A Primer on Buddhism: Buddhist Basics

A Primer on Buddhism: Buddhist Basics

The balance between practicing Buddhism and dealing with your current position is a taxing problem. On one hand the situation may be really bad, on the other, really good. Therefore, a helpful paradigm is a plan to deal with any problem.

Some helpful things for all times: Read more

How does merit get transferred to next life

Topic:  How does merit get transferred to next life
Date: 5th January 2001

The logical question to ask with the awareness of death is: what kind of behavior is the most suitable when facing this inevitable death”.

In the daily life people buy insurance policies due to fear of disasters, dangers, calamities and losses etc.  Similarly, a wise person aware of death does meritorious deeds, and follow dhamma.  In Samyuttha Nikaya, Kosala Samyutta, “Simile of the Boulder” buddha shows that the path to follow when the inevitable happens is to lead a balanced life, follow the dhamma and to do meritorious deeds.

Meritorious deeds are those that suppresses or helps the mind be devoid the roots of defilement, i.e., greed, hatred and delusion.  Due to lack of exertion the mind always wonder alone, it thinks about past, or future. In absence of right effort the defiling conditions occur very often.  Therefore, a person will do meritorious deeds to purify the mind.

Who gets the benefit of the meritorious deeds if there is no ‘self’? Is the same person who does deeds will reap the benefits or is it another person who will reap the benefits?

Buddha did not fall into two extremes when explaining who reaps the benefits.  One extreme is to say “it is the same person who reaps the benefits”.  The other extreme is to say “it is another person who reaps the benefits”.  It is neither the same person nor a completely different person”.

Consider and infant growing up to be an old man.  An infant grows up to become a child who is not the same as the infant yet she is not completely different from the infant.  Similarly each stage is not completely different from the earlier stages and at the same time not the same as the earlier stages. It is a mental and biological process that continues. Therefore, meritorious deeds will bring benefits and happiness to the future continuing being of this process.

However, due to uncertainties in the cycles of existence in the future, it is wiser to seek Nirvana or enlightenment to end the birth, aging, sickness and death etc. The deeds that helps a person to attain Nirvana are called parami or the deeds done out of compassion (kindness) and wisdom.

Discussions on thoughts of detachments, factors leading to enlightenment, and compassion followed.

Awareness of Death

Topic:  Awareness of Death
Date: 29th December 2000

In the world there are many beliefs, rituals and practices associated with death and there are many mysteries, myths and stories centered around the phenomena of death.  We use the word death often in our daily lives.  If our car does not start we’d say the battery is dead.  The human body is like a car, when it has energy it moves around and stops running when the necessary factors, such as engine, electrical and mechanical components, malfunction.  We call the human body when it is out of life. It becomes out of life when it becomes unsuitable for the mind to dwell in.  Fundamentally, death occurs due to one of the four reason: (i) termination of Karma (Kammakhaya), (ii) end of life span – Ayu (end of strength due to genetics), (iii) end of both Karma and Ayu (iv) opposing Karma – sudden or untimely death (Akalmarana).

Buddha always advised his disciples to be aware of death.  Awareness of death brings about clarity of mind and alertness.  A person practicing awareness of death fulfills her/his duties without delay, and does not quarrel with others.  When reflecting upon death a person should not recollect the death of loved ones because that brings up sorrow.  On the other hand reflection of death is not thinking about ones own death specifically because that could Read more

Knowing, Understanding and Realization

Knowing, Understanding and Realization

In this age of knowledge, we come across an abundance of knowledge.  We create knowledge and abandon knowledge when someone creates or finds new knowledge.  Consider the knowledge about food we eat.  Few decades ago, based on the then prevailing knowledge, US government constructed a food pyramid.  Recently, after researchers generated new knowledge regarding the foods, and their nutritional values, the previous food pyramid changed because the new knowledge caused abandonment of some of the previous knowledge.  We can find these shifts in knowledge in all areas such as medicine, psychology, physics, and chemistry (to name a few).   Buddha Dhamma is going beyond mere knowledge. To gain benefits from this Dhamma just knowing is inadequate.  Just knowing the dependent-origination or four Noble Truths is inadequate.  It is necessary to understand it and then it is necessary to achieve a realization.

Buddha Dhamma or Buddha’s teachings have survived through thousands of years due to inherent truths that reveals the true nature of existences and the world.  The essence of the Buddha’s teachings is in the Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble Truths are truths because they are applicable to everyone, everywhere and at any time.  One can claim about possessing the knowledge of these Four Noble Truths by reading Dhamma books and remembering them.   However, in order to make best use of these truths, it is necessary to go beyond the preliminary knowledge or knowledge stage.  There are four different aspects of ‘behaviors’ (psychological and physical) associated with each four. The first Noble Truth must be insight-fully understood.  The second Noble Truth or the cause must be done away withThe third Noble Truth must be realized.  The fourth Noble Truth must be developed (or cultivated through practice).

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