Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Buddhist Trifecta, Part II

Continuing the Buddhist Trifecta . .

  1. What is Saranth?
  2. What is a Prayer wheel?
  3. What is Theravada Buddhism?

1. Saranth is the place where Gautauma Buddha first began his teaching of the Dharma or the Path. About 5 weeks after his Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, Gautauma Buddha was traveling to meet some friends. On the way, he came across the unpassable Ganges. The local chieftain disliked traveling philosophers and would not allow Buddha use of the boat ferry. Gautauma Buddha gathered his energy, meditated, with in a single focused act, was able to jump across the entire span. He soon gained followers on the opposite bank, near Saranth and started teaching the Way or Do of the Dharma. The followers now became the Sangha or Buddhist community.

When you hear monks say, “I seek refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha,” they are saying, “I look to the Master, the Teachings, and the Community” for assistance on my journey to achieve Enlightenment for the benefit of all Sentient beings.

2. A prayer wheel can be large or small, and contains individual slips of paper upon which are written unique prayers. The prayer wheel is hollow and usually shaped like a cylinder, placed on an axis from which to spin the wheel. When the wheel is spun, the individual slips of paper in the drum move around and the prayers are lifted towards the heavens. When illiteracy was common, prayer wheels were a way for the community to send forth written prayers, without having to read the prayer.

3. Theravada Buddhism is the type of Buddhism practiced in Southeast Asian countries to include Singapore, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand. Theravada is the original form of Buddhism that developed shortly after the Buddhist diaspora led by Sidhartha Gautauma Buddha. The basis of Theravada is rooted in analysis, and the understanding of external and internal factors that ultimately either lead towards, or away from Enlightenment. The cause of suffering is craving and delusion. By letting go of delusion, one no longer has the craving (attachment). Moreover, it is up to the individual adherent to formulate a path to Enlightenment. The pantheon of deities is not responsible for an individual’s self-realization or Enlightenment. Rather, it is up to the individual to achieve self-realization, the escape from samsara, and the liberation of the consciousness.

“General Chang, You cannot liberate me. I can only liberate myself.”

- His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet


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