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About Buddhism - the teachings of Buddha (Basics)

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About Buddhism - the teachings of Buddha

The founder of Buddhism in this world was Buddha Shakyamuni who lived and gave teachings in India some two and a half thousand years ago. Since then millions of people around world have followed the spiritual path he revealed.

The Buddhist way of life of peace, loving kindness and wisdom can be just as relevant today as it was in ancient India.

Buddha explained that all our problems and suffering arise from confused and negative states of mind, and that all our happiness and good fortune arise from peaceful and positive states of mind.
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Buddha taught methods for gradually overcoming our negative minds such as anger, jealousy and ignorance, and developing our positive minds such as love, compassion and wisdom. Through this we can come to experience lasting peace and happiness.

These methods can work for anyone, in any country, in any age. Once we have gained experience of them for ourselves we can pass them on to others so they too can enjoy the same benefits.

Meditation is at the heart of the Buddhist way of life. It is essentially a method for understanding and working on our own mind. We first learn to identify our different negative mental states known as ‘delusions’, and learn how to develop peaceful and positive mental states or ‘virtuous minds’.

Then in meditation we overcome our delusions by becoming familiar with virtuous minds. Out of meditation we try to maintain the virtuous minds we have developed and use our wisdom to solve the problems of daily life.

As our mind becomes more positive our actions become more constructive, and our experience of life becomes more satisfying and beneficial to others.

Anyone can learn basic meditation techniques and experience great benefits, but to progress beyond basic meditation requires faith in the Three Jewels – Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Usually people find this develops naturally as they experience the benefits of their meditation practice.

Spiritual path
The teachings of Buddha reveal a step by step path to lasting happiness. By following this path anyone can gradually transform his or her mind from its present confused and self-centred state into the blissful mind of a Buddha.In his popular book Eight Steps to Happiness, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the Founder of the New Kadampa Tradition, explains:
"Every living being has the potential to become a Buddha, someone who has completely purified his or her mind of all faults and limitations and has brought all good qualities to perfection. Our mind is like a cloudy sky, in essence clear and pure but overcast by the clouds of delusions.

Just as the thickest clouds eventually disperse, so too even the heaviest delusions can be removed from our mind. Delusions such as hatred, greed, and ignorance are not an intrinsic part of the mind. If we apply the appropriate methods they can be completely eliminated, and we shall experience the supreme happiness of full enlightenment."
Eight Steps to Happiness by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
Having attained enlightenment we shall have all the necessary qualities to lead all living beings to the same blissful state. This is the ultimate aim of Mahayana Buddhism.

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2About Buddhism - the teachings of Buddha (Basics) Empty About Buddha - the founder of Buddhism on Thu Jul 26, 2012 6:27 pm



About Buddha - the founder of Buddhism

Buddha Shakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism in this world, was born as a prince in 624 BC in a place called Lumbini, which was originally in northern India but is now part of Nepal.

'Shakya' is the name of the royal family into which he was born, and 'Muni' means 'Able One'. His parents gave him the name Siddhartha and there were many auspicious predictions about his future.

In his early years he lived as a prince in the royal palace but when he was 29 years old he retired to the forest where he followed a life of meditation. After six years he attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya, India.
He was subsequently requested to teach others the path to enlightenment. As Geshe Kelsang says in Introduction to Buddhism:
"As a result of this request, Buddha rose from meditation and taught the first Wheel of Dharma. These teachings which include the Sutra of the Four Noble Truths and other discourses, are the principal source of the Hinayana, or Lesser Vehicle, of Buddhism.

Later, Buddha taught the second and third Wheels of Dharma, which include the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras and the Sutra Discriminating the Intention respectively. These teachings are the source of the Mahayana, or Great Vehicle, of Buddhism.

In the Hinayana teachings Buddha explains how to attain liberation from suffering for oneself alone, and in the Mahayana teachings he explains how to attain full enlightenment, or Buddhahood, for the sake of others.

Both traditions flourished in Asia, at first in India and then gradually in other surrounding countries, including Tibet. Now they are also beginning to flourish in the West."
Introduction to Buddhism by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
In all, Buddha Shakyamuni gave eighty-four thousand teachings. revealing many profound methods of spiritual training, all of which are practical ways to purify and control our mind. If we put these methods into practice we shall definitely gain a special experience of mental peace. By continuing to improve this experience, deluded states of mind will gradually diminish and our inner peace will grow.

Eventually, by abandoning delusions altogether we shall attain the permanent inner peace of nirvana, just like Buddha himself. Having overcome our own delusions, such as anger, attachment, and ignorance, and developed profound spiritual realizations of universal love, compassion, concentration, and wisdom, our ability to help others will be far greater.

In this way we can help others solve their problems not just for a few days or a few years, but forever. We can help them find an inner peace and joy that nothing, not even death, can destroy. This unchanging inner peace is the final goal of the Buddhist path.
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Buddha, the founder of Buddhism

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Liberating Prayer - Praise to Buddha Shakyamuni

Liberating Prayer
Praise to Buddha Shakyamuni
O Blessed One, Shakyamuni Buddha,
Precious treasury of compassion,
Bestower of supreme inner peace,

You, who love all beings without exception,
Are the source of happiness and goodness;
And you guide us to the liberating path.

Your body is a wishfulfilling jewel,
Your speech is supreme, purifying nectar,
And your mind is refuge for all living beings.

With folded hands I turn to you,
Supreme unchanging friend,
I request from the depths of my heart:

Please give me the light of your wisdom
To dispel the darkness of my mind
And to heal my mental continuum.

Please nourish me with your goodness,
That I in turn may nourish all beings
With an unceasing banquet of delight.

Through your compassionate intention,
Your blessings and virtuous deeds,
And my strong wish to rely upon you,

May all suffering quickly cease
And all happiness and joy be fulfilled;
And may holy Dharma flourish for evermore.
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4About Buddhism - the teachings of Buddha (Basics) Empty Buddhist beliefs on Thu Jul 26, 2012 6:32 pm


Buddhist beliefs

Two of the basic beliefs of Buddhism are the principles of rebirth and karma. There now follows a brief introduction to these topics taken from Geshe Kelsang's book, Eight Steps to Happiness:
"The mind is neither physical, nor a by-product of purely physical processes, but a formless continuum that is a separate entity from the body. When the body disintegrates at death, the mind does not cease. Although our superficial conscious mind ceases, it does so by dissolving into a deeper level of consciousness, call 'the very subtle mind'.

The continuum of our very subtle mind has no beginning and no end, and it is this mind which, when completely purified, transforms into the omniscient mind of a Buddha.

Every action we perform leaves an imprint, or potential, on our very subtle mind, and each karmic potential eventually gives rise to its own effect. Our mind is like a field, and performing actions is like sowing seeds in that field. Positive or virtuous actions sow the seeds of future happiness, and negative or non-virtuous actions sow the seeds of future suffering.

This definite relationship between actions and their effects - virtue causing happiness and non-virtue causing suffering - is known as the 'law of karma'. An understanding of the law of karma is the basis of Buddhist morality.

After we die our very subtle mind leaves our body and enters the intermediate state, or 'bardo' in Tibetan. In this subtle dream-like state we experience many different visions that arise from the karmic potentials that were activated at the time of our death. These visions may be pleasant or terrifying depending on the karma that ripens. Once these karmic seeds have fully ripened they impel us to take rebirth without choice.

It is important to understand that as ordinary samsaric beings we do not choose our rebirth but are reborn solely in accordance with our karma. If good karma ripens we are reborn in a fortunate state, either as a human or a god, but if negative karma ripens we are reborn in a lower state, as an animal, a hungry ghost, or a hell being.

It is as if we are blown to our future lives by the winds of our karma, sometimes ending up in higher rebirths, sometimes in lower rebirths.

This uninterrupted cycle of death and rebirth without choice is called 'cyclic existence', or 'samsara' in Sanskrit. Samsara is like a Ferris wheel, sometimes taking us up into the three fortunate realms, sometimes down into the three lower realms.

The driving force of the wheel of samsara is our contaminated actions motivated by delusions, and the hub of the wheel is self-grasping ignorance. For as long as we remain on this wheel we shall experience an unceasing cycle of suffering and dissatisfaction, and we shall have no opportunity to experience pure, lasting happiness.

By practicing the Buddhist path to liberation and enlightenment, however, we can destroy self-grasping, thereby liberating ourself from the cycle of uncontrolled rebirth and attaining a state of perfect peace and freedom. We shall then be in a position to help others to do the same."

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5About Buddhism - the teachings of Buddha (Basics) Empty Buddhism: the four noble truths on Thu Jul 26, 2012 6:35 pm


Buddhism: the four noble truths

The following excerpts on Buddhism: The Four Noble Truths. How to Solve our Human Problems.
"In Sutra of The Four Noble Truths, Buddha says:
You should know sufferings.
You should abandon origins.
You should attain cessations.
You should practice the path.
These instructions are known as the ‘four noble truths’. They are called ‘noble truths’ because they are superior and non-deceptive instructions."

You should know sufferings
In general, everyone who has physical or mental pain, even animals, understands their own suffering. But when Buddha says ‘you should know sufferings’, he means that we should know the sufferings of our future lives. Through knowing these, we shall develop a strong with to liberate ourself from them. This practical advice is important for everybody because, if we have the wish to liberate ourself from the sufferings of future lives, we shall definitely use our present human life for the freedom and happiness of our countless future lives. There is no greater meaning than this. If we do not have this wish, we shall waste our precious human life only for the freedom and happiness of this one short life.

You should abandon origins
This is also very practical advice. ‘Origins’ refers mainly to our delusions of attachment, anger and self-grasping ignorance. Normally we have a sincere wish to avoid suffering permanently, but we never think to abandon our delusions. However, without controlling and abandoning our delusions, it is impossible to attain permanent liberation from suffering and problems. Therefore, we should follow Buddha’s advice and, through our concentration on the profound meaning of Dharma and the force of our determination, emphasize controlling our attachment, anger, and other delusions.

You should attain cessations
This means that we should attain the permanent cessation of suffering. Generally, from time to time, everybody experiences a temporary cessation of particular sufferings. For instance those who are physically healthy are experiencing a temporary cessation of sickness. However, this is not enough because it is only temporary. Later they will have to experience the suffering of sickness again and again, in this life and in countless future lives. Every living being without exception has to experience the cycle of the sufferings of sickness, ageing, death and rebirth, in life after life, endlessly. Following Buddha’s example, we should develop strong renunciation for this endless cycle, and make the strong determination to attain enlightenment, the permanent cessation of suffering, and to lead every living being to that state.

You should practice the path
In this context, ‘path does not mean an external path that leads from one place to another, but an inner path, a spiritual path that leads to the pure happiness of liberation and enlightenment.

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6About Buddhism - the teachings of Buddha (Basics) Empty About Tantra on Thu Jul 26, 2012 6:37 pm


About Tantra

The highest of all possible human goals is the attainment of complete enlightenment, an ultimate state of peace in which all obstacles obscuring the mind have been removed and all good qualities such as wisdom, compassion, and skilful means have been fully developed.

However, we cannot reach this ultimate goal merely by waiting for it; we need to use the appropriate methods to take us there.

What are the methods for attaining the peace of full enlightenment? They are the paths of Sutra and Secret Mantra, or Tantra; there is no third method. Of these two, the techniques revealed in Secret Mantra are superior to those revealed in the Sutras.

Not only is Secret Mantra the supreme path to full enlightenment, it is also extremely rare. As Je Tsongkhapa said, the teachings of Secret Mantra are even rarer than the Buddhas because, although a thousand founding Buddhas will appear during this Fortunate Aeon, only the fourth (Buddha Shakyamuni), the eleventh, and the last will teach the paths of Secret Mantra.

At the moment, we have a great opportunity to practice these rare and beneficial teachings, so it is important that we develop a strong intention to practice them purely.

If the Mahayana teachings were to vanish from this world, we would have no opportunity to become a Buddha. Therefore, while we still have access to these precious teachings, we should apply ourself to them assiduously and try to gain some experience of them.

The etymology of Secret Mantra is as follows. 'Secret' indicates that these methods should be practiced discreetly. If we make a display of our practices, we will attract many hindrances and negative forces. This would be like someone talking openly and carelessly about a precious jewel they possessed and, as a result, attracting the attention of thieves.

'Mantra' means 'protection for the mind'. The function of Secret Mantra is to enable us to progress swiftly through the stages of the spiritual path by protecting our mind against ordinary appearances and ordinary conceptions

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7About Buddhism - the teachings of Buddha (Basics) Empty Buddhist quotes - Atisha's advice on Thu Jul 26, 2012 6:40 pm


Buddhist quotes - Atisha's advice

'Atisha's Advice' is one of Buddhism's best-loved and most enduring Buddhist quotes.

It was given by the well-known Indian Teacher, Venerable Atisha, in 11th Century Tibet. The scripture is also known as 'Advice from Atisha's Heart'.

Advice from Atisha's Heart
"How wonderful!

Friends, since you already have great knowledge and clear understanding, whereas I am of no importance and have little wisdom, it is not suitable for you to request advice from me. However because you dear friends, whom I cherish from my heart, have requested me, I shall give you this essential advice from my inferior and childish mind.

Friends, until you attain enlightenment the Spiritual Teacher is indispensable, therefore rely upon the holy Spiritual Guide.

Until you realize ultimate truth, listening is indispensable, therefore listen to the instructions of the Spiritual Guide.

Since you cannot become a Buddha merely by understanding Dharma, practice earnestly with understanding.

Avoid places that disturb your mind, and always remain where your virtues increase.

Until you attain stable realizations, worldly amusements are harmful, therefore abide in a place where there are no such distractions.

Avoid friends who cause you to increase delusions, and rely upon those who increase your virtue. This you should take to heart.

Since there is never a time when worldly activities come to an end, limit your activities.

Dedicate your virtues throughout the day and the night, and always watch your mind.

Because you have received advice, whenever you are not meditating always practice in accordance with what your Spiritual Guide says.

If you practice with great devotion, results will arise immediately, without your having to wait for a long time.

If from your heart you practice in accordance with Dharma, both food and resources will come naturally to hand.

Friends, the things you desire give no more satisfaction than drinking sea water, therefore practice contentment.

Avoid all haughty, conceited, proud, and arrogant minds, and remain peaceful and subdued.

Avoid activities that are said to be meritorious, but which in fact are obstacles to Dharma.

Profit and respect are nooses of the maras, so brush them aside like stones on the path.

Words of praise and fame serve only to beguile us, therefore blow them away as you would blow your nose.

Since the happiness, pleasure, and friends you gather in this life last only for a moment, put them all behind you.

Since future lives last for a very long time, gather up riches to provide for the future.

You will have to depart leaving everything behind, so do not be attached to anything.

Generate compassion for lowly beings, and especially avoid despising or humiliating them.

Have no hatred for enemies, and no attachment for friends.

Do not be jealous of others' good qualities, but out of admiration adopt them yourself.

Do not look for faults in others, but look for faults in yourself, and purge them like bad blood.

Do not contemplate your own good qualities, but contemplate the good qualities of others, and respect everyone as a servant would.

See all living beings as your father or mother, and love them as if you were their child.

Always keep a smiling face and a loving mind, and speak truthfully without malice.

If you talk too much with little meaning you will make mistakes, therefore speak in moderation, only when necessary.

If you engage in many meaningless activities your virtuous activities will degenerate, therefore stop activities that are not spiritual.

It is completely meaningless to put effort into activities that have no essence.

If the things you desire do not come it is due to karma created long ago, therefore keep a happy and relaxed mind.

Beware, offending a holy being is worse than dying, therefore be honest and straightforward.

Since all the happiness and suffering of this life arise from previous actions, do not blame others.

All happiness comes from the blessings of your Spiritual Guide, therefore always repay his kindness.

Since you cannot tame the minds of others until you have tamed your own, begin by taming your own mind.

Since you will definitely have to depart without the wealth you have accumulated, do not accumulate negativity for the sake of wealth.

Distracting enjoyments have no essence, therefore sincerely practice giving.

Always keep pure moral discipline for it leads to beauty in this life and happiness hereafter.

Since hatred is rife in these impure times, don the armour of patience, free from anger.

You remain in samsara through the power of laziness, therefore ignite the fire of the effort of application.

Since this human life is wasted by indulging in distractions, now is the time to practice concentration.

Being under the influence of wrong views you do not realize the ultimate nature of things, therefore investigate correct meanings.

Friends, there is no happiness in this swamp of samsara, so move to the firm ground of liberation.

Meditate according to the advice of your Spiritual Guide and dry up the river of samsaric suffering.

You should consider this well because it is not just words from the mouth, but sincere advice from the heart.

If you practice like this you will delight me, and you will bring happiness to yourself and others.

I who am ignorant request you to take this advice to heart.

This is the advice that the holy being Venerable Atisha gave to Venerable Jangchub Ö."
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Venerable Atisha

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8About Buddhism - the teachings of Buddha (Basics) Empty Buddhist Symbols - The Eight Auspicious Signs on Thu Jul 26, 2012 6:59 pm


Buddhist Symbols - The Eight Auspicious Signs

The Buddhist symbols, The Eight Auspicious Signs, are very meaningful religious symbols of Buddhism, revealing our progress along the Buddhist path to enlightenment.

The Eight Auspicious Signs

1.The umbrella symbolises the umbrella of the Buddhist community and teaches us that first we should enter the Buddhist family.
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The umbrella

2.The fish symbolises harmony indicating that under this umbrella we should always live in harmony and peace.
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The fish

3.The vase symbolises wealth and teaches us that we should enjoy the inner wealth of our faith, moral discipline, our study and practice of Dharma, benefiting others, sense of shame, consideration for others, and wisdom.
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The vase

4.The lotus symbolises purity which indicates that we should always strive to become a pure being by practicing the Bodhisattva's way of life.
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The lotus

5.The conch shell symbolises the Dharma Jewel and teaches us that we should accomplish the Dharma Jewel, the realisations of the stages of the path, within our mind.
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The conch shell

6.The knot of eternity symbolises an uncommon quality of Buddha’s realizations, namely his realization of omniscient wisdom.
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The knot of eternity

7.The victory banner symbolises an uncommon quality of Buddha's abandonment, his abandonment of the delusions and mistaken appearance.

These last two together ('The knot of eternity' and 'The victory banner') indicate that through gaining the Dharma Jewel, the realisations of the stages of the path to enlightenment, we shall attain these two uncommon qualities of Buddha.
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The victory banner

8.The Dharma Wheel indicates that, having attained these two uncommon qualities of Buddha, we are able to lead all living beings to permanent liberation from suffering, principally by turning the wheel of Dharma, that is by giving Dharma teachings. This is our final goal.
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The Dharma wheel


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