Introduction to Buddhism
The following is edited from the Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey website
The Buddha Shakyamuni lived 2,500 years ago in India. He was a human being who had the same spiritual potential that is within us all. He realised enlightenment and spent his life helping others find what he had found. Enlightenment is the direct realisation of one's true nature and the nature of all existence. It helps us understand our suffering and shows how we can bring it to an end.
Since the time of the Buddha many traditions of Buddhism have developed. The aim of each has been to express the essence of the Buddha's teaching in a manner appropriate to the time and culture.
The Serene Reflection Meditation tradition embodies:
1. The practice of meditation.
2. Keeping the moral Precepts of Buddhism, both in our outward behaviour as well as in the inner practice of cleansing our own hearts.
3. The teaching that all beings have the Buddha Nature. All are fundamentally pure, but out of ignorance we create suffering, thereby obscuring our real nature.
4. Awakening the heart of compassion and expressing it through selfless activity.
Through meditation we can discover the truth directly for ourselves. It is to sit still with an open, alert and bright mind, neither suppressing nor indulging the thoughts and feelings that arise.
In meditation, one learns how to accept oneself and the world as it is.
The Precepts are a description of enlightened action and serve as a guide. They are not imposed, but may be undertaken freely by anyone who wishes.
The Three Refuges
I take refuge in the Buddha (the source of the teaching).
I take refuge in the Dharma (the Buddha's teaching).
I take refuge in the Sangha (those who practise the teaching).
The Three Pure Precepts
Cease from evil. By refraining from that which causes confusion and suffering, the truth will shine of itself.
Do only good. Doing good arises naturally when we cease from evil.
Do good for others. To train in Buddhism is to devote one's life to the good of all living things.
The Ten Precepts
Do not kill.
Do not steal.
Do not covet.
Do not say that which is not true.
Do not sell the wine of delusion (whether drink, drugs or the emotional appeal of delusive thinking).
Do not speak against others.
Do not be proud of yourself and devalue others.
Do not be mean in giving Dharma (teaching) or wealth.
Do not be angry.
Do not defame the Three Treasures (do not deny the Buddha within yourself or in others).
We take refuge in the Buddha by trusting the wisdom from the compassionate heart. We also develop the humility to check our understanding with the teaching of the Buddhas and Ancestors (the Dharma) and with the Sangha (the living community of those who follow the Buddha's Way).
All Beings Have the Buddha Nature
In the Serene Reflection Meditation tradition one can follow the Way as a lay person or as a monk. We use the term 'monk' for women as well as men, since there is complete spiritual and functional equality within our Order.
We can all learn to meditate because we all have Buddha Nature, even though it may be as yet unseen. All beings are Buddhas and should be respected as such, whatever manner of life they may be in.
Awakening the Heart of Gratitude and Compassion
Compassion is aroused when we experience our unity with all life. When we realise that all things teach, we can accept them with gratitude. Meditation embraces both the good and the bad without judgement or indulgence. When we are touched by the infinite compassion that is the foundation of all existence, the desire to help all beings arises naturally.