Just a short notice before I start babbling away:
Why it’s ok to read this post even if you are in a different esteemed religion?
- Buddhism is a set of teachings on the virtuous way of life. I strongly doubt the main figures in any of our esteemed religions came here thinking “Ok, I want to start a circle called *-ism/-ity/-m/-t/-a/-e/-i/-o”. So, the key point is the values we can learn from each other.
- Modern learning likes “cross-referencing”. It may facilitate your understanding or give you another perspective of certain virtues or values practiced in your esteemed religion.
- Everyone has different preferences and learning style. So, we should focus on drawing useful universal lessons for our use which will allow us to benefit others and the environment. When the people around you and your environment has improved from your kinds doings, you will ultimately be affected by the sustained improvements in your environment.
- This post is not here to say that Buddhism is the best. In fact, your esteemed religion is the best when you represent it with the right Light. Like what they say: “Right intensity at the right time makes it comfortable for the eyes.” So, please continue spreading the Light of your esteemed religion.
So many incredible sutras. Which is the best? Does it really matter which is the best? Or maybe we should be asking which are the amazing ones?
Back in the days, Buddha realized that everyone has different culture, different level of learning, different style of learning, different acceptance level and are at different stage of development (usually in relation to education or awareness of the surrounding). Thus, he spread the virtuous way of life according to their situation.
The result is a grand selection of sutras we see nowadays. As a newcomer, when someone shares the news of a certain monk conducting a session on certain sutra, we flocked there. When we hear from some others again that a certain monk is conducting a session on certain big sutra, we run over again.
When someone says “Sutra A is really good! We should all learn it!” We become more excited about Sutra A and go learn more about it. When simon says “Sutra B is this category and can do this and that!” Our heart flutters and we start to forget about Sutra A and jump right into Sutra B. When another simon says “Sutra C is the best of em all!” We may start to wonder why we didn’t get to hear about Sutra C earlier and throw Sutra B aside and kick start Sutra C with new enthusiasm. And on and on. Until some of us realized all this trend of sutra chasing makes us feel like party-goers. Let us take a moment to think about why there are so many sutras in the first place again.
Frankly speaking, it is most praiseworthy for someone to put in effort and time to attend these Dharma sessions as and when one is available to show your support for the spreading of teachings that are righteous and virtuous. However, unless you are adapt in steering away from the below pitfalls, it may be better to focus on just a few first:
- Becoming a wind chaser…that is, they change your resolution whenever someone says another sutra is good. Meaning, every time they are not even done scratching the surface of a particular sutra or Dharma series, they jump to something else.
- Becoming very knowledgeable or like a scholar. But, that’s about it. All they can do is talk very brilliantly about it and don’t practice what they preach. Hey! I could be one of them too you know, so remember to do your own practice and you will be better off than me.
- The more they listen / learn, the more they think they know (slightly dangerous), and the more arrogant they become with their new found knowledge (really sad). Such arrogance can really hinder true learning.
Well yeah, I was on the party-goer bandwagon for a while. It was intentional since I did prefer to have a slight “orientation”… or what you would call a sneak preview before deciding on which to focus on. At least I made my decision at the end of the day. I hope you will be deciding soon too if you haven’t.
Traditionally, after you reach the core (meaning arriving at your 心性 aka Divine Self) with 1 main method (法門), you can party-go to your hearts content because you should realize (not just because someone said it) what is being taught is similar in nature. So, you will not be confused into thinking “oh that sounds new, lemme add it to page 6524 of my Dharma diary” which most of us will probably never have the chance to review it again.
Let me end this post with some video clips on the topic of focused learning. The speaker, Master Jing Kong, tells us why it’s good to stay focused. Enjoy! I’m apologize that I can only find a Chinese version for this clip.