogmas, could lead finally to the abandoning of untruths, as part of the progress, essential to upliftment.

By T. BALASINGHAM

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