ROOTS DEEP UNDERGROUND
Buddhism does not belong to a singular nation, custom, culture, or race. Meaning, one does not have the end-all-be-all say on what is true Buddhism solely because it is either their national religion or is an integral part of their culture and customs. I have an inclination that because we are creatures of identification, we commonly have a tendency to put ourselves in a box of references and labels. References that, "I am a ... This is what a ..... from my country and my culture believes and does.", etc. Repetitive actions of body, speech and mind prevalent in and based upon this chosen or inherited identification (‘heritage') are the basis in the formation of opinions, ideas, views and mental referencing for how they interact with the world around them. Habits develop following this pattern. This behavioral programming, or habits, compose our references for how we interact with and in the world around our bodies. It is also what most people tend to revert to identifying themselves as while alive.
When many people identify with something and 'take it on' as their own, it empowers that thing, whatever it may be. This is where any custom or lifestyle finds its manifesting origins. The great cultures and dynasties of Africa, Europe, and Asia are no exception. Once a momentum starts and moreover builds, then it influences and gathers more and more strength. The more momentum we give to our identifications, the more we become associated with it. The fulcrum here is that this can either benefit us, or hinder us. And in terms of civilization, this principle is how a new generation directly influences, maintains, and or changes the existing culture that they were born into.
The Dhammakāya (Skt. Dharmakāya) has recently been given a lot of attention in southeast Asia. Let's just say that it has always been given attention and importance in Buddhism, particularly in the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna traditions; but not until the early and mid 20th century did it reach a prominent level of discussion and debate in Thailand and southeast Asia. Today, especially in Thailand, it is becoming a household word. The word Dhammakāya itself is from the ancient Pali language. A common translatio, concurrent with the Pali and Sanskrit Buddhism Canons and Scriptures is: ’Body / Form‘ (Kāya) of ‘Pure / Unadulterated Nature' (Pali. Dhamma, Sanskrit. Dharma)’.
So why is that important? Thailand has a history of association as a country of Theravāda Buddhism. Tibet with Vajrayāna Buddhism. China with Mahāyāna Buddhism. Japan with Zen Buddhism. Buddhism came from India. India has a very different culture than the previously mentioned countries. Even pre-modern and modern India are very different Indias. Through time, shift happens.
What is the point? Culturally, everyone has their version or tint of what they believe is Buddhism. Customs and beliefs, previous to and post-Buddhist integration, over the centuries have come to shape what we now see within these countries. It is how a nation's citizens identify themselves with their faith, and the time-tailored practices of their faith that are the buildings blocks of culture. This does not mean that one country's Buddhism is necessarily better than the other. It does not mean that one is wrong and the other is right and pure. What I mean to say is that, as a nation composed of so many various focuses and customs based off of that nation's own inherited form of what they associate themselves as, - i.e. a Buddhist from 'x.y.z.' - it becomes more of a mental revolution to open the mind up to the bigger picture of Buddhism in order to understand and encompass it as a whole.What is comes down to, is that typically people are scared of what they don’t know. They are afraid when something or someone big comes around and changes up the status quo.
Lord Gautama Buddha is quoted:
Adhigato kho me ayaṃ dhammo gambhīro duddaso duranubodho santo paṇītoatakkāvacaro nipuṇo paṇḍitavedanīyo. … Ahañ c'eva kho pana dhammaṃ deseyyaṃ pareca me na ājāneyyuṃ.
This dhamma attained by me is deep, hard to see, hard to comprehend, serene, subtle, beyond the dominion of reasoning, recondite, apprehensible only to the wise. … Would I preach the dhamma, others would not understand.
- Vin.I.4-5, M.I.167-168, S.I.136.
“Apprehensible only to the wise”. The point is to get back to the core, the essential origins of this whole thing. I have heard many advanced practitioners of Buddhism refrain from labeling themselves 'Buddhists'. When confronted, many of those often simply state that they practice the ‘Eightfold-Path’ that Lord Buddha taught. And I think this speaks to the essence of what separates practitioners from theorists and theologians. Those who seek the ‘Way’, the 'Path', of uncorrupted Buddhism embody the practice of it. They don't need to complicate it with theory, or show off with knowledge with rhetoric. Of course, one has to first establish themselves in a foundation of clear understanding under the guidance of authentic and accomplished teachers. By building a strong foundation, it prevents one from committing the greatest spiritual blunder: coming up with our own ideas of what Gautama Buddha, and all Buddhas, purely teach. By avoiding such a setback we can truly and properly come to re-discover for ourselves the Dharma and any truth about a Dhammakāya, a ’Body / Form of Dharma’, innately within.
At the end of the day, we don’t know what a fruit tastes like until we eat it. Meaning, experience it for yourself. Don't believe something just because you read about it online in an article or someone describes it to you a certain way. Go find out for yourself. Taste the fruit and enjoy the nectar.
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"In the divine scriptures, there are shallows and there are deeps; shallows where the lamb may wade, and deeps where the elephant may swim."