I have always been quite keen on Buddhist philosophy, and the interesting theories propounded by the various schools of thought from two to three thousand years ago in India, China, Nepal, Tibet and so on.
Without going into a complete religious history, the ideas spread as far as Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia and Japan, and split into two major schools, known today as as Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism,
Obviously, these days Buddhism is recognised as a major world religion. Buddhism is quite unique from other major world religions in the sense that it is quite a personal thing. In the West, it is common to have a prescriptive experience of religion, where teachings, or religious ‘instruction’ is learned.
Although one may learn the teachings of the Buddha, the practising of meditation is encouraged, not only for personal development, but to give thought to these teachings.
Thus, Buddhists and Christians alike may share a similar conviction, such as say, the belief that eating animal flesh is wrong, and the accompanying practice of being vegetarian, but arrive at such a practice in different ways.
A very interesting and engaging character, Jon has been instrumental in bringing meditation and mindfulness practice to the west, since the seventies. Click on the link to find out more and access some of his talks.
The languages they used to write the Buddhist scriptures at the time, Pali and Sanskrit, are translated into English with a good deal of accuracy, but in relation to some concepts, there is no direct corresponding language.
In almost all cases, there is an answer to a question, whether through a dialogue with a historical character known as "The Buddha", or elsewhere in the texts, which have obviously been expanded and propounded through minds both modern and ancient.
Thus, Buddhism, even in its many variations, is not a prescriptive religion, saying “believe this or go to eternal damnation”, but rather it is saying “try this and see if it is useful” and if you happen to believe there is eternal damnation, then this may help you avoid it.
Either way, Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy can be seen to encourage one to think about the mind, mindfulness, attention, behaviour and consciousness, rather than promoting blind acceptance of religious dogma.
This fantastic website has links to further information on the teachings of the Buddha, from the perspective of Theravada school of Buddhism.
The Buddhist religion is practised extensively throughout the world. Traditionally, it is taught that there was a schism, and two groups of scholars divided, one to create what we call Mahayana Buddhism, or 'greater vehicle'.
The other, what we call today, Therevada Buddhism, or 'lesser vehicle' is distinguished by the practice of Vipassana, or what we refer to in the west as "Insight Meditation".
Meditation, or Mindfulness Meditation, is universal in its benefits.
I would recommend anyone to pursue a path of mindfulness, whether or not they are suffering from depression, anxiety, alcoholism, addictions etc.
The mind is a powerful tool, and if we do not learn to control it, someone else will control it for us.
Meditation is like a pilot's guide, only we are both the pilot and the craft!
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