Date: 7/24/2010 9:02:07 PM
Subject: [CASonline] A Buddhist Catechism

              Lord Buddha
Quoted from: 
Q: What is Buddhism?
A: Buddhism is a religion to over 300 million people around the world. The word come from 'budhi', meaning 'to awaken'. Buddhism has its origin 2.500 years ago when Siddhartha Gautama, known as The Buddha, was himself awakened at the age of 35.

Q: Is Buddhism a Religion?
A: To many, Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more a philosophy or 'way of life'. It's a philosophy because philosophy means 'love of wisdom'. The Buddhist path can be summed up as:
(1) to lead a moral life,
(2) to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and
(3) to develop wisdom and understanding.

Q: How can Buddhism help you?
A: Buddhism provides tools to help you understand yourself, your actions, and your thoughts. It provides a code of practice or way of life that leads to happiness and equality for all.

Q: Why is Buddhism becoming so popular in the West?
A: Buddhism has answers to many of the problems in a modern materialistic society. It includes, for those who are interested, a deep understanding of the human mind. It also provides natural therapies. Both the understanding and the therapies have been found to be very advanced and effective by prominent psychologists from around the world.

Q: Who was the Buddha?
A: Siddhartha Gautama was born into a royal family in Lumbini, now located in Nepal, in 563 b.c.e. That date varies from tradition to tradition. At the age of 29 he realised wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness, so he explored the different teachings, religions, and philosophies of the day to find the key to human happiness. After six years of study and meditation he finally found 'The Middle Path' and achieved awakening. After his awakening, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles he had discovered. These principles are call the Dhamma or Dharma - Truth. The Buddha died at the age of 80.

Q: Is the Buddha God?
A: No. The Buddha never claimed to be God or a God. He was a man who taught a path to awakening. A path he discovered through his own experience.

Q: Do Buddhists worship idols?
A: No. Buddhists sometimes pay respect to images of the Buddha, not worship. They do not ask favors of the Buddha. A statue of the Buddha with hands resting gently on its lap and a compassionate smile reminds us to strive to develop peace and love within ourselves. Bowing to the statue is an expression of gratitude for the Teaching.

Q: Are there different types of Buddhism?
A: Yes. There are many different expressions of Buddhism because the emphasis changes from country to country due to customs and culture. What does not vary is the essence of the Teaching - the Dharma, the Truth.

Q: Are other religions wrong?
A: Buddhism is a Practice that is very tolerant of all other belief systems and religions. Buddhism agrees with many of the moral teachings of other religions. Buddhism is extremely tolerant and not concerned with labels such as "Christian', 'Islam', 'Hindu', or 'Buddhist'. Tha's why there have never been any wars fought in the name of Buddhism. That's why Buddhists do not preach and do not try to convert, only explain if an explanation is sought.

Q: Is Buddhism scientific?
A: Science is knowledge which can be made into a system. It depends upon seeing and testing facts and stating general natural laws. The core of Buddhism fits into this definition, because the Four Noble Truths (the basis of the Dharma) can be tested and proven by anyone. The Buddha himself asked his followers to test his teaching rather than accept his word as true. Buddhism depends more on understanding than on faith.

Q: What did the Buddha teach?
A: The Buddha taught many things, but the basic concepts in Buddhism are contained within the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

Q: What is the First Noble Truth?
A: The First Truth is life is dukkha. Life includes pain, getting old, disease, and ultimately death. We also experience loneliness, frustration, fear, embarrassment, disappointment, and anger. This is an irrefutable fact that cannot be denied. It is realistic rather than pessimistic because pessimism is expecting things to be bad. Instead, Buddhism explains how dukkha can be avoided and how we can be truly happy.

Q: What is dukkha?
A: The word ?¡ãdukkha?is a Pali term roughly corresponding to a number of terms in English including suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness, sorrow, affliction, anxiety, dissatisfaction, discomfort, anguish, stress, misery, and frustration.

In classic Sanskrit, dukkha is often compared to a large potter's wheel that screeches as it is spun around. The wheel does not turn smoothly.

In other Buddhist-influenced cultures similar imagery is used to describe dukkha. An example from China is a cart with one wheel that is slightly broken. The rider is jolted each time the wheel rolls over the broken spot.

Although in the West dukkha is often translated as "suffering", its philosophical meaning is more analogous to "disquietude" as in the condition of being disturbed. As such, "suffering" is too narrow a translation with negative emotional connotations which can give the impression that the Buddhist view is one of pessimism. But Buddhism is neither pessimistic nor optimistic. It is realistic. Thus in English-language Buddhist literature dukkha is often left untranslated, so as to encompass its full range of meaning.

Q: What is the Second Noble Truth?
A: The Second Truth is dukkha is caused by craving and aversion. We experience dukkha if we expect other people to conform to our expectation. If we want others to like us, if we do not get something we want, we experience dukkha. Getting what you want does not guarantee happiness.

Q: What is the Third Noble Truth?
A: The Third Noble Truth is dukkha can be overcome and happiness can be attained. True happiness and true contentment are possible. If we give up useless craving and learn to live each day, not dwelling in the past or in the imagined future, then we can be happy and free. This is Nirvana.

Q: What is Nirvana?
A: Not to be conditioned by greed, hatred, or confusion; this is Nirvana.

Q: What is the Fourth Noble Truth?
A: The Fourth Noble Truth is the Noble Eightfold Path. This is the path that leads to the end of dukkha, to Nirvana.

Q: What is the Noble Eightfold Path?
A: The Noble Eightfold Path is being moral through what we say, do, and our livelihood. It is about focusing the mind on being fully aware of our thoughts and actions and developing wisdom by understanding the Four Noble Truths and by developing compassion for others.

Q: What are the eight paths of the Noble Eightfold Path?
A: (1) Correct View or Understanding, (2) Correct Attitude or Thought, (3) Correct Speech, (4) Correct Action, (5) Correct Livelihood, (6) Correct Effort, (7) Correct Mindfulness or Awareness, (8) Correct Concentration.

Q: What is Karma?
A: Karma is the law that every cause has an effect, our actions have results. This simple law underlines the importance of all individuals being responsible for their past and present actions. How can we test the karmic effect of our actions? This answer is summed up by looking at (1) the intention behind the action, (2) the effects of the action on oneself, and (3) the effects on others.

Q: What is Wisdom?
A: Buddhism teaches wisdom should be developed with compassion. At one extreme, you could be a goodhearted fool and at the other extreme, you could attain knowledge without any emotion. Buddhism uses the Middle Path to develop both. The highest wisdom is seeing all phenomena are incomplete, impermanent, and do not constitute a fixed reality. True wisdom is not simply believing what we are told but instead experiencing and understanding truth. Wisdom requires an open, objective, unbigoted mind. The Buddhist Path requires courage, patience, flexibility, and intelligence.

Q: What is compassion?
A: Compassion includes the qualities of sharing, the readiness to give comfort, sympathy, concern, and caring. In Buddhism, we can understand others when we understand ourselves. This understanding comes through wisdom and compassion.

Q: How can I become a Buddhist?
A: Buddhist teachings can be understood and tested by anyone. Buddhism teaches the solutions to our problems are within ourselves not outside. The Buddha asked all his followers not to take his word as true, but rather to test the teachings for themselves. In this way, each person decides for themselves and takes responsibility for their own thoughts, words, and actions. This makes Buddhism a teaching which each person learns and uses in their own fashion.