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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Intellectual discussion

THE BUDDHIST COLUMN:

Intellectual discussion

Survival of the Buddhist philosophy totally depends on the association of wise. Why is the survival of the philosophy needed? The Buddhist philosophy has methods of relief for those unhappy in technologically advanced society.

We have got almost everything we need, and our strong need is to be happy. Intellectual discussion is one way to be happy. Intellectual discussion itself is a broad concept. An intellectual can live in any person, not only among university dons and other scholars.

There are people who know only a little, but essential features, whereas we come across erudite scholars interpreting their knowledge in diverse ways.

An erudite scholar may attempt to interpret and publish another book. They hardly attempt to adopt what they have learned into their daily life. People with little, but essential knowledge, are most practical. They attempt to adopt the essential knowledge they have into the normal life. By hearting thousand stanzas will be useless, if you don’t apply them into practice.

Why intellectual discussion? It is basically required to keep on updating your existing knowledge base. This is helpful to tolerate the pains we come across.

For instance, we keep on listening to Dhamma Chakkapavattana Sutta, which describes the natural disasters we face in life. But when we encounter them personally, we become shocked. We have listened to the Sutta, but did not try to realise the contents. An intellectual discussion is required to work on how to adopt the theory into practice.

People in the Buddha’s period did not have the written form to discuss what they have heard. The absence of a written medium could make them remember what they have heard very clear. They all had a sharp memory. Ven. Ananda is the most common example of the memory strength. They could discuss the Dhamma they have heard.

This hardly happens today. We listen to endless sermons almost everyday. Dozens of books on Buddhism are being published regularly. We listen to and read the philosophy everyday, and we hardly have time to contemplate and review what we have heard and read. We do not discuss but add many things to our head. If we can discuss how to apply essential features of the philosophy in daily life, that will wipe out most of our sorrows.

However intellectual discussion does not help always. What we have discussed some time ago will go away from the memory, which is natural. We should keep on discussing.

Engrossed in Dhamma does not mean escaping from the day-to-day life. Dhamma reminds you the nature of life, when you face things like getting sick and decaying body.

How do we get association of wise? It may be hard to find anybody with a sharp knowledge of the essential features of Dhamma. The best thing, in a case like this, is to write down your inspirational ideas on Dhamma. When you read Dhamma Chakkapavattana Sutta, you slowly realise decaying body is something natural which happens to anybody and unavoidable.

However in another occasion, you will be upset to see the decaying body, because the memory of Dhammachakkapavattana Sutta has faded off. You will have to be watchful of the mind in such instances. When some such thing occurs, you should go back to the Sutta, or the inspirational notes you have written down on the Sutta.

When nobody is around to have intellectual discussion, the best person is your self. Discuss with self. Keep on analysing what we have heard on Dhamma.

There is nothing to be frustrated over in this life. Many people are ignorant and they are subject to do ignorant deeds. What the Buddha’s philosophy teaches us is to be indifferent considering the circumstances. And this is what we keep on forgetting, and what we should write down somewhere to be referred whenever it slips our memory.

sachitra@gmail.com

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