Observations on life; particularly spiritual

Basic Buddhism

When Emma Slade visited Bhutan in 2011, the seeds of her meditation and yoga came to fruition. The Buddhist mantra of compassion and interaction with a lama (guru) touched her deeply. Consequently, she left her accountancy career to become a Buddhist nun. She says, “Your life is in your hands. But you should ask what matters to you? What do you know that is of any use?”

Buddhism is the major religion in the Asian countries of Cambodia, Japan, Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Laos, Vietnam, Tibet, China and Mongolia. It is comprised of the teachings of the Buddha, which includes concepts such as karma, rebirth and nirvana (enlightenment). This post is one in a series on major religions. To minimize bias, the following content has been mainly drawn from Buddhist websites.

Buddhism 1 400pxDefinitions

The word “Buddha” is derived from “budhi”, which means ‘to awaken”. So the Buddha is the awakened (or enlightened) one. The term applies to both the founder of Buddhism and to those who attain enlightenment and nirvana.

“Dharma” refers to the teachings of the Buddha, and to the later traditions of interpretation and addition that the various schools of Buddhism have developed to help explain and to expand upon the Buddha’s teachings.

A Lama is a Buddhist spiritual teacher (or guru). For example, the Dalai Lama (from Tibet) is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists. He lives in exile in Nepal after fleeing Chinse rule of Tibet in 1959. As the 14th Dalai Lama, Tibetans believe he is the reincarnation of his 13 predecessors.

Buddhism has a wide range of sacred texts and scriptures. There are three primary canons of Buddhist scripture, called after the languages in which they were preserved — the Pali Canon (The Tripitaka, complied in the 1st century BC), the Chinese Canon, and the Tibetan Canon, and many of the same texts are preserved in more than one canon. The Tripitaka has three sections: disciple for monks and nuns; the teaching of Buddha; and Buddhist theology. And the Sutras were written by the 2nd century AD.

There are two main movements in Buddhism: Southern Buddhism, which maintains the importance of the community of monks and uses the Pali canon; and Eastern Buddhism, which is more liberal and open to a wider range of authoritative texts and ideas.

History

Buddhism arose in northeastern India in about the 5th century BC. It’s founder, Siddharha Gautama (Buddha), was a charismatic teacher. He was brought up in the ancient Hindu (Vedic) faith. Buddha found enlightenment in mediation. This is achieved by human effort, not through belief in any god. Buddha didn’t claim deity and didn’t attribute his teachings to any deity. So his teachings are not theistic. Instead they are a human system of self-discipline. Buddha spent much of his life teaching the dharma (the path to liberation from suffering) and establishing the sangha (a community of monks).

However, early Buddhist theology shows that the Vedic gods were highly respected and enthusiastically worshipped by the earliest Buddhists. Buddha was a polytheist, but he rejected the idea of a creator. He often spoke with various gods and one his names was “teacher of gods and humans”.

There are many varieties (schools) of Buddhism. About the 3rd century BC, the Sthaviravada and the Mahasanghika schools formed. Over the following centuries the Mahasanghika school eventually disappeared and the Theravad (“Doctrine of the Elders”) school, emerged from the Sthaviravada school. The latter is the dominant form of Buddhism today in Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

During the 1st century CE, a new Buddhist school named Mahayana (“Great Vehicle”) developed. This school had a more adaptable approach and was open to doctrinal innovations. It is the dominant form of Buddhism today in China, Japan, and Korea.

Buddhism spread through much of Asia, but it declined in India during the Middle Ages when Hinduism incorporated the Buddha as part of its pantheon of gods.

Several centuries later a third Buddhist denomination emerged in North India. Called Vajrayana (the “Diamond Vehicle” or “Tibetan Buddhism), it spread throughout the Himalayan kingdoms of Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan, and northwards into Mongolia. In more recent times, immigration lead to Buddhism impact elsewhere via Meditation, Zen Buddhism, Yoga and New Age beliefs.

Over its long history, Buddhism has taken a wide variety of forms. Some emphasize rituals and the worship of deities, while others completely reject rituals and gods in favor of pure meditation. Yet all forms of Buddhism share respect for the teachings of the Buddha and the goal of ending suffering and the cycle of rebirth.

Although there are a wide range of Buddhist beliefs, here are some of their major beliefs. Please note that different Buddhist schools can follow different beliefs and practices.

buddhism 7 400pxNine major beliefs

Some of the basic beliefs of Buddhism are summarized below. These are believed to be universal truths. The core beliefs are called jewels, truths and precepts.

The three jewels (three refuges)

– I take refuge in my Buddha (as our teacher, so we can be enlightened).
– I take refuge in my dharma (in the Buddha’s teachings and methods).
– I take refuge in my religious community (monks and nuns).

The four noble truths (of suffering)

– All of life is marked by suffering. It’s the central reality of life. People get sick and die. Sometimes we can’t have what we want. Or, if we can have it we can’t keep it because nothing is permanent.
– Suffering is caused by desires and attachments. It originates in our mind. When we want something, that creates karma. And the karma keeps us trapped in a re-birth cycle. Desire means clinging to an impermanent world. Craving leads to physical suffering because it causes us to be reborn.
– Suffering can be stopped by eliminating desire and attachment. If we give up useless craving and learn to live each day at a time (not dwelling in the past or the imagined future) then we can become happy and free.
– The way to end desire and suffering is to follow the Noble Eightfold Path (by becoming a monk).

In Buddhism, the primary purpose of life is to end suffering. How can we be happy when there is so much misery and suffering? What can we do to find enlightenment (nirvana)? By following these beliefs, we can be freed from suffering and become enlightened. We can overcome the suffering that is an inevitable part of life by attaining a state called nirvana, in which we are no longer attached to our life. People who have attained detachment are enlightened and will attain nirvana.

The noble eight-fold path (of compassionate living)

These are eight rules of behavior that involve right (or compassionate):
– Wisdom (view, and intention),
– Moral values (speech, action or values, and livelihood),
– Meditation (mental effort, mindfulness, and concentration).

This path is an intense program of self-perfection and self-discipline in how to live with compassionate non-attachment in each moment. It leads to a form of meditation (like Raja Yoga in Hinduism) which enables a person to reach enlightenment. It encourages the Buddhist to live a virtuous life by following the ‘right’ (or compassionate) course of action in eight contexts. Many of these are moral evils to be avoided. But the eighth step, ‘Right Concentration’, goes to the heart of the Buddhist ideal. Right Concentration is described in Buddhist scripture as concentrating on a single object to induce a special state of consciousness through deep meditation. In this way, the Buddhist hopes to achieve complete purity of thought, leading ideally to nirvana, which is blissful acceptance of the world as it is.

The 5, 8 and 10 precepts

These are the moral code for Buddhists:
– Do no harm to any living being
– Always tell the truth
– Do not steal
– Refrain from illicit sex
– Do not consume alcohol
– Wear no decorations or jewelry
– Do not attend amusements (such as dancing, singing, and music)
– Eat moderately and not after noon
– Do not sleep on high or wide beds
– Touch no gold or silver

The first five precepts are for all Buddhists. The first eight precepts are for lay people on special days and the whole ten precepts are for monks and nuns.

The five clinging aggregates (Skandhas)

The components that make up an individual are:
– Physical body
– Emotions and feelings
– Perceptions
– Mental activity
– Consciousness

It is believed that these five factors constitute and completely explain a person’s mental and physical existence. But each of these is claimed to be empty and without substance. They are illusionary. This means that a person’s “self” is also illusionary. It has no real existence. This is a way to remove suffering because a belief in self is said to be a source of suffering They are suffering because they are impermanent. They change from moment to moment. By getting rid of the idea of self, we can look at happiness and suffering, praise and blame, and all the rest with equanimity. In this way, we will be no longer subject to the imbalance of alternating hope and fear.

The Buddha taught that the skandhas are not “you.” They are temporary, conditioned phenomena. They are empty of a soul or permanent essence of self. And clinging to these aggregates as “me” is an illusion.

The skandhas refute the idea of a “being or individual”, and complement the anatta doctrine of Buddhism which asserts that all things and beings are without self. The anatta and “five aggregates” doctrines are part of the liberating knowledge in Buddhism, wherein one realizes that the “being” is merely made up of a temporary grouping of five aggregates, each of which are “not I, and not myself”, and each of the skandha is empty, without substance. This means that there is no such thing as individual identity. Instead, we are all part of the oneness of the universe.

Rebirth

Reincarnation refers to the idea that there is an eternal soul that gets reborn into body after body. As Buddhists don’t believe in an eternal soul, strictly speaking they don’t believe in reincarnation. Instead, they use the term rebirth to convey continuity across different lifetimes. This lifetime is the effect of previous lifetimes, and the actions and intents of this lifetime will affect future lifetimes. So many Buddhists believe in a cycle of birth and death, which differs from the Hindu sense of reincarnation in which the soul is transferred. But Secular Buddhists, and probably lots of Zen Buddhists, don’t believe in the sort of continuity that results in remembering past lives.

In the endless cycle of life, death and rebirth, karma determines where a person will be born and their status in the next life; good karma leads to a heavenly realm, while bad karma can lead to rebirth as an animal or torment in hell. In Buddhism, there are six realms into which a person can be reborn; these realms are depicted in the Bhavachakra (Wheel of Life). There are numerous heavens and hells into which one may be reborn; one also may be reborn here on earth, either as a human being or as an animal. The form into which one is reborn is dependent upon the way that one lives in this life.

Only with enlightenment can a person be freed from the cycle of rebirth. The rebirth depends on the merit or demerit gained by one’s karma, as well as that accrued on one’s behalf by a family member. After many such cycles, if a person releases their attachment to desire and the self, they can attain nirvana. This is a state of liberation and freedom from suffering. So, after death one is either reborn into another body (rebirth) or enters nirvana. Only Buddhas (those who have attained enlightenment) will achieve nirvana.

Buddhists believe that each rebirth we go through offers a chance to learn how to behave, how not to hurt someone, how not to be evil, and how not to be selfish. Nirvana is the Buddhist belief of lasting peace, which releases us from the cycle of rebirth. But we will not reach nirvana until we learn these things.

Karma

As in Hinduism, this is the moral law of cause and effect. Everything we do has consequences. This simple law explains things such as: inequality in the world, why some are born handicapped and some gifted, and why some live only a short life. People build up karma (both good and bad) as a result of their actions. This then determines the state of existence to which one is reborn after death. In Buddhism, the different levels can include hells, humans or animals in this world, or one of several heavens.

A notable aspect of the karma theory in Buddhism is merit transfer. A person accumulates merit not only through intentions and ethical living, but also is able to gain merit from others by exchanging goods and services, such as through dāna (charity to monks or nuns). Further, a person can transfer one’s own good karma to living family members and ancestors.

We are responsible for our past and present actions. How can we test the karmic effect of our actions? We can look at (1) the intention behind the action, (2) the effects of the action on ourselves, and (3) the effects on others. This inspires us to take responsibility for our own lives. Just like gravity, the law of karma functions everywhere and all the time. We shape our future through our thoughts, words and actions. What we do now accumulates good or bad impressions in our mind. Knowing this gives us great freedom and puts us back in control of our lives. Karma is not fate. We can choose not to do harmful actions, and thus avoid creating the causes of future suffering. To sow the seeds for good results, we engage in positive actions.

Nirvana (Enlightenment)

The goal of Buddhism is a state of lasting, unconditional happiness known as nirvana (enlightenment). It is also described as liberation, highest happiness, bliss, fearlessness, and freedom. Nirvana means ‘blowing out’, as of a flame. It is the end of the cycle of rebirth. It is a blissful transcendent state which can be achieved either in life or after death – and which is achieved by anyone who becomes Buddha. Anyone can be a buddha. That’s when they reach enlightenment.

To bring us to this state, Buddhism points us to lasting values in this impermanent world, and gives us valuable information about how things really are. Through understanding the law of cause and effect, using practical tools like meditation to gain insight and develop compassion and wisdom, we can tap into our potential to realize the ultimate goal of enlightenment.

Buddhism teaches that the solutions to our problems are within ourselves not outside. The Buddha asked all his followers not to take his word as true, but rather to test the teachings for themselves. ln this way, each person decides for themselves and takes responsibility for their own actions and understanding.

Atheism

The Buddha’s teachings and Theravada Buddhism are essentially atheistic, although neither deny the existence of beings that might be called “gods”. Buddhism does not involve the worship of gods nor require a belief in gods. One doctrine agreed upon by all branches of modern Buddhism is that “this world is not created and ruled by a god”.

But in the earlier scriptures, the deities of Brahmanism are taken for granted, and later on Buddhists adopted the gods of their local district. So, most Asian Buddhists seem to accept the existence of supernatural entities which we would term “gods”. Also, in Mahayana Buddhism, the universe is populated with celestial buddhas and bodhisattvas (a person who can reach nirvana but delays doing so through compassion for suffering beings) who are worshipped as gods and goddesses. Among the most popular Buddhist deities are Kuan Yin, the Medicine Buddha, the Laughing Buddha and the Green and White Taras.

Buddhist Temple 400pxSix major practices

Buddhism embraces many practices and traditions. Some Buddhist practices are summarized below.

Meditation

Meditation is at the heart of the Buddhist way of life. It is a method for understanding and working on the mind by learning to identify different negative mental states known as ‘delusions’, and learning how to develop peaceful and positive mental states or ‘virtuous minds’.

Anyone can learn basic meditation techniques and experience great benefits, but to progress beyond basic meditation requires faith in the Three Jewels – Buddha, Dharma and Sangha (monks).

Mantras

A mantra is a sequence of words or syllables that are chanted, usually repetitively, as part of Buddhist practice. The chanting of a mantra is thought to evoke enlightenment. Sometimes mantras are used as a form of meditation to induce an altered state of consciousness. Often it is combined with breathing meditation so that one recites a mantra simultaneously with in-breath and out-breath to help develop tranquility and concentration.

Mantras are a linguistic device for deepening one’s thought or developing the enlightened mind. They have also been used as magic spells for purposes such as attaining wealth and long life and eliminating enemies. Other mantras are directed toward developing loving kindness.

Simple mantras use repetition of the Buddha’s name, “Buddho,” or use the “Dharma,” or the “Sangha,” (the community of monks), as mantra words. Some mantras direct attention to the process of change by repeating “everything changes,” or “let go”. Because the sound of the mantra is as important, sometimes more important, than the meanings, they are usually chanted in Asian languages. Sanskrit was usually the original language, but they have been translated into other languages as well.

The mantra of the Buddha of Compassion, known by the Chinese as goddess Kuan Yin, is “Om Mani Padme Hum” which translates to “Hail to the jewel in the lotus.”. The mantra calms fears, soothes concerns and heals broken hearts. And this mantra is on the lips of many Tibetans all their waking hours. By chanting this mantra, they can invoke the divine protection and immense blessings from Chenrezig, the manifestation of divine compassion from Bodhisattva (a person who is able to reach nirvana but delays doing so through compassion for suffering beings) Avalokitesvara.

According to Tibetan Buddhism, the mantra “Om tare tutare ture soha” can not only eliminate disease, troubles, disasters, and bad karma, but will also bring believers blessings, longer life, and even the wisdom to transcend one’s cycle of rebirth.

Yoga

Yoga is a Hindu practice which some have integrated into Buddhist practice. Yoga predates Buddhism. Statues of Buddhas often sit in a lotus pose, which is a yoga posture. Although Buddhism rejects the Hindu concepts of god, soul and self; yoga and Buddhism are both meditative systems that share ethical values such as non-attachment, non-stealing, and non-violence. Both generally aim to facilitate transcendence of karma and rebirth (or reincarnation), foster liberation through higher awareness, and reunite with the “true” reality obscured by the illusion of a separate self, or ego. Both also seek to reduce suffering intrinsic to all beings through realization of a higher consciousness. And both encourage their followers to be still, explore their inner being and to be in the present moment. So yoga and Buddhism are complementary. After all, yoga is essentially meditation in motion.

Veneration of Buddha

Buddhists pay respect, reverence and honor to statues of the Buddha and are encouraged to have household shrines with images of the Buddha. Offerings such as lights, incense, flowers, water, fruits, sweets, and prepared food are placed near the shrine. The offerings acknowledge Buddha as the ultimate teacher and the embodiment of enlightenment. Bowing to the image is an expression of gratitude for the teachings.

To express veneration, a Buddhist may bow before the image of the Buddha, or members of the Sangha. When a Buddhist prostrates before an image, they acknowledge that the Buddha has attained perfect and supreme enlightenment. Such an act helps the Buddhist to overcome egoistic feelings and prepares them to listen to the teaching of the Buddha.

Buddhists revere the image of the Buddha as a gesture to the greatest, wisest, most benevolent, compassionate and holy man who has ever lived in this world. The worship of the Buddha means paying homage, veneration and devotion to Him and what He represents, and not to the stone or metal figure.

Buddha images are symbolic representations of his great qualities. The image is a visual aid that helps one to recall the Buddha in the mind and to remember His great qualities.

Monastic order (Sangha)

Monks and nuns are responsible for the preservation and dissemination of the Buddha’s teaching and the guidance of Buddhist lay people. They embody or represent higher levels of spiritual achievement. They live an austere life focused on the study of Buddhist doctrine, the practice of meditation, and the observance of good moral character.

Monks and nuns refrain from sexual conduct; taking life; taking what is not given; telling untruths; taking intoxicants; attending entertainment; using ornaments, cosmetics, and perfumes; sitting on luxurious seats and beds; taking food at unregulated times, and handling silver and gold. Marriage, family life, career, and personal concerns are rejected as distractions to their religious concerns. Other rules help them remain mindful of every action in daily life. Traditionally, Buddhist monks and nuns wear robes and have shaved heads.

As Buddhist monks generally do not engage in commerce or agriculture, the monastic order is dependent on the lay community for economic support in the form of finance and property. Buddhists give the monks material gifts that function as sacrificial offerings. Buddhist monks and monasteries accept donations of cash, land, and material of all kinds, and they sometimes become rich and powerful.

Festivals and pilgrimages

Buddhist festivals are joyful occasions. Typically, Buddists will go to the local temple or monastery and offer food to the monks and take the Five Precepts and listen to a Dharma talk. In the afternoon, they distribute food to the poor to make merit, and in the evening perhaps join in a ceremony and walk around the temple three times in honor of the Three Jewels (the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha). The day will conclude with evening chanting of the Buddha’s teachings and meditation.

The most significant celebration happens every May on the night of the full moon, when Buddhists all over the world celebrate the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha. It has become to be known as Buddha Day. Buddhists also attend festivals involving the dead, or to arrange or participate in funerary rites on behalf of the dead. They also visit a temple to pray to a deity through the medium of a statue of that deity and leave a gift (incense, fruit, or flowers).

The earliest centers of Buddhist pilgrimages were the places associated with the life and teachings of the Buddha in Nepal and India. After the death of the Buddha, the relics of his body were collected from the funeral pyre and divided into eight parts. These were distributed and burial mounds were erected on the relics. The practice of pilgrimage in Buddhism probably started with visits to these places, the purpose of which was to achieve personal advantage such as rebirth in a good location, as well as to honor the great master. It is stated that the Buddha encouraged all devotees to make pilgrimages to four holy sites to ensure that they would be reborn in a heavenly world. Also, many Buddhist countries have shrines and places which can be visited as a pilgrimage. For example, Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the Bamiyan Buddhas of Afganistan (that were destroyed in 2001 by the Taliban).

Culture

At the time of the Buddha, the caste system was firmly established in India. The Buddha condemned the caste system, which he considered unjust. India’s caste system splits up people into different societal groups according to their work and birth. It’s a discriminatory hierarchical social system.

Despite the Buddha’s repudiation of caste, variations of the system still exist in many Buddhist countries (such as Sri Lanka, Tibet, Nepal, Myanmar, India and Japan). The caste system represents a basic social form that has survived throughout centuries. Wherever it had become established, it was not overcome by any religion. It asserted itself against every religion, no matter whether a religious system acknowledged or ignored the caste system, approved it or discarded it. Cast discrimination also exists in Indian Muslim societies and in Indian Roman Catholic societies and in Indian Sikh societies.

Indian Buddhists, like other religions, have attempted to reform and create a society without classes. But this is easier said than done!

Comparison with Hinduism

Buddhism rejected the Hindu scriptures (the Vedas and Upanishads), the concept of the Atman (soul, self), Brahman (god), and the nature of the afterlife. In traditional Indian thought, the soul (atman) is an eternally existing spiritual substance or being and the abiding self that moves from one body to the next at rebirth. The Buddha rejected this concept. He taught that everything is impermanent (anicca), and this includes everything that we associate with being human: sensations, feelings, thoughts and consciousness. This is the doctrine of anatta (“no-soul” or “no-self”), which is a central concept of Buddhism.

The Buddhist belief of rebirth is a concept of “renewal” and not exactly reincarnation of a spirit (or soul) or body. Under Hinduism the soul is reborn (reincarnated) in a new body. Under Buddhism, the consciousness of a person can become part of the consciousness of another person, as a flame moves from one candle to another. The second flame is not identical to the first, nor is it totally different. Thus, Buddhists believe life is a continual journey of experience and discovery and not divided between life and the afterlife.

Conclusion

This post has summarized aspects of the history, major beliefs, major practices and culture of the Buddhist faith. These beliefs, practices and culture impact everyday life for about 1 billion people across the world.

Written, August 2017

Also see: Testing Buddhism
Basic Hinduism
Basic Islam

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4 responses

  1. George

    A very well written synopsis of Buddhism in general. I would like to make a couple comments. Suffering in Buddhism comes from the Pali word Dhukka. It does not have a direct English translation. The true meaning is not necessarily suffering in a physical sense but more of a un-satisfactoryness. We humans are never truly satisfied due to our constant craving or desire. Therefore we suffer.

    The second thing is that there are many paralells between the development of Buddhism and the development of Christianity. The doctrines are very different but how they came about is somewhat similar.

    The Buddha was a practicing Hindu when he began his spirtual journey. Christ was a practicing Jew.

    The Buddha revised the old Hindu ways while at the same time keeping some of the Hindu teachings. Christ revised the Jewish faith and created a new understanding of Jewish ideas.

    The term Buddhism and the faith as we know it today did not come about until after the death of the Buddha. Christianity as a term and the faith did not come about until after the death of Christ.

    Buddhist monastics and Christian monastics live a very similar simple lifestyle deicated to spiritual practice. Both live in monasteries, shave their head, and wear robes.

    September 18, 2017 at 2:09 am

    • Thanks for the comment on 18 September BH.

      I apologize for the delay as I only found your comment today! By the way, I am aware that the Buddhist usage of the word “suffering” has additional meanings to the usual meaning in the English language.

      I see that you realize that the doctrines of Buddhism and Christianity are different even though you note some similarities in the pattern of their development.
      Maybe the biggest difference between Buddha and Jesus Christ is that Buddha was a human being (who sought truth), while Jesus was the divine eternal Son of God who created the universe and came to earth as a human being. Jesus also claimed to be the source of truth.

      October 2, 2017 at 9:12 am

  2. Dear George,
    as always I hope you and your loved ones are well. As you asked and I promised here are my thoughts on your Basic Buddhism article. On the whole, I found it quite well written I cannot imagine how long it must have taken you to research and write this, but it must have been long. However one can see that it was certainly written by someone wearing Christian Glasses 😉 Please accept my comments and corrections in good faith as you would from a friend that is how I have tried to formulate them as kindly and as objective as one can be and I know that that is how you wrote it as well. Lastly, do with this what you will ignore it, integrate part or all, it is up to you. Feel free to quote my writing directly if it so fits your ideas and goals.

    Definitions:
    Buddhism is also comprised of Boddhisatva or compassionate enlightened activity (actions)

    The Dalai Lama is the former political leader of Tibet and only one of the spiritual heads of Tibetan Buddhism. He is the head of the Gelug school, but there is also the Kagyu, Sakya, and Nyingma schools who respectively have their own leaders.

    Dharma can best be defined as “the way things are”

    There are three main movements are Vajrayana, Mahayana, and Theravada Buddhism. The third and newest movement is likely one of the larger and fastest growing (in the west)of the three today.
    Theravada or Hinayana(small way) is predominantly practised in south-east Asia and relates specifically to the monastic community who practice avoidance of the things that causes one’s problems. In the Mahayana tradition, sutrayana or the great middle way is practised in India and China. Here one is not so concerned with oneself but instead focuses on the greater good and begins to practice the combination of wisdom and compassion. In Vajrayana Buddhism or tantrayana also known as diamond or thunderbolt way is primarily found in Tibet Northern China and Japan. Here one practices direct identification by using the lama as the highest example of enlightenment and says if he can be enlightened then so can I. Secondly the view here is important. The view is that all beings are Buddhas who just do not know it yet and we recognise that all beings do not see or experience mind in the same way. Here one begins to experience that which experiences all things. One does this all the while practising the other ways.
    All three schools of Buddhism lead to the same place, enlightenment, the difference is the speed in which one progresses to the goal. All three schools can also include elements of the others. These three offers if you will play a big part in the buddhas attempt to have something for everyone.

    The Buddha may have been a polytheist when he was younger but not after enlightenment but most Buddhists today are not; as well Buddhists are not atheists. This idea of theistic belief is foreign.
    A good quote from quora is: “No gods are worshipped in Buddhism, that’s why it’s non-theistic. It does make reference to the Henotheistic deities of the Vedas, but they are mentioned exactly as not worthy of being worshipped. Buddhist morality is essentially a naturalistic one, it’s not based on any concept of a supreme god.”

    Nine Major Beliefs:
    Some Buddhists also take refuge in the “three roots” lama, yidam( tib. literally mind bond), and the Dharma protectors. The refuge is also better explained as confidence or having confidence. This confidence arises once one has proven to his/her self that the Dharma is trustworthy and true.

    Refuge in the Sangha may be extended to the lay community as well.

    The section of the four noble truths:

    1. because nothing is permanent. Nothing “composite” is permanent.
    2. The way to end suffering is the eightfold path but one need not become a monk. Lay practitioners can reach enlightenment as well.
    Geroge, have a look at my homepage Quantumawareness.net there is a modernly detailed write up on three of the noble truths. The Fourth us underway. 🙂
    3. “We can overcome the suffering that is an inevitable part of life by attaining a state called nirvana, in which we are no longer attached to our life. People who have attained detachment are enlightened and will attain nirvana.” Buddhism is NOT about being detached or not attached to life, this is very clearly Nihilism. Buddhism is about finding peace between opposites such as attachment and aversion. When we are no longer caught up in the dualistic battle of good/bad or yours/mine such great joy and bliss arises this is the goal. In your last sentence enlightenment is nirvana.
    The primary purpose is not just nirvana. We must also be bodhisattvas. The beneficial actions are a must. What good is the worlds best party if we are alone?

    The eightfold path:

    1. Right concentration is not just on an object, concentration is often directed at “no thing” or open clear space with no centre or limit.

    Rebirth:
    1. there is no soul but “mind” is a good word to explain that part of us that is not composite, that which cannot be built or taken apart. or even described with our dualistic language for that matter.

    2. Liberation is not enlightenment. Some texts call liberation as the small nirvana. Liberation means to recognise that one’s body, thoughts and feelings are in a state of constant change and hence cannot form a real ‘I’. When one no longer experiences oneself as the target, which is the cause of all suffering. From this state, full enlightenment naturally follows. Here the clear light of mind radiates through every experience. The separation between the one who experiences something, the object of the experience and the experience itself is dissolved, or that until he who meditates, the Buddha we meditate on, and the process of meditation become one. Mind enjoys the qualities that arise in and by itself in every moment and is effortless and spontaneous in all situations. Use also for the section on NIRVANA.

    3.”But we will not reach nirvana until we learn these things.” Learning is not enough, while academic knowledge of a subject is great one must realise these teachings on a very deep level.

    Karma:

    1. Many Buddhists dedicate all good actions and impressions in mind to all beings. So that all of us can be happy, why should only our family benefit?

    2. There are four factors that determine our Karma: 1) That we know and understand the situation, 2) Wish or plan to do it or wish or plan to have it done 3) Then do the act or have it done, and 4) Being happy or satisfied about the results afterwards. Karma is also neutral not good or bad just the results of our actions.

    Nirvana:

    1. “Through understanding the law of cause and effect, using practical tools like meditation” and/or Bhodisatva action or enlightened activity. They are better known as the six paramitas they are as follows: generosity, ethical discipline, patience, joyous effort, meditation and wisdom. These actions are the practical ways in which we learn to go beyond ourselves. Para means beyond and mita is that which goes. So together it is that which goes beyond or to the other side.
    This is what you might have been getting at with your following section on “the six major practices”

    2. See my comment above in Rebirth, please.

    Atheism:

    1. Not only Theravada Buddhism is Atheistic, Vajrayana is as well. I am not sure but would guess the Mahayanans are as well.

    2. “and later on Buddhists adopted the gods of their local district” the gods were not adopted. They were integrated, and they are not gods but deities might be better. As far as integration a comparative example might be how Christians integrated local holidays such as the winter solstice from the pagans and called it Christmas.

    3. (a person who can reach nirvana but delays doing so through compassion for suffering beings) please add or change this to” a person who can reach nirvana but delays doing so and instead stays in the human realm to help all beings reach enlightenment before one does due to one’s great compassion”

    4. (who are worshipped as gods and goddesses) I cannot speak for all Buddhists but in Vajrayana Buddhism, there is no worshipping anyone or anything. The use of such “Sunday terms” is very misleading, even if the translation might be correct the actual act or action is very different. These Buddha aspects such as the Loving Eyes (Chenrezig), Medicine Buddha, and the Green and White Taras are “meditated on” as forms of light and energy and are not seen as gods or people. They are seen as an aspect or mirror to one’s own enlightened qualities, one then begins to identify with these enlightened qualities and slowly takes them on until one is enlightened themselves.

    5. Six major Practices:

    1. see my comment earlier about the six paramitas.

    2. Meditation is at the heart of the Buddhist way of life. It is a method for understanding and working on the ( please remove “on the” and replace with, “with mind” mind by learning to identify different ( remove “negative”) mental states known as ‘delusions’, and learning how to develop peaceful and positive mental states or ‘virtuous minds’. Actually ” It is a method for understanding and working with mind by identifying different mental states and then learning how to minimise disturbing emotions and generate positive activity.

    I googled your entire quote here and I cannot believe how many Buddhists make themselves sound so deluded and crazy. As to the with mind change, there is no “my mind your mind” situation. If there was it would end us as a “my ego your ego” thing here. There is just mind, this is more BEYOND the personal here that is what we are trying to achieve.

    Anyone can learn basic meditation techniques and experience great benefits, but to progress beyond basic meditation requires faith (instead of faith one requires refuge or confidence in the…” in the Three Jewels – Buddha, Dharma and Sangha (monks).

    Mantra:

    1. Mantra is best describes as a “protective sound” this ties in more with your linguistic device…

    2. Mantras are chanted as part of a meditation or in an empowerment or introduction to a buddha aspect. Mantras may/can be informally chanted outside of meditation.

    3. Magic Spells??? where did you read this? Please consider removing this it is not only insulting and inflammatory it is simply incorrect.
    A quick google search of the quote confirms my position. Almost all of the sites using this line seem to be from the witchcraft and occult religion this is not Buddhism.

    4. They have also been used for purposes such as attaining wealth, long life and eliminating difficult circumstances in order to be of benefit to others.
    The only enemies one has is in his/her own head.

    Yoga

    This comment is like saying Catholicism is basically the same as Christianity, after all, they both worship the same god and love Jesus. It is not needed here as it easily confuses some readers who might have heard or read about the six yogas of Naropa. Yoga simply means to unite or to join.

    Veneration of the Buddha

    1. Statues or pictures of Buddha aspects are also seen as representations of one’s own Buddha qualities. Bowing can be seen as respecting the divine in one’s self and others.

    Culture:

    1. The caste system is exclusively a Hindu invention. Because Buddhism can exist very easily alongside Hinduism, the caste system is also not so far away but Buddhists do not in any way agree with it. The Sikh religion is also 100% of the caste system. mentioning it here does nothing but demonise Buddhism for something that it has nothing to do with.

    That’s it.

    Thank you, George, for your openness to discuss and for asking me to help you and provide some constructive feedback. May it help us to develop a great understanding and respect not only for each other but for each other’s belief as well.

    Nameste George

    QP

    November 9, 2017 at 10:21 pm

  3. Thanks for the comprehensive comment QP. It will take me some time to understand it and to decide how to revise this blogpost.

    November 15, 2017 at 6:44 am

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