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Nathan Johnson

on 24 June 2014

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Transcript of Buddhism

Buddhism at a glance
Buddhism is a spiritual tradition that focuses on personal spiritual development and the attainment of a deep insight into the true nature of life.

Buddhism teaches that all life is interconnected, so compassion is natural and important.
Buddhism is 2,500 years old
There are currently 376 million followers worldwide
Buddhism arose as a result of Siddhartha Gautama's quest for Enlightenment in around the 6th Century BCE
There is no belief in a personal God. It is not centred on the relationship between humanity and God
Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent - change is always possible
The two main Buddhist sects are Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism, but there are many more
Buddhism is a very colourful faith with many festivals throughout the year
Buddhists can worship both at home or at a temple
The path to Enlightenment is through the practice and development of morality, meditation and wisdom
The Four Noble Truths

Suffering comes in many forms. Three obvious kinds of suffering correspond to the first three sights the Buddha saw on his first journey outside his palace: old age, sickness and death.

But according to the Buddha, the problem of suffering goes much deeper. Life is not ideal: it frequently fails to live up to our expectations.

Human beings are subject to desires and cravings, but even when we are able to satisfy these desires, the satisfaction is only temporary. Pleasure does not last; or if it does, it becomes monotonous.

Even when we are not suffering from outward causes like illness or bereavement, we are unfulfilled, unsatisfied. This is the truth of suffering.

Some people who encounter this teaching may find it pessimistic. Buddhists find it neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but realistic. Fortunately the Buddha's teachings do not end with suffering; rather, they go on to tell us what we can do about it and how to end it.
1.) Suffering (Dukkha)
Our day-to-day troubles may seem to have easily identifiable causes: thirst, pain from an injury, sadness from the loss of a loved one. In the second of his Noble Truths, though, the Buddha claimed to have found the cause of all suffering - and it is much more deeply rooted than our immediate worries.

The Buddha taught that the root of all suffering is desire, tanhā. This comes in three forms, which he described as the Three Roots of Evil, or the Three Fires, or the Three Poisons.
2.) Origin of suffering (Samudāya)
The Buddha taught that the way to extinguish desire, which causes suffering, is to liberate oneself from attachment.

This is the third Noble Truth - the possibility of liberation.

The Buddha was a living example that this is possible in a human lifetime.


Nirvana means extinguishing. Attaining nirvana - reaching enlightenment - means extinguishing the three fires of greed, delusion and hatred.

Someone who reaches nirvana does not immediately disappear to a heavenly realm. Nirvana is better understood as a state of mind that humans can reach. It is a state of profound spiritual joy, without negative emotions and fears.
3.) Cessation of suffering (Nirodha)
The final Noble Truth is the Buddha's prescription for the end of suffering. This is a set of principles called the Eightfold Path.

The Eightfold Path is also called the Middle Way: it avoids both indulgence and severe asceticism, neither of which the Buddha had found helpful in his search for enlightenment.
4.) Path to the cessation of suffering (Magga)
The eight stages are not to be taken in order, but rather support and reinforce each other:

1.) Right Understanding - Sammā ditthi
Accepting Buddhist teachings. (The Buddha never intended his followers to
believe his teachings blindly, but to practise them and judge for themselves
whether they were true.)

2.) Right Intention - Sammā san̄kappa
A commitment to cultivate the right attitudes.

3.) Right Speech - Sammā vācā
Speaking truthfully, avoiding slander, gossip and abusive speech.

4.) Right Action - Sammā kammanta
Behaving peacefully and harmoniously; refraining from stealing, killing and
overindulgence in sensual pleasure.

5.) Right Livelihood - Sammā ājīva
Avoiding making a living in ways that cause harm, such as exploiting people
or killing animals, or trading in intoxicants or weapons.

6.) Right Effort - Sammā vāyāma
Cultivating positive states of mind; freeing oneself from evil and
unwholesome states and preventing them arising in future.

7.) Right Mindfulness - Sammā sati
Developing awareness of the body, sensations, feelings and states of mind.

8.) Right Concentration - Sammā samādhi
Developing the mental focus necessary for this awareness.

The eight stages can be grouped into Wisdom (right understanding and intention), Ethical Conduct (right speech, action and livelihood) and Meditation (right effort, mindfulness and concentration).

The Buddha described the Eightfold Path as a means to enlightenment, like a raft for crossing a river. Once one has reached the opposite shore, one no longer needs the raft and can leave it behind.
The eight divisions
Karma is a concept encountered in several Eastern religions, although having different meanings.
Buddhists try to cultivate good karma and avoid bad. However, the aim of Buddhism is to escape the cycle of rebirth altogether, not simply to acquire good karma and so to be born into a more pleasant state. These states, while preferable to human life, are impermanent: even gods eventually die.
On a larger scale, karma determines where a person will be reborn and their status in their next life. Good karma can result in being born in one of the heavenly realms. Bad karma can cause rebirth as an animal, or torment in a hell realm.
For Buddhists, karma has implications beyond this life. Bad actions in a previous life can follow a person into their next life and cause bad effects
Buddhism uses an agricultural metaphor to explain how sowing good or bad deeds will result in good or bad fruit (phala; or vipāka, meaning 'ripening').
Teachings about karma explain that our past actions affect us, either positively or negatively, and that our present actions will affect us in the future.

Skilful actions that lead to good karmic outcomes are based upon motives of generosity; compassion, kindness and sympathy, and clear mindfulness or wisdom. The opposite motives of greed, aversion (hatred) and delusion, when acted upon, lead to bad karmic results.

Karma is not an external force, not a system of punishment or reward dealt out by a god. The concept is more accurately understood as a natural law similar to gravity.

Buddhists believe we are in control of our ultimate fates. The problem is that most of us are ignorant of this, which causes suffering. The purpose of Buddhism is to take conscious control of our behaviour.
The word karma means 'action', and this indicates something important about the concept of karma: it is determined by our own actions, in particular by the motives behind intentional actions.
Acting on karmic habits increases their strength. Buddhists gradually weaken any negative thoughts and impulses that they experience, through allowing them to arise and depart naturally without acting on them.

In this way karmic habits can be broken.
The realms, or states of reincarnation, of the Buddhist universe are depicted in a diagram known as the Bhavachakra, the Wheel of Life or Wheel of Becoming.
The Wheel of Life
The wheel itself is a circle, symbolising the endless cycle of existence and suffering.

In the middle of the Wheel are the Three Fires of greed, ignorance and hatred, represented by a rooster, a pig and a snake. These are the cause of all suffering and are shown linked together, biting each other's tails, reinforcing each other.

In the next circle out, souls are shown ascending and descending according to their karma.

The next ring out is composed of six segments showing the six realms: gods, humans and Titans above and hungry ghosts, animals and those tortured in hell below.

The outer ring shows twelve segments called nidanas, illustrating the Buddhist teaching of dependent origination, the chain of causes of suffering (explained in the following section).

The wheel is held by Yama, the Lord of Death, who symbolises the impermanence of everything. The beings he holds are trapped in eternal suffering by their ignorance of the nature of the universe.
Origin of the universe
1.) Get into Groups
2.) Tell us all you can about the Buddhist view of the universe.
3.) Hand in a 1 page sheet
Capital punishment
Euthanasia and suicide
Organ donation
It's Work Time
Dharma Day
Sangha Day
Perfume Pagoda festival
Holy Days
Korean Zen Buddhism
Mahayana Buddhism
Nichiren Buddhism
Pure Land Buddhism
Theravada Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Zen Buddhism
The Buddha
The history of Buddhism is the story of one man's spiritual journey to Enlightenment, and of the teachings and ways of living that developed from it.
By finding the path to Enlightenment, Siddhartha was led from the pain of suffering and rebirth towards the path of Enlightenment and became known as the Buddha or 'awakened one'.
Opinions differ as to the dates of Siddhartha Gautama's life. Historians have dated his birth and death as circa 566-486 BCE but more recent research suggests that he lived later than this, from around 490 BCE until circa 410 BCE.

He was born into a royal family in the village of Lumbini in present-day Nepal, and his privileged life insulated him from the sufferings of life; sufferings such as sickness, age and death.
He abandoned the strict lifestyle of self-denial and ascetism, but did not return to the pampered luxury of his early life.

Instead, he pursued the Middle Way, which is just what it sounds like; neither luxury nor poverty.
One day, seated beneath the Bodhi tree (the tree of awakening) Siddhartha became deeply absorbed in meditation, and reflected on his experience of life, determined to penetrate its truth.

He finally achieved Enlightenment and became the Buddha. The Mahabodhi Temple at the site of Buddha's enlightenment, is now a pilgrimage site.

Buddhist legend tells that at first the Buddha was happy to dwell within this state, but Brahma, king of the gods, asked, on behalf of the whole world, that he should share his understanding with others.
Buddha set in motion the wheel of teaching: rather than worshipping one god or gods, Buddhism centres around the timeless importance of the teaching, or the dharma.

For the next 45 years of his life the Buddha taught many disciples, who became Arahants or 'noble ones', who had attained Enlightenment for themselves.
Meditation is a mental and physical course of action that a person uses to separate themselves from their thoughts and feelings in order to become fully aware.
In Buddhism the person meditating is not trying to get into a hypnotic state or contact angels or any other supernatural entity.

Meditation involves the body and the mind. For Buddhists this is particularly important as they want to avoid what they call 'duality' and so their way of meditating must involve the body and the mind as a single entity.

In the most general definition, meditation is a way of taking control of the mind so that it becomes peaceful and focused, and the meditator becomes more aware.

The purpose of meditation is to stop the mind rushing about in an aimless (or even a purposeful) stream of thoughts. People often say that the aim of meditation is to still the mind.
There are a number of methods of meditating - methods which have been used for a long time and have been shown to work. People can meditate on their own or in groups.
Meditating in a group - perhaps at a retreat called a sesshin or in a meditation room or zendo - has the benefit of reminding a person that they are both part of a larger Buddhist community, and part of the larger community of beings of every species.
Some classical meditation methods use the meditator's own breathing. They may just sit and concentrate on their breathing... not doing anything to alter the way they breathe, not worrying about whether they're doing it right or wrong, not even thinking about breathing; just 'following' the breathing and 'becoming one' with the breathing.
Some meditators prefer to count breaths, trying to count up to ten without any distraction at all, and then starting again at one. If they get distracted they notice the distraction and go back to counting.
Methods of meditation
Types of Meditation
In the first stage of the practice you follow the breath as it enters and leaves the body and count after the out-breath.
After the first breath you count 'two', and so on up to ten and then start again from one.
In the second stage the count comes before the in-breath.
In the third stage you stop counting and attend to the sensations of the breath entering and leaving the body.
In the fourth stage you focus your attention on the tip of your nose where the breath first comes into contact with the skin.
Concentrative meditation practices can lead you into deeper and deeper states of absorption known as dhyana in Buddhism.
In the first stage you feel metta for yourself with the help of an image like golden light or phrases such as 'may I be well and happy, may I progress.'

In the second stage you think of a good friend and, using an image, a phrase, or simply the feeling of love, you develop metta towards them.

In the third stage metta is directed towards someone you do not particularly like or dislike.

In the fourth stage it is directed towards someone you actually dislike.

In the last stage, you feel metta for all four people at once - yourself, the friend, the neutral person and the enemy.

Then you extend the feeling of love from your heart to everyone in the world, to all beings everywhere.
In the mindfulness of breathing or the metta bhavana meditation practice, a balance needs to be struck between consciously guiding attention and being receptive to whatever experience is arising.

This attitude of open receptive attention is the emphasis of the receptive type of meditation practice.
Reflective meditation involves repeatedly turning your attention to a theme but being open to whatever arises from the experience.

Reflective practices in Buddhism include meditations on impermanence and interconnectedness as well as faith enhancing practices such as meditation on the qualities of the Buddha.
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