“In the Buddha’s Words” by The Dalai Lama
In the Buddha’s Words presents a work of detailed examination of Buddha’s teachings left in the Nikayas. The reading focused on chapters that center around Buddha’s teachings about people’s happiness in the present and future life and the concept of rebirth. The interpretation of Buddha’s teachings for ordinary people was troubled despite the teachings’ great significance. The parts about spiritual development and the explanation of the importance of different actions on people’s future lives were included in Dhamma and Kamma concepts.
In the beginning, the author states that Buddha’s teachings were overly complicated for ordinary people and had little relevance for everyday life. Therefore, Buddha’s teachings had to be interpreted by monks to ordinary people in order to make the wisdom more applicable to aspects of everyday life. Thus, the meaning of the teachings was significantly reduced to its pinnacle, while the original message was far more transcendent and covered complex moments of human life and existence. Then, the author explains that the Dhamma represents an order within the universe that guides people’s ethics and aspirations for moral values.
Buddha worships and uses Dhamma, while the wheel-turning monarch, an image of the ideal ruler, uses Dhamma to rule his kingdom in a righteous and ethical way. Therefore, Dhamma presents a set of moral norms that promotes welfare and happiness in the present life, the next life, and the supreme final release from the rebirth cycle. The teaching could also be divided into six directions or six types of people’s relationships: parental, mentor, marital, friendly, employment, and religious connections.
Furthermore, the text allows the reader to explore the rules imposed by Dhamma in Buddha’s teachings. Several interesting details in the text provide a deeper understanding of Buddha’s teachings and areas of their application. For example, the text explains that people must maintain respectful relationships and morally correct living to establish happiness in the next life. Happiness in the future life is granted to those who express generosity in sharing and caring for other people and who keep their faith in Buddha.
However, managing the Dhamma of society is a wheel-turning monarch’s work. The king or the ruler should provide protection and safety not only for his dependents but also for all hermits and living creatures. In a sense, the discussion of the functions of the wheel-turning monarch provides an insight into the role of authorities in Buddha’s teachings. The king or the authorities should use ethical considerations (Dhamma) in protecting the citizens and the environment and creating laws that will explain which actions should not be undertaken by the citizens.
Lastly, the rebirth process in the text is explained by a lotus flower analogy. While many people follow Buddha’s teachings as lotus flowers while remaining underwater, their spiritual blossoming requires the equivalent of solar energy, the commitment to Dhamma. Therefore, because the process takes a long time and might take several lives, humans are rebirthed to continue their spiritual development in conditions provided by the input from their previous life. The concept of rebirth in Buddha’s teachings is closely related to Kamma (karma), the law that connects an individual’s actions to the surrounding environment to the quality of his experience in a particular reality. Lastly, the text explains that Kamma can be divided into four kinds of dark and bright karma and their mixes and why different types of karma have different consequences.
In conclusion, my reaction to the reading was positive as the text provided a significant amount of information in a concise and structured way that facilitated understanding the complex concepts. It appears that compared to other readings, the structure of the text was influenced by the organization of the initial Buddha’s teachings. I find it questionable that ordinary people experienced troubles in interpreting Buddha’s teachings to everyday life, as the concepts of Dhamma and karma effectively connect people’s actions and their spiritual progress.