Joy and Beauty


@Laurence, if it helps, is what I use to find EBT’s. Despite any appearances to the contrary, the suttas are not engraved on my brain. It is quite interesting to search and often leads to surprises.


I could be mistaken but, I thought this topic and reflection on it, is related to the EBT’s. I am not drawing on my experience of any other form of Buddhism other than, what I have heard from Theravada sources.

If, I was an EBT expert I would be able to simply quote extracts and, proceed on that basis. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Does that mean that it’s not appropriate for me to participate in watercooler discussion? I use the watercooler to engage in discussion with other interested mittas. Some of them have a great working knowledge of the EBT’s and that’s helpful.

Are you saying things would be better if, I place EBT references at regular intervals in my discussion. Would that cause less concern?

I participate here because of the conversation - that’s the source of interest. If I am doing something wrong then, please let me know and, I will not participate in discussion?


I really value the perspectives you bring because they clearly reflect personal experience in the teachings. However, it helps me most in understanding if I can correlate your experience to the EBT’s, whose language is quite specific and exact. With this correlation, I can match up my experience with your experience via the EBT’s. This helps me adapt and change my understanding to eliminate idiosyncratic views.


I do understand that and, this would be preferable. I will make an effort to do this - as best I can. As to whether I am saying idiosyncratic things, perhaps, this is true. I can clearly see, it’s not a popular reading of the teachings. I thought it was OK to have a different perspective on the teachings. Unless, there’s just one possible perspective available to us and, it’s not mine.


We all have individual perspectives on the teachings. And because we have individual perspectives, what we search for will be different. For example, each of us will choose different search strings when searching

And I think that your searches will be equally fruitful as well as individual to you. I am also not an expert on the EBTs. I just type a lot of search strings every day to learn about the EBT’s. But the only EBTs that I am actively studying are DN33 and SN12.23.


As far as I know, please correct me if I’m wrong: the Buddha taught us to question his teachings, interrogate the Dhamma? Live the Dhamma, realise the Dhamma?

As far as I know, he also taught that the spoken Dhamma, that which has come down to us in the form of the EBT’s is not the liberating wisdom the Buddha is pointing to?

I will find an EBT quote to clarify what I mean. Something like, ‘the Buddha’s only point the way’ and, the distinction between direct knowledge and vision and, the word of the Buddha - Buddha vacana.

These are EBT teachings and I guess this direct referencing is a necessary component of our discussion. Not just because you find it helpful - but, that’s Ok. :heart_eyes:


Maybe you need to consider dumping your zen wild-cards if you insist on EBT based conversation?

If you are interested in discerning idiosyncratic perspectives on the EBT’s then, this may be worth considering?

If we request others to keep an eye on the EBT’s and then start talking about Japanese alternatives to toilet paper - we may be missing something? Is this possible - I wonder! :heart_eyes:


Ajahn Brahm uses a simile: the truckload of dung!

To an avid gardener a truck load of dung is like ‘manna from heaven’. It’s plant-food and, worms are an added bonus.

For those who don’t have a green-thumb it may appear like a humungous problem - if somebody just drops it in their driveway, unexpectedly.

You mentioned worms in cadavers - in a previous comment. According to your standards this is repulsive - not beautiful.

This is an anthropocentric perception - perspective. A ‘projection’ that could be attached to or, simply observed?

I have spent time around dead and decaying animals. It seemed quite natural. However, if my imagination got the better of me it could give rise to repulsion, maybe fear - correct?

A smelly dead body is not ‘inherently’ offensive or, inoffensive, it’s neither ugly or beautiful. It’s just compost or smoke waiting to happen!

What we make of it is a consequence of a process that takes place through thinking, feeling, perceiving, reacting or, simply observing - with or without attachment and identification.

True or false?

A hungry animal may not take offence, scavengers may think it’s Christmas! The worms may be as happy as a ‘pig in s - - t’ ?

The trick is to navigate through experience without getting stuck in the s - - t?

Life is full of it - it’s unavoidable - correct?

There is monastic suffering and there’s lay-suffering. We need to be good gardeners and make good use of life’s dung-heap - that’s all.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! It’s a perception - plain and simple.

If rebirth is something best avoided we might want to reflect carefully about how it happens?

If, we wish to be reborn the requirement is: the thirst for being. If, there’s also the thirst to get ‘rid of’ being, then what?

Desire to have and desire to get rid-of are interrelated?

Buddhism explains the 2nd noble truth. The cause of dukkha i.e. kāma-tanha, bhava-tanha and, vibhava-tanha.


@laurence, I’ve read quickly through the continuing discussion here, and thought I might be able to say something about “focussing on the EBTs”. … Actually, I think it’s all a matter of balance.

I know how difficult it can be to find a quote in the EBTs to support something one wants to say about the Dhamma, even despite the wonderful search facility that SC provides. Also, you are right that the Watercooler is a place for relaxed conversation. So I went back and looked at the OP (opening post) with which you started this thread.

It reads to me like a (very interesting) short essay or blog post in praise of the Dhamma and against vandalism. I get the impression that you were very keen to share these ideas, so keen that they are more than a conversation starter (more like an essay or blog). To be honest this post seems to be about what you think about this subject, rather than wondering what other people think, or what the EBTs says.

One way of starting a conversation would be to express your view briefly and asking what other people think on the topic.

Another way of starting a conversation would be to ask if anyone can help you find what the EBTS say about a topic.

The EBTs are texts, oral texts that got written down later. Most people that come to this site are of the opinion that they are our best source for learning and understanding the Dhamma.
This isn’t a general conversation forum, it’s a forum for people who translate, study, read the EBTs to come together and discuss the EBTS and the Dhamma in the light of the EBTs. Quite often I find myself writing a post for the forum, and then realising that it doesn’t have anything much to do with the EBTs, and I bin it, or share it with friends elsewhere.

Please don’t go away! :slight_smile: Please stick around and enjoy being with us! Share in the discussions on the EBTs, and if you want to work out your own ideas at greater length try having a go at writing a personal essay and ask your friends to help you discover where the points you make are covered in the EBTs.

I’m colouring this in Staff Yellow, but please know that like @Viveka did, I’m speaking just for myself and not on behalf of all the moderators.


I will try and include more EBT quotes. I am still unsure as to why there is the view that what I am saying is not inline with the EBT’s.

Who is the true-knower of the EBT’s. What is their email address? I’ve got some questions I’d like to ask them!

Generally, in the discussion, if somebody is kind enough to place a Dhamma-quote - respond.

Often, I find there’s something there that supports their point of view and, then there is something else that makes me ask questions.

I end up seeing something there that seems to have escaped the notice of the respondent.

Now, there’s the view being considered that I am not actually discussing anything. Apparently, I have not been engaged in a conversation?

Perhaps, I take to long to say what I wish to communicate. So now it appears I am being encouraged not to engage in this activity and instead right essays. Am I mistaken?


There is a specific path to the Dhamma, there is a specific teaching that leads to enlightenment. We don’t need to re-invent the path. People’s minds are pretty similar so that what was true 2600 years ago is still valid. Excessive discursive thinking leads to lack of focus. When the mind is dispersed it’s not samadhi. If a person develops a picture of the true dhamma that’s helpful despite the so called ‘face-saving measures’.


Two-cent contribution to the original post.

(1) I feel beauty is abundant. The discourses tap into this beauty quite effectively. But I wouldn’t say that the truly beautiful is limited to the wholesome (though it may be defined as such). Furthermore, I think there are moments in one’s spiritual life when it’s suitable to leave beauty for what it is, to let go of it. I view beauty as interwoven with perception, but not solely with human perception.

(2) I can’t speak for the mendicants you refer to, but I’m also concerned about human-made climate change and environmental destruction. My concern is mainly about the victims. The birds who drown in oil. The whales who lose their offspring due to plastic ingestion. And it goes on. To me, indifference would marginalize their experience.

A more personal post than I usually tend to write, but there you go!


I think when attained what is joyful alters.

They love the teachings and are a delight to converse with, being full of joy in the teaching and training. They’re content with any kind of robes, alms-food, lodgings, and medicines and supplies for the sick. They look impressive [confidence inspiring] when going out and coming back, and are well restrained when sitting in an inhabited area. They get the four absorptions—blissful meditations in the present life that belong to the higher mind—when they want, without trouble or difficulty. They realize the undefiled freedom of heart and freedom by wisdom in this very life, and they live having realized it with their own insight due to the ending of defilements. A senior mendicant with these ten qualities lives comfortably in whatever region they live.”SuttaCentral


For what it’s worth, that makes sense to me. Where it starts to become less straightforward is what this clarity actually is.

It’s easy enough to say what you have said and, it’s sounds fairly simple, uncomplicated. The problem is, it really doesn’t reveal all that much about the source of the information - does it.

There are many great Pandita’s who can say as much, and much more and, does it mean they actually see things clearly? Do they have direct knowledge and vision of the Dhamma? In most cases it’s unlikely.

We really need to dig in deep before we really taste the Dhamma. There is no shortage of authority-figures who are sincere and good-hearted people who are convinced that they clearly understand the teachings.

The problem with all these geniuses is they frequently disagree. Therefore, we are left with a process of critical inquiry. We do the best we can at this but, there can be many difficulties when it comes to this process.

A major cause of concern for many is the lack of consensus. Some of us may become unsettled or worried, some become agitated in this situation. I don’t see why this needs to happen.

It’s only when there’s an insistence that there should be uniformity and conformity, that we should all see things the same way that a problem arises.

This is why the use of the IMO can often prove useful. I can say unequivocally that I could be completely mistaken about everything. This seems like common sense in my book but, I could be wrong! :blush:


This is exactly why we focus on Early Buddhist texts, using these as the source of authority. It is as close to the words of the Buddha as we can get, and why such effort is made to preserve and disseminate them. And This is the focus of Sutta Central and the forum, and why we keep referring participants back to EBT’s.


Yes, that’s great news and it’s helpful but, it doesn’t completely eliminate ‘difference’.

I will give an example: I have a book called ‘The Experience of Samadhi’. This gives accounts of samma-samadhi as explained by different Dhamma authority figures.

All of these teachers are gifted scholars in the Theravada tradition. The EBT’s are integral to their Dhamma understanding and practice. The problem lies in the fact that their understanding of samma-samadhi is diverse.

They are not on the same page - there is no consensus.

So, even when the EBT’s are focused on it doesn’t mean we will all be seeing or talking about exactly the same thing. We can always try - there’s no harm in trying. :slightly_smiling_face:


The EBT insistence is the forum, not my own. But you’re quite right. I should have related the Zen parables to actual EBT quotes, which I did unskillfully somewhat later. Apologies. :see_no_evil:

The Zen parables are quite interesting in that they address an over-attachment to the concept of perfection and beauty. The EBTs also deal with the same issue by asserting in SN46.58.

Mendicants, when the perception of a worm-infested corpse is developed and cultivated it’s very fruitful and beneficial.

This is the EBT version of kanshiketsu. And it is quite tough to read this EBT statement and embrace it. I have noticed that when I show people the contents of my worm bin, their faces show masked revulsion. And when I put my hand in the worm bin and show them the wriggling worms in my palm, they step back from the friends in my palm. I find the earthworms quite beautiful and gentle and giving. These tiny wriggling creatures bring joy and beauty into my life. These kind, gentle creatures have brought life back to the clay hardpack that was my backyard. And yet people turn their faces away in disgust when I show them my friends. Why is that?

According to my standards, when I think of a worm-infested corpse, I think, “someone else will make good use of this body!”
That is actually beautiful, yes?

What is helpful is that all these scholars can explain which particular EBT suttas relate to their stated experience. This is helpful to us all in that it provides points of reference that we all follow in mapping out our own experience.

For example, the EBT (AN2.65) discuss the word happiness.

There are, mendicants, these two kinds of happiness.

What two?

Sensual happiness and the happiness of renunciation.

These are the two kinds of happiness.

If we refer to the EBTs, we can then ask each other “Did you mean sensual happiness or the happiness of renunciation or something completely different?” Used this way, the EBT’s are a common dictionary for sharing individual experiences.


Yes the difference between a leaf stuck to a tree trunk and a leaf blowing in the wind. :leaves:


Dear Karl, I wish I found your account of the relationship between the zen ideas you share - not just in this thread - and EBT teachings, credible.

I have the impression that you express idiosyncratic understandings of EBT teachings based on your zen experience in various ways. Like you, this does not bother me.

However, I think your right in saying this is not seen as appropriate within the guidelines - I could be wrong.

The point I wanted to make is you were expressing concern over, what you referred to as, my idiosyncratic interpretation of the teachings, while it’s pretty clear to me, you have views that I have encountered in zen-like teachings but not in the EBT’s.

If you wish to discuss this further we should probably move to a PM exchange as the focus of the discussion has deviated from the theme of the thread. Yours, L


I don’t know what this means but it sounds nice! :heart_eyes: