Glenn Wallis cites a light philosophical insight on the teachings and idioms of Buddhism. A selected assimilation of 16 essential discourses extracted from more than 5000 Pali suttas of Buddhism. Wallis provides an illuminating insight analyzing in details the text containing Mahasattipatthana Sutta, Anapanasati Sutta, Sakunagghi Sutta, Culamalukya Sutta, Tevijja Sutta, Sabba Sutta, Kesamutti Sutta, Phenapindupama Sutta, Anattalakkhana Sutta, Bhara Sutta, Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, Gotama Sutta, Parayana Sutta, Nibbuta Sutta, Sankhatalakkhana Sutta, and Asankhatalakkhana Sutta.
This compilation is a useful text and a valuable source book citing the selected fundamental suttas elaborately versed with an eloquent introduction and fairly understandable notes. Glenn’s accessible translation of the Buddha’s doctrines to his followers had given an opportunity to the twenty-first century readers in the modern west to take lessons of life from the great teacher. The enlightened Buddha is a figure vastly acclaimed throughout Asia since millenniums for his great wisdom that enlightened mass illuminating the path to a meaningful life of satisfaction.
Today, in the west his teachings are intensely adapted by adherents, psychologists, philosophers and physicists who find his doctrines on human situation lucidly descriptive and his recommended practice of meditation to be implemented in awakening to a situation with transparency and calm temperament. Buddha, the mythical figure is not an answer to a suffering seeker of relief; the optimum answer lays in the preached teachings of Siddhartha Gautama- an ordinary person who rose to be a great spiritual teacher. Buddhism emerged in crisis.
Siddhartha Gautama, the royal youth one day started finding the worldly pleasures useless and threatening. His life started walking towards a destination to find a significant answer to the perturbed life of human race. On his path towards enlightenment he claims to have discovered a noticeable aspect which was capable of dealing with Life’s problems. The Pali cannon contain two classical sutras which supports this discovery. The sutras are – “Quenched” and “Destination”. Glenn summarized sixteen suttas from the five thousand Pali dialects.
According to Jataka, the Sakunagghi sutta relates a story which goes on like this: The Bodhisattva once reincarnated as a quail and was snatched one day by a falcon. Its then that the quail lamented on not being in the feeding ground of his own people, he felt his suffering was due to his diversion from his fellow beings.
The proud falcon let the Quail go saying that he is capable of seizing him from any situation or place. The quail grabbed the opportunity and fled back and perched on an immense lump of earth and challenged the Falcon. The falcon took an attempt to swoop down to get hold of the quail, but dashed to pieces against the clod as the Quail efficiently took a sharp turn over. Sakunagghi Sutta is the name given in the Uddana of the Samayutta. It is the introductory Jataka of the Sutta. A monk must be attached spiritually to his own pasture ground, his own possession, his native beat (pettikavisaya) - e.g. the four Satipattanas.
Lust is the result of getting incited through passion fraught of objects, sounds etc. Jataka was related through the preaching of the Sakunovada Sutta. Culamalukya Sutta was delivered at Savatthi to the Bhikkhu Malukya. One afternoon the vulnerable Bhikkhu Malukya interrupted Buddha’s meditation to clarify his queries regarding the popular classical questions: How eternal is the universe, how similar is the soul and the body, is soul and body are different from one another, whether life ends after death or it still exists and so on.
The blessed one, Buddha patiently replied and explained that these views do not regulate the practice of holy life. No matter what notion one creates its evident that there will be birth, ageing, decay, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and distress. Buddha made it clear that he teaches only about Dukkha- its cause, cessation and the way leading to its cessation. He assured Malukya to show the path of ultimate realization of truth. Tevijja Sutta is compiled as the thirteenth Sutta of the Digha Nikaya. This doctrine was preached to Vasettha and Bharadvaja when they visited the blessed one at Manasakata.
The Buddha through detailed conversation educates them about the futility of the long procured notion that merely attaining knowledge of the three Vedas can be a leading channel to reunite with Brahma. Such union can be attained only by practicing the four Brahma-Viharas. When Buddha was on a tour through the kingdom of Kosala, two Brahmin youths had the privilege to meet him. They requested Buddha to settle their dispute as to how they could attain the path leading to companionship with the eternal Brahma. Each of them cultivated their own notion to be true, as shown by their own master.
Buddha explained that none of their masters had happened to see Brahma, so they are blindfolded to precede the ever traced path of the unknown. He further helped them derive the true path that actually led to the Brahma realm, i. e. the path that kindled morality and concentration, and development of loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity for all sentient beings. According to the Sabbasava Sutta the blessed one put forward his message for the monks saying, fermentation ends when one knows and sees, but it is not relevant to one who does not know and does not see.
This knowledge and sight is related to appropriate attention and inappropriate attention. A monk’s inappropriate attention arise unaccomplished fermentation, and arisen fermentation increases. But appropriate attention doesn’t leave space for unaccomplished fermentation to arise and abandon the arisen fermentation. This sutta proposes a process of eradication of few taints: strong desire tamed for acquiring sensual pleasure, desire for being and ignorance. These taints are eventually nurtured along with incorrect attentiveness causing defilements.
Such defilement can be regulated through the seven method path of optimistic attribute: Observing or Seeing, Restraining, Using, Enduring, Avoiding, Removing and Developing. So says the Blessed one, "When you know for yourselves, ‘These things are wholesome; these things are blameless; these things are praised by the wise; these things, if undertaken and practiced, lead to welfare and happiness,’ then you should engage in them”. - Buddha Kesamutti Sutta is a well known discourse to the Kalamas is often related as the Buddha’s charter for Freedom of enquiry.
It can be found in the Book of threes in the gradual Sayings. Kesamutta was a business town of the Kalamas. This being an important part of the entire discourse, begins with Kalamas desirous to clarify how relevant are the doctrines that they have been hearing from various teachers. They wanted to know the truth as every teacher appreciates their own opinions and disparages the view point of others. Buddha clears their views by asking them to experiment every teaching and then imply them in their own life.
But that doesn’t mean one should defy all teachings and prove to be a cynical materialist. This attitude would rather soar up unnecessary self esteem and reverse their urge to investigate any further. To conclude it states how an admirable disciple abides to defy covetousness, ill-will, and confusion, with an expanded morality nurturing love, kindness, compassion, sympathy, joy, and equanimity. This enriches his bliss and gears his happiness till eternity. To sum up, he is self assured and content.
The Phenapindupama Sutta speaks about Rupa which is frothy in nature due to its instability, impermanency, and constantly rising and diminishing attribute. Hence it is not self, rather unrealistic. Vedana is truly comparable to an air bubble which is always unsustainable. Our life values various sensations similar to bubbles, vanishing in no time, impermanent, untrustworthy, the nature of Anicca, dukhha and anatta. Perception of sense apprehends whatever it visualizes, hears, smells, tastes, touches or knows are nothing but a mirage.
Consideration of samana as a being, the gender difference is but a mere illusion like a mirage. Practically it is merely a phenomenon of incessant emerging and diminishing. Sankara, volitional activities, are similar to plantain trunks. Layers of fibrous materials constitute to form the plantain trunk without any substantial, solid inner core. Shankara is just like the plantain trunk without any inner substance. Consciousness has similarity with conjuror’s trick. It emerges and vanishes within no time. Consciousness arises devoid of ones desire, but as per condition of its own cause and circumstances.
The Anattalakkhana Sutta (Pali, “not- self Characteristic Discourse”), also popular as the Pancavaggiya Sutta (Pali, "Group of Five Ascetics"), is considered to be the second discourse delivered by the Blessed Buddha. In this discourse Buddha dealt with the physical and mental human constituents and surfaces that they both are impermanent. (anicca), subject to suffering ( dukkha) and thus unfit for identification with the ‘self’ the soul (atta). The pali canon contains Anattalakkhana Sutta in the Samuyatta Nikaya (“Connected Collection”).
This discourse happens to be a part of the Buddhist monastic code (Vinaya). The Bhara sutta can be illustrated as; human body being one of the Khandhas bears a heavy burden. Desire to serve it persists on carrying the heavy burden. We are carrying the burden even when we feed or clothe ourselves. We are just mere servants to the wholesome matter (rupakkhandha). Along with the food and clothing we are responsible of maintaining the physical and psychological stability and scatter happiness. This service is towards the aggregate of feelings and sentiments ( vedanakkhandha).
We are also liable to cater to the bodies hearing and visual needs and the wellness. Consciousness deals these concerns. Hence we are ultimately a servant to the aggregate of consciousness (vinnanakkhandha). The violation of activities (sankharakkhandha) and our temperament to do the unlawful to satisfy our desires also constitute to our burden. We also tend to bear the burden of aggregate perception (sannakkhandha) as this sense of human beings which train their faculties of mind and brain to retain knowledge and make it capable of realizing what is good and what is evil.
Our desires on being good if satisfied finds tempted towards evil and after committing a mistake we repent and unknowingly the burden adds on. Hence, Buddha declared the five aggregates of clinging (Upadanakkhandha) as a heavy burden. Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta is the first discourse that he delivered soon after attaining Enlightenment. He illustrated this Sutta to the group of five monks who accompanied him while practicing austerities in the forest for long years. This discourse contains significant teachings of the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.
Hearing to this discourse, his disciple monk Kondanna attained the first stage of Enlightenment, hence giving rise to Ariya Sangha (Noble Sangha). This discourse is better known as the Dhammachakka Sutta or the Wheel of Dhamma discourse. The Gotama Sutta is an elaborate description that Buddha delivers to his disciples, reveals the path he traversed to attain the ultimate Enlightenment. He had some thoughts disturbing him throughout and he wanted an apparent release from death decay and suffering that human race had been tolerating since long.
Through Paryana Sutta Buddha teaches Goal, the ultimate destination and the path to be followed to attain it. It was so called because it leads to Nibbana (Nibbanasankhatam Param Ayanto Parayana Ti Laddhavoharam Dhammam). Nibbuta Sutta derives from human character of leading life noticeably beyond limit and quenching the desires he had nurtured whole life. It is the extraction of all the sacrifices a person does to achieve the ultimate goal. Nibbuta is the coolness which is derived by quenching of defilement, either by himself or by someone else.
As this thirst is quenched only coolness persists. Sankhatalakkhana Sutta demonstrates how a person fabricates his wishes in life on not having achieved naturally. How he makes amends to illuminate his life and forget the failures. Where as Asankhatalakkana sutta displays a satisfactory life contended with whatever is provided naturally and does not keep his soul in disguise but demonstrate the true atma. Buddhism, a philosophical religion encompasses a variety of traditions beliefs and practices mainly based on the doctrines and preaching of Lord Buddha (the awakened one).
The Blessed one resided in North eastern Indian subcontinent between the 6th and the 4th century B. C. he is considered to be an awakened teacher who shared his insight with his disciples to aid sentient beings end suffering (Dukkha) and achieve Nirvana. The religion is divided into two branches, The Theravada and The Mahayana. Both branches are found throughout the world. It is considered to be the world’s fourth largest religion with near about 500 million followers. In spite of being a royal character Siddhartha Gautama left behind the worldly pleasures to find a path that leads to an end to human sufferings.
He attained his Enlightenment demolishing the fetters of his mind, under a Boddhi tree in Boddh Gaya, India. Through his doctrines (popularly known as Suttas) preached the reality of life through his Eight fold Paths and The Four Noble Paths. Buddha was an epitome of spirituality. Glenn Wallis had highlighted a descriptive insight of the sixteen Suttas which are always relevant to aid human life and inspire them to strive to end suffering. Glenn’s keen eye for the details is highly appreciable both for the resource and quality it resembles.