Longing for Certainty - Preface

Reflections on the Buddhist Life

The essays in this book explore the teachings of the Buddha from the standpoint of the Theravāda, the “doctrine of the elders.” These teachings have come down to us in words, and it is through attention to words that we get our first understanding of how the Buddha viewed the world and how he advised his followers to practice in order to achieve happiness. But words too often remain theoretical for us, not moving us to action, unless we can find their concrete counterparts in our daily lives. One aim of this book, then, is to suggest how to look upon the scenes that surround us, how to find useful illustrations of Buddhist principles in our own immediate experience.

As strange and confusing as this human world is, it holds precious and obtainable truth. Sights, sounds, smells, and all kinds of sensory events blossom in endless profusion; mental and physical processes run on; actions produce results large and small. If we perceive these things with mindfulness and notice how they exemplify the teachings of the Buddha we can find the motivation and the means for a worthier life.

This book also aims to present Buddhism as a system of belief and practice founded upon the Buddha’s understanding of how causes accumulate to bring about both joy and misery. When we explore with basic principles in mind we will be able to appreciate that this world, though shaken so by suffering, goes on as it does in a conditioned, lawful way, and that if we act according to noble standards—if we supply good conditions—we will be able to break up suffering and attain to peace.

The truths discovered by the Buddha are vast and wonderful. These essays only try to indicate some entryways to adventure. The world is rich enough with signs for seekers who will look around alertly.

Buddhist technical terms are given here in their Pali forms. The quotations from the Pali Canon are edited excerpts of translations published by Wisdom Publications and by the Buddhist Publication Society of Kandy, Sri Lanka. I have also made use of the Buddha Jayanti Tripitaka Series edition of the Pali Canon, published by the Sri Lanka Tripitaka Project.

 

How to cite this document:
© Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano, Longing for Certainty (Wisdom Publications, 2003)

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