40 QUESTION ABOUT BASIC BUDDHISM

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40 QUESTIONS ABOUT BASIC BUDDHISM

The Shakyamuni Buddha was the founder of the Buddhism.
 
1)  Who is the Buddha?
* The summary of the Buddha `s life:
- The prince Siddhartha was born in the Lumbini garden (now in Nepal) on 15/04 lunar calendar 624 years before western calendar.
- The prince was the son of the Suddhodana king and Maha Maya queen who lived in the Kapilavastu kingdom - Nepal.
- He got married with princess Yasodhara and had one son Rahula.
- He saw that everyone got old age, sickness and died. He understood that life was temporary. He left home at 19 years old on 08/02 lunar calendar, year 605 before the western calendar. He studied and practiced meditation for 11 years.
- At 30 years old, He meditated under the Bodhi tree and attained full-enlightenment ( It meant that He understood the truth of the life and the truth of the mind ). He got dharma name Shakya Muni Buddha, on 08/12 lunar calendar 594 years before the western calendar at Bodhgaya, Gaya city, Patna capital, Bihar state, India.
- Buddha gave 49 years of teaching. At the age of 80, He meditated and entered Nirvana under Sala tree at Kushinagar, in Uttar Pradesh state, on 15/02 lunar calendar 544 before the western calendar.
*The Buddha means an enlightened one. Everyone can become a Buddha. If they achieve full-enlightenment of the truth. 
I - The Buddha is a person who enlightened the truth of life and the truth of the mind.
a)       The truth of life:
The Buddha taught that the sufferings of life have two kinds. The suffering of the body and the suffering of the mind.
•         The suffering of the mind: 1) do not succeed one`s desires; 2) to apart from relatives; 3) to be closed with enemies.
•         The suffering of the body: Birth, getting old age, sickness, and death.
b)       The truth of the true mind: The true mind is emptiness, silence in the mind. . . we can call Nirvana.
c)       The Buddha taught about the cause and effect law, the impermanent law.etc. These are common principles of life and the universe.
II - The Buddha is a person who is liberated from reincarnation. Because he attained Nirvana (no rebirth).
III - The Buddha is a person who is pure, peaceful in the mind and he had many Kabbalah, because he kept precepts and did meditation.
IV - The Buddha is a compassion, lovely kindness person. Because he vowed to rescue all sentient beings.
V - The Buddha is a wise person because he taught us how to remove greed, hatred, ignorance; how to end sufferings.
 
2) Why do you trust the Buddha?
          We trust the Buddha because there are 3 points.
I - The Buddha was a real human being with real history.
II - He had the real cultivation to become a Buddha.
*For example, He practiced to keep precepts, meditation and wisdom.
III - He had the ability to teach everyone to become a Saint, to become a Bodhisattva, and to become a Buddha by Tripitaka (The Buddha `s teaching )
           That is a reason why we trust the Buddha.
 
3) What is Buddhism?
Buddhism teaches us how to become a Buddha. Because the Buddha said that all living being has Buddha nature. So, the Buddha said that I had become a Buddha already; everyone will become a Buddha in the future if everyone practices the Buddha `s teaching.
 
4) What is the Buddha `s teaching?
The Buddha teaches us 3 points:
I - Do not do any evil.
II - Do all good things.
III - How to purify the mind and keep the mind silence.
          These are the Buddha `s teaching.
*Explanation:
I - Do not do any evil by keeping 5 precepts.
For example:
1)       No killing.
Those that commit the killing, the police will put them in prison. The prison is the hell being. So, the Buddha gives precepts not only for the Buddhists but also for everyone
2)       No stealing.
This precept is the same above
3) No sexual misconduct.
          You can get married to one only to have a happy family.
4)No telling lies.
No one trusts you if you lie to others. Unless you benefit other peoples, then you can lie. For example, the thief asks you: “where is your money? In this case, you can lie to him.
5) No drinking alcohol and drugs.
-         If you are drunk, you can not control what you talk; what you do; what you think.
-         Being drunk can reduce the memory, damage the brain.
-         Being drunk cannot be aware and cannot develop wisdom.
II - Do all good things to have a good karma:
For example:
1)Eat vegetarian, befree all living beings.
- Eating vegetarian to reduce the killing.
- Befree all living being is to perform your love and compassion.
2) Practice giving and benefit others peoples.
          Practice giving and benefit others peoples. This is to create merits and good karma.
III - How to purify the mind and to keep the mind silence?
- If the mind is peaceful, you can live happily. It means that the Buddha teach you how to live with happiness.
-  If the mind is peaceful, clean and pure, it means that the Buddha teach you how to become an Arahat, how to become a Bodhisattva and how to become a Buddha.
*For example: through the practice of meditation.
 
5) Do the Buddhists worship idols?
Buddhists worship the statue of the Buddha on the altar. Most of the statues were made of bronze, wood, cement, stone, etc. the Buddhists sometimes pay respect to images of the Buddha, not in worship, nor to ask for favors. A statue of the Buddha with hands rested gently in its lap and a compassionate smile reminds us to strive to develop peace and love within ourselves. Bowing to the Buddha is an expression of gratitude for the teaching.
 
6) Why are there so many Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in Buddhism?
          Why are there so many doctors? Because there are many students whom study medical education. So many students become many doctors.
          The Buddha taught everybody how to become an Arahat, how to become a Bodhisattva and how to become a Buddha through meditation. Therefore, there are so many Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
 
7) What do the Buddhists offer to the Lord Buddha?
          The Buddhists used to offer flowers, fruits, waters, incense, candles to the Buddha for asking favors and for the decoration of the Buddha `s altar.
 
8) Do Buddhists give donation to the temple?
           The Buddhists give a donation such as money and materials to maintain the temple and to offer foods to the monks´life.
 
9) What is the meaning of prostrating to the Buddha?
          Prostrate is to perform respect to the Buddha and an expression of gratitude for his teaching.
 
10) What is the meaning of repentance?
          Repentance is to contrite the mistakes and to vow not to do it again. We repent our mistakes from this life and from the past lives. A man who repents mistakes is a good practitioner. Repentance is to purify the mind better.
          We all have done somethings wrongs, have said somethings wrongs, have though something wrong. We can repent them and we wow not to do them again. Even thought, we do repentance, but our bad karma cannot avoid the cause and effect law. We must accept it.
 
11) What is the meaning of generating the bodhicitta – of compassion?
          To generate the bodhicitta is to wow becoming a Buddha to rescue all living beings in the ten directions of the universe. In the past, the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas all generated the bodhicitta and great compassion to rescue all the living beings in the ten directions of the universe. So, the Buddha`s mind was so immense. We can say that Buddhism is a great compassion.
          We have great compassion in our mind. But we do not know to develop and open it. It is not far away. It lies in our minds. It costs nothing to open our compassion. Why do we not open our mind? What are we waiting for? The great compassion is really our mind. Today, we should open our compassion by generating the bodhicitta (generating of compassion) above. If we achieve the great compassion in the mind, we become a Buddha.
*How to vow:
- I wow that I want to be a Buddha to rescue all living beings in the ten directions of the universe.
 
12) What is the meaning of eating vegetarian?
          Eating vegetarian is to avoid killing, to show respect to life and to develop loving-kindness and compassion. Why?
          Because human beings and animals both have life, love, feeling of suffering and happiness, etc.
          Eating vegetarian is avoid the meat of human being and animals. We can eat tofu, cheeses, butter, milk, vegetables, etc.
 
13) What is the benefit of the practice of giving?
          The practice of giving is able to create a lot of merits. How to practice giving? You can donate: 1) Money; 2) Materials; 3) Helping other peoples; 4) Giving the Buddha Dharma. All success in the life depends on the merits. So the Buddha taught: “You benefit others, it means that you benefit yourselves”.
 
14) What is the benefit to free animals?
          We free the animals to respect life, to perform our loving kindness to the animals and to develop our compassion.
 
15) What is the meaning of reading Sutra?
          The Buddha `s teaching consists of Sutra, Viyana, and Abhidhamma. Reading Sutra is to study the meanings of the Buddha `s teaching.
 
16) What is the meaning of chanting sutra?
          Chanting is to read aloud in a Buddhist ceremony. Chanting is to let the living and the death peoples hearing the Sutra. Such as they can be enlighted. The benefit of chanting are:
1)       To understand the Sutra.
2)       To pray and make peace for both the living and the death being.
3)       To concentrate the chanting is to have good mindfulness.
 
17) What is the meaning of chanting Mantra?
          The mantras are the magical voice of the  Buddha. Chanting Mantra is to have good mindfulness.
 
18) What is the meaning of reciting the Buddha `s name?
          Reciting the Buddha `s name is to remind to the Buddha and we pray the Buddha blessing and rescue us from the suffering of the life cycle (reincarnation).
          Reciting the Buddha `s name is to have good mindfulness and a peaceful mind.
 
19) What is the benefit of precepts (Sila)?
          The precepts help us to realize what is wrong; what is good. So, we keep the precepts to stop doing any evils. The precepts are the basic morality for all the human beings.
 
20) What are the benefits of meditation?
-         Reduce thinking
-         Reduce worry
-         Reduce tension
-         Reduce stress
-         Balance the body and the mind (good health )
-         Improve memory
-         Good concentration
-         Good mindfulness
-         Have a Peaceful mind and happiness
-         Being enlightened
-         Being clean, pure in the mind
-         Develop compassion
-         Develop wisdom
 
22) Do the monks make death prayer for everybody?
          The Buddhist monks used to do death prayer for everybody. Because the Buddhas vowed to rescue all the living beings; They dwell in the great samadhi state and therefore, They had 6 Kabbalahs. They could see what we do; They could hear what we talk; They could know what we think; They could know our past and future life. They are able to guide all the living beings changing the mind.
          If somebody dies, the Buddhist monks make the funeral ceremony. After that, they make death prayer every 7 days. It lasts for 49 days. In the case, they have free time, they can also do chanting every day for 49 days. At the same time, they make prayer for death anniversary each year.
 
23) What is the meaning of dedication?
          Dedication is to dedicate all our good doings, merits and all our cultivations to all the living beings to become a Buddha.
           Practicing the dedication is to open our mind, and to develop our compassion.
 
24) What is the impermanent law?
          The impermanent law is the changing of all the phenomena and all the things.
 For example:
-         The earth had always been moving.
-         The weather changes from spring to summer, autumn and winter. So the weather could be windy, rainning, sunny, .ect.
-         The environment always changes from time to time.
-         The body gets older, gets sickness and pass away.
-         The mind is sometimes greedy, angry, loving, hating, happy, sad .ect.
So, all things had always been changing.
          As we know that all things, all phenomena had always been changing. We call it the impermanent law.
 
25) What is the Kabbalah?
          The Kabbalah is the energy source of the mind or the power of the mind. That comes from practicing meditation.
 
26) What is karma?
          Karma is from Sanscrit language in India. Karma means to be the actions of the body, the mouth, and the mind. What you do, what you say, and what you think are all called karma.
Example:
-         We do something bad. It means that we make a bad karma.
-         We do something good. It means that we make a good karma.
So, Karma can be bad and good, it depends on what you do.
 
27) What is the cause and effect law?
          In the society, we can see the big different between the rich and the poor peoples; the long life and short life; the beautiful one and the ugly one; the good health one and the handicap one; the intelligent one and the stupid one, .etc. It all depends on the cause and effect law. Who create it? Noone creates it. The cause and effect law is a common principle of life and the universe.
For example:
-         If we create a bad cause; then we get a bad effect.
-         If we create a good cause; then we get a good effect.
The Buddha said that nobody can escape from the cause and effect law if they do bad things. Therefore, the Buddha taught us to make a good karma. Good karma is a good cause. Good cause can lead to good effect.
 
28) What is the reincarnation (life cycle – Samsara)?
The ending of life is death. After death, the human being cycle life from life. Because of a combination of ignorance, desires, and the purposeful karma, or ethical and unethical actions.
The living being cycle in 4 ways: Birth from the womb, Birth from the egg, Birth from moisture, Birth from transformation.       
The human being cycle in six desire realms: 1) Gods, 2) Demi–Gods (half god), 3) Human beings, 4) Hell beings, 5) Hungry ghosts, 6) Animals.
•         What does it mean with desire realm?
Desire realm is a place with male and female. Because the most of them require sexual desire.
•         The six desire realms:
1)       God: God is a being who lives in the heaven. The human beings keep ten precepts and practice giving. After death, they will be born in the heaven.
-         Ten precepts are 1) no killing, 2) no stealing, 3) no sexual misconduct, 4) not to lie, 5) no slandering, 6) no harsh speech 7) no vain talk 8) no greedy and cheating, 9) no anger, 10) no ignorance.
-         The desire heaven - The Celestial realms has six kinds such as 1) Catummaharajika heaven (The realm of the four kings), 2) Tavatimsa heaven (The realm of the thirty-three gods), 3) Yama heaven (The realm of the Yama gods), 4) Tusita heaven (The delightful realm), 5) Nimmanarati heaven (The realm of gods who rejoice in their own creation), 6) Paranimmitavasavatti heaven (The realm of the gods who lord over the creation of other).
2)       Demi–god ( half god ): The human being also practice giving, but they like fighting.
3)       Human being: The human beings keep five precepts such as 1) no killing, 2) no stealing, 3) no sexual misconduct, 4) not to lie, 5) no drinking alcohol. After death, they can be a real human being.
4)       Hell being: The human beings are so anger, hatred and make crucial karmas After death, they can be punished in the hell being.
5)       Hungry ghost: The human beings are so greedy, slipping and make crucial karmas. After death, they can be hungry ghosts.
6)       Animal: The human beings are so ignorant and make crucial karmas. After death, they can be animals.
 
29) How to become a Buddhist?
          Everyone can become a Buddhist. A Buddhist still get married and have a family. A Buddhist is a person who takes refuge in the triple gems (Take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha). At the same time, they vow to receive 5 precepts such as 1) No killing, 2) No stealing, 3) No sexual misconduct, 4) No telling lie, 5) No drinking alcohol, drugs.
          The Buddhists have the responsibility to support the Temples and the sangha `s life.
 
30) What are the Triple Gems?
          The Triple Gems consist of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha (In Indian Sanskrit language).
•         The Buddha is an enlightened one.
•         The Dharma is the Buddha `s teaching.
•         The Sangha is a group of at least 4 monks who study and practice the Buddha `s teaching.
 
31) Who is a monk?
          A monk is a practitioner who studies morality and pratice to purify himself. It means that he is not perfect yet.
 
32) How to become a Buddhist monk?
          Everyone can become a Buddhist monk. The Buddhist monk does not get married, only study the Buddha`s teaching and practice meditation. The Buddhist monk has the responsibility to give teaching to the Buddhists.
 
33) How long can you be a Buddhist monk?
          A Buddhist monk can study and practice meditation until you attain Nirvana.
          A Buddhist monk can give up if he does not want to follow the monk `s life.
 
34) Why does the Buddhist monk wear robe and to shave the head?
          The Buddhist monk shaves the head and wear the robe. This formality is to differ from the ordinary peoples.
 
34) Why do the Buddhist monks walk for alms?
          The Buddhist monks walk for alms. Because they let everyone practice giving to create merits and to associate with the Sangha. At the same time, the Buddhist monks pray for the giver before eating.
 
35) How to be a good human being?
          The Buddha taught that who can keep 5 precepts. Then they are a good human being. After death, they do not cycle in the hell being, hungry ghost and animal realm. Next life, they will be reborn as good human beings again.
          5 precepts consist of 1) no killing; 2) no stealing; 3) no sexual misconduct; 4) no telling lie; 5) no drinking alcohol.
 
36) How to be reborn as a god?
The Buddha taught that who can keep 10 precepts and practice giving. After death, they will be gods and will be reborn in the desire of heaven.
10 precepts consist of:
•         The body has 3 precepts: 1) no killing; 2) no stealing; 3) no sexual misconduct;
•         The mouth has 4 precepts: 1) not to lie; 2) no slandering, 3) no harsh speech, 4) no vain talk.
•         The mind has 3 precepts: 8) no greedy; 9) no angry; 10) no ignorant.
 
37) What is Nirvana?
          Nirvana is from Indian Sanscrit language. It means no reincarnation (no rebirth - samsara), the peaceful and silence state of the mind. This also is a result that the Arahat achieve it.
 
38) How to be an Arahat?
a) Who is an Arahat?
* The Arahat does not commit the killing, stealing, not to fall in love with others, do not have sex with others, not to lie, do not drink alcohol, do not commit any government laws.etc..
* The Arahat does not have any disturbing, suffering.
* The Arahat is not greedy, anger, hatred, selfish, jealousy, slipping, cheating .etc.
* The Arahat is a complete purely mind.
* The Arahat is a person who understands the truth of life and the truth of true mind.
* The Arahat is no rebirth. Because he did meditation and attain the Nirvana. He wants to live or to die, it is up to his decision.
b) How many stages to become the Arahat?
          There are four stages: 1) Sotapanna Saint ( Stream enterer ); 2) Sakadagami Saint ( Once returner ); Anagami Saint (Non-returner ) and Arahat ( No rebirth ).
c) What is the cause leading to being an Arahat?
          There are three points: 1) To keep precepts (Sila); 2) To practice meditation; 3) To practice wisdom.
1)       To keep Precepts: Precepts help our body stopping to do any evils.
2)       To practice meditation: Meditation is to purify the mind.
3)       To practice wisdom: Wisdom is to remove the suffering of the greedy, anger, ignorance, jealousy, selfish .etc..
All Arahat have 6 kabbalah – Abhinna: 1) Eye divine ( Ability to see all form ); 2) Ear divine ( Ability to hear any sound, anywhere); 3) Mental telepathy ( Ability to thoughts of others ); 4) Psychic Travel ( Ability to be anywhere and to do anything at will; 5) Knowledge of past and future lives of self and others; 6) Ability to end contamination.
 
39) How to become a Bodhisattva?
a) How is the Bodhisattva:
The Bodhisattva and Arahat are the same enlightened one. The Arahat do not want to cycle again. But the Bodhisattva vow to cycle again to rescue all living beings.
b) How many stages of the Bodhisattvas are there?
          The Bodhisattvas vow to practice rescue the all living being until they attain a Buddha. They have to undergo 52 stages to become a Buddha.
•         Why are there so many levels of the Bodhisattvas?
Because They have big different concentration, kabbalah, and wisdom.
c) What is the cause leading to be a Bodhisattva?
*The Bodhisattva practise 3 points.
1) The Bodhisattva generates the bodhicitta vow.
* What is the bodhicitta vow?
The bodhicitta vow means to vow to become a Buddha to rescue all the living being.
2) The Bodhisattvas practice 6 methols:
* To practice giving: To practice giving is to clear greedily and to benefit other peoples.
* To keep the precepts: To keep the precepts is to stop doing any evil.
* To be tolerant: Being tolerant is to clear anger, hatred and to develop compassion.
* To be diligent: Being diligent refrain to be lazy and to effort the practice.
* To practice meditation: Practising meditation is to purify the mind.
* To practice wisdom: Practising wisdom is to remove the suffering of lust, anger, and ignorance .etc.
3) The Bodhisattva practice the bodhisattva way.
          The Bodhisattva practice the bodhisattva way. It means that They enter the life cycle (Samsara) to rescue all the living beings until they become a Buddha.
 
40) How to become a Buddha?
           The Boddhisattva enlightened to his fullness. He becomes a Buddha.
 
III – CONCLUSION:
In the life, there are many funs and pleasures which can make people feel cheerful and happy. Therefore, man is forever chasing enthusiastically to achieve all the happy talking above, until people feel the body no longer work anymore, so then to stop. Therefore to say, "Life is a delusion". When the body dissolves, then the feelings of happiness, sadness, pleasure, joy, happiness, etc., will all disappear. Then the desired heart arises attachment, regret the happiness mentioned above, and suffering will arise from there. Oh! Happiness is only temporary, but suffering is really constant!
Happiness does not come naturally to everyone. Therefore, everyone is in search of happiness. Happiness comes from outside through somebody, the certain material, or through the certain sense, etc. But it does not exist forever. Therefore, the happiness, we feel happiest, when it lost, the very happy that makes us suffer the most and it would kill us die someday. 
The Buddha pointed us to seek the true happiness, it does not depend on anyone, or depend on external circumstances. That happiness is not far away; that's in us. Although, true happiness is available in us, it’s not that we want it to come, but we have to create it, or in other words, we have to practice. 
Buddha taught that 1) do not do evil, 2) doing good and 3) purify your mind. When the mind is pure, there is no sorrow, no suffering anymore. Such this happiness will last forever. 
"If you live peacefully, you will die peacefully".
 
Namo Sakyamuni Buddha!
 
Chùa Phật Linh ngày 01/09/2015
Bhikkhu Thích Hạnh Định

 

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