#302: The Words of the Buddha | Bhikkhu Bodhi


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When I first got interested in meditation, all the talk of the Buddha that I encountered in the various books I was reading and lectures I was attending seemed like more of a bug than a feature. I was looking for science-backed stress relief, not religion. But the more I learned, the more interested I became in the Buddha. He was, after all, not a god or a prophet. He was, based on the available evidence, a mortal man who made no claims about the creation of the universe. In fact, to the extent that he did make metaphysical claims, he explicitly told people: don’t believe anything because I tell you. Meanwhile, he laid out a set of meditation instructions and an approach to the human situation that, in my experience, are extraordinarily practical and valuable. And yet, many of today’s meditators don’t know much about who the Buddha was or what he actually taught. Hence today’s guest, the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi. He was born Jeffrey Block in Brooklyn, became a Buddhist monk as a young man, and then went on to become one of the premier translators of Buddhist scripture. In this conversation, we talk about: why it can be so helpful for meditators to know what the Buddha taught; how these teachings survived for centuries before they were ever written down; how he makes sense of the teachings on karma and rebirth; the Buddha’s daily schedule; what kind of person the Buddha was; and what the Buddha taught about staying engaged in politics. Before we started rolling, I asked Bhikkhu Bodhi how I should address him, and he said many people call him “Bhante,” which is a term that is used in Buddhist circles to address monks, and translates into something like “venerable sir.”

Where to find Bhikkhu Bodhi online:

Website: https://bodhimonastery.org/ven-bhikkhu-bodhi.html

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bhikkhu.bodhi.1

Books Mentioned:

• The Noble Eightfold Path: The Way to the End of Suffering by Bhikkhu Bodhi http://www.noblepath.org/audio.html?fbclid=IwAR3dAFyckLujaBuYe1y8v0arh9UTq6XLsS_bQHq-layEdGVoA_cfoqVfODg

• Return to Life: Extraordinary Cases of Children Who Remember Past Lives by Dr. Jim B. Tucker: http://www.jimbtucker.com/return-to-life.html

• What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula Thero http://www.ahandfulofleaves.org/documents/What%20the%20Buddha%20Taught_Rahula.pdf

• The Foundations of Buddhism by Rupert Gethin https://bookshop.org/books/the-foundations-of-buddhism/9780192892232

Other Resources Mentioned:

• Dr. Ian Stevenson’s research on Perceptual Studies (apparitions, past lifetimes, and near death experiences) - https://med.virginia.edu/perceptual-studies/who-we-are/dr-ian-stevenson/

• Buddhist Global Relief - https://www.buddhistglobalrelief.org/

Additional Resources:

• Ten Percent Happier Live: https://tenpercent.com/live

• Coronavirus Sanity Guide: https://www.tenpercent.com/coronavirussanityguide

• Free App access for Frontline Workers: https://tenpercent.com/care

Full Show Notes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/Bhikkhu-Bodhi-302

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