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Buddhism

The quiet serpent

The future Buddha was born as Bhuridatta,  a serpent divinity. He wad captured and forced to perform for public entertainment.  Despite these and other ignominies and torments of captivity, Bhuridatta remained free of anger, and ultimately regained his freedom.
— The Bhuridatta JatKa

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Just so stories

The Jakata stories are more than 500 tales, first written down in Pali in the third century BCE. They are a mixture of fable and folklore and are about the lives of Buddha’s previous incarnations. Each story has a moral and demonstrates the practice of one of the paramitas,  which lead eventually to full buddhahood.

Different traditions

In the Mayana tradition there are six paramitas: generosity, morality,  patience, energy, meditation and wisdom. In the Theravada tradition there are ten: meditation is not included, and renunciation,  truthfulness,  resolution,  loving kindness and equanimity are added.

Not known

Emperor Liang was a devout Buddhist who asked bodhidharma,  “what merit have I achieved through my good works?”
“None whatsoever, ” was the reply.
“What then is the essence of Buddhism? ”
“Vast emptiness, nothing holy.”
“Who addresses me in such a fashion?” Asked the infuriated emperor.
“Not known,” was the reply.

The Sutras

The second part of the Pali Canon contains the Sutras,  called agamas or nikayas outside the Theravada school.  When new schools developed, new Sutras or texts were composed, similar in for to the existing ones but expounding new ideas. The word sutra, meaning “thread”, is derived from the Vedic word siv – “to sew”.

Leaving the raft

The Buddha compared his teachings to a raft carrying us across the turbulent river of samsara to the other shore, where we can find nirvana. However, once we reach the far shore, just as carrying the real raft with us would be foolish, so we must leave behind the theory of Buddhism and rely upon ourselves.

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Being present

The meditation elements of the noble eightfold path (effort,  awareness and concentration) point towed a practice that eliminates over time the sense of “I”, “me” and “mine”, the source of all misery. Though Buddhist practice negative emotions are transformed into warmth, energy and the radiance of consciousness.

Right thought.

If we see the world as it is, our thoughts will reflect it. However, usually we don’t – we are full of thoughts of “ought”, “must” and “should”, and we spend huge amounts of energy trying to square the world with our own individual view of reality. We also take things personally and feel resentful;  the consequence is angry or greedy thoughts.

States and realms

The six divisions of the wheel of life represent the different states of being in samsara, the world of rebirth. Clockwise from top ate: the heavenly realms, the fighting demons and the hungry ghosts. At the bottom are the hells.  Left of this is the realm of animals.  Finally, top left is the human realm. Only from here is liberation possible.

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