Connecting People Through Goodwill and Friendship

General Buddhism in Brief

(Photo credit: https://bit.ly/2TIL1zV)

Introduction

 

The word Buddhism is the Western term for the teachings of the Buddha or the religion founded by the Buddha. Western scholars coined the term in early 19th century to refer to their newly discovered complex of religious practices centered on the image and memory of the figure called the Buddha, the Enlightened One. Early Buddhists, in fact, used such alternative terms as Dharma “doctrine” or Dharma Vinaya, “doctrine-disciplines”, to refer to this belief system. In Sanskrit sources, these often became the Buddha Dharma, the “doctrines of the Buddha.” The word Boudhism was introduced in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1801 and emerged as Buddhism in 1816.

Read more : Buddhism by country

Buddhism Explained: Religions in Global History

Buddhism in brief

A Day in a Buddhist Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

The First Buddhist Monks Ordination in South Africa

Buddhism In U.S. Grows While Shrinking Worldwide

Naima Mora – Buddhist in America

Everyman: Richard Gere’s Buddhism Part 1

Toronto Buddhist Church – Introductory Video

A Day in the Life of a Buddhist Monk – full of great self-isolation techniques

Reflections on Sharing Blessings and Requesting Forgiveness

What is Buddhism?

 

Understanding “Buddhism” and “The Buddha”

 

Buddhism” is the English term for the teachings of the Buddha (see hyperlink p. 4), or the religion founded by the Buddha, who was known – among a few variations – as Siddhattha (or Siddhartha) Gotama before he reached the final stage of enlightenment (Pali: bodhi), which allowed him to reach spiritual release (nibbana or nirvana). Western scholars coined the term “Buddhism” in the early-nineteenth century to refer to their discovery of a complex set of religious practices centered on the image and memory of a figure called “the Buddha.” The word “Buddhism” was introduced in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1816. [1]

 

In Thailand, Buddhism is known as “Buddha-sasana,” which translates as “the Buddhist religion.” Buddha-sasana is a Pali-derived term, which is also used in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka, where Buddhism is the dominant religion as well.

 

Earlier Buddhists had used alternative phrasings to describe Buddhism, such as “Dhamma or Dharma” or “Buddha Dharma” – both meaning “the doctrines of the Buddha” – or “Dhamma Vinaya” – meaning “doctrine-disciplines” – to refer to what is currently called “Buddhism.”

 

Buddhism is a religion of action and of effort, not a religion of supplication. The Buddha said as quoted in Buddhadhamma’s chapter 5: Kamma (see details pp. 310 – 428):

“All accumulated deeds, both good and bad, bear fruit. Actions marked as Kamma, even trifling ones, are not void of result.”

“Neither good or bad deeds are performed in vain.”

“The meritorious deeds one has done – that is one’s friend in the future.”

“Whatever sort of seed is sown, that is the sort of fruit one reaps: The doer of good reaps good; the doer of evil reaps evil.”

 

As for supplication, the Buddha said, “…And I say that these five things – long life, beauty, happiness, fame, and heaven – are not got by praying or wishing for them. If they were, who would lack them?… They should practice the way that leads to long life…. For by practicing that way they gain long life….”

Read more : You don’t get good things by praying for them, but by how you live.

What Did the Buddha Say About Prayer?

The word “Buddha” means “the Awakened One” or “the Enlightened One” (see hyperlink p. 22), and it is not a name. As a person, the Buddha lived more than 25 centuries ago as Siddhattha Gotama before he reached enlightenment. He was born in modern-day Nepal as a prince to a  royal family of the Sakyan Kingdom, of which the capital was Kapilavatthu (or Kapilavastu) (map credit: https://bit.ly/3epnAnL), located at the foot of the Himalayas. His father, who was the king ruling over the Sakyas, was Suddhodana. The queen, who was the prince’s mother, was Maya. He married princess Yasodhara or Bimbadevi or Gopa, his cousin of the same age, who bore him a son, Rahula [2] at the age of 29.

(Relief of Prince Siddhartha marrying Princess Yasodhara from https://bit.ly/2PSO9rf)

Read more : The Old Path White Clouds, chapter six – Beneath a Rose-Apple Tree – which is about the birth of Prince Siddhartha

 

Since childhood, Siddhattha was very compassionate. As a clever prince, he studied all subjects that a prince should learn in order to become a good ruler. In addition, he learned major scriptures in Brahmanism/Hinduism, which were taught at that time, such as the Four Vedas, the Six Vedangas, and the Upanishads.[3] He was particularly fascinated with the doctrines of samsara (rebirth or reincarnation), moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death), and Atman (self) in the Upanishads.

Read more : The Old Path White Clouds, chapter seven – White Elephant Prize, and chapter nine – The Path of Compassion, which are about the habit of young prince Siddhartha

 

Understanding the Buddha’s Quest for Truth

In Buddhism, unenlightened humans live in a state comparable to sleep or a dream. Through the clear light of wisdom, the Buddha awoke from that dream, arriving at the true nature of existence, which he compassionately wanted to share, in order to set others also on the path to awakening or enlightenment.

To understand Buddhism, one first has to understand a few prior concepts, as well as the story of how Siddhattha interacted with these concepts, mostly originally from Brahmanism/Hinduism.

The first concept is samsara. Samsara is the concept of rebirth, reincarnation, or transmigration of the soul in Brahmanism/Hinduism. According to this concept, the soul may occupy a range of bodies, from plants to animals and humans, though it always remains untouched, eternal, and pure.[4] (Reincarnation picture credit).

The second concept is moksha, meaning liberation or release from the cycle of birth and death. It implies union with the One Reality (Brahman), where individuality disappears.

The third concept is Atman (also sometimes known as Atma). It is a Sanskrit term for the self or soul, which is imperishable and eternal. In the Rig Veda, the term means “breath” or “vital essence.” (The concept of Atman is developed in the Upanishads.) The Atman is not the same as the body, the mind, or consciousness, but it is something beyond that permeates all these. In some passages of the Upanishads, the Atman is considered identical to Brahman, the underlying reality of the world, and thus there is only one Atman that permeates all beings.[5]

Wanting his son to be king, Siddhattha’s father tried to keep the prince’s mind attached to the world and satisfied with the enjoyment of the sensual pleasures; however, as predicted by a family sage, the prince’s mind was more preoccupied with a desire to solve the problem of samsara: How can one liberate oneself from the circle of birth or rebirth, which involves death again and again, and how can one help other people to be free from samsara?

Enthusiastically, at the age of 29, Siddhattha asked for his wife’s and father’s permission to leave his family and the palace. He told his wife, “…though I will be gone, though I will be far away from you, my love for you will remain the same. I will never stop loving you… And when I have found the Way – the answer to his question -, I will return to you and to our child.”[6] He also promised his father, “I will never abandon you. I am only asking you to let me go away for a time. When I have found the Way, I will return.”[7] (The word Way” used above – meaning path, road, or step – is a translation of the Pali word “Magga”. It signifies a particular way leading to a particular goal, such as salvation, bliss, knowledge, or pleasure. The term is also used as an equivalence of “method,” or a means for reaching certain ends, generally in consonance with Dhamma.

Siddhattha then left his family and became a wandering religious mendicant (Pali: paribbajaka) in order to find the Way. After six years of studies, including an experiment in the forest inspired by Brahmani ascetism – which he had hypothesized was key – Siddhattha realized that asceticism was also not the answer. He gave up ascetic practices, intending for a rational, simple life of moderation instead.

Read more:    The Old Path White Clouds, Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha’s Chapter twelve – Kanthaka, which is about the conversation between prince Siddhartha and his wife and his father before his departure, Chapter thirteen – Beginning Spiritual Practice, and Chapter fifteen – Forest Ascetic

(Posted by

The Pipal (or peepal, or pippala) tree would later become known as Bodhi Tree by virtue of the Buddha’s enlightenment. The tree is traditionally hailed in Indian subcontinent as the tree of life, for it generously yields products beneficial to health and beauty.[8]

On the night of the full moon in the month of May, forty-five years before the Buddhist Era, Siddhattha, sitting under a peepal tree underwent great progress in his search, and an omniscient illumination came over him. In that night, under the tree, he achieved enlightenment, finally understanding the origins of the suffering and reincarnation. He said, as quoted in Dr. Hermann Oldenberg’s Buddha; his Life, his Doctrine, his Order {(translated from the German by William Hoey (see hyperlink p. 107)}, “When I apprehended this, and when I beheld this, my soul was released from the evil of desire, released from the evil of earthly existence, released from the evil of error, released from the evil of ignorance. In the released awoke the knowledge of release: extinct is re-birth, finished the sacred course, duty done, no more shall I return to this world; this I knew.”

(Photo from Mahabodhivihara)

The Bodhi Tree received its new name for the meaning of “bodhi” – knowledge, wisdom, enlightenment. Where it is, in present-day Gaya District, Bihar State, India, later became known as Buddha Gaya, now also spelled Bodh Gaya or Bodhgaya.

Now enlightened and known as “the Buddha” at the age of 35, the Buddha went from Gaya to modern-day Sarnath, near Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India, where he preached his first sermon. Then, a year later, the Buddha returned to his hometown, Kapilavatthu, to see his family as he had promised.

Read more:    The Old Path White Clouds…, chapter seventeen – Pippala Leaf, and chapter eighteen – The Morning Star Has Arisen

Little Buddha – Enlightenment

Awakening Siddharta – PBS

What is enlightenment according to Buddha? (WOB #10)

Bodhi Gaya- The Sacred Land of Buddhahood

Maha Bodhi Temple/Dorjeden/Bodhgaya Bihar. 2020

A stupa in Bodh Gaya was built to mark the place of the Buddha’s enlightenment in Bihar, India. This holy place is called Mahabodhi Temple, or Temple of the Great Enlightenment, or Mahabodhi Mahavihara, or Monastery of the Great Enlightenment, in today’s discourse.

(Photo credit: a Thai Buddhist monk in India)

5a10f98189c51c0655a6fb59d9dc4636_350__2

(Picture credit of the Buddha’s first visit to Kapilavatthu: https://bit.ly/30GwIMM)

For the next forty-five years of his life, from the ages of 35 to 80, the Buddha would travel from place to place to teach all who would listen. He organized his followers, who similarly renounced the material world, to form the Sangha.

Read more : The Old Path White Clouds…, chapters twenty-one – The Lotus Pond, and leaf, and twenty-two – Turning the Wheel of Dharma

Read more : Buddha’s first sermon, Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta: Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion

 

At the age of 80, however, the Buddha fell ill while on his way to Kusinara (modern-day Kushinagar), capital of the ancient Malla State.

 

A. Payutto (Somdej Phra Buddhaghosacariya), a revered monk, writes in the book Thai Buddhism in the Buddhist World, (see hyperlink p. 6), “In his deathbed under two Sal trees in the Sal Grove of the Mallas, he told his disciples that they would not be left without the Teacher: ‘The Doctrine and Discipline I have taught you, that shall be your teacher, when I am gone… Behold now, monks, I exhort you. Subject to decay are all component things. Work out your salvation with diligence.’”

(Nirvana picture credit: https://bit.ly/3es4fCk)

(Picture credit of the Buddha’s first visit to Kapilavatthu: https://bit.ly/30GwIMM)

A stupa was built to mark the place of the Buddha’s passing away (Pali: Maha-parinibbana, which means the Great Demise) at Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh State (Photo credit: a Thai Buddhist monk in India)

Read more : Maha-parinibbana Sutta: Last Days of the Buddha.

Read more : The Buddha, His Life and Teaching

Read more : The Life of Buddha, as Legend and History.

3

(Photo credit: a Thai Buddhist monk in India)

(On the Path of the Buddha: Buddhist Pilgrimage in North India and Nepal)

Understanding Dhamma, or Dharma

 

The Buddha’s teachings are known as Dhamma in Pali or Dharma in Sanskrit. Since the Dhamma is taught by the Buddha, it is known as Buddha-Dhamma or Buddhadhamma. It includes many beliefs that were popular in 5th century BCE India, and the Buddha’s own discoveries. For example, the Buddha acknowledged the Bharmanical-Hindu pantheon of gods, devas and other supernatural entities. He confirmed the belief in Samsara, or reincarnation, or rebirth saying that upon his enlightenment, he remembered his many previous lives. As for his own’s discoveries, apart from rejecting the concept of Atman, saying that in absolute truth (Pali: Paramattha-sacca) there is no self, or soul (Pali: anatta), he taught the Four Noble Truths, which is about the nature of reality, the Noble Eightfold Path, which can lead to self-transformation and enlightenment, the Dependent Origination (Pali: pathiccasamuppada), and Nibbana.

The Buddha used many different methods when teaching Dhamma, so that everyone may benefit. His teachings contain many layers, separable into those aimed for householders and members of mainstream society, and those aimed for individuals who have relinquished domestic life. There are teachings focused on material benefits and others focused on deeper spiritual benefits. The Buddha said that his teachings are something to be experienced, not unquestioningly believed, especially anatta, the Dependent Origination, and nibbana. This idea has been explained in various iterations, including:

 

“This doctrine is profound, hard to see, difficult to understand, calm,

sublime, not within the sphere of logic, subtle, to be understood by the wise.”

“Well expounded is the Dharma by the Blessed One, to be self-realized,

with immediate fruit, inviting investigation, leading onwards, to be comprehended by the wise, each by himself.”

“You yourselves must make the effort. The Buddha only points out the

Way.”

“Seeing one’s own good, let him work it out with diligence. Seeing the good

of others, let him work it out with diligence. Seeing the good of both, let him work it out with diligence.”

Read more : Rebirth in the book Buddhadhamma, pp. 365-367 Karma and Rebirth

Discovering Buddhism series

The boy proved that he was a pilot 80 years ago. Nobody believed him, but the story was confirmed

Children’s Past Lives (Reincarnation Documentary) | Real Stories

The Buddha’s teachings are preserved in scriptures called Tipitaka in Pali or Tripitaka in Sanskrit. The Tipitaka contains three parts or “baskets” of teachings: Vinaya Pitaka (“The Basket of Discipline”), Sutta Pitaka (“The Basket of Discourse”), and Abhidharma Pitaka (“The Basket of Analytic Doctrine”).[9] Vinaya is the set of rules and regulations for monastic life, which range from dress code and dietary rules to rules against certain personal conducts. Suttas, also commonly known as Sutras in Sanskrit, are the doctrinal teachings in aphoristic or narrative format. (All of the Buddha’s sermons were rehearsed orally during the meeting of the First Buddhist council just three months after the Buddha’s death. The Buddha’s teachings continued to be transmitted orally until they were written down in books in modern-day Sri Lanka in the first century BCE.) Abhidhamma is the philosophical and psychological analysis and interpretation of Buddhist doctrine.

The Tipitaka is preserved in different forms, as shown in the images below :

(Photo credit: https://bit.ly/3qK7ibE)

(Photo credit: https://bit.ly/3lgBNVA)

(Photo credit: https://bit.ly/3bK32EJ)

(Photo credit: the author)

Two months after his enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, the Buddha talked for the first time about his discovery of the Way. This sermon is recorded in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (translated as “The Discourse on Setting in Motion the Wheel of Dhamma”) to five former spiritual companions at modern-day Sarnath, India. Some basic teachings are contained in the statements known as the Four Noble Truths, sometimes known as the Middle Way. These, too, should be understood in detail to understand the Buddha’s teachings.

(The ancient stupa, on the left, with Thai pilgrims, was erected to mark the place of the Buddha’s first sermon. Photo credit: a Thai Buddhist monk in India)

First, there is the Noble Truth of Suffering (Pali: dukkha), which dictates that all the problems of life—from birth to death, including sorrows, illnesses, and frustrations of every kind—are things that people try to avoid; however, like everything else, these problems are transient and lacking in an underlying enduring substance. They can cause sorrow and frustration to anyone who clings onto them. Those who want to avoid and be free from suffering must approach life with the right attitude, knowledge, and wisdom, seeing things as they are.

Second, there is the Noble Truth of the Origin of Sufferings (Pali: dukkha-samudaya), which teaches that suffering arises through various causes and conditions, all tied together as cravings or selfish desires rooted in ignorance. Not recognizing things as they are, people crave for and slavishly cling to sensual pleasures, existence, and even self-annihilation. Through these, they perform various evil actions with the body, speech, and mind, resulting in their own suffering and the suffering of others, prompting a vicious cycle, if unstopped.

Third, there is the Noble Truth of the Extinction of Suffering (Pali: dukkha-nirodha), which teaches that when ignorance is completely destroyed or selfish desire is eradicated and replaced by the right attitude of love and wisdom, nirvana will be realized. Even for those who have not completely destroyed ignorance and craving, they can still make progress towards less suffering when they lessen their desires. The more their life is guided by love, wisdom, knowledge and compassion, the more their life will be happy, for themselves and those surrounding them.

Lastly, there is the Noble Truth of the Path Leading to the Extinction of Suffering (Pali: Dukkha-nirodhagamini patipada). This Truth defines the Buddhist way of life and provides the way to attain the goal of the Third Truth. This way is called the Noble Eightfold Path, as it consists of eight factors, namely: The Right View (Pali: sammaditthi), The Right Thought (Pali: sammasankappa), The Right Speech (Pali: sammavaca), The Right Action (Pali: sammakammanta), The Right Livelihood (Pali: samma-ajiva), The Right Effort (Pali: sammavayama), The Right Mindfulness (Pali: sammasati), and The Right Concentration (Pali: sammasamadhi). These essentially correspond to three fundamental principles: to not to do evil, to cultivate a good conscience, and to purify the mind. Those who follow the Four Noble Truths (Pali: ariyasacca) avoid the two extremes of sensual indulgence and self-annihilation, living a balanced life in which material welfare and spiritual well-being complement each other.

 

Understanding the Buddha as a “Physician”

 

Some have compared the method of the Buddha to that of a physician, as he made a “diagnosis” of the disease (suffering), understood its cause, predicted its outcome, and prescribed its cure. It is for this reason that the Buddha called himself a physician. He has also been compared to a surgeon who can remove the arrow of sorrow.

As medicine deals with diseases and cures, the Buddha’s teaching deals with suffering and the end of suffering. And as the process of medical treatment includes the prevention of disease by promoting and maintaining good health, the Buddhist process includes the promotion of mental help to guide one towards bliss or even reach enlightenment.

Read more : The Basic Teachings of Buddhism, pp. 7-12

Read more : Unit 2: Basic Teachings of the Buddha in Following the Buddha’s Footsteps

 

Understanding Audience-Specific Teachings

 

In the forty-five years during which he would teach the ideas of Buddhism, the Buddha talked to people from all walks of life, be it youth, adults, the old, people on a deathbed, an emperor, a king, a governor, a government official, ordinary people, the untouchables, men, women, the rich, the poor, farmers, soldiers, law enforcers, law breakers, monks, or even his religious rivals. In the Buddhist lens, all humans are equal.

Although it has now been more than 2550 years since the death of the Buddha, his teachings remain our teacher as he himself had intended for them to be. Each teaching should be studied in its own light and spirit, as some teachings are intended for monks, others for lay devotees, and some for both.

For example, the Buddha preached his first and second sermons to ascetics, who were his old spiritual companions seeking enlightenment. These five companions were striding on the traditional paths to liberation that is on sensual happiness and self-torture. As aforementioned, the Buddha had tried extreme paths and found that they were not the correct ways to enlightenment. With them, he shared the Middle Way (Pali: Majjhimapatipada), which he had just discovered under the Bodhi Tree.

Read more : Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (The Setting in Motion of the Wheel of the Dharma Sutta or Promulgation of the Law Sutta)

Read more : Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta, translated from the Pali: by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Read more : Middle Way

Read more : The Buddhist Concept of Impermanence

Read more : Dependent Origination

Read more : The Four Noble Truths

Impermanence – Everything Will be Alright

Dependent Origination

Dependent Origination

What is the Middle Way in Early Buddhism?

The Middle Way | Ajahn Brahm | 11-06-2010

Thich Nhat Hanh on Impermanence 2004 EngStFr

The Four Noble Truths | Thich Nhat Hanh (short teaching video)

The Buddha’s second sermon, Anattalakkhana Sutta (The Discourse on the Characteristic of No-Self) is for monks to follow. The Buddha preached this sutta to the same group of five ascetics who only a few days earlier were listening to his first sermon. In this discourse, the Buddha said that he had searched but could find no evidence for the existence of an eternal soul or a creator god. He conceived of the world and all of its elements as made up of components or qualities. He believed that humans are merely composed of five groups of components known as khandhas, which are: corporeality (Pali: Rupa-khandha); feeling (Pali: Vedana-khandha); perception (Pali: Sanna-khandha); mental formations or volitional activities (Pali: Sankhara-khandha), and consciousness (Pali: Vinnana-khandha). He refuted the earlier concept of Atman by analyzing the khandhas, demonstrating that they are each impermanent (Pali: anicca), subject to suffering (Pali: dukkha) and thus unfit for identification with a “self” (Pali: atta or Sanskrit: atman). In short, there is no self (atta, or atman). The Buddha said:

 

Bhikkhus, form is not-self. Were form self, then this form would not lead to

affliction, and one could have it of form: ‘Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.’ And since form is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of form: ‘Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.’

 

Bhikkhus, feeling is not-self…

Bhikkhus, perception is not-self…

Bhikkhus, determinations are not-self…

Bhikkhus, consciousness is not self. Were consciousness self, then this

 

consciousness would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of consciousness: ‘Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.’ And since consciousness is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of consciousness: ‘Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.’…

 

For nuns and monks, too, the Buddha had specific teachings, such as the following:

“A monk should guard all the doors of the senses, for only by guarding the

doors of the senses can he obtain release from all suffering.” 

“It is good to be disciplined in body. It is good to be disciplined in words. It is

good to be disciplined in mind. The monk who is disciplined in all these areas will achieve freedom from all suffering.” 

“Surrounded by craving, the masses tremble like a hare caught in a trap.

Therefore, a monk desiring to attain detachment – nirvana – should shun craving.”

“Do not indulge in heedlessness. Avoid craving for sensual pleasures,

whatever their nature. The mindful person is tranquil in mind. He will attain great bliss.”

“Practice of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment (Pali: Bojjhanga) and non-

attachment (Pali: Anupadana) ensures nirvana.”

Read more : Anattalakkhana Sutta

Read more : Anatta-lakkhana Sutta: The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic, translated from the Pali

Anattalakkhana Sutta: on Not-self

Samyutta Nikaya 22:59 Anatta-lakkhana Sutta

Discourse on the Characteristics of Non Self Anattalakkhana Sutta SN22 59 by Dr Ng Yuen – 20200412

The Buddha also taught laymen lessons. For example, he taught a young householder, Sigala, as recorded in Sigalovada Sutta, the fourteen evils that a layman should avoid. The fuller story goes: One day, after a morning bath, Sigala was worshiping the Six Directions or Quarters (Pali: Disa) – east, south, west, north, below, and above – as his father had told him to do before the latter’s death. While Sigala was performing his worship, the Buddha approached Sigala and talked in length with him on how to rightly worship the six quarters. That is: they are not merely directions, but the true “six quarters” in life should be parents, teachers, spouses, friends and colleagues, monks, and servants. He elaborated on how to respect and support them, and how in turn the Six Directions will return the kindness and support. Moreover, he explains that a layman should not take life, steal, engage in sexual misconduct, or lie. Laymen should avoid the four causes of evil actions: sensual desires, hate, ignorance, and fear. And as householders, in particular, they should avoid the six ways of squandering wealth: indulging in intoxicants, wandering questionable streets, frequenting public spectacles, gambling, befriending questionable people, and idling. The Buddha then elaborated on the importance of having and being a true friend, as he described what true friends are and what true friends are not, and how true friends are crucial in attaining a blissful life.

Read more : Sigalovada in Pictures

Read more : Dighajanu Sutta (Buddhist lay ethics)

Sigalovada Sutta DN31 (Part One) | Sylvia Bay

Sigalovada Sutta DN31 (Part Two) | Sylvia

There are many discourses which are meant for monks, nuns, and followers regardless of gender, such as the Mangala Sutta. Mangala, a Pali term, can be translated as ‘blessings,’ ‘good omen’, ‘auspice,’ ‘good fortune’, and ‘greatest happiness’. Specifically, the Buddha describes blessings that are personal pursuits or attainments, from mundane to spiritual. He specifies that there are 38 highest blessings in life. A person at a particular stage in life has a ‘highest blessing’ appropriate for his or her own individual stage of development. As a person’s situation evolves, what would be the ‘highest blessing’ changes. Working towards further ‘highest blessings’ increases progress along the path towards enlightenment. The 38 blessings are written in stanzas as follows:

 

“Not to be associated with the foolish ones,

to live in the company of wise people,

honoring those who are worth honoring.

“To live in a good environment,

to have planted good seeds,

and to realize that one is on the right path.

“To have a chance to learn and grow,

to be skillful in one’s profession or craft,

practicing the precepts and loving speech.

“To be able to serve and support one’s parents,

to cherish one’s own family,

to have a vocation that brings one joy.

“To live honestly, generous in giving,

to offer support to relatives and friends,

living a life of blameless conduct.

“To avoid unwholesome actions,

not caught by alcoholism or drugs,

and to be diligent in doing good things.

“To be humble and polite in manner,

to be grateful and content with a simple life,

not missing the occasion to learn the Dhamma.

“To persevere and be open to change,

to have regular contact with monks and nuns,

and to fully participate in Dhamma discussions.

“To live diligently and attentively,

to perceive the Noble Truths,

and to realize Nibbana.

“To live in the world

with one’s heart undisturbed by the world,

with all sorrows ended, dwelling in peace.

“For one who accomplishes this,

unvanquished wherever one goes,

always one is safe and happy.”

Read more : Mangala Sutta: Blessings, translated from the Pali: by Narada Thera

Maha Mangala Sutta l Pali: and English

Mangala Sutta Kp5, Discourse on Blessing

Maha Mangala Sutta in Pali: narrated in English

The Dhammapada – full AudioBook | Buddhism – Teachings of The Buddha

100+ Most Famous Buddha Quotes on Life

Buddhism’s Two Main Lineages: Theravada and Mahayana

 

For more than 2,000 years, there have been two main lineages in the Buddhist world: Theravada and Mahayana. Theravada literally means “teaching of the Elders,” and Mahayana “the Great Vehicle”. Theravada was the original Buddhist lineage, while the Mahayana began sometime around 200 B.C.E., likely in northern India and Kashmir.[11] There is no hostility between the two groups.[10] Each sect mainly flourishes peacefully in different parts of the world. Theravada Buddhism now flourishes in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, while Mahayana Buddhism does so in China, Northern India, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, and Vietnam. Nevertheless, in some countries, both Theravada and Mahayana co-exist peacefully, as in Malaysia and Singapore.

Read more : The Birth and Spread of Buddhism

Read more : The Spread of Buddhism

(Photo credit for the spread of Buddhism: https://bit.ly/3g33HlD)

The Spread of Buddhism

The Spread of Buddhism (500 BCE – 1200)

Ashoka’s Influence on the Spread of Buddhism

Thai Theravada Buddhist monks

Theravada Buddhists strive to be arahants, or arhats. Arahants are perfected people who have gained true insight into the nature of reality. This means they have followed the Noble Eightfold Path to extinguish the three fires of greed (Pali: lobha), hatred (Pali: dosa), and ignorance (Pali: moha). They are enlightened. Consequently, they will no longer be reborn in the cycle of samsara.

Read more : Theravada Buddhism in a Nutshell

Read more : Theravada Buddhism Information – History and philosophy

Read more : History of Theravada Buddhism in South-East Asia with special reference to India and Ceylon

Read more : Without and Within, Questions and Answers on the teachings of Theravada Buddhism

a02dc3d8c988509407894dff110cd408

(Photo credit: https://bit.ly/3rBdWCl)

History of Theravada Buddhism: Very Old and Very New

Japanese Buddhist Mahayana monks

Mahayana Buddhists also believe they can achieve enlightenment through following the teachings of the Buddha. The goal of a Mahayana Buddhist may be to become a Bodhisattva—a status achieved through the Six Perfections (Pali: paramitas) which are virtues to be cultivated. Compassion is very important in Mahayana Buddhism, making many Bodhisattvas choose to stay in the cycle of samsara in order to help others on their own path to enlightenment.

(Photo credit: https://bit.ly/2O8lgH6)

Tibetan Vajrayana Mahayana Buddhist Monks

One Mahayana group which developed by the sixth century in India is known as Vajrayana (meaning Thunderbolt Vehicle or Diamond Vehicle) or Mantrayana (meaning Mantra Vehicle). Its doctrines are close to those of the traditional Mahayana, and it uses many of the Mahayana’s texts, though many of its practices have been developed differently. For instance, one of its practices includes meditative repetitions of sacred words of powers (mantra), as well as visualization practices. It is characterized by the use of texts known as Tantras, a complex system of rituals, symbolism, and meditation.

Read more : Mahayana Buddhism

Read more : Mahayana (Great Vehicle)

Read more : Vajrayana

History of Mahayana Buddhism: Innovation and Perfection

History of Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism: Power and Transgression

Discovering Buddhism series

Despite the apparent differences between Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, the two lineages actually have a lot in common. Dr. W. Rahula for one writes, “I have studied Mahayana for many years, and the more I study it, the more I find there is hardly any difference between Theravada and Mahayana with regard to the fundamental teachings. Both accept the Buddha as the Teacher. The Four Noble Truths are exactly the same in both schools. The Eightfold Path is exactly the same in both schools. The Dependent Origination (Pali: Paticca-samuppada) is the same in both schools. Both rejected the idea of a supreme being who created and governed this world. Both accept anicca (impermanence, transiency), dukkha (the state of being subject to suffering), anatta (not-self), sila (morality), samadhi (concentration, meditation), panya (wisdom), without any difference. These are the most important teachings of the Buddha, and they are all accepted by both schools without question.”

Read more : The Buddhist Schools: Theravada & Mahayana

Read more : Define the terms Theravada and Mahayana and appraise how they relate to each other

Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism

The difference between Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism (GDD-0204, Master Sheng Yen)

Differences & Similarities of Mahayana and Theravada (2005/07/29) Ven Fa Shu

1. A Thai Theravada renowned scholar monk (Pali: Bhikkhu). He is the author of the book

Buddhadhamma: The Laws of Nature and Their Benefits to Life, and many other books. His works were important references for this article.

Read more : Buddhist Monastic Community: The Daily Life of a Thai Monk 

Read more : A Monk’s Life: a Day in the Life of Buddhist Monks in Myanmar

Buddhist monks! Who Are They and What Do They Do? (Life of a Buddhist Monk Documentary

A Monk’s Life

Ajahn Sona 20 Years as a Monk

Why I am a Buddhist Monk | Ajahn Brahmali | 7 December 2018

2. Master Cheng Yen, a renowned nun of Taiwanese Mahayana (Pali: Bhikkhuni)

(Photo credit: https://bit.ly/38BtNco)

Why I became a nun | Ven Munissara | BCWA Interview

Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron – Full Ordination for Tibetan Buddhist Nuns

Thai Buddhist Nun Ordination in Sri Lanka

My Path to Becoming a Buddhist | Emma Slade | TEDxSevenoaksSchool

Buddhist Nuns of the Lotus Monastery | Full Episode | TRACKS

3. Male lay devotees (Pali: Upasaka) (Richard Gere performing a Buddhist Puja at Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhgaya, Bihar, India, 2020. (Photo credit: https://bit.ly/3t9jPa9)

(Photo credit: https://bit.ly/3t9jPa9)

Richard Gere’s Buddhism

4. Female lay devotees (Pali: Upasika) A Buddhist Thai princess lay devotee performing a Buddhist ceremony

An Overview of Buddhism in Thailand

 

Buddhism is practically the state religion of Thailand (see hyperlink p. 14). Under the constitution, the king must be a Buddhist, even though he is the upholder of all five religions recognized by Thai law – Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Brahmanism-Hinduism, and Sikhism. In 2019, there were 41,310 Buddhist temples with over 250,000 resident monks across Thailand.

 

According to the 2015 national census, out of the total Thai population of 67,228,562, 63,620,298 (94.50%) are Buddhists, 2,892,311 (4.29%) Muslims, 687,589 (1.17%) Christians, 22,110 Hindus (0.03), and 716 (0.001%) Sikhs. The rest are Confucian, believers of other religions, atheists, or agnostics.

 

In Thailand, Buddhism has influenced society for a long time. Many believe that has contributed to Thai people being generally known as kind, compassionate, tolerant, and accommodating. Daily life for most Thai people is inseparably connected with Buddhism from birth to death. For example, on having a newborn child, Thai Buddhist parents usually approach a respected monk to ask for an auspicious name. From their youngest days, people are also taught to pray and pay homage to “the Triple Gems” – the Buddha, dhamma, and the Sangha.

Read more : What is Buddhism?

Read more : The Meaning of Buddhism

What Is Buddhism? A Brief Overview

What is Buddhism? What do Buddhists believe?

Welcome to Bangkok, Thailand | DW Documentary

Eastern philosophy – The Buddha

Legend of Buddha (English) – Kids Animated Movies – HD

Although Thais practice both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, most are Theravada Buddhists. The Theravada lineage is then locally split into two sub-lineages: Maha Nikaya (Bigger Order) and Dhammayuttika Nikaya (Orthodox Order). The Mahayana lineage is also split into subsects. One subsect is a Chinese Mahayana called Chin Nikaya, which is practiced among Thai people of Chinese origin. The other is a Vietnamese Mahayana called Anam Nikaya, which is practiced among Thai people of Vietnamese origin.

Buddhism in Thailand

Origins of Theravada Buddhism in Thailand   

 

          In the first year of the Buddha’s teaching ministry, the Buddha summoned 60 members of the Sangha (community) and said, “Bhikkhus, please listen. You are totally free, not bound by anything. You understand the Path of Liberation now. Proceed with confidence and you will make great strides. You can leave Isipatana [modern-day Sarnath, India] whenever you like. Walk as free persons and share the Way with others. Please sow the seeds of liberation and enlightenment to bring peace and joy to others. Teach the path of liberation, which is beautiful from beginning to end, in form and content. Countless others will benefit from your work of spreading Dhamma. As for me, I will leave soon. I plan to head east. I want to visit the Bodhi Tree. Afterwards I will go to visit a special friend in Rajagaha [modern-day Rajgir, Bihar).” Following these words, the missionaries would set off to various places in the Indian subcontinent and beyond.

 

The region that is present-day Thailand has had a relationship with Buddhism for more than two thousand years. In olden days, this region was known as Suvarnabhumi, meaning “Golden land.” One of the nine missions sent by King Asoka of India to spread Buddhism came to Suvarnabhumi. Present-day Nakorn Pathom was the capital of Suvarnabhumi and became an active center for the propagation of Buddhism. A great stupa has been erected there to memorialize the location’s importance.

Read more : Thai Buddhism in the Buddhist World, pp. 24-29

(A photo of Phra Pathom Chedi (stupa, left) at Nakorn Pathom in central Thailand. It was the first stupa in the Golden Peninsula and is the world’s tallest Buddhist monument (127 m.), with the origin traceable to King Asoka’s reign (3rd century B.C.E.). The term Phra Pathom Chedi means “the first pagoda built in Thailand”. (source: https://bit.ly/3bBVDqZ)

This map shows the spread of Buddhism to many parts of India as well as to many countries in Asia from 400 B.C. – 600 A.D.

The Kingdom of Sukhothai (1238–1438 A.D.) is regarded by some scholars as the first united kingdom of the Thai people. All kings of Sukhothai were Buddhists and supporters of Theravada Buddhism.

12

The Kingdom of Ayutthaya (1350–1767) succeeded the Kingdom of Sukhothai. All kings of this kingdom were also great patrons of Theravada Buddhism.

After the Ayutthaya Kingdom, Taksin the Great of the Thonburi Kingdom (1767-1782) became another great supporter of Thai Theravada Buddhism.

(Photo credit of Taksin the Great: https://bit.ly/2N5prmj)

All ten kings of the Chakri dynasty, the dynasty that has reigned over modern Thailand, have been Buddhists and patrons of Thai Theravada Buddhism. King Vajiralongkorn (Rama X) proclaimed during his coronation ceremony that he would protect Buddhism during his reign.

Read more : Thailand Crowns New King in Elaborate Buddhist and Brahmin Rituals

Read more : Coronation of the Thai monarch, 5.7 Defender of the Buddhist religion

Read more : Thai Buddhism in the Buddhist World, pp. 14-16

How did Buddhism spread to Thailand?

Becoming a Monk in Thailand for 24 Hours

I Was a Buddhist Monk

Life of a Foreign Monk in Thailand (The Transformation into a Buddhist Monk)

Two Sub-Lineages of Thai Theravada Buddhism: Maha Nikaya and Dhammayuttika Nikaya

 

Maha Nikaya (Great Order) is one of the two principal monastic sub-lineages of modern Thai Buddhism. The other is Dhammayuttika Nikaya (Orthodox Order), which began in 1833 as a reform movement led by Prince Mongkut, son of King Rama II. The Maha Nikaya is larger in terms of monk population, making up over 90% of the Buddhist monks in the country.

(Picture of a senior monk in Mahanikaya branch, credit: https://bit.ly/3g0ARlR)

Dhammayuttika Nikaya was born after Prince Mongkut entered monastic life in 1824 at the age of 20, when he saw discrepancies between the practices of Thai monks and the rules given in the Pali Canon – differences that he thought needed to be rectified. In 1836, Mongkut became the first abbot of Wat Bowonniwet Vihara and reformed Thai Buddhism to become more orthodox. His efforts during his twenty-seven years of monkhood included the removal of all non-Buddhist folk religions and superstitious elements, which had become core parts of Thai Buddhism by the time. Dhammayuttika Nikaya remained a reform movement until 1902, with the passage of the Sangha Act, which formally recognized it as one of the Thai Theravada subsects.

untitled-06762-2000x1333

(Picture of Bowonniwet Vihara Temple, photo credit: https://bit.ly/3wJMKn1)

Ordination in Thai Dhammayut tradition 10/11/2019 (English subtitle)

Overlooking the two subsects is The Supreme Patriarch of Thailand.

(In the picture: the present Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, who is also from Dhammayuttika Nikaya, credit: https://bit.ly/3i4srMZ)

Leader of Anam Nikaya Mahayana Sect of Thailand.

(photo credit: https://www.anamnikayathai.com/)

Influences of Theravada Buddhism in Present-Day Thailand

 

Buddhism has influenced many aspects of Thai life and culture. Thai lifestyles, traditions, mannerisms, arts, architecture, and language are among the myriad of aspects influenced by Buddhism. Buddhism has inspired Thai literature and many Thai art forms, especially mural paintings, which cover the interior walls of most temples. On the linguistic level, Pali and Sanskrit, which are used in Buddhist chants and are necessary components to study Buddhism, are recognized in Thailand as classical languages. A large number of Thai words, especially those used in language towards royalty and written language are derived from Pali and Sanskrit. Furthermore, senior members of the Sangha bless in Pali most state and public ceremonies, as well as household and family ceremonies, such as housewarmings, birthday celebrations, weddings, funeral rites, and memorial services. In the home, many Thais keep images of the Buddha of various sizes on small altar-tables, for home-based worship as shown in the picture on the left.

When travelling, many Thai people also wear a chain of small Buddha images around their necks and/or place a small Buddha statue or a highly respected monks’ image (as shown in the two pictures on the left taken by the author) in their cars as objects of veneration and recollection, or as amulets for adornment and protection. When passing sacred places such as the Royal Chapel of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phrakaeo, on the left, credit: https://bit.ly/3c95lkv) in Bangkok, devout Buddhists never fail to pay respect with a wai – a unique gesture of paying respect – at the very least. And certainly, multiple times a year, festivals are held at temples and monasteries.

Read more : Arrangement of Buddha’s statues in a house (in Thai).

(as shown in the two pictures on the left taken by the author)

(Wat Phrakaeo, on the left, credit: https://bit.ly/3c95lkv)

Thai Mural Paintings & Wat Phra Kew – Thailand

Travel to the Arts of Thailand — The Painter of Sakorn

The Experiment in Thailand: Buddhist Traditions & Thai Culture

Thai Buddhist Culture (The Middle Way Meditation Institute)

Roots of secular Buddhism: Thailand

Gleaming with Buddhism 10 Lighting incense

Tourists dampen traditional Thai Buddhist celebrations

Buddhist culture: Philosophy pivotal to Thailand’s resilience

There are a few public holidays in accordance with important days for Buddhists. At present, four Buddhist holy days are recognized by the government as national holidays, namely:

 

1. Magha Puja Day: a day that commemorates the spontaneous gathering of 1,250 monks who had come to pay respect to the Buddha, who then gave his important sermon that taught “performing no evil,” “doing what is good,” and “purifying one’s mind (Pali: citta).”
Read More : Magapuja Day
Read More : How to Celebrate Magha Puja Day in Thailand 
Read More : Finding peace in northern Thailand

Magha Puja: A Buddhist Day

Magha Puja – Holidays Around the World (Buddhism)

Magha Puja Day_SSRU_EnglishMajor’55

2. Visakha Puja Day: a day to commemorate the birth, the enlightenment, and the death of the Buddha.

Read More : The Relevance of Visaka Bucha Day to Thailand People
Read More : Vishakha Puja Day (Visak)

Visakha Puja Day

Visakha Puja Day, An Important Day for the World

Vesak Day | Short Documentary

UN Vesak 2018 Speech Bhante Gunaratana – May 01 in New York

The Visakha Puja Day

Learn Thai Holidays – Visakha Bucha Day – วันวิสาขบูชา

Visakha Bucha Day 2018 วันวิสาขบูชา 2018

Euronews Life – Thailand’s spiritual soul

3. Asalha Puja Day: a day to commemorate the discovery of the Path to Enlightenment in the Buddha’s first sermon.

Read More : ASALHA PUJA DAY
Read More : Happy Asalha Puja Day!

Asalha Puja

Asalha Puja Day (The Lord Buddha’s first sermon to the 5 ascetics)

Faith Time: Festival of Asalha Puja

4. Khao Pansa Day: the first day of the annual Buddhist Lent.

Read More : Khao Phansa festivals across Thailand

Buddhist Lent Day “Khao Pansa”

Thailand: Colourful river festival marks the beginning of Buddhist Lent

History of Buddhist Rains Retreat

Occasionally, Thai Buddhists may also go on a pilgrimage to their most preferred shrines, sometimes located in remote places. Monastery buildings, such as the Uposatha Hall which serves as the main repository of Buddha images, are usually the most beautiful and ornate buildings in countryside villages. The Uposatha Hall is where ordination ceremonies are typically held, and are thus an important site for male Buddhists, who observe a tradition of becoming a monk for a certain period of time upon reaching adulthood.

Read more : Why do Buddhist Men Become Monks Before Marriage?

(Uposatha Hall of Rongkhun Temple in Chiang Rai Province, in northern Thailand, photo credit: https://bit.ly/3wrIWXu)

Buddhist Monks! Who Are They and What Do They Do? (Life of a Buddhist Monk Documentary)

Monk & Novice Ordination Ceremony in the Northeastern of Thailand | Tradition | Documentary

The Daily Life of a Monk Documentary (Routine of a Buddhist Monk in Thailand)

However, what is most important to us in this article is to know that meditation, especially Mindfulness Meditation, has a paramount role in the Thai life. It is the tool that the Buddha used to achieve enlightenment, and many Thais nowadays use the method to improve their own mental and physical health.

Meditation in Thailand

 

All Buddhist lineages agree that the truths of Buddhism were discovered by the Buddha in the course of his meditations, particularly underneath the Bodhi Tree at Gaya. Meditation (see hyperlink pp. 1359 – 1450 for more details) has a crucial role in the lives of Thai Buddhists. They use meditation to seek happiness ranging from simple happiness on a mundane level (Pali: lokiya-sukha) up to supreme happiness (Pali: parama-sukha) on a transcendent level (Pali: lokuttara-sukha), which includes the Deathless (Pali: amata-dhamma), an absolute, unconditioned dimension of the mind free of inconstancy or impermanence (Pali: anicca), suffering (Pali: dukkha), or a sense of not-self (Pali: anatta). There are multiple ways of defining meditation. Buddhadhamma, (see hyperlink p. 1359)[[i]] written by a highly respected Thai scholar monk, Bhikkhu P.A. Payutto, defines meditation as “mental concentration,” or “one-pointed attention,” or “the state of focused attention on one object.”

During meditation, the mind is firmly established on one object, with full, unwavering attention. According to Path of Freedom (Pali: Vimuttimagga), written by Arahant Upatissa in the first or second century A.D., “What fixes the mind aright causes it to be independent of everything. It becomes unmoved, undisturbed, and tranquillized. This non-attachment is called ‘concentration.’” The book The Path of Purification (Pali: Visuddhimagga), written by Bhadantacariya Buddhaghosa in the fifth century A.D. (see hyperlink p. 81 No. 2), describes meditation as the profitable or wholesome unification of the mind.

Read more : The Path of Purification’s Part 2 Concentration (Pali: Samadhi) on pp. 81 – 427, especially (1) the definition of concentration on p. 81 no. 2; (2) Mindfulness of Breathing, from p. 259, No. 145 – p. 286, No. 244., and (3) the benefits of developing concentration, from p. 367, No. 120 to p. 427, No. 128, at https://bit.ly/3bCTkUJ

The Middle Way Meditation Retreat – Intro to Meditation Guideline

30-Minute Guided Meditation (MMI Version)

The Mindful Way – Buddhist Monks of the Forest Tradition in Thailand with Ajahn Chah

The Science of Meditation

In practicing meditation, meditators can employ one of forty meditation techniques, the common ones of which are anapanasati (commonly known globally as Mindfulness – or Breathing – Meditation), the Brahma-viharas (a form of meditation to develop the four virtues of benevolence, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity), and Buddhanussati (a form of meditation that recollects the Buddha’s qualities). These techniques aim to develop mindfulness (Pali: sati), concentration (Pali: samadhi), equanimity (Pali: upekkha), tranquility (Pali: samatha), insight (Pali: vipassana), and even supramundane powers (Pali: abhinya).

The Buddha spoke of meditation, especially anapanasati, in Samyutta-nikaya, a Sutta Pitaka. In Samyutta LIV, Sutta 8, he says, “Even I myself, before awakening, when not yet enlightened, while still a Boddhisattva (a person who is on the path towards Buddhahood), lived in concentration by mindful breathing for the most part. When I lived there, the body was not stressed, the eyes were not strained, and my mind was released from cankers through non-attachment and letting go. For this reason, should anyone wish, ‘May my body be not stressed, may my eyes be not strained, may my mind be released from cankers through non-attachment,’ then that person ought to attend carefully to meditation.”

Read more : 28 Best Meditation Techniques for Beginners to Learn

Read More : Anapanasati – mindfulness with breathing, by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Read More : The importance of developing the mind through mindfulness of breathing In the Buddha’s own words in Anapanasati Sutta

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu #What Anapanasati is. (a lecture in Thai with English translation)

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu #Anapanasati Step 1 to 4

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu #Using anapanasati for daily life (a lecture in Thai with English translation)

Discovering Buddhism Module 2 – How to Meditate

Though it has its roots in Buddhism, Mindfulness Meditation as practiced today is accessible to people of all backgrounds and beliefs. One need not be a Buddhist, or even religious, to meditate and reap its host of benefits, which include managed anxiety, stress, and depression, better quality of sleep and memory, and – perhaps best of all – general happiness. As the Buddha expressed, “Taming the mind to be effective is good. A tamed mind brings happiness,” and, “No mother, no father, and no relative can make a man nobler and better than can his own rightly established mind.”

Read more : Why is Meditation Important? 6 Facts You Need to Know.

Read more : Inner Peace Meditation: How to Meditate.

Read more : 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation.

Read more : Wat Nong Pah Pong.

(The late Venerable Ajahn Chah Subhaddo or Phapothiyarnthera – a well-known Thai teacher of meditation. Photo credit: https://bit.ly/3moVj2M)

How does meditation practice develop the mind? | Phra Ajahn Amaro | Ajahn Chah’s Discipline

Wat Nong Pah Pong (Thai Forest Monastary) 1

Attributes of a Concentrated Mind

 

The main purpose of mental training is to generate and increase the quality and capacity of the mind. A concentrated mind is strong, powerful, tranquil, peaceful, clear, pristine, malleable, and well-suited for the work of insight, since it is free from stress, rigidity, disturbance, confusion, agitation, and anxiety.

According to Buddhadhamma (see hyperlink p. 1371), the Buddha said that the reward of concentration is knowledge and the ability to see things as they really are. Furthermore, concentration, when imbued with wisdom and morality, has other great rewards and blessings, allowing the mind to become completely free from sensual desire, the craving for existence (Pali: bhavatanha), and ignorance (Pali: moha). Especially to Buddhists who believe in choosing to do only what is good and are interested in only actions that would lead to progress on the path towards enlightenment, the benefits of meditation are clearly appealing.

 

Benefits of Meditation

 

The book Path of Freedom describes the benefits of meditation as follows: contentment with the truth and the present reality; enjoyment of all things through a proper mindset; acquisition of clairaudience, clairvoyance, mind-reading (Pali: manomayiddhi), and a recollection of past incarnations (Pali: atitangsanana); progress towards perfection (Pali: paramita), and progress in the cycle of rebirth (Pali: vaththa). Through meditation, one is sure to be reborn in a higher realm, as his or her mind becomes free from defilements (Pali: kilesa), cravings (Pali: tanha), and attachments (Pali: upadana), and will ultimately achieve enlightenment (Pali: bodhi).

 

The book Buddhadhamma (see hyperlink p. 1,371 and hyperlink pp. 1435-1436) classifies, though slightly different from the above but no less appealing, the benefits of Buddhist meditation into four categories. They are freedom from all suffering and mental impurities; the development of exceptional psychic abilities such as clairaudience and clairvoyance; better mental health, by increasing one’s inner strength, i.e. decisiveness, resilience, tranquility, calmness, lovingkindness, compassion, and discernment; and, finally, calmness and control of the mind. Clearly, the benefits are no less appealing.

Read more : 141 benefits of meditation.

Read more : 5 Health Benefits of Daily Meditation According to Science.
This article excellently contains the following topics:

  1. A Look at the Benefits of Meditation
  2. What Does the Latest Research and Science Show?
  3. 4 Interesting Studies
  4. 5 Proven Health Benefits of a Daily Practice
  5. The Benefits on Mental Health and Psychological Well-Being
  6. The Neurological Benefits Meditation Has on the Brain
  7. A List of the Proven Physical Health Benefits
  8. Can Meditating Before Bed Improve Sleep?
  9. How does it Help with Stress?
  10. The Known Benefits for Anxiety and Depression
  11. How Can Meditation Practice Help During Pregnancy?
  12. Are there Scientifically Proven Benefits for the Skin?
  13. Is There a Particular Meditation Practice Proven to be the Most Beneficial?
  14. The Benefits of Meditating in the Morning
  15. How often is Optimal? Everyday? Twice a Day?
  16. Are there Proven Benefits to Doing Meditation in Groups?
  17. What are the Benefits for Kids?
  18. How Can Schools and Colleges Benefit from a Meditation Program?
  19. How Meditation Can Benefit Teenage Students
  20. The Benefits of Meditation in the Workplace
  21. 3 Journal Articles for Further Reading.

Read more : How Does Meditation Change the Brain? (by Scientific American).

Benefits of Meditation including scientifically proven meditation benefits of Vipassana Meditation

How mindfulness meditation reshaped her brain | Catalyst.

How Meditation Impacts the Brain and Implications for Health

Meditation’s Impact on the Brain | Documentary Clip

The Scientific Power of Meditation

How mindfulness changes the emotional life of our brains

How Meditation Can Reshape Our Brains

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu #Anapanasati and Its benefits. (A lecture in Thai with English translation)

Anapanasati and Its benefits

How to Meditate

 

Although meditators can employ one of the forty meditation techniques, the kind of meditation that will be discussed in this section is Mindfulness Meditation (Pali: anapanasati), a form of meditation that focuses on only breathing. Mindfulness Meditation can be done in at least four postures: seated, walking, standing, or lying down.

How to meditate like a Buddhist monk

Meditation Positions – How to Sit for Meditation

Walking Meditation at A Buddhist Temple In Bang Mun Nak, Thailand

ACRD_105 Aj Siripunnyo – Walking Meditation Practice

Walking Meditation in Nature with Sister Sinh Nghiem | Plum Village Online Retreats

Can You Meditate Lying Down?

Lying down meditation example

Sleeping (Lying) Meditation Pose

Since Mindfulness Meditation uses only the breath, a natural part of every person’s life, it can be practiced anytime, anywhere. All a practitioner needs to do is focus on the breathing, thus making this kind of meditation possible and even appealing to those who are tired or without equipment but desire the immediate effects of a meditation practice no matter where they are. As in all forms of meditation, in Mindfulness Meditation, the body becomes relaxed and rested, and the mind experiences progressively deeper levels of peace as the breath gradually becomes refined (to the point where it can become almost imperceptible).

 

The Buddha often encouraged monks to practice Mindfulness Meditation, while he himself practiced it both before and after his enlightenment. He instructed monks to go to the forest, the foot of a tree, or an empty hut; then, to sit with legs folded in a cross, straighten their body, and focus on the breath. They would mindfully inhale and exhale while silently verbalizing to themselves, “I am inhaling deeply” or “I am exhaling deeply,” as the deep inhalations or exhalations occur.

 

Sitting – particularly in the lotus position – is the most preferred meditation pose. In this position, the upper body is erect, the eighteen vertebrae are aligned, and tissues and tendons are not twisted. Granting a great degree of physical relaxation, stability, balance, and ease, this posture contributes to a minimum level of fatigue.

 

To establish the lotus position, the practitioner places his or her ankles up against the lower abdomen. Both legs can overlap to yield a “full lotus” position, or only the right leg may come on top of the left leg, yielding a “half lotus” position. Hands are placed by the practitioner’s lower abdomen, with the right hand on top of the left, and the two thumbs gently touching or with the right index finger gently touching the left thumb. Beginners may find this posture to be most beneficial, but if it is uncomfortable, they can also sit upright in a chair or choose another position. What is important is that signs of tension and physical stress be rectified and changed into a more comfortable position before proceeding with the rest of the meditation.

15

Mindfulness Meditation can be practiced with eyes open or closed. The choice depends on what gives a sense of ease and does not lead to distraction. If a practitioner would like to keep his or her eyes open, then he or she may try to look down at the ground or at the tip of his or her nose, for instance, finding what feels comfortable and not distracting. Then, he or she should slowly inhale a few times, generating a sense of inner spaciousness and clarity. These fundamentals established, the concentration on the breath can begin.

When beginning to pay attention to the lengths of the breaths, counting will help to keep the mind focused. Counting is separated into two stages. In the first stage, one counts slowly and relaxedly. The recommended strategy here is to count to no fewer than five and no more than ten, and to count the numbers in order. (If one counts to less than five, the mind can have insufficient time and space to settle; if one counts to more than ten, the mind can become anxious about counting rather than stay with the breathing; and if one counts in a disconnected manner, the mind gets confused). To begin counting, one counts the inhalations and exhalations in pairs – exhalation 1, inhalation 1, exhalation 2, inhalation 2, for instance – until one reaches five of each. Then one begins again, until one reaches six of each, and so on. One keeps adding another pair until one reaches ten of each, and then one returns to the original five pairs. In other words, one repeats the following cycle:

1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5

1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6

1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7

1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8

1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9

1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, 10-10

1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5

1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6…

In the second stage, one counts in a quicker succession: when the inhalations and exhalations are clear, (i.e. when the attention rests with the breathing, one ceases to count using the same number twice, as described above and begins to count single numbers). Here the practitioner does not need to pay attention to the entire process of breathing – he or she instead focuses only on the breath as it reaches the tip of the nostrils. First, he or she counts from one to five, then from one to six, adding another number in each sequence until he or she reaches ten; then he or she returns to counting from one to five. Counting in this way, one’s meditation will be more connected, as if it has no gaps. One keeps one’s attention solely on the spot where the breath makes contact with the skin, either at the tip of the nostrils or at the upper lip (wherever there is a clear sensation). The counting can be illustrated as follows:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

1, 2, 3, 4, 5

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6…

 

One counts in this way until one reaches a point where, although one has ceased counting, mindfulness is still firmly established on the breath.

 

When attention is established on the breath, the practitioner stops counting and mindfully takes note of the breath in an uninterrupted stream. “Taking note” here does not mean following the breath with attention through its various stages of beginning, middle, and end, as it passes through the nose, travels through the upper chest, and reaches the navel, and then returns from the belly area to the chest and finally out through the nose. By doing so, the body and mind would become agitated, rendering the practice ineffective. The correct way to take note of the length of the breaths is to mindfully observe the breath at the point of contact (at the tip of the nostrils or at the upper lip.) When one establishes attention at the point of the breath’s contact, refraining from following the complete circuit of the breath, he or she is fully aware of the cycle of breathing in a way that bears greater fruit. (See more in the hyperlinked  Buddhadhamma, pp. 1441-1445)

 

Many Thai practitioners prefer to silently think bud during inhalations and dho during exhalations, leading to Mindfulness Meditation also being called “the Buddho meditation” in Thailand.

Read more : A Brief Introduction to the Buddha-Dhamma.

Read more : The Path of Purification, topic, chapter VIII, topic: Mindfulness of Breathing, p. 257, No. 145 to p. 286, No. 244.

Suggestion on how to meditate | Ajahn Kevali | Ajahn Chah’s discipline | Wat Pah Nanachat

Novice Training on Mental Awareness | Ajahn Nyanadhammo | Wat Pa Rattanawa

Motivation in Meditation

How Often and How Long One Should Meditate

Ideally, meditation should be practiced daily. The duration, however, varies, depending on the source studying the effects of meditation. Some sources recommend at least ten minutes each day, while saying that a half an hour each day would be closer to ideal. Some sources recommend that beginners start with five minutes of meditation per day; then, as the mind gets used to the practice, they could increase the time span by a minute or two each day, aiming for a 15-minute practice after a week. This amount of time works for many people to calm down their mind.

Some sources, such as Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Gunaratana, advise beginners to start with twenty to thirty minutes in their first sessions and gradually extend to an hour after a year. Others, such as Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury, writing in Positive Psychology, suggest that even two minutes per day can be enough for somebody just starting.

Read More : How Does Meditation Reduce Anxiety at a Neural Level?

Longer sessions appear to increase the benefits of meditation. Research shows that a session of 27 minutes of Mindfulness Meditation may lead to structural changes in key areas of brain, such as in the hippocampus, the posterior cingulate cortex, the temporo-parietal junction, and the cerebellum, which are involved in learning and memory, emotion regulation, the sense of self, and perspective-taking.

Read More : What Can 11 Hours of Meditation Training Do? It Can Rewire Your Brain.

Read More : Meditation Can Change Your Brain for Better & Longer.

Read More : How long should I meditate each day?

 

Where to Study Buddhism and Meditation in Thailand

 

In Thailand, there are many temples and meditation centers where one can study Buddhism and practice meditation at the same time. Over a hundred temples offer lessons on both Buddhism and meditation practice. Forest monasteries often provide free meditation lessons, including free room and board. However, not many temples provide instruction in both Thai and English. The list below shows where it may be possible to study both Buddhism and meditation in English:

1. Wat Mahathat (Section 5, วัดมหาธาตุยุวราชรังสฤษฎิ์ คณะ 5), in Bangkok. Tel.: 02-2226011, http://www.watmahathat.com/vipassana-meditation/ (The website is a Thai/English bilingual.)

(Photo credit: http://dhammathai.org/watthai/bangkok/watmahatat.php)

 

2. Wat Phra Dhammakaya (วัดพระธรรมกาย), in Pathum Thani Province, north of Bangkok, https://en.dhammakaya.net/ (The website is in English.)

(Photo credit: https://bit.ly/34szerN)

 

3. Wat Phra Dhatu Sri Chomtong Voravihara (วัดพระธาตุศรีจอมทองวรวิหาร), in Chiang Mai Province, tel.: 053-342186, https://www.watchomtong.com (The website is in Thai only.)

(Photo credit: https://bit.ly/3uw6fxY)

 

4. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (วัดพระธาตุดอยสุเทพราชวรวิหาร), in Chiang Mai Province, tel.: 053-295912.

(Photo credit: https://bit.ly/34GMKbz)

 

5. Wat Bhaddanta Asabharam (วัดภัททันตะอาสภาราม), in Chon Buri Province, tel.: 086-8198358, https://www.watbhaddanta.com/ (The website is in Thai only).

(Photo credit: https://bit.ly/2SEIczD)

 

6. Wat Umong (วัดอุโมงค์ สวนพุทธธรรม), in Chiang Mai Province, tel.: 085 033 3809. Email: [email protected].

(Photo credit: https://www.chillpainai.com/scoop/7415/)

 

7. Wat Pah Nanachat (International Forest Monastery วัดป่านานาชาติ), in Ubon Rachathani Province, https://bit.ly/3perzqx (The website is in English). (Photo credit: https://bit.ly/3fZr8MO)

(Photo credit: https://bit.ly/3fZr8MO)

 

8. Wat Pha Tam Wua (วัดป่าถ้ำวัว), in Mae Hong Son Province, tel.: 081 031 3326 https://www.wattamwua.com/contact/

(Photo credit: https://pantip.com/topic/36196208)

 

9. The Young Buddhists Association of Thailand (YBAT) – Under Royal Patronage, Bangkok, tel.: 0 2455 2525. Website: www.ybat.org/eng/

(Photo credit: https://web.ybatnet.org/th/news/detail.php?id=431&page=1)

 

10. Wat Nong Pah Pong in Ubon Ratchathani Province, which was established by the late Venerable Ajahn Chah Subhaddo in 1954, tel. 0 4532 2729,  http://watnongpahpong.org/indexe.php

(Photo credit: วัดหนองป่าพง วารินชำราบ อุบลราชธานี – หน้าหลัก | Facebook)

 

For further reading, please view the section “Further Reading” below. Here, the author would like to highlight a particularly useful text – The Nectar of Truth: A Selection of Buddhist Aphorisms, which is an excellent collection of Buddhist aphorisms, in Thai and English, compiled by P. A. Payutto. The book’s Table of Contents alone – shared here – reflect its breadth and depth:

  1. Human Beings
  2. Self-Training and Self-Responsibility
  3. The Mind
  4. Education
  5. Wisdom
  6. Earning a Living and Building a Career
  7. Making Efforts and Doing Duties
  8. Family, Relatives, and Friends
  9. Keeping Company
  10. Harming and Helping
  11. Harmony
  12. Government
  13. Merit & Demerit; Righteousness & Unrighteousness; Virtue & Vice
  14. Deeds
  15. Defilements
  16. Goodness
  17. Speech
  18. Life and Death
  19. Deliverance from Suffering and Experience of Bliss

Sayings of the Buddha

 

In ending, the author of this article would like to leave you with some Buddhist aphorisms, quoted in The Nectar of Truth and The Dhammapada, hoping that they will instruct your day:

 

“All that man experiences springs out of his thoughts. If his thoughts are good, the words and deeds will also be good. The result of good thoughts, words, and deeds will be happiness. This happiness never leaves the person whose thoughts are good. Happiness will always follow him like his shadow that never leaves him. On the other hand, if his thoughts are bad, the words and deeds will be bad. The result of evil thoughts will be unpleasant circumstances and suffering.”

 

“Different people have different views. It is impossible to make them all think alike.”

“There never was and will never be one who is totally blamed or praised.”

“Easy to detect are others’ faults. One’s own one hides like a crafty gambler his losing die.”

“Killing makes man ignoble. Non-violence towards all being confers nobility on man.”

“It is not good for a householder, a secular, to be lazy. It is not good for a monk not to be self-restrained. It is not good for a sovereign to act without forethought. It is not good for a wise man to be given to anger.”

“Firstly, a man should not be infatuated with his acquired glory. Secondly, he should not be disheartened even when there occurs a potentially fatal incident. Thirdly, he should try to keep on doing his duties. Fourthly, he should guard himself against vulnerabilities.”

“Those who do not speak righteously are not virtuous people.”

“That action which is likely to make one repent later is not good action at all.”

“The wise will never do anything wrong for the sake of any gain whatsoever.”

“Mistakes corrected make one shine like the moon beaming out of a bank of clouds.”

“Repeat your acts of goodness. Delight therein. Goodness amassed brings happiness. On the other hand, never repeat an act of evil. Never incline more that way. Evil amassed leads to unhappiness.”

“An evil doer has no escape from his bad actions wherever he tries to hide.”

“It is better not to do an evil deed; an evil deed torments one later on. It is better to do a good deed as one does not have to repent for having done it.”

“A fool who realizes his own foolishness can still be counted wise to some extent, but a fool who thinks himself wise is called an absolute fool.”

“The strength of fools lies in finding fault with others. The strength of wise men lies in reflective contemplation.”

“One who keeps silent, they blame. One who speaks much, they blame. Even one who speaks in moderation, they also blame. There is no one in this world who is not blamed. Never was there, never will there be, nor even is there now, one who is either totally blamed or totally praised.”

“It is better to be blamed by the wise than praised by the unwise.”

“Associate not with the wicked and the evil. Seek the company of noble and virtuous friends.”

“Being too soft breeds contempt. Being too harsh brings trouble. One should conduct oneself in moderation.”

“Both in praise and blame the wise are unshaken like the rock in the wind.”

“Sir, you are capable of doing good. Why do you look down upon yourself?”

“One should do what one constantly teaches others to do.”

“He who follows the dictates of his mind will be in trouble.”

“Let your children acquire knowledge.”

“A wise man, even when in misery, can still find happiness.”

“One should go wherever one can spend one’s life. One should not get oneself killed by the place one lives.”

“One should regard as a guide to hidden treasure someone who points out faults and who reproves. One should associate with such a wise person, the association with whom is only for the better, never for the worse at all.”

“How I am, so are these beings; how they are, so am I. Putting oneself in their shoes, one should not kill or cause to kill.”

“A good person takes pleasure in helping others.”

“Trained horses and tuskers are excellent. The self-disciplined excels at them all.”

“All tremble at violence, all fear death. Putting oneself in another’s shoes, do not harm, do not kill.”

“Harassing others in quest of one’s own happiness, one gains no happiness hereafter. On the other hand, harassing not others, those who seek happiness gain their own happiness hereafter.”

“Use no harsh words. They are painful. More harsh words will follow with retaliatory action.”

“An evil-doer who is unmindful of consequences suffers consequently because of his own deeds.”

“Irrigators direct the water. Fletchers shape the arrows. Carpenters shape the wood. The wise conscientiously control themselves.”

“One meaningful word which leads to calm is better than a thousand empty ones.”

“In this world, hatred is never appeased by hatred.”

“Conquest of oneself trumps the victory over a thousand others in battle.”

“A worshipper gets worshipped in return. A saluter gets saluted in return. A wise man giving happiness gains happiness himself.”

“The wise can eliminate others’ sorrow and are thus the greatest comfort of men.”

“Respectful behavior towards elders confers long life, beauty, joy and strength.”

“Eating by oneself brings no joy. A delicacy should not be eaten alone.”

“A man who does not provide for his mother and father who are old and past their youth even though he can – that is a channel of ruin.”

“A virtuous and wise life of a single day outweighs a hundred years of sinful unbridled life.”

“One who loves himself should guard himself. A wise man checks at least once every night.”

“First do the right thing yourself. Then, instruct others. One’s own purity is a wise man’s treasure.”

“Corrupt behavior is suicidal, self-ruinous, like the strangling Maluva creeper on a Sala tree.”

“Calamitous, self-ruinous things are easy to do. Beneficial and worthy things are most difficult to do.”

“Wake up to reality; do not be deluded. Live in accordance with reality. The realistic person lives happily in this world and in the next.”

“A man who is wealthy, with a lot of money and things to be consumed, but

who keeps delicacies to himself— that is a channel of ruin.”

“Born as a human, one should share— whether much or little—with others.”

“In a state where the ruler is kind-hearted, firmly established in righteousness, the people will live happily, like there being a pleasant shade in their own houses.”

“Do not take pride in reigning supreme and causing the downfall of your people on that account.”

“One should teach a person deserving to be humbled, and praise a person

worthy of being praised.”

“Merit cannot be stolen by thieves.”

“Do not belittle evil, thinking that it will never get to you. For drop by drop of water can still fill a waterpot. A fool fills himself with evil, gathering it little by little.”

“Evil is easy for an evil person to do. Good is easy for a good person to do.”

“A doer of good reaps good; a doer of evil reaps evil.”

“To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one’s own mind – this is the teaching of the Buddha.”

“An angry man falls short of knowing that anger is a peril which arises from within.”

“Truth, indeed, is deathless speech.”

“One should utter pleasant speech that is beneficial.”

“Even wholesome speech should not be uttered untimely.”

“One’s time of life is whittled away by night and day.”

“While you are grieving, you are in effect hurting yourself, your body emaciated, your complexion sallow. The deceased, on the other hand, can never make use of that grief to protect themselves. Lamentation is of no avail.”

“Thus, for the rest of his life, a person should do his duties and should not be negligent.”

“For those who harbor no enmity, it is blissful to live even among enemies.”

“Victory begets enmity. Vanquished lies in grief. Beyond both these lies bliss of equanimity.”

“Conquer anger with love, evil with good, greed with charity and falsehood with truth.”

“Speak the truth. Do not get angry. When asked, give even a modicum. This is the godly way.”

“I have no evil done anywhere at all. I therefore have no fear for the coming death.”

“Having established oneself in righteousness, one need not fear the hereafter.”

“Gain, loss, repute, disrepute, blame, praise, happiness, and suffering— all these are common among humans. Nothing is permanent. Do not lament. What do you feel sorry for?”

“Grief neither brings back what is past and gone nor brings forth happiness yet to come.”

“One who has attained the Dhamma neither grieves over what is past and gone nor daydreams about what is yet to come, but lives with the present. Hence, his complexion is radiant.”

“He is happy indeed who has nothing left to be concerned about.”

“Those who practice Dhamma and whose action is right will cross to nirvana.”

“True disciplines of the Buddha yearn not even for heavenly pleasures.”

“Refrain from all evil. Practice virtue. Cleanse the mind. This is the teaching of Buddha.”