Monthly Archives: March 2015

Stages in the Buddhist Path 信解行証

    

            Stages in the Buddhist Path   信解行證

(There are basically four stages in the Buddhist Path;)

Faith:  one begin learning Buddhism, must have faith in the Buddha’s teachings.  Begin by self-inquiry on meanings of life, changing and suffering-nature of life, a wish to be free from mental and spiritual sufferings, and wish to attain true lasting happiness.

How to have faith?  By study and hearing about Buddhism, by observation, and logical judgment, then you begin to see there is great possibility to find answers in Buddhism.

Understanding: one put forth effort in studying, hearing, and comprehending the true meaning of Buddha’s teachings.  The Buddha taught Dharma for 49 years, it’s very difficult for one to study everything and comprehend the true meanings of the teachings, therefore it’s a good idea that one follows a teacher / Guru’s teachings and put in true effort to learn and practice. There is a saying; “if you know one Dharma, you know all Dharma, because, there is only one truth.

Action: One learning by hearing  or reading , and have comprehend the true meaning of Dharma, one actually put in effort to practice according to the “Teachings”, including diligent practice on meditations.

Buddha Shakyamuni  never claim to be a “God”, or in any religious sense, His teaching of “Dharma” meaning  “Truth” or “Law of Truth”, this was not about worshiping of different “entities of higher Power.

Buddhism was an education of Enlightenment, it incorporated as religion about 300 years ago, in order to accommodate worshipers. “, It actually serves as a bridge to entering the Buddhist Path.

The Buddha’s teachings are based on his personal experience, and realizations of the true reality, the Buddha encourage his disciple not to take his words for it, but to apply the methods of his teachings in their daily life, to try and prove, or witness for themselves.

Prove /Confirm: after having faith, true understanding of Buddha-Dharma, one practice correctly and diligently, one can achieves the goal of Enlightenment, absolute joy, bliss, completely freedom from all spiritual suffering and mental contamination. Proven Enlightenment can be attained by everyone, as the Buddha discovered that everyone have Buddha-nature within to begin with.

                        

 

Importance of Taking Refuge 皈依的重要

In Buddhism, it is very important that one takes refuge. But what does this mean? This is when you make the sincere commitment to study under a Teacher/Guru. In a ceremony you take refuge by honoring the three-jewels: The Buddha, The Dharma, and The Sangha. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition you would also add the fourth jewel which would be the Guru .

The relationship between a Guru and disciple is deeper than that of a father and son. The Guru has the responsibility to teach and train the disciple, passing down his knowledge and wisdom to them. This tradition includes all schools of Buddhism and has been passed down from the beginning of Buddha’s time.

Therefore one who wishes to learn and practice Buddhism should make an effort to seek out an accomplished master to be their Teacher/Guru, and take refuge in them.

The Three Jewels refers to: The Buddha jewel,  (due to his enlightenment and kindness in sharing his teachings).  The Dharma jewel, (all the Buddha’s wisdom teachings). The Sangha Jewel, (The Buddhist community, the monastery monks and nuns). During early days of Buddhism, The Sangha referred to the Arahants, (those who had high levels of realization). Today we refer to any group of  practicing Buddhists  as The Sangha.

At a basic level, one takes refuge in the visible forms group of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

 

  • Relying on the Guru’s teachings.
  • Study the Sutras (Buddhist Scriptures).
  • Practicing Buddhism with a group of Buddhists and following the precepts.

 

On a higher level, refuge in The Three Jewels refers to:

 

  • Commitment to attain the enlightened Buddha mind, which is emptiness and Nirvana.
  • Commitment to comprehend the ultimate truth, the law of nature, the Dharma as methods, the way, and supreme wisdom.
  • Sincere and diligent practice to achieve a pure mind, free from contamination (hatred, judgment, and delusions).

 

Taking refuge is an important commitment to genuinely practice the Buddha’s teachings. It has nothing to do with superstition. The goal is to learn how to achieve mental and spiritual liberation and to live a truly happier life.

 

Recognizing Impermanence 認識無常

                          Recognizing Impermanence

 All sentient beings seek happiness, but no one attains meaningful, lasting happiness. This is why the Buddha Shakyamuni renounced his royal life style to seek solutions. Upon his Enlightenment, he realized that the main reason sentient beings suffer is due to change, which is the impermanent nature of all things.

Therefore if one wishes to attain true happiness, you must first learn to recognize impermanence, accept impermanence, and transform impermanence into a joyful path.

 Impermanence is not only a Buddhist concept; it is a universal reality. According to Buddhist understanding, everything in our material and conscious worlds that come into being are purely the result of causes and conditions, and are ultimately of an impermanent nature. Nothing is stable and everlasting. But, for our ordinary human minds, all things that are around us appear to be stable and everlasting. We directly assume and cling to this view, when in fact, these things are not stable, and not in a state of everlastingness. Inevitably, things change. Due to our false assumptions of stability and clinging to everlastingness, it brings psychological and emotional pain: Frustration, disappointment, confusion, mental confliction, and we are totally confused in that darkness.

 When we talk about impermanence there are two types: gross and subtle. One could say, visible and invisible. Gross impermanence refers to things and events that come into being due to causes and conditions; stay for a while; and then disappear, or cease. For example, if you go to a party, and you’re with all your good friends, enjoying great food and music, remember! It is an event that is impermanent in nature. It ends when the party is over. Anything that is constructed, with the condition of time and space, will eventually deteriorated.

 Another example is those unexpected nature disasters, which change people’s lives suddenly. All beings endure different kinds of suffering. That is gross/visible impermanence.

 Subtle impermanence refers to things that are invisible, for example: our minds are fragmentary, moment to moment, the thoughts moves very rapidly from one thing to another, all things in our life are in constant change, our sorrows and joys come and go, like a roller coaster. It is important to recognize this law of nature and we can prepare for it and know how to transform any negative situation to a positive one.

Everything that exists in the world can be destroyed in four ways:

  1. Birth will end by death.
  2. Our loved ones be they friends or relatives will end in separation.
  3. The wealth and material possessions, which we worked so hard to accumulation, and those powerful positions one holds, will end when we die.
  4. Everything that is constructed, with time and space will collapse. If we look at our world from these four destructive ways, we can see the impermanent nature of the reality.

According to Buddhism, the understanding and realization of impermanence is very useful, helpful, and optimistic. It allows us to see our whole world as a very temporary state. The fact that we come to this world without anything, and we leave without anything is like a quest, visiting this world for a few decades, and then leaving. Buddhism teaches us how to train our mind to see that true reality of phenomena, how not to cling to things and people due to the impermanent nature of reality. As a result, we are able to protect our minds from many of the unhealthy emotions that cause us endless suffering. And, ultimately, achieve true lasting happiness.

 

 

How to listen and benefit from the Buddha-Dharma 如何聽聞佛法及受益

          How to listen and benefit from Buddha-Dharma

                                 如何聽聞佛法及受益

A True Buddhist Student is one who:

* Genuinely wishes to find a solution for mental and spiritual  liberation. 真為解脫

* Is open-minded and non-judgmental of the teachings. 不執不疑

* Is focused with great concentration, and awareness.  聚精會神

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The example of a glass:  杯例

The upside down glass: When listening with closed mind, nothing can enter. 倒的杯

The Contaminated glass: listens without sincere intend or is judgmental. 髒的杯

The Leaky glass: without focus or concentration, either does not hear it or soon forgets it. 漏的杯

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***  How to benefit from Buddha-Dharma:  如何受益

One should examine deeply  into the human phenomena and the conditions of existence and understand the inherent sufferings of rebirth, aging, sickness, and death. All things that are born will die. All things that are constructed will decay. This is the nature of impermanence (change). How do we overcome and transform all of our dissatisfactions and stress to live a more peaceful, serene, and enjoyable life?

  • (聞) Seeking solutions by taking action to learn about Buddha’s teachings. Hearing and reading pure Dharma.
  • (思) Contemplation – After hearing or reading the Dharma, it is important to contemplate the subject over and over until you have comprehended the true meaning of it.
  • (修) Understanding that all things are impermanent, and not clinging to them. By avoiding greed, jealousy, and hatred. Truly practicing and following the teachings correctly. Developing great wisdom and universal compassion in order to achieve ultimate liberation and the ability to help others.

Buddhism is based on Buddha’s own personal experience of the path,  gives us the complete “Recipes ” on how to become liberated ourselves from all mental and spiritual sufferings.

*** Major Traditions of Buddhism : 佛教乘別

       

All traditions of Buddhism emphasizes taking Refuge/initiation under a Guru/teacher.

The different “Vehicles” of Buddhist practice is due to the different levels of individuals capacity.

Hinayana: Also referred as “Small Vehicle“小乘…. those with limited capacity, practice to overcome attachment to this life and out of concern for their future well-being. Seeking for Self liberation alone.

Their practice focus on the basic five Buddhist precepts, and The Four Noble Truth. Which contained in the Buddha’s teaching referred as” first turning of wheel of Dharma”.

Mahayana: Also referred as “Great Vehicle“大乘 …. Seeking for Self liberation/Enlightenment,

for the benefit of all sentient beings. Practice the Bodhisattva Path. including Six Paramitas, complete understanding of Twelve links of cause and effects. Development of bodhichitta, that is great universal compassion toward all sentient beings Which contained in the Buddha’s teaching referred as “second turning of wheel of Dharma”.

Vajrayana: is a school of Mahayana, Also referred to as “Diamond Vehicle or Thunder boat” 金剛乘 . Practices including external Sutra teachings and internal practice of yoga meditation, which combined Mantra, Mudra, and visualization for speedy realization of Buddhahood in shortest time. Which contained in the Buddha’s teaching referred as “third turning of wheel of Dharma”.

Requiring initiation by the Guru / personal teacher on each stages of practice; the Preliminary Stage, Internal practice Stage, Secret tantric practice stage, and Completion stage. Mahayana teachings,. Seeking for Self liberation for the benefit of all sentient beings.

Tibetan Buddhism: four major schools of lineage traditions; they are schools of teachings Mahayana Buddhism, with advanced practice of tantric Vajrayana. The four schools are the Lyingma, the Kagyu, the Gelug, and the Sakya

Zen also is a school of Mahayana, transmitted from the Buddha to his disciple first patriarch Mahakashyapa, with unbroken lineage to twenty eighth patriarch Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk whom traveled from India to China during the 5th century at old age of about 90 , he is the first

Chinese patriarch.

Zen emphasizes rigorous meditation-practice, insight into Buddha-nature, and the personal expression of this insight in daily life, especially for the benefit of others.

Besides teaching the Zen Buddhism, Bodhidharma also taught the physical training of the Shaolin monks that led to the creation of Shaolin Kung Fu. Zen’s teaching stanza verses “Not founded upon words and letters; By pointing directly to [one’s] mind.” 不立文字, 直指本心”

(Once again. Thank you to all who have contributed to this document taken from Wikipedia)