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Buddhism | Chapter 5

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  • Some Salient Features Of Buddhism [more]
 

 

Buddhism In A Nutshell

Buddhism In A Nutshell

 

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Buddhism In A Nutshell - Chapter 5

Some Salient Features Of Buddhism

The foundations of Buddhism are the Four Noble Truths, namely: suffering (the raisen d'etre of Buddhism; its cause, i.e. craving; its end, i.e. Nibbana (the summum bonum of Buddhism); and the Middle Way.

What is the Noble Truth of Suffering?

"Birth is suffering, old age is suffering, disease is suffering, death is suffering, to be united with the unpleasant is suffering, to be separated from the pleasant is suffering, not to receive what one craves for is suffering, in brief the five Aggregates of Attachment are suffering."

What is the Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering?

"It is the craving which leads from rebirth to rebirth accompanied by lust and passion, which delights now here now there; it is the craving for sensual pleasures (kãmatanhã), for existence (bhavatanhã) - craving associated with Eternalism - and for annihilation (vibhavatanhã) - craving associated with Nihilism.

"It is the remainderless, total annihilation of this very craving, the forsaking of it, the breaking loose, fleeing, deliverance from it."

What is the Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Annihilation of Suffering?

"It is the Noble Eightfold Path which consists of Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration."

Whether the Buddhas arise or not these Four Noble Truths exist in the universe. The Buddhas only reveal these Truths which lay hidden in the dark abyss of time.

Scientifically interpreted, the Dhamma may be called the law of cause and effect. These two embrace the entire body of the Buddha's Teachings.

The first three represent the philosophy of Buddhism; the fourth represents the ethics of Buddhism, based on that philosophy. All these four truths are dependent on this body itself. The Buddha states: "In this very one-fathom long body along with perceptions and thoughts, do I proclaim the world, the origin of the world, the end of the world and the path leading to the end of the world." Here, the term world is applied to suffering.

Buddism rests on the pivot of sorrow. But it does not thereby follow that Buddism is pessimistic. It is neither totally pessimistic nor totally optimistic but, on the contrary, it teaches a truth that lies midway between them. One would be justified in calling the Buddha a pessimist if he had only enunciated the Truth of suffering without suggesting a means to put and end to it. The Buddha perceived the universality of sorrow and did prescribe a panacea for this universal sickness of humanity. The highest conceivable happiness, according to the Buddha, is Nibbana, which is the total extinction of suffering.

The author of the article on pessimism in the Encyclopaedia Britannica writes: "Pessimism denotes an attitude of hopelessness towards life, a vague general opinion that pain and evil predominate in human affairs". The original doctrine of the Buddha is in fact as optimistic as any optimism of the West. To call it pessimism is merely to apply to it a characteristically Western principle to which happiness is impossible without personality. The true Buddhist looks forward with optimism to absorption into eternal bliss.

Ordinarily, the enjoyment of sensual pleasures is the highest and only happiness of the average man. There is no doubt a kind of momentary happiness in the anticipation, gratification and retrospection of such fleeting material pleasures, but they are illusive and temporary. According to the Buddha non-attachment is a greater bliss.

The Buddha does not expect his followers to be constantly pondering on suffering and lead a miserable unhappy life. He exhorts them to be always happy and cheerful for zest (pïti) is one of the factors of Enlightenment.

Real happiness is found within, and is not to be defined in terms of wealth, children, honour or fame. If such possessions are misdirected, forcibly or unjustly obtained, misappropriated or even viewed with attachment, they will be a source of pain and sorrow to the possessors.

Instead of trying to rationalise suffering, Buddhism takes suffering for granted and seeks the cause to eradicate it. Suffering exists as long as there is craving. It can only be annihilated by treading the Noble Eightfold Path and attaining the supreme bliss of Nibbana.

These four Truths can be verified by experience. Hence, the Buddha Dhamma is not based on the fear of the unknown, but is founded on the bedrock of facts which can be tested by ourselves and verified by experience. Buddhism is, therefore, rational and intensely practical.

Such a rational and practical system cannot contain mysteries or esoteric doctrines.

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Images of Thailand

Images of Thailand

 

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