Buddhism and practical thoughts

by Sukomal Barua, The Daily Star, May 10, 2009

Dhaka, Bangladesh -- THE Buddha's teachings have a basis issued from simple observation of the facts of daily life. The words of the Blessed One still remain in the modern world. They are modern because they are simple in expression and concern the human nature and no particular societal system. The simplicity of these words is the source of power of this teaching and allows Buddhism to become universal by adjusting to civilisations.

The basis of Lord Buddha's teachings is derived from the experience of his life. To render the world better and humanity better, it is necessary that the example of the Buddha and his words as the education of life is followed and acquired by all above all differences. To some, the teaching of the Buddha is a religion while to others it is a philosophy. As a whole, it really asserts a way of life. It is a way of moral, spiritual and intellectual training leading to complete freedom of mind.

The Buddha himself called his teachings Dhamma-Vinaya, meaning "the doctrine and the discipline". Buddhism, in the strictest sense of the word, cannot be called just a religion. For, if by religion it is meant "action or conduct indicating belief in, reverence for and desire to please a divine ruling power, the exercise or practice of rites or observances implying this, recongition on the part of man of some higher unseen power as having control of his destiny, and as being entitled to obedience, reverence, and worship," then Buddhism does not possess such characteristics of a religion.

A Buddhist takes refuge in the Buddha (Buddham Saranam Gacchami) but not in the hope that he will be saved by the Master. The Buddha is only a teacher who points out the way and guides the followers to their individual deliverance. To a Buddhist, the men who saw 'Truth' are true helpers; he never prays to them, he only pays reverence to the revealers of truth for having pointed out the path to true happiness and deliverance. Happiness is what one must achieve of oneself. Purity and impurity also depend on oneself. The Buddha encourages his followers to live according to the Dhamma, which shows clearly that it is the highest importance to train oneself mentally, verbally and bodily to step along the way to seek happiness and a right life.

In Buddhism, wisdom is of the highest importance. Purification comes through wisdom and understanding. But the Buddha never praised mere intellect. According to him, knowledge should go hand in hand with purity of heart, with moral excellence (vijjacaranasampanna). Wisdom gained by understanding and development of the qualities of mind and heart is wisdom par excellence (Bhavanamaya Panna). Thus it is clear that Buddhaism is an encouragement of a practical application of the teaching that leads the follower to dispassion, enlightenment and final deliverance, where one gets eternal peace and happiness.

Buddhism holds its keen appeal in contemporary times when traditional religious values are being questioned in the intellectual skepticism of the time. A modern man may be dissillusionsd with conventional ideas, blind faith, cults and dogmas as much as he is immersed into scientific thoughts that have shattered many old myths and unveiled mysteries of human existence. Progress of science and technology during the last two hundred years has opened new frontiers of thoughts.

Buddha was a friend, because he had profound love for his disciples. He was a philosopher, because the thought for their welfare and indicated the path leading to happiness. He was also a guide, because he gave them guidance in order to enable them to achieve cherished goals through action. Buddhism has a human approach. It aims at individual perfection leading to spiritual attainment and collective good for the society.

The history of mankind is littered with violence. But, history has proved that violence cannot destroy violence. On the other hand, violence invites greater violence. In the whole process of human advancement, the conqueror and the vanquished have fought violently. But ideological conquest is much greater than physical conquest. Ideological conquest is a matter of giving and taking through peaceful means. This is non-violence, the Buddhist way.

Today we are living in a scientific age in which every aspect of life is influenced by modern science. Nevertheless, from its very beginning, the teachings of the Buddha are always open to scientfic thinking. Buddha never encouraged rigid, dogmatic belief. He allowed great flexibility and freedom of thought. Sabbe Satta Sukhita Hontu -- may all beings be happy.

Sukomal Barua is Chairman, Department of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Dhaka.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv