Tag Archives: Buddhist

Religion {14} ~ Buddhism

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.

The Buddha
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.

~Rebirth~

Rebirth can refer to a number of different concepts within spirituality, depending on the school of thought. Hinduism and Buddhism, which both share roots with yogic philosophy, teach about rebirth.

In Hinduism, rebirth, or reincarnation, is a central tenet of the religious teachings. It refers to the idea that the spirit can begin a new life after the death of its physical body, in another body. This may be a human or an animal body.

In Buddhism, rebirth is the idea that when a being dies, this event is the catalyst for the creation of a new aggregation of consciousness. The new being is neither identical nor completely dissimilar to the previous life, but rather they form a continuous stream of consciousness.

Symbols {32} ~ Kuan Yin

Greatly revered across different Buddhist traditions, Kuan Yin is an example of the “sacred feminine”. Also known as Kwan Yin and Guan Yin, Kuan Yin first appeared in Chinese scriptures around 400 CE. She is believed to be the female manifestation of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

Depicted as an ethereally lovely Goddess, Kuan Yin is a symbol of unconditional love, kindness, and mercy. She shields and cares for the sick, the unwanted, the unlucky, and the poor. As one who protects women and children, she is also linked to fertility. Followers turn to her in times of need, fear, or misfortune. With just a glance at her graceful countenance, you too may find her to be a source of calm and comfort.

Symbols {30} ~ 8 Auspicious Symbols In Tibetan Buddhism

In Tibetan Buddhism, these symbols are said to be the luckiest and most sacred of all. Frequently seen in combination with one another, each represents a different component of Buddhist philosophy.

The Parasol: Representing protection and shelter, the Parasol shows how Buddha’s teachings will shield us from the “heat” of forces like greed and lust.

The Golden Fish: A symbol of joy and liberation, the Fish represent freedom from samsara, or the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

The Conch Shell: Used to call individuals to prayer, the Conch’s resounding trumpet represents the influence of dharma and its ability to awaken us from ignorance.

The Lotus: A symbol of enlightenment, the Lotus mirrors human suffering. Growing through muck in order to blossom, the Lotus shows that we too may blossom through Buddha’s wisdom.

The Urn: A symbol of abundance, the Urn is evocative of Buddha’s spiritual wealth, demonstrating that there is no end to his knowledge and wisdom.

The Infinite Knot: With no beginning or end, the Infinite Knot reflects Buddha’s infinite compassion as well as the interconnectedness of all living things.

The Banner: Also known as the Flag, the Banner represents victory over ignorance and the obstacles that block the path to enlightenment.

The Wheel: The Wheel of Law, or Dharmachakra, is a summation of Buddha’s teachings. The eight spokes are Buddha’s Eightfold Path, while the inner hub is the discipline required to follow it.

~Desapabandha~

Desapabandha is a Sanskrit word that means “limitation of space.” A Jain code of conduct, desapabandha assists the yogi in realizing and practicing the five mahavratas (“great vows”) in the physical manifestation of their daily lives. The concept of desa in Sanskrit, means “space,” and pabandha means “to be locked.” When the words are combined, the concept of space is given a base in physical reality.

Zen Koans {19}

A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!

~Karuna~

Karuna typically translates as “compassion” in English and is a concept used in the spiritual paths of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The word comes from the Sanskrit kara, meaning “to do” or “to make,” indicating an action-based form of compassion, rather than the pity or sadness associated with the English word. Karuna is the doing of something to alleviate suffering.

Karuna is a key element of the yogic path, opening the door to the enlightenment and oneness with the universe.

~Ishvara~

Ishvara is the concept of a higher power, but has different meanings, depending on the various schools of Hinduism. Ishvara is synonymous with Brahman (or Absolute Reality), but can also refer to the Supreme Consciousness or a personal god.

In yoga, many yogis choose their own ishvara to focus on in their practice.

Ishvara may be translated as “lord” in English.

~Mindstream~

Mindstream is a concept from Buddhist philosophy that refers to the continuity of awareness which carries on from one life to another. This can be viewed as a string of passing moments that happen either in the same lifetime or in the transitional period between one life and another.

An understanding of mindstream can allow a yogi to meditate more deeply and effectively during yoga practice as well as draw upon wisdom from past lives. It is especially important in the practice of Guru yoga, as the practitioner has to unite their mindstream with that of their guru.