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Lions Roar : January 2019
kinds of actions led to a particular view, and what kinds of actions that worldview would inspire. He then judged these actions as to whether they resulted in more suffering or less. Only then did he decide which features a provisional worldview would require in order to lead to suffering’s end. His approach was very wise. The sim- ple fact that so many worldviews are pos- sible shows that they are constructs built on inference. We learn about the world by acting in it. We learn about walls by bumping into them; we learn about people by trying to get what we want from them. Then, from the results of our actions, we infer more about the world than our actions actually tell us. So the Buddha, instead of giving real- ity to the inferences, decided to focus on their source: our actions. After all, THE BATTLE BETWEEN materialist/ naturalist and supernatural worldviews has been going on for millennia. The Pali canon shows that it was already raging at the Buddha’s time. Several long dis- courses are devoted to the wide variety of worldviews the Buddha’s contemporaries advocated, and if anything, their vari- ety was greater than ours is now. Some maintained that the world and the self were purely material; others, that there was a soul that remained the same for- ever. Some believed in rebirth shaped by kamma, others in rebirth not shaped by kamma, and others no rebirth at all. The list could go on and on. The Buddha’s response to these con- troversies was interesting. Instead of jumping into the fray to debate these worldviews, he focused first on the kamma of building a worldview: what INSIDE BUDDHADHARMA Actions Speak Louder Than Worldviews In this new department taking us deeper into the Buddhist teachings, THANISSARO BHIKKHU describes the Buddha’s eminently practical response to philosophical speculation. we know them—or should know them, if we’re paying attention—much more directly than the worlds we’ve inferred. His conclusion was that all possible worldviews were instances of clinging, and that clinging, in turn, was suffer- ing. Just as we suffer in the activity of what the Buddha called I-making and my-making, we suffer in the process of world-making. Worldview-clinging can take four forms: 1. View clinging: the act of holding to a view of the world 2. Doctrine-of-self clinging: the sense of “you” that functions in that worldview along with the sense of “you” as the person who is proud to espouse that view 3. Habit-and-practice clinging: a sense of how things have to be done, both in shaping and defending a world- view and then, once it’s shaped, how you have to act in the context of the rules of that worldview 4. Sensuality clinging: fascination with the sensual pleasures that a world- view has to offer From the Buddha’s point of view, all these ways of clinging are suffering. And the wise task with regard to suffering is to comprehend it—which means to see how it’s caused, how it passes away, what its allure is, what its drawbacks are, and finally how to escape from it through the dispassion that comes from seeing that the drawbacks far outweigh the allure. ♦ NILUIZADI/MILLENNIUMIMAGES,UK This selection is from the Winter, 2019 issue of Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, published by Lion’s Roar. For more in-depth teachings, commentary, and reviews from Buddhadharma and to subscribe, go to lionsroar.com/buddhadharma. THANISSARO BHIKKHU is the abbot of Metta Forest Monastery. LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2019 24 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE