The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Keeping Heart Samaya”
The Buddha has taught us some main points. These main points necessarily pervade all other levels of Buddhist doctrine or Buddhist philosophy or Buddhist teaching. They are the foundational thoughts that you have to use to think through the logic of the Buddhadharma. Without these fundamental thoughts, nothing that we accomplish in Dharma will make any sense or have any real weight. We are encouraged as Dharma students not to have some kind of blind faith based on no recognition of cause and effect relationships, but instead to have a faith that is based, yes, on heart, but also on logic, on reasonableness.
Lord Buddha himself taught that you should examine the teachings. If, having learned these foundational thoughts, they do not seem reasonable to you, if it doesn’t seem thoughtful and reasonable and intelligent to continue on in the way the Buddha has prescribed, then you shouldn’t do it.
The Buddha has taught that the Dharma should be logical and reasonable. And the way that the Buddha laid it out, it is. It is. For myself (some of you know my story), I was not born in the Tibetan monastery. I was found here, in America. I was born in Brooklyn of half-Jewish, half-Italian heritage, a little Catholic, a little lox and bagels. When my teacher found me, I was 38 years old, so I was already established in whatever habits I had, probably most of them bad. We have a lot of bad habits by the time we are 38, don’t we? By the time I found my teacher, I was quite established in a certain way, but I have found that in that meeting with my teacher a certain communication about the Buddha’s teaching has come to me that is logical and reasonable. There is a certain way to follow through the teaching that even appeals to a hard-headed, Brooklyn-born, half-Jewish, half-Italian gal like me. Now, I am a very practical person, a very practical person. So when I view the Buddha’s teachings, I want to know that they make sense to me. I want to know that they are reasonable. I, myself, would have difficulty following something that did not seem reasonable to me in some way.
Taking into account that sentient beings cannot actually gather all the necessary data by which to evaluate this logical Buddhist teaching, we have to rely to some degree – to a large degree actually – on the Buddha’s perception. For instance, all sentient beings do not have the capacity to actually evaluate samsara or the wheel of death and rebirth, conditioned life, realistically. In the same way, if we had no TV cameras and no satellite communication, none of our modern tools, we wouldn’t know for sure, let’s say, that there are people in China. We could hear about it. We could even hear Chinese people in America tell us that it exists, but for ourselves, unless we had gone there, we would never know. Not really, not for sure. But today we have TV and news reporters and newspaper pictures and satellites that broadcast information, and we can see China with our own eyes, even though it is on the other side of the world. So in a way, the Buddha acts like that for us.
Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo. All rights reserved