Landscapes of Wonder - Preface

Discovering Buddhist Dhamma in the World Around Us

Preface

In this baffling world where human beings laugh and weep and sometimes search for meaning, the voice of the Buddha can still be heard, stirring and uplifting the individual mind. The Buddha attained perfect enlightenment and then taught with such memorable brilliance that his words did not fade but lasted through the centuries, giving hope, light, and inspiration to whoever listened intently and then looked around thoughtfully at the world.

The faith of the Buddhist grows out of experience fortified by instruction. The Buddha shows how to make the journey out of suffering to emancipation, and if we feel a quickening of interest we can take steps ourselves to investigate and to test what we have learned. This collection of essays is about finding the right direction and then moving forward with mindfulness and deliberation.

Questioning people, who are troubled by life’s contradictions, want to know why the world goes on as it does and often feel the need for a guiding standard that gives gladness and allays pain. Buddhism answers questions about suffering and about the nature of the noble life here and now. More than that, it offers a healthy course of conduct that leads to peace of mind, understanding, and, eventually, freedom from all sorrow.

When someone has come to regard Buddhism with more than casual interest and feels the attraction of its depths, the obvious problem then becomes how to live this teaching, how to put it into practice in modern situations that seem remote from the times and cultures of its traditional homelands. Fortunately the teaching of the Buddha is universal, giving us the chance not just to admire what others have admired but to make our own search—to observe, meditate, and discover through our own efforts. The passage of centuries and the upheavals of history do not hamper this search, because the laws of nature still operate in us and around us. If we come to a clear understanding of basic teachings we can turn to our own experience through our senses to find the Buddhist religion as a living path.

This book is an attempt to outline some important features of Buddhism prominent in the Theravāda tradition and to suggest how to find illustrations and timely lessons in our own surroundings. This is not a comprehensive introduction but rather a sheaf of sketches of life from a Buddhist perspective. With all our interests and energies, we remain limited, mortal beings, subject to many kinds of confusion and loss, and we need to find landmarks, certainties, reliable truths in order to direct ourselves skillfully. The essays that follow here deal with common problems and questions of the spiritual seeker. They are intended not only to present information but also to draw attention to the beauty and magnificence of the Buddha’s message and to encourage contemplation and worthy effort.

The quotations from Pali scriptures are edited excerpts from translations published by the Buddhist Publication Society of Kandy, Sri Lanka, whose meritorious work over many years has made much vital wisdom available to students.

Throughout the book Pali technical terms are used rather than their Sanskrit equivalents.

 

Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano

 

How to cite this document:
© Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano, Landscapes of Wonder (Wisdom Publications, 2013)

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