Sunday Service: The Language of Inner Truth

Week of July 5 – July 11, 2015

While in Thailand late last year, I had the opportunity to spend a couple weeks meditating at Wat Suan Mokkh, the Theravada Buddhist monastery founded by Bhikkhu Buddhadasa.

I chose Wat Suan Mokkh because I had heard that Buddhadasa preached a Buddhism that strongly resembled Vedanta. While there were differences on the outside between Vedanta and the Buddhist practices at Wat Suan Mokkh, on a deeper level the teachings were quite similar. I felt at home, and the guidance I received while there could just as easily have come from a Ramakrishna monastery.

Later in the year, I started reading some of the writing of Buddhadasa. Even more than what I saw at the monastery, the words of Buddhadasa resonated and refined my own Vedanta understanding.

That is why I am especially happy that we are able to bring you some of the writings of Buddhadasa, graciously allowed by the monastery he founded. This week we present the first part in a two-part series by Buddhadasa on nonattachment and how all paths ultimately lead to one.


Peter Kowalke


BuddhadasaThis Week’s Spiritual Talk

The Language of Inner Truth

By Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Meeting with you on this occasion, I feel there is something that prevents us from understanding each other. That is none other than the problem of language itself. Language as it is conventionally spoken we will call everyday language, the language of ordinary persons. This is one kind of language. But there is another language spoken by those who know true reality, or dhamma. This is dhamma language, the language of higher or inner truth. People who are blind to reality speak and understand only the conventional language of ordinary people. On the other hand, the person who has genuinely realized the ultimate truth can speak either one. When only the higher truths of dhamma are discussed, the language will be unintelligible to ordinary people. “Inner” language is understood only by those who have realized the truth. What is more, the language of dhamma does not even demand verbalization; hence, a pointed finger or a raised eyebrow may communicate an ultimate meaning.

The ordinary, ignorant worldling is under the impression that there are many religions and that they are all different to the extent of being hostile and opposed. Thus one considers Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism as incompatible and even bitter enemies. Such is the conception of the common person who speaks according to the impressions held by common people. Precisely because of speech like this there exist different religions hostilely opposed to one another. If, however, a person has penetrated to the fundamental nature (dhamma) of religion, he will regard all religions as essentially similar. Although he may say there is Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and so on, he will also say that essentially they are all the same. If he should go on to a deeper understanding of dhamma until finally he realizes the absolute truth, he would discover that there is no such thing called religion—that there is no Buddhism, Christianity, or Islam. Therefore, how can they be the same or conflicting? Thus the phrase “No religion!” is actually dhamma language at its highest level. Whether it will be understood or not is something else, for this depends upon the perception of the listener.

Let us consider a simile, something very simple: water. Most people think there are many different kinds of water. The average person will view various kinds of water as if they have nothing in common. He sees rainwater, well water, underground water, water in canals, water in swamps, water in ditches, water in gutters, water in sewers, water in toilets, urine water, and so on. The common man will insist that they are completely different because his judgment depends on external criteria. A person with some knowledge, however, knows that no matter what kind of water, pure water can be distilled out of it. Distill rain water, river water, or even sewer water and you will find pure water. The elements that combine to make different-appearing types of water may alter or pollute it, but essentially these different forms are the same. If you proceed further with your analysis of pure water, you will conclude that there is no water—only two parts of hydrogen and one part of oxygen. Hydrogen and oxygen are not water. The substance that we have been calling water has disappeared. It is void, empty.

Two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen are the same everywhere, wherever they may happen to be found; the substance water has ceased to exist, and we no longer need to use the term water. For one who has penetrated to the truth at this level, there is no such thing as water. In the same way, one who has attained to the ultimate truth sees that there is no such thing as religion! There is only reality or nature (dhammajati). Call it whatever you like–dhamma or truth–but you cannot particularize that dhamma or truth as Buddhism, Christianity, or Islam. For whatever it is, you cannot define it by giving it labels. The reason the division of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam exists is that the truth has not yet been realized. Only outer forms are being taken into account, just as with canal water, muddy water, and the rest.

The Buddha intended for us to understand and be able to see that there is no person, no individual–only dhammas or real existents. Similarly, particular religions are not ultimately distinguishable. The label “Buddhism” was attached only after the fact, as it was with Christianity, Islam, and every other religion. None of the great religious teachers ever gave a name to their teachings; they just went on teaching throughout their lives about how we should live.

(read more)


Vedanta Television

Finding lasting happiness. Applying the Bhagavad Gita to daily life. Learning about the history of Vedanta in the U.S. These are some of the topics covered at American Vedanta’s YouTube channel. We curate a list of spiritual videos that will help advance your spirituality and expand your mind. When wanting spiritual videos, give our YouTube channel a look.

We also recommend other resources such as Booksaudio lectures and web sites, among other resources.


Spiritual Fitness

Do You have a Spiritual Routine?

Vedanta, if not practical, has no other relevancy. The key to practical Vedanta is an individualized spiritual routine.

There are six components of a good spiritual routine.

Swan1. Find a Community. If you have an existing church, temple or mosque, attend regularly. If not, join our Facebook group and see our list of recommended spiritual organizations.

2. Seek Guidance. Find a mentor within your existing spiritual community or contact us for a referral.

3. Attend Spiritual Services Regularly. If you don’t live near an appropriate spiritual community, we offer a weekly spiritual talk delivered by email, Facebook and Twitter. We also host a regular Vedanta Dinner for those who live in the New York City area.

4. Incorporate Individual Study. We keep a list of books and resources for your individual study needs.

5. Take Responsibility for Your Spiritual Life. Read our talk about listening to your own inner compass and contact us when you have a question that your spiritual community isn’t answering adequately.

6. Leverage Rituals Thoughtfully. As an example, read our essay about the power of saying grace.

Our longer talk about spiritual routine can be found here.

Happy Sunday! Peace be unto you. Peace be unto all.

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