Buddhism is a path of teaching and practice. Buddhist practices such asmeditation are means of changing oneself in order to develop the qualities ofawareness, kindness, and wisdom.
The experience developed within the Buddhisttradition over thousands of years has created an incomparable resource for allthose who wish to follow the path of spiritual development. Ultimately, theBuddhist 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’ inthe sense of having woken up to reality’. The title was first given to a mancalled Siddharta Guatemala, who lived about 2,500 years ago in Northern India. When he was 35 he found Enlightenment whist in profound mediation, aftersearching for years.
In the next 45 years of his life he spent it travelingthrough India teaching his way of life. His teaching is known as Buddha-dharma. Traveling from place to place, the Buddha gained many disciples. Theyalso taught of the enlightment, and the chain has continued on to this presentday. The Buddha was not a God, and he made no claim to divinity. There is noconcept of a creator in Buddhism.
He was a human being who, thought tremendousefforts, transformed himself. The state of Enlightenment which he reached has three main facets. Itis a state of wisdom, of insight into the true nature of things. It is also asource or boundless compassion, manifesting itself in activity for the benefitof all beings. and it the total liberation of all the energies of the mind andthe 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 recentlyrevived. In the last century Buddhism has emphatically arrived in the West andup to one million westerners have become Buddhists. What Does Buddhism Teach?Buddhism sees life as being in process of constant change and itspractices aim to take advantage of this fact. It means that one can change forthe better. The decisive factor in changing ourselves is the mind and Buddhismhas developed many methods for working on the mind.
Most importantly, Buddhistspractice meditation which is a way of developing more positive states of mindwhich are characterized by calm, concentration, awareness, and emotions such asfriendliness. How do you become a Buddhist?To become a Buddhist in the full sense means committing oneself to thecentral ideas of Buddhism. The Buddhist path is open to all equally: men andwomen, young and old, people of all nationalities, races and backgrounds. RebirthRebirth in the Six RealmsBuddhism teaches that birth, death and rebirth are part of thecontinuing process of change.
The is similar to the continuous process ofgrowth, decay, and replacement of cells in ones’ body. According to medicalexperts, after every seven years, all the cells in one’s body are replaced bynew ones. At the moment of death, and the body can no longer survive, the mind isseparated from the body. At that time, the craving for lives causes one to seeka new existence, and the karma done previously determine the place of one’srebirth. There are six realms which one may be reborn after death. They are therealms of gods, the demigods, human beings, animals, hungry ghosts, and thehells.
In general, wholesome actions like good conduct, charity, a and mentaldevelopment, are the cause of rebirth in the happy realms of gods, demigods, andhuman beings. On the other hand, unwholesome actions like immoral conduct,miserliness and cruelty cause rebirth in the unhappy realm of animals, hungryghosts and the hells. Of all the six realms, the realm of human beings is considered the mostdesirable. In the realm of human beings, the conditions for attaining Nirvanaare better. In general, in the unhappy realms, the suffering of living beingsis so intense and their ignorance so great that they are unable to recognize theTruth and follow the path to attain freedom. Alternatively, living beings in therealms of the gods and demigods experience so much happiness and have so manydistractions that they do not think of rebirth until it is too late.
Then theymay be reborn in one of the lower realms of suffering. In the realm of humanbeings, however, people experience both happiness and suffering, and areintelligent enough to recognize the Truth and follow the path to attain freedomfrom the cycle of birth and death. Therefore, one is indeed fortunate to beborn as a human being, and should remember that the principal cause of birth inthe realm is Good Conduct. The Cycle of Birth and DeathThe Buddha pointed out that whenever one is reborn, whether as a humanbeing, 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 differbut none of them lasts forever.
Eventually, rebirth will take place. The realminto 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 rebornendlessly, in one realm of existence or in another. The Buddha declared thatthere is no permanent rest in the cycle of birth and death.
It is only when onefollows the Noble Eightfold path taught by the Buddha and eventually attainsNirvana, that one finally becomes free from the ceaseless cycle and gainssupreme and permanent happiness. KarmaKarma is the law of moral causation. It is action and reaction in theethical realm. It is natural law that every action produces a certain effect.
So if one performs wholesome actions, one will experience happiness. on theother 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’spast karma determine that nature of one’s present situation in life.Category: Religion