Buddha’s teachings are very vast and profound. The translations
in Tibetan alone total 103 volumes. These are massive volumes
of the Buddha’s original teachings. Then there are the numerous
commentaries and explanations given by the Buddha’s disciples,
great Indian scholars, and panditas that serve to further clarify
and to make more precise the very profound meanings of the teachings.
These make up additional volumes numbering almost 200. Add to
these the numerous Tibetan commentaries that have been passed
down through the generations to the present day, the existing
volumes of Buddhist teachings have reached well into the thousands!
Numerous commentaries given by the different scholars and yogis
accompany every original teaching. This is important so as to
present a complete view which would otherwise be difficult for
one person alone to give. Of course, the commentators from the
past were themselves high-realized masters. Through rigorous debates
among themselves, they were able to make the explanations ever
clearer and more precise for the followers at large. Each generation
of realized masters contributes towards improving the explanations.
This work continues today. The result is anyone who takes the
time to look for an explanation to a subject will no doubt find
a very clearly presented one.
the vast volumes of teachings that are available to us, I feel
that the Dharma can be followed in a very simple way without studying
all of them. In our centers in France, we try to follow in a very
simple way. People do not have so much time to study and learn.
From the very large commentaries, the realized masters have neatly
extracted the precise meanings and incorporated them into what
we’d call, essential practices. These are then introduced
to the people so they could easily follow the Dharma. If you can
understand and can get the basic meanings, then everything becomes
very simple for you. There may be intellectuals, or practitioners,
or scholars who wish to study and to do research in the Dharma.
They can study the detailed proofs of the different theories which
can be very complicated. They can rely on the extensive volumes
of explanations which are there to validate and to clarify them.
can be translated from the Sanskrit or Tibetan term as cause and
effect, or action and result. Very simply, the Buddha explained
that we are human beings and as such, we have to go through birth,
aging, and then death. Some of us think that death marks the end
of living. Others among us believe that there is continuity after
death. Some people think in terms of existence versus non-existence.
The Buddha’s answer is that we are here now as human beings
but when we die, our mind continues.
is a term, reincarnation, which is a Christian term. The Christian
explanation is somewhat different than the Buddhist’s concept.
I discovered this during an inter-faith dialogue with a Catholic
priest. By karma in the Buddhist context, we are simply saying
that since we exist, then at the end of life, we have to go somewhere.
This is all we mean by reincarnation. It is easier to understand
if you do not have a preconceived notion of reincarnation which
might confuse you. The Buddha told us that it is the mind that
human being has a mind. Each human being has a body. Each human
being has a name. The mind identifies with the body with a name
and thinks that there is a self, “I am so and so.”
The Dharma explains that it is due to our habitual tendencies
that we feel that there is a “self”. Some realized
lamas have described the mind as being like energy, like air,
without any form whatsoever. There are many terms used to label
it, such as soul, thoughts, or consciousness. These terms can
be confusing. For simplicity’s sake, I always refer to it
as the mind.
one dies, the mind does not stay with the body. The mind actually
separates from the physical form. Reincarnation in the Buddhist
context means that my mind continues while my body changes into
another form. My mind continues into another form of being. The
Buddha explained that there are six “form” realms
of beings as well as some formless states of beings. The basic
point is that the mind can take on any form or any state of being.
Which form you end up with depends on your own knowledge and ability
which is your karma. Your reincarnation is directly based on your
karma. If I go into the city, I will choose according to what
I feel like. For example, I can choose to go to a park, or to
a restaurant, to a shop, etc. How I choose will depend on my own
inclinations and feelings. Our rebirth after the present life
is similarly based on our inner conditions. Since our inner conditions
are based on our karma the Buddha said that our own basic individual
karma would “choose” or “influence”, or
“determine” the form of rebirth. With the passing
of one life form, the mind without a body is like air, transparent.
The mind can feel without an “I” and it can perceive
any condition, or any form of life. Having taken rebirth, we will
again go through the life cycle creating more karma until its
end marked by death. This is a fundamental truth that the Buddha
discovered, and he called this endless cycle of rebirths samsara.
The crux of his teachings is that if we live in tuned to only
how we feel, or we simply follow whatever and wherever we are
connected, then we will always act akin to the same influences
and conditions which bind us. We will never get free. We will
inevitably continue to accumulate causes of like karma, and experience