Chapter 1 excerpts continued…
Aim of Buddhist Teaching
Buddhist teaching is intended to enable us to cultivate this type of awakening within ourselves. When we are able to cultivate even just a small amount of wisdom, we become human beings in the truest sense. That is to say, and awakening we subjectively engage in true human growth. We personally cast of our old human skin and become the kinds of persons that we are capable of being.
Normally, we lead self-centered lives, wearing the skin of ego attachment. Typically we think, “I like her; I hate him. She is my friend; he is my enemy.” In a variety of ways we reject some persons, while accepting others. And yet, as we do away with this kind of life and way of looking at things, even little by little, or as we come to grasp objects directly, without making them into objectified or scientific abstractions, then we will come to see objects by becoming one with them.
In this sense, the Buddhist path indicates an ongoing process in which our own self-centered ways of living are constantly being examined and the old skin of those lives is being cast off. Further, casting off the old skin means, at the same time, that we are growing into an becoming our new selves.
As we cast off, we become; as we become, we cast off. The process of casting off our old selves and becoming our new selves, becoming an casting off, continues on and on without end. This idea helps us to understand whether we can indeed come close to standing at the point of intersection of the vertical and horizontal axes, which we saw earlier. In our actual state, we learned it is impossible for us to reach that point we are not able to cast off our old skin and realized growth, as we might like. However, we can aim for that, and as we earnestly learn the Dharma, ourselves will be constantly brought under the severe scrutiny for as long as we live. This, I believe, is the basic aim of the Buddhist teachings.
Buddhism calls the current state of our existence into question and teaches us the true way to live as human beings. As a result, each of us undergoes a change, for we are made to realize personal, subjective growth let me say this in a different way: as we learn the Buddha-Dharma, we who are not so become so, little by little.
In this way, Buddhism is different from theistic religions which begin by affirming the existence of God as an absolute being. They then teach that people must live in relationship with that absolute God. Buddhism, however, is not founded on any dualistic conception of human beings and an absolute being. What Buddhism teaches is that, as we learn the Dharma-the universal principle that pervades the world and the universe-we come to question, through the Dharma, the state of our own existence and exhaustively search for our own ideal way of being. This is the teaching of Gautama Buddha.
(Chapter One to be continued…)