Can Buddhism Be Taught Sequentially?
Not really, but it is received sequentially.
That is to say, it is we who join up the dots.
Lots of enlightened moments!
Of course, there are subjects to consider, such as the four mind changes … the four noble truths … the twelve links of dependent origination … the six realms … the six perfections … the list goes on and on.
Basically, we consider something that we’ve read or heard, and then we can ask questions. In this way, the teachings become experiential and we develop knowledge, and then see what is behind it all – and that is wisdom. What is this wisdom behind it all? Pure awareness!
Too often, we go to teachings and receive answers before we have formed the question. We are loaded down with information, which can make us arrogant (seen that, heard that!).
Although there are nine levels or yanas*, they do not seem to be taught in any particular order, and we have to bear in mind that new people are turning up all the time. I assume that when a teaching is given, the level at which it is received and understood will depend on the individual student.
“It is emptiness” or “We are pure awareness” may seem like strange ideas that don’t register as there are many obstacles that obscure our understanding, and so such statements go over our heads. We have to look for and acknowledge these veils, and recognise their influence on us. It’s not a matter of just obeying; it is a matter of seeing.
We could easily start with the question, “Why am I not happy?” The answer that we are already happy may not be recognised – and in fact, it could prove irritating. We need to see and we need to be convinced. This will take time for most of us, as we have to break free from our past obediences. A good teaching will do this, a good teacher will reveal this, and a good student will see this.
The more open we are, the more sequentially the teachings are revealed and we start to join up the dots.
“Slowly, slowly, catchee monkey mind!”
Notice that, in the illustration, the monkey (concepts)
is leading the black elephant (mind).
As we progress, we see that the white elephant is free of the monkey.
*We could call this the nine levels of compassion:
4. Kriya Tantra
5. Upa Tantra
6. Yoga Tantra