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A - Introduction to Buddhism

A - Introduction to Buddhism - A short intro to the...

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A short intro to the principles of Buddhist believes Buddhism has been described as a very pragmatic religion. It does not indulge in metaphysical speculation about first causes; there is no theology, no worship of a deity or deification of the Buddha. The Life of the Buddha The Buddha was born an ordinary human being- Siddhattha Gotama by name- a member of the Sakya clan which ruled a small kingdom in north India bordering onto present day Nepal. It seems he was destined to become its ruler. But at the age of 29, he had become so concerned with the problems of human suffering that he renounced his princely life in the search for an answer. He became a wandering ascetic, much like the ones which can be seen in India to this day, and he laced himself under the guidance of the famous master of the time. Why do human beings have to suffer and is there an escape or liberatiion from it? It was under a fig tree, known as the Bodhi Tree (the tree of Enlightment), near to the present day village of Bodhgaya that he ascetic Gotama through deep, sustained meditation realized the answer and became the Enlightened One - the Buddha. He was by then 35 years old. The search in earnest had taken him six years, and for the next 45 years he walked around that same northern part of India explaining his understanding to anyone who wanted to know. By the end of his life he had established a very large order of monks, i.e. Sangha, and an even larger following of lay disciples. He asked his monks to wander and spread his teachings (Dhamma) for the good of the many. And so it was that Buddhism spread first to Sri Lanka, eastwards to South East Asia, then across China and Japan, northwards to Afghanistan, Tibet and Mongolia and, today, west to Europe and America and south to Africa and Australia. The Problem The Buddha's teaching is very simple, but like mot simple things, it is very difficult to put into practice. You can read how to play an instrument easily enough, but it takes a long time to play it well. The instrument the Buddha wanted us to master was our own body and mind- what we call our 'Self'. He likened Himself to a doctor, diagnosing and healing a disease. He came to see the human situation as one which was fundamentally unsatisfatory (Dukkha). He not only meant the obvious bodily aches and pains and emotional sufferings. He also pointed to the very nature of life here on Earth which never leads or can ever lead to everlasting happiness or peace. This intrinsic characteristic of life, of 'nature' itself, is change, nothing lasts. Everything springs up anew only to change, decay and disappear. Of course, we can see this in the course of a day with its cycle of dawn to dusk. We can see it in the turning of the seasons and in the passing of the years. But do we perceive it directly and realize it to
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be our own true nature also? This changing process (Anicca) means that not only are our bodies in a state of change and irrevocably movng towards death, but also out minds nad
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