Buddhism is a religion built on the foundation of compassion.  Budhism is also  a spiritual science and  a spiritual medicine for the modern world.  Buddhism is centered in Mind, not Ego.The most basic Buddhist principles are: Impermanence, Interdependence, and  Emptiness.

Shakyamuni Buddha , the Founder of Buddhism, says that all phenomena are the same; they are all equal, all without distinctions, all impermanent, all interdependent, and all empty. 

Impermanence:     Impermanence is the central belief of Buddhism.  Everything we experience is impermanent.  Time never stands still.  We are never static, always transforming.  All things, from human beings to the earth that we live on, are in constant changes.  They are not permanent, not ultimate.  Nothing remains forever.

The continuity of birth and death explains that the life is impermanent and continuous.  Observing the constant changes of the whole universe, as well as our thoughts and energy in our mind and body, we become more aware of impermanence.   

Buddha says that life is suffering.  It reminds us that life is impermanent and ever-changing.   Suffering and happiness exist in all phenomena.  Actually, where there is happiness, there will be suffering.

For example, a healthy body will not last forever.  It will gradually become weak, old, sick, and then die.  Power and status do not last as well.  One will lose them eventually.  Although there is happiness and joy, they are not ever lasting and ultimate.  When changes come, suffering arises. 

Recognizing impermanence, we will be able to appreciate things and experience them fully while they last.  When they disappear, we will not mourn them.  This helps us deal with the challenges in  our daily life.  And, when we are enjoying happiness, we should be mindful and share our good fortune with others.

When we are experiencing suffering, we must find out the cause of suffering.  Through learning and practicing of Buddhism, we would try our best to get rid of the cause and end the suffering, and attain ultimate peacefulness and fulfillment.

Interdependence

Buddhism is about the truth of life and beyond.  Buddha says that all sentient beings have the inherent Buddha Nature  that bears 3 distinct qualities:  Compassion, wisdom and ability to deal with all situations.

Everyone in this world is interrelated and interdependent.  Our personal survival and growth depends on others.  Therefore, we need to be kind and compassionate towards others.  But, we must first improve ourselves and develope our wisdom in order to be able to help others effectively.  Compassion and wisdom must  work together.  Either compassion without wisdom or wisdom without compassion will go to extremes.

The reason we study Buddhism is to learn how to understand ourselves and others,  and how to respect ourselves and others.  Learning Buddhism, we will devleop greater compassion for others, and we will be more patient towards ourselves and be content to let life and love happen at their reasonable pace.  Learning Buddhism we will develop more wisdom and experience more freedom.  Together with compassion and wisdom, we will be able to  improve our lives and help others with what we have.

Learning Buddhism is to develop our true mind and Buddha Nature within.  The concepts of Buddhism allows us to see the true meaning of life crises at a deep level, so we do not blame others for the misfortune.  Each life crisis is a fertile ground to develop kindness and deep level of wisdom and energy in our lives, and then, to help others in a similar life crisis.  

Emptiness:  In Buddhism, “Emptiness” is the most profound philosophy.  Emptiness does not mean “Nothing at all”, in contrast, it includes “Everything”.  If there is no emptiness, there will be no space for things to exist.  Emptiness and existence are equivalent.

When Buddha says that eveything is empty, he is implying that everything arises due to causes and conditions.  All things exist due to causes and conditions, and do  not have a real and unchangable identity of itself.  Everything’s existence is dependent on causes and conditions.  They continue to change with the changes of the causes and conditions.  They do not have a permanent form and therefore they are empty.  We must have the foundation of  wisdom and faith to attain the “emptiness”.

 

The Path to Perfection

When a person can abandon greed, hate, and delusion, he or she can, like Buddha, become enlightened.  However, few people can achieve this because the amount of Karma they need to dissolve — which they have collected in previous lives through good and bad deeds as well as lack of recognition of the real world — is simply too great, making the achievement of enlightenment too hard to attain.  Buddha taught people how to overcome the source of suffering and to follow the  “Eightfold Path” to perfection over the course of their many existences.

The  Eightfold Path:  Right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right meditation.

Buddha also taught the Five Precepts for daily life:

(1)  Have sympathy and respect for even the lowest living creatures.

(2)  Give and receive freely, but do not take anything that is not yours to take.

(3)  Never tell a lie, even the situation seems to excuse it.

(4)  Avoid intoxicants.

(5)  Respect your spouses and do not engage in sexual misconduct.

(11/19/09)