The heart of the dhamma

For me, the [necessarily secular] heart of the Buddha Dhamma, is that it is utterly empirical and pragmatic*. There is no absolute truth in the Buddha’s ideas because it is central to these non-absolute ideas is that there cannot be an absolute idea in words: ‘Buddhas only point the way’.

The Buddha is proposing that we use his ideas to see if we find a temporarily useful platform from which to helpfully view experience. Finding that that helps – if it does – we then have some ownership of a process, albeit an ownership that suggests the absence of an owner.

This process thus ‘personally’ owned [the language does get tricky!] cannot be the Buddha’s one just as a digested apple is no longer an apple.

*To some degree I have written this in opposition to Bhikkhu Bodhi’s idea in this essay that the Buddha is not a pragmatic empiricist – as the Kalama Sutta seems to suggest – and that faith in the Buddha is a more advanced stage.

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