Level 16 - Colossus
Buddhism is a path of teaching and practice. Buddhist practices such as meditation are means of changing oneself in order to develop the qualities of awareness, kindness, and wisdom. The experience developed within the Buddhist tradition over thousands of years has created an incomparable resource for all those who wish to follow the path of spiritual development. Ultimately, the Buddhist path culminates in Enlightenment or Buddhahood. Who was the Buddha? The word Buddha is a title not a name. It means ‘one who is awake' in the sense of having ‘woken up to reality'. The title was first given to a man called Siddharta Guatemala, who lived about 2,500 years ago in Northern India. When he was 35 he found Enlightenment whist in profound mediation, after searching for years. In the next 45 years of his life he spent it traveling through India teaching his way of life. His teaching is known as Buddha-dharma. Traveling from place to place, the Buddha gained many disciples. They also taught of the enlightment, and the chain has continued on to this present day. The Buddha was not a God, and he made no claim to divinity. There is no concept of a creator in Buddhism. He was a human being who, thought tremendous efforts, transformed himself. The state of Enlightenment which he reached has three main facets. It is a state of wisdom, of insight into the true nature of things. It is also a source or boundless compassion, manifesting itself in activity for the benefit of all beings. and it the total liberation of all the energies of the mind and the body so they are at the service of the fully conscious mind. What Happened After the Buddha's Death? Buddhism died out in India a thousand years ago, though it has recently revived. In the last century Buddhism has emphatically arrived in the West and up to one million westerners have become Buddhists. What Does Buddhism Teach? Buddhism sees life as being in 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 ourselves is the mind and Buddhism has developed many methods for working on the mind. Most importantly, Buddhists practice meditation which is a way of developing more positive states of mind which are characterized by calm, concentration, awareness, and emotions such as friendliness. How do you become a Buddhist? To become a Buddhist in the full sense means committing oneself to the central ideas of Buddhism. The Buddhist path is open to all equally: men and women, young and old, people of all nationalities, races and backgrounds. Rebirth Rebirth in the Six Realms Buddhism teaches that birth, death and rebirth are part of the continuing process of change. The is similar to the continuous process of growth, decay, and replacement of cells in ones' body. According to medical experts, after every seven years, all the cells in one's body are replaced by new ones. At the moment of death, and the body can no longer survive, the mind is separated from the body. At that time, the craving for lives causes one to seek a new existence, and the karma done previously determine the place of one's rebirth. There are six realms which one may be reborn after death. They are the realms of gods, the demigods, human beings, animals, hungry ghosts, and the hells. In general, wholesome actions like good conduct, charity, a and mental development, are the cause of rebirth in the happy realms of gods, demigods, and human beings. On the other hand, unwholesome actions like immoral conduct, miserliness and cruelty cause rebirth in the unhappy realm of animals, hungry ghosts and the hells. Of all the six realms, the realm of human beings is considered the most desirable. In the realm of human beings, the conditions for attaining Nirvana are better. In general, in the unhappy realms, the suffering of living beings is so intense and their ignorance so great that they are unable to recognize the Truth and follow the path to attain freedom. Alternatively, living beings in the realms of the gods and demigods experience so much happiness and have so many distractions that they do not think of rebirth until it is too late. Then they may be reborn in one of the lower realms of suffering. In the realm of human beings, however, people experience both happiness and suffering, and are intelligent enough to recognize the Truth and follow the path to attain freedom from the cycle of birth and death. Therefore, one is indeed fortunate to be born as a human being, and should remember that the principal cause of birth in the realm is Good Conduct. The Cycle of Birth and Death The Buddha pointed out that whenever one is reborn, whether as a human being, as an animal, or as a god, non of these states of exticence is permanent. The average life span of the living beings in the six realms of existence differ but none of them lasts forever. Eventually, rebirth will take place. The realm into which one is reborn and one's conditions of rebirth are determined by ones' past and present actions. This is the law of Karma at work. Because of the force of their karma, people are born are reborn endlessly, in one realm of existence or in another. The Buddha declared that there is no permanent rest in the cycle of birth and death. It is only when one follows the Noble Eightfold path taught by the Buddha and eventually attains Nirvana, that one finally becomes free from the ceaseless cycle and gains supreme and permanent happiness. Karma Karma is the law of moral causation. It is action and reaction in the ethical realm. It is natural law that every action produces a certain effect. So if one performs wholesome actions, one will experience happiness. on the other hand, if one performs unwholesome actions, one will experience suffering. The is the law of cause and effect at work. In this way, the effect of one's past karma determine that nature of one's present situation in life.