User24 The word 'Buddha' is a title and not a name. It means 'one who is awake' in the sense of having 'woken up to reality'. It was first given to a man who was born as Siddhartha Gautama in Nepal 2,500 years ago. Scholars now place the date of his birth around 480BCE (BC). He did not claim to be a God and he has never been regarded as such by Buddhists. He was a human being who became Enlightened, understanding life in the deepest way possible.

Siddharta was born into the royal family of a small kingdom on the Indian-Nepalese border. According to the traditional story he had a cloistered upbringing, but was jolted out of complacency on understanding that life includes the harsh facts of old age, sickness, and death.

He left home to follow the traditional Indian path of the wandering holy man, a seeker after Truth. He practised meditation under various teachers and then took to asceticism. Eventually he practised austerities so severe that he was on the point of death - but true understanding seemed as far away as ever. He decided to abandon this path and to look into his own heart and mind. He sat down beneath the pipal tree and vowed that 'flesh may wither, blood may dry up, but I shall not rise from this spot until Enlightenment has been won.' After forty days, the Buddha finally attained Enlightenment.

Buddhists believe he attained a state of being that goes beyond anything else in the world. If normal experience is based on conditions - upbringing, psychology, opinions, perceptions, and so on - Enlightenment is Unconditioned. It was a state in which the Buddha gained Insight into the deepest workings of life and therefore into the cause of human suffering, the problem that had set him on his spiritual quest in the first place.

During the remaining 45 years of his life he travelled through much of northern India, spreading his teaching of the way to Enlightenment. The teaching is known in the East as the Buddha-dharma - 'the teaching of the Enlightened One'. Travelling from place to place, the Buddha taught numerous disciples, many of whom gained Enlightenment in their own right. They, in turn, taught others and in this way an unbroken chain of teaching has continued, right down to the present day.

The Buddha was not a God and he made no claim to divinity. He was a human being who, through tremendous efforts, transformed himself. Buddhists see him as an ideal and a guide who can lead one to Enlightenment oneself.

What Happened After the Buddha's Death?

Buddhism died out in India a thousand years ago (though it has recently revived). It spread south to Sri Lanka and South East Asia, where the Theravadin form of Buddhism continues to flourish, and north to Tibet, China, Mongolia, and Japan. The Mahayana forms of Buddhism are still practiced in these countries, although in the last century they have suffered greatly from the effects of communism and consumerism. In the last century Buddhism has emphatically arrived in the West, and hundreds of thousands of westerners have become Buddhists.

Soon after his Enlightenment the Buddha had a vision in which he saw the human race as a bed of lotus flowers. Some of the lotuses were still enmired in the mud, others were just emerging from it, and others again were on the point of blooming. In other words, all people had the ability to unfold their potential and some needed just a little help to do so. So the Buddha decided to teach, and all of the teachings of Buddhism may be seen as attempts to fulfil this vision - to help people grow towards Enlightenment.

Buddhism sees life as a process of constant change, and its practices aim to take advantage of this fact. It means that one can change for the better. The decisive factor in changing oneself is the mind, and Buddhism has developed many methods for working on the mind. Most importantly, Buddhists practise meditation, which is a way of developing more positive states of mind that are characterised by calm, concentration, awareness, and emotions such as friendliness. Using the awareness developed in meditation it is possible to have a fuller understanding of oneself, other people, and of life itself. Buddhists do not seek to 'evangelise' or coerce other people to adopt their religion, but they do seek to make its teachings available to whoever is interested, and people are free to take as much or as little as they feel ready for.

The Four Aryan (or Noble) Truths are perhaps the most basic formulation of the Buddha's teaching. They are expressed as follows:

1. All existence is dukkha. This word has been variously translated as 'suffering', 'anguish', 'pain', or 'unsatisfactoriness'. The Buddha's insight was that our lives are a struggle, and we do not find ultimate happiness or satisfaction in anything we experience. This is the problem of existence.

2. The cause of dukkha is craving. The natural human tendency is to blame our difficulties on things outside ourselves. But the Buddha says that their actual root is to be found in the mind itself. In particular our tendency to grasp at things (or alternatively to push them away) places us fundamentally at odds with the way life really is.

3. The cessation of dukkha comes with the cessation of craving. As we are the ultimate cause of our difficulties, we are also the solution. We cannot change the things that happen to us, but we can change our responses.

4. There is a path that leads from dukkha. Although the Buddha throws responsibility back on to the individual he also taught methods through which we can change ourselves. One formulation of these methods is known as the Noble Eightfold Path of right view, aspiration, action, speech, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and meditation.

Another formulation of the path is the Threefold Way of ethics, meditation, and wisdom. This is a progressive path, as ethics and a clear conscience provides an indispensable basis for meditation, and meditation is the ground on which wisdom can develop.

To live is to act, and our actions can have either harmful or beneficial consequences for ourselves and others. Buddhist ethics is concerned with the principles and practices that help one to act in ways that help rather than harm.

The core ethical code is known as the five precepts. These are not rules or commandments, but 'principles of training', which are undertaken freely and put into practice with intelligence and sensitivity. The Buddhist tradition acknowledges that life is complex and throws up many difficulties, and it does not suggest that there is a single course of action that will be right in all circumstances. Indeed, rather than speaking of actions being right or wrong, Buddhism speaks of the being skilful (kusala) or unskilful (akusala).The Five Precepts are as follows:

1. Not killing or causing harm to other living beings. This is the fundamental ethical principle for Buddhism, and all the other precepts are elaborations of this. The precept implies acting non-violently wherever possible, and many Buddhists are vegetarian for this reason. The positive counterpart of this precept is love.

2. Not taking the not-given. Stealing is an obvious way in which one can harm others. One can also take advantage of people, exploit them or manipulate them - all these can be seen as ways of taking the not-given. The positive counterpart of this precept is generosity.

3. Avoiding sexual misconduct. This precept has been interpreted in many ways over time, but essentially it means not causing harm to oneself or others in the area of sexual activity. The positive counterpart of this precept is contentment.

4. Avoiding false speech. Speech is the crucial element in our relations with others, and yet language is a slippery medium, and we often deceive ourselves or others without even realising that this is what we are doing. Truthfulness, the positive counterpart of this precept, is therefore essential in an ethical life. But truthfulness is not enough, and in another list of precepts (the ten precepts or the ten kusala dharmas) no fewer than four speech precepts are mentioned, the others enjoining that our speech should be kindly, helpful, and harmonious.

5. Abstaining from drink and drugs that cloud the mind. The positive counterpart of this precept is mindfulness, or awareness. Mindfulness is a fundamental quality to be developed the Buddha's path, and experience shows that taking intoxicating drink or drugs tends to run directly counter to this.

Many Buddhists around the world recite the five precepts every day, and try to put them into practice in their lives.

What Is Meditation?

The aim of all Buddhist practices, including meditation, is prajna, or wisdom. The Buddha taught that the fundamental cause of human difficulties is our existential ignorance - our failure to understand the true nature of reality and wisdom is the opposite of this.

To start with, we simply need to hear the teachings that indicate the Buddhist vision of life. Then we need to reflect on them and make sense of them in relation to our own experience. But prajna proper means developing our own direct understanding of the truth. It is not enough to know the Buddha's philosophy, or even to have a good understanding of it. The ultimate aim is to realise the truth for oneself and to be transformed by that realisation.

The Buddha taught that life - everything we experience - has three characteristics. He called these the three marks of conditioned existence. Firstly he said that all life is dukkha, or unsatisfactory. He also said that it is impermanent. Everything in the universe, including ourselves and the thoughts that make up our minds, is in a constant process of change. And yet we act as if the world around us is predictable and stable, and we live our lives as if death were not a certainty. Buddhists reflect on the fact of impermanence, and try to live with this understanding. Thirdly, wherever we may look in life for something something solid and unchanging, we only find flux. So he said that all existence is anatta or insubstantial. There is no fixed, abiding essence to things, and no eternal soul within human beings.

A person who is wise in the Buddhist sense will naturally see life in terms of these qualities or marks, and prajna means setting aside the pleasing illusions that we adopt to make life comfortable, and to live more and more on the basis of these truths. A full comprehension that nothing lasts, or has anyfixed substance, has an utterly transformative effect. This also means that everything in life is interconnected: no individual is entirely separate from other individuals, and humanity is not separate from the world it inhabits. From this naturally arises compassion, or universal loving-kindness, which is the counterpart of wisdom.

The Buddha advised his followers that if they were to thrive they shouldmeet together regularly and in large numbers.’ So festivals are central to the life of the Buddhist community. They provide an opportunity for celebration and the expression of devotion and gratitude to the Buddha and his teachings.
The principal Buddhist festivals celebratethe Three Jewels’, the Buddha, the Dharma (the Buddhist Teaching), and the Sangha (the spiritual community).

Wesak: The Celebration of the Buddha's Enlightenment

The Full Moon of May/June

The Buddha's Enlightenment is the central event in Buddhism, and Wesak, the celebration of that Enlightenment, is the most important festival of the Buddhist year.

Many of the Buddha's disciples also attained Enlightenment, and in the centuries that have followed there have been many other Enlightened masters. They too are recalled at Wesak with readings of accounts of their lives or from works they wrote themselves.

But Enlightenment is also an ideal to which all Buddhists aspire. So Wesak is a chance to reflect on what it might mean for individual Buddhists.

Dharma Day: the Celebration of the Buddha's Teaching

The Full Moon of July

Soon after his Enlightenment the Buddha rose from where he had been sitting, went to find his former disciples and shared his experience with them. This event, which happened at a place called Sarnath in northern India, might be called the start of the Buddhist religion and it is this that Dharma Day celebrates. On Dharma day there are often readings from the Buddhist scriptures and a chance to reflect deeply on their contents. Above all, on Dharma day Buddhists feel profoundly grateful that the Buddha and other Enlightened masters did share their teachings with other people.

Sangha Day: the Celebration of Spiritual Community

The Full Moon of November

On Sangha Day Buddhists celebrate both the ideal of creating a spiritual community, and also the actual spiritual community which they are trying to create. Sangha Day is a traditional time for exchange of gifts; it has become a prominent festival among Western Buddhists even though it is little known in the East.

Paranirvana Day: the Death of the Buddha

The Full Moon of February

Strange as it may seem, Buddhists celebrate the death of the Buddha. His death came when he was eighty years old and had spent some forty years teaching after his Enlightenment. What is more, the notion that all things are impermanent is central to Buddhist teaching and, for Buddhists, loss and impermanence are things to be accepted rather than causes of pain and grief. The Paranibbana Sutta gives a moving and dignified account of the Buddha's last days and passages from it are often read on Paranirvana Day. .

The day is used as an opportunity to reflect on the fact of one's own future death and on people whom one has known who have recently died. Meditations are done for the recently deceased to give them help and support wherever they might be now.
kx21 Anybody who has achieved a state of Perfect Enlightenment / Supreme_Enlightenment... 010820
kx21 Anybody who has practiced & mastered
buttheadsattva on_things_that_suck 010820
the tao of beavis on_stuff_that_sucks 010820
User24 to clarify: the words above are not mine, I copied them from a website. 030602
calum sanctimonious enlightened conflict avoider. 030729
never_is_always here's a mind boggler: buddha's (according to buddhism) don't exist... 040403
thieums You do not understand the principle of illusion. Buddha exists, but is different for each of us.

This is what means "everything is illusion", that buddhists say. It does not mean nothing exists, it means that everyone looks at things in a different way.

Things have a reality, but us humans cannot see it, we see what we sense and analyse with our brain. Being aware that we *make* illusions (or, more preciesly, that we project on reality our vision of existence) is a step made towards enlightenment.
kx21 *iLink- annutara_samyak_sambodhi * 040520
hsg empty open into any dream 040917
a "Point" M_'salvager'_of_New_Orleans_for_Ivan 040917
. The_Buddha's_majestic_power 040917
. a little golden statue

some people worship it.
fuffle me likes buddha 100%

me not quite 100% yet, but workin' on it.
i want to meet that man with the freckles cos he looks sweet and smiley.
tourist If You Find The Buddha
Kill Him.

Don't Let Anyone Interpet Reality
For You.

The True Tao Cannot Be Spoken

kung fu Pooh is the best

shut up you two faced lier, go to prison and learn from your mistakes.
Lemon_Soda Thankyou, U24 080513
Ryakoth Buddha has no desire, the key to ultimate power lies in having no power, those who have cannot use

the buddhic plane is a higher plane many think of as heaven, ultimate assimilation with the universe and the tree of life

I prefer to stay on the edge of such things and places, for to enter is to be without identity, but to stay away is to be immersed in a struggle without end, I try to find a path by which I do things without force, like jeet kune do or Taoism I become water, but water which is wheresoever i wish it to be, in this way more of a wind than a water, beholden to no limits, requiring no struggle, moving around all obstacles as if they were not there

realising the poison of desire yet realizing its necessity in nature
unhinged to be without identity is to know the_interconnectedness_of_all_things

letting_go of all barriers
letting_go of all aggression
letting_go of all suffering

i see the good in you
as the good in me
all over
unhinged im not awake
im clouded with anger
the moon is covered with dark clouds
and this finger is pointing at the clouds

a lowly person
can only take so much disrespect
at work
at home
before the light goes out

epitome of incomprehensibility One of the points written here - or something it reminded me of - caught my eye: that (emotional) suffering is our response to circumstances but is in ourselves, not outside us. Hence a cognitive therapy principle, years later: it's not the events themselves, but how we react to them...

...and this is partly right. I used to make fun of the psych 101 version: "say my parents died in a car crash, I'm in wheelchair, but hey, I can react like things are fine" - and, barring tragedies like that, depression and other causes for "unreasonable" reactions still exist...

but focusing on one's own suffering is selfish. And I am a hypocrite.

Today, reading Hannah Arendt (recommended by both profs.) and remembering my aunt asking me whether I had visited the Holocaust museum (my inner reaction: no no no no no) but avoiding history based on avoiding being miserable is pure selfishness. And, by God (or G-d (or the impersonal regulating forces of the universe as theorized by Buddhism (or the cosmic forces activated by the extensive use of parentheses)))) it's only a book. World War 2 won't repeat. War in general, on the other hand... the difficulty is how to contribute to peace in a real way.

(Which reminds me, irrelevantly, that Leonard Cohen and Philip Glass are both North American Jewish/Buddhist musicians - a weird show of collaborated particularity right there. They also collaborated on an album, which is cool.)
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