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WUTYL: Buddhism in a Nutshell
There is the obligatory origin story which most of us have heard hundreds, if not thousands, of times. I didn’t get anything much out of this.
What did catch my eye, in the description of the disciplines, is the non-traditional emphasis KMcL puts on attention/meditation over morality and insight/understanding. Usually morality is first even though many of us (me included) skip that step. I don’t recall reading a teacher where that was actually endorsed. But I also now deeply appreciate the importance of the morality piece, and it is firmly entrenched in my personal practice, so I guess I am happily skipping that step.
The other part of this chapter that stands out is the rather large section on karma which, on first reading, seemed odd but now, in my second pass through, makes total sense. The key is his equating karma with reactive patterns of behaviour, which plays a very big part later in the book. Understanding karma in this way, as fruit of seeds planted by reactive patterns, I found really helpful.
What I don’t like about this chapter is that it starts the annoying trend of enumerating lists. Yes, lists and Buddhism seem to go hand-in-hand. But it seems like every time I turn around, KMcL has a list of three or four things related to the particular topic at hand that, by the end of the book, I am really, really tired of.
I don’t have much more to say about this, but I do like the wrap up:
Do not rely on the human individual; rely on the teaching.
Do not rely on the words; rely on the meaning;
Do not rely on the apparent meaning; rely on the real meaning;
Do not rely on ordinary consciousness; rely on pristine awareness.
The bolded parts are the most important to me, given that we are interpreting words from thousands of years ago, passed through many languages. It is easy to be literal, trusting that our translations are correct. We need to follow our gut and not blindly follow what (and who) doesn’t pass our own personal “sniff test”.
Tom Otvos wrote: One other thing that bothered me about this chapter is the axiomatic presentation of the "misperception" of "I" as the root of suffering. It is stated without much in the way of backup, in a way that...well... gets my back up.
and I agree with you on lists.
Such a strange series of 2500 years of events leads us to discussing this now... karma .
I had forgotten how KMcL also starts off with the three disciplines/trainings, just like Ingram does.
The table on pag3 40 (three disciplines and intentions in practice) is very profound, but I think it's waaaaaay to early to talk about this. It almost makes more sense to talk about it in a more ordinary way... like four types of "buddhist practioners" all with their own worldview and level of experience and how practice "looks" to them. He could also have done this with the different ways to view "refuge". yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/understanding-refuge/