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Dhamma Talks of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia, Ajahn Brahm: Which yana? Hahayana! 2

Now that's actually how it started, there was a history there. And that history is important because it gives some understanding of where it came from, but we also have to understand what it means. Once you start to get it split off between the Bodhisattva and the Arahat, and I should also mention that these were mostly sort of people who wrote the books made this separation, because that's the only reference we have, in the books. And I've always noticed, the ones who write the books are usually not the ones who do the practice. If you can*t do it, you usually write about it. And that's why many of the books, and as soon as I see these, I think, my goodness, did the fellow really know what they are talking about? Why do they do this in the first place? Now, I say that with a bit of a caveat because I've written a couple of books. And so it's not always the case that people who write books…but I'm always a bit untrustworthy of books, and you know that story which I heard when from a Zen monk, and I think this is a great story, that anyone who writes a book has to spend the next seven lifetimes as a donkey, that's the karmic result from that. Fortunately I looked through all the Theravada suttas and couldn't find that anywhere, so I think I'm okay.

But there is a point to that, there's a meaning to that. Sometimes the books can mislead if we just take the books to be the whole thing. So we did actually get a split, which happened two or three centuries after the time of the Buddha, into different schools, mostly because of people just thinking too much, writing books and arguing and not actually doing the practice. Because even then, it's quite clear from the evidence of that time, that most of the monks they didn't, if you don't mind me saying this, didn't give a damn on what particular type of Buddhism you were, what particular type of school you were because there was so much in common, they did the practice, they meditated, they penetrated the Dhamma, became enlightened Arahats, and the Enlightened Ones they had nothing to do with all of this.

However it came down to us, because after the Muslim invasions of India, when Buddhism got fragmented, some Buddhists went over into Tibet and then into China, some went down to Sri Lanka, some went to Java, they went to different parts of the world and because of their isolation, because of history these little differences started to solidify into completely different schools. And so we did have a Mahayana, the Chinese Buddhism, the Chan, Pureland, very very strong in China, and also the Zen, which was in Japan, we have the Vayrayana, what we now know as Tibetan Buddhism, in not just Tibet but in Mongolia and even in just the other parts of Central Asia, we have Theravada going down into Sri Lanka and over into Burma and Thailand and Cambodia. And nowadays, because the world came together we have all these different traditions all in the same place. Isn't that wonderful?

Because when we start to come together, we look at the books and the books are slightly different. But we look at the practice and the practice is just the same. That's a wonderful thing that when you start arguing with the scholars, you can argue all day and night and never get anywhere, of whether it should be the Bodhisattva is the right way or the Arahat is the right way, because some people say that if you just become an Arahat that's selfish, you don't care about anybody else. You're just becoming and get enlightened for yourself, you should put off your enlightenment for the sake of all other beings and be the last to become enlightened, which, you know, being cheeky, this is not to put down Mahayana, but I thought this out many many years ago, because I imagined if I like other people put off my enlightenment for the sake of all other beings, I will not become enlightened until the last blade of grass becomes enlightened, that's actually a vow, and I thought what would happen then? Once all the other blades of grass and all the other people and all the other beings become enlightened, all you'd have left was this group of Bodhisattvas, all who made the same vow as I did. And I could see this great traffic jam at the end of time, where I was saying to Manjushri “after you” and he said “no, no, no, after you, because I made a vow”, “yeah but so did I” and then there's Kwanyin as well and there's all these other people. Who's got to go first? And of course, that's only being cheeky. Because that is not really what it means. And it's not being… And I see many people who have that degree of selflessness – I'm not concerned about myself, I'm going to serve other people, may other people become enlightened before me – that degree of selflessness, I know what that leads to, that by itself leads to enlightenment.

In the same way that when you know all you people who've learned meditation from me, when I teach meditation I say if you want to get into deep states of mind, you'll never be able to, because it's the wanting which stops you, you've got to let go, get out of the way and allow it to happen. And I could see if you say I want to get enlightened, I want to get into deep meditation, it can't happen. So you can see that Mahayana mind, I'm going to let go of myself, I don't care what happens to me, that is Theravada practice. That's meditation practice. And, say, the Theravada practice, of wanting to become enlightened, in other words wanting to sort of be free knowing what how to be free, then because being free can help so many other people. You can actually teach from experience, what a wonderful thing that is. So in the end if you really want to be a Bodhisattva, if you really want to serve other beings, the best thing to do is become enlightened, be an Arahat, and if you really want to be an Arahat, the best thing to be is be a Bodhisattva, that's the fastest way to being an Arahat, because that is what I found.

So we have this difference of opinion which people have, but these are only the scholars and a lot of times it's the scholars who have egos. There was a Tibetan monk some years ago, he's called Chogyam Trumpa, he was a drunkard, but nevertheless he said some very wise things and one of the wise things he said was this idea of spiritual materialism. And at that time only thirty years ago when materialism was a word which was being coined he applied it to spiritual materialism. What spiritual materialism is is just we accumulate our spiritual possessions, our spiritual capital, now, I keep the five precepts, how many precepts do you keep? Only two? Nah na na nah na, I'm superior than you are. But I do eight precepts, I'm much better than you are. But I do ten precepts, I'm a disciple of this Arahat. No, I'm a disciple of that Bodhisattva.

So a lot of times, and I'm not just joking, sometimes people get into that stuff and they think, you know, you guys are just Theravadins, you are hopeless, but if you do really really well and you sort of complete a course under Ajahn Brahm maybe you can go to the Tibetan temple and we'll give you the higher teaching. And then, once you finish the higher teaching under the Tibetans, then you can go to the Zen to get the even higher teaching, then you go to the higher higher higher… And again of all that sort of stuff… because maybe because of my western conditioning that really didn't make any sense to me. It wasn't Buddhist to compare yourself to other people and say I am better than you are. However, that was part of spiritual materialism and you can actually see that in some of the ancient texts of the scholars, not the practitioners, who even called themselves Mahayana, which means the Greater Vehicle, and the opposite of that was the Hinayana, which does not mean Small Vehicle, that is wrong Pali, it is wrong Sanskrit. Hina means gross, terrible, mean, vile, despicable. That's actually what it means. And actually recently about, not recently, a couple of years ago, I just wrote to the Oxford English Dictionary and I told them, right, like Hinayana does not mean Small Vehicle, I sent them all the photocopies from the dictionaries and they agreed. They said wow we didn't realize that, they said thank you. So I'm a contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary. But you see that's spiritual materialism again.

But nevertheless, at least you sort of get rid of that. And so sometimes that people say well actually what are these yanas then? Hinayana, Mahayana, what yana is Ajahn Brahm? YAnd you should all know by now, I am Hahayana… You got it! You are too. That's my new yana, Hahayana. You can make it fun, and I'm not just doing it to entertain you, because when it's fun a lot of times the reason why people laugh is there's a point there and religion should be fun. And it's a waste of time going to these cold churches or these these dull sermons, all these monasteries or something, it gives religion a bad name when it's boring.

Too many young people, they don't go to religion because it's boring. You've got to make it fun and there's no reason why it shouldn't be fun, that it shouldn't be joyful. I get a lot of joy out of my meditation. I get a lot of happiness out of being a monk. This is not a boring thing to do, it's one of the best things I ever did in my life being a monk, I wouldn't give it away for the world. And now you can see that the happiness and the joy that's why Hahayana is a valid path.

And you got Vayrayana and you got the Zen, and a lot of times if you hear Ajahn Brahm come up and say, you know, myself, you say, this is the best vehicle, don't go to that temple down the road, don't go and practice like that, just practice my way, this is the only way, that sort of stuff should always make you doubt. That is spiritual materialism.

Each one of those paths is valid, in the same way that you can go to different restaurants and get Thai food, Chinese food, MacDonald's or whatever else you want to eat. It's all good, it all keeps you going. It's what you do with that food is most important. So the point is what do we do with this? And this is actually where we stop just looking at the books, we realize what those books really mean. It just is a bit of a tangent but it's topical because I was reading in the paper last week, there was a huge outcry in the Muslim world because there was an accusation that the copies of the Koran were being flushed down the toilets. What would happen if you flushed down a copy of the Dhammapada down the toilet? Or the Tipitika? You know what I'd do if that happened here? I'd call the plumber. Because that's a practical thing. It'd block out the sewage systems. But, would I get upset and angry? Would I start a Buddhist Jihad or Holy War? And obviously no, because, and I mention this because of the talk I gave somewhere or other recently, because you can flush a book down the toilet but you're not going to flush the principles which that book embodies down my toilet. I'm not going to allow anybody to flush down peace, forgiveness, love, tolerance. That you will not flush down any toilet, you can't, unless I allow you to, and if I do then I'm stupid.

So why do we mistake the messenger with the message? The book, they are great books, but they are just the messenger of truth, they're the messenger of peace, they're the messenger of love, they're the messenger of forgiveness, they're the messenger of understanding and peace. So why do we allow these books or what people do to our books or to our images to destroy what these images are really there to point to?

So you all know when the Taliban destroyed those big Buddha statues in Bamiyan i was so proud of the Buddhists who are saying ah never mind. So you can destroy the Buddha statues, but you will never destroy our peace and forgiveness, our sense of harmony and our sense of friendliness to you. You can destroy all the Buddha statues you like, but you won't destroy Buddhism, you won't destroy the message which that Buddha statue is embodying, the sense of peace and forgiveness, truth, harmony, that's what's really important. Isn't that what the books are there for?

So what is the message of Theravada or Mahayana or Zen or whatever? They've all got these great messages. The great thing about Mahayana was that is made just compassion just so prominent. And sometimes in Theravada that was always there, but sometimes it could be forgotten because it was not prominent. So thank you the Mahayana for sort of making compassion so important. Theravada sometimes, the Mahayana they lost you know the idea of like a strong virtue and a commitment to the practice of meditation and simplicity. So thanks for Theravada for having all these simple direct teachings. It's great to have that. Thanks for Zen for having this just one focus on meditation. Meditation, meditation, there's hardly anything else in Zen than meditation. Thanks for reminding us of that. Thanks for Vayrayana, they do…now they did a whole lot, especially the great example of the Dalai Lama, just forgiveness, lost his country but gained the world.

So all of these have all got things to offer to this beautiful Buddhism. So we don't compare who is the best. We just use all of this and once you really get into this Buddhism business you find and this is my standard answer in brief when people say, what is the difference between Vayrayana, that's Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism of Japan, Pureland Buddhism of China or Chan Buddhism of China or Theravada Buddhism, the Forest Tradition, Sri Lankan Buddhism, Burmese Buddhism, Vipassana whatever else? All these different types of Buddhism, I haven't got most of them. You say look, they're different types of cake, they have different icings, that's all, underneath you got the same cake, the Buddha cake. The icing is different, the rituals are different, some of the ways of approaching the teachings are different, but when you follow the teachings you find out what's going on inside. That's beautiful to see they're all the same.

You know that tomorrow I'm going off to Sydney and then to Melbourne. The reason I'm going to Sydney, I'm doing a joint Vesak celebration, just like last week we did our Vesak here. That was basically for our group. The week before many of you know that I participated in the Vesak ceremony in Supreme Court Gardens run by the Taiwanese Mahayana group in Gilford Road, in May Lance. And very nice I was there in a front seat, Sister Vayama was there in a front seat. And we were supposed, if you look at the book, we were supposed to be enemies, you know we're Theravada, they're Mahayana, but look, the truth of the matter is that we were together in a seamless way. And it's the same reason why I'm going to Sydney to a joint Vesak celebration. We've got all the different Buddhist groups are going to be there and I'm going to give one of the…the main speech there, which I'm very delighted to be able to have the honour to do. And then going to Melbourne to do some more sort of Buddhist stuff.

So when I go travelling like this, please don't think that you're taken…I'm being taken away from the Buddhist Society of Western Australia because I get huge amounts of stories and more materials, some new jokes for you…it's called research. But also, but also you get great opportunity to widen your contacts. And last year I went to Japan for some ceremony. Again…this is a Pureland temple and just after the ceremony was finished they put me up in this hotel and they had this delegation of monks from Germany. and I've heard of one of the monks before. They all came into my room, we had this incredible good discussion because there were some very great German-born Tibetan monks. One of the Lamas there, he's…I really sort of respect him very highly, and we ended up talking about meditation, now the really deep stuff, the sort of stuff we can't talk within public about, and we had this amazing discussion which went on I don't know how long into the night about what's your meditation like what's your meditation like, and we found that we came from completely different traditions but were all doing the same thing. and that was actually just amazing just to see that we had these different words, but when you actually explained what those words are from experience, well I know what you're talking about, I call it differently.

What we really found there was when you get to practitioners, people who are not just writing the books, but people who are doing it, who're actually keeping those precepts, who are actually spending years of meditation, hour upon hour, training their mind, getting deep, seeing what the Buddha saw, then you can see, my goodness, there is no difference. The difference is just on the surface, it's the icing on the cake. There is strawberry icing, there can be chocolate icing, there'll be vanilla icing, I permit I like chocolate, Tibetans like raspberry. What's the Zen, grey, what's that? That's vanilla with a bit of I don't know…But you understand what I'm talking about. It's just different icing, go inside; you find it is the same.

And I, recently when I gave this talk in Singapore, it was on a conference which we call “Bridging the traditions”, and I said look, it doesn't matter if you call yourself a Bodhisattva or you're on the Arahat path, what you're actually doing, what actually is your doing, not why you're doing it, but what are you doing? And for traditional Buddhists, if you are on a Bodhisattva path, this is the Mahayana, which is, you know, Vayrayana is the path, it's the fast path of Mahayana, so they say, if you're doing the Bodhisattva path, you're supposed to be following six Paramitas, six spiritual practices. And those six spiritual practices, I'm going to rearrange them from the normal order because I'm making a point here:

The first three in my order is Dana, Kanti, Viriya, which is Dana is generosity, Kanti is patience, Viriya is energy. And the next ones are precepts for morality: Sila, Samadhi – meditation, and wisdom, Pannya. Those are the six Paramitas, the six practices of the Bodhisattva in the ancient books. Generosity, patience and energy, plus Sila, Samadhi, Pannya, morality, meditation and wisdom. So what do people on the Arahat path, Theravada Buddhists do? They do generosity, patience, energy, precepts, meditation and wisdom. They do exactly the same. Why you're doing that, you know, the purpose of it, may be different, you may think I'm doing this to get you know to be able to help other people, or you may think of it I am doing this to become enlightened myself to get rid of my own problems, but if you look at it, it's exactly the same.



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Now that's actually how it started, there was a history there. And that history is important because it gives some understanding of where it came from, but we also have to understand what it means. Once you start to get it split off between the Bodhisattva and the Arahat, and I should also mention that these were mostly sort of people who wrote the books made this separation, because that's the only reference we have, in the books. And I've always noticed, the ones who write the books are usually not the ones who do the practice. If you can*t do it, you usually write about it. And that's why many of the books, and as soon as I see these, I think, my goodness, did the fellow really know what they are talking about? Why do they do this in the first place? Now, I say that with a bit of a caveat because I've written a couple of books. And so it's not always the case that people who write books…but I'm always a bit untrustworthy of books, and you know that story which I heard when from a Zen monk, and I think this is a great story, that anyone who writes a book has to spend the next seven lifetimes as a donkey, that's the karmic result from that. Fortunately I looked through all the Theravada suttas and couldn't find that anywhere, so I think I'm okay.

But there is a point to that, there's a meaning to that. Sometimes the books can mislead if we just take the books to be the whole thing. So we did actually get a split, which happened two or three centuries after the time of the Buddha, into different schools, mostly because of people just thinking too much, writing books and arguing and not actually doing the practice. Because even then, it's quite clear from the evidence of that time, that most of the monks they didn't, if you don't mind me saying this, didn't give a damn on what particular type of Buddhism you were, what particular type of school you were because there was so much in common, they did the practice, they meditated, they penetrated the Dhamma, became enlightened Arahats, and the Enlightened Ones they had nothing to do with all of this.

However it came down to us, because after the Muslim invasions of India, when Buddhism got fragmented, some Buddhists went over into Tibet and then into China, some went down to Sri Lanka, some went to Java, they went to different parts of the world and because of their isolation, because of history these little differences started to solidify into completely different schools. And so we did have a Mahayana, the Chinese Buddhism, the Chan, Pureland, very very strong in China, and also the Zen, which was in Japan, we have the Vayrayana, what we now know as Tibetan Buddhism, in not just Tibet but in Mongolia and even in just the other parts of Central Asia, we have Theravada going down into Sri Lanka and over into Burma and Thailand and Cambodia. And nowadays, because the world came together we have all these different traditions all in the same place. Isn't that wonderful?

Because when we start to come together, we look at the books and the books are slightly different. But we look at the practice and the practice is just the same. That's a wonderful thing that when you start arguing with the scholars, you can argue all day and night and never get anywhere, of whether it should be the Bodhisattva is the right way or the Arahat is the right way, because some people say that if you just become an Arahat that's selfish, you don't care about anybody else. You're just becoming and get enlightened for yourself, you should put off your enlightenment for the sake of all other beings and be the last to become enlightened, which, you know, being cheeky, this is not to put down Mahayana, but I thought this out many many years ago, because I imagined if I like other people put off my enlightenment for the sake of all other beings, I will not become enlightened until the last blade of grass becomes enlightened, that's actually a vow, and I thought what would happen then? Once all the other blades of grass and all the other people and all the other beings become enlightened, all you'd have left was this group of Bodhisattvas, all who made the same vow as I did. And I could see this great traffic jam at the end of time, where I was saying to Manjushri “after you” and he said “no, no, no, after you, because I made a vow”, “yeah but so did I” and then there's Kwanyin as well and there's all these other people. Who's got to go first? And of course, that's only being cheeky. Because that is not really what it means. And it's not being… And I see many people who have that degree of selflessness – I'm not concerned about myself, I'm going to serve other people, may other people become enlightened before me – that degree of selflessness, I know what that leads to, that by itself leads to enlightenment.

In the same way that when you know all you people who've learned meditation from me, when I teach meditation I say if you want to get into deep states of mind, you'll never be able to, because it's the wanting which stops you, you've got to let go, get out of the way and allow it to happen. And I could see if you say I want to get enlightened, I want to get into deep meditation, it can't happen. So you can see that Mahayana mind, I'm going to let go of myself, I don't care what happens to me, that is Theravada practice. That's meditation practice. And, say, the Theravada practice, of wanting to become enlightened, in other words wanting to sort of be free knowing what how to be free, then because being free can help so many other people. You can actually teach from experience, what a wonderful thing that is. So in the end if you really want to be a Bodhisattva, if you really want to serve other beings, the best thing to do is become enlightened, be an Arahat, and if you really want to be an Arahat, the best thing to be is be a Bodhisattva, that's the fastest way to being an Arahat, because that is what I found.

So we have this difference of opinion which people have, but these are only the scholars and a lot of times it's the scholars who have egos. There was a Tibetan monk some years ago, he's called Chogyam Trumpa, he was a drunkard, but nevertheless he said some very wise things and one of the wise things he said was this idea of spiritual materialism. And at that time only thirty years ago when materialism was a word which was being coined he applied it to spiritual materialism. What spiritual materialism is is just we accumulate our spiritual possessions, our spiritual capital, now, I keep the five precepts, how many precepts do you keep? Only two? Nah na na nah na, I'm superior than you are. But I do eight precepts, I'm much better than you are. But I do ten precepts, I'm a disciple of this Arahat. No, I'm a disciple of that Bodhisattva.

So a lot of times, and I'm not just joking, sometimes people get into that stuff and they think, you know, you guys are just Theravadins, you are hopeless, but if you do really really well and you sort of complete a course under Ajahn Brahm maybe you can go to the Tibetan temple and we'll give you the higher teaching. And then, once you finish the higher teaching under the Tibetans, then you can go to the Zen to get the even higher teaching, then you go to the higher higher higher… And again of all that sort of stuff… because maybe because of my western conditioning that really didn't make any sense to me. It wasn't Buddhist to compare yourself to other people and say I am better than you are. However, that was part of spiritual materialism and you can actually see that in some of the ancient texts of the scholars, not the practitioners, who even called themselves Mahayana, which means the Greater Vehicle, and the opposite of that was the Hinayana, which does not mean Small Vehicle, that is wrong Pali, it is wrong Sanskrit. Hina means gross, terrible, mean, vile, despicable. That's actually what it means. And actually recently about, not recently, a couple of years ago, I just wrote to the Oxford English Dictionary and I told them, right, like Hinayana does not mean Small Vehicle, I sent them all the photocopies from the dictionaries and they agreed. They said wow we didn't realize that, they said thank you. So I'm a contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary. But you see that's spiritual materialism again.

But nevertheless, at least you sort of get rid of that. And so sometimes that people say well actually what are these yanas then? Hinayana, Mahayana, what yana is Ajahn Brahm? YAnd you should all know by now, I am Hahayana… You got it! You are too. That's my new yana, Hahayana. You can make it fun, and I'm not just doing it to entertain you, because when it's fun a lot of times the reason why people laugh is there's a point there and religion should be fun. And it's a waste of time going to these cold churches or these these dull sermons, all these monasteries or something, it gives religion a bad name when it's boring.

Too many young people, they don't go to religion because it's boring. You've got to make it fun and there's no reason why it shouldn't be fun, that it shouldn't be joyful. I get a lot of joy out of my meditation. I get a lot of happiness out of being a monk. This is not a boring thing to do, it's one of the best things I ever did in my life being a monk, I wouldn't give it away for the world. And now you can see that the happiness and the joy that's why Hahayana is a valid path.

And you got Vayrayana and you got the Zen, and a lot of times if you hear Ajahn Brahm come up and say, you know, myself, you say, this is the best vehicle, don't go to that temple down the road, don't go and practice like that, just practice my way, this is the only way, that sort of stuff should always make you doubt. That is spiritual materialism.

Each one of those paths is valid, in the same way that you can go to different restaurants and get Thai food, Chinese food, MacDonald's or whatever else you want to eat. It's all good, it all keeps you going. It's what you do with that food is most important. So the point is what do we do with this? And this is actually where we stop just looking at the books, we realize what those books really mean. It just is a bit of a tangent but it's topical because I was reading in the paper last week, there was a huge outcry in the Muslim world because there was an accusation that the copies of the Koran were being flushed down the toilets. What would happen if you flushed down a copy of the Dhammapada down the toilet? Or the Tipitika? You know what I'd do if that happened here? I'd call the plumber. Because that's a practical thing. It'd block out the sewage systems. But, would I get upset and angry? Would I start a Buddhist Jihad or Holy War? And obviously no, because, and I mention this because of the talk I gave somewhere or other recently, because you can flush a book down the toilet but you're not going to flush the principles which that book embodies down my toilet. I'm not going to allow anybody to flush down peace, forgiveness, love, tolerance. That you will not flush down any toilet, you can't, unless I allow you to, and if I do then I'm stupid.

So why do we mistake the messenger with the message? The book, they are great books, but they are just the messenger of truth, they're the messenger of peace, they're the messenger of love, they're the messenger of forgiveness, they're the messenger of understanding and peace. So why do we allow these books or what people do to our books or to our images to destroy what these images are really there to point to?

So you all know when the Taliban destroyed those big Buddha statues in Bamiyan i was so proud of the Buddhists who are saying ah never mind. So you can destroy the Buddha statues, but you will never destroy our peace and forgiveness, our sense of harmony and our sense of friendliness to you. You can destroy all the Buddha statues you like, but you won't destroy Buddhism, you won't destroy the message which that Buddha statue is embodying, the sense of peace and forgiveness, truth, harmony, that's what's really important. Isn't that what the books are there for?

So what is the message of Theravada or Mahayana or Zen or whatever? They've all got these great messages. The great thing about Mahayana was that is made just compassion just so prominent. And sometimes in Theravada that was always there, but sometimes it could be forgotten because it was not prominent. So thank you the Mahayana for sort of making compassion so important. Theravada sometimes, the Mahayana they lost you know the idea of like a strong virtue and a commitment to the practice of meditation and simplicity. So thanks for Theravada for having all these simple direct teachings. It's great to have that. Thanks for Zen for having this just one focus on meditation. Meditation, meditation, there's hardly anything else in Zen than meditation. Thanks for reminding us of that. Thanks for Vayrayana, they do…now they did a whole lot, especially the great example of the Dalai Lama, just forgiveness, lost his country but gained the world.

So all of these have all got things to offer to this beautiful Buddhism. So we don't compare who is the best. We just use all of this and once you really get into this Buddhism business you find and this is my standard answer in brief when people say, what is the difference between Vayrayana, that's Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism of Japan, Pureland Buddhism of China or Chan Buddhism of China or Theravada Buddhism, the Forest Tradition, Sri Lankan Buddhism, Burmese Buddhism, Vipassana whatever else? All these different types of Buddhism, I haven't got most of them. You say look, they're different types of cake, they have different icings, that's all, underneath you got the same cake, the Buddha cake. The icing is different, the rituals are different, some of the ways of approaching the teachings are different, but when you follow the teachings you find out what's going on inside. That's beautiful to see they're all the same.

You know that tomorrow I'm going off to Sydney and then to Melbourne. The reason I'm going to Sydney, I'm doing a joint Vesak celebration, just like last week we did our Vesak here. That was basically for our group. The week before many of you know that I participated in the Vesak ceremony in Supreme Court Gardens run by the Taiwanese Mahayana group in Gilford Road, in May Lance. And very nice I was there in a front seat, Sister Vayama was there in a front seat. And we were supposed, if you look at the book, we were supposed to be enemies, you know we're Theravada, they're Mahayana, but look, the truth of the matter is that we were together in a seamless way. And it's the same reason why I'm going to Sydney to a joint Vesak celebration. We've got all the different Buddhist groups are going to be there and I'm going to give one of the…the main speech there, which I'm very delighted to be able to have the honour to do. And then going to Melbourne to do some more sort of Buddhist stuff.

So when I go travelling like this, please don't think that you're taken…I'm being taken away from the Buddhist Society of Western Australia because I get huge amounts of stories and more materials, some new jokes for you…it's called research. But also, but also you get great opportunity to widen your contacts. And last year I went to Japan for some ceremony. Again…this is a Pureland temple and just after the ceremony was finished they put me up in this hotel and they had this delegation of monks from Germany. and I've heard of one of the monks before. They all came into my room, we had this incredible good discussion because there were some very great German-born Tibetan monks. One of the Lamas there, he's…I really sort of respect him very highly, and we ended up talking about meditation, now the really deep stuff, the sort of stuff we can't talk within public about, and we had this amazing discussion which went on I don't know how long into the night about what's your meditation like what's your meditation like, and we found that we came from completely different traditions but were all doing the same thing. and that was actually just amazing just to see that we had these different words, but when you actually explained what those words are from experience, well I know what you're talking about, I call it differently.

What we really found there was when you get to practitioners, people who are not just writing the books, but people who are doing it, who're actually keeping those precepts, who are actually spending years of meditation, hour upon hour, training their mind, getting deep, seeing what the Buddha saw, then you can see, my goodness, there is no difference. The difference is just on the surface, it's the icing on the cake. There is strawberry icing, there can be chocolate icing, there'll be vanilla icing, I permit I like chocolate, Tibetans like raspberry. What's the Zen, grey, what's that? That's vanilla with a bit of I don't know…But you understand what I'm talking about. It's just different icing, go inside; you find it is the same.

And I, recently when I gave this talk in Singapore, it was on a conference which we call “Bridging the traditions”, and I said look, it doesn't matter if you call yourself a Bodhisattva or you're on the Arahat path, what you're actually doing, what actually is your doing, not why you're doing it, but what are you doing? And for traditional Buddhists, if you are on a Bodhisattva path, this is the Mahayana, which is, you know, Vayrayana is the path, it's the fast path of Mahayana, so they say, if you're doing the Bodhisattva path, you're supposed to be following six Paramitas, six spiritual practices. And those six spiritual practices, I'm going to rearrange them from the normal order because I'm making a point here:

The first three in my order is Dana, Kanti, Viriya, which is Dana is generosity, Kanti is patience, Viriya is energy. And the next ones are precepts for morality: Sila, Samadhi – meditation, and wisdom, Pannya. Those are the six Paramitas, the six practices of the Bodhisattva in the ancient books. Generosity, patience and energy, plus Sila, Samadhi, Pannya, morality, meditation and wisdom. So what do people on the Arahat path, Theravada Buddhists do? They do generosity, patience, energy, precepts, meditation and wisdom. They do exactly the same. Why you're doing that, you know, the purpose of it, may be different, you may think I'm doing this to get you know to be able to help other people, or you may think of it I am doing this to become enlightened myself to get rid of my own problems, but if you look at it, it's exactly the same.


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