By U Tun Aung (Pyapon)
Buddhism, as commonly misconstrued, is not religion but a philosophy, both practical and practicable, propounded by Lord Buddha, who was born in Northern India more than 2500 years ago, for the latter presupposes belief in the existence of God, the supernatural power controlling the whole of the Universe with its living and non-living things.
Inspite of having enjoyed a sheltered and and privileged life as a prince, Siddhatta, the Buddha-to -be, became aware of the unsatisfactoriness of life with its inherent problems of ageing, disease and death. It was through practice of Mediative techniques for six years in forest wilderness that he finally discovered the real value , the meaning of life and freedom from all kinds of suffering.
The discovery of the Four Noble Truths, namely, the existence of suffering, the root cause of suffering, the absence of suffering and the path leading to the absence of suffering, made him the Enlightened One.
According to Buddhist teachings, life and suffering are inseparable, and the cause of the latter is explained by the theory of Dependent Origination which consists of twelve interactive links, namely, delusion, formations, consciousness, mentality - materiality, six kinds of sensations, contact, feeling, craving, clinging, becoming, birth and ageing - and - death. The interactive nature of these links constitutes the wheel of the round of rebirths, so to speak.
Only when the root cause of suffering is terminated will there be a state free from the cycle of rebirths , the Buddhist concept of Nirvana.
How to attain this state is explained by the Eightfold Path, namely, right views, right plan, right speech, right endeavour, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. This requires close examination of mental states and processes through deep meditation which contributes to insight into the true nature of the mind and the body. Only then can clinging, the root cause of suffering, can be ' cut off ' and thus the round of rebirth terminated, thereby attaining the ultimate stage free from suffering.
Written by Saya U Tun Aung , in July, 1998
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