God and Religious Toleration/Buddhism

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Enlightened Buddha (meditating).

Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world. The Buddhists refer to the teachings of Gautama Buddha, who in the 5th Century BC, was born in Lumbini, Kapilvastu, west Nepal, born from Queen Mayadhevi. A Buddhist takes refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma (his teachings) and Sangha (the Buddhist community). The goal of Buddhist practice is to attain enlightenment.

Buddha[edit]

"Buddha" (awakened one) is a title of honor that refers to the enduring experience of enlightenment (awakening). A Buddha is a being who has reached full enlightenment. He has achieved nirvana and is therefore bound no longer at the cycle of reincarnation (samsara).

The teachings of Buddha are called Dharma. Base of the Dharma are the Four Noble Truths: 1. Life involves suffering. 2. The causes of suffering are attachment to worldly pleasures, rejection of unpleasant situations and ignorance of the deeper meaning of life (enlightenment). 3. The causes can be resolved, and suffering can end. 4. The way to overcome suffering is the Eightfold Path (right thinking, right action, right meditation, Samādhi).

We can summarize the essence of Buddhism in cognitive work and meditation. The main meditation Buddhas are the four stages of contemplation: 1. Sitting or going and calming thoughts by thinking. 2. Calming thoughts only through sitting or going. 3. Happiness appears by its own while sitting or going. 4. Suddenly the ego dissolves and you live in the light (Nirvana, Unity). The fourth stage of meditation is difficult to achieve for an untrained person. It is caused by grace (by itself). The more comprehensive a man is walking the spiritual path, the sooner he can live in the light (Nirvana).

Today there are three main sects of Buddhism (Theravada, Mahayana, the tibetian Vajrayana) and many sub-forms (for example, the Amitabha Buddhism and Zen Buddhism). The Theravada Buddhism focuses on the original teachings of Buddha. It is all about one's own enlightenment. The main goal is to be a saint (arhat) and to live in the Nirvana (God).

The Mahayana Buddhism is the way of embracing love. Its main goal is not the own enlightenment, but the happiness of all beings. A Mahayana Buddhist does not see himself separated from his fellow beings, but as part of the world. He wants all beings to be happy. He wants a happy world. He works as a Bodhisattva for the enlightenment of all beings.

Tolerance in Buddhism[edit]

Many Buddhists believe that world peace can only be achieved if we first establish peace within our minds. Buddha said, “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” (Siddhārtha Gautama) The idea is that anger and other negative states of mind are the cause of wars and fighting. Buddhists believe people can live in peace and harmony if we abandon negative emotions such as anger in our minds and cultivate positive emotions such as love and compassion.

Buddhists have shown significant tolerance for other religions: "Buddhist tolerance springs from the recognition that the dispositions and spiritual needs of human beings are too vastly diverse to be encompassed by any single teaching, and thus that these needs will naturally find expression in a wide variety of religious forms." (Bhikkhu Bodhi, "Tolerance and Diversity".) James Freeman Clarke said in Ten Great Religions (1871): "The Buddhists have founded no Inquisition; they have combined the zeal which converted kingdoms with a toleration almost inexplicable to our Western experience."

The Buddhist king Ashoka (269 – 231 BC) declared religious tolerance: "The faiths of others all deserve to be honored for one reason or another. By honoring them, one exalts one's own faith and at the same time performs a service to the faith of others." (Kristin Scheible, "Towards a Buddhist Policy of Tolerance: the case of King Ashoka" in Jacob Neusner, p. 323)

The five precepts are the foundation of Buddhist morality for lay Buddhists:

  1. Do not take the life of anything living. (Do not kill)
  2. Do not take anything not freely given. (Do not steal)
  3. Abstain from sexual misconduct and sensual overindulgence.
  4. Refrain from untrue speech. (Do not lie)
  5. Do not consume alcohol or other drugs.

Novice monks follow a set of 10 precepts:

  1. Don't kill.
  2. Don't steal
  3. Don't commit sexual immorality.
  4. Don't speak harshly.
  5. Don't speak falsely.
  6. Don't speak slanderously or divisively.
  7. Don't speak idly.
  8. Don't covet.
  9. Don't have ill will toward others.
  10. Don't hold wrong views. (don't think that there is an isolated self)

Nirvana[edit]

Blessings Buddha.

God is a mystery that one experiences in the Enlightenment. There are religions with a personal and an abstract concept of God. Some people need the idea of God as a person and some the idea of a higher dimension to reach enlightenment.

In Buddhism dominates the abstract concept of God. In Buddhism, God is called Nirvana. Nirvana can be achieved by enlightenment (Bodhi). Nirvana means "extinguished" and describes the extinction of the egoism. The enlightened feels not separated from his surroundings. He lives with his consciousness in a higher dimension of emptiness (nothingness) and unity (fullness).

Mahayana Buddhism works with an abstract (Nirvana) and also a personal concept of God (Buddha). Buddha is seen as the personification of Nirvana. As an enlightened being, he has special spiritual powers and can thus help other beings. One can pray to Buddha or the Bodhisattvas (enlightened beings). Prayers are mostly spoken as mantras in Buddhism.

---> See also God in Buddhism (Amitabha)

Atman and Anatman (Anatta)[edit]

Atman is a term used in Indian philosophy. It means the individual self and is often translated as soul. According to Hindu idea man is in his innermost being an immortal soul (atman), who reincarnates after his death in a new body.

The Buddhist doctrine of anatman (anatta) explains the absence of a permanent and unchanging self, and of an unchanging soul. What is normally regarded as the "self" is just a collection of constantly changing, physical and psychological components. If, after Buddhism there is no fixed self, no permanent essence of a person, what is reborn? It is the karmic impulse, which establishes the connection between the individual lifes. The self is like a burning candle. At the moment of extinction, a new candle is lit from the flame. The flame (the character of a person) is maintained, the candle (the person) is a new one.

There is not much difference between the Hindu and Buddhist soul theory, if you look at the soul as a vibration field (quantum field) of thoughts and feelings. Hinduism emphasizes the continuity of the soul, and Buddhism the autonomy of the individual incarnations. Both are simultaneously true. There is continuity connected with independence. A man's character is preserved, but each incarnation feels as his own ego.

A soul can continue to develop. It can learn positive qualities and meditate, and thus change its nature to enlightenment. Then it experiences itself as non-self (anatman, anatta). It replaces its ego through cosmic consciousness and recognizes itself as part of the cosmos. It is peaceful consciousness inside the happiness of nirvana. A soul stabilized its inner happiness (enlightenment) when it lives in peace, love to all beings, helps all on the way of happiness and gives itself what it needs.

The Unity of All Religions[edit]

Zen-Buddha without an ego in the unity of the nature.

Enlightenment is the center of all religions. The unity of all religions is an important goal towards building a happy world. The communication between religions is important, even when it’s sometimes difficult.

Buddhist: It is obvious that not all religions teach the same. Buddha taught that God and the soul don’t exist. Hinduism alleges the opposite.

Yogi: Our discussion clarifies many basic things.

1. There is only one truth. There is only one highest reality. We can call this Nirvana, Brahman, Universe, Allah or God.

2. I have experienced that there is such a thing as reincarnation. I have seen my earlier life.

3. Modern near-death research has shown that humans have souls that can think and observe independently of the body.

4. There are many clairvoyants who can see into the beyond.

5. Buddha saw his earlier lifes once he became enlightened.

6. The Buddhist teachings only make sense when we consider the reality of rebirth. Why should you work towards enlightenment through the centuries when so few reach the goal? Most people would squander their lifes if they couldn’t take the fruit of their striving into the next life. A Yogi resumes his practice from life to life until he has reached the goal of enlightenment. In this way, all spiritual people reach their goal at some point.

7. Buddha had simply emphasized his teachings on the dissolving of the self. For that reason, he especially emphasized emptiness (the non-self, anatta). In Hinduism, fulfillment is emphasized (lots of energy, love, peace, happiness). In enlightenment there is emptiness (nothingness) and unity (fullfillment) at the same time.

8. The earlier lives reveal themselves only after a certain point along the way.

9. There is a lot of confusion among the religions of the world. I am of the opinion that all fully enlightened masters like Buddha, Jesus, Laozi and Patanjali saw things the same way, they simply expressed them differently.

10. I am for freedom of faith and opinion. I allow for the plurality of opinions and religion. I accept Atheists. I can deal with the idea of an atheistic Buddhism. I wish that all people work together for a world of love, peace and happiness.

Five Basic Spiritual Techniques[edit]

Tibetan Bodhisattva, practicing with vajra (power) and bell (forwards).

Spiritually, humans can be compared to onions. Tensions and inner conflicts (inner stress) must be dissolved layer by layer. When one layer is peeled away, the next quickly appears at the surface until the inner core is revealed. At this point, a lasting inner joy is found, and the Yogi or Yogini lives in light. Inner joy appears in a person when the tentions (Samskaras) in body and soul have been dissolved. We need exercises for the body (Yoga, Meditation) and for the soul (reflection, Positiv Thinking).

Buddha developed a very simple yet genius practice. This consisted of “sitting, going, and thought practice.” You need body work (Yoga, walking), mental work (reflection, reading, praying, mantra) and meditation (sitting or lying). And everything in balance, in the right moment and with the right technique.

When one varies one’s activities between body work, mental work and meditation, the inner conflict and tension can be done away with. When a person only meditates, the spirit becomes dull and listless. Routine movement makes the spirit clear, keeps the body healthy and gives the person inner energy. If you only go or do Yoga asanas, the mind is restless. Inner happiness comes from inner peace. If the body is kept very quiet, well you can get into deeper dimensions of meditation. Meditation can be practiced either in a sitting position or lying down. Some people can meditate better when sitting, others when lying down. Those who fall asleep easily when lying down, should meditate by sitting. Those who cannot sit straight for a long time should practice meditation lying down.

In addition to periods of sitting and going, working with the thoughts is important in getting rid of inner conflict. A Yogi or Yogini should develop his or her thoughts with love, wisdom, and self-discipline. He or she should learn to bring the thoughts into stillness, until the thoughts are always tranquil. Then he or she only thinks when thinking is required.

This basic model of stress resolution can be extended to the way of the five activities. The five activities are: lying down (or sitting and meditating), reading, walking (or Yoga asanas), doing good for others and to enjoy life.

We should also bring joy into our lives. That opens our hearts, and brings light inside us. Everyone is predisposed towards something. You can listen to music, eat something delicious, read a good book, watch a movie, find time for your favorite creative hobbies, and so forth. It is important though, to pay attention to the amount with which we busy ourselves with enjoyment. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing, too little makes life sad.

Yogis know when they need which technique. When the body is dull and lacking energy, the Yogi goes for a walk. When he or she feels restless, he or she practices Yoga or meditates. When the spirit seems to rebel against the spiritual way, a book on spiritual topics helps to bring back the conviction towards enlightenment. A Yogi senses the inner conflict and uses the proper techniques to dissolve the tension. That is usually what the body and soul wants the least at that moment. Wherever the neurotic tendency to feel repelled towards something is usually the way to the light. On the other hand, we need to sometimes give the body and soul what they would like, otherwise tension is built. The way to happiness requires a lot of wisdom and inner sensitivity.

The Way of Love[edit]

The practice of love in daily life makes an individual fit through action, meditation and devotion to transcend the mind into the light.

1. Live in the rest (existence-unity-bliss) and act with love for the happiness of all beings. Follow the three principles of peace, wisdom and love. For some people it is important to live in the outer peace, to achieve the inner peace. Basically, the inner peace is the result of a calm mind. A calm mind we get when we focus in wisdom (God, Spirituality, Philosophy) and work continually on our negative qualities, addictions, fears and aggressions.

2. Everyone should find his personal balance of rest and action. Those who live in the inner balance, save their energy, their physical and mental health. Our mind grows into the light, if we strengthen not only the calmness, but also the positivity and the love in us. We should replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. We should constantly practice positive thinking, positive speaking and positive doing.

3. When we facilitate the desire for a happy world, then we grow further towards enlightenment. The secret to this wish is the connection from the inner to the outer world. We are not spiritually separated from other beings. Their happiness affects us. When we visualize other beings as happy, then we also feel happy. Those who encourage the goal to a happy world creates positivity within. When we send light to all beings, then one day light will come through to our souls. When we do something good for the world, the world will reward us with a positive psyche.

4. We should make the inner happiness, not the outer happiness to the center of our lifes. If we follow the two principles of love for God (inner peace, spiritual practice) and love for all beings, we will transform our minds. Our inner tension will dissolve and happiness will appear.

5. With inner happiness, we can see the positive in the world, in our fellow men and in ourselves. This is the way to paradise. We live in the light, in peace and in love. The longer we longer we practise, the more we grow into the light.

Love Meditation[edit]

Buddha of Love (giving love and peace).

1. Universe. We visualize the whole universe, make circles with our arms and think, "I wish a world of peace, love and happiness. My way of truth is ..."

2. Television. What man on television today touches you negative or positive? Clean the energetic connection. Give him a positive sentence. Think the sentence as a mantra until you have overcome all attachment or rejection. Everything you see outside makes a knot in your soul. Create harmony in your mind. The first step to happiness is to create a positive world in your mind. We move a hand and send all the people light, "I send light to ... May all people be happy. May the world be happy."

3. Buddha. We rub our hands before the heart chakra. We visualize ourselves as a Buddha or Bodhisattva, "I am a Buddha (Bodhisattva, Goddess, Angel of Love). I go the way of love and peace."

4. Enlightened Masters. We rub the hands over our head and ask the enlightened masters for guidance and help. We connect us spiritually with their energy, "Om all enlightened masters (Buddhas, Bodhisattvas). Please guide and help on my way."

5. Mantra. We put our hands together in the lap, move our feet and think one minute the mantra "Om Shanti" in our legs and in the whole world. We stop a minute every thought. We relax. We live in peace and become a Buddha or Bodhisattva (Master of Love) one day.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]