Concepts of Buddhism

Concepts of BuddhismKarma
Karma is the energy which drives Samsara, the cycle of suffering and rebirth for each being. Good, skillful and bad, unskillful actions produce "seeds" in the mind which give results either in this life or in at the time of rebirth. The avoidance of unwholesome actions and the cultivation of positive actions is called Sila.
In Buddhism, Karma specifically refers to those actions of body, speech, and mind that spring from mental intent and which bring about a consequence. Every time a person acts there is some quality of intention at the base of the mind and it is that quality rather than the outward appearance of the action that determines its effect.

Rebirth means going through a succession of lifetimes as one of many possible forms of sentient life, each running from birth to death. Buddhism rejects concepts of a permanent self or an unchanging, eternal soul, as believed in Christianity or even Hinduism. Each rebirth takes place within one of five realms. These are further subdivided into 31 planes of existence. One of the realms of rebirth is of Human Being in which attaining Nirvana is possible. Asuras are variously translated as lowly deities, demons, titans, antigods. Devas include Brahmas that are translated as gods, deities, spirits or angels.

The Cycle of Samsara
Sentient beings crave pleasure and are averse to pain from birth to death. In being controlled by these attitudes, they perpetuate the cycle of conditioned existence and suffering (Samsara), and produce the causes and conditions of the next rebirth after death. Each rebirth repeats this process in an involuntary cycle, which Buddhists strive to end by eradicating these causes and conditions, applying the methods laid out by the Buddha.

The Four Noble Truths
According to the Pali Tipitaka, the Four Noble Truths were the first teaching of Gautama Buddha after attaining Nirvana. They are sometimes considered as the essence of the Buddha's teachings and are presented in the remedial manner.
Life as we know it ultimately is or leads to suffering in one way or another. Suffering is caused by craving or attachments to worldly pleasures of all kinds. Suffering ends when craving ends, when one is freed from desire. This is achieved by reaching a liberated state of Enlightenment. Reaching this liberated state is achieved by following the path laid out by the Buddha. The truths do not represent mere statements, but are aspects that most worldly phenomena fall into. They are Suffering and causes of suffering; and Paths towards liberation from suffering.

The early and the traditional teaching is that the Four Noble Truths are an advanced teaching for those who are ready for them. The mentioned Four Noble Truth are-
1. "suffering"
2. "arising of suffering"
3. "end of suffering"
4. "the way leading to the end of suffering"

The Noble Eightfold Path
The Noble Eightfold Path, the fourth of the Buddha's Noble Truths, is the way to the abandonment of suffering. It has eight sections, presented in three groups:
Prajna is the wisdom that purifies the mind, allowing it to attain spiritual insight into the true nature of all things. It includes:
1. Drishti- Viewing reality as it is, not just as it appears to be.
2. Sankalpa- Intention of renunciation, freedom and harmlessness.

Sila is the ethics or morality, or abstention from unwholesome deeds. It includes:
3. Vaca- Speaking in a truthful and non hurtful way
4. Karman- Acting in a non harmful way
5. Aajivan- A non harmful livelihood

Samadhi is the mental discipline required to develop mastery over one's own mind. This is done through the practice of various contemplative and meditative practices, and includes:
6. Vyayama- Making an effort to improve
7. Smrti- Awareness to see things for what they are with clear consciousness, being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion
8. Samadhi- Correct meditation or concentration.

The practice of the Eightfold Path is understood either simultaneous development (all eight items practiced in parallel), or as a progressive series of stages through which the practitioner moves, the culmination of one leading to the beginning of another.

Middle Way
An important guiding principle of Buddhist practice is the Middle Way, which is said to have been discovered by Gautama Buddha prior to his enlightenment. The Middle Path has several definitions:
1. A path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification
2. The middle ground between certain metaphysical views.
3. An explanation of Nirvana (perfect enlightenment), a state wherein it becomes clear that all dualities apparent in the world are delusory.
4. Lack of inherent existence, which avoids the extremes of permanence and nihilism or inherent existence and nothingness

Impermanence is one of the Three Marks of Existence. The term expresses the Buddhist notion that all compounded or conditioned phenomena (things and experiences) are inconstant, unsteady, and impermanent. Everything we can experience through our senses is made up of parts, and its existence is dependent on external conditions. Everything is in constant flux, and so conditions and the thing itself are constantly changing. Things are constantly coming into being, and ceasing to be.

Nirvana means "Awakening" or "Enlightenment". Buddhists believe that anybody who has achieved nirvana is in fact a Buddha. Bodhi is a term applied to the experience of Awakening of arahants. Bodhi literally means "awakening", but is more commonly referred to as "enlightenment". In the later school of Mahayana Buddhism, the status of nirvana was downgraded in some scriptures, coming to refer only to the extinction of greed and hate, implying that delusion was still present in one who attained nirvana, and that one needed to attain bodhi to eradicate delusion. Therefore, according to Mahayana Buddhism, the arahant has attained only nirvana, thus still being subject to delusion, while the bodhisattva not only achieves nirvana but full liberation from delusion as well. He thus attains bodhi and becomes a buddha. In Theravada Buddhism, bodhi and nirvana carry the same meaning, that of being freed from greed, hate and delusion.

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