Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sai Baba's teaching on Buddhism

My Comment:
In this world when there have been many wars and conflict fought in the name of religion, Sai Baba came at an appropriate time to preach the importance of harmony and how to appreciate other religions while holding to our core practices. So, in this context, I do appreciate his teachings and accept that if Vijnana is GOD, then so be it. It's just like saying Dzogchen or Mahamudra is GOD. If that is GOD, which Buddhist will oppose? However, it is a different concept of God from the monotheistic religions. And even though he got the order of the Triple Jewels not the usual way Buddhist put them (i.e. Buddhists always regard Dharma as the second one, and not third), it's not a big deal if Sai Baba puts it as the third one to point out an important message. So, take these in mind when you read the below Sai Baba's teachings on Buddhism. During major religious festivals, he will usually teach using teachings familiar to that particular religion. Even though, not everything he said confirms with the way it is taught in our traditional Buddhist texts or by our Buddhist teachers, I hope you can at least appreciate what he had been doing to bring about religious peace.

1. GOD = VIJNANA in Buddhism
The Lord was referred to as Dharma by the Vedas and as Vijnana by Buddha. For in those days, no one liked the word 'Veda', as in the times of the Asura called Somaka, when those who followed the Vedas desisted from calling them 'Veda'; While in mortal dread, such behaviour is passable. Yet, the Buddha was full of reverence to the Vedas; he was ever infused with God. The Buddha is often spoken of as an atheist, a Nasthika! Well, if the Buddha is a Nasthika, who then is the Asthika, the theist? The entire life of the Buddha is a saga of Dharma. Sankara is criticised by some people as opposed to the path of Dharma and Karma. But Sankara opposed only the Dharma and Karma which have fulfilment of Desire in view. He was indeed the Great Teacher who taught the path of Dharma and Karma, of endeavour impelled by the understanding of the basic Truth.

The adherence of Sankara to Dharma and Karma based on Truth, the faith of the Buddha in the essentials of the Vedas can be appreciated only by those who have the higher vision. Without that, one will be led astray in the interpretation. In order to climb a great height, a ladder as tall as the height is needed, is it not?

Whoever subdues his egoism, conquers his selfish desires, destroys his bestial feelings and impulses and gives up the natural tendency to regard the body as the self, he is surely on the path of Dharma: he knows that the goal of Dharma is the merging of the wave in the sea, the merging of the self in the Over-self.


2. Why take refuge in the Triple Jewels?
"Make an effort to see the same divine principle everywhere and in everything, until you realize the ultimate truth, that only the Atma exists, that only the Self is real."

Buddha taught the same great truth, although he may not have made reference to Veda or used Vedantic terms, nevertheless, he experienced and demonstrated the essential spirit of Veda. First he said, 'Buddham, Sharanam Gacchami', meaning, 'I take refuge in the Buddhi, my power of discrimination.' This deals with the individual; it speaks of the limited personality. Gradually, he added, 'Sangham Sharanam Gacchami', meaning, 'I take refuge in the community, I take refuge in the society.' He recognized that feelings associated with individual and personal considerations are selfish and narrow, and cannot take you very far.

You should not consider this individual self as everything; it is only a drop in the ocean. Along these lines, Krishna also commanded, "Arjuna, expand your heart. Become broadminded. Include the entire society within your scope." Society does not have any particular form; it is made up of individuals. When a large number of individuals join together they become a society. Swami often say, 'Expansion is My life'. When you expand individual life to infinity it becomes divinity; that is to say, let individual life multiply and broaden and it will eventually reach divinity. Therefore, Krishna told Arjuna, "Live in the society; serve the society; and develop broadmindedness."

The meaning of society in one country may be different from that in another; and a society or community called by one name may have nothing to do with a society or community called by another name. So, you will find that there are limits even for a society, and that the society by itself will not take you all the way to infinity. Therefore, Buddha added one more step, 'Dharmam Sharanam Gacchami', meaning, 'I take refuge in Dharma, I take shelter in truth and righteousness'. Dharma, as used here, has a very broad connotation; it refers to the one who supports the entire world. When you investigate the general meaning of the word Dharma, you find that it relates to the basic nature of a thing; its essential truth. The 'thing' referred to here is the immortal Atma, the indwelling divinity. Therefore, the deeper meaning of Dharma is found in the true nature of divinity. To take refuge in Dharma is to become one with the attributes of divinity. It has been said that Maya is the body of God, but it is more correct to say that Dharma is the body of God. It is His very form. That is why Krishna annouonced, 'For establishing Dharma I have come again and again.' Dharma reveals the broad nature of divinity in all its glorious aspects.

In a life filled with desires, the pleasures one seeks are inevitably followed by grief and disappointments. All unrighteous actions lead to sorrow. It was for this reason that Buddha emphasised the need for discrimination. The first prayer, "Buddham Saranam Gachami" is a call for cultivating wisdom and discriminations - the Buddhi. But unless the power of discrimination is used for doing right action for the good of society it is of no use. Hence the second prayer, "Sangham Saranam Gacchami" (I surrender myself to society). What is this right action that must be done? That is indicated by the third prayer: "Dharmam Saranam Gacchami" (I take refuge in Dharma). To reach your goal, the royal road is Dharma - Righteousness. It is only when these are combined - Wisdom, Social Service and Righteousness - that there is fulfilment in life.


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