Quarrels and Disputes, by Tony Bernhard:
About Tony Bernhard:
Tony Bernhard first encountered the dharma in 1965 and became one of Spirit Rock’s first community dharma leaders in 1999. He currently sits on the board of the Sati Center, trains inmates and staff at Folsom Prison in mindfulness and dharma, leads sitting groups in Davis, and regularly teaches in a handful of venues in and around Sacramento and the Bay Area. He primarily focuses his practice on study of the dharma teachings in the earliest texts.
A section from ___, which is some of the oldest text. In fact, I’m going to ___ a portion of that called the ___, which is considered by some scholars to be the oldest layers of the ___. It’s referred to specifically on other ___ in the set of scriptures. I’m a particular fan of it, but it’s a small book and people won’t use it like it’s a small book. It’s 45 dollars. Tom ___ has translated it. You can find its translation on the web and access to Insight that is available for free.
But I particularly like, because it includes some texts that are incredibly intimate portraits of the Buddha, or snapshots of the Buddha and his thinking. This is the Buddha speaking. This is from a time. These texts are from the time before there was a saga. The very early in his teachings, before there were monks following him around.
This is just look at how people quarrel and fight. Let me tell you know the kind of dismay and terror that I have felt. Seeing people struggling like fish—riding in shallow water with enmity against one another. I became afraid. At one time, I wanted to find some place where I could take shelter, but I never saw any such place. There’s nothing in this world that is solid at base and not a part of it that’s changeless.
I’d seen them all trapped in mutual conflict. That is why I felt so repelled. But then, I noticed something very deep in their hearts. It was, I could just make it out a barb. It’s a barb that’s makes its victims run over the place. But once it’s been pulled out, all that running is finished, and so is the exhaustion that comes from it.
That barb. That’s interesting. It’s a barb in the heart. It’s not a barb in the mind. So, we’re talking last week about ___. And I think, in some way, this is what he’s pointing at. It’s these built in compulsions. The ongoing need to have our experience pleasant and to continue on more and more. And he’s focusing on the tenancy of these barb and these tenancy to quarrel and fight for producing our quarrels and conflicts and violence. It’s not the only ground for violence. People fight over food, and resources. Our people fight over views or for ideas. And the Buddha is pretty clear that fighting over views is not what it’s about. This is—the Buddha says, “Monks, I do not dispute with the world. Rather, the world disputes with me. A proponent of the Dharma does not dispute with anyone in the world.”
You got any disputes?
(speaker and audience laughs)
You know, what is he talking about? You know, that’s just something the Buddha and his, you know, I’ve seen ___. Often, you can see the heavens. Maybe, but down here.
So, another place in the cannon is his cousin ___, who is not a fan. The Buddha came from sort of a dysfunctional family. His cousin tried to kill him. And by pushing a boulder on him and I gathered it left a ___ of stone in his foot. And it was very painful. But ___ was also a cousin and he was not a fan, and there’s a story in the ___, the ___, ___ comes across the Buddha, sitting out there in the forest and the jungle and he sort of got this ___. What does this holy man teach? And the Buddha says, “Friend, I assert and proclaim a teaching in such a way that one does not quarrel with anyone in the world, but its Gods, its ___ and ___. In this generation, with ___, its princess and its people, in such a way that perception is no more ___ who abides the ___ from ___ pleasures.” It doesn’t dispute with anyone in the world.
How do you do that? Is that the path we’re on? Or that’s just somebody else’s path and we’re just going to sit and meditate? This is—and then, of course, we open our eyes. Ajchan, ___, some of you may know who shows up here. Sometimes in the summer time, he says he has a woman in his monastery in Thailand who is particularly deaf at the ___’s attainment. And so, absorption. Because the problem is that when she opens her eyes, she’s cranky. It’s more pleasant with the eyes closed. This is the Buddha, says, “A monk who’s mind has liberated sides with none and disputes with none,” he employs to speech, he currently used in the world without clinging, without adhering to what he’s clinging to it. This is not just one little passage. He is pretty clear. So if the Buddhist here were was looking here for some guidance, and the trick is to figure out what he is talking about. Clinging to views, you know, results in quarrels. Those who’ve embraced the certain theory and argue over it maintaining that alone the truth, you may talk with such people. But here, there is no opponent to battle with you. The trick of course is to figure out, how do you do that?
What does it mean to cling to a view when you believe a particular idea? A view in this context really means an idea, an understanding, a story, a narrative, it’s the map that we use to locate ourselves in the life in our world. And I’m thinking that, you know, this clinging, the depending on it happens, because it provides some security, some stability. If we didn’t have our understandings of what’s going on, we ___ stability and security even though the world is not offering it, so we sort of make it up, and then we hold on tight.
You know, we don’t want… without views, our experience would be uncertain. What’s, you know… without our ideas about what’s outside this room, it will be so like, it will be a beetle juice.
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