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Today's Dhammapada
Mano Pubbangama Dhamma
Mano Setta Manomaya
Manasace Passannena
Bhasativa Karotiva


Mind precedes all knowables,
mind's their chief, mind-made are they.
If with a clear, and confident mind
one should speak and act
as one's shadow ne'er departing.
Happiness Follows The Doer of Good

Explanation: All that man experiences springs out of his thoughts. If his thoughts are good, the words and the deeds will also be good. The result of good thoughts , words and deeds will be happiness. This happiness will never leave the person whose thoughts are good. Happiness will always follow him like his shadow that never leaves him.
Source: Buddhanet.net
The earliest phase recognized by nearly all scholars (the main exception is Dr Gregory Schopen) is based on a comparison of the Pali Canon with surviving portions of, and other information about, other early canons. Its main scriptures are the Vinaya Pitaka and the four principal nikayas or agamas.

A third body of scholars believes these scriptures and their teachings to be in substance the original teachings of the Buddha.

The central teachings can be classified under the following three headings.

* rebirth
* karma
* the Four Noble Truths

Rebirth has no discernible beginning, and takes place in a variety of types of life, later formally classified as the Five or Six Realms.

The karma of good and bad deeds produces "rewards" and "punishments" either in this life or in a subsequent one. These may be either rebirths themselves or events therein. The content of bad deeds and the lower types of good deeds belongs to the subject of Sila or conduct. Higher rebirths can be attained by the practice of forms of meditation later classified as samatha or samadhi.
More Articles on Buddhism

Śīla: virtuous behavior and the precepts

Śīla (Sanskrit) or sīla (Pāli) is usually rendered into English as "behavioral discipline", "morality", or ethics. It is often translated as "precept". It is an action that is an intentional effort. It is one of the three practices (sila, samadhi, and panya) and the second pāramitā. It refers to moral purity of thought, word, and deed. The four conditions of śīla are chastity, calmness, quiet, and extinguishment, i.e. no longer being susceptible to perturbation by the passions.[citation needed]

Sīla refers to overall (principles of) ethical behavior. There are several levels of sila, which correspond to 'basic morality' (five precepts), 'basic morality with asceticism' (eight precepts), 'novice monkhood' (ten precepts) and 'monkhood' (Vinaya or Patimokkha). Lay people generally undertake to live by the five precepts which are common to all Buddhist schools. If they wish, they can choose to undertake the eight precepts, which have some additional precepts of basic asceticism.

The five precepts are not given in the form of commands such as "thou shalt not ...", but are training rules in order to live a better life in which one is happy, without worries, and can meditate well.

1. To refrain from taking life. (i.e. non-violence towards sentient life forms)
2. To refrain from taking that which is not given (i.e. not committing theft)
3. To refrain from sensual misconduct (abstinence from immoral sexual behavior)
4. To refrain from lying. (i.e. speaking truth always)
5. To refrain from intoxicants which lead to loss of mindfulness (refrain from using drugs or alcohol)

In the eight precepts, the third precept on sexual misconduct is made more strict, and becomes a precept of celibacy.

The three additional rules of the eight precepts are:
6. To refrain from eating at the wrong time (only eat from sunrise to noon)
7. To refrain from dancing, using jewelery, going to shows, etc.
8. To refrain from using a high, luxurious bed.

Vinaya is the specific moral code for monks. It includes the Patimokkha, a set of 227 rules in the Theravadin recension. The precise content of the vinayapitaka (scriptures on Vinaya) differ slightly according to different schools, and different schools or subschools set different standards for the degree of adherence to Vinaya. Novice-monks use the ten precepts, which are the basic precepts for monastics.

The Four Noble Truths

According to the scriptures, the Buddha taught that in life there exists Dukkha, which is in essence sorrow/suffering, that is caused by desire and it can be brought to cessation by following the Noble Eightfold Path (Sanskrit: Āryāṣṭāṅgamārgaḥ , Pāli: Ariyo Aṭṭhaṅgiko Maggo). This teaching is called the Catvāry Āryasatyāni (Pali: Cattāri Ariyasaccāni), or the "Four Noble Truths".

1. There is suffering
2. There is a cause of suffering - craving
3. There is the cessation of suffering
4. There is a way leading to the cessation of suffering - the Noble Eightfold Path

According to the scriptures, the Four Noble Truths were among the topics of the first sermon given by the Buddha after his enlightenment, which was given to the five ascetics with whom he had practised austerities. The Four Noble Truths were originally spoken by the Buddha not in the form of a religious or philosophical text, but in the manner of a medical diagnosis and remedial prescription in a style that was common at that time. The early teaching and the traditional understanding in the Theravada is that these are an advanced teaching for those who are ready for them. The Mahayana position is that they are a preliminary teaching for people not ready for Mahayana teachings.

The Noble Eightfold Path

According to a saying attributed in some traditions to the Buddha, if a person does not follow the goal of Total Realization, one lives one's life like a preoccupied child playing with toys in a house that is burning to the ground.

The Noble Eightfold Path is the way to the cessation of suffering, the fourth part of the Four Noble Truths. This is divided into three sections: Sila (which concerns wholesome physical actions), Samadhi (which concerns the meditative concentration of the mind) and Prajñā (which concerns spiritual insight into the true nature of all things).

Sila is morality — abstaining from unwholesome deeds of body and speech. Within the division of sila are three parts of the Noble Eightfold Path:

1. Right Speech — One speaks in a non hurtful, not exaggerated, truthful way (samyag-vāc, sammā-vācā)
2. Right Actions — Wholesome action, avoiding action that would do harm (samyak-karmānta, sammā-kammanta)
3. Right Livelihood — One's way of livelihood does not harm in any way oneself or others; directly or indirectly (samyag-ājīva, sammā-ājīva)

Samadhi is developing mastery over one’s own mind. Within this division are another three parts of the Noble Eightfold Path:

1. Right Effort/Exercise — One makes an effort to improve (samyag-vyāyāma, sammā-vāyāma)
2. Right Mindfulness/Awareness — Mental ability to see things for what they are with clear consciousness (samyak-smṛti, sammā-sati)
3. Right Concentration/Meditation — Being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion. (samyak-samādhi, sammā-samādhi)

Prajñā is the wisdom which purifies the mind. Within this division fall two more parts of the Noble Eightfold Path:

1. Right Understanding — Understanding reality as it is, not just as it appears to be. (samyag-dṛṣṭi, sammā-diṭṭhi)
2. Right Thoughts — Change in the pattern of thinking. (samyak-saṃkalpa, sammā-saṅkappa)

The word samyak means "perfect". There are a number of ways to interpret the Eightfold Path. On one hand, the Eightfold Path is spoken of as being a progressive series of stages through which the practitioner moves, the culmination of one leading to the beginning of another, whereas others see the states of the 'Path' as requiring simultaneous development. It is also common to categorize the Eightfold Path into prajñā (Pāli paññā, wisdom), śīla (Pāli sīla, virtuous behavior) and samādhi (concentration).

Councils

According to the scriptures, soon after the parinirvāṇa (Pāli: parinibbāna, "complete extinguishment") of the Buddha, the first Buddhist council was held.
As with any ancient Indian tradition, transmission of teaching was done orally. The primary purpose of the assembly was to collectively recite the teaching to ensure that no errors occur in oral transmission. In the first council, Ānanda, a cousin of the Buddha and his personal attendant, was called upon to recite the discourses (sūtras, Pāli suttas) of the Buddha, and, according to some sources, the abhidhamma. Upāli, another disciple, recited the monastic rules (Vinaya).

As the Saṅgha gradually grew over the next century a dispute arose regarding ten points of discipline. A Second Buddhist Council (said in the scriptures to have taken place 100 years after the Buddha's death) was held to resolve the points of dispute. The result was that all the monks agreed that those 10 practices were unallowed according to Vinaya.

Further developments

Following (or leading up to) the schisms, each Saṅgha started to accumulate an Abhidharma, a collection of philosophical texts. Early sources for these probably existed in the time of the Buddha as simple lists. However, as time went on and Buddhism spread further, the (perceived) teachings of the Buddha were formalized in a more systematic manner in a new Pitaka: the Abhidhamma Pitaka. Some modern academics refer to it as Abhidhamma Buddhism. Interestingly, in the opinion of some scholars, the Mahasanghika school did not have an Abhidhamma Pitaka, which agrees with their statement that they did not want to add to the Buddha's teachings. But according to Chinese pilgrims Fa Xian (5th century CE) and Yuan Chwang (Xuanzang, 7th century CE), they had procured a copy of Abhidhamma which belonged to the Mahasanghika School.

Buddhism may have spread only slowly in India until the time of the Mauryan emperor Aśoka the Great, who was a public supporter of the religion. The support of Aśoka and his descendants led to the construction of more Buddhist religious memorials (stūpas) and to efforts to spread Buddhism throughout the enlarged Maurya empire and even into neighboring lands – particularly to the Iranian-speaking regions of Afghanistan and Central Asia, beyond the Mauryas' northwest border, and to the islands of Sri Lanka and the Maldives south of India. These two missions, in opposite directions, would ultimately lead, in the first case to the spread of Buddhism into China, and in the second case, to the emergence of Theravāda Buddhism and its spread from Sri Lanka to the coastal lands of Southeast Asia.

This period marks the first known spread of Buddhism beyond India. According to the edicts of Aśoka, emissaries were sent to various countries west of India in order to spread "Dhamma", particularly in eastern provinces of the neighboring Seleucid Empire, and even farther to Hellenistic kingdoms of the Mediterranean. This led, a century later, to the emergence of Greek-speaking Buddhist monarchs in the Indo-Greek Kingdom, and to the development of the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhāra. During this period Buddhism was exposed to a variety of influences, from Persian and Greek civilization, and from changing trends in non-Buddhist Indian religions – themselves influenced by Buddhism.

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Source: Wikipedia Encyclopedia