Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ancient Buddhist Model For Today World

Ancient Buddhist Model For Today World Image
In my ongoing effort to find ways to adapt Buddhism to modern American life, I have long been influenced by the example of Vimala-Kirti, the "householder sage" of ancient India (pictured).

According to the Vimala-Kirti Sutra ("scripture"), Vimala-Kirti was a wealthy layperson or householder who was one of the Buddha's leading lay disciples. Although he was a householder, his wisdom was said to exceed that of all of the Buddha's leading monastic disciples.

Much of the sutra is spent recounting arguments between Vimala-Kirti and the monastic disciples about Buddhist doctrine -- disputes which Vimala-Kirti invariably won. The notion of a layperson's wisdom exceeding that of a monastic is only one of many radical notions put forward by the sutra.

There are several English translations of the Vimala-Kirti Sutra. The one I like best is by Dr. Robert A. Thurman entitled The Holy Teaching of Vimala-Kirti. Dr. Thurman's translation is from the Tibetan, as the Sanskrit original has been lost.

Like the better-known Heart and Diamond Sutras, the Vimala-Kirti Sutra was an important text for the Zen traditions of China and Japan. In many Japanese Zen monasteries even today there is an alcove with a statue of Vimala-Kirti, wearing the hair and clothing of a layperson, expounding the teaching.

In Zen, Vimala-Kirti is best known for his "thunderous silence," referring to the time when he ended a long debate about the essence of wisdom by saying nothing at all. Vimala-Kirti was a popular figure among the ruling classes of ancient China, who could identify with his role in society.

The highest spiritual stage in Zen is called "return to the marketplace," in which the spiritual adept, after long years of spiritual training, returns to society to live as an ordinary person and teach others. Vimala-Kirti is traditionally seen as the embodiment of this highest stage.

This is how the sutra describes Vimala-Kirti's lifestyle:

* He wore the white clothes of a layman, yet lived impeccably like a religious devotee...
* He had a son, a wife, and female attendants...
* [He] made his appearance at the fields of sports and in the casinos, but his aim was always to mature people [there]...
* He engaged in all sorts of businesses, yet had no interest in profit or possessions...
* He visited all the schools to help develop children...
* He was honored as the official among officials because he regulated the functions of government according to the Dharma. More

Japanese to look to ancient traditions for strength

by Lewis Richmond

You also may enjoy this free books:

Gerald Massey - Ancient Egypt The Light Of The World Vol Ii
Gerald Massey - Ancient Egypt The Light Of The World Vol I
William Elliot Griffis - Japanese Fairy World

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