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How to Incorporate Buddhism in Your Life
Lumbini, the Birthplace of the BuddhaClick thumbnail to view full-size
History of the Buddha and Buddhism
The Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha in Lumbini, Nepal, on the full moon day of May c. 623 BC. His father Suddhodhana was the king of Tilaurakot, Kapilvastu, Nepal. When his mother Maya Devi died, Siddhartha was raised by Prajapati Gautami, his aunt and step-mother. One of the names of Buddha is Gautama, which comes from Prahapati Gautami, who was also the first woman to be initiated in Buddhism. Since its inception, Buddhism encouraged women to practice religion and be liberated.
Siddhartha Gautama was born in Lumbini Garden when his mother Maya Devi was passing through Lumbini on the way to her parents’ home in Devadha. Maya Devi Temple is in Lumbini Sacred Garden, which was originally built in 3rd century BC, and renovated many times. The exact spot where the Buddha was born is Inside Maya Devi Temple, it is marked with a stone called Marker Stone..The well preserved Lumbini Sacred Garden is 2.56 sq km, and is the heart of Lumbini-Buddhist Circuit. Lumbini is a small town 300 km west of Kathmandu, capital city of Nepal.
Siddhartha was married to Yoshadhara and had a son Rahul. However, he did not find pleasure in his royal life. He left his family at the age of 29, and went in search for the cause suffering and means to end suffering. When he was 40, Siddhartha attained Nirvana and became the Buddha. He was 80 when he died in Kushinagar, India.
In the beginning, Buddhism was limited to Nepal and India, but later it spread to East Asia and Tibet. Tibetan Buddhism evolved when Buddhism reached Tibet, in the 7th century. The Dalai Lama is highly regarded in Tibetan Buddhism.
I teach sorrow, its origin, cessation and path. That's all I teach.
When you understand beauty to be beautiful, then ugliness exists. If you believe goodness to be good, evil will exist.
The father is not the son, the son is not the father, these two cannot exist without the other, these two cannot be simultaneous. (The Buddha said this to illustrate transitory nature of the world)
Light and dark, winning and losing, good and evil, are just different aspects of the same phenomena. All opposites are polar, all opposites are interdependent.
The Buddha's Teaching
The Buddha teachings were not written but spoken. After his death, his disciples were worried that the Buddha’s teaching could be forgotten if it was not collected. They took the initiative to collect the Buddha’s teachings. The earliest and the most complete collection of the Buddha’s teachings is Tripitaka, literally three baskets. Tripitaka contains three books: Vinaya, Sutta and Abhidhamma. It is in Pali language. Vinaya tells about the importance of the monastic life, Sutta is a collection of Buddha’s sermons, and Abhidhamma contains philosophical discourses and mysticism).
Early Buddhist texts, referred as Buddhist canonical literature (or simply Pali canon), tell about the established doctrines. Later Buddhist texts, called non-canonical literature, are the interpretations of the Buddha’s teachings by the early Buddhist monks. Over the years the Bodhisattva (Buddha-to-be) like Nagasena, Buddhaghosa, Buddhadatta, Nagarjuna, and Dhammapala wrote commentaries on Tripitaka. These commentaries are Buddhist non-canonical.
Ancient Paintings Depicting the Life of the BuddhaClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Basics of Buddhism
Mahayana and Theravada are the two schools in Buddhism: In Mahayana, the Buddha’s teachings coexist with Hindu beliefs, shamanistic practice, esoteric rituals and meditation. Zen Buddhism, Vajrayana Buddhism (also called Tantric Buddhism) and Tibetan Buddhism are different disciplines in Mahayana Buddhism. Theravada Buddhism emphasizes monastic life and deals with puritan teachings of the Buddha.
The basics of Buddhism are simple. You have to know about the Four Noble Truths and practice the Eightfold Path. The Buddha’s teachings are meant to end suffering in your life, and you can end suffering by incorporating Buddhism in your life. Whether you are Buddhist or not, you can incorporate Buddha’s teaching in your life by understanding the four noble truths and practicing the eightfold path.
The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism
The four noble truths encompass the entire Buddha's teaching. The Four Noble Truths are not beliefs but the level of experiences. They present the cause and effect of your being, your existence on earth.
1. There is sorrow in the world
2. There is a reason for sorrow
3. There is cessation from sorrow
4. There is a path to get away from sorrow
In the first noble truth, the Buddha identifies the problem of human life i.e. sorrow. Buddha says birth is sorrow, sickness is sorrow, old age is sorrow and death is sorrow. Birth, sickness, old age and death are the realities of your life.
In the second noble truth, the Buddha identifies the cause of sorrow. The Buddha says there is sorrow because there is desire. Desire comes in three forms, also known as three poisons. The three poisons are passion, aversion and bewilderment.
In the third noble truth, the Buddha says there is a cure from sorrow. The root cause of sorrow is desire. There is desire because there is attachment. To end sorrow, you must be liberated from the sense of attachment.
In the fourth noble truth, the Buddha shows the path to get away from sorrow. The fourth noble truth sets forth the Eightfold Path of Buddhism. You must understand the three noble truths and practice the forth truth. The fourth noble truth is the Eightfold Path, which ultimately ends suffering and makes you liberated.
The Eightfold Path of Buddhism
The Buddha called Eightfold Path the Middle Way. Middle Way means human beings must avoid both, excess indulgence and strict asceticism. As a prince, Siddhartha enjoyed indulgence. After he left his home, he practiced strict asceticism. These two extremities made Siddhartha suffer more. Then he founded the Middle Way.
1. Righteous view: You must have correct understanding about the nature of things
2. Righteous intention: You must shun attachment, hatred and harmful intent
3. Righteous speech: You have to abstain from verbal violence
4. Righteous action: You must refrain from murder, theft and sexual misconduct
5. Righteous livelihood: You have to avoid everything that directly or indirectly harms other people
6. Righteous effort: You have to abandon negative thoughts
7. Righteous mindfulness: You must be aware about your mind, body and the phenomena of the world
8. Righteous concentration: You have to develop awareness
The first two paths –righteous view and righteous intention –are about wisdom. The Righteous speech, righteous action and righteous livelihood are about ethical conduct. And the final three paths, righteous effort, righteous mindfulness, and righteous concentration are related to meditation. The Buddha used righteous to describe the eightfold path because he wanted to negate two extremities, too much attachment and too much detachment.
The Eightfold Path is a means to liberation, not the ultimate truth. The Buddha illustrated this by giving an example of a raft. You need a raft to cross a river, once you cross the river, you no longer need the raft.
In Sanskrit language Buddha means “Awakened One.”
The Buddha did not initiate any religion. However, his teachings were later called Buddha’s Path, or Buddhism for that matter, and his followers were Buddhist.
The Buddha did not invent the concepts of Samsara, Karma and Nirvana. He was born in a Hindu family, and these ideas were already present in Hindu religion. The Buddha, however, gave new insights on Karma, Samsara and Nirvana.
The world you live in is Samsara. In this Samsara you are born, you live, you die and then take a new birth again.
Karma is Sanskrit word for deeds. Everything you do is Karma, it follows you like a shadow in your every births. Good Karma offers happiness, and bad Karma makes you suffer.
Nirvana means liberation. When human beings attain Nirvana, there will be no birth. No birth means end of suffering. The basic of Buddhism is to end suffering.