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a few basics

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  • Oelund Fairking
    I culled this from a Buddhist pamplet; I think it fairly represents the view of the greater vehicle schools. I will this weekend try to sit and write about my
    Message 1 of 4 , Nov 3, 2003
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      I culled this from a Buddhist pamplet; I think it fairly represents
      the view of the greater vehicle schools. I will this weekend try to
      sit and write about my own path in the Pure land, for your
      information. I know on this forum are those from the Kargyu lineage,
      the Gelupga, which is the lineage of the Dali Lama; we have zen and a
      few that are mix and match-as I am wont to do as I do mix practices
      and with Axel have practiced shaman magic and Native American magic,
      and as my best friend was a pagan priest and many times went to
      Beltane and Shamhain ceremonies-so there is a great welth of means
      not only for contemorary survival but to arrive at essential
      realization. I would love to hear from other member dilineating their
      belifs, not for critique but just understand the various means from
      point A to point B that people use. Anyway, here are some basics:

      The Basic Teaching of the Buddha

      Buddhism recognises no creeds whose uncritical acceptance is expected
      of its followers. Instead the Buddha enunciated certain basic laws
      and truths whose veracity he invited his followers to test for
      themselves. One of the traditional epithets of the Dhamma
      is "ehipassiko" (meaning literally "come and see") which is an appeal
      to the empirical verification of the Dhamma.

      In his very first discourse the Buddha identified Four Noble Truths
      as forming the core of the Dhamma. These four Truths have since
      become a convenient way of stating the fundamentals of the Dhamma.
      They are often regarded as the most basic teaching of the Buddha. The
      Buddha also identified three fundamental characteristics (tilakkhana)
      of the Dhamma. These basic tenets the Buddha presented in several
      ways. Two such presentations have become well known. These are the
      Three Signata (tilakkhana), perhaps better rendered as the three
      basic laws, and the Four Noble Truths. The acceptance of the validity
      of these laws and truths, if only in the first instance as a working
      hypothesis, is the sin qua non of a Buddhist. In addition the Buddha
      proclaimed several other doctrines, the most important being those of
      karma and re-birth. The validity of such doctrines is more difficult
      for an ordinary person to verify, but their dogmatic acceptance is
      not expected as a fundamental requirement of those who go for refuge
      to the "Three Gems" of Buddhism (12).

      The three signata and the four truths form the core of the Dhamma.
      They are at the same time both alternatives and complements to each
      other. It may however be appropriate to consider them separately.

      The Three Fundamental Laws of the Buddha

      The three signata refer to the three essential marks or
      characteristics of all "compounded" things, animate or inanimate,
      microscopic or macroscopic. Because of the universality of their
      applicability they could be considered as having the force of
      universal laws. These characteristics are impermanence (anicca),
      unsatisfactoriness (dukkha), and insubstantiality (anatta). As these
      translations of the basic Pâli terms are only approximate, a further
      elaboration of these basic concepts of the Dhamma is necessary.

      (1) Anicca. The law of impermanence asserts that all phenomena are
      subject to constant change, to rise and fall, and no permanent
      states, either physical or animate, exists. The dynamic nature of
      phenomena is today a commonplace of science. But until quite recently
      many physical features of the universe were considered immutable, and
      in the human plane the belief in enduring states or characteristics
      is still an article of faith in many religious systems. The law of
      anicca establishes impermanence as the basic universal law.

      (2) Dukkha. The law of dukkha states that all complexes of phenomena,
      are in the final analysis unsatisfactory. It means that no compounded
      thing or state could be considered as a universal norm of goodness or
      beauty. It imparts the normative dimension into the consideration of
      objective reality which is the hallmark of the Dhamma. The law of
      dukkha is usually considered in relation to the human situation, and
      here unsatisfactoriness manifests itself as "suffering", which is the
      popular rendition of the term. It is in this sense that it
      constitutes the first of the four Noble Truths.

      (3) Anatta. The third law states that there is no permanent
      essence, "self", ego, or soul in phenomena. The term originates as
      the negation of the concept of atta (âtman) which was the equivalent
      in the old Brahmanical religion of the Buddha's day to what other
      religions have called the "soul". The Buddha advanced psycho-physical
      explanation of the individual which leaves no room for a soul. The
      Buddha recognised that the delusion of self or ego was one of the
      most powerful of human instincts, and at the same time one of the
      most potent sources of ignorance and wrong action. In applying the
      anatta doctrine to the phenomena of the external world some care mush
      be exercised. Early Buddhism did not deny the reality of the external
      world. It argued that the phenomena of the external world could be
      broken down into its constituent components, and that nothing else
      other than these components existed. It was only in this sense that
      the phenomena of the external world were declared to be empty
      (suñña). Some schools of Mahayâna Buddhism have taken the doctrine of
      emptiness (suññâtâ) to imply a denial of the reality of the external
      world. This interpretation is foreign to early Buddhism. Early
      Buddhism only asserts that there is no fixed essence or being in
      phenomena, but only a process of becoming (bhâva).

      The Four Noble Truths

      The four noble truths result from the application of the three basic
      laws to the human condition. The Buddha frequently asserted that he
      was interested in the problem of the alleviation of human
      suffering: "Only one thing do I teach, suffering, and how to end it".
      His approach to the problem of suffering was similar to that of the
      physician to his patient. He first diagnoses the malady, then seeks
      the cause of the malady, next finds out whether a cure is possible.
      Finally he prescribes the medicine. The four truths correspond to the
      four steps of this diagnostic-curative procedure.

      (1) The Truth of Suffering.

      This truth affirms that the law of dukkha is applicable to the human
      condition:

      "Birth is suffering, decay is suffering, death is suffering; sorrow,
      lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are suffering. To be separated
      from the pleasant is suffering; to be in contact with the unpleasant
      is suffering; in short the five aggregates of existence connected
      with attachment are all suffering".

      The validity of the truth of suffering need not be belaboured here;
      it is essentially a matter for personal verification. The truth of
      dukkha refers not to the on-existence of the pleasurable and the
      joyful, but to the very incompleteness and finitude of that
      enjoyment. The imputation of pessimism sometimes made of early
      Buddhism is without foundation; suffering in the Buddhist sense
      encompasses what is usually termed "evil" in other religo-
      philosophical systems, and the existence of evil, caused either by
      chance events or by deliberate ill-will is not seriously denied.

      (2) The Truth of the Cause of Suffering.

      The proximate cause of suffering is craving (tanhâ), but the root
      cause of ignorance (avijjâ). The objects of craving are manifold:
      sensual pleasure, material possessions, glory, power, fame, ego,
      craving for re-birth, even craving for nibbâna (nirvâna). There are
      various degrees of craving from a mild wish to an acute grasping
      (upâdâna). Craving is the proximate cause of suffering and is itself
      caused by other conditioning factors. The full formula of causation
      is contained in the Buddhist formula of dependent origination, where
      the causes for existence and suffering are traced back through a
      chain of twelve links, back to ignorance.

      (3) The Truth of the Cessation of Suffering.

      This growth constitutes the "good news" of Buddhism. The cause of
      suffering could be counteracted. This truth affirms that a way out of
      suffering exists, which if followed will lead the individual to a
      state of non-suffering called nibbâna, perhaps better known by the
      Sanskrit form of the term, Nirvâna. If the first truth could be
      considered to have a taint of "pessimism", this truth has the full
      flavour of "optimism".

      (4) The Truth of the Path to Enlightenment.

      The Buddhist path to enlightenment is that discovered by the Buddha
      through his own personal effort and practice. It has been called the
      Middle Path (majjima paipadâ) because it is a via media between the
      extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification. Both extremes of
      practice were common in the Buddha's day (as indeed they are in out
      own). The Buddha calls such extremes vain, profitless and ignoble.
      The path of the Buddha avoids two kinds of activity usually
      considered essential for salvation by many religious systems. These
      are: (1) prayer to supra human powers and agencies, and (2) elaborate
      rites and rituals. On the contrary these are considered as being
      positive impediments on the path to the cessation of suffering and
      the gaining of insight and wisdom.

      While the Four Noble Truths and the Three Laws of Existence contain
      the kernel of the Buddha's teaching, and were proclaimed by the
      Buddha in his very first discourse, there are many other doctrines
      that are central to a philosophical system which is as deep as that
      of Buddhism. A few of these aspects of the teaching will be mentioned
      here and a few of these will be considered in detail elsewhere.

      The Goal of Buddhism and the Meaning of Life

      The Buddhist goal is the achievement of human perfection, which
      should be the real purpose of life. It is in this sense that life has
      meaning, and which should inform the most salient aspects of human
      activity. A person who has made good progress along the Buddhist path
      would have reached a high degree of happiness, contentment and
      freedom from fear. Sometimes material affluence is seen as the goal
      of many persons, but these do not necessarily bring about the
      happiness which the Buddha sought to promote.

      Many religions look upon the present life as a ground for laying the
      foundation in a future life after physical death. Some Buddhists also
      adopt this attitude and try to secure a good rebirth or even Nibbâna
      without residue. Exhortations from the Buddha could be produced to
      this effect. But the Buddha also affirms that we must make use of the
      present life, of which we are sure, and that the pursuit of the Noble
      Eightfold Path is the best way of doing so regardless of any
      consequences that may happen after death.

      The Theory of Causality

      One of the central doctrines of Buddhism is that all phenomena owe
      their origin and existence to pre-conditioning factors. Everything is
      the result of a some cause or other working on the thing concerned.
      This is a view that is also shared by modern science, for without the
      operation of systematic causes much of the achievement of modern
      science may not be possible. But whereas science generally restricts
      this principle to physical phenomena and events, in Buddhism the
      theory of causation considers causation as a central characteristic
      of all phenomena, even non-physical ones which do not form the
      subject matter of scientific enquiry.

      The Buddhist theory of causation should be distinguished from the
      theory of the "First Cause" which is often used by theists to prove
      the existence of God. The theory of the first cause asserts that
      since God is identified as the first cause (all others
      being "created" by God) there is no need to explain the existence of
      God. Buddhism does not agree with this position and considers it as
      another instance of sophistry ("eel-wriggling") to which theists
      resort to sustain their absurd views. (13)

      The Doctrine of Dependent Origination

      This is one of the cardinal discoveries of the Buddha during his
      enlightenment. It is presented as a list of twelve bases which are
      causally linked to each other. Since the links from a closed circle
      we can break into the chain at any point. The order in the
      traditional list is as follows: (1) Ignorance, (2) Volitional
      formations (sankhâra), (3) consciousness, (4) mind-and-form, (5)
      sense-bases, (6) contact, (7) feeling, (8) craving, (9) clinging,
      (10) becoming, (11) birth, (12) old-age-and-death.

      There are various ways of interpreting this chain, but we shall not
      deal with them here. The traditional interpretation of this is that
      it represents three phases often interpreted as lifetimes. The first
      phase (the past) is comprised of links 1 and 2; the second (the
      present) of links 3 to 10, and the third (the future) of links 11 and
      12. In the ongoing process what if the present becomes and past and
      what is the future becomes the present. A detailed explication of
      this famous formula is not attempted here.

      Emptiness and non-Self

      The doctrine of "emptiness" (unyâtâ) is more associated with Mahayana
      than with Theravada. If it represents another term for the anatta
      doctrine described earlier it presents no new problem. However some
      Mahayana interpretations tend towards philosophical idealism and
      towards the Hindu notion that the world is an illusion (mâyâ) but
      such an interpretation cannot be entertained by Basic Buddhism.

      Humanism and Rationalism

      Basic Buddhism has some affinity with Western notions of humanism and
      rationalism. However these terms are used in a variety of contexts,
      with humanism associated with theistic notions on the one hand and
      extreme secular-materialist notions on the other. But if humanism
      means what it should mean, that is the primacy of the human as
      against the Divine, then it conforms to the Buddhist approach.

      With rationalism as the application of reason and the scientific
      method to investigation there is much in common. One of the basic
      sutta of the Buddha, the Kâlâma Sutta given in the Anguttara Nikâya
      is rightly regarded as the Buddhist charter for free inquiry.Go to
      Contents


      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      ----------

      CHAPTER 4

      The Buddhist Path

      The Buddha's path of practice is called the Noble Eightfold path. The
      eight components of this path, as presented in traditional order,
      could be briefly described as follows:

      1. Right View (Understanding).

      This is the right way of interpreting and viewing the world. It
      involves the realisation of the three signata in all phenomena, and
      of the Four Noble Truths as being applicable to the human condition.
      More generally it involves the abandonment of all dogmatically held
      wrong views.

      2. Right Intention (Thought).

      The Buddha argued that all human thought and action spring from
      basic "intentions", "dispositions", or "roots", which are capable of
      deliberate cultivation, training and control. The three roots of
      wrong, unwholesome or "unskilful" action are: Greed, Aversion and
      Delusion. The right intention which the Buddhist path requires, is an
      intention which is free from these roots. The Buddha called the
      intention "that is free from greed and lust, free from ill-will, free
      from cruelty".

      3. Right Speech.

      Since speech is the most powerful means of communication, the Buddha
      emphasises the cultivation of right modes of speech. These have been
      described as avoiding falsehood and adhering to the truth; abstaining
      from tale-bearing and instead promoting harmony; refraining from
      harsh language and cultivating gentle and courteous speech; avoiding
      vain, irresponsible and foolish talk, and speaking in reasoned terms
      on subjects of value. Naturally right speech includes in the modern
      context right ways of communication whatever the medium used.

      4. Right Action.

      This refers to wilful acts done by a person, whether by body or mind.
      Under the former it involves such forms of ethical conduct as not
      killing (or harming) living beings, theft, sexual wrong-doing, etc.
      (14) On the positive side right action, also called wholesome deeds
      (kusalakamma), involves acts of loving-kindness (mettâ), compassion
      (karunâ), sympathetic joy (mudita), generosity (câga), etc.

      5. Right Livelihood.

      This involves not choosing an occupation that brings suffering to
      others, e.g. trading in living beings (including humans), arms,
      drugs, poisons, etc.; slaughtering, fishing, soldiering, sooth-
      saying, trickery, usury, etc. This provides the economic blueprint
      for a truly Buddhist society.

      6. Right Effort.

      This has been described as "the effort of avoiding or overcoming evil
      and unwholesome things, and of developing and maintaining wholesome
      things" (Ñyânâtiloka). Right effort enables an individual to
      cultivate the right frame of mind in order to accomplish the ethical
      requirements under right speech, right action and right livelihood.
      It is generally presented as a factor of mental training, enabling
      individuals to develop the sublime states of loving-kindness (mettâ)
      compassion (karunâ), sympathetic joy (mudita), and equanimity
      (upekkha). However it has a general applicability and the effort
      could be directed to all wholesome activities.

      7. Right Mindfulness.

      This is the basic Buddhist technique of cultivating awareness. The
      classic sutta on the subject is the satipahâna sutta which will be
      considered briefly in the next chapter. Although viewed as a
      meditation component in fact right awareness has a wider
      applicability.

      8. Right Concentration.

      This is the concentration of mind associated with wholesome
      consciousness which could be achieved through the systematic
      cultivation of meditation. Progress along this line is indicated by
      the achievement of the different levels of "absorption" (jhânas). (15)

      Of these eight components of the Path, the first two have usually
      been grouped under wisdom (paññâ), the next three under morality
      (sîla), and the last three under mental development (bhâvanâ). This
      classification is not quite satisfactory, but it does present a broad
      grouping that is useful in many contexts.

      The first of these components (right view) is generally considered
      the most important, but there is no particular order of importance
      when it comes to the others. However different traditions and
      exponents have put different degrees of stress on the different
      components. It will be seen that there is no single component of the
      path that can be called "meditation". However in course of time the
      component of mental development came to be regarded as meditation.
    • Karen
      Oelund, Thank you for that wonderful explantation of Buddhism basics. Although I have read such things elsewhere, this was a clear and concise rendering of
      Message 2 of 4 , Nov 4, 2003
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        Oelund,
         
        Thank you for that wonderful explantation of Buddhism basics.  Although I have read such things elsewhere, this was a clear and concise  rendering of the basics.  I find that every time I re-read the basics, they make more sense and I can see new ways to apply them. 
         
        Also, your explanation of the different schools of Buddhism was much appreciated.  I never new what the difference was.  My draw has always been to the Tibetan mostly because of the Dalai Lama.  I have enormous respect for the man as most have.  I could give you no other explanation, but it also seems that the books I buy are Tibetan although I do not specifically look for Tibetan Buddhist books.  To me, this is a synchronicity I can not ignore.  I now know why.  I am very adept at visualization and chanting.  Being Wiccan for the last 20 or so years has taught me to do these things.  They are part and parcel of Wiccan practice.  Most Wiccan style meditation involves visualization and chants are used to enter a trance state where one can find answers and guidance.  I find though that this style of meditation is somewhat limiting.  One needs to have a destination or purpose to the meditation, and frankly, I do not always want to go somewhere.  Sometimes, I just want to be.  I find Buddhist style meditation fits this better.  I use a focal point and the six syllable mantra when I meditate.  This combined practice seems the best for me.  I have actually been able to still my mind for brief periods.  No small task for a verbal person. 
         
        So, again thank you for the wonderful information.

        Namaste'
        Karen (ladyfire5)


        "Existence needs you. Without you something will be missing in existence and nobody can replace it."  Osho


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      • Oelund Fairking
        OOOH boy, where to start? What s prompting me is the fact you were involved in Wicca for 20 years, and I would venture you picked up a bit of knowlege in that
        Message 3 of 4 , Nov 4, 2003
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          OOOH boy, where to start? What's prompting me is the fact you were
          involved in Wicca for 20 years, and I would venture you picked up a
          bit of knowlege in that time concerning the spirit world, of ghosts
          and such. First the general question: in anyone's reading, has
          anyone came across any references in buddhism concering the phenomena
          of ghosts, besides of course the tradition of the hungry ghosts
          (maybe this also fits, I don't know}? For the most part it seems
          Buddhism doesn't address these things, possibly considering them a
          distraction from its primary goal, but I cannot help to be curious
          about them, and perhaps at times it is necessary to appeal to other
          traditions to fill in some of the gaps. Besides this being the
          season, the other reason that brings it to mind of late is the return
          of Diego, our little pooch that was ran over by a car and killed
          several months ago. I was watching tv a few weekends ago and felt the
          dog next to me where he always lay. Thinking nothing of it I reached
          over pet pet him as I was always wont to do, to of course find no dog
          there, but the feeling of his presence next to me was too compelling
          to dimiss as wishful thinking. My mate feels Diego when walking the
          other dogs. A friend who went walking with us kept hearing the
          tinkling like the sound of dog tags rattling on a collar, as if a dog
          was trotting immedietly behind, and a few days later her four-year-
          old not only heard but saw a "little brown and white doggie", which
          describes Diego. I have no explaination as to why this would be
          happening and am wondering if you would venture a guess.

          Drudche







          --- In Buddhism_101@yahoogroups.com, Karen <ladyfire5@y...> wrote:
          > Oelund,
          >
          > Thank you for that wonderful explantation of Buddhism basics.
          Although I have read such things elsewhere, this was a clear and
          concise rendering of the basics. I find that every time I re-read
          the basics, they make more sense and I can see new ways to apply
          them.
          >
          > Also, your explanation of the different schools of Buddhism was
          much appreciated. I never new what the difference was. My draw has
          always been to the Tibetan mostly because of the Dalai Lama. I have
          enormous respect for the man as most have. I could give you no other
          explanation, but it also seems that the books I buy are Tibetan
          although I do not specifically look for Tibetan Buddhist books. To
          me, this is a synchronicity I can not ignore. I now know why. I am
          very adept at visualization and chanting. Being Wiccan for the last
          20 or so years has taught me to do these things. They are part and
          parcel of Wiccan practice. Most Wiccan style meditation involves
          visualization and chants are used to enter a trance state where one
          can find answers and guidance. I find though that this style of
          meditation is somewhat limiting. One needs to have a destination or
          purpose to the meditation, and frankly, I do not always want to go
          somewhere. Sometimes, I just want to be. I find
          > Buddhist style meditation fits this better. I use a focal point
          and the six syllable mantra when I meditate. This combined practice
          seems the best for me. I have actually been able to still my mind
          for brief periods. No small task for a verbal person.
          >
          > So, again thank you for the wonderful information.
          >
          > Namaste'
          > Karen (ladyfire5)
          >
          >
          >
          > "Existence needs you. Without you something will be missing in
          existence and nobody can replace it." Osho
          >
          >
          > ---------------------------------
          > Do you Yahoo!?
          > Protect your identity with Yahoo! Mail AddressGuard
        • Karen
          Oelund, I emailed a response to you off list. It is under the email listed above or it may come up as Karen. Namaste Karen Existence needs you. Without you
          Message 4 of 4 , Nov 5, 2003
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            Oelund,
             
            I emailed a response to you off list.  It is under the email listed above or it may come up as Karen.
             
            Namaste'
            Karen


            "Existence needs you. Without you something will be missing in existence and nobody can replace it."  Osho


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