Buddhism, like all ‘things’ is compounded, made up of loads of other ‘things’ and, in turn those’things’ are made up of other ‘things’. These ‘things’ are constantly changing and in a state of flux so really there is no such thing as a ‘thing’. There is just the constant flow of impersonal phenomena manifesting and re manifesting in ‘this’ way or ‘that’ way. Appearing for a time as ‘this’ before changing, transforming, into ‘that’.
The typical human being doesn’t see things this way. It sees permanence where there is, in truth, only impermanence. Rather than enjoying the moment it has it is constantly trying to change it, to fix it, or to force it into something else.What happens in this moment is the only thing that could happen. Fighting for or against it is the cause of unhappiness and suffering. It is this condition Buddhadharma, awakened truth, addresses.Gautama Buddha, the historical Buddha, is quoted as saying that anything that leads to the cessation of the conditions for suffering is Buddhadharma and thus the teaching of a Buddha, one who is awake.So Buddhadharma has a cornucopia of actions that tend towards the cessation of suffering and to being awake. Mediation, discussion, recollection of awakened beings, chanting, mantra, spiritual friendship, yoga, Chi-Kung, Tai-Chi, prostrations, study, work as practise etc., Almost anything can be Buddhadharma because Buddhadharma isn’t so much about what you do as whether it tends to the alleviation of suffering.
It seems, from experience, that we often take a particular aspect of Buddhism and rayify it, go for refuge to it, to take it as an end in and of itself rather than something that points to something quite radically beyond any given approach.
One teaching we have is called the five spiritual faculties; faith; wisdom; meditation; energy (in pursuit of the ‘good’) and awareness. This teaching offers us a reminder of not taking any one tool as an end in itself as well as a path for enlightenment. We talk in terms of five spiritual faculties but they aren’t mutually exclusive, rather, they overlap and support each other but none, are in and of themselves, the enlightened perspective.
Whilst it is true individuals may be drawn to one aspect more than another it is good to remember they all point to a perspective beyond themselves. It is an all to easy trap to fall into a particular tool. To see knowledge as wisdom, meditative experience as enlightenment. It can, in the end, become more of barrier to integration rather a breaking down of separation between self and other, this or that, one thing or another. It can also set up the conditions for suffering if we believe that one aspect is enlightenment, particularly if it is an area in which we experience some difficulty. Just because your meditation practise isn’t going well doesn’t mean to say that one is not progressing.
Buddhadharma is more about seeing through and letting go of the resultant habits of wrong views rather than adding new ones. We are told that “to hold tightly to even right view is itself a wrong view”. Holding tightly to one view creates fundamentalism and division rather than harmony and unity. We see this in many main stream beliefs and Buddhists are not immune to this pitfall either.
The Heart sutra puts this all beautifully by listing all the major teachings such as the Five Skandhas, the six sense bases, the eighteen elements and so on and then negates them all. To quote… The Bodhisattva (awakened being) holding to nothing whatever, but dwelling in in Pranja wisdom is freed of delusive hindrance, rid of the fear bread by it and, in some translations, even Nirvana (the goal of some of the earlier Buddhist schools).
We cannot go from wrong view to no view without going through right view but be aware of holding tightly to any view and you can’t go far wrong.