Sunday, October 31, 2021

Finding Inner Peace...

 


Thursday, October 28, 2021

Buddha -vs- Christ...



Buddha (Siddhārtha Gautama) insisted he was human and that there is no almighty, benevolent God. He preached that desire was the root cause of suffering and that people should seek to eliminate desire. He was born in present-day Nepal roughly 500 years before Jesus Christ (Jesus of Nazareth).

Christ was born in Bethlehem in present-day Palestine. He was a Galilean Jewish Rabbi who was regarded as a teacher and healer in Judaea. Christians believe that he was the Messiah promised in the Old Testament and that he was the son of God. In fact, the Christian concept of God is a holy trinity: God (the Father), Christ (the Son) and the holy Spirit.

Comparison chart

Buddha versus Christ comparison chart
BuddhaChrist
BuddhaChrist
Diedc. 483 BCE (aged 80) or 411 and 400 BCE, Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, today in India33 AD, Jerusalem
Bornc. 563 BCE, Lumbini, Sakya, NepalApprox. 07-04 B.C.
IslamIslam does not mention the Buddha.In Islam as opposed Christianity, Jesus was just a prophet but also revered as the messiah who will return to save the world from the tyranny of the anti-christ.
MarriageBefore he renounced his family, he was married to Yasodhara and had a son Rahula.Christ Is Married to His Church
IncarnationBuddhism believes in in reincarnation until one achieves enlightenment and "nibbana" (or "nirvana") after which one escapes the cycle of birth and death. The Buddha is believed to have attained nibbana.Affirmed in Christianity
JudaismJudaism predates Buddhism and does not discuss the Buddha.Not accepted as a prophet, the Jewish people are still waiting for a Messiah to come.
ChristianityChristianity does not mention the Buddha.Christianity teaches that Jesus is the Son of God, and Saviour the world. Jesus was the founder of Christianity.
ParentsKing Suddhodana and Queen Maya.Father: God, Mother: Mary
EthnicityIndian (Shakya)Palestinian Jew
Raised inIndiaNazareth in ancient Israel
Born inLumbini, NepalBethlehem in Judea
Birth motherQueen MayaThe Virgin Mary
Cause of deathBelieved to be either unintentional food poisoning or natural causes.Crucifixion
FatherKing ŚuddhodanaGod the Father according to Christianity
HinduismMany Hindus believe that the Buddha was a reincarnation of Vishnu, just like Krishna.N/A
BuddhismBuddhism teaches Gautama was the Enlightened One. He attained enlightenment through meditation, without the benefit of a teacher or teachings. His teachings are meant to enlighten his followers.N/A
ResurrectionNo claimedAffirmed in Christianity
LanguagePali, SanskritAramaic
MonotheismThe Buddha encouraged people to follow his teachings: the noble eightfold path. He did not teach about deities, an omnipotent God or prayer. Rather, he encouraged finding the truth yourself through meditation.God Is Father, Son(Jesus) and Holy Spirit
Religious SymbolThe wheelThe Cross, because of His Passion and Death
ReligionHinduismJudaism
Religion Founded

SOURCE
BuddhismChristianity




Similarities Buddha and Christ...


The Primordial Sound of the Universe...




It is believed that the whole universe, in its most fundamental form, is made up of vibrating, pulsating energy. Vibration produces sound and AUM is considered the humming sound of this cosmic energy. AUM is said to be the primordial creative sound from which the entire universe has manifested.


Without using any jugglery of heavy and fancy spiritual words, I would straightaway like to answer  in simple words –

1. OM is a word while AUM is the sound of this very word OM i.e. Om is an auspicious word which should be pronounced as AUM (AAAUUUMMM )while chanting. AUM in itself is just the sound ,not any word.
Further,theoretically speaking  , English Alphabet ‘O’ is spelled as a symmetrical combination (diphthong) of A & U in sanskrit and hence AUM. To feel the   play of vibrations, chant AAAUUUMMM.

2.Regarding mystics about AUM, when you pronounce AAAUUUMMM continuously ,you can very well feel the upward surge of energy as explained in one of my earlier blogs.

(AumKar Meditation)

That’s probably because when you chant AUM, you are in sync with the cosmic sound which anyways wants your energy to move upwards (towards Sahasrara Chakra.)

3.Besides, even if you have been chanting OM till date , there are absolutely no issues since as far as cosmos is concerned,it really doesn’t matter whether you have been chanting Om or Aum because rather than listening to what you are saying , cosmos wants you to listen to its own  sound (which will be audible as a humming sound as you progress on this path ,which is really soothing and gets a little loud at times.)

 But I would strongly suggest, don’t force your ears in listening to humming sound etc.Just Meditate, let things happen on their own and not the otherwise.

On a concluding note , to the best of my knowledge & experience, I would suggest you to chant AAAUUUMMM for few minutes if you wish to but eventually, be calm,just sit & do nothing..Because,believe me, Silence & not sound is the key.Find yourself in Emptiness (Shunya) and enjoy the cosmic sound that  follows.

Namaste & take care ! Happy Meditation !!



Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Symptoms of An Ill Mind... or Culture...

 



On A God Given Purpose...

 



Thoughts on A Declining America...

 



America, the country I was born in and have loved for nearly 70 years is becoming unrecognizable. It is becoming, at an ever accelerating pace, but a shell of its former self.

One political party, under the stewardship and direction of  Donald J. trump, continues to move the party deeper and deeper into lies, conspiracy, and ignorance. As a result the country is slowly becoming destabilized and will become ripe for the picking by agressive and violent authoritarians within our own country.

The liberties and freedoms this democratic republic allegedly stood for (until now) are slowly and steadily being challenged and even limited in red republican (aka trumpublican) states. As the more extreme elements in the republican (aka trumpublican) party gain confidence their efforts to restrict civil and human freedoms will increase in intensity.

America should be ashamed of the post WW II generation. That generation,  known as baby boomers, grew up spoiled to the hilt as well as being as self centered and selfish as could possibly be. Simply put the baby boomers, in thier ignorance and greed, have done more to hasten mother earth and the planet towards eventual destruction than any prior generation.

America has been a racist nation since its founding. The acceptance and continued practice of slavery (human bondage) after its founding until the Civil War is proof sufficent that  America was indeed founded as a racist nation. Its continued disparate treatment of others not like themselves (black, asian, different sexual orientation, etc) confirms that we remain an unjust nation at many levels. Otherism has a securehome here in America.

Capitalism, the system that was the best system ever designed up to its creation, has steadily been turned into a system that drives extreme selfishness, greed, and economic disparity and injustice. As the top 1 or 2 percent of Americans owning the greatest wealth greedily and steadily work to insure increasing wealth for themselves the rest of the nation is left to fend for itself as best it can.

Looking at the Judeo/Christian ethos, that religious philosophy millions of Americans like to wrap themselves in, one must ask just how it is that it so effectively supportive of the ignorance and greed that has effectively transfomed America into a country where many seem ONLY  concerned about their own personal self interests and to hell with ANYTHING else that might stand in their way.

Time is rumnning out for the planet. With this time is also running out for the good ole US of A and the rest of humanity.  Perhaps its all interconnected. Every action creates ripples across the globe, effecting all things amd all beings. And this nation continues on its ignorant and greedy merry way. Living in that blissful place known as delusion.



Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Marks of Existence...

 


The three marks of existence are Buddhism’s basic description of reality. These three simple truths, which characterize all things, are surprisingly transformative. They are:

Impermanence (Pali: annica): This truth is the foundation of Buddhism. The Buddha said that all compounded phenomena disintegrate. All things are made of parts, and all things fall apart. Another, blunter, way to put it is that everything dies. All of samsara is an attempt to deny this reality.

Suffering (dukkha): Every experience is marked by some quality of suffering, whether it’s extreme pain or a background sense of unease. As long as we struggle to maintain a sense of solid self, our lives will be marked by stress and fear. Our struggle will always be unsuccessful because of…

Non-Self: (annata): There is no solid, separate, single self. We have no core. We are simply the product of multiple causes and conditions. Impermanence describes how things are; non-self describes what they are not. Or, as Thich Nhat Hanh puts it, impermanence is emptiness in terms of time; non-self is emptiness in terms of space.

To these three, some teachers add a fourth: nirvana. This describes the absolute state free of all dualism. It marks all things because relative phenomena are not separate from the complete peace of the absolute.

See also: Read Sylvia Boorstein’s teaching on developing insight through studying the three marks of existence.

SOURCE

The Three Jewels of Buddhism...

 


Buddhists take refuge in three different expressions of awakened mind: buddha, dharma, and sangha. Each of these is a precious and necessary element of the Buddhist path, and so they are called the three jewels.

1. Buddha: The Teacher

This refers, first, to the historical Buddha, the original teacher. He was not a god but a human being like us, and his example shows us that we too can follow the path to enlightenment. More broadly, the buddha principle refers to all teachers and enlightened beings who inspire and guide us.

2. Dharma: The Teachings

The Buddhist dharma starts with the fundamental truths that the Buddha himself taught—the four noble truths, the three marks of existence, the eightfold path, etc.—and includes the vast body of Buddhist teachings that have been developed in the 2,600 years since then. It’s worth noting that the Sanskrit word dharma also means a thing or object in the conventional sense. In either case, the word denotes a basic law or truth of reality.

3. Sangha: The Community

The term sangha has traditionally referred to monastics and arhats in whom lay practitioners take refuge. This has changed in the West, where sangha has come to mean the community of Buddhist practitioners generally, both monastic and lay. Buddhists here also use the word to describe a specific community or group, and you will often hear people talk about “my sangha,” meaning the Buddhist community to which they belong.

SOURCE

A Short History & the Eightfold Path of Buddihism...

 



 

The Eightfold Path

The eightfold path, although referred to as steps on a path, is not meant as a sequential learning process, but as eight aspects of life, all of which are to be integrated in every day life. Thus the environment is created to move closer to the Buddhist path.

The eightfold path is at the heart of the middle way, which turns from extremes, and encourages us to seek the simple approach.

The eightfold path is Right Understanding, Right Intent, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.

No doubt all of you are aware of the moral codes in other religious groups such as Christianity, the Jews, and Muslims. While there is a degree of correspondence across these groups, the interpretation of the code in each philosophy is different. In the example of the Ten Commandments, there is an authoritarian feeling of decree, of a direct order that these be fulfilled.

In Buddhism, the eightfold path is meant as a guideline, to be considered, to be contemplated, and to be taken on when, and only when each step is fully accepted as part of the life you seek. Buddhism never asks for blind faith, it seeks to promote learning and a process of self-discovery.

The meaning of Right has several aspects, and includes an ethical, and a balanced, or middle way. When things go "right", we often experience a special feeling inside which confirms that this is the correct decision or action.

 

Right Understanding:

The first step of the eightfold path is Right Understanding or Right View.

This is a significant step on the path as it relates to seeing the world and everything in it as it really is, not as we believe it to be or want it to be. Just as you may read the directions on a map, and then make the journey, studying, reading and examining the information is important, but only the preparation for the journey. At a deeper level, direct personal experience will then lead us to Right Understanding.

In his book " Old Path, White Clouds, Thich Nhat Hanh tells the story of the Buddha. The Buddha says "my teaching is not a dogma or a doctrine, but no doubt some people will take it as such." The Buddha goes on to say "I must state clearly that my teaching is a method to experience reality and not reality itself, just as a finger pointing at the moon is not the moon itself. A thinking person makes use of the finger to see the moon. A person who only looks at the finger and mistakes it for the moon will never see the real moon."

Knowing reality is of very little value if we don’t put it to personal use in our lives. 

 

Right Intent:

The second step on the Eightfold Path is Right Intent. This is the step where we become committed to the path. Right Understanding shows us what life really is and what life’s problems are composed of, Right Intent urges us to decide what our heart wants.

Right Intent must come from the heart and involves recognising the equality of all life and compassion for all that life, beginning with yourself.

Right Intent means persistence and a passion for the journey. Setting out to climb a high mountain means you must understand the lay of the land and the pitfalls, the other team members, and the equipment you need. This is similar to Right Understanding. But you will only climb the mountain if you really want to and have a passion for the climb. This is Right Intent. The mountain we climb here is our journey though life.

To summarise, Right Understanding will eliminate ignorance. With Right Intent and correct understanding, we then remove desire, which in turn causes the suffering defined in the Four Noble Truths.

 

Right Speech:

Right Speech is the next step of the Path. We tend to underestimate the power of the spoken word, and often regret words said in haste. Each of us has experienced the disappointment associated with harsh criticism, whether justified or not, and we also are likely to have felt good when kind words encouraged us.

Right speech involves recognition of the truth, and also an awareness of the impact of idle gossip and of repeating rumours. Communicating thoughtfully helps to unite others, and can heal dissention. By resolving never to speak unkindly, or in anger, a spirit of consideration evolves which moves us closer to everyday compassionate living.

 

Thai Walking Buddha (photo by Mary Hendriks)Right Action:

Right Action recognises the need to take the ethical approach in life, to consider others and the world we live in. This includes not taking what is not given to us, and having respect for the agreements we make both in our private and business lives.

Right Action also encompasses the five precepts which were given by the Buddha, not to kill, steal, lie, to avoid sexual misconduct, and not to take drugs or other intoxicants.

This step on the path also includes a whole approach to the environment, with Right Action being taken whenever possible to safeguard the world for future generations.

 

Right Livelihood:

The next on the Eightfold Path follows on from Right Action, and this is Right Livelihood. If your work has a lack of respect for life, then it will be a barrier to progress on the spiritual path. Buddhism promotes the principle of equality of all living beings and respect for all life.

Certain types of work were discouraged by the Buddha, in particular those where you deal in harmful drugs and intoxicants, those dealing in weapons, and those harmful to animal or human life. So a dedicated Buddhist would not be recommended to have a liquor store, own a gun shop, or be a butcher. In his time, he also discouraged the slave trade, which dealt in human workers. And he was also against the practice of fortune telling as this made assumptions about a fixed future, where his teaching stresses that the future is created by what we do today.

Right Livelihood also implies that a Buddhist who is able, will undertake some work, either as part of a Buddhist community, or in the workplace, or, alternatively, do home based or community service. Many communities of monks ensure that each member has daily chores, which remind him of this step on the Eightfold Path.

 

Right Effort:

Right Effort means cultivating an enthusiasm, a positive attitude in a balanced way. Like the strings of a musical instrument, the amount of effort should not be too tense or too impatient, as well as not too slack or too laid back. Right Effort should produce an attitude of steady and cheerful determination.

In order to produce Right Effort, clear and honest thoughts should be welcomed, and feelings of jealousy and anger left behind. Right Effort equates to positive thinking, followed by focused action.

The Buddha was well ahead of his time on this one, and many books have been written about the power of the right attitude.

 

Right Mindfulness:

While Right Effort is a very easy concept for most of us, Right Mindfulness is somewhat trickier to grasp, and may involve quite a change of thinking.

I suggest that you take a short break, stand up and walk (or cruise if you are mobile) around the room or house, and then come back here before reading on.

Right Mindfulness means being aware of the moment, and being focused in that moment. When we travel somewhere, we are hearing noises, seeing buildings, trees, advertising, feeling the movement, thinking of those we left behind, thinking of our destination. So it is with most moments of our lives.

Right Mindfulness asks us to be aware of the journey at that moment, and to be clear and undistracted at that moment. Right Mindfulness is closely linked with meditation and forms the basis of meditation.

Right Mindfulness is not an attempt to exclude the world, in fact, the opposite. Right Mindfulness asks us to be aware of the moment, and of our actions at that moment. By being aware, we are able to see how old patterns and habits control us. In this awareness, we may see how fears of possible futures limit our present actions.

Now, having read this, try the same walk as before but with a focused mind, which now concentrates only on the action of the walking. Observe your thoughts before reading on.

Sometimes you may be absorbed in what you are doing. Music, art, sport can trigger these moments. Have you ever done anything where your mind is only with that activity? At that moment, you are mindful, and the Buddha showed how to integrate that awareness into our everyday lives.

 

Right Concentration:

Once the mind is uncluttered, it may then be concentrated to achieve whatever is desired. Right Concentration is turning the mind to focus on an object, such as a flower, or a lit candle, or a concept such as loving compassion. This forms the next part of the meditation process.

Right concentration implies that we select worthy directions for the concentration of the mind, although everything in nature, beautiful and ugly, may be useful for concentration. At deeper levels, no object or concept may be necessary for further development.

The benefits of Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration are significant as they teach the mind to see things, not as we are conditioned to seeing them, but as they really are. At the same time, they also lead to a feeling of calm and peace with the world. By being in the moment and being able to concentrate effectively, a sense of joy in the moment is felt. Release from the control of past pains and future mind games takes us closer to freedom from suffering.


SOURCE: buddha101

Buddhism for Beginners...

 


While perusing for basic information on Buddhism we ran across the following article on Basic Buddhism and felt it worth reprinting here today.


The Living EdensPurchase VideoThailand - Jewel of the OrientBasics of Buddhism
Buddhism: An Introduction

Buddhism is a major global religion with a complex history and system of beliefs. The following is intended only to introduce Buddhism's history and fundamental tenets, and by no means covers the religion exhaustively. To learn more about Buddhism, please look through our Web Resources section for other in-depth, online sources of information. 

Siddhartha Gautama: The BuddhaBuddha Statue

Historians estimate that the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, lived from 566(?) to 480(?) B.C. The son of an Indian warrior-king, Gautama led an extravagant life through early adulthood, reveling in the privileges of his social caste. But when he bored of the indulgences of royal life, Gautama wandered into the world in search of understanding. After encountering an old man, an ill man, a corpse and an ascetic, Gautama was convinced that suffering lay at the end of all existence. He renounced his princely title and became a monk, depriving himself of worldly possessions in the hope of comprehending the truth of the world around him. The culmination of his search came while meditating beneath a tree, where he finally understood how to be free from suffering, and ultimately, to achieve salvation. Following this epiphany, Gautama was known as the Buddha, meaning the "Enlightened One." The Buddha spent the remainder of his life journeying about India, teaching others what he had come to understand.

The Four Noble Truths

Four Noble TruthsThe Four Noble Truths comprise the essence of Buddha's teachings, though they leave much left unexplained. They are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering. More simply put, suffering exists; it has a cause; it has an end; and it has a cause to bring about its end. The notion of suffering is not intended to convey a negative world view, but rather, a pragmatic perspective that deals with the world as it is, and attempts to rectify it. The concept of pleasure is not denied, but acknowledged as fleeting. Pursuit of pleasure can only continue what is ultimately an unquenchable thirst. The same logic belies an understanding of happiness. In the end, only aging, sickness, and death are certain and unavoidable. 

The Four Noble Truths are a contingency plan for dealing with the suffering humanity faces -- suffering of a physical kind, or of a mental nature. The First Truth identifies the presence of suffering. The Second Truth, on the other hand, seeks to determine the cause of suffering. In Buddhism, desire and ignorance lie at the root of suffering. By desire, Buddhists refer to craving pleasure, material goods, and immortality, all of which are wants that can never be satisfied. As a result, desiring them can only bring suffering. Ignorance, in comparison, relates to not seeing the world as it actually is. Without the capacity for mental concentration and insight, Buddhism explains, one's mind is left undeveloped, unable to grasp the true nature of things. Vices, such as greed, envy, hatred and anger, derive from this ignorance. 

The Third Noble Truth, the truth of the end of suffering, has dual meaning, suggesting either the end of suffering in this life, on earth, or in the spiritual life, through achieving Nirvana. When one has achieved Nirvana, which is a transcendent state free from suffering and our worldly cycle of birth and rebirth, spiritual enlightenment has been reached. The Fourth Noble truth charts the method for attaining the end of suffering, known to Buddhists as the Noble Eightfold Path. The steps of the Noble Eightfold Path are Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. Moreover, there are three themes into which the Path is divided: good moral conduct (Understanding, Thought, Speech); meditation and mental development (Action, Livelihood, Effort), and wisdom or insight (Mindfulness and Concentration).

KarmaKarma

Contrary to what is accepted in contemporary society, the Buddhist interpretation of karma does not refer to preordained fate. Karma refers to good or bad actions a person takes during her lifetime. Good actions, which involve either the absence of bad actions, or actual positive acts, such as generosity, righteousness, and meditation, bring about happiness in the long run. Bad actions, such as lying, stealing or killing, bring about unhappiness in the long run. The weight that actions carry is determined by five conditions: frequent, repetitive action; determined, intentional action; action performed without regret; action against extraordinary persons; and action toward those who have helped one in the past. Finally, there is also neutral karma, which derives from acts such as breathing, eating or sleeping. Neutral karma has no benefits or costs.

The Cycle of Rebirth

Karma plays out in the Buddhism cycle of rebirth. There are six separate planes into which any living being can be reborn -- three fortunate realms, and three unfortunate realms. Those with favorable, positive karma are reborn into one of the fortunate realms: the realm of demigods, the realm of gods, and the realm of men. While the demigods and gods enjoy gratification unknown to men, they also suffer unceasing jealousy and envy. The realm of man is considered the highest realm of rebirth. Humanity lacks some of the extravagances of the demigods and gods, but is also free from their relentless conflict. Similarly, while inhabitants of the three unfortunate realms -- of animals, ghosts and hell -- suffer untold suffering, the suffering of the realm of man is far less.

The realm of man also offers one other aspect lacking in the other five planes, an opportunity to achieve enlightenment, or Nirvana. Given the sheer number of living things, to be born human is to Buddhists a precious ch


SOURCE: PBS