What is the Point of Buddhist Practice?

Recently, I stumbled upon a great essay by the venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi here:


This is about the importance of self-transcendence, but one particular statement really hit home:

It is important to stress this transcendent aspect of the Dhamma because, in our own time when “immanent” secular values are ascendent, the temptation is great to let this aspect drop out of sight. If we assume that the worth of a practice consists solely in its ability to yield concrete this-worldly results, we may incline to view the Dhamma simply as a means of refining and healing the divided personality, leading in the end to a renewed affirmation of our mundane selves and our situation in the world. Such an approach, however, would ignore the Buddha’s insistence that all the elements of our personal existence are impermanent, unsatisfactory and not self, and his counsel that we should learn to distance ourselves from such things and ultimately to discard them.

It’s really easy to forget this point and lull ourselves into self-satisfaction when Buddhist practice brings a measure of peace and stability in our lives.  But that’s not exactly the point of Buddhism either.  People who use mindfulness meditation to get ahead in life, for example, will find that life is still ultimately unfulfilling in the long-run.

It’s like poker, where you find a technique to win money more consistently, but at the end of the day, you’re basically still gambling your life away.  Better to just stop playing poker.


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

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