Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Remnant

You do not know, and will never know, who the Remnant are, nor where they are, nor how many of them there are, nor what they are doing or will do. Two things you know, and no more: first, that they exist; second, that they will find you.
Albert Jay Nock. Isaiah's Job
In a speech in Austin, Texas, Ron Paul mentioned the "Remnant". I looked it up and was intrigued by its meaning, which is, as near as I can tell, "those few people who would be able to understand your message if they were to encounter it." The implication is that you should compose your message directly to the Remnant, rather than watering it down in an attempt to reach the majority.

Though the term has been in use intermittently throughout history, it was revived in the 20th century by Albert J. Nock, who gave several examples of the Remnant from the Bible and the writings of Plato and Marcus Aurelius.

It turns out that the Buddha also spoke to the Remnant. After he discovered and fully understood the Four Noble Truths, he was initially reluctant to teach others:
Now while the Blessed One was alone in retreat this thought arose in him: “This Dhamma that I have attained to is profound and hard to see, hard to discover; it is the most peaceful and superior goal of all, not attainable by mere ratiocination, subtle, for the wise to experience. [...] And if I taught the Dhamma others would not understand me, and that would be wearying and troublesome for me.”
Bhikkhu Nanamoli. The Life of the Buddha, p 37
But the Brahma Sahampati became aware of this thought in the mind of the Buddha. And, fearing that the Dhamma would not be taught, he appeared before the Buddha and said,
“Lord, let the Blessed One teach the Dhamma... There are beings with little dust on their eyes who are wasting through not hearing the Dhamma. Some of them will gain final knowledge of the Dhamma.”
Bhikkhu Nanamoli. The Life of the Buddha, p 38
Hearing this, the Buddha surveyed the world with his mind's eye, and, finding some beings who were capable of understanding the truth, indicated that he would indeed go forth and teach. These beings "with little dust on their eyes" would seem to comprise the Remnant, so far as the Buddha was concerned.

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