Tagarchief: Buddha

Oldest Buddhist shrine holds clues to Buddha’s birth

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Lieu de recueillement sur le toit

There are about 500 million Buddhists worldwide, but it’s unclear exactly when in history this religion began. The Buddha’s life story spread first through oral tradition, and little physical evidence about Buddhism’s early years has been found.

Now, scientists for the first time have uncovered archaeological evidence of when the Buddha’s monumentally influential life occurred. Excavations in Nepal date a Buddhist shrine, located at what is said to be the Buddha’s birthplace, to the sixth century B.C.

The research, published in the journal Antiquity, describes the remains of a timber structure about the same size and shape as a temple built at the same site in the third century B.C.

Archaeologists also found reason to think that a tree grew at the center of this ancient structure, lending support to the traditional story that the Buddha’s mother held onto a tree branch while giving birth to him.

“This is one of those rare occasions when belief, tradition, archaeology and science actually come together,” lead study author Robin Coningham, professor at Durham University in the United Kingdom, said at a press briefing Monday.

If this study is correct, the Buddha’s actual life could have overlapped with a popularly recognized time frame of 563-483 B.C. But lots of other date ranges for the Buddha have been tossed around — some scholars say 448 to 368 B.C., for instance. (The UNESCO website about his birthplace says 623 B.C.)

“We know the entirety of the shrine sequence started in the sixth century B.C., and this sheds light on a very long debate,” Coningham said.

A place for pilgrims

The Lumbini site in Nepal is one of four principal locations that are believed to be connected with the Buddha’s life. Bodh Gaya is where he is became enlightened, Sarnath is where he first preached and Kusinagara is where he died.

Lumbini is located in “a subtropical chain of forests, marshes and grasslands” between Nepal’s border with India and the Siwalik Range of the Himalayas, according to the study.

Historical documents from Chinese travelers show that pilgrims made the journey to Lumbini for many centuries.

The site was lost and stopped attracting pilgrims after the 15th century — no one knows why — but Lumbini was rediscovered in 1896. It was declared the birthplace of Buddha because of a sandstone pillar there, dating from the third century B.C. The pillar’s inscription states that Emperor Ashoka visited this site of Buddha’s birth.

Scholars say the more modern Maya Devi Temple at Lumbini, named after the mother of Buddha, was constructed on top of the foundations of more than one earlier temple or stupa, which is a dome-shaped Buddhist monument.

One of those older temples dates back to the third century B.C., from the time of Emperor Ashoka. But there’s also evidence of the even earlier temple, which appears to have covered about the same size and shape as the Ashokan temple, Coningham said.

The earliest site

Beneath remains of the Ashokan temple, archaeologists found a series of postholes from where timber posts had rotted out.

“Indeed, our excavations have demonstrated that the earliest construction at Lumbini appears to have comprised a timber fence or railing marking a cardinal direction,” the study authors wrote.

The central, open portion of the most ancient temple appears to have housed a tree, based on the discovery of large fragments of mineralized tree roots. This part of the temple also had never been covered by a roof.

To establish the dates of the earliest Buddhist shrine at Lumbini, Coningham and colleagues analyzed charcoal found within postholes, as well as sand. Different techniques used on each of these materials pointed to the same conclusion of the sixth century B.C., but the postholes indicated a range of about 800 to 545 B.C.

“If the postholes at Lumbini are indicative of a tree shrine, ritual activity could have commenced either during or shortly after the life of the Buddha,” the study authors wrote.

Julia Shaw, archaeologist at University College London, applauded the research but noted in an e-mail that other ritual frameworks existed at the same time as early Buddhism, which could complicate the conclusions of the study.

“It would be difficult to determine whether the tree shrine in question was intended for the worship of the Buddha or was part of a distinct cultic context,” she said.

But Coningham said that it’s unlikely that this earlier structure belonged to a different spiritual tradition, other than Buddhism, because of the “continuity” of the site between the sixth century B.C. and third century B.C. structures. The Ashokan temple is clearly Buddhist, and the earlier shrine had the same footprint.

“Often when you have sites of one religious activity overtaken by another, you actually get quite dramatic changes within orientation, within use of structure,” Coningham said.

Moreover, before the sixth century B.C., the area where the site is was just cultivated land, he said.

The new archaeological research on the Buddha’s life will be featured in a National Geographic documentary called “Buried Secrets of the Buddha” premiering in February. The National Geographic Society partly funded the research.

Buddhism Fast Facts

When Buddha lived

Buddha was born as Siddhartha Gautama, in the gardens of Lumbini in Nepal. His parents were wealthy. At age 29, he renounced his family and became a seeker, Coningham said. According to tradition, Buddha found truth when he sat down under a tree, which is now called the Bo tree.

The Buddha happened to be born during a period of dramatic change, Coningham said. Coins were introduced, urbanization was occurring and a merchant class emerged.

When the Buddha died at age 80, he recommended that all Buddhists visit Lumbini, study authors said.

Today, more than a million pilgrims visit Lumbini each year. The new research, in uncovering layers of history, adds new dimensions of interest to the site.

Follow Elizabeth Landau on Twitter at @lizlandau

source : CNN.com

Over de Meesters

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Roue du Dharma

Boeddha gaf zijn volgelingen de volgende richtlijnen die we kennen als

de Vier Zekerheden :

Vertrouw op de boodschap van de leraar , niet op zijn persoonlijkheid ;

vertrouw op de betekenis, niet alleen op de woorden ;

vertrouw op de ware betekenis, niet op de voorlopige;

vertrouw op je eigen wijze geest, niet alleen op je gewone, oordelende geest.

Uit : de Hart Soetra

 

Sogyal Rinpoche leerde :

 

Wij vereren de meesters omdat ze nog zachtaardiger zijn dan de Boeddha’s.

We kunnen de Boeddha’s niet oog in oog ontmoeten, maar de meesters wel.

Zij zijn hier, levend , ademend, sprekend en handelend om ons de weg naar

bevrijding te tonen.

 

Uit : het Tibetaanse boek van leven en sterven

The Buddha was Neither a God Nor an Incarnation (Avatara)

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Some people make no distinction between buddhism and hinduism. But they are not the same. Born in the same culture buddhism reject the ideas of Vedic culture. Buddhism must be seen as a very different idea.

boeddh2

In the glut of saffronised whim in writing over the issues of the Buddha and Buddhism some fanatic Brahmanical scholars of Indology have deliberately tried to mislead the lovers and admirers of Buddhism by assigning epithets of god and incarnation (Avatara). As a matter of fact this type of writing is an outburst of their wild sentiment which is not at all an alternative of truth or talent. It may create an aura of scholarship for a moment. But in reality such scholarship as noted above is an exercise in futility about the real identities of the Buddha, the Enlightened One and his masterpiece contributions to humanity. Rahula Sanskrityayana in his book entitled, Darsana-Digdarsana (Hindi), has amply described this issue of Buddha as god and incarnation in negative manner and has refuted and condemned Sir Radhakrishan who forcibly has imposed ideas of soul, Supreme Being on concept of the Buddha for non-soul (anatma), anitya and samutpanna. The personality of the Buddha is glowing with non-violence, compassion and serenity. It does not appear armed with any weapon. On the contrary the Brahmanical heroes dignified in the row of the Avataras appear fully armed with weapons and other media of declaring war etc. for reforming the society of the Hindus adhering to the Vedic tradition i.e., Sanatana Dharma.

On the basis of the deep investigation it has transpired that a well calculated campaign has been started by the transpired Brahmanical scholars for portraying the Buddha as a god and the tenth incarnation of Vishnu with an ulterior motive. In the debris of the history of the Vedic orthodoxy, which cropped up after the Nirvana (demise) of the Buddha, arose a well-cooked scheme for demolishing the originality of the Buddha’s discovery of the Middle Path, Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path. This is the most malignant and callous effort of the fanatic Brahmanas in order to foil the rising image and credibility of Buddha and Buddhism on international level.

By this time every learned man in true sense of the term has come to know the indelible impact of the Buddhistic renaissance on Indian society. After a gap of about three centuries from the time of the Buddha, Asoka the great Maurya had sacrificed the total assets of his vast Empire for reforming an ailing Indian society rotten by the Vedic tradition, through his missionary zeal in order to spread the message of peace and the universal brotherhood free from the blemishes of caste-ridden Indian society. In fact, a dubious social ideal was projected by the orthodox Indian Brahmans of the purpose of manifesting pseudo sovereignty of the blood-stained Vedic sacrificial tradition.It is a well-established fact that an enhanced fact that an anti Buddhistic Vedic revivalism has been started with an enhanced vigour after Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedlkar’s crusade waged against a rigid Hindutva for the sake of arousing the morale of untouchables, Dalits had voluntarily accepted Buddhism in 1956 at the famous Diksha Bhumi of Nagpur . It was really the unique step of Babasaheb to encounter the anti-Buddhistic challenges of the Brahmanas. After more than 2500 years of the Buddha, his doctrine of The Middle Path by dint of his Patica Samuppada (theory of causation) had regenerated a new light of equality, liberty and fraternity. A wave of global ethics had swept over length and breadth of our country in particular and over the Buddhist countries of the world in general. The personality of the Buddha was of a mortal and humane nature. His doctrine popularly known as Buddhism appeared as anti-pode of the Brahmanical orthodoxy and saffronised Hindutva. It is this revolutionary force which stings the conscience of the vested Brahmanical interests and the saffronised ideologues. Consequently they have become restless before the new sunrise of a world view and as such they now intend to dislodge and destabilized the increasing and rising Buddhist community at the outset of this 21 st century when, in fact, the Buddhist countries of the world are on the way to coordination and union for building an international world order.

A few years back a book entitled, Hinduism and Buddhism Are The Same Aryan Religion (by Tek Nath Gautam, Translated by Ramsurat Tripathi, M.A., Lt. and Sushil Gautam, Shastri, M.A., published by Vishwa Hindu Maha Sangha, Rashtriya Nagar Samiti, Tribhuvan Nagar, Dang, Nepal; Pp. iv + 46) was published to publicize that Hinduism and Buddhism are the same religion. A detailed discussion of controversy in respect of Sankaracharya’s role in Nepal against the renaissant Buddhist community has been presented in A History of Buddhism in Nepal : A.D. 704-1396 (pp. 63-75) and in this connection the notion of Buddhism has been falsified. This hypothesis is not correct in case of Buddhism, because it is not strictly a religion in the same sense in which that word is commonly understood, for it is not a system of faith and worship, owing any allegiance to supernatural god. Buddhism does not demand blind faith from its adherents. Hence mere belief is dethroned and for it is substitute confidence based on knowledge’. It is possible for a Buddhist to entertain occasional doubts until he attains the first stage of sainthood (sotapatti) when all doubts about the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha are completely resolved, one becomes a genuine followers of the Buddha only after attainting this stage.In the Dhammapada Buddha says: By oneself alone is evil done; By oneself alone is one defiled, By oneself alone is evil avoided; By oneself alone is one purified. Purity and impurity depends upon himself.  No one can purify another. (V. 165)  There is an excellent interpretation of these issues in the Dhammapada (Hindi) edited by the late Bhikkhu Dharmarakshita of Sarnath. He has thoroughly demolished this notion of god and incarnation imposed on the Buddhist doctrine.

One the contrary, Hinduism according to the Brahmanical scholarship stands for complete self surrender before deities incarnated as gods and goddess. Krishna in the Gita has assumed a very boastful image and he has uttered before Arjuna to surrender completely under his shelter and he guaranteed that he would remove all designs of sins committed by Arjuna. By dint of nine methods of worship (Navadha Bhakti) a devotee does not make any effort to stand on his own knowledge and only the gods are supposed to salvage him. Antecedents of orthodox Indian Brahmanical legacy shows quite a revengeful and zealous campaign vomiting venoms against the Buddha and his glorious discovery of the unique knowledge. The Bhagvata Purana states that after coming of the Kali age the son of Ajna, known as the Buddha appears in the Kikata region ( Magadha ) Gaya as an incarnation of Vishnu

Hindu god Vishnu

Hindu god Vishnu

to delude the Asura foes. Its commentary indicates that many demos have intruded into the Vedic tradition and as such it has been polluted by them. So it has become a task to purify it through escalating them from the Vedic tradition. In the later Vedic texts of the Brahmanical scholarship, Magadha has been dubbed as the region of the Kikatas who were demons eating flesh of the crows. In fact, Magadha has been the cradle of Buddhism where the Buddha had to undergo a brave pursuit of life struggle in order to attain the supreme Enlightenment at the historical works are replete with the myth and reality. One can witness very interesting account of the life struggle in the Suttanipata the Dhammapada and the Mahaparinibbansutta etc. the Buddha had come across through debates, discourses and questions-answer sessions held regularly with Brahamanas of his time around Magadha (Bihar) and Kosala (the region of the Uttar Pradesh).Nowhere did the Buddha ever try to project himself as god and incarnated heroes for the sake of putting his views against any ideas or issues of social evils, against sacrificial and violent practices of the Vedic tradition of the priestocrat Brahmanas. Never did the Buddha take resort to miracles or false assurance of giving resurrection to others from time to time in crisis. The Buddha always moved as a mortal but as an Enlightened being for the sake of arousing the untouchables, Dalits and marginalized lots of our society spoiled and polluted by the caste and Varna system manufactured by the Brahmanas for their personal and sectarian welfare. The Buddha stood for the Bahujana hitaya and the Bahujana sukhaya (for the welfare of the many, for the good of the many). The Buddha constantly and continuously advocated the cause of the down trodden and exploited people of our society through illustrating examples of his life style enshrined in the Middle Path (Pancasila Dasasila, five and ten precepts). He encouraged the people to examine the ethical norms by dint of logic and experience. He turned to an extent of exhorting that even his own ideas should not be approved through blind beliefs and superstitions, they too deserve an examination by two touchstones noted above.The Buddha said in Dhammapada: You must make the effort yourself,the Tathagatas are only teachers. (V. 276).

Sanchi Stupa

Sanchi Stupa

2300 Years ago, Asoka the Great Maurya Emperor, as his Edicts show, made unique programme of spreading renaissant doctrine of the Buddha. Rock Edict XIII of Asoka treats this issue elaborately and has indicated a long list of the countries of Asia where his missionaries carried the messages of Buddhism. Pillar Edict II defines the Dhamma without any reference to god or incarnation notions in the Buddha’s preachings. Asoka (Hindi) authored by the late Yogendra Mishra, is a comprehensive work to this point. He sent messages of peace and universal brotherhood to different regions of the world, west Asia , north Asia , Nepal , Myanmar and Sri Lanka . Historicity of the Buddha and Buddhism as international phenomenon has amply been discussed by the late Lala Hardayal in his research work entitled, Bodhisatva Doctrine in the Sanskrit Literature (a Ph.D. thesis published by Oxford University Press, London , as early as 1928). He has emphatically asserted that Theravada Buddhism in pre-Christian era influenced mode of thinking and life style of the people around the coastal regions of the Mediterranean Sea where the Greeks and Buddhist monks used to meet and discuss. Maurice Winternitz, in his book, A History of Indian Literature Vol. II (the Buddhist Literature and Jaina Literature) has amplified this issue of the world religion (Buddhism) and has discussed it in detail (pp. 402-433) and has concluded: Nevertheless our views of the new Buddhist movement may be, we cannot but admire the vitality of Buddhism and of the works of Buddhist Literature, which have ever and again inspired the minds of thinkers poets of all nations, and still continue to do so. I hope, too that I have succeeded in showing in the above chapters that there is still much in the Buddhist literature which well merits being introduced into European literature and made the common property of universal literature.

Thus unlike the Brahmants the Buddhists always believed in manhood free caste, creed and regionalism.It was because of this global image and spirit of the Buddha and Buddhism centuries later the Brahmana scholars formulated rules through their scriptures prohibiting sea voyage and journey to foreign lands and vociferously declared and polluted ones. This step was a deliberate attempt to close the door to acceptance of Buddhism, of giving freedom of religion. Under these circumstances those who talk of worls as a global family’ (Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam) or process of united call and united march’ (samvadadhvam, samgacchadhyam) are mocking with propriety and reality. The famous legal text of the Manusmriti and the sacred text of the Brahmasutra of Sankaracharya regulate that the Sudras have no soul and they have no right to read, recite and think over Vedic hymns. In case the Sudras would do so, molten lead and lac should be poured down their ears, if they try to listen to Vedic hymns, their tongues should be cut off and if they try to recite the hymns, iron dagger should be pierced into their bosom if they try to think or meditate over the Vedic tenets. In face of these illiberal and sectarian evocations, idealization of world brotherhood is a brazen and impudent act of mockery with the concepts of truth, justice and global ethics.In no case the Brahmanical concepts of god and incarnation can be applicable to the Buddha’s spiritual and meditative ideals based on his personal experiments and Enlightment. Main motive of the advocates of Hindutva and saffronished ideologues behind the campaign of proving the Buddha as god or incarnation of Vishnu is to denigrate and denounce the originality of the Buddha. This is clear cut a conspiratorial gesture of the Brahmanical school of religious theocracy expressed in the Padmapurana, Vishnupurana and the Ramayana . The Ramayana boldly states that the Buddha is a thief and as such he should be punished for his atheistic or nihilist approach to the Vedic tradition. The Buddha, however, fearlessly and frankly admits in the Majjhimanikaya and in the Anguttaranikaya and gloriously declared before an orthodox Brahmana : No, indeed, brahmana, a Deva am I not as a lotus, fair and lovely,by the water is not soiled,by the worlds am I not soiled,therefore, brahmana, am I Buddha sanchi03.In this way the Buddha decries to be an (Avatara) incarnation of Vishnu who is claimed to have born again and again in different periods to protect the righteous, to destroy the wicked for establishing the Dharma, which is actually an act of ruthless restoration of the rules of caste, creed and regionalism in the name of Varna system.

On the contrary, the Buddha states that countless are the gods who are also a class of beings subject to birth and death, but there is no one supreme god who controls the destinies of human beings and who possesses a divine power to appear on the earth at different intervals employing a human form as a vehicle. He empathetically exhorts in the Dhammapada that one should depend upon his own self for his deliverance since both acts of defilement and purification depend on oneself. One cannot directly purify or defile another being. One should himself make an exertion. The Tathagatas are only teachers.The Vedic ethics and religious norms do not permit the Kshatriyas or non-Brahmanas to preach or indulge in religious or philosophical discourse and so long as the Buddha hails from the non-Brahmanical clan, the Sakya clan he has been taken to task by the sacred scriptures of the Vedic school not to preach. But the Buddha did not care to pay any heed to it in the least, he took bid to assert over his discovery of the Middle Path he preached freedom of thought, freedom to refute any authority including his own. The Buddha has been considered to be an atheist for transgressing the established norms of the Vedic sacrificial culture. The well known Brahmanical thinker Kumarila Bhatta has ruthlessly criticized the Buddha and has mentioned that the ideals of non-violence, benevolence and restrains over the sense-organs are good but his anti-Vedic views deserve total rejection.

Similarly Sankaracharya has dubbed the Buddha as a Vainasaka, the destroyer of the past tradition. However, there is no place for god in the Dhamma preached by the Buddha. He supported the concept of rebirth but that also denies any place to soul or Atmaparamatma combination. He does not give any ascent to an idea of supernatural entity. The Buddha was cent-per-cent in favour of the dialectics of change. In a straight forward manner he admitted that he, in course of his life-struggle, took an aid to boat for crossing the river but did not carry it for ever as his property. In the Majjhimanikya , the Buddha states about his life-style based on Sila, Samadhi and Prajna and says this doctrine is profound, hard to see, difficult to understand, calm, sublime, subtle to be understood by the wise. The famous biographer of the Buddha, Narada Mahathera mentions that the base of Buddhism is Sila or morality and beyond morality is wisdom or Prajna which is an apex. He states that to understand exceedingly high standard of morality, the Buddha expects from his followers a serious perusal to the Dhammapada, the Sigalavadasutta, Vyagghapajjasiutta, Manglasutta, Dhammika sutta etc. In the Visuddhimagga , the Buddha asserts:no god, no brahma can found,no matter of this wheel of life just bare phenomena roll,dependent on conditions all!

Winternitz has interpreted it very clearly,the Nidanasamyutta (xiii), consists of 92 speeches and conversations, all of which, with endless repetitions, deal with the subject of the twelve Nidanas of the concatenation of causes and effects (Paticcasamuppada). The Anamataggasamyutta (XV), contains twenty speeches, of which all begin with the words: The beginning of this samsara, O monks, is entirely unknown (anamatagga), and explains this sentence by setting forth in ever varying comparisons and images the dreadful accumulation of suffering in the cycle of migration from innumerable ages of the world history.Early Buddhism has explained the origin of suffering or the discord of existence by the Paticcasamuppasa, i.e. the formula in which it is shown that all elements of the being originate only in mutual interdependence there is no independent and permanent ego, but merely a succession of corporal and physical phenomena which change every moment.

The Mahayana derives from the same formula the doctrine of Sunyata, i.e. the doctrine that all (is) void (Sarvam Sunyam) meaning devoid of independent reality (Winternitz). Through this materialistic approach the Buddha throws light on the process of birth and death. He simply shows the cause of rebirth suffering with a view to helping men to get rid of the ills of life. He does not propound philosophy of any evolution of the world. He does not claim to solve the riddle of an absolute origin of life. He merely explains the simple happening of a state, dependent on its antecedent state.In the Itivuttaka , the Buddha states, Those who have destroyed delusion and have broken the dense darkness will wander no more. Causality values no more for them. This scientific and serious view has been elaborated by Sariputta and Moggallana who were his contemporary chief disciplines. There followed a row of Buddhist scholars such as Mahakasyapa, Mahakatyayana, Asvaghosha, Nagarjuna, Asanga, Vasubadhu, Dhamakirti etc.

Of all, Dhamakirti has exposed five traits of ignorance (Jadata) of the Vedic tradition. These five traits are uncritical reliance on the evidence or the credibility of the Vedic authority, creativity of god, obsessive desire of realizing Dharma by taking bath in the Ganga , a conceited pride in casteism and tortuous penance for eradicating sin.

Contrary to this superstition an elaborate system of ethics of the Buddha is there which forbids taking of life, theft lying, abuse, slander, malice, covetousness, pride and a variety of forms of conduct and behaviour designed to make man morally whole. The Buddha inculcated the virtues of kindness, charity, goodwill and tolerance. In course of national movement in India in the wake of nationalism, Surendaranath Banerjee, instead of Vedic hymns and so-called the strong heritage of Hinduism (Brahmanism), declared the Buddhism could well be a means of realizing India’s political and spiritual rejuvenation. Romesh Chunder Dutt, in his Lays of Ancient India emphasized over moving inspiration emanated from Buddhism. EnlightenmentThere was a strong feeling among pro-Buddhist Hindus that Buddhism with its emphasis on self-reliance, endurance and sacrifice of property, personal assets could be a source of inscription to Indian nationalism. In the famous book, entitled the decline and fall of Hinduism, S.C. Mukherji, an eminent barrister, argued that with the decline of Buddhism the degeneration of Hindus had begun. He described the Buddhist period of Indian history as the Golden Age’ and the periods following with exceptions only to Asoka were periods of comparative decadence. In this way in socio-political aspects of our national life Buddhism leads us to the path of compassion, unity, justice and to global ethics free from caste, creed and regionalism. It teaches us lessons of self confidence and self reliance.

REFERENCES FOR RELEVANT STUDY:   

1. Maurice Winternitz, A History of Indian Literature , Vol. II (Buddhist Literature and Jaina Literature), 1 st Ed. (English). Prague , 1933; Indian reprint ed. Oriental Books Reprint Corporation, New Delhi , 1977.   2. Narada Maha Thera, The Buddha and his Teaching , Colombo , 1973.   3. Ananda Wickremeratne, The Genesis of an Orientalist , Motilal Banarasidass, Delhi , 1984.   4. Suttanipatta (Hindi), Ed. And Tr. By Bhikshu Dharmarakshita, Motilal Banarasidass, Delhi , 1988.   5. The Suttanipatta , Ed. By P.V. Bapat (with an Introduction in English), 1 st Ed., Poona , 1924, 2 nd Reprint by Satguru Publications, Delhi , 1990.   6. Rajendra Ram., A History of Buddhism in Nepal : A.D . 704-1396, Motilal Banarasidas, Delhi , 1978.   7. Rahula Sankrityayana, Darsana Digdarsana (Hindi), Kitab Mahal, Allahabad , 1 st Ed. 1944. 2 nd Reprint, 1992.   8. Rahula Sankrityayana Mahamanava Buddha (Hindi), Buddha Vihara, Lacknow, 1956.   9. Mahaparinibbanasuttam (Hindi), Ed. and Tr. By Bhikshu Dharmarakshita, Gyan Mandal Ltd. Varanasi , 1958.  10. Buddhacarita of Asvaghosha (Hindi), Tr. By S. Choudhary , Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi , 2000.  11. Yogendra Mishra (Ed. & Tr.), i (Hindi), Granthmala Karyalaya, Patna , 1 st Ed. 1965.  12. S K Biswas, Buddhism: The Religion of Mohenjodaro and Harappa Cities , Dalitbahujan Intellectual Forum of India , 1999 (Produced and Marketed by Orion Books, Delhi ).

 

Reflections on interdependence

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The root of all past, present, future, personal and collective conflicts is in the mistaken way we have to perceive the reality of phenomena and the I. To understand the ultimate reality of existence allows us to eliminate the root of confusion, which is the root of all negativities.To do so, it is necessary to cultivate discriminating intelligence and apply critical and scientific self-analysis; one must first of all recognise that which is to be disproved, in other words independent existence, which is separate from I and phenomena. 
To perceive I and phenomena as concretely existing independently of their parts is the first mistake. To recognise that which is to be disproved and observing the basic error, is the first step towards removing ignorance, which is the root of all sufferings.The process of analysis must clearly uncover the ignorance attached to the I of people and phenomena. Without such an intuitive and non-conceptual understanding, any effort to remove suffering remains useless.

Seven Point Cause and Effect Meditation

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Geshe Wangyal

(from Geshe Wangyal’s Door of Liberation) 

1 – Recognising all beings having been our mothers

To conceive the spirit of enlightenment, you first must develop equanimity toward all beings, and then contemplate the sevenfold cause-and-effect spiritual instruction given by Maitreya to Asanga. First imagine before you a being who has neither helped you nor harmed you. Think, “From his own point of view, he wants happiness and does not want suffering, just like everybody else. I will free myself from attraction and aversion. I will not feel close to some and help them while feeling distant from others and harming them. I will develop equanimity toward all beings. Lamas and gods, enable me to do this!”

Once you feel equanimity toward that neutral person, imagine a person who attracts you. Try to feel equanimity toward that person. Think, “My Partiality is due to my attraction. Since I have always desired attractive beings, I have been reborn constantly in the miserable life-cycle.” Thus restrain your desire and meditate.

Once you feel equanimity toward that attractive person, imagine an unattractive person. Try to feel equanimity toward him. Think, “Because there has been discord between us, I have developed an aversion to him so lack equanimity. Without it, I cannot conceive the spirit of enlightenment ment! ” Thus restrain your aversion and meditate.

When you feel equanimity toward that unattractive person, imagine both persons together. Think, “These two are the same in that each, from her own viewpoint, wants happiness and doesn’t want misery. From my viewpoint, this one who seems so close now has been reborn as my enemy countless times. This one toward whom I feel hostile has been reborn as my mother countless times and has cared for me with love. Which one should like? Which one should I hate? I will feel equanimity and free myself from attachment and aversion. Lamas and gods, please enable me to do this!”

When you feel such equanimity, extend it to all beings. “All beings a the same. Each wants happiness and doesn’t want misery. All beings are relatives. Therefore I will learn equanimity and be free from attachment and aversion to near and far, helping some and harming others. Lamas and gods, help me to accomplish this!”

Once you have developed the mind of equanimity, implement the first of the seven causal instructions for attaining the spirit of enlightenment. Visualize the lamas and gods before you and contemplate: “Why are all beings my relatives? As there is no beginning to the life-cycle, there has also been no beginning to my rebirths. In passing through these countless lives there is no form of life which I have not adopted countless times, and there is no country or realm in which I have not been born. Of all beings, there is not one who has not been my mother innumerable times. Each has been my mother in human form countless times, and will become my mother many times again.”

2 – Recalling the kindness of others

When you have fully experienced this truth, contemplate the kindness which living beings have shown you when they were your mother. Visualise the lamas and gods before you, and imagine clearly your mother of this life, when she was young and as she grew old. “Not only is she my mother this life, but she has cared for me for lives beyond number. In this lifetime, she lovingly sheltered me in her womb, and when I was born she lovingly put me on soft pillows and cradled me in her arms. She held me to the warmth of her breasts, and suckled me with her sweet milk. She welcomed me with loving smiles and looked at me with happy eyes. She cleaned my snotty nose and wiped away my excrement. My slightest ailment gave her worse misery than the thought of losing her own life. Scorning all affliction, torments, and abuse, not considering herself at all, she provided me as she could with food and shelter. She gave me infinite happiness and benefit, and protected me from measureless misery and harm.” Contemplate her very great kindness. Then, in the same way contemplate the kindness of your father and others close to you, for they have also been your mother countless times.

When you have fully experienced this truth, meditate on beings toward whom you feel impartial. “Though it now seems that they have no relationship to me, they have been my mother times beyond number, and in those lives they protected me with love and kindness.” When you have experienced this truth, meditate on those beings who are now your adversaries. imagine them clearly in front of you, and think: “How can I now feel that these are my enemies? As lifetimes are beyond number, they have been my mother countless times. When they were my mother they provided me with measureless happiness and benefits and protected me from misery and harm. Without them I could not have lasted even a short time and without me they could not have endured even a short time. We have felt such strong attachment countless times. That they are now my adversaries is due to bad evolutionary actions. At another time in the future they will again be my mother who protects me with love.” When you have fully experienced this truth, meditate on the kindness of all beings.

3 – Resolving to repay the kindness of others

Then meditate on repaying the kindness of all beings, your mothers. Visualize the lamas and deities before you and contemplate: “From beginningless time these mothers have protected me with kindness. Yet as their minds are disturbed by the demons of addictive passions, they have not obtained independence of mind, and are crazed. They lack the eye to see either the path to the high states of humans and gods or the path to Nirvana, the supreme good. They are without a spiritual teacher, the one who is the leader of the blind. Continually pummeled by the discord of wrong deeds, they slip toward the edge of the terrifying abyss of rebirth in the life-cycle, especially its lower states. To ignore these kind mothers would be shameless. To return their kindness I will free them from the misery of the life-cycle and establish them in the bliss of liberation. Lamas and gods, enable me to do this.”

4 – Affectionate Love

Then meditate love. Imagine a person to whom you are strongly attached, such as your mother. “How can she have undefiled happiness when she does not even have the defiled happiness of the life-cycle? What she now boasts of as happiness slips away, changing to misery. She yearns and yearns, strives and strives, desiring a moment’s happiness, but she is only creating the causes of future misery and rebirths in lower states of being. In this life as well, weary and exhausted, she creates only misery. She definitely does not have real happiness. How wonderful it would be if she possessed happiness and all the causes of happiness! May she possess them! I will cause her to possess happiness and all its causes. Lamas and gods, Please enable me to do this!”

When you have gained experience of this, continue to meditate, first imagining other persons who are close to you, such as your father, then imagining a person toward whom you feel impartial, then an adversary, and finally all beings.

5 – Compassion

Then do the meditation of great compassion and universal responsibility: “My kind fathers and mothers, whose number would fill the sky, are helplessly bound by evolutionary actions and fettering passions. The four rivers, the river of desire, existence, ignorance, and fanaticism, sweep them helplessly into the currents of the life-cycle, where they are battered by the waves of birth, old age, sickness, and death. They are completely tied up by the tight and hard to break bonds of various kinds of evolutionary actions. From beginningless time they have entered into the iron cage of holding the concepts ‘I’ and ‘mine’ in the center of the heart. This cage is very difficult for anyone to open. Enshrouded by the great darkness of ignorance, which obscures judgment of good and evil, they do not even see the path leading to the happy states of being. Much less do they see the path leading to liberation and enlightenment.

6 – The Special Intention

“These wretched beings are ceaselessly tortured by the suffering of misery, the suffering of change, and the all-pervasive suffering of creation. I have seen all beings, my mothers, wretched, engulfed in the ocean of the life-cycle. If I do not save them, who will? If I were to ignore them, I would be shameless, the lowest of all. My desire to learn the Mahayana would be only words, and I could not show my face before the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Therefore, no matter what, I will develop the ability to pull all my kind sad mothers from the ocean of the life-cycle and to establish them in Buddhahood.”

Think this and generate a very strong and pure universal responsibility.

7 – Spirit of Enlightenment

Finally, meditate the spirit of enlightenment. Ask yourself whether or not you can establish all beings in Buddhahood, and reflect, “I do not know where I am going; how can I establish even one being in Buddhahood? Even those who have attained the positions of disciple or hermit Buddha can accomplish only the minor purposes of beings, and cannot establish beings in Buddhahood. It is only a perfect Buddha who can lead beings to full enlightenment. Therefore, no matter what, I will obtain peerless and completely perfect Buddhahood for the sake of all beings. Lamas and gods, please enable me to do this!”

Geshe Ngawang Wangyal (Wyl. dge bshes ngag dbang dbang rgyal) (1901-1983) — a Kalmyk-Mongolian lamawho was the first to come to America and teach in 1955. He established the Tibetan Buddhist Learning Center in 1958 in New Jersey as the first Tibetan Buddhist Dharma centre in the West.

Professor Robert Thurman writes:

In [Geshe Ngawang Wangyal’s] presence it was hard to speak, my knees felt weak and my stomach unsettled. Yet the amazing thing was that Geshe Wangyal himself seemed as if he were not there. He had nothing to do with me, to me, or for me. He seemed fully content and unconcerned for himself. When I couldn’t find “him,” I was forced to ask myself, where is this “me” I’ve been pursuing? At twenty-one years old, after dropping out of school, leaving a new marriage, barely able to take care of myself, I felt a hint of something beyond myself.
Geshe Wangyal was unlike anyone I had ever met. As a teenage monk he had nearly died of typhoid in the hot Black Sea summer. His mother heard that the monks had given him up for dead, so she came to the monastery and spent three days sucking the pus and phlegm out of his throat and lungs to keep him from suffocating. When he awoke, the first thing he was told was that she had succumbed to the disease she saved him from and died on the very day he recovered. He was appalled when he observed that though he felt grief at the news, another current in his mind would not let him think of anything else except his overwhelming thirst after his ten-day fever. Noting this dreadful degree of selfishness, he resolved then and there to give his last ounce to freeing himself and others from such involuntarily selfish impulses. I had never encountered such unconditional compassion directly in my entire life.