Understanding the Essence of Buddhism
In the West, the perception of Buddhism is often centered around meditation – the search for inner peace and tranquility through various meditation techniques to better cope with stress, anxiety, and other emotional challenges. While stress management and relaxation can have a positive impact on our mental and physical health, this is not the primary goal of Buddhism. It’s important to understand that the essence of Buddhism is liberation from the cycle of birth and death, and the cessation of inevitable suffering. To this end, a profound understanding of karma – the law of cause and effect – is essential, enabling us to change our karmic forces to the point where we attain the highest enlightenment. The conscious decision to follow this path and dedicate one’s precious life as a human being is the defining motivation for becoming a Buddhist.
The Path to Enlightenment
To achieve the goal of Buddhism, it’s important to understand and actively practice two fundamental aspects: self-cultivation and Buddha-Dharma. We must learn and understand how the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas themselves attained enlightenment in order to eventually become a fully enlightened Buddha. The harmonization of our three karmas – thought, action, and speech – with those of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is very important.
On the path to enlightenment, it’s essential to continually deepen our insight into the Buddhist teachings. One key to a deeper understanding and implementation of these teachings is the study of the Sutras. These scriptures contain the defining concepts and principles of Buddhism that contribute significantly to self-cultivation and the practice of Dharma.
In our modern times, it’s essential that we have access to the relevant teachings and principles in a form and language that is clear and practical. This is where the Dharma discourses of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III play an important role. These discourses complement and expand upon the teachings given in the sutras in a language and style that is easier to understand and put into practice.
When we embark on the path of Buddhism, it’s important to start with self-cultivation. In essence, this means:
- Bringing our thoughts, words and actions into accordance with the Buddha’s teachings.
- Consistently turning away from all evil and bad to avoid bad karma.
- Cultivating and strengthening good karma and compassionate thoughts.
Self-cultivation is the fundamental basis for benefiting from Dharma practice. It directly influences the insights and experiences we gain during our Dharma practice. However, it must be done with the right views and in the right order.
To understand what Buddhist cultivation is, one must understand the eight fundamental right views. In the Dharma discourse ‘What is Cultivation?’ by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, these eight views are described as follows:
- Understanding impermanence: In order to attain the true state of mind that is determined to leave the cycle of reincarnation, we must first understand impermanence.
- Firm belief: We must firmly believe in the sufferings of reincarnation, the cause of which is impermanence. Only with such a mind of firm belief will we fear the sufferings caused by impermanence and successfully achieve a state of mind that truly fears impermanence.
- Mind of renunciation: After attaining a state of mind that truly fears impermanence, the state of mind that is determined to leave the cycle of reincarnation will grow stronger day by day.
- True vows: Building on the first three states of mind, we vow to take action for the sake of sentient beings, understanding that not only we suffer, but all sentient beings suffer.
- Diligent mind: We continue our cultivation continuously and conscientiously.
- Precepts: We observe the precepts to avoid negative karma.
- Dhyana and Samadhi: Only the previous states of mind, enable us to attain real states through meditation and concentration.
- Bodhicitta: Now we can also practice bodhicitta, which is not empty and illusory, not a deluded and false state of mind.
Three steps to build a Dharma practice
In order to successfully establish your own Buddha-Dharma practice, the following three steps are necessary.
1. Finding a Dharma Teacher
2. Taking the Threefold Refuge
3. Requesting the Transmission of Buddha Dharma
The Xuanfa Dharmazentrum is led by Gongjue Tuji Rinpoche. He is the contact person for all questions concerning the Dharma center, its practice and activities and is always happy to help.