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Buddhism Today: Listen, but not Wavered

English: Wind Beaten Tree, near to Palnackie, ...

English: Wind Beaten Tree, near to Palnackie, Dumfries And Galloway, Great Britain. An old gnarled tree bent by the strong winds blown in from the coast. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Listening, is perhaps the most important and efficient method to learn. Take for example, the sounds of the wind let us know the weather, and gives us the idea to judge the weather, yet the winds do not learn anything from us. This can be better portrayed in a classroom, where a silent and diligent boy will learn more than that of a opposite.

However, how do we listen? We all know that, what we see and listen may not be the truth, then how is this the best way to learn? When we listen, what we get may not be the truth, but it gives us an entity to understand. We can listen to something that is untrue, yet learn the fact that there is the existence of such an idea, and we learn the lesson from it.

Nevertheless, everything exists with the opposite. Of course there is a setback. When we listen attentively, we tend to lean towards accepting, and not understanding. Acceptance is good, however acceptance without full understanding is dangerous. This way, our mind is open to pollution without our control.

Therefore, it is important that we listen, yet not wavered. Be like the trees. Standing still, blown by winds. Leaves may drop, branches may bend, yet as firm as it stood, it will not move. What the trees get, are lessons, left behind by winds.

When we listen, and see, we open our hearts, ears, and our eyes. Bear in mind that, our minds stay still. Just like the trees, they may lose their branches and leaves, but as long as they are alive and standing, they will not be moved. We can feel with our hearts, hear and see untrue or true things with our ears and eyes, yet our minds stay still. We accept through understanding, and not just acceptance alone, bending to any entities set out to bend us.

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Can We Still Not Sin, Living With Society?

Image from article.wn.com

Compared to the 16th and 17th century, our society’s norms had gone through big changes. Back then, our concept of morality was much more abundance compared to now (it was never enough anyway).

Can we live by a day, not using a foul word or swearing? No. It has become a norm for nasty words to be spoken. Foul words are now, languages in their tongue. Meaning that, the word F*** is now considered decent to be included in dictionaries. If we were to use such a word back then, how would the society look at us? In most religions, I believe, is against the usage of least decent words. How have we performed so far? Tremendously awful.

It is though I might not need to censor the word. How would it offend anyone?

If you are a Buddhist, it is taught that, we must always speak decently – only speak if you have something nice to say. But is the word F*** decent?

Though our society has changed, meaning to say, such a word may not be as hurtful or as taboo as before, does it removes itself from the “sin list”? Could we, if we had the chance, to ask Buddha, Jesus or any other from other religions, if we could simple say F***, but not literally mean it, and to be counted as decent, provided that the society we live in could accept such a word gently?

If a word we spoke does not hurt anyone, how could it be a foul word, right? Well, maybe some of us who agree are right.

But, what about our other least decent sides? Let us see an example. If David is to mix around with his bunch of friends who seriously think fat people are useless, will it hurt if he too, thinks the same? Well, you might think David would not differ himself from the rest of the jerks, but we cannot deny the fact that the majority thinks so. So who are we to blame David? It has already been stereotyped that fat people are not favoured, yet we tend to say those who think so are not considerable?

In this case, have not we discriminated? Yet in all teachings of morality and religion discourage us to do so. Then, if we were to cope along with the society could we have done wrong?

Recently, I have read a book regarding Buddhism. It is said that, to be a good lay Buddhist, is to practise all the teachings of Buddha, and at the same time cope well with the society. I was there thinking, there is no way we could successfully pull this through. It is either we lean towards religion, or coping with society.

If you were to distant yourself from what everyone else is doing, you are obviously an anti-social, no matter how religious and how wrong you think you would be if you were to participate yourself into whatever that is going on.

The society is the majority. Society’s degradation is due to the degradation of the majority. Due to the fact that most people are being “religious” yet at the same time, please everyone in the society, gave birth to the term, not many of us know, that is ‘Religion today, is all but morality’. People who are involved in such an act, take religion as a title, not for the sake of the teachings.

Most religions oppose discrimination, yet as members of the society, we discriminated. How much have we truly sinned and wronged?

We do not simply change the rules of acceptance in religions just to cope with our living standards. We, ourselves must change to cope with all the teachings in religions. There are many more acts besides discrimination that is further deteriorating our quality of norms.

The individualistic quality is now judged by how well one can cope with society, not concepts or morality or religion.

And the question arises, can we still not wrong or sin, while living with the society?

Curiosity beyond the Skies

image credited to Majed Athab of joystiq.com

Beyond the Skies – image credited to Majed Athab of joystiq.com

Often we look to the skies and wonder, what is beyond. How far does the universe stretch? How small are we if we are looked upon from beyond. How could it be that, our planet Earth is just right in the spot where life exists. When it comes to a question like this, there aren’t many answers to it, except the existence of a creator, a God.

Have you ever sit and wonder, how could you, be you? How are you not some other creatures, but  human with a mind and the ability to think about this? What force put you here, putting your very soul into this body you currently own?

Christians and most other religions believe in the existence of a creator, a God, a divine being. Could it really be that someone is truly watching over us, providing us what we can never see nor realize?

I had always tried to answer all these questions and doubts. I tried to research lots and lots about astronomy of how our universe works, but could it be that, a huge blanket of stars and galaxies was cast towards and fooled all of us? No matter how hard we tried to search and search again with our powerful man-made telescopes yet, we could not find a true and final answer.

All we had were theories, speculations, and debates of how our universe are assumed to be.

In science, it was explained that, our universe was created according to the occurrence of ‘Big Bang’. If so, galaxies are communities of solar systems and planets, and so Earth was a coincidence, so is the existence of life. Through science also, the law of probability suggested that, there may be plenty of Earth-like planets out in the universe.

Comparing the size of our mother Earth to the universe, we could even find individuals of different cultures, races, and background, yet identical in features. How could the probability of Earth-like planets be lower? Thus the theory of aliens must be true. However, what should we do when we find them? What if they are hostiles, or what if we got greedy?

Through religion, we know Earth and life itself is created by God. Then how do all the galaxies and stars and planets explain themselves? Were they too, created by God? Then why isn’t there any stories about the other species or races regarding them in our religious writings?

Once, I came across a statement that today, curbed my curiousity. It says…

If one day, we were to possess the knowledge and truth about the universe, we may be God.

Such a quote is familiar to me, but never had I bothered myself to seek out its owner, knowing that I really did get it from somewhere beyond me.

The moment the writer of the quote mentioned God, could it means that, it is a task, not achievable? That it is so hard, beyond our grasp as human beings, that only God could.

Or is the writer an atheist, and meant an ultimate knowledge would be obtained, if one is to acquire such a knowledge?

Only time will tell the answers to such questions…

Insights of Buddhism – How I Chose My Religion

Many Buddhists never really had an idea to what Buddhism really is. In my region, many strayed away from Buddhism even though they called themselves Buddhists. Here, I would like to share with all my readers, on how I chose my religion.

First, I would like to start off with a little about myself. I was born in a Buddhist family but never really thought much about Buddhism since birth. I then begin to lean towards Christianity as to where I was schooled (Christian Missionary School) and what I was taught there. However when I grew older, I started to question about my religion. I was at the verge of converting to Christianity. Before I decided to agree for baptism, I told myself that it is important for me to know my roots, thus I led myself to ask more about my family religion.

Believe it or not, only then I knew that Buddhism has no God. I know most of the world look at Buddhism as atheism. But let me explain to you all, how Buddhism is indeed a religion, with or without a God. Buddhists do have faith. Faith in Buddha, who we see as our Teacher. The Buddha is actually just a title. To whom we look upon to and take refuge in is the first Buddha (the founder of Buddhism), Gautama Buddha or better known for his name, Buddha Shakyamuni.

Buddhists faith, is the faith in the teachings of Buddha. The believe in the laws of nature and karma. The teachings of Buddha is simple. Focus on selflessness, be pure, discipline our mind, and to obey the Eightfold Path.

The importance of Buddhism, is to become or at least be as close to a Buddha. When one reaches a stage, as pure as Buddha himself, he/she shall also be a Buddha. Yes, there are several Buddhas, but we always look to Gautama Buddha as the First Teacher and all his teachings.

Buddha himself said:-

I’m no God. Nor will I preach. I’m only here because those who are lost can come to me for answers. I will never convert others. You can learn from me and part ways as you wish. I welcome everyone who wishes to seek for answers.

Perhaps that is the reason why I never get to learn more about Buddhism. A true Buddhist will obey Buddha’s teachings and thus, will not preach or convert others. However when one seeks, he shall find answers from them.

Yes, that is when I seek. So shall I find my answers. I found out that most things in this world happens because of me (according to the teachings). We shall never blame others, as for what happened is caused by what we have done. If we wish to live better lives, first we must be better.

That is when I found out Buddhism is all about morality. However, I still believe in a Creator/God. So, I got confused after understanding Buddhism. Then I found out that, Buddha himself has never reveal about the existence of God and so I kept on researching for answers and finally found it. Writings suggest that Buddhism can be practiced by people of any religions. As mentioned above, Buddha said, “you can learn from me and part ways as you wish”.

As I slowly lose my leaning towards Christianity, I was still in doubt. In a bridge between these two.

Then one day, my college lecturer came into the class and talked about religions. He asked who are Christians, Muslims and Buddhists. However when it came to the question, “who practices Buddhism here?”, to my surprise not even one admitted, when I knew there were Buddhists in my class.

Seeing this, my lecturer said to all of us. “There is no shame with what your religion is. I’m a Buddhist and I’m proud of it. What is important about your religion is if it suits you. It doesn’t matter if it is practiced by the majorities or the minorities. As long as it suits you”.

Then, since that day, I realize how Buddhism answered all my doubts. That is the day when I decided to learn even more about my own religion and thus, became a Buddhist. It is also since then, I found out that Buddhism was wrongly portrayed and lots of Buddhists have no idea what Buddhism really is. I hope one day, they find their true religion.

BELOW ARE EXPLANATIONS TO SOME TERMS THAT MAY SEEM RARE TO MOST PEOPLE.

Further Explanation – TECHNICAL WORDS

What is karma?

Karma is described as an energy. This will be best described scientifically. As we are all familiar with Newton’s Third Law of motion, I shall then explain with it as an example. Truthfully, it is similar. Newton’s Third Law states that to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. That is how karma works. If in our lifetime, we were to generate positive energy, we will in turn gain positively.

As Buddhists believe in afterlife, karma is best used then. Our soul is a source of energy, where energy is not destructible and can only change in form. When we pass on, this energy will change in form. If we were to have good karmas, our energy is positive, thus our form to be changed shall also be positive.

Pure and Disciplined Mind

I’m sure that everyone is familiar with this quote:-

The mind is everything. What you think, you become – Buddha

In Buddhism, it is important to have a pure and disciplined mind. Every living things have brains. What distinguish us humans, is our mind. The ability to think, consider, and make decisions instead of relying on instincts. According to the quote, it is explained that, if we were to think of happy and positive thoughts, we will become so and vice versa.

Selflessness

Selfishness (opposite of selflessness) is a temptation. Buddha’s teachings stated that, cravings and temptations are pollutants to our mind. If we were to be selfless, we think less of ourselves, thus we feel the lessen in need for temptations. With selflessness, one can also gain good karma (mentioned above).

Eightfold Path

This is where Buddhism is centered. However, there are a few deeper information, but I’m here to just provide a brief description, not to preach. The Eightfold Path is somehow similar to Christian’s Ten Commandments.

  1. Right View
  2. Right Intention
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Concentration

As these deserves deep explanations, you guys can read more about it here if interested.