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Buddhadharma : Summer 2017
summer 2 0 1 7 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 15 the test of time Buddhism needs to be open to change, says the Dalai Lama, but some teachings are timeless. Buddhists need to learn and contemplate the view of scientists and people of other religions and know how to apply Buddhist principles to them and to respond with wis- dom. There is much room for us to grow in these areas. However, with respect to the teachings on afflictions and how they cause suffering, sentient beings today have the same kind of afflictions as they did thousands of years ago. The specific objects of attachment and anger may change in different times: in ancient times human beings weren’t attached to their smartphones and didn’t become angry when their computers or cars broke down. However, the general objects of attachment and anger are still very much the same—whatever gives us happiness or interferes with that happiness. The anti- dotes to individual afflictions such as anger and clinging attachment remain as relevant today as they were then. It is feasible that after several hundred thousand years, our brain may change through an evolutionary process to the point where even the shape of our head or the functioning of our nervous system will be radically different. In those cases, it is conceivable that sentient beings’ preoccu- pations and ways of thinking may change. However, as far as the problem of self- grasping is concerned, I don’t think it will change. Since this root of our suffering will not change, neither will its antidote—the wisdom of realizing emptiness. As far as the view of emptiness is concerned, it remains relevant at the beginning, the middle, and the end of our practice, in all historical peri- ods, in all places, and for all sentient beings. When adapting new cultural forms, we must ensure that we neither intentionally nor inadvertently discard or change vital teachings. Should that happen, the libera- tion and awakening of future generations would be rendered impossible. Thoughtful- ness, care, and slow change are preferable to a rush to make Buddhism more attractive to the present public. FROM approaching the BUddhiSt path, WISDOM, AuGuST 2017 dharma isn’t the only gift that matters Sometimes, says Bhikkhu Bodhi, what a person needs most is as basic as a meal. We shouldn’t hesitate to offer it. The Buddha says that there are two kinds of gifts, the gift of material things and the gift of the dhamma, and of these two, the gift of the dhamma is foremost. This saying has sometimes been used to devalue the gift of material things, and in some quarters it is cited to question the point of dedicating time and effort to uplifting people from poverty. Those who take this position maintain that because material goods are transient and unreliable, while the good obtained from practice of the dhamma is Riding Home