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Buddhist Council of New South Wales
Strictly for free distribution only
Buddhist Studies for Young StudentsPrimary Level
Buddhist Council of New South Wales
Strictly for free distribution only
Preface to Second Edition
This introductory book is based on the earlier workbook “Buddhist Studies for Children”, published electronically by the Buddha Dharma Education Association in year 2001, and on the first edition of the ‘Buddhist Studies for Young Students – Primary Level’ published by the Buddhist Council and Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation in 2003. It is an outcome of about 40 years of my study and practice of Yoga, Mahayana Buddhism, Christianity, Natural Science, Theravada Buddhism and Education, in this but overlapping order. I thank Graeme Lyall of the Buddhist Council of New South Wales and Venerable Pannyavaro and Phil Thompson of the Buddha Dharma Education Association for their kind support during the earlier stages of this work. I also thank the current Buddhist Council volunteers Brian White, Anita Lau, Eileen Sellers and the website team for their kind support to improve the first edition of this book and make it available for free distribution online.
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa. (Homage to the Blessed One, the Consummate One, the Supremely Enlightened One.)
May this work help to bring peace to all. Danuse Murty, PhD Sydney 2012
Introduction for Parents and Teachers
The workbook “Buddhist Studies for Young Students - Primary Level” is intended for children in the upper primary school (more than 10 years old), or beginners in the secondary school. It assumes elementary understanding of oneself and life around, which children acquire naturally by living and by studying natural science, history and personal development at school. It has been designed to be used together with a biography of the Buddha (see References) and it covers life of the Buddha, his teachings and Buddhist history and culture at an introductory level. The main aims of this workbook are to help students: 1.develop basic knowledge of the Buddhist religious tradition and realise the true value of the Buddha’s teachings to themselves and others, 2. by applying the teachings in their daily lives, become well established in a peaceful way of living - at this stage, in the precepts, good bodily and study habits and practice of loving-kindness. As we progress spiritually, our experience and understanding of life and the Buddha’s teaching changes, deepens and widens. Because any written explanation gives only a limited view of the Buddha’s message, I tried to keep the theory to minimum. Instead I put emphasis on questions and activities for students to do, so that they develop their own faculties and come to realise the answers by themselves. Just as the basic ethical boundaries to conduct, so the study of the earliest Buddhist scriptures and application of the Buddha’s advice in our daily life, are an absolute foundation for our Buddhist practice, and also for instructing others. In the References, I have included a short selection of Buddhist resources, which I have found most helpful in my personal life.
Teachers are welcome to use contents of this workbook as their wish, to construct their own lessons. However, they should acknowledge this material using the commonly accepted education standard.
Preface Introduction for parents and teachers Contents Lesson 1. Introduction to Buddhism Lesson 2. Life Story of the Buddha – Childhood Lesson 3. Life Story of the Buddha - Married Life Lesson 4. Life Story for the Buddha – In Search of Truth Lesson 5. Life Story of the Buddha – The First Discourse Lesson 6. Good and Bad, and Five Precepts Lesson 7. Impermanence of Life Lesson 8: Loving-kindness Lesson 9: Law of Kamma Lesson 10: The Triple Gem Lesson 11: History of the Dhamma and Sangha Lesson 12: Buddhist Holy Sites, Festivals and Rituals Lesson 13: Buddhist Architecture and Art References Appendix 3 4 6 7 12 15 17 20 24 28 32 35 37 42 50 55 59 61
Lesson 1: Introduction to Buddhism
☺ Dear students, welcome to the Buddhist studies!
In this first lesson you will learn some basic facts about the Buddhist religious tradition: what is Buddhism, who is a Buddha, who is a Buddhist, where do Buddhists live, and finally why study Buddhism. In the following lessons you will learn about and investigate the Buddha’s life, his teachings, and Buddhist history and culture. But most importantly, you will be asked to apply what you have learnt in your daily life. So let us begin with a very short overview of Buddhism. What is Buddhism? Buddhism is a peaceful religion started by Gotama Buddha. It has very little record of any external conflicts with other religious groups or individuals. In its original and essential form, it is a peaceful way of life taught by the Buddha. It does not require a belief in a Supernatural being, or unquestioning belief in the Buddha and his teachings. But like any scientific teaching or a medicine, it requires an open mind and some trust or faith, to examine the Buddha’s teachings and apply them in your daily life. Who is Buddha?
A title ‘Buddha’ means ‘Awakened One’ or one who is awake to the Universal Truth. Based on the earliest Buddhist scriptures, a Buddha
is one who has attained the Supreme Enlightenment, not known to him before. This means he has attained the three highest or supreme realisations, and by himself. According to the scriptures, he: 1) remembered his previous lives; 2) with divine vision he saw others dying and being reborn according to the Law of Kamma (Law of volitional, or intentional, actions) and 3) fully realised the 4 Noble Truths: truth of suffering, origin of suffering, cessation of suffering and the way leading to the cessation of suffering – The Noble Eightfold Path. As a result of that, the Buddha understands life fully, loves everyone and can teach others skillfully truth about reality, and the way to freedom from suffering. The first historical Buddha lived and taught about 2500 years ago in India. His name was Siddhattha Gotama Buddha. Like a scientist, he discovered the Universal truths, unknown before, and then started the Buddhist tradition and taught others the way of peace. Who is a Buddhist? A Buddhist is a follower of the Buddha. In its full sense, it means he or she takes a refuge, or a protection, in the Triple Gem, studies the Buddha’s teachings and practices what he taught. Triple Gem, or Three Jewels, is: 1. Buddha, the teacher; 2. Dhamma, the teachings of the Buddha, the Universal Truth; and 3. Sangha, meaning here the noble, or spiritual, Sangha - all Buddha’s students who have realised the 4 Noble Truths. There are 2 main Buddhist traditions: Theravada and Mahayana. Also well known is Vajrayana tradition. But because it is an offshoot of the Mahayana tradition, we shall not treat it separately in this text. The scriptures of the Theravada tradition are written in Pali language, while the scriptures of the Mahayana tradition are written in Sanskrit language. So we have Kamma, Dhamma and Nibbana (in Pali) and Karma, Dharma and Nirvana (in Sanskrit). Theravada scriptures are the oldest. They were first written down 400 years after the Buddha’s death. Mahayana scriptures were put down in writing 200 to 400 years later.
In spite of various differences, both Theravada and Mahayana traditions treasure the Triple Gem. Both traditions accept Gotama Buddha as the founder of Buddhism, and 4 Noble Truths and the law of Kamma, as the core teachings. Both have a monastic Sangha, but their robes and some rules of conduct slightly vary. Where do Buddhists live? Buddhism started in India around 500 B.C., and it was a major religion there until approximately 500 A.D. However, today most Indians are Hindus. At present, Theravada Buddhism is a major religion in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Laos and Cambodia. Mahayana Buddhism is a major religion in China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. Both Mahayana and Theravada schools are growing in popularity in the west.
Why learn about Buddhism? It is good to learn about Buddhism, because the Buddha taught a way to peace and happiness for everyone. If we take his advice and cultivate the path he taught, we find lasting personal peace and security, and we grow in understanding of ourselves and world around us. If everyone followed the Buddha’s advice, there would be no wars, no violence or crime, we could trust other people more, and feel much safer anywhere we live and anywhere we go. Many wild and domestic animals would also feel much safer and happier, and most of the environmental problems would disappear.
☺ Would it not be a much nicer place to live?
1. a) Use a dictionary, encyclopedia or other reference to discuss the difference between a religion and a way of life. Look up at least two different dictionary or encyclopedic definitions of ‘religion’, ‘Buddha’ and ‘awakening’ and discuss them with others in your class. b) Why is it not sufficient just to believe in the Buddha’s teachings and not practice it, to find peace and happiness?
c) Use your school atlas or Internet resources to find out how many people in the world are classified as Buddhists, and what proportion of the world population it is. 2. Use your school atlas or other resources to discuss the current global situation – wars, poverty, extinction of many species and pollution. Why do you think we have such big global problems?
Do you think we need ancient religious teachings to stop all wars, the global scale poverty and pollution, or are modern science and technology sufficient for that?
Lesson 2: Life Story of the Buddha – Childhood
1. Who was Siddhattha? Where was he born, where did he live, and who were his parents? 2. What was he like? Why did he sometimes feel unhappy? 3. Briefly tell or read to others the story about a wounded swan, and then discuss it. 4. Describe what happened during the farming ceremony, which Siddhattha attended with his father. 5. What subjects did Siddhattha have to study at school, and what did he like doing in his free time? 6. Use an encyclopedia, or other sources, to find out about children education in Ancient India. What did the boys and girls in different social groups had to learn, and who were their teachers?
1. a) Describe your early childhood. Where were you born, where did you live and what did you like to do? b) Describe your family and neighbors. 2. Name and describe the subjects you have to study at school. What are your favorite subjects and why? What do you like doing during your free time? 3. What things make you feel happy and what things make you feel unhappy?
During the Buddha’s days Indian society was divided into 5 main groups (or social classes). Each group had traditional occupations and a person’s social status depended on the group to which he or she belonged. These groups in the order of rank were: • • • • • Brahmins (the priests and scholars) Kshatrias (the rulers and warriors) Vaisyas (the merchants and other professionals) Sudras (labourers and servants) Untouchables (slaves and others who had to do the most menial jobs, such as removing garbage, cleaning sewers and digging graves).
The first 4 classes were called castes and formed a closed caste system. Untouchables were outside of this caste system, and so they were also called outcastes. Membership in each class was established at birth and was almost impossible to change. Friendships and marriages between members of different castes rarely occurred. Although these days untouchables have legally equal rights to all the other Indian citizens, caste system still continues, but is less strict than during the Buddha’s days (World Encyclopedia of People and Places, 1995, World Book Inc.).
1. What group was Siddhattha born into? Do you think it was a fair society to live in? Discuss. 2. If you were an Indian politician, priest or a teacher what would you do to eliminate the prejudice among the existing caste groups?
Use your school atlas to find some statistics on India, your country, and several other countries you would like to know about. Compare their populations, standard of living, and other human statistics. Discuss some possible reasons for such large differences.
Lesson 3: Life Story of the Buddha – Married Life
1. a) Why and whom did Siddhattha marry? b) Describe the ancient Sakya marriage customs. 2. Why was Siddhattha not content with comfortable life in the palace? 3. What 4 sights did he see on his travels outside the palace, and how did they affect him? 4. Why did he decide to leave his family? Do you think he loved his family?
1. What do all living creatures (beings) have in common? 2. What do you do when you get sick? 3. What do you feel when you see sick or very old people?
4. Has anyone you know recently died? If so, how did you feel about that?
Life is dear to all living beings and many have much shorter lives than people do.
1. How long does each of the creatures pictured below live? Describe their lifecycles.
2. How long do people live and what does it depend on? 3. Describe a typical human lifecycle.
Lesson 4: Life Story of the Buddha – In Search of Truth
1. Where did Siddhattha go after he left the palace? 2. Discuss the story of the wounded lamb and fire ceremony. What did Siddhattha tell the king Bimbisara and why? 3. Who were Siddhattha’s meditation teachers, what did they teach him, and why did he leave them? 4. What is asceticism and why did people practice it? 5. Describe Siddhattha’s life as an ascetic. What happened to him at the end? 6. What very important qualities did Siddhattha show before he became Buddha?
1. What did Siddhattha discover while sitting under the Bodhi tree, and how did he discover it? 2. What is the law of Kamma?
3. Why is the Buddha pictured with a circle around his head?
Before the coming of the Buddha, many people participated in
religious ceremonies where thousands of animals were killed and sacrificed to gods. Siddhattha did not support such practices. Instead he practiced kindness and compassion to all beings and searched for the way leading to the end of all suffering.
1. Have you ever saved an animal from dying or harm? If so, what animal and why was it in trouble? Write a short story or draw a picture about it. When finished, share it with others. 2. a) Do you sometimes overeat, eat unhealthy food, or skip meals? Do you sometimes get very tired from your schoolwork? b) Do you think it is good to go to extremes, and overdo things? If not, why not?
3. Do you like natural science at school? What are your favorite topics and why? 4. What is meditation? Try a short meditation on breathing (ask your teacher, or use the Appendix of this book for instructions).
1. Why did the prehistoric people begin using fire, and how did they make it? 2. Use your library or Internet resources to find out about lives of several famous scientists (e.g. Galileo, Newton, Darwin and others). What did all those scientists have in common? How do we benefit from their discoveries? 3. How can we benefit from the Buddha’s discoveries?
Lesson 5: Life Story of the Buddha – The First Discourse
1. What did the Buddha do after he attained the Supreme Enlightenment? 2. Why did he decide to teach others? Who did he decide to teach first and why? 3. Describe what happened when he met his old ascetic friends. 4. What was the Buddha’s first discourse called and why?
# The Buddha taught people the 4 Noble Truths:
The Noble Truth of Suffering The Buddha taught that birth, sickness, old age, death, not getting what we desire or getting what we do not desire is suffering. The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering The Buddha taught that the origin (cause) of suffering is craving (selfish desire). He also said that this selfish desire is a result of ignorance. The Noble Truth of the End of Suffering The Buddha taught that the end of suffering is the end of the craving (selfishness). This also means the end of greed, hate and delusion. This end is called Nibbana. It is the highest happiness and peace.
The Noble Truth of the Way Leading to the End of Suffering The Buddha taught that the way leading to the end of suffering is a middle way between the two extremes of self-indulgence and selfinjury. It is the Noble Eightfold Path, and it consists of right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.
The Buddha was like a scientist or a medical doctor, who not only recognised the suffering in the world, but discovered the deep causes of it, freed or cured himself, and taught others the way to free themselves. His teaching is like a medicine, that when used properly can bring peace and freedom. The Buddha’s teaching is symbolised by the Wheel of the Dhamma:
1. Do you think it is important to think about the 4 Noble Truths? Why? 2. What are some things in your life that made you suffer or unhappy? Name and discuss some.
3. a) List some words that have similar meaning as ‘craving’. b) Why do some people kill or hurt other people or animals? c) Discuss why some people create violent stories, games and movies. 4. a) Name a few things that make you feel happy. b) Draw a picture of a happy person or of a happy place. c) What is peace? What does peace mean to you? d) Write a poem about peace or draw a picture of a peaceful place. 5. a) Why is the way out of suffering called the Noble Eightfold Path? b) What does right and wrong mean to you? Give examples. c) How do we get started on the Noble Eightfold Path? d) A gardener cultivates (grows) flowers, fruits and vegetables. How does (s)he do it? e) How do we cultivate understanding? Give some ideas. 6. What do you have to do, if you want to: play a musical instrument? paint pictures? play a sport well? use a computer? build a house? understand how plants and animals live? heal people? live in a peaceful world?
7. Draw the Wheel of the Dhamma. Why does it have 8 spokes? 8. Read the Buddha’s First Discourse, in the Buddhist scriptures or in The Book of Protection (see References). Discuss it first at home with your parents or friends, and then in the class with other students.
QUIZ on the best way
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What is the best way to keep your room and house tidy? What is the best way to keep healthy until you are very old? What is the best way to improve in your schoolwork and exams? What is the best way to keep your neighborhood and country free from litter? What is the best way to keep the oceans free from pollution?
What is the best way to stop and prevent the global warming?
Lesson 6: Good and Bad, and Five Precepts
1. Describe the famous Buddhist meeting held at Venuvana monastery, near Rajagaha. In which ways did it differ from modern meetings? 2. What 3 things did the Buddha tell his students to practice and teach others?
1. What does good and bad mean to you? 2. What are defilements and how do we purify our minds? 3. List and describe some good actions and bad actions. Give reasons for your choice.
1. a) Read the story about Sigala and 5 precepts. Describe the ritual young Sigala was performing, when the Buddha saw him. What did the Buddha say about that ritual to Sigala? b) What 5 things did the Buddha advise Sigala not to do? What are they collectively called? c) Why did Sigala kneel and bow to the Buddha? 2. a) Read the story about Devadatta, Siddhattha and the wounded swan. How did Siddhattha treat the swan, and why? b) Read the story about Siddhattha, the wounded lamb and fireworshipers. What did Siddhattha tell the king Bimbissara and other fire-worshipers, and why? c) Read the story about the Buddha and Devadatta. How did the Buddha respond to Devadatta’s attempts to kill him, to introduce stricter rules of conduct, and to divide the Sangha?
# The 5 Precepts:
To get started on the Path of peace, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Buddha gave people 5 rules of conduct. They are called 5 precepts. While translators vary in translating these rules, for you I interpret them to mean:
# To abstain from intentionally harming living beings # To abstain from taking what is not given # To abstain from sexual misconduct # To abstain from lying and unkind speech # To abstain from intoxicating drinks and drugs.
The first rule is an ideal, which is not possible to fully practice physically. When we grow food, or protect our families, we may kill
or injure animals, so that we or other people may live in health. Whether we harm the animals, or someone else does it for us, we are equally responsible. So how can we then apply these rules in our lives? We can apply them unconditionally to all people. And we draw personal boundaries, that we feel comfortable or at peace with, towards other species. Because most people have broken these rules towards other people when in crisis or difficult situations, the global cycles of violence and lying have continued. There is much we can learn about how to treat others from the life of the Buddha, his noble students, and from lives of other great spiritual teachers – what they taught and what they did.
1. a) Do you think it is important to have rules of behaviour? Do you have rules at home and at school? Describe them. Are they good rules and why? b) Discuss the rules you had at home when you were little, and how they have changed since then. Why did they change? 2. Discuss each precept: a) What does each precept mean to you? Give examples and their opposites. b) Describe how you benefit from living by those five rules of conduct. 3. Discuss healthy lifestyle and healthy way of eating: a) What is a healthy lifestyle or a healthy way of living? Do you live in a healthy way? b) Name various wrong (unhealthy) foods that people eat, and say why they are unhealthy. c) What are healthy foods for us, and why should we eat them? d) What is a healthy way of eating? Do you eat in a healthy way? If not, how can you improve your way of eating? e) What would the supermarkets look like, if people stopped making and buying unhealthy foods and ate in a healthy way? What would disappear, what would decrease and what would increase?
4. Learn some yoga exercises (yoga asanas). Ask your parents to buy you a book on yoga and then help you do the exercises, or ask your Buddhist teacher for help. Especially learn the stretching exercise “Salutation to the Sun” (Surya namaskar), and try to practice it every morning. 5. What is an eco-friendly way of life? Reflect on and discuss the meaning and what you can do to make your own life more ecofriendly. 6. Imagine yourself in the following 6 occupations, and for each think about what you would do, to reduce harm to other beings. Then discuss it with others. a) a farmer – what animals would you keep and what would you grow, and how would you do it? b) a food or medical scientist – what experiments would you do, and what food and drugs would you make? c) a shop manager – what things would you not sell and what things would you sell? d) a film producer or a musician – what kind of films would you make, or what kind of music would you make, and why? e) a computer games designer – what kind of games would you make and why? f) a medical doctor – what advice would you give to your patients about prevention and healthy lifestyle, and what medicines would you give them?
1. How do you like being treated by others? And how do you think we should treat other people and animals? 2. Discuss how living by the 5 precepts can make your school, your country and the whole world a safer and nicer place to be. 3. Describe what this world would be like without any wars, crime, fighting, theft, sexual misconduct, lying and harsh speech, and illegal drugs. Use words, draw it, or both.
Lesson 7: Impermanence of Life
1. What did the little Siddhattha see during the Farming ceremony he attended with his father, and what did he think about? 2. Years later, what 4 sights did Siddhatha see on his visits outside the palace, and how did it affect him? When he thought about those 4 sights, what do you think he realised?
1. a) Describe the 4 main stages in peoples lives (childhood, adolescence, maturity and old age) and what people do and learn during each stage. Discuss how his or her body form, ability to move, ability to speak and do various things, and understanding of life changes. b) What is the maximum human lifespan and what does it depend on? 2. Describe how you have changed since you were a baby. Do you sometimes wonder what it will be like when you are very old? 3. One day your grandparents, and then much later also your parents will pass away. What do you feel about that?
# Impermanence of life (change, anicca)
The Buddha taught that not only all things, but also all living beings are impermanent. They arise (come into being), change and pass away. They have beginning and end. Whatever has a beginning also has an end, that is a law of nature.
If you find the questions below too difficult, then just answer what you can and ask others to help you. 1. Describe what each of the non-living things listed below is made of, how it changes and how long it can last: a) Earth b) Sun c) rocks, water, air, fire, wood c) molecules d) atoms e) subatomic particles (e.g. protons, electrons) f) light energy (describe the colour spectrum, and its characteristics) g) a colour photo in a magazine, and a picture on a TV screen (describe the component colours, and how is the picture made). 2. Describe the following animals (their body parts, how they change through life, and how long do they live): a snail, crab, butterfly, fish, frog, lizard, bird, dog, monkey. 3. Describe yourself (your body, mind and consciousness). Do you know how long will each part of you last? Can you find any part of you that is not changing, is permanent, may last forever? 4. The Buddha taught that living beings are reborn and can remember their previous lives. But what part of the being did he teach is reborn? Ask your parents or a Buddhist teacher to help you answer this question.
! Do you know that?
Your body is made of millions of tiny cells, like bricks that make up a house. These tiny cells are made of molecules and the molecules are made of atoms. Atoms are in turn made of even smaller particles, and these are composed of energy. The energy itself is made of a spectrum of photons with characteristic wavelengths and frequencies. So the whole body is just a complex energy structure. Your body changes all the time, and each day some cells die and are replaced by new ones. So every few years you have a brand new body.
Many scientists teach that our Universe began with Big Bang (or big explosion of energy) several billion years ago. Following that, subatomic particles, atoms, elements and molecules were formed, and stars and planets were born. One of those stars was Sun and one of those planets was Earth. Then as the Earth cooled, solid earth, oceans and atmosphere formed, all made of many different atoms and molecules. Then over many millions of years complex molecules (macromolecules) formed in the oceans out of the simple molecules. These macromolecules then gradually developed to form single celled (uni-cellular) organisms. These one-celled organisms not only multiplied, but also changed and grouped to form multi-cellular organisms – bodies of plants, animals, and after many millions of years also people. So the life forms slowly developed, or evolved, over hundreds of millions of years. Scientists also study how galaxies, stars and planets are born and die. Based on that, they predict that many millions of years from now, the Sun will grow bigger, become very red and then slowly die, turning into a ball of hot ash. They call such a ball of ash White Dwarf. When that happens, all life on Earth will also gradually die and Earth will become a frozen planet.
Based on their present understanding, scientists also teach that the Universe is still expanding, but one day it will begin to contract. However they are not really sure what will happen at the end, nor how the Big Bang started. As with other great scientific theories, theory of the origin of our Universe is based on a strong basis of collective observation of the natural world, and analysis of the data. It cannot be fully proven, but until evidence is shown against it, for practical purposes we can assume it is true.
Can possibly any thing or any person be unchanging and last forever in the Universe that is constantly changing, and has a beginning and an end?
Lesson 8: Loving-kindness
1. Review the Buddha’s life story and briefly describe the situations when Siddhattha showed loving-kindness and compassion towards animals and people. 2. Tell others the story about the wounded lamb and fire-worshipers. What qualities did Siddhattha show then? 3. Describe various situations, or incidents, where the Buddha showed loving-kindness towards people. 4. Describe the mental qualities of his students and illustrate this by examples.
# Loving-kindness (friendliness, good-will, metta)
Buddha advised people to be loving and kind to all living beings.
Just as the precepts, so the loving-kindness is an absolute basis for the whole spiritual training, and also for all the other pure states of mind. When we love or care about a person or an animal, we then naturally feel compassion towards her or him if (s)he is suffering, and sympathetic joy when (s)he is succeeding in good things. When (s)he is in difficulty, we realise that excitement or dejection are hindrances and that we must be calm or equanimous to really see clearly what to do, and we make an effort to calm our mind. We are all born with natural kindness towards ourselves, and those who love us (our parents, siblings, children and grandchildren), and also with knowing that all people like to be loved. So we begin with that, and we cultivate this loving-kindness towards everyone. We live by the 5 precepts and try to be kind to everyone in our daily life, as situations arise. We can learn much about this from the Buddha’s life, lives of his students, and also from the spiritual teachers of other traditions.
The Buddha encouraged many of his young students, including his son Rahula, to practice loving-kindness meditation. The lovingkindness meditation as commonly taught, is an introductory meditation practice, which requires simple imagining and thinking. Typically, we wish to ourselves and others various good things to experience. While it is very good to do, like prayers, this traditional method is only a beginning practice. It is of little help to anyone, if it is not followed by real actions. More advanced practice consists not only of wishing, but also thinking about what we can do to make our
wishes come true, and then doing it. You can find more information on Buddhist meditation in the Appendix.
1. a) What does a true friend do and does not do to his friend? b) How do you like others treating you? How should you then treat others? Discuss, giving examples. 2. Try the loving-kindness meditations described in the Appendix. 3. Do some of these activities: a) Make a few gifts for your siblings or friends (cards, pictures, toys), or save some of your pocket money and buy them little gifts. b) Offer your parents help with housework and shopping. c) Invite your friends for lunch and Buddhist discussion. Then offer them some healthy food, and after share your experiences and help each other to understand various things from the Buddhist lessons. 4. a) Read life stories of Jesus Christ, Mohammed and other great spiritual teachers, and discuss with your friends their lives and advice to people on how to live in peace. b) Read about the origins of the Christmas celebrations, Santa Claus and gifts giving. Use an online encyclopedia (see References, p.60), or any other resources you find. 5. Ask your teacher or parents to help you find a Buddhist email friend overseas. Share your email conversations with your parents and friends.
Discuss how practice of loving-kindness to all beings can help to make this world a better place to live for everyone.
Lesson 9: Law of Kamma
1. What kind of vision did Siddhattha gain while meditating under the Bodhi tree? What did he see? 2. What did the Buddha teach about life after death and rebirth? 3. Where did the Buddha die? Why did he choose that place? 4. Describe what happened during the Buddha’s last day. 5. What were the Buddha’s last words? 6. Was the Buddha afraid of death? Justify your answer. 7. What is Parinibbana?
# Law of Kamma
Kamma means volitional (intentional) actions. These actions are thinking, speech and bodily actions. The Law of Kamma is the law of the volitional actions. It determines our future lives, be it today, tomorrow or after death. Basically, the Buddha taught that good actions lead to freedom from suffering, happiness and Nibbana, and bad actions lead to more suffering, unhappiness and away from Nibbana.
1. a) Name and describe some well-known natural laws (e.g. law of gravity, laws of motion). b) Describe some natural non-living cycles (day cycles, moon cycles, annual cycles), and living cycles (e.g. breathing (in-out), day (daynight), life (birth-death)). 2. Reflect on and describe how your life depends on others and on your own actions.. 3. Describe the Law of Kamma and discuss the 3 kammas (bodily actions, speech and thinking): a) Give examples of intentional and not intentional bodily actions, and their consequences. b) Give examples of good speech and bad speech towards others, and their consequences. c) Give examples of good thoughts and bad thoughts about yourself and about others, and their consequences. 4. Can you possibly prove to yourself or others that there is no life after death? Can you prove there is life after death? If so, how? 5. If we do not really know what happens to us after death, what is a wise way to live, and why?
1. Investigate what various people believe happens after death. Ask your parents, friends, and teachers, or use Internet resources, to find out. Share your findings with others. a) What do your parents and friends believe, and why? b) What did ancient Egyptians, Indians and Greeks believe? c) What did some great religious teachers teach about life after death? 2. Why is it good to reflect on the law of Kamma? How can we and others benefit from that?
Lesson 10: Triple Gem Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha
# Triple Gem
All Buddhists respect and treasure the Triple Gem, or the Three Jewels:
# Buddha (the teacher of the Dhamma and the founder of the
# Dhamma (teaching of the Buddha, the Universal Truth) # Sangha (the noble or spiritual sangha, the spiritual community of
persons who have realised the 4 Noble Truths). Below is a scriptural description of the qualities of the Buddha, Dhamma and the spiritual Sangha: “Such Indeed is the Blessed One, Arahant (Consummate One), supremely enlightened, endowed with knowledge and virtue, welcome being, knower of worlds, the peerless trainer of persons, teacher of gods and men, the Buddha, the Blessed One.” “Well expounded is the Dhamma by the Blessed One, a Dhamma to be realized by oneself and gives immediate
results, a Dhamma which invites investigation and leads up to Nibbana, a Dhamma to be understood by the wise each for himself.” “Of good conduct is the Order of Disciples of the Blessed One, of upright conduct is the Order of Disciples of the Blessed One, of wise conduct is the Order of Disciples of the Blessed One, of dutiful conduct is the Order of Disciples of the Blessed One. This Order of Disciples of the Blessed One -- namely those four pairs of persons, the eight kinds of individuals - is worthy of offerings, is worthy of hospitality, is worthy of gifts, is worthy of reverential salutations, is an incomparable field of merit for the world.”
1. Review the Buddha’s biography, and then discuss his teachings, experiences and qualities: a) Describe the Buddha’s daily routine and main teachings, to others. b) What did he meditate on and think about; what emotions did he experience; was he conceited or proud; did he cling to anything in the world? c) What things was the Buddha fully freed from? d) What are the 2 most important qualities of the Buddha, and why do you think so? What other words do we use to describe these qualities? 2. Use a biography of the Buddha, and other resources (see the References) to: a) review life stories of the Buddha’s students: Sariputta, Moggallana, Ananda, Devadata, King Suddhodana and Maha Pajapatti. b) describe some qualities of the noble disciples and discuss how they developed them.
# Taking a refuge in the Triple Gem
Commonly, the first two steps in the process of becoming a student of the Buddha, are taking a refuge in the Triple Gem and taking on the 5 Precepts. Following the ancient tradition, many people take refuge in the Triple Gem by reciting: Buddham saranam gacchami, Dhammam saranam gacchami, Sangham saranam gacchami I go for refuge to the Buddha (Teacher) I go for refuge to the Dhamma (the Teaching) I go for refuge to the Sangha (the Taught)
1. a) What does taking a refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha mean to you? b) What are some benefits of taking refuge in the Triple Gem? 2. Which of these three refuges do you think is most important and why? Who does the Buddha take refuge in?
The word Sangha is most commonly used to mean a community of Buddhist monks and nuns. However, the spiritual Sangha consists of all Buddha’s students who have realised the 4 Noble Truths. They may be monks or nuns, but also lay people. While they differ in the depth of their experience and understanding, they all know that their life is impermanent and they cultivate understanding and love. To become a part of the spiritual Sangha, one needs to practice the Dhamma and realise the 4 Noble Truths. This realisation then shows in one’s actions. The most advanced, or mature, of these persons are called Arahants in the Theravada tradition and Bodhisattvas in the Mahayana tradition. According to the scriptures, an Arahant has perfect understanding and love for all beings, and will not be born again. In the Mahayana tradition, Bodhisattva is also very advanced in understanding of life and love for others, but willingly continues to be reborn to save other beings from suffering. In the Theravada tradition a Bodhisattva is an individual who strives to attain the Supreme Enlightenment. While the Theravada and Mahayana ideals are little different, the Noble Eightfold Path and helping others to be free from suffering is emphasised in both traditions. The following extract from the discourse ‘Metta Sutta’ illustrates a spiritual practice and ideal of the noble living taught by the Buddha and his students:
“Whatever living beings there may be - feeble or strong (or the seekers and the attained), long, stout, or of medium size, short, small, large, those seen or those unseen, those dwelling far or near, those who are born as well as those yet to be born - may all beings have happy minds. Let one not deceive another nor despise anyone anywhere. In anger or ill-will let one not wish another ill. Just as a mother would protect her only child with her life even so let one cultivate a boundless love towards all beings. Let one radiate boundless love towards the entire world above, below, and across - unhindered, without ill-will, without enmity. Standing, walking, sitting or reclining, as long as one is awake, let one develop this mindfulness. This, they say, is ‘Noble Living’ here.”
1. Visit a local Buddhist center, a temple or a monastery, and ask the Buddhist practitioners, monks and nuns, about their lives and how they have benefited from the Buddha’s teaching. 2. From what you have learnt about the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, what do you think about the Buddha and his students?
1. How can everyone, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike, benefit from learning about the Triple Gem? 2. How can the Buddhist religious tradition help to stop religious conflicts, and make this world a better place to live for everyone?
Lesson 11: History of the Dhamma and Sangha
# Missionary work
The Buddha began teaching the Dhamma, at Isipatana (modern Sarnath, near Varanasi), more than 2500 years ago, when he was 35 years old. He gave his first discourse to 5 of his old friends who practiced asceticism. They became his first students and the first members of the Buddhist Sangha. Soon more people joined the Sangha and under the Buddha’s guidance many became fully enlightened (Arahants). For the next 45 years, the Buddha and his ordained students wandered through Northern India teaching people the Dhamma. By the time of his final passing away, thousands of people had become his followers. The Buddha passed away at Kusinara, when he was 80 years old. Three months after his death, 500 Arahants assembled at Rajagaha to recite the Dhamma and rules of conduct for monks and nuns (Vinaya) as they remembered them. This meeting is called First Buddhist Council. All the Arahants belonged to the school of elders (Theravada). About two hundred years after the Buddha’s death, two main schools of Buddhism developed in India - Theravada and Mahayana. They differ in some interpretations of the Buddha’s teachings, where Mahayana is less strict in their interpretations.
Buddhist missionary activity outside of India began during King Asokha’s reign around 250 B.C. Buddhist missionaries introduced successfully the Buddha’s teachings first to Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka). Over the next few centuries, as monks and nuns from the Theravada and Mahayana schools carried the Buddha’s teaching to various other Asian countries, Theravada and Mahayana traditions slowly developed. After 500 A.D. Buddhism gradually declined in India. Among the contributing factors were unfavorable political conditions, loss of support or opposition from the rulers, loss of enthusiasm among the Sangha, and increased popularity of Hinduism and other religions. Presently, only about 1% of Indians are Buddhists, and most of them follow the Mahayana tradition.
While missionaries were also sent to western countries, as far as Egypt, Syria and Macedonia, because of a strong influence of other religions, Buddhism did not become established there. Serious study of Buddhism in the West began only in the early 19th century. By the end of the 20th century, both Theravada and Mahayana had spread to many western countries. Buddhism is becoming popular among young people in United States, Western Europe and Australia. At present, Theravada Buddhism is a major religion in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Laos and Cambodia. Mahayana Buddhism is a major religion in China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. Both Mahayana and Theravada schools are growing in popularity in the west. In spite of various differences, both Theravada and Mahayana traditions treasure the Triple Gem. Both traditions accept Gotama Buddha as the founder of Buddhism, and the 4 Noble Truths and the law of Kamma, as the core teachings. Both have monastic Sangha, but their robes and some rules of conduct slightly vary.
1. Use Internet or other resources to find out more about the division of the Sangha into Theravada and Mahayana schools. What are the main differences between them? 2. Read about King Asokha’s life and his contributions to the Buddhist tradition. 3. Find out about history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, China, Tibet or other countries of your choice. Prepare a short report about one of them.
# Propagation of the Dhamma
For the first 400 years the Buddha’s teachings was recited and memorised by the monks and nuns. Though writing was known in India at that time, it was not customary to record sacred teachings in writing. So for 4 centuries the Dhamma was passed on orally.
The Theravada scriptures were first written down 100 B.C., in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), on plant leaves. They form the Theravada, or Pali, Canon. It is written in Pali language. The Mahayana scriptures were written down between 100 A.D. and 300 A.D., in Sanskrit lanuguage. They form the Mahayana Canon. So we have Kamma, Dhamma, and Nibbana, in Pali; and Karma, Dharma and Nirvana, in Sanskrit. Both Canons contain some teachings and discourses that are very similar, and also some that are different.
1. Use Internet or other resources, to obtain more information about the Buddhist scriptures and complete the following tasks. a) What are the 3 divisions of the Buddhist Scriptures called and what is in each? b) Read the introduction part of The Book of Protection, Discourse on Blessings, The Jewel Discourse and the first discourse of the Buddha (Setting in Motion the Wheel of Truth). Then ask your parents or a teacher to help you understand them. c) Read a few chapters from the Dhammapada – the chapter on the Buddha and a few other of your choice, and discuss them with other students. d) Visit a local Buddhist temple and ask the novices, monks or nuns to show you the Scriptures and tell you more about them.
# Development of the Sangha
As described previously, the Sangha of the Triple Gem is a spiritual community of the Buddha’s followers who have realised the 4 Noble Truths, at least to some degree. The name Sangha is however most
commonly used to mean a monastic community or order, of monks and nuns. According to the records, during the Buddha’s life this Sangha consisted almost entirely of the enlightened individuals, and many of them Arahants. To become a part of the monastic order, one had to ask for a permission and be accepted, or ordained, by the Buddha or his authorised disciples. This tradition continues to this day.
1. Monastic ordination During the Buddha’s mission, the ordination gradually developed from a simple consent to join the Buddhist order, to a more complex public ceremony. The first few hundred students were personally ordained by the Buddha. They simply asked him for a permission to join the order, and he accepted and invited them in. Later, as the Sangha grew, it was not possible for all students to see the Buddha, so the Buddha instructed his best students to ordain some of them. The newcomers had to shave their heads, and in the case of men beards, and put on robes. They had to formally take a refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha by reciting Three Refuges. Later, when some less mature people wanted to join the Order, 10 precepts were added to the Three Refuges. Later still, after lay people complained of the behaviour of some monks, more detailed rules of conduct were introduced for monks and nuns who completed their novice training. So the total number of rules increased from 10 to more than 200.
2. Daily lives of monks and nuns After the ordination, monks and nuns had to leave their families and live in monasteries. They had to become celibate, keep their heads shaved and wear robes. This tradition continues to this day. The aspirant becomes a novice (samanera) first and after a period of novice training, if he or she wishes so, can become a fully ordained monk or nun (bhikkhu or bhikkhuni). However, he or she must be at least 20 years old, and pass a general examination on the Dhamma. Novice training is similar to an apprenticeship. Novices are expected to obey 10 precepts, obtain their food by begging, do monastic chores and help monks and nuns, study and recite the scriptures, and meditate. In addition to the duties listed for the novices, monks and nuns are expected to obey more than 200 rules of conduct, train novices, teach the Dhamma to lay students, and conduct religious ceremonies.
1. Use Internet or other resources, to complete the following tasks: a) Describe lives of some of the Buddha’s early disciples, and their main contributions to the Buddhist tradition. What qualities did they all have in common, and how did they differ? b) Read life stories, of your choice, of now living Buddhist teachers, and share them with other students. 2. a) Read the Ten Training Precepts and The Four-fold Reflection of a Monk from ‘The Book of Protection’ to discuss daily life of novices. b) Discuss a fifth life requisite, necessary in a literate society education and teaching materials. What are the basic materials we need to study and teach the Dhamma? 3. Visit a local temple or a monastery and ask the novices, monks or nuns to show you around and tell you about their daily lives. Discuss your findings with others in your group.
1. What parts of the Buddhist history and scriptures did you find most interesting and why? 2. Would you like to live like the Buddhist novices, or monks or nuns, do? What would you like to do when you leave school, and why? 3. a) What rules of conduct do you live by? What rules do you have at school and at home? b) What duties do you have apart from your schoolwork? c) What is your daily routine: during the school terms; on the weekends; during school holidays? 4. a) Go through your things, separate what you don’t really need and give it away to a charity. Then clean and tidy your room. b) Make a small bag to hold needles and threads. Then repair some of your, or your sibling’s, clothing. c) Make a Buddhist book, using simple materials such as paper, pens, pencils and threads.
1. Why is it important to know the main history of the humankind? What can we learn from it, and how can we benefit from this knowledge in our daily lives? 2. Why is it important to know the main history of the Buddhism and the oldest scriptures? How can this knowledge help to bring peace among the Buddhist communities, and world wide?
HISTORY QUIZ 1. When and where did the Buddha pass away? 2. When did the Buddhist Sangha separate into two main schools, and why? 3. How long did Buddhism flourish in India, and why did it die out?
4. Who was King Asokha and how did he contribute to the spread of Buddhism? 5. List the countries in which a)Theravada, b) Mahayana and c) Vajrayana Buddhist tradition is a main religion. 6. How was the Dhamma propagated during the Buddha’s life and after he passed away? 7. What is the difference between Canon, Scriptures and Baskets? 8. What is Tipitaka and what does it consists of? 9. What is Sangha and when and how did it begin? 10. What is the difference between a novice and a monk?
Lesson 12: Buddhist Holy Sites, Festivals and Rituals
# Buddhist holy sites
Buddhist holy sites are places sacred to Buddhists, where important events in the Buddha’s life or lives of the Sangha took place. The 4 most important sites are situated in India. They are:
% Lumbini, where the Buddha was born. It is marked by a pillar. % Bodhgaya, where the Buddha attained Supreme Enlightenment.
It is marked by a brick and stone stupa.
% Sarnath (ancient Issipatana near Varanasi), where the Buddha
gave his first discourse. It is marked by a brick stupa.
% Kusinara. where the Buddha attained Parinibbana. It is marked
by a brick stupa.
Great stupa at Bodhgaya
1. Use Internet resources or a library: a) Obtain more information on the 4 most important Buddhist Holy sites. Share it with others. b) Find out about the main Buddhist holy sites outside of India, and present your findings to others.
2. a) Why is it good to visit the Buddhist holy sites? b) Is it necessary to visit those places to be a good Buddhist?
# Buddhist festivals
Buddhist festivals (pujas) are celebrations held to commemorate (remember) important events in the Buddha’s life and the lives of his noble disciples. The two most important celebrations are Visakha and Dhammacakka pujas.
Visakha Puja (Vesak) commemorates the Buddha’s birth, Supreme Enlightenment and passing away into Parinibbana, on the full moon of the sixth lunar month (May).
Puja (Asalha Puja) commemorates the Buddha giving his first discourse called Dhammacakkappavattana (“Setting into motion the wheel of truth”), on the full moon of the eighth lunar month (approximately July). During these celebrations, many Buddhists visit temples, monasteries or sacred sites, and perform simple rituals to express their love for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. However, some devotees visit temples and perform simple rituals throughout the year.
Below is a brief scriptural description of reverence, valued by the Buddha most: “They who fulfill the greater and lesser duties, they who are correct in life, walking according to the precepts – it is they who rightly honour, reverence and venerate the Tathagata, the Perfect One, with the worthiest homage. Therefore, Ananda, be steady in the fulfillment of the greater and lesser duties, and be correct in life, walking according
to the precepts. Thus Ananda you should train yourselves.” (Mahaparinibbana Sutta, Digha Nikaya)
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1. Describe the most important qualities of the Buddha. 2. Make Vesak cards and other gifts, and give or send them to your friends. 3. Participate in a Vesak celebration in a local Buddhist center, temple or monastery. Then share your experiences with others. You may like to take a few photos, write a story or describe your experiences to others. 4. Have you participated in any other Buddhist festivals? If so, describe what you saw and did.
# Buddhist rituals
Rituals and observing various rites are a common practice among people of all countries. For example, giving gifts on special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas or Mother’s Day, or laying flowers on the graves of the loved ones.
Buddhist rituals commonly consist of giving offerings and chanting in front of shrines with Buddha’s statues, in gratitude to the Buddha. The three most common offerings are flowers (especially lotus flowers), incense, and light (as candles or lanterns).
Apart from the rituals in memory of the Buddha or his noble disciples, there are Buddhist religious rituals connected with birth, marriage and death, which vary from country to country. But common to these are saying prayers suitable for each event, such as wishing well in the case of death to the departed. Chanting Buddhist stanzas is believed to give protection to those who recite or listen to them.
1. a) Discuss why people put flowers, incense or lights in front of the Buddha’s statues. b) What do flowers and lit up candles remind you of? c) Do you know some Buddhist chants? If so, chant some to others in your group, and explain their purpose. 2. Describe various rituals you saw during the Vesak celebrations. 3. Discuss what value the Buddhist shrines and rituals had in the past, and what value do they still have now.
1. Compare the Vesak celebration with other world religious festivals. How does, or can, this celebration benefit all Buddhists and other cultural groups? 2. What tree does the leaf below come from? What is the scientific name for that species? Use Internet resources or other resources to find out more about this plant.
Lesson 13: Buddhist Architecture and Art
# Buddhist architecture
The most important Buddhist architectural works are mounds, temples and monasteries. Mounds Mounds are called stupas in India, dagobas in Sri Lanka, and pagodas in Burma, Thailand, China and Tibet. They were built to hold relics of the Buddha or his chief disciples, and also to mark important events from life of the Buddha or his students. King Ashoka is believed to have built 84 000 stupas all over India. The 3 most important stupas are in India, at Bodhgaya, Sarnath and Kusinara. The first stupa is made of stone and bricks, and the other two of bricks.
Great stupa at Bodhgaya
Dhamekh stupa at Sarnath
Stupa at Kusinara
Temples and monasteries A temple is a place where monks or nuns live, and Buddhist religious ceremonies are held. A large temple is called a monastery. It typically consists of monks (or nuns) quarters; a shrine hall, where sacred objects such as relics and statues are kept; and a teaching hall, where Dhamma talks are given and meetings are held. Some temples also have a stupa and Bodhi tree.
1. Use the Internet, library, or other resources, to collect some pictures of Buddhist architecture. Then create a picture album with short comments on what is on each picture. Make either a traditional paperalbum, a computer album (a slide presentation of computer images, using MS-PowerPoint or other software), or add a page with pictures to your website. What value did the temples and stupas have in the past for the Buddha’s followers? 2. Visit a local temple or a monastery. Ask the monks and nuns for some information on the history of their monastery and Buddhist tradition. Then prepare a short report on what you have seen and learnt, and share your experiences with others in your Buddhist group.
# Buddhist art (sculpture and paintings)
In the early Buddhist tradition people were forbidden to worship, or make offerings to, a Buddha image. The Bodhi tree, the Wheel of the Dhamma, the Buddha’s seat and the Buddha’s footprints, and other objects, were used as symbols to be worshiped instead. This tradition continued until about first century AD. Among other symbols, made to remember the Buddha, were stone pillars. King Ashoka erected many stone pillars inscribed with Buddhist texts and royal instructions. The most important pillar is at Lumbini, the Buddha’s birthplace. This pillar is made of stone and has an inscription about the king carved on it. Originally, it also had an
image of a horse on the top of it, to commemorate that the Buddha was born there. Buddha’s images were rare during this early period. First Buddha’s statues were found in the old Gandhara, on the border between Pakistan and Afganistan. They are about 2200 years old.
Most common forms of later Buddhist art are Buddha’s statues and scenes from the Buddha’s life and Jataka tales. These scenes were carved in stone, or painted on temple walls. The Buddha was most commonly portrayed seated in a meditation position, meditating or teaching; standing with one hand raised; and reclining on his right side.
1. a) Make little figurines of the Buddha and his students, using paper or plasticine. Use these to create scenes from the Buddha’s life. b) Draw some scenes from the Buddha’s life. Use these to make a short picture book for little children.
2. Use Internet or other resources, to collect some pictures of Buddhist artworks, from early and later period, and discuss them with other students. What benefit did such art works have for their authors? How do other people benefit from them? 3. Visit an exhibition of Buddhist or Asian art. Then discuss it in the class.
1. Create a personal website and add to it a web-page with your favorite Buddhist things, including your work, and favorite web-links. Let your friends know about it. To develop your website, you can use simple tools such as a word-processor or free online software. 2. Create a website for your Buddhist group, and link it with other Buddhist education websites.
Buddharakkhita, A., 1985. The Dhammapada: The Buddha’s Path of Wisdom. Buddhist Publication Society, Sri Lanka. Gunapayuta, Hai J., Lu Z.A. and Lee Y.F., 1998. A Pictorial Biography of Sakyamuni Buddha. The Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation, Taiwan, Taipei. Murty D., 2004. Biography of Sakyamuni Buddha for Children. BodhiTree, Internet, http://www.buddhistcouncil.org/bodhitree Murty D., 2001. Buddhist Studies for Children. Buddha Dharma Education Association, Australia, Sydney. Murty D., 2010. Buddhist Studies for Young Students – Secondary Level. BodhiTree, Internet, http://www.buddhistcouncil.org/bodhitree Narada Ven., 1995. Buddhism in a Nutshell. Buddhist Publication Society, Sri Lanka, Kandy. Phangchan C. Ven., 1997. Buddhism for Young Students. The Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation, Taiwan, Taipei. Piyadassi Ven., 1995. The Buddha, His Life and Teachings. The Wheel Publication No 5 A/B Buddhist Publication Society, Sri Lanka, Kandy. Piyadassi Ven., 1981. The Book of Protection. Buddhist Publication Society, Sri Lanka, Kandy.
Piyasilo Ven., 1973. Introduction to Buddhism. An Illustrated Exposition in Simple Language for the Beginner. Chuan Printing Press, Bangkok.
Buddha Dharma Education Association: Dhamma wheel and a Lotus flower. Microsoft Office 2000: Bodhi tree and various other pictures.
Access to Insight: http://www.accesstoinsight.org BodhiTree: http://www.buddhistcouncil.org/bodhitree BuddhaNet: http://www.buddhanet.net Buddhist Channel: http://www.buddhistchannel.tv Buddhist Council of New South Wales: http://www.buddhistcouncil.org Buddhist Publication Society: http://www.bps.lk Encyclopedia Wikipedia: http://www.wikipedia.org
The Five Training Precepts
% I undertake to abide by the precept to abstain from intentionally
harming living beings.
% I undertake to abide by the precept to abstain from taking what
is not given.
% I undertake to abide by the precept to abstain from sexual
% I undertake to abide by the precept to abstain from lying and
% I undertake to abide by the precept to abstain from intoxicating
drinks and drugs.
Meditation on breathing
Meditation on breathing (anapana sati) is an ancient method of relaxing our body and mind, and experiencing inner calm. It was practiced in India even before the Buddha. By practicing it we not only experience inner calm but also gain some insight into our body and mind. Below is a simple practice for you to try, called baremindfulness of breathing. It is called that, because we just observe the breathing, we do not force the breathing, count or use mantras to rest our attention on the breath. Some people prefer to observe their
breathing at the abdomen, others at the nose or elsewhere. It is up to you, wherever you find it easier to observe. But be consistent. 1. Sit down or lie down comfortably, and close your eyes. 2. Now turn your attention to your nose and just observe (feel) your breathing there - the in and out flow of the breath. 3. If your attention wanders off to other things, then just gently bring it back to the breath. 4. Do this for at least 2 minutes. Then open your eyes and slowly return to an active state.
Traditional loving-kindness meditation is basically wishing ourselves and all living beings well-being, happiness and other good things. In other words, we send out thoughts of good-will towards ourselves and towards others as well. Whatever good things we wish to ourselves, we also wish to others. While there are many ways of practicing this meditation, many are based on the discourse by the Buddha, called Metta Sutta (see Appendix). But of cause, you can create your own, related to what you wish to experience or accomplish in your life. It is like a song, that you can sing to yourself and others. Below are two simple practices for you to try:
1. Sit down or lie down comfortably, close your eyes, and let your body and mind relax. 2. Now turn your attention to yourself and say, in your mind: “May I be well, may I be happy”. 3. Then turn your attention to your friend and also wish him or her well: “May you be well, may you be happy”. 4. Finally turn your attention to all beings in the world, and say: “May all beings be well, may all beings be happy”. 5. Finish by saying: “Peace, peace, peace”. 6. Remain sitting or lying down, resting for a while.
1. Sit down or lie down comfortably, close your eyes, and let your body and mind relax. 2. Now turn your attention to yourself and say, in your mind: “May I be well, may I be at peace, may I be liberated, may I attain Nibbana”. 3. Then turn your attention to your friend and also wish him or her well: “May you be well, may you be at peace, may you be liberated, may you attain Nibbana”. 4. Finally turn your attention to all beings in the world, and say: “May all beings be well, may all beings be at peace, may all beings be liberated, may all beings attain Nibbana”. 5. Finish by saying: “Peace, peace, peace”. 6. Remain sitting or lying down, resting for a while.
Song of Protection
(An adaptation of the discourse Protection of Aggregates, Khandha Sutta) My love to the footless And to the bipeds my love too, My love to the quadrupeds And to the many-footed my love too. Let not the footless do me harm, Nor those that have two feet, Let not the quadrupeds do me harm Nor those with many feet. All beings, all living creatures, May good fortune befall them all, May not the least harm on them befall. Infinite in virtue is Buddha, Infinite is the Dhamma, Infinite is the Sangha. So please leave me in peace, So please leave me in peace, So please leave me in peace.
Song of loving-kindness
(An adaptation of the discourse on loving-kindness, Metta Sutta) Whatever living beings there may be - feeble or strong (or the seekers and the attained), long, stout, or of medium size, short, small, large, those seen or those unseen, those dwelling far or near, those who are born as well as those yet to be born - may all beings have happy minds. Let one not deceive another nor despise anyone anywhere. In anger or ill-will let one not wish another ill.
Just as a mother would protect her only child with her life even so let one cultivate a boundless love towards all beings. Let one radiate boundless love towards the entire world above, below, and across - unhindered, without ill-will, without enmity. Standing, walking, sitting or reclining, as long as one is awake, let one develop this mindfulness. This, they say, is ‘Noble Living’ here.