Monday, December 28, 2015

Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara

Have you ever wandered around the famous Buddhist cities such as Bagan in Burma, Bangkok in Thailand, Lalitpur in Nepal? If you have visited these cities then, these cities are known for their beautiful and most creative artifacts of Buddha statues, Buddha images, statues related with other popular Buddhist figures. Most of you have seen the statues with number of hands like it seems thousand hands. That particular statue is the statue of famous Bodhisattva known as Avalokiteshvara. Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is known for the thousand hands Bodhisattva in order to provide the helping hands  to all the prayers who are suffering due to ignorance, greed etc and suffering in these difficult life. There are hundreds of thousands of beautiful statues of Avalokiteshvara all over the Buddhist countries especially eastern Asian countries due the relation of Avalokiteshvara with Amitabha Buddha.

Introduction of Avalokiteshvara


Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is known as the Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion and is considered as the iconic figure of Bodhisattva in all Buddhist history. Mahayana Buddhism have number of Buddhist schools in all over the world. And all these Buddhist schools considered Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara as the ideal Karuna or simply compassion. It is even said that Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara was the earthly manifestation of the ruler of Pure Land or Sukhvati i.e. Amitabha Buddha. And Amitabha Buddha is representation of mercy as well as wisdom.

The name Avalokiteshvara means "The One Who Hears the Cries of the World" and "The Lord Who Looks in All Direction" and is believed to appear wherever and anywhere when someone is in danger and distress and someone called for Avalokiteshvara name. Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara had made vow to help all the sentient beings in times of great danger and distress and postpone his Buddhahood.

Avalokiteshvara as Thousand Hand Bodhisattva


Among all the Buddha statues and Buddha images, the statue of thousand hand Avalokiteshvara is very popular and there is a very interesting tale behind Avalokiteshvara thousands of hands.

See Statues of Avalokiteshvara: Click Here.

After taking vow to postpone his own Buddhahood in order to help all sentient beings in danger, sufferings, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara also took one other vow.

"Should He ever become disheartened in saving sentient beings, may his body shatter into thousand pieces."


But despite Avalokiteshvara great effort to help sentient beings in needs, he was unable to help countless life of sentient beings. Being unable to fulfill his vow, his heads shattered in to 11 pieces and his hands also shattered in number of pieces.

But Amitabha Buddha seeing his great effort gave Avalokiteshvara a new form with thousand hands of Compassion and eye of Wisdom in each hand and thousand heads to hear the cries of all sentient Beings. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Nirvana

Nirvana, one of the most important terms in Buddhism as well in various Asian religions, holds quite various as well as different meanings in those religions. Every Buddhist monks and followers studied the Buddhateachings and practice various techniques in order to truly achieve the highest goal of Buddhism.

"Nirvana cannot be imagined rather feel through inner self instead of speculating the Nirvana." – Lord Buddha

In general, Nirvana is also known as Nibbana in Buddhism and is considered as the highest goal one have to attained. The Buddhism started after Lord Buddha attained Nirvana in BodhGaya in India after six years of meditation. Rather than talking about how lord Buddha achieve Nirvana, let's discuss about true meaning of Nirvana in Buddhism as well as in various Buddhist tradition.


Various Buddhist tradition believes and agreed that Nirvana is not any sort of place but it is the state of mind where one attained unlimited amount of knowledge as well as wisdom about the universe, space and life as well as death, rebirth in various realms.
As mentioned above, Nirvana is the final stage in Buddhism which can only be achieved after learning and understanding the true meaning of Noble Four Truths. And Noble Four Truths can only be truly understood after learning Middle Way or popularly known as Noble Eightfold Paths.

Read More: What is Middle Way

Nirvana is considered as the liberation from the concept of samsara or cycle of Life and death. One can only be liberate from samsara through understanding and letting go of fear, ignorance, greediness. There are many theories that one can only liberate from cycle of samsara after being reborn as a man. But all the sutras of Buddhism and lord Buddha never mentioned of such condition.

Concept of Nirvana in Mahayana Buddhism


In Mahayana Buddhism, Buddhist monks learn and meditate in order to achieve the Bodhisattvas vows they made i.e. to help all sentient beings to be free from the pain and suffering. Even though Nirvana is the highest goal in Mahayana Buddhism, the monks focuses more on the Bodhisattvas vows because it is believed that individual Nirvana is nonsensical.

Concept of Nirvana in Theravada Buddhism



The Therevadins monks usually use Pali word i.e. Nibbana. In Theravada Buddhism, Nibbana can be categorized in two different words i.e. Nibbana and Parinibbana. Nibbana means a living enlightened beings or Arahant. Arahant are the beings who have true conscious of pleasure, pain and suffering and these beings are not bound by these pains and suffering. Parinibbana means to enter the death. Lord Buddha said that Parinibbana is the end but the true beginning of knowledge and wisdom. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Trikaya in Buddhism - Three Bodies of Lord Buddha

Trikaya, also known as the Three bodies of Lord Buddha is believed to be the three manifestations of Lord Buddha. Trikaya Doctrine that existed in Mahayana Buddhism even mentioned the three different ways of Lord Buddha's manifestation. It is believed that the True nature of Lord Buddha can be understood through understanding the Trikaya doctrine in Mahayana Buddhism. The Trikaya Doctrine also teaches us about the nature of Buddhahood as well as true reality.
According to Trikaya Doctrine, Trikaya mentioned that Lord Buddha has three kayas or bodies. They are:
  1. The Dharmakaya
  2. The Sambhogakaya
  3. The Nirmanakaya

In Mahayana Buddhism, these three kayas are heard quite number of time. The Trikaya doctrine also teaches us about the meaning of the existence i.e. Absolute existence & relative existence.

The Three Bodies of Lord Buddha


As mentioned above, the three Kayas that are mentioned in Trikaya are Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Nirmanakaya. Let's see a detailed information on these three kayas.

The Dharmakaya

The Dharmakaya is translated as the "Truth Body". It symbolizes unity of all sentient beings as well as things that existed in the human realms. It is also the unity of all unmanifested phenomena thus Dharmakaya is regarded as the absolute existence. The Dharmakaya is regarded as the special place for all those who attained buddhahood, but it is regarded as the fundamental of all sentient beings and doesn't compare between Buddhas and normal sentient beings.

Sambhogakaya

Sambhogakaya is also translated as the "Bliss body" and also known as the "reward body". It is believed that Sambhogakaya also known as Bliss body is the kaya that shows the feelings of the bliss that represents the Enlightenment. It symbolizes the Buddha as a bliss object of devotions. It is also said that many Buddhist tradition introduce various Buddha statues that are depicted as Sambhogakaya in order to represent these Buddha images as object of devotion to Nirvana. It is also said that various Buddhas of same realms as well as different realms who reign over the Pure Lands such Amida Buddha are considered as Sambhogakaya Buddhas.

Nirmanakaya


Nirmanakaya is mostly translated as the body of emanation. Nirmanakaya can be considered as the mortal body that is born in the earth, walks the earth and dies in the earth as well. Shakyamuni Buddha is the most relevant example of Nirmanakaya, who took birth in land of Shakya, walks the earth teachings theBuddha's principle, and dies in the land of earth. But Shakyamuni Buddha also represents the Sambhogakaya as well as Dharmakaya. It is believed that Buddhas and Bodhisattvas took the form of Nirmanakaya in order to help all the sentient beings to be free from the cycle of life. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Top Twelve Life Lessons Taught by Buddhism

"Peace Comes From Within
Do Not Seek It Without" – Lord Buddha
Buddhism, one of the most popular religion in the world and is known all over the world for peaceful religion. There are numerous things that we can learn from the Buddhism especially important life lessons. Here are the top twelve important Life lessons one must learn from Buddhism.
  1. Always Start from SmallOne must always start from small things and just give up gaining the big things at the start. And there is nothing to be regretful for starting small because it is okay to start from small.
    "Drop by Drop is the water pot filled" – Buddha
    A wise man always gathers little by little and fills himself with goods. It can be found in the verse 122 of the Dhammapada.
  2. Forgiveness"The act of forgiveness takes place in our own mind. It really has nothing to do with the other person." – Buddha.
    Forgiveness has always been one of the important teachings taught by Buddha and Buddhism in the present world. One has to forgive oneself in their mind before starting to forgive others.
  3. Show Kindness to all"He who receives kindness should never forget it.
    But he who performs it should never remember it."From what we learn from Buddhism is that one should be always kind to others and should never expect anything in return. But if we receive kindness from others we should never forget those kindness in the life and should be influenced to show kindness to others.
  4. Always seek to fully understand"In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves."
    Whenever anger is going to overtake you, let yourself control the anger and try to seek others perspectives and understand them and then you can find peace within yourself.
  5. Try to let go of your fear" The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed."Letting go of fear is one of the important lessons one must learn from Buddhism. Let go of all fear that keeps you on bay from choosing the truth.
  6. Conquer Yourself"To conquer oneself is greater task than conquering others."
    It may seems that if conquering thousands of people is greater task then you are mistaken. One must conquer oneself and trust it, it is far greater success than conquering others.
  7. Control your mind or Else"Since everything is reflection of our minds,
    Everything can be changed by our minds."
    Mind is an important part of us, human beings and mind is very powerful. One must control one's mind and through controlling one's mind, one can change everything i.e. their perspective, their thinking etc. Right Mind is very important in one's life and in Buddhism too.
  8. Always Live in Peace"Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without."
  9. Admire One's Success "Do not be jealous of others’ good qualities, but out of admiration adopt them yourself"
    Never become jealous of others success, good qualities. Rather than being jealous, you should admire others and try to achieve those qualities and success walking in a true path.
  10. Let go of all Attachment"The Root of suffering is attachment."The above quote is the universal truths in Buddhism. The root of suffering, pain, is attachment. One should let go of all the attachment in order to throw the root of all suffering.
  11. Accept Failure"The only failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows."
    One should always accept their failure then they can truly find inner peace. If one is unable to see their failure then they will truly fail in their lives also.
  12. Look for Peace Within yourself"Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions"Always live in peace and the moment you find inner peace and you can control your mind, your action, your emotions, your attachment.



Friday, November 27, 2015

First Sermon of Lord Buddha

Even after attaining Enlightenment, Lord Buddha spent his time lonely without teaching any of his wisdom and knowledge. The legend said that Lord Buddha was approached by many souls of human beings, as well as animals so that they could lead Lord Buddha to teach his omnipotent wisdoms and knowledge. The Lord Buddha decided to proclaim the Dharma that he just realized in the Bodh Gaya and wanted to entrust this doctrines to five ascetics who followed Lord Buddha i.e. five ascetics lead by Kaundinya. At that time, these five ascetics were staying in Isipatana i.e. Sarnath in present time. Then at the deer park, Lord Buddha met these five ascetics and thus began Lord Buddha's first preaching about Dhamma.

In the Deer Park, Lord Buddha addressed disappointed five ascetics
'Monks, these two extremes ought not to be practiced by one who has gone forth from the household life. (What are the two?) There is addiction to indulgence of sense-pleasures, which is low, coarse, the way of ordinary people, unworthy, and unprofitable; and there is addiction to self-mortification, which is painful, unworthy and unprofitable.'
After hearing these words, Kaundinya and four other ascetics realized that Lord Buddha had attained highest level of knowledge and started to listen Buddha first teaching. It is also said that many Gods and angels were also present during Lord Buddha preaching but Kaundinya and other four were the first human beings who listened Lord Buddha first teachings.

Then Lord Buddha started to teach the five ascetics about the Four NobleTruths i.e. the truth of suffering, cause of suffering, end of the suffering, and the way to end the suffering.

"The world is full of pain and suffering; the cause of suffering is craving or desire; the end of suffering is possible through Nirvana; the way to achieve Nirvana is through Middle Way." – Lord Buddha

Middle Way, the way that one can achieve nirvana is also known as Noble Eightfold path. These eight paths are right understanding, right attitude, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration

See More: Noble Eightfold Path

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Importance of Meditation in Buddhism

Introduction


Meditation is one of the important techniques widely used in Buddhism. In general, Meditation is the practices that are associated with the involvement of religious as well as spiritual and philosophy regarding the Buddhism. According to Buddhism, one must take responsibility for their states of mind, body and soul. And this can help to lead away the fear, anxiety, sorrow and pain. And Buddha teaches that practicing meditation is the most probable techniques to achieve that state of mind.
According to Buddhism, Meditation is the process of transferring the control of mind and body to mind, and it helps to develop concentration, emotional positivity and calmness. Meditation is considered as the effort made in conscious mind to change the working pattern of mind. Buddhistmeditation is the combination of various number of techniques that was originally developed in order to develop one's concentration, mindfulness, insight and tranquility.

Types of Meditation


Over the thousands of years in Buddhism, number of Buddhist meditation practices were developed that helped to develop the one's control on mind, concentration, positivity etc. These various meditation practices are simply referred as "mind-trainings" but each Buddhist tradition have their own approaches to these meditation practices. Buddhist monks and Buddhist followers follow these practices based on their instinct since each meditation practices can be simple to different sorts of Buddhist monks and followers.

Some of the important Buddhist meditation practices that are widely used by Buddhist monks in Buddhist community and Sangha are Mindfulness of Breathing and Loving-Kindness meditation practices. It is believed that LordBuddha originally taught these two practices to Buddha followers. Mindfulness of Breathing is a simple Buddhist meditation practices that especially focuses on breath as a medium for concentration and it is also considered as the excellent method of absorbing intense meditation through various gestures such as Dhyana Mudra. Loving-kindness Meditation practice was originally known as Metta Bhavana. This meditation focuses on development or cultivation of something you feel in your heart i.e. love.

Importance of Meditation


Is Meditation important? Yes, it is quite important as stated above. Meditation helps to develop awareness, calmness, positivity in the mind of the people. If the mind is calm, aware then one can easily differentiate between good and bad, anger and wrong deeds and it helps to control their body through sheer power of mind. And this can only attained through meditation practices.

Meditation is quite popular in Buddhist art in many Asian countries. Meditation also helps Buddhist monks to understand the true meaning of principles of Buddhism i.e. NobleEightfold Path, Noble Four Truths, Dharma, Karma etc. Even Lord Buddha attained the Enlightenment through meditation and he succeeded since his mind had calmed down and was free of anxiety. Many Buddhist monks and followers practices meditation in front of Buddha statues. Because the Buddha statues are believed to hold important meanings behind their history such as Standing Buddha Statues are believed to represent Lord Buddha blessing to all sentient beings. Happy Buddhastatues are believed to represent happiness, joy and prosperity. That is also the reason why meditation are quite important.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sangha

Sangha-Buddhist Community with Senior Buddhist monks

In Buddhism, The term three jewels hold an important meaning for all the Buddhist followers all over the world. These three jewels are Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Buddha can be considered as the embodiment of Enlightenment and Buddhahood and Dharma is considered as the teachings left the Buddha and Sangha is the Buddhist community where all the Buddhist followers all over the world learn the teachings left by Lord Buddha in order to attain the Nirvana, also known as the final goal in the religion of Buddhism.

"Taking refuge in the Buddha
Taking Refuge in the Dharma
Taking Refuge in the Sangha"

Basically Speaking, Sangha is the Buddhist community where all the Buddhist monks and other followers live and learn the Dharma, Buddhist sutra and principles of Buddhism. Sangha is also sometimes referred as the monastic orders of Buddhist monks and nuns. And sometimes it is also known by the term "Buddhist, Lay and Ordained". In order to enter the Sangha, Buddhist monks and nuns must undergo the official Ordination ceremony in order to become full-fledged monks and nuns and to start the homeless life of wandering monastics as Lord Buddha underwent during his life.
In eastern countries, it is believed that Sangha is the Buddhist community for monks as well as nuns and there also exist the "Fourfold Sangha" and it means all ordained monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen are the part of the Sangha. In Western Countries, Sangha has the same meanings of the term Church. But if seen properly then Sangha is the place where Buddhist monks and nuns, as well as Laymen and Laywomen, can help each other by helping each other and senior Buddhist monks can provide helps to the newly ordained monks and nuns to walk on the path of the Buddhahood.

Taking Refuge in the Sangha



"So taking refuge in the sangha basically means able to work with your fellow monks, your brothers and sisters in the dharma, while being independent respectively," – Chogyam Trungpa
The so above statement mentioned by Chogyam Trungpa shows the importance and basic interpretation of Taking Refuge in the Sangha. Even though it is said that Buddhist monks and nuns must overcome the problem of life and death and achieve Nirvana by themselves, it is necessary and helpful if a proper guidance is provided so that others can easily overcome these obstacles since it can be referred as the same teachings provided by Lord Buddha to all the disciples.