Being A Buddhist

Dicussions on Buddism

Archive for the month “May, 2012”

My role model

Early life of Lord Buddha : Childhood – part two

I have started to tell about His holiness Buddha’s early life in my post: Lord Buddha :Early Life – Childhood  I’m going to add tell little more in this one.

When Prince Siddhartha was only seven days old, his mother “Mahamaya devi” had passed away. Afterwards he had been raised by his mother’s younger sister “Prajapathi Gautami”,  who also was already married to  his father. In ancient India kings could have many wives. Prince Siddhanta’s father King Suddodana had also married  the two daughters of a king of a nearby country. From a  conversation, with  his holiness Buddha   and aged Prajapathi theri, It can be understood that even the prince has lost the warmth of his own mother, he had received so much love and warmth from every one else, specially from his aunt Prajapathi.

Threshing

Threshing

Bullocks tied with yoke

Bullocks tied with yoke

There is a story about a sowing feast, when the prince was an infant. First harvesting had been  done as a festival attended by the king. Everyone in the palace had come to see this festival  So  prince  was also brought and kept  in a tent where festival can be seen. While he was asleep, nannies  had gone out to have a close look. Meanwhile the prince had  waken up  and no one else were nearby.

image : Buffaloes Threshing

Buffaloes used to Thresh in a field

Picture of a Yoke, today

Picture of a Yoke, today

The prince could have seen the buffaloes threshing, and men after them with sticks. Watching how the animals suffer with the weight of yoke and beatings with sticks  had made him remember what he had learned and practiced in his previous lives. So he had seated and started meditating based on  breath. When nannies came back to check on him they were shocked to see the young prince meditating and they had alarmed the king and the others.

It says that the king honored the little prince for the second time touching his feet, seeing that the prophecy could become true. Even it was a  pleasure to see by a father,  it had also increased his fear about his son becoming the savior of the sufferers, other than the great king he wished him to become one day.


Information on the Path to Enlightenment (Dhamma Savana )

volumes of tripitaka

Volumes of Tripitaka

What would we do if  we have to go on an expedition. Most of us will find information about the journey first and arrange what we may need on the way, carefully They may be money, baggage, other necessities or a method to get them when we need credit cards, friends , hotels, etc). All these would be helpful to go on our trip comfortably. If any traveler starts after carefully arranging everything he may need on the way he would be more comfortable, fast and success oriented to carry out his task . So will be us as Buddhists on our way to liberation.

How should a Buddhist prepare for his journey?

Earlier I have said that a Buddhist should have four assets. First of them which is ” having a noble friend “. that lead us to obtain information about our way to enlightenment.

But then get exact information to go fast, does not look like an easy task. It would have been easier if we were lucky to meet Lord Buddha alive. But we aren’t. We are here after 2550 years later . But still we are lucky enough  to hear Lord Buddha’s teachings via generations of his students. So we can learn from, what is left at the present  and try to figure our way.

As a kid  I was crazy on reading adventures about treasure hunting. I think path to enlightenment also look like a finding a lost treasure hidden centuries ago. A treasure hunter may try various methods to get his information. He may check in libraries and analyze maps, related books, history, listen to  locals and their  tales, find guidance that could be trusted, etc. Finally he would decide on those he gathered and plan a strategy.

image of Monk teaching a student

Monk teaching a student

But then as Buddhists  we don’t have much difficulties as a  treasure hunter. We have the access to  teachings of lord Buddha that were  protected from the start by theravadists ( there may be many other resources in other branches, too). So there are guidance and could get a clear idea of what we have to do.

Remember, Lord Buddha has told us that :

( Buddhism and the difference from other paths )

  • Dhamma is well told in whole i.e. at the start, at the middle and at the end

and that

  • The path has to be understood and experienced by own intelligence of each person.
So what we have to do is  listen,  read, discuss and then analyze Dhamma carefully ( That is ” Dhamma savana “, the second of the assets in  Fortune of a Buddhist. ).

Then  we are able to discover our path.

Fortune of a Buddhist: kalyana mitta sevana

So let’s continue from my previous post . A Buddhist also  should have  a wealth or a fortune to continue his journey Then he is prepared  for  hindrances he might come across. The four assets I stated in that post would aid in our way. Let’s start with the first.

  1. Kalyana mitta sevana

What is meant by the word?   kalyana mitta is for ” spiritual friend, good friend, virtuous friend, noble friend or admirable friend ” and  sevana is for ” acquaintance with “

So “Kalyana mitta sevana”  means “acquaintance with a kalyana mitta or noble friend or…”.

Before we become  friends with any one what we have to do is, recognize such a person. So I think, it’s  better if we get to  know about  noble friend, before anything else.

When we are talking about the path to enlightment, kalyana mitta  is a good person that :

  •  who follows the path taught by Lord Buddha for his own enlightenment ( so he has knowledge about it, when he choose to give any advice about it)
  • and not only that, but he would direct and help others to follow their own.

Because of these, he becomes a noble fried to a Buddhist.

image of Lord Buddha Teaching Dhamma to a group of  Monks

Lord Buddha Teaching Dhamma to a group of Monks and some Gods listening above

When you’ve found such a friend ( made acquaintance with a kalyana mitta ) you now have the first of the four assets, that is: “Kalyana mitta sevana”

Why is it called as an  asset?. Because this friendship would  benefit us :

  •  We may be introduced to triple gems if we are not aware of it
  • We may be given information, we never knew before, on one or more of triple gems.
  • He may help us to improve our knowledge and  the progress in our journey
  • He  would direct  us to right track if we are making mistakes when following our path.
  • etc.

Whatever they are, the final outcome of having a noble friend,  will be that, we would be gifted with the chance to hear the teachings of lord Buddha.(i.e. Dhamma Savana  the second of the four assets ) dropping us to the path, that ends sufferings.

Fortune of a Buddhist

In my last post:  Basics: How to know your path I have said that ” to go along the path, you need to start analyzing using Dhamma. For that  at least basics of Dhamma are needed “

His holiness Buddha has stated anyone wants to achieve enlightenment (nirvana) , should be equipped with four assets to start and continue. They are :

  1. Kalyana mittha sevana :      Having spiritual friendship, good companionship, good comradeship , admirable friendship.  i.e. association with kalyanamittas( spiritual friends). When you have spiritual friendship You would be able to have the second
  2. Dhamma savana:     Listening to true Dhamma .This will guide you to have the third.
  3. Yoniso manaikara:     Noble thoughts or thinking with mindfulness and  intelligence. This will guide you to have the Fourth.
  4. Dhammanudhamma patipada:     Practicing Dhamma or living according to Dhamma.


Basics: How to know your path

What is the  meaning of being a real Buddhist?

A real Buddhist is someone who is following the path to liberation.

But what is this path?.

If anyone want to go along any path they have to find about it, right?

So how could we find it?

Simple. Lord Buddha Has clearly described how to find your path in Dhamma, the second of  the triple gems . On my post: Buddhism and the difference from other paths“, I mentioned what  His Holiness Buddha has said about Dhamma.

Last is:

intellectuals should  individually  experience Dhamma

Why intellectuals? Does that mean, we have to assess our intellects, before starting to follow? NO : That would be just a waste of time. Because that, Dhamma has  clearly instructed on how to become an intellectual. Of course  that is why, we should have  proper advise on Buddhism i.e. not to go astray. (Ah don’t worry! I will be posting, in near future, regarding “proper advice”. Until then…”How to know your path”).

So! How could we become intellectuals?

there’s only three things you have to start with. Just Three, but Extremely Important! ( Kalama sutta )

  • Do not Accept (or agree ) at once with  what you’ve come across
  • Do not reject (or disagree ) at once with what you’ve come across
  • Analyze it deeply with what you already know of Dhamma and then decide. (That means our present knowledge)

This is the  base to become an intellectual. If you don’t start your path with it you are stuck. ( they could always be used for thinking in generally , too)

What about part “should  individually  experience ” ? This happens when you do the third step above.  Learning Dhamma accurately, is the next important key to  find your path.  But only knowledge wouldn’t do the miracle. To go along the path, you need to start analyzing using Dhamma. For that  at least basics of Dhamma are needed . If not, you might  end up using misconceptions (a wrong idea or impression.) for original Buddhist teachings, thinking that you are doing great, Who knows?

Everything you’ve learned should be based on  your own intelligence. Never should take someone’ idea without analyzing.Also it would simply break above three steps. A person’s  Knowledge of Dhamma is something that  always will grow, if you keep on learning it. So scope of analyzing ability would eventually grow developing the scope of intellect.

Keep practicing Dhamma with what you’ve started and you will be always be on the right track of your expedition.

Wish You all the success with your expedition!

Resources: on Web

Here are some web addresses I found on web:

Buddhism and the difference from other paths

A picture - statue of Lord Buddha.

A statue of Lord Buddha

We can see a lot of religions in this world. But if we analyze Buddhism is not in the category of religions. It can be said as a Philosophy. It contains the path to enlightenment found By lord Buddha.

Buddhism Cannot also be called as a science. Sciences can be changed when new knowledge emerge. But Buddhism is knowledge that has been tested and proved by lord Buddha, the founder of it. Later so many people had followed the path and gained success.

It is true you can’t go back in history and check what others had done.  History is also a part of any community. But You always can analyze and check Buddhism in real life.

Buddhism is a free path that anyone can always come and check, if it suits to their lives, understandings or they can leave. of cause they always can  come back again if wanted or just leave for ever. No one forces to follow anything or anyone. Lord Buddha has never forced it on anyone.

What his holiness Buddha has said is:

  • Dhamma is well told in whole i.e. at the start, at the middle and at the end.
  • The path has to be understood and experienced by own intelligence of each person. (Anyone can only show you the path but can’t take you alone it.)
  • Dhamma is true at any time it yields without delay.
  • It is wise enough to tell anyone to come and check it.
  • each person should establish or it in own mind (realize true meanings) for success in path
  • intellectuals should  individually  experience Dhamma

(These are in the gata we use to honor Dhamma,

 Svàkkhàto Bhagavatà Dhammo,
Sanditthiko akàliko ehi-passiko,
Opanayiko pacchattam veditabbo vinnuhi’ti.

resources: http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books13/Chanting_PALI-and-ENG.pdf.pdf   and see the section     ” SUPREME PRAISE OF THE DHAMMA “

)

So  it  is our own liking to practice Buddhism or not. Only thing it needs to follow is the need itself (to follow). I.e. desire to practice Buddhism. Practicing Buddhism Is not suppressing our feelings. It’s analyzing  and understanding the reality (truth)  of everything about us.  One who follows the path would eventually reduce sufferings and finally  put all in to an end.

What is Dhamma?

Preaching of Dhamma

A Venerable thera preaching Dhamma

Dhamma is the teachings of His holiness Buddha.

As I discussed in my post  “Why there are branches in Buddhism” Dhamma today is what has retained with the time.

Venerable Sangha is the community that protect Dhamma by dedication for future generations. We can learn it from Sangha or nowadays there are a lot of resources to be found if searched. i.e.  books, ‘articles in media’ ( news papers, web etc.), Blogs, Audio and video recordings of Dhamma preachings, Buddhist broad castings, etc.

But it is important to learn from trusted sources. Tripitaka and Venerable Sangha can be considered  the best resources.

I hope to give available information on these resources I can find in a future post

Theravada

A picture of venerable Sangha

A picture of venerable Sangha

From now on, this is the branch , all dhamma I can relate to you. That is because I  am  a Theravada Buddhist. All I know about Mahayana are the information I have read about it. You also can find them searching internet. That’s how I read about it most. (How you find something does not matter, if it is helpful to you)

When lord  Buddha existed His holiness had prescribed some rules that sangha should follow.(These are called vinaya).These were for the long survival of Buddhism.

But some time after ‘ his holiness Buddha ‘ had passed away, senior arahat bhikkus noticed that some of the monks, who had not achieved any stages of enlightenment, had started  to ignore these rules.  

So elderly arahat sangha lead by “Maha kasapa thera” arranged a convocation with the support of the king Ajasath( an Indian king). This  was after three months  of his holiness Buddha’s  parinirvana( death). Only enlightened bhikkus : arahats had participated in this convocation. These venerable arahat sangha discussed all dhamma they had heard  from his holiness Buddha. They had categorized these teachings accordingly.

Decisions were made how to keep the knowledge available as long as possible. That was, senior bhikkus and their student generations, should take care of the section of dhamma they were entrusted with and  learn  it by heart. This kept collected Dhamma  at that convocation.

Some Bhikkus at that time had not agreed with these decisions and had kept to their own ways. Followers of the decisions protected dhamma with them generation by generation. this group  is called known as Theravada.

Theravada  can be considered as more closely to what was taught by his holiness Buddha at about 550 BC. venerable Theravada  sangha had remained to learn everything by heart as they have agreed. But in Sri Lanka when a rough time had arisen some centuries ago, venerable sangha in Sri Lanka had discussed and converted Tripitaka in to writings. These  were written on some dried leaves from a native tree that was used for papers at that time with a native ink. I don’t know how it is in the other Buddhist countries, but it i o in Sri Lanka.

Note: This blog would be mainly on this branch.

Why there are branches in a community? : Discussion

A person understands or learns something  within the scope of his knowledge. This could also be limited by that person’s intelligence. According to his scope of his abilities to understand, he may, see it as it is or misunderstand  it or form a whole different  perception. This new perception  may (almost 99.99*) not hold the true meaning of the original fact.

If some person ‘x’ state a concept, the way he  understands, contradictions from his audience could rise if it is controversial . It may divide the main group  into one or more sub groups as to their acceptance of the view. If the members of the second remain to follow  ‘x’ and consider ‘x’ as their leader (in that view), a  sub branch  may occur.

The real issue in this lie on the difference between the two understandings. So followers of latter are more likely to lose their way. It’s similar to if a person had got  information differently, when he was directed to some destination.

i.e.   a boy named ‘Peter’ wants to go to ‘Helen’s’  house. But he had not got the directions correctly.

reasons could have been:
  • He did not understand what he was told (eg. he had never heard about taxis).
  •  He wasn’t listening well .
  • He was thinking something else at the moment and didn’t ask again what he had to do.
  • he had got only a part of the directions and wasn’t aware of it
  • person who told him also didn’t know the correct directions
  • etc.

Peter is more likely to never reach Helen’s house, if he never tried or had the opportunity to revise his directions from an accurate resource.Anyway it would be a sad story as he had been trying ( so he gets tired, could have had some fun somewhere else) in vain.

Any way that can happen to any of us. So wish you all the best of luck!

Why there are branches in Buddhism

a picture of Lord Buddha Preaching to group of sangha

Lord Buddha teaching Sangha

His holiness Buddha had lived for eighty years. Three months after Lord Buddha had passed away, all the  teachings (Dhamma) that had been known/learned  by sangha ( monks/bhikku ), were discussed and categorized into  main 3 sections known collectively as ‘ Tripitaka ‘  and then into  more subcategories.

Limited number of senior arahat bhikkus had participated in this convocation. Some of the other bhikkus had not accepted decisions made in it, as they had not thought, those were worthy. Some had stated that what they (themselves) had learned from lord Buddha  were enough and no need to hear what others had learned.

Eventually these conflicts had divided venerable sangha into branches and there are two major branches at present :

  • Theravada
  •  Mahayana.

Theravada is the branch that have accepted convocation. South Asian countries follow this.

Mahayana can be seen  in East Asia.

Note: Why there are  branches in a community : Discussion   on ‘Discussions’ page

Lord Buddha :Early Life – Childhood

A painting - Birth of prince Siddhartha

How an artist saw “The birth of prince Siddhartha”

‘His holiness Buddha’ (I  Prefer to use His holiness to lord) was an Indian prince named ‘Siddhartha’. His family name was ‘Goutama’. His father was the king of the area called ‘Kapilavastu’. This was located in ancient India, which is now in Nepal. As prince Siddhartha was the first son of king ‘Suddodana’,  was the heir to the crown of his kingdom.

When the prince was born, king’s teacher had visited him. This teacher (named Asitha Kaladevala ) seeing  prince siddhartha, he had stated a prophecy, that the prince will become a ‘sakviti’, the greatest king in the world  or become a great teacher called Buddha if he ever went in search of liberation.

At that time in India , there had been a spiritual revolution. Lot of people had left family lives in search of liberation. many of aged men joined this after completing their duties to the families.There had been diverse methods practiced at that time. these types included, methods recommended to chase away sins and types of meditation used at that time. Later  ‘His holiness Buddha’ had  himself approved some of these meditations, as they help to gain concentration in mind. This type is called ‘samatha’).

This teacher of the king, also had been on meditation and had been a person who had achieved certain levels of progress. Later astrologers also had confirmed this prophecy.

So king had given a great consideration on it and had made his mind to take every possible step to prevent from, his son becoming  bored being a layman. He had wished his son become the greatest king in the world.  As a first step, he had built three palaces, suiting to three seasons in the area. These palaces had been very beautiful and comfortable according to the Buddhist history. I have heard from a venerable monk that these still can be seen in Nepal and he have visited these palaces.

What is Buddhism

A painting of Lord Buddha

A painting of Lord Buddha

Buddhism can be described as a Philosophy. It contains the teachings of ‘ his holiness Buddha’, who had lived about 2550 years ago (about 550BC). So Buddhism is old about that much years .

Lord Buddha, was an Indian prince (in ancient India, now in Nepal), who left everything to find a solution to quit sufferings of living, had achieved fully enlightenment (nirvana) without anyone’s help, Lord Buddha had  traveled through India and surrounding areas and had taught many others, how to achieve enlightenment (nirvana)  for 45 years.

people had gathered around ‘his holiness Buddha’ to follow his teachings. Some of these people had dedicated their lives to achieve liberation, turning into monks (shramana). This community is called ‘Sangha’ and  is continued  until today in many countries. They keep practicing dhamma for their own enlightenment and help others to achieve theirs, by teaching Buddhism.


Who is a buddhist

Buddhists worshiping

As I see, there are two main types of Buddhists in this world.

  •  Who call themselves as ‘Buddhists’
  • and  Who are really,  Buddhists.

Who are the first ones? There are  people who have inherited Buddhism to be their religion. They could have inherited  Buddhism, as their religion, from their ancestors . But it’s very rarely  these people practice Buddhist teachings  properly. Some of them  may not even  know the simplest idea of the teaching. The word ‘Buddhist ‘ seems  to be only an identifying way to any one like this. Any of us can say,  I am a Buddhist, but  being it, totally depends on our selves. Some one can be called as a (real) Buddhist, when accepted Buddha, Dhamma and sangha to be their spiritual liberation (stop suffering).

However,  practicing or not practicing would benefit  the practiser mainly. so it’s no concern of mine. But I just want you to know if any of you are seeking knowledge, I will be more than glad to help.  Of course that would be  within my scope of knowledge. So anyone is welcome here!.

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