Basic guidelines for a lay Buddhist
ၿမိဳ ႔မ ျမင့္ၾကြယ္
Myoma Myint Kywe
Myoma Myint Kywe
นักเขียน, ประวัติศาสตร์, อาจารย์, หัวหน้าคาราเต้
If you are interested in developing a Buddhist practice, here are some basic guidelines to help you get started.
The precepts help us to live those ideals; they teach us to do the right things and to avoid the wrong.
An ancient maxim found in the Dhammapada sums up the practice of the Buddha's teaching in three simple guidelines to training: (1) to abstain from all evil, (2) to cultivate good, and (3) to purify one's mind. These three principles form a graded sequence of steps progressing from the outward and preparatory to the inward and essential.
Buddhist moral precepts provide a wholesome foundation for personal and social growth. They are practical principles for a good life and the cultivation of virtues. If we understand the objectives of sila and realize its benefits, we will see moral precepts as an essential part of life rather than as a burden that we are compelled to shoulder.
Buddhist moral precepts are not commandments imposed by force; they are a course of training willingly undertaken in order to achieve a desired objective. We do not practice to please a supreme being, but for our own good and the good of society. As individuals, we need to train in morality to lead a good and noble life. On the social level, we need to help maintain peace and harmony in society and facilitate the progress of the common good. The practice of moral precepts is essential in this regard.
One is his taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha the TISARANA- with confidence. First of all, we must maintain the Five Precepts (Panca- Sila). Thus it is seen that the observance of the Five Precepts (virtuous living) is basic Principal of Buddhism, and to the whole, will contribute to make the world a pleasant place to live in.
The Buddha provided us with five precepts to guide us on our way to individual liberation. The Five Precepts are the basis of Buddhist morality. The first precept is to avoid killing or harming living beings. The second is to avoid stealing, the third is to avoid sexual misconduct, the fourth is to avoid lying and the fifth is to avoid alcohol and other intoxicating drugs. Not just for Buddhists, these precepts are basic to the major spiritual traditions and ethical teachings in our world today. Five precepts are one of the best Common Ethical Values.
A lay Buddhist should cultivate good conduct by training in what are known as the "Five Precepts". These are difference the Ten Commandments which if broken, as a necessary the concept of punishment by God. (No saviour concept in Buddhism. No punishment concept in Buddhism. There is no almighty God in Buddhism. No saviour concept in Buddhism. Taking refuge in The Triple Gems i.e. the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha; does not mean self-surrender or total reliance on an external force or third party for help or salvation. Metta (Loving Kindness) and Karuna (Compassion) is to human, all living beings including animals. Buddhism strictly forbids animal sacrifice for whatever reason. Vegetarianism is recommended but not compulsory.)
A person who, out of confidence, accepts the Buddha as the perfect teacher who could guide, the Dhamma as the perfect teaching to be practised and the Sangha as the perfect example to be followed, takes them as his refuges a long as his life lasts. After that he begins his spiritual journey leading to the ending of dukkha by his undertaking to observe the Five Percepts. This is because moral conduct or virtue, Sila forms the first lap in his forward march towards mental culture, Samadhi and wisdom, Panna. He begins this journey by earnestly declaring his intention to observe the Five Precepts which contain the minimum moral duties expected of a lay Buddhist.
Then we need to practice METTA meditation, annapana meditation, samatha meditation and vipassana meditation. Anapanasati-bhavana is observation of the natural breath coming in and going out and "watch" your breaths .
A universally-applicable method of cultivating mental concentration is attentiveness on the in-going and out-going breath.
The breath is merely used as a point on which to fix the attention, at the tip of the nostrils. The attention must not wander, even to follow the breath.
We will begin at the very start with the preparations for practicing Anapanasati. First, we must choose a location or place that is suitable and appropriate for our practice. We choose the best available place knowing that we can never have a perfect situation. We try to find a place that is quiet and peaceful, where the conditions and the weather are good, where there are no disturbances.
Mindfulness with Breathing is the system of meditation or mental cultivation (citta-bhavana) often practiced and most often taught by the Buddha Gautama 2600 years ago (since BC 588), this practice has been preserved and passed along. It continues to be a vital part of the lives of practicing Buddhists in Asia and around the world.
Samatha meditation and Vipassana meditation
There are two types of meditation in Buddhism. One is Samatha meditation; the other is Vipassana meditation. Samatha here means concentration. Vipassana here means insight or experiential knowledge of bodily and mental phenomena. Of these two types of mental training Samatha meditation is practised to attain higher concentration of the mind, peaceful and blissful living and the cessation of suffering. Vipassana meditation is practised to attain not only deep concentration of the mind but also liberation from all kinds of mental and physical dukkha or suffering, through realisation of our body-mind processes and their true nature.
As I explained to you, Samatha meditation is practised to attain higher concentration of the mind. So when you practise Samatha meditation, the first type of mental training or mental culture, you have to concentrate your mind on a single object of meditation. You want to concentrate your mind on a single object very deeply. That object may be a concept or observed reality, but most Samatha meditative objects are concepts. There are also a few objects which are observed reality as the object of meditation in the first type of training and Samatha meditation. But whatever the object may be the aim of Samatha meditation is to obtain deep concentration of the mind, or the higher concentration of the mind.
Since 588 B.C, “annapana meditation”, “samatha meditation” and “vipassana meditation” are regularly recommended to the Buddha's followers in the 2,602-year-old (B.C. 588+ 2014= 2,602).
According to historical sources, Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the Lord Buddha, was born in B.C 623 at the Lumbini garden. Lumbini is a Buddhist pilgrimage site at the Rupandehi District of Nepal. Prince Siddhartha Gautama was a man as prince until at the age of 35. But from age of 35 to age of 80, he became Lord Buddha. Therefore, Buddha is NOT an ordinary human since BC 588. Buddhism was founded by Buddha in BC 588. His relentless effort lasted for 45 years.
The Buddha spent 45 years the four NobleTruth and the Noble Eightfold Path. The Buddha passed into Parinibbana (or passed away in simplified layman's term) at the ripe old age of 80 B.C 543. When Buddha died, his physical death is defined as Parinibbana.
The Buddha (BC 623-BC 543) provided some basic guidelines for acceptable behavior that are part of the Eightfold path. The initial precept is non-injury or non-violence to all living creatures from the lowest insect to humans. This precept defines a non-violent attitude toward every living thing.
The Noble Eightfold Path is the fourth of the Buddha's Four Noble Truths; the first element of the Noble Eightfold Path is, in turn, an understanding of the Four Noble Truths. It is also known as the Middle Path or Middle Way. Don't forget them, please.
It involves acts of charity, especially support of the sangha, as well as observance of the five precepts that constitute the basic moral code of Buddhism. By observing these precepts, the three roots of evil—lust, hatred, and delusion—may be overcome.
Satipaṭṭhana is the Buddhist concept of the foundations of mindfulness.
The four foundations of mindfulness are four practices set out in the Satipatthana Sutta for attaining and maintaining moment-by-moment mindfulness and are fundamental techniques in Buddhist meditation.
The four foundations of mindfulness are:
1. Mindfulness of the body (kaya);
2. Mindfulness of feelings or sensations (vedana);
3. Mindfulness of mind or consciousness (citta); and
4. Mindfulness of mental phenomena or mental objects (dhamma).
The Buddha referred in BC 588 to the four foundations for establishing mindfulness as a "direct" or "one-way path" to the realisation of nirvana. These practices continue to be recognized, taught, and practiced as key techniques for achieving the benefits of mindfulness, especially in modern Theravada Buddhism and in the Vipassana or Insight Meditation Movement.
A sotapanna is one who has attained sotapatti magga and sotapatti-phala. He (or she) can enjoy the peace of Nibbana whenever he wishes by developing the ecstatic (feeling or expressing overwhelming happiness or joyful excitement) absorption corresponding to sotapatti-phala samapatti.
He is called a stream-winner because he has entered the stream that leads to Nibbana. The stream represents the noble Eightfold Path.
He is no longer an unlearned average man (puthujjana). He will become as noble person (an ariya).
A sotapanna has eradicated the two worst defilements, i.e., ditthi and vicikiccha, and three basic Fetters — namely, sakkaya-ditthi, vicikiccha and silabbataparamasa.
In Buddhism, a mental fetter, chain or bond (Pāli: samyojana,) shackles a sentient being to SAMSARA, the cycle of lives with dukkha.
Saṃsara is a Buddhist term that literally means "continuous movement" and is commonly translated as "cyclic existence", "cycle of existence", etc.
By cutting through all fetters, one attains nibbana (nirvaṇa). He has also eliminated the coarse properties of the remaining defilements — the properties that can cast a person to the apaya (States of Deprivation) abodes. So to him, the doors of the apaya abodes are closed for ever, NEITHER will he be reverted, reborn to in the world again.
Sutta Pitaka's list of ten fetters
The Pali canon's Sutta Pitaka identifies ten "fetters of becoming":
1. belief in a self (Pali: sakkāya-diṭṭhi)
2. doubt or uncertainty, especially about the teachings (vicikicchā)
3. attachment to rites and rituals (sīlabbata-parāmāsa)
4. sensual desire (kāmacchando)
5. ill will (vyāpādo or byāpādo)
6. lust for material existence, lust for material rebirth (rūparāgo)
7. lust for immaterial existence, lust for rebirth in a formless realm (arūparāgo)
8. conceit (māna)
9. restlessness (uddhacca)
10. ignorance (avijjā)
First of all, we do practice five Precepts (SILA- against killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and taking intoxicants). To abide by this five precepts, we will maintain METTA (loving kindness), compassion and build up right understanding.
There are three fundamental modes of training in Buddhist practice: morality, mental culture, and wisdom. The English word morality is used to translate the Pali term sila, although the Buddhist term contains its own particular connotations. The word sila denotes a state of normalcy, a condition which is basically unqualified and unadulterated. When one practices sila, one returns to one's own basic goodness, the original state of normalcy, unperturbed and unmodified. Killing a human being, for instance, is not basically human nature; if it were, human beings would have ceased to exist a long time ago. A person commits an act of killing because he or she is blinded by greed, rage or hatred.
Such negative qualities as anger, hatred, greed, ill will, and jealousy are factors that alter people's nature and make them into something other than their true self. To practice sila is thus to train in preserving one's true nature, not allowing it to be modified or overpowered by negative forces.
This definition points to the objective of Buddhist morality rather than to the practice itself, but it does give us an idea of the underlying philosophy behind the training, as well as how the Buddhist moral precepts should be followed. These precepts are a means to an end, they are observed for a specific objective.
On the personal level, the observance of precepts serves as the preliminary groundwork for the cultivation of higher virtues or mental development. Sila is the most important step on the spiritual path. Without morality, right concentration cannot be attained, and without right concentration, wisdom cannot be fully perfected. Thus, morality not only enhances people's ethical values and fulfills their noble status as human beings, but it is crucial to their efforts toward the highest religious goal of Nibbana.
On the social level, sila contributes to harmonious and peaceful coexistence among community members and consequently helps to promote social growth and development. In a society where morality prevails and members are conscious of their roles, there will be general security, mutual trust, and close cooperation, these in turn leading to greater progress and prosperity. Without morality there will be corruption and disturbance, and all members of society are adversely affected. Most of the problems that society experiences today are connected, directly or indirectly, with a lack of good morality.
Second, we need to practice annapana meditation, samatha meditation and vipassana meditation systematically regularly. Then we need to remove from Sakkaya Ditthi (belief in a self /personality-belief) and Vici Kiccha (suspicious-doubtful thinking). As a fetter, it refers to doubtful thinking about the teaching of the Buddha, the teaching of the Dhamma, the teaching of the Sangha.
Anapanasati meaning 'mindfulness of breathing' ("sati" means mindfulness; "anapana" refers to inhalation and exhalation), is a form of Buddhist meditation now common to the Zen, and all schools of Buddhism, as well as western-based mindfulness programs. Anapanasati means to feel the sensations caused by the movements of the breath in the body, as is practiced in the context of mindfulness. According to Buddhist documentary, Anapanasati was originally taught by the Lord Buddha in several sutras including the Anapanasati Sutta.
There is much more Buddhist material on Anapana Breath Meditation than that of other traditions. This is because Buddha quite openly and continually advocated Anapana Breath Meditation and it was never “lost” to Buddhism at any time. So we have over 2602 years (BC 588+2014= 2602 years) of very clear teaching on the subject.