Category Archives: Philosophy

Philosophy by definition is the study of reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. While I am not religious or endorse Buddhism, I think there is a valid reason why the ethics, moral and self discipline of Buddhism has taken an important role in modern Western clinical psychology and even clinical physiotherapy (physical therapy).

Perseverance for successful life

Have you ever heard “the grass is always greener on the other side”? It is a good phrase to describe the never ending desire for a better life. There is nothing wrong with chasing a dreams(goals). But it is wrong to give up on them. I am not saying that you should follow whatever the dream you come up with because these dreams has to be reasonable. You should be able to evaluate what can be done and your ability to do it and set goals accordingly. This chasing of dreams and “never give up” attitude is known as perseverance.

Most people, with the increase competition in our social life, are disappointed even when a positive event take place. For example, you get a 50% on an exam and you decided to rewrite it because you are unhappy about the outcome. This time you get 90% and you knew how to answer all the questions, but you ran out of time. Now you are sad not about the test score, but rather the fact that you didn’t get enough time to write it. What went wrong here? Why aren’t you happy for your achievement? Why are you underestimating your success? Well, you might say the goal is unreasonable. I disagree because scoring a 100% on an exam most likely a reasonable expectation. What went wrong was that you are under estimating your achievements.

When a child who is learning to walk fell, he/she stand up and try to complete the journey. Yet, when a exam goes bad or a relationships don’t work workout people are quick to given which leads to depression and even suicide. So we are born with natural perseverance, but eventually desire to be lazy diminish our potentials. Never give up attitude is very important to success. If one thing fails, another will prevail to open opportunities for success. When our mind get clouded with future goals and social issues, it often leads to loss of interest. “Oh well, I didn’t do the work right this time. I am a failure.” attitude should never be there at the first place. Instead, “I have failed today, but I learned from my mistakes” should take over your negative mind. Children never evaluate their failure to walk on the first try nor they underestimate their abilities to succeed. The perseverance has taken over the negative impact of failures and that’s the key to successful life.

Another key to success is having reasonable goals. While you should have strong goals, they should be reasonable. For example dreaming to be the first man on sun would be extremely unlikely, but educating to be a scientist is very reasonable. During the process to be science guy, you will come across many obstacles. However, the perseverance along with “never give up attitude” should keep you going. One thing you have to take note is that you should always acknowledge your achievements. Never ever under estimate the value of the work you have done. You cannot accomplish your ambitions if the grass is always greener on the other side, so make sure you enjoy your achievements by comparing them to past events in your life. Do not compare your life with others because it will only leads to never ending cycle of disappointments.

Each and every person is unique. Therefore you may have different ways of improving your abilities. There are several things you can do to improve your skills in perseverance such as;

  • Always set reasonable goals and never give up on them
  • Evaluate yourself reasonably and never underestimate your achievements
  • Do not compare yourself to others
  • Always look for the positive things in a bad outcome
  • Do not chase other people’s dreams, but follow your own
  • Do not dream on future, but rather concentrate on what you can do now to improve your future
  • Always look for the work that needs to be done not the work that already finsihed
  • Learn from your mistakes and turn them into learning experiences

I hope this article boost your morals. If you would like to add something to this or have a feedback, feel free to post a comment.

Instructions for Breathing Meditation

There are many different types of Buddhist meditations. Some can be done while walking, some are great tools to use when you are distract from something and some are exclusively use in a very controlled environment. The environment plays a lager role in breathing mediation than many other types of meditations.

Practice with the loving kindness meditation: helps to maintain peaceful life style under any kind of circumstances.

If a person has prior experience in meditation or has strong skills, there are many meditation methods that can be practice regardless of the distractions in the environment. For example, when you are angry with someone, you can always instantly practice Loving-Kindness meditation. This is because the external environment has very little or no impacts on the out come of the practice. But even if you have strong skills, in able to practice breathing meditation, you must choose a peaceful controlled environment. The following is a set of guideline for ideal environment.

-It should be free from external distractions such as loud sounds, insects, etc, etc.

-It should be a clean place where you can smell nothing but pure air.

-It should be an area with proper ventilation (in North America and Europe, it would be nice if you can avoid indoor environment as much as possible)

-If you would like to practice breathing meditation, consider the time window of the years. Summer would be nice for most of the Europeans.

There is an important concept that you should know before you begin. There are other mediations where you can choose any one from four different types of meditation positions. But the breathing mediation can be practiced in a certain way. You must use sitting position to practice this type of mediation. (I will add more info on this later)

Step I

First of all you have to pay attention to your berating pattern. Everyone has his or her own pattern or rhythm. This pattern plays a major role in breathing mediation. Concentrate your mind on your breathing pattern. Sometimes beginners find it harder to concentrate than the experienced ones. You can get distractions in your mind and it could cause to shift the primary reason, which is concentration away from your breathing pattern. Many practitioners count their inhales and exhales. This way you can control the behaviors of your mind.
In the second step, there are eight sections, which extend the concepts in the first step.

Step II

1. Take a deep breath knowingly that it is a deep breath.

2. Exhale deeply, knowingly that it is a deep exhalation.

3. Take a short breath knowingly that it is short breath.

4. Exhale shortly, knowingly that it is a short exhalation.

5. When inhale, make note of beginning, middle and the end of the breath.

6. Then exhale and make note of beginning, middle and the end of the breath.

7. Inform your entire body and mind that you inhale while you are inhaling.

8. Inform your entire body and mind that you exhale while you are exhaling.

The section one and two set your mind in a proper position for deep breaths while the section three and four set your mind in a proper position for short breaths. The section five and six sets your mind in an advanced position. By dividing inhales and exhales, you perform a complex operation in your mind. This makes your mediation very sensitive and complex. At this point you may have the opportunity to develop the meditation so that you will reach the clairvoyance, clairaudience or high mental power. Let me be honest… This is very rare and chances that some one will experience this, as a beginner is slim to none. The last two sections (sections seven and eight) are the most sensitive and complex of all. This will (or will not) lead to long-term peacefulness (calmness).

Benefits of breathing meditation

  • Helps to build self-confidence and reduce anxiety.
  • Many individuals have positive progress in their character.
  • You will have high attention skills. Can listen to a speech, watch some thing once or analyze something once and understand the concepts behind it. (Very effective for high school and university students.)
  • Practice with the loving kindness meditation: helps to maintain peaceful life style under any kind of circumstances.
  • This is a very good meditation against depression. Not like anti-depression drugs, there are no side effects.
  • As long as you have the right instructions to follow, you can practice this by own.
  • The following is not something that I recommend: some think that this meditation helps them to discover who they really are. (Please keep in mind that Buddhism is not a tool that can be used to escape from the reality.)

10th August 2006

Loving Kindness Meditation for Stress Reduction

There are many people suffering from stress(including myself… yes, I admit it!) which in turn creates both physical and emotional pain such as panic attacks and uncontrollable anger. Meditation has been used in the East as a stress reduction technique for over 2500 years. However, it has received wide publicity after several independent comprehensive studies found too many negative side effects of synthetic chemical based Western medicine. Today most unbiased scientists and doctors recommend the Eastern meditations for patients over pharmaceuticals. Even in extremely biased sectors of the society have integrated Eastern meditations in to their practice. The best example of this would be this so called “Western meditation” promoted by special interest groups in the USA without crediting the Eastern philosophers like Buddha. Most, if not all, meditation methods that can significantly alter the state of mind were originated from the Eastern philosophy/religion known Continue reading Loving Kindness Meditation for Stress Reduction

Identifying, analyzing and controlling our thoughts

If we want to avoid disasters or calamities made by ourselves, we have to stop to put ideas in our head. The moment we stop an idea arising, the moment is called “True Awakening”.

There are all kinds of garbage in our mind, if we want to purify our mind, getting rid of the garbage in our mind might be the first thing we have to do. What are the garbage of mind? Dirty and polluted thoughts, greedy thoughts, hateful thoughts, infatuated thoughts, worried thoughts, suffering thoughts, haughty thoughts, impudent thoughts, envious thoughts, indecent thoughts, heterodox thoughts, dreary thoughts, and hollow thoughts, these can be called garbage of mind. Continue reading Identifying, analyzing and controlling our thoughts

How to Practice Buddhism

A Simple Guide for Beginners

Let me be perfectly clear that I am NOT a Buddhist nor I will endorse Buddhism. I know I posted that I will not publish any religious items on my site. However, certain parts of Buddhism has leaked in to our Western societies to the point that even at University of Calgary, if you request help for stress or exam/test anxiety, the doctors will first direct you to Buddhist meditation over pharmaceuticals. While the professionals in Canada do their best to remove the word “Buddhism” or erase any reference to Buddhism, often they prescribe mindfulness meditations, which is the core Buddhist mediation for lay practitioners. In recent years, Buddhist mediation classes are offered to school children in the Western world from the elementary school to college level at the expense of government tax funds. (e.g.; Canada, Germany, California(US), Australia, UK and New Zealand)

I hope this guide will help those who are discovering Buddhism specially in the West.

Buddhism was founded in approximately 460 B.C. in India by a man named Siddhartha Guthama (Buddha). He was not a god nor he ever claim to be one. While most followers in Buddhism in Asia take Buddhism as a religion, it has been debated whether or not Buddhism falls in the traditional definition of religion. To make this issues more complex, Buddha never ever said that Buddhism is a religion, but rather he was using it to promote equal rights in caste driven and anti-feminist Indian society. Today, most scholars would agree that Buddhism is one of the most complex philosophical systems that reach beyond traditional faith based religions.

What is Buddhism?

Concept of God: Concept of god or gods is irrelevant to Buddhism. Buddhism is a monotheistic religion/philosophy and the concepts associated with supernatural extremist ideologies such as almighty god is nothing of value. Buddhists do not believe in a Creator or an Almighty God who is responsible for all our actions. Buddhists are not second to Gods, Buddhas nor they never become servants of them. You are free to make our own decisions on what we want.

Purpose (goal): Buddhism attempts to overcome suffering, although not eliminating it as this is impossible. Overcoming suffering is achieved through Buddhist practice of controlling once own mind in order to attain relative happiness(2) or enlightenment.

World religion: It is not a world religion, but rather a personal philosophy/religion. Buddhism do not encourage conversion or mass popularization. While most of you are familiar with religious that seek globalization, the core of Buddhism is against the very idea of global religion.

Basic principles: Impermanence of conditional things, suffering associated with materialism, the Five Precepts, Eight-Fold Path, Four Noble Truths, etc, etc. (Google it)

Practical theory: it has almost no dogmas and theologies that cannot be proved.

Buddhists do not have any boundaries on what they do. But they have ethics to help them out along the way. Buddhists live their lives not by rule but by ethics. (entirely different from religions) You are free to take what you want from Buddhism and leave out what you don’t want. There are no sinners in Buddhism just because you don’t agree with what Buddha said.

Buddhist logic play a large role in explaining and understanding higher levels of Buddhism. However, it is a great tool to train your mind think logically during difficult times.

Conflict with your religion? Buddhism is more likely to be a personal philosophy rather than a world religion. Therefore certain areas of Buddhism should not conflict with your own religious beliefs. For example, Catholics practicing Buddhist meditations

Karma is based in Cause and Effect or action and reaction and not in myth. According to Buddhism, if you plant a seed of bad deeds you will get a bad deed. If you plant a lemon seed you cannot expect a mango tree. Your present is caused by your past and your present mind shape your future.

The following steps are the fundamental stages that Buddhist students should follow to understand Buddhism:
1. Reasonable believes.
2. Understanding.
3. Doing and practically experiencing.
4. Proving concepts using evidence.

1. Believing: Once a person decides to become a Buddhist, she/he must have already acquired some knowledge of Buddhism and has developed a certain amount of belief and understand in the philosophy. He will now be able to thoroughly study, investigate, analyze and understand the principles of Buddhism to gain the benefits because the principles are so complex and voluminous. If you do not believe Buddhist teachings you could not even think about learning Buddhism nor understand concepts. Believe is very important and one must have certain amount of faith before even understand the concepts. Doubts that you may have on Buddhism must be reasonable and if not you should think about Buddhism anyway. The other thing is you have freedom to question and ague Buddhist concepts as long as you doing it the right way.

There is no enforcement even in most South Asian society to believe in Buddhism.

2. Understanding: After one believes, he or she must understand the principles of Buddhism – Most important one is that we believe that this world is suffering due to desire. How can Buddhism remove sufferings? What are the answers to the universe and life? How can man achieve enlightenment? It is only after one has accurately and thoroughly understood the teachings of the Buddha that one can solidify his belief and confidence in Buddhism.

3. Doing and practically experiencing: This is actually doing what one has learned and experienced. As I mention before everything in Buddhism is practical and you will be able to understand and relate concepts into your day-to-day life. Some people recognize the superior knowledge contained in the Buddhist principles, however they only recognize but do not accept or believe in the philosophy. (Ex. Drinking alcohol and been a Buddhist. This is very negative.) Others study Buddhism as an academic subject; they understand the principles but do not follow these principles. (Ex. Most of the western mediators and researchers.)

To properly practice Buddhism, after understanding the principles, one must follow up with actual experience, to practice Buddhism according to what he has learned. One must maintain good conduct and behavior, and purify the mind. All must be practical not just theoretical.

This is the only way to change delusion to wisdom, and reap the full benefits of practicing Buddhism.

4. Proving concepts using evidence: The last but not least stage in practicing Buddhism is proving. Whenever one deals with a matter, one must have confidence, good understanding, and carry out the task with endurance and dedication. To realize the benefits of Buddhist teachings followers must use Dharma day-to-day life and it must be practical. This way you understand concepts properly and you can use these whenever it is necessary. We believe that a modeller who do things practically better than an adviser who cannot use the theories in practical way.

If one has great confidence, understand the Dharma well, and practice according to the Dharma with endurance and endeavor, one will remove sufferings, find true happiness and peace of mind, and eventually attain enlightenment. This will be the proof of what one has learned from the Dharma to be true.

Buddhists should use our teaching wherever they live, whet ever the society they associated with and under any kind of circumstance. For example, if you practice how to be patience from Buddhist perspectives, you should know how to apply the concept where it is needed; such as family, personal problems, problems in your office, school, etc, etc. However do not interfere with values of others around you.

At the same time, Buddhism can bring peace to a society; purify people’s minds, giving people hope and confidence for the future. It has incomparable power to stimulate and excite life. It helps people to live more reasonable and high quality lives with proper understand on the nature of human life.

In general terms, religion has a comforting effect for the pessimists; it has a cautioning effect for the criminals, and an encouraging effect for the kind people. The advantages of practicing Buddhism are very real and practical.

How to become a Buddhist?

The best answer I can give is is don’t be a Buddhist. Buddhism should not be a label that you use to get attention from the society. If you would like to receive maximum benefits of Buddhism, you can learn Four Noble Truths and live by Five Precepts and Eight World Fold Paths or become a monastic. The important concepts that you should be familiar with are the investigative mind (right beliefs), understand, practice and proofs.

But the most important teaching that influence all Buddhists is known as the Five Precepts. It is an important factor that determines whether an individual is a Buddhist or not. If one can practice the Five Precepts in daily bases (continuously), then he/she is a Buddhist.

If a person born in a Buddhist family and goes to temple everyday and do not follow the concepts, then he/she not a Buddhist. You cannot be a Buddhist by attending to temple or by believe in Buddha. You must practice right concepts in able to reach to the level of a Buddhist. “Rather a practitioner is a Buddhist than a believer.” -Buddha

Remember you don’t have to be a Buddhist to get benefits of Buddhism. You can just take what your want, for example, mediation, and leave what you don’t want, for example, traditional Buddhism.

How Buddhism Helps

Although some people call it is as a religion, Buddhism is also a way of life in that it teaches the employment of basic ethics in one’s daily life, such as controlling oneself, serving others without discrimination, and endeavoring towards one’s perfection. If practiced with devotion and firmness, it can lead one to liberating wisdom – the so-called enlightenment. But if you just take what you want with no devotion, but rather a commitment to a better life, it will not only help yourself, but also help others around you. For that reason, I like Buddhism as a philosophy rather than as a religion. But it is also up to you to decide the best way for your self.

For those of us who live in the modern world and are subject to stress and strain, confusion and material distractions, the teachings of Buddhism can help us improve our livelihood, make better use of our personal resources. Especially if you are living in a “developed country” or in a nation that undergoing rapid development.

Some people who know little about teachings of the Buddha criticize Buddhism to be impractical and ‘escape from reality’ because it deals with superabundance (beyond this world) matters. Actual truth is that Buddhism is always dealing with our current world not the past, not the future, but just the truth and reality.

These comments are based on the fact that Buddhism deals with human life and its liberation; it is necessary to thoroughly understand human nature through experience.

Practicing Buddhism is very much mundane (within this world) dealing with our worldly matters, and such practice brings about many advantages.
1. Buddhism helps people to obtain the correct perspective on life.
2. Buddhism encourages man to lead life with endeavor.
3. Buddhism can purify the society.
4. Buddhism can help develop self-respect, self-confidence and independent character.

Further more specific points

– Buddhist meditation and psychology has been successfully used in several clinical therapies for anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) and suicide prevention.

– Marriage counselling services in Asia to Europe have used Buddhism to help fix failing relationships

– Several studies found that generally, people like to associated with others who have high ethical standards. Buddhism helps develop strong work habits for school, workplace, places of volunteer, etc.

– Most people who are Buddhist mediation practitioners (specially mindfulness meditation) are relaxed and clam under high pressure situations (some government use this for their army officers). If you are a student, you will find this is helpful during exams.

– Buddhism has been integrated to modern Western therapies without the use of the word “Buddhism” and proven to work well on people of all religions and cultures across the Europe and North America. Removing the word, “Buddhism” and “Buddhist” have helped the oppositions from far extremist religious groups in America for example.

Special note: Keep in mind that Dharma is the set of instructions and guideline for Buddhist precipitant and it is not a set of rules or religious teachings. It is a universal theory and recent studies and research indicate that it apply to everybody regardless of ones background, culture, believes (religion) or ethnicity. For example, Buddhist contemplation and concentration meditation is universally apply to everybody regardless of ones background. Please note that the above article dose not have anything related to Dharma nor concepts of Buddhism. For further information please check my other pages relate to Philosophy and life.

Buddhism is not…

  • Buddhism is not an ethnic religion.
  • Buddhism is not a conservative religion.
  • Buddhism is not based on blind faith.
  • Buddhism does not support anyone to escape from reality.
  • Buddhism is not a religion that relies on a “Savoir” to save us all from the mass of suffering.
  • Buddhists do not believe in evangelism.
  • Buddhism dose not support the view of One God or one person.
  • Buddhists do not worship Buddha.
  • Buddhists are not slaves of Gods or Buddha.
  • Buddhism dose not promote material gains and support material views.
  • Buddhism is not an organized religion that assigns chief authority to a single person or group (e.g. Head of X-religion.).
  • Buddhists do not condemns non-believers or non-followers.
  • Buddhism is not a religion that believes chanting mantras (sacred words), performing ceremonial rites, practising self-mortification (such as walking on fire, going naked, fasting, etc.)

1. philosophy: Subject to arguments. If the definition of philosophy is study of one’s own life, then Buddhism is a philosophy.
2. relative happiness: Happiness is a relative state of mind. Once happiness can be defined according to his/her own beliefs.

Reference:
An article written by Yat-Biu Ching. Most of the information is mine and I used the reference as a guideline.
Initial publish: 2004; republish: 01-June-2012