What is Buddhism from Anguttara Nikaya Parable

In a thought-provoking dialogue from the Anguttara Nikaya, Maha Kotthita questions Sariputta on the fundamental purpose of Buddhism, leading to a profound exploration of its essence beyond superficial objectives. This exchange offers a deep dive into the true goals of Buddhist practice.

The Dialogue

The conversation between Maha Kotthita and Sariputta revolves around a series of questions aimed at uncovering the purpose of Buddhism. Maha Kotthita's inquiries are methodical, covering potential reasons one might engage in Buddhist practices, from achieving benefits after death to manipulating the consequences of karma.

Sariputta systematically refutes each suggestion, emphasizing that the practice of Buddhism transcends immediate or tangible rewards, the avoidance of pain, or the manipulation of karmic laws.

Key Questions and Answers

Maha Kotthita asked “Is Buddhism practiced for benefits after death?”

Saripuuta replies "No, my friend, it isn’t."

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For benefits here and now?

"No, my friend, it isn’t."

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To diminish the pleasure of pleasurable things or reduce the pain of painful things?

"No, my friend, it isn’t."

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To hasten the ripening of good karma?

"No, my friend, it isn’t."

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To delay the ripening of bad karma?

"No, my friend, it isn’t."

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To minimize the consequences of bad actions?

"No, my friend, it isn’t."

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To increase the consequences of good actions?

"No, my friend, it isn’t."

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To transfer the consequences of actions to another?

"No, my friend, it isn’t."

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To take upon ourselves the consequences of others' actions?

"No, my friend, it isn’t."

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Each denial by Sariputta strips away another layer of misunderstanding about the practice, guiding Maha Kotthita—and the reader—closer to the core of Buddhist philosophy.

The True Purpose of Buddhism

Sariputta ultimately reveals that Buddhism is practiced not for material or immediate spiritual gains but for profound understanding and realization. It is about coming to know and understand the fundamental truths of existence: suffering, its origin, its cessation, and the path that leads to its end.

Reflections on the Parable

This dialogue underscores that Buddhism is less about external achievements and more about internal enlightenment and clarity. It challenges practitioners to look beyond superficial goals and understand the deeper, transformative purpose of their spiritual journey.

Conclusion

Through this engaging exchange from the Anguttara Nikaya, we are reminded that the essence of Buddhism lies in the enlightenment of the practitioner. This path of discovery is not concerned with altering external conditions but with fostering a profound internal change that leads to ultimate peace and understanding.

This story is not just a philosophical exploration but also a practical guide that encourages us to reflect on our own spiritual practices and their true purposes. It invites us to consider whether our spiritual pursuits are aligned with the profound understanding of life’s deepest truths, as taught in Buddhism.

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