If you have not read the introductory post, “What is Buddha Dhamma?“, please read that first. It describes the unique aspects of Buddha Dhamma, in the sense that it is not a religion by some definitions and the Buddha was not a savior.
1. There are two co-existing facets of Buddha Dhamma:
- The Buddha said, “This Dhamma is unlike anything that the world has ever seen”. It really needs a paradigm change to get into the “new perspective about this world view of the Buddha”. One needs to be able to put aside all preconceived notions to understand the core message.
- However, the Buddha also said, “My Dhamma is good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good at the end”. There is something to be gained from Buddha Dhamma for people who just come to know about it to those who have really grasped the core concepts. This is why I have separated posts into three categories on the site.
- Many important terms, even whole suttas, can be interpreted at several levels, ranging from superficial to very deep meanings. As I build the site, I will try to give some examples. For example, the five precepts have much deeper meanings than the ones that are apparent. It is gratifying, and exhilarating, to see deeper meanings as one progresses. Thus, there is something to be gained at any level.
2. There are three basic ways to practice Dhamma:
- At the very basic level (see, “Moral Living and Fundamentals“), one can find happiness or misery in this life itself according to the way one lives one’s life. One whose actions are harmful to oneself or the others will be living in misery. Someone may seem to be living in luxury, but could be living in misery. We know about many wealthy/famous people who even committed suicide.
- At the next level, one leads a moral life and accumulates good kamma that could lead to a good life in the next birth. However, we need to keep in mind that even if one does not commit a single bad kamma, the next birth could be a bad one due to “bad kamma seeds” from previous lives; see, “Working Towards Good Rebirths“.
- At the highest level, one will act to remove all defilements from one’s mind so that the mind becomes liberated from the body which causes all suffering. Thus one will be working to achieve Nibbana, the unconditioned, permanent happiness; see, “Seeking Nibbana“.
3. The site is organized at those three levels:
- Most people intuitively know the benefit of a moral life. Dhamma will help understand why, and even point to some possible improvements.
- When one lives a moral life and EXPERIENCES the benefit of that, one will be automatically drawn to think about whether there is a life after death. One reads about the evidence for/against this possibility. If the answer is “yes”, then one can find possible ways to work towards a better life in the next birth. This is not much different from the moral behavior in above. It is just that one will learn a lot about “the world” that we live in.
- Once the second stage is achieved, some may want to at least explore the third stage. This is THE message of the Buddha, that no matter where one is born in the next life, there are NO guarantees that the lives after that will be suffering free. This is the path to Nibbana, to cease suffering permanently.
4. Going straight to the third level will be like trying to get into high school without finishing the primary and secondary schooling.
- However, even if one has not even heard anything about Buddha Dhamma before, some may be already at the second stage, and few may even be ready for the third stage. This life did not start at this birth. Each of us have come a long way and have molded our character through countless lives in the past. Thus, even if one is unaware of it, one may already be mentally prepared to tackle the third stage. So, please look around and find a starting point that you are comfortable with; see, “Where to Start on the Path?“. Only you know about yourself!
5. It is critical to realize that “knowledge” is not perfect at any level as long as one remains “in this world”. Even though he was not talking about that, the famous physicist Richard Feynman illustrates this point well in this video:
Let us take his example of someone slipping on ice. A drunk person stepping onto ice-covered surface does not even realize that it is icy and slippery. At the next level, an alert person knows that the surface is slippery, and thus will be careful. But if one needs to know why the icy-surface is slippery, then a bit of basic physics is needed to understand “why ice is slippery”. It is not necessary to understand “why ice is slippery” if one has an uncontaminated mind; a sober person with a calm mind will take precautions when stepping on a icy surface. More complex situations require the cleansing of an “average mind” further. This is where Buddha Dhamma makes a difference.
6. Even though humans have an innate sense of what is right and what is wrong, human mind is polluted by the five hindrances (see, “Key to Calming the Mind – The Five Hindrances”).
- Once Dhamma Theory is understood, just that understanding leads to the clearing up of some of these hindrances; furthermore, the logic of a moral life comes naturally out the Dhamma Theory. This understanding of the Dhamma Theory or at least some idea of what the basic foundations of Buddha Dhamma is CRITICAL and should be done before one starts “practicing” Dhamma.
- If one living a moral life reads about the Dhamma Theory, he/she may be motivated to explore the second stage, i.e., to think about the validity of the process of rebirth, which is a major axiom of Buddha Dhamma.
- When one LIVES a life with the belief that what one does in this life will affect how one will fare after this life, then one may realize the danger in this traversing this endless cycles of rebirths. That will lead to exploring the third stage, which is THE real message of the Buddha.
7. No one can take anyone else to any meaningful mundane happiness with niramisa sukha (in this life or next) or to Nibbana.
- The Buddha said, “Attä hi attano nätho, kö hi näthö paro siyä”, or ,”One indeed is one’s own refuge; how can others be a refuge to one?” .
- Each one has one’s own mind. And that is what is needed to be purified in order to attain a peaceful life now, a better life in the next, or even Nibbana. But others CAN help.
- It is entirely up to the individual. This site will help one find the right path.
Next, “The Importance of Purifying the Mind“, ………