Doctrine-True Practice of The Path Shown by The Blessed,Noble,Awakened One-The Tathagata
Knowing Oneself and Knowing Others
The Buddha taught us to contemplate our body, for example: hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth, skin… it’s all body. Take a look! We are told to investigate right here. If we don’t see these things clearly as they are in ourselves, we won’t understand regarding other people. We won’t see others clearly nor will we see ourselves. However, if we do understand and see clearly the nature of our own bodies, our doubts and wonderings regarding others will disappear. This is because body and mind (Rupa and Nama) are the same for everybody. It isn’t necessary to go and examine all the bodies in the world since we know that they are the same as us — we are the same as them. If we have this kind of understanding then our burden becomes lighter. Without this kind of understanding, all we do is develop a heavier burden. In order to know about others we would have to go and examine everybody in the entire world. That would be very difficult. We would soon become discouraged.
Our Vinaya is similar to this. When we look at our Vinaya (Code of Monks’ Discipline) we feel that it’s very difficult. We must keep every rule, study every rule, review our practice with every rule. If we just think about it, “Oh, it’s impossible!” We read the literal meaning of all the numerous rules and, if we merely follow our thinking about them, we could well decide that it’s beyond our ability to keep them all. Anyone who has had this kind of attitude towards the Vinaya has the same feeling about it — there are a lot of rules!
The scriptures tell us that we must examine ourselves regarding each and every rule and keep them all strictly. We must know them all and observe them perfectly. This is the same as saying that to understand about others we must go and examine absolutely everybody. This is a very heavy attitude. And it’s like this because we take what is said literally. If we follow the textbooks, this is the way we must go. Some Teachers teach in this manner — strict adherence to what the textbooks say. It just can’t work that way.17
Actually, if we study theory like this, our practice won’t develop at all. In fact our faith will disappear, our faith in the Way will be destroyed. This is because we haven’t yet understood. When there is wisdom we will understand that all the people in the entire world really amount to just this one person. They are the same as this very being. So we study and contemplate our own body and mind. With seeing and understanding the nature of our own body and mind comes understanding the bodies and minds of everyone. And so, in this way, the weight of our practice becomes lighter.
The Buddha said to teach and instruct ourselves — nobody else can do it for us. When we study and understand the nature of our own existence, we will understand the nature of all existence. Everyone is really the same. We are all the same “make” and come from the same company — there are only different shades, that’s all! Just like “Bort-hai” and “Tum-jai.” They are both pain-killers and do the same thing, but one type is called “Bort-hai” and the other “Tum-jai.” Really they aren’t different.
You will find that this way of seeing things gets easier and easier as you gradually bring it all together. We call this “feeling our way,” and this is how we begin to practice. We’ll become skilled at doing it. We keep on with it until we arrive at understanding, and when this understanding arises, we will see reality clearly.