A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

It’s about context

Those of us who grew up with Buddhism as an acquired language rather than being cultural Buddhists need to study to understand not just what the Buddha said. We also need to understand the context and the intent of what he said. We need to see the big picture, so to speak. If we fail to do this we end up like the 4 blind wise men, which were tasked by the king to describe the essence of an elephant. The first felt the elephant’s trunk and later described an elephant as a large very strong serpent. The second felt the elephant’s ears, and later described the elephant as like a sheet of leather. The third coming upon the elephant by the legs, later described him like a might tree rooted to the ground. The forth found the elephants tail and as he was attempting to ascertain further, had the misfortune of being in the wrong spot as the elephant had a bowel movement. He later described the elephant like a large easily operated waste chute. None of these views accurately describe an elephant, but we can see how easily these four all thought they were correct. The other way of describing the western viewpoint of Buddhism is we see a huge apple tree rising up with its many branches. It provides shade for many, home to birds, and other creatures, and can provide enough nourishment to keep several beings satisfied for quite a while. However if all we see is what is above the soil, we are only getting half the picture. You could chop down what we see, however those deep roots would still be there. They would be as deep as the tree is tall, and cover as much space in the soil as the branches do in the air. It is only when we understand the root structures depths, do we have the ability to soar to the highest branch, and gain the sweetest fruit.

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