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Published on June 28, 2011



THE BUDDHA PHILOSOPHY : THE BUDDHA PHILOSOPHY AJIT SINGH ENGLISH TRAINER THE LIFE OF GAUTAM BUDDHA : THE LIFE OF GAUTAM BUDDHA The life of Siddhartha or Gautama Buddha, the light f Asia and the founder of Buddhism, is fairly well-known. He sought light from many religious teachers and learned scholars of the day and practised great austerities; but nothing satisfied him. This threw him back in his own resources. The message of his enlightenment laid the foundation of both Buddhistic religion and philosophy which, in course of time, spread far and wide- to Ceylon, Burma, Siam in the south, and to Tibet, China, Japan and Korea in the north. The teachings of Buddha were oral. : The teachings of Buddha were oral. About Buddha’s teachings depends to-day chiefly on the Tripitakas or the three baskets of teachings which are claimed to contain his views as reported by his most intimate disciplines. These three canonical works are named Vinayapitaka suttapitaka and Abhidhammapitaka. THE THREE ACCEPTED WORKS-THE TRIPITAKAS : THE THREE ACCEPTED WORKS-THE TRIPITAKAS The first deals chiefly with rules of conduct for the congregation (sangha), the second contains Buddha’s sermons and dialogues, and the third contains expositions of philosophical theories. THE HINAYANA AND THE MAHAYANA SCHOOLS OF BUDDHISM : THE HINAYANA AND THE MAHAYANA SCHOOLS OF BUDDHISM The most important division of Buddhism on religious principles was into the Hinayana or Theravada and the Mahayana. THE VAST LITERATURE OF BUDDHISM : THE VAST LITERATURE OF BUDDHISM As Buddhism flourished in different lands, it became cloroured and changed by the original faiths and ideas of converts. The total output of philosophical works in Buddhism in the different languages is so vast that Buddhist philosophy requires the talents of versatile linguist and the insight of a philosopher. THE TEACHINS OF BUDDHA : THE TEACHINS OF BUDDHA THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS Buddha disliked metaphysical discussions devoid of practical utility. The unprofitable and unanswerable questions. The useful question about misery. FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS CONCERNING SUFFERING : FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS CONCERNING SUFFERING Life in the world is full of suffering. There is a cause for this suffering. It is possible to stop suffering. There is a path which leads to the cessation of suffering (dukha, dukha-samudaya, dukha-nirodha, dukha-nirodha-marga). THE FIRST NOBLE TRUTH ABOUT SUFFERING : THE FIRST NOBLE TRUTH ABOUT SUFFERING Life is full of suffering. Even apparent pleasures are fraught with pain. THE SECOND NOBLE TRUTH ABOUT THE CAUSE OF SUFFERING : THE CHAIN OF TWELVE LINKS : THE SECOND NOBLE TRUTH ABOUT THE CAUSE OF SUFFERING : THE CHAIN OF TWELVE LINKS Suffering, like every other thing, depends on some conditions. The chain of causes and effects that leads to suffering in the world. Slide 11: Briefly speaking then (1) Suffering in life is due to (2) birth, which is due to (3) the will to be born, which is due (4) our mental clinging to objects. Clinging again is due to (5) thirst of desire for objects. This again is due to (6) sense-experience which is due to Slide 12: (7) sense-object-contact, which again is due to (8) the six organs of cognition; these organs are dependent on (9) the embryonic organism (composed of mind and mind), which again could not develop without (10) some initial consciousness, which hails from (11) the impressions of the experience of past life, which lastly are due to (12) ignorance of truth. Slide 13: These constitute the wheel of existence ; birth and re-birth. It has been popularized among Buddhists by various epithets, such as the twelve sources (dvadasa nidana), the wheel of re-birth (bhava-chakra). Some devout Buddhist remind themselves even to-day of this teaching of Buddha by turning wheels which are made to symbolize the wheel of causation. Like the telling of beads, this forms a part of their daily prayers. THE TWELVE LINKS : THE TWELVE LINKS The present life is the effect of the past and cause of the future. Ignorance (avidya) Impressions (samskara) The initial consciousness of the embryo (vijnana) Mind and body, the embryonic organism (nama-rupa) Six organ of knowledge (sadayatana) Past LIfe Present Life Slide 15: (6) Sense contact (sparsa) (7) Sense experience (vedana) (8) Thirst (trsna) (9) Clinging (upadana) (10) Tendency to be born (bhava) (11) Re-birth (jati) (12) Old age, death, etc. (jara-marana) Future Life Present Life AN IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTION OF BUDDHA : AN IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTION OF BUDDHA Life is not the product of a mechanical combination of material conditions. It is the expression of the inner forces as Bergson holds. THE THIRD NOBLE TRUTH ABOUT THE CESSATION OF SUFFERING : THE THIRD NOBLE TRUTH ABOUT THE CESSATION OF SUFFERING Suffering must cease if its cause is stopped. Nirvana is not inactivity. Buddha’s life was full of activity, even after his enlightenment. Work without attachment, hatred and infatuation does not cause bondage. Slide 18: Buddha set the example of such selfless service of fellow beings. Nirvana does not mean extinction of existence. But the extinction of misery and of the causes of rebirth. Buddha’s silence about the condition of the liberated after does not mean his denial of the existence of such a person after death. Slide 19: The double gain of nirvana : stopping of rebirth ad future misery, and attainment of perfect peace in this life. Even the partial fulfillment of the conditions of nirvana cause palpable benefits. The real nature of nirvana can only be realised and not described in terms of ordinary experience. THE FOURTH NOBLE TRUTH ABOUT THE PATH TO LIBERATION : THE FOURTH NOBLE TRUTH ABOUT THE PATH TO LIBERATION The path consists of eight steps : Right Views (sammaditthi or samyagdrsti)- As ignorance, with its consequences, namely, wrong views (mithyadrsti) about the self and the world, is the root cause of our sufferings. 2. RIGHT RESOLVE : 2. RIGHT RESOLVE Sammasankappa or samyaksankalpa Right resolve, or firm determination to reform life in the light of truth. 3. RIGHT SPEECH : 3. RIGHT SPEECH Sammavaca or samyagvak Right speech, or control of speech 4. RIGHT CONDUCT : 4. RIGHT CONDUCT Sammakammanta or samyakkarmanta Right conduct or abstention from wrong action. 5. RIGHT LIVELIHOOD : 5. RIGHT LIVELIHOOD Samma-ajiva or samyagajiva Right livelihood or maintaining life by honest means. 6. RIGHT EFFORT : 6. RIGHT EFFORT Sammavayama or samyagvyayama Right effort, or constant endeavour to maintain moral progress by banishing evil thoughts and entertaining good ones. 7. RIGHT MINDFULNESS : 7. RIGHT MINDFULNESS Sammasati or samyaksmrti Right mindfulness or constant remembrance of the perishable nature of things. This is necessary for keeping off attachment to things, and grief over their loss. Slide 27: The practice of such thought is recommended by Buddha in minute details in Digha-nikaya. 8. RIGHT CONCENTRATION : 8. RIGHT CONCENTRATION Sammasamadhi or samyaksamadhi Right concentration, through four stages, is the last step in the path that leads to the goal-nirvana. (a) : (a) The first stage of concentration is on reasoning and investigation regarding the truths. There is then joy of pure thinking. (b) : (b) The second stage of concentration is unruffled meditation, free from reasoning, etc. There is then a joy of tranquility. (c) : (c) The third stage of concentration is detachment from even the joy of tranquility. There is then indifference even to such joy but a feeling of bodily ease still persists. (d) : (d) The fourth stage of concentration is detachment from this bodily ease too. There are then perfect equanimity and indifference. This is the state of nirvana or perfect wisdom. Slide 33: Perfect knowledge is impossible without morality. “Virtue and wisdom purify each other,” says Buddha. Reformation of life-ideas, will and emotion-in the light of truth forms a major part of the eightfold path. Concentration possible only such reform. Slide 34: THE PHILOSOPHICAL IMPLICATION OF BUDDHA’S ETHICAL TEACHINGS (i) : (i) THE THEORY OF DEPENDENT ORIGINATION OR CONDITIONAL EXISTENCE OF THINGS. Slide 36: Nothing exists without a cause, nor does it perish without leaving some effect. This is the middle view avoiding the two extremes of eternalism and nihilism. Buddha regards this theory as indispensable for understanding his teachings. The failure to grasp this principle of causation is the cause of all troubles. (ii) THE THEORY OF KARMA : (ii) THE THEORY OF KARMA The law of karma is an aspect of this principle of causation. (iii) THE DOCTRINE OF UNIVERSAL CHANGE AND IMPERMANENCE : (iii) THE DOCTRINE OF UNIVERSAL CHANGE AND IMPERMANENCE Whatever exists, arises from some condition and is, therefore, impermanent. Subsequent Buddha thinkers further develop the theory of impermanence into that of momentariness. The view is deduced from the criterion of existence as casual efficiency. Nothing exists for more than one moment. (iv) THE THEORY OF THE NON-EXISTENCE OF THE SOUL : (iv) THE THEORY OF THE NON-EXISTENCE OF THE SOUL The common belief is that there is a permanent substance in man, namely, the soul. But this belief is untenable because of the law of universal change and impermanence. Life is an unbroken stream of successive states which are casually connected. This stream extends backward and toward and makes the past, present and future lives continuous. Slide 40: The soul is this replaced by a continuous stream of states. The illusion of a permanent soul causes attachment and misery. Man is an unstable collection of body, manas and consciousness. Man may also be regarded as a combination of five kinds of changing states –pan-ca-skandhas FIVE GROUPS OF CHANGING ELEMENTS (panca-skandhas) : FIVE GROUPS OF CHANGING ELEMENTS (panca-skandhas) Form (rupa) consisting of the different factors which we perceive in this body having form, Feelings (vedana) of pleasure, pain and indifference, Perception including understanding and naming (sanjna), Predisposition or tendencies generated by the impressions of past experience (samskaras), and Consciousness itself (vijnana) The last four are together called nama. THE SCHOOLS OF BUDDHA PHILOSOPHY : THE SCHOOLS OF BUDDHA PHILOSOPHY Buddha’s attempt to avoid metaphysics gives rise to new kind of metaphysics. His teachings contained the germs of positivism, phenomenonlism and empiricism. These are developed by his diverse followers along different lines. Empiricism and scepticism. Slide 43: Mysticism and transcendentalism. There are about thirty chief schools of later Buddhism. Four schools of Buddha philosophy distinguished by Indian philosophers. This fourfold division is based on two problems : (1) Is there any reality? Three replies to this question. (2) How is external reality known? Two replies to this question. THE MADHYAMIKA SCHOOL OF SUNYA-VADA : THE MADHYAMIKA SCHOOL OF SUNYA-VADA Nagarjuna, the founder of this school of Sunya-vada. Sunya-vada is understood as nihilism by Indian writers. A proof of nihilism or the unreality of all things : objects, knowledge and knower. Slide 45: Sunya-vada really denies only the phenomenal world, and not all reality. Sunya means the indescribable nature of phenomena. A thing cannot be said to be either real or unreal, or both real and unreal, or neither real nor unreal. Sunyata is this indeterminable nature. Slide 46: This view avoids the two extreme views of the absolute reality and the absolute unreality of things. Hence it is known as the middle (madhyama) view. Sunya-vada is a kind of relativity. The positive side of the Madhyamika doctrine ; there is reality behind phenomena : it is unconditional and free from change. Nagarjuna speaks, therefore, of two truths, empirical or phenomenal and transcendental or nominal. Slide 47: The higher truth realised in nirvana, can be described only as negation of what is known in ordinary experience. No positive description of it is possible. This accounts for Buddha’s silence on matters beyond ordinary experience. THE YOGACARA SCHOOL OF SUBJECTIVE IDEALISIM : THE YOGACARA SCHOOL OF SUBJECTIVE IDEALISIM Denial of the reality of the mental is self-contradictory. The objects perceived are all ideas in the mind. The mind alone is real. If any external reality is admitted, many difficulties arise. (1) An external object cannot be perceived.(2) How a momentary object causes perception is unexplained. : (1) An external object cannot be perceived.(2) How a momentary object causes perception is unexplained. The Yogacara view is called Vijajnana-vada because it admits vijnana or consciousness as the only reality. It is subjective idealism. The ideas of objects are all latent in the mind. The conditions of a particular moment make a particular idea mature or become conscious and vivid. Slide 50: The mind, as home of all latent ideas, is called Alaya vijnana. Culture and control of the mind can stop the illusions of external objects and attachement to them. THE SAUTRANTIKA SCHOOL OF REPRESENTATIONISM : THE SAUTRANTIKA SCHOOL OF REPRESENTATIONISM The Sautrantika believe in the reality not only of the mind but also of external objects. The mental and external are both real. Perception of the external objects depends on four factors; object, mind, sense, and auxiliary conditions. THE VAIBHASIKA SCHOOL : THE VAIBHASIKA SCHOOL Vaibhasikas admit, like sautrantikas, the reality of both mind an external objects. But unlike Sautrantikas they hold that external objects are directly known in perception and not inferred. Meaning of Vaibhasikas. THE RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS OF BUDDHISM HINAYANA AND MAHAYANA : THE RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS OF BUDDHISM HINAYANA AND MAHAYANA Hinayana is the difficult path of self-help. It did not suit, therefore, the multitude of ordinary converts. This gives rise to Mahayana which tries to suit all tastes and culture. The accommodating spirit and the missionary zeal of Mahayana. Slide 54: Mahayana lays great stress on Buddha’s anxiety for salvation of fellow beings. The object of enlightenment is not one’s own salvation. It is the ability to liberate all suffering being. The greatness of Mahayana lies in this spirit, and the inferiority of Hinayana is due to the lack of it. (a) THE IDEAL OF BODHISTVA : (a) THE IDEAL OF BODHISTVA The ideal of Bodhisatva is attainment of perfect wisdom with a view to being able to lead all beings out of misery. Love of all beings, along with wisdom, marks the perfect person or Bodhisattva. Slide 56: A Bodhisattva exchanges his desires with those of the fellow beings and suffers to relieve their misery. The ideal of Bodhisattva is based on the philosophy of the unity of all beings. Nirvana is within the world and not away from it. (b) BUDDHA AS GOD : (b) BUDDHA AS GOD Buddha comes to be conceived as God. Buddha is identified with transcendental Reality possessed of the power of incarnation. Buddha incarnated as teachers and helpers of beings. Though individual selves are unreal, there is one universal self, i.e. the Reality behind all phenomena. This last is the Real Self of all beings. A SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY : A SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY Moksakaragupta- Tarkabhasa, 2nd edn. (ed. By H.R. R. Iyenger, hindustan Press,Mysore, 1952) S. Radhakrishnan- The Dhammapada (Eng. Trans., Oxford Press, 1950). History of philosophy : Eastern and Western (G. Allen & unwin Ltd.), Chaps. IX and XXI-XXV. Hys Davids- Dialogues of the Buddha (Eng. Trans. Sacred Books of the Buddhist Series, Luzac & Co. Ltd., London, 1950), Parts I & II.

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