Buddhism derives from the word Buddha. Buddhism is what the
Buddha thought. Who is Buddha? He was a human being who lived
approximately 2600 years ago in India (show where India in on a world maps). He
discovered the real truth about the world. His knowledge about the world
was so profound that some of what he discovered cannot be compared with
present day scientific discoveries. He not only discovered the truth of
things like the universe, human today, earth, oceans, vegetations,
animals and so on but he discovered real truth pertaining to the human
mind. Although his knowledge about everything on earth was so accurate and
profound, he did not give out his entire knowledge to mankind. But he
thought mankind how to overcome death and suffering and achieve
everlasting, supreme happiness which is called Nirvana. And other things he
said are secondary to Nirvana. He preached to mankind for forty five years
and millions of people benefited by gaining Nirvana-everlasting!
happiness- having followed the path he taught. His doctrine is still
available to us in its pristine pure form. The Indian king Asoka the
great distributed this marvelous doctrine to countries like China,
Indonesia, Afghanistan, Burma, Sri Lanka & Thailand. It was in Sri Lanka that
his doctrine was written down until such time it was brought forth from
teachers to pupil by word of mouth. The collection of Ola leaves where
these doctrines written down in called the Thripitaka. Buddha’s
teaching deal mainly with the human body and mind.
Let me take a simple example to start with. Just look at your body.
Isn’t it similar to any other human body of the same sex? The body of
Japanese is no different to that of an African or an American or a person
from Greenland. They may be different in complexion, nature of hair,
eyes, and lips etc. which are due to environmental factors. An American
may be white in complexion where an African may be dark. The hair of an
American may be straight while that of an African is curled. But
basically all human beings have a similar body that’s why doctor from one
country can treat a patient from another far away country. People from
affiant countries like America, Canada, and Australia may be rich in money
while those from countries like Sudan, Nigeria etc. may be poor. Rich
people can enjoy comfortable life where poor people can not afford such
comforts. This difference is poorly because of money. If you have large
sums of money you think’ you can lead a healthy, comfortable and !
happy life. But just think how many rich people are suffering in
hospitals. How many have met with accidents and have broken their limbs. How
many invalids are born to rich families some babies is born without
hearing, sight etc. suffering can be observed best in hospitals and
prisons. These show that even if you have billions of dollars suffering
cannot be overcome. You now realize that suffering is a universal truth.
Every man and woman wherever in the world suffers. But what do they
suffer from? They suffer from physical pain, mental pain, greed, hatred,
animosity, jealousy etc. It is this suffering that Buddha addressed. He
discovered a path to overcome this suffering.
Buddha also spoke about the ever changing nature of things. Let me take
another simple example from your lives. Think of your own self. You
were a kid some years ago. Now you are big, strong and beautiful. You are
taller bigger and heavier than when you were a kid. Did you at any
moment notice you becoming bigger or taller or heavier? No. Nobody noticed
these changes. They take place every moment in your body. It is a never
ending, constantly changing process as long as you live. In another 60
or 70 years hence you will be old and you will not have the strength
and beauty that you possess now. This also will take place gradually.
When you are old you fall sick, become feeble and lose the functioning of
faculties. Hearing becomes weak and sight becomes less and so on. All
these lead to suffering. Suppose a tiny rose plant starts to grow in
spring, flourishes with numerous beautiful roses in summer and withers
away in winter. Nobody is doing these things. No god or angel or hu!
man being is doing these things. They just happen. We call it nature.
Look around you and see for yourself how nature works. Rivers originate
from mountain peaks flow through plains and join the ocean. Water gets
evaporated forms clouds and fall back on earth as rains. The sun rises
in the morning and sets in the evening. These happen normally. It is
the work of Mother Nature. It is the reality of the world.
Our mind is also part of nature. When a baby is born his mind is pure,
flawless. He can only cry to express his feelings. When hungry he
cries, when feeling he cries. His crying stops when needs are satisfied. But
as the child grows his “wants” become more. He wants toys play with,
needs beautiful cloths to wear, needs tasty food to eat etc etc etc. When
he is not given what he wants, he rebels. In school when he does not
get good marks he becomes pensive. Before exams he becomes nervous and as
a result quarrels with sisters, brothers, parents, friends, neighbors
etc. at later stages where his life becomes miserable. He clings to
alcohol to forget his misdoings. He tries to seek happiness in alcohol and
sex etc. The mind that was pure has got polluted with anger, hatred,
ill will, animosity etc. It is this polluted mind that Buddha addressed.
He shows the path to purify human mind and regain its original purity.
He taught how to be happy within you. If you are happy within y!
ou can be happy with others too. As you walk along the Buddha’s path
it gets gradually deeper and ultimately you get to the everlasting happy
stage. People who have experience this blissful stage are called Arhat.
Any human being can achieve this stage in this very life. And what are
needed are perseverance, courage, determination and dedication, on your
part. Buddha said that your salvation should be achieved by you alone.
None else can do it for you. He did not believe in god. He said god is
within each human mind. He said we can achieve all what we want if
strive. We can not pray to Buddha and ask him to give that supreme
happiness. Praying does not help us anyway. The potentiality is within us and
we must tap this resource lying within us to reach the highest.
As I said earlier, Buddha’s teaching is a stepwise process. You start
shallow and go deeper. If I am to describe his doctrine in nutshell form
it is to be harmonious with your own self to be harmonious with others
and to be harmonious with nature. Since there is no time to cover up
all these aspects I will deal with the very first step towards being
harmonious with your own self. Buddha describes this step as “Pancha Seela”
or the noble five precepts.
They are refreshing from
4. telling lies
5. consuming intoxication
Do anyone of you like to get killed? Obviously no. Nobody likes to set
killed. Even animals, birds, fish do not like to set killed. They value
their lives in their own way. But man kills them for his benefits.
Think how many cattle, pigs, goats, chicken, fish and even frogs are killed
for a day. They are in billions! For what? For man to eat. To enjoy the
sensual pleasure pertaining to a tongue. Man eat this flesh with so
much of greed. Now think, after all how long does this taste stay in the
tongue. May be for a few minutes. But to gain that sensual pleasure of
the tongue the entire life of an animal has to be ended. You yourself
can judge the sensibility of this. On the other hand did you ever think
of the fear and anger that gets generated in the mind of the animal at
the time of killing? This fearful and angry mental condition causes its
blood to get kind of poisonous. And it is this flesh that man eats so
tastily. Naturally man gets sick with various sicknesses after e!
ating this animal flesh. Buddha not only preached to refrain from
encouraging another person to kill, approving to kill, praising for killing
and to enjoy the benefits of killing. Since encouraging, approving and
praising aspects are easy to understand. Let us see what is meant by
enjoying the yields of killing. Say a man kills an animal and gets a
yield of meat. It is not good to be nourished by that yield. In fact, no
yields gained by killing are good.
The second precept the Buddha taught is not to steal other people’s
belongings. Do you like to lose your belongings? No. Nobody likes to be
robbed and lose his belongings. Similarly any other person also would not
like to be robbed. Suppose you have stolen a beautiful item from
another person. You stole it because you wanted to enjoy that item. But can
you really enjoy it? No. Always your mind points out to you that you did
a wrong thing. Your mind does not allow you that happiness. The guilty
feeling always pricks your mind. You tend to think of the shame that
will befall you if the culprit is identified. So you can not be happy
with your self. Buddha said to be true to you, to be honest and straight.
If by any chance another person’s book has got into your set of books
by mistake, then all you have to do is to be honest and tell the owner
of that book what really has happened without simply adding it to his
set of books. After explaining thus your mind becomes high and you!
feel good. As in the case of the first precept Buddha preached not to
encourage stealing, approve stealing, praise stealing and get nourished
by the yields of stealing. Suppose a man steals money from a bank and
builds a home for himself. Since this is nourishing himself with robbed
money this is not in accordance with Buddha’s teaching. Why? After all
he did not get caught for stealing and money is his own now but the
mind of the robber does not allow him to be at ease. Whenever a telephone
call comes from the bank the thought of stealing surfaces in his mind.
Whenever he sees the police his mind becomes shaky and agitated. He is
not harmonious with his own self.
The third precept the Buddha taught is refraining from misconduct. Let
us see what is meant by misconduct. Where a man and a woman get married
they have to be true to themselves and not go to other men or women for
sexual pleasure. Buddha did not prohibited enjoying pleasure in life.
But he said they should be enjoyed within limits like enjoying marital
life with only one partner throughout the life. Buddha disapprove the
indulging the sexual pleasure before marriage also. Let us see how such
prohibitions help mankind. You know the dreadful illness known as AIDS
has spread all over the world at present taking off millions of human
lives. So when people conduct themselves in accordance with Buddha’s
teaching we can lead healthy lives. On the other hand of a person seeks
pleasure in another illegal, prohibited (by society) person then his mind
is all the time in turmoil. Will my husband, my wife, my children, my
friends, my relatives come to know of my relationship with so and!
so. If so what will they think of me? Will I get cast out of my
circle of friends? Such thoughts will stand haunting his mind as a result of
which he can not be harmonious with himself. When a person is burning
like this inside he can not be happy with others; harmonious with
others. Family life gets threatened. Innocent children suffer immensely as a
result. Quarrelling, distrust, dishonesty, doubt creeps in mind and the
entire household gets set on fire. Buddha pointed out happy children
pave way for happy generations. Buddha said the infant while being in the
mothers womb feels the pulse of the mother, father, their loving
relationship or their arrogant relationship and so on. So for a happy healthy
family life Buddha brought forth this precept. As in other precepts he
preached not to encourage, approve, praise or yield benefits of
The fifth precept Buddha taught is to refrain from intoxicants. Any
alcohol or drug or anything that intoxicate a person was prohibited by
the Buddha. All of you know the ill effects of intoxicants. They make man
insane; shameless; fearful; sick etc. You know what happens when a
person is under the influence of intoxicants. Such a person can not conduct
himself in a respectable manner. He can break all other four precepts
too. So how can he be harmonious with his own self? Since this topic
needs no more explanations I will end this section by mentioning that
Buddha preached not to encourage approve praise consumption of intoxicants?
He also prohibited enjoying the benefits of intoxicants. A person can
earn huge sums of money by selling intoxicants. But this money is not
earned the right way the Buddha said. In fact Buddha said not to earn
money by selling animals, intoxicants, weapons and poison.
Buddha did not stop at asking man to refrain from these five precepts.
That is not adequate he said to be harmonious with one’s own self. He
said to protect others lives instead of killing. To be harmless; to be
kind and compassionate toward others including animals and nature. He
said where you are happy within you emanate wholesome vibrations into the
environment. Your surroundings get changed with good vibrations which
are healthy for everybody. have you ever been to a temple where priests
meditate? You find a calm serene atmosphere at such places. This is
because the environment there is changed with good vibrations. Buddha also
said while refraining from stealing to donate to the needy. He always
said to understand another’s pathetic situation by imaging yourself in
his plight. If a person is hungry and if you have food to share with him
or to give him. This not only relieves him of his hunger but brings you
the satisfaction and happiness that you brought him relief how!
happy would you would become of a person offered you food when you
were hungry? How happy would anyone be to be cured from illness? If a
patient is in need of help you must be compassionate to him and help him.
Buddha said he who helps the sick are those who walk along his path. f
your mother or father or sister or brother is doing some work you must
offer your help of you can afford the time and energy. When family
members help each other, respect each other, tolerate each other’s views
and opinions then such a home becomes a home full of happiness and
enjoyable place to live in; a harmonious environment gets built up gradually.
I remember I asked a small poor child (10-12 years old) what his
hobbies are. His prompt reply was ” to help others to do good” I was thrilled
to hear that answer. I though the happiness he gains by helping others
can not be bought with even a million dollars. If you do some goods
deed with a genuine heart then the satisfaction and happiness you d!
erive can not be valued. Think for a moment what happy family that boy
belongs to though poor in money. Buddha also said not only refrain
from stealing but also to protect others belongings. Suppose you burrow a
book from a friend. If you tear the pages or write or scribble on the
book then you are not protecting his book. In a similar manner
refraining from telling lies is not enough Buddha said. He said you must speak
the truth. Never gossip; never indulge in useless talks; useless to you
and useless to others. He also said not to utter harsh words. They only
defile your own mind and the minds of listeners. Such words pollute the
environment. Have you ever been to a tavern where frequent quarrels
take place among drunkards? You can never find a calm serene environment
at such places. The environment there is charged with negative
vibrations. Such environments do not make you happy or healthy.
Buddha said time is precious every minute pass by is gone for ever. No
one can bring back the time that in past. He said to make the maximum
use of time by practicing these five precepts. Buddha’s path leads you
to supreme everlasting happiness.
Before concluding I would like to mention that Buddha has preached on
many lessons like how a husband should treat wife, how a wife should
treat a husband, how servants should be treated, how children should be
brought up, how the lay people should treat the ordained, how a king or a
ruler should treat the subject how a state should be governed and so
on. He did not stop there. He also pointed out how a man a family an
industry a state can ruin. In fact he has explained all that is needed for
a happy healthy and peaceful society on earth.
May you all be happy healthy and be peaceful throughout your lives.