Gautam Buddha was born in a the royal family of Lumbini. Lumbini is now situated in Nepal. In the year 563 BC, Buddha decided to renounce all kinds of worldly pleasures for he believed that real happiness lay somewhere else. So he read the teachings and books from religions to find the true meaning of life.
300 million people across the world are followers of Buddhism. The word Buddhism comes from ‘buddhi’ which literally means ‘to awaken’. To many, Buddhism goes beyond religion and more than a religion it is a way of life. Buddhism was founded by Buddha Shakyamuni. He taught and lived in India around two thousand years ago. Since then, many people around the globe have followed the spiritual path Shakyamuni had shown. Even today, the Buddhist beliefs of living in peace, loving, kindness, wisdom are just as relevant as they were in those ancient times. Buddha had said that confused and disturbed states of mind were the sole reason behind all of our problems and all the happiness that arises from a positive and peaceful state of mind. Buddhism tells of methods for gradually overcoming anger, ignorance, jealousy and develop love, compassion and wisdom within us. The last peace that each one of us seeks, that absolute happiness can be experienced on this path. The best thing is about Buddhist beliefs are that they work for everyone.
Karma is a bitch. They all say that. We often hear clichéd lines about Karma. Buddhism believes in Karma too. How real is the entire concept? How does Buddhism perceive Karma is something really interesting to know about?
‘There was guy named Michael Mastromarino. Who became a multi-millionaire by stealing organ tissues, bones, and other body parts from more than 1200 corpses. About 10,000 people received transplants from corpses, some of which were diseased with AIDS and Cancer.
Eventually, Michael died of Liver cancer that spread to his bones.’
Buddhism also talks about the mind being a totally unique and separate entity from other parts of the body. It is neither physical nor a by-product of physical processes. When a body dies and disintegrates, the mind does not cease to be. The mind that dissolves at death is a superficial mind but it disintegrates into another level of consciousness which the subtle mind and this mind has neither a beginning nor an end. This mind completely transforms into the pure mind of Buddha.
Now how is Karma related to our mind? Karma is every action that we perform or everything that we do. In fact, every karma has a potential to give rise to its own repercussions. Imagine your mind to be a field and your actions are the seeds that you sow in that field. Maybe this is where the famous saying ‘You reap what you sow’ comes from. You sow positive seeds and the fruits would be positive and you sow negative seeds, the future would be filled with suffering. Every action that is performed by us leaves an imprint and that action eventually leads to its own effect. The ‘law of karma’ as people call it, is simple. You will be happy if you are virtuous. You will suffer if you are not. Buddhist morality is totally based on this law.
‘Bardo’ is that intermediate stage that your mind enters the moment you die. This is a dream like phase. And in this phase, one experiences various visions that the subtle mind activates during the time of death. These visions could be beautiful or they could be terrifying; it all depends on the seeds you had sown. When these seeds ripen completely, we are given the choice of rebirth. But here is something really interesting to know- as samsaric beings, we cannot choose our rebirth and its totally depends on our karma. If good karma ripens, you will be born as a human or a god, but if bad karma does, you might be born in the lower states of lives such as animals and birds. Basically, the winds of karma blow us into our next life and we land up being reborn in the higher or the lower states of life.
‘Samsara’ is a Sanskrit word which means the cyclic existence is the uninterrupted cycle of death and rebirth. It’s more like a Ferris wheel at the fair. It goes up to the upper 3 realms and then down to the lower 3 realms. Or it could be compared to a pendulum, which goes to and fro, never stopping at one place for more than a few seconds. As long as you sit on this Ferris wheel, you shall experience a cycle of dissatisfaction and suffering, and the Ferris wheel doesn’t even stop when you die. Lasting happiness can only be experienced when you let go of this Ferris wheel and let your subtle mind pass into that “enlightened nothingness”.