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Buddhism is an Education

Buddhism is an Education, Not a Religion or a Philosophy
  According to the Webster's Dictionary, the definition of religion is as follows, "An organized system of beliefs, rites, and celebrations centered on a supernatural being power; belief pursued with devotion."

Buddhism is not a religion because
  First, the Buddha is not a 'supernatural being power'. The Buddha is simply a person who has reached Complete Understanding of the reality of life and the universe. Life refers to ourselves, and universe refers to our living environment. The Buddha taught that all beings possess the same ability to reach Complete Understanding of themselves and their environment, and relieve themselves from all sufferings to attain utmost happiness. All beings can become Buddhas, and all beings and the Buddha are equal by nature. The Buddha is not a God, but a teacher, who teach us the way to restore Wisdom and Understanding by conquering the greed, hatred, and ignorance which blind us at the present moment. The word 'Buddha' is a Sanskrit word, when translated it means, "Wisdom, Awareness/Understanding". We call the founder of Buddhism Shakyamuni Buddha because He has attained Complete Understanding and Wisdom of life and the universe. Buddhism is His education to us, it is His teaching which shine the way to Buddhahood.

Buddhism is not a religion because
  Second, the 'belief' in the Buddha's teachings is not blind belief, or blind faith. Shakyamuni Buddha taught us not to blindly believe what he tells us, he wants us to try the teachings and prove them for ourselves. The Buddha wants us to know, not merely believe. The Buddha's teachings flow from his own experience and understanding of the truth, and shows us a path of our own to taste the truth for ourselves. The Buddha uses a perfectly scientific way of showing us reality in its true form.

Buddhism is not a religion because
  Third, Buddhism is not a religion because all the 'rites and celebrations' are not centered on a supernatural being, but rather the people attending the assemblies. The ceremonies and celebrations in Buddhism all serve an educational purpose, a reminder of the Buddha's teachings and encouragement to all students who practice it. The point of the ceremonies is to help others awaken from delusion and return to Wisdom and Understanding.

Buddhism is not a religion because
  Finally, Buddhism is not a religion because the 'devotion' used in Buddhism is not one based on emotion, but one based on reason. Students of the Buddha are devoted to their practice of maintaining Purity of Mind because this practice brings true happiness. We are devoted to helping both ourselves and others attain Complete Understanding and Wisdom. Our devotion is to become Buddha.



What is Buddhism
  Buddhism is the most profound and wholesome education directed by the Buddha towards all people.

  The content in Shakyamuni Buddha's forty-nine years of teaching describes the true face of life and the universe. Life refers to oneself, universe refers to our living environment. The Teach-ings directly relate to our own lives and surroundings.

  Those who possess a complete and proper understanding of life and the universe are called Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. Those who lack the understanding are called worldly people. h Cultivation is changing the way we think, speak, and act towards people and matters from an erroneous way to a proper way.

  The guideline for cultivation is understanding, proper views, and purity. Understanding is without delusion, proper views is without deviation, and purity is without pollution. This can be achieved by practicing the Three Learnings of self-discipline, concentration, and wisdom.

  The Three Basic Conditions are the foundation of cultivation and study. When interacting with people, accord with the Six Harmonies, and when dealing with society, practice the Six Principles. Follow the lessons taught by Universal Worthy Bodhisattva and dedicate one's mind to everlasting purity and brightness. These complete the purpose of the Buddha's Teachings.



The Art of Living
  Talk given by the Venerable Chin Kung / Houston 1996

  Our goal in studying Buddhism is to open up our wisdom; to attain this goal, we must cultivate purity of mind. In today society, our greatest obstructions are TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines - these all contain contents which pollute our minds. I often persuade people not to read or listen to these things. When our hearts are free from these unneeded afflictions, we can live each day in peace and happiness; thus, allowing our minds to return to purity. With an undeluded mind, one will see matters of life clearer, deeper, and farther than others. This is because a settled and concentrated mind is a mind of wisdom. The key in cultivating the Buddha teachings is having a settled and concentrated mind, in practicing the Pure Land method, purity of mind is of foremost importance.

  The Infinite Life Sutra teaches us to cultivate purity, equality, and understanding. Being mindful of the Buddha is cultivating this, for Amitabha Buddha is purity, equality, and understanding. When we recite the Buddha name, we are reminded of these qualities.

  In China, Buddhism can be divided into ten schools. Aside from the two Small Vehicle school which has already declined, there are eight schools remaining belonging to Great Vehicle Buddhism. There are 2 schools (Chn and Shing) which enter the Buddha teachings through the method of understanding/ Enlightenment". They seek the great enlightening, to understand the heart/mind, and see the self-nature. Usually, those of lesser capabilities to enlighten on their own are unable to reach their goals through this method. Thus, to cultivate the Chn/Zen School requires a high level of wisdom and a very pure heart. Without these, then one would have to start learning from the stage of Teachings. The study of Teachings is to help establish proper understanding and proper viewpoint, thus, the method ofight-eousness/ Properness" is used here to enter the Buddha teachings. There are 4 schools belonging to this category (Tien Tai, Shian Shou, Fa Shiang, and San Lwun). The practitioners of these schools study and abide by the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha to correct their erroneous views, thoughts, and actions. Most people are capable of learning this method, but it is a long journey, such as going to school. One must start from elementary school, then gradually advance grade by grade to junior high, high school, and college. In finishing one grade, one attains the benefit of that single grade. The final 2 schools are Pure Land and Esoteric. These stress on the importance of cultivating purity of mind, thus, their method of entering the Buddha teachings is through urity". The Pure Land School can be practiced by people of all capabilities, regardless whether they be smart or dull. All can practice, and all can succeed in cultivating Pure Land. The Esoteric School requires a high level of Purity of Mind, making it very difficult to reach attainment.

  The difference between the cultivation of Purity in Pure Land School and Esoteric School is that the Pure Land School teaches us to cultivate purity of mind away from pollution, while the Esoteric School teaches us to cultivate purity of mind in the midst of pollution, the latter path involves state of being in pollution but not being polluted; naturally, this state is too difficult for commonfolk to succeed in attaining.

  True wisdom arises from purity of mind, thus, isdom" mentioned in the Buddha teachings is not attained from reading and studying books; the isdom" we attain from reading and studying is only worldly knowledge, and not true wisdom.

  True wisdom is the function of our self-nature. Our self-nature is complete with unlimited wisdom, virtues, and abilities, these qualities are present in everyone self-nature, and we must know to bring them out.

  Buddha' is Purity, Equality, and Understanding. The Buddha teachings can be summarized into 10 simple phrases: True Sincerity towards others, Purity of Mind within, Equality in everything we see, Proper Understanding of life and the universe, Compassion, helping others in a wise and unconditional way, See Through to the truth of impermanence, Let Go of all wandering thoughts and attachments, Freedom of mind and spirit, Accord With Conditions, go along with the environment, Be Mindful of Amitabha Buddha, wishing to reach the Pure Land and follow in His Teachings. The first five represent the Buddha heart, also the virtues of our self-nature. We are presently unable to completely manifest these qualities due to our lack of cultivating the latter five. Diligent practice is needed to bring out these virtues of the Buddha-nature within us.

  The ultimate goal in learning Buddhism is the great Perfection. In all classes of society and fields of occupation, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas act as role models for all people to follow. Students of the Buddha must be good examples for all others, and families which follow the Buddha teachings must act in a way which is worthy of being the role model for all families. If one is still a student, then one schoolwork, conduct, and health become an example for one classmates. This is being a student of the Buddha. In going to work or running a business, one must be a role model for all businessmen to follow. Thus, everything in the Buddhadharma can be number one.

  A family living in perfect wisdom is the most content, fortunate, and happy family in the world.

  Buddhism is the education of wisdom, it encompasses all things, and exceeds the boundaries between countries, races, and religions. Since Buddhism is an education, it is not limited in the boundaries of religion. Followers of all religions are welcome and should learn and cultivate the education of true wisdom.

  In the Sutra of Observing Amitabha and His Pure Land, the 3 Conditions mentioned stands as the basic foundation of cultivation in Buddhism. Upon perfecting the 3 Conditions, one will have complete wisdom, fortune, and virtue.

  The first condition consists of four practices based on the fundamental morals of mankind: 1. The practice of filial piety, 2. The practice of respecting teachers and elders, 3. The practice of harboring compassion and not killing, and 4. The practice of the 10 Kind Deeds.

  The second condition consists of three practices based on cultivating the self: 1. Taking Refuge in the Triple Jewels, 2. Understanding the spirit of precepts, and 3. Being a law-abiding citizen of the world.

  The third condition consists of four practices which follow the practices of Bodhisattvas: 1. Giving rise to the Bodhi Mind, 2. Deeply believing in the Law of Cause and Effect, 3. Studying the teachings of the Large Vehicle, and 4. Introducing the Teachings to others.

  Altogether, these 11 practices, each having its deep and vast meaning, must be put to use in everyday life, for they are the foundation of the 49 years of teachings spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha.

  Great Vehicle Buddhism in China can be represented by the great Bodhisattvas of the Four Famous Mountains. First is Earth Treasury Bodhisattva of Jiou-Hua Mountain, representing filial piety and respect. Second is Kuan Yin Bodhisattva of Pu-Tuo Mountain, representing compassion. Third is Manjushri Bodhisattva of Wu-Tai Mountain, representing wisdom. Fourth is Universal Worthy Bodhisattva of E-Mei Mountain, representing true practice. These 4 great Bodhisattvas represent the core of cultivation in Buddhism. As beginners, we start learning from Earth Treasury, for the earth is the root of life of all living beings. Because the great earth nurtures all beings and is the treasury of all that is precious, the Buddha uses it to represent our ind ground" or ind earth". Our true mind/original nature is complete with infinite wisdom, virtuous abilities, and talents; we must know how to open this treasury in order to attain its benefits. Earth Treasury Bodhisattva teaches us to be filial to our parents and respectful to our teachers, for in these practices lies the key to opening the treasury of our self-nature.

  The field of filial piety is very vast. Our parents have shown us great kindness in bringing us up and educating us, thus, we should not only nurture their aging bodies, but we should also nurture their minds, and let them be happy- this is practicing filial piety.

  Regarding the practice of filial piety, we should strive to do our best in living up to our parents' expectations. When they wish for us to be good persons and benefit the society, we should do so; to act otherwise would be unfilial. For children going to school, it would be unfilial to do poorly at schoolwork, causing one parents to be worried and disappointed. It would be unfilial if one conduct was poor, or if one health was poor, or if one was disrespectful to one teachers, or if one could not get along with other schoolmates. After reaching adulthood, and entering the society, it would be unfilial to be rebellious towards one boss, or being unable to cooperate with others at work, causing one parents at home to worry. From these, we realize how vast the field of cultivating filial piety really is, and that the entire Buddhadharma is actually just teaching the Way of Filial Piety. In Buddhism, the perfection of filial piety is only completed upon reaching the Unsurpassed Understanding (Buddhahood).

  In today generation, mankind has been seriously polluted in heart, thoughts, views, spirit, and body, thus leading to the birth of many strange illnesses. The root cause of illness and disease is pollution - if one body and mind are pure, then one will definitely not fall ill or grow aged. To not age or become ill is true happiness and fortune. To attain this goal, we only need to learn and cultivate/practice according to the Buddha teachings. In our world today, where foods have been polluted by toxins and poisons, we should harbor compassion, for compassion is the antidote for all poisons. A truly compassionate heart can neutralize all poisons. The Buddha once said, ll dharmas arise from the mind." Thus, a pure, equanimous, and understanding mind/heart naturally brings health to one body.

  When we recite morning and evening ceremonies in front of the Buddha and Bodhisattva images, it is just as if we were vowing to abide by their teachings right in their presence. Morning recitation acts as a reminder, preventing us from forgetting the Buddha teachings, and reminding us to act accordingly in the course of the day. Evening recitation is a reflection of today practice, checking to see if we acted accordingly to the Buddha teachings. If we did, then we should work even harder next time, if not, then we must reform, seeking to renew ourselves with each day. Only practicing in this way can true benefits be attained. Morning and evening recitations are the most basic practices in learning Buddhism. It is necessary to remind ourselves each day, and reflect and reform.

  One who wishes to become a student of the Buddha should first learn from Maitreya Buddha, or better known in America as appy Buddha". Maitreya Buddha represents the most basic conditions necessary to become Buddhist - a smiling face and a big heart. (Represented by his big belly). We must recognize that all Buddha images serve to remind us of the Teachings, and are not idols or gods of worship. appy Buddha" teaches us to give rise to an equanimous mind, and be happy; thus being able to enter the Buddha Way.

  The content of the Buddha teachings is infinitely deep and vast, one is unable to speak of it all, for the flavor of it is unfathomable. Understanding it can bring great help to our living, work, and dealing with all people, matters, and affairs. Buddhism truly surpasses the boundaries of nationality, races, and religions - there isn a single thing it cannot encompass. The Buddha teachings is truly a very complete education.



The Education of Teacher Shakyamuni
  "Education - The field of study concerned with teaching and learning"... The American Heritage Dictionary

  Buddhism is an education about us, and our living environment. The Buddha teaches us to recognize ourselves; our thoughts, speech, and actions and the consequences they evoke. Most importantly, the Buddha wants us to restore our original and complete wisdom. He teaches that everyone possesses the ability to attain complete understanding of life and the universe, and it is only because of delusion that we are unable to realize it. We are blinded by wandering thoughts, discriminations, and attachments, and forget the original pure mind of our self nature. In this way, we have caused ourselves much unneeded suffering.

  The Buddha also teaches us to view our environment clearly. 'Environment' refers to the people, matters, and objects we come across everyday. When our hearts are free from discriminations and attachments, we would be able to view everything clearly and deal with them appropriately. Thus, we can live in harmony with others and succeed in all our endeavors.

  What did the Buddha mean when he taught us to cultivate? His intent was none other than to rid us of our delusions and attachments. If we drew together the Six Principles of practice taught by the Buddha, we would only end up with the practice of giving. Giving simply means to let go. If we can let go of our greed, hatred, ignorance, and arrogance, then we would always dwell in purity of mind. If we can let go of all discriminations, worries, and attachments, then we would attain peace, freedom, health, and longevity. If we can let go of our own views and work together for the benefit of others, then we can achieve harmony with others, harmony in society, and ultimately, world peace. From this we can see that the main practice of the Buddha's teachings is none other than giving.

  When the Teacher Shakyamuni was in the world, he not only used words to teach , but made an example of himself for all living beings to follow. He let go of all desires, worldly enjoyments, fame, and money to lead the life of a left-home monk. He lived a lifestyle of simplicity, purity of mind and body, and happiness. Mundane people would see this as bitter and pitiful, but this is only due to their deluded and upside-down views. One with wisdom would view things differently. The wise would see the Buddha's lifestyle as one of true freedom, happiness, and fulfillment. The Buddha does not have useless thoughts, discriminations, attachments, or worries. How at ease he is! He accords with all conditions and emanates wisdom in every thought, speech, and action to teach living beings in this world.

  The Buddhas live lives of wisdom, while mundane people live lives of affliction. Shakyamuni's teachings teach us how to change afflicted lives into ones of great wisdom. From these teachers, we will learn how to restore the ultimate and complete wisdom and abilities of our self nature; allowing us to attain true happiness and prosperity. This, is the Buddha's Education.

  - Amitabha Buddhist Association of Queensland

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