Understanding and Wisdom in Buddhism


As we were talking in the first introduction into Dharma theory, the basic Buddhist terminology was introduced by the Theravada or so called Hinayana tradition of Buddhism.

And without the knowledge of the basics we cannot move on to the understanding of other concepts and traditions of the Buddhism. If I will have to explain any other Buddhist teachings I will have to reference it again and again. Buddhism is not just some system of nice morals or system of beliefs, what some people would call “opium for the masses”. Buddha teaching is, first of all, about understanding. If we have the right understanding, how things are coming and going in this world, how the mind is working and creating perceptions, concepts and images, how all things are connected with each other....What is creating good and nice pictures in the mind and what brings suffering....Buddhists believe, when we have understanding, the liberation from the sufferings and good morals will come by themselves and without an effort, as the nature go it’s way. We need a real understanding. And a real understanding means not to understand just words or concepts. I can say here along with Krishnamurti – „There is no such thing as „to understand it mentally”. Whether we understand something or we don’t.” Buddhism is teaching that there are 2 ways of cognition – one is the conceptual knowledge, dealing with logic, epistemology and conceptual thinking, the other is direct knowledge, the experience of the mind itself, which we learn to experience in meditations, what we learn when we think and act like Buddhas. Buddha is not only somewhere out there, „over the rainbow” or sitting on the cloud, Buddha is inside each one of us. Buddha is the potential of our absolute mind.

I unwillingly slipped away from the planned subject. The theory of dharmas were collected soon after the passing away of the Buddha Shakyamuni and included in the third chapter of the oldest Buddhist Canon or Pali Canon and named Abhidharma-pitaka or simply – Abhidharma. Altogether there are 3 parts or „Pitaka” – „Baskets” - in the Pali Canon:

  1. Vinaya Pitaka – „Discipline Basket” – describing the rules for monks and nuns. As we know, the first practitioners of Buddhism where in large part monks and nuns. It was often too difficult to combine the worldly life, to keep families, grow kids and earn money with the regular spiritual practice. Nowadays in the developed western countries it is often much easier as in some poor asian countries. But it may depend on the personal inclinations.
  2. Sutra Pitaka – „Sutra/Sayings Basket” – includes most general Buddha discourses and sayings, stories from the Buddha’s life and so on.
  3. Abhidharma Pitaka – the third basket, where were collected Buddha teachings on dharma theory, philosophy, psychology, metaphysics and so on. As we will learn later on, the „Abhidharma” means „the Highest Dharma” or „Dharma per excellence”. But here it is used in the meaning as “Teachings about the highest dharma Nirvana and other dharmas.”

All three baskets of the Pali Canon are commonly known as Tripitaka (or Tipitaka in Pali) – meaning exactly this – “Three Baskets”.

We will learn more about Abhidharma teachings in our next posts.

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