The Buddha & His DhammaExtracted from Bhikkhu Bodhi’s “The Buddha and HisDhamma”
Buddha The Enlightened One, or The Awakened One, an Enlightener Siddhartha Gautama is the founder of the spiritual tradition known as Buddhism He is the Buddha Buddha also denotes a type of person-an exemplar of which there have been many instances in the course of cosmic time
Buddhist Cosmology Universe is without any discoverable beginning in time, no first point, no initial moment of creation. World systems subject to growth and decline. Each world system consists of numerous planes of existence, inhabited by sentient beings. Human and animal realms Heavenly planes (realms of celestial bliss) Infernal planes (dark realms of pain and misery) The beings dwelling in these realms experience unbroken process of rebirth called samsara Driven by beings’ ignorance and craving Karma determines the form any rebirth takes Nirvana: realm of perfect bliss and peace, of complete spiritual freedom (No greed, hatred, and delusion)
Path from Samsara to Nirvana Buddha rediscovered the lost path to nirvana, and taught this path to the world at large. All those who follow the path and attain nirvana are called arahants (worthy ones) Buddha’s unique role is to rediscover the Dharma (ultimate principle of truth), establish “dispensation” or spiritual heritage to preserve the teaching for the future generations.
Bodhisattva To qualify as a Buddha, an aspirant must prepare himself over an inconceivably long period of time spanning countless of lives. During these past lives, the future Buddha is referred to as a bodhisattva, an aspirant to the full enlightenment of Buddhahood. In each life, bodhisattva must train himself through altruistic deeds and meditative effort to acquire qualities (moral & spiritual) essential to a Buddha. These qualities are called paramis or paramitas.
Paramis of Theravada Tradition Generosity Moral conduct Renunciation Wisdom Energy Patience Truthfulness Determination Loving-Kindness Equanimity
Vesak Celebrate the Buddha as one who has striven through countless past lives to perfect all the sublime virtues that entitle him to teach the world the path to the highest happiness and peace. Celebrate his attainment of enlightenment beneath the Bodhi Tree. Commemorate his parinirvana or passing away
Sangha Order of monks and nuns established by Buddha Perhaps the world oldest continuous institution
Dharma (Teaching) The Four Noble Truth Life involves suffering Suffering involves from craving Suffering ends with the removal of craving There is a way to the end of suffering Roots of suffering in our minds Craving Ignorance Delusions The cure is insight into reality
Dharma The Noble Eightfold Path Right view of the basic truths of existence Right intention to undertake the training Right speech (ethical) Right action (ethical) Right livelihood (ethical) Right effort (meditation & mental development) Right mindfulness (meditation & mental development) Right concentration (meditation & mental development)
Dharma Methodology of the Teaching Self-reliance (Buddha doesn’t profess to be a personal savior; he calls himself rather a guide or teacher) Experiential (Buddha invites inquirers to investigate his teaching, to examine it in the light of their own reason and intelligence) Universal (Buddha teaching a universal message, addressed to all human beings solely by reason of their humanity) A code of ethics (Five Precept: abstinence from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech, and the use of intoxicating substances; Four Lofty Attitudes: loving- kindness, compassion, altruistic joy, equanimity)
Buddhist Principles for Formation of PublicPolicy Global problems today: regional tensions of ethnic and religious character, disregard for human rights, widening gap between the rich and the poor, depletion of the earth’s natural resources Common root to these problems might be briefly characterized as a stubborn insistence on placing narrow, short-term interests above the long-range good of the broader human community. The source of social, economic and political suffering: greed, hatred, and delusion.
Buddhist Principles for Formation of PublicPolicy From Buddhist perspective, what is needed above all else is a new mode of perception, a universal consciousness that can enable us to regard others as not essentially different from oneself. That is we must outgrow the egocentric, and ethnocentric attitudes, and instead embrace a “world-centric ethic” which gives priority to the well-being of all. The chief attitudes to global ethic are loving-kindness and compassion. The Buddha states that of all things in the world, the one with the most powerful influence for both good and bad is the mind. The inescapable challenge facing us is to understand and master ourselves. It is only by transforming ourselves that we can transform our world in the direction of peace and amity.