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Dhamma is nothing other than natural law. Buddhadhamma is a system for describing this natural law and acting in harmony with it. Natural law just happens; the Buddhadhamma is constructed.
Because the Buddhadhamma is constructed, it is culturally conditioned. Many elements of this body of teachings conform closely to the natural laws of the human mind; some stray far. People are likewise conditioned by culture and personal history. Where the teachings are in close alignment with natural law, the wholesome impact on a person is reliable regardless of his or her conditioning. In those areas of doctrine that are not closely aligned with natural law, the impact will depend upon how the conditioning of the teachings intersect with the cultural and individual background of the person engaging them.
Life can be difficult and confusing, so wise teachings are of immense benefit if thoroughly received and followed. However, because both this wisdom tradition we usually call the Dhamma and the recipient of the Dhamma are conditioned, the teachings are necessary but not sufficient given the radically different social environment and demands of today’s seeker.
It is essential that each individual look closely to see what they need in this very life. I believe one must touch the essence of original teachings to provide grounding reference, but remain open to other ways of understanding and living skillfully with this human experience.
When trying to understand or adapt root teachings, one can easily fool oneself. Alone or in cahoots with others we may easily leave out what challenges us, not only what is or is not useful. All teaching systems, whether Buddhist or other, and their derivatives must be approached with care. The mind proliferates to suit its ends; a reference set is essential. Fully understanding early Buddhist teachings, via direct meditative experience, study, and an engaged life, is essential.
How is the Dhamma presenting itself now in my life and are other teachings called for now to make this path sufficient and workable for me?
Am I living fully the teachings I do understand?
“There are these roots of trees, these empty huts. Meditate, bhikkhus, do not delay or else you will regret it later. This is our instruction to you,” MN 19:27. For us non-monastics:
What are my empty huts and roots of trees? And how do the practices of a whole life path manifest in the life I’m living?
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