Millions of thoughts – desirable and undesirable keep running through our mind. Like a non-stop radio. We often believe that this is the natural state of our mind, and this can’t change. However, the first step to change is to Stop. How to stop?
What is Buddhism? And what does it mean to each one of us individually? Unlike any other religion, Buddhism represents various things to various people. Here, our columnist Navaneel Kar decipher is it from a historical perspective and from his own. Read on to experience the calmness of Buddhism.
Buddhism to some means Vipassana meditation where we hope to discover a calmer, more sorted version of ourselves. To others Buddhism means monks chanting, dharma wheels and prayer flags fluttering in the wind.
Buddhism is a cousin of Hinduism, where Lord Buddha is worshiped like a God.
It is true that Buddhism and Hinduism share a common philosophical source (Samkhya) and contributed much to each other. However their journeys over two millennia were different. And yet, when I study the teachings of Buddhism and Hinduism I find a deep convergence between the two.
Shakyamuni Buddha, born around 6th century BC, sought to find the reason and means to eradicate human suffering. He gave many teachings to his disciples. Staring with the four noble truths:
- The awareness of suffering.
- Causes for suffering.
- Realisation that suffering can be eradicated.
- The path to eradicate suffering – the noble eight-fold path.
The initial teachings of the Buddha became the Theravada or Hinayana cannon – largely practised and preserved in Sri Lanka, parts of India and South Asia. Focus was on personal enlightenment through meditation and contemplation.
The later teachings called Mahayana; based on further evolution in Buddhist thought led to the ‘Boddhisattva’ ideal or the powerful teaching that one’s own happiness / nirvana is intrinsically linked to other’s happiness, and also the transformational teachings of ‘Shunyata or Emptiness’, Impermanence etc.
Monks in South Asia made contemplation and meditation into a fine art, especially in the Vipassana form. Vipassana means to contemplate deeply and look within oneself.
The foundation of Vipassana is ‘Samatha’ or stopping. Unless we learn to stop in our minds, we can never look deeply within. ‘Samatha’ or stopping is the key to Vipassana or Deep contemplation.
Millions of thoughts – desirable and undesirable keep running through our mind. Like a non-stop radio. We often believe that this is the natural state of our mind, and this can’t change. However, the first step to change is to Stop. How to stop? To sit in meditation every day for some time, focusing on our breathing and our present moment, to observe one’s thoughts and emotions as a witness and not as a participant; these are some techniques which help us to slow down and stop.
The Buddha simply taught us to slow down and stop, look deeply within and identify the causes for our own suffering. Yoga teaches us to stop as well. Yoga chitta vritti nirodaha – Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind (Patanjali).
We are caught in this world and rat race of our own volition. We created this life through our actions. To believe that we don’t have time to stop is foolishness.
Learn the art of stopping. Learn Yoga, Buddhism or any other meditation. For only when we learn to stop can we begin our journey to discover ourself within.
President, Tata Consumer, Certified RYT 200, published poet. Get Navaneel’s latest book Moonrise and Memories: Contemporary Poems to nourish your soul by clicking here.
For more such articles and content on health & wellness, don’t forget to follow us!