A philosophical school of Mahayana Buddhism, Madhyamika is the teaching of emptiness. Founded in the 2nd century by Nagarjuna, madhya means “middle” in Sanskrit. Madhyamika teachings are the middle path between eternalism and nihilism, and those who follow the teachings are called Madhyamikas.
Rigpa is a Tibetan word that roughly means “awareness” or “intelligence.” In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of Dzogchen or Atiyoga — which aims to achieve a natural, primordial state — the word has a deeper meaning. It denotes the awareness or knowledge of the innermost nature of the mind. Rigpa, therefore, is the knowledge that comes from recognizing one’s own nature and is nearly synonymous with the Hindu term, vidya.
Rigpa/vidya is a higher awareness that leads to enlightenment, which is the goal of Buddhism and its sister tradition, yoga.
The holy fig tree, native to the Indian subcontinent, has significance in three of the major religions that have their roots in that region: Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. It is also known as the sacred fig, ashwattha tree, bodhi tree and peepul tree. Its botanical name is Ficus religiosa.
It is thought that Gautama Buddha attained bodhi (awakening or enlightenment) while seated under the holy fig tree. Likewise, ascetics in the Hindu and Jain traditions often meditate under holy fig trees because they are believed to be sacred.
Satori is a Japanese Buddhist term for enlightenment. The word literally means “to understand”. Satori refers to “deep” or lasting enlightenment.
The Precepts are rules of training that are followed by Buddhists and constitute the most important code of ethics. There are five main precepts, often referred to as the “five precepts”. All are commitments to abstain from unwholesome acts, such as lying, sexual misconduct and killing.
The precepts help to develop the necessary purity of mind and integrity of character needed to progress on the path to enlightenment.
The system of Reiki also teaches a set of precepts, as guidelines for living.
Pure Land Buddhism is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism and one of the largest schools of Buddhism in eastern Asia, particularly Japan and China. The religion focuses on the Amitabha Buddha, a celestial buddha, and a principal one in this form of Buddhism.
Pure Land Buddhism is so-named because the faithful seek to be reborn in Pure Land, also called Western Paradise or Sukhavati. The Pure Land Buddhists reach this realm by simply chanting the name of Amitabha Buddha with complete faith or invoking his name at the time of death.
The Four Noble Truths are the foundation of Buddhism and Buddha’s first sermon. It is believed that Buddha understood them while meditating under the bodhi tree. They are duhkha, the truth of suffering; samudaya, the truth of the cause of suffering; nirodha, the truth of the ending of suffering; and magga, the truth of the path that liberates from suffering.
In Buddhism, Buddha is often presented as a physician and these four truths are compared to a healing process, in which the problem or sickness and its cause are diagnosed first, and then the cure and release are found in the end. They also symbolize the awakening of the Buddha himself, as well as the possibility of achieving enlightenment and freedom for all human beings.
The Goddess Tara is worshipped in both Hinduism and Buddhism as the goddess of compassion and protection. In Hinduism, she is a form of the female primordial energy known as shakti. The name comes from the Sanskrit root tar, meaning “protection.” In other Indian languages, the name translates as “star.”
Tara first appeared as a deity in Hinduism, but was later adopted by Buddhism. In fact, in some traditions, she is considered the female Buddha. In Tibetan Buddhism, she is the most popular deity worshipped today.
Buddhism is a spiritual tradition that focuses on personal spiritual development and the attainment of a deep insight into the true nature of life. There are 376 million followers worldwide.
Buddhists seek to reach a state of nirvana, following the path of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, who went on a quest for Enlightenment around the sixth century BC.
There is no belief in a personal god. Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent and that change is always possible. The path to Enlightenment is through the practice and development of morality, meditation and wisdom.
Buddhists believe that life is both endless and subject to impermanence, suffering and uncertainty. These states are called the tilakhana, or the three signs of existence. Existence is endless because individuals are reincarnated over and over again, experiencing suffering throughout many lives.
It is impermanent because no state, good or bad, lasts forever. Our mistaken belief that things can last is a chief cause of suffering.
The history of Buddhism is the story of one man’s spiritual journey to enlightenment, and of the teachings and ways of living that developed from it.
Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, was born into a royal family in present-day Nepal over 2500 years ago. He lived a life of privilege and luxury until one day he left the royal enclosure and encountered for the first time, an old man, a sick man, and a corpse. Disturbed by this he became a monk before adopting the harsh poverty of Indian asceticism. Neither path satisfied him and he decided to pursue the ‘Middle Way’ – a life without luxury but also without poverty.
Buddhists believe that one day, seated beneath the Bodhi tree (the tree of awakening), Siddhartha became deeply absorbed in meditation and reflected on his experience of life until he became enlightened.
By finding the path to enlightenment, Siddhartha was led from the pain of suffering and rebirth towards the path of enlightenment and became known as the Buddha or ‘awakened one’.
Schools of Buddhism
There are numerous different schools or sects of Buddhism. The two largest are Theravada Buddhism, which is most popular in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Burma (Myanmar), and Mahayana Buddhism, which is strongest in Tibet, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Mongolia.
The majority of Buddhist sects do not seek to proselytise (preach and convert), with the notable exception of Nichiren Buddhism.
All schools of Buddhism seek to aid followers on a path of enlightenment.
~Buddhism is 2,500 years old
~There are currently 376 million followers worldwide
~There are over 150,000 Buddhists in Britain
~Buddhism arose as a result of Siddhartha Gautama’s quest for Enlightenment in around the 6th Century BC
~There is no belief in a personal God. ~It is not centred on the relationship between humanity and God
~Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent – change is always possible
~The two main Buddhist sects are Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism, but there are many more
~Buddhists can worship both at home or at a temple
~The path to Enlightenment is through the practice and development of morality, meditation and wisdom.
At a moment in time in your life you become so conscious of the truth of a matter that you just go silent.
Truth and silence work both ways: deep truth results in long silence, long silence results in deep truth.
Train yourself to bask in silence, like a lizard basking in the rays of the sun on a desert rock.