This blog is setup as a virtual place where we encourage people all around the world to come together here to learn, to understand and to practice the way of life through the teaching of Buddha. Not just for the sake of one's happiness but also for all suffering beings, to be able to break free from the endless cycles of suffering.
A lot of people love to talk about compassion and peace regarding home, foreign and domestic affairs. But did not have the compassion and peace in mind, then how will the true compassion and peace be formed?
Shinkoku-O Gosho (Sovereigns of Our Divine Land) Part 3
Introduction of the Six Sects in Nara
During the thirty-third reign of Emperor Shushun, Buddhism began spreading in Japan, gaining momentum during the reign of the thirty-fourth Emperor Suiko, whoese Imperial Regent, Prince Shotoku, did much for the rise of Buddhism such as the promulgation of the Seventeen Article Constitution based on Buddhist doctrines. it was during his reign that schools of Buddhism called Sanron (Three Treatises) and Jojitsu (Completion of Truth) were transmitted to Japan for the first time. This Sanron Sect was the first of the Buddhist sects, Mahayana or Hinayana, appearing in India, China or Japan. Therefore, is is called the mother or father of Buddhist Sects.
Thereafter, the Zen Sect was transmitted to Japan in the reign of Emperor Kogyoku, the thirty-sixth sovereign; the Hosso (Dharma Characteristics) Sect, in the reign of Emperor Temmu, the fortieth sovereign; the Great Sun Buddha Sutra, in the reign of Emperor Gensho, the forty-fourth sovereign; and the Kegon (Flower Garland) Sects, in the reign of forty-fifth Emperor Shomu. Both Ritsu (Precepts) and Tendai-Hokke (Lotus) Sects were introduced to Japan by Venerable Priest Chien-Chen (Ganjin) in the reign of the forty-sixth Emperor Koken, but Chien-chen propagated only the Ritsu Sect without spreading the Tendai-Lotus Sect.
Shinkoku-O Gosho (Sovereigns of Our Divine Land) Part 2
Introduction of Buddhism (in Japan)
The thirtieth sovereign was Emperor Kimmei, eldest son of the twenty-seventh Emperor keitai. He reigned for 32 years, and on the thirteenth day of the tenth month during the thirteenth year of his reign (552 A.D.), King Song-myong of Paekche presented to the Japanese Emperor a gilt-copper statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, which all the people of Japan today from the emperor down, regard as the Buddha of Infinite Life.
The Paekche king's letter of presentation stated:" I, a subject of Your highness, have heard that Buddhism is the best of all teachings and supreme of all ways in the world. In order for Your Highness to practice it, I respectfully present you this Buddhist statue, scriptures and monks through my emissary. I pray that Your Highness may have faith in Buddhism and practice it."
For thirty years or so during the three reigns of Emperors Kimmei, Bidatsu and Yomei, however, Buddhism was not believed in. Strange phenomena in the sky and natural calamities on earth similar to those today did occur during these years, though with less severity.
by Nichiren Daishonin
12th year of Bun'ei Era (1275)
Shinkoku-O Gosho (Sovereigns of Our Divine Land) Part 1
Japan: Land and sovereigns
As I contemplate, Japan is also known variously as Mizuhonokuni (the Land of Luxuriant Rice Plants), Yamato, Akitsushima or Fuso. It consist of 66 provinces and two island of Iki and Tsushima, totaling 68 provinces, extending 3,000 ri east to west, though the measurement from north to south is not positively known.
The land of Japan is divided into five provinces in the Central district and seven circuits. The five central provinces are Yamashiro, Yamato, kawachi, Izumu, and Settsu. the seven circuits are: Tokai-do covering fifteen provinces, Tosan-do eight provinces, Hokuriku-do seven provinces, San'in-do eight provinces, San'yo-do eight provinces, Nankai-do six provinces, and Saikai-do eleven provinces, which is also called Chinzei or Dazaifu. This is the land of Japan.
Considering the rulers of Japan next, twelve gods, seven heavenly and five terrestrial gods reigned over Japan during the pre-historic legendary period. The first of the seven heavenly rulers was Kunitokotachi no Mikoto..., the seventh being Izanagi no Mikoto and his wife, Izanami no Mikoto. The first of the five terrestrial sovereigns was Amaterasu Omikami, who is the Sun Goddess enshrined at the Grand Shrine of Ise. She is the daughter of Izanagi and Izanami.(...) The fifth terrestial sovereign, Hikonagi Satake Ugaya Fukiaezu no Mikoto, was the son of Hikohohodami no Mikoto, the fourth sovereign. His mother was the daughter of the dragon king. These five reigns of terrestrial gods, together with the seven reigns of heavenly gods constitute the twelve reigns of divine rulers.
Human sovereigns, I suppose, will number about one hundred, begining with emperor Jinmu, son of Hikonagi Satake Ugaya Fukiaezu no Mikoto.(...) the fourteenth was the Emperor Chuai (Father of Great Bodhisattva Hachiman). The fifteenth was Empress jingu (Mother of Great Bodhisattva Hachiman). The sixteenth was Emperor Ojin, who is a son of Emperor Chuai and empress Jingu and now worshipped as Great Boddhisattva Hachiman.(...) Herefore, till the twenty-ninth reign of Emperor Senka, Buddhism had not been transmitted to Japan although it existed in India and China.
The use of the word “suffering” in Buddhism can be misleading. When we hear Buddhists say “life is suffering,” we wonder what it means, as most of us don’t experience extreme misery most of the time.
The actual word used by the Buddha is “Dukkha”, which means that “things aren’t completely right in our lives, as there are many unsatisfactory conditions in our existence; something always seems amiss.” “Suffering” in Buddhism thus refers to all kinds of dissatisfactions big and small.
What about happiness?
To live unenlightened is to experience a greater or lesser degree of dissatisfaction. The Buddha never denied that there is joy and happiness in life. But the nagging problem of dissatisfaction is always around, while happiness is always swiftly fleeting by. This is the only problem in our lives. But it is also the biggest problem as it encompasses all problems we face. The Buddha was only drawing our attention to the fact that suffering is an inevitable part of life, that it is a problem that all experience, and wish to avoid, and that it can be overcome with the attainment of Nirvana (True Happiness).
Are the four noble truths pessimistic?
Some say Buddhism is a pessimistic religion— that it keeps talking about suffering. This is definitely untrue. But neither is Buddhism a blindly optimistic religion. It is however, realistic and full of hope, as it teaches that True Happiness is achievable through personal endeavour, one being the master of one’s life.
Problems and difficulties exist whether we think of them or not. But only with honest recognition of them, is solving them possible. The Buddha stated the indisputable truth that life is full of dissatisfactions so that He could teach us the way out of dissatisfactions, towards True Happiness!
How are the four noble truths important?
To realise the Four Noble Truths is the central task of the Buddhist life as they lead to True Happiness. You will discover that the structure of the Four Noble Truths is the most simple, logical, scientific and systematic problem-solving formula possible. As these truths solve the ultimate problem of suffering, they are very important indeed.
How do the four noble truths work?
The first truth states our problem of suffering. The second states the cause of the problem. The third states the ideal state without the problem, and the fourth truth states how this ideal state can be achieved.
What is the origin of the four noble truths?
The Four Noble Truths were first taught by the Buddha during His first sermon at the Deer Park in Isipatana (of ancient India near today’s Benares) after He attained Enlightenment—that was more than 2,500 years ago.
The sermon was called the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dharma). All the teachings that the Buddha later gave were either further indepth elaborations of the Four Noble Truths, or teachings that led to them. He used a wide variety of skilful means and methods in teaching them to different people.
"When envy, hate, and fear are habitual," say Dr. Alexis Carrel, "they are capable of starting genuine diseases". Medical science is of the view that diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, gastric ulcers, skin diseases and asthma are aggravated, if not actually brought about, by anxiety and worry. Thought can generate organic disorders as we tend to attract what we expect in life. Doctors find that their patients tend to heal in accordance with their own expectations, rather than healing as the prognosis would suggest. Businessmen who do not know how to cope with worry and stress situations often die young. Those who remain calm and maintain their inner peace in spite of the external turmoil of worldly life are insulated from nervous and organic disorders.
Experience has shown that a good deal of physical and mental ill-health can be traced to worry. worry dries up the blood sooner than age. While it is true that some degree of fear, worry and anxiety is natural and may even be necessary for self-preservation, when is is not under control, constant fear and prolonged worry will only wreak havoc on the human organism. These factors all contribute to the weakening of our normal bodily functions.
According to medical opinion, in the treatment of most functional disorders, close attention has to be paid to the mental condition of the patient. Psychiatrists have recognized that worries do not solve problems but instead only aggravate them and these in turn will cause one's physical and mental ruin. In addition, a person who is perpetually worried creates an unhealthy atmosphere at home, in the office and in society in general. Through irrational actions resulting from personal worry and anxiety, a person upset the peace and happiness of those around them.
Just as worry is capable of causing harm to oneself and others, so also is fear. Persistent fear keeps a person in a state of perpetual mental tension and anguish. Fear progressively erodes life and debases the mind. Fear is potent pessimistic force which darken the future. If someone harbors any kind of fear, his or her way of thinking will be affected. This unwholesome mental state is capable of eroding personality and making one landlord to a ghost.
So great a hold has fear upon us that it has rightly been described as humanity's arch-enemy. Fear has become a fixed mental state amongst millions of people. To live in continued dread, cringing, and haunted by the fear of devils, spooks, gods and goddesses is the common lot of humanity wallowing in ignorance.
Fear can even turn to panic in cases of unexpected cries when there are no preparation for meeting the threat. While a certain amount of fear may be considered normal or even necessary for survival, if it is allowed to grow unchecked it will turn to panic which is an intense irrational fear. Panic can lead to all kinds of disastrous results not only to oneself but to those around. The way to prevent panic is to prepare oneself beforehand, by studying how the mind works, how too intense a concern with the self leads to irrational behavior.
I am not affected by the death of my wife. Chuang Tzu was a Chinese philosopher. When his wife died, he sat outside the hut beating a drum and singing a song. His friends who saw this were shocked and asked if he was not affected by her death. Chuang Tzu replied:"Actually, I accepted her fate because now she is free from the painful business of living. She has just undergone another transformation."
The word “Buddha” means “The Awakened (or Enlightened) One”. A Buddha was previously a human being like us, who had reached the highest peak of spiritual cultivation through purification and mastery of the mind, attaining the greatest perfection possible by anyone. Having awakened to reality, He is one who has found True Happiness in realising the true nature of all things. With the attainment of Enlightenment (realisation of the truth of all things), wisdom and compassion are perfected among other countless positive qualities. Having become a Buddha, one transcends the limitations of a human (and gender) and becomes much greater than a human or god, gaining ultimate peace and liberation.
Can I become a Buddha?
The potential of attaining Enlightenment or Buddhahood exists in each and every sentient being (including us). We all possess within ourselves the perfect goodness of Buddha-nature (potential for Buddhahood), which is like the bright full moon. The path towards Enlightenment is the clearing of the dark clouds of defilements (negative qualities—chiefly craving, aversion and ignorance) that overshadow our Buddha-nature, so as to let it shine forth. There are already countless Buddhas in existence and there will be countless more as long as there are those earnest in seeking the truth.
Who is the Buddha?
The Buddha is the greatest character that ever appeared in the history of humankind—being an embodiment of one perfect in thought, word and deed. He was the wisest and most loving being who ever graced the Earth, an example of how great we can all become. “The Buddha” refers to the historical Shakyamuni Buddha who was born in Northern India (present day Nepal) more than 2,500 years ago (at about 563 B.C.). He is regarded as the founder of Buddhism for our world. He was a noble Shakyan Prince (Siddhartha Gautama) with an entire kingdom of riches to inherit, who chose to renounce it at the age of 29 in search of Enlightenment (realisation of the truth of all things and True Happiness) out of compassion for all beings. After He attained Enlightenment at 35, He shared the inspiring truth tirelessly for 45 to 50 years to all who were willing to learn from Him. He passed away into the deep peace of Parinirvana at 80. His life is full of inspiring stories of how He touched people from all walks of life with His wisdom and compassion.
What did the Buddha teach?
The Buddha’s message is a joyous one. He found the precious treasure of freedom in the truth and taught us how to follow the way that leads us to this same treasure. Though He tells us that we are in deep darkness, He also teaches us the path that leads to the light. He wishes us to rise from a life of unreal dreams to a higher life of wisdom where all love and do not hate. His appeal is universal, because He appeals to reason, and to the universal search for True Happiness. He put truth to the crucial test of personal experience, encouraging everyone to doubt His teachings, believing that great realisations can arise from clearing great doubts. He taught us to be mindful of ourselves and to become awake, to seek and to find True Happiness like He did.
How can the Buddha help me?
The Buddha is a spiritual genius as He reached the goal of the spiritual quest (Enlightenment) by Himself. However, He could see that while we too can attain Enlightenment, we might need a lot of help. Out of compassion, He devoted the rest of His life to being a guide to all who were willing to learn from Him, teaching all that had to be taught before passing into everlasting bliss. He proved to be just as ingenious in showing us the path to True Happiness. As long as we keep our hearts and minds open, the Buddha still inspires us through His precious teachings.
Where is the Buddha now?
The Buddhas are described as having three bodies (Trikaya) or aspects of existence, though they are
in ultimate reality one in all and all in one:
1. Truth body
2. Bliss body
3. Manifestation body (bodies)
The truth body of Buddhas
The truth body of a Buddha (Dharmakaya) is the embodiment of the Dharma (truth itself) that is eternally present everywhere, expressed in the natural laws of the universe and the workings of these laws. Sometimes we catch a glimpse of this wonderful reality when we are at peace and at one with everything. This body of truth is in all things though it is beyond shape and form. It is represented by Vairocana Buddha, the central and universal Buddha who is preaching the truth right here and now. He is both one and many at the same time as He manifests in many forms. Our inability to see or hear Him is due to our defilements.
The Buddha taught, “He who sees the Dharma (the truth) sees the Buddha. He who sees the Buddha sees the Dharma.” A Buddha, having realised the truth, becomes equal to the truth. Though there are many Buddhas, all Buddhas are one and the same, being no different from one
another in the Dharmakaya, which is the oneness of truth. The Dharmakaya exists simultaneously with the Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya. (See “The Bliss Body of Buddhas” and “The Manifestation Body
of Buddhas”) With the moon representing the Buddha, the Dharmakaya is like the rays of the moon that shine at night. These rays of light might not be visible to the eye as they do not illuminate the darkness of
space, but they pervade it fully everywhere.
The bliss body of Buddhas
The bliss body of a Buddha (Sambhogakaya) or Rocana Buddha is the magnificent blissful reward body of a Buddha. It is the aspect through which each Buddha rejoices in the truth, in teaching the truth, and in leading others to the realisation of the truth. Because each Buddha has practised through countless ages to attain perfect wisdom and compassion, each has immeasurable peace, merits and happiness, as expressed in the Sambhogakaya. Buddhas usually do not appear in this form among humans as we lack the merits to perceive them this way. Instead, they manifest as Nirmanakayas (see “The Manifestation Body of Buddhas”). With the moon representing the Buddha, the Sambhogakaya is like the unclouded full moon shining bright in its total splendour.
The Manifestation Body of Buddhas
An example of a manifestation body of a Buddha (Nirmanakaya) in our world is the transformed body of the historical Shakyamuni Buddha. It is the Buddha expressed in a human form. A Buddha can also manifest in many different forms at the same time to teach the truth to many beings. Having attained perfection, the abilities of a Buddha are far beyond that of ordinary humans. It is out of compassion, to be an example, and to teach the truth to many, that a Buddha chooses to appear in a form (instead
of the Sambhogakaya—see “The Bliss Body of Buddhas”) that we can relate to. When the Buddha entered Parinirvana, only His physical body passed away. The essence of His Enlightenment still exists in the form of the Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and other Nirmanakayas. Today, the physical relics of the Buddha’s manifested body are enshrined in stupas all over the world. With the moon representing the Buddha, the Nirmanakaya is like a reflection of the moon upon a lake. One moon can be reflected differently in many lakes at the same time.
Free Inquiry), which offers guidelines on seeking the
Once, in the Buddha’s time, He came across the village of the Kalamas. The Kalamas were among the smartest and most intellectual people in India. Together, they went to ask the Buddha, “How do we know what you teach is true? All the other spiritual teachers (there were more than 60 religious beliefs then) who came by claim that only what they alone teach is true, that what all others teach is untrue.”
To that, the Buddha smiled gently and replied, “
1. Do not simply believe what you hear just because you have heard it for a long time.
2. Do not follow tradition blindly merely because it has been practised in that way for many generations.
3. Do not be quick to listen to rumours.
4. Do not confirm anything just because it agrees with your scriptures.
5. Do not foolishly make assumptions.
6. Do not abruptly draw conclusions by what you see and hear.
7. Do not be fooled by outward appearances.
8. Do not hold on tightly to any view or idea just because you are comfortable with it.
9. Do not accept as fact anything that you yourself find to be logical.
10. Do not be convinced of anything out of respect and reference to your spiritual teachers.
You should go beyond opinion and belief. You can rightly reject anything which when accepted and practised, leads to more anger (aversion), more greed (craving) and more delusion (ignorance). The knowledge that you are angry, greedy or deluded does not depend on either belief or opinion. Remember that anger, greed and delusion are things universally condemned. They are not beneficial and are to be avoided. Conversely, you can accept anything which when accepted and practised leads to unconditional love, contentment and wisdom. These qualities allow you time and space to develop a happy and peaceful mind. Therefore, the wise praise unconditional love, contentment and wisdom. This should be your criteria on what is and what is not the truth; on what should be and what should not be the spiritual practice.”
Hearing that, the Kalamas were pleased, and with an open heart and mind, having embraced the spirit of free enquiry, listened and questioned to clarify their doubts, and wholeheartedly accepted the teachings of the Buddha.
The historical Buddha was an embodiment of all the virtues that He preached. He translated all His words into action. He was tireless in His spreading of the truth and was the perfect model example. At no time did He ever show any human weakness or base passion. His qualities of morality, wisdom and compassion are the most perfect the world has ever known.
Your Possible Perfection
The Buddha represents the highest possible peak of spiritual cultivation. He taught that all could attain true perfection. Few, if any, founders of religions taught that their followers too have the same chance to gain the same experience of peace, happiness and salvation as oneself. But the Buddha taught that anyone could attain the same bliss of supreme Enlightenment if one practised as He did.
If the definition of “religion” is the unquestioning belief and worship of a supreme entity, with the obligation to carry out rites and rituals, then Buddhism is definitely not a religion. It is beyond all conventional definitions of religion— for Buddhism encourages intelligent doubting and believes in the potential supremacy of the individual. Rites and rituals are seen as ceremonies that help guide and inspire us. They are important in that sense, but they do not give us wisdom or True Happiness. Buddhism is however called a religion out of convention.
As the Buddha’s concern is the True Happiness of all beings, His teachings can be practised in society or seclusion, by all of every race and belief. It is totally unbiased and truly universal.
Purification of the Mind
Buddhism is the only religion that encourages not just the ceasing of all evil and the doing of all good—it also teaches the purification of one’s mind, which is the root of all good and evil, the cause of both suffering and True Happiness.
When the Buddha was meditating to gain Enlightenment, no gods came to reveal any hidden secrets of spiritual power. No one gave Him any religious laws to teach. He said, “I never had any teacher or divinity to teach me or tell me how to gain Enlightenment. I achieved supreme wisdom by my own effort, energy, knowledge and purity.” Likewise, we can attain this highest goal through perseverance in perfecting ourselves.
Freedom of Thought
From the intellectual and philosophical content of Buddhism rose the freedom of thought and inquiry unparalleled by any other established world religion or philosophy. Though the Buddha urges us to consider His teachings, there is no obligation or compulsion whatsoever to believe or accept any Buddhist doctrine.
Education of the Truth
The Buddha is the greatest teacher of the truth (reality of all things). Buddhism offers the perfect education about us and the universe we live in. It is the teaching beyond worldly knowledge - of the highest wisdom that leads to the realisation of True Happiness. It is interesting to note that the first university established in the world is the great Nalanda Buddhist University in India, which flourished from the second to the ninth century. It was open to students all over the world and was the school of many outstanding Buddhist scholars and sages.
The Buddha was an unequalled teacher. He freely and actively invited both His followers and those of other beliefs to challenge His teachings from every possible angle till there was no room for any kind of doubt. True to His injunctions, His followers have debated about His doctrine and even founded various schools of Buddhism according to their understanding without violence or bloodshed. The Buddha knew that if one really believed that one knows the truth, one should not be afraid to have it challenged, as the truth will always win. His replies to numerous questions enriched the Buddhist doctrine into a vast religious field. We are today able to answer many questions about Buddhism and the universe, simply by referring to the Buddha’s explanations.
No Blind Faith
The Buddha did not promise heavenly bliss or reward to those who called themselves His followers. Nor did He promise salvation to those who had faith in Him. To Him, religion is not a bargain but a noble way of life to gain Enlightenment and salvation for oneself and others.
He did not want followers who believed Him blindly. He wanted us to think and understand for ourselves. The Buddha urged all to come forth to discover more about Buddhism and not simply believe in it. He advised choosing a proper religion by considering and investigating it in various ways, without accepting anything through emotion or blind faith. This is why Buddhism is sometimes called the religion of analysis. In it is the scientific logical analysis of mind and matter which modern thinkers appreciate. Even today, Buddhists are encouraged to have the attitude of a healthy sceptic, including towards the Buddhist scriptures!
From Experience and Reason to Faith
Buddhism is the only religion, which was explained through the experience and Enlightenment of its founder (the Buddha), without introducing it as a message by any god. It starts from the root of known experience and not faith. Human problems must be understood by one through human experience and solved by developing great humane qualities. One should seek solutions through the purification and development of the mind, not through outsiders. This is why the Buddha never introduced Himself as a supernatural saviour. According to Him, we can be our own saviours.
The Whole Truth
The Buddha encourages us to face the facts of life courageously, without acting hypocritically, and to accept the truth whatever and wherever it may be. All that He taught were timeless practical truths leading us towards True Happiness.
Scientific in Spirit
Buddhism never found the need to give new interpretations to its teachings. Newly verified scientific discoveries never contradict the teachings of the Buddha as their spirit and methodologies are scientifically valid. Buddhism’s principles can be maintained under any circumstances without changing their basic ideas. The capacity to understand the value of Buddhist ideas may diminish and disappear from human mind in time. However, the value of the Buddha’s teachings will be appreciated by every cultured and understanding person at any time. As complimented by Albert Einstein (physicist and
mathematician), winner of the Nobel Prize, who is popularly regarded as the most outstanding scientist of the twentieth century,
“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion.
It should transcend a personal God and avoid
dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual,
it should be based on a religious sense
arising from the experience of all things, natural
and spiritual, as a meaningful unity. Buddhism
answers this description... If there is any religion that
would cope with modern scientific needs, it would
As complimented by Lord Bertrand Russell (mathematician, author and social critic), winner of the Nobel Prize, who is popularly regarded as the most outstanding philosopher of the twentieth century,
“Of the great religions of history, I prefer Buddhism...
Buddhism is a combination of both speculative
and scientific philosophy. It advocates the Scientific
Method and pursues that to a finality that may be
called Rationalistic. In it are to be found answers
to such questions of interest as ‘What is mind and
matter? Of them, which is of greater importance?
Is the universe moving towards a goal? What is man’s
position? Is there living that is noble?’ It takes up
where science cannot lead because of the limitations
of the latter’s instruments. Its conquests are those of
In the course of their work, many psychologists have found, as the pioneering work of Dr. Carl G. Jung (founder of Analytic Psychology—a pioneer of an aspect of modern psychology) has shown, we are closer to the Buddha than we think. To read a little Buddhism is to realise that the Buddhists knew, more than 2,500 years ago, far more about our modern problems of psychology than they have yet been given credit for. They studied these problems long ago, and found the answers too. As complimented by Jung,
“As a student of comparative religions,
I believe that Buddhism is the most perfect one the world has seen.
The philosophy of the theory of evolution and the law
of Karma are far superior to any other creed...
It was neither the history of religion nor the study
of philosophy that first drew me to the world of
Buddhist thought, but my professional interest as a
doctor. My task was to treat psychic suffering and
it was this that impelled me to become acquainted
with the views and methods of that great teacher of
humanity [the Buddha], whose principal theme was
[breaking] the chain of suffering, old age, sickness
The Buddha is a major historical figure who promoted the rise of rational faith against the superstitions of blind faith. He emancipated humankind from the authority of corrupted priests, and was the first to show the way to freedom from religious hypocrisy and dictatorship. Buddhism is a religion that uses reason and no element of fear to coerce anyone to believe in it.
As the Buddha’s compassion is universal, He sees all creatures great and small, from insects to beasts, as ultimately equal, each with the same rights to happiness as us.
There is no such thing as a just war in Buddhism. The Buddha taught that, “The victor breeds hatred and the defeated lives in misery. He who renounces both victory and defeat is happy and peaceful.” Not only did the Buddha teach non- violence and peace, He was probably the first and only religious founder who went to the battlefield to prevent the outbreak of a war.
The Buddha was among the first to speak against the caste system, on the importance of individual rights and the equality of all humans despite differences in social standing, race and religion. He also encouraged the spirit of social co-operation and active participation in society at all levels. According to the Buddha, the only classification of humans should be based on the quality of their moral conduct. The Buddha said,
“Go into all lands and preach this teaching. Tell
them that the poor and the lowly, the rich and the
high are all one and that all castes unite in this
religion as do the rivers in the sea.”
Seeing the two sexes as ultimately equal in rights, the Buddha was the first religious teacher who gave women freedom to participate fully in the religious life. His move to allow women to enter the Sangha (order of monks and nuns) was indeed brave and radical in His times.
The Buddha was the first to advocate the spirit of open consultation in the democratic process. In the Sangha community, each member had individual rights to decide on matters of general concern. When a serious question arose, the issues were put forth and discussed in a manner similar to today’s democratic parliamentary system.
The Buddha strongly encouraged care and respect for the planet’s environment as He clearly saw the close interdependence between all beings and nature.
No Sacrificial Rites
The Buddha disapproved of animal sacrifice as He saw it cruel and unfair for anyone to destroy any living being for one’s selfish “benefit”.
No Flowery Miracles
To the Buddha, miracles are but manifestations of phenomena not understood by most. They are not seen as demonstrations of Enlightenment or wisdom, as supernatural powers can be mastered by anybody. The supernatural is simply natural phenomena not understood by the unenlightened. The ability to perform miracles is seen as a by- product of spiritual development—of minor importance and relevance to the real goal of spiritual perfection. Though the Buddha had full mastery of psychic abilities, He used them only out of compassion, as a skilful means to teach. He never used His powers to win followers through blind faith or dependency on miracles. He taught that the highest miracle is the “conversion” of an ignorant person to a wise one.
No Political Abuse
The Buddha was born of royalty, and associated with kings, princes and ministers. Yet, He never resorted to the influence of political power to introduce His teachings. Nor did He allow His teachings to be misused for gaining political power. However, He urged kings to be morally strong, teaching that a country should not be ruled by greed, but with compassion and consideration for the people.
There is no concept of “unforgivable sin” in Buddhism. The Buddha taught that all deeds are either skilful or unskilful due to the presence or absence of wisdom respectively. There is always hope for improvement as long as one recognises one’s mistakes and changes for the better.
No Stubborn Exclusivity
The Buddha taught that if any religion has the teachings of the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, it may be regarded as a proper religion. This is because a truly helpful religion must lead to the total eradication of suffering (as in the Four Noble Truths), clearly showing a rational path towards True Happiness (as in the Noble Eightfold Path).
Harmonious Missionary Work
An outstanding example of the qualities and approach of a Buddhist missionary is the great Emperor Asoka, who sent Buddhist missionaries to many parts of Asia and the West to introduce the Buddha’s message of peace. One of his scripts engraved in stone on an Asoka pillar, which still stands today reads,
“One should not honour only one’s religion and
condemn the religion of others, but one should honour
others’ religion for this or that reason. In so doing,
one helps one’s own religion to grow and
renders service to the religions of others too. In acting otherwise,
one digs the grave of one’s own religion and also does
harm to other religions.”
Unholy wars, crusades, inquisitions and religious discrimination do not mar the annals of Buddhist history. Buddhist missionaries have no need or desire to convert those who already have a proper religion to practise. Buddhists are happy to see the progress of other religions so long as they help people to lead a moral way of life according to their faith, and enjoy peace, harmony and true understanding. However, the Buddha also urged us to share the truth with those who might be interested in it,
“Go forth, O Bhikkhus (monks), for the good of
the many, for the happiness of the many, out of
compassion for the world, for the good, benefit and
the happiness of gods and humans... Let not two go
by one way. Preach, O Bhikkhus, the Dharma (way
to the truth), excellent in the beginning, excellent in
the middle, excellent in the end, both in spirit and
in the letter. Proclaim the holy life altogether perfect
The Worthiest Goal
The attainment of Buddhahood (full Enlightenment), or the achievement of True Happiness for oneself and others is the most challenging, yet most worthwhile goal. However, because practising Buddhism means following the Noble Eightfold Path (or the Middle Way), Buddhists never have to go into any form of extremism.
Complete Overview of Humankind and Religion
The Buddha explained rationally and in detail how various religious systems evolved though history with changes in the thinking of humankind. He also gave us a comprehensive overview of the effects of religion on humans.
Complete Path Towards True Happiness
The Buddha’s teachings form a complete and colossal interconnected syllabus, which covers every timeless aspect of life. The ancient collection of Buddhist scriptures was said to pile up to “the height of seven elephants”! Being history’s longest teaching religious founder, the Buddha expounded for 45 years on all that was necessary to attain True Happiness. He asked His assembly of thousands of disciples thrice, on whether they had any remaining doubts before His final passing. There were none.
Happiness in This Life
Buddhism does not focus only on the afterlife. Though practising Buddhism in this life has positive effects that extend beyond this life, many fruits of our practice can be savoured in this very life.
Everything is Open
According to the Buddha, the truth in his teachings is open for everyone to discover personally. While there are advanced teachings which require specific guidance of experienced teachers, there are no secrets in Buddhism.
Goodwill and Understanding
The Buddha’s message of goodwill and understanding to all beings is a universal message. The world today needs this noble message more than ever before. If so, may we learn and share it with more!
Due to this merits, May I soon, Attain the enlightened state of Guru Buddha, That I may be able to librate all sentient beings from their suffering. May the precious bodhi mind, Not yet been born in me, will arise and grow. May the birth have no decline, and will increase forever more. Namu Myo Ho Renge Kyo Namo Buddhaya Namo Dharmaya Namo Sanghaya