This book is about the practical non-theistic teachings of Buddhism. You may wonder, ‘Of what relevance to modern society does Buddhism hold?’ The answer is that there is still suffering, or the lack of lasting satisfaction. The wisdom of Buddha lies in understanding the general principles of how things work and the path out of our suffering.
- In Buddhism, the teacher does not seek the student
- Buddhism attempts to teach you everything within the realm of experience, everything outside the range of experience (after life) is speculation
- We are in heaven or hell almost every day of our lives. Heaven and hell are experienced in this life
- In order to have a peaceful death, we need to practice having a peaceful life, to live each day as though it were the last. Leave no animosity, resentment, vengeful thoughts, unpaid emotional debts, regrets or unresolved misunderstandings at the day’s end.
- There is no concept of sin in Buddhism, only what is skilful or unskillful
- If you did no more than act with real compassion in every situation, you would almost be a Buddha. Knowing that here too, is a sentient being suffering from ignorance
- Imagine if all we have is now, the given moment. Our families, loves, friends, fellow beings and our own planet home would be precious to us. Our words and acts would be wise. Our personal aversions and squabbles would seem childish and futile. We’d see the energy we put into carrying burdens of unresolved guilt and resentment from the past as a waste. All we really have is now, the given moment.
What did the Buddha teach?
Buddha taught the four Noble Truths
- One: There is suffering in this world, the lack of lasting satisfaction. Be aware of this suffering.
- Two: Craving, wanting or desirousness is the cause of suffering. We ignore what we have in our craving for what we don’t have, and we often crave what is impossible for us to ever have. Clinging, craving and the expectation of permanence are the cause of suffering. The most damaging part may be that craving and clinging rule out investigation or analysis of a situation, they preclude us from seeing things as they really are. A mind free of clinging and craving is a mind free of worry. A mind free of worry is able to concentrate fully on the task at hand. It isn’t what happens to us that is of prime importance, but how we react to what happens to us. In fact, nothing really happens to you, things are just happening
- Greed, hatred and ignorance are also causes of suffering. Greed refers to this grasping kind of craving, it is the irrational craving for what can’t possibly be obtained by the sufferer. Hatred destroys the mind and we can’t fully live until we stop reacting to life through the veil of our emotions. To help overcome anger and hatred, analyse the internal feeling as it arises and ask yourself, “what is the real cause of my anger?” Quite often it is no more than a bruised ego or a deep-seated fear. To help overcome anger, the mental practice of exchanging oneself for others may also help. Ultimately, it is a matter of fully understanding the situation in widest sense possible. Ignorance is simply not knowing, of why things are the way they are.
- Karma is the accumulated effect of actions, not something we will experience at some other point in the form of punishment and reward. Where the mind goes with attachment, the body follows.
- Three: The way out of suffering begins the moment we become truly aware of the real condition of existence
- Four: The eightfold path as a way out of suffering:
- Right views or understanding free from superstitions
- Right aims, high and worthy of an intelligent and earnest person
- Right speech or speech that is kind, open and truthful
- Right action or conduct in all aspects of life
- Right livelihood or doing no harm to sentient beings
- Right perseverance in all steps of the path
- Right mindfulness or a watchful attentive mind that isn’t easily distracted
- Right contemplation (meditation) or earnest reflection on the deep matters of life.
In addition, the Buddha also taught the Five Precepts
- no lying
- no stealing
- no killing
- no unnatural sexual activity
- no intoxication
- dependent-arising is the concept that all things are connected
- constant change
- no thing either comes suddenly into being of its own accord, or remains the same, even for an instant
- most of our pain and suffering can be attributed to ignoring or denying impermanence
- what we call “the self” really isn’t the way we accustomed to perceiving it
- there is no self to grasp at, nothing to cling to, because everything changes from moment to moment
- we continually try to stop change, and we suffer when we can’t
- we exist in a constant state of flux
There is a simple answer to the dilemma of how to get what you want. the answer is this: know what it is you want. Once you have defined the ‘want’, you will be able to concentrate on it. As you do, you’ll discard what doesn’t work toward your goal, and you’ll recognise everything that can be of aid to you. After a short while, it will seem like everything in your life is guiding you along the path to your heart’s desire. Then, if you understand the teachings of impermanence, dependent-arising and no-self, you will be happy and blessed.