The Role and Rights of Women in Buddhism

The rights of women can be summarised as the freedom from discrimination and equal opportunities with men.  In India, during the time of the Buddha, women were treated as inferior to men; a son was more preferable than a daughter. Despite such social conventions, the Buddha regarded women as equal to men. When Ven. Ananda asked whether women have the potential to attain enlightenment, the Buddha said yes – just like their male counterparts. Thus over 2600 years ago, the Buddha gave women permission to enter the Holy Order. Since then many female monks achieved enlightenment. Two of them were appointed female chief disciples of the Buddha alongside his two male chief disciples. The Buddha also suggested some etiquette rules for a husband: he should honour, respect and be faithful to his wife, allow her to superintend the household affairs, and provide her with ornaments. In return, the wife should do her duty well, look after his relatives, be faithful, take care of what he brings home and be diligent in all her duties. It is clear that Buddhism promotes women’s rights and equality.

To many, the term ‘equal rights’ denotes discrimination that needs to be put right. Our interpretation of equal rights in this sense is somehow restricted to worldly gains and external freedom. If we get an equal pay or better salary, for example, we will be happy. But once we get it, the mind will move the goal posts further. The yearning continues and we will never be truly satisfied because we are forever waiting for the next better things. We live in the future, for the future, full of worries and forget to be happy in the here and now.

Inasmuch as we want to put external freedom right, we must not lose our way or neglect our freedom within. For this type of freedom, we don’t need others to hand it to us. Nor do we need to change others to our way of thinking, but we can change our attitudes towards them so that we can be at peace regardless. We need to look deeper beyond worldly and external freedom. As long as there’s greed, anger and delusion in the world, bias and inequality will remain. If each and every one develops peace within there will be no hurting, harming or taking advantage of one another.

There’s a Buddhist proverb: natthi santi paramam sukham, meaning there is no greater happiness in the world than that which comes from a peaceful mind.  For the mind to be at peace it needs to understand things as they are. This requires that we look closely into the nature of things around us and at the body that we regard as self. If this body belongs to us then we should be able to stop it from growing, ageing, getting sick and dying. But we can’t go against the force of nature. Sooner or later the body will return to the earth. We simply acknowledge what is going on without identifying with it or putting ourselves in it. If we hear something unpleasant, it’s just hearing. We don’t add ‘I’ to it.  After all, it’s just a sound coming into contact with our ears.  When a thought is bothering us, we also acknowledge it as thinking, thinking, thinking. When we acknowledge it as such, studies showed that the information will be sent to the frontal brain, the analytical brain, the reasoning brain rather than going to the amygdala – the brain emotional centre. As a result, we will be less stressed.

When we continue to see things as they are, the mind will be able to let go. We don’t yearn to be someone going somewhere. No void needs to be filled. We simply enjoy being!  At that moment, our mind is totally at peace.  It’s only when there is ‘me,’ this ‘me’ needs to be someone, to be on par with others or even better – to feel good. We start hoarding things, our dissatisfaction with the world grows.  Our subjective way of looking at the world brings nothing but unnecessarily stress.

In conclusion, the rights to happiness for women in Buddhism are equal to men. The definition of worldly rights is too narrow a definition. We need to look beyond that, and deep within.  And for that matter, women can enjoy the role and freedom they have – freedom of the mind that is priceless beyond any form of conventional rights and equality.

Kamontip Evans is a stress management consultant and author of Taming the Truant Mind. She also writes blogs on mindfulness meditation for the Huffington Post

THE PURITY OF MIND : PKS Lom

The Purity of Mind (Citta) is known in Pali word as Visuddhi. Visuddhi is one of the subjects of vipassana meditation. Visuddhi has seven stages of purity made known in Pali term as Satta-visuddhi, Vimutti-Magga and Visuddhi-dhamma.

Here are the seven Stages of Purity; namely,

  • – The purity of morality
  • – The purity of mind
  • – The purity of view
  • – The purity by overcoming doubt
  • – The purity by knowledge and vision of what the path is and non-path
  • – The purity by knowledge and vision of the path-progress
  • – The purity of knowledge and vision

 

You find these seven stages of purity in the Majjhima Nikaya No. 24 known as the Rathavinita Sutta where the Elder Sariputta is represented to ask the young Punna-Putta Bhikkhu: “What is the Motive of the Buddhist Life? Do we live a Buddhist life for the sake of purity of moral conduct?” “No”, said Punna-Putta. “Then do we live for the sake of purity of heart?” “No”, “Of purity of belief?” “No”, “Of purity of confidence?” “No”, “Of purity of vipassana through knowledge of what the right path is and what the other path is not?” “No”, “Of purity of vipassana through knowledge of the practice?” “No”, “Then for the sake of purity of Vipassana Ñãnadassana Visuddhi?” “No”. “What do you mean you say “No, No?”, “All these things are necessary. But they are only the means to end”. “Then for the sake of what we do and live the Buddhist life?” “All we must do is that we must detach from the things in the human world as well as heavenly realm and make effort to attain the supreme Nibbana, that is the unique motive of Buddhist life”,  replied Punna-Putta Bhikkhu.

 

The Rathavinita Sutta is well known as the Simile of the Stage-Coach its aim and goal are illustrated that the ultimate goal is not made up in purity of Sila-Visuddhi, or of Citta-Visuddhi, or of Ditthi-Visuddhi, etc. But their Holy Purpose and aim is in total deliverance from all defilements such as craving, hatred, ignorance, etc.

 

This is similar to King Pasenadi of Kosala when he has a royal work in Rajagaha he gets on his first stage-coach and travels to the second coach then he gets on the second coach and travels with it to the third coach and so on, so forth, until he arrives in Rajagaha city to have the meeting with King Bimbisara there.

In exactly the same way when a meditator practises the Satta-Visuddhi he  must begin his vipassana with the purity of (1) moral conduct (Sila-Visuddhi) is (2) the purity of mind (citta-visuddhi); its goal: (3) the purity of view (ditthi-visuddhi); its goal: (4) the purity with getting rid of doubt (kankha-visuddhi); its goal: (5) the purity by knowledge and vision of what the right path and non-path is (magga-Visuddhi); its goal: (6) the purity by knowledge and vision of the path-progress (patipada-visuddhi); its goal: (7) the purity of knowledge and vision (ñãnadassana-visuddhi); but the goal of this purification is deliverance freed from all attachment and clinging.

 

Explanation

When a monk decides to practise the Satta-Visuddhi he must observe the purity of Sila consists of the fourfold purity of morality; namely, to observe the Patimokkha rules; sense-restraint, purity of livelihood, morality with regard to the four requisites.  For lay people, they should observe the five or eight moral precepts as the fundamental level.

 

On the second Stage (Citta-Visuddhi) a meditator needs to have ‘attainment samadhi’ known as Appana-Samadhi (one-pointedness or eight kinds of Jhana), or ‘neighbourhood samadhi’ known as Upacara-Samadhi; or at least ‘preparatory samadhi’ known as Parikamma-Samadhi in order to be his foundation of vipassana meditation (Insight).

 

On the third Stage (Ditthi-Visuddhi) the meditator should see that all human life consisting of five aggregates in short known as the mind and body, which is termed as conditioned Sankhara. These aggregates are often on condition. They possess three characteristics: namely, impermanence, destructible and selflessness. All conditioned kinds of sankhara are transitory and suffering. He must see clearly that human life has no atta, no self, or no ego. It is only the forces of mind and physical matter working together until the last day! When the meditator overcomes the belief in the personality he sees that all kinds of sankhara are marked by anicca, dukkha and anatta.

 

On the fourth Stage the meditator overcomes doubt and understands the causes his birth and death about the five aggregates (nama-rupa) clearly. As a result he has no doubt of life in the past, at present and in the future. He knows exactly that the natural causes of his birth are ‘ignorance, craving, attachment and kamma brought his life to exist. His whole life is nourished by solid foods and breathing. His six sense-organs and outer-stimuli objects are the direct cause of six consciousnesses and sensation, perception and mental formation.

 

The meditator may meet a few of doubt during the course of his vipassana. Take for example he doubts whether or not ‘his self’ (Atta) exists; whether or not ‘his self’ previously existed; whether or not ‘his self’ will exist in the future and if so in what form of life, etc. These doubts are dispelled when he realizes that there is no ‘Atta’ or no ‘I’ at all. His life only composes of elements, aggregates, a nerve-system. When he eradicates his doubt his second stage of vipassana is achieved. Even so his self-conceit has not yet completely disappeared for ever.

 

On the fifth Stage of what the right path is that the meditator understands what the right path from the wrong path, seeing that the right path is to follow. In order to attain the fifth stage of purification, he must at first develop well-planed insight through contemplation of the five aggregates of life existence (khandha).

Ten Hindrances

But the meditator is extremely warned that if he has not yet developed vipassana correctly ten mental impurities (upakilesa) such as ‘effulgent light, knowledge, rapture, tranquillity, happiness, determination, energy, awareness, equanimity and delight’, one or two of them, etc, may arise and interrupt during his bhavana and become impediments in the three kinds of full understanding here considered.

As soon as the manifold ways and characteristics of the Four Noble Truths and the Dependent Origination (paticcasamuppada) have become clear to him, he says to himself: ‘Thus these things have never before arisen arise and having arisen they disappear again. So the formations of life existence ever and again arise as something quite new. But not only are they something new, they are moreover of limited duration, like a dew-drop at sunrise, like a bubble, like a line drawn with a stick in the water, like a mustard seed placed on the point of an arrow, or like a flash of lightning. Also as something unsubstantial and empty do they appear, as jugglery, as a mirage! Merely something subject to vanishing arises, and having arisen disappears again.

 

Excepting Delight only the rest are not impurities (upakilesa) as such but they can block vipassana path through the arising of pride or delight or by a wrong belief so the meditator concludes that one of the Noble paths has been attained. He who is watchful and experienced in insight practice will know that these states of mind do not yet indicate attainment of the true path, but are only symptoms or the blocking of path progress.

 

Henceforth the meditator has determined three of the truths, namely while determining the mind and body existence he has, through purification of view, determined the truth of seeing suffering. While he grasps the conditions he has, through purification by overcoming doubt, determined the truth of the origin of suffering. While he determines the right path, he has, through purification by knowledge and vision of what path is and non-path is and determines the truth of the path leading to the extinction of suffering.

On the sixth Stage of purification by knowledge and vision of the path-progress is the insight perfected in eight kinds of knowledge together with the nine steps of knowledge (vipassanañāna), such knowledge adapting itself to truth.

 

The above eight blessings of the knowledge are abandoning belief in external existences and giving up the clinging to life and constant right application of the mind to vipassana endeavour, a purified livelihood, overcoming anxiety, absence of fear, acquisition of forbearance and gentleness, conquest of discontent and sensual delight.

 

The Nine Kinds of Insight

By the eight kinds of knowledge mentioned earlier are meant that now the meditator must follow the right path progress as correct nine steps of insight, namely:

 

  • (1) Knowledge consisting in contemplation of rise and fall,
  •      (udayanupassana-ñãna)
  • (2) Knowledge in contemplation of dissolution,
  •      (bhangganupassana-ñãna)
  • (3) Knowledge in awareness of terror (or the fearfulness,
  •      (bhayatūpatthāna-ñãna)
  • (4) Knowledge in contemplation of misery,
  •      (ādīnavānupassana-ñãna)
  • (5) Knowledge in contemplation of aversion,
  •      (nibbidānupassana-ñãna)
  • (6) Knowledge in the desire for deliverance,
  •      (muñcitu-kammayatā-ñãna)
  • (7) Knowledge in reflecting contemplation,
  •      (patisankhānupassana-ñãna)
  • (8) Knowledge in equanimity regarding all formations of existence,
  •      (sankhārupekkhā-ñãna) followed by
  • (9) Knowledge in adaptation to the Four Noble Truths.
  •      (saccānulomika-ñãna)

 

Explanations

(1) The meditator sees and observes of the three characteristics of existence: impermanence, suffering, no self in his own mind and body processes. As long as his mind is still disturbed by the ‘ten impurities’ the three characteristics will not become fully cleared in their true nature. Only when the mind is freed from these imperfections can the three characteristics be observed clearly.

(2) When he sees through such repeated practice, knowledge and mindfulness have grown keen and the bodily and mental formations become apparent quickly, at that stage the phase of dissolution of these formations will become prominent. His consciousness with materiality as its object arises and dissolves. Having reflected on that object, the meditator contemplates the dissolution of the mind and body consciousness.

 

(3) The meditator has awareness of terror or fearfulness and seeing of terror in the conditions as well as the continuity of existence. For whoso considers the formations as impermanent, to him the conditions of existence – the karma-formations producing ever new existence appear as terror, as driving towards death. Whoso considers the formations as misery to him the continuity of existence appears as terror, as something oppressive. Whoso considers the formations as impersonal to him the karma-formations as well as the continuity of human existence appears as terror as an empty village and as a mirage!

 

(4) He contemplates on misery and danger and another aspect of the awareness of terror: the origin of life existence is terror, continuance of births is terror; arising is suffering, such understanding in the awareness of terror is the knowledge of misery. Non-birth arising is bliss. This is knowledge of the peaceful state; the no-more-arising is safety and is happiness as it is Nibbana.

 

(5) He contemplates on aversion means: aversion for all formations as terror, so its name awareness of terror has come into use. Because it has made known the misery of all these formations, therefore it has received the name of contemplation of misery. Because it has arisen through aversion for those formations, therefore it is known as contemplation of aversion.

 

(6) Now he has strong desire for deliverance means: the desire for freedom and escape from all formations of existence. For feeling aversion for all formations, becoming weary of them, finding no more delight in them, his mind does not cling and attach to a single beauty of all these formations.

 

(7) He reflects contemplation upon the repeated meditative discernment of the formations of his life existence, attributing to them the three characteristics of existence, with the desire to find deliverance from all forms of existence.

 

(8) With equanimity the meditator regards all formations: “When he reflects contemplation and has discerned the formations by applying the three characteristics to them and sees them as empty and void, he abandons both terror and delight, and becomes indifferent and equanimity with regard to all formations; he neither takes them as “I” nor as “mine” he is like a man who has divorced his wife”. Now, while his continuing to contemplate the three characteristics of existence and perceiving the tranquil lot of Nibbana as the peace, this equanimity-knowledge becomes the triple gateway to liberation. As it is said; “Three gateways to liberation lead to escape from the world, namely: that the mind is contemplating all formations as limited, and is rushing forward to the condition-less element; that the mind is stirred with regard to all formations of existence, and is rushing forward to the desire-less element; that the mind sees all things as something foreign, and is rushing forward to the void element”.

 

At this stage and through the triple gateway, the diversification of path attainment takes place, according to the seven kinds of noble persons or ariya- puggala.

 

The sixth, seventh, and eighth knowledge according to Visuddhi-Magga construct really only one single knowledge in its first, middle, and final stages of development. This knowledge is also known as the Vipassana Bhavana leading to path rise.

 

(9) Finally the meditator adapts to truth or conformity with truth is called that knowledge which, while contemplating impermanence, etc. adapts itself to the preceding eight kinds of insight-knowledge, as well as to the immediately following supramundane path and to the thirty-seven elements pertaining to enlightenment. It is identical with adaptation-knowledge.

 

Therefore whosoever has cultivated and frequently practised equanimity regarding all life-formation arises in him very strong faith known as determination (adhimokkha-saddha) and his energy is better exerted, his mindfulness better established, his mind better concentrated and a still stronger equanimity regarding the formations arises.

 

Now the path will reveal itself, thus thinking, the meditator contemplates with his equanimity-knowledge all formations as impermanent, etc and thereafter that knowledge sinks into the subconscious stream of existence. Immediately afterwards there advertence at the mind-door arises. And just like equanimity-knowledge, the adaptation-knowledge, too, takes as its object the formations, regarding them as something impermanent, miserable and impersonal. Thereupon, while continuing the uninterrupted continuity of consciousness (citta-santati), there the first impulsive moment (javana) arises.

 

This is called ‘preparation’ (parikamma), taking the same formations as object. Immediately thereafter, with the same formations as object, there arises the second impulsive moment, known as access (upacara). And again immediately after that, there arises the impulsive moment called “adaptation” (anuloma).

 

This Ñãnadassan-visuddhi is the last the knowledge of the SATTA VISUDDHI associated with any of the four kinds of supramundane path-consciousness (ariya-puggala).

The Result of the Practice

Immediately upon this adaptation-knowledge there arises the “maturity- knowledge” (GOTRARABHŪÑĀNA) taking as object the unconditioned, the standstill of existence, the absence of becoming, cessation of suffering (Nibbana), at the same time transcending the rank, designation and plane of the world-ling and entering the rank, designation and plane of the Noble Ones (ariya), being the first turning towards Nibbana as object, the first thinking of it, the first concentration on it and the condition for the path… forming the culmination of insight, and never as such coming back again.

 

As the immediate continuation following upon that maturity knowledge, there arises the first path-consciousness (stream-entry) forever destroying the ‘first three of the ten fetters of existence’ and closing the entrance to the lower worlds. Immediately after this path-knowledge, there arise, as its result, two or three path-produced states of consciousness, the fruition consciousness (phala-citta).

 

Immediately after the sinking of this consciousness into the subconscious stream of existence, the retrospective knowledge arises, having the path consciousness as its object. Each of the four kinds of path-consciousness performs at the one and the same time four functions, namely: the function of full understanding of suffering, the function of overcoming the origin of suffering, the function of realising the extinction of suffering and the function of developing the supramundane Noble Eightfold Path.

The Friendly Way : Maghapuja 2019

Editorial

 

Not to do any evil deeds

To cultivate the goodness

To purify the mind

This is the teaching of all the Buddhas.

 

According to Dhammapada Verse 183 the Buddha summarized all of his teaching and all philosophy he detailed on various discourses (sutras). In his ‘Lion’s Roar’ he exhibited that the attachment and grasping (Upadana) always binds mankind to the cycles of rebirths. And only upon cleansing the minds can all of them certainly and truly win the mental liberation and Nibbana at last. According to the Noble Quest he gave his own personal examination and experience of the deep root of the mind-impurities and the ‘clinging views’ and ignorantly clinging rules and ritual’ are very useless and dangerous. Since these things are not only seen as danger but always seen as the alteration.

 

The Buddha finds that many human beings are simply blinded and in the Udana Sutta he gives the simile of the blind men and the elephant and said: “Oh monks most people who ill-advisedly keep all clinging views and mere rules (sīlabbattupādāna) are blinded and unseeing the Reality. They neither know the profitable deeds and nor the unprofitable kamma. They neither know what the Dhamma is, and they do not know what the Dhamma is not. In their delusion of these things they are by their nature quarrelsome, wrangling and disputatious, too.

 

Formerly there was a king of Savatthi who ordered an officer; “Go and gather together all of the blind men in a place, then you give them an elephant before them, will you?” The officer had done what he was told and said to the blind men: “This is an elephant” and to one man he presented the head of the elephant; to another man its ear; to another man its tusk; to another man its trunk, the foot, the back, the tail and tuft of the tail, the officer said to each man that that was the elephant.

 

Shortly the king went to all of the blind men and said to each man; “Well gentle men, have you perceived the elephant?” “Yes Sir”. The king said; “Now tell me, blind men, what kind of the elephant is like?” Then those who had been presented with the elephant’s head answered: “Sir, an elephant is like a pot”. Those who had touched an ear of the elephant replied; “An elephant is like a winnowing basket”. Those who were given with a tusk said an elephant was like a ploughshare. Those who knew only the trunk said an elephant was a plough. Those said the body of an elephant was granary, its foot was like a pillar, its back was a mortar; its tail was like a broomstick…Shortly those blind men began to quarrel, shouting to each other, “Yes, I’m right!” “Yes, it is”. “No, it isn’t! An elephant is not like that”. “Yes, it is like that”. And so on, so forth. Until they come to punch over one another… What’s a shame! Just so are those Buddhists who hold Atta-Upadana.

 

What is his true teaching? It has once been asked: how do we know ‘what the Buddha taught?’ He gives answer to Elder Upali: “The doctrines of which you know are the doctrines lead people to bless, peacefulness and Nibbana, regard them unreservedly as Dhamma, Discipline, words of the Buddha”. It is the actual practice of Mindfulness that we know for certain and no other way.

 

While the Buddha was staying in Kosambi North India, he took a few leaves of trees and asked the monks sitting before him; “What do you think O monks? Are the leaves in my hand more than the leaves in this woodland here?” “Sir, the leaves in your hand are just a few, indeed, the leaves in this woodland here are much more”. “Listen! Oh monks! What I have discovered and teaching you is only a little, but what I haven’t told you are very much more. Why I haven’t taught you those things because they are useless and not leading to the peace of mind and to Nibbana”.

 

And he once compared his truth teaching is similar to a raft for crossing over a river to the safety place. He advised humanity that they should understand that his teaching is like a raft. From this fable it is quite clear that the Buddha’s teaching and advice means to take people from frightful place to safety, bliss and to attain Nibbana. What the Buddha teaches absolutely leads to this end.

 

The Buddha does not teach anything in order to make intellectual inquisitiveness. On the contrary his four kinds of perfect analytical knowledge especially his ready wit (Patisambhida) supported him to be a practical and perfect Teacher so he teaches all castes of men and women only those things that shall bring peace, happiness and Nibbana (Summum Bonum) to them all, provided they want to follow his great teaching and advice.

 

The aim of the Buddha to establish the Order of monks and nuns is to provide the spiritual practices for the Holy life so that whoever wishes to leave from the rounds of frightful rebirths should make effort to attain Nibbana as the end of all suffering.

 

There at the Jeta Grove monastery in Savatthi North India, the Buddha once ordered monks to come before him and said; “The ‘Ten Essentials’ Oh monks, you should always review because you who have given up the household life and gone forth to a homeless life. And what are ten?

“Having consented to be a monk, you have a different status from a layman. Therefore this should always be reflected by you who have gone forth from a household life to a homeless and a holy life.

“My life is dependent on others. This you should ever reflect because you have gone forth from a household life to a holy life.

“What should be done by me is of another character. This you should ever reflect because you have gone forth from a household to a holy life.

“Does my mind not reprove me as to my virtues? This you should ever reflect because you have gone forth from a household life to a holy life.

“Do the wise fellows among myself in the Order, having tested me, not criticize me as to my virtue? This you should ever reflect because you gone forth from a household life to a holy life.

“With all pleasant and dear to me, there is changing and parting inevitably. This you should ever reflect because you have gone from a household life to a holy life.

“Of deeds and of mind, speech and body am I, have deeds for my inheritance, deeds as mould, deeds for kinsmen, deeds for my protection. Whatever kamma I do perform, be it skilful or unskilful of that shall I be heir. This you should ever reflect because you have gone from a household life to a holy life.

“How do I pass my nights and days? This you should ever reflect because you have gone from a household to a holy life.

“Do I delight in a quiet place and solitude? This you should ever reflect because you have gone forth from a household life to a holy life.

“Have I gained faculties transcending the normal, the truly distinctive attainment of noble wisdom of insight, so that when questioned by other monks in the Noble Order in my last days I shall be unperturbed?  Oh monks, this should always be reflected upon by you who have gone forth from the household life to the holy life.

 

These are the ‘Ten Essentials’ that should ever be reviewed by you who have gone forth”. So said the Buddha and all monks who had listened to his unique advice were extremely delighted.

9 Steps to Better Emotional Health

We are emotional beings – with a wealth of emotional experience but we tend to be overwhelmed, lost, confused and don’t quite know how to deal with it because we are in it and become one with it.

The word ‘e-motion’ suggests some form of movement. The letter ‘e’ in Latin means out of or from. We can possibly assume that emotion refers to a sensation that arises out of movement. This is not a movement of an object but of something delicate, subtle and a lot more complex because it is deep within and invisible to the naked eyes. When the mind is moved from its stilled and balanced state into rippling, erupting, elating or swinging motion, emotion arises.

Dealing with emotion is not difficult but it takes practice and perseverance. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Accept and acknowledge your emotion – good, bad, desirable or undesirable. You may feel the need to reject an inappropriate emotion or the ones that are at odd with your personality. Accept and acknowledge them anyway without doing anything to them or trying to trace back to why or how or who to blame.
  2. Get to know your emotion: watch it! Painful emotion seems more difficult to watch and we’d prefer do away with it instead. Do so and you will miss a good opportunity to understand your own emotion. Past emotion may return when triggered. We need to watch it diligently, allowing the mind to see the whole process of emotion – that it has a beginning, the middle and the end. That’s the way it is.
  3. The mind can only focus on one thing at a time. When something else catches its attention, the emotion that occupies your mind will instantly disappear. This shows that emotion is not forever, it comes and goes.
  4. Know that emotion will soon pass – including the one that is tormenting you. Its nature is in transient. It only remains troublesome if you indulge in it, add thoughts to it, focus on it and hold on to the idea that it’s not going to change. In general, when happiness wanes, unhappiness is felt. And vice versa.
  5. Thoughts, feelings and emotions work together as a team. Thought gives rise to feeling of liking, disliking or neither of the two. Feeling contributes to more thought forming – leading to the arising of emotion. More thoughts follow to justify the emotion we are experiencing. Thoughts also strengthen the existing emotions. Fear of pain, for example, can intensify because of our thought. We need to be mindful of our thoughts and feelings. As soon as we are mindful of them, they will disappear before giving rise to emotion.
  6. Watch your mind. Train the mind to know what it is doing. Know whether the mind is within your body? Or, is it following other people out there, or travelling into the past or the future? You need to bring it back to the present, to the body or to the breath. If you are sitting, walking, talking, the mind fully knows that you are doing those things, not leaving you unaware or absent minded. Watching your mind is like watching a TV programme. See how the drama unfolds, you don’t need to get involved or play the character’s part.
  7. You may wonder how you can watch your emotion when you can only feel it. Ask yourself what emotion is drifting through your mind at the moment. Is it positive or negative, pleasant or unpleasant? Acknowledge it without trying to change it.
  8. See how long each emotion lasts till you experience the next emotion.
  9. Make a habit of watching your emotion. The more you keep watch, the more able you can see through its changeable nature. The changes can be as fast as every footstep or as every breath you take or faster. This will bring a big smile to your face because the mind now fully understands the true nature of emotion: it arises, continues and then disappears. The mind sees no point in holding on to any emotion. You can even begin to have fun with emotion watching.

Suppressing your emotion doesn’t work in long term. Relying on others to help you sort out your emotion is but a missed opportunity. Take the power unto your hand: watch your emotion, understand it once and for all. What you get is a priceless peace of mind.

 

Kamontip Evans is a stress management consultant and author of Taming the Truant Mind. She also writes blogs on mindfulness meditation for the Huffington Post

 

Safeguarding Your Mind

The mind holds the key to our good health and happiness. We need to look after it well so that our mind will be at peace rather than unstable, closed-off or troubled, at risk of losing itself. The mind experiences emotions – positive, negative and neutral – from anger and sadness, to loss, joy, happiness, boredom, indifference, equanimity, and so on. As a surface of a still pond ripples when something falls into it, so too does an untrained mind when sight, sound, smell, taste, tactile sensation and arising thoughts come into contact with it. The ripples soon dissipate to stillness. However, interfere with the ripples and more waves will be created. For example, someone’s rude manner may infuriate us. Our instinctive reaction may be with aggression – verbally or physically. Or we may choose to suppress our anger. The former can leave us with regret and guilt afterwards, the latter with anxiety and, if prolonged, can lead to depression. Worse, anger can be stored in our memory bank, waiting to be triggered and re-experienced. We are, in effect, being imprisoned by our past memory, stuck, tormented, and unable to move on.

 

An angry mind

If you look at the anger, who is angry? Which part of the body is angry: our head, arms, hands or legs? None of those. Yet the body is working hard throughout the state of anger. The heart pumps faster and the lungs expand to let more air and oxygen in. Hence the shortness of breath. Stress hormones are released. Glucose and fatty acids increase in our blood stream to provide us with energy for fight or flight mode. Our muscles tighten. But the body itself is not getting angry. It knows nothing about anger; it only performs its duty to help us survive. The one part of us that gets angry is our mind. This angry mind can time-travel into the past, digging up some related or unrelated unpleasant incidents to get us more upset all over again. Or it can go into the future and worry about the negative effects of past anger, thus feeling anxious and unhappy in the present moment. It wants to fix the past so that the future will look securely happy. The fact that the past has been and gone and is unchangeable leaves us feeling sad and helpless about the future. This unnecessary confusion, helplessness and anxiety occurs because we don’t understand our own mind. Nor do we know how to safeguard it against negative thinking.

 

The nature of the mind

The mind, in its primal state, is radiant. Its function is to think, imagine, feel, remember. Left unguided, it can think itself to stress, anxiety, anger, and depression without realising it. There is a Thai proverb: When with friends, watch what you say; when alone, watch your thoughts! This is because, left to its own devices, the mind tends to dwell more on negativity. It never keeps still but proliferates. A busy mind is clouded, weighed down by cluttered thoughts, confused and unable to see the way out of the problem. Once the mind gets into the thinking mode, it adds more thoughts to it, gets lost in it and starts to believe in its own thought creation. As the Buddha said: no enemy can harm you as much as your thoughts unguarded.

 

Wimbledon Common path

The runaway mind

When the mind experiences stress, there’s a sense of urgency to get rid of it. The more we try to reject it, the more it gets stuck. Scientists found that emotional memory lasts longer than normal memory.  Most people turn to entertainment or some other activities to distract their attention from stress and emotional pain – only to find that they carry the unresolved issue with them everywhere. Even on holiday! The painful event ended an hour ago or a year ago but the mind keeps going back to it and nurturing it with repetitive thoughts. We need to understand this mind, tame it and train it to keep still so that it will not put us at risk of ill health – physically and mentally. Mindfulness is the key.

 

The mindful mind

In mindfulness training, we bring the mind to the present moment and acknowledge whatever is happening in the here and now without adding any further thought to it.  For example, when you are thinking, acknowledge that you are thinking. When you hear something you like or dislike, it’s just hearing; when you see something, it’s just seeing, seeing, seeing. If the mind proliferates, watch it and bring it back to the body, to the breath or to the rising and falling sensation of the abdomen. When anger arises, it’s just anger. If anger doesn’t go away, you can look at it from beginning to end. It starts off just like this, continues and eventually ceases naturally – without you trying to forgive someone or forget the upsetting event. Anger is not you. When you watch a tv programme many times over, you will come to know it so well and be able to predict its beginning, middle and end, as well as the conversations between the characters. You will get bored of it and won’t want to watch it again. Likewise, the mind will become adept at predicting the pattern of its own thoughts and emotions, able to let go of them through understanding.  This is empowering because you will know how to handle the painful past and the future worries when they arise in your mind. But understanding it is not enough; you need to work at it regularly by training the mind to be more mindful.

 

When the mind is still, there is concentration and clarity. We can think better. A mindful mind can stop troublesome thoughts and emotions in their tracks, safeguarding itself and us from miseries. For, it understands things as they are, not as the way we want things to be. It can let go, is at ease and is at peace with itself and the world.

 

Kamontip Evans is a stress management consultant and author of Taming of the Truant Mind. She also writes blogs on mindfulness meditaion for the Huffington Post.

LAW OF KARMA

We have come to a couple of related ideas which are common in Buddhism and they are the ideas of karma and rebirth. These ideas are closely inter-related, but because the subject is a fairly wide one, we will begin to deal with the idea of karma todayand rebirth in another lecture.

We know that what binds us in samsara are the defilements — desire, ill-will and ignorance. We spoke about this when we talked about the Second Noble Truth — the truth of the cause of suffering. These defilements are something which every living being in samsara shares, whether we speak of human beings or animals or beings who live in the other realms which we do not normally perceive. In this, all living beings are alike and yet amongst all the living beings that we can normally perceive, there are many differences. For instance, some of us are wealthy, some are less wealthy, some are strong and healthy, others are disabled and so forth. There are many differences amongst living beings and even more so there are differences between animals and human beings. These differences are due to karma.

What we all share - desire, ill-will and ignorance - are common to all living beings, but the particular condition in which we find ourselves is the result of our particular karma that conditions the situation in which we find ourselves, the situation in which we may be wealthy, strong and so forth. These circumstances are decided by karma. It is in this sense that karma explains the differences amongst living beings. It explains why some beings are fortunate while others are less fortunate, some are happy while others are less happy. The Buddha has specifically stated that karma explains the differences between living beings. You might also recall that the understanding of how karma affects the birth of living beings in happy or unhappy circumstances — the knowledge of how living beings move from happy circumstances to unhappy circumstances, and vice versa, from unhappy to happy circumstances as a result of their karma - was part of the Buddha’s experience on the night of His enlightenment. It is karma that explains the circumstances that living beings find themselves in.

Having said this much about the function of karma, let us look more closely at what karma is. Let us define karma. Maybe we can define karma best by first deciding what karma is not. It is quite often the case that we find people misunderstanding the idea of karma. This is particularly true in our daily casual use of the term. We find people saying that one cannot change one’s situation because of one’s karma. In this sense, karma becomes a sort of escape. It becomes similar to predestination or fatalism. This is emphatically not the correct understanding of karma. It is possible that this misunderstanding of karma has come about because of the popular idea that we have about luck and fate. It may be for this reason that our idea of karma has become overlaid in popular thought with the notion of predestination. Karma is not fate or predestination.

If karma is not fate or predestination, then what is it? Let us look at the term itself. Karma means action, means "to do". Immediately we have an indication that the real meaning of karma is not fate because karma is action. It is dynamic. But it is more than simply action because it is not mechanical action. It is not unconscious or involuntary action. It is intentional, conscious, deliberate, willful action. How is it that this intentional, will action conditions or determines our situation? It is because every action must have a reaction, an effect. This truth has been expressed in regard to the physical universe by the great physicist Newton who formulated the law which states that every action must have an equal and opposite reaction. In the moral sphere of conscious actions, we have a counterpart to the physical law of action and reaction, the law that every intentional, will action must have its effect. This is why we sometimes speak either of Karma-Vipaka, intentional action and its ripened effect, or we speak of Karma-Phala, intentional action and its fruit. It is when we speak of intentional action together with its effect or fruit that we speak of the Law of Karma.

In its most basic sense, the Law of Karma in the moral sphere teaches that similar actions will lead to similar results. Let us take an example. If we plant a mango seed, the plant that springs up will be a mango tree, and eventually it will bear a mango fruit. Alternatively, if we plant a Pong Pong seed, the tree that will spring up will be a Pong Pong tree and the fruit a Pong Pong. As one sows, so shall one reap. According to one’s action, so shall be the fruit. Similarly, in the Law of Karma, if we do a wholesome action, eventually we will get a wholesome fruit, and if we do an unwholesome action eventually we will get an unwholesome, painful result. This is what we mean when we say that causes bring about effects that are similar to the causes. This we will see very clearly when we come to specific examples of wholesome and unwholesome actions.

We can understand by means of this general introduction that karma can be of two varieties - wholesome karma or good karma and unwholesome karma or bad karma. In order that we should not misunderstand this description of karma, it is useful for us to look at the original term. In this case, it is kushala or akushala karma, karma that is wholesome or unwholesome. In order that we understand how these terms are being used, it is important that we know the real meaning of kushala and akushala. Kushala means intelligent or skilful, whereas akushala means not intelligent, not skilful. This helps us to understand how these terms are being used, not in terms of good and evil but in terms of skilful and unskilful, in terms of intelligent and unintelligent, in terms of wholesome and unwholesome. Now how wholesome and how unwholesome? Wholesome in the sense that those actions which are beneficial to oneself and others, those actions that spring not out of desire, ill-will and ignorance, but out of renunciation, loving-kindness and compassion, and wisdom.

One may ask how does one know whether an action that is wholesome or unwholesome will produce happiness or unhappiness. The answer is time will tell. The Buddha Himself answered the question. He has explained that so long as an unwholesome action does not bear its fruit of suffering, for so long a foolish person will consider that action good. But when that unwholesome action bears its fruit of suffering then he will realize that the action is unwholesome. Similarly, so long as a wholesome action does not bear its fruit of happiness, a good person may consider that action unwholesome. When it bears its fruit of happiness, then he will realize that the action is good. So one needs to judge wholesome and unwholesome action from the point of view of long-term effect. Very simply, wholesome actions result in eventual happiness for oneself and others, while unwholesome actions have the opposite result, they result in suffering for oneself and others.

Specifically, the unwholesome actions which are to be avoided relate to the three doors or means of action, and these are body, speech and mind. There are three unwholesome actions of the body, four of speech and three of mind that are to be avoided. The three unwholesome actions of body that are to be avoided are killing, stealing and sexual misconduct. The four unwholesome actions of speech that are to be avoided are lying, slander, harsh speech and malicious gossip. The three unwholesome actions of mind that are to be avoided are greed, anger and delusion. By avoiding these ten unwholesome actions we will avoid their consequences. The unwholesome actions have suffering as their fruit. The fruit of these unwholesome actions can take various forms. The fully ripened fruit of the unwholesome actions consists of rebirth in the lower realms, in the realms of suffering — hell, hungry ghosts and animals. If these unwholesome actions are not sufficient to result in rebirth in these lower realms, they will result in unhappiness in this life as a human being. Here we can see at work the principle of a cause resulting in a similar effect. For example, habitual killing which is motivated by ill-will and anger and which results in the taking of the life of other beings will result in rebirth in the hells where one’s experience is saturated by anger and ill-will and where one may be repeatedly killed. If killing is not sufficiently habitual or weighty to result in rebirth in the hells, killing will result in shortened life as a human being, separation from loved ones, fear or paranoia. Here too we can see how the effect is similar to the cause. Killing shortens the life of others, deprives others of their loved ones and so forth, and so if we kill we will be liable to experience these effects. Similarly, stealing which is borne of the defilement of desire may lead to rebirth as a hungry ghost where one is totally destitute of desired objects. If it does not result in rebirth as a ghost, it will result in poverty, dependence upon others for one’s livelihood and so forth. Sexual misconduct results in martial distress or unhappy marriages.

While unwholesome actions produce unwholesome results - suffering, wholesome actions produce wholesome results - happiness. One can interpret wholesome actions in two ways. One can simply regard wholesome actions as avoiding the unwholesome actions, avoiding killing, stealing, sexual misconduct and the rest. Or one can speak of wholesome actions in positive terms. Here one can refer to the list of wholesome actions that includes generosity, good conduct, meditation, reverence, service, transference of merits, rejoicing in the merit of others, hearing the Dharma, teaching the Dharma and straightening of one’s own views. Just as unwholesome actions produce suffering, these wholesome actions produce benefits. Again effects here are similar to the actions. For example, generosity results in wealth. Hearing of the Dharma results in wisdom. The wholesome actions have as their consequences similar wholesome effects just as unwholesome actions have similar unwholesome effects.

Karma, be it wholesome or unwholesome, is modified by the conditions under which the actions are performed. In other words, a wholesome or unwholesome action may be more or less strong depending upon the conditions under which it is done. The conditions which determine the weight or strength of karma may be divided into those which refer to the subject — the doer of the action — and those which refer to the object — the being to whom the action is done. So the conditions that determine the weight of karma apply to the subject and object of the action. Specifically, if we take the example of killing, in order for the act of killing to have its complete and unmitigated power, five conditions must be present — a living being, the awareness of the existence of a living being, the intention to kill the living being, the effort or action of killing the living being, and the consequent death of the living being. Here too, we can see the subjective and the objective conditions. The subjective conditions are the awareness of the living being, the intention to kill and the action of killing. The objective conditions are the presence of the living being and the consequent death of the living being.

Similarly, there are five conditions that modify the weight of karma and they are persistent, repeated action; action done with great intention and determination; action done without regret; action done towards those who possess extraordinary qualities; and action done towards those who have benefited one in the past. Here too there are subjective and objective conditions. The subjective conditions are persistent action; action done with intention; and action done without regret. If one does an unwholesome action again and again with great intention and without regret, the weight of the action will be enhanced. The objective conditions are the quality of the object to whom actions are done and the nature of the relationship. In other words, if one does a wholesome or unwholesome action towards living beings who possess extraordinary qualities such as the arhats, or the Buddha, the wholesome or unwholesome action done will have greater weight. Finally the power of wholesome or unwholesome action done towards those who have benefited one in the past, such as one’s parents, teachers and friends, will be greater.

The objective and subjective conditions together determine the weight of karma. This is important because understanding this will help us to understand that karma is not simply a matter of black and white, or good and bad. Karma is moral action and moral responsibility. But the working of the Law of Karma is very finely tuned and balanced so as to match effect with cause, so as to take into account the subjective and objective conditions that determine the nature of an action. This ensures that the effects of actions are equal to and similar to the nature of the causes.

The effects of karma may be evident either in the short term or in the long term. Traditionally we divide karma into three varieties related to the amount of time that is required for the effects of these actions to manifest themselves. Karma can either manifest its effects in this very life or in the next life or only after several lives. When karma manifests its effects in this life, we can see the fruit of karma within a relatively short length of time. This variety of karma is easily verifiable by any of us. For instance, when someone refuses to study, when someone indulges in harmful distractions like alcohol and drugs, when someone begins to steal to support his harmful habits; the effects will be evident within a short time. They will be evident in loss of livelihood and friendship, health and so forth. We cannot see the long-term effect of karma, but the Buddha and His prominent disciples who have developed their minds are able to perceive directly the long-term effects. For instance, when Maudgalyayana was beaten to death by bandits, the Buddha was able to tell that this event was the effect of something Maudgalyayana had done in a previous life when he had taken his aged parents to the forest and having beaten them to death, had then reported that they had been killed by bandits. The effect of this unwholesome action done many lives before was manifested only in his last life. At death we have to leave everything behind — our property and our loved ones, but our karma will accompany us like a shadow. The Buddha has said that nowhere on earth or in heaven can one escape one’s karma. So when the conditions are correct, dependent upon mind and body, the effects of karma will manifest themselves just as dependent on certain conditions a mango will appear on a mango tree. We can see that even in the world of nature certain effects take longer to appear than others. If for instance, we plant the seed of a papaya, we will obtain the fruit in shorter period than if we plant the seed of a durian. Similarly, the effects of karma manifest either in the short term or in the long term.

Besides the two varieties of karma, wholesome and unwholesome karma, we should mention neutral or ineffective karma. Neutral karma is karma that has no moral consequence either because the very nature of the action is such as to have no moral consequence or because it is done involuntarily and unintentionally. For example, sleeping, walking, breathing, eating, handicraft and so forth in themselves have no moral consequence. Similarly, unintentional action is ineffective karma. In other words, if one accidentally steps on an insect, being unconscious of its existence, this also constitutes neutral karma because there is no intention - the intentional element is not there.

The benefits of understanding the Law of Karma are that this understanding discourages one from performing unwholesome actions which have suffering as their fruit. Once we understand that in our own life every action will have a similar and equal reaction, once we understand that we will experience the effect of that action, wholesome or unwholesome, we will refrain from unwholesome behavior, not wanting to experience the effects of these unwholesome actions. And similarly, understanding that wholesome actions have happiness as their fruit, we will cultivate these wholesome actions. Reflecting on the Law of Karma, of action and reaction in the moral sphere encourages us to renounce unwholesome actions and cultivate wholesome actions. We will look more closely at the specific effects of karma in future lives and how karma conditions and determines the nature of rebirth in our lecture next week.

Extract from "Fundamentals of Buddhism", by Dr. Peter Della Santina.

BASIC BUDDHISM GUIDE

BASIC BUDDHISM GUIDE

• What is Buddhism?

Buddhism is a religion to about 300 million people around the world. The word comes from 'budhi', 'to awaken'. It has its origins about 2,500 years ago when Siddhartha Gotama, known as the Buddha, was himself awakened (enlightened) at the age of 35.

Is Buddhism a Religion?

To many, Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy or 'way of life'. It is a philosophy because philosophy 'means love of wisdom' and the Buddhist path can be summed up as:

(1) to lead a moral life,
(2) to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and
(3) to develop wisdom and understanding.

How Can Buddhism Help Me?

Buddhism explains a purpose to life, it explains apparent injustice and inequality around the world, and it provides a code of practice or way of life that leads to true happiness.

Why is Buddhism Becoming Popular?

Buddhism is becoming popular in western countries for a number of reasons, The first good reason is Buddhism has answers to many of the problems in modern materialistic societies. It also includes (for those who are interested) a deep understanding of the human mind (and natural therapies) which prominent psychologists around the world are now discovering to be both very advanced and effective.

Who Was the Buddha?

Siddhartha Gotama was born into a royal family in Lumbini, now located in Nepal, in 563 BC. At 29, he realised that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness, so he explored the different teachings religions and philosophies of the day, to find the key to human happiness. After six years of study and meditation he finally found 'the middle path' and was enlightened. After enlightenment, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism — called the Dhamma, or Truth — until his death at the age of 80.

Was the Buddha a God?

He was not, nor did he claim to be. He was a man who taught a path to enlightenment from his own experience.

Do Buddhists Worship Idols?

Buddhists sometimes pay respect to images of the Buddha, not in worship, nor to ask for favours. A statue of the Buddha with hands rested gently in its lap and a compassionate smile reminds us to strive to develop peace and love within ourselves. Bowing to the statue is an expression of gratitude for the teaching.

Why are so Many Buddhist Countries Poor?

One of the Buddhist teachings is that wealth does not guarantee happiness and also wealth is impermanent. The people of every country suffer whether rich or poor, but those who understand Buddhist teachings can find true happiness.

Are There Different Types of Buddhism?

There are many different types of Buddhism, because the emphasis changes from country to country due to customs and culture. What does not vary is the essence of the teaching — the Dhamma or truth.

Are Other Religions Wrong?

Buddhism is also a belief system which is tolerant of all other beliefs or religions. Buddhism agrees with the moral teachings of other religions but Buddhism goes further by providing a long term purpose within our existence, through wisdom and true understanding. Real Buddhism is very tolerant and not concerned with labels like 'Christian', 'Moslem', 'Hindu' or 'Buddhist'; that is why there have never been any wars fought in the name of Buddhism. That is why Buddhists do not preach and try to convert, only explain if an explanation is sought.

Is Buddhism Scientific?

Science is knowledge which can be made into a system, which depends upon seeing and testing facts and stating general natural laws. The core of Buddhism fit into this definition, because the Four Noble truths (see below) can be tested and proven by anyone in fact the Buddha himself asked his followers to test the teaching rather than accept his word as true. Buddhism depends more on understanding than faith.

What did the Buddha Teach?

The Buddha taught many things, but the basic concepts in Buddhism can be summed up by the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

What is the First Noble Truth?

The first truth is that life is suffering i.e., life includes pain, getting old, disease, and ultimately death. We also endure psychological suffering like loneliness frustration, fear, embarrassment, disappointment and anger. This is an irrefutable fact that cannot be denied. It is realistic rather than pessimistic because pessimism is expecting things to be bad. lnstead, Buddhism explains how suffering can be avoided and how we can be truly happy.

What is the Second Noble Truth?

The second truth is that suffering is caused by craving and aversion. We will suffer if we expect other people to conform to our expectation, if we want others to like us, if we do not get something we want,etc. In other words, getting what you want does not guarantee happiness. Rather than constantly struggling to get what you want, try to modify your wanting. Wanting deprives us of contentment and happiness. A lifetime of wanting and craving and especially the craving to continue to exist, creates a powerful energy which causes the individual to be born. So craving leads to physical suffering because it causes us to be reborn.

What is the Third Noble Truth?

The third truth is that suffering can be overcome and happiness can be attained; that true happiness and contentment are possible. lf we give up useless craving and learn to live each day at a time (not dwelling in the past or the imagined future) then we can become happy and free. We then have more time and energy to help others. This is Nirvana.

What is the Fourth Noble Truth?

The fourth truth is that the Noble 8-fold Path is the path which leads to the end of suffering.

What is the Noble 8-Fold Path?

In summary, the Noble 8-fold Path is being moral (through what we say, do and our livelihood), focussing the mind on being fully aware of our thoughts and actions, and developing wisdom by understanding the Four Noble Truths and by developing compassion for others.

What are the 5 Precepts?

The moral code within Buddhism is the precepts, of which the main five are: not to take the life of anything living, not to take anything not freely given, to abstain from sexual misconduct and sensual overindulgence, to refrain from untrue speech, and to avoid intoxication, that is, losing mindfulness.

What is Karma?

Karma is the law that every cause has an effect, i.e., our actions have results. This simple law explains a number of things: inequality in the world, why some are born handicapped and some gifted, why some live only a short life. Karma underlines the importance of all individuals being responsible for their past and present actions. How can we test the karmic effect of our actions? The answer is summed up by looking at (1) the intention behind the action, (2) effects of the action on oneself, and (3) the effects on others.

What is Wisdom?

Buddhism teaches that wisdom should be developed with compassion. At one extreme, you could be a good hearted fool and at the other extreme, you could attain knowledge without any emotion. Buddhism uses the middle path to develop both. The highest wisdom is seeing that in reality, all phenomena are incomplete, impermanent and do not constitute a fixed entity. True wisdom is not simply believing what we are told but instead experiencing and understanding truth and reality. Wisdom requires an open, objective, unbigoted mind. The Buddhist path requires courage, patience, flexibility and intelligence.

What is Compassion?

Compassion includes qualities of sharing, readiness to give comfort, sympathy, concern, caring. In Buddhism, we can really understand others, when we can really understand ourselves, through wisdom.

How do I Become a Buddhist?

Buddhist teachings can be understood and tested by anyone. Buddhism teaches that the solutions to our problems are within ourselves not outside. The Buddha asked all his followers not to take his word as true, but rather to test the teachings for themselves. ln this way, each person decides for themselves and takes responsibility for their own actions and understanding. This makes Buddhism less of a fixed package of beliefs which is to be accepted in its entirety, and more of a teaching which each person learns and uses in their own way.

Prepared by Brian White 1993, with thanks to Ven S. Dhammika.