Monthly Archives: March 2016

Nirvana 涅槃

Nirvana 涅槃

This a word often misunderstood as death by none Buddhist and also by Buddhist.  So, we will take a look at some of the interpretations of “nirvana”.

Buddhist tradition distinguishes between nirvana in this lifetime and nirvana after death. In “nirvana-in-this-lifetime” physical life continues, but with a state of mind that is free from negative mental disturbances, the mind is peaceful, happy, and non-reactive. With “nirvana-after-death”, paranirvana, the last remains of physical life vanish, and no further rebirth takes place.

In the Mahayana tradition, the highest goal is Buddhahood, in which there is no abiding in Nirvana, but a Buddha re-enters the world to work for the salvation of all sentient beings

The term nirvana describes a state of freedom from suffering and rebirth

The extinction of greed, the extinction of hatred, the extinction of delusion: this indeed is called Nirvana.

In the Theravada-tradition, nirvana is regarded as an uncompounded or unconditioned state of being which is “trans-mundane”, and which is beyond our normal dualistic conceptions

In one interpretation, the “luminous consciousness” is identical with Nirvana.

One who has eternal peace and bliss?

As you see, nirvana is not death; we can say it is deathless death. A person can be well alive in nirvana, because the spirit is in such a state of complete peace and bliss. And nirvana after a person is death; one is free from rebirth (back into Samsara / suffering of existence).

Therefore, nirvana can be achieved in one’s life time, not after death, when one has attained Enlightenment, one is in nirvana. The Buddha’s teachings clearly charted out the Path for his followers to learn and practice, it is the path of his own experience leading to his own enlightenment. The Buddha never ask his disciples to worship him as some sort of higher being, but to fellow his steps, and try and prove for themselves.

Enlightenment is recovery of true self, our very own divinity, the true spirit within us all along, never apart from each of us since birth, each of us has Buddha-Nature within, similar to Christian’s saying…there’s God within.

We don’t need to seek for enlightenment from “out-there”, we just need to “wake-up”. Wake up from what? You might ask; wake up from dream-like state of existence.

All things are mere manifestation of our own mind, our anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, endless desires etc. creates cloud-like delusional sufferings, we don’t realize we created our own sufferings, day in and day out, we don’t even realize that we are suffering, then one day, when our physical body can no longer function, everything seem suddenly come to an end, then we ask ourselves; where did time go? What have I done with my life?

True happiness is spiritual, not money, love, or other form of success in life; they offer temporary happiness, which subject to change of time and space.  Economy change, people change, nothing is permanent.

True happiness is here and now on the Buddhist Path, developing wisdom and compassion by purification of our body, speech and mind. Detachment of all poisons, (to the mind–greed, hatred, jealousy, proud…)

 

What is Dharma? 何為 法 ?

What is Dharma? 何為 ?

There is no single word translation for the word “Dharma” western languages. In Chinese “(Fua) has many meanings also. In Hinduism, Dharma signifies behaviors that are considered to be “rta” (similar to Chinese “Tao”), the order makes life and universe possible; including rights, responsibilities, virtues, right way of living, the path, one’s conducts, and the laws of government.

Philosophically, dharma also refer to “phenomena”, or the “path of righteousness”, and other areas as purification and moral transformation of human beings,

In Buddhism, Dharma means “cosmic law and order”, also applied to the teachings of the Buddha, as in our discussion here.

Dharma means the truth, nature, way of living, law of nature. that is why the Buddha after teaching dharma 49 years, proclaimed that he did not teach anything. Just like we wouldn’t say” I use water to water the flowers” or “I had lunch meal”. His teachings (Dharma) only meant “pointing the way to the truth”, like use the finger pointing to the moon, the finger is not the moon.

To understand Dharma, we need to understand the meaning beyond the words, not from the “face value”. For example; many buddhist and non-buddhist, mistakenly thought the word ” nirvana” as being “death” (it’s deathless death), or “emptiness” as “nothing, or void of anything” (it’s something of nothing). All takes deep contemplation.

Dharma encompasses wisdom and compassion. It is flexible with the nature’s impermanence of the reality. It is also in line with scientific, the nature of cause and effect. If you do this; the result is this, if you do that; the result is that; you ripe what you sow, this is the law of nature.

Homan nature has great qualities, the Buddha said that each of us have buddha-nature, which is pure and sound, loving and kind, with natural wisdom and compassion, and even possess natural powers. Well! what happened? we are in such shape? the world is filled with violence, it is not in our original human nature. It is due to contamination of the mind, with contaminated mind there’s delusion, like wearing dirty glasses, we can’t see clear what is out there, then we make decisions based on false perceptions, then we suffer from all the consequences of disturbing emotions, undesirable phenomena.

In the Dharma teaching of the Eight-fold-Path, they are to be applied rightly, Right View for example; if you don’t have right view, everything you do will be off track, the farther you go the farther you are off the Right Path.

This is true in religions, we have seen many people being very religious, going to churches, or temples every week for long time, yet their behaviors still showed heavy contaminated with greed, hatred, jealousy, endless desires for fame, name, praise and blame, and plenty of emotional disturbance, generating endless suffering in their life. This is due to lack understanding of the right view.

Dharma is also very practical, it emphasis “here and now”, being aware of moment-to-moment of life experiences, truly living a life. Only by being mindful of moment-to-moment of our daily activities, thoughts, and speech, can we detect any wrong doings, and correct immediately, this is the dharma practice, detachment of all negativities is the key.

Following this practice, we can one day develop calm abiding mind without even realize it, intern wisdom is developed, suffering will end at the time when wisdom is attained. Dharma has no religious denomination or boundaries, everyone can practice this path. So, never too late to learn and practice Dharma, the time to begin is now. Buddhism promote non-violent, world peace is possible with Buddha Dharma.

 

Tolerance 忍辱

Tolerance 忍辱

In the Bodhisattva practice–Six Paramita, there is a practice of “Tolerance”. Many people find it hard to actually practice, because it is difficult to “love the unlovable”.

A story in a Sutra….a Bodhisattva asked the Buddha…..Please describe what is an enlightened one like? The Buddha replied; A Buddha is someone facing thousands of people beating him with sticks, while enduring all the pain and ridicule, he never engender any thought of hatred, his mind remained calm and peaceful .

Another story is that, a village girl had a illegitimate child, when the family pressed for answers about who is the child’s father, she brought the baby to the Buddha and said,  this is your child; imagine accusing a monk doing such a thing? The Buddha silently accepted the false accusation, the punishment by the family and ridicule from the villagers. A few years went by, the young lady finally could no longer bare the guilt, so she told the truth. That is when people realized how great the Buddha was, and everybody begun to fellow Him, and practice His teachings.

Well, how close are we on practice of tolerance? It’s really not easy. To be able be tolerant, inclusive, forgiving, and compassionate, one must first comprehend “emptiness”.  Without understanding of emptiness, it’s impossible to achieve true tolerance.

We have discussed “emptiness” in the previous posted topics, emptiness is the truth that all things lack inherent existence; when someone talk bad thing about you, it is only the sound carried by the wind traveled thought your ears, and you happened to understand the language, intern stirred up your unguarded emotions, if your do not know that particular language, then you don’t understand what on earth they are saying, it would not bother you in any way. therefore, our mind should not be disturbed by words (wind/air).

If someone criticize us, or  accuse us about something, first, we do a self inquiry; if what they say is true? , we correct ourselves quickly, if it’s not true, that means they are committing bad karma from speech, we view it as an opportunity to practice detachment and tolerance, just like brush dust off your shoulders, and out your mind.

Argument is a tendency for many, but will not solve the problem, it will only fuel the tension between parties. It’s been said; if two people continued to fight for a long period of time, both parties are wrong, because it take two to tangle. I used to joke with friends; if you want have a fight with me, please go outside wait for me, if I don’t show up, go ahead start to fight without me. So, next time someone wants to argue with you, just tell the person, keep talking (arguing), I’ll be back later…….maybe not ! Argument is only exchange of sounds / voices, lack inherent existence, let the wind blow it away!

In any unpleasant situation, always go back thinking “emptiness”, life is only a passage, as we travel through, good or not so good, all are “experiences”, like in a moving train, we cannot cling to anything we see from the window, all experience will be gone with time and space, therefore, we conclude that all things, all experience are “emptiness”, be detached, this how to be spiritually free.

Where are you from? Where will you go? 何來?何去?

Where are you from? Where will you go? 何來?何去?

We all know the stages of our life….birth, childhood, schools, jobs / careers, marriage, children, growing old, sickness and death. How many people have ever thought about; where were you before you were born? where will you go after you are dead?

Every day, we start with getting up, brush our teeth, get dressed, go to work, then fight the traffic, go home and have dinner, etc. day in and day out, we make some ,spend it, we trade the time of our life to acquire some material objects, love, fame and name etc., and getting older along the way, then we die. this is the truth if you really think about it.

When we think about it, we begin to wonder where did “I” come from? where do “I” go when I die? and what is purpose of life?

According to the Buddha dharma, the “I” come from the eighth consciousness, it is the storage of Karma, (good and bad), which dictates one’s future becoming. within the eighth consciousness there’s Tathagata-mind which is the pure buddha nature, this mind never apart from the eighth consciousness, and it migrates with your rebirth.

Therefore, one never actually dies, only the form changes, form meaning the shape of the body. This also dictated by the Karma. for example; if a person has stilling Habits, this habit would be most compatible to what? a rat or similar, or if a person has a habit of hatred, this habit would be most compatible to what? a snake or similar. if a person is poor, but he / she always being compassionate and charitable, this habit would be most compatible to what? a wealthy and kind person. It is the habitual mind that dictates one’s future becoming of the form/body.

This is why the Buddha upon His enlightenment, feel the need to teach sentient being to practice Dharma, by following his Path, to purify our mind and spirit, so we will not fall into the lower realms of existence.

The ultimate goal is to break away from the cycle of existence; the wheel of rebirth. How? you ask, begin from here and now, moment-to-moment in our daily life, purify our body, speech and mind, neutralize our mind, view all thing with non judgmental mind. we see people doing good things, we praise, we see people doing bad things, we know what they are doing, be detached.

If we can give advice without making them angry, by all means do so, but best advice is giving by ask. Long time ago, I found out if you take upon yourself to give advice, most time people react in a negative way, most time they reacted with the attitude “Who do you think you are?”, so use wisdom.

If someone say something negative about you, first examine yourself if what they say is true, if it is, correct yourself immediately, if not true, be detached, you know they are creating negative Karma for themselves. Or do something harmful to you, if physically , get to safe place as fast as possible, if none physical, be detached. you know they are creating negative Karma for themselves.

To be spiritual free is to not live in the past, good or bad, not live in the future, that is living in the dream world, live in the “Here and Now”, yet not being attached to the phenomena. Because all things changes from moment to moment, joyful moments will end soon, so will suffering moments, if you ever think ….ooh! things are so bad, it’s like end of the world! just remember, it’s only momentary, it will change for better very soon, sometimes within only minutes.

All things are only passage of life, and in this human realm, there will always be good and bad, we only need to learn to neutralize it, bringing your mind to emptiness, this is the way to break from the cycle of rebirth, this is the Path of Dharma.