1 Introduction to BuddhismHistorical Background Buddhism was born in northeasternIndia in the year 588 BC founded by Siddhattha GautamaBuddha. He was born on the full moon day of the sixth lunarmonth 623 years before Christ at beautiful Lumbini Garden,located between Kapilavatthu and Devadaha City south west ofthe country known as Nepal today. His father was KingSuddhodana and his mother was Queen Sirimahamaya orQueen Maya. He married Princes Yasodhara when he wassixteen years old and became a monk at the age of 29. He liveda luxurious life during his 29 years in me palace. After he leftme palace, he studied and practiced meditation with the very popular gurus of his time, Aralaand Utaka, passing many levels of concentration or tranquil meditation. When he completedthe causes of study from those teachers, he left them to find the way known as AtthanggikaMagga or Middle Eightfold Path, and he attained enlightenment in the sixth year of hismonkshood. His mind became free from all the ten fetters: 1. Personality-belief (sakkaya-ditthi), 2. Sceptical doubt (vicikiccha), 3. Clinging to mere rules and ritual (silabbatapramasa; upadana), 4. Sensual craving (kama-raga), 5. Ill-will (vyapada), 6. Craving for fine materiel existence (rupa-raga), 7. Craving for immaterial existence (arupa-raga), 8. Vanity (mana), 9. Restlessness (uddhacca), 10. Ignorance (avijja). His mind filled with clear understanding, rationality, understanding of cause and effect,understanding of cause and effect of sensual craving and how to let go of craving. His mindfilled with acceptance of the way things really are, and with loving-kindness and compassion,clear comprehension of born visible and invisible mental objects, the value of a simple andhumble way of life, and he shined with the light of right understanding. He became known asThe Buddha, the Awakened One.What the Buddha Taught The Buddha taught us the Four Noble Truths, the truth of all beings with and withoutconsciousness. They are:1. Noble Truth of Dissatisfactoriness or hardship of maintenance (Dukkha).2. Noble Truth of Cause of Dissatisfactoriness (samudaya).3. Noble Truth of Cessation of Dissatisfactoriness (nirodha).4. Noble Truth of Path leading to the Cessation of Cause of Dissatisfactoriness (magga).Dukkha: The Noble Truth of Dissatisfaction or Suffering. Buddhism did not view anything inan optimistic nor pessimistic manner, but Buddhism views everything in a realistic way. WhenBuddhism talks about Dukkha or suffering or Dissatisfactoriness it means the hardship ofmaintenance and the problems in daily life, such as birth, old age, diseases, death, sorrow andfrustrations of every kind. What is undesirable is painful, so too is not getting somethingdesired. All problems are unwanted but although people try their best to avoid trouble and tobe free from suffering, they cannot protect themselves from it The truth Buddha taught solvesthe problems and problematic situations which, when observed and comprehended by self-investigation, helps us learn for ourselves whether the teaching is true. With carefulobservation of life, we can see mat all life is unstable, decaying and subject to change.
2Samudaya: The Noble Truth of Origin of Dissatisfaction (dukkhosamudaya-ariyasacca); Theorigin (origins) of dissatisfaction are many, depending upon the conditions. Every kind ofdissatisfaction has its origins in craving (tanha) or selfish desire, which is the result ofignorance (avijja) or delusion, resulting in hatred, destruction, violence and suffering insociety in the past, today and in the future. Craving produces re-existence and re-becoming(ponobbavika), and is bound up with passionate greed (nandiragasahagata), finding freshdelight now here and now there (tatratatrabhinandini), namely 1. Craving for sense-pleasures(kama-tanha), 2. Craving for existence and becoming (bhava-tanha) and, 3. Craving for non-existence or self-annihilation (vibhava-tanha). It is this craving, desire, greed, manifestingitself in various ways, that gives rise to all forms of suffering and continuity of beings. Itshould not be taken as the first cause, for there is no first cause possible as, according toBuddhism, everything is relative and hater-dependentNirodha: The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering (dukkhanirodha-ariyosacea), which isNibbana or Nirvana in Sanskrit To uproot the suffering, the Buddha introduced the Path(magga) leading to the cessation of suffering. It is the cessation of craving, cessation of hatred,cessation of illusion or ignorance. There are great details in the suttas about the way to practiceto put an end to these mental defilements.Magga: The Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering. Dukkhanirodhagaminipatipada-ariyasacca). This is known as The Middle Way (majjhima-patipada), because it avoids twoextremes; one extreme is to search for happiness through the pleasures of the senses which islow, common, unprofitable and the way of the ordinary people; the other method is the searchfor happiness through self-mortification in different forms of asceticism, which is painful,unworthy and unprofitable. The Buddha himself tried these two extremes and having foundthem to be useless, the Buddha discovered through personal experience. The Middle Path,which gives vision and knowledge and leads to experiencing Calm, Insight, Enlightenment,Nibbana. This Path is known hi Pali as Ariya-Atthangika-Magga because it is composed ofeight categories, namely:Wisdom level1. Right Understanding (Samma-ditthi)2. Right Thought (Samma-sankappa)Moral level3. Right Speech (Samma-vaca)4. Right Action (Samma-kammanta)5. Right Livelihood (Samma-ajiva)Samadhi level6. Right Effort (Samma-vayama)7. Right Mindfulness (Samma-sati)8. Right Concentration (Samma-samadhi)The whole teaching of the Buddha, to which he devoted himself for 45 years, deals with thisPath. Buddha explained the Dhamma in different ways with different words to differentpeople, according to the stage of their development and their capacity to understand andfollow him, but the essence of those many thousand discourses scattered hi the BuddhistScriptures are found hi the Noble Eightfold Path and summarized hi the Threefold Doctrinesnamely;1. Not to do bad2. To do good, and3. To purify the mind from its impurities or mental defilementThe eight categories of the Path should not be followed and practiced one after the other in the
3numerical order as given the list above, but they are to be developed more or lesssimultaneously, as far as possible according to the capacity of each individual. The eightfactors aim at promoting and perfecting the three essentials of the Buddhist training anddiscipline:1. Moral Conduct (Sila),2. Mental Discipline (Samadhi),3. Wisdom (Panna).Moral Conduct: Moral conduct is the basic principle of Buddhism for the training and developing of anordinary person to become a perfect human being. It consists of commitment to (1) avoidkilling and harming living beings while trying to develop loving-kindness and compassion; (2)avoid taking what is not given while trying to develop sincerity and respect for ownership andthe possessions of others; (3) avoid sexual misconduct while trying to develop honesty andrespect toward the opposite sex; (4) avoid false speech while trying to develop truthfulness andsincerity; (5) avoid taking intoxicating drink and harmful drugs while trying to developmindfulness and awareness in daily life.Mental Discipline: When we develop moral conduct, we are certain to have peaceful family and peacefulsociety, and then we are ready to go for meditation practice for more training in mentalculture. Mental culture develops the human mind to become a noble being and finally tobecome a perfect noble one through wisdom training. There are two lands of mental culture,namely; Concentration meditation (Samatha Bhavna) and Insight meditation (VipassanaBhavna). The details of meditation practice cannot be given here but those who want moreinformation about meditation practice may contact Wat Thai,D.C. at the mailing addressprovided below.Wisdom Training: Wisdom is the way to see the ultimate truth of reality. When the mind of the meditationpractitioner becomes calm, dear and peaceful, he or she may apply peaceful mind to look atthe ways of all thing visible and invisible as they really are. Their ways are as follows;1. Impermanence (Aniccam)2. Hard to maintain (Dukkham)3. Out of control (Anatta) When the mind understands the way of everything as it really is, the mind does notcling and does not attach to anything, the meditation practitioner will see and view all thingswith a realistic approach. At that level of meditation the mind becomes free from all kinds ofmental defilement, becoming a mind that can be called free mind, independent mind, perfectmind or enlightened mind. The person who lives with this mind will always live his or her lifein peace and happiness here and now, not waiting until after death. This is what the Buddhataught and the goal of Buddhism.What is the Goal of Buddhism? The Awakened One, the Buddha, classified people into two groups and set goals forboth to help them according to their capabilities, namely;1. Goal for the householders, and2. Goal for those who life monastic life or monks.
4Goal for householders is to live their life in a happy way by following at least three of theprecepts of the Eightfold Path namely; right action, right speech and right livelihood in moraltraining. This includes the administration and governmental affairs, as the Buddha introduced10 virtues* of rulers or administrators to carry out duties and responsibilities in righteousways.Goal far the monks or those who live monastic life is Nibbana,enlightenment or perfectfreedom of the mind by following me Eightfold Path as above mentioned. The monks have tostrictly observe moral conduct (Sila Visuddhi) and clarification of their moral disciplines setout by the Buddha, proved by the Sangha. Monks must train themselves in meditation practice(Samadhi-Vipassana Bhavna) to cultivate wisdom to be able to purify their minds from mentalimpurities or delusion. Meditation Instruction And Practice What is Meditation? In Buddhism the word “Meditation” is translated from the Pali language. The Pali word is “Bhavana,” which means to develop, to improve, to cultivate mindfulness and awareness, so the mind becomes healthy and strong. Meditation is the way to cultivate the mind so it becomes calm, clear, peaceful, stable, bright, light and pure. A concentrated mind can focus clearly on a particular object. Such a developed mind can be purifiedwhen defiling mental obstructions such as hatred, greed, carving, delusion, unwholesomethoughts, ignorance, etc. are removed. A controlled and disciplined mind, free fromimpurities, is released from tension, worry and stress. Meditation is the way to psychologically train the mind to develop the tool of insight,or Vipassana enabling meditators to realize Enlightenment, the highest wisdom for ordinarypersons to become complete human beings so that human beings can become “noble ones,” orariya puggala (Pali). The oldest form of Vipassana (insight) meditation is taught in the Theravada traditionof Southeast Asia. The devilment of mindfulness and awareness is the heart of Buddhistmeditation. The “Four Foundations of Mindfulness” (The Satipatthana Sutta) wereemphasized by the historical Buddha, as follows: “There is one way, O monks, for thepurification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow, and lamentation, for the disappearance ofsuffering, grief and pain, for the winning the noble path, for realizing Enlightenment, Nibbana,that is to say, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.” (Details will be given in later chaptersregarding meditation objects.) Meditation can be practiced in many ways to develop the mind to have the mind relaxand become clam. We see in the West today many people who practice meditation bythemselves through reading books, without supervisors, teachers, guides or experiencedfriends to help them.
5 Meditation can be applied for different purposes. Some apply meditation in the wrongway and for negative purposes, such as mundane magical power, and so on. In short,meditation is the way to purify the mind from hatred, (Pali:dosa) greed, (Pali: lobpa) andignorance, (Pali: moha) so we can cultivate mindfulness and awareness to see things as theyreally are. The ways things are impermanent (Pali: aniccam) hard to maintain or suffering(Pali: dukkham) and out of control, non-self or selflessness (Pali: anatta.) It is very useful and wonderful to learn, study and practice meditation because livingwithout meditation is very dangerous: it like driving a car without a road map and with nodirections. Living with meditation is just the opposite, providing all the tools you need to getto your destination.Why should we train our minds? The mind is of primary importance, the most important element in human life. Alldeeds, wholesome or unwholesome, are the result of mental processes. In the Dhammapada,the Buddha said, “Mind is the forerunner of all action, mind is chief; mind made are they. Ifone speaks or acts with an evil mind, suffering follows him/her, even as the wheel of the cartfollows the ox that draws the cart.” “Mind is the forerunner of all actions, mind is chief, mind-made are they. If one speaks or acts with a wholesome mind, happiness follows him (her),even as his (her) own shadow.”(Pali: Manopubbam gama dhamma, manasettha manomaya, mansa ce padutthena, bhasativa karoti va, tato nam dukkhamannaveti, cakkam va vahato padam “…manasa cepasannena pasati va karoti va tato nam sukkhamanveti chayava anapayini.)Why should we meditate? Mind is by nature originally pure. Great extensive spiritual power is all completewithin the mind. You may ask yourself what you want to have in your life. The answer islikely be peace and real happiness because what the mind want is peace and real happiness. How can we reach that stage where we will have a peaceful mind and happiness? Theanswer is through the practice of meditation. This is the tool that helps us train our mind to bepeaceful and pure. With a peaceful and pure mind we will be able to experience realhappiness and the highest wisdom in life. Meditation is a spiritual training in all the world’s religions. Many people talkabout peace and happiness in their daily gatherings and meetings. In other words, anindividual with a deluded mind cannot fine the right way to experience real happiness andpeace for himself (herself) and others expect by cultivating a clear and pure mind. Toexperience that stage, each person must train his or her own mind to develop in the properway. Meditation plays a key role in this matter. Meditation helps to train and refine the mind; it helps the person who engages inmeditation practice to concentrate and to be mindful in daily activities. Everyone benefitsfrom this training. Foe example, the student needs concentration while doing homeworkassignments. Administrators need concentration and a clear mind while running their offices.Parents need concentration and a clear mind while doing their work at home, conductingfamily life in a calm and peaceful way.
6 Meditation helps everyone at all times to live and work effectively and successfully.Everyone wants to be happy in life. The way to lead oneself to real happiness and have apeaceful life may be different, but without a peaceful, calm and clear mind, real happinesscannot be realized. Meditation can help in this regard. The Exalted One, the Buddha said,“The peaceful mind excels all other happiness.” (Pali: natthi santi param sukkham)What would happen if one worked without right mindfulness and right concentration? The answer is simple. If one worked without right mindfulness and concentration,work would be ineffective. For example, if one studies without mindfulness and full attention,one cannot remember the subject being studied. Consequently, a poor performance wouldresult. As you can see, there is a role to be played by concentration and mindfulness duringstudy. In the same way, right understanding and insight, as worldly tools, need to be appliedbefore starting any work. Working without mindfulness and concentration results in moreharm than good. The way to apply these tools is to learn how to be aware, moment bymoment in our daily activities, that is, to know what we are doing, what we are saying andwhat we are thinking. Without mindfulness and concentration there is no life. We are in“automatic pilot.” We may conclude this small paper in hoping that the readers may find the essences ofthe Buddhas teachings, the law of impermanence, cause and effect and self reliance to realizeultimate reality. Finally, we can find me way of Buddhist realistic view. May all beings be free from enmity, be free from ill-treatment, be free from troubles.May all beings be free from suffering. May all beings be happy.* Dasa Dhamma: 1. Dana; charity, generosity, liberality. 2. Sila: high moral character.3. Pariccaga: self-sacrifice. 4. Ajjava: honesty, integrity. 5. Maddava: kindness, gentleness.6. Tapa: austerity, self discipline, non indulgence. 7. Akkodha: non-angry, non-fury.8. Avihimsa: nonviolence, non-Oppression. 9. Khanti: patience, forbearance, tolerance,endeavor, endurance. 10. Avirodhana: non-opposition, non-deviation from righteousness,confromity to the law.For more information please feel free to contact : Ven. Phramaha Thanat Inthisan, Ph.D. Secretary General of The Council of Thai Bhikkhus in USA. Wat Thai Washington, D.C. 13440 Layhill Road , Silver Spring , MD 20906 Phone : (301) 871-8660, 871-8661, Fax. (301) 871-5007 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.t-dhamma.org, www.thaitemple.org