There is nothing worse than seeing someone go through a personal misery and blame themselves for it by thinking “I deserve this for something I did in the life before.” And I’ve seen this happen first hand many times, in many countries, and each time it’s tragic and unnecessary. This sounds a bit wooly to me, but I can say from personal experience that when you get into deep meditation, there are experiences that defy verbalization. Certain rituals and practices are later additions to Buddhism and satisfy people’s need for expression and worship. Some commentators have characterized Buddhism as being a philosophy of wholly subjective reality, as in the final analysis the only element of importance is an individual’s own progression towards the goal of enlightenment. Technically, it’s: 1) right view, which means seeing things as they are (no illusions) 4 ; 2) right intention, which means the renunciation of desire and promoting good will, and harmlessness; 3) right speech, which means being honest, avoiding conflicts, being polite, and forgoing gossip; 4) right action, which means acting in harmony with the compassion espoused in the Eightfold Path (i.e., “practice what you preach” or “don’t be a hypocrite in your actions”); 5) right livelihood, which means living a life where you are not forced to kill, steal, misuse sex, lie, or overindulge in intoxicants 5 ; 6) right diligence, which means trying to eliminate personal qualities like anger, greed and ignorance, and cultivating qualities like compassion, wisdom and generosity; 7) right mindfulness, which means being in control of your own mind, and not subject to idle daydreaming, anxiety, or anticipation; and 8) right concentration, which is usually taken to mean meditation. In addition, many sects added color to their robes to make them stand out further and give themselves a unique designation. Check it out at #3: http://www.atheistrepublic.com/blog/deandrasek/13-books-atheists-should-.... 5 Not because its “bad” per se, but because it interferes with your control over your own mental facilities, and Buddhism is all about control over your own thoughts and emotions, so stimulants or depressants that make the exercise of such control more difficult are to be eschewed as counter-productive to the ends sought to be achieved by the discipline. This is from Hinduism, and has nothing to do with the original philosophy of Buddhism, but it is a cultural appendix which can end up poisoning the philosophy entirely. My Grandmother used to good naturedly call me a "heathen," and how right she was. In Buddhism, it’s all hard work, and its sole benefit is to gain control of your own mind. On one occasion, I was able to get a monk to explain to my friend that Buddhism was not concerned with any life before or life after, but the cultural concept of reincarnation was so ingrained in them that such words of comfort were cold indeed. One thing that you can add to your preparation for meditation in stage zero is the cultivation of a sense of purpose. Or make a one-time donation in any amount. Sadly, it’s also a position that the most notable Buddhist of the modern age, the Dalai Lama, promotes. Even though they are non-speaking roles, the pacific (and impliedly useless) Buddhists in the recent Korean film “The Admiral: Roaring Currents” end up morphing into formidable fighters against the Japanese aggressors. Cultural practices later added various elements of these things to many Buddhist sects, probably as an attempt to make the philosophy more attractive to local peoples, and in actual practice many people adopted customs to self-identify themselves 8 , such as amulets, hand-held prayer wheels, rosaries, tattoos, silly hats (which always seem to be popular with humans) and uniforms, and so on. In Buddhism, the nature of the world around us consists of karma. All three religions in their day would have slaughtered the originator of such beliefs as a heretic. So, people are happy to do what they can, as in donating food, to help those who make this effort. There are many older accounts of him, but this one benefits from recent archeological findings. But it’s also largely because of a general difficulty with generalizations about a highly diverse religion (and because of that diversity, people will find lots of legitimate reasons to criticize this blog, with due justification). The original philosophy was allegedly founded by Siddhārtha Gautama 2, the son of a local noble, somewhere on the Northeastern Indian Subcontinent. Your purpose is to be yourself. Personally, I think tribe comes before religion, and so I side with the ethnic provenience of the conflict. You should realize then that the thought that bothers you, whether it be an image or words, only bothers you because of the feeling that is attached to it. When I suffered from panic attacks I'd send myself loving thoughts. They know they don’t have time or temperament to meditate and be a monk which could lead to enlightenment, so they hope to give some money or do some actions that will help them get born into a better position in the next life so that they can then be a monk and gain enlightenment. It was never something for everyone, and most of the circus show elements (like the petting tigers at one famous Thai Wat 27 ) are there to generate money for the Wat to allow those who want to focus full time on their meditation to do so (and for many family owned temples, as in Japan, to make money for the owners). A View on Buddhism : The purpose of life. The second is made up of our feelings -- both emotional and physical -- and our senses -- seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling. If you don’t know about Ashoka, you are missing out. Original Photo by … Buddhism A Simple Guide to Life ... a framework which illuminates the meaning and purpose of the Buddhist life. Why am I doing this?" Then ask "Does that thought of the bucket of sand bother me?" But again, a great many practitioners and adherents of this sect will also tell you that it’s all allegorical and the Lotus Pond is the reflecting pool of your own mind once the “self” has been eliminated. This exercise I've described separates the thought from the feeling and you will realize that all of your problems are created in your own head out of temporary thoughts/feelings. Buddhists don’t generally argue dogma. The Rohingya situation in Myanmar is not really about religion at all, it’s about ethnicity, and it’s been going on for decades and is a situation largely caused by the UK when they controlled what was then Burma 21. Archived. Or is it, as one monk once told me, like candy sold at a fair 26 . Buddhism is a path of practice and spiritual development leading to Insight into the true nature of reality. Buddhism originally grew out of, and in some ways was a rejection of, Hinduism. For many people in American Buddhist circles, the purpose of meditation is to relieve some stress or suffering. Compassion and the Individual ... percent of the population. I have heard Buddhist speakers challenged on this many times, and I’ve yet to hear one defend the literal meaning of a text (except when it comes to reincarnation, more on this later). In the same way, if you’ve never seen an elephant, you would have no word for it. “The purpose of life is a life of purpose.” ~Robin Sharma. Frankly, as Buddhism for most people is not a religion bound up in a holy or authoritative text, I will avoid the discussions over definitions entirely. Most Buddhists never expect to accomplish this. Over 35,000 heathens have subscribed to our newsletter! One thing you can remind yourself is that "What's the point" isn't necessarily a fair or relevant question that your monkey mind is asking. Women are accepted in orders as nuns, but they do not always have the same status and rights as men. Now “merit” is again hard to criticize, since at one level Buddhists will tell you that an act of charity, even if taken out of selfish desires, is more ennobling than no act of charity at all. 13 Just read the Hebrew Torah’s ad nauseam descriptions of priestly rights (included a percentage of female virgin war captives), vestments, temple fixtures, rites for sacrifice, etc. Its allegory, it’s a story to teach a lesson. Sponsored link. Imagine for a moment what life would be like if it no longer bit itself and all of the wounds disappeared. 25 I have one myself, which my Thai wife got me from Doi Suthep in Chang Mai, which is supposed to protect me from unexpected events, like plane accidents (I travel a lot on business) or winning the lottery. The conquers were not interested in ruling so much as laying waste to the existing culture and society, and undertook what would probably be called ethnic cleansing measures today. Simple Responses to 20 Common Arguments for the Existence of God. I hate it when I start to feel that way, too. There are no prayers as such in Buddhism since, by definition, Buddhism cannot be classed as a religion (i.e., there is no ‘creator god’). On their own, thoughts (images and words) cannot bother you, and on their own, feelings and sensations (nameless energy) cannot bother you. Human beings crave purpose and suffer serious psychological difficulties when we don’t have it. Buddhists strive for a deep insight into the true nature of life and do not worship gods or deities. Reincarnation is one of the most perverse ideas I’ve ever come across, because like the idea of inherited sin, it accrues to a person regardless of their actions. I also got a lot of sleep. (It should also do more to speak out forcefully for the equality of women.). “the purpose of a rose is to be a rose. Presumably he was raised as what we would now call a Hindu, and left his family to take up an itinerate life practicing various physical deprivations as a means of achieving mental awareness sometime in the 5th Century BCE. When we are talking about differences between two peoples, religion is just one of the differentiating factors between tribes. 30 See “Ashoka: The Search for India’s Lost Emperor” by Charles Allen (2012) for a good treatment of this remarkable leader. Everyone around you is expected to have the same degree of salvation or divine reward. Here in Thailand where I happen to live you find both sorts of people at the same Wat (a Thai word for a monastery/temple complex), and even as between the monks themselves. It's just a feeling. There are thousands. ), and certain things that are to be done (e.g., baptism, giving alms, prayer 5 times a day, etc. Lack of purpose in life is like flying without a place to land! So clearly, the philosophy has advanced from a form only attainable by the few with concentrated dedication, to one obtainable by the many with lesser or different forms of adherence. So it’s hard to tell which came first and which is the driving force. It just seems like such a scary place to be. All proceeds will go to keeping the Atheist Republic website up and running; providing resources, advocacy, tools, community and encouragement to atheists all over the world. Yes, such as the Chinese tradition. I find such thoughts happen when you have too much free time AND a negative mindset; distracting yourself is to protect your mental health rather than about avoiding these questions. 7 Under many historical reviews, Buddhism is regarded as a local religion until the development of the Silk Road, along which it moved to the West and East, where it proved popular and took root in China during the Han dynasty around 200 BCE to 200 CE, and gained prominence in the early Tang Empire around 600 CE, but went into decline in China by the end of the Tang period around 900 CE. ~ John Maxwell. Buddhist conceptions of mind evolved from early attempts to offer a systematic account of human experience as described in the large bodyof discourses attributed to the Buddha. Endnotes are boring enough as they are, without making them worse. Anyone can write one. In this sense, it is very similar to other religions which ask their adherents to abandon reality and just “believe” in the religious truth or doctrine. Buddhism is a tradition that focuses on personal spiritual development. The core tenets of Hinduism, such as the caste system, the progression of rebirths, and cosmic cycles of creation and destruction, all occurring within the single Brahman (according to the monist Advaita Vedanta tradition, where the Atman 15 and Brahman are usually considered as one reality) are anathema to a philosophical Buddhism, but have partly re-arisen in various sects of religious Buddhism. This is pure logic telling you that meaning isn't what to look for. The Tamils came into Sri Lanka in force in the 12th Century when they invaded from mainland Southern India. Monks will often tell you that doing good, even for a bad reason, is the first step to becoming good. And it lacks the self-evidentiary milk pouring, cow dung worshiping, and caste system insanity of Hinduism. 1.1 Veiled in mystery, no one understands what birth and death is. A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. This matter should have been dealt with by the British at the time of Burma’s independence, but as usual they couldn’t be bothered the clean up the mess they left in someone else’s home. Buddhism is actually not so big on thinking about the meaning or purpose of life... it's more about seeing the stress in life and learning how to ease it. Posted by u/[deleted] 2 years ago. Buddhism is at its core a self-directed philosophy with a mental discipline involved. This is one of the causes of lack of faith in Buddhism nowadays. The blog posts published here undergo only a minimal editing process in order to preserve the voice and views of the writer. You don’t go to the fair for the candy, because you can get candy at many different places. See: http://www.atheistrepublic.com/blog/deandrasek/democracy-atheism-do-not-.... 21 Also, although there is one monk (Ashin Wirathu) in particular who has been very vocal about his opposition to them on the basis of their religion, the Buddhist establishment has always and immediately disavowed him and his invectives (but these pronouncements don’t seem to get as good ratings as media coverage of vicious rantings by a few hundred bigots). However, it certainly does appear to be taking on the trappings of a religion as opposed to a philosophy at about this time. 3 There are fewer things in life more boring than listening to debates on the proper translations of Pali language texts. Even when you go back to majority Buddhist Governments, like much of the Tong Dynasty in China, or periods in the Kushan Empire, or periods in Japanese history, there are precious few examples of overt Buddhist militancy. 10 Buddhists do congregate together in monasteries for the purpose of focusing on their individual efforts with less distraction from the outside world, but basically Buddhism is a lonely philosophy where practitioners abandon family and friends and retreat to seek mental tranquility – in this lifetime. A couple days of training won’t let you accomplish your goals, and many people give up when there is no immediate benefit and the considerable amount of effort that will be required to accomplish any results becomes obvious. There are two problems with pointing out stupid supernatural stuff in Buddhist writings. Thus the deeper purpose of Buddhism is not to reject worldly aspiration per se, but to recognize that the mission of addressing human suffering can be accomplished in a variety of ways. I'd say "This panic isn't my enemy. The desire for sex represents an attachment to the world, uncontrolled by your mind. If you had the time to go through all of them, I expect that you could find examples of every kind of silliness that you get in many other religions. 3 ” But still, it’s not for everyone and, indeed, was never designed or intended to be for everyone. So pointing out some examples of self-indulgent monks or abbots is about as useful as pointing out some greedy preachers or prelates, or imams, or rabbis, or front-running atheist hedge fund managers for that matter. If you go to a Muslim, Jewish or Christian retreat, you are likely to be singing songs, saying group prayers, reciting holy verse, sharing meals, and doing fun stuff. This belief is the lack of a constant soul in Buddhism, which is called anatta. Drunk abbots, Mercedes driving monks, womanizers, etc. Consequently, this life keeps biting and devouring until it’s covered with sores, wounds and scars. The purpose of Nirvana is permanently ending suffering - it's not about experiencing bliss. But historically, it’s a game that has never been won and the orthodoxy only ever extends to the monasteries and principal temples themselves. There may be some religious chanting involved at some point, but like the incense and the artistic mandalas that adorn the walls, and the temple gardens, these are supposed to be aids to help you achieve a singular mental state. After a minute ask yourself "Does this nameless energy bother me?" We could never prove that a “soul” does not exist, we probably could only show that it’s impossible using current technology to find one 32 . Lately though, I seem to have been having nagging thoughts of wondering what the point of life is. it makes myself ask whether I'm depressed if I can't find purpose in what I'm doing. But you can find considerable heated debate on the subject of whether Buddhism is an atheist religion or not. Buddhism is a “religion” best practiced, and only capable of being achieved, alone 10 . In the Name of Christ: A Short Travel into Christianity’s Bloody... Presuppositionalist Pete 2: Ask Not at Whom the Buddha Laughs. Want to be a good Buddhist, then learn to stop loving (in the way you do now, with attachment) your parents, siblings, spouse, and children. The answer should be no because the thought of the bucket of sand shouldn't induce any feelings or sensations. And if you've been working on your ego for a year, then uninvited analysis is one of the few things your brain still has to offer you. Buddhism is a religion because it is a worldview and way of life that is related to the sacred. The need for purpose is one the defining characteristics of human beings. Meditation in Buddhism does not allow you to levitate, have a brighter aura, travel the astral plane, predict the stock market, cure your body of diseases, eliminate body odor, increase the size of your breasts/penis, or any of the other odd claims that you may have seen as benefits of mediation in the popular press. There probably are some literalists out there, most likely in the Pure Land or Tibetan Buddhist sects, but it’s rare. Expediency rules, which is why mentorship or a “Master” is such an important concept in the Buddhist monastic tradition, where the Master can select the best advice applicable for an individual. Imagine a Muslim saying each person could become as close to Allah as was Mohammad? There's nothing to be afraid of. 8 Monks originally were also not self-identified, as they were supposed to dress simply and in donated cloth. Types of Buddhism. Various schools of Buddhism interpret the skandhas in somewhat different ways. Chanting and showing respect to the Buddha is a good things, because if your mind is focused on positive states that’s all you need, though devotion is of course too much. It is often said that gods are irrelevant to the quest for enlightenment, and that if they do exist, they would benefit from Buddhism just as much as humans – maybe more. Every human being has the capacity to become a Buddha, which merely means someone who has attained enlightenment and “awakened”. etc." The blog section of Atheist Republic serves as a platform for bloggers to share their opinions. 16 Theravada Buddhism, which is mostly practiced in Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar venerates what is sometimes known as the Pali Canon. All proceeds will go to keeping the Atheist Republic website up and running; providing resources, advocacy, community tools and encouragement to atheists all over the world. Here in SE Asia, the Burmese and Thais have been constantly at war, despite sharing the same Buddhist tradition. Buddhism always highlight the cause and effect of reincarnation, so death is not an end but a new beginning for a new life in the future. Now go back to the original thought. 4 This is why the Kalama Sutra made it into the list of books atheists should read, as it exhorts people to question those who claim to know some special “truth” that relies on faith. Buddhist practices like meditation are means of changing yourself in order to develop the qualities of awareness, kindness, and wisdom. You don't have to think about reducing ego, you simply practice virtue, meditation, and discern what is healthy, skillful behavior. Drowning, but metta might just deal with the ethnic provenience of the Alan Watts quote `` the purpose whatever... S all hard work, and its sole benefit is to gain control of own. 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