Buddha and Buddhism
Siddhartha, The Future Buddha
Siddhartha Gautama was born in
He left the palace secretly with the help of charioteer Chhana and his horse Kanthak. After travelling the whole night they reached on the bank of River Anoma when the sun dawned in the morning. Siddhartha shaved his head; wore a set of robe and entered into the world of penance and uncertainty. However, he had not lost his cool and he was highly determined to achieve ultimate wisdom and path for the suffering humanity. After six years of vigorous spiritual search and extremely hard penance he realized ultimate wisdom at Bodhgaya. All levels of his mind were perfectly awakened and became the Buddha, the awakened one at the age of 35. He spent rest of his life preaching his doctrines and developing Buddhist Sangha. He passed away at the age of 80 in Kushinagar. Major events of the Buddha's life: the birth, the enlightenment and his mahaparinirvana (demise) occurred the same date of Vaisakh purnima. Therefore, Vaisakh day is three fold blessed day.
Buddhism evolved after the Buddha's enlightenment. The Buddha's teaching, the Sangha, set of practices and rituals together make Buddhism. Buddhism is regarded as the religion of non-violence, universal goodwill, and compassion. Some call Buddhism is purely a mental science. Buddhism is a teaching of middle way or moderation. Are seen by some is religion; others are philosophy, even psychotherapy. It is the path of higher mental calm and clarity. The Buddha’s message is relevant today as it was two and half thousand years ago. The ideas filled with immensely facts to establish eternal peace of mind has made so popular today.
Buddhist Schools of Philosophy
Though, the Buddha was against sectarianism, his Sangha divided into different groups. At present, there are two major schools of thought or philosophy in Buddhism. They are Theravada and Mahayana.
Theravada, also sometimes known as Hinayana is regarded as the initial
The word Mahayana is comprised of two words Maha and
Buddha (the teacher) Dharma (the teaching) and Sangha (the taught) are the Triratna or triple gems in Buddhism. Triratna is the essentials of enlightenment. The Buddha himself has said during his direct teaching that triple gems are essential condition for sowing, seedling, growing and fruit bearing of the way. And way is only thing to conquer suffering and to reach Nirvana.
Buddham Saranam Gachhami (I take refuge in the Buddha), this is the first sacred verse that a monk or nun has to recite at time of ordination. It is full of meaning. It denotes a complete refuge and deep devotion in the Buddha. It is an expression of strong commitment for a complete submission of oneself in front of the Buddha who has shown the true path leading us to salvation.
Dhammam Saranam Gachchhami (I take refuge in the Dharma) is the next sacred verse to be recited in Buddhism. Dharma in Buddhism includes all teachings of the Buddha. They are: The three marks of existence, twelve linked chain of dependent origination, the Four Noble Truth and the Eight Fold Noble paths. The deeper and pragmatic meanings of these Buddha’s teachings are unlocked on the basis of five precepts. The precepts are the commandments by the Buddha which vary in numbers separately for lay persons, monks and nuns. Observation of it establishes mental calm and clarity which helps find profound reality.
Sangham Saranam Gachchhami (I take refuge in the Sangha), the third sacred verse recited in the Buddhist. Sangha consists of a group of people who strictly follow Buddha’s teachings. Monks and nuns live in peace and harmony in the Sangha. Those who live in Sangha are called the sons and daughters of the Buddha. And they call each other Dharma brothers and Dharma sisters. Sangha helps followers to grow and develop well. Sangha is needed for mutual co-operation and co-existence. It provides congenial atmosphere for nuns and monks to follow the teaching of the Buddha properly. It also helps spread the Dharama and give continuity to it. It is the means to transfer Buddhist knowledge, culture and tradition from one generation to another.
TEACHING OF BUDDHA
The teachings of the Buddha are based on a scientific technique of observations. This leads to an infinitive understanding, realization and actualization of reality. The Buddha, during his live teaching has suggested his followers to trust their knowledge based on direct experiences. Buddha always emphasized direct experience. Once he said, "Do not trust the teachings because I have said so but follow the true way because you have experienced and realized it." The gist of the Buddha's teaching can be summarized as follows:
The Three Marks of Existence
(Suffering, Impermanence and Selflessness)
The Buddha explained suffering, impermanence, and absence of self as the three marks of existence. There is suffering in life or, life itself is suffering in a real sense. Life is connected with an infinite cycles of births and deaths. Suffering is the truth and prevails everywhere. Impermanence is the next mark of existence. People are leading life of delusion. What people take as a real and permanent are false interpretation. They are all impermanent. They wither with time. Everything changes and thus is impermanent. We need to understand the true nature of profound reality of impermanence. What we take to be ours is not ours not even our life is. Absence of self is another mark of existence told by the Buddha. The existence of a self is a widely accepted and discussed thing in other religions. Life has body and soul. Body is the combination of physical components, which decay after death, but the soul (self) never dies and grows old. This is major religious dogma in other religions. But unlike other religions, Buddhism does not recognize a self as a permanently existing entity of life. The Buddha with his all super wisdom and concentration observed carefully but did not find any self separately existing within us.
The Wheel of Life:
Paticca-Samuppada or Conditioned Genesis
“No God, no Brahma can be found,
No matter of this wheel of life,
Just bare phenomena roll
Dependent on conditions all!”
- Visuddhi Magga
The Buddha, having reached in supreme awakened state of mind, observed the world, life of sentient beings with a perfect vision. He did not see any supernatural power, so called God existed somewhere in the universe and neither he found self (soul) existing in creatures. He saw birth, change, existence, death and rebirth caused simply because of natural law of Dependent Origination (Paticca Samuppada or Conditioned Genesis).
Paticca means ‘because of’, or “dependent upon” and Samuppada means “arising or origination”. The literal meaning of Paticca Samuppada thus coems to be arising because of or dependent origination. The Buddha says:
Imasmim sati, idam hoti (This being, so that is, or When this is, that is
Imasmim asati, idam na hoti (This not being, so that is not, or When this is not, that is not)
Imassupada, idam uppajati (This arising, that arises)
Imssanirodha idam nirujjhati (This ceasing, that ceases)
The principle of Dependent Origination can be simply understood thus.
Because of A, arises B
Because of B, arises C
When there is no A, there is no B
When there is no B, there is no C
Paticca Samuppada is the principle of conditioning, relativity and interdependence which explains the formula of the whole existence and continuity of life and cessation. The formula is denoted by a twelve spokes wheel.
Avijja paccaya Samkhara (Through ignorance are conditioned volitional actions or karma-formation)
Samkhara paccaya Vinnana (Through volitional actions are conditioned consciousness)
Vinnana paccaya namarupa (Through consciousness are conditioned phenomena)
Namarupa paccaya salaya tanam (Through conditioned phenomena are conditioned six faculties: five sense organs namely; ear, eye, tongue, nose and body and mind as the sixth organ.)
Salayatana paccaya phassa (Through six faculties are conditioned sensorial contact)
Phassa paccaya vedana (Through sensorial contact is conditioned sensation)
Vedana paccaya tenah (Through sensation is conditioned desire or thirst)
Tanah paccaya upadanam (Through desire is conditioned clinging)
Upadana paccaya Bhava (Through clinging is conditioned process of becoming)
Bhava paccaya jati (Through process of becoming is conditioned birth)
Jati paccaya (Through birth are conditioned);
Jara-maranam (Decay, diseases, death, lamentation, pain etc.)
This is the process how life arises, exists, continues ad infinitum. If we take this formula in a reverse order; the process comes to a perfect cessation.
Through the complete cessation of ignorance, volitional actions or karma formations cease.
Through the complete cessation of volitional actions or karma formations, consciousness ceases.
Through the complete cessation of consciousness, mental and physical phenomena cease.
Through the complete cessation of phenomena, six mental faculties cease.
Through the complete cessation of six faculties, contact ceases.
Through the complete cessation of contact, sensation ceases.
Through the complete cessation of sensation; desire, craving and thirst cease.
Through the complete cessation of desire, craving and thirst; clinging cease.
Through the complete cessation of clinging, the process of becoming ceases.
Through the complete cessation of the process of becoming, birth ceases.
Through complete cessation of birth;
Decay, disease, death, lamentation and pain etc cease.
The four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths in Buddhism are about suffering. Birth, change, death and rebirth and its infinite cycles are nothing but a totality of suffering. The four noble truths are:
Neither human nature nor the world we live in is perfect, so to live in such an incomplete world is nothing but only suffering. We should endure physical sufferings such as sickness, tiredness pain, old age and eventually death and mental and psychological sufferings like sadness, grief, hyper tension, depression, fear etc. Though, sometimes some moments of happiness and joy come in our life; they pass by us in short while leaving more thirst and desires. The desire and attachment make one more restless and frantic. One should understand this profound reality, realize it by heart and transcend it in the fullest.
The origin of suffering is attachment or desire to transient things caused by ignorance. The objects of our attachment are transient and their loss is inevitable without any exception, thus suffering will follow us like a shadow does. Because of ignorance, we we happened to accumulate clinging and craving, the reasons of suffering like desire, passion, ardor, pursuit of wealth and prestige, striving for fame and popularity. Since we have sowed the seed of suffering, what shall we harvest, except suffering in a larger extend.
It is possible to attain cessation of suffering through Nirodha. The term Nirodha is a mental process or exercise to stop formation of craving and clinging. It means unmaking of sensual craving and conceptual attachment. The Buddha explained that one can extinguish personal suffering by removing it causes i.e. clinging and craving. Nirvana is the goal of a Buddhist which can be achieved by attaining and perfecting various levels of dispassion through Nirodha. One should practice Nirodha by keeping himself or herself completely aware of stopping craving and temptation while it arises in the mind. The conviction and continuous practice of Nirodha matures dispassion; perfectly stable mental condition of dispassion leads towards Nirvana which is the mental state of freedom from all human frailties such as worries, complexes, fabrications, ideas, fears, tensions etc.
Suffering can be ended by the means of the Eight Noble Paths. These paths are the holistic approach of self-purification, self realization and self improvement. The path is middle way between two extremes of excessive self indulgence (hedonism) and excessive self mortification (asceticism). It is equanimity of mind. It gradually destroys the objects of Karmic conditioning and suffering; and leads to supreme awakening, the state of complete cessation of suffering.
Eight Fold Paths
Enlightenment is the single condition to set oneself free from suffering or the wheel of dependent origination. There is a set of interdependent and correlated codes enumerating eight; they are called Eight Fold Path. These eight noble paths with four noble truths contribute to the gist of the Buddha’s teaching. These paths are of highly practical value; the more we practice them correctly, the more we find them profound and true, and these paths seem be to a highway to enlightenment. The Eight Noble Paths include 2 wisdoms: right view and right thought; 3 ethical conducts: right speech, right action and right livelihood; and 3 mental development and self awakening processes: right
Right effort can be taken as a prerequisite for mental development and self awakening section of paths. Right mindfulness and concentration can be achieved only with the help of right effort. Nothing is achieved without effort whereas misguided effort may cause harm to others or will distract the mind.
Effort is the energy needed for the accomplishment of work. We should use our energy in a wise way. One should be wise enough to identify proper place to put one's effort. The same energy may fuel desire, aggression, and violence on the one hand and on the other it can stimulate benevolence, honesty, compassion, and kindness. The Buddha has detailed four efforts that rank in ascending order of perfection: 1) to prevent the arising of unwholesome states that have not yet arisen, 2) to abandon unwholesome states that have already arisen, 3) to arouse wholesome states that have not arisen yet, and 4) to maintain and perfect wholesome states that have already arisen. Lack of punctuality, irregularity, laziness, forgetfulness etc. hinders right effort. To overcome these hindrances, one should apply effort wholeheartedly.
Right mindfulness is the faculty of cognitive perfection. It is the mental ability to observe things according to reality. Generally, the cognitive process begins with an impression induced by a thought or perception. We conceptualize impressions immediately with the thoughts or perceptions that we have; then we happen to interpret them in the way we conceptualized, which naturally may go beyond reality. Our mind then posits concepts, joins the concepts into constructs, and weaves the constructs into complex interpretative ideas. It can be exemplified thus: A boy X wore green goggles and looked at a fresh waterfall and commented that the waterfall was green. Another boy Y saw the waterfall red as he had worn red ones. The boy Z who had yellow glasses saw the same waterfall yellow. But a man without colorful glasses saw the fall white. Here, X conceptualized the waterfall to be a long leaf, Y and Z to be a bloodstream and a large banana. Our perceptions, thus take us far apart from the reality and truth, and make things obscure. Right mindfulness deeply penetrates an impression so that one gains a clear and real picture of it. The Buddha explained four foundations of mindfulness: 1) contemplation of body, 2) contemplation of feelings (pleasant, unpleasant or neutral), 3) contemplation of mind states, and 4) contemplation of phenomena.
The absence of forgetfulness is mindfulness. It helps deepen our understanding. One becomes aware of situation internally and externally taking place in right mindfulness. We make a mental note of every ongoing physical and mental phenomenon arising within us.
Right concentration is an act of applying the mind completely onto a wholesome thought or action. It is a state of mind where all mental faculties are unified and directed on a particular object, it sustains concentration then finally intensifies concentration step by step. Mindfulness helps nourish concentration. Concentration develops understanding. Once perfected, understanding leads to awakening.
Buddhism is the religion of the middle way or moderation. A sitar does not tune well when the strings are too loose and neither when they are too tight. But it sounds good when the strings are moderately tightened. So is happiness. The true happiness lies neither in self-indulgence nor in self-denial but in the middle way or moderation. One should maintain equanimity of mind and observe sensation of physical phenomenon to understand the profound reality. One should maintain equanimity of mind and lead every moment peacefully irrespective of happiness or joys.
The precepts are the mandatory ethical conducts and very basic codes for every Buddhist which enables them to practice the Dharma. Proper observation of precepts ascertains personal peace and clarity of mind in one hand on the other; it helps restore peace and harmony in the society and enhances mutual cooperation. The precepts are training for mind of a person which avoids formation of defilement in human mind. A lay Buddhist observes five principle precepts. They are as follows:
The precept of not killing has a deeper meaning which involves not harming any sentient beings by thought, speech and action. One should be aware of suffering caused by killing.
Stealing is connected to morality of a person. It in totality brings about social disorder which leads to conflict in the society. One should earn livelihood by proper means and should not own any thing that s/he does not belong.
Sexual misconduct breaks up families and societies and causes dispute in the community. It spoils faith and mutual understanding among people. It leads society to unrest and disorder. This precept is observed being aware of the suffering caused it.
A false speech creates conflicts in family, society and the world and it reduces mutual faith and understanding among people. Being aware of the suffering caused by it; I speak only the thing I know and correctly. I commit to try to utter the words truthfully which will inspire confidence, hope, peace and joy to everyone.
Consumption of any alcoholic items, or intoxicants, or use any indecent things like certain movies, TV programs, magazines, books, or conversation etc corrupt my mindfulness and cause excitement. Knowing its evil, I will refrain from taking any intoxicants.
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