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Lord buddha on teaching and learning article by jayadeva de silva
Lord Buddha on scientific research and learningthe truthByJayadeva de Silva.M.Sc,FIPM,FITDThis article is aimed at researchers, teachers and trainersLord Buddha has illustrated how one learns the truth in Canki Sutta of Majjima Nikaya.Webelieve that Buddha‟s answers to the person who posed a challenging question to him. LordBuddha reveals here the right approach to discovery of truth what all researchers and learnersare interested in.Kāpaṭ ika Bharadvaja a young brahamin present at an assembly where Lord Gotama Buddhawas present decided with determination, “When Master Gotama turns toward me, I willchallenge him with a question.”Lord Buddha knowing what Kāpaṭ ika was thinking, did turn toward him, and Kāpaṭ ika issuedthis challenge: “Master Gotama, with regard to the ancient brahmanic hymns that have comedown to us, preserved in our oral tradition, organized in the various collections, we brahminshave come to the definite conclusion: „Only this is true; all other doctrines are false.‟ What doesMaster Gotama say to that?”“Now then, Bhāradvāja, is there even one brahmin who says, „I know this; I‟ve seen this formyself: “Only this is true; all other doctrines are false.”„?”“Well, no.”“Now then, is there even a single teacher, or a teacher‟s teacher, back to the seventh generationof teachers, who says „I know this; I‟ve seen this for myself: “Only this is true; all otherdoctrines are false.”„?”“No, Master Gotama.”“Then, Bhāradvāja, go further back, to the ancient brahmin seers, the composers and compilersof the hymns, the hymns that were chanted and repeated then and that the brahmins are stillchanting and repeating today. Go back to Atthaka, Vamaka, Vamadeva, Vessamitta, Yamataggi,Angirasa, Bharadvaja, Vasettha, Kassapa & Bhagu: was there even one of those who said, „Iknow this; I‟ve seen this for myself: “Only this is true; all other doctrines are false.”„?”“No, Master Gotama.”
“So, Bhāradvāja, it seems that none of them—not the most senior brahmins today, not theirteachers or their teachers‟ teachers, not even the most ancient creators of the hymns, who wasable to say, „I know this; I‟ve seen this for myself: “Only this is true; all other doctrines arefalse.”„?“Bhāradvāja, suppose there were a file of blind men, each holding the shoulders of the next; thefirst one does not see, the middle one does not see; the last one does not see. So too, Bhāradvāja,it seems, in regard to the statement, „Only this is true; all other doctrines are false,‟ that thebrahmins are like that file of blind men. The first one does not see; the middle ones do not see;the one at the end does not see. What do you think, Bhāradvāja? Does not the faith of thebrahmins seem to be without foundation?”“But the brahmins do no believe this just out of faith, Master Gotama; they also honour it as theiroral tradition.”“Bhāradvāja, first you took your stand on faith, yet now you speak of oral tradition. Let me tellyou, Bhāradvāja, there are five things that may turn out in two different ways in the here andnow. The five are faith, approval, oral tradition, a priori reasoning, and rationalization. A doctrineheld as an item of faith may turn out to be empty, hollow and false. Another doctrine, not held as an item of faith, may yet turn out to be factual, true, and withoutmistakes. So, too, with doctrines accepted because of someone or other‟s approval, a doctrinereceived through oral tradition, a doctrine worked out through pure reason, and a doctrine arrivedat through rationalization. Any such doctrine may turn out to be empty, hollow and false.Contrariwise, doctrines opposed to those and held for entirely different reasons may still turn outto be factual, true, and without mistake. Given all that, it‟s not proper for a wise man who wishesto preserve truth to state, as a definite conclusion, „Only this is true; all other doctrines arefalse.‟”“But Master Gotama, how then is it possible to preserve truth?”“If a person has faith, Bhāradvāja, he preserves truth when he states, „My faith is thus….‟ But hedoes not yet state, as a definite conclusion, „Only this is true; anything else is false.‟ That‟s howa person of faith can preserve truth. But it not yet a way to the discovery of truth.“Similarly, a person who holds a view because of the approval of others, because of oraltradition, because of logical reasoning or rationalization, if he states, „I rationalize things in thisway…‟, then he preserves truth, and he does not go so far as to state, „Only this is true; all else isfalse.‟ So he can preserve truth. But there is not yet a way to discovery of truth.”“I see the sense in what Master Gotama says about the preservation of truth. But what isthe way, Master Gotama, to discovery of truth. How does one discover truth?”
“Well, Bhāradvāja, let us suppose that there is a teacher somewhere living with the support of hisvillage or town. And someone seeking the truth—a householder or householder‟s son—goes tothat teacher and investigates him in regard to three states: the state of greed, the state of ill will,and the state of delusion. First, he investigates the teacher in regard to greed: is there in thisteacher any trace of greed so that, with his mind clouded by greed, he might, not seeing, still say„I see‟; not knowing, he might still say „I know‟? Or might he, misled by greed, urge others to actin a way that would lead to their harm and suffering for a long time? Conducting hisinvestigation, he comes to know, there is no greed in this wise teacher; his actions and his wordsare not those of one affected by greed; the path that he teaches is profound, hard to discern anddifficult to grasp; peaceful and sublime; unattainable by mere reasoning; subtle; to beexperienced by those who have attained wisdom. That is not a path that would be easily traveledby one affected by greed.“He then proceeds to investigate the teacher with regard to the states of ill will and delusion. Heprobes, is there any ill will in this teacher, or is he deluded in some way so that, not seeing, hemight still say, „I see‟; not knowing, he might still say „I know‟? Or, with mind clouded by illwill or delusion, might he urge others to act in ways that are harmful to themselves or others?And conducting that investigation, he concludes, there is no ill will here, no delusion; thisteacher‟s actions and words are not those of one driven by ill will or misled by delusion. Thepath he proclaims is profound and difficult, peaceful and sublime, subtle, to be experienced bythe wise. It is not a path that would be easily traveled by one affected by ill will or delusion.“When has satisfied himself that the teacher is free of greed, ill will and delusion, then he placesfaith in him. with that faith to direct him, he visits the teacher and pays respect to him. Havingpaid his respect, he listens to the teacher. Having listened, he hears the truth that the teacherproclaims. Having heard the teacher‟s dhamma, he memorizes it and examines the teachings he‟smemorized. Examining them, he comes to accept the teachings; accepting them, zeal ariseswithin him. Zealously, he applies his will, scrutinizing the deeper implications of the dhamma.Scrutinizing them deeply, he strives to realize them. Resolutely striving, he experiences forhimself the full force of the dhamma and sees it in depth and detail, with penetrating wisdom.Bhāradvāja, this is the way to the discovery of truth; in this way, one discovers truth. But there isas yet no final arrival at truth.”“I understand Master Gotama’s words regarding the discovery of truth and accept what hesays. But in what way, Master Gotama, is there the final arrival at truth? How does onefinally arrive at truth?”“The final arrival at truth, Bhāradvāja, comes from the repetition, development and determinedcultivation of those same steps. That‟s how one finally arrives at truth.”“But which of those many steps, Master Gotama, is the most important step for finalarrival at truth?”“Striving is the most important step for the final arrival at truth, Bhāradvāja. If one doesn‟tstrive, one will never get there. Striving, one may hope to arrive, finally, at the truth.”
“What is most important in the cultivation of striving.”“Scrutinizing, Bhāradvāja, is most important for the cultivation of striving. If one does notscrutinize a teaching, one will not strive; striving follows scrutinizing.”“But Master Gotama, what is most important for scrutinizing.”“Application of will is most important motivation for analyzing a dhamma closely, Bhāradvāja.Without the application of will, one will not scrutinize a teaching.”“And what is most important for the application of will”“Zeal drives the application of will, Bhāradvāja. If one does not arouse zeal, he will not apply hiswill.“And what is most important to stimulate zeal?”“Acceptance of a teaching on reflection is what arouses zeal. Without accepting a teaching, onewill not apply oneself zealously to it.”“And what is most important to acceptance?”“Examination of the meaning is what leads to acceptance, Bhāradvāja. Until one examines themeaning, one will not accept the teaching.”“And what is most important for examining meaning?”“Memorizing the teaching is most important for examining its meaning. If one has notcommitted the teaching to memory, one cannot examine its meaning.”“And what is most important for memorization of the teaching?”“Hearing it. If one does not hear the teaching, one cannot memorize it.”“And what is most important for hearing the teaching?”“Listening, Bhāradvāja. If one does not listen, one will not hear.”“And what is most important for listening?”“Paying respect to the teacher is most important for listening. If one does not pay proper respect,one will fail to listen.”“And what is most important for paying respect to a teacher?”
“Visiting the teacher. If one does not visit the teacher, one will not accord him the properrespect.”“And what is most important for visiting?”“Faith, Bhāradvāja. If one does not have faith in a teacher, one will not make the effort tovisit him.”Bharadvaja later said that“We have asked Master Gotama about the preservation of truth, and hegave an answer that makes sense to us. We asked him about the discovery of truth, and again hegave an answer we could accept. We asked him how one finally arrives at truth, and he told us, and when we questioned him indetail about the path he laid out, he satisfied us at every step. Whatever we asked, he hasanswered, and we accept his answers.