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
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
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 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
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
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
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 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.