Copyright © 8-8-2002
we reach the last guideline. But before you are introduced
to it, you should know a little about its author first.
five hundred years before Jesus was born, a man named Siddhartha
Gautama was born in Lumbini, Nepal. He came from a royal family
and experienced its affluence. He mingled with the partygoers,
and dined in tables with all the food you could ever imagine.
The sexiest and the most beautiful women were laid before him
there was a problem. The clergymen of his time talked about
strange concepts such as "Dharma" and "Karma."
They taught that life was like going to school, where you had to
learn from your errors or bugs in order to advance to the next level
the life that you lived had consequences. For every effect
or consequence, there was a cause. And this cause-and-effect
relationship was called "karma."
when your physical body or your hardware dies, its software or mind-spirit
is recycled from the Bin and is revived and uploaded into
another piece of hardware, or into another physical body on
earth. And the next "life form" that your software
assimilates into depended on your previous life's "karma."
This, they called reincarnation.
some clergymen taught that for every life that you lived, you had
a "dharma" or "life purpose." And in order
for you to advance to a higher level, you had to accomplish your
mission in life. This was your path, calling, or your true
most of the clergymen used the idea of "karma" and "dharma"
as a way of discrimination and prejudice. They introduced
an earthly system that rated and ranked individuals, and the priests
appointed themselves as the supreme beings. This was called
the caste system.
the clergy used religion as a way to inflict suffering upon the
masses. Some people, for instance, were thought of as rubbish, being
called "the untouchables." And many peasants tried
to do extremely weird and ghastly rituals, thinking that by performing
it, their "karma" would yield positive results, allowing
them to move to a better level in the next life. Others would
try to "accelerate" their "grade level" by trying
to live extreme, ascetic, austere and "holy" impoverished
lives. They would dream of jumping from a "kindergarten"
life to perhaps a "2nd grade" life.
some people thought that this entire idea (now called Hinduism)
was complete rubbish. It was completely illogical for them, so they
lived hedonistic lifestyles---practicing the Kama Sutra with hundreds
of women in the palace.
Siddhartha could not reconcile his royal lifestyle with the peasant’s
life outside the palace. The excessive pleasures of the “palace”
made him miserable. And
when he looked around in the countryside, there was death, decay,
illness and suffering. His
mind was split. He became confused and disoriented.
Somehow, he had to debug it.
he saw the serenity of some ascetic “holy” men, and he thought of
practicing their ways to relieve his mental agony.
So it was then that he started practicing a schizophrenic
lifestyle. He left
his family, including his wife, and joined the ascetics.
He became very fanatical and weird, practicing severe fasting.
He would be tormented by deathly “visions,” including “apparitions”
of the “demon” named Mara.
The “visions” and “voices” would torture him, and finally
he concluded that an ascetic “holy” life was just as bad as a luxurious
there, he developed the Four Noble Truths, including the “Middle
Way”—which is subdivided into the Noble Eightfold Path.
He concluded that by following a moderate lifestyle, you
could extinguish your suffering.
developed a general diagnosis, cause, and solution to his mental
agony. And this he called the Four Noble Truths.
But in the end, it became a general prescription for humanity.
The Four Noble Truths
I. Suffering Exists in Life
default, you will experience suffering in life. It is an inevitable
part of your existence. Birth, illness, aging, death, the
loss or separation of loved ones, and so forth, leads to suffering.
Moreover, happiness or pleasant feelings are impermanent.
It doesn't last, so when your pleasant moments end, it produces
II. The Attachment to Desire Causes Suffering
mind, which creates feelings and thoughts, causes suffering.
You crave for pleasant experiences through food, sex, music, relationships,
material goods, and so forth. You desire to be a "somebody."
And you attempt to avoid unpleasant feelings such as jealousy, humiliation,
fear, grief, or anger.
III. Suffering Ceases by Extinguishing Desire
doesn't mean the suppression of desire. Suppression itself
will cause suffering. By understanding the impermanent nature
of all things, you will be able to harness and control your
mind. And that allows you to extinguish suffering.
can be living in a hut by the beach in a third-world country and
be completely fulfilled. Or you can be living in an elegant
mansion in a first-world country and be completely miserable.
Happiness is a state of mind.
IV. To Extinguish Desire, Follow the Middle Way or
the Noble Eightfold Path
following a moderate, balanced lifestyle, you will live a better
life. By staying in a state of equilibrium and flexing yourself
toward one extreme or another only when necessary, your life becomes
more satisfying. And by following the Middle Way, your mind
is harnessed and controlled.
The Noble Eightfold Path
you understand the Four Noble Truths, you accept the fact that
you have a problem. If you say that you’re not nuts, and that
there is no cause to make you nuts, and that you don't need
help, then you don't have "Right
to attain this, you should stop asking yourself "Unprofitable
Questions," such as "Is there a God or gods? Is
there life after death? What happens to you if life after death
really exists? What Am I? Who Am I? Does
the Ego exist?" Or any of the weird, impractical
questions that philosophers ask.
should also avoid perpetual evaluations or continuous thought weighing,
such as: "Is this good for me? Is this bad for me?
What will happen to me in the future? What really happened
to me in the past? "
questions will only drive you bananas. It is useless to ask
these because you'll never really know the true answer anyway.
Just live a decent, moderate life and you'll be okay, whatever the
answers to these questions.
Keep it simple. In that way, you will be able to extinguish
your mental agony.
if you think that your "Ego" which causes delusions is
not inextinguishable during your lifetime because it is genetically
part of your material body, then you will suffer. If you really
wanted to, you could tame your "Ego."
Siddhartha says that the Noble One only deals with practical
matters. In this case, you win regardless of the answers
to all your questions.
free your thoughts from the products of anger and hatred--thoughts
that could produce harm or might hurt others or hurt yourself.
These thoughts may include feelings of vengeance, delusions
of superiority, feelings that might hurt other genders, and
so forth. But at the same time, free yourself from thoughts
that might hurt your self, including feelings of inferiority, low
self-esteem, worthlessness, and so forth.
establish integrity and reliability. Avoid foul language,
but at the same time don't make yourself look so pure and lofty
that you appear arrogant. Learn to distinguish fantasy from
reality and fact from fiction. Make yourself a reliable witness
of what is true. Avoid gossip, but be friendly and sociable.
Avoid debates, but if you are someone who is successful in his or
her field, and if others want to know your secret, then you may
follow the laws of your state or country. If you think that
there is something wrong with it, follow the proper procedure to
escalate any flaws. You may write to your favorite senator,
congressman, or MP. Or if you wish, you may write publicly
through books, the Internet, magazines or newspaper reader-opinion
sections. If you think it's really necessary, you may
also join lawful organizations that may parade or voice their opinions
through marches on the streets. But remember; always do everything
within the confines of the law. Follow proper escalation and
grievance procedures. And of course, listen to the universal
laws of all countries, which are against murder, theft, and unlawful
be in the right job or in the right business. Of course, you
should avoid illegal occupations or businesses. So if you
are unhappy with what you are doing at the moment, you need to find
a better source of income.
Learn and know more about yourself--your likes and dislikes,
your strengths and weaknesses, your potential and your limitations.
Then assimilate this knowledge with the conditions of your environment.
You will then figure out the best path for you. And when you
start practicing "Right Living," you will be a great benefit
to yourself and to society.
while you are following the previous steps, be careful about where
your thoughts lead you. Put a harness on it to guide it properly.
Think about the consequences of what your thoughts might lead to.
Otherwise you might end up back in square one. To do this,
you may need some time for yourself and be in solitude for a while.
You need to maintain your momentum. Otherwise, you won't make
be conscious of your feelings. When you sense that harmful
feelings are on the rise, do meditative techniques to extinguish
and not suppress these feelings. Feelings of paranoia, anger,
mania, or depression can be extinguished through proper meditation
and visualization. Meditation also allows you to increase
your focus and concentration so that you are not distracted by your
"voices" or your manic thoughts. This is where the
art of Zen--a school of meditation--is famous for.
step is the development of meditative techniques to absolutely minimize--if
not completely eliminate--delusions, "voices," "visions,"
manic, or depressive thoughts, and so forth.
are also many other types of meditation, such as the martial arts--meditation
in motion--that was developed by Buddhist monks. Meditative
"sports" such as kyudo, or even golf are forms of meditation
if you don't make it competitive. And even a hobby can be
a form of meditation since you are focused on the task at hand and
distracting thoughts are set aside. Lastly, there are also
legendary meditation techniques, which supposedly develops your
Enlightenment "Energy" or Qi. But going into this
direction is too much already. This is the warning light
of where you should stop.
what now? Should you run off to the nearest Buddhist monastery
and shave your head? Remember, that's essentially what Siddhartha
initially did. Many monks nowadays practice asceticism--living
extremely strict, austere lives, which is the very practice that
Siddhartha eventually avoided and warned about. As usual,
"clergymen" generally don't practice what the original
teacher said. But if
you think that your path to happiness is headed towards that direction,
then go for it. Otherwise,
avoid it altogether.
before doing anything, consult a licensed physician who is knowledgeable
in both Eastern and Western medicine. Be certain to get references
from his or her patients--people who will testify for the doctor's
effectiveness on a long-term basis. Take note of
the word long-term. Many physicians use drug therapy
as a quick fix, and sometimes it appears to be magical.
But that's all it is--a magic trick. It only appears
to work because the patient is in a coma-like, zombie state.
So, be careful. Its long-term effects will make the patient
a useless "vegetable."
after consulting a competent physician, you can adapt and assimilate
the guidelines that I mentioned into your own culture, religion,
and country. Siddhartha's path is secular. So if you
live in a secular state, then you should not have any problems.
But what if your family is Jewish and you live in a Jewish community?
Then simply assimilate and adapt Siddhartha's secular path into
your traditions, customs, ceremonies, and so forth. Nobody
will ever notice, unless, of course, if you have an obsessive-compulsive
Rabbi who watches your every move. So have "fun"
on the eight days of Hanukah! And you can do the same thing
if you are Christian, Muslim, or if you belong to any other religion.
is actually what the Buddhist missionaries did when they spread
Siddhartha's teachings throughout Asia. That's why, in Japan,
Buddhism is mixed with Japan's native religion--Shinto. And
in the Chinese communities, Buddhism is mixed with Confucianism,
Daoism, and ancestor worship--China's native religion. This
is also how the Gnostics (Western Buddhists) managed to spread their
gospels throughout Europe.
assimilated the life of the Jewish schizophrenic teacher Yoshua
(later “nicknamed” IESOUS by the Greek Gnostics so that his name
can have a numeric value of 888, but he is now popularly known as
Jesus) with the stories of traditional European deities. The
people of Europe and Asia had gods that were born of virgins, visited
by three shepherds or "wise men," converted water into
wine, initiated "Holy Communion" (e.g. the Bacchanalian
Orgy of Bacchus), died on a cross or a tree after being arrested
by authorities, and resurrected after three days.
typical storyline existed hundreds of years before Jesus was ever
born, and it was already firmly established in the minds of the
Europeans. So, in order for the ideas of Jesus to become more
acceptable, the Gnostics assimilated his story with the traditional
storylines of other "gods" (or schizophrenics).
That's why almost all of the "Christian" festivities--such
as Christmas and Easter--celebrated today are non-Christian in origin.
And that means that if you "undress" Christianity and
take off all of its trendy, stylish, and fashionable clothing and
accessories, the naked truth will reveal nothing else but Buddhism.
as I said earlier, you should always assimilate and adapt to your
environment, to remove the trauma from your family members.
You don't want to give them any type of religious shock. Anyway,
all religions are related in some way or another, just like the
pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. If most clergymen did not manipulate
it to their liking, it would be so easy to understand.
conclusion, to produce a potent drug, you need to distill the
active ingredients of the medicinal substance. Then you concentrate
it into a pill or tablet. In the same way, Buddhism in general
is the raw medicinal substance and the practical teachings of Buddhism
is the potent drug. But just like any other drug, beware
of overdosing yourself. Eventually, as your mental health
improves with time, think less and less about Buddhism and more
and more about the true joys of life!
wish you all the best!
in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient.
There's a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.
The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal god and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the 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.
Most of the things I've come away with from Buddhism have been human, understanding feelings, impermanence, and trying to understand other people and where they're coming from.
The fundamental teachings of Gautama, as it is now being made plain to us by study of original sources, is clear and simple and in the closest harmony with modern ideas. It is beyond all disputes the achievement of one of the most penetrating intelligence the world has ever known. Buddhism is the advance of world civilization and true culture than any other influence in the chronicles of mankind.
I was in my early 20s and life wasn't making sense. I had experimented with a lot of philosophical and spiritual systems, and I felt a great affinity for the Buddhist approach. I think mainly because it left responsibility totally on me for the state of my mind, and the state of my experience of myself and the world, and a very systematic approach to changing all of that--changing my mind, my heart, changing, therefore, the outside world as well.
I know that some will have hard thoughts of me, when they hear their Christ named beside my Buddha. Yet I am sure that I am willing they should love their Christ more than my Buddha, for love is the main thing.
support Tibet publicly. I just don't make it a public issue.
I have introduced the Dalai Lama on a couple of occasions, and I
have privately supported and am involved in other efforts to redress
the inequity of the situation, but I don't actively look for opportunities
to advance these issues.
Zen Buddhism helps man to find an answer to the question of his existence, an answer which is essentially the same as that given in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and yet which does not contradict the rationality, realism, and independence which are modern man's precious achievements. Paradoxically, Eastern religious thought turns out to be more congenial to Western rational thought than does Western religious thought itself.
And then the message came... that it (Buddhism) could change your life. And I had to teach myself, because I didn't have the freedom to actually go to meetings, or for people to come to me. So I remember working really hard. And I am happy that I did it that way, because it was on my own that I really struggled for it, and it changed my life"
have no hesitation in declaring that I owe a great deal to the inspiration
that I have derived from the life of the Enlightenment One. Asia
has a message for the whole world, if only it would live up to it.
There is the imprint of Buddhistic influence on the whole of Asia,
which includes India, China, Japan, Burma, Ceylon, and the Malay
States. For Asia to be not for Asia but for the whole world, it
has to re-learn the message of the Buddha and deliver it to the
whole world. His love, his boundless love went out as much to the
lower animal, to the lowest life as to human beings. And he insisted
upon purity of life.
Many in Hollywood
are becoming Buddhists. The first American commandment 'get rich
and famous' does not bring happiness.
Zen is a particular way of looking at life. It's the moment or, you know, being in the present, you know. Buddhism is compassionate, a compassionate Buddha. Christianity is based on love. So those two things I think coordinate very well together."
As a student of comparative religions, I believe that Buddhism is the most perfect one the world has even seen. The philosophy of the theory of evolution and the law of karma were far superior to any other creed. It was neither the history of religion nor the study of philosophy that first drew me to the world of Buddhist thought but my professional interest as a doctor. My task was to teat psychic suffering and it was this that impelled me to become acquainted with the views and methods of that great teacher of humanity, whose principal theme was the chain of suffering, old age, sickness and death.
remember when I was 10 years old, I asked my mother, 'If there's
only one God, why are there so many religions?' I've been pondering
that question ever since, and the conclusion I've come to is that
all the religions are true.
Buddhism has been a major role in my life. It has given me an inner peace and calmness that I think I wouldn't have achieved at such an early age. I owe that to my mom. I don't practice Buddhism on a day-to-day basis, just when I feel like it. When I'm feeling weak, that's usually when I practice it.
I just decided to use a little bit of the Zen Buddhism and relax, instead of being frustrated, just smile and let it flow, just channel my thoughts, my frustration in a whole different form .
The nature of reality is suffering, and reality is a pretty big place, so there is a lot that can be said and done about suffering. If you have a broad view of suffering, in its internal and external varieties, it creates a pretty big field of opportunity for action. I like the idea of engaged Buddhism, the notion that one builds one's life around a commitment to relieving suffering wherever and whenever possible
religious. Probably, to a lot of people's thought, I'm extremely
religious. My practice is Buddhism, but I believe in God...I've
never had a conflict when I'm on a set. I've really given
up my life to God and I know that's why I'm OK and at peace. I don't
believe in Buddha as my God...I believe in the practical
ways of Buddhism as a way to live.
I left India and returned to Colombo, where I was the guest of a Singhalese student I knew in Perth. They were Buddhists, their house was in the grounds of a temple, and the atmosphere of the household was very peaceful and unbelievably gentle. I talked a lot about Buddhism with them, and they took me up to a temple in the hills, in Kandy, where I met the monks and talked to a very old abbot, who explained more about Buddhism to me. I found Buddhism fascinating. Their concept that you progress towards the Ineffable through a number of existences seemed to me much more intellectually satisfying than the Christian belief that you come just once and are cast into circumstances maybe of great wealth or of great moment, but that you come to God or don't come to God on the basis of that one life. The logical attraction of Buddhism after the devastating experience of India was a further part of my breaking down. I was never on the point of embracing Buddhism but I found, and still find, it infinitely more satisfying than the Judeo-Christian philosophy.
We’re not trying to turn anybody into Buddhists, that’s not our agenda. I can’t imagine a worse idea for making a movie! We were just trying to make a good movie, but I have been told by audience members that it sort of demands that you examine your own life. So that’s pretty nice!
When a modern western psychologist reads the Pali Nikayas, he again finds passages which he recognizes as belonging to his field and are concerned with typical psychological problems. Perception, imagination and thinking are described and the idea of psychological causality is developed, although in very vague terms. Behaviour and consciousness are explained as dynamic processes, governed by needs. There are the rudiments of an understanding of unconscious processes. We find interesting descriptions of different personality types. And the literature is full of advice on how to change the conscious processes evidently based on careful observation and experimentation.
Rure C. A. Johnson
can laugh. I've met many Buddhists; they laugh. Good faiths can always
laugh at themselves.