More Questions about Buddhism
There is no stand to take in Buddhism on specific issues. The onus is on the individual. Ideally, one follows one's own conscience and does whatever seems appropriate at the time. The debate on abortion is a classic example. People may try to decide which camp to join - the anti-abortionists or the pro-abortionists. A Buddhist may join either of these camps and campaign one way or the other, or may not take a stand at all. From the point of view of Buddhism, this is treading the course of a living truth which acts according to conditions and a person's own sensitivities towards them. Answers to issues like abortion are not to be found in the Buddhist scriptures.
In Buddhism it is said that, until one is awakened to the truth of existence, the world that is experienced is one of unsatisfactoriness, irritation, suffering, sorrow or despair. Not only in obvious in times of pain, loss and tragedy, is it like this, but even in moments of pleasure, achievement. and success. Even at times when everything seems to be going well, an element of displeasure is to be found an element of disappointment, a hidden fear that things may go wrong, a fear of losing a loved one, a fear of death. This strong or subtle sense of dissatisfaction with life is called samsara; it is where pleasures are fleeting and desire for them ever present.
Then Buddhism talks about nirvana, and nirvana is the reverse of samsara. It is not a place or a particular condition that one arrives at, it is simply freedom from unsatisfactoriness; it is the other side of unsatisfactoriness and sorrow, and as such is happiness.
Birth and death of a self is taught to be a delusion, but birth and death of form, feeling, perception, and mental activities and consciousness, are to be recognized as an ongoing process. The Buddha freely talks about, past and future lives in this sense.
"Unimaginable, monks, is a beginning to the round of births. It Is not. easy to find a being who has not formerly been one's mother, father,brother,sister,son,daughter during this long,long time".
Which do you think is more - the flood of tears , which, weeping and wailing, you have shed upon this long way, hurrying and hastening through this round of rebirths, united with the undesired, separated from the desired - this, or the waters of the four oceans? 'Long have you suffered the death of father and mother, of sons and daughters. And while you were suffering, you indeed shed more tears upon this long way than there is water in the four oceans. 'Long have you undergone suffering, undergone torment, undergone misfortune, and filled the graveyards full - truly, long enough to be dissatisfied with all the forms of existence, long enough to turn away and free yourselves from them all'.
Generate a sense of loving kindness and allow it to pervade your own body and mind. Have kindness for yourself. Wish happiness and freedom from suffering for yourself. Rest in that for a while.
Think of someone you love or like very much, a relative perhaps, -or friend. Send loving kindness to them. Wish them all that is good and wish them freedom from suffering; suffuse them with feelings of good will.
Think of someone you hardly know or do not know at all, someone you have never spoken to, perhaps, or someone you feet entirely neutral about. Send them loving kindness. Wish them happiness and freedom from suffering.
Finally, think of someone you do not like, someone you are having difficulties with, a person who is being unkind to you, an enemy, perhaps. Feel the loving kindness within yourself and direct it towards that person. Try to bypass the normal feelings of hatred, irritation or enmity you have and send them loving kindness instead; wish them happiness and freedom from suffering.
Go through the procedure again with compassion, then sympathetic joy and finally equanimity.
Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.
We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.