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MZC: As you know, Vedanta teaches that if you go deeply into that awareness, that consciousness, you may spontaneously fall into the Self and that's all that is. All is arising as a modification of this Consciousness.
The Noble Truth Leading to the Extinction of Suffering: Refers to the Noble Eightfold Path, which deals with choosing the right speech, right actions, and more throughout your life.
BN: That radiant awareness is also suffering, changing and without a self. That's the meaning of emptiness. It may be easier to identify "yourself" with awareness than with the objects. Awareness is also anatta, no self.
Before I left for the Southern Hemisphere, however, I needed a place to practice for awhile, to get back on track, and I knew the perfect place; at Bhante Gunaratana's monastery outside of Washington, DC. The Bhavana Society (bhavana in Pali translates as mental development) is tucked away in the picturesque hills of West Virginia just down the road from Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Bhante Gunaratana is the founder of Bhavana, a Sri Lankan monk who has been in robes for almost seventy years, and a world recognized meditation teacher.
After most of the churches and synagogues in the area have received the pamphlet and provided feedback, the pamphlet will be revised in accordance with the feedback and then it will be distributed nationally. There are no plans for international distribution but requests for the pamphlet from other countries will be honored.
What we were talking until now could be applied to what is considered traditional Buddhism, that is, the tradition practiced by the early community of followers after the death of the Buddha. Today, the school of Buddhism that tries to imitate this traditional ideal is the theravada. theravada Buddhism is practiced in South East Asia: Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma. It could be considered the conservative branch of Buddhism.
BN: The amazing thing for me in Burma was the people's devotion to Theravadan Buddhism; the monks are very serious about studying the Pali Canon. They monks are very orthodox; they study Pali grammar according to the ancient method. Though it's a poor country, the people are very nice. And they live under very difficult conditions. I think Buddhism has helped a lot, but on the other hand, I wonder if the people are too patient, if they put up with too much. I ask myself whether the people should tolerate so much.
He goes through the Pali Canon and separates what was new to the Buddha and what was also held in Indian philosophy before the Buddha. He can then pinpoint what's unique to Buddhism. So he doubts rebirth and different realms of existence. He pinpoints as distinctively Buddhist: dependent origination; the practice of mindful awareness, being focused on the totality of what is happening in our moment to moment experience; the Four Noble Truths & the Eight Fold Path; the principle of self-reliance, not to be dependent on some authority figure.