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What is Buddhism?

Buddhism is a path of teaching and practice. Buddhist

practices such as meditation are means of changing oneself in

order to develop the qualities of awareness, kindness, and

wisdom. The experience developed within the Buddhist tradition

over thousands of years has created an incomparable resource

for all those who wish to follow the path of spiritual

development. Ultimately, the Buddhist path culminates in

Enlightenment or Buddhahood.

Who was the Buddha?

The word Buddha is a title not a name. It means 'one

who is awake' in the sense of having 'woken up to reality'. The

title was first given to a man called Siddharta Guatemala,

who lived about 2,500 years ago in Northern India. When he

was 35 he found Enlightenment whist in profound mediation,

after searching for years. In the next 45 years of his life

he spent it traveling through India teaching his way of life.

His teaching is known as Buddha-dharma.

Traveling from place to place, the Buddha gained many

disciples. They also taught of the enlightment, and the chain

has continued on to this present day.

The Buddha was not a God, and he made no claim to

divinity. There is no concept of a creator in Buddhism. He was

a human being who, thought tremendous efforts, transformed


The state of Enlightenment which he reached has three

main facets. It is a state of wisdom, of insight into the true

nature of things. It is also a source or boundless compassion,

manifesting itself in activity for the benefit of all beings. and

it the total liberation of all the energies of the mind and the

body so they are at the service of the fully conscious mind.

What Happened After the Buddha's Death?

Buddhism died out in India a thousand years ago, though it

has recently revived. In the last century Buddhism has

emphatically arrived in the West and up to one million

westerners have become Buddhists.

What Does Buddhism Teach?

Buddhism sees life as being in process of constant change

and its practices aim to take advantage of this fact. It

means that one can change for the better. The decisive factor

in changing ourselves is the mind and Buddhism has developed

many methods for working on the mind. Most importantly,

Buddhists practice meditation which is a way of developing more

positive states of mind which are characterized by calm,

concentration, awareness, and emotions such as friendliness.

How do you become a Buddhist?

To become a Buddhist in the full sense means committing

oneself to the central ideas of Buddhism. The Buddhist path is

open to all equally: men and women, young and old, people

of all nationalities, races and backgrounds.


Rebirth in the Six Realms

Buddhism teaches that birth, death and rebirth are part

of the continuing process of change. The is similar to the

continuous process of growth, decay, and replacement of cells

in ones' body. According to medical experts, after every

seven years, all the cells in one's body are replaced by new


At the moment of death, and the body can no longer

survive, the mind is separated from the body. At that time, the

craving for lives causes one to seek a new existence, and the

karma done previously determine the place of one's rebirth.

There are six realms which one may be reborn after

death. They are the realms of gods, the demigods, human

beings, animals, hungry ghosts, and the hells.

In general, wholesome actions like good conduct, charity,

a and mental development, are the cause of rebirth in the

happy realms of gods, demigods, and human beings. On the

other hand, unwholesome actions like immoral conduct,

miserliness and cruelty cause rebirth in the unhappy realm of

animals, hungry ghosts and the hells.

Of all the six realms, the realm of human beings is

considered the most desirable. In the realm of human beings,

the conditions for attaining Nirvana are better. In general,

in the unhappy realms, the suffering of living beings is so intense

and their ignorance so great that they are unable to

recognize the Truth and follow the path to attain freedom.

Alternatively, living beings in the realms of the gods and

demigods experience so much happiness and have so many

distractions that they do not think of rebirth until it is too

late. Then they may be reborn in one of the lower realms

of suffering. In the realm of human beings, however, people

experience both happiness and suffering, and are intelligent

enough to recognize the Truth and follow the path to attain

freedom from the cycle of birth and death. Therefore, one is

indeed fortunate to be born as a human being, and should

remember that the principal cause of birth in the realm is

Good Conduct.

The Cycle of Birth and Death

The Buddha pointed out that whenever one is reborn,

whether as a human being, as an animal, or as a god, non of

these states of exticence is permanent. The average life span

of the living beings in the six realms of existence differ but

none of them lasts forever. Eventually, rebirth will take

place. The realm into which one is reborn and one's

conditions of rebirth are determined by ones' past and present

actions. This is the law of Karma at work.

Because of the force of their karma, people are born

are reborn endlessly, in one realm of existence or in

another. The Buddha declared that there is no permanent

rest in the cycle of birth and death. It is only when one

follows the Noble Eightfold path taught by the Buddha and

eventually attains Nirvana, that one finally becomes free

from the ceaseless cycle and gains supreme and permanent



Karma is the law of moral causation. It is action and

reaction in the ethical realm. It is natural law that every

action produces a certain effect. So if one performs

wholesome actions, one will experience happiness. on the other

hand, if one performs unwholesome actions, one will experience

suffering. The is the law of cause and effect at work. In

this way, the effect of one's past karma determine that nature

of one's present situation in life.

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