Monday, January 17, 2011

Buddhism -The Worlds Wisdom

The World’s Wisdom, Buddhism

Main Ideas of Buddhism

1. Anatta

Anatta means that each person does not have an inner substance or soul and that each physical body is just a constantly changing mixture of thoughts and physical appearances. It is related to how we do not see a machine, such as a car, as anything other than a combination of the parts that make up the machine.

2. Right Mindfulness

The practice of right mindfulness comes from the Satipatthana Sutta and is very important to Buddhists for meditation. It contains information on the four foundations of mindfulness, which are awareness of the body, sensation, mind, and mind-objects. To be aware of one’s body, he or she tries to be aware of his or her body by meditating while controlling one’s breathing, being mindful of one’s posture, the parts of the body, bodily acts, and recognizes that at some point, they will die and the body will decay like all others do. To be aware of sensations, one must constantly be aware of what he or she is feeling and what kind of sensation they experience. To be aware of the mind, one must try to recognize his or changes in feelings and be in control of his or her feelings and mental states. To be aware of the mind-objects, one must always try to be aware of the five Hindrances, the five Skandhas, the six-sense bases, the seven factors of enlightenment and the four noble truths. The five hindrances are lust, anger, sloth, restlessness and doubts and one must try to always be aware of when he or she has or does not have these. Skandhas are groups of existence and they are materiality, sensation, perception, moods, and thoughts. The seven factors of enlightenment are mindfulness, investigation of the “law”, energy, enthusiasm, tranquility, concentration, and equanimity. One must try to recognize when these qualities are within him or her and if they are not, one must try to bring about these qualities and develop them.

3. Description of Nirvana

There are five qualities of Nirvana that help describe it, although it is impossible to truly describe Nirvana. The first quality of Nirvana is that it is the end of Karma and therefore the end of rebirth and attachment to the physical world or craving. The second quality is that in Nirvana the three poisons (greed, hate, and delusion) do not exist. Also, there is no such thing as death or aging in Nirvana and one’s heart is delivered to Nirvana to be in bliss. It is also emphasized that Nirvana is real and is a tangible state of existence.

4. Description of Arahat

An Arahat is an individual who has followed the four noble truths and the eightfold path and has reached enlightenment and Nirvana. An Arahat is different from a Buddha because a Buddha is someone who is considered to have reached Nirvana without outside aid or information. An Arahat is someone who does not have any more spiritual progress to make and are happy because they have detached themselves from craving.

Mahayana Buddhism

1. Emptiness

In Mahayana Buddhism, the concept of Anatta is emphasized a lot and it is believed that things are empty, including the Buddha and his teachings. Therefore, the only thing that is permanent is the emptiness in the world. Mahayana Buddhists believe that even Nirvana is empty and that the emptiness of the world should be embraced and that people should try to recognize it as much as possible. They believe that we are all already enlightened, therefore there is no problem and no solution in life because we are all already enlightened.

2. The ideal Bodhisattva

A Bodhisattva is someone who has reached enlightenment but does not move onto Nirvana in order to help others reach enlightenment. Through this process, a Bodhisattva eventually realizes that because we are all born enlightened, there is no one to help. A Bodhisattva is also someone who’s compassion for humanity causes them to make this decision, instead of wanting to be remembered as a Bodhisattva or enlightened one. A Bodhisattva also tries to display their enlightened state to others and “radiate” their enlightenment in order to help lead others toward Nirvana.

3. Devotional Buddhism

Mahayana Buddhists created new scriptures when it was developed that provide a way for people to be devotional within their practice of Buddhism. The scriptures allow Buddhists to call on Bodhisattvas and Buddhas for guidance in the journey, and they do this through devotion like prayer or meditation. There are many texts on the greatness of the Buddha and how he has allowed all being to reach salvation and this is a reward for devoting oneself to the different Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. One of these Buddhas is Amitabha, who resides in a pure world that humans can go to after death in order to reach enlightenment more easily. The Lotus Sutra is also a prominent part of this scripture as it portrays the Buddha as a savior and someone who has come to help humanity and that we should devote ourselves to him because this will lead to our salvation.

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