What is Buddha Dhamma?

Revised on January 16, 2016; September 12, 2018; March 2, 2020; August 4, 2023


1. Many people, who are exposed to a bit of Buddha Dhamma, see that there is something good about it. So, they go to a meditation retreat and try to get a dose of Dhamma over several days.

  • It is good to do that initially. But there is much more to Buddha Dhamma than to attain some temporary relief from the stresses of this life. If one can see that, then one needs to spend a bit more time and learn the full message of the Buddha.

2. If we learn the laws of motion from someone who does not fully understand them, it is harder to digest. We may even learn them incorrectly, in the case of a bit harder subject, say, relativity. If the person who explains does not have a good understanding of the theory of relativity, then it is likely that the person who learns it will not learn much.

  • I have not only learned Buddha Dhamma but have practiced it over the past ten years and have seen the benefits for myself.
  • As a scientist, I am amazed at the depth of Buddha Dhamma. You will be able to see what I mean if you spend some time here.
A Wider Worldview

3. Benefits from Buddha Dhamma or the “worldview of the Buddha” can be two-fold.

  • First is the spiritual aspect. One will be able to experience “peace of mind” even by reading and learning, but when one starts comprehending the critical message of the Buddha, that can have a profound impact.
  • Second is the “intellectual aspect.” Buddha Dhamma thoroughly explains the “laws of Nature.” I have spent ten years studying it, and I am still learning. Once one starts digging deeper, one will see that modern science is far behind.

4. As I build up this site, anyone will be able to see that Buddha Dhamma is the ultimate Grand Unified Theory; see “The Grand Unified Theory of Dhamma.”

  • It explains everything not only that we can see but also the existence of an infinite number of worlds with living beings in 29 other realms of existence. We can only see the human and animal realms.
  • Thus Buddha Dhamma is not a religion in the sense of providing salvation. Buddha was not a God, a prophet, or a messenger. He was a human being who purified his mind to perfection so that he could see the whole of existence. Buddha was the perfect scientist who investigated the problem of life and found a complete solution. We all need to find our salvation by following the Path that he prescribed to purify our minds.
Why Are There So Many Versions of Buddhism?

5. Thus, Buddhism (Buddha Dhamma) is the most elaborate theory of “this world.” It is called “pubbe anunussetu dhammesu” or a “Dhamma (or a theory on nature) that is not known to the world before a Buddha comes along.” The Buddha uttered that phrase multiple times in his first sutta; see “Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta – Introduction.”

  • However, it has “evolved” into many different versions since the Buddha Gotama revealed it to the world over 2500 years ago.
  • During the past 2500 years, many different versions of “Buddhism” have emerged; see “Historical Background – Introduction.” No one can claim, “This is the original version that the Buddha taught.” It is up to each individual to examine different versions and decide which version makes sense.
  • Thus it pays to spend some time and try to find the version(s) closest to the original. That is not an easy task these days.
  • I contend that it is in the Pāli Tipiṭaka, not Sanskrit sutras, and not in Buddhaghosa’s Visuddhimagga. I have pointed out the inconsistencies in both the Mahāyāna version and also in the current Theravada versions with Visuddhimagga as the basis; see “Historical Background” section.
Key Concepts of Buddhism

6. It will be quite beneficial to read the “Moral Living and Fundamentals” section to get an idea of the basic principles.

  • One cannot even begin to follow Buddha Dhamma unless one learns about the key concepts; see “Key Dhamma Concepts.”
  • The first stage of Nibbāna (Sōtapanna stage) is attained just by fully comprehending the “world view of the Buddha.” Then one sees the fruitlessness of seeking lasting happiness in “this world” of 31 realms.

7. What is the central message of the Buddha? It is essential to read the section “Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta.”

  • It is also important to realize that dukkha is not the feeling of suffering; that is dukha; see, “Does the First Noble Truth Describe only Suffering?.”
  • If one did not know that he was talking about a much “bigger world” than the world we directly experience, one would think of that statement as nonsensical. The laws of kammā do not make sense unless one at least knows that the Buddha was talking about a rebirth process that has no beginning.
  • Various types of vedanā (feelings) are discussed in “Three Kinds of Happiness – What is Niramisa Sukha?” and “Nirāmisa Sukha.”

8. Newton discovered the three laws of motion, which helped describe gravity. Instead of re-discovering them, we learn them at school.  We have to learn from a teacher. But if the teacher does not know the material well, then a student will not be able to learn the correct laws of motion.

  • One needs to learn from a true disciple of the Buddha, one who has not only studied it but also has experienced the benefits.
  • Even though I use some “science examples,” there is no need to know any science. A science background may be helpful mainly in the “Dhamma and Science” sections, but even there, it is not necessary.
  • The new section on “Quantum Mechanics and Dhamma” is more suitable for those with at least a high-school background in physics.
The Big Picture

9. Before one embarks on a journey, one needs to know what the trip is about and what the destination is. Furthermore, whether it is worthwhile to undertake the trip. Please be patient and first find out what Buddha Dhamma is about, the big picture, first. Please spend some time learning about the key message of the Buddha before undertaking the journey. If one does not know where one is going (or the terrain), how can one reach the destination?

  • Buddha Dhamma describes the true nature of “this world.” But “this world” does not just mean our life as a human. “This world” is unimaginably complex. Scientists admit that they are aware of only 4% of the things in this universe; see,  “The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality” by Richard Panek (2011). Also, see “Dhamma and Science” section for details.
  • Please be patient and scan through the main sections to get a brief idea first. Getting the “whole picture” will take time; see “User’s Guide to Pure Dhamma Website.”

10. The next question (especially when one sees that it is indeed a complex picture) that comes to one’s mind is that “How do I know this picture is right?”. One makes that decision based on one’s own experience. But even before that, one could get a good idea by treating Buddha Dhamma as a scientific theory. That is why the section on “Dhamma and Science” is helpful.

  • Please pay special attention to the rebirth process. Many people wonder why rebirth is bad. But they do not realize that the chance of rebirth as a human is extremely rare; see “How the Buddha Described the Chance of Rebirth in the Human Realm.”
  • One must also realize that jāti (birth) and bhava (existence in a given realm) are two different things; see “Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein.”
  • Most are reborn in planes below the human realm, where suffering worsens. Scientists estimate that at any given time, there is one quadrillion (1000 trillion) ants living on Earth; this means for each human, there are a million ants. Compared to about 7 billion of the human population, an incredible number of other living species live on this planet.
  • Even on our bodies, we carry many sentient beings: see, “There are as many creatures on your body as there are people on Earth!“.
  • The human population is insignificantly small compared to the animal population. Statistically, that gives an idea of the “probability of human birth.” We do not see the much higher populations in the other lower three realms because defilements cover our minds. If one develops jhānās and acquires abhiññā powers, one can see beings in some of those realms.
  • October 25, 2019: I recently started a new subsection, “Origin of Life,” that discusses many scientific, philosophical, and religious views of the origins of life.
Is Buddhism Pessimistic?

11. Many people think the Buddha Dhamma is pessimistic. The Buddha just revealed the hidden suffering in “this world” and that it can be overcome; see, “Does the First Noble Truth Describe only Suffering?.”

  • He showed that there is a better type of happiness, called nirāmisa sukha, that one gain as one moves away from “this world” towards Nibbāna; see, “Three Kinds of Happiness – What is Niramisa Sukha?“.
  • This nirāmisa sukha increases as one starts on the Noble Eightfold Path and makes a quantum jump (significant gain in a short time) at the first stage of Nibbāna, the Stream Entry (Sōtapanna) stage. There are three more levels, and at the final level, Arahant, one becomes free from “this world” (no more rebirths) and attains Nibbāna.
  • Thus Nibbāna is not just a promise to be fulfilled at death; it can be experienced in this very life. I invite you to take this journey with me for a while and see for yourself. As the Buddha said, “Come and see for yourself.”

12. My goal is to provide at least some details of the complex worldview that was provided by the Buddha, which has been muddled and distorted within the past 2500 years.

  • “Our world” is much more complicated than what is grasped by our senses; see “The Grand Unified Theory of Dhamma.”
  • And our lives do not end with this one; see “Evidence for Rebirth.”
  • Those two facts constitute the basis of the true nature of existence. One cannot comprehend the message of the Buddha until one at least has some idea about this “big picture.”
  • Many questions people have on concepts like kamma, morality, Nibbāna, etc., as well as philosophical questions like “Why am I here?” or “Why is the world the way it is?” will have answers within this big picture. It is a complete worldview, but it is up to each individual to determine whether it makes sense. As the Buddha pointed out, the stakes are very high, and it is a good idea to take time and critically evaluate this big picture.

13. The following sections have information at various levels. Please scan through and find sections of interest.

Three Levels of Practice” “Living Dhamma” “Key Dhamma Concepts” “Dhamma and Science

Paṭicca Samuppāda” “Sutta Interpretations” “Historical Background” “Abhidhamma

Bhāvanā (Meditation)” “Buddhist Chanting” “Tables and Summaries” “Discussion Forum

Quantum Mechanics and Dhamma” “Dhamma and Philosophy

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