University of Cambridge

What Buddhists Must Know

Sakyamuni Buddha

He was born in Lumbini garden, under a Sal-tree, when His mother Queen Mahamaya-devi  was on her way to her parents’ home. The Queen passed away one week after His birth. As a prince, he was named Siddhartha Gautama.

He lived from 566 to 486 BC. His teachings were passed down orally and they were only committed to writing, on ola leaves, in Sri Lanka around the middle of the first century BC. The Buddha taught for a period of forty five years. They consisted of three baskets or divisions called Pitaka, which are the Discourses, the Monastic regulations, and the Abhidhamma.  In all they consisted of 84 000 chapters, about 5000 of them are the Discourses (Suttas). It has been estimated by scholars that if all the main points of the three baskets were listed in book form, that set of books would be equivalent to 360 volumes of our average encyclopedia today.

If a person wishes to become a Buddhist, no initiation ceremony is needed. There is no need for baptism. If a person understands the Buddha’s teaching, is convinced that His teaching is the right Path, and does his best to follow it. Then he is a Buddhist.

The four sacred Buddhist places are: Lumbini, Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kusinara. Lumbini is now in Nepal, was the birthplace of Sakyamuni Buddha. Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kusinara are in India. Bodh Gaya was the place where Sakyamuni was enlightened, after He moved from place to place in India practicing meditation for seven years. At Deer Park, Sarnath , near  Benares,  He carried out His first teaching, (turning of the Dharma Wheel) to the five ascetics, with these discourses : Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta, (Four Noble Truths & The Eightfold Path); and Anattalakkhana Sutta, ( Soulless).  Kusinara was the place of His final Nibbana. The Buddha personally said that Buddhists who visit these four places would travel to higher states.

He was born as an average person. This was a good sign because it means you and I can also become a Buddha. You don’t need to be the most intelligent ones in the nation like the top 0.000001% of the population to be able to understand the Dharma to become a Buddha. If He was very intelligent, He would have attained Nibbana earlier, because as a child (aged 7) He sat under a rose-apple tree (Bodhi Tree, Botanical name: ficus religiosa) watching His father carrying out the opening ceremony for the annual ploughing festival, He crossed legs and went on meditation and was believed to have reached the different levels of the Jhanas. He could have continued and practised harder and successfully attain Buddhahood  without spending the six years which He did later on.  It was said that as the child sat under the tree, the tree-shade remained protecting him even though the position of the sun on the sky had changed. So you see, the devas protect the good people.

As a young prince, the turning point in his life was when he observed a frog being swallowed by a snake, and at that moment, a hawk swooped down and carried both the snake and the frog away.

How could an almighty creator allow his creatures to be preyed upon by others, and to live in constant fear? All creatures either hunt or are hunted by others. Herbivorous animals are also the victims of other animals, including human beings.

During one of his outings, Prince Siddhartha came across a recluse, dressed in yellow rope, holding a bowl in his hand, looking very calm and perfect. The Prince stopped the chariot and asked Channa, with curiosity: “What is this man?  I like very much to know him.”

That recluse approached the Prince and said: “Prince, I am a holy man, a recluse. Seeing the world full of miseries, I have left it, wandering in search of Truth and Peace.”

The recluse immediately retired and was out of sight.

In the evening, as usual, a party of dancing girls came to entertain the Prince.  Prince Siddhartha heard them and saw them but could not pay attention to them. He sat on the couch and was soon asleep. The entertainers stopped to rest. As night advanced, they too were asleep.

Later that night, the Prince woke up and looked around. The dancing girls laid scattered all over the floor like dead bodies. Some had their eyes fully shut, and some half-shut, appearing repulsive. Saliva flew from their mouths. The noses were blowing. Many of them were snoring, with their saree neglectfully disordered. Some were biting their teeth, or muttering in their dreams. The whole scene looked more like a cemetery ground.

The Prince walked out of the hall to wake up the horse-groom Channa, and said: “Get my horse ready. I will go out.”

The Prince galloped on and on, crossing the river Anoma, left his jewels, sword and garments, cut his hair, took the yellow rope and a begging bowl, to enter the forests searching for Truth and Peace. His horse Kanthaka, and all the other items He discarded were brought back to the palace by Channa. He remained seven days at Anupiya Mango Groove near River Anoma, and then proceeded to Rajagaha, the capital of Magadha kingdom, ruled by king Bimbisara.  King Bimbisara came personally to see this mysterious recluse and also wanted to offer half the kingdom to this recluse. The Prince rejected the offer but promised the king that when he find the Truth and Peace he would come back to visit the king.

During his search, Siddhartha received training from many teachers, the most outstanding ones were: Asita, Alara and Uddaka, but did not find the Truth and Peace. Near Uruvela, he came across five ascetics who were practising asceticism. Siddhartha joined them, fasting for months continuously, burning the body under midday sun during summer and spending cold and frosty winter nights, dipped in water. They used very rough clothings, and pricked thorns in their own body to conquer the temptation of touch, believing that could annihilate the physical and gain the real blissful nature of the soul. He gradually reduced His intake of food every day. His body was reduced to skeleton, and his hair all fell off. The skin shrank until he looked like a very old man.

One day, he got fainted and yet could not find the Truth. It was then clear to him that asceticism was a wrong method. He then remembered the string  tension  of the Sitar which must be neither low nor high to produce the correct pitch. He began to take food and gradually gained strength. The other five ascetics: Kondanna, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahanama, and Assaji, were unhappy with him and left him.

Then the Prince was alone. He sat under a Bodhi tree, by the side of River Neranjara  (now Phalgu) to continue meditation, with one posture for one week. A village girl, Sujata, offered him some milk-rice. After this meal he continued to meditate under the Bodhi tree. Mara came and tried to frighten him with storms and armies of demons. It was not successful. Mara then sent his three beautiful daughters to seduce him. It failed again. Siddhartha continued to meditate and within the same night, the Great Enlightenment dawned on him. He discovered ignorance was the root of all evils, and that with the cessation of ignorance, emancipation would be obtained, and one would be free from Samsara. He traced the world of miseries, and found twelve links called Nidanas. He called them “Paticca Samuppada” which means “Dependent Origination”, i.e., depending on this, that originates. The process can be traced back and there was no beginning, or a first cause.

Buddhism does not teach the following:

that everything crops up without a cause,

that good deed and bad deed produce no effect

that there is no after-life

that there is an almighty God

that the earth was flat

The Buddha said :

“Blessed are they who earn their livelihood without harming others.”

I don’t know what his almighty god was then. But it was  my mother who told me according to the Chinese, it was Panku.  Panku even claimed that he was the one who invited all the Buddhas to this universe, and that all the Buddhas receive commands from him.

During the Buddha’s time, a deva who believed he was the almighty god, and a creator, came down to earth to challenge the Buddha. The deva wanted to kill the Buddha unless the Buddha kowtow to him. The Buddha refused but invited the deva to play a game. The loser would kowtow to the winner. The deva was glad to accept this game. He suggested the Buddha must find out where he was when he vanish from thin air. The deva  suddenly vanished, but the Buddha found him. It was then the Buddha’s turn to vanish from thin air. The Buddha attained Nibbana. Obviously, the deva which was a common being could not find him. The deva kowtowed to the Buddha and departed.

Another tipping point in his life was caused by the following incidents:

seeing an old man : the pride in youth left him

seeing a sick man : the pride in health left him

seeing a dead man : the pride in life left him

His most learned disciple was Ananda (Buddha’s cousin) and Ananda was the last of the 1250 disciples to attain Arahanthood.  Ananda spent a lot of him time serving the Buddha and the guests of the Buddha. After the Great Decease of the Buddha, Ananda was less busy and he concentrated on meditation, attaining Arahanthood while lying down. Before this, he approached Mahakashyapa for three times seeking assistance to attain enlightenment but was always turned down by Mahakashyapa. These words were from Mahashyapa to Adanda: ” Only you can help yourself”. Only then did Ananda realize that he had to depend on himself if he wanted to attain enlightenment. He went to a secluded and solitary place to meditate and attained enlightenment. The fact was at that moment, he relied on no one and therefore there was no more attachment. This attainment qualified him to participate in the first convocation of the Sangha with the aim of settling questions of doctrine and fixing the text of the scriptures. This Meeting was carried out, three months after the Buddha’s final Nibbana, by five hundred monks who were Arahants. An Arahant  has perfect memory. They met at Sattapanni Cave (at Rajagaha) to recite the Dharma and the Vinaya so that it could be passed on to future generations. The Buddhist teachings were memorized by these five hundred monks, each monk was responsible for a certain sections of the teachings. These monks passed on the teachings to younger monks and that was why we still have the Dharma today.

The First Council Meeting, sponsored by King Ajatasatta, (carried out long before King Asoka was born) was presided by Mahakashyapa, with 499 Arahants, to settle the questions of doctrines and fix the text of the Scriptures, by reciting and memorizing, in Satiapanni Cave, situated outside Rajagaha, three months after the Pari-Nibbana of the Buddha.  Ananda attained Arahantship on that day, before the meetng started and was qualified to attend that meeting.  With his presence, there were five hundred monks. Thus the Tripitaka was recorded and has been studied and practised until today.

The 2nd Council  Meeting was carried out 100 years later at Vesali, to review the conclusions of the first meeting.

The 3rd Council Meeting was done at Pataliputta, 200 years later, at 253 BC, under the patronage of King Asoka, to finalize the conclusions of the Second Meeting. This third Council meeting was attended by one thousand monks, the main aim was to rid the Sangha of corruption and bogus monks who held heretical views.

Later, from 444 to 100 BC, because of famine and schisms in the Sangha, it was necessary to preserve the Buddhist religion. King Vattagamani convened the 4th Council where 500 monks recited the Buddha’s teachings and wrote them on palm leaves for the first time. The written records were named the Pali Tipitaka, (Pali Canon).

Manjusri was the brightest of the 1250 disciples but he was not the first one to attain Arahanthood. A person cannot attain Nibbana by academic knowledge or intellectual reasoning.

Cula-panthaka was not able to learn by heart, a Pali verse which consisted of four stanzas with eleven characters in each, and forty-four characters all together, even though he had spent four months trying to do it. However, later on, the Buddha told him to contemplate on a piece of white cloth, mashing or squashing it, reciting “rajo-haranam, rajo haranam”, which means : ” bringing about dust, bringing about dust”. Cula-panthaka became an Arahant within  a single morning.

The Buddha never claimed there was a royal road to Nibbana. However, He did teach that if a person should develop sincerely (The Noble Eightfold Path ) in the way He described, for seven days, he or she would attain full Enlightenment or the state of non-returner. The Buddha said: ” ehi-passiko” which means come and see. He did not demand blind faith, and also He never condemn the teaching of His opponents as sacrilege or heretics.

It is impossible to become a Sotapanna simply by appreciating what the Buddha teaches. You need to practice Samatha or Vipassana meditation. The beauty of religious practice is that, at the least, a person is not afraid during the time of death, and remains mindful and self-possessed. Even if one fails to attain Nibbana upon the dissolution of the body, one is bound for a happy destiny.

Anyone wishing to experience the bliss of Nibbana has to fulfill three conditions:

1)   Find a teacher who can give the proper instruction in the technique of meditation and to associate only with men of integrity and wisdom.

2)    Need to gain an intellectual understanding of the teaching, example: hearing the true Dhamma because by studying and listening to discourses one gains the proper framework to understand the experiences in meditation

3)   Need to practice what one has been taught.

One of Buddha’s disciples was an elderly monk called Pottila, who was bright and was reputed of being an expert at expanding in details whatever teachings the Buddha had given in brief. Despite his popularity and reputation, the Buddha called him “empty Pottila”, and the truth dawned on him that he had no wisdom because he did not practice the Dhamma.

Pottila looked for a quiet place to meditate and realized he had to find a well-qualified teacher. He went to a forest where there were thirty monks, all of them were Arahants. He approached the senior monk and asked him for instruction. This monk politely declined fearing that his simple technique would not be accepted by Pottila. Pottila went to look for the other twenty-nine monks and asked for the same thing. All of them refused, except the young monk who was still doubtful of Pottila’s sincerity. He asked Pottila to cross a small stream. Pottila did so. This young monk was then convinced that Pottila would follow his advice. He went on: “Here is an anthill with six holes and under it lives a lizard. Someone would have to close five of the holes and leave just one of them open and then he would be able to capture the lizard easily.”

Pottila respectfully saluted the young monk and said: “What a great teacher you are; I fully understood, you need teach me nothing further.”

The young monk asked what it was that he had understood. Pottila said: “Great teacher, I understand that there are six sense doors; I have to close five of them, and open only the mind door. This is how you want me to practice.”

Pottila found a solitary place, meditated for three days and attained Arahanthood.

The Buddha was not an eternalist, nor was He an annihilationist, (a person who denies the survival of the personality in any form after death). According to Him, there were only events which arise because of previous conditions.  But when asked if the person who was reborn was the same as the previous one who died, the Buddha said it was neither the same nor another person.  The self, which other religions named as soul, jiva, atma or purusa is not constant, everlasting or eternal. It is subject to change, and will not endure as long as eternity.

Buddhism does not totally deny the existence of a personality. It denies an identical being or a permanent entity. Buddhist term for an individual is santati, i.e. a flux or continuity. This santati was not created by an almighty god, and had no perceptible source from the past.

The Buddha did not say Anatta  meant voidness of the self or nothingness. According to Him the self consisted of the physical and mental factors constituting the so called five aggregates. They are there but there is nothing which is permanent. The five aggregates are: body, feeling, ideation, volitional activities and consciousness, which are also the same as: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body consciousness.

According to Buddhism, it is wrong to say: I have no self, ( which is the annihilationist theory). It is also wrong to say that I have a self, (the eternalist theory). In the Alayaddupama Sutta, the Buddha says: ” O bhikku, when neither self nor anything pertaining to self can truly and really be found, the speculative view : The universe is that Atman (Soul); I shall be that after death, permanent, abiding, ever-lasting, unchanging, and I shall exist as such for eternity,” is it not wholly and completely foolish?”

The self is most difficult for us to part with. Upon death, when we leave the physical body, we still cling to the self. This self leads us to rebirth in various spheres.

There are 31 planes of existence, and our human world is the fifth one. This is the only plane where, we the humans can see the things around us with our naked eyes.  From level 6 to level 31 are all heavenly realms. From level 1 to 4 are the realms of the ghosts. The ghosts are only able to frighten the humans but are not able to physically hurt us. Otherwise, many people would have been dead, taking into consideration that the ghosts can see us but we cannot see them. The access to those 26 heavenly realms are within the reach of humans who are performing good deeds on this earth. No god holds the keys to those heavens and no god decides who goes there and who goes to hells.

Buddhists believe there are about 1000000 planetary systems in the Milky Way galaxy alone that life exists, and that world systems are infinite in numbers. If science cannot proof there are countless other galaxies, it does not mean they do not exist. Our earth is 1.3 million times smaller than the sun. For more information on astronomy, go to the website of Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge.

Once the Buddha was asked regarding the beginning of the world, He said, “It is as if a man had been wounded by a poisoned arrow and when attended to by a physician were to say, ‘I will not allow you to remove this arrow until I have learned the caste, the age, the occupation, the birthplace, and the motivation of the person who wounded me.’ That man would die before having learned all this. In exactly the same way, anyone who should say, ‘I will not follow the teaching of the Blessed One until the Blessed One has explained all the multiform truths of the world’-that person would die before the Buddha had explained all this.”

According to the Aggañña Sutta, found in the Pali Canon, the Buddha was speaking to the monk Vasettha, a former Brahmin, on the formation of the earth:

“There comes a time, Vasettha, when, after the lapse of a long, long period, this world died. And when this happens, beings have mostly been reborn into the Realm of Radiance [as devas]; and there they dwell, made of mind, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, traversing the air, continuing in glory; and thus they remain for a long, long period of time. There comes also a time, Vasettha, when sooner or later this world begins to re-evolve. When this happens, beings who had deceased from the World of Radiance usually come to life as humans…now at that time, all had become one world of water, dark, and of darkness that maketh blind. No moon nor sun appeared, no stars were seen, nor constellations, neither was night manifest nor day, neither months nor half-months, neither years nor seasons, neither female nor male. Beings were reckoned just as beings only. And to those beings, Vasettha, sooner or later after a long time, earth with its savours was spread out in the waters, even as a scum forms on the surface of boiled milky rice that is cooling, so did the earth appear.”

This description is consistent with the expanding universe model and Big Bang. The Buddha seems to be saying here that the universe expands outward, reaches a stabilizing point, and then reverts its motion back toward a central point resulting in its destruction, this process again to be repeated infinitely. Throughout this expanding and contracting process, the objects found within the universe undergo periods of development and change over a long stretch of time, according to the environment in which they find themselves. The Buddha goes on to say that the “beings” he described in this paragraph become attached to an earthlike planet, get reborn there, and remain there for the duration of the life. As a result, physical characteristics change and evolutionary changes  takes place. This is a very rough theory of evolution. The Aggañña Sutta presents water as pre-existent to earthlike planets, with the planet forming with water and the life moving from the water onto the earth. The Buddha was talking about earthlike planets in general, and that was also how our ancestors arrived on this planet.

Depending on his deeds, a person may be reborn as a hell being, an animal, a hungry ghost, a human being, a frightened ghost, a god of the sensuous heaven, an embodied brahma, or a bodiless brahma. The humans and animals have gross physical bodies, while the ghosts and devas have subtle nonphysical bodies. The beings in the Brahma realms, if they have the chance to listen to Vipassana Dharma, will attain Nibbana from these realms. One example was Dhananjhani, who practiced metta to attain the jhanas, and ended up in the Brahma realm, under the supervision of Sariputta. As advised by the Buddha, Sariputa visited Dhananjhani, at the Brahma realm and gave a Vipassana  Dhamma talk to Dehananjhani, who attained Nibbana directly from the Brhama realm.

Buddhist Meditation involves no religious rites or rituals. It can be mastered by all, except the mentally sick and the drug addicts, irrespective of their cultural or religious backgrounds, if they are willing to make the necessary efforts.  While practicing meditation and living a virtuous life, you may appear to others, like a useless, mad, and defeated person. In reality, it is just the opposite.

When the five Precepts are well established, meditation will yield great results and benefits.  There is nothing religious regarding the Five Precepts:

To abstain from destroying beings

To abstain from taking things not given

To abstain from sexual misconduct

To abstain from false speech

To abstain from distilled and fermented liquors that cause  intoxication & heedlessness

Is there any religion or person who does not agree to the five clauses? When you observe these clauses daily, you protect yourself and others. Won’t our planet earth then be a better place?

However, if you are a Buddhist, meditation will strengthen your faith on the religion.  It is a mental discipline that eventually leads the mind to its purified state.  It is a form of energetic striving leading to self-elevation, self-discipline, self control, and self-illumination. It is a tonic for your heart. As you mediate, you breathe in cosmic energy and actually breathe out your defilements. This will help to weaken your past bad kamma, which you accumulated since uncountable ages from the past. You need to perform good kamma to neutralize your bad kamma. No one can undo your previous bad kamma.

For those who have committed serious crimes like killing, during the meditation practice, they can spread the thought of loving kindness and dedicate the merits of this action to those they have killed in the past. It may help to bring about forgiveness so that the bad kamma would become ineffective. If the victims do not forgive them and return to kill their former killers, at least the former killers will now know they are merely paying an old debt. When the debt is paid willingly, the mind is not thinking of vengeance which will continue the kammic retribution. People with hateful mind fall into hell. When they get out of hell, they continue the revenge and the retribution  goes on indefinitely and the debts go on endlessly. That was why the Buddha said:

“Hatred is not appeased by hatred but by love is hatred appeased.”

Those who died while the mind was in good state would be reborn into blissful state of existence. Those who died while the mind was in the neutral state would be born as spirits seeking rebirth. Whenever these spirits remembered the kamma they had done, they would be born into the existence appropriate to their kamma.

The Buddha never taught meditation to lay people during his forty five years ministry. During His time, the people had to work 365 days a year.

From the Human plane, there are eight levels of spiritual realms of existences which an accomplished meditator with the right qualities through the practice of Vipassana meditation, can experience and verify. Those realms are:

Dibbakaya : immediately above the human realm

Rupabrahmakaya

Arupabrahmakaya

Dharmmakaya

Sotapannakaya

Sakadagamikaya

Anagamikaya: Anagamis are born here. They later attain Arahanship and live at Arahattakaya realm until their live-term ends

Arahattakaya

The accomplished mediators can also experience the four lower realms which are:

Asurayoni

Petayoni

Tiracchanayoni &

Niraya

Niraya consists of eight major levels of hell. The lowest rung being the most painful one. We may call them B1, B2 until B8, the lowest. The beings in hells cannot die. They only become unconscious, will wake up again and suffer the same pains for millions of human years.

Loving-kindness (not carnal love or affection) is Metta in Pali. This Metta possesses a mystic power, and is a miraculous ointment. A person with a pure heart can radiate this beneficent force, which is capable of transforming wild beasts into tame ones, and murderers into saints. You don’t believe it? Why do you think the insects and beasts in the jungle can live peacefully with the monks, side by side? The Buddhists were the first people to introduce forest reserves for animals. Buddhist Metta embraces all living beings, seen or unseen, animals included. Metta repels darkness, and thus keeps evils away.

Nimittas are the lights you see during meditation. These are mental signs. For most people, they are beautiful lights of various colours, e.g. white blue, purple, grey, yellow, orange etc. Sometimes they are bright and unstable, vibrating or flashing and changing shapes, like the clouds. 

Some people also see eyes or faces vividly before their mental eyes, when their eyes are closed. These are very normal and we should not be attached to them for our own safety.

Please tell yourself that these are your own creations and are therefore not real. Sakyamuni Buddha said it very clearly that He would not be able to return to this earth, knowing that after His era many fakes would appear. The next Buddha will be born as a person when Buddhism no longer exists on this earth. He will practise on his own as a common being and eventually attain Buddhahood and will be able to enlighten others.

Sakyamuni named that being as Metteyya,  who is now in Tusita Heaven. Tusita is a realm for beings who have perfected the requisites of Buddhahood, waiting for an opportune moment to appear in the human realm to attain Buddhahood. The life span of beings in this heaven is equivalent to 576 million earth years. The devas in Paranimmitavasavati Realm live up to 9216 million human years. In this realm, the devas do not create objects for themselves, but they control the objects of enjoyment created for their use by their attendants.

Beings in Nimmanrati heaven live up to 2304 million earth years.  They have the power to create objects of sensual enjoyment by thought, for whatever they want.

For more advance practitioner, within next few minutes after the nimitta, maybe few hours, days, months, or years, (depending on how well you have practised so far) Jhana will happen by themselves later on.

According the the Buddha : for one who indulges in Jhana, four results are to be expected : Stream-Winner, Once-Returner, Non-Returner, or Arahant. When the mind attains a state of absorption, which is serene contemplation, it is the attainment of “Jhana”.

When Sakyamuni attained Buddhahood under the Bohdi tree, the Dharma He discovered was very hard to understand and He was thinking of leaving this Earth at that moment. Fortunately, Brahma Sahampati came down from heaven to invite the Buddha to expound the Dharma.

Quote:

“Those Enlightened ones of the past, those of the future, and those of the present age, who dispel the grief of many – all of them lived, will live, and are living respecting the noble Dharma. This is the characteristic of the Buddhas.”

Unquote.

Perhaps during His previous life He made a wish that for His final birth as a man, He would be an ordinary being, grow up, get married and have children to show the public that they need not shave off the hair to attain Nibbana, just like one couple did during the Buddha’s time. They were  both acrobats, earning a living around every part of India. But this incident happened at Rajagaha, the modern name is Rajgir.

As the Buddha was coming to another location nearby, the crowd left the acrobats to see the Buddha. The Buddha knew this was causing Uggasena problems, which would prevent his development, as he had trained very hard on that act and no one was seeing it. The Buddha told Moggallana to invite Uggansena to perform for the Buddha.

When Uggansena approached the Buddha, the Buddha taught him for a while and told him to come down from the top of the bamboo pole, as a monk. Uggansena actually attained Arahanthood while he was on top of the pole performing summersault.  He came down and was admitted as a monk on the spot because when a person attains Arahanthood that person will leave this world automatically within seven days unless he or she becomes a monk or nun.  Due to the practices done in many previous lives, a person may have accumulated sufficient inherent quality of intelligence and can attain Nibbana even just by listening to a sutta. His wife soon was also admitted to the Nunnery and attained Arahanthood. When an Arahant leaves this world, his physical body cannot be consumed by our earthly fire.  The fire that consumes the physical  body must come from the Arahant himself. There will be no residue.

The Buddha also encouraged His followers to continue earning money. People must be rich enough to give their surplus without inconveniencing themselves. He said every body must put aside one fourth of the profits for the rainy days (our CPF or Pension Funds today), and spend another one fourth  of the remaining amount for family maintenance, for doing Dharma,  and invest the remaining  portions to keep the business or economy growing.

The Buddha was not a vegetarian. The Buddhists need not be vegetarians. There was one fisherman who invited the Buddha to a dinner of curry fish. The Buddha personally went to the fisherman’s hut to accept the meal because He wanted that poor fisherman to have the chance to receive the merit.  The Buddha did not tell the fisherman to change the profession even though the Buddhists were and still are advised to refrain from killing. The Buddha also clearly stated it was the citizens’ duties to take up arms to defend their country.

During the Buddha’s time, poor fishermen had to use the nets and boats of other people. When these fishermen returned to shore every afternoon, the boat owners would be on the shore to collect the catch for the day, and they sell the fish at the local market before sunset. The fishermen were paid by the weight of the catch and all the fish must be sold to the boat owner. In the case of the fisherman mentioned above, he had to hide the red fish by burying it in the sand until the owner of the boat went away.

The Buddha’s attitude regarding fishing as a profession was made clearly during the following discourse:

Quote:

Do you see that fisherman, monks, who having slaughtered a haul of fish, is selling fishnets? I have never seen, monks, nor have I heard of such a fisherman who, as a result of his action, as a result of his mode of living, goes about on an elephant or horse in a chariot or vehicle, or who feasts or who lives in the abundance of great wealth. Why is this? It is because he gloats evilly on fish being slaughtered or brought to the slaughter. It is the same with butcher who kills and sells cattle or sheep or shine or game or forest beasts. It is because he gloats evilly on their being  slaughtered or brought to the slaughter that he does not go about on an elephant nor lives in abundance of great wealth. Indeed, monks, he who gloats evilly on animals being slaughtered or brought to the slaughter shall become neither one who goes about on an elephant…. nor one who lives in abundance of great wealth. But he who gloats evilly  on a human being slaughtered or brought to the slaughter – for this there will be woe and sorrow for him for a long time; at the breaking–up of the body after dying he will arise in the Waste, in the Bad Bourn, in the Downfall, in Niraya Hell.

Unquote

There were cases which non-Buddhists who wished to show that their religions were superior to Buddhism, deliberately questioned the monks regarding how Buddhism, that was introduced 2600 years ago could be still valid today. They pointed the examples of Buddhists today who have to cull animals. In these cases, the culling is acceptable because we have to save the lives of millions of other lives. For example, if you come across a man who is going to shoot another person, and you kill the attacker on the spot, you do not commit the bad Kamma of killing because you are saving another person. This example was given by the Buddha.

However, if a country attacks another country for selfish reason, and a citizen joins the armed forces, in the process he kills some of the so-called enemies, he creates the personal Kamma of killing.

Fixed Kamma is committed with speech, mind and body. The example would be a premeditated crime. Every thought, utterance, and deed is a seed that ripens over time. Every one has the potential at every moment to alter the course of the future Kamma, by doing good deeds. The Buddha personally said “If there is no way out, I will not be teaching you today”.

Collective Kamma is created when a group of people, for example, go and set fires to destroy properties and living beings. The resulting Kamma will be about the same for the future of this group. They will be burned to death in their future live and their properties will be destroyed by others.

Kamma means the retribution or reward, in current or future life.  How do we account for the unevenness in this ill-balanced world?  Why should identical twins, inheriting like genes, enjoying the same privileges, be intellectually and morally totally different? Poverty and want are the results of miserly thoughts and actions in past lives. Deformity is due to past evil Kamma.  Human birth is due to a past good Kamma. Cunda, a butcher, who was living in the vicinity of the Buddha’s monastery, died squealing like a pig because he slaughtered pigs to earn a living.

There are common Kamma, fixed Kamma and Collective Kamma. It is the law of nature. Every good action will result in good Kamma and every bad action will result in bad Kamma. No one can escape it except the Buddhas and the Arahants, whose actions will create no further Kamma. However, Arahants and Buddhas are not exempt from the effects of indefinitely effective kamma, for example, Arahant Moggalana was slaughtered and cut to pieces by thugs.

Kamma is not stored anywhere. Just as mangoes are not stored in the mango tree. But when the conditions are right the fruits spring up during the season.The kammic energy created by sentient beings does not dissipate until  it has  given its effects, or until it becomes defunct. For example when the doers become Arahants or Buddhas, and they have attained Parinibbana,  whatever kammic energy which has been left will automatically become defunct.

Wholesome actions produce good results, which will lead to happiness here and hereafter. The ten Kammically wholesome deeds are: generosity, morality, meditation, reverence, service, dedication of merits, rejoicing in the merits of others, hearing the doctrine with respect, teaching the doctrine, and correcting the wrong views of others.

Unwholesome actions have evil consequences which can result in this life or hereafter, sooner or later, when suitable conditions are present for maturation to take place. Thus whatever actions you have performed, good or evil, they will inevitably reward you with either happiness or suffering.  The retributory kamma may be strengthened or weakened by current efforts, e.g. the good or bad deeds you are doing now. The ten unwholesome actions are: killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, slander, harsh speech, gossip, covetousness, ill will, and wrong view.

There are three types of kammic energy, one is that which will produce immediate effects. The next is the one that will produce subsequent effects. The last one is one that has indefinite effects.

The five kinds of weighty kamma are :

The creation of a schism in the Sangha.

The wounding of a Buddha.

The wounding of an Arahant.

Matricide

Parricide

The above five acts will definitely produce their effects in the subsequent life. One example was King Ajatasattu who would have attained the first stage of Sainthood if he had not committed parricide. The other example was Moggalana, who killed his own father and mother during a previous life. Moggalana was killed by thugs even though he was an Arahant and possessed psychic powers.  Moggalana tried to use his psychic power to avoid the thugs who were coming to kill him, not because he was afraid of death. He did not want the thugs to suffer the bad Kamma of killing an Arahant.

King Ajatasattu will become a Pacceka Buddha in future, when he has paid off his bad kamma.

The weighty kamma gets foremost priority in producing rebirth, followed by near-death kamma, habitual kamma and reserve kamma. All of us came according to our kamma and have to go according to our kamma.

Life is the energy, mental, kammic and cosmic, all joined together. When one life ends, the mental energy will build another house. This body is not life. It is a house built by energy, with four cosmic elements, earth, fire, water and air. We are here because of causes and effects. Our past has given us the present, but the future is in our hand. Each of the atom  in our body consists of 90% empty space. Therefore 90% of a person’s physical body is made up of empty space. Volition or desire, which is extremely strong during life time becomes predominant at the moment of death and conditions the subsequent birth. This last thought-moment presents a special potentiality. The stream of consciousness within this house flows on from birth till death and from death to new birth, in conformity with the natural law, until that person attains Nibbana. These natural laws operate unerringly and inexorably. The rebirth-consciousness of a dying man flows into another body according to his Kamma, because this life-stream is not annihilated. The kammic force that propels it still exists. A thought-process that conditions the future existence occurs during the dying moment.  This last thought is called reproductive kamma.  Death is merely the temporary end of a phenomenon. As the dying person assumes another  form, which is neither the same nor absolutely different, rebirth takes place according to the potential thought-vibration generated at the death moment. This kammic force propels the life-flux, as the dying person reaches bhavanga, a subconsciousness level. From this level the life-flux, which conserves the past kamma, enters the new cell, forming the beginning of another life, which is the moment when a sperm cell meets with an ovum. This foetus develops every day through four principle causes: kamma, consciousness, temperature and nutrition. The past evil kamma will result deformity. So if we don’t want to be born with deformity, we must stop doing evils now.

 A dying person may see a Kamma action which he had performed in the course of his past life. He may recollect the deed as if it has been renewed, being done at that very moment. This is a recurring of the consciousness which one has experienced while performing the action. He may see characteristic symbol of the place in which he is bound to be reborn. This gati-nimitta ( a sign or symbol ), e.g. fire, lighted lamps, weapons, flesh, blood, celestial mansions etc will appear as clearly as any object you see in broad daylight.

This consciousness is not the unchanging soul. It is Tanha (attachment) which leads the life-process to go on. During a being’s conception in its mother’s womb, the first consciousness that arises at that moment is called re-linking consciousness. This links the preceding life to the present life.  Obviously, the unique character of an individual is stamped on the cell structure at conception. The transferred qualities and talents from the previous life, can lie dormant or hidden to varied degrees, and are not evident. With each new body, we begin anew, which means our past abilities don’t simply drop down from the sky. However, when appropriate condition  appears, these qualities and talents will take effect. We will readily and easily learn them in this life. Some good examples are musical prodigies like Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorak, and Richard Strauss. Other prodigies are: Handel, Schubert, Chopin, Samuel Wesley and Christian Heinrich Heineken. Heineken , at aged three, was able to speak French and Latin, and at aged four, started to study religion and church history.

Four kinds of Birth:

Egg-born beings (andaya)

Worm-born beings (jalabuja)

Moisture-born beings (samsedaya)

Spontaneous births (opapatika)

Birds and oviparous snakes belong to the first group. The next group belongs to all human beings, some devas inhabiting the earth, and animals that take conception in a mother’s worm. The third group belong to embryos that take moisture as nidus for their growth. The last group belongs to Petas, Devas and Brahmas. Spontaneously born beings are not visible to the physical eye, and when they die there is no residue left.

A person’s life span on this planet may be compared to an oil lamp which can be extinguished owing to any one of the following:

Exhaustion of the wick (expiration of age limit)

Exhaustion of the oil (expiration of Kammic force)

Exhaustion of both wick and oil (expiration of both age limit and Kammic force)

External cause like a gust of wind. (gust of wind: accident)

Let us assume the wick is the life span of the human beings now, and that 80 years is the limit. By age 80, a person should be dead. However, if he had very good and powerful Kammic force from previous lives, he will not die at age 80, since a very powerful good Kammic force is capable of nullifying the energy of the last thought-process and can change the course of an event. For a person with very bad and powerful Kammic force from previous lives, death is definite.  The accidental deaths are comparable to the light being blown out by a gust of strong wind, and therefore is untimely death.

According to Buddhism, the sphere of light inside the human body is located at two finger-breadths above the navel. It is the seat of life which we call consciousness, spirit or soul. It leaves the body after death, and continues life after life, reborn at various levels according to the Kammic destiny, in the 31 planes of existence, until release is obtained by following the Noble-Eight-fold Path of the Buddha’s teaching. This consciousness (Citta in Pali, consisting of mind, heart and consciousness) being nonentity, faceless, and formless, will continue to search for its true identity which will only be attainable when all qualities of perfection are developed in his character, to mature into a perfect being called Arahant or Buddha. When Buddhism talks about the heart, it does not refer to the unit that pumps blood around your body.

If one is convinced that one is entangled in a Kammic web that can nevertheless be unraveled, one will naturally try to learn from the example of the Buddha or His disciples. We must admit that our drawbacks and under-development prevent us from realizing the Truth.

When you experience disappointment, frustrations, miseries and other suffering in various forms, please admit it that it is you who creates the destiny by your own thoughts, words, and deeds.  You are the builder of your own life because sooner or later, what you have given to life you will receive.

The effects of Kamma will not be unchanging forever, like eternal suffering which is foreign to Buddhism. Our past actions, from time immemorial for countless lives, coupled by other factors, cause the good and bad we experience now. We should therefore overcome our unfavourable destiny by greater efforts in doing good deeds today.

There are three methods of making merits: charity, morality and meditation. During meditation, merit arises automatically because of the clear mind, as you radiate loving kindness and your mind does not think of bad thoughts or bad intentions. Loving kindness is a miraculous ointment. The merit arising from practice of meditation could be transferred or shared by beings in other realms, both those who are still alive and those who had passed away.

The merits arising from making material offerings can only be dedicated to beings who have been reborn as petas or hungry ghosts. If they are reborn as humans, animals, hell beings, or celestial beings, they cannot receive those merits.

We are lucky that not every bad deed we committed must be repaid. If each bad deed must be repaid, the entire cosmos would be totally deterministic and there is nothing we can do to free ourselves.  The Buddha was one example of a person who did not have to wait for all his previous bad deeds or bad Kamma to work itself out. The same principle applies to all those Arahants.

All of us possess the mental qualities needed for the task of awakening, if we want to develop them. When we succeed, we become Arahants or Buddhas. Whatever bad Kamma we have not yet repaid would be there to haunt us unless we attain Parinibbana. That was why Sakyamuni Buddha and many Arahants were physically hurt as long as they still possess the human bodies.

Yasa Kulaputta, from Benares, was the son of a rich merchant. When he visited the Buddha, the Buddha converted him and made him a disciple. Then, Yasa’s four friends: Vimala, Subahu, Purnajina and Gavampati, all from rich families, also left home and became disciples of the Buddha. Later on another fifty friends of the above five disciples joined them, making a total of fifty-five disciples. Before these fifty-five monks there was another group of five monks who were actually practising  austerities with the Buddha to be at  a  location near Uruvela. One of them was Kondanna who was also the first to attain Arahanhood among the five ascetics, after the Buddha preached Anattalakkhana Sutta to them. The Sangha was formed with these sixty disciples, all of them were Arahants, led by the Buddha.

The Buddha addressed them: 

” Go ye, Bhikkhus, and wander forth for the gain of the many, for the welfare of the many, in compassion for the world, for the good, for the gain, for the welfare of gods and men. Proclaim O Bhikkhus, the Doctrine glorious, preach ye a life of holiness, perfect and pure.”

The Buddha’s father, King Suddhodana, sent his chief minister with a thousand men, to invite the Buddha to Kapilavatthu. These men arrived at Rajagaha, a capital of another kingdom, but after listening to the Doctrine of the Buddha, all were converted and ordained as Bhikkhus and forgot to convey the king’s invitation. One party after another were sent to invite the Buddha to Kapilavatthu, all of them failed to convey the message. It was until the tenth similar party came that the Buddha was told about King Suddhodanna’s invitation.

The Buddha, with all His disciples of Bhikkhus, all Arahants, started from Rajagaha for Kapilavatthu. When He reached the Palace at Kapilavatthu, King Suddhodanana bowed down at His feet, with tears in his eyes. To remove the suspicion and disbelief in the mind of His relatives, the Buddha levitated into thin air from the ground and produced jets of water and fire from all over His body. Only after this performance did the uncles, aunties, and other relatives believe He was indeed a Buddha, because this act was unseen of before and only a Buddha had the capability to do it.

Abhidhamma (Higher Doctrine)

The Buddha expounded the Abhidhamma, not in the human world, but to the assembly of devas in Tavatimsa heaven (where life span is 36 million earth years), during His seventh annual rains retreat. He ascended to the Tavatimsa heaven, seated on the Pandukkambala stone at the foot of Paricchattka tree, for three months to teach the Abhidhamma to the devas who had assembled from the thousand world systems.  The chief recipient was His mother Mahamaya-devi, who was reborn there. The only reason He did not preach the Abhidhamma in the human world was that the discourse required three months of unbroken continuity, which no humans were capable of on  this planet. Only devas and Brahmas could remain in one posture for such a duration.

According to the Abhidhamma, there are eighty-nine classes of consciousness.

During the three months, the Buddha descended to the human world every day to go on almsround in the northern region of Uttarakuru. After collecting the almsfood, He went to the shore of Lake Anotakka to have His meal. Sariputta would meet the Buddha there and receive a summary of the teaching given that day in the deva world. Having learned the Dhamma, Sariputta in turn taught it to his own 500 pupils, and thus the textual recension of the Abhidhamma was established.

It is believed that the numbers who attained Nibbana were lager among the devas than among men.

The area covered by the Buddha when He was teaching was about 250 miles from East to West and about 150 miles from North to South, roughly covered modern Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and the Tarai  of Nepal. He was able to fly into the air unassisted but very few people ever saw him flying. He walked from place to place most of the time, and He approached people who were ready to benefit from his teaching as the following story indicates:

An ascetic met the Buddha

An ascetic, Pukkusati, not a Buddhist, was traveling from one part of India to another part, looking for the Buddha, whom he only heard of but had never met.  He came to Rajagaha.  At dusk, he approached a potter Bhaggava, and requested permission to spend the night in his shed.  The potter agreed. Later on the Buddha too came to that hut, and also requested permission to spend the night in the same shed.  The potter had no objection provided the other  wanderer did not object.  The Buddha  was offered the permission to stay there by that wanderer.  They did not know one another. The Buddha asked the ascetic who his teacher was. He said he had no teacher, but have heard of a Buddha and was on his way to look for Him, and even if he were to meet the Buddha he would not be able to recognize him.  The Buddha talked about Dhatu-Vibhanga Sutta (an Analysis of the Properties ) to the ascetic and the ascetic realized that the person in front of him was the Buddha. He immediately  kowtowed him many times and asked for permission to be admitted as a monk. The Buddha agreed and told the ascetic to look for a robe and a bowl so that He could ordain him. The ascetic went out the same night to look for the two things. Before he obtained them, a bull charged at him killing him on the spot. But he attained Arahanthood, as confirmed by the Buddha when  the other monks, who came to the hut later,  asked where Pukkusati would be as a result of the incident.

Kisagotami and her dead child

Kisagotami was the daughter of a rich man from Savatthi; she was known as Kisagotami because of her slim body. Kisagotami was married to a rich young man and a son was born to them. The boy died when he was just a toddler and Kisagotami was stricken with grief. Carrying the dead body of her son, she went about asking for medicine that would restore her son to life from everyone she happened to meet. People began to think that she had gone mad. But a wise man seeing her condition thought that he should be of some help to her. So, he told her to approach the Buddha.

She went to the Buddha and asked for the medicine that would restore her dead son to life.

The Buddha told her to get some mustard seeds from a house where there had been no death. Carrying her dead child in her bosom, Kisagotami went from house to house, with the request for some mustard seeds. Everyone was willing to help her, but she could not find a single house where death had not occurred. Then, she realized that hers was not the only family that had faced death and that there were more people dead than living. As soon as she realized this, her attitude towards her dead son changed. She was no longer attached to the dead body of her son.

She left the corpse in the jungle and returned to the Buddha and reported that she could find no house where death had not occurred.

Then the Buddha said,Gotami, you thought that you were the only one who had lost a son. As you have now realized, death comes to all beings; before their desires are satiated death takes them away.

 On hearing this, Kisagotami fully realized the impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and insubstantiality of the aggregates and attained Sotapanna.

Soon afterwards, Kisagotami became a bhikkhuni. One day, as she was lighting the lamps she saw the flames flaring up and dying out, and suddenly she clearly perceived the arising and the perishing of beings. The Buddha, through supernormal power, saw her from his monastery, and sent forth his radiance and appeared to her in person. Kisagotami was told to continue meditating on the impermanent nature of all beings and to strive hard to realize Nirvana.

Women’s place in Buddhism

Before Sakyamuni became a Buddha, the main role of women in India was to look after the house according to the wishes of the husbands. Education was not important to them and they were not allowed to remarry. They were told to jump into the funeral pyre of their husband. The Buddha said both men and women were useful to society.

In the Buddhist family both husbands and wives share equal responsibility and discharge their duties with equal dedication. The husband considers the wife a friend, a companion, a partner. The wife  will be a substitute for the husband when the husband happens to be unable to work. A wife is expected even to acquaint herself with the trade, business or industries in which the husband engaged, so that she would be able to manage his affairs in his absence. Doesn’t this show in the Buddhist society the wife occupies an equal position with the husband?

The Buddha’s advice to the King Pasenadi of Kosala, clearly shows that Buddhism does not consider the birth of a daughter as a disadvantage.

The Buddha confirmed that women were capable of realizing the Truth, just as men were. He permitted the admission of women into the Order, though he was not in favour of it at the beginning as he thought their admission would create problems in the Sasana. Once women proved their capability of managing their affairs in the Order, the Buddha recognised their abilities and talents, and gave them responsible positions in the Bhikkhuni Sangha.

Dhammadinna, Khema and Uppalavanna  were  Bhikkhunis, who attained Arahanthood, and who were able to preach the Dhamma. Dharmadinna was outstanding with the ability to teach, Khema was outstanding on wisdom, and Upplavanna was outstanding on miracles. More than 500 of those bhikkhunis attained Arahanthood during the Buddha’s time.

Some people who disliked the Buddha even said He was poisoned by Chunda. This was most unlikely because a Buddha or an Arahant could see what was in the food, just like they could see the viruses in the cup of water. There was no way a person could poison him. A Buddha cannot be killed. He could however be physically hurt because His bad Kamma committed eons ago has not expired. After eating that meal the Buddha became ill but he recovered later on. During that time He was 80 years old. Naturally, He died of failing health later on.

The Buddha actually told Ananda to visit Cunda (so that Cunda would not be plagued by remorse) to tell him that it was a most auspicious act to offer a Buddha’s last meal. The Buddha said if Cunda was blamed, Ananda should stop it by saying : ” This is good to thee, Cunda, and gain to thee, in that when the Tathagata had eaten His last meal from thy provision, then He died. From the very mouth of the Exalted One, Cunda, have I heard, from His very mouth have I received this saying : These two offerings of food are of equal fruit, and of equal profit, and of much greater fruit, and of much greater profit than any other, and which are the two? The offering of food which when a Tathagata has eaten He attains supreme and perfect insight, and the offering of food which when a Tathagatta has taken He passes away by that utter cessation in which nothing whatever remains behind – these two offerings of food are of equal fruit and of equal profit and of much greater fruit, and of much greater profit than any other. There has been laid up by Cunda the smith a Kamma  redounding to length of life, redounding to good birth, redounding to good fortune, redounding to good fame, redounding to the inheritance of heaven and of sovereign power. In this way, Ananda, should be checked any remorse in Cunda the smith.”

The Buddha died (attained Pari-Nibbana) at a small town called Kusinara, in the open air, between two Sala-trees, surrounded by his disciples. It was mistakenly reported he died of food poisoning after eating a meal of rice and mushrooms donated by a lay follower, Cunda who was a smith. In some parts of India, during the Buddha’s time, it was a habit of the poor people to gather mushrooms, dry them, and keep them to use as vegetables for the rainy season. Sometimes, these mushrooms turned poisonous. Even today there are cases of people dying because of mushrooms poisoning.

The Buddha knew the food contained poison but He did not want Cunda to be offended as Cunda did not have the least intention to poison the Buddha. The mushrooms were extremely bitter but the Buddha ate them all without saying anything, thanked Cunda and left. The Buddha later confirmed that it was impossible for him to reject the food because Cunda invited the Buddha with passion and love as nobody had ever done it before.

Before attaining Parinibbana, the Buddha asked His disciples and all the lay followers if there was any question they wanted to raise. No one raised any question.  This proved that He had taught us every thing we need to know to attain Buddhahood. When Ananda wanted to know if there should be a successor, the Buddha said the Dharma should be the guide after He was gone.

The Buddha’s last words were:

“Decay is inherent in all things

be sure to strive with clarity of mind for Nibbana. “

(unquote)

After the Parinibbana of Sakyamuni Buddha, many non-Buddhist monks put on the robes, pretended to be Buddhist monks, and changed or deliberately mistranslated some of the Scriptures which were recorded in Sanskrit. That was why King Asoka, crowned in 273 BC, called the Third Council Meeting for the Sangha, presided by Venerable Moggalliputta Tissa Thera, at Pataliputta (Patna)  and many other monks who were Arahants. During this meeting, schismatic monks and nuns were expelled from the Sangha. Between 100 and 200 years after the Parinibbana of the Buddha, a controversy over some monastic rules had been decided by a committee of mostly Arahants,  against  the views of the majority.  The majority group introduced the Bodhisattua ideals, and calling themselves the Maha Sangha, which later became the Mahayana. The split into two opposing groups was actually started by Devadattha who plotted to kill the Buddha by asking his cronies to roll off a huge boulder over the Buddha’s head when the Buddha was walking along a hillside with a cliff. The boulder hit another rock and landed near the Buddha, only a rock splinter hurt the Buddha’s toe. The enmity of the schism created by Devadattha lasted many centuries. However, today we have to respect all the monks regardless of from which sects they are because they are the ones who are seriously doing their best to rid themselves of greed, hatred and delusion. Their duties are: to study, practise and teach the Dhamma. The monks have to follow the 227 precepts laid down by the Buddha. The nuns have to observe 311 precepts. The lay people may observe 5, 8 or only 10 of these precepts.

However, this group of faked monks were not going to be eradicated at all. They managed to carry on even until the later centuries when Nalanda International University was established. They even infiltrated this university, as lecturers, and professors. This university existed for seven centuries. And by 1193 CE, when the monks at this university were slaughtered and the university burned down by Muhammad Bakhtyar and his army, Brahminical ritual and magic were already included in the curriculums of the Nalanda Colleges, resulting in a new type of Buddhism  which was indistinguishable from Hinduism.

The Bhiksuni order in India ceased to exist when Muhammad Bakhtyar invaded India in the 12th century CE. In Sri Lanka the Bhiksuni order ceased to exist with the fall of Anuradhapura in 1017 CE.  The Order of Monks met the same fate there but was later revived by King Vijayabahu after he drove away the Tamil invaders. King Vijayabahu  invited monks from Burma to revive the Order of Monks in Sri Lanka. For some reason, he did not revive the Bhikkhuni (Nuns) Order.

It was said that Buddhism would last only 5000 years. Now we have only 2400 years left. As we go nearer and nearer to this sasana, more and more people would come forward to destroy Buddhism. It was said the number would actually multiply.

The Buddhists do not extinguish sufferings by lighting incense and candles, and making pledges to supposedly supernatural things. One uniqueness of Buddhism is that it teaches moral behaviour without reference to heaven and hell. Buddhism advocates an impermanence of all exist

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