Discovering Sacred Texts: Buddhism

Discovering Sacred Texts: Buddhism

A Buddhist is traditionally defined
as somebody who takes refuge in or relies upon the Three Jewels; the Buddha
as teacher, the Dharma, as the path to practice and the Sangha, the community as the companions with whom they practice Dharma. There are three main
traditions. Mahayana in East Asia mainly, parts of Southeast Asia as well. Vajrayana is more practiced in Central Asia and Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka
and Southeast Asia. So a geographic dispersal with lack of
communication between different centres of Buddhism even in India let alone when
it spreads outside- definitely geography and accident in a way, played its role in
ensuring that one tradition emphasized particular scriptures; another
traditional emphasised their particular favourite scriptures. In this happenstance way the
tradition grew. Buddha was born in a royal family but at the age of 29, he
lived happily, but he found that there’s a samsara which means birth, getting old,
ill and die. So he left the palace and went out to learn how to find the truth of life
and then he practiced by himself as well by vipassana meditation, training the
mind, and at the age of 35 at the Bodh Gaya under the Bodhi tree he attained
enlightenment and he know the truth of life, the way of life, and he was
wondering whether who he can teach because this is a high state of
knowledge. He went to teach his disciples who used to be with him before and the
first sermon he taught on the Four Noble Truth, which is the foundation of the
Buddha and how you can get rid of suffering; you have to do Noble Eightfold
Path. So when we know the life of the Buddha we know how to be happy and live life to the full with the consciousness and without suffering Our texts are called Tipitaka. The word Tipitaka means
the Three Basket or three collections of the Buddha’s teachings
and there are Vinaya Pitaka, the collections of monastic codes and rules, rites and rituals. Then Sutta Pitaka, the collections of the discourses given by
the Buddha himself or by his closest disciple and then last one are Bidama Pitaka. The collection of heard teaching; Abhidharma teaching. In Theravada tradition the Buddha’s teachings were recorded in Pali language
so for us, Tipitaka is the main source in order to examine, to investigate, even
to make a comparison- if the teaching is right or wrong-
we always go back to the source. It’s very large, I think about over
20,000 pages. Other schools in India wrote their scriptures in Sanskrit for instance. The Tibetans translated these from about the 8th century onwards but it took
several centuries actually. There are scriptures which we feel are authentically
Buddhist teachings which are not included in the Pali canon but
which we include. In short, the Mahayana teachings and the Tantric teachings so
we consider they’re legitimately part of the Tripitaka. Dharma is a Sanskrit word and has
actually many meanings but in this particular context you mean the body of
teachings that stems from the Buddha’s activity two and a half thousand years
ago so it’s not just literary scriptures but it’s also this presentation, the
transmission of teachings as direct personal advice from one master to their
disciples. All that is the Dharma. So basically monks have two tasks.
Learning and teaching. Learning about the teaching and then spread the teaching. To
be a good monk you need to know all of the monks precept. So there are 227 precepts
are called Patimokkha; monastic codes in fact as a Buddhist monk we have more than
that and I thought there are approximately three thousand precepts
for monks The minor one for example – as a Buddhist monk if you didn’t have the
wound on your face you are not allowed to use the mirror. You need to take a nap
during the daytime, you need to close the door. You can’t simply leave the door
open and then take a nap during the daytime. But these precepts are not included in
227 precepts; we call them minor. Minor rules For lay people, their main job is to support the monks, the monks work. For example to support
the monks with food, accommodation, robe. We show appreciation to the Sangha. Sangha
means the members of monastics for what they have done from the beginning from in ancient times, until today. We have a
chance to learn about Buddhism because of the Sangha, because the Sangha
members hand the Buddha’s teaching from generation to generation until our time. So we’re looking at a horizontal scroll
written in Chinese that would have been read from right to left. So
you have columns of text and what they would have been also read then from top
to bottom. It’s about five metres long and so it’s made of several sheets of
paper that were originally glued together. It starts with a beautifully
illustrated frontispiece. In the Diamond Sutra, the Buddha basically explains that
there is no such thing as a permanent not changing self. This is a very special
copy of the Diamond Sutra because it’s the world’s earliest reliably dated
printed book. By using printing then monks or Buddhist believers found
a method that allowed to reproduce the text with extreme accuracy but also on a
very large scale The Lotus Sutra is one of the most
influential sutras particularly in East Asia and it’s regarded as being one of
the key texts containing the teachings of the Buddha. One of the the key
doctrines of the Lotus Sutra is that all sentient beings, all living beings can
attain Buddhahood in their current existence.

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    Buddhism without frills. Cream of Buddhaโ€™s teachings in Q&A format.

  2. I am looking for a way away from frustration and stress… A way away from depression and anxiety… God is the answer but which God do I go to?

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