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Sutra of Forty - two Sections - Padmaloka Unchecked

DISCLAIMER - This transcript has not been checked, and may contain mistakes and mishearings.

by Sangharakshita

... of course, this refers back to the: "taught and
commanded them, until, one by one," before the time of their gaining Enlightenment. I mean,
the grammatical constructions are not quite free from ambiguity. So do you get a clear
impression from this, this opening section? It's really quite basic, isn~t it? Basic Buddhist
philosophy in a way.
Noel : I find it quite reassuring, that phrase about the monks voicing their doubts, because
it seems to make ~L quite easy to relate to. I mean if they'd just sort of all together decided
to follow the Buddha, like when you read the -Bible , the disciples just got up and followed
Jesus. I mean, they weren't just taking it on blind faith, sort of thing.
S
:
Mm. ~t~At
Noel .
It's reassuring.
S
: Also the Buddha didn't scold them for haying doubts. I mean, sometimes I believe,
in the Catholic church-this is what I've been told~~if you have doubts about the faith you are
told that, well, that is just the work of Satan. You should not listen to those doubts. It's a
temptation. But of course, one is, as I emphasised at the time, one is here referring to honest
doubts, sinc'ere doubts. I mean 'vicikitsa', which is one of the thre'e' fetters, is sometimes
translated as doubt. That's not a very good trans-lation. But if it is translated as doubt, then it
means dis-h-onest doubt. That is to say, not a real doubt but a sort ot pseudo-doubt that you
bring up just to
S of 42 5 Dl Tl
11Il
S(ctd) :
sort of postpone the moment of commitment! But here it is honest doubt.
Honest doubt has never been discouraged in Buddhism. There's something a bit like this in
Blake, William Blake. Blake says that it is necessary to give error a concrete form, so that it
can be judged. So that it can be brought to the last judgement even. This is what he means
by the last judgement, giving all errors concrete form, actual embodiment, so that ~ can be
clearly seen what they are like and so that they can be judged. So that they can be exposed
for what they are, so that they can be dismissed. So it's very important to sort of voice one's
doubts, to say what one really thinks in this sort of way, because then the doubt is brought
right out into the open. You can see what it's like and deal with it. Or if you can't deal with it
yourself, perhaps somebody else can help you to deal with it. Sometimes people are afraid of
having doubts. But if they bring it out into the open, they realise it's not such a terrible doubt
after all. It's not sinful to entertain that sort of doubt. In a way, douhts are natural. What sort
of doubts, do you think, are common or prevalent say, within the FWBO? To go no further
than that. What sort of honest doubts do people have? Are they doctrinal or doubts about
their own capacities, or doubts about Buddhist philosophy or doubts about Buddhism itself or
about the efficacy of meditation or the particular pratice they're doing? In what sort of area
do doubts arise? Is there any sort of pattern? Are there any common doubts,t~~opular
doubts?
The thing I find is, I find the time scale very hard to come to terms with, because when you
read the Buddhist scriptures, you read about so many different lifetimes and numbers of years
and so on; and I find it very difficult to know what I can achieve in my own lifetime, or even
this year or this month. Although I feel, well, I can achieve something, sometime, it's
difficult to put a time scale on it.
S
: Well, in a way Buddhism doesn't because it says, so to speak, well, look, there's
thou-sands of lives. If you don't do it in this life, you'll do it in the next or~~~ future life. But
of course, one shouldn?t adopt that attitude too easily. And some people in Buddhist
countries do. They think, well, why bother about Buddh,ism in this- life, I'll bother about it in
some other life.
Eve :
As regards doubt, I think one of the prevalent doubts that I've seen, both in
myself and other people, is actually1~self-doubt, rather than~doctrinal doubt, because
I feel, on the whole, although we do study, it quite often revolves around our livingiworking
experience, like working in co-ops- or living in a community or whatever, but I see it more in
terms of self~doubt.
S
: So what does one mean by self-doubt? What does one doubt when one doubts
oneself?
Eve
:
Well, that one can gain Enlightenment. S
:
Is it a simple lack of
confidence or is it a doubt about
S of 42 5 Dl Tl
1212 S(ctd) Enlightenment itself, in the abstract, so to speak? Perhaps there's an element of that as
well. Perhaps one isn't even very clear as to what Enlightenment really means. I think the
basic thing is not so much that one shouldn't have doubts about Enlightenment, or doubt
about one 5 own capacity to gain Enlightenment, but one shouldn't, as it were, fail to see that
one does change, one does improve, one does grow. That's what it's really all about. I mean,
the concept of Enlightenment is only extrapolation from that actual process. That you have
changed, say, from what you were a year ago, two years ago. I mean, even if you don't see it
very clearly yourself, I mean, other people perhaps can. Especially those who don't see you
on a day to day basis. Each time they meet you, say, for a month, they'd see a definite change,
a definite improvement. So one can conceive of this sort of, well, just going on and on and
on until you've reached a comparatively advanced state. So perhaps it's more a question of
just being convinced, well, just seeing, that that sort of process is going on. I mean, maybe
Enlightenment can be left out of the picture because that's just the sort of hypothetical
culmination of the process. But one has no reason to doubt that the process itself, I mean
however modest it may be, however modest the gain, because you actually see it going on. Or
even if you don't see it yourself very clearly, maybe some of your friends do. I mean, I notice
if I don't see someone for three months, certainly for six months, I mean, let us say, within the
FWBO, I quite often see a marked change. And you don't have to talk to the person. They
don't need to s'ay anything, you can just -see it from the way they loo~7the way they walk
about. - You can see at once that a change has taken place, it's as obvious as that, if you just
care to look and see. I mean, someone came to see me the other week and before he said
anything, I knew he'd had some kind of experience, quite out of the ordinary. I knew it.
(end of side 1)
Another area where people have doubts S in karma and rebirth.
S
: Well, there are maybe two things to be said here. If one has any doubts about karma
and rebirth, well, one must go into the matter seriously, one must 'r'ead about i~£ One mus-t
maybe read books about karma and rebirth. Cases of alleged ~~collection of previous lives
etc. etc. On the other hand one must realise that karma and rebirth pro-vide a sort of
framework f~r a more general understanding of sentient existence, human life, the process of
spiritual de-velopment. But one- c-an develop spiritually even without believing in karma
antTebirth, but then of course, you have to concentrate your efforts on this- 1-ife' it's-elf. So
it doesn't mean that if you don'7believ'e in karma and rebirth you can't develop. That is' not
the case. But if you've got doubts, alright, bring them out into the open. Try to clear them up.
It's not just a question of voicing them, i~~ s also a question of clearing them
S of 42 5 Dl Tl
1313 S(ctd) :
up. Study the literature on the subject. Think about it. Really try to find the
a~~wer, if there is an answer. Don't rest content with~~ai your doubts. ~ ring Vajragita :
I want to ask about gaining Enlightenment and changing as a process. It doesn t mean

S
: Doesn't?
Vajragita :
I mean that takes such a long time. (I can't think of?) myself getting
Enlightened in this life, but this is something quite different.
S
: Well, this may well be the case. But if you. . . suppose you are convinced after
exploring this whole question of karma and rebirth, that you've only got this one life and if
you also want to gain Enlightenment, well, clearly you've got to do it in this life. You've got
no alternative! You've sort of manoeuv~red yourself ~nto a corner! Perhaps it's not a bad
thing to do. You've got to do it all in this life, in that case.
Liz :
I find that there's one thing, I don't know that I'd sort of say it's a doubt, but I
find working in a co-op and like, you?re busy a lot of the time, and often there's times when
you feel, well, you could actually spend more time on your own and it feels -
like there's a sort of, well, both things are necessary~ and it's knowing when it's right to say
'no' to one thing. It's' not so much a doubt, it's just, I don't know, it's a constant sort of thing of
how to resolve it. You can see the situation needs more and more, and yet you still have to,
well, I've sort of accepted, I still need to give time to myself. Just do that.
S
: Well, this doesn't seem to be so much a doubt about end~ as a doubt about' m'eans.
Or rather, uncertainty about means. I mean, you re quite clear in your own mind, yes,
working in a co-op is ...

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