Whether it is the teachings on wisdom, or whether it is teachings on method. It is the same logic that teachings should be given according to the mental aptitude of the disciples.
So this diversity of teachings given by the Buddha, depending on the diversity of mental aptitudes of the disciples, is perhaps something that is unique to Buddhism. Dr. (Bhimrao Ramji) Ambedkar, who some of you might know, who was lower caste in India, but was responsible for writing the Indian constitution, and later changed his faith from Hinduism to Buddhism.
He was said to have asked a Tibetan lama, “All the major religious traditions have one main book, the one canon, and that is sufficient and applies to all. But to look at Buddhism and there are so many books. In fact in buddhism there are 108 canons. Is it possible to summarize everything into one main canon, like other traditions?”
And of course the answer is no, right?
So this basically points to Buddha’s approach to giving the teachings according to the mental level and aptitude of the disciples. Just as we mentioned earlier, when the Buddha achieved the state of enlightenment, he is said to have stayed silent for 49 days.
Because he said, my experiences are so profound, that I have had, no one will understand it. And to that, Brahma talked to the Buddha and said, “There are many disciples, but you should give the teachings. Some of them will understand. Just as there are different types of lotus flowers, some grow underneath the water and some bloom above the surface, likewise, there are some disciples of the highest mental capacity. They will understand your teachings. You must definitely give the teachings.”
So that is why Buddha gave teachings targeted toward different levels of disciples. And Buddha himself has said that if the teaching does not make sense to your analysis, then discard it. So that means, whatever the teaching is relevant to at us at our own specific level that, is the most profound teaching for us.
~ Geshe Yeshe Thabkhe, Jewel Heart Ann Arbor, September 8, 2018
Posted on Friday, September 14th, 2018