Buddhism 101, страница 1
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WHAT IS BUDDHISM?
THE AXIAL AGE
BUDDHA, DHARMA, AND SANGHA
THE MIDDLE WAY
THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS
THE TRUTH OF DUKKHA
THE TRUTH OF THE CAUSE OF DUKKHA
THE TRUTH OF THE CESSATION OF DUKKHA
THE TRUTH OF THE PATH THAT LEADS TO THE CESSATION OF DUKKHA
RIGHT VIEW, RIGHT RESOLVE
RIGHT SPEECH, RIGHT ACTION, RIGHT LIVELIHOOD
RIGHT EFFORT, RIGHT MINDFULNESS, RIGHT CONCENTRATION
THE FIVE PRECEPTS
DO NOT DESTROY LIFE
DO NOT STEAL OR COMMIT SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
DO NOT LIE OR BECOME INTOXICATED
FIVE HINDRANCES TO SPIRITUAL PROGRESS
THE FOUR IMMEASURABLES
THE BUDDHIST CONCEPT OF REBIRTH
THE BUDDHIST COSMOS
BUDDHISM AFTER BUDDHA
THERAVADA AND MAHAYANA
THE SPREAD OF BUDDHISM
THE SIX TRADITIONS
THE DALAI LAMA
SHAMATHA AND VIPASSANA
CHANTING, VISUALIZATION, AND WALKING
GROWING UP BUDDHIST
WOMEN IN BUDDHISM
CREATING HAIKUS AND CALLIGRAPHY
BUDDHISM IN THE WEST
MINDFULNESS IN ALL THINGS
BUDDHISTS AS ACTIVISTS
BUDDHISM IN DAILY LIFE
BEING FULLY ENGAGED
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Buddhism, one of the world’s five great religions, has upward of 500 million followers worldwide. The wisdom that Buddhism has accumulated in its 2,500 years of existence still transforms lives today, as it did in ancient India where it originated.
A contemporary translation of the beloved poetry volume, the Dhammapada, by Gil Fronsdal, starts with these words, “All experience is preceded by mind, led by mind, made by mind.” This idea is at the heart of Buddhism. Buddhists practice mindfulness and compassion in all they do.
The Buddha was an Indian prince, Siddhartha Gotama. Although he lived in pampered luxury, he recognized that everything we see around us—including ourselves—will pass away. By prolonged meditation on this he realized that to achieve happiness we must put aside desire for the things of this world, both material and immaterial. Buddhism identifies the three most valuable things in life:
1. Buddha—everyone’s potential for awakening
2. Dharma—the collection of the Buddha’s teachings
3. Sangha—the community of practitioners
The path to freedom is realized by practicing the Noble Eightfold Path, eight disciplines (view, resolve, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration) through which a practitioner can achieve cessation of suffering, a condition Buddhists call nirvana.
Buddhism 101 will introduce you to this religious tradition. You’ll learn the basic principles of Buddhism and the various Buddhist traditions, ranging from Zen Buddhism in Japan to Tibetan Buddhism, practiced in temples high in the majestic Himalayas. You’ll see that although there’s a core set of beliefs common to all Buddhists, there is not a single Buddhism; instead, there are a wide variety of Buddhist beliefs and practices, depending on the country and tradition.
Today, Buddhism is spreading in the West and provides a way to look at many of the challenges that face society. You may already be familiar with—and even engage in—some Buddhist practices such as meditation and mindfulness without even realizing where these practices came from.
Whether you’re interested in the origins of Buddhism, the nature of its practices, or if you want to find out how you can begin to live a mindful life filled with lovingkindness, Buddhism 101 will answer your questions.
“Happiness,” says the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, “is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” In Buddhism 101 you’ll learn more about this way of looking at the world and discover how those who practice Buddhism create their own happiness and find inner peace.
WHAT IS BUDDHISM?
Religion or Philosophy?
Buddhism is one of the world’s great religions. Behind Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, it is the fourth most followed religion in the world. The question might be raised: Is Buddhism a religion at all?
RELIGION OR PHILOSOPHY?
Can you have a religion without god, a supreme being that created the world and intervenes in the lives of his (or her) creatures? It appears that Buddhism can be considered a nontheistic religion, according to Buddhist scholar Damien Keown, when it is considered along seven dimensions common to religion. These seven dimensions include:
1. Practical and Ritual
2. Experiential and Emotional
3. Narrative and Mythic
4. Doctrinal and Philosophical
5. Ethical and Legal
6. Social and Institutional
Practical and Ritual
While the ritual elements of Buddhism may seem bare bones compared to the Catholic Church, for example, Buddhism certainly has rites and rituals that are public and private, many of which are associated with monastic life. Different Buddhist traditions place different emphasis on ritual.
Experiential and Emotional
The experiential dimension is the most important dimension of Buddhism. The Buddha was the exemplar. He transformed his life not through belief but through experiential practice. The heart of Buddhist practice is to be experienced rather than believed.
Narrative and Mythic
Buddhism is not without its myths and legends, including those surrounding the life of the Buddha, which can be read as a parable as well as a biographical account of the historical figure known as Siddhartha Gotama. There are many narrative elements in Buddhism, including the Jataka tales. Indeed, even the name “Siddhartha” is part of the mythology—an honorific title added centuries after his death.
Doctrinal and Philosophical
Professor Keown says of doctrine, “if by ‘doctrine’ we understand the systematic formulation of religious teachings in an intellectually coherent form,” then Buddhism qualifies as having doctrine in this sense. For example, the Four Noble Truths are the foundation of the Buddha’s teachings.
Ethical and Legal
Buddhism is widely regarded as one of the world’s most ethical religions, having incorporated ethics into the foundatio
Social and Institutional
The sangha is the community of Buddhist practitioners, and it is one of humanity’s oldest continuous institutions. Yet the sangha is not an institution in the sense that it has a central authority such as the Vatican. It is a diverse collection of people across nations and cultures that practice the Buddha’s teachings in diverse ways. Buddhism is a socially engaged religion seeking to make positive changes in society.
Buddhists have built breathtaking monasteries, caves, and carvings of the Buddha. King Ashoka left a legacy of stupas (dome-shaped structures) across India. Buddhist art is colorful and narrative. Buddhists make pilgrimages to holy sites such as the birth and death place of the Buddha and the places where he became enlightened and gave his first sermon.
As you can see, while Buddhism does not have a god and the Buddha is not regarded as a god, it fulfills the other criteria for a religion. You can adopt Buddhism as your religion or you can regard it as a set of experiential practices, such as meditation, that you can integrate with your own religious beliefs. Or, as many do, you can approach Buddhism in an entirely secular manner, as a philosophical system for living, eschewing all rituals, beliefs, and doctrine, just as the Buddha did 2,500 years ago in his search for a way to end suffering. You, just like the Buddha, have the same potential for awakening.
BUDDHA VERSUS BUDDHISM
Throughout this book a distinction will be made between the Buddha (the life and teachings of Siddhartha Gotama) and Buddhism (the religious institutions that have developed over the past 2,500 years in many different parts of the world). Not all Buddhism is Buddha, as these social organizations have migrated and developed over the centuries.
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The first written evidence of the existence of Buddhism is found 130 years after the life of the Buddha. King Ashoka of the Mauryan empire of northern India made inscriptions containing references to Buddhism that date from about 269 to 232 B.C.E.
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In the West, both the Buddha and Buddhism have been attractive and ever-growing forces for both personal growth and social change. You can embrace Buddha without embracing Buddhism. Buddha requires no beliefs, no affiliations, and therefore doesn’t conflict with your own belief system whether you are devoutly religious or an atheist. Buddha’s teachings are universal, transcending time and culture. If you have a mind, then Buddha is relevant to you.
THE AXIAL AGE
The Beginning of Spiritual Humanity
The Buddha lived and taught in the Axial Age, the period between c. 800 and 200 B.C.E. This period of humanity gave birth to the philosophies of Confucius, Lao Tzu, Zoroaster, Socrates, and Plato as well as the Hebrew prophets Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Jeremiah. And, of course, the Axial Age was the context in which the Buddha lived and made his mark on the world.
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“A conviction that the world was awry [dukkha—filled with grief, pain, sorrow] was fundamental to the spirituality that emerged in the Axial countries. Those who took part in this transformation felt restless—just as Gotama [the Buddha] did. They were consumed by a sense of helplessness, were obsessed by their mortality and felt a profound terror of an alienation from the world.”
—Karen Armstrong, Buddha
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Advances in agriculture gave rise to food surpluses and the rise of cities bustling with commerce and political power. The Hindu world in which Gotoma was raised was one of ritual sacrifice. The Vedic worldview (adherence to the authoritative Veda Hindu texts) consisted of castes and believed that the entire universe was supported by sacrifices. The priest class of Brahmins was integral for the administration of these rituals. A strong belief in the afterlife and a soul that transcended death was part of the worldview Gotoma lived within. To get to the equivalent of heaven, one had to live a moral life and one’s ancestors had to employ Brahmin priests to perform special rituals (shraddha). If one was immoral or one’s family left you in the ritual lurch, your soul might dissolve.
Many concepts associated with Buddhism such as karma and samsara were imports from Brahmanism. The goal for Brahmanic mystics was to escape rebirth and samsara (the cycle of death and rebirth) by reuniting one’s atman, or soul, with Brahman (the creator spirit). This union is the highest form of yoga. This final release is called moksha.
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A contemporary of the Buddha was the shramana (ascetic social renunciate) Mahavira, founder of Jainism.
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The Buddha transcended the received wisdom of Vedic India. He rejected the notion of an everlasting soul and made the radical observation that what is considered self is not a thing but a process, and a process that is ever changing. Suffering results not from living inside of a body (a belief that presumes a duality between body and mind) but from being attached to it. That is, suffering results from trying to hold on to a solid sense of self when everything is always changing, trying to cling to fleeting pleasures, and trying to push away unpleasant experiences. He succeeded in discovering a method that could bring an end to suffering, and this method can be reliably reproduced by anyone interested in trying. This method was not about achieving high or rarified states of consciousness but seeing the nature of reality clearly. That clear seeing is what leads to liberation.
BUDDHA, DHARMA, AND SANGHA
Role Model, Teachings, and Community
The Buddha pointed to 1) buddha—everyone’s potential for awakening; 2) dharma; and 3) the sangha—the community of practitioners—as the most valuable things in life. In this case, buddha is not the person of the Buddha but the example that he set with his awakening.
Dharma has multiple meanings. In Buddhism, dharma is the collection of the Buddha’s teachings. In the Buddha’s time, wandering ascetics would meet each other and ask, “Whose dharma do you follow?” The Buddha was unique in that he did not follow another teacher’s dharma but had figured things out for himself. Dharma also refers to the deeper truths that the Buddha’s teachings point to. It refers to the truth of dukkha and the possibility of nirvana. Dharma is also translated as “natural law”—seeing clearly into the reality of things.
Equally important is the community, the sangha. The early sangha was comprised of the Buddha and his followers. This included his former five ascetic friends and the proliferation of people who followed, including poor farmers, wealthy merchants, and kings. People often joined the community after hearing one of the Buddha’s discourses, which inspired in them a wish to end suffering. You could become a monastic or be part of the community as a lay practitioner.
Twenty-five hundred years later, these choices are still available and the sangha is one of humanity’s oldest continuous institutions. Yet, it is not a formal community. It has no central authority, holds no annual conference, and has no membership roster. It is a loosely collected group of like-minded individuals who practice living the Four Noble Truths and other Buddhist teachings, practices, and rituals that have developed over the centuries.
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“When we say, ‘I take refuge in the Buddha,’ we should also understand that ‘the Buddha takes refuge in me,’ because without the second part the first part is not complete. The Buddha needs us for awakening, understanding, and love to be real things and not just concepts. They must be real things that have real effects on life.”
—Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace
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Taking refuge in the Buddha does not mean that you are hidden and protected by a great and powerful force. It means to align yourself with the buddha and strive to become a buddha yourself. Similarly, you can take refuge with th
ONE DHARMA OR MANY?
Buddhism has proliferated in the world by changing and integrating other cultures and religions. As it moved from India eastward it was influenced by Taoism and Confucianism in China, by Shinto in Japan, and by Bön in Tibet. Buddhism arrived in the West in the nineteenth century. In many cases the traditions from the East have been imported and replicated here. But as Westerners practice and lead these communities, is a new form of Buddhism emerging? Is there a Western dharma? An American dharma? These are questions that the meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein poses in his book, One Dharma. What works to free Asians from suffering may not work for Westerners. At the same time, there is a risk that adapting the teachings to Western soil will dilute them or corrupt them into something else.
The basic teachings of the Buddha provide what is required for a nonsectarian form of Buddhist practice. It’s all in the Four Noble Truths, and the core is overcoming suffering and dissatisfaction (dukkha) and living with mindfulness and compassion. All dharmas, that is, manifestations of Buddhism, share this in common: be mindful, be compassionate. The poet Jane Hirshfield’s seven-word definition of Buddhism may also point toward one dharma, “Everything changes; everything is connected; pay attention.”