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Thread: A Basic guide to Buddhism

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    Foundation Member Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน G4orce's Avatar
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    A Basic guide to Buddhism

    In my searches I have been looking into the Buddist Lifestyle for understanding of my GFs beliefs and ways. I have found a site with a basic outline of the Buddhist lifestyle and could be helpful to others. After reading this and a few other things i am very impressed.

    A Basic Buddhism Guide: 5 Minute Introduction

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    The artist formally known as Wabbits Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน wabbits's Avatar
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    Five min top up for the soul.
    Good link well worth a look makes me want to go find more to read on the subject
    Cheers G4
    .

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    Foundation Member Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน G4orce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wabbits View Post
    Five min top up for the soul.
    Good link well worth a look makes me want to go find more to read on the subject
    Cheers G4
    Yeah I totally agree, I am going to look more into it. It just seems so relaxed and more what I believe in. Its not a religion as such but more a lifestyle.

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    Foundation Member Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน G4orce's Avatar
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    Just a little more about Buddhism. This time the site will give you a background to Buddhism in Thailand in particular.

    Thai Buddhism

    Enjoy, it is an interesting read with more links to other information

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    ประเทศไทยเพื่อน Founding Member Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน PatongBeachBoy's Avatar
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    I watched a doco on Foxtel last week about buddhism and the history of buddha.... the poms have a lot to do with uncovering buddhas history... they did some of the first archaeological digs of India and the of the palace where he was born

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    Foundation Member Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน G4orce's Avatar
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    I have found some more usful info

    Introduction

    For more than 2,500 years, the religion we know today as Buddhism has been the primary inspiration behind many successful civilizations, the source of great cultural achievements and a lasting and meaningful guide to the very purpose of life for millions of people. Today, large numbers of men and women from diverse backgrounds throughout our world are following the Teachings of the Buddha. So who was the Buddha and what are His Teachings?




    The Buddha

    The man who was to become the Buddha was born Siddhattha Gotama around 2,600 years ago as a Prince of a small territory near what is now the Indian - Nepalese border. Though he was raised in splendid comfort, enjoying aristocratic status, no amount of material pleasure could satisfy the inquiring and philosophic nature of the young man. At the age of 29 he left palace and family to search for a deeper meaning in the secluded forests and remote mountains of North-East India. He studied under the wisest religious teachers and philosophers of his time, learning all they had to offer, but he found it was not enough. He then struggled alone with the path of self-mortification, taking that practice to the extremes of asceticism, but still to no avail.

    Then, at the age of 35, on the full moon night of May, he sat beneath the branches of what is now known as the Bodhi Tree, in a secluded grove by the banks of the river Neranjara, and developed his mind in deep but luminous, tranquil meditation. Using the extraordinary clarity of such a mind with its sharp penetrative power generated by states of deep inner stillness, he turned his attention to investigate upon the hidden meanings of mind, universe and life. Thus he gained the supreme Enlightenment experience and from that time on he was known as the Buddha. His Enlightenment consisted of the most profound and all-embracing insight into the nature of mind and all phenomena. This Enlightenment was not a revelation from some divine being, but a discovery made by Himself and based on the deepest level of meditation and the clearest experience of the mind. It meant that He was no longer subject to craving, ill will and delusion but was free from their shackles, having attained the complete ending of all forms of inner suffering and acquired unshakeable peace.




    The Teachings of the Buddha

    Having realized the goal of Perfect Enlightenment, the Buddha spent the next 45 years teaching a Path which, when diligently followed, will take anyone regardless of race, class or gender to that same Perfect Enlightenment. The Teachings about this Path are called the Dhamma, literally meaning the nature of all things or the truth underlying existence. It is beyond the scope of this pamphlet to present a thorough description of all of these Teachings but the following 7 topics will give you an overview of what the Buddha taught:




    1. The Way of Inquiry

    The Buddha warned strongly against blind faith and encouraged the way of truthful inquiry. In one of His best known sermons, the Kalama Sutta, the Buddha pointed out the danger in fashioning one's beliefs merely on the following grounds: on hearsay, on tradition, because many others say it is so, on the authority of ancient scriptures, on the word of a supernatural being, or out of trust in one's teachers, elders, or priests. Instead one maintains an open mind and thoroughly investigates one's own experience of life. When one sees for oneself that a particular view agrees with both experience and reason, and leads to the happiness of one and all, then one should accept that view and live up to it!

    This principle, of course, applies to the Buddha's own Teachings. They should be considered and inquired into using the clarity of mind born of meditation. Only when one sees these Teachings for oneself in the experience of insight, do these Teachings become one's own Truth and give blissful liberation.

    The traveller on the way of inquiry needs the practice of tolerance. Tolerance does not mean that one embraces every idea or view but means one doesn't get angry at what one can't accept.

    Further along the journey, what one once disagreed with might later be seen to be true. So in the spirit of tolerant inquiry, here are some more of the basic Teachings as the Buddha gave them.




    2. The Four Noble Truths

    The main Teaching of the Buddha focuses not on philosophical speculations about a Creator God or the origin of the universe or on a heaven world ever after. The Teaching, instead, is centred on the down-to-earth reality of human suffering and the urgent need to find lasting relief from all forms of discontent. The Buddha gave the simile of a man shot by a poison-tipped arrow who, before he would call a doctor to treat him, demanded to know first who shot the arrow and where the arrow was made and of what and by whom and when and where. This foolish man would surely die before his questions could be well answered. In the same way, the Buddha said, the urgent need of our existence is to find lasting relief from recurrent suffering which robs us of happiness and leaves us in strife. Philosophical speculations are of secondary importance and, anyway, they are best left until after one has well trained the mind in meditation to the stage where one has the ability to examine the matter clearly and find the Truth for oneself.

    Thus, the central Teaching of the Buddha, around which all other teachings revolve, is the Four Noble Truths:

    That all forms of being, human and otherwise, are afflicted with suffering.
    That the cause of this suffering is Craving, born of the illusion of a soul (see below, note 7).
    That this suffering has a lasting end in the Experience of Enlightenment (Nibbana) which is the complete letting go of the illusion of soul and all consequent desire and aversion.
    That this peaceful and blissful Enlightenment is achieved through a gradual training, a Path that is called the Middle Way or the Eightfold Path.
    It would be mistaken to label this Teaching as 'pessimistic' on the grounds that it begins by centring on suffering. Rather, Buddhism is 'realistic' in that it unflinchingly faces up to the truth of life's many sufferings and it is `optimistic' in that it shows a final end of the problem of suffering - Nibbana, Enlightenment in this very life! Those who have achieved this ultimate peace are the inspiring examples who demonstrate once and for all that Buddhism is far from pessimistic, but it is a Path to true Happiness.




    3. The Middle Way or Eightfold Path

    The Way to end all suffering is called the Middle Way because it avoids the two extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification. Only when the body is in reasonable comfort but not over-indulged has the mind the clarity and strength to meditate deeply and discover the Truth. This Middle Way consists of the diligent cultivation of Virtue, Meditation and Wisdom, which is explained in more detail as the Noble Eightfold Path.

    Right Understanding
    Right Thought
    Right Speech
    Right Action
    Right Livelihood
    Right Effort
    Right Mindfulness
    Right Concentration
    Right Speech, Action and Livelihood constitute the training in Virtue or Morality. For a practising Buddhist it consists of maintaining the five Buddhist Precepts, which are to refrain from:

    Deliberately causing the death of any living being
    Intentionally taking for one's own the property of another
    Sexual misconduct, in particular adultery
    Lying, breaking promises and harsh speech
    Drinking alcohol or taking stupefying drugs which lead to lack of mindfulness
    Right Effort, Mindfulness and Concentration refer to the practice of Meditation, which purifies the mind through the experience of blissful states of inner stillness and empowers the mind to penetrate the meaning of life through profound moments of insight.

    Right Understanding and Thought are the manifestation of Buddha-Wisdom, which ends all suffering, transforms the personality and produces unshakeable serenity and tireless compassion.

    According to the Buddha, without perfecting the practice of Virtue it is impossible to perfect Meditation, and without perfecting Meditation it is impossible to arrive at Enlightenment Wisdom. Thus the Buddhist Path is a Gradual Path, a Middle Way consisting of Virtue, Meditation and Wisdom as explained in the Noble Eightfold Path leading to happiness and liberation.




    4. Kamma

    Kamma means 'action'. The Law of Kamma means that there are inescapable results of our actions. There are deeds of body, speech or mind that lead to others' harm, one's own harm, or to the harm of both. Such deeds are called bad (or 'unwholesome') Kamma. They are usually motivated by greed, hatred or delusion. Because they bring painful results, they should not be done.

    There are also deeds of body, speech or mind that lead to others' well being, one's own well being, or to the well being of both. Such deeds are called good (or 'wholesome') Kamma. They are usually motivated by generosity, compassion or wisdom. Because they bring happy results, they should be done as often as possible.

    Thus much of what one experiences is the result of one's own previous Kamma. When misfortune occurs, instead of blaming someone else, one can look for any fault in one's own past conduct. If a fault is found, the experience of its consequences will make one more careful in the future. When happiness occurs, instead of taking it for granted, one can look to see if it is the result of good Kamma. If so, the experience of its pleasant results will encourage more good Kamma in the future.

    The Buddha pointed out that no being whatsoever, divine or otherwise, has any power to stop the consequences of good and bad Kamma. The fact that one reaps just what one sows gives to the Buddhist a greater incentive to avoid all forms of bad Kamma while doing as much good Kamma as possible.

    Though one cannot escape the results of bad Kamma, one can lessen their effect. A spoon of salt mixed in a glass of pure water makes the whole very salty, whereas the same spoon of salt mixed in a freshwater lake hardly changes the taste of the water. Similarly, the result of a bad Kamma in a person habitually doing only a small amount of good Kamma is painful indeed, whereas the result of the same bad Kamma in a person habitually doing a great deal of good Kamma is only mildly felt.

    This natural Law of Kamma becomes the force behind, and reason for, the practice of morality and compassion in our society.




    5. Rebirth

    The Buddha remembered clearly many of His past lives. Even today, many Buddhist monks, nuns and others also remember their past lives. Such a strong memory is a result of deep meditation. For those who remember their past life, Rebirth is an established fact which puts this life in a meaningful perspective.

    The Law of Kamma can only be understood in the framework of many lifetimes, because it sometimes takes this long for Kamma to bear its fruit. Thus Kamma and Rebirth offer a plausible explanation to the obvious inequalities of birth; why some are born into great wealth whereas others are born into pathetic poverty; why some children enter this world healthy and full-limbed whereas others enter deformed and diseased... The fruits of bad Kamma are not regarded as a punishment for evil deeds but as lessons from which to learn, for example, how much better to learn about the need for generosity than to be reborn among the poor!

    Rebirth takes place not only within this human realm. The Buddha pointed out that the realm of human beings is but one among many. There are many separate heavenly realms and grim lower realms too, realms of the animals and realms of the ghosts. Not only can human beings go to any of these realms in the next life, but also we can come from any of these realms into our present life. This explains a common objection against Rebirth that argues "How can there be Rebirth when there are 10 times as many people alive today than there were 50 years ago?" The answer is that people alive today have come from many different realms.

    Understanding that we can come and go between these different realms gives us more respect and compassion for the beings in these realms. It is unlikely, for example, that one would exploit animals when one has seen the link of Rebirth that connects them with us.




    6. No Creator God

    The Buddha pointed out that no God or priest nor any other kind of being has the power to interfere in the working out of someone else's Kamma. Buddhism, therefore, teaches the individual to take full responsibility for themselves. For example, if you want to be wealthy then be trustworthy, diligent and frugal, or if you want to live in a heaven realm then always be kind to others. There is no God to ask favours from, or to put it another way, there is no corruption possible in the workings of Kamma.

    Do Buddhists believe that a Supreme Being created the universe? Buddhists would first ask which universe do you mean? This present universe, from the moment of the 'big bang' up to now, is but one among countless millions in Buddhist cosmology. The Buddha gave an estimate of the age of a single universe-cycle of around 37,000 million years, which is quite plausible when compared to modern astrophysics. After one universe-cycle ends another begins, again and again, according to impersonal law. A Creator God is redundant in this scheme.

    No being is a Supreme Saviour, according to the Buddha, because whether God, human, animal or whatever, all are subject to the Law of Kamma. Even the Buddha had no power to save. He could only point out the Truth so that the wise could see it for themselves. Everyone must take responsibility for their own future well being, and it is dangerous to give that responsibility to another.




    7. The Illusion of Soul

    The Buddha taught that there is no soul, no essential and permanent core to a living being. Instead, that which we call a 'living being', human or other, can be seen to be but a temporary coming together of many activities and parts - when complete it is called a 'living being', but after the parts separate and the activities cease it is not called a 'living being' any more. Like an advanced computer assembled of many parts and activities, only when it is complete and performs coherent tasks is it called a 'computer', but after the parts are disconnected and the activities cease it is no longer called a `computer'. No essential permanent core can be found which we can truly call 'the computer'; just so, no essential permanent core can be found which we can call 'the soul'.

    Yet Rebirth still occurs without a soul. Consider this simile: on a Buddhist shrine one candle, burnt low, is about to expire. A monk takes a new candle and lights it from the old. The old candle dies, the new candle burns bright. What went across from the old candle to the new? There was a causal link but no thing went across! In the same way, there was a causal link between your previous life and your present life, but no soul has gone across.

    Indeed, the illusion of a soul is said by the Buddha to be the root cause of all human suffering. The illusion of 'soul' manifests as the 'Ego'. The natural unstoppable function of the Ego is to control. Big Egos want to control the world, average Egos try to control their immediate surroundings of home, family and workplace, and almost all Egos strive to control what they take to be their own body and mind. Such control manifests as desire and aversion, it results in a lack of both inner peace and outer harmony. It is this Ego that seeks to acquire possessions, manipulate others and exploit the environment. Its aim is its own happiness but it invariably produces suffering. It craves for satisfaction but it experiences discontent. Such deep rooted suffering cannot come to an end until one sees, through deep and powerful meditation, that the idea 'me and mine' is no more than a mirage.

    These seven topics are a sample of what the Buddha taught. Now, to complete this brief sketch of Buddhism, let's look at how these Teachings are practised today.




    Types of Buddhism

    One could say that there is only one type of Buddhism and that is the huge collection of Teachings that were spoken by the Buddha. The original Teachings are found in the 'Pali Canon', the ancient scripture of Theravada Buddhism, which is widely accepted as the oldest reliable record of the Buddha's words. Theravada Buddhism is the dominant religion in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.


    Between 100 to 200 years after the passing away of the Buddha, the Sangha (the monastic community) split over the political question of 'Who runs the Sangha?' A controversy over some monastic rules was decided by a committee of Arahants (fully Enlightened monks or nuns) against the views of the majority of monks. The disgruntled majority resented what they saw as the excessive influence of the small number of Arahants in monastery affairs. From then on, over a period of several decades, the disaffected majority partially succeeded in lowering the exalted status of the Arahant and raising in its place the ideal of the Bodhisattva (an unenlightened being training to be a Buddha). Previously unknown scriptures, supposedly spoken by the Buddha and hidden in the Dragon World, then appeared giving a philosophical justification for the superiority of the Bodhisattva over the allegedly 'selfish' Arahant. This group of monks and nuns were first known as the 'Maha Sangha', meaning 'the great (part) of the monastic community'. Later, after impressive development, they called themselves the 'Mahayana', the 'Greater Vehicle' while quite disparagingly calling the older Theravada 'Hinayana', the 'Inferior Vehicle'. Mahayana still retains most of the original teachings of the Buddha (in the Chinese scriptures these are known as the 'Agama' and in the Tibetan version as the 'Kangyur') but these core teachings were mostly overwhelmed by layers of expansive interpretations and wholly new ideas. The Mahayana of China, still vibrant in Taiwan, reflects an earlier phase of this development, the Mahayana of Vietnam, Korea and Japan (mostly Zen) is a later development, and the Mahayana of Tibet and Mongolia is a much later development still.




    Buddhism's Relevance to the World Today

    Today, Buddhism continues to gain ever-wider acceptance in many lands far beyond its original home. Here in Australia, many Australians through their own careful choice are adopting Buddhism's peaceful, compassionate and responsible ways.

    The Buddhist Teaching of the Law of Kamma offers our society a just and incorruptible foundation and reason for the practice of a moral life. It is easy to see how a wider embracing of the Law of Kamma would lead any country towards a stronger, more caring and virtuous society.

    The Teaching of Rebirth places this present short lifetime of ours in a broader perspective, giving more meaning to the vital events of birth and death. The understanding of Rebirth removes so much of the tragedy and grief surrounding death and turns one's attention to the quality of a lifetime, rather than its mere length.


    From the very beginning, the practice of meditation has been at the very heart of the Buddhist Way. Today, meditation grows increasingly popular as the proven benefits to both mental and physical well being become more widely known. When stress is shown to be such a major cause of human suffering, the quieting practice of meditation becomes ever more valued.

    Today's world is too small and vulnerable to live angry and alone, thus the need for tolerance, love and compassion is so very important. These qualities of mind essential for happiness are formally developed in Buddhist meditation and then diligently put into practice in everyday life.

    Forgiveness and gentle tolerance, harmlessness and peaceful compassion are well known trademarks of Buddhism, they are given freely and broadly to all kinds of beings, including animals of course, and also, most importantly, to oneself. There is no place for dwelling in guilt or self-hatred in Buddhism, not even a place for feeling guilty about feeling guilty!

    Teachings and practices such as these are what bring about qualities of gentle kindness and unshakeable serenity, identified with the Buddhist religion for 25 centuries and sorely needed in today's world. In all its long history, no war has ever been fought in the name of Buddhism. It is this peace and this tolerance, growing out of a profound yet reasonable philosophy, which makes Buddhism so vitally relevant to today's world.

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    Foundation Member Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน G4orce's Avatar
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    A little Q&A

    Preface

    This book was first written in 1987 in response to the increasing interest in Buddhism amongst Singaporeans. To my surprise and delight, it has turned out to be very successful. The Buddha Dhamma Mandala Society, Singapore, alone has printed 30,000 copies and it has been translated into several languages including Tamil, Chinese, and Nepali. Requests to for copies have come from as far away as Australia, Argentina, and the SeychelleIslands. In July this year, I visited a remote hermitage high in the Himalayas in Ladakh only to discover that the abbot had not only read Good Question, Good Answer but also greatly appreciated it. All this had convinced me that this little book's
    style and contents has filled an important need and that revision and enlargement would enhance its value, hence this new edition. Those wishing to reprint "Good Question, Good Answer" or translate it may do so without writing for permission. However, we would appreciate it if you send us two copies and let us know how many copies have been printed.
    Ven. S. Dhammika
    Singapore 1991


    What Is Buddhism?

    The name Buddhism comes from the word 'budhi' which means 'to wake up' and thus Buddhism is the philosophy of awakening. This philosophy has its origins in the experience of the man Siddhartha Gotama, known as the Buddha, who was himself awakened at the age of 35. Buddhism is now 2,500 years old and has about 300 million followers worldwide. Until a hundred years ago Buddhism was mainly an Asian philosophy but increasingly it is gaining adherents in Europe, Australia and America.

    So Buddhism is just a philosophy?

    The word philosophy comes from two words ‘philo’, which means ‘love’, and 'sophia' which means 'wisdom'. So philosophy is the love of wisdom or love and wisdom, both meanings describe Buddhism perfectly. Buddhism teaches that we should try to develop our intellectual capacity to the fullest so that we can understand clearly. It also teaches us to develop love and kindness so that we can be like a true friend to all beings. So Buddhism is a philosophy but not just a philosophy. It is the supreme philosophy.

    Who was the Buddha?

    In the year 563 B.C. E. a baby was born into a royal family in northern India. He grew up in wealth and luxury but eventually found that worldly comforts and security do not guarantee happiness. He was deeply moved by the suffering he saw all around and resolved to find the key to human happiness. When he was 29 he left his wife and child and set off to sit at the feet of the great religious teachers of the day to learn from them. They taught him much but none really knew the cause of human suffering and how it could be overcome. Eventually, after six years study and meditation he had an experience in which all ignorance fell away and he suddenly understood.
    From that day onwards, he was called the Buddha, the Awakened One. He lived for another 45 years in which time he traveled all over the northern India teaching others what he had discovered. His compassion and patience were legendary and he had thousands of followers. In his eightieth year, old and sick, but still happy and at peace, he finally died.
    Wasn't it irresponsible for the Buddha to walk out on his wife and child?

    It couldn't have been an easy thing for the Buddha to leave his family. He must have worried and
    hesitated for a long time before he finally left. But he had a choice, dedicating himself to his family or
    dedicating himself to the whole world. In the end, his great compassion made him give himself to the whole world. And the whole world still benefits from his sacrifice. This was not irresponsible. It was perhaps the most significant sacrifice ever made.
    The Buddha is dead so how can he help us?
    Faraday, who discovered electricity, is dead, but what he discovered still helps us. Luis Pasteur who discovered the cures for so many diseases is dead, but his medical discoveries still save lives. Leonardo da Vinci who created masterpieces of art is dead, but what he created can still uplift and give joy. Noble men and heroes may have been dead for centuries but when we read of their deeds and achievements, we can still be inspired to act as they did. Yes, the Buddha is dead but 2500 years later his teachings still help people, his example still inspires people, his words still change lives. Only a Buddha could have such power centuries after his death.

    Was the Buddha a god?

    No, he was not. He did not claim that he was a god, the child of a god or even the messenger from a god. He was a man who perfected himself and taught that if we follow his example, we could perfect ourselves also.

    If the Buddha is not a god, then why do people worship him?

    There are different types of worship. When someone worships a god, they praise him or her, making offerings and ask for favors, believing that the god will hear their praise, receive their offerings, and answer their prayers. Buddhists do not indulge in this kind of worship. The other kind of worship is when we show respect to someone or something we admire. When a teacher walks into a room we stand up, when we meet a dignitary we shake hands, when the national anthem is played we salute. These are all gestures of respect and worship and indicate our admiration for persons and things. This is the type of worship Buddhist practice. A statue of the Buddha with its hands rested gently in its lap and its compassionate smile reminds us to strive to develop peace and love within ourselves. The perfume of incense reminds us of the pervading influence of virtue, the lamp reminds us of light of knowledge and the flowers which soon fade and die, reminds us of impermanence. When we bow, we express our gratitude to the Buddha for what his teachings have given us. This is the nature of Buddhist worship.
    But I have heard people say that Buddhists worship idols
    Such statements only reflect the misunderstanding of the persons who make them. The dictionary defines an idol as "an image or statue worshipped as a god". As we have seen, Buddhist do not believe that the Buddha was a god, so how could they possibly believe that a piece of wood or metal is a god? All religions use symbols to express various concepts. In Taoism, the ying-yang is used to symbolize the harmony between opposites. In Sikhism, the sword is used to symbolize spiritual struggle. In Christianity, the fish is used to symbolize his sacrifice. And in Buddhism, the statue of the Buddha also reminds us of the human dimension in Buddhist teaching, the fact that Buddhism is man-centered, not god-centered, that we must look within not without to find perfection and understanding. So to say that Buddhist worship idols is not correct.

    Why do people burn paper money and do all kinds of strange things in Buddhist temples?

    Many things seem strange to us when we don't understand them. Rather than dismiss such things as strange, we should strive to find their meaning. However, it is true that Buddhist practice sometimes has its origin in popular superstition and misunderstanding rather than the teaching of the Buddha. And such misunderstandings are not found in Buddhism alone, but arise in all religions from time to time. The Buddha taught with clarity and in detail and if some fail to understand fully, the Buddha cannot be blamed.

    There is a saying:

    If a man suffering from a disease does not seek treatment even when there is a physician at hand, it is not the fault of the physician. In the same way, if a man is oppressed and tormented by the disease of defilements but does not seek the help of the Buddha, that is not the Buddha's fault. -- JN 28-9
    Nor should Buddhism or any religion be judged by those who don't practice it properly. If you wish to know the true teachings of Buddhism, read the Buddha's words or speak to those who understand them properly.

    If Buddhism is so good why are some Buddhist countries poor?

    If by poor you mean economically poor, then it is true that some Buddhist countries are poor. But if by poor you mean a poor quality of life, then perhaps some Buddhist countries are quite rich. America, for example, is an economically rich and powerful country but the crime rate is one of the highest in the world, millions of old people are neglected by their children and die of loneliness in old people's homes, domestic violence and child abuse are major problems. One in three marriages end in divorce, pornography is easily available. Rich in terms of money but perhaps poor in terms of the quality of life. Now if you look at some traditional Buddhist countries you find a very different situation. Parents are honored and respected by their children, the crime rates are relatively low, divorce and suicide are rare and traditional values like gentleness, generosity, hospitality to strangers, tolerance and respect for others are still strong. Economically backward, but perhaps a higher quality of life than a country like America. But even if we judge Buddhist countries in terms of economics alone, one of the wealthiest and most economically dynamic countries in the world today is Japan where 93% of the population call themselves Buddhist.

    Why is it that you don't often hear of charitable work being done by Buddhists?

    Perhaps it is because Buddhists don't feel the need to boast about the good they do. Several years ago the Japanese Buddhist leader Nikkho Nirwano received the Templeton Prize for his work in promoting inter-religious harmony. Likewise a Thai Buddhist monk was recently awarded the prestigious Magsaysay Prize for his excellent work among drug addicts. In 1987 another Thai monk, Ven.Kantayapiwat was awarded the Norwegian Children's Peace Prize for his many years work helping homeless children in rural areas. And what about the large scale social work being done among the poor in India by the Western Buddhist Order? They have built schools, child minding-centres, dispensaries and small scale industries for self-sufficiency. Buddhist see help given to others as an expression of their religious practice just as other religions do but they believe that it should be done quietly and without self-promotion. Thus you don't hear so much about their charitable work.

    Why are there so many different types of Buddhism?

    There are many different types of sugar: brown sugar, white sugar, rock sugar, syrup and icing sugar but it is all sugar and it all tastes sweet. It is produced in different forms so that it can be used in different ways. Buddhism is the same: there is Theravada Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism, Yogacara Buddhism and Vajray‚na Buddhism but it is all Buddhism and it all has the same taste - the taste of freedom. Buddhism has evolved into different forms so that it can be relevant to the different cultures in which it exists. It has been reinterpreted over the centuries so that it can remain relevant to each new generation. Outwardly, the types of Buddhism may seem very different but at the center of all of them is the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. All major religions, Buddhism included, have split into schools and sects. But the different sects of Buddhism have never gone to war with each other and to this day, they go to each other's temples and worship together. Such tolerance and understanding is certainly rare.
    You certainly think highly of Buddhism. I suppose you think your religion is right and all the others are wrong.

    No Buddhist who understands the Buddha's teaching thinks that other religions are wrong. No one who has made a genuine effort to examine other religions with an open mind could think like that either. The first thing you notice when you study the different religions is just' how much they have in common. All religions acknowledge that man's present state is unsatisfactory. All believe that a change of attitude and behaviors is needed if man's situation is to improve. All teach an ethics that includes love; kindness, patience, generosity and social responsibility and all accept the existence of some form of Absolute.

    They use different languages, different names and different symbols to describe and explain these things; and it is only when they narrow-mindedly cling to their one way of seeing things that religious intolerance, pride and self-righteousness arise.

    Imagine an Englishman, a Frenchman, a Chinese and an Indonesian all-looking at a cup. The Englishman says, "That's a cup.” The Frenchman answers, "No it's not. It's a tasse.” The Chinese comments, You're both wrong. It's a pet.” And the Indonesian laughs at the others and says "What fools you are. It's a cawan.” The Englishman gets a dictionary and shows it to the others
    saying, "I can prove that it is a cup. My dictionary says so.” "Then your dictionary is wrong,” says the French*man "because my dictionary clearly says it is a tasse.” The Chinese scoffs at them. "My dictionary is thousands of years older than yours, so my dictionary must be right. And besides, more people speak Chinese than any other language, so it must be a pet.” While they are squabbling and arguing with each other, a Buddhist comes up and drinks from the cup. After he has drunk, he says to the others, "Whether you call it a cup, a tasse, a pet or a cawan, the purpose of the cup is
    to be used. Stop arguing and drink, stop squabbling, and refresh your thirst.” This is the Buddhist attitude to other religions.

    Is Buddhism Scientific?

    Before we answer that question it would be best to define the word 'science'. Science, according to the dictionary is: "knowledge which can be made into a system, which depends upon seeing and testing facts and stating general natural laws, a branch of such knowledge, anything that can be studied exactly". There are aspects of Buddhism that would not fit into this definition but the central teachings of Buddhism, the Four Noble Truths, most certainly would. Suffering, the First Noble Truth is an experience that can be defined, experienced, and measured. The Second Noble Truth states that suffering has a natural cause, craving, which likewise can be defined, experienced, and measured. No attempted is made to explain suffering in terms of a metaphysical concept or myths. Suffering is ended, according to the Third Noble Truth, not by relying on upon a supreme being, by faith or by prayers but simply by removing its cause. This is axiomatic. The Fourth Noble Truth, the way to end suffering, once again, has nothing to do with metaphysics but depends on behaving in specific ways. And once again behavior is open to testing. Buddhism dispenses with the concept of a supreme being, as does science, and explains the origins and workings of the universe in terms of natural law. All of this certainly exhibits a scientific spirit. Once again, the Buddha's constant advice that we should not blindly believe but rather question, examine, inquire and rely on our own experience, has a definite scientific ring to it. He says:
    "Do not go by revelation or tradition, do not go by rumor, or the sacred scriptures, do not go by hearsay or mere logic, do not go by bias towards a notion or by another person's seeming ability and do not go by the idea 'He is our teacher'. But when you yourself know that a thing is good, that it is not blamable, that it is praised by the wise and when practiced and observed that it leads to happiness, then follow that thing."
    So we could say that although Buddhism in not entirely scientific, it certainly has a strong overtone and is certainly more scientific than any other religion. It is significant that Albert Einstein, the greatest scientist of the twentieth century said of Buddhism:
    "The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both natural and spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual and a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism."
    Basic Buddhist Concepts

    What are the main teachings of the Buddha?


    All of the many teachings of the Buddha center on the Four Noble Truths, just as the rim and spokes of a wheel centers on the hub. They are called 'Four' because there are four of them. They are called 'Noble' because they ennoble one who understands them and they are called 'Truths' because, corresponding with reality, they are true.
    What is the First Noble Truth?

    The First Noble Truth is that life is suffering. To live, you must suffer. It is impossible to live without experiencing some kind of suffering. We have to endure physical suffering like sickness, injury, tiredness, old age and eventually death and we have to endure psychological suffering like loneliness, frustrations, fear, embarrassment, disappointment, anger, etc.

    Isn't this a bit pessimistic?

    The dictionary defines pessimism as 'the habit of thinking that whatever will happen will be bad,' 'or 'The belief that evil is more powerful than good.' Buddhism teaches neither of these ideas. Nor does it deny that happiness exists. It simply says that to live is to experience physical and psychological suffering, which is a statement that is so obvious that it cannot be denied. The central concept of most religions is a myth, a legend or a belief that is difficult or impossible to verify. Buddhism starts with an experience, an irrefutable fact, a thing that all know, that all have experienced and that all are striving to overcome. Thus Buddhism is truly a universal religion because it goes right to the core of every individual human being's concern with suffering and how to avoid it.

    What is the Second Noble Truth?

    The Second Noble Truth is that all suffering is caused by craving. When we look at psychological suffering, it is easy to see how it is caused by craving. When we want something but are unable to get it, we feel frustrated. When we expect someone to live up to our expectation and they do not, we feel let down and disappointed. When we want others to like us and they don't, we feel hurt. Even when we want something and are able to get it, this does not often lead to happiness either because it is not long before we feel bored with that thing, lose interest in it and commence to want something else.
    Put simply, the Second Noble Truth says that getting what you want does not guarantee happiness. Rather than constantly struggling to get what you want, try to modify your wanting. Wanting deprives us of contentment and happiness.

    But how does wanting and craving lead to physical suffering?

    A lifetime wanting and craving for this and that and especially the craving to continue to exist creates a powerful energy that causes the individual to be reborn. When we are reborn, we have a body and, as we said before, the body is susceptible to injury and disease; it can be exhausted by work; it ages and eventually dies. Thus, craving leads to physical suffering because it causes us to be reborn.
    If we stop wanting altogether, we would never achieve anything.
    True. But what the Buddha says is that when our desires, our craving, our constant discontent with what we have and our continual longing for more and more does cause us suffering, then we should stop doing it. He asks us to make a difference between what we need and what we want and to strive for our needs and modify our wants. He tells us that our needs can be fulfilled but that our wants are endless - a bottomless pit. There are needs that are essential, fundamental and can be obtained and this we should work towards. Desires beyond this should be gradually lessened. After all, what is the purpose of life? To get or be content and happy.

    What or where is Nirvana?

    It is a dimension transcending time and space and thus is difficult to talk about or even think about. Words and thoughts being only suited to describe the time-space dimension. But because Nirvana is beyond time, there is no movement and so no aging or dying. Thus Nirvana is eternal because it is beyond space, there is no causation, no boundary, no concept of self and not-self and thus Nirvana is infinite. The Buddha also assures us that Nirvana is an experience of great happiness. He says:
    "Nirvana is the highest happiness". (Dhammapada 204 )

    But is there proof that such a dimension exists?

    No, there is not. But its existence can be inferred. If there is a dimension where time and space do operate and there is such a dimension - the world we experience, then we can infer that there is a dimension where time and space do not operate - Nirvana. Again, even though we cannot prove Nirvana exists, we have the Buddha's word that is does exist. He tells us:
    "There is an unborn, a not-become, a not- made, a not-compounded. If there were not, this unborn, not-made, not-compounded, there could not be made any escape from what is born, become, made, and compounded. Therefore is there made known an escape from what is born, made, and compounded." -- Ud 80
    We will know it when we attain it. Until that time, we can practice.

    What is the Fourth Noble Truth?

    The Fourth Noble Truth is the Path leading to the overcoming of suffering. This path is called the Noble Eightfold Path and consists of Perfect Understanding, Perfect Thought, Perfect Speech, Perfect Action, Perfect Livelihood, Perfect Effort, Perfect Mindfulness, and Perfect Concentration. Buddhist practice consists of practicing these eight things until they become more complete. You will notice that the steps on the Noble Eightfold Path cover every aspect of life: the intellectual, the ethical and economic and the psychological and therefore contains everything a person needs to lead a good life and to develop spiritually
    Last edited by G4orce; 18th November 2011 at 20:33.

  8. #8
    ประเทศไทยเพื่อน Founding Member Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน Arliss Michaels's Avatar
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    TG is off to do merit at temple for a week starting tomorrow at 4am as a "Nun""PHA KHAW Not much info I can find on the net on it this is the best I have found Thai Buddhism - Monks everyday life
    The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese

  9. #9
    ประเทศไทยเพื่อน Founding Member Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน jontymate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arliss Michaels View Post
    TG is off to do merit at temple for a week starting tomorrow at 4am as a "Nun""PHA KHAW Not much info I can find on the net on it this is the best I have found Thai Buddhism - Monks everyday life
    She will live in the temple and wear a white robe. She will not eat after noon the same as the monks. She will clean the temple. Like my avatar. Dao did for 4 days every month that we were apart in the beginning.

    That is the deal she made with the monk and Buddha for helping her to find a good man. It worked for her.
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  10. #10
    Uber Star Foundation member Uber Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน vanguy77's Avatar
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    Great stuff, Gary. I bought at little book up on Doi Suthep that gave a nice introduction to Buddhism for the westerner. I bought it so that I could better understand the Buddhist mindset, and how it affects their day to day lives. After reading it, however, I was not sure that I could ever become a Buddhist myself, as it makes some great leaps of logic that I have tremendous difficulty with. The biggest is the concept of reincarnation, and carrying karma (good or bad) from one lifetime to the next. The methods of building karma (such as offereing food to priests) also left me a bit perplexed and skeptical. This isn't surprising, I suppose, as I was raised in a very strong judeo-christian household, and attended church all my life. I also hold a Bachelor of Theology, so I tend to overanalyze a lot when it comes to religions.
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  11. #11
    kate
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    Good information! Would love to know more about the thai culture.

  12. #12
    Guest Platinum daohoshi Dao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arliss Michaels View Post
    TG is off to do merit at temple for a week starting tomorrow at 4am as a "Nun""PHA KHAW Not much info I can find on the net on it this is the best I have found Thai Buddhism - Monks everyday life
    AM I think I can help you understand. Is different for different people in different temple. Yes wear white shirt and live in the temple. Separate from the monk in the lady house. Some lady spend all of their life there you see with no hair.

    So what happens? You clean everything toilet polish wood and metal. Cooking for monk. Hard work but everything make you feel happy





    Take some time for (not know for english) listen to monk and learn.



    Merit Ok Pray Good luck

    Imagine in your brain when you have quiet body what you see for your life and your family life. You understand put the picture in your brain.

    More picture of live in the temple.








    AM I hope this help you understand. May be she imagine a wedding party.5555555
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  13. #13
    Uber Star Soi wanderer Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน Spot's Avatar
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    Hmmm, Khup Nong Dao. Can tell me about dreams?

    Sureeporn mum (Dead) has come several times. I ask Sureeporn is her Mum happy? S say yes...

    S is so happy she now has my father and mother. They are happy they have her too.

    Khup Khun Khup
    Ohhhh, Pigsy! You call yourself a demon? จูบก้นของฉัน Everything I post here is IMHO and IME... I am no expert....

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