Being A Buddhist

Dicussions on Buddism

Archive for the tag “buddhism”

Meditation on walking

I might have discussed about this meditation type before. However as I felt so contented some days ago while listening to a Damma desana on it, felt that I should write another post.

I bet this is the easiest meditation type I’m used to  practice so far. As I’ve heard it also is one of fastest result oriented meditations in Buddhism. However it’s effect is said to fade in the same way. But as it’s effective on gathering mindfulness and  tranquility speedily, it can be used as a preparing meditation  before moving into others, or can be used  in various difficult situations in daily life.

Most of us , including me back some years ago, come across bizarre conditions in mind while having to face situations we aren’t adapted well. I’ve seen this is due to the less control-ability in mind. So we face emotions like depression, Anxiety, distraction, displeasure and suffer from living. Buddhism teach us how to take control of mind via two ways.

One : purifying the mind by dealing with concepts that form any sufferings, and the other:  training the mind to get released from such suffering thoughts  by directing towards concentration. First one is gained by wipassana which dive deep in to Buddhist teachings, and the second one, which could be used as I above mentioned, is gained by Samatha meditation. Even though  Samatha is not as powerful as the other when Buddhist’s final destination concerned,  it never could or should be undervalued on daily life. As I understand, what it could  give us or turn us on practice, is beyond any medical treatments whether it be physical or psychological, that could be found on this Earth today. So be it on whatever type it is better gained by practicing than not.

Buddhists are poor?

 His holiness lord Buddha had advised lay people to earn by a righteous living and spend those earnings intelligently. But people who had left lay life to achieve their enlightenment were given completely different instructions. Like that, to let go everything that are not needed in such a life style. And also his holiness Lord Buddha had admired that kind of  life style.

 But still we have to understand that his holiness had never admired a person, who had or have not a willingness to give up lay life to join monk-hood,  having poverty in his life. What his holiness admires is simplicity and that it never should be mistaken for poverty.

And if a layman really study and follows the philosophy of Buddhism, they should be really happy and contented in their lives in every way, including  financial success in it, too.

The best Buddhist meditation type? Samatha or Wipassana!

There are two major categories of Buddhist meditations.  Samatha (Samadhi) and Wipassana. Why are there two?  and,  what could be the best?

As I ‘ve already mentioned before,  meditations similar to types in Samatha had had already existed before the time of His holiness Lord Buddha. It is clear from the history, that there had been some meditators who had achieved it’s  highest level at that time. One such person was the teacher of king Suddhodana, Asitha Kaladewala ( father of prince Siddhartha:His  holiness lord Buddha’s laymen life’s). He was said to had the ability to travel to the heavens by his mere wish, additional to achieving the furthest state  of Samatha meditation. A lot of such meditators are heard of having many supernatural abilities by developing mind using meditation knowledge that existed at that time.

But then, Wipassana meditation type had been never known before his holiness lord Buddha himself discovered and taught it to this world. Which unveils the path to Nirvana / final enlightenment. And unlike those meditations, that were kept and shared only  among higher casts, His holiness lord Buddha let anyone to learn and practice his holiness’s teachings to enlightenment.

His holiness lord Buddha himself had tried all those  knowledge that existed at the time before starting to look for a new method  to achieve the liberation from sufferings. So his holiness had also tried various available types of Samatha meditation at the time. And after achieving enlightenment, his holiness had recommended to use Samatha meditation to develop mind,  needed for the path. But had given own instructions on how to practice them differently from those ways known where needed. So original teachings of Buddhist Samatha meditation types are known different from those were before that time.  However it seems that some of the elder teachers had/have introduce and teach their experiences and beliefs when teaching their students.

So when considering  about the second one,  deciding the best. The reality is, in general, when we are to meditate as beginners these both types could come in handy. Because one type could help to reduce different unwanted qualities in mind and other some other qualities.
So Samatha which is the very best to achieve qualities  like consciousness or calm,  and then  Wipassana for qualities like insight or prajna,  both,  could be specified for a particular person based on his personality.

The first to decide, the best for a person, is to know exactly what he or she wants to achieve by meditating. If he is interested in achieving the depth of wisdom of Buddhist teachings, then sticking to Samathya will never take him to his desired destination.So practicing it even after achieving the status of mind he need to move on the path, would only  delay his desired journey.   Wipassana or insight meditation, on the other hand, would help to achieve any stage of enlightenment, where Samatha will never give any of the stages, despite of how much or how long he may practice it. The status that are available to a samatha meditator are the status of Dhyana/jhana. That would  increase his mind to various status and reduce negative qualities of mind, but all in  temporarily, but still which would definitely determine his next birth place.

So if a meditator is interested in ending, permanently, his sufferings  and rebirth, he should definitely chose Wipassana and should consider Samatha only as some mean to improve his meditation and to distract any unwanted qualities in his mind.

About Meditaton more – what is and how to

earlier post on meditation  : On Meditation

Statue of Lord Buddha meditating - from an ancient temple in Sri Lanka

World’s Greatest Teacher of Meditation

Well, first of all, meditation is a method to deal with the mind. People nowadays seem to go to various kinds of therapists to deal with many issues in it.  This is good and really is a very helpful way. But as I’ve seen the  progress of it depends on the communication between both parties and the ability and experience of the therapist. If those were excellent you’ll get great outcome.  But it depends. Anyway it also is depended on you if you are the one who have the therapy. As I understand it, because of the way you allow yourself to understand how your mind works, how past has affected you and also the environment, i.e. society has affected your mind. Means how much you’ll allow to see with openness, honesty,  etc about yourself.

It’s the same when it comes to meditation. If you allow yourself to see with an open, honest mind without accepting or rejecting what you experience, and  if you got the right resources, you’ll get more success from meditation, than anything else in dealing with mind. But then, you have to have the proper guidance for the real success. But it is you who find answers. You’ll only have to have guidance from an experienced meditator to deal with the difficulties that occur in your path.

It doesn’t say you’ll always have to have such a person to start meditation. There are a lot of types, that can be started with simple instructions gained, like from a book or site, and be developed successfully on its early stages. But this is something that most of experienced teachers say when they advice in public in my country ” you better have some one to guide you” so I’m also repeating it here as I’m not a one to challenge them in it in my stage.

However, when looking into the history at his holiness lord Buddha’s time, there had been lot of  Bhikkus who had gone to faraway places after having learned how to do a suitable type of meditation from his holiness lord Buddha. So they had deal with it alone after having instructions first. But then they had world’s greatest teacher’s instructions. Also there were incidents  Bhikkus returning  with problems, like what led to the incident of Karaneeya Mettha Sutta. But that doesn’t say everyone had problems. If you got the intellect even with some knowledge you should succeed, that is as to what I’ve learned about Buddhism. Because It all circling around basics of Buddhist Philosophy. So it’s better you get some knowledge if you are interested in going into deep in meditation, because it would be just a hanging in the same stage thinking you doing great but without.  And in short what I’m trying to say is, try to learn the basics of this Philosophy if, you are serious. Listen to Damma or read good books and get to know it, then you’ll have some idea of how you should proceed when you practice alone.

Having said that, there are lot  of resources in the web for free to learn Buddhist teachings. And if you ask me about free, they should be for FREE ( not solid books, they cost, you know that!) , because if anyone is thinking otherwise, well theirs may have great content but I doubt they are truly the followers. Also you can check my posts on Resources tab under ” THE BUDDHIST ” tab on this blog. If you ask me ” http://www.dhammatalks.net  ” is a great one that I’ve used.

On Meditation

First of all I have to say I’m not a committed meditator, But I’ve heard lot of people discussing on meditation and some of them do not seem to have  some of the basics . Not that I claim to know most of them,  may be a tiny bit only, I have read some books on meditation, even attended some sessions ( not many) from a well known meditation center near my home town. But still, I know I’m at the lowest step. Still it may keep you on the right track, and may help you to start your journey, and may  help to get to your destination if you seek for needed  knowledge from the correct source.

Having said that I thought discussing something about meditation is needed, as I couldn’t find a suitable resource I promised in one of my posts to a friend I’ve met on the net. Actually I’ve been really busy these days and I couldn’t help being so late starting an answer for her, as I could not find resources (may be I didn’t search enough ) on basics for a beginner  to use. So I was thinking to post my knowledge about some types of meditation and how to start and also some resources I’ve used. So here we go.

What do you think of meditation?

Well, some people seem to think meditation is all that is taught in Buddhism or some of them think we can use it alone and have the complete effect from it for consolation or enlightenment as anyone else. Both these are not true as I know. I do not mean here, it’s useless to meditate without using it properly. Of course, it is a most useful method whatever way it is used, for it may gift you great abilities you never knew before. Only issue is that you have to use it properly to get the complete effect, as anything else. Some say it is like a medicine. But, Not that it is like a medicine, but  it is actually is a medicine. A medicine for mind prescribed by world’s greatest philosopher his holiness Lord Buddha. As any other treatment it also needs full dose in proper way to effect to full and cure completely.

So  I decided  from today on, to post discussions by topics on meditation, even may be not sequentially, but a series connected by links. I thought that would work better for all us.

Resources – more

Paritta

Sinhala resources

Is life all about sufferring?

Have you heard anyone say, life is all about sufferings. Well, I have. I’ve heard some Buddhists say and even read, on some sites and books,  such expressions that say, that is what Buddhism teaches. Is this true or not?

Well as to my knowledge, it should be another myth spread as Buddhism. However our great teacher  has taught, that the life has enjoyments. I was reminded of this ,as I recently read in a book. It included details  of a sutta called ” Nochedang ” which  is on this matter , but sadly I was unable to find it in Tipitaka (may be, due to misspelling  or a printing  error ) and the book  has not mentioned how to find it .( If anybody happens to  know  about this sutta, please be kind to tell me. Thanks. )

We have six doors of senses : eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin and mind. They help us to  recognize this world we live. Say any of them never existed  and then there’s no possibility for our existence either. We do not only sense this world through them, but sometimes we long for those experiences  to feel again in future.

Why do we long for things?. Isn’t it because we have identified them as comforts?

Lord Buddha has shown, that the reason, for a living being to long for any experiences,  is that they have tasted enjoyment in them and If no enjoyment, no one would have long for anything.  His holiness had emphasized that there is enjoyments to living beings in this world.

We can analyze if this is true, if we haven’t realized it yet. Just  think of any of bellow situations or such you have gone through.

  •  The first interview being a success,
  • The day, you got the first job, haven’t it given happiness ,
  • The day you earned first income,
  • Time you bought the vehicle you dreamed always to own,
  • After you accomplished the dream of your life.

But all these seems as big events, so what about

  • Just spending some time with someone you are interested in or a dear friend or family member,
  • Playing with your kids,
  • Eating something delicious  for dinner,
  • playing  games
  • relax of being free of some difficulty
  • having a leave from work

or any such happenings in the daily life

So, anybody’s life must have felt at least a small bit of happiness even that life is so poor and miserable . So saying life is all about sufferings , can’t be proved to be true in this world.

So why is there such a saying?

as I see it may be, who says so, just like to ignore the truth, being biased. Whoever be biased to something ( who attach themselves to  ditthis ) are  always blocking themselves from seeing the truth of it, as it is.

Worthy Friends

Yesterday I have listened to ” Dhamma (nava) sutta ” in Sutta Nipatha  on radio, describing that having  associations, with worthy men, advance our movement to the enlightenment.

His holiness Buddha has said, that a Buddhist should have talent for the path and whoever have an association with such talented worthy men, himself becomes talented and such an association would never deliver bad effects.

We all have associates, but have we ever considered  if they are helpful in our liberation? There’s such iinstructions on how to identify a fruitful  association to a Buddhist. it includes four facts, and needs all of them to be satisfied. They are, we should check whether,

by an association with a certain person

  • have we  engaged in ( deeds that deliver ) merits we’ve never had done before
  • have the merits we already have improved
  • have we never engage in  (deeds that deliver ) demerits we’ve never had done before
  • have the demerits we already have are suppressed or vanished

If we have, then we have come across a worthy friend . But still it says how to identify a worthy man. He should have these three characteristics.

  • Be a virtuous person who has control on his actions, words and thoughts and follow percepts
  • should have a good knowledge on Dhamma and should usually analyze Dhamma and understand it well.
  • should be wise and intellectual, knowing truth about world ( living ). Most probably some one who has lessened desire for senses.

If we haven’t been lucky so far

  • we can recognize worthy men from above and
  • then become associated with them
  • and receive directions

As worthy men never approve demerits, they would always try prevent their associates from doing wrong and take to the right track. So we will have the opportunity to receive right advice. If we ever open up about our hidden weakness, they would help us to correct them. So such a worthy man also becomes a good noble friend ( kalyana mittha ) to anyone associated with him.

As Buddhists can be at different stages on their path, one person can have better values than another person. So the most intelligent thing is, making friends with worthy men as many as we could find, and then we’ll be able to get more and more advises.

As his holiness Buddha has advised us on our path, that we should individually discover it from our own intelligence ( posts:  Buddhism and the difference from other paths and Basics: How to know your path ), we could analyze and work out our way to enlightenment,  with the guidance of these noble, worthy friends.

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.

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.

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