During my glancing at Buddhism, I write/rewrote this introduction as a way to understand and explain it better.
This was inspired by Mike Butler and buddhanet.net's Introduction to Buddhism but was largely transformed by my own hand. In particular, some phrases herein were kept intract, as they were both strong and clear. Of note, much of the last two thirds of the eightfold path is a direct copy of the original. I liked it that much.
- 1 About Buddhism
- 2 The Three Marks of Existance
- 3 The Four Noble Truths
- 4 The Five Skandhas
- 5 The Six Realms
- 6 The Eightfold Path
- 7 The Goal
About Buddhism ∞
Buddhism is pragmatic, and does not indulge in metaphysical speculation. There is no theology, no diefication or diety worship. Buddhism is not based on wishful thinking, but on observation.
The Three Marks of Existance ∞
Pain, Impermanence and the goal of Egolessness ∞
We live our existance striving to secure our relationship with the world. We attempt to solidify our experiences. We dream and plan around these experiences; hope and suspicion lead us to make models of the world with which to understand it.
However, our existance is made up of temporal events, thoughts and memories. If we deeply persue introspection, we will find that all things and all events in our lives are merely temporary ripples in our existence.
Understanding the temporal nature of existance, and feeling the queasiness of our attempts to grasp and guarantee the things in our lives, we are weighed down. Only by completely abandoning this clinging perspective can we find relief from this queasiness.
The Four Noble Truths ∞
Life is frustrating and painful ∞
If we are Truly honest with ourselves, life is absolutely miserable; it isn't predictable or reliable as we would most hope. Perhaps with ourselves, right now life is acceptable and perhaps even good.. but elsewhere lie feelings of queasiness with the state of the world at large. We realise that we are not excempt from those same folleys which strike others; even if we bottle our fears they forever remain inside of us.
Suffering has a cause ∞
We suffer because we are constantly challenged by the unpredictability and inequity of life. We struggle to stay afloat in a world swirling with the waters of suffering. The harder we struggle to excel, the more resistance the reality of our world seems to have.
The cause of suffering can be ended ∞
It is unnecessary to feel that we need to struggle. We are able to exist in a world without posturing to master it. By understanding that our queasiness about the weight of the world is not an inevitability, and by abandoning our expectations about how things should be, we may step away from our suffering.
The path to end the cause of suffering ∞
(See The Path)
By practising awareness of the causes of our queasiness, the things we use to torture ourselves, we can learn the roots of our expectations. This awareness and mindfulness-inspiring introspection allows us to abandon our false expectations of the world; to realise the temporariness and the futility of suffering.
Through meditation, we find that our life is really just a simple series of events, and that we can in fact handle our relationship with it without our being so unnecessarily complex.
TODO - This sounds good.. but is it clear / accurate / appropriate?..
The Five Skandhas ∞
The word skandhas is loosely translated as bundles or heaps but is probably best translated as 'categories'. Skandhas are five categories of mental events; together making up the Buddhist idea of the ego.
This is the queasiness caused by a loss of confidence in the controllability of the world.
Impulse and Perception ∞
This is the categorization of events in our lives; they are either thought to be liked and reinforced or thought to be disliked, and cause aversion.
This is the identification of an experience itself in order to label and manipulate it for future use; to enjoy an experience and wish to reproduce its origins or to dislike an experience and wish to shun its origins.
This is the birth of ego; by continually mulling over concepts and reinforcing itself.
The way ego feels about itself determines which of the six realms of existence it creates for itself.
The Six Realms ∞
The three lower realms ∞
Hungry ghost ∞
If ego decides it likes a situation, it begins to mull over plans to posses and reproduce it. There is no end and no way to sate this desire; it is want without have. The hungry ghost realm possesses us to collect, to own and to control. Novelty and fashion are among the items in this realm.
The animal realm ∞
This is the desire to predict and rely on events, and fear of the unknown. Ignorance and intolerance are among the items in this realm.
The hell realm ∞
This realm is characterized by an anger and aggression. We build an impassible wall of anger, where every event irritates us and further fuels this wall. We become so swept up in being angry and fighting that the possibility of an alternative slips away from us.
The three higher realms ∞
The jealous god realm ∞
The idea behind this is also found within the idea of the "prima-donna syndrome". This realm is one where jealousy drives us to continually strive to "make it"; to score points, to be better than the next person. We become paranoid that others are our competition and mistrust even genuine help.
The god realm ∞
This is a detachment from the reality of our lives and a realm of infinite space. This is the realm where our own thoughts seldom bother us. This is a form of manufacture of the god realm.
TODO - Very badly said.. this doesn't have the right 'feel'.
The human realm ∞
This is the questioning of our habitual way of dealing with the world. The embracing of this realm makes possible our liberation from the six states of existence.
The human realm is characterised by doubt and inquisitiveness and the longing for something better. We are not as absorbed by the all consuming preoccupations of the other states of being. We begin to wonder whether it is possible to relate to the world as simple, dignified human beings.
The Eightfold Path ∞
right view ∞
This is the right way to view the world, as opposed to the wrong view when we impose our expectations onto things; expectations about how we hope things will be, or about how we are afraid things might be. Right view occurs when we see things simply, as they are. It is an open and accommodating attitude. We abandon hope and fear and take joy in a simple straight-forward approach to life.
The right view is the abandoning of the reliance of the kind of hope generated through the slavery of controlling and predicting our world.
right intention ∞
Proceeding from right view, if we abandon our expectations of the world and our hopes and fears, we no longer need to be manipulative. We no longer need to try to con situations into our preconceived notions of how they should be. We work with what is and our intentions are Pure.
right speech ∞
Once our intentions are Pure, we no longer have to be embarrassed about our speech. Since we aren't trying to manipulate people, we don't have to be hesitant about what we say, nor do we need to try bluff our way through a conversation with any sort of phoney confidence. We say what needs to be said, very simply in a genuine way.
right discipline ∞
Right discipline involves a kind of renunciation. We need to give up our tendency to complicate issues. We practice simplicity. We have a simple straight-forward relationship with our dinner, our job, our house and our family. We give up all the unnecessary and frivolous complications that we usually try to cloud our relationships with.
right livelihood ∞
It is only natural and right that we should earn our living. Often, many of us don't particularly enjoy our jobs. We begrudge the amount of time that our job takes away from our enjoyment of the good life and can't wait to get home. Perhaps, we might wish we had a more glamorous job; we don't feel that our job in a factory or office is in keeping with the image we want to project. The truth is that we should be glad of our job, whatever it is. We should form a simple relationship with it. We need to perform it properly and with attention to detail.
right effort ∞
Wrong effort is struggle. We often approach a spiritual discipline as though we need to conquer our evil side and promote our good side. We are locked in combat with ourselves and try to obliterate the tiniest negative tendency. Right effort doesn't involve struggle at all. When we see things as they are, we can work with them, gently and without any kind of aggression whatsoever. The Path becomes eventual and inevitable, not a goal and not a struggle.
right mindfulness ∞
Right mindfulness involves precision and clarity. We are mindful of the tiniest details of our experience. We are mindful of the way we talk, the way we perform our jobs, our posture, our attitude toward our friends and family -- every detail.
right concentration, or absorption ∞
Usually we are absorbed in absent-mindedness. Our minds are completely captivated by all sorts of entertainment and speculations. Right absorption means that we are completely absorbed in now-ness, in things as they are. This can only happen if we have some sort of discipline.
One such discipline is a sitting meditation. We might even say that without the discipline of sitting meditation, we can't walk the eightfold path at all. Sitting meditation cuts through our absent-mindedness. It provides a space or gap in our preoccupation with ourselves.
The Goal ∞
Most people have heard of Nirvana. It has become equated with a sort of eastern version of heaven. Actually, nirvana simply means cessation. It is the cessation of passion, aggression and ignorance; the cessation of the struggle to prove our existence to the world, to survive. We don't have to struggle to survive after all. We have already survived. We survive now; the struggle was just an extra complication that we added to our lives because we had lost our confidence in the way things are. We no longer need to manipulate things as they are into things as we would like them to be.