- The Fundamentals in Practice
- Dr. Peter Della Santina
By way of conclusion, I would like to reflect on what we have discussed
over the course of the preceding chapters and relate it to what we can do in our own
personal lives, both now and in the future. The teachings of the Buddha are exceedingly
vast and very profound. Thus far, we have only managed to survey a few of the fundamental
teachings of the Buddha, and these only superficially. You may feel that we have covered a
lot, and that it is impossible to practice everything we have discussed. Indeed, it is
said that it is difficult, even for a monk living in isolation, to practice all the
fundamental teachings of the Buddha: small wonder that it may also be difficult for laymen
and laywomen like ourselves, who have many secular responsibilities to fulfill.
Nonetheless, if we succeed in sincerely cultivating and practicing even a few of the many
teachings of the Buddha, we will have succeeded in making this life more meaningful.
Moreover, we will be certain that we will again encounter circumstances favorable to the
practice of the Dharma, and to the eventual realization of liberation.
Everyone can achieve the highest goal in Buddhism, be he or she a
layperson or a member of the monastic order. All a person need do is make an honest effort
to follow the Noble Eightfold Path. It is said that those who have realized the truth,
like the Buddha Shakyamuni and his prominent disciples, did not do so accidentally. They
did not fall from the sky like rain, nor spring up from the earth like grain. The Buddha
and his disciples were once ordinary sentient beings like you and me. They were once
afflicted by impurities of the mind--attachment, aversion, and ignorance. It was through
coming into contact with the Dharma, through purifying their words and deeds, through
developing their minds, and through acquiring wisdom that they became free, exalted beings
able to teach and help others realize the truth. There is therefore no doubt that, if we
apply ourselves to the teachings of the Buddha, we, too, can attain the ultimate goal of
Buddhism. We, too, can become like the Buddha and his prominent disciples.
It is of no use merely to listen to the Dharma or to read the Dharma,
merely to write articles about the Dharma or give lectures about it, if we do not put it
into practice. It has been said that those of us who call ourselves Buddhists can profit
by occasionally taking stock. If we see that, over the preceding years or months, our
practice of the Buddha's teachings has brought about a change in the quality of our
experience--and it will probably be only a small change--then we know that the teachings
are having some effect.
If all of us put the teachings of the Buddha into practice, there is no
doubt that we will realize their benefits. If we seek to avoid harming others, if we try
our best to help others whenever possible, if we learn to be mindful, if we learn to
develop our ability to concentrate our minds, if we cultivate wisdom through study,
careful consideration, and meditation, there is no doubt that the Dharma will benefit us.
It will first lead us to happiness and prosperity in this life and in the next.
Eventually, it will lead us to the ultimate goal of liberation, the supreme bliss of
[Taken from Peter Della Santina., The Tree of Enlightenment. (Taiwan:
The Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation, 1997), pp. 121-123].
Sincere thanks to Ti.nh Tue^. for typing