Article 45 Notes from the Secretary: Upcoming Buddhism 101 Series
The initial series of Articles were kinda-sorta about mandala, the invisible aspect of what holds things together as identifiable somethings, be they kitchen atmospheres, bodies, countries, plants or national cuisines – basically anything. Then there has been a short Haiku series to which more will doubtless be added over time.
On the subject of haikus, someone who liked one of mine and whom I now follow (www.naturalistweekly.com ) just today recommended: Haiku Enlightenment by Gabriel Rosenstock; Gabriel happens to be a fellow Celtic Buddhist lineage holder – among many other more illustrious accomplishments. The blog page recommending this Haiku book is: https://naturalistweekly.com/2021/11/03/favorite-books-of-2021-and-readers-poll/ . The book is listed at https://bookshop.org/books/haiku-enlightenment-new-expanded-edition/9780985467982 but you can also get the Kindle at amazon.com for $4.51 USD.
At the beginning, this little gem:
“The haiku form is short, sharp, and intense
Because it aims to record rare glowing moments
in which our life radiates rays of light.”
Now begins another series which I am dubbing Buddhism 101 in which a few core principles and teachings will be explained in my short, simple Article format. Generally each piece will be not much more than 1,000 words and will try to keep to a core point and not stray to far from it. Hopefully, they will fit in with the other contributions on this blog, the overall intention being to play with various themes and perspectives; given that it’s the same author doing the playing, they should all fit together on some level. The first in this new series will be about what are called “The Three Marks of Existence.”
There are enough Buddhist texts produced over the past two millenia, especially after the Chinese invented bulk printing in order to disseminate them widely throughout their civilization long before Gutenberg got busy to fill any large Western library or museum many times over. The tradition has never been centralized, however there are many core principles and teachings that are widely accepted. That said, how they are explained is largely a matter of style and circumstance. Most of the original Pali texts, which came from formats designed to be memorized and passed on verbally and therefore which feature no end of repetition as one new point reviews the previous ones before placing itself at the end of the recitation, are ponderous and stiff to the modern English-speaking ear. Shakespeare has encouraged us to expect a bit more oomph and zip in our expressions, as his influence in the surprisingly colourful King James Bible so vividly attests. In that spirit, I thought it might be fun – as well as informative for some – to go over some core Buddhist concepts in a simple, direct and sometimes informal way. Whether or not this is what happens remains to be seen.
One formal definition of being a Buddhist is that you take Refuge in the Three Jewels, about which more later. Another definition is that you agree with these Three Marks; if you don’t agree, then you cannot consider yourself a Buddhist. Presumably few reading this blog could care less about whether they are, or are not, Buddhists, but you might find the Three Marks interesting to contemplate nevertheless. They are the foundation of an approach – called The Middle Way – which dominated the worlds leading civilizations in Asia for well over a millenia.