Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India's most ancient techniques of meditation.

It was rediscovered by Gotama Buddha more than 2500 years ago. non-sectarian technique It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion. The scientific laws that operate one's thoughts, feelings, judgements and sensations become clear. Through direct experience, the nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering is understood. The first step is, for the period of the course, to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual activity, speaking falsely, and intoxicants. This simple code of moral conduct serves to calm the mind, which otherwise would be too agitated to perform the task of self-observation. we should try to convert people from misery to happiness, from bondage to liberationand from cruelty to compassion. to restore religion to its rightful role as peacemaker and pacifier — the problem of conflict is never the Bible or the Torah or the Koran. Indeed, the problem is never the faith — it is the faithful and how we behave towards each other. You must, once again, teach your faithful the ways of peace and the ways of tolerance. In fact, Vipassana eliminates the three causes of all unhappiness: craving, aversion and ignorance/lust. People with serious mental disorders have occasionally come to Vipassana courses with the unrealistic expectation that the technique will cure or alleviate their mental problems. Unstable interpersonal relationships and a history of various treatments can be additional factors which make it difficult for such people to benefit from, or even complete, a ten-day course. Our capacity as a nonprofessional volunteer organization makes it impossible for us to properly care for people with these backgrounds. Although Vipassana meditation is beneficial for most people, it is not a substitute for medical or psychiatric treatment and we do not recommend it for people with serious psychiatric disorders. The foundation of the practice is sīla — moral conduct. Sīla provides a basis for the development of samādhi — concentration of mind; and purification of the mind is achieved through paññā — the wisdom of insight.

There are three additional precepts which old students (that is, those who have completed a course with S.N. Goenka or one of his assistant teachers) are expected to follow during the course: 6. to abstain from eating after midday; 7. to abstain from sensual entertainment and bodily decorations 8. to abstain from using high or luxurious beds.

Old students will observe the sixth precept by having tea without milk or fruit juice at the 5 p.m. break, whereas new student may have tea with milk and some fruit. The teacher may excuse an old student from observing this precept for health reasons. The seventh and eighth precept will be observed by all. All students must observe Noble Silence from the beginning of the course until the morning of the last full day. Noble Silence means silence of body, speech, and mind. Any form of communication with fellow student, whether by gestures, sign language, written notes, etc., is prohibited. Students may, however, speak with the teacher whenever necessary and they may approach the management with any problems related to food, accommodation, health, etc. But even these contacts should be kept to a minimum. Students should cultivate the feeling that they are working in isolation. It is important that throughout the course there be no physical contact whatsoever between persons of the same or opposite sex Although physical yoga and other exercises are compatible with Vipassana, they should be suspended during the course because proper secluded facilities are not available at the course site. Jogging is also not permitted. Students may exercise during rest periods by walking in the designated areas.

Religious Objects, Rosaries, Crystals, Talismans, etc.
No such items should be brought to the course site. If brought inadvertently they should be deposited with the management for the duration of the course.
No drugs, alcohol, or other intoxicants should be brought to the site; this also applies to tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and all other sedatives. Those taking medicines or drugs on a doctor's prescription should notify the teacher. It is not possible to satisfy the special food preferences and requirements of all the meditators. Students are therefore kindly requested to make do with the simple vegetarian meals provided. The course management endeavors to prepare a balanced, wholesome menu suitable for meditation. If any students have been prescribed a special diet because of ill-health, they should inform the management at the time of application. Fasting is not permitted. The playing of musical instruments, radios, etc. is not permitted. No reading or writing materials should be brought to the course. Students should not distract themselves by taking notes. The restriction on reading and writing is to emphasize the strictly practical nature of this meditation. Take great care that your actions do not disturb anyone. Take no notice of distractions caused by others. Finally, students should note that their progress in Vipassana depends solely on their own good qualities and personal development and on five factors: earnest efforts, confidence, sincerity, health and wisdom.

Teachers receive no payment, donations or other material benefit. They are required to have their own private means of support. This rule means that some of them may have less time for teaching, but it protects students from exploitation and it guards against commercialism. In this tradition, teachers give Vipassana purely as a service to others. All they get is the satisfaction of seeing people's happiness at the end of ten days. However, students are free to contact the management about their material needs, and to speak with the instructor Continuity of practice is the secret of success in this course; silence is an essential component in maintaining this continuity. Obviously someone who is physically too weak to follow the schedule will not be able to benefit from a course. The same is true of someone suffering from psychiatric problems, or someone undergoing emotional upheaval. Through a process of questions and answers, we will be able to help you decide clearly beforehand whether you are in a position to benefit fully from a course. In some cases applicants are asked to get approval from their doctor before they can be accepted. Many diseases are caused by our inner agitation. If the agitation is removed, the disease may be alleviated or disappear. But learning Vipassana with the aim of curing a disease is a mistake that never works. People who try to do this waste their time because they are focusing on the wrong goal. They may even harm themselves. They will neither understand the meditation properly nor succeed in getting rid of the disease. How about depression? Does Vipassana cure that?

Again, the purpose of Vipassana is not to cure diseases. Someone who really practices Vipassana learns to be happy and balanced in all circumstances. But a person with a history of severe depression may not be able to apply the technique properly and may not get the desired results. The best thing for such a person is to work with a health professional. Vipassana teachers are meditation experts, not psychotherapists.
Can Vipassana make people mentally unbalanced?

No. Vipassana teaches you to be aware and equanimous, that is, balanced, despite all the ups and downs of life. But if someone comes to a course concealing serious emotional problems, that person may be unable to understand the technique or to apply it properly to achieve the desired results. This is why it is important to let us know your past history so that we can judge whether you will benefit from a course.
Let no human being neglect his own spiritual development for the sake of others, however important they may be. Realizing what is for one's own benefit, let him attend to it earnestly. PLEASE NOTE: People with psychiatric or pronounced psychological difficulties occasionally come to retreats with the expectation that the retreat will cure or alleviate those conditions. Although meditation practice may be of benefit, a period of silent, intensive retreat is not recommended in this situation. A meditation retreat is not a substitute for medical or psychotherapeutic treatment, and we do not recommend this retreat for these types of conditions. If you have questions about this, please contact Saddhamma Foundation.

on the night Siddhartha was conceived. no need for sleep. named Rahula.[20] and ten months later Siddhartha was born. his father reputedly arranged his marriage to a cousin of the same age named Yaśodharā (Pāli: Yasodharā). and again moved on. a few days or seven days later. But. and moved on to become a student of Udaka Ramaputta (Skr. wishing for his son to be a great king. Queen Maha Maya (Māyādevī) and Suddhodana's wife.[which?] she gave birth to a son. Queen Maya dreamt that a white elephant with six white tusks entered her right side. Siddhartha is then said to have spent 29 years as a prince in Kapilavastu. According to the traditional account. is said to have shielded him from religious teachings and from knowledge of human suffering. The day of the Buddha's birth is widely celebrated in Theravada countries as Vesak. said to be King Śuddhodana.[32] Siddhartha and a group of five companions led by Kaundinya are then said to have set out to take their austerities even further. at Lumbini. After mastering the teachings of Alara Kalama (Skr. and was again asked to succeed his teacher. After nearly starving himself to death by restricting his food intake to around a leaf or nut per day.s Early texts suggest that Gautama was not familiar with the dominant religious teachings of his time until he left on his religious quest. in a garden beneath a sal tree. Bimbisara offered him the throne after hearing of Siddhartha's quest. his father. The infant was given the name Siddhartha (Pāli: Siddhattha). food. when his mother Queen Maya became pregnant. upon attaining enlightenment. However. and had three palaces (for seasonal occupation) built for him. he was not satisfied. Udraka Rāmaputra). Gautama felt unsatisfied by the practise. which is said to have been motivated by existential concern for the human condition Siddhartha was brought up by his mother's younger sister. and the ability to "suppress karma His mother. over the course of many lives. he was asked by Kalama to succeed him. she left Kapilvastu for her father's kingdom to give birth. once more. Legend has it that. but promised to visit his kingdom of Magadha first. He left Rajagaha and practised under two hermit teachers.In the Mahāvastu. Having been recognised by the men of King Bimbisara. including food. or bathing. Gautama is said to have developed supramundane abilities including: a painless birth conceived without intercourse. Although more recent scholarship doubts this status. omniscience.[28] By tradition. When he reached the age of 16. They tried to find enlightenment through deprivation of worldly goods. was a Koliyan princess. her son is said to have been born on the way. However. Ārāḍa Kālāma). Siddhartha rejected the offer. With him he achieved high levels of meditative consciousness. he collapsed in a river . meaning "he who achieves his aim". As was the Shakya tradition. he is said to have been destined by birth to the life of a prince. Gautama initially went to Rajagaha and began his ascetic life by begging for alms in the street. although engaging in such "in conformity with the world". practising self-mortification. Maha Pajapati. medicine.[21] Various sources hold that the Buddha's mother died at his birth.

believing that he had abandoned his search and become undisciplined. The tenth delegation. they laid down their bows and instead became followers. the Buddha. the royal palace prepared a midday meal. Gautama discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way[33]—a path of moderation away from the extremes of selfindulgence and self-mortification. India. Siddhartha began to reconsider his path. he is accused of having three times tried to kill his teacher. led by Kaludayi. However. and not a single warrior has gone seeking alms" The Buddha is said to have replied: "That is not the custom of your royal lineage. Devadatta is alleged to have often tried to undermine the Buddha. delivered the message. and made a two-month journey by foot to Kapilavastu.[35] Kaundinya and four other companions. Suddhodana approached his son. Gautama was famously seated under a pipal tree . which is subtle. left. and agreed to teach. saying: "Ours is the warrior lineage of Mahamassata. however. When this failed.while bathing and almost drowned. after becoming starved and weakened. He attained a concentrated and focused state that was blissful and refreshing. Initially. Then. After a reputed 49 days of meditation. a childhood friend of Gautama's (who also became an arahant). greed and hatred that they could never recognise the path. upon meeting the Buddha. in the story. but that extreme asceticism didn't work. According to the early Buddhist texts.[33] after realizing that meditative jhana was the right path to awakening. Several thousands of Buddhas have gone by seeking alms He reasoned that males and females had an equal capacity for awakening. he is said to have attained Enlightenment\ He was concerned that humans were so overpowered by ignorance. arguing that at least some will understand it. he remembered a moment in childhood in which he had been watching his father start the season's plowing.[33] In a famous incident. Brahmā Sahampati convinced him. according to Bodh Gaya. the delegates failed to deliver the message. The first attempt is said to have involved him hiring a group of archers to shoot the awakened one. Now two years after his awakening. ten delegations to ask him to return to Kapilavastu. teaching the dharma as he went. but the sangha was making an alms round in Kapilavastu. Devadatta even asked the Buddha to stand aside and let him lead the sangha. at the age of 35. On the first nine occasions. A . the Buddha agreed to return. The Buddha relented. over a period. he is said to have accepted milk and rice pudding from a village girl named Sujata Following this incident. In one instance. But it is the custom of my Buddha lineage. the jhāna. But. and instead joined the sangha to become arahants. Suddhodana sent. deep and hard to grasp. But he gave women additional rules (Vinaya) to known as the Bodhi tree . Upon hearing of his son's awakening. Hearing this. when he vowed never to arise until he had found the truth. At his return.

deftly beaten and laid on a yellow-cloth shines. The Buddha's final words are reported to have been: "All composite things pass away. According to the Mahaparinibbana Sutta of the Pali canon. Falling violently ill. acquisition of identity. and abandon his earthly body. right mindfulness. right livelihood.[37] Mettanando and von Hinüber argue that the Buddha died of mesenteric infarction. Anicca (Sanskrit: anitya): That all things that come to be have an end. and that following the Noble Eightfold Path is the means to accomplish this. how clear and radiant his complexion. Dependent origination: the mind creates suffering as a natural product of a complex process. that suffering can be ended. Rejection of the infallibility of accepted scripture: Teachings should not be accepted unless they are borne out by our experience and are praised by the wise. After this. rather than food poisoning. only grazing the Buddha's foot. right effort. that the origin of suffering is craving for sensuality. a symptom of old age. He is also believed by Buddhists to have "the 32 Signs of the Great Man" he Brahmin Sonadanda described him as "handsome. He has a godlike form and countenance. Dukkha (Sanskrit: duḥkha): That nothing which comes to be is ultimately satisfying. The Noble Eightfold Path: right understanding. at the age of 80. right thought. It is wonderful. just as the golden jujube in autumn is clear and radiant. truly marvellous. blazes and glitters. the Buddha ate his last meal. and right concentration. his complexion is clear and radiant. just as an adornment of red gold wrought in a crucible by a skilled goldsmith. Buddha instructed his attendant Ānanda to convince Cunda that the meal eaten at his place had nothing to do with his passing and that his meal would be a source of the greatest merit as it provided the last meal for a Buddha.second attempt is said to have involved Devadatta rolling a boulder down a hill. Devadatta is said to have got an elephant drunk and set it loose. See the Kalama Sutta for details. and by Shakyan tradition was required to pass tests to demonstrate his worthiness as a warrior in order to marry. the good Gotama's senses are calmed. and annihilation. just as a palm-tree fruit just loosened from the stalk is clear and radiant. . or the final deathless state. In the third attempt. he had military training in his upbringing. But this hit another rock and splintered. and pleasing to the eye. even so. He had a strong enough body to be noticed by one of the kings and was asked to join his army as a general. good-looking. the Buddha announced that he would soon reach Parinirvana. with a most beautiful complexion. he is by no means unattractive. which he had received as an offering from a blacksmith named Cunda. right speech. Some of the fundamentals of the teachings attributed to Gautama Buddha are:       The Four Noble Truths: that suffering is an ingrained part of existence." An extensive and colorful physical description of the Buddha has been laid down in scriptures. This ruse also failed. Strive for your own liberation with diligence. right action. how serene is the good Gotama's appearance. A kshatriya by birth.

and the Buddha is only a guide and teacher for beings who must tread the path of Nirvāṇa (Pāli: Nibbāna) themselves to attain the spiritual awakening called bodhi and understand reality. To do no evil.. Nibbāna (Sanskrit: Nirvāna): It is possible for sentient beings to realize a dimension of awareness which is totally unconstructed and peaceful. To cultivate good. distant gods are subjected to karma themselves in decaying heavens. --The Dhammapada The Life of Siddhartha Gautama Dr. The head of this clan. Impermanent are all created things. His last words are said to be. To purify one's mind: This is the teaching of the Buddhas. the Buddha emphasized ethics and correct understanding. The Buddhist system of insight and meditation practice is not claimed to have been divinely revealed. According to tradition. He stated that there is no intermediary between mankind and the divine. and the king of this . Strive on with awareness.  Anattā (Sanskrit: anātman): That nothing in the realm of experience can really be said to be "I" or "mine". George Boeree Shippensburg University There was a small country in what is now southern Nepal that was ruled by a clan called the Shakyas. C. but to spring from an understanding of the true nature of the mind. which must be discovered by treading the path guided by the Buddha's teachings. He questioned everyday notions of divinity and salvation. and end all suffering due to the mind's interaction with the conditioned world..

and eventually die. He was not permitted to see the elderly. which means "he who has attained his goals. . she traveled to her father's kingdom for the birth. Lotus blossoms rose in his footsteps. Mahamaya was expecting her first born. and decried that only young and healthy people should greet the prince. The king. Mahaprajapati. The king carefully arranged that Siddhartha should still not see the kind of suffering that he feared would lead him to a religious life. They say the birth was nearly painless. sick. King Shuddodana consulted Asita. In the small town of Lumbini. He could stand. As he was lead through Kapilavatthu. After. and they married when both were 16 years old. Then he came across some people who were severely ill. He asked his friend and squire Chandaka the meaning of all these things. even though the child had to be delivered from her side. They named him Siddhartha. she asked her handmaidens to assist her to a nearby grove of trees for privacy. he trained in the arts of war. was named Shuddodana Gautama. As was the custom of the day. the sickly. he won the hand of a beautiful princess of a neighboring kingdom by besting all competitors at a variety of sports. concerning the future of his son. eager that his son should become a king like himself. Or he could become a great sage and savior of humanity. and told his mother he had come to free all mankind from suffering. a well-known sooth-sayer. He could speak. when the time came near for Queen Mahamaya to have her child. When it came time for him to marry. One large tree lowered a branch to her to serve as a support for her delivery. It is said that the child was born fully awake. the capital. Asita proclaimed that he would be one of two things: He could become a great king. and Chandaka informed him of the simple truths that Siddhartha should have known all along: That all of us get old. And so Siddhartha was kept in one or another of their three palaces. and his wife was the beautiful and for the first time in his life saw death. was determined to shield the child from anything that might result in him taking up the religious life. Only beauty and health surrounded Siddhartha. he chanced to see a couple of old men who had accidentally wandered near the parade route. She had had a strange dream in which a baby elephant had blessed her with his trunk. which was understood to be a very auspicious sign to say the least. Mahamaya died only seven days after the birth. the dead. he chased after them to find out what they were. and he walked a short distance in each of the four directions. and was prevented from experiencing much of what ordinary folk might consider quite commonplace. Siddhartha grew up to be a strong and handsome young man. But during the long journey. he came across a funeral ceremony by the side of a river. After that Siddhartha was raised by his mother’s kind sister. or anyone who had dedicated themselves to spiritual practices. As a prince of the warrior caste. even an emperor. And finally. he grew increasing restless and curious about the world beyond the palace walls. Amazed and confused. a gentle rain fell on the mother and the child to cleanse them. As Siddhartha continued living in the luxury of his palaces. He finally demanded that he be permitted to see his people and his lands." Sadly. her birth pains began. Yashodhara was her name.

After that. I thought to myself: I don’t want to be like the ignorant people. they are disgusted and horrified. So he ate. I couldn’t feel the usual intoxication with life anymore. they are disgusted and horrified. that in fact it might be better to find some middle way between the extremes of the life of luxury and the life of selfmortification. the five ascetics became followers of Siddhartha. I thought to myself: I don’t want to be like the ignorant people.Siddhartha also saw an ascetic. opening himself up to the truth. She begged him to eat some of her milk-rice. In the town of Bodh Gaya. After than. they say. For six years. I couldn’t feel the usual intoxication with youth anymore. and bathed in the river. until he was in a state of near death. even though they too will be sick some day. He then began to practice the austerities and self-mortifications practiced by a group of five ascetics. but found their practices lacking. Later. He redoubled his efforts. But the answers to his questions were not forthcoming. with the rising of the morning star. The five ascetics saw him and concluded that Siddhartha had given up the ascetic life and taken to the ways of the flesh. they are disgusted and horrified. Siddhartha came to realize that he could not be happy living as he had been. and to see everything that was going on in the entire universe. When ignorant people see someone who is sick. The peaceful look on the monks face would stay with Siddhartha for a long time to come. even though they too will be old some day. before long. cut his long hair. He studied for a while with two famous gurus of the day. a peasant girl named Sujata saw this starving monk and took pity on him. to recall all his previous lives. I couldn’t feel the usual intoxication with health anymore. interpreted) At the age of 29. He had discovered suffering. On the full moon of May. The sincerity and intensity of his practice were so astounding that. Siddhartha finally understood the answer to the question of suffering and became the Buddha. then in mindfulness meditation. After kissing his sleeping wife and newborn son Rahula goodbye. he would say this about that time: When ignorant people see someone who is old. even though they too will be dead some day. he snuck out of the palace with his squire Chandara and his favorite horse Kanthaka. and left him. When ignorant people see someone who is dead. After that.39. and drank. and gave the horse to Chandara and told him to return to the palace. and wanted more than anything to discover how one might overcome suffering. Siddhartha decided that he would sit under a certain fig tree as long as it would take for the answers to the problem of suffering to come. first in deep concentration to clear his mind of all distractions. He gave away his rich clothing.” . (AN III. I thought to myself: I don’t want to be like the ignorant people. which means “he who is awake. Siddhartha then realized that these extreme practices were leading him nowhere. a monk who had renounced all the pleasures of the flesh. he practiced. One day. He began. He sat there for many days. refusing food and water.

about one hundred miles from Bodh Gaya. The first ordained Buddhist monk. His cousin. remained seated under the tree -. All were capable of enlightenment. Buddha obliged him. yet he was ranked higher than monks who had been kings. and all were welcome into the Sangha. son. Siddhartha remained completely calm. At Sarnath near Benares. Over time. Finally. in a deer park. The Buddha said that it didn’t matter what a person’s status in the world was. and his aunt and wife became the first Buddhist nuns. and gave many more people an opportunity to hear the teachings of the Buddha. It seemed to him that this knowledge he had gained was far too difficult to communicate to others.It is said that Mara. Devadatta. now the Buddha. Siddhartha. touched the ground with one hand and asked the earth to be his witness. which is called “setting the wheel of the teaching in motion. There. convinced Buddha to teach. King Bimbisara of Magadha. saying that some of us perhaps have only a little dirt in our eyes and could awaken if we only heard his story.” He explained to them the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. the evil one. he came across the five ascetics he had practiced with for so long. and at first it seemed that permitting women to enter the community would weaken it. he was approached by members of his family. His son became a monk and is particularly remembered in a sutra based on a conversation between father and son on the dangers of lying. Legend has it that Brahma. Buddha agreed to teach. father. king of the gods. This and other generous donations permitted the community of converts to continue their practice throughout the years. failed. he asked Buddha to make it a rule that a man must have the permission of his parents to become a monk.for many days longer. which was originally composed only of men. As a convert and monk. His aunt and wife asked to be permitted into the Sangha. They became his very first disciples and the beginnings of the Sangha or community of monks. granted him a monastery near Rahagriha. for use during the rainy season. having conquered all temptations.which we call the bodhi tree -. The culture of the time ranked women far below men in importance. too. his capital. was an ambitious man. he felt that he should have greater power in the Sangha. he tried to ensnare Siddhartha in his own ego by appealing to his pride. He managed to influence quite a few monks with a call to . He first tried to frighten Siddhartha with storms and armies of demons. only because he had taken his vows earlier than they! Buddha’s life wasn’t without disappointments. But the Buddha relented. again to no avail. Upali. had been a barber. he preached his first sermon. Because he was saddened by the departures of his son and grandson into the monastic life. or what their background or wealth or nationality might be. and aunt. That. Siddhartha. having heard Buddha’s words. His father became a lay follower. including his wife. Then he sent his three beautiful daughters to tempt him. tried to prevent this great occurrence.

waiting to eat him. The tiger sniffed at him from above."said the first monk. the man looked down to where. bringing with it three other wild horses.: the first monk said. The host." the farmer replied. Do you consider it to be inside or outside your mind?" One of the monks replied: "From the Buddhist viewpoint everything is an objectification of mind. not recognizing him." and left. he ate some spoiled food and became very ill.  . And so it came to be that in Kushinagara. A heavy rain was falling. "Maybe. Two mice.   Maybe (Taoist story) There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. The second monk did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Of course. "How wonderful. not a hundred miles from his homeland. Lifting her in his arms. Coming to a cliff.There. little by little began to gnaw away at the vine." "Your head must feel very heavy. "It is dangerous. Ikkyu arrived dressed in hisbeggar's robes. girl. another tiger had come. Impermanent are all created things. Ikkyu went home. saying. they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash.a Chinese Zen teacher. he told his friend and cousin Ananda that he would be leaving them soon. Buddha had achieved his enlightenment at the age of 35. Buddha's World Zen-Buddhist Stories     A man walking across a field encounters a tiger. Coming around a bend. "Are you still carrying her?" Wealthy patrons invited Ikkyu to a banquet. Eventually. Upon hearing the news. Then he no longer could restrain himself. so I would say that the stone is inside my mind. and returned. unable to cross the intersection. "We monks don't go near females." the neighbors exclaimed." he said. How sweet it tasted! Fa-yen. He would teach throughout northeast India for another 45 years. far below. chased him away. one white and one black. One day his horse ran away. his neighbors came to visit. he carried her over the mud. he put his robe on the cushion." they said sympathetically. "if you are carrying around a stone like that in your mind. Grasping the vine in one hand. "Come on. He fled." Two monks were once traveling together down a muddy road. the tiger chasing after him. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. he plucked the strawberry with the other.a return to extreme asceticism. He joined them and said: "There is a big stone. he caught hold of a wild vine and swung himself over the edge. Why did you do that?" "I left the girl there. "I expect you invited the robe since you showed me away a little while ago. he conspired with a local king to have the Buddha killed and to take over the Buddhist community. His last words were. he was received into the banquet room. he failed. He went into a deep meditation under a grove of sala trees and died. changed into his ceremonial robe of purple brocade. Strive on with awareness." observed Fa-yen.Terrified. With great respect. When the Buddha was 80 years old... "Such bad luck. overheard four monks arguing about subjectivity and objectivity. The next morning the horse returned.

they passed him by. • Why is Buddhism Becoming Popular? Buddhism is becoming popular in western countries for a number of reasons. and it provides a code of practice or way of life that leads to true happiness. The following day. • How Can Buddhism Help Me? Buddhism explains a purpose to life. The word comes from 'budhi'. his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses.500 years ago when Siddhartha Gotama. Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy or 'way of life'. known as the Buddha. • Is Buddhism a Religion? To many. The day after. and (3) to develop wisdom and understanding. was thrown. was himself awakened (enlightened) at the age of 35." replied the old man." said the farmer. it explains apparent injustice and inequality around the world. » Buddhist Studies » Basic Buddhism Guide » 5 Minute Introduction • What is Buddhism? Buddhism is a religion to about 300 million people around the world. "Maybe. (2) to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions. It has its origins about 2. and broke his leg. It is a philosophy because philosophy 'means love of wisdom' and the Buddhist path can be summed up as: (1) to lead a moral life." answered the farmer. 'to awaken'. military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. "Maybe. It also includes (for those who are interested) a deep understanding of the human mind (and natural therapies) which prominent psychologists around the world are now discovering to be both very advanced and effective. Seeing that the son's leg was broken. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. "Maybe. • Who Was the Buddha? . The first good reason is Buddhism has answers to many of the problems in modern materialistic societies. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

which depends upon seeing and testing facts and stating general natural laws. 'Moslem'. . disappointment and anger. disease. After enlightenment. What does not vary is the essence of the teaching — the Dhamma or truth. lnstead. The core of Buddhism fit into this definition. It is realistic rather than pessimistic because pessimism is expecting things to be bad. We also endure psychological suffering like loneliness frustration. because the emphasis changes from country to country due to customs and culture. Buddhism agrees with the moral teachings of other religions but Buddhism goes further by providing a long term purpose within our existence.Siddhartha Gotama was born into a royal family in Lumbini. embarrassment. now located in Nepal. • Are There Different Types of Buddhism? There are many different types of Buddhism. so he explored the different teachings religions and philosophies of the day.. only explain if an explanation is sought. This is an irrefutable fact that cannot be denied. • Why are so Many Buddhist Countries Poor? One of the Buddhist teachings is that wealth does not guarantee happiness and also wealth is impermanent. A statue of the Buddha with hands rested gently in its lap and a compassionate smile reminds us to strive to develop peace and love within ourselves. The people of every country suffer whether rich or poor. to find the key to human happiness. • Are Other Religions Wrong? Buddhism is also a belief system which is tolerant of all other beliefs or religions. through wisdom and true understanding. • What is the First Noble Truth? The first truth is that life is suffering i. he realised that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness. nor to ask for favours. 'Hindu' or 'Buddhist'. • Do Buddhists Worship Idols? Buddhists sometimes pay respect to images of the Buddha. and ultimately death. Bowing to the statue is an expression of gratitude for the teaching. Real Buddhism is very tolerant and not concerned with labels like 'Christian'. That is why Buddhists do not preach and try to convert. Buddhism depends more on understanding than faith. not in worship. but those who understand Buddhist teachings can find true happiness. fear. because the Four Noble truths (see below) can be tested and proven by anyone in fact the Buddha himself asked his followers to test the teaching rather than accept his word as true. that is why there have never been any wars fought in the name of Buddhism. At 29. After six years of study and meditation he finally found 'the middle path' and was enlightened. but the basic concepts in Buddhism can be summed up by the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. getting old. He was a man who taught a path to enlightenment from his own experience.e. or Truth — until his death at the age of 80. in 563 BC. • Is Buddhism Scientific? Science is knowledge which can be made into a system. the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism — called the Dhamma. • What did the Buddha Teach? The Buddha taught many things. life includes pain. • Was the Buddha a God? He was not. Buddhism explains how suffering can be avoided and how we can be truly happy. nor did he claim to be.

patience. Buddhism uses the middle path to develop both. In other words. • What is the Noble 8-Fold Path? In summary.• What is the Second Noble Truth? The second truth is that suffering is caused by craving and aversion. if we want others to like us. (2) effects of the action on oneself. of which the main five are: not to take the life of anything living. • What is Karma? Karma is the law that every cause has an effect. do and our livelihood). creates a powerful energy which causes the individual to be born. A lifetime of wanting and craving and especially the craving to continue to exist. sympathy. Buddhism teaches that the solutions to our . We will suffer if we expect other people to conform to our expectation. The Buddhist path requires courage. our actions have results. we can really understand others.etc. and developing wisdom by understanding the Four Noble Truths and by developing compassion for others. • What is Wisdom? Buddhism teaches that wisdom should be developed with compassion. • What is the Fourth Noble Truth? The fourth truth is that the Noble 8-fold Path is the path which leads to the end of suffering. when we can really understand ourselves. all phenomena are incomplete. • What is the Third Noble Truth? The third truth is that suffering can be overcome and happiness can be attained. you could be a goodhearted fool and at the other extreme. Wanting deprives us of contentment and happiness. The highest wisdom is seeing that in reality. through wisdom. lf 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. and (3) the effects on others. This is Nirvana. Rather than constantly struggling to get what you want. if we do not get something we want. flexibility and intelligence. the Noble 8-fold Path is being moral (through what we say. getting what you want does not guarantee happiness. focussing the mind on being fully aware of our thoughts and actions. Wisdom requires an open. In Buddhism. losing mindfulness. objective. We then have more time and energy to help others. • How do I Become a Buddhist? Buddhist teachings can be understood and tested by anyone..e. So craving leads to physical suffering because it causes us to be reborn. At one extreme. not to take anything not freely given. impermanent and do no constitute a fixed entity. to abstain from sexual misconduct and sensual overindulgence. This simple law explains a number of things: inequality in the world. True wisdom is not simply believing what we are told but instead experiencing and understanding truth and reality. to refrain from untrue speech. • What is Compassion? Compassion includes qualities of sharing. why some live only a short life. Karma underlines the importance of all individuals being responsible for their past and present actions. unbigoted mind. readiness to give comfort. that true happiness and contentment are possible. How can we test the karmic effect of our actions? The answer is summed up by looking at (1) the intention behind the action. you could attain knowledge without any emotion. • What are the 5 Precepts? The moral code within Buddhism is the precepts. i. and to avoid intoxication. try to modify your wanting. that is. concern. caring. why some are born handicapped and some gifted.

and more of a teaching which each person learns and uses in their own way. we see that it is marked with frustration and pain. Everything that the Buddha taught was based on his own observation of the way things are.problems are within ourselves not outside. ln this way. very simply. It will discuss the way Buddhists perceive the world. . there is no theology. Dhammika. the four main teachings of the Buddha. All Rights Reserved. with thanks to Ven S. Everything that he taught can be verified by our own observation of the way things are. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. Buddhism takes a very straightforward look at our human condition. . Copyright © 1996-2011. If we look at our life. but rather to test the teachings for themselves. the relationship between this self and the various ways in which it responds to the world. in a straightforward way. at all.Mike Butler The Three Marks of Existence Buddhism has been described as a very pragmatic religion. nothing is based on wishful thinking. It does not indulge in metaphysical speculation about first causes. the Buddhist path and the final goal. each person decides for themselves and takes responsibility for their own actions and understanding. This makes Buddhism less of a fixed package of beliefs which is to be accepted in its entirety. no worship of a deity or deification of the Buddha.   » Buddhist Studies » Basic Buddhism Guide » Introduction to Buddhism This short essay is intended to give a brief introduction to Buddhism. Prepared by Brian White 1993. The Buddha asked all his followers not to take his word as true. the Buddhist view of the self.

once again. We practice being mindful of all the things that we use to torture ourselves with. or higher self. The first noble truth is that life is frustrating and painful. in the Buddhist sense. even at the best of times. and when we get home later we begin to fantasise about all the things we can do with our new-found friend. we might have dinner with someone we admire very much. I think this is because there is some confusion as to what is meant by ego. people being tortured and we get a sort of queasy feeling whenever we think about the world situation in even the most casual way. If we examine the notion of impermanence closely and honestly. The harder we struggle to establish ourselves and our relationships. We do this by abandoning our expectations about how we think things should be. everything goes just right. there are times when it is downright miserable. at the moment. We could just be a simple. the next time we see our friend. hatred. very well as soon as we stop being so manipulative and complex. The Four Noble Truths The first sermon that the Buddha preached after his enlightenment was about the four noble truths. and the world. if we look around. places we can go etc. we feel snubbed. everything is marked by impermanence. Ego. but even that is an attempt to define ourselves. spouse and friend. We see that our "higher self" is speculative at best and imaginary to begin with. our effort to prove ourselves and solidify our relationships is unnecessary. that we can handle ourselves. ourselves. means the practice of mindfulness/awareness. This is the fourth noble truth: the way. The second noble truth is that suffering has a cause. We are defined by our humility. hurt. is quite different from the Freudian ego. At some point. and our relationships. These three things: pain. We. The third noble truth is that the cause of suffering can be ended. Perhaps. we see that it is all-pervading. We begin to develop the insight that things are really quite simple. The central theme of this way is meditation. she/he has a headache and is curt with us. wars. here. intolerance. terrorism. In fact. The problem is that the "world out there" is constantly changing. If we were to borrow a western expression. we begin to develop awareness about the way things really are. get sick and eventually die. We are constantly trying to prove our existence. Because of this we feel uneasy and anxious. We might posit an eternal consciousness principle. Meditation. It is only when we completely abandon clinging that we feel any relief from our queasiness. out of our mindfulness. We suffer because we are constantly struggling to survive. everything is impermanent and it is impossible to make a permanent relationship with anything. impermanence and egolessness are known as the three marks of existence. Even though we try to avoid thinking about it. to cement our relationship. We have invented the idea to secure ourselves. at all. Things may be fine with us. or heaps. we could say that "in the beginning" things were going along quite well.This is because we attempt to secure our relationship with the "world out there". No matter how we try to avoid it. We are going through the process of trying to cement our relationship. direct and straight-forward person. by solidifying our experiences in some concrete way. however. our coffee. called skandhas. There was . but. The Buddhist ego is a collection of mental events classified into five categories. can get along quite comfortably without all our unnecessary posturing. shamata/vipashyana in Sanskrit. the more painful our experience becomes. The Five Skandhas The Buddhist doctrine of egolessness seems to be a bit confusing to westerners. children starving. there are constant reminders that it is true. but if we examine our consciousness closely we see that it is made up of temporary mental processes and events. will some day grow old. Our struggle to survive. loosely translated as bundles. or path to end the cause of suffering. we see other people in the most appalling condition. there was a loss of confidence in the way things were going. We may be extremely humble and self-deprecating. We. if we are honest with ourselves. some day we are going to die. For example. We become mindful by abandoning our expectations about the way we think things should be and. all our plans go out the window. We could form a simple relationship with our world.

that will make our minds peaceful and absorb us into a universal harmony. and then we look around for the next piece of software that has the magic glow of not being possessed yet. Another realm is the animal realm. that we have manufactured it. or mystical western one. The churning around and around is called samsara -.literally. We get into the habitual pattern of becoming consumer oriented. we try to push it away. never take a chance and never look at new possibilities. This is known as the hungry ghost realm where we have made an occupation out of craving. This pattern of existence is characterised by acute paranoia. If we dislike it. These are the three lower realms. If we feel neutral about it. Soon we haven't even got the shrink wrap off the current package when we start looking for the next one. or having the mind like that of an animal. looking forward to its arrival. the skandha of form. to whirl about. We are always trying to score points. If someone doesn't try to help us. Rather than acknowledging this loss of confidence. they are being uncooperative. Ego begins to churn thoughts and emotions around and around. The hell realm is characterised by acute aggression. If we can put it into a category. If we like the experience. or label the experience. Here we find security by making certain that everything is totally predictable. we "know" they're trying to slip one past us. This is known as the first skandha. the possibility of alternative never even occurs to us. Owning the software and using it doesn't seem to be as important as wanting it. The whole thing builds on itself until we don't even know if we're fighting with someone else or ourselves. We play with it for awhile. we just ignore it. never to the right or left. until the novelty wears out. The thought of new possibilities frightens us and we look with scorn at anyone who suggests anything innovative. At some point we might hear about spirituality. We might hear about the possibility of meditation techniques. We can never find satisfaction. One of the three higher realms is called the jealous god realm. a ghost of that craving carries over and we look around for something else to consume. and we make a note to ourselves that we will get even later. Then we would have a whole bag of tricks to use on it. even the most innocuous. We put on blinders and only look straight ahead. This is the skandha of concept. The Six Realms If ego decides it likes the situation. The final step in the birth of ego. This makes ego feel solid and real. We ignore everything that doesn't confirm our godhood. we can manipulate it better. which in turn causes us to fight even harder and get even angrier. The heat of our anger is reflected back on us and sends us into a frenzy to escape from our torture. We might even dwell in the realm of infinite space where thoughts seldom arise to bother us. The way ego feels about its situation (skandha of feeling) determines which of the six realms of existence it creates for itself. We are so busy fighting that we can't find an alternative to fighting. ego begins to explore how it feels about the formation of this experience. We only buy blue chip stock. We begin to relax and no longer feel the need to . Everything sparkles with love and light. is called the skandha of consciousness. imported from some eastern religion. Ego began to form. we become godlike beings. the highest of the six realms of existence. The next stage is to try to identify. Perhaps we order a piece of software for our computer. We become proud of our godlike powers of meditative absorption. what we try to do about it is known as the skandha of impulse/perception. We build a wall of anger between ourselves and our experience. We have manufactured the god realm. A craving to consume the situation arises and we long to satisfy that craving. "Don't get mad. If someone achieves something special we become determined to out do them. get even. We begin to meditate and perform certain rituals and we find ourselves absorbed into infinite space and blissful states of existence. Everything is seen from a competitive point of view. The way we feel about the experience is called the skandha of form. we try to figure out their angle. it begins to churn up all sorts of ways to possess it. The problem is. Once we do. it is like drinking salt water to quench our thirst. there was an identification with the panic and confusion." that's our motto. Everything irritates us. After the identification with confusion. We are always concerned with "making it". This realm is characterised by ignorance. and trying to prevent others from scoring on us.a kind of primordial panic which produced confusion about what was happening. or destroy it. We never trust anyone. we try to draw it in. and innocent statement drives us mad with anger. If someone tries to help us.

our attitude toward our friends and family. every detail. Right mindfulness. Right livelihood is the fifth step on the path. with attention to detail. We abandon hope and fear and take joy in a simple straight-forward approach to life. The third aspect of the path is right speech. Usually we are absorbed in absentmindedness. Wrong effort is struggle. It is an open and accommodating attitude. We should form a simple relationship with it. The fourth point on the path. We don't feel that our job in a factory or office is in keeping with the image we want to project. We say what needs to be said. or about how we are afraid things might be. but eventually the doubt begins to occur more and more frequently and soon we begin to struggle to regain our supreme confidence. Often. whatever it is. If we are able to abandon our expectations. involves a kind of renunciation. our posture. Since we aren't trying to manipulate people. Right view occurs when we see things simply. We don't have to try to con situations into our preconceived notions of how they should be.maintain our exalted state. The truth is. Eventually a small sliver of doubt occurs. This is the human realm. We have a simple straight-forward relationship with our dinner.the right way to view the world. The sixth aspect of the path is right effort. Our intentions are pure. We are mindful of the tiniest details of our experience. we can't walk the eightfold path at all. We need to give up our tendency to complicate issues. our job. in things as they are. right discipline. Have we really made it? At first we are able to smooth over the question. We begin to wonder whether it is possible to relate to the world as simple. It is only natural and right that we should earn our living. Once our intentions are pure. our hopes and fears. Right effort doesn't involve struggle at all. We are not as absorbed by the all consuming preoccupations of the other states of being. as they are. Our minds are completely captivated by all sorts of entertainment and speculations. We practice simplicity. nor do we need to try bluff our way through a conversation with any sort of phoney confidence. Sitting meditation cuts through our . At some point we begin to wonder if there isn't some sort of alternative to our habitual way of dealing with the world. we fall back into the lower realms and begin the whole process over and over. The Eightfold Path The path to liberation from these miserable states of being. dignified human beings. the seventh step. Wrong view occurs when we impose our expectations onto things. When we see things as they are. We give up all the unnecessary and frivolous complications that we usually try to cloud our relationships with. As soon as we begin to struggle. we don't have to be hesitant about what we say. has eight points and is known as the eightfold path. We often approach a spiritual discipline as though we need to conquer our evil side and promote our good side. we no longer have to be embarrassed about our speech. We might even say that without the discipline of sitting meditation. We are locked in combat with ourselves and try to obliterate the tiniest negative tendency. It proceeds from right view. from god realm to jealous god realm to animal realm to hungry ghost realm to hell realm. our house and our family. such as sitting meditation. The first point is called right view -. The human realm is characterised by doubt and inquisitiveness and the longing for something better. The second point of the path is called right intention. We work with what is. we might wish we had a more glamorous job. we can work with them. very simply in a genuine way. or absorption is the eighth point of the path. many of us don't particularly enjoy our jobs. we no longer need to be manipulative. We can't wait to get home from work and begrudge the amount of time that our job takes away from our enjoyment of the good life. that we should be glad of our job. Right concentration. gently and without any kind of aggression whatsoever. the way we perform our jobs. We are mindful of the way we talk. involves precision and clarity. We need to perform it properly. expectations about how we hope things will be. This can only happen if we have some sort of discipline. Perhaps. Right absorption means that we are completely absorbed in nowness. as taught by the Buddha. The human realm is the only one in which liberation from the six states of existence is possible.

which is grasping. All Rights Reserved. suffering. It is the cessation of passion. 3. aggression and ignorance. The ending of Dukkha. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. unsatisfactoriness. b. The Noble Truth of the causal arising of Dukkha. The Goal Most people have heard of nirvana.stress. The Awakened Community. The Four Noble Truths 1. Any harmonious assembly. It provides a space or gap in our preoccupation with ourselves. 2. "Mind like fire unbound". the struggle was just an extra complication that we added to our lives because we had lost our confidence in the way things are. to survive.     » Buddhist Studies » Basic Buddhism Guide » Teachings and Practice Paths The Triple Gem 1. The Buddha — The self awakened one. The Sangha — a. We don't have to struggle to survive after all. the cessation of the struggle to prove our existence to the world. The Noble Truth of the Path leading to Nirvana or Awakening. We have already survived. c. All Beings. Enlightenment. 2. . It has become equated with a sort of eastern version of heaven. We no longer need to manipulate things as they are into things as we would like them to be. 4. nirvana simply means cessation.absentmindedness. 3. The nature of reality. We survive now. Copyright © 1996-2011. clinging and wanting. The original nature of the Heart. The Noble Truth of Nirvana. Awakening. The Noble Truth of Dukkha . The Dhamma — The Teaching. Actually.

Thought or Emotion. 6. I vow to put an end to the infinite afflictions of living beings. Right Action. Right Effort.All Buddhist teachings flow from the Four Noble Truths. Particularly emphasised in the Theravada. 5. Abstain from false speech. 7. Right Mindfulness or Awareness. (Link to 1st Truth) 2. I vow to realise the unsurpassed path of the Buddha. 1. 5. (Alcohol and Drugs) The underlying principle is non-exploitation of yourself or others. 3. It is "I undertake" not 'Thou Shalt". various levels of consciousness. Right Attitude. Be open hearted and generous. The Ten Paramita . 4. Live with mindfulness. Abstain from sexual misconduct. these vows say. one-pointedness. Act with Loving-kindness. Free choice and intention is important. 3. allowing commitment and more conscious choice. 2. clarity and peace. Perfected. Right Samadhi "concentration". Right Speech. or establishment in. 2. 5. Energy. Abstain from killing living beings. 4. The Four Bodhisattva Vows 1. (Link to 2nd Truth) 3. The precepts are the foundation of all Buddhist training. Practice stillness. simplicity and contentment. Right livelihood. With a developed ethical base. Abstain from distilled substances that confuse the mind. much of the emotional conflict and stress that we experience is resolved. Abstain from taking that which not given. The Five Precepts in positive terms I undertake the training precept to: 1. not command. Right View. Speak with truth. Integration of. 3. I vow to learn the measureless Dharma-doors. Complete. and Vitality. Integral. Understanding. Alternate meanings are given as the original Pali has shades of meaning not available in one English word. (Link to 4th Truth) 4. 8. (Link to 3th Truth) Foundation of the Mahayana Path. I vow to rescue the boundless living beings from suffering. 2. Choice. 4. The Five Precepts I undertake to: 1. 'Whatever the highest perfection of the human heart-mind may I realise it for the benefit of all that lives!' The Eight Fold-Path Right.

Appreciation of good qualities in people. 2. Confidence. Equanimity. Mindfulness of Feelings. Full development of these four states develops all of the Ten Paramita. 3.. Metta — Friendliness. it is the highest development of each of these qualities. * 6. not grasping. Because of this they give rise to Stress and Affliction and because of this they are Not-self What we call "self " is a process not a 'thing". 6 are emphasised. Energy. * 3. Sense craving. Morality. * 2. Loving-kindness. intention. 2. * 5. Sensations — pleasant... Karuna — Compassion. Resolution. The Five Hindrances 1. they are. Sloth and Torpor. * 7. 10. Renunciation. Anatta — Insubstantial or Not-self. 5. parts. Dukkha — Unsatisfactory. Mindfulness of all Phenomena or Objects of Consciousness.Paramita means gone to the other shore. the peaceful unshaken mind. 8. love. 3. unpleasant and neutral. vitality. diligence. Anicca — Impermanent. 4. Samadhi. postures. Panna or Prajna "Wisdom" insight into the nature of reality. 2. 4. Mindfulness of States of Consciousness. Kindness. The Three Signs of Existence or Universal Properties 1. vigour. The Five Powers or Spiritual Faculties 1. letting go. 6. numbers l. determination. 2. Wisdom. Energy. 3. Samadhi (see Path) & 4. Truthfulness. 9. Mindfulness of the Body — breath. 5. Restlessness and Worry. Upekkha — Equanimity. 4. Mudita — Joy. Gladness. 1.Faith. Giving or Generosity. stress inducing. Effort. 4. 3. Virtue. The Four bases or Frames of Reference of Mindfulness 1. 4. Mindfulness. Ill-will. Toxic doubt and the ruthless inner critic. 2. * In Mahayana Buddhism. . 4. 2. friendliness. 3. All compounded and conditioned things. 5. Ethics. Patience or forbearance.. The Four Sublime or Uplifted States 1.. all phenomena are impermanent.

Each of the English words is either too strong or too weak in their meaning to be a universally successful translation. The Noble Truth of the end of Dukkha. On one hand it is trying to control anything and everything by grabbing onto or trying to pin them down. This flies in the face of the three signs of existence .Anicca. the foundational Buddhist teachings. The Noble Truth that Dukkha has a causal arising. This cause is defined as grasping and clinging or aversion. and this means that in conditioned existence there is no unchanging and permanent Self. "The mind like fire unbound. It can mean suffering. From extreme physical and mental pain and torment to subtle inner conflicts and existential malaise. says little about Nirvana. and the Unborn. 3. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. Anatta . nothing or no 'one' to do the grasping! We grab onto or try to push away ever changing dynamic processes. The Four Noble Truths are 1. using terms like the Unconditioned the Deathless. On the other hand it is control by pushing away or pushing down and running away or flinching away from things. pain. Stress or Suffering and No-Self. Dukkha is a multi-faceted word. affliction or unsatisfactoriness. It is waking up to the true nature of reality. Dukkha can be gross or very subtle. 2.Impermanence. Mahayana teachings speak more about the qualities of Nirvana . limit us to little definitions of who we are." The realisation of Nirvana is supreme Bodhi or Awakening. anguish.Copyright © 1996-2011. Buddha Nature. All Rights Reserved. Its literal meaning is "that which is difficult to bear".the first of the Buddha's teachings. These attempts to control.   » Buddhist Studies » Basic Buddhism Guide » The Eight-Fold Path The Eight-Fold Path is the fourth of the Four Noble Truths . stress. The Pali Canon of Theravada. Because all conditioned existence is impermanent it gives rise to Dukkha. It is the process of identification through which we try to make internal and external things and experiences into "me and mine" or wholly '"other" than Me. All the teachings flow from this foundation. There is nothing to grasp onto and also in reality. Dukkha. which is Nirvana or Nibbana. It is waking up to our true nature. The Noble Truth of the reality of Dukkha as part of conditioned existence. Beyond grasping and control and conditional existence is Nirvana.

truthful. Nirvana literally means "unbound' as in "Mind like fire unbound". Full understanding only comes through direct experience of this "state' which is beyond the limitations and definitions of space and time. It is fingers pointing at the moon . Vision of the nature of reality and the path of transformation. The path is a process to help you remove or move beyond the conditioned responses that obscure your true nature. However. also translated as right view or understanding. It's no use knowing everything about the raft and not getting on. 4. We are just not awake to this reality.don't confuse the finger for the moon. The Noble Truth of the Path that leads to Awakening. Also called "right mindfulness". people and Reality. absorption or one-pointedness of mind. Integral or Holistic Samadhi. The Path 1. 5. The teachings are tools not dogma. The flame "burns" and gives light but is no longer bound to any combustible material. Samma-Samadhi — Full. your true nature is already always present. burns independently. 8. Clinging to limitation. Awakening. 2. This is often translated as concentration. Samma-Sankappa — Perfected Emotion or Aspiration. Samma-Vayama — Complete or Full Effort. Consciously directing our life energy to the transformative path of creative and healing action that fosters wholeness.and use terms like. 6.the clinging and the clung to is extinguished. Original Mind. oneself. True Nature. it seems to hover around or just above the thing burning. Samma-Kammanta — Integral Action. Ultimately Nirvana is beyond conception and intellectual understanding. Picture a flame burning on a wick or stick. An informed heart and feeling mind that are free to practice letting go. not something burning and giving off a flame. The teachings are Upaya. Just the flame. The flame seems to be independent of the thing burning but it clings to the stick and is bound to it. The Buddha called his teaching a Raft. This is completely opposite to the meaning of the symbol. It is a conditioned thing that is said to help you to the unconditioned. We learn so we can unlearn and uncover. Awakening is not "made" by anything: it is not a product of anything including the Buddha's teachings. Samma-Sati — Complete or Thorough Awareness. Once across we don't need to cart the raft around with us. The flame of our true nature. This beautiful image is of a flame burning by itself. 7. also translated as right thought or attitude. This sense of the flame being unbound has often been misunderstood to mean the flame is extinguished or blown out. Energy or Vitality. In this sense the Path is ultimately about unlearning rather than learning . thought. Infinite light and Infinite life. Samma-Vaca — Perfected or whole Speech. Developing awareness. When built. which means skillful means or expedient method. Levels of Awareness and mindfulness .of things. 3. To cross a turbulent river we may need to build a raft. which is awakening. None of these translations is adequate. Liberating emotional intelligence in your life and acting from love and compassion. Beyond space and time. Conscious evolution. make sure you use them before you let them go. Samadhi literally . Clear. In other words don't cling to anything including the teachings. * Samma-Ditthi — Complete or Perfect Vision. Also called right effort or diligence. 4. Also called right action. Also called right speech. This is a livelihood based on correct action the ethical principal of non-exploitation. and attempts to control the ceaseless flow of phenomena and process obscures our true nature. uplifting and nonharmful communication. meditation. The path is a paradox. "if you hold yourself dear watch yourself well".another paradox. Nirvana defies definition. The basis of an Ideal society. Samma-Ajiva — Proper Livelihood. Also called right livelihood. feelings. The five precepts. we single-mindedly and with great energy make our way across. The flame is not blown out . An ethical foundation for life based on the principle of non-exploitation of oneself and others.

as opposed to 'wrong'.related to English 'summit' . if one were to break any of them. whether connected to body or speech is likely to be harmful to one's self or to others and thereby avoiding any actions which are likely to be harmful. the ten commandments. The resultant of an action (often referred to as Karma) depends on the intention more than the action itself. All Rights Reserved. For instance the opposite of 'Right Awareness' is not necessarily 'Wrong Awareness'.means to be fixed. It entails less feelings of guilt than its Judeo-Christian . according to Buddhist teachings. thus the first level of meaning is concentration when the mind is fixed on a single object. entail punishment by God. absorbed in or established at one point. but also of the whole being in various levels or modes of consciousness and awareness. The down side is that it can give the impression that the Path is a narrow and moralistic approach to the spiritual life.John Allan Copyright © 1996-2011. This is Samadhi in the sense of enlightenment or Buddhahood. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. if broken. Use of the word 'right' may make for a neat or consistent list of qualities in translations. A lay Buddhist should cultivate good conduct by training in what are known as the "Five Precepts". one should be aware of the breech and examine how such a breech may be avoided in the future. 'thorough'. A mind that is skilful avoids actions that are likely to cause suffering or remorse.It does not necessarily mean 'right'. I use variant interpretations so you consider the depth of meanings. 'complete'. 'integral'. the ethical and moral principles are governed by examining whether a certain action. 'whole'. These are not like. not just of the mind. say. In Buddhism. and 'perfect' . It may simply be incomplete. The second level of meaning goes further and represents the establishment. which. * The word Samma means 'proper'. Moral conduct for Buddhists differs according to whether it applies to the laity or to the Sangha or clergy. which. However it is often translated as "right" which can send a less than accurate message. The five precepts are training rules.   » Buddhist Studies » Basic Buddhism Guide » Buddhist Ethics Essentially. there is much talk of a skilled mind. What do these things mean in your life right now? .

killing a human being. anxiety. this precept covers slander as well as speech which is not beneficial to the welfare of others. This precept goes further than mere stealing. Laypersons following the Mahayana tradition. known as Parajika or rules of defeat. The additional precepts are: 6) To abstain from taking food at inappropriate times. This precept applies to all living beings not just humans. Again. The fasting rule would be inappropriate. say. On special holy days. The five precepts are: 1) To undertake the training to avoid taking the life of beings . When one examines the reason that this rule was . however differs between the Mahayana and Theravada traditions. would observe three additional precepts with a strengthening of the third precept to be observing strict celibacy. The Mahayana Sangha interprets the rule not to take food at an inappropriate time as not meaning fasting from noon to sunrise but to refrain from eating between mealtimes. The first four rules for males and the first eight for females. This would mean following the tradition of Theravadin monks and not eating from noon one day until sunrise the next. All beings have a right to their lives and that right should be respected. contained in the Vinaya or first collection of the Buddhist scriptures. The Buddhist clergy. 4) To undertake the training to refrain from false speech. To undertake the training to avoid taking the life of beings. These rules apply to all Sangha members irrespective of their Buddhist tradition. who have taken a Bodhisattva vow. 8) To undertake the training to abstain from using high or luxurious beds are rules regularly adopted by members of the Sangha and are followed by the layperson on special occasions. 2) To undertake the training to avoid taking things not given . singing. These are the basic precepts expected as a day to day training of any lay Buddhist. known as the Sangha. ornaments and other items used to adorn or beautify the person . from a health angle. in many cases. the following is more in theory than in actual practice. music and entertainments as well as refraining from the use of perfumes. entail expulsion from the Order immediately on their breech. however. are governed by 227 to 253 rules depending on the school or tradition for males or Bhikkhus and between 290 and 354 rules. depending on the seriousness of that breech. Before his passing. especially those from Thailand.. guilt etc. each entailing a penalty for their breech. will also follow a strictly vegetarian diet. claim to observe these rules to the letter of the law. this and the next rule. Bhikkhunis' additional rules relate to various physical contacts with males with one relating to concealing from the order the defeat or parajika of another. especially those following the Theravada tradition. The eating of meat would be considered a contribution to the taking of life. stealing to the extent that it entails a gaol sentence and claiming miraculous or supernormal powers. the Buddha instructed that permission was granted for the abandonment or adjustment of minor rules should prevailing conditions demand such a change. Korea and Japan. depending on the school or tradition for females or Bhikkhunis. which is to be avoided in order to cultivate a calm and peaceful mind. for the Sangha living in cold climates such as China. 3) To undertake the training to avoid sensual misconduct . This precept is in a special category as it does not infer any intrinsic evil in. alcohol itself but indulgence in such a substance could be the cause of breaking the other four precepts. As well as avoiding lying and deceiving. are divided into several groups. These rules. The four applying to both sexes are: Sexual intercourse. Buddhism places a great emphasis on 'mind' and it is mental anguish such as remorse. 7) To abstain from dancing. 5) To undertake the training to abstain from substances which cause intoxication and heedlessness . This precept is often mistranslated or misinterpreted as relating only to sexual misconduct but it covers any overindulgence in any sensual pleasure such as gluttony as well as misconduct of a sexual nature. One should avoid taking anything unless one can be sure that is intended that it is for you. The Theravadins. This is not so much an additional precept but a strengthening of the first precept. many Buddhists. The interpretation of the rules.counterpart. indirect though it may be.

he would take up arms to protect Buddhism. the Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia has urged Cambodians to put aside their anger for the genocide of the Khmer Rouge and to unify to re-establish their nation. people bring food to the monasteries or prepare it on the premises so the original reason no longer applies. He honours men of all faiths. Great compassion makes a peaceful heart. He has written: The suffering of Cambodia has been deep. the monks still go on their early morning alms round. the conclusion may be reached that it is currently redundant. He also established many hospitals for both humans and animals. He has always advocated a peaceful and non-violent solution. the Buddha ordered his monks to make this visit once a day. He ordered the provision of medical facilities for humans and beasts. This would allow the villagers to be free to conduct their day to day affairs without being disturbed by the monks requiring food. He ordered the end to killing of any animal for use in the royal kitchens. All officers must work for the welfare of the poor and the aged. Jainism are unique in this regard. His pronouncements were written on rocks at the periphery of his kingdom and on pillars along the main roads and where pilgrims gathered. His Holiness. of course. Sulak Sivaraksa. Asoka ordered that banyan trees and mango groves be planted. Emperor Asoka.5) The first precept refers to the training to abstain from harming living beings. Although history records conflicts involving the so-called Buddhist nations. in the early morning. He recommended that all religions desist from self praise and condemnation of others. rest houses built and wells dug every half mile along the main roads. a Thai peace activist. A peaceful community makes a peaceful nation. war and peace. these wars have been fought for economic or similar reasons. the Dalai Lama has never suggested armed conflict to overcome the persecution and cruelty perpetrated by the Communist Chinese occupation forces. 2. He said that it was not a breech of the first precept to kill communists. perhaps. To avoid disturbing the villagers more than necessary. although most will not touch coins. However. is considered by the Mahayana Sangha a handicap were it to be observed strictly in today's world. 5. He also promoted tolerance towards all religions which he supported financially. banned the killing of animals and exhorted his subjects to lead kind and tolerant lives. Phra Kittiwutthi of the Phra Chittipalwon College in Thailand. is noted for his extreme right-wing views. Theravadin monks tend to split hairs on this rule as. many carry credit cards and cheque books. Brahmins. Ajivakas and Jains. reports in his book. generosity to priests and ascetics and frugality in spending. 4. 6. They interpret this rule as avoiding the accumulation of riches which leads to greed.instituted initially. The prevalent religions of that time were the sramanas or wandering ascetics. however. The Buddha said in the Dhammapada: *Victory breeds hatred. As many of you would be aware. 3. (Dp. Also. suffered great remorse for the suffering that he had caused.(Dp. 7. a rule prohibiting the handling of gold and silver. "Seeds . through love alone they cease. A peaceful heart makes a peaceful person. after a bloody but successful military campaign.15. who. He commanded obedience to parents. Some of his important rock edicts stated: 1. A Buddhist monk. in other words . The defeated live in pain. Happily the peaceful live giving up victory and defeat. Today.5) and * Hatreds never cease by hatred in this world. Going back to the early history of Buddhism. in some Theravadin countries. Not all Buddhists follow the non-violent path. It was the practice in the Buddha's time for the monks to go to the village with their bowls to collect This is an eternal law. A peaceful nation makes a peaceful world. A peaceful family makes a peaceful community. Venerable Maha Ghosananda. but this is more a matter of maintaining a tradition than out of necessity. From this suffering comes great compassion. He recorded his intention to promote the welfare of all beings in order to repay his debt to all beings. A peaceful person makes a peaceful family. history does not record wars fought in the name of propagating Buddhism.1. ruled over more than two thirds of the Indian subcontinent. Buddhism and. Let me now deal briefly with the Buddhist attitude to violence. He said that if Thailand were in danger of a communist takeover.

In many Theravadin countries. I will briefly mention some other issues mentioned in the Syllabus. enlightenment and passing away of the Buddha. A relationship with someone who is committed to another is stealing. such behaviour is breaking several precepts. In the Mahayana tradition the same rule conveys an entirely different meaning. Therefore. especially in Malaysia. this entails initial and subsequent meeting of the Sangha. The Buddhist work ethic and business and professional ethics would. ideally be closely tied to respect for the . In Western countries. This. Similarly in cases of rape and child abuse. the nation and the Buddhist religion. deals with the monk assuming the role of a procurer for immoral purposes. he would be preserving the monarchy. whether about marriage or paramourage. In conclusion. it is mainly a matter of the attitude of the different traditions or schools of Buddhism. In contrast to the views of Phra Kittiwutthi. Marriage is not a sacrament in Buddhism as it is in other religions. even for a temporary arrangement. one is stealing the dignity and self respect of another. Sulak Sivaraksa reports that the Vietnamese monk. not to mention physical pain so one is causing harm to another living being. Generally.of Peace" that Phra Kittiwutthi has since modified his stance by declaring "to kill communism or communist ideology is not a sin". in countries where the law allows. by order. Marriage is governed by civil law and a Buddhist is expected to observe the prevailing law in whatever country they live. when human lives are preserved and when human dignity and freedom are cultivated towards peace and loving kindness. following their marriage in a civil ceremony. of course. believes that there is an intermediate state between incarnations. on the other hand. According to the Theravadin tradition. As one of the essential Buddhist teachings is that everything is impermanent and subject to change. so divorce would not be considered improper. This rule does not preclude marriage but. following the Christian precedent. at least eight hours after death. Promiscuity would be frowned upon as sexual misconduct but an ongoing relationship between two people. Cambodia or Vietnam. means that the organs would by then be useless for transfer to another human being. In fact. many Theravadins. Thich Nhat Hanh is of the view that 'preserving Buddhism does not mean that we should sacrifice people's lives in order to safeguard the Buddhist hierarchy. many Mahayana monks become registered marriage celebrants so that. if called upon. either by himself. monks are prohibited by their Vinaya rules to encourage or perform a marriage ceremony. It reads: Should a Bhikkshu. a marriage ceremony can be performed in the temple. or by means of messages. rebirth occurs immediately upon death. either within or outside of marriage would be considered moral conduct. especially at Vesak. They will offer food and other requisites to the monks and invite their family and friends to participate. A Buddhist should be mindful of the possible effects on themselves and on others of improper sexual activity. This is tied to the concept of rebirth and when it occurs. he has committed an offence. blood donations are performed in the temple grounds. Sulak adds that the monk confessed that his nationalist feelings were more important than his Buddhist practice and that he would be willing to abandon his yellow robes to take up arms against communist invaders from Laos. seek to establish a conducive situation by means of which a man and a woman engage in sexual misconduct. The body of the deceased is no longer considered as a part of the former being. Even if Buddhism as such were extinguished. The third precept on training in restraint of the senses includes sexuality. The Mahayana. invite the monks to their home to perform a blessing ceremony. monasteries or rituals. In the Theravadin tradition. the irrevocable breakdown of a relationship between a couple would be understood in this light. Buddhists accept de-facto relationships. organ transplants etcetera are allowable. One is also the cause of mental pain. so such things as autopsies. Buddhism can be reborn in the hearts of human beings. Often. the couple will. This precept would include adultery because this also breeches the precept of not taking what does is not freely given. rather. encourage the donation of human organs as being the highest form of giving. he said. As far as bioethical questions are concerned. The rule states: Should a Bhikkhu engage to act as a go-between for a man's intentions to a woman or a woman's intentions to a man. By doing so. Most people following this tradition try to avoid touching or moving the body for. known as Antarabhava. the celebration of the birth. and as a result of his activities the man and woman should meet.

Schumacher's book "Small is Beautiful": "While the materialist is mainly interested in goods. and would use modern technology selectively rather than being used by it in the service of selfish interests. As may be seen from the foregoing. Acharn Ponsektajadhammo. and on the other a harmony with the natural environment and its resources. In Japan. The above principles suggest some kind of diverse and politically decentralised society. © BDEA/BuddhaNet." Ken Jones in a paper called "Buddhism and Social Action" comments: "Schumacher outlines a 'Buddhist economics' in which production would be based on a middle range of material goods (and no more). with co-operative management and ownership of productive wealth. another country where the majority of the population is Buddhist. unfortunately. Copyright © 1996-2011. Despite the theory surrounding Buddhist business practice. has been leading a campaign against the environmental vandalism of the timber industry. between materialist heedlessness and traditionalist immobility. Acharn Ponsektajadhammo has had death threats and was recently arrested. It would be conceived on a human scale. Tree felling in Northern Thailand has caused erosion. For his environmental efforts. the Middle Way.   » Buddhist Studies » Basic Buddhism Guide » Dependent Arising .environment. It is well described in E. 'It is a question of finding the right path of development. as the Buddha has taught. greed still seems to be the order of the day in many Buddhist countries. of finding Right Livelihood'". In Schumacher's words. Buddhist ethical principles are very noble and in an ideal world their practice would lead to peace and harmony but.even Buddhists. the killing of whales and dolphins is still prevalent. The keynote of Buddhist economics is simplicity and non-violence. the Buddhist is mainly interested in liberation. In Thailand. But Buddhism is the Middle Way and therefore in no way antagonistic to physical well being.F. whether in terms of size and complexity or organisation or of environmental planning. From an economist's point of view.amazingly small means leading to extraordinarily satisfying results. a monk in the north. Animals seem to find no place in the group culture of Japanese society. All Rights Reserved. the marvel of the Buddhist way of life is the utter rationality of its pattern . in short. flooding and has economically ruined small farmers. people are motivated by greed hatred and delusion .

It is also the most important of the formulations of Lord Buddha’s Enlightenment." The not-understanding of Dependent Arising is the root of all sorrows experienced by all beings.a total penetration into the mind and body. He knew with his Great Wisdom exactly what these were even if his listeners were not aware of them. This is done not be reading about it nor by becoming expert in scriptures.• 1st link: Ignorance • 7th link: • 8th link: • 9th link: Feeling Craving Grasping • 2nd link: Volitional Formations • 3rd link: • 4th link: • 5th link: • 6th link: Consciousness Mind . that man does not escape from (birth in) the lower realms of existence. Lord Buddha. It is through not understanding. carry round with them are no different now from the Buddha's time. and it appears profound.Body Six Sense Spheres Contact • 10th link: Becoming • 11th link: Birth • 12th link: Ageing & Death Upon the Full Moon of the month of Visakha. so that "vision arose." When He came to explain His great discovery to others. now more than two thousand five hundred years ago. The burdens which men. the One-who-Sees. destroyed greed. They did not know of the Four Noble Truths nor of Dependent Arising and they craved for fire and poison and were then as now. a woven nest of birds. from the states of woe and perdition. its origin. formerly Prince Siddhartha and heir to the throne of the Sakiyan peoples." ." its origin. called Sambodhi. wisdom arose. its cessation and the way to its cessation. abolished in himself unknowing and craving. indeed all beings. discovery arose. and out of His Great Compassion taught Dhamma for those who wished to lay down their burdens. For then as now men were burdened with unknowing and craving. but after years of striving. Ananda. is this Dependent Arising. and suffers from the round of rebirth. became the One Perfectly Enlightened by himself. from being a seeker. not penetrating this law that the world resembles a tangled skein of thread. For a Buddhist it is therefore most necessary to see into the heart of this for oneself. by his full insight into the Truth called Dharma which is this mind and body. In meditative concentration throughout one night. sees the Dharma. He became "the One-who-Knows. His Enlightenment or Awakening. its cessation and the way to its cessation which was at the same time complete understanding of the "world. consumed by fears. light arose . nor by speculations upon one’s own and others’ concepts but by seeing Dependent Arising in one’s own life and by coming to grips with it through calm and insight in one’s "own" mind and body. a thicket of bamboo and reeds. the religious wanderer known as Gotama. super-knowledge arose. aversion and delusion in his heart. He penetrated to the Truth underlying all existence. He did so in various ways suited to the understanding of those who listened and suited to help relieve the problems with which they were burdened. "He who sees Dependent Arising. One attained to the Secure has said: "Profound.

Back to Top 2nd Link: VOLITIONAL FORMATIONS (sankhara) Represented by a potter. kamma or abhisankhara. We are the blind ones who have staggered from the past into the present— to what sort of future? Depending on the existence of unknowing in the heart there was volitional action. So ignorance is blindness." This kind of unknowing is very special and not concerned with ordinary ways or subjects of knowledge.Back to Top Ist Link: IGNORANCE (avijja) Represented by an image of a blind woman who blunders forward. But due to this unknowing. Intentional actions have the latent power within them to bear fruit in the future . but . we did not care to see 'dukkha' (1). On the contrary they made kamma. one does not see them clearly in one’s own heart and one’s own life. Those past "selves" in previous lives who are in the stream of my individual continuity did not check their craving and so could not cut at the root of unknowing. It is a lack of insight into the reality of things. for it dwells in our hearts now. some of the fruits of which in this present life I. unable to see where she is going. Just as a potter forms clay into something new. not seeing. It is said that the original picture here should be an old blind she-camel led by a driver. the beast being one accustomed to long and weary journeys across inhospitable country. the potter's wheel continues to spin without much effort. Once put into motion. made in those past lives. And this unknowing is not some kind of first cause in the past. or in some more distant life. The picture helps us to understand this: a blind old woman (avijja is of feminine gender) with a stick picks her way through a petrified forest strewn with bones. more and more pleasures. Likewise. We are now paying for our own negligence in the past. Whichever simile is used.either in a later part of the life in which they were performed. while its driver could be craving. we have set in motion this wheel bringing round old age and death and all other sorts of dukkha. was not realised. an action begins a sequence that leads to new consequences. And in the past we can hardly assume that we set our feet upon the 'practice-path leading to the cessation of dukkha' (4) and we did not even discover Streamentry. as we shall see. am receiving. so we come to the present existence inevitably burdened with dukkha. so we could not destroy 'the cause of dukkha' (2) or craving which has impelled us to seek more and more lives. in the following life. the beginninglessness and the darkness of unknowing are well suggested. In past lives. an action creates a predisposition in the mind. for here what one does not know are the Four Noble Truths. as their causal resultant. 'The cessation of dukkha' (3) which perhaps could have been seen by us in past lives. This Pali word "avijja" is a negative term meaning "not knowing completely" but it does not mean "knowing nothing at all.

if we wish to go on living in Samsara. Back to Top 4th Link: MIND . not something which can be controlled by will.BODY (nama-rupa) Depicted by people sitting in a boat with one of them steering. The monkey represents the very primitive spark of sense-consciousness which is the first moment in the mental life of the new being. the basis of "humanness" in past lives. in past lives we have made kamma. The boat symbolises form. In the case of all those who read this. Although our relinkingconsciousness in this birth is now behind us. Beings like this. The simile of the potter is particularly apt because the word 'Sankhara' means "forming. This relinking consciousness may be of different qualities. This relinking-consciousness is the third constituent necessary for conception. and due to our ignorance of the Four Noble Truths we have been "world-upholders" and so making good and evil kamma we have ensured the continued experience of this world. is represented by a monkey going from window to window." and "compounding." "shaping. if there is no "being" desiring to take rebirth at that place and time there will be no fertilisation of the ovum. "Now I shall become a man again!" The time for intentional action was when one had the opportunity to practice Dhamma. and its . This represents a single consciousness perceiving through the various sense organs. obstructed by unknowing in their hearts have been compared to a potter making pots: he makes successful and beautiful pottery (skillful kamma) and he is sometimes careless and his pots crack and break up from various flaws (unskillful kamma)." Depending on the existence of these volitions produced in past lives. And he gets his clay fairly well smeared over himself just as purity of heart is obscured by the mud of kamma. If one has not made kamma suitable for becoming a human being. it is now that we can practice Dhamma and make more sure of a favourable relinking consciousness in future—that is. was a human relinking consciousness arising as a result of having practiced at least the Five Precepts. and whenever the necessary conditions obtain that past kamma may bear fruit. one cannot will. according to the kamma upon which it depends. Back to Top 3rd Link: CONSCIOUSNESS (vinnana) The rebirth consciousness or "consciousness that links on". One should note that this relinking consciousness is a resultant.their potency is not lost with even the passing of aeons. there arises the Consciousness called "relinking" which becomes the basis of this present life. the consciousness "leaping" into a new birth at the time of conception. for even though it is the mother’s period and sperm is deposited in the womb. Dependent upon relinking-consciousness there is the arising of Mind-body." and therefore it has often been rendered in English as "Formations. when the time of death comes round. Now.

ranges through the three times adding memories from the past and hopes and fears for the future.occupants. there is Contact. the psychophysical organism begins to interact with the world. tastes. There is more included in rupa that is usually thought of as body. touch and mind. These six senses are eye. nor body told that it must not grow old. where this information is collected and processed. The sensuous impression is symbolised by a kiss. who doubtless represent the other groups or aggregates (khandha). there is the arising of the Six Sense-spheres." implying that there is some sort of owner lurking in the background. such as the various heavens. All our experience is limited by the senses and their objects with the mind counted as the sixth. we know nothing. Although in conventional speech we talk of "my mind" and "my body. perception. while mind is a compound of feeling. Back to Top 5th Link: SIX SENSE . This indicates that there is a meeting with an object and a . This is not a very accurate translation but gives the general meaning. tongue. A house with six windows is the usual symbol for this link. nose. With this link. tangibles and thoughts. Each of the senses is the manifestation of our desire to experience things in a particular way. volition and consciousness. Back to Top 6th Link: CONTACT (phassa) A couple embracing depicts the contact of the sense organs with there objects. This information falls under six headings corresponding to the six spheres: sights. mind is doing the work of punting the boat of psychophysical states on the river of cravings. But it is in the mind that a change can be wrought instead of drifting through life at the mercy of the inherent instability of mind and body. The six sense-spheres existing. the wise understand that laws govern the workings of both mental states and physical changes and mind cannot be ordered to be free of defilements. The five outer senses collect data only in the present but mind. sounds. The Tibetan picture shows a coracle being rowed over swirling waters with three (? or four) other passengers. With the coming into existence of mind-body. It may also add information about the spheres of existence which are beyond the range of the five outer senses. the mental aggregates. ear. and these are the bases for the reception of the various sorts of information which each can gather in the presence of the correct conditions. the sixth. So in the illustration. while body is the passive passenger. This mind and body is two interactive continuities in which there is nothing stable. The senses are the 'portals' whereby we gain our impression of the world.SPHERES (salayatana) Depicted by a house with six windows and a door. the ghosts and the hell-states. smells. as well as thoughts of various kinds relating to the present. become sick and die. A mind developed through collectedness (samadhi) is able to perceive these worlds and their inhabitants. Beyond these six spheres of sense and their corresponding six objective spheres.

feelings arise which are the emotional response to those contacts. the striking of the object upon the sensitive eye-base. the succession of events has been determined by past kamma. and only now. you just keep on drinking. In a very vivid way. When there have been various sorts of contact through the six senses. it is a mental factor that increases desire without any satisfaction. however. Likewise. The first are welcome and are the basis for happiness. to practice Dhamma. In dependence on sensuous impressions. there is likely to be eye-contact. we are driven by it and conditioned by it.distinguishing of it prior to the production of feeling. Even a very small condition causes a great deal of feeling in the eye. When feelings arise. arises Feeling. The same is true for each of the senses and their type of contact. for without it no Dhamma at all can be practiced while one will be . But all feelings are unstable and liable to change. a strong enough illustration of this. for no mental state can continue in equilibrium. The traditional symbol for this link shows a man and a woman embracing.although only painful feeling is here implied. Back to Top 7th Link: FEELING (vedana) Symbolised by an eye pierced by an arrow. pass away and give place to different ones. a sight-object. painful or pleasurable. Feelings are of three sorts: pleasant. Also known as attachment. for how can the true unchanging happiness be found in the unstable? Thus the picture shows a man with his eyes pierced by arrows. So even happiness which is impermanent based on pleasant feelings is really dukkha. in this case the eye. no matter how much you drink. For instance. no matter what kind of feeling we experience. the second are unwelcome and are the basis for dukkha while the third are the neutral sort of feelings which we experience so often but hardly notice. Up to this point. The arrow represents sense data impinging on the sense organs. What is needed here is mindfulness (sati). leads to the making of new kamma in the present and it is possible now. Back to Top 8th Link: CRAVING (tanha) Represented by a person drinking beer. there being an eye. both painful and pleasant are intended. when the necessary conditions are all fulfilled. Even though it harms you. Cravings are (usually) produced. Even moments of the highest happiness whatever we consider this is. Craving. painful and neither pleasant nor painful. light and the eye being functional and the person awake and turned toward the object. the image suggests the strong feelings which sensory experience evokes . This means the contact between the six senses and the respective objects.

which are respectively associated with the three feelings. Back to Top 9th Link: GRASPING (upadana) Represented by a monkey reaching for a fruit. rites and rituals. If your head or dress caught fire in haste you would extinguish it." "this is neither pleasant nor unpleasant feeling" —and such contemplation of feelings leads one to understand and beware of greed. Attachment to sensual pleasures. Hence both pictures . views which lead astray from Dhamma.swept away by the force of past habits and let craving and unknowing increase themselves within one’s heart. No better thing to do!" L. 23." "this is unpleasant feeling. they grow till they get intensified to the degree of tenacious clinging. When these become strong in people they cannot even become interested in Dhamma. aversion and delusion. Also known as clinging. Upadana is fourfold: 1. Man entertains thoughts of craving. man becomes a slave to passion. 2. it means mentally grabbing at an object one desires. 104 In Sanskrit. and attachment to the view of soul or self as being permanent. Which whirls the wheel of wandering-on and is the root of suffering. for their efforts are directed away from Dhamma and towards dukkha. As Venerable Nagarjuna has said: "Desires have only surface sweetness. and 4. Do likewise with desire. Because of this clinging which is described as craving in a high degree. This is an intensification and diversification of craving which is directed to four ends: sensual pleasures.K. craving is shown as a toper guzzling intoxicants and in the picture has been added more bottles representing craving for sensual sphere existence and the craving for the higher heavens of the Brahmaworlds which are either of subtle form. Attachment to self. With this knowledge one can break out of the Wheel of Birth and Death. and in proportion as he fails to ignore them. The common reaction is to redouble efforts to find peace and happiness among the objects which are grasped at. This is the mental state that clings to or grasps the object. But without this Dhamma-practice it is certain that feelings will lead on to more cravings and whirl one around this wheel full of dukkha." For this reason. Attachment to mere external observances. external religious rites and vows. the word trisna (tanha) means thirst. hardness within and bitterness deceptive as the kimpa-fruit. and by extension implies "thirst for experience. Thus says the King of Conquerors. 3. Where the kamma of further craving is produced there arises Grasping. When one does have mindfulness one may and can know "this is pleasant feeling. Such links renounce they bind the world Within samsara’s prison grid. Attachment to wrong and evil views. an erroneous lasting soul entity. or formless.

But it is no use thinking that since there are going to be future births. Just as she is about to bring forth a fully developed child. at the end of this life when the pathways to the various realms stand open and we 'become' according to our practice and to our death-consciousness. the karma that will produce the next lifetime is fully potentialized though not yet manifest. and pile up the fuel upon the fire of dukkha. they are just the present moment as well. Back to Top 11th Link: BIRTH (jati) This link is represented by the very explicit image of a woman giving birth to a child. not knowing about dukkha. wants to stoke up the blaze. Birth means the appearance of the five aggregates (material form. certainly that future will arise conditioned by the kamma made in this life. as one might expect. Birth. formation and consciousness)in the mother’s womb. Back to Top 10th Link: BECOMING (bhava) Represented by a woman in late pregnancy. If we want to stay in samsara we must be diligent and see that our 'becoming'. feeling. With hearts boiling with craving and grasping. quite naturally are fear. old age and misery. which is happening all the time shaped by our kamma. This will contribute to whatever we become. desire and death. As well a mass of other ills. if we are not able to bring the wheel to a stop in this life. Where this grasping is found there Becoming is to be seen. The ordinary person. . This means 'becoming' in the direction of purity and following the white path of Dhamma-practice. but the Buddhist way of doing things is to let the fires go out for want of fuel by stopping the process of craving and grasping and thus cutting off Ignorance at its root. is shown as a mother in the process of childbirth. a painful business and a reminder of how dukkha cannot be avoided in any a man reaching up to pick more fruit although his basket is full already. or do not become. disease. Whatever the future life is to be. So no use waiting! Venerable Nagarjuna shows that it is better to extricate oneself: "Where birth takes place. In the presence of Becoming there is arising in a new birth. perception. people ensure for themselves more and more of various sorts of life. is 'becoming' in the right direction. And when they come around. one may as well put off Dhamma practice until then—for it is not sure what those future births will be like.

they will. Back to Top 12th Link: AGEING AND DEATH (jara-marana) The final link is represented by a dying person. 111 Naturally where there is Birth. Contemplating all its features frequently helps to give us true insight into the nature of Samsara. All the links are ever stopped." L. When this has been done thoroughly all the riches of Dhamma will be available to us. he sees Dependent Arising." L. is also Old-age and Death. With its help and our own practice we come to see Dependent Arising in ourselves. Back to Top Conclusion This Wheel of Life teaches us and reminds us of many important features of the Dhamma as it was intended to by the teachers of old." Anicca vata sankhara uppada vayadammino Uppajjitva nirujjhant tesam vupasamo sukho. by understanding them ford the river of (mental) floods. One without the other is impossible. But this is the path of heedlessness.K. We are well exhorted by the words of Acharya Nagarjuna: "Do you therefore exert yourself: At all times try to penetrate Into the heart of these Four Truths. beyond all dukkha. occurring every moment of our lifetime. he sees Dhamma. nor from listening to others’ explanations. For even those who dwell at home.K. The Dhamma-path leads directly to Deathlessness.. The Exalted Buddha has said: "Whoever sees Dependent Arising.When birth’s no longer brought about. 115 This is a very brief outline of the workings of this wheel which we cling to for our own harm and the hurt of others. the going beyond birth and death. Whoever sees Dhamma. The one appeals to greed but the other arouses aversion. given enough of Unknowing and Craving. not from books or discussions.. Ageing is both progressive. . We are the makers of this wheel and the turners of this wheel. In future one is assured. of lives without end but also of deaths with end. and degenerative which leads to death. we are the ones who can stop this wheel. but if we wish it and work for it.

   » Buddhist Studies » Basic Buddhism Guide » On Reincarnation Do you Buddhists believe in rebirth as an animal in the next life? Are you going to be a dog or a cow in the future? Does the soul transmigrate into the body of another person or some animal? What is the difference between transmigration and reincarnation? Is it the same as rebirth? Is karma the same as fate? These and a hundred similar questions are often put to me. Prepared at BuddhaNet for Electronic Distribution by Ven. a Wisdom publication. Graphics adapted from H. The common misunderstanding is that a person has led countless previous lives. but somehow in this life he is born as a human being and in the next life he will be reborn as an animal. Back to Top Credits: Text by Bhikkhu Khantipalo. Copyright © 1996-2011. It is said that the Buddha left 84. cessation is happiness. The Dalai Lama's The Meaning of Life. This misunderstanding arises because people usually do not know-how to read the sutras or sacred writings. A gross misunderstanding of about Buddhism exists today. then they pass away Their calming. 1998.H. the Annual of the Buddhist Association of Thailand.000 teachings. the symbolic figure represents the diverse backgrounds . depending on the kind of life he has lived. All Rights Reserved. usually as an animal. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. Rewritten from an article in "Visakha Puja" (251). Pannyavaro. February. especially in the notion of reincarnation.Conditions truly they are transient With the nature to arise and cease Having arisen.

Thus Karma is the law of the conservation of moral energy. [Ed comment: we as human beings are limited in understanding "Buddha Knowledge". Therefore we must learn to differentiate the parables and myths from actuality. Because man is a conscious being he can be aware of his karma and thus strive to change the course of events.characteristics. and words. then. the nobility of man's character is dependent on his"good" thoughts. Buddhism teaches the existence of the ten realms of being. writers and teachers have often resorted to the language of the imagination to lead the reader from a lower to a higher truth. tastes. receives. In the Dhammapada we find the following words. when taken literally. a bad cause a bad effect" is a common saying. Sravka (direct disciple of Buddha). People will say "If such is the case why not speak directly so that we will be able to come to an immediate grasp of the truth?" This statement is understandable. By actions. It is not only confined to causation in the physical sense but also it has moral implications. he will be reborn as a human being. only that it changes form. it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts. The doctrine of reincarnation is often understood in this light. For the simple village folks living during the time of the Buddha. constitute the totality of his karma. for instance. "All that we are is a result of what we have thought. In this case John possesses an immortal soul which transforms to the form of a cat after his death. "A good cause. does not make sense to the modern mind. This is the common law of conservation of energy. is entirely dependent on what we think. The World Traditionally. can be changed. Karma Karma is a Sanskrit word from the root "Kri" to do or to make and simply means "action. This notion of the transmigration of the soul definitely does not exist in Buddhism. Pratyeka Buddha (a Buddha for himself). those thoughts invariably influence him into negative words and actions. Man is therefore the sender and receiver of all these influences. In this sense karma is a moral law. Therefore. Fate is the notion that man's life is preplanned for him by some external power. actions. man is releasing spiritual energy to the universe and he is in turn affected by influences coming in his direction. spiritual and mental action is never lost. but purposely remaining on earth to teach others). Karma should not be confused with fate. The entire circumstances surrounding him is his karma. However. and words. of the people. he is changing. The Buddha taught according to the mental and spiritual capacity of each individual. This changing personality and the world he lives in." What we are. It is transformed. This cycle is repeated over and over again. In physics we learn that no energy is ever lost. A parable. the doctrine of reincarnation was a powerful moral lesson. John being reborn as a cat in the next life. If we take this teaching literally today we are confused because we cannot understand it rationally. thoughts." It operates in the universe as the continuous chain reaction of cause and effect. Or if he is lucky. but truth is often inexpressible. Karma on the other hand. Herein lies our problem. Fear of birth into the animal world must have frightened many people from acting like animals in this life. only words ABOUT Truth] Thus. if we learn to go beyond or transcend the parables and myths. if he embraces degrading thoughts. At the same time. What Reincarnation is Not Reincarnation is not a simple physical birth of a person. we will be able to understand the truth. Now human beings are constantly giving off physical and spiritual forces in all directions. At the top is Buddha and the scale descends as follows: Bodhisattva (an enlightened being destined to be a Buddha. etc. With each action-influence he sends out and at the same time. We cannot speak TRUTH. Similarly. . and he has no control over his destiny. a good effect.

All Rights Reserved. These ideas are closely inter-related. In what realm do you now live? If you are hungry for power. Asura (fighting spirits). actions. and depraved men (hellish beings). Consider well then your motives and intentions. or is truly compassionate. each one having in it the remaining nine realms. beasts. Preta (hungry ghosts). Now. nonobjective worlds. you are existing in the world of the beast. In other words. human beings. Remember that man is characteristically placed at the midpoint of the ten stages.   » Buddhist Studies » Basic Buddhism Guide » The Law of Karma We have come to a couple of related ideas which are common in Buddhism and they are the ideas of karma and rebirth. reflecting the compassion of Amida Buddha. we will begin . © BDEA/BuddhaNet. he can either lower himself abruptly or gradually into hell or through discipline." For example. and words. these ten realms may be viewed as unfixed. If you are motivated only by thirsts of the human organism. as mental and spiritual states of mind. for how can a Buddha possibly save those in hell if he himself does not identify with their suffering and guide them to enlightenment. Copyright © 1996-2011. creating his own hell. The Lesson We can learn a valuable lesson from the teaching of reincarnation. Buddhas too have the other nine realms in their minds. love. and self-recognition. the realm of human beings has all the other nine states (from hell to Buddhahood). These ten realms are "mutually immanent and mutually inclusive. cultivation and the awakening of faith rise to the Enlightened state of the Buddha. but because the subject is a fairly wide one. psychological states. These states of mind are created by men's thoughts. you live in the Preta world. or hungry ghosts.heavenly beings (superhuman [angels?]). Man is at the same time capable of real selfishness.

Maybe we can define karma best by first deciding what karma is not. Alternatively. This is emphatically not the correct understanding of karma. Let us take an example. and vice versa. Kushala means intelligent or skilful. It is dynamic. As one sows. we have a counterpart to the physical law of action and reaction. karma becomes a sort of escape. painful result. What we all share . so shall one reap. According to one’s action. This is why we sometimes speak either of KarmaVipaka. let us look more closely at what karma is. In the moral sphere of conscious actions. This we will see very clearly when we come to specific examples of wholesome and unwholesome actions. These circumstances are decided by karma. These differences are due to karma. some are less wealthy. whether we speak of human beings or animals or beings who live in the other realms which we do not normally perceive. It explains why some beings are fortunate while others are less fortunate. We can understand by means of this general introduction that karma can be of two varieties . It is possible that this misunderstanding of karma has come about because of the popular idea that we have about luck and fate. the plant that springs up will be a mango tree. intentional action and its fruit. If karma is not fate or predestination. some of us are wealthy. then what is it? Let us look at the term itself. We know that what binds us in samsara are the defilements — desire. In this. deliberate. the situation in which we may be wealthy. It is when we speak of intentional action together with its effect or fruit that we speak of the Law of Karma. others are disabled and so forth. if we plant a Pong Pong seed. There are many differences amongst living beings and even more so there are differences between animals and human beings. Let us define karma. But it is more than simply action because it is not mechanical action. We spoke about this when we talked about the Second Noble Truth — the truth of the cause of suffering. the Law of Karma in the moral sphere teaches that similar actions will lead to similar results. This truth has been expressed in regard to the physical universe by the great physicist Newton who formulated the law which states that every action must have an equal and opposite reaction. willful action. It is not unconscious or involuntary action. Immediately we have an indication that the real meaning of karma is not fate because karma is action. In order that we should not misunderstand this description of deal with the idea of karma todayand rebirth in another lecture. This helps us to understand how these terms are . there are many differences.are common to all living beings. This is what we mean when we say that causes bring about effects that are similar to the causes. so shall be the fruit. In this sense. and if we do an unwholesome action eventually we will get an unwholesome. If we plant a mango seed. The Buddha has specifically stated that karma explains the differences between living beings. In its most basic sense.wholesome karma or good karma and unwholesome karma or bad karma. It is intentional. Similarly. This is particularly true in our daily casual use of the term. will action conditions or determines our situation? It is because every action must have a reaction. karma that is wholesome or unwholesome. In order that we understand how these terms are being used. ill-will and ignorance. eventually we will get a wholesome fruit. intentional action and its ripened effect. It is karma that explains the circumstances that living beings find themselves in. an effect. it is kushala or akushala karma. will action must have its effect. strong and so forth. Karma means action. conscious. it is important that we know the real meaning of kushala and akushala. if we do a wholesome action. It becomes similar to predestination or fatalism. How is it that this intentional. all living beings are alike and yet amongst all the living beings that we can normally perceive. the law that every intentional.was part of the Buddha’s experience on the night of His enlightenment. not skilful. but the particular condition in which we find ourselves is the result of our particular karma that conditions the situation in which we find ourselves.desire. We find people saying that one cannot change one’s situation because of one’s karma. It may be for this reason that our idea of karma has become overlaid in popular thought with the notion of predestination. from unhappy to happy circumstances as a result of their karma . It is quite often the case that we find people misunderstanding the idea of karma. the tree that will spring up will be a Pong Pong tree and the fruit a Pong Pong. In this case. You might also recall that the understanding of how karma affects the birth of living beings in happy or unhappy circumstances — the knowledge of how living beings move from happy circumstances to unhappy circumstances. in the Law of Karma. Having said this much about the function of karma. Karma is not fate or predestination. whereas akushala means not intelligent. it is useful for us to look at the original term. some are happy while others are less happy. and eventually it will bear a mango fruit. ill-will and ignorance . some are strong and healthy. It is in this sense that karma explains the differences amongst living beings. These defilements are something which every living being in samsara shares. For instance. or we speak of Karma-Phala. means "to do".

slander. There are three unwholesome actions of the body. So the conditions that determine the weight of karma apply to the subject and object of the action. four of speech and three of mind that are to be avoided. For example. dependence upon others for one’s livelihood and so forth. harsh speech and malicious gossip. One can simply regard wholesome actions as avoiding the unwholesome actions. Again effects here are similar to the actions. and so if we kill we will be liable to experience these effects. they result in suffering for oneself and others. while unwholesome actions have the opposite result. is modified by the conditions under which the actions are performed. The wholesome actions have as their consequences similar wholesome effects just as unwholesome actions have similar unwholesome effects. separation from loved ones. the intention to kill the living being.happiness. hungry ghosts and animals. Here one can refer to the list of wholesome actions that includes generosity. ill-will and ignorance. anger and delusion. the unwholesome actions which are to be avoided relate to the three doors or means of action. meditation. in the realms of suffering — hell. Killing shortens the life of others. for so long a foolish person will consider that action good. service. But when that unwholesome action bears its fruit of suffering then he will realize that the action is unwholesome. and the consequent death of the living being. we can see the subjective and the objective conditions. Here too. loving-kindness and compassion. rejoicing in the merit of others. speech and mind. The subjective conditions are the awareness of the living being. fear or paranoia. Specifically.suffering. killing will result in shortened life as a human being. Or one can speak of wholesome actions in positive terms. be it wholesome or unwholesome. generosity results in wealth. Just as unwholesome actions produce suffering. these wholesome actions produce benefits. and these are body. The unwholesome actions have suffering as their fruit. By avoiding these ten unwholesome actions we will avoid their consequences. If killing is not sufficiently habitual or weighty to result in rebirth in the hells. The conditions which determine the weight or strength of karma may be divided into those which refer to the subject — the doer of the action — and those which refer to the object — the being to whom the action is done. those actions that spring not out of desire. One may ask how does one know whether an action that is wholesome or unwholesome will produce happiness or unhappiness. a good person may consider that action unwholesome. in order for the act of killing to have its complete and unmitigated power. While unwholesome actions produce unwholesome results . in terms of intelligent and unintelligent. The four unwholesome actions of speech that are to be avoided are lying. then he will realize that the action is good. The answer is time will tell. Hearing of the Dharma results in wisdom. the intention to kill and . When it bears its fruit of happiness. habitual killing which is motivated by ill-will and anger and which results in the taking of the life of other beings will result in rebirth in the hells where one’s experience is saturated by anger and ill-will and where one may be repeatedly killed. Now how wholesome and how unwholesome? Wholesome in the sense that those actions which are beneficial to oneself and others. wholesome actions result in eventual happiness for oneself and others. five conditions must be present — a living being. a wholesome or unwholesome action may be more or less strong depending upon the conditions under which it is done. One can interpret wholesome actions in two ways. teaching the Dharma and straightening of one’s own views. Similarly. The fully ripened fruit of the unwholesome actions consists of rebirth in the lower realms. stealing and sexual misconduct. they will result in unhappiness in this life as a human being. in terms of wholesome and unwholesome. Sexual misconduct results in martial distress or unhappy marriages. For example. transference of merits. it will result in poverty. if we take the example of killing. good conduct. the awareness of the existence of a living being. The three unwholesome actions of body that are to be avoided are killing. but out of renunciation. and wisdom. stealing. the effort or action of killing the living being. In other words. Very simply. reverence. If it does not result in rebirth as a ghost. deprives others of their loved ones and so forth. So one needs to judge wholesome and unwholesome action from the point of view of long-term effect. hearing the Dharma. The fruit of these unwholesome actions can take various forms. The Buddha Himself answered the question. Here we can see at work the principle of a cause resulting in a similar effect. If these unwholesome actions are not sufficient to result in rebirth in these lower realms.being used. wholesome actions produce wholesome results . so long as a wholesome action does not bear its fruit of happiness. Similarly. Specifically. not in terms of good and evil but in terms of skilful and unskilful. avoiding killing. sexual misconduct and the rest. He has explained that so long as an unwholesome action does not bear its fruit of suffering. stealing which is borne of the defilement of desire may lead to rebirth as a hungry ghost where one is totally destitute of desired objects. Here too we can see how the effect is similar to the cause. Karma. The three unwholesome actions of mind that are to be avoided are greed.

Finally the power of wholesome or unwholesome action done towards those who have benefited one in the past. If for instance. the weight of the action will be enhanced. we will obtain the fruit in shorter period than if we plant the seed of a durian. In other words. When karma manifests its effects in this life. this also constitutes neutral karma because there is no intention . wholesome and unwholesome karma. Similarly. understanding that wholesome actions have happiness as their fruit. We cannot see the long-term effect of karma. At death we have to leave everything behind — our property and our loved ones. The benefits of understanding the Law of Karma are that this understanding discourages one from performing unwholesome actions which have suffering as their fruit. we plant the seed of a papaya. The subjective conditions are persistent action. Karma is moral action and moral responsibility. or good and bad. or the Buddha. For example. Neutral karma is karma that has no moral consequence either because the very nature of the action is such as to have no moral consequence or because it is done involuntarily and unintentionally. Traditionally we divide karma into three varieties related to the amount of time that is required for the effects of these actions to manifest themselves. eating. Once we understand that in our own life every action will have a similar and equal reaction. if one accidentally steps on an insect. the Buddha was able to tell that this event was the effect of something Maudgalyayana had done in a previous life when he had taken his aged parents to the forest and having beaten them to death. dependent upon mind and body. so as to take into account the subjective and objective conditions that determine the nature of an action.the action of killing. action done with great intention and determination. The effect of this unwholesome action done many lives before was manifested only in his last life. handicraft and so forth in themselves have no moral consequence. The objective conditions are the presence of the living being and the consequent death of the living being. We can see that even in the world of nature certain effects take longer to appear than others. sleeping. there are five conditions that modify the weight of karma and they are persistent. we will refrain from unwholesome behavior. walking. health and so forth. and action done towards those who have benefited one in the past. The Buddha has said that nowhere on earth or in heaven can one escape one’s karma. the effects will be evident within a short time. we should mention neutral or ineffective karma. action done with intention. Besides the two varieties of karma. the effects of karma will manifest themselves just as dependent on certain conditions a mango will appear on a mango tree. The effects of karma may be evident either in the short term or in the long term. The objective and subjective conditions together determine the weight of karma. breathing. Similarly. wholesome or unwholesome. such as one’s parents. and action done without regret. if one does a wholesome or unwholesome action towards living beings who possess extraordinary qualities such as the arhats. Karma can either manifest its effects in this very life or in the next life or only after several lives. but the Buddha and His prominent disciples who have developed their minds are able to perceive directly the long-term effects.the intentional element is not there. we can see the fruit of karma within a relatively short length of time. unintentional action is ineffective karma. when Maudgalyayana was beaten to death by bandits. when someone refuses to study. They will be evident in loss of livelihood and friendship. the effects of karma manifest either in the short term or in the long term. repeated action. action done without regret. had then reported that they had been killed by bandits. when someone begins to steal to support his harmful habits. Here too there are subjective and objective conditions. we will cultivate these wholesome actions. the wholesome or unwholesome action done will have greater weight. once we understand that we will experience the effect of that action. Similarly. of action and reaction in the moral sphere encourages us to renounce unwholesome actions and cultivate wholesome actions. This ensures that the effects of actions are equal to and similar to the nature of the causes. So when the conditions are correct. not wanting to experience the effects of these unwholesome actions. The objective conditions are the quality of the object to whom actions are done and the nature of the relationship. For instance. In other words. but our karma will accompany us like a shadow. For instance. This is important because understanding this will help us to understand that karma is not simply a matter of black and white. And similarly. This variety of karma is easily verifiable by any of us. But the working of the Law of Karma is very finely tuned and balanced so as to match effect with cause. being unconscious of its existence. teachers and friends. when someone indulges in harmful distractions like alcohol and drugs. We will look more closely at the specific effects of karma in future lives and how karma . will be greater. action done towards those who possess extraordinary qualities. If one does an unwholesome action again and again with great intention and without regret. Reflecting on the Law of Karma.

you are entering a totally different dimension of reality. but just identifying with the breath. each time you practice meditation it should be fresh. When you are breathing out. it is a break from how we normally operate. It is well to recognize that when you start on a meditation practice. All Rights Reserved. Extract from "Fundamentals of Buddhism". It has nothing to do with whether or not you "know" anything about it. your body still. like a piece of butter left in the sun. Meditation is simply a question of being. in fact. your mind at ease. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. Real relaxation comes when you . a posture which is not so much physical. then watch the breathing. but more to do with spirit or attitude. which is called the "posture". Peter Della Santina.    » Buddhist Studies » Basic Buddhism Guide » Advice on Meditation When you read books about meditation. That very simple process of mindfulness processes your thoughts and emotions. Usually people tend to relax the body by concentrating on different parts. something is peeled off and freed. However. much of the emphasis falls on the techniques. You just quietly sit. people tend to be very interested in the "technology" of meditation. but the way of being. as if it were happening for the very first time. by Dr. without supplying any kind of extra commentary or internalized mental gossip.conditions and determines the nature of rebirth in our lecture next week. of melting. If you need something to do. without letting them play havoc on you. and then. Copyright © 1996-2011. know that you are breathing out. or often when meditation is is presented by different groups. whereas meditation is just the opposite. by far the most important feature of meditation is not technique. the spirit. Normally in life we put a great deal of effort into achieving things. and allow thoughts to come and go. like an old skin being shed. your speech silent. know that you are breathing in. In the West. This is a very simple process. and there is a lot of struggle involved. When you breath in.

All Rights Reserved. Try to actually identify with the breathing. for then everything else will ease itself out quite naturally. You will find that gradually and almost unnoticed. Good and bad are simply apparations. for example. in which you feel a deep sense of peace. let things settle and allow all your discordant self with its ungenuineness and unnaturalness to disolve. As in the famous Zen master's saying: "When I eat. Then. some integration. or meditation in action. Things become less solid. As you go deeper. your mind is calm and your perception a little more coherent. It is good to meditate when you feel inspired. and you become more lighthearted. when the mind is calmer and fresher (the time traditionally recommended is before dawn). if it is done one-pointedly. it is simply the process of breathing. you are present. After that. You experience an aspect of yourself which is more genuine and more authentic-the "real" you. your attention will more easily be on your breathing. you begin to experience your true nature. Though one's meditation may be good one day and and not so good the next. Whatever you do. It is more appropriate to sit when you are inspired. Even washing dishes. the real practice rubs off on you and comes through both good and bad. There is no particular point on the breath on which you need to focus. Dzogchen. Once your mindfulness has been awakened by your meditation. In Tibetan "meditation" means "getting used to". but rather that when you persevere. You do not hold on to things as solidly as before. you are fully present in the act. This is a real and genuine goodness. There is no need to meditate for a long time: just remain quietly until you are a little open and able to connect with your heart essence. If you do so. without being perturbed by emotions and experiences. like changes in scenery. I eat. You just quietly sit and let all thoughts and concepts dissolve. Sometimes a sound or a mantra can be used. The whole point of meditation is to get used to the that aspect which you have forgotten. When everything dissolves like this. you begin to discover and connect with your fundamental goodness. you feel really good. contentment and confidence about yourself. When you sit. This in turn will bring more confidence in the practice. when you use a method such as watching the breath. like the sky. holding the whole universe. This is why. to focus upon. and seventy-five percent is relaxed. I sleep". you center yourself. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. to reveal the clear sky and the sun shining down. Copyright © 1996-2011. slightly ridiculous. and just remain there. . for not only is it easier then as you are in a better frame of mind for meditation. yet the sky is always unchanging. you are told to "rest in the nature of mind". You are more peaceful. in touch with your "soft spot". Then you know it. You may choose an object. freeing. If you persevere and have that sky like attitude of spaciousness. like a flower. in the highest teaching of Buddhism. and you are freer of yourself. You need not focus on anything in particular to begin with. When you begin to practice. since there is more space between you and them. or grasp at them so strongly. Think of yourself as the sky. right there. essentially it is not the experiences. when I sleep. One of the fundamental points of the spiritual journey is to persevere along the path. Early mornings can bring that inspiration. Twenty-five percent of your attention is on the breath. you can handle them a bit better with more humor and ease. You will even be able to laugh at difficulties a little. Just be spacious. can be very energizing. Sometimes you are taught to visualize a light on the forehead. good or bad which count so much. and though crisis will still happen. and later on you will be able to practice when you are not inspired. just as there may be good or bad weather. rather than just watching it. as the best moments of the mind are early in the day. It is unlike any other feeling of well being that you might have experienced. It is like when the clouds dissolve or the mist evaporates. cleansing. so you are more "you". whatever you do. to "live". Getting used to what? to your true nature. out of that rises your real being. But at the beginning it is best to simply be spacious. and allow thoughts and emotions to settle. You assume the "Universal You". but you will also be more encouraged by the very practice that you do. your Buddha nature. or in the heart. you will develop stability and the real profoundness of meditation will take effect. That is the main point. your attitude begins to change.relax from within. and at that moment. then later.

The practice always begins with developing a loving acceptance of yourself. which brings about positive attitudinal changes as it systematically develops the quality of 'loving-acceptance'. or there is a risk of it manifesting as its near enemy. Loving-kindness is the first of a series of meditations that produce four qualities of love: Friendliness (metta). If resistance is experienced then it indicates that feelings of unworthiness are present. Then you are ready to . loving-kindness has the immediate benefit of sweetening and changing old habituated negative patterns of mind. This 'engaged equanimity' must be cultivated within the context of this series of meditations." Loving-kindness is a meditation practice. as it merely mimics the quality of concern without empathy. It is a fact of life that many people are troubled by difficult emotional states in the pressured societies we live in. How to do it . Loving-kindness is a meditation practice taught by the Buddha to develop the mental habit of selfless or altruistic love. . but do little in terms of developing skills to deal with them. Yet even when the mind goes sour it is within most people's capacity to arouse positive feelings to sweeten it. indifference or aloofness. this means there is work to be done.  » Buddhist Studies » Basic Buddhism Guide » Loving-kindness Meditation Loving-kindness meditation can be brought in to support the practice of insight meditation to help keep the mind open and sweet. Appreciative Joy (mudita) and Equanimity (upekkha). on the other hand one needs to be wary of pity. Of all Buddhist meditations. Compassion (karuna). . It provides the essential balance to support Insight meditation practice. or appreciative joy. as a form of self-psychotherapy. To put it into its context. rather than feelings of jealousy towards them. as one empathises with other people's difficulties. When loving-kindness practice matures it naturally overflows into compassion. In the Dhammapada can be found the saying: "Hatred cannot coexist with loving-kindness. No matter. So. as it were. a way of healing the troubled mind to free it from its pain and confusion. as its near enemy. The positive expression of empathy is an appreciation of other people's good qualities or good fortune. The quality of 'friendliness' is expressed as warmth that reaches out and embraces others. and dissipates if supplanted with thoughts based on loving-kindness. This series of meditations comes to maturity as 'on-looking equanimity'. It acts. ultimately you remain kindly disposed and caring toward everybody with an equal spread of loving feelings and acceptance in all situations and relationships. as the practice itself is designed to overcome any feelings of self-doubt or negativity.

use the visualisation to bring back or strengthen the feeling. preferential love. lust. person who serves you in a shop. or if the feelings weaken or are lost then return to the device. And to yourself. So take your good vibes outside into the streets. It is best if you choose a member of the same sex or. the source of much of the conflict we experience. if you wish. without discrimination. See yourself or the person the feeling is directed at smiling back at you or just being joyous. Four types of persons to develop loving-kindness towards: o o o o a respected. south. if you have a sexual bias to your own sex. You can use all of them or one that works best for you. BuddhaNet's Loving-kindness Meditation Section . This is because of the risk that the near enemy of loving-kindness. 2. This directional pervasion will be enhanced by bringing to mind loving friends and like-minded communities you know in the cities. to the deeper. making an affirmation. but do try to keep to the prescribed order.systematically develop loving-kindness towards others. It has no specific object and involves just naturally radiating feelings of universal love. and all around. By reflection — Reflect on the positive qualities of a person and the acts of kindness they have done. Ways of arousing feelings of loving-kindness: 1. can be aroused. reflections and the repetition of loving-kindness are devices to help you arouse positive feelings of loving-kindness. as it is the feeling that is the primary focus. Applying the practice to daily life is a matter of directing a friendly attitude and having openness toward everybody you relate to. Starting with yourself. It is not discriminating. at work and into your relationships. Repeat an internalized mantra or phrase such as 'loving-kindness'. This introduction is intended to help you familiarize yourself with the basic technique.g. Just a word of caution if you are practicing intensively. This will have the effect of breaking down the divisions within your own mind. at home. i. a dearly beloved — a close family member or friend. Auditory — This is the simplest way but probably the most effective. Visualisation — Bring up a mental picture. which is an attached love. to an allembracing unconditional love! Loving-kindness is a heart meditation and should not to be seen as just a formal sitting practice removed from everyday life. beloved person — such as a spiritual teacher. so that you can become established in the practice before going on. Try different people to practice on. towns and countries around the world. as some people do not easily fit into the above categories. When it arises the practice has then come to maturity in that it has changed particular. Non-specific Pervasion tends to spontaneously happen as the practice matures. e. east and west. 3. The second stage is Directional Pervasion where you systematically project the aroused feeling of lovingkindness to all points of the compass: north. using your own words. When the positive feeling arise. a neutral person — somebody you know. up and down. There are as many different ways of doing it as there are levels of intensity in the practice. but have no special feelings towards. switch from the devices to the feeling. a positive statement about yourself. then systematically sending loving-kindness from person to person in the above order will have the effect of breaking down the barriers between the four types of people and yourself. if it strays bring it back to the device. a person of the opposite sex.e. a hostile person — someone you are currently having difficulty with. Keep the mind fixed on the feeling. systematic practice — to the level of meditative absorption. The visualisations.

» Basic Buddhism Guide » Snapshots » Difference From Other Religions . mental inertia. by relieving accumulated stress. Ease-of-mind and One-pointedness or unification of mind. and that one day it will be adopted universally as a practice to uplift human hearts. restlessness and skeptical doubt. overcomes skeptical doubt which has the characteristic of wavering. while One-pointedness restrains the mind's wanderings in the sense-fields to inhibit sensuality. five absorption factors are present: the first two are casual factors: Applied thought and Sustained thought. is for meditators who are prepared to develop loving-kindness meditation to its fullest and thereby experience the deeper aspects of the practice. Gregory gives practical advice to parents on how to bring the practice of loving-kindness within the home. to the meditator: Applied thought. This section. all forms of ill-will. followed by three effects: Rapture. The Path of Purification. Rapture with its uplifting effervescence. by arousing energy and effort. The five absorption factors have a one-toone correspondence to the five mental hindrances. based on the Visuddhimagga. The benefit of achieving deep concentration with this positive mind set is that it will tend to imprint the new positive conditioning while overriding the old negative patterns. or obstacles. May you be happy hearted! Copyright © 1996-2011. counteracts restlessness or agitation of mind. Ease-of-mind. in BuddhaNet's Loving-Kindness Meditation section. old negative habits are changed. thereby freeing one to form new. A benefit of developing the five absorption factors of concentration through the systematic practice is that it will counteract the Five Mental Hindrances of the meditator: Sensuality. prevails over feelings of ill-will. overcomes the hindrance of sloth and torpor.Venerable Sujiva's clear and comprehensive presentation in BuddhaNet of Metta Bhavana (which is the Pali term for the cultivation of loving-kindness) is a step-by-step explanation of the systematic practice. positive ways of relating. We also have. In this way. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. When the meditator achieves full concentration. inspiring instructions by Gregory Kramer of the Metta Foundation on teaching loving-kindness to children within the family context. that is. All Rights Reserved. Sustained thought. In this way. by steadying the mind. we can hope that loving-kindness meditation will become a natural part of the Buddhist family's daily practice.

Rebirth is another key doctrine in Buddhism and it goes hand in hand with karma.e. 8. there is consideration for all sentient beings (versus human beings. 3. Killing is breaking a key moral precept in Buddhism. Karma and Karma Force are cornerstones in Buddhist doctrines. They are expounded very thoroughly in Buddhism. 15.1. self discipline and individual striving. A Buddhist does not think that he can gain purity merely by seeking refuge in the Buddha or by mere faith in Him. 2. This law of karma explains the problem of sufferings. 7. He is neither the creator of such teachings nor the prophet of an almighty God to transmit such teachings to others. There is no one to hand out rewards or punishments on a supposedly Judgement Day. There is no almighty God in Buddhism. Especially emphasized in Mahayana Buddhism. Karma refers to an important metaphysical concept concerned with action and its consequences. One can become a Buddha (a supreme enlightened being) in due course if one practises diligently and attains purity of mind (ie absolutely no delusions or afflictions). the ultimate objective of followers/practitioners is enlightenment and/or liberation from Samsara. 10. 12. In Buddhism. Buddhism strictly forbids animal sacrifice for whatever reason. rather than to go to a Heaven (or a deva realm in the context of Buddhist cosmology). A Buddha is not an incarnation of a god/God (as claimed by some Hindu followers). Dharma (the teachings in Buddhism) exists regardless whether there is a Buddha. The relationship between a Buddha and his disciples and followers is that of a teacher and student. It is not within the power of a Buddha to wash away the impurities of others 4. the mystery of the so-called fate and predestination of some religions. all sentient beings have Buddha Nature/ Essence. otherwise it is just another form of craving. There is a subtle difference between rebirth and reincarnation as expounded in Hinduism. Buddhists acknowledge/accept the existence of animals and beings in other realms in Samsara. 14. the Buddha. Buddhism does not call for an unquestionable blind faith by all Buddhist followers. Maitri or Metta in Pali (Loving Kindness) and Karuna (Compassion) to all living beings including animals. 9. the Dharma and the Sangha. Taking refuge in The Triple Gems i. No saviour concept in Buddhism. Vegetarianism is recommended but not compulsory. In Buddhism. 6. A Buddha is not a saviour who saves others by his personal salvation. Buddhism goes beyond doing good and being good. It places heavy emphasis on self-reliance. whether created by a god or emanating from a divine essence. and above all the apparent inequality of mankind. 11. 5. The importance of Non-attachment. a religious leader or whatsoever religious pretext or . Sakyamuni Buddha (as the historical Buddha) discovered and shared the teachings/ universal truths with all sentient beings. 13. One must not be attached to good deeds or the idea of doing good. Buddhism is strictly not a religion in the context of being a faith and worship owing allegiance to a supernatural being. as in other religions). Buddhism rejects the theory of a transmigrating permanent soul. The liberation of self is the responsibility of one's own self. Although a Buddhist seeks refuge in the Buddha as his incomparable guide who indicates the path of purity. he makes no servile surrender. No holy war concept in Buddhism. does not mean selfsurrender or total reliance on an external force or third party for help or salvation. One is strictly forbidden to kill another person in the name of religion.

e. 17. The Buddha is omniscient but he is not omnipotent. 26.g. It declares the phenomenal world to be void of all limitations of particularization and that all concepts of dualism are abolished. virtual exhaustion of karma.e. All other religions preach one heaven. this doctrine asserts the transcendental nature of Ultimate Reality. Briefly. . the worst of three undesirable realms].e. Also. The tradition and practice of meditation in Buddhism are relatively important and strong. sin should not be equated to suffering. a Buddha does not claim to be a creator of lives or the Universe. There is virtually no recognition of a first cause — e. 24. The Buddhist viewpoint of a Buddha world (also known as Three Thousand-Fold World System) is that of one billion solar systems. It is not a place for eternal damnation as viewed by 'almighty creator' religions. Besides. the Mahayana Buddhist doctrines expound that there are other contemporary Buddha worlds like Amitabha's Pure Land and Bhaisajyaguru's world system. The concept of Hell(s) in Buddhism is very different from that of other religions. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. The Dharma provides a very detailed explanation of the doctrine of anatman {anatta in Pali} or soullessness . Prajna [Panna in Pali] or Transcendent Wisdom occupies a paramount position in Buddhist teachings. One is taught to balance compassion with prajna i. Samsara is a fundamental concept in Buddhism and it is simply the 'perpetual cycles of existence' or endless rounds of rebirth among the six realms of existence. one earth and one hell. He is capable of innumerable feats but there are three things he cannot do. The idea of sin or original sin has no place in Buddhism. 25. While all religions teach some forms or variations of stabilising/single-pointedness meditation. It is the first of the Four Noble Truths. habitual traces. 22. Conditioned Arising [Paticcasamuppada in Pali] or Dependent Origination is another key doctrine in Buddhism. only Buddhism emphazises Vipassana (Insight) meditation as a powerful tool to assist one in seeking liberation/enlightenment. there are virtually unlimited number of hells in the Buddhist cosmology as there are infinite number of Buddha worlds. this at the same time describes what entangles sentient beings in samsara. i. In Buddhism. but this perspective is very limited compared with Buddhist samsara where heaven is just one of the six realms of existence and it has 28 levels/planes. how does human existence first come about? 19. defilements and delusions. The doctrine of Sunyata or Emptiness is unique to Buddhism and its many aspects are well expounded in advanced Buddhist teachings. 23. Also. it is just one of the six realms in Samsara [i. The Buddhist cosmology (or universe) is distinctly different from that of other religions which usually recognise only this solar system (Earth) as the centre of the Universe and the only planet with living beings. 18. Buddhist teachings expound no beginning and no end to one's existence or life. Sufferings are very well analysed and explained in Buddhism. Sakyamuni Buddha expounded Prajna concepts for some 20 years of his ministry. 20. 27. Suffering is another cornerstone in Buddhism.emotion (faith) with rationale (right understanding / truth / logic). there is no soul entity (whether in one life of many lives).e. This doctrine explains that all psychological and physical phenomena constituting individual existence are interdependent and mutually condition each other. [ Compiled by Tan Swee Eng] Copyright © 1996-2011. 21. All Rights Reserved. This cyclical rebirth pattern will only end when a sentient being attains Nirvana. i. 16.worldly excuse. Also.

» Basic Buddhism Guide » Snapshots » Common Grounds

1. Sakayamuni Buddha is the original and historical founder of Buddhism. 2. The Three Universal Seals, Four Noble Truths, Eight Fold Paths and Twelve Links of Dependent 3. 4. 5.
Origination are the basic foundation to all schools of Buddhism including the Tibetan schools of Vajrayana. Three-fold training of Precepts, Meditation and Wisdom is universal to all schools. Organisation of the Buddhist teachings / Dharma into three classications (Sutra, Vinaya and Sastra) is practised among the Buddhist Canons of various countries. Mind over matter concept. Mind as the principal area of taming and control is fundamental to all schools.
[ Compiled by Tan Swee Eng]

Copyright © 2008 - BDEA / BuddhaNet. All rights reserved.

» Basic Buddhism Guide » Snapshots » Differences Between Traditions






The Buddha

Only the historical Gautama (Sakyamuni) Buddha and past buddhas are accepted.

Besides Sakyamuni Buddha, other contemporary buddhas like Amitabha and Medicine Buddha are also very popular. Avalokitesvara, Mansjuri, Ksitigarbha and Samanthabadra are four very well known bodhisattvas besides Maitreya. Buddhahood (via bodhisattva path). The Mahayana Buddhist Canon also consists of Tripitaka of disciplines, discourses (sutras) and dharma analysis. It is usually organised in 12 divisions of topics like Cause and Conditions and Verses. It contains virtually all the Theravada Tipikata and many sutras that the latter does not have.



Only Maitreya bodhisattva is accepted.


Objective of training

Arahant or pacceka-buddha.


Organisation of Buddhist scriptures

The Pali Canon is divided into 3 baskets (Tipitaka): Vinaya Pitaka of 5 books, Sutta Pitaka of 5 collections (many suttas) and Abhidhamma Pitaka of 7 books.


Concept of Bodhicitta

Main emphasis is self liberation. There is total reliance on one-self to eradicate all defilements. Very limited emphasis on the 3 bodies of a buddha. References are mainly on nirmana-kaya and dharma-kaya. Southern transmission: Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Laos and Cambodia and parts of Southeast Asia.

Besides self liberation, it is important for Mahayana followers to help other sentient beings.


Trikaya concept

Very well mentioned in Mahayana buddhism. Samboga-kaya or reward/enjoyment body completes the Trikaya concept.


Transmission route

Northern transmission: Tibet, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Mongolia and parts of Southeast Asia.


Language of dharma Tipitaka is strictly in Pali. Dharma teaching teaching in Pali supplemented by

Buddhist canon is translated into the local language (except for the 5 untranslatables), e.g. Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese. Original

local language.

language of transmission is Sanskrit.


Nirvana (Nibbana in Pali)

No distinction is made between Also known as 'liberation from Samsara,' there nirvana attained by a buddha and are subtle distinctions in the level of attainment that of an arahat or pacceka buddha. for the three situations.


A lot of bodhisattvas are introduced by Sakyamuni Buddha's Basically historical disciples, whether Sakyamuni Buddha. Most of these are not disciples arahats or commoners. historical figures. Owing to local cultural influences, there is much There are some rituals but not more emphais on the use of rituals; e.g. Rituals heavily emphasized as in Mahayana for the deceased, feeding of Petas, tantric schools. formalities (in Vajrayana). Heavily practised in the Vajrayana school of Mahayana Buddhism. Other schools also have included some mantras in their daily lithurgy. The Vajrayana school is particularly meticulous in these areas. There are many inner and external signs manifested by people before they die. There is heavy stress in doing transference of merit practices in the immediate few weeks following death to assist in the deceased's next rebirth. All Mahayana schools teach this after death aspect. This is a highly respected practice but it is left to the disposition of each individual in the various sanghas.

11 Rituals and liturgy

Use of Mantras and 12 Mudras

Some equivalent in the use of Parittas.


Dying and death aspects

Very little research and knowledge on the process of dying and death. Usually, the dying persons are advised to meditate on impermanence, suffering and emptiness.



This in-between stage after death and before rebirth is ignored in Theravada school. This the norm among Theravada sanghas.


One meal a day practice

16 Vegetarianism

This aspect is not necessary. In places like Thailand where daily morning rounds are still practised, it is very difficult to insist on the type of food to be donated

Very well observed in all Mahayana schools (except the Tibetans due to the geographical circumstances). However, this aspect is not compulsory.


Focus of worship in the temple

Simple layout with the image of Sakyamuni Buddha the focus of worship.

Can be quite elaborate; with a chamber/hall for Sakyamuni Buddha and two disciples, one hall for the 3 Buddhas (including Amitabha and Medicine Buddha) and one hall for the 3 key bodhisattvas; besides the protectors, etc.

8 major (Chinese) schools based on the partial doctrines (sutras. sastras or vinaya) of the teachings. more popular than the philosophy based schools like Tien Tai. Ch'an. » Basic Buddhism Guide » Snapshots » Dependent Origination . there were heavy mutual influences. [Compiled by Tan Swee Eng] Copyright © 1996-2011. Avamtasaka. both Confucianism influences. Yogacara and Madhyamika. In China. sangha. 18 years of attrition reducing the tradition Vajrayana and Vinaya (not for lay people) are number from as high as 18. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. Heavily stressed. In the course of integration and adoption by the Mainly pre-Buddhism Indian/Brahmin people in other civilizations. The four schools inclined towards One surviving major school following Schools/Sects of the practices like Pure Land/Amitabha. which in turn had an impact on the indigenous References were made from the beliefs. Non Buddhist 19 influences 20 Buddha nature Absent from the teachings of Theravada tradition. etc were prevailing terms and Taoism exerted some influence on Buddhism during Sakyamuni Buddha's life time. particularly by schools inclined practices. This scenario was repeated in Japan and Vedas and Upanishads. Many terms like karma. Tibet. All Rights Reserved.


Pali (Sanskrit)

Usual Translation

Other Reference

Remarks Lack of wisdom, which is the root of all evils. Obscuration as to self of persons and self of phenomena.

1 Avijja (Avidya)



Sankhara (Samskara)

Karma formations

Compositional action

Wholesome or unwholesome thoughts, speech and bodily deeds.

3 Vinnana (Vijnana) Conciousness Corporeality & mentality Six sense organs/spheres

Normally 6 consciousnesses but is taken as 8 in the Yogacara School. Mental & physical existence. 4 mental aggregates and one physical body.

4 Nama-rupa Ayatana (Shadayatana)

Name & form


Six bases

Eye, ear, nose, tongue, touch and mental faculty A mental factor and period in which the objects, sense power/organ and conciousness come together, causing one to distinguish an object as pleasurable, painful or neutral.

6 Phassa (Sparsha) Sense impression


7 Vedana



8 Tanha (Trishna)



Posited as a mental factor that experiences pleasure, pain and neutral feeling. Pleasure lead to a strong desire for more while pain generates an avoidance desire. A mental factor that increases desire but without any satisfaction. A stronger degree of desire. 4 basic varieties: desired objects, views of self, bad system of ethics and conduct; and other bad views. A period lasting from the time of fully potentialised karma up to the beginning of next lifetime.

9 Upadana



10 Bhava (Bjava)

Process of becoming Rebirth Ageing & Death


11 Jati 12 Jara-marana (Jaramaranam)

Decay & Death

Links 1, 2, 8, 9 and 10 are the five karmic causes of rebirths. Links 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are the five karmic results in the rounds of rebirths. This doctrine is interpreted in various ways and levels:     

The Theravada tradition uses it to explain the arising of sufferings; that all composite existence is without substantiality. This doctrine is then used the basis for the negation of self. In the Mahayana, condition arising is further interpreted to validate the unreality of existence by reason of its relativity. Madhyamika School equates this doctrine with shunyata (emptiness). Condition arising is taken to show that because of their relativity, appearances have only empirical validity and are ultimately unreal. In the Yogacara view, only true understanding of this doctrine can overcome the error of taking what does not exist for existent and what does exist for nonexistent. The Prajnaparamita Sutras stresses that this doctrine does not refer to a temporal succession but rather to the essential interdependence of all things.

Sources of compilation:     The Meaning of Life; The Dalai Lama, Wisdom Publications 92 The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen; Shambhala Pubn 91 Living Dharma; Jack Kornfield, Shambhala Pubn 96 Buddhist Dictionary; Nyanatiloka, Singapore Buddhist Meditation Centre 91
[ Compiled by Tan Swee Eng]

Copyright © 1996-2011, © BDEA/BuddhaNet. All Rights Reserved.

» Basic Buddhism Guide » Snapshots » Universal Loving-kindness

In our daily lives we meet all kinds of people. Some are pleasant and some are ill-disposed. There are also moments of anxiety, moments of stress, and circumstances which are perplexing. On encountering unpleasant people, and in difficult times, a recital or perusal of the Sutta will produce beneficial results. The practice of what is contained in it will induce a tranquil state of mind, give us self-confidence, and help us to overcome difficulties. This is a Sutta (a Discourse) that was delivered by the Buddha to a set of his disciples who had gone to meditate in a forest close to the Himalayan mountain range. They complained that they were being disturbed by some spirits of the forest. The Buddha exhorted them to follow this course of conduct. They went back to the same abode, and putting the advice into practice, found that they were not disturbed anymore. Homage to Him, the Worthy One, the Exalted One, the Fully Enlightened One. I go to the Buddha as my refuge I go to the Dhamma as my refuge I go to the Sangha as my refuge

The Five Precepts
1. I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from destroying the life of living beings. 2. I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from taking things not given to me. 3. I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from sexual misconduct. 4. I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from false speech. 5. I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from taking intoxicants - foundations of slothfulness.

Karaniya Metta Sutta
Universal Loving Kindness This must be done to gain the State of Peace. One must be able, upright and straightforward; Pleasant in Speech, mild and not proud. Easily contented and easily supportable; Not caught up in too many "duties" and frugal in one's wants. Calm in mind, discriminative and courteous; Not closely attached to households. Avoiding any mean deeds blameworthy by the wise. Thinking always thus: "May all beings be happy and safe, May they all have tranquil minds. Whatsoever pulsates with the breath of life the frail or strong, without exception the long, the large, the medium-sized, the short, the thin or fat. Those visible, and those invisible, those living far away or nearby; Beings who are already born and those yet unborn. May they all be happy! May no-one deceive another, nor despise him in anyway anywhere. Let no-one wish another ill, owing to anger or provocation.

perfect in insight.with her life even so let him cultivate this boundless love to all living beings. And while standing. They are long gone. Radiating with a full heart loving thoughts of kindness towards all the world. being virtuous. free from the lust of sexual desire. Have forgiveness in your heart for anything you think you've done wrong . Feel that forgiveness filling you and enveloping you with a sense of warmth and ease.still free from drowsiness let him maintain this state of mindfulness . . Purification of one's thoughts. malice or anxiety . Avoidance of evil. This is a truth of ancient date. » Basic Buddhism Guide » Snapshots » Loving-kindness Forgivemess "Please put the attention on the breath. All Rights Reserved. walking. Forgive yourself for all the past omissions and commissions. Today still unexcelled. Performance of good deeds. sitting or reclining .termed the "Highest Living" And living free from mere views.above. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. never again shall he be entangled in the round of rebirth.Just as a mother would protect her son . below and in all directions. Understand that you were a different person and this one is forgiving that one that you were. May all beings be happy hearted! Copyright © 1996-2011. Hate is never overcome by hate By love alone it is quelled. free from anger.her only son . This is the teaching of the Buddhas.

© BDEA/BuddhaNet. Fill them with your forgiveness. so that they can be filled with it. Forgive them for anything you have ever blamed them for. embraced by it. knowing in your heart that this is your most wonderful way of togetherness. blaming. Think of any one person. Let your forgiveness be your expression of unconditional love. completely. that you have judged them for. Let that forgiveness fill them. » Basic Buddhism Guide » Question & Answer » What is Buddhism? . towards whom you have blame or condemnation. envelope them. Let them feel that you accept them. Reach out to that person. rejection. Human beings have dukkha. Now think of any special person whom you really need to forgive. Remember that everyone has dukkha. Let this forgiveness fill them. Think of the people you know. surround them. And your heart needs the forgiveness in order to have purity of love. any where in the world. Think of your nearest and dearest people . Feel the warmth and ease that comes from forgiveness. so that there is no separation your heart. complete and total. And recognize the goodness in you. disliking. or any group of people whom you are condemning. that you have disliked. be your expression of love for them. whoever they might be. And forgive the people or the person. Now think of your friends." May all beings have forgiveness in their hearts! Copyright © 1996-2011. Forgive them for anything you have disliked about them. They may not do the right things. Let your forgiveness fill their hearts. dislike. Realizing that this is your expression of love. All Rights Reserved. Towards whom you still have resentment. and forgive them all for whatever it is that you have blamed them for. Now put your attention back on yourself. Have a look again and see whether there's anyone or anything. Understand that they too are different now. Forgive them. Forgive them for anything that you think they have done wrong or are doing wrong at this time.Think of your parents. surround them. Let this forgiveness come from your heart. The effort you are making. Forgive him or her fully. or any situation. Let your forgiveness reach out to them.

It is the supreme philosophy. who was himself awakened at the age of 35. So Buddhism is just a philosophy? The word philosophy comes from two words 'philo' which means 'love' and 'sophia' which means 'wisdom'. His compassion and patience were legendary and he made thousands of followers. When he was 29 he left his wife and child and set off to sit at the feet of the great religious teachers of the day to learn from them. Until a hundred years ago. Buddhism is now 2. Eventually. He grew up in wealth and luxury but eventually found that worldly comfort and security do not guarantee happiness. Who was the Buddha? In the year 563 B. known as the Buddha. old and sick. Thus Buddhism is a philosophy but not just a philosophy. From that day onwards he was called the Buddha. both meanings describing Buddhism perfectly.500 years old and has about 300 million followers world-wide. In his eightieth year. a baby was born into a royal family in northern India. he finally died. after six years study and meditation he had an experience in which all ignorance fell away and he suddenly understood. Buddhism was mainly an Asian philosophy but increasingly it is gaining adherents in Europe and America. They taught him much but none really knew the cause of human suffering or how it could be overcome. It also teaches us to develop love and kindness so that we can be like a true friend to all beings. the Awakened One. He was deeply moved by the suffering he saw all around and resolved to find the key to human happiness. So philosophy is the love of wisdom or love and wisdom. He lived for another 45 years in which time he traveled all over northern India teaching others what he had discovered. Wasn't it irresponsible for the Buddha to walk out on his wife and child? . This philosophy has its origins in the experience of the man Siddhata Gotama. Buddhism teaches that we should try to develop our intellectual capacity to the fullest so that we can understand clearly.C. but still happy and at peace.What is Buddhism? The name Buddhism comes from the word 'budhi' which means 'to wake up' and thus Buddhism is the philosophy of awakening.

we could perfect ourselves also. But I have heard people say that Buddhists worship idols. who discovered electricity. when we meet a dignitary we shake their hand. when the national anthem is played we salute. These are all gestures of respect and worship and indicate our admiration for certain persons or things. . The great artist Leonardo da Vinci is dead but what he created can still uplift and give joy.It couldn't have been an easy thing for the Buddha to leave his family. the child of a god or even the messenger from a god. the Buddha is dead but 2500 years later his teachings still help people. Luis Pasteur who discovered the cures for so many diseases is dead but his medical discoveries still save lives. He must have worried and hesitated for a long time before finally leaving. we express outwardly what we feel inwardly. But he had a choice. If the Buddha is not a god. The Buddha is dead so how can he help us? Faraday. is dead but what he discovered still helps us. the lamp reminds us of the light of knowledge and the flowers which soon fade and die. This was not irresponsible. He did not claim that he was a god. remind us of impermanence. It was perhaps the most significant sacrifice ever made. And the whole world still benefits from his sacrifice. receive their offerings and answer their prayers. his example still inspires people. Noble men and heroes may have been dead for centuries but when we read of their deeds and achievements we can still be inspired to act as they did. his great compassion made him give himself to the whole world. Buddhists do not indulge in this kind of worship. When we bow. This is the nature of Buddhist worship. When someone worships a god. A statue of the Buddha with its hands rested gently in its lap and its compassionate smile reminds us to strive to develop peace and love within ourselves. his words still change lives. Yes. believing that the god will hear their praise. He was a human being who perfected himself and taught that if we followed his example. he was not. In the end. Was the Buddha a god? No. they praise and honor him or her. make offerings and ask for favors. The perfume of incense reminds us of the pervading influence of virtue. our gratitude to the Buddha for what his teachings have given us. When a teacher walks into the room we stand up. then why do people worship him? There are different types of worship. dedicating himself to his family or dedicating himself to the whole world. Only a Buddha could have such power centuries after his death. The other kind of worship is when we show respect to someone or something we admire. This is the type of worship Buddhists practice.

JN 28-9 Nor should Buddhism or any religion be judged by those who don't practice it properly. America for example. As we have seen. millions of old people are neglected by their children and die of loneliness in old people's homes. the sword is used to symbolize spiritual struggle. But if by poor you mean a poor quality of life. read the Buddha's words or speak to those who understand them properly. If you wish to know the true teachings of Buddhism. The Buddha taught with clarity and in detail and if some fail to understand fully. In the same way. the Buddha cannot be blamed. the fish is used to symbolize Christ's presence while the cross is used to symbolize his sacrifice. So to say that Buddhists worship idols is not correct. Rather than dismiss such things as strange. domestic violence and child abuse are major problems. domestic violence and child abuse. Rich in terms of money but perhaps poor in terms of the quality of life. Buddhists do not believe that the Buddha was a god. that we must look within not without to find perfection and understanding. And such misunderstandings are not found in Buddhism alone but arise in all religions from time to time. divorce and suicide are almost unheard of. it is not the fault of that physician. If Buddhism is so good why are some Buddhist countries poor? If by poor you mean economically poor. the ying-yang is used to symbolize the harmony between opposites. so how could they possibly believe that a piece of wood or metal is a god? All religions use symbols to express various concepts. then perhaps some Buddhist countries are quite rich. And in Buddhism. then it is true that some Buddhist countries are poor. one of the wealthiest and most economically dynamic countries in the world today is Japan . pornography and sexual license are not common. the statue of the Buddha is used to symbolize human perfection. In Sikhism. However. In Christianity. is an economically rich and powerful country but the crime rate is one of the highest in the world. Some are economically backward but parents are honored and respected by their children.Such statements only reflect the misunderstanding of the persons who make them. Economically backward but perhaps a higher quality of life than in a country like America. we should try to find out what they mean. if a person is oppressed and tormented by the disease of the defilements but does not seek the help of the Buddha. The dictionary defines an idol as "an image or statue worshipped as a god". it is true that Buddhist practices sometimes have their origins in popular superstition and misunderstanding rather than the teachings of the Buddha. The statue of the Buddha also reminds us of the human dimension in Buddhist teaching. But even if we judge Buddhist countries in terms of economics alone. If a person suffering from a disease does not seek treatment even when there is a physician at hand. that is not the Buddha's fault. Why do people do all kinds of strange things in Buddhist temples? Many things seem strange to us when we don't understand them. Now take traditional Buddhist countries. In Taoism. One in three marriages end in divorce and pornography is a major industry. rather than god-centered. their crime rates are relatively low. the fact that Buddhism is human-centered. There is a saying.

the types of Buddhism may seem very different but at the center of all of them is the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Yogacara Buddhism and Vajrayana but they are all Buddhism and they all has the same taste . white sugar. Buddhism included. Buddhists see help given to others as an expression of their religious practice just as other religions do but they believe that it should be done quietly and without self-promotion. Pure Land Buddhism. But the different sects of Buddhism have never gone to war with each other. Buddhism is the same. child minding centres. Such tolerance and understanding are certainly rare Buddhism started in India but it eventually died out there. All major religions. Outwardly. they go to each other's temples and worship together. Kantayapiwat was awarded the Norwegian Children's Peace Prize for his many years of work helping homeless children in rural areas. And what about the large scale social work being done among the poor in India by the Western Buddhist Order? They have built schools.where a large percentage of the population call themselves Buddhists. I suppose you think your religion is right and all the others . It is produced in different forms so that it can be used in different ways. Zen Buddhism. Thus you don't hear so much about their charitable work. Buddhism has evolved into different forms so that it can be relevant to the different cultures in which it exists. Why is it that you don't often hear of charitable work being done by Buddhists? Perhaps it is because Buddhists don't feel the need to advertise about the good they do. Perhaps a combination of political and social changes combined with wars and invasions made it difficult such a gentle and peaceful religion to survive. In 1987 another Thai monk. You certainly think highly of Buddhism. rock sugar.the state of freedom. granulated sugar. syrup and icing sugar but it is all sugar and it all tastes sweet. No one really knows why this happened. There is Theravada Buddhism. Why? The Buddha's teachings grew to become one of India's major religions but gradually it went into decline and finally disappeared just as Christianity started in Palestine but eventually died out there. Several years ago the Japanese Buddhist leader Nikkho Niwano received the Templeton Prize for his work in promoting inter-religious harmony. Ven. It has been reinterpreted over the centuries so that it can remain relevant to each new generation. Why are there so many different types of Buddhism? There are many different types of sugar: brown sugar. they have never been towards each other and to this day. Likewise a Thai Buddhist monk was recently awarded the prestigious Magsaysay Prize for his excellent work among drug addicts. However long before it disappeared in India is spread from there to the furthermost corner of Asia. have split into schools and sects. dispensaries and small scale industries for selfsufficiency.

All believe that a change of attitude and behavior is needed if the human situation is to improve. After he has drunk. But we read in the Buddhist scriptures that the Hindu priests. Is Buddhism scientific? Before we answer that question it would be best to define the word 'science'. stop squabbling and refresh your thirst. pride and self-righteousness arise. were strongly opposed to the Buddha. The Fourth Noble Truth." The Chinese comments. which depends upon seeing and testing facts and stating general natural laws. "I can prove that it is a cup. a Frenchman." The Chinese scoffs at them. has nothing to do with metaphysics but depends on . "That's a cup. It's a tasse. craving." This is the Buddhist attitude to other religions." There are aspects of Buddhism that would not fit into this definition but the central teachings of Buddhism. most certainly would. Imagine an Englishman. by faith or by prayers but simply by removing its cause. a branch of such knowledge. a tasse. No one who. kindness. The Englishman says. I have read that Buddhism is just a type of reformed Hinduism. Stop arguing and drink. All teach an ethics that includes love. has made a genuine effort to examine other religions with an open mind could think like that either. different names and different symbols to describe and explain these things. he denied the existence of a supreme god and he rejected the authority of the Hindu scriptures. The Second Noble Truth states that suffering has a natural cause. which likewise can be defined." "Then your dictionary is wrong. the way to end suffering. "My dictionary is thousands of years older than yours. once again. and it is only when they narrow-mindedly cling to their one way of seeing things that religious intolerance. experienced and measured. My dictionary says so. according to the dictionary is "knowledge which can be made into a system. a cup is meant to be used." The Frenchman answers. not by relying upon a Supreme Being. a Buddhist comes up and drinks from the cup. No attempt is made to explain suffering in terms of a metaphysical concept or myths. This is because he criticized the Hindu caste system and the practice animal sacrifice. the Four Noble Truths. so my dictionary must be right. patience.are wrong. a Chinese and an Indonesian all looking at a cup. "Whether you call it a cup. It's a pet. the First Noble Truth is an experience that can be defined." While they are squabbling and arguing with each "Because my dictionary clearly says it is a tasse. Science. This is axiomatic. according to the Third Noble Truth. experienced and measured. "You're both wrong. "No it's not. All religions acknowledge that mankind's present state is unsatisfactory." And the Indonesian laughs at the others and says "What fools you are. And besides. more people speak Chinese than any other language. They use different languages. Suffering. he says to the others. The first thing you notice when you study the different religions is just how much they have in common. No Buddhist who understands the Buddha's teaching thinks that other religions are wrong." The Englishman gets a dictionary and shows it to the others saying. It's a cawan. Suffering is ended. One sometimes hears uninformed people saying this. Buddhism and Hinduism have things in commons but they also have enough important differences to make them two distinct religions. anything that can be studied exactly. generosity and social responsibility and all accept the existence of some form of Absolute. the Brahmins. so it must be a pet." says the French. a pet or a cawan.

examine. He says: "Do not go by revelation or tradition. do not go by rumor. If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs.I. or the sacred scriptures. inquire and rely on our own experience. and explains the origins and workings of the universe in terms of natural laws." A. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. do not go by hearsay or mere logic. 188 So we could say that although Buddhism is not entirely scientific. as does science. that it is not blamable. » Basic Buddhism Guide » Question & Answer » Basic Buddhist Concepts . the Buddha's constant advice that we should not blindly believe but rather question. But when you yourself know that a thing is good. Once again. natural and spiritual and a meaningful unity. It is significant that Albert Einstein. Covering both the natural and the spiritual. All Rights Reserved. Buddhism answers this description. do not go by bias towards a notion or by another person's seeming ability and do not go by the idea 'He is our teacher'. it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. the greatest scientist of the twentieth century said of Buddhism: "The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. And once again behavior is open to testing. then follow that thing. it certainly has a strong scientific overtone and is certainly more scientific then any other religion. All of this certainly exhibits a scientific spirit.behaving in specific ways. it would be Buddhism. has a definite scientific ring to it. Buddhism dispenses with the concept of a Supreme Being. that it is praised by the wise and when practiced and observed that it leads to happiness." Copyright © 1996-2011.

try to modify your wanting. injury. lose interest in it and commence to want something else. anger. we feel hurt. Wanting deprives us of contentment and happiness. It simply says that to live is to experience physical and psychological suffering which is a statement so true and so obvious that it cannot be denied. Thus Buddhism is the only truly universal religion because it goes right to the core of every individual human being's concern . When we want something but are unable to get it. a thing that all know.What are the main teachings of the Buddha? All of the many teachings of the Buddha center on the Four Noble Truths just as the rim and spokes of a wheel center on the hub. it is easy to see how it is caused by craving.suffering and how to avoid it. Even when we want something and are able to get it. To live. that all have experienced and that all are striving to overcome. It is impossible to live without experiencing some kind of suffering. we feel frustrated. When we want others to like us and they don't. The central concept of most religions is a myth. frustrations. old age and eventually death and we have to endure psychological suffering like loneliness. They are called 'Noble' because they ennoble one who understands them and they are called 'Truths' because. embarrassment. We have to endure physical suffering like sickness. fear. they are true. Isn't this a bit pessimistic? The dictionary defines pessimism as 'the habit of thinking that whatever will happen will be bad. disappointment. you must suffer. an irrefutable fact. etc. . Put simply. When we look at psychological suffering.' or 'The belief that evil is more powerful than good. What is the First Noble Truth? The First Noble Truth is that life is suffering. They are called 'Four' because there are four of them.' Buddhism teaches neither of these ideas. Nor does it deny that happiness exists. Buddhism starts with an experience. When we expect someone to live up to our expectation and they do not. Rather than constantly struggling to get what you want. we feel let down and disappointed. tiredness. corresponding with reality. What is the Second Noble truth? The Second Noble Truth is that all suffering is caused by craving. the Second Noble Truth says that getting what you want does not guarantee happiness. a legend or a belief that is difficult or impossible to verify. this does not often lead to happiness either because it is not long before we feel bored with that thing.

Because we are no longer obsessed with satisfying our own selfish wants. That's all very well. what is the purpose of life? To get or to be content and happy. Words and thoughts being only suited to describe the time-space dimension. patiently enduring the problems that life involves without fear. the body is susceptible to injury and disease. After all. we find we have so much time to help others fulfil their needs. our constant discontent with what we have. He tells us that our needs can be fulfilled but that our wants are endless . Desires beyond this should be gradually lessened. we would never get or achieve anything. You have talked about rebirth. do we being to live fully. He asks us to make a difference between what we need and what we want and to strive for our needs and modify our wants. our craving. it can be exhausted by work. fundamental and that can be obtained and this we should work towards. But what the Buddha says is that when our desires. then we become happy and free. but we will look at this in more detail later on. but is there any proof that such a thing happens? There is ample evidence that such a thing happens. enjoying without restless wanting the experiences that life offers us. craving leads to physical suffering because it causes us to be reborn. True. . Then. This is called Final Nirvana. This is perhaps the most important of the Four Noble Truths because in it the Buddha reassures us that true happiness and contentment are possible. What or where is Nirvana? It is a dimension transcending time and space and thus is difficult to talk about or even to think about. When we give up useless craving and learn to live each day at a time. Thus. Thus Nirvana is eternal. then we should stop doing it. We are free from all psychological suffering as well. as we said before. There are needs that are essential. But because Nirvana is beyond time. When we are reborn. and only then. it ages and eventually dies.But how does wanting and craving lead to physical suffering? A lifetime wanting and craving for this and that and especially the craving to continue to exist creates a powerful energy that causes the individual to be reborn. hatred and anger.a bottomless pit. there is no movement and so no aging or dying. What is the Third Noble Truth? The Third Noble Truth is that suffering can be overcome and happiness attained. But if we stopped wanting altogether. This state is called Nirvana. and our continual longing for more and more does cause us suffering. we have a body and.

Copyright © 1996-2011. the social and economic and the psychological and therefore contain everything a person needs to lead a good life and to develop spiritually. Perfect Action. and compounded. But since there is this Unborn. 80 We will know it when we attain it. The Buddha also assures us that Nirvana is an experience of profound happiness. made. You will notice that the steps on the Noble Eightfold Path cover every aspect of life: the intellectual. then we can infer that there is a dimension where time and space do not operate . Unborn. Perfect Effort.the world we experience. and compounded. He tells us: "There is an. no boundary.Because it is beyond space.Nirvana." Ud. Dp 204 But is there any proof that such a dimension exists? No. there is not. we can still practice. made. Not-made. Not-compounded. Perfect Livelihood. Not become. therefore is there made known an escape from what is born. But its existence can be inferred. Until that time. this Unborn. What is the Fourth Noble Truth? The Fourth Noble Truth is the Path leading to the overcoming of suffering. Being a Buddhist practice consists of practicing these eight things until they become more complete. a Not-become. the ethical. become. a Not-made. no concept of self and not-self and thus Nirvana is infinite. there is no causation. Again. If there is a dimension where time and space do operate and there is such a dimension . This path is called the Noble Eightfold Path and consists of Perfect Understanding. Not-made. He says: Nirvana is the highest happiness. If there were not. . we have the Buddha's word that it does exist. Perfect Thought. Perfect Speech. Perfect Mindfulness and Perfect Concentration. a Not-compounded. Not-compounded. even though we cannot prove Nirvana exists. become. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. Not become. All Rights Reserved. there could not be made any escape from what is born.

that they alone understand god's nature. It is not surprising that with so many different religions spending so many centuries trying to prove the existence of their gods that still no real. To this day. all claiming that they alone have god's words preserved in their holy book. the fear of wild animals. you will notice that people become more religious at times of crises. to lessen our desires and to calmly and courageously accept the things we cannot change. Buddhists suspend judgement until such evidence is forthcoming. They are all satisfied that there is ample evidence to prove the existence of their god but they laugh in disbelief at the evidence other religions use to prove the existence of another god.» Basic Buddhism Guide » Question & Answer » Buddhism and the God-idea Do Buddhists believe in a god? No. concrete. There are numerous religions. sacred trees and shrines. substantial or irrefutable evidence has been found. lightning and volcanoes were constantly with them. of injury or disease. you will hear them say that the belief in a god or gods gives them the strength they need to deal with life. The Buddha says: Gripped by fear people go to sacred mountains. believed that religious ideas and especially the god idea have their origins in fear. Finding no security. we do not. not with irrational belief but with rational understanding. sacred groves. they created the idea of gods in order to give them comfort in good times. There are several reasons for this. You will hear them explain that they believe in a particular god because they prayed in time of need and their prayer was answered. Some claim that god is masculine. 188 Primitive humans found selves in a dangerous and hostile world. that their god exists and that the gods of other religions do not. Science has very convincingly explained how the universe came into being without having to . and of natural phenomena like thunder. some that she is feminine and others that it is neuter. The Buddha taught us to try to understand our fears. Dp. But this is not so. The second reason the Buddha did not believe in a god is because there does not seem to be any evidence to support this idea. The Buddha. All this seems to support the Buddha's teaching that the god-idea is a response to fear and frustration. like modern sociologists and psychologists. Some claim that the belief in a god is necessary in order to explain the origin of the universe. courage in times of danger and consolation when things went wrong. The third reason the Buddha did not believe in a god is that the belief is not necessary. of not being able to find enough food. He replaced fear.

But our inability to explain such things does not prove the existence of gods. It only proves that our knowledge is as yet incomplete. being weak. Some claim that god is necessary in order to give man salvation. sometimes unexplained things do happen. develop infinite love and compassion and perfect understanding. astronomy and geology. We hear second-hand reports that someone was miraculously saved from disaster but we never get an eyewitness account of what is supposed to have happened. when people didn't know what caused sickness people believed that god or the gods sent diseases as a punishment. second-hand reports and rumors are no substitute for solid evidence and solid evidence of miracles is very rare. such myths were adequate. We hear rumors that prayer straightened a diseased body or strengthened a withered limb. All these processes are without beginning or end and are set in motion by natural causes. in the age of physics.introduce the god-idea. the evidence indicates the opposite. when humankind simply did not know. happy and meaningful lives without belief in a god. Based on his own experience. One often hears of people who have overcome great disabilities and handicaps. through their own efforts and without belief in a god. Before the development of modern medicine. You say there is no evidence for the existence of a god. In the Aganna Sutta. the Buddha describes the universe being destroyed and then re-evolving into its present form over a period of countless millions of years. He shifted attention from the heavens to the heart and encouraged us to find solutions to our problems through self-understanding. over countless millions of years. What does the Buddha say about the origin of the universe? It is interesting that the Buddha's explanation of the origin of the universe corresponds very closely to the scientific view. the Buddha saw that each human being had the capacity to purify the mind. But if there are no gods how did the universe get here? All religions have myths and stories which attempt to answer this question. Now we know what causes such things and . unexpected events do occur. Science has explained the origin of the universe without recourse to the god-idea. who live useful. do not have the strength to help themselves. In ancient times. The first life formed on the surface of the water and again. We hear wild claims that a healing has taken place but we never get an independent testimony from a medical office or a surgeon. Some claim that belief in god's power is necessary because humans. meaningful life. Once again. There are millions of atheists and free-thinkers. evolved from simple into complex organisms. But what about miracles? There are many who believe that miracles are proof of god's existence. Again we can see that this is not so. but in the 20th century. such myths have been superseded by scientific fact. Wild claims. not to mention many Buddhists. but we never see X-rays or get comments from doctors or nurses. enormous odds and difficulties through their own inner resources. But this argument only holds good if you accept the theological concept of salvation and Buddhists do not accept such a concept. Some claim that belief in god is necessary to have a happy. However.

The only way we can tell whether an idea is true or not is by looking at the facts and examining the evidence. We believe that hatred. but they were all wrong. As the Buddha says: No one saves us but ourselves. We believe that all this is within the grasp of each person if they make the effort. But so many people believe in some form of god. No one can and no one may. We believe that humans can outgrow ignorance and irrationality and see things as they really are. Not so. anger. The number of people who believe in an idea is no measure of the truth or falsehood of that idea. In time when our knowledge of the world is more complete. we will be able to understand what causes unexplained phenomena. patience. guided and supported by fellow Buddhists and inspired by the example of the Buddha. what do you believe in? We don't believe in a god because we believe in humanity. but Buddhas clearly show the way.when we get sick. spite and jealousy can be replaced by love. » Basic Buddhism Guide » Question & Answer » The Five Precepts . So if Buddhists don't believe in gods.a perfected human being. that all have the potential to develop into a Buddha . All Rights Reserved. We ourselves must walk the path. just as we can now understand what causes disease. 165 Copyright © 1996-2011. We believe that each human being is precious and important. it must be true. Dp. we take medicine. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. There was a time when everyone believed that the world was flat. generosity and kindness.

So to know what is right and wrong. more loving and wiser) and help others (helps them to be more giving. But in a human-centered religion like Buddhism. you have to develop a deep self-awareness and selfunderstanding. my actions are mixed . more loving and wiser). The first precept is to avoid killing or harming living beings.Other religions derive their ideas of right and wrong from the commandments of their god or gods. your intention is perhaps a mixture of selfconcern (good) and revulsion (bad). then the deed is wholly good. the effect the act will have upon oneself and the effect it will have upon others. The second is to avoid stealing. love and wisdom and thus help clear the way to Nirvana are good. Of course. there are many variations of this. When intentions are bad and the action helps neither myself nor others. Sometimes I act out of good intentions and my acts help me but perhaps cause some distress to others. the fourth is to avoid lying and the fifth is to avoid alcohol and other intoxicating drugs. all that is needed is to do as you are told. so how do you know what is right and wrong? Any thoughts. to know what is right or wrong. it does. such an action is bad. for example. To know what is right and wrong in godcentered religions. or someone who is going to kill you? It might be good for you but what about that thing or that person? They wish to live just as you do. speech or actions that are rooted in greed. If the intention is good (rooted in giving. but my action helps others nonetheless. When you decide to kill a disease-spreading insect. if it helps myself (helps me to be more giving. You Buddhists don't believe in a god. good and moral. Sometimes I act with the best of intentions but it may not benefit either myself or others. speech or actions that are rooted in giving. . In such cases. the third is to avoid sexual misconduct. love and wisdom). You Buddhists are too concerned about ants and bugs. So does Buddhism have a code of morality? Yes. But surely it is good to kill sometimes.a mixture of good and not-so-good. And when my intention is good and my action benefits both myself and others. then my deeds and actions are wholesome. Sometimes my intentions are far from good. To kill disease-spreading insects. And ethics based on understanding are always stronger than those that are a response to a command. the Buddhist looks at three things the intention. The act will benefit yourself (good) but obviously it will not benefit that creature (bad). The Five Precepts are the basis of Buddhist morality. hatred and delusion and thus lead us away from Nirvana are bad and any thoughts. So at times it may be necessary to kill but it is never wholly good.

Nature has revolted. The Third Precept says we should avoid sexual misconduct. When they drink alone it is in order to seek release from tension and when they drink socially. People don't drink for the taste. Is sex before marriage a type of sexual misconduct? Not if there is love and mutual agreement between the two people. The very air is becoming poisoned. When we commit adultery we break that promise and betray their trust. so many beautiful animal species are extinct. We should all strive to develop a little more respect for life.Buddhists strive to develop a compassion that is undiscriminating and all-embracing. the rivers are polluted and dead. the slopes of the mountains are barren and eroded. destroy and kill. Well. squeezing every last drop out of it without putting anything back. They see the world as a unified whole where each thing or creature has its place and function. then this is sexual misconduct. They believe that before we destroy or upset nature's delicate balance. Taken in large quantities. this terrible situation may not have arisen. What is sexual misconduct? If we use trickery. Even a small amount of alcohol distorts consciousness and disrupts self-awareness. Just look at those cultures where emphasis is on exploiting nature to the full. But what about lying? Is it possible to live without telling lies? If it is really impossible to get by in society or business without lying. such a shocking and corrupt state of affairs should be changed. we should be very careful. Sex should be an expression of love and intimacy between two people and when it is it contributes to our mental and emotional well-being. emotional blackmail or force to compel someone to have sex with us. Many mature and thoughtful people think it is far better to leave sex until after marriage. And this is what the first precept is saying. what about alcohol? Surely a little drink doesn't hurt. it is usually to conform. its effect can be devastating. Adultery is also a form of sexual misconduct because when we marry we promise our spouse we will be loyal to them. If people were a little less anxious to crush. . on conquering and subduing it. The Buddhist is someone who resolves to do something practical about the problem by trying to be more truthful and honest. Even the climate is changing. However it should never be forgotten that the biological function of sex is to reproduce and if an unmarried woman becomes pregnant it can cause a great deal of problems.

what is correct. He says: "Giving up false speech he becomes a speaker of truth. pleasing to the ear. They are not all of it. we then commence to do good. We start by recognizing our bad behavior and striving to stop doing it. I. After that. They don't tell you what to do. it is the motive of his speech. well defined and to the point. Giving up harsh speech his speech is blameless. That is what the Five Precepts are for. about Dhamma and about discipline.But drinking just a small amount wouldn't be really breaking the precept. harmony is his love. » Basic Buddhism Guide » Question & Answer » Rebirth . Giving up malicious speech he does not repeat there what he has heard here nor does he repeat here what he has heard there in order to cause variance between people. 179 Copyright © 1996-2011. agreeable. reliable. harmony is his delight. dependable. speak gently and politely and speak at the right time. Yes. liked by most. seasonable. They tell you what not to do. we should speak the truth. your commitment and resolution isn't very strong. Harmony is his joy. speech. The Five Precepts are the basis of Buddhist morality. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. The Buddha says we should start by refraining from telling lies." M. trustworthy. it is only a small thing and if you can't practice even a small thing. to the point. Take for example. would it? It's only a small thing. He speaks words worth being treasured up. he does not deceive the world. He reconciles those who are divided and brings closer together those who are already friends. is it? The five precepts are negative. going to the heart. Giving up idle chatter he speaks at the right time. reasonable. After we have stopped doing bad. All Rights Reserved. urbane.

phenomena like telepathy are increasingly difficult to fit into the materialistic model of the mind. How does the mind go from one body to another? Think of it being like radio waves. or why so many children are miscarried just before birth or are still-born. the sperm and the egg? And now that parapsychology is a recognized branch of science. Thus the individual grows. parental influence and society and once again at death. then he comes into being through the will of a god. . he either goes to eternal heaven or eternal hell. Sixty or seventy years of non-belief or immoral living does not deserve eternal torture. 60 or 70 years of good living seems a very small outlay for eternal bliss in heaven. He lives his life and then. When we die. according to what he believes or does during his life. is attracted to and picked up by the fertilized egg. which are not made up of words and music but energy at different frequencies. humanists and scientists. When they do. the mind attains a state called Nirvana and this is the ultimate goal of Buddhism and the purpose of life. lives and then at death. is re-born and develops a personality conditioned both by the mental characteristics that have been carried over and by the new environment. re-establishes itself in a fertilized egg. Those who believe in a god or gods usually claim that before an individual is created. At death. How can a phenomenon so amazingly complex as consciousness develop from the simple meeting of two cells. There are others. Another problem with the theistic explanation is that it seems very unjust that a person should suffer eternal pain in hell for what he did in just 60 or 70 years on earth. travel through space. reestablish itself in a new fertilized egg. abilities and characteristics that have been developed and conditioned in this life. with all the tendencies. The first gives rise to many ethical problems. If a good god really creates each of us. it centers itself in the brain from where it later "broadcasts" itself as the new personality. preferences. The personality will change and be modified by conscious effort and conditioning factors like education.Where do we come from and where are we going? There are three possible answers to this question. Buddhism does not accept either of these explanations. are transmitted. who claim that the individual comes into being at conception due to natural causes. ceases to exist. cease. it is difficult to explain why so many people are born with the most dreadful deformities. craving and ignorance. he does not exist. are attracted to and picked up by the receiver from where they are broadcast as words and music. mental energy travels through space. The radio waves. instead of being reborn. It is the same with the mind. The second explanation is better than the first and has more scientific evidence to support it but still leaves several important questions unanswered. Likewise. the mind. As the embryo grows. This process of dying and being reborn will continue until the conditions that cause it. Buddhism offers the most satisfactory explanation of where man came from and where he is going.

without making an effort to change them and falling victim to these unpleasant results. however. If they are strengthened and developed in the present life. how we think and act now will influence how we will be in the future. Of course we can. But it is not. loving type of person tends to be reborn in a heaven realm or as a human being who has a predominance of pleasant experiences. the more difficult they are to change. such tendencies will reemerge in the present life. and burning ambitions that can never be satisfied tends to be reborn as a hungry ghost or as a human being frustrated by longing and wanting. We can change it. Such people will continue to suffer unless they change their negative habits. Whatever mental habits are strongly developed in this life will continue in the next life. The Buddhist understands this and takes advantage of each and every opportunity to break mental habits that have unpleasant results and to develop mental habits that have a pleasant and happy result. Heaven is not a place but a state of existence where one has a subtle body and where the mind experiences mainly pleasure. the anxious. That is why one of the steps on the Noble Eightfold Path is Perfect Effort. The word kamma means 'action' and refers to our intentional mental actions. acting or refraining to act m certain ways. but not the only one. some are reborn in hell. So the main difference between the human realm and other realms is the body type and the quality of experience. is a state of existence where the body is subtle and where the mind is continually plagued by longing and dissatisfaction. If depends on our sincerity. Meditation is one of the techniques used to modify the habit patterns of the mind as does speaking or refraining to speak.Is one always reborn as a human being? No. So heavenly beings experience mainly pleasure. So we are not determined by our kamma. But it is true that some people simply go through life under the influence of their past habits. one could well be reborn again as a human. Most people. fierce longings. Some religions strive very hard to be reborn in a heavenly existence mistakenly believing it to be a permanent state. Likewise. The whole of the Buddhist life is a training to purify and free the mind. What decides where will be reborn? The most important factor. The person who develops obsessive craving. likewise. worried or extremely cruel type of person tends to be reborn in a hell realm or as a human being who has a predominance of painful experiences. Hell. The longer the negative habits remain. are reborn as human beings. they will re- . Being a hungry ghost. if being patient and kind was a pronounced part of your character in your last life. influencing where we will be reborn and what sort of life we shall have. again. some are reborn as hungry ghosts and so on. heaven is impermanent and when one's life span there is finished. For example. is not a place but a state of existence where one has a subtle body and where the mind experiences mainly anxiety and distress. Like all conditioned states. Some people are reborn in heaven. In other words. The gentle. hell beings and ghosts experience mainly pain and human beings experience usually a mixture of both. is kamma. there are several realms into which one can be reborn. how much energy we exert and how strong the habit is. what we are is determined very much by how we have thought and acted in the past.

you must use rational and logical arguments . this is not the only case of this type. there is a possibility that in either this life or in the next life. Now how is it possible for a five year. you become free from the unpleasantness caused by being short tempered and angry. Professor Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia's Department of Psychology has described dozens of cases of this type in his books. a 5 year-old girl said she could remember her "other mother and father" and she talked vividly about what sounded like the events in the life of another person. What is more. Let us say that you came into life with a tendency to be patient and kind due to your mental habits in the past life. She spoke of living in a particular village in what appeared to be Spain. a short temper. it was found that a 23-year-old woman living in the house had been killed in a car accident five years before. when you are patient and kind. There was a village in Spain with the name the five-year-old girl had given. they would re-emerge in the next life where with a bit more effort. you neglect to strengthen and develop such tendencies. she gave the name of the village. they were found to be accurate. it is the only after-life theory that has any evidence to support it. in England. Some people might say that the supposed ability to remember former lives is the work of devils. You have talked a lot about rebirth but is there any proof that we are reborn when we die? Not only is there scientific evidence to support the Buddhist belief in rebirth. You replace them with positive emotions. they could be eliminated completely and you could be free from their unpleasant effects. which is possible if you make an effort. you came into the present life with the tendency to be short-tempered and angry. There was a house of the type she had described in the street she had named. hard facts are produced to support an idea. She also fearfully spoke of how she had been struck by a car and died of her injuries two days later. anger and cruelty could grow and develop. If you are only able to weaken such tendencies. When cold. He is an accredited scientist whose 25 year study of people who remember former lives is very strong evidence for the Buddhist teaching of rebirth. But in the present life. and you realize that such habits only cause you unpleasantness and so you make an effort to change them. When these details were checked. We will take one last example.emerge even stronger and more pronounced in the future life. You simply cannot dismiss everything that doesn't fit into your belief as being the work of devils. people like you and thus your experiences tends to be happier. This is based upon the simple and observable fact that long established habits tend to be difficult to break. Now. If you are able to eliminate them completely. Let us say that due to your mental habits in the last life. There is not a scrap of evidence to prove the existence of heaven and of course evidence of annihilation at death must be lacking. They would gradually weaken and die out and perhaps be completely absent in the future life. But during the last 30 years parapsychologists have been studying reports that some people have vivid memories of their former lives. Parapsychologists were called in and they asked her hundreds of questions to which she gave answers. her neighbors' names and details about her everyday life there. Patience and kindness being weak in this case. For example. Now.old girl living in England and who had never been to Spain to know all these details? And of course. bringing with them all the unpleasant experiences that such attitudes create. let us take another example. you don't hold grudges. it tends to happen that you are not so easily ruffled by others. the name of the street she lived in.

there is evidence which seems to suggest that rebirth does take place. ready to hand. Brahmanical and Buddhist speculation found. five hundred miles from Delhi) which ended about a year before her "second birth. Professor Gustaf Stromberg. Opinions differ whether human souls can be reincarnated on the earth or not. But it must be remembered that the wireless message only becomes a message again when it comes in contact with a new. Like the doctrine of evolution itself. that of transmigration has its roots in the world of reality. would never think or feel unless again 'embodied' in some way. believed that reincarnation was a very plausible idea.the receiver. But as we have just seen. So if belief in rebirth is based on at least some facts. the distinguished British scientist who was Director General of UNESCO believed that rebirth was quite in harmony with scientific thinking.. The investigating commission brought her to her former relatives. Then. it cannot be a superstition. Professor Julian Huxley. and none but very hasty thinkers will reject it on the ground of inherent absurdity. the famous Swedish astronomer. he says: In the doctrine of transmigration.if you wish to counter them -not irrational and superstitious talk about devils. Among the people of India reincarnations are regarded as commonplace. In his famous book 'Evolution and Ethics and other Essays'." She gave the name of her husband and child and described her home and life history. So with our possible spirit-emanation.. material structure . as a definite wireless message is given off by a sending apparatus working in a particular way. There is nothing against a permanently surviving spirit-individuality being in some way given off at death. If you can show me a careful study of the existence of devils written by a scientist I will concede that belief in devils is not superstition. You say that talk about devils is superstition but isn't talk about rebirth a bit superstitious also? The dictionary defines 'superstition' as 'a belief which is not based on reason or fact but on an association of ideas. whatever its origin. It. Thomas Huxley. physicist and friend of Einstein also found the idea of rebirth appealing. the astonishing thing for them in this case was the great number of facts the girl remembered.. I can think of something being given off which would bear the same . the means of constructing a plausible vindication of the ways of the Cosmos to man. This and similar cases can be regarded as additional evidence for the theory of the indestructibility of memory. and it may claim such support as the great argument from analogy is capable of supplying. A girl (Shanti Devi from Delhi) could accurately describe her previous life (at Muttra. Well. scientists simply wouldn't bother to study such things. Yet this plea of justification is not less plausible than others.. But I have never heard of any research into devils. who was responsible for having science introduced into the 19th century British school system and who was the first scientist to defend Darwin's theories.. have there been any scientists who believe in rebirth? Yes.. In 1936 a very interesting case was thoroughly investigated and reported by the government authorities in India. Our per venalities are so based on body that it is really impossible to think of survival which would be in any true sense personal without a body of sorts. so I say there is no evidence for the existence of devils. who verified all her statements. as in magic'.

. came back to actuality of consciousness by making contact with something which could work as a receiving apparatus for mind. rebirth gives you a second chance to develop yourself.. Even very practical and down-toearth people like the American industrialist Henry Ford found the idea or rebirth acceptable. The discovery of Reincarnation put my mind at ease. you will be able to correct yourself in the next life... but in that case 'the dead' would. I realized that there was a chance to work out my ideas.. So the Buddhist teachings of rebirth does have some scientific evidence to support it. » Basic Buddhism Guide » Question & Answer » Meditation . Religion offered nothing to the point. All Rights Reserved.relation to men and women as a wireless message to the transmitting apparatus... Ford was attracted to the idea of rebirth because. What can be worse than a theory of life that gives you no second chance.. you will have the opportunity to try again next time. But according to the Buddha.. You will truly be able to learn from your mistakes. Time was no longer limited. Some are older souls than others. If you preserve a record of this conversation. unlike the theistic idea or the materialistic idea.. if you fail to attain Nirvana in this life. Genius is experience. Even work could not give me complete satisfaction. Some seem to think that it is a gift or talent. be nothing but disturbances of different patterns wandering through the universe until. Work is fume if we cannot utilize the experience we collect in one life in the next. they. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. It is logically consistent and it goes a long way to answering questions that theistic and the materialistic theories fail to do. But it is also very comforting.. but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives. If you have made mistakes in this life. When I discovered Reincarnation it was as if I had found a universal plan. Henry Ford says: I adopted the theory of Reincarnation when I was twenty-six. I was no longer a slave to the hands of the clock. Things you were unable to do or achieve in this life may well become possible in the next life. I would like to communicate to others the calmness that the long view of life gives to us. What a wonderful teaching! Copyright © 1996-2011. so far as one can see. write it so that it puts men's minds at ease. and so they know more. no opportunity to amend the mistakes you have made in this life and no time to further develop the skills and abilities you have nurtured in this life.

The Pali word for meditation is 'bhavana' which means 'to make grow' or 'to develop'. they meditate with too much energy for too long and soon they are exhausted. Jumping like a kangaroo from one teacher to another or from one meditation technique to another is a mistake. then a week later a famous meditation teacher visits town and so they decide to incorporate some of his ideas into their practice and before long they are hopelessly confused. Meditation is like this. Is this true? To live. a car becomes a dangerous machine. Some people go to one teacher and do his meditation technique for a while. you should seek professional help and after you are better then take up meditation. change will be difficult. No matter how much we may wish to be good. they start meditating and sometimes their problem gets worse. How many types of meditation are there? . impatience has arisen without him knowing. Other people over reach themselves. Is meditation important? Yes. it is. For example. Meditation helps to develop the awareness and the energy needed to transform ingrained mental habit patterns. step by step. if we cannot change the desires that make us act the way we do. I have heard that meditation can be dangerous. they take up meditation and instead of going gradually. irrational fears or schizophrenia. But if you were to eat a kilogram of salt it would kill you. But if you don't have any severe mental problem and you take up meditation and practice sensibly it is one of the best things you can do for yourself. it is essential for our mental health and well-being but if you practice in a stupid way. a person may realize that he is impatient with his wife and he may promise himself: "From now on I am not going to be so impatient. To live in the modern world you need a car but if you don't follow the traffic rules or if you drive while you are drunk. If you have such a problem. then they read something in a book and decide to try that technique.What is Meditation? Meditation is a conscious effort to change how the mind works. we need salt." But an hour later he may be shouting at his wife simply because. it could cause problems. Some people have problems like depression. not being aware of himself. But perhaps most problems in meditation are caused by ''kangaroo meditation'. they think meditation is an instant cure for their problem.

and you have moments of real peace and stillness. The only way you can deal with this problem is to patiently keep returning your attention to the breath. the hands nestled in the lap and the eyes closed. that is. your concentration will become stronger and you will have moments of deep mental calm and inner peace. certain problems and difficulties will arise. May my mind be free from hatred. someone you neither like nor dislike. each designed to overcome a particular problem or to develop a particular psychological state. First. you turn your attention to yourself and say to yourself words like "May I be well and happy. you can sit in a chair as long as you keep your back straight. practice and problems. how would I do it? You would follows these easy steps: the four Ps place. Second. This can be done by counting the breaths or watching the rise and fall of the abdomen. a neutral person. How long should I meditate for? It is good to do meditation for 15 minutes every day for a week and then extend the time by 5 minutes each week until you are meditating for 45 minutes. A good posture is to sit with your legs folded. If I wanted to practice Mindfulness of Breathing. perhaps a room that is not too noisy and where you are not likely to do disturbed. find a suitable place. there are less thoughts. . When this is done. As you sit quietly with your eyes closed you focus your attention on the in and out movement of the breath. May I be peaceful and calm. May I be well and happy. May my heart be filled with love. If this happens. May I be protected from dangers. try to keep the body relaxed without moving and keep focusing on the breath. But the two most common and useful types of meditation are Mindfulness of Breathing (anapana sati) and Loving Kindness Meditation (metta bhavana).The Buddha taught many different types of meditation. and finally a disliked person. your back straight. It should be done two or three times each week after you have done Mindfulness of Breathing. a pillow under your buttocks. sit in a comfortable posture. After a few weeks of regular daily meditation you will start to notice that your concentration gets better. What about Loving Kindness Meditation? How is that practiced? Once you are familiar with Mindfulness of Breathing and are practicing it regularly you can start practicing Loving Kindness Meditation. If you keep doing this. Next comes the actual practice itself. posture. eventually thoughts will weaken. First. Alternatively. wishing each of them well as you do so. You will probably have many intruding thoughts coming into your mind and distracting your attention from the breath. You might experience irritating itches on the body or discomfort in the knees." Then one by one you think of a loved person.

All Rights Reserved. when properly developed. The Buddha's insights into the human mind are helping people as much today as they did in ancient times. Try to pick a teacher who has a good reputation. it is. Meditation is now accepted as having a highly therapeutic effect upon the mind and is used by many professional mental health workers to help induce relaxation. Loving Kindness Meditation is like this. and you will find the ill-will or resentment you have towards some people will lessen and eventually be dissolved. it can have an effect upon them. You will find that you are able to be more accepting and forgiving towards yourself. If we can learn to focus our mental energy and project it towards others. Sometimes if you know of someone who is sick. some monks and laymen set themselves up as meditation teachers when they simply don't know what they are doing. sure enough. We project positive mental energy towards others and it gradually transforms them. You may have had an experience like this. . You will find that the feelings you have towards your loved ones will increase. is a very powerful instrument. you will find very positive changes taking place within yourself. someone is staring at you. a balanced personality and who adheres closely to the Buddha's teachings. I have heard that meditation is widely used today by psychiatrists and psychologists. Do I need a teacher to teach me meditation? A teacher is not absolutely necessary but personal guidance from someone who is familiar with meditation is certainly helpful. How is that possible? The mind. You will find yourself making friends with people you used to be indifferent and uncaring towards. overcome phobias and bring about self-awareness. Copyright © 1996-2011. Unfortunately. Perhaps you are in a crowded room and you get this feeling that someone is watching you. You turn around and. What has happened is that you have picked up that other person's mental energy. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. Is this true? Yes. unhappy or encountering difficulties you can include them in your meditation and very often you will find their situation improving.What is the benefit of doing this type of meditation? If you do Loving Kindness Meditation regularly and with the right attitude.

germ warfare. Buddhism. At this level then. to carefully examine facts that contradict our beliefs. teaches that to be a truly balanced and complete individual. you must develop both wisdom and compassion. on the other hand. wisdom is to keep an open mind rather than being closed-minded. Buddhism has nothing to fear from science. religion declines. Religion has always seen reason and wisdom as the enemy of emotions like love and faith.» Basic Buddhism Guide » Question & Answer » Wisdom and Compassion I often hear Buddhists talk about wisdom and compassion. a very kind person but with little or no understanding. This understanding is totally freeing and leads to the great security and happiness which is called Nirvana. And of course. Science has always seen emotions like love and faith as being enemies of reason and objectivity. is wisdom? The highest wisdom is seeing that in reality all phenomena are incomplete. and the like. are kept out of the way. And because it is not dogmatic but based on experience. like science. the Buddha doesn't speak too much about this level of wisdom. What do these two terms mean? Some religions believe that compassion or love (the two are very similar) is the most important spiritual quality but they fail to develop any wisdom. according to Buddhism. The result is that you end up being a goodhearted fool. True wisdom is to directly see and understand for ourselves. How. The outcome of this is that science has tended to become preoccupied with results and has forgotten that science is to serve man not to control and dominate him. as science progresses. to be objective rather than prejudiced and . So what. impermanent. Other systems of thought. including compassion. rather than burying our heads in the sand. believe that wisdom can best be developed when all emotions. It is not wisdom if we simply believe what we are told. otherwise could scientists have lent their skills to develop the nuclear bomb. However. listening to other points of view rather than being bigoted. and not self.

So what is the point of Buddhism if only a few can practice it? It is true that not everyone is ready for Buddhism yet. they perhaps will be ready for it in their next life. are able to increase their understanding. Isn't that a bit selfish? We usually see altruism. We can feel for others when we feel for ourselves. So we arrive at compassion. concern and caring . according to Buddhism. When we see someone in distress and we feel their pain as if it were our own. We can really understand others when we really understand ourselves. concern for oneself before others. concern for others before oneself. compassion covers the emotional or feeling side of our nature. The Buddhist path requires courage. This is genuine compassion and it is the most beautiful jewel in the crown of the Buddha's teaching. A person who does this is certainly wise and is certain to eventually arrive at true understanding. and strive to eliminate or lessen their pain. compassion is a uniquely human quality. with just the right words or encouragement. and to always be ready to change our beliefs when facts that contradict them are presented to us. then this is compassion. readiness to give comfort. The Buddha's life illustrates this very well. And it is for this reason that Buddhists gently and quietly strive to share the insights of Buddhism with others. What. Buddhism does not see it as either one or the other but rather as a blending of the two. However. flexibility and intelligence. all the Buddha-like qualities like sharing. 'co' meaning together and 'passion' meaning a strong feeling. So in Buddhism. after which. as being the opposite of selfishness. Genuine self-concern will gradually mature into concern for others as one sees that others are really the same as oneself. And this is what compassion is. he was able to be of benefit to the whole of mankind. So you are saying that we are best able to help others after we have helped ourselves. Buddhism aims at the truth and if not everyone has the capacity to understand it yet. I think few people could do this. The path of just believing what you are told is easy. . to take time about forming our opinions and beliefs rather than just accepting the first or most emotional thing that is offered to us. is compassion? Just as wisdom covers the intellectual or comprehending side of our nature. He spent six years struggling for his own welfare. So all the best in human beings. You will notice also that in the compassionate person. But to say that therefore we should teach a religion that is false but easily understandable just so that everyone can practice it is ridiculous. The Buddha taught us out of compassion and we teach others out of compassion. one's own spiritual development blossoms quite naturally into concern for the welfare of others.all are manifestations of compassion.partisan. patience. there are many who. We will know what's best for others when we know what's best for ourselves. sympathy. Like wisdom. care and love towards others has its origins in care and love for oneself. Compassion is made up of two words.

Copyright © 1996-2011. He did not teach his disciples to be vegetarians and even today. » Basic Buddhism Guide » Question & Answer » Vegetarianism Buddhists should be vegetarians. you are indirectly and partially responsible for killing a creature but the same is true when you eat vegetables. shouldn't they? Not necessarily. you try to avoid being directly responsible for killing beings. Mahayana Buddhists don't eat meat. All Rights Reserved. The Buddha was not a vegetarian. And once again. The farmer has to spray his crop with insecticides and poisons so that the vegetables arrive on your dinner plates without holes in them. and this is just another example of the First Noble Truth. being indirectly responsible for the death of some other beings. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. It is impossible to live without. oil for the soap you use and a thousand other products as well. ordinary existence is suffering and unsatisfactory. But if you eat meat you are indirectly responsible for the death of a creature. Isn't that breaking the first precept? It is true that when you eat meat. When you take the First Precept. animals have been killed to provide the leather for your belt or handbag. there are many good Buddhists who are not vegetarians. in some way. .

© BDEA/BuddhaNet. dishonest. Mahayana Buddhism in China laid great stress on being vegetarian but both the monks and laymen/laywomen of the Mahayana tradition in Japan and Tibet usually eat meat. They change their diet which is easy to do. honest. Exactly. while neglecting to change their hearts which is a difficult thing to do. Why? Because such a person obviously has a good heart. dishonest and mean. cruel or jealous. and another person who was not a vegetarian but who was thoughtful to others. Many Buddhists take great care never to eat meat but they are not concerned about being selfish. not the contents of your diet. generous and kind. So whether you are a vegetarian or not. In the Buddha's teachings.That is not correct. All Rights Reserved. the important thing is the quality of your heart. » Basic Buddhism Guide » Question & Answer » . remember that the purification of the mind is the most important thing in Buddhism. One who eats meat can have a pure heart just as one who does not eat meat can have an impure heart. Copyright © 1996-2011. which of these two would be the better Buddhist? The person who was honest and kind. But I still think that a Buddhist should be vegetarian. If there was a person who was a very strict vegetarian but who was selfish.

He calls all these things 'low arts. generosity. it is honesty.." D. they realize that a pure heart can protect them much better than bits of paper. divining by signs.I. kindness. bringing good or bad luck.. such wrong means of livelihood as palmistry. wearing magic charms for protection. As soon as people understand the Buddha's teachings. forgiveness. patience. fixing lucky sites for building. Then is there such a thing as luck? The dictionary defines luck as 'believing that whatever happens. while living of food provided by the faithful make their living by such low arts.Good Luck and Fate What did the Buddha teach about magic and fortune telling? The Buddha considered such practices as fortune telling. He claims that his charms can give good luck. loyalty and other good qualities that truly protect you and give you true prosperity. 9-12 Then why do people sometimes practice such things and believe in them? Because of greed.. to a person in . the monk Gotama refrains from such low arts. In the teachings of the Buddha. fear and ignorance.... such wrong means of livelihood. invoking the goodness of luck. interpreting dreams. either good or bad. picking the lucky site for a building. But if what he says is true then why isn't he himself a multi-millionaire? If his lucky charms really work. then why doesn't he win the lottery week after week? The only luck he has is that there are people silly enough to buy his magic charms. prosperity and he guarantees that you will be able to pick three numbers. don't they? I know a person who makes a living selling lucky charms. prophesizing and fixing lucky days to be useless superstitions and he expressly forbids his disciples to practice such things. But some lucky charms do work.' "Whereas some religious men. understanding. bits of metal and a few chanted words and they no longer rely on such things.

Sn.' The Buddha denied this belief completely. But no relationship can be found wearing a piece of paper with words written on it and being rich or passing examinations. Everything that happens has a specific cause or causes and there must be some relationships between the cause and the effect. helping one's relatives and being blameless in one's actions. One must come into contact with germs and one's body must be weak enough for the germs to establish themselves. for example. to cherish wife and child and to have a simple livelihood. this is the best good luck. The Buddha teaches us that it is far more important to develop our hearts and minds. gratitude and hearing the good Dhamma. fate or fortune. just. has specific causes. People who are interested in luck are always trying to get something . and to be always steadfast in virtue. this is the best good luck.the course of events is due to chance. contentment. He says: Being deeply learned and skilled. this is the best good luck. To refrain from evil and from strong drink. Becoming sick. humility. » Basic Buddhism Guide » Question & Answer » What is Buddhism? . Being well-trained and using well-spoken words. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. 261-265 Copyright © 1996-2011. Reverence. Being generous. this is the best good luck. There is a definite relationship between the cause (germs and a weakened body) and the effect (sickness) because we know that germs attack the organisms and give rise to sickness.usually more money and wealth. this is the best good luck. Buddhism teaches that whatever happens does so because of a cause or causes and not due to luck. All Rights Reserved. chance or fate. To support mother and father.

" MII 379 In Buddhism. But. the transcending of suffering and the Noble Eightfold Path that leads to the transcending of suffering. they might take refuge in the belief in an eternal heaven. When people are unhappy. the cause of suffering. as the Buddha says." "Now I am even more pleased and satisfied when the Lord says to me: 'Make a proper investigation first. understanding is the most important thing and understanding takes time. Proper investigation is good for a well-known person like yourself. Take your time. when you are ready.' For if members of another religion had secured me as a disciple they would have paraded a banner all around the town saying: 'Upali has joined our religion. The Buddha was not interested in having large numbers of disciples. none of these are true refuges because they do not give comfort and security based on reality. Dp. 189-192 Taking Refuge in the Buddha is a confident acceptance of the fact that one can become fully enlightened and perfected just as the Buddha was. What are the Three Refuges? A refuge is a place where people go when they are distressed or when they need safety and security. But the Buddha said: "Make a proper investigation first. So do not impulsively rush into Buddhism. There are many types of refuge. support them.' But the Lord says to me: 'Make a proper investigation first. Truly these are not safe refuges. what would I do then if I wanted to become a Buddhist? It would be best to join a good temple or Buddhist group. it is the refuge supreme. If I have done this and I find the Buddha's teaching acceptable. Then. and then make your decision. How do I become a Buddhist? Once there was a man called Upali. But after talking to the Buddha. Taking Refuge in the Dhamma means . Proper investigation is good for a well known person like yourself. Suffering. when they are worried and frightened. He was the follower of another religion and he went to the Buddha in order to argue with him and try to convert him. consider carefully. Not the refuge whereby one is freed from all sorrow But to take refuge in the Buddha. It is the refuge whereby one is freed from all suffering. he was so impressed that he decided to become a follower of the Buddha.What you said so far is very interesting to me. you would formally become a Buddhist by taking the Three Refuges. they take refuge with their friends. ask questions. As they approach death. This indeed is a safe refuge. not the refuge supreme. be supported by them and continue to learn more about the Buddha's teachings. they might take refuge in false hopes and beliefs. the Dhamma and the Sangha and to see with real understanding the Four Noble Truths. He was concerned that people should follow his teachings as a result of a careful investigation and consideration of facts.

they have given meaning to what was a meaningless life. politely and persistently repeat your first statement.understanding the Four Noble Truths and basing one's life on the Noble Eightfold Path. I have found that the Buddha's teachings have made sense out of a difficult world. A poet in ancient India once wrote of the Buddha: To go to him for refuge. . But I suggest that your friend doesn't know the difference between sharing and imposing. Sharing your religion with others is a good thing. I offer you half and you accept my offer. clearly and briefly tell him so. their behavior is still just rude. What can I do? The first thing you must understand is that this person is not really your friend. If I have an apple. when he asks you questions like "What is your belief on this matter" or "Why don't you wish to come to the meeting with me". So how can I stop him? It is simple. clearly. Doing this one becomes a Buddhist and thus takes the first step on the path towards Nirvana. bad manners and selfish. this can hardly be called sharing. I have a friend who is always trying to convert me to his religion. "Why not?" "That is really my business. What changes have taken place in your life since you first took the three refuges? Like countless millions of others over the last 2500 years. People like your 'friend' try to disguise their bad behavior by calling it 'sharing'. Taking Refuge in the Sangha means looking for support. But if you say to me "Thank you. Firstly. Thirdly. to do him honor and to abide in his Dhamma is to act with understanding. A true friend accepts you as you are and respects your wishes. When people try to impose their will on you they are certainly not friends. "Thank you for the invitation but I would rather not come". they have given me a humane and compassionate ethics with which to lead my life and they have shown me how I can attain a state of purity and perfection in the next life.ever name they call it. I suspect that this person is merely pretending to be your friend so he can convert you. Secondly. I am not really interested in his religion and I have told him so but he won't leave me alone. 'love' or 'generosity' but by what. but I have already eaten" and I keep insisting that you take half the apple until you finally give in to my pressure. inspiration and guidance from all who walk the Noble Eightfold Path. to sing his praise. be clear in your mind what you want. But he says he wants to share his religion with me. then I have shared with you. I agree with these words completely.

If people ask you about Buddhism. And I think most Buddhists understand the difference between sharing and imposing. It is also important to remember that you let people know about the Dhamma far more effectively through your actions than through preaching to them. Let the Dhamma shine forth through your speech and actions." "I am glad you care about me but I would rather not come." "But there will be many interesting people there. Show people the Dhamma by always being considerate. © BDEA/BuddhaNet. If each of us. they should. we can be of great benefit to ourselves and others also. All Rights Reserved." If you clearly. kind. tolerant. But if. You can even tell them about the Buddha's teachings without their asking. Copyright © 1996-2011. but it is very important for people to learn that they cannot impose their beliefs or wishes upon others. accept that and respect their wishes." "I am sure there will be but I would rather not come. patiently and persistently repeat yourself and refuse to allow him to get you involved in a discussion he will eventually give up. Should Buddhists try to share the Dhamma with others? Yes. by either their words or their actions. practice it fully and share it generously with others. they let you know that they are not interested.I would rather not come. It is a shame that you have to do this. tell them. you and I. upright and honest. s . know the Dhamma thoroughly." "I am inviting you because I care about you.

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