Well it is not hard to reply, but it is very long and introducing quickly the new vocabulary is a burden.
And managing to project,on the suttas, the fantasy of nationalism created by humanists a few centuries ago does not bode well for supporting any claim of ''intellectual understanding'', like puthujjanas love to say, so it takes even longer to contrast the claim of the buddha and the claim of the humanists, who cling to their fantasy of separating their politics from religion and who end up craving politicizing each bit of their fancy ''secular institutions'' and secular humanist philosophy while claiming to avoid the bad passionate behavior of the christian people wherefrom they took power.
Really the shortest answer is: The claim of the buddha is that hedonism of the 6 senses [5 usual senses+ mano [= ''mind'']] is a failure to stop ''dukkha'', just as asceticism of the those 6 senses is. It turns out that there is something else than ''the 6 senses'' and this stuff is called ''having the citta in samadhi from the jhanas'', but even ''the jhanas'' are not ''nirvana'' [also called nibanna], So there are three main experiences for a puthujjana:
- the sensual realm, or kama, which is experiencing the 6 senses
- the jhanas, which are the ''seclusion from the senses'' and where joy and equanimity, tranquility prevail/ the jhanas are the tranquilization of ''the citta'' [= again ''mind''] and, badly phrased, the temporary suspension of dukkha
The buddha calls the jhanas abiding in the enjoyment of ''in the here and now'', which is what people call today ''the present moment''
- nibanna, which is the end of dukkha and nibanna is reached by ''knowing'' many things https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an06/an06.063.than.html
now rest of the claim of the buddha is:
- the sensual realm, basing life on the senses, desire for delight of senses is always bad
- the jhanas are good, or at least less bad than kama and that when a puthujjana wants to have pleasures, the jhanas are the only ''safe pleasures''
- nibanna is the only good thing to experience [having the citta in samadhi from the jhanas is not permanent]
Puthujjanas bath in some stuff which are ''conditioned'' and as long as a human bath in those conditioned stuff, dukkha is generated and the human is miserable.
The way to stop dukkha is to stop taking a bath in what is conditioned.
The method to stop bathing in what is conditioned is to discriminate among what constitutes the life of a puhtujjanas: intentions, effort, livelihood, people around, talk, actions,...., and the most mysterious ''activity'' of the citta [= again ''mind''] called samadhi.
THis discrimination among the various events and surroundings constituting the life of a puthujjana is ''sila'' which puthujjana call today ''morality''.
It turns out that, for instance, :
- not all activities are bad, not all activities are good, but some activities are good, some are bad
- not all intentions are good, not all intentions are bad, but some intentions are good and some are bad
- not all livelihoods are good, not all livelihood are bad, but some livelihood are good and some are bad
- not all talks are good, not all talks are bad, but some talks are good, some talks are bad
- not all samadhis are good, not all samadhis are good, but some samadhis are bad, some samadhis are good
- not all people have good behavior, not all people have bad behavior, some people have good behavior, some people have bad behavior
At this point, puthujjanas love to say that they already know what they are doing, know what is good for people, what is bad for people, how people should behave, know what people should do and should not do.
From this, the Puthujjanas love to create rules and chase people who appear to them to not follow those rules, in order to judge them and punish them, and educate them to their rules.
Then puthujjanas also manage to get off from breaking rules and doing taboo activities. Puthujjanas have a toxic relation to rules : they think that creating rules is a mighty activity, that they call ''law making'', and for the humanist even more deluded, that debating is the way to create good laws and make people adhere to them, then they get upset when they think some people do not follow their rules and they they manage to enjoy breaking the rules [puthujjanas like the humanists love to mix their sensual pleasures with their fantasy of being subversive of the current rules and customs]
But at the end of the day, a puthujjana has zero knowledge of morality, no matter what puthujjanas claim: Puthujjanas do not know what is right,Puthujjanas do not know what is wrong, Puthujjanas do not know how do stop doing wrong in order to start doing right.
THe only good thing a puthujjana can do is:
- acknowledge that this puthujjana has zero knowledge of morality
- ask a buddha what are good actions and wrong actions and how to avoid bad actions and how to act well
- memorize word for word the reply
- strive to do good and avoid at all cost doing bad
The other big mistake by puthujjanas is that they love to be rationalist: they love to create concepts, they love to ''attempt'' to define things, to create categories of concepts, to classify those concepts, to order them and later on they mix their idea of morality with their concepts: they build systems, philosophies, logics, fairy tales. In terms of knowledge, Puthujjanas are famous for claiming that:
- the knowledge of the senses is indeed a knoweldge
- the religious puthujjanas say that the memory of their reiligous texts is also knowledge
- there is also knowledge that is intelectual knowledge, knowledge by inference, created by intellectuals, philosophers, daydreamers, logicians, scholars, speculators, rationalists... THose puthujjanas claim that truth is attained by ''inferences'' which are speculations or speculative statements which are validated by ''some principle'' (or ''inference rules'') that those puthujjanas have themselves created. the most famous rule of inference is called the ''modus ponens''and of course the ''principle of non-contradiction''. Afterwards, they build the concept of ''accuracy of a thought'', which is the fantasy that what they experience is captured by one of their statement [=''defini-tion]. according to those rationalists, this ''accuracy of a thought'' is how to validate a statement by ''nature itself'', instead of validating a statement by a chain of statements outputted by inference rules. When they claim that one of their statement is the truth, they claim that this statement describe accurately ''reality'' and if the statement was uttered before the event happened, they claim that ''the chain of inferences'' that they imagined which leads to this ''accurate statement'' describe the hidden workings of the nature, reality, cosmos, universe (phutjjanas who are scholars love to claim that reality has a veiled ''workings'' and that the senses and perceptions cannot access the truth which is the ''hidden workings'')
The rationalist Puthujjanas love to turn their speculations into ''knowledge'' because speculating and fantasizing is what they are good at and they have nothing else in their life. Rationalists love to claim that the ''senses are corruptible'' and that perception cannot lead to truth. Those philosophers quickly create the idea of relativism, of solipsism, of ''subjective reality'', subjective truths, create the moronic dichotomy of ''objective-subjective'', of dualities, of non-duality, of relative truth, conventional truth and so on.
THe golden illustration of the failure of the activity of the ''mano [=mind]'' which is called mental masturbation [=Viveka + vitakka+ papanca] is through words like "freely/willingly choose" and determinism which are bad words created by puthujjanas who cling to their bad ideas cling to philosophy, to vitakka+vicara+papanca, be it ''buddhist'' or not, then they create their moronic dichotomies, like ''free will''-determinism and then they mix their dichotomies with morality, only to be left stuck on one side of their dichotomy [they love to polarize their opposite ideas, like ''choosing'' is good and ''not choosing'' is turned into ''suffering''[meaning bearing something], into 'enduring'' something [that is not willed] which means it is bad].
Do not rely on ideas created by puthujjanas to understand the dhamma, until you manage to find a buddha who expresses the dhamma with their words...
Most of the ideas of the puthujjanas are bad and when the dhamma is expressed with their words, the buddha use their words against them. Like the fire worshipers that the buddha met, mentioned in ''the fire sermon'' https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.028.nymo.html. THose puhtujjanas worshiped fir, idealized it, they created a whole doctrine about the cosmos with the vocabulary of fire. Then the buddha arrives and tell them that ''yeah okay, all is fire, fire is bad and the holy life is to destroy this fire''. hence nirvana has the putting out of fire.
There were puthujjanas in greece who said that ''everything was water''. If the buddha met them, he would have said ''yeah everything is water, and water is bad and the goal is to dry everything that is wet'' [typically, to dry the flow of asavas [=defilements, rotten mental activities, fermentations]].
The claim of the buddha is precisely that sanna [=perception] of admirable topics [=contemplation] is what leads to nibanna or truth. Truth beyond an ''accurate statement'' is nibanna, truth beyond a statement is what gets you calm once and for all. Once you reach truth, you are not agitated and you no longer seek anything. Truth is what ends. ''Intellectual knowledge'' never ends.
So now that daydreaming and creating rules is not the way to stop being a bad person, the buddha explains the method to indeed stop being a bad person:
The buddha calls that ''the noble path'' which has famously 8 branches https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn45/sn45.008.than.html
As you know now, there are sankharas and karmas and there are puthujjanas who claim that:
only actions [thoughts, talks, movements of the body] matters to be a good human, intentions do not matter. Those puthujjanas love to turn their activities into rituals. For instance, if their ritual is to put a fork on the left of a plate, they claim that they can think of, let's say, the favorite singer and songs while they put the fork on the left of the plate and they claim since the forkis at the proper place, the ritual is complete and they have generated ''merit'' (even thought they thought of something else than putting the fork on the left of the plate) or a good action and therefore they are good people.
only intentions matter. A human can do any action, as long as the human has right intentions behind those actions, this human is a good person. Those puthujjanas love to claim that caring about the outcome of an action is useless or even detrimental to the fruit of the action. Those puthujjanas claim that as long as they have a good intention, like compassion, while they do an action, no matter what this action is , since they feel sad and delude themselves that they are compassionate and detached from the outcome of the action, they are good people. Those puthujjanas are the most dangerous since they can do horrible actions like euthanizing animals or humans and they delude themselves into being righteous. They are so messed up in their heads that they believe that as long as they feel sad and act only to alleviate the suffering of people by killing them, they do right actions. SOme of those puthujjanas claim that they are good people, because they feel detached from the outcome of their actions: you can do whatever you want as long as you are detached from the outcome.
Now the claim of the buddha is precisely that you cannot separate the intention from the karma of an action. The buddha claimed famously that
'"Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of
body, speech, & intellect."'' "Intention, I tell you, is kamma.
Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & intellect."
some puthujjanas like the ones who claim that ''only intentions matter, any actions are permitted as long as the right intentions are behind the actions'' love to cut the quote at "Intention, I tell you, is kamma.'' to justify their horrible ways and their horrible doctrine which never stops the suffering.
Karma is a stuff that is done and the source of that karma is the ''intending'' according to the buddha. There are sankharas, which are typically called intentions today, and the output of the sankharas are actions which are tainted by karmas, which means that they are colored by karma. There are 3 color of karmas which are useless to stop the suffering of puthujjanas https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.235.than.html
Now the claim of the buddha is that karma and sankharas are a bad thing, since they are conditioned. And whatever is conditioned leads to suffering sooner or later. So as long as you perform actions which are of those 3 karmic colors, you will suffer and the people who crave delights that you try to help by karmic deeds will suffer too.
Fortunately, the buddha claims he found the way to stop this horrible karma and sankharas and he claims that There is only one color of actions which leads to the cessation of suffering:
"And what is kamma that is neither dark nor bright with neither dark
nor bright result, leading to the ending of kamma? Right view, right
resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort,
right mindfulness, right concentration. This is called kamma that is
neither dark nor bright with neither dark nor bright result, leading
to the ending of kamma.
"And what is the cessation of kamma? From the cessation of contact is
the cessation of kamma; and just this noble eightfold path — right
view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood,
right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration — is the path of
practice leading to the cessation of kamma.
"Now when a disciple of the noble ones discerns kamma in this way, the
cause by which kamma comes into play in this way, the diversity of
kamma in this way, the result of kamma in this way, the cessation of
kamma in this way, & the path of practice leading to the cessation of
kamma in this way, then he discerns this penetrative holy life as the
cessation of kamma.
The path is not about choices, nor even sankaras [=''intention'' which lead to actions tainted by karma, there is no sammāsaṅkhāra], it is about effort to reject ''thinking imbued with sensuality, thinking imbued with ill will, & thinking imbued with harmfulness'' and to follow ''thinking imbued with renunciation, thinking imbued with non-ill will, & thinking imbued with harmlessness '' [and avoiding the confusion by a few puthujjanas of the ''kamma that is neither dark nor bright with neither dark nor bright result, leading to the ending of kamma'' with ''the kamma that is bright with bright result''] by ''Being resolved on renunciation, on freedom from ill-will, on harmlessness: This is called right resolve.'' https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn45/sn45.008.than.html which leads to ''right samadhi'' instead of wrong samadhi
But later on the training, those efforts become easier and the path is not even about wishing nor effort. Ideally, the path does not resort on ''exertion'' or wishes, or will, because the path is conditioned too, https://suttacentral.net/an11.2/en/sujato , and once a puthujjana only wants to stop dukkha, the observation that ''thinking imbued with sensuality has arisen in me; and that leads to my own affliction or to the affliction of others or to the affliction of both. It obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding.''' kills the bad thoughts automatically.
And when the ''body was calm & unaroused'', the ''mind concentrated & single. Quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities,'' the jhanas occurs naturally, through the joy of being moral and having sama sankappas [or vitakka] : saṅkappas of nekkhamma, saṅkappas of abyāpāda, saṅkappas of avihiṃsā. http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/samyutta/maha/sn45-008.html
Puthujjanas fail completely to see that joy springs from morality and renunciation. Puthujjanas also confuse the sama sankappas with compassion and love, because those puthujjanas are stuck between their moronic dichotomy of egotism-selflessness and they create the view that the negation of ''thinking imbued with sensuality, thinking imbued with ill will, & thinking imbued with harmfulness'' is the sankara which leads to ''the kamma that is bright with bright result'' which the sankara of compassion and unconidtional love and feeling sad that destitute puthujjanas do not have the means to enjoy themselves. These puthujjanas completely skip the ''intention, aspiration, thought, resolve, of sensual desire''...
The easiest way to have morality is to follow the 5 precept [in order to stop doing bad actions], and giving stuff to ''contemplatives'' who already see the danger in ''sensuality'' and ill-will, and those 5 precepts + giving lead easily to getting the citta into samadhi.
Now giving some stuff to a human is an action, sometimes it is a karmic action which will therefore lead to suffering for somebody, but a few times the human who gives stuff to another human will color this action by the right karma, the ''kamma that is neither dark nor bright with neither dark nor bright result'' and that stuff leads to less suffering.
now ''human gives stuff to another human'' is an action that involves two human and the the fruit of the action involves the two humans. First the human who gives must have the right citta and mano during the offering. It is not easy for a puthujjana to use rightfully the citta and mano during the offering, because puthujjanas have created so many mistakenviews tied to giving.
As usual with the phutjjanas their views stems from their idiotic dichotomies, the most famous one being the egotistical-selfless dichotomy. Some puthujjanas claim that being egotistical is good and selfless is bad, some puthujjanas claim the opposite. But both managed to tie their mistaken view of egotism and selflessness to giving. THe buddha listed a few of their mistaken ways here https://suttacentral.net/an7.52/en/thanissaro THe giving of great fruit is always the giving that leads to the cessation of suffering for the human who gives. It turns out that this giving is not even about the view that giving is right because it calms the citta, but because ''it is an ornament of the citta'' which just means that giving to people who have sense restrain is the right thing to do.
But the fruit also depends on the human who receives the offering:
"I tell you, Vaccha, even if a person throws the rinsings of a bowl or
a cup into a village pool or pond, thinking, 'May whatever animals
live here feed on this,' that would be a source of merit, to say
nothing of what is given to human beings. But I do say that what is
given to a virtuous person is of great fruit, and not so much what is
given to an unvirtuous person. And the virtuous person has abandoned
five factors and is endowed with five.
THe human who receives the offering matters a lot. When you give to puthujjanas who crave to delight in sensuality, you may only make things worse for them, even though you may improve your own situation. but when you give to any human who strives for ''sense restrain'', you can go blindly and not even care about what this human will do with your offering, precisely because this human will not delight in your offering and will not generate more craving and more afflictions. The times where you can stop caring about the outcome of your offering are the times when give stuff to THe humans who do not delight in sensuality.
The buddha rephrased all that here:
"And how is a donation endowed with six factors? There is the case
where there are the three factors of the donor, the three factors of
"And which are the three factors of the donor? There is the case where
the donor, before giving, is glad; while giving, his/her mind is
bright & clear; and after giving is gratified. These are the three
factors of the donor.
"And which are the three factors of the recipients? There is the case
where the recipients are free of passion or are practicing for the
subduing of passion; free of aversion or practicing for the subduing
of aversion; and free of delusion or practicing for the subduing of
delusion. These are the three factors of the recipients.
"Such are the three factors of the donor, the three factors of the
recipients. And this is how a donation is endowed with six factors.
Once a puthujjana has a solid ''morality'', putting the citta into ''right samadhi'' from the joy of embracing the thoughts of renunciation and good-will is easy.
Puthujjans today call ''meditation'' this ''putting the citta into samadhi''.
There are 4 main methods to get the citta into samadhi [the normal question is : 4 methods give 4 different samadhi or is it the same samadhi?]
THe most famous is the jhana which is ''abiding in the here and now'' or ''in this very life'' http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/anguttara/04/an04-041.html (puthujjanas today love to slap ''present moment'' on any pleasing attempt at their mediation, but for the buddha ''present moment'' means the jhanas. It turns out that the ''pleasant abiding here and now'' for the buddha means being secluded from the senses, so tracking the objects of the senses like puhtujjana claim is the opposite of ''enjoying the present moment''.)
Anapanasati is the typical way to go from puthujjana to non-puthujjana, first you get to know something, like the body, piti, then get to be sensitive to various sankharas, then as usual you calm all the sankharas that you find, once they are calmed, you try to find out the condition of the pile of garbage that is each aggregate, this quest is what the buddha called yonisomanasikara. https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn54/sn54.006.than.html
In the night of his awakening, the buddha got 3 vijjās, last one after he directed his citta in samadhi to '' the ending of the mental fermentations'' which means the sankharas. and the citta in samadhi directed to this is the yonisomanikara or ''the destruction of the āsavas'' http://www.buddha-vacana.org/formulae/asavak.html#color
but before that he directed his citta into samadhi towards how karma, shankaras and jati are linked, and he says that this is the result of doing the āloka·saññaṃ manasi karoti, so perhaps he did that. [the normal question is whether the perception of light is the natural light or the light he mentions as in
"This was the first knowledge I attained in the first watch of the
night. Ignorance was destroyed; knowledge arose; darkness was
destroyed; light arose — as happens in one who is heedful, ardent, &
resolute. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not
invade my mind or remain. ]
Before that, the citta in samadhi from the jhanas was directed towards the countless rebirths.
Before that he get the citta into samadhi with the jhanas.
before that he said he discriminated between sensual thoughts and renunciation thoughts
before that, he did the wrong samadhi that all puthujjanas do: striving to grasp at some objects, not '' imbued with renunciation, abandoning thinking imbued with sensuality'' like he phrases it, which springs various aches... https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.036.than.html
Let's end with the words contact and craving. THe most famous claim of the buddha is that it is when sensual contact arises that sensual craving arises. However, some puthujjanas who love to be intellectuals manage to claim:
Their confusion stems from their confusion of the dependent origination of the 5 aggregates with the dependent origination that they invented which they called ''inter-being'' which is just the eastern humanism where people depend on each others. Those puthujjanas prefer to care more about the thousands little objects and humans they see each day and slap the words sunnata and dependent origination on it Whereas the claim of the buddha is precisely that instead of caring about those objects, what matters is to see how conditioned the 5 aggregates are. Puthujjanas who do not cling to mental masturbation already know that objects and livelihood are conditioned, and this knowledge doe snot get them enlightened, but a few intellectuals pass this dull, bland, common knowledge as being awaken.
The philosophers are the textbook case of overthinking, they focus on a few words and they build a new system around it, a new semantics, a new doctrine. Their story begins with the a famous claim that what is anicca is dukkha, what is dukkha is anatta. THen a natural question by Puthujjanas is ''why are things anatta'' and of course, the answer is that ''things are anatta because it is the way they are''. IT is a disappointing answer, because it is a stupid question in the first place.
But of course, for the Puthujjanas who are intellectuals, this answer is not intellectual enough. No, what matter to those Puthujjanas is to put another ''...because XYZ'' after ''because they are anatta'': They claim that things are anatta because they are sunyata. They picked the word sunyata and blew it out of proportion, by using it on their deep craving to find an essence in things. When those Puthujjanas run out of ideas to intellectualize further their views, they stop and claim that the last bit of their sequence of ideas is in fact how reality is, so it goes
idea A because idea B, idea B because idea C, .... , idea X because
idea Y, idea Y because idea Z, and idea Z because reality is Z
(expressed by idea Z). Which means ''Y because Z because it is the way
it is, end of the story''
Now it turns out that the story imagined by those Puthujjanas does indeed stop at sunyata: things are sunyata because things are sunyata, because that is what things are, because it is the way things are. And of course, those people love to feel smart for applying their fantasy to the most attractive word there is:
Nibbana (the Unconditioned) is anatta because nibanna is sunyata. And
Why is nibanna sunyata? Nibanna is sunyata because nibanna is sunyata.
With the crown of their speculations being the fantasy that:
sunyata itself is sunyata
THis jewel of theirs is precisely what neuters their speculations. It puts a stop to the chain of ''because XYZ'' and adds nothing to the story. Thus, It is easy for those puthujjanas to claim that ''
If dependent origination is true, then my attainment of enlightenment
is mutually dependent on the attainment of all other beings.
So their craving for slapping sunyata eveyrwhere is utterly useless. They had an extra word and they stop here. It is already bad to intellectualize, but intellectualizing further by adding a useless word is embarrassing. But at least they obtain what they craved all along, fantasizing a true nature of ''the self'', as if things had a true nature and a not so true nature. Later on, they cannot help themselves from claiming that their intellectualization is the dhamma and even more embarrassing, that it is a better dhama than the one from what they call the ''pali canon'' today,
But the intellectuals do not stop here. Those puthujjanas crave so much speculating and basing their life on their fantasies that they picked another word and blew it out of proportion by mixing it with their favorite topic: craving to attribute an essence or a true nature to things that they perceive. Their new and equally toxic fairy tale is about applying what they read about dependent origination to their craving for true nature of things like the external object.