Now then, we have to get on to Buddhism. And in order to introduce Buddhism, it’s necessary to remember the whole background of the world view of India. In other words, what we’re going to study first of all to understand Buddhism, is Indian cosmology. Just as you would have to study the cosmology of the Ptolemaic view of the world in order to understand Dante, and in order to understand lots of things about medieval Christianity. So the cosmology of the Hindus, their view of the universe, has come right into Japanese life, through Buddhism, but it antedates Buddhism. Buddhism simply adopted it as a matter of course just as now if you invented a new religion you would probably adopt because military of modern astronomy astronomy.
Well now, how does the Hindu see the world? You know there are really three great views of the world that human beings have had. And they go, one is is the Western view of the world which looks upon the world as a construct. An artifact, by analogy with ceramics and carpentry. Then there is the Hindu view of the world which is dramatic. Looks on it as a play. And then the Chinese view which is organic and looks upon the world as an organism, a body. But the Hindu view sees it as a drama. And it’s simply this there is what there is and always was and always will be which is called the self. That in Sanskrit is Atman, A.T.M.A.N. And the ATMAN is also called Brahman. Brahman from the root Bre to grow to expand to. Well, is that actually related to our word breath.
So, Brahman the self, according to The Hindu view, plays hide and seek with itself for always and always and always. How far out, how lost can you get? So here each one of us according to The Hindu idea is the Godhead armed purpose getting last. For the fun of it. And how terrible it can get at times, but won’t it be nice when you wake up? That’s sort of the basic idea and I found it’s an idea that any child can understand. It has great simplicity and great elegance. Now in part of this cosmology we must understand another feature of this conception of the universe. Not only you remember now the Kalpas the periods of time the yugas, the qualities of the time through which the universe goes, but there’s the final thing which are called the six worlds, or the six paths of life. And this is a very important for Buddhism although comes from indoors and is represented in what is called the poverty Bhava, means becoming B.H.A. V.A. chakra C.A.J. K R A means wheel the wheel of becoming, the wheel of birth and death.
And it has six divisions. It has the top people and the bottom people the top people are called Deva D.E.V.A. The bottom people are called Naraka, N-A-R-A-K-A. Devas are angels and they are the people who are the Supremes spiritual successors. The Naraka are tormented in purgatory. And they are the Supremes spiritual failures. They are the Poles, the happiest people and the saddest people. Then in between there comes the world of the pretas. Next to the narakas, next to the purgatory. The pretas are frustrated spirits who have tiny mouths and enormous balance huge appetites but very very limited means of satisfying. Then next, they come between the narakas and the Davis at the top. Next up from the predators are the human beings, and they are supposed to hold in middle position in the six worlds. Then you go up from the human beings to the Devas and then you start coming down again the next world is called the Asura. And those are the wrathful spirits, the personification of storm and all the anger and violence of nature.
Next down is animals, coming between the asura and the purgatory is again. Now all these needn’t be taken literally they are different modellers of the human mind. We are in the narrow world when we are frustrated and in torment when we are merely chronically frustrated, we are in the pressure world when we are in the state of economically even mindedness, we are in the human world. When we are deliriously happy, we are in the Deva world. When we are furious, we are in the Asura world and when we are done we are in the animal world. So these are all model it is. And it will be said now. This is terribly important to understand Buddhism. Because the better you get the. The more you go up to the Deva world the worse you get the more you go down to the knockout world but everything that goes up has to come down.
So you can’t improve yourself, indefinitely. If you improve yourself beyond a certain limit you simply start to get worse, like when you make a knife to sharp, it begins to wear away. So the Buddha-hood, or liberation, enlightenment, is no place on the wheel. Unless it might be the center. By ascending by becoming better in tie yourself to the wheel by gold chains, by retrogressing and becoming worse you tie yourself to the wheel with iron chains. But the Buddha is one who gets rid of the chains altogether. And so this will explain why Buddhism, unlike Judaism and unlike Christianity, is not very very frantically concerned with being good. It is concerned with being wise. It is concerned with being compassionate. A little different from being good. With having tremendous sympathy and understanding and respect for all the ignorant people who don’t know that they’re it, but who are playing the very far out game of being you and I.
And so this is why every Hindu greets his brother not by shaking hands but by putting his hands together and bowing. This is why the Japanese bow to each other basically. This is why Buddhist rituals are full of the bowing gesture. Because you are honoring the self playing the roles of all the people around you and all the more honor is due, when the self has forgotten what it’s doing. And is therefore in a very mature way.
Now, that is a basic Hindu view of the world. That’s the cosmology which goes along with Buddhism. According to taste, temperament, tradition, popular belief and so on, there is this additional idea that when the the Lord, the Self, pretends that it’s each of us it first of all pretends that it is something called the jivatman. The Atman, the self, pretends to be an individual so called a jivatman. And the jivatman reincarnates through a whole series of bodies. Life after life after life, and according to what is called karma. Karma it literally means doing. The law of doing whereby acts occur in a series. And they are linked with each other in an unbreakable chain. So everybody’s Karma is the life course that he will work out through maybe innumerable lifetimes. I’m not going into that because a lot of Buddhists don’t believe that. You will find that the Zen people, for example, are quite divided on this. They will say no we don’t believe literally in reincarnation. That after your funeral you know you will suddenly become somebody different living somewhere else. They will say reincarnation means this. That if you, sitting here now, are really convinced that you are the same person that walked in at the door half an hour ago, you’re being reincarnated. If you’re liberated, you’ll understand that you’re not. The past doesn’t exist. The future doesn’t exist. There is only the present, and that’s the only real you that there is.The Zen master Dogen put it this way. He said, ‘Spring does not become summer. First there is summer. Then there is spring. Each season stays in its own place.’ And so in the same way, the you of yesterday does not become the you of today. T S. Eliot has the same idea in his poem The Four Quartets, where says ‘When you settle down on the train to read your newspaper, you are not the same person who a little while ago left the platform.’ If you think you are, you are linking your moment up in a chain, and this is what binds you, to the wheel of birth and death. But when you know that every moment at which you are is the only moment… This comes into Zen, a Master will say to somebody, ‘Get up and walk across the room.’ And he comes back and says ‘Where are your footprints?’ So where are you? Who are you? When we are asked who you are, we usually give a sort of recitation of a history. ‘Well I’m so and so, I was given this name by my parents, I went to such and such a college, I’ve done these things in my profession, and I produce a little biography. Buddha says forget it, that’s not you. That’s some story. That’s all gone, that’s all past. I want to see the real you you are now. But nobody knows who that is, you see, because we don’t know ourselves except through listening to our records, and consulting our memories. But then there’s a real you and that again leads us back to this question. Who are you, that is the real you? Which will see how they play with this in Zen by the koans to get you to come out of your shell and find out who you really are.
Well now, whereas in India this worldview is tied up with a whole culture, involving every circumstance of everyday life. Hinduism is not a religion in the same sense that say being in a Episcopalian, or even a Roman Catholic. Hinduism is not a religion. It is a culture. In this respect it’s more like Judaism than Christianity. Because a person is still recognisable as a Jew even though they don’t go to synagogue. Because as the certain cultural things that Jewish people who come of a line of Jewish parents people, who have been practicing Jews, they still continue certain ways of doing things; certain mannerisms certain attitudes and so, they are cultural Jews instead of religious Jews. Now Hinduism is the same sort of thing it is a religion-culture. And so it involves living in India really to be a Hindu. Because of the differences of climate, the differences of Arts and Crafts, technology, you can’t be a Hindu in the full sense, in Japan or in the United States.
So what is Buddhism? Buddhism is Hinduism stripped for export. Now the Buddha, was a reformer you might say. In the the highest sense of a reformer someone who wants to go to the original form. Or to reform it for the needs of a certain time. The word Buddha is a title, not a proper name, same way as Christ means the annointed, and it’s not the surname of Jesus. So Buddha is not the surname of Guatama. It means the one who is awakened. From the root in Sanskrit Budha, B.U. D.H, to know. The man who woke up, who discovered who he really was. Now the thing that where in that crucial point where in Buddhism differs from Hinduism, is taht it doesn’t say who you are. It has no idea, no concept, and I emphasize the word Idea and Concept. It has no idea and no concept of God, because Buddhism is not interested in concepts, it’s interested in direct experience and direct experience only.
So from the Buddhist standpoint, all concepts are wrong. Just in the same way that nothing is really what you say that. This–is this a stool? It isn’t now, it’s a waste basket. It’s now a drum. What is that thing? See? It is what it does, see? Anything you can use it for is what it is. So if you have a rigid idea that it’s a stool and you can only sit on it and you kind of stuck. But if it’s all these other things as well then you suddenly see that anything can be everything. So, in the same way, Buddhism does not define and say what you really are is something because it would say that if you believe that you got stuck with an idea and you’re clinging onto it for spiritual security. So a lot of people say ‘Well I like to have a religion because it gives me something to hold onto.’ Buddhists would say ‘Ah, cut that stuff.’ It so long as you hold on to something you don’t have religion. You only you only really there when you let go of everything. And you don’t depend on any fixed idea any belief for your sanity or happiness. So you would think Buddhism is very destructive, because it breaks down–it doesn’t believe in God, it doesn’t believe in an immortal soul, it doesn’t believe in. Doesn’t seek any solace in any idea of life after death. It absolutely faces, the fact of the transiency of life, there’s nothing you can hold on to so man let go. Because there’s no wonder hold on to anything anyway.
So Buddhism is the discipline of doing that. But if you do that, you see, you’ll discover something much better than anybody else who has a belief. Because you’ve got the real thing, and you can’t say what it is. They say in Zen that if you were enlightened in Buddhism we were like a dumb man who has had a wonderful dream. That is to say when you had a wonderful dream you want to tell everybody what it is but you can’t let your dumb if you can’t speak. So that the real thing in Buddhism which they call nirvana which is a sort of the equivalent to moksha, means blow out. Here. You know, a sigh of relief. Because if you hold your breath, you lose. To hold on to yourself you hold on to life or breath is the spirit you hold on to God Rock of Ages cliff and me are let make going on do you. It’s all dead, becomes just a rock, just an idle. But let go, breathe out, and you get your breath back, that’s Nirvana. So the Buddhist idea, is in doctrine the highest negativism. The characterize the ultimate reality as Sunya, you know, which means emptiness. In Japanese Ku, which is the character you use for the sky or the air when you get an air mail. You know to write home it will the second character is cool the air which means emptiness and they use this to translate should not or emptiness. The fundamental nature of reality, the sky. But sky you see is not negative emptiness, the sky contains all of us. It’s full of everything going on but you can’t put a nail in the sky and pin it down.
So in the same way Buddhism is saying, you don’t need any gizmos to be in the know. You don’t need a religion. We don’t need any even Buddhist statues you don’t need any temples. You don’t need any Buddhist bond years of the rose there isn’t all that jazz. But when you get to the point that you know you don’t need any of those things that you don’t need a religion at all, then it’s fun to have one. Then as it were, you can be trusted to use rosaries and ring bells and clappers and chant sutras and that sort of thing. But those things won’t help you a bit they’ll just tie you up in knots, if you use them as methods of catching hold of something. So every teacher of Buddhism is a debunker. But he does it not to be a smart alec and to show how clever he is, but out of compassion. Just as when a surgeon chops off a bad growth or dentist pulls out a rotten tooth so the Buddhist guru or surgeon is getting rid of your crazy ideas for you. Which you use to cling on to life and make it dead.
Now, there are two kinds of Buddhism. They’re called Mahayana; Maha and Sanskrit word for great M-A-HA, Yana means a vehicle or conveyance. And there is Hinayana, means the little vehicle in Sanskrit H I N A means little. Only That’s a term invented by the Mahayanas. For the other people and the other people don’t like it they like to call themselves Therevada, T.H.E.R.A V.A.D.A, which means bad or the way para of the elders. Now, Theravada Buddhism you will find in Salon. Thailand Cambodia and generally South Asia. Mahayana, you find in it originated in northern India. And you find it in Tibet, China, Mongolia, Japan. And to some extent in Indonesia.
The Mahayana is what we’re finding here. All the sects of Japanese Buddhism are Mahayana. And what’s the great difference between these two schools. The Theravada is very strict. It’s a way for monks essentially, rather than laymen. And it is, you see there are many ways of living Buddhism. It will take me some time to show you this. The Theravada Buddhists are trying to live without desires. To have no need for wives or girls or husbands or boyfriends. Not to kill anything at all. To live the strictest vegetarian way and to strain your water so that you even don’t eat any insects, little insects with it. And to this very strict way, and meditate all the time and eventually attain Nirvana which will involve your total disappearance from the manifested world.
Mahayana feeling is that that is a dualistic point of view. You don’t need to get away from this world to experience Nirvana, because Nirvana is what there is. It’s here, it’s now. So the ideal person of Mahayana is called a bodhisattva This is originally meant somebody on the way to becoming a Buddha but in my younger it has a different meaning. It means somebody who has become a Buddha, but has gone back into the world. Out of it in the spirit of compassion. To help all other beings to become awakened. Well now, that’s an endless task, it’s like filling a well with snow, you know, put snow into a well, it never fills up.
So when it does Zen monastery, they said their homage to the Buddha the Dharma, that say the Buddha’s doctrine, or method and the Sangha, the order of followers of the Buddha, and they take five hours. And one of them is however innumerable sent in beings are I vow to liberate them all. Well so you see there is no end to that. Never Comes a time when all sentient beings are liberated. But actually from the standpoint of one who is a Buddha, he sees everybody as liberated. In other words, if I were to be a Buddha, I wouldn’t say ‘Now look everybody I’m a Buddha and I’m more experience than you and I know more than you and you will meet respect on that account.’ On the other hand, I wouldn’t I would see you all. As being exactly right where you are. All of your Buddhas, and even those of you who don’t know it, it would be right for you not to know it at this moment.