In Case You Missed It: Buddhism Study Group Session 2, Tuesday May 16, 2017

*Tuesday May 16, 2017 from 7-8pm the CCOB held our second study group on Buddhism. Our instructor is Carol Davis. In case you missed it, here is an overview of what we learned.

    • Announcements
      • Anyone wishing to participate in our book study we will be reading the book Siddhartha by Herman Hesse (check the link for pricing on Amazon, it is very affordable).
      • Please let Carol Davis know if you can attend our June 23 trip to the Chicago Buddhist center (one option is to fill out a contact form through our website). Everyone is welcome to attend this experience regardless of participation in the class.

    1. History
      • Much of Buddhism made its way to the US during the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. Thousands of Chinese immigrated to America to participate in the building of the railroad which was completed in 1869.
      • Excerpt from book What the Buddha taught by Walpola Rahula:  ¨Buddhism is a living practice in daily life…not about the future or the past but the present…The Buddha encouraged his students to question, rather than accept his teachings blindly…He even encouraged students to question his teachings…He told his students it´s proper you have doubt and complexity…but when you know for yourself that certain things are unwholesome and wrong and bad, then give them up. And when they’re wholesome and good then accept them and follow them


  • Is Buddhism a religion or philosophy? Depends how you define those terms. Buddhism has no conception of God, but some understand god as the divine light. Buddhism does not reject the divine, but believes every person is an embodiment of this divinity. No single word exists to express this because it defies reason and intellect; something that is in all places and in all times. Once we assign it a word, then we will limit it. This is similar to when God tells Moses I am who I am instead of giving him a name or definition of who He is.
  • You might say that while Christianity is more akin to numbers, Buddhists love lists! The following things Buddhists work on everyday of their life. As we go through these lists, think of their comparisons to Christianity (this will be our emphasis next week).


  • The 3 Universal Truths
    1. Nothing is lost in the universe: Things change. Fire welds something to a new form. Everything we do is connected. Some people comment that we are the stars, the cosmos. Therefore nothing is lost in the universe. 
    2. Everything changes: Rocks become earth or part of a river. Stars become black holes. Some say they hate change, but change is part of who we are.
    3. The Law of cause & effect: Every action has a consequence. Based on this principle, the Buddha said everything we do has an effect, although it may not be immediate (this is the concept of karma which we’ll talk more about later).



  • The 3 Trainings (Practices)
    1. Equality (known as Sila): These are practices of virtue, good conduct and morality. For the most part, most religions believe in good conduct and morality. Many say Sila is close to Christianity’s concept of the golden rule; do to others what you have done to you. 
    2. Mental Development (Samadhi): Deals with concentration, meditation & mental development. The Buddha believes that true wisdom leads to freedom. This gets you on the path to nirvana (we’ll talk more about this later as well).
    3. Wisdom/Discernment (Prajna): We are able to discern what is good from what is bad. Wisdom will emerge if your mind is pure and clean. Meditation, although extremely difficult, aids our efforts to practice wisdom/discernment. Buddhists believe you have to master Meditation in order to reach new levels.  Many Buddhists try to meditate 30 minutes each day. Legend says Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree for 7 days when he came to Enlightenment.



  • The Four Noble Truths (Exploring human suffering)
    1. Suffering Exists (Dukkha): We are dying from the minute we’re born. This exists for everyone; physically, mentally, and emotionally.
    2. There is a cause for suffering (Samudaya): The cause for suffering is attachment. We suffer because we have attachments. We have jealousy greed & hatred because we forget we´re connected to everything. Christianity even teaches to love your enemies and love one another as yourself.
    3. There is an end to suffering (Nirodha): You can’t have bruised ego if you´re not attached. You´re not upset you didn’t get the job if you´re not attached. Buddha believed you could let go of past by being in the present and let go of the future by being in the present. He taught that we should live in the now by not striving for something down the road. That´s a form of attachment
    4. The way to end suffering is follow the Eightfold path (the Middle Way): We are on a constant journey. The Middle Way, or Eightfold Path, was the Buddha’s teaching that led his followers to end suffering and to find liberation.



  • The 3 Poisons
    1. Greed
    2. Hatred
    3. Ignorance or Delusion: All war is captured in one of these 3 poisons; hatred, greed, and ignorance. These ideas are also interconnected.   



  • The 6 Realms (Buddhism teaches that these are states of mind to be in. We are cycling in and out of these at all times).
    1. Animal Realm: Thinking about survival, fear and instincts, fight or flight.
    2. Hell Realm: Feeling nothing but hatred or aversion causing you to put yourself in your own personal hell.
    3. Hungry Ghost Realm: You have all kinds of things accessible to you, but they are never enough.
    4. Titan Realm: Competition, aggression and jealousy characterize this realm.
    5. God Realm: A blissful state where because you’re so happy you ignore the suffering of others. Queen Antoinette´s famous quote ¨Let them eat cake¨ comes to mind.
    6. Human Realm: This is the place you want to be where we have the possibility of enlightenment ending the cycle of suffering. We are comfortable enough to engage in spiritual practices, but also experience enough discomfort to motivate our efforts towards enlightenment. In other words, you know you´re not there yet but you remain on the path, striving to reach enlightenment.



  • The 5 Precepts (There’s actually 10 precepts, but the last 5 are only practiced by monks because you have to withdraw from the world)
    1. Do not kill: This causes suffering. Through meditation and mindfulness you must decide what that means.
    2. Do not steal: The Buddha lived 500 years before Christ but there are many similarities. Some historians wonder if the travels of Jesus may have put him in touch with the teachings of the Buddha.
    3. Do not lie: One example to consider is if someone is on their deathbed and you tell them they’re going to make it. Is that lying? Something to consider is the idea that you are not gaining anything by it.
    4. Do not misuse sex: Through concentration, mindfulness and meditation we must decide what this means.
    5. Do not use alcohol or drugs: Many broaden this to include any type of addiction such as food, the internet, soda, cellphones, and even church meetings.



  • Three Marks of Existence
    • Interdependence: We are all interdependent on each other.
    • Impermanence: Things change constantly, nothing stays the same.
    • Unsatisfactoriness: We are all unsatisfied. This can be positive as well. If you´re not satisfied, you are hungry in a positive way. This is also part of the human realm.


  • The Eightfold Path (How we get to Enlightenment; these are placed in 3 categories)
    • Discernment & Wisdom
      • Right View or Wise View: How we look at the world when we’re detached from hatred, cruelty, and ego.
      • Right Resolve: This is about our intentions and a move towards compassion. For example, if we kill a cow so that others might eat is an example of right resolve.




  • Virtue or Morality
    • Right or Wise Speech: Think before you say it. This is directly related to truth; getting away from gossip, from hurtful conversations. It’s likely the hardest one for many of us.
    • Right or Wise Action: We are all interconnected so if I harm one I harm myself as well.
    • Right or Wise Livelihood: Choose a path for your work in which you are alleviating suffering, rather than working toward greed or ego. Many of us are employed in ways to help others.



  • Concentration & Meditation
    • Right or Wise Effort: Getting rid of improper attitudes or thoughts that hold us back.
    • Right or Wise Mindfulness: Living in the moment and working very hard to get rid of our concept of self.
    • Right or Wise Concentration: Meditation and proper breathing. When we face maximum stress, our breathing becomes short.


  • Other concepts to study next week
    1. Reincarnation/Rebirth: Reincarnation is more Hindu, Rebirth is more Buddhism. We are part of universe that never goes away. If reincarnation is receiving a new body, then one thought to consider is if Christians believe in reincarnation.
    2. Karma: This goes into the concept of cause & effect. What you intentionally put out there will come back.

*Link to Part 1 of CCOB Buddhism Study


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