Thursday, August 23, 2018

Having the Right Approach to Buddhism

The Right Approach to Buddhism

When we pursue studies of Buddhism and Dharma, it is important to develop a correct motivation and also to aim at the correct goal. It is not exactly like when we study other things.


Since we study Dharma, the motivation must follow correspondingly. This is because Dharma is not just studied in order to know more, or to get more knowledge. Dharma is studied to obtain a concrete gain; and not just any gain, but a far-reaching gain from which we can profit from for all time.

How can we achieve such a far-reaching gain? 

We achieve this goal by understanding what the actual roots of our happiness and suffering are and by transforming them. On one hand, if we do not understand the actual causes for happiness and suffering, and on the other hand, if we understand them, but do not bring about the necessary transformation, then it will not be possible to achieve that far-reaching and lasting gain, despite whatever other means we may employ.

To pursue other kinds of studies does not have this effect. When we follow other studies, we learn all sorts of things. But the knowledge that we acquire does not have such a direct relation to the actual causes of happiness and suffering; it cannot bring any lasting gain. It is possible that through such knowledge we may gain something temporary, but to obtain an everlasting result is very difficult.

What are the actual causes for happiness and suffering? 

Suffering and Unhappiness
These are explained in the Dharma, and how we can directly deal with them and change them is the essence of Dharma. This is also the reason why the study of Dharma produces a tangible and lasting result.

Sometimes we think that our ordinary activities produce real, concrete results, while Dharma-activities are something rather abstract and have no concrete results. But the truth is that somebody who really understands Dharma and applies it correctly into practice does achieve the best tangible result for oneself.

However, if one considers Dharma activities as something that has little to do with real Dharma, or if one approaches Dharma wrongly, then there are risks and dangers that one's efforts will be in vain. In this case, instead of bringing concrete, beneficial results, one will end up wasting much time and energy for nothing.

When we get involved with real Dharma in an unmistaken way, there is nothing that could produce greater results for oneself and for the sake of others.

We think that an activity makes sense if it improves our experience of happiness and prevents our suffering, and that something is worthless or no good if it worsens our situation. There is no other meaningful criteria to distinguish what is meaningful from what is meaningless, to distinguish what is useful from what is useless.

The experience of happiness and suffering is dependent upon the causes of happiness and suffering. That which directly connects us to the causes of happiness and suffering is Dharma. And by practicing Dharma, these causes of happiness and suffering can be directly influenced. Therefore, there is nothing more useful and effective than getting involved in Dharma.

Causes of Happiness and Suffering

The root philosophy of Buddhism, the teachings that Buddha gave, is the statement that the actual causes for happiness and suffering lie in one's own mind, and that the outer objects may serve as conditions, but are not the actual cause for happiness and suffering. Other people, for example, are not the actual cause, nor are any other objects; gods or ghosts. There are, rather, causes in one's own continuum that are responsible for all our suffering and happiness. This is a central point of Buddha's teachings.

By understanding that the causes of happiness and suffering are to be found in our own mind, we make efforts to change these in order to accomplish the real benefit for ourselves and others. The teachings of Buddha have many aspects, but some are fundamental, and to understand them correctly is very important.

As already said before, the ultimate goal and central core point of the Buddha Dharma are the beings, and nothing else. Some people may think that the actual central point of Buddhism is Buddha or Nirvana, the freedom from cyclic existence, or the calmness of the mind. But this is not correct. All of these are surely very worthwhile achievements, but the central point of the Dharma is benefitting the sentient beings.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Essential Ideas of Buddhism

The Essential Ideas of Buddhism

When we speak about Buddhism we refer to an extraordinarily vast and deep subject. I have learnt but a single drop of this great ocean of knowledge, however I will share here a short, introduction to some of the fundamental points of the Dharma.

Buddha teaching his first disciples
Most might know that Buddhism is one of the great World Religions and that it traces back to Buddha Shakyamuni, who was born in Lumbini (Nepal) over 2500 years ago. Many of you will also probably know some of Buddha's great deeds, as it would take too long to describe them all. At the age of thirty-five, Buddha manifested the attainment of full enlightenment; then, he lived on until the age of eighty-one. From the attaining of enlightenment until his Parinirvana, he spent most of his time sharing and teaching.

The first teaching Buddha had given was on the Four Noble Truths: the Noble Truth of Suffering, the Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering, the Noble Truth of the Cessation (or Liberation) of Suffering and the Noble Truth of the Path to End Suffering. After that, he covered a variety of teachings, always in accordance to the needs and mental dispositions of his disciples.

At first, these teachings of Buddha spread widely in India. Tibetans were first introduced to the Dharma in the seventh century of the western calendar; and, immediately recognising its extraordinary value, they applied great efforts into bringing the doctrine to their home country. Many travelled to India in order to study Buddhism there, and some outstanding Indian Buddhist masters were also invited to teach in Tibet.