Mangala Sutra – Part Four

In part four of the Mangala Sutra we continue to look at the social principles. This covers how we can refrain from harmful acts and how we need to put great effort into developing beneficial acts and avoiding destructive ones.

Refrain from Harmful Acts

If we do not want to disturb our minds, we have to be sure we go through life not harming others. Once we start harming others, we release a Pandora’s box of emotions and feelings within ourselves. So harmful acts are not good for us or others—nobody wins.

So how do we know what constitutes harmful acts? Buddha mentioned ten harmful acts to steer clear of. They are divided into three aspects: three for bodily acts, four for speech and three for mind. These ten harmful acts cover what we think, say, and do. The opposite of the ten harmful acts are the ten helpful acts. I will mention the helpful acts at the end of each harmful act. Let’s look at the three parts individually:

The ways we harm others with our bodily actions are through killing, stealing and sexual misconduct. All of these have been covered in the previous blogs on the Mangala Sutra. However, the helpful aspect of these three are: instead of killing, have compassion and empathy for all living things; instead of stealing, be generous and charitable; instead of sexual misconduct, have self-control and follow a code of ethics.

The four harmful acts of speech are lying, divisive speech, harsh words and idle talk and have also been covered previously. I would encourage you to look back to remind yourself.

The positive side to these four are: instead of lying, speak only the truth; instead of being divisive, speak kind words that bring people together; instead of using harsh words, use pleasing and kind words; and instead of wasting your time on idle talk, speak only meaningful and encouraging words.

Now, let’s turn to the three unhelpful acts of the mind. Buddha stated this about these three kinds of mental conduct:

‘And how are there three kinds of mental conduct not in accordance with harmless conduct? Here someone is covetous…… or he has a mind of resentment…… or he has an unwise view, distorted vision…… that is how there are three kinds of mental conduct not in accordance with harmless conduct’.

Covetousness—this is born out of greed and desire; it is when we want what someone else has. Instead of being happy that someone has something new, we selfishly want it for ourselves. It may be a material thing we desire; it may be wealth or another person. This way of thinking brings us only dissatisfaction. We may be able to outwardly pretend we are happy for what others have, but inwardly we are burning with covetousness and negative thoughts.

covetous image

Resentment — this is to have angry and hateful thoughts towards someone, though it is also possible to have bitterness towards a situation or even yourself. It can make you burn inside, and you are unable to concentrate on anything else but your loathing. It is usually driven by resentment, jealousy, pride, or anger.

This is extremely powerful, and the reason we have resentment is because we see other people as different than us, as outside of us. We do not see the interconnectedness of life. If you think about what you want and don’t want out of life, you will see you are striving to be happy and trying not to suffer. You are not alone. Everyone is exactly the same, even animals. So, if we see that others are no different than ourselves, we will build compassion towards them, or at the very least we will be empathic towards them. This is how we can stop any resentment we may feel.

Unwise view—the unwise view we are talking about here is a view whereby you believe that acts do not have consequences. You think it doesn’t matter what you do because nothing is going to come of it. You have no regard for cause and effect or interconnectedness.

You also believe that things are permanent and true happiness can be found in material things, even though everything around you point to the opposite of this.

You feel there is a solid permanent self—this point will be discussed in more detail in another part of this series.

You don’t believe you are suffering and so are not interested in following a path that may lead to a reduction in that suffering.

All of these constitute an unwise view and are going to lead you down the wrong path in life.

The helpful side to these three are: instead of coveting what others have, be satisfied and contented; instead of having resentment, have goodwill by thinking kind and helpful thoughts, as these will lead to good and helpful actions; instead of having an unwise view, study Buddha’s foundation teachings, clear up any doubts, meditate on what you have learnt and then implement them as this will lead to you having a wise view.

Achieving Great Effort

In the last section we looked at what ten harmful acts we had to refrain from and what their counterparts were. Now we will look at the effort we have to put into avoiding the harmful acts and developing the helpful ones.

The helpful actions are compassion, generosity, self-control, truthfulness, kind speech, pleasant words, helpful words, contentment, benevolence, and wise view.

Buddha spoke about four great efforts: the effort to avoid, the effort to overcome, the effort to develop and the effort to maintain.

The effort to avoid

The first effortis to prevent harmful actions and emotions that have not yet arisen.

These harmful potential actions disturb our minds and the minds of others around us. So, we must make the effort to avoid arousing them.

A big obstacle that hinders our effort and concentration, and so make it difficult to stop the arousal of harmful states, are the five hindrances, which are sensual desire, resentfulness, apathy, anxiety, and doubt.  

Let’s just have a quick look at these hindrances.

Sensual desire is straightforward. They are desires of the senses. This hindrance is activated when our senses come into contact with sense objects, such as eye to form, ear to sound, nose to smell, tongue to taste, body to tangibles and mind to thoughts. Every time we point our concentration at our practice, this hindrance may pop up and distract us. We get stupefied by these sense objects, and we start to crave them and feel attachment towards them.

Resentfulness has just been covered above.

Apathy makes our minds numb so it is virtually impossible for us to concentrate or difficult for you to arouse any interest; it can make you lethargic and sleepy. All of these make it very hard for you to do any practice

Anxiousness is when we are feeling tense and irritable. It could be that we are stressed from work. You may have money problems, be worried about the future or your mind is just overloaded. This hindrance makes you overexcited and emotionally troubled. You are not able to concentrate on anything for any length of time. This is because you are not in the present moment. Your thoughts are either in the past or the future.

Doubt is when we have a lack of confidence. It could be we don’t understand what we should be doing, or we don’t trust that it works, or we think we are not doing it correctly. All of these make us wonder if what we are doing is benefiting us.

doubt image

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What is the connection between harmful actions, emotions that have not yet arisen and hindrances? Usually, hindrances are activated when your senses come into contact with sense objects, such as eye to form, ear to sound and so on. The mind deals with these impressions in different ways—sometimes positive, sometimes negative, and sometimes neutral. When it deals with them in a positive or neutral way, there is no problem regarding harmful thoughts, feelings, and emotions (although positive impressions may lead to overexcitement). However, when it deals with them in a negative way, these sense objects stir up harmful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

We have to become aware of the hindrances that are stopping us from arousing helpful states. Once we have done that, we can implement the antidotes to these hindrances. These will stop the five hindrances in their track and, in turn, prevent any harmful thoughts and emotions from arising.

The effort to overcome

The first effort stopped harmful actions and emotions from arising, whereasthis effortis to overcome the harmful states that have already arisen. Buddha says that we should abandon the harmful states, dispel them, destroy them, and cause them to disappear. But how? He gave five techniques to help us do this. They are:

    1.    Chase away the harmful thought with a helpful one. If you have been in the grip of harmful thoughts and emotions during the day, try using one of these reflections:

a)   Sensual desires can be overcome by reflecting on the impermanence of things.

b)   resentfulness can be overcome by reflecting that all beings want happiness and to reduce their suffering.

c)    Lack of interest or laziness can be overcome by stopping what you are doing, be it studying or reflecting, and going for a walk, splashing water on your face, doing simple stretching exercises or, my favourite, simply having a cup of tea.

d)   Anxiousness can be overcome through a mindful breathing meditation. This will help you become more relaxed and focused.

e)   Doubtcan be overcome by simply asking questions and investigating.

So, it is extremely important to chase away unhelpful thoughts and emotions.

2.    Regret—we are not talking about guilt here; that is quite a different thing. Regret does not mean beating yourself up over something you have done.

Here we must reflect on our harmful actions and build up a kind of aversion that will stop us from doing these actions again. It is not enough to just commit ourselves to stopping these actions; we have to make an effort not to do them again. It is a bit ridiculous to feel remorse for our harmful actions and then do exactly the same thing again. Our effort must be focused on never repeating these harmful actions.

3.    Divert your attention. When a harmful thought arises, do not indulge it. If you are walking down the street and you see the latest smartphone, or a person you are angry with, or the car of your dreams or some other sense object you are craving, you should simply turn away. Look in the other direction or think about something else, as this will avert any unhelpful thoughts and emotions that may arise. Of course, this is easier said than done.

4.    Confrontation. This technique is the opposite of the third one: Confront the harmful thought head-on. Do not shy away from it. Look at it and see where it came from. By doing this, the thought will eventually disappear. This confrontation may be difficult to do at the time, so it can be done during your meditation session. Once you get more experienced, you can confront the harmful thought as it arises.

5.    Suppression. A note of caution: In my experience, when you suppress things, you are just storing up trouble for the future. If you suppress a bad experience or a powerful emotion, it may resurface, much stronger, later. This technique is my least favourite and must be used only as a last resort, but I hope the other four techniques would have already worked for you.

These are the five techniques buddha mentioned to overcome our harmful thoughts and emotions that have already arisen.

The effort to develop

The third effortis to develop helpful qualities that have not as yet arisen. This is where you should make an effort to develop thoughts and actions such as generosity, patience, an ethical code, empathy and compassion.

Again, the perfect time to think about and cultivate these helpful states is during your meditation session. If you review each day which thoughts and actions have been helpful and which have been harmful, you will see a pattern emerge. You will be able to see what you need to work on and make into a kind of habit.

Remember that we are trying to live a responsible life that disturbs neither our mind nor the minds of others.

What is really needed is honesty. We must be completely truthful with ourselves and investigate which helpful states we do not have, and then put all our effort into cultivating them.

This is how we can develop helpful states that have not yet arisen.

The effort to maintain

The fourth and final effortis to maintain the helpful states that have already arisen.

This follows on from the previous effort. There, you contemplated which helpful states you didn’t have. Now you must focus on the ones you do have. You should remain mindful at all times of these helpful states so they can become a habit. It is no good lying sometimes and telling the truth at others; stealing sometimes and not stealing other times; getting totally drunk one day and then saying you don’t drink another day; or being faithful sometimes and cheating on your partner at other times. These helpful states must become natural and spontaneous. You have to put a great amount of effort into keeping these helpful states going, because if you do not stay aware, they can easily drift away from you. Awareness is the key here.

Be happy that you have these helpful states and give yourself a pat on the back—I mean it, because it shows that you are on the right path to living responsibly, which in turn should help increase your self-confidence and happiness.

Let us summarise the main points here: We have to avoid harmful states that have not yet arisen; overcome the harmful states that have arisen; develop helpful states that have not yet arisen; and maintain the helpful states that have arisen. This is where we should be concentrating our effort, so we start to alleviate our suffering and the suffering of others.

This blog is based on my book ‘Life’s Meandering Path’- available from Amazon and Kindle.

You can read more blogs, listen to podcasts, watch videos, and practice guided meditations on my website.

If you would like to become a supporter of Buddhism Guides work, such as podcasts, blogs, videos and guided meditation practices, please visit here. You can support for as little as $2 a month.

Mangala Sutra – Part Three

In this third part of the Mangala Sutra, we will look at the Social Principles.

These social principles take us further into our journey of becoming more responsible and reducing our mental suffering. By implementing these principles, we will also be reducing the suffering of those around us. This is not a selfish journey; it is one that helps us gain compassion for others. But gaining compassion isn’t enough. We have to reflect on the principles and put what we learn into practice. So, these following principles cover kindness, empathy, and responsibility.

Be Generous

This played a big part in Buddha’s teachings, and he mentioned it on numerous occasions. One such time he talked about the fruits of giving:

If beings knew, as I know, the fruit of sharing gifts, they would not enjoy their use without sharing them, nor would the taint of stinginess obsess the heart and stay there. Even if it were their last bite, their last morsel of food, they would not enjoy its use without sharing it if there were anyone to receive it’.

So, what are the fruits of being generous? For the giver, they help foster a clear conscience; help you build a good future; and make you compassionate and a respected person within society. It also gives you a great feeling of warmth, pleasure, and satisfaction. Many people think we shouldn’t receive anything in return for giving, but I believe this is not being totally honest. If you give a gift to a child and the child smiles warmly at you, you are going to feel happy inside. If you take a sick person to a hospital, he or she is going to be grateful, and you will feel that you have done a good deed. So, it is true that we receive something from giving, and there is no shame in that.

young man helping a homeless
Young man helping an old man

However, we shouldn’t give just to receive these things. They should be looked upon as a by-product and not the purpose for giving.

One of the key things generosity does is prevent us from becoming miserly. It gives us temporary relief from the pain of selfishness and stops us from becoming totally wrapped up in ourselves. When we are miserly, we worry day and night about our wealth and belongings. We go to great lengths to protect them. We can’t sleep at night worrying if someone will break in and steal them. We grow to mistrust others, and our mind is disturbed from the pressure of protecting our wealth. The miser is so scared of losing his wealth that he hordes it. Buddha said:

‘What the miser fears, that keeps him from giving, is the very danger that comes when he doesn’t give’.

How true is that?

So, a miser lives in fear of his wealth, but to what end? When we die, we are not able to take anything with us, so isn’t it nicer to give things away whilst we are alive? I am not talking about giving everything away and living as a pauper. But there is only so much wealth and belongings we need or can use.

If we do give, we have to be careful that our generosity stems from compassion and not from pride. Our intention and motivation are extremely important here. If you are giving just to get thanks or praise, it isn’t going to benefit you in the ways I mentioned above. Your conscience is not going to be clear; you will not become more compassionate or reduce your suffering; and you certainly will not get respect from others. Giving something and expecting praise is not a very attractive trait.

Giving doesn’t just mean material things. It could be a friendly smile or kind, encouraging words. Whatever type of giving you are doing, do it with an open heart. Do not expect praise and thanks. Let the smile on the person’s face be all the thanks you need.

Practice virtuous actions

In part one of this series, I mentioned the five precepts. These were discussed as things to refrain from, but instead of just avoiding negative actions, we should attempt to act in a positive and virtuous way. A good way to do this is to follow the positive aspects of the five precepts:

Practice harmlessness

Practice generosity

Practice faithfulness

Practice truthfulness

Practice self-control

Harmlessness—If our minds are filled with empathy and respect for all beings, we will never have the intention to harm anyone. We will see that others have difficulties and problems just like us. They go through life trying to be as happy as they can.

In our lives we see people who are less fortunate than ourselves, but instead of just having pity for them, we should have empathy. This is when we put ourselves in their shoes, see the world through their eyes and not try to fit their experience into our world view.

Empathy can be a real eye opener, and from it we can build compassion—not a compassion built on sorrow or guilt, but real heartfelt compassion. Once we have this type of compassion, it will become more difficult for us to have harmful thoughts.

We are all different, and so people will always do and say things we may not agree with. But instead of becoming angry, we should respect their viewpoint and mentally thank them for showing us an alternative way of being. We may, in the end, not change our viewpoint, but at least we have shown the other person respect by listening to them.

Generosity—This was covered in the previous principle.

Faithfulness—If we have a partner, we should be faithful to him or her. It is our responsibility to be kind and caring towards our partner, and vice versa. If we love and cherish someone, we will not want to cause that person any pain and suffering. If we have strong negative feelings towards a partner, I suggest it is time to move on or at least talk it through. I am not saying we should give up at the first hurdle, but if something is over, it is over, and the kindest thing to do is to be honest. I think a huge part of faithfulness is honesty. Things may not always be sweetness and light between you and your partner, but if you are honest, things may work themselves out.

It seems to be a strong human trait to want what we don’t have. We seem never to be satisfied. The grass is always greener on the other side, until you reach the other side, and then you find some other patch of grass to desire. If we were talking about phones here, no harm is done, but we are talking about other humans, who have feelings. If we think how cruel unfaithfulness is, we will never consider doing it.

Faithfulness is concerned not only with partners; it also covers work colleagues, parents, family, friends, and anyone else you come into contact with. Being faithful means to be trustworthy, loyal, and steadfast. Is that you?

Truthfulness—The saying goes, “honesty is the best policy,” and it clearly is. We hate to be lied to and so does everyone else. When we are truthful, we gain respect, friends, and trust. I believe we all long for these things.

We also gain a mind that is calm, without guilt and remorse. Sometimes the truth is painful but being lied to is more painful.

Self-controlOnce we drink too much, take illegal drugs, are overcome by sexual urges or are angry, our self-control goes out the window, and with it the previous four precepts.

Self-control is nothing more than mindfulness. If we are mindful of our thoughts, our speech, and our bodily actions, we will stay in control. However, once we have lost control of our mind, our speech and actions follow suit. Self-control helps us be sure that our behaviour and impulses are kept in check.

This is an alternative way of looking at the precepts. If we keep harmlessness, generosity, faithfulness, truthfulness, and self-control in the forefront of our minds, we will be practicing virtuous actions. \

Help your friends and relatives

In previous principles, we spoke about helping our parents/guardians and spouse/children. However, we shouldn’t stop there; we should also help our friends and extended family. As we help one another we create goodwill, and this will help us along the path.

As with our parents, we can help people materially, financially, physically, or emotionally. Sometimes emotional help is the most important. There are times in all our lives when we feel like we have hit rock bottom. It is at these times we need a shoulder to cry on or a helping hand.

family image
Family picture

Remember what I said previously about cause and effect? If we help people when they need assistance, they are more likely to help us when we are in trouble. So, it is of great benefit to all of us to help each other. We all grow stronger with mutual help and support.

It is important to help our friends, but it is equally important to choose good friends. Here is a quote attributed to Buddha that sums up the importance of choosing one’s friends carefully:

‘An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind’.

So be sure you surround yourself with good friends, and once you have done that, strive to be a good friend yourself. Let me finish by mentioning what it says about a true friend in the Mitta Sutra:

‘He gives what is beautiful, hard to give, does what is hard to do, endures painful, ill-spoken words. His secrets he tells you, your secrets he keeps. When misfortunes strike, he doesn’t abandon you; when you’re down and out, doesn’t look down on you. A person in whom these traits are found, is a friend to be cultivated by anyone wanting a friend’.

We should not only try to look for friends like this, but also try to become that type of friend ourselves.

Be blameless in your conduct

A blameless life is one whereby we do not harm other beings with our body, speech, or mind. In fact, we go out of our way to help others, and that includes animals and the environment.

What these principles are trying to do is reduce our sense of unease and discontentment with life, and the way they are doing it is to show us that by being kind, caring and blameless we will have less stress and guilt, and our minds will be more stable and less agitated. I am sure we would all welcome that.

As you work through these principles, you will see that some are about helping yourself directly—such as following an ethical code and learning practical skills—and some are about helping others—such as taking care of your spouse and helping your friends. This is because we do not live in a vacuum. We are all interconnected. So, if you help others and live a blameless life, you are indirectly helping yourself. But if you harm others and live a blameworthy life, you are in turn harming yourself.

A great way to help others is to do volunteer work. I am sure we can find some time in our busy lives to help others. It doesn’t have to be working for a recognised charity. It could be helping needy people in your community, mowing the lawn for an old person, taking a sick neighbour to hospital, raising funds for local charities and so on. You will be surprised at the difference you can make if you try.

In one of Buddha’s sutras he mentioned another aspect of a blameless life:

‘And this undeluded person, not overcome by delusion, his mind not possessed by delusion, doesn’t kill living beings, take what is not given, go after another person’s wife, tell lies or induce others to do likewise, all of which is for long-term welfare and happiness.’

What he is saying here is that if we follow the five precepts, we will already be on the road to living a blameless life. It may not be enough, but it certainly is a great starting point.

We must stay aware, moment by moment, of our actions of body, speech, and mind. If we do not have thoughts of bitterness, do not tell lies or use words that will harm others and do not kill, steal, or otherwise hurt people and animals, then we truly are blameless.

It is also important not to encourage others to act against the five precepts. If we can teach and encourage others to follow a blameless path, we will be doing a great service to humankind, and our lives will become blameless and beyond reproach.

This blog is based on my book ‘Life’s Meandering Path’- available from Amazon and Kindle.

You can read more blogs, listen to podcasts, watch videos, and practice guided meditations on my website.

If you would like to become a supporter of Buddhism Guides work, such as podcasts, blogs, videos and guided meditation practices, please visit here. You can support for as little as $2 a month.

Open Hearted Joy

This is the fourth part of the four immeasurables and in this practice we’re going to be talking about open hearted joy. I think out of all the immeasurables I like this one the best because it’s something we can all do every day.

Open hearted Joy means appreciating the happiness of others. It’s about appreciating what they have, what they’ve achieved and being really happy for them. And when I say really happy, I mean it, as this is the key to open hearted joy. So, I’m talking about real joy. Not fake joy or saying ‘Oh, that’s lovely’ and not really meaning it. Open hearted joy is real.

open hearted joy

We spend an awful lot of time on searching for our own happiness. We don’t really appreciate other people’s happiness. Open hearted joy gives us the opportunity to be happy and joyous for another’s good fortune.

In life it’s difficult to find true and lasting happiness. It takes a lot of effort. We all have fleeting moments of happiness that we enjoy and so we shouldn’t begrudge people their fleeting moments of happiness. We should join in with their feelings of happiness. Recent surveys show that if something happens to someone and they’re happy, and you share in their happiness, you get the same feelings. Sharing in someone’s joy really deals a killer blow to envy, jealousy, and pride.

In Buddhism, there is a practice called Mind Training and part of this practice is sharing our feelings of joy and happiness with others. So, instead of keeping that feeling to ourselves, we mentally share it with others. If something bad or negative happens to us, we wish that this doesn’t happen to other people. You make a wish that they don’t suffer in the same way. I personally feel this is very close to open hearted joy. Instead of us just thinking ‘I’m so happy this has happened to me,’ we try and share it, and instead of feeling jealous of other people’s joy, we rejoice in their happiness.

Now let’s look at an ‘Open Hearted Joy’ meditation practice. As before with the other immeasurables we’re going to look at the three different types of people, namely someone we care about, a stranger, and someone we are having difficulties with.

Open Hearted Joy Meditation

Sit comfortably and focus your awareness on your breath.

When you are settled, bring to mind somebody you care about. It could be a friend, family member or a loved one.

As this person comes to mind, see if you can picture them experiencing happiness. Imagine the person smiling and content.

With the intention of caring for their happiness, begin offering these phrases of open hearted joy.

(Repeat each phrase three times and pause after each one and contemplate the meaning of the words and how they make you feel)

May you be happy and have peace of mind

May your happiness flourish

I am so pleased you are feeling joy

I am truly happy for you

Now, sit with the feelings of appreciating that this person is happy and you are truly grateful for their joy.

Now bring to mind a neutral person in your life. Someone you may see on a regular basis but do not know anything about.

As this person comes to mind, see if you can picture them experiencing happiness. Imagine the person smiling and content.

With the intention of caring for their happiness, begin offering these phrases of open hearted joy.

(Repeat each phrase three times and pause after each one and contemplate the meaning of the words and how they make you feel)

May you be happy and have peace of mind

May your happiness flourish

I am so pleased you are feeling joy

I am truly happy for you

Now, sit with the feelings of appreciating that this person is happy and you are truly grateful for their joy.

Now, picture someone you are having difficulties with. As you do this practice, try to put those difficulties to one side.

As this person comes to mind, see if you can picture them experiencing happiness. Imagine the person smiling and content.

With the intention of caring for their happiness, begin offering these phrases of open hearted joy.

(Repeat each phrase three times and pause after each one and contemplate the meaning of the words and how they make you feel)

May you be happy and have peace of mind

May your happiness flourish

I am so pleased you are feeling joy

I am truly happy for you

Now, sit with the feelings of appreciating that this person is happy and you are truly grateful for their joy.

Now, slowly open your eyes.

This brings us to the end of the four immeasurables. We’ve looked at Equanimity, how we can break down the boundaries and barriers between different types of people. We’ve also looked at Kind Heartedness, where we want everybody to be happy. We’ve further looked at compassion, where we don’t want anybody to suffer, and finally we looked at Open Hearted Joy, where we want to join in and appreciate everybody’s happiness. These are the four immeasurables.

I would encourage you to keep practicing these four immeasurable meditations. In the end, they will make you more kind, more caring, more compassionate, and more able to join in other people’s joy.

ou can read more blogs, listen to podcasts, watch videos and practice guided meditations on my website.

If you would like to become a supporter of Buddhism Guides work, such as podcasts, blogs, videos and guided meditation practices, please visit here. You can support for as little as $2 a month.

Mangala Sutra – Part Two

In part two of this series on the Mangala sutra, we will look at the supporting principles. The first principle is:

Have good learning skills

For us to be able to follow a path in life, we must first learn about it. If we do not put our full effort into learning, we may misunderstand the path, which in turn may take us off in the wrong direction, and that could cause us to suffer even more.

If you are reading a spiritual book, or at a teaching, and you are not giving it your full attention, you will not be taking anything in. It will be like pouring water into an upturned glass. No matter how much water you pour, nothing is going to go inside.

If you read a spiritual book or hear a teaching and within a few minutes have totally forgotten it, it would be like pouring water into a glass with a hole in it. No matter how much water you pour in, nothing stays inside the glass.

If you are reading or listening to a teaching and you have the wrong attitude—such as feeling you know better than the teacher, you don’t believe what is being said or you think it will never be able to help you—it would be like pouring water into a glass with poison inside.

So, you should take the teachings on board with an open mind. Now, I am not saying you should suspend your critical thinking, but at least take in the teachings and reflect on them later. Do not dismiss every word as soon as it has been said just because it does not fit in with your current state of mind.

To have good learning skills and get the best out of the teachings, you should be like a glass that is upright, unbroken, and clean. This way whatever you hear or read will stay inside and you will be able to understand, reflect and implement the teaching.

Have good practical skills

Once you have learned a new skill you have to be able to implement it, or what is the point of learning the skill? This is where practical skills come in useful.

If you have started learning these thirty-eight principles, or any other path, the next step would be how you can fully understand them. For this you need a calm and steady mind—so you will need meditation skills. If our mind is not calm and steady it will be agitated, and our thoughts will be blown all over the place like a discarded bag in the wind. This is where the skill of calm-abiding meditation comes in. Once we have calmed our mind, we can become more focused, and our thoughts are more likely to stay on the task at hand.

After that you need to give much thought to what you are being taught—this needs reflection skills. This is where we can focus our thoughts on one particular aspect of the path. If we are not looking deeply into what we are being taught, we could end up just blindly believing things. This is not a sound basis on which to travel down any path.

Once you fully understand the teaching or principle and have implemented it, you will need to check your progress—this needs daily review skills, such as sitting quietly and examining your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It is good to set yourself goals so you can see if you are reaching them or falling short. The review session is a time for you to reassess your goals and make changes if needed.

Follow a code of discipline

code of disciple
follow the code of disciple

As we do not live in a vacuum, we have to adhere to rules and regulations, or else society would just break down into anarchy. We all must have a set of morals or a code of ethical conduct to which we choose to adhere. I use the word choose because I believe we must personally buy into a code of ethics. If they are imposed on us, we may not follow them wholeheartedly.

Buddha taught the five precepts as a way to keep ourselves in check. They are not a list of ‘thou shalt not’ commandments, but five things we should try to refrain from doing—not because we have been told not to do these things, or if we do them, we will burn in hell, but because we want to do them; we see the benefit of doing them. The beauty of this code of ethics is that it is willingly undertaken by practitioners so they can work towards achieving a certain goal. The goal here is a reduction in their own suffering and in the suffering of others.

The precepts provide a skillful foundation for personal and social growth. Buddha was not being moralistic here; instead, he was showing us that if we want to be a responsible person within society, we have to ensure we are not harming anyone or anything. The precepts are as follows:

1.      To refrain from harming or killing other beings.

2.      To refrain from taking what has not been given.

3.      To refrain from sexual misconduct.

4.      To refrain from telling lies.

5.      To refrain from the abusive use of intoxicating drinks and illegal drugs.

Refrain from killing or harming other beings—this precept does not just cover killing humans; it also covers animals, big or small. I have added harming other beings as well because I believe if we harm or kill, we will have similar mental torment. I should make it clear here that I am talking about intentional and/or unnecessary killing. It is very difficult to go through life without unintentionally killing things. When we wash vegetables, we are more than likely killing small insects, but this is not our intention. Our intention is to prepare the vegetables for eating, so this is not what the precept is about. Having said that, we should check the vegetables beforehand to ensure there are no insects on them.

What this precept is about is refraining from intentionally killing. We have to understand that all beings have the equal right to live and be free from suffering, so that is why we have to refrain from doing them any harm.

The way to prevent ourselves from killing/harming is to understand that all beings are the same as us. They want to be happy and not suffer. So, if we know this, a feeling of compassion will rise in us and it will become much harder to kill/harm.

Refrain from taking what has not been given—if we take something that has not been given or belongs to someone else, this is stealing. It may be a pen from work, sweets from a shop, or, when you were a child, taking money from your mother’s purse. No matter how big or small, it is still stealing.

The first time we steal we may feel guilty and scared of being caught. However, the more you steal the less guilty and scared you are. In the end you steal just because you can and not because you need to. This is when stealing has become a habit.

We don’t like people stealing from us, so we should refrain from stealing from them. Once we get the reputation of being a thief, it will be very hard for people to trust us. So, by stealing we are hurting both ourselves and others.

Refrain from sexual misconduct—this is causing harm to someone using the sexual act, such as rape, sex with someone underage or sex with a married person—here the victim being the person’s partner. If we physically, emotionally, or mentally force someone into sex, this is causing him or her harm and is absolutely wrong. There are many people today still carrying the scars of sexual misconduct. So, this precept should not be taken lightly.

I personally believe that Buddha taught the precept on sexual misconduct to help us refrain from harming someone through sex. He did not teach it to be moralistic or make people feel guilty for their sexual orientation.

He wanted us to reflect on our acts and see if they bring harm. So, in this context, I believe if we want to know if an act constitutes sexual misconduct or not, we should ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Does the act cause harm or does it bring joy?
  • Is the act motivated by love and understanding?
  • Would you like it if someone did it to you?
  • Is there mutual consent?

If there is mutual consent between two adults, it is not abusive. If it is an expression of love, respect, and loyalty, I believe it cannot be classified as sexual misconduct, irrespective of whether it is between a man and a woman, two men or two women.

Refrain from telling lies—once we have lied to someone, we invariably have to tell another lie to cover the first one, and then another, and another, until we have created a web of lies. It truly harms someone when they realise they have been lied to, and it will harm us when we are branded a liar.

I get very upset when I have been lied to, as most people do, and so I keep this fact in mind when I am talking to others.

Refrain from the abusive use of intoxicating drinks and drugs—here I have deliberately put ‘abusive use’ because I believe drinking in moderation is not a problem. Nobody is saying you cannot have a glass of wine with dinner or a beer after work. What is being said is that when we are completely inebriated, either by drink or drugs, we lose control of our body, speech, and mind. This precept is quite often the cause of the previous four precepts, so is very important to adhere to.

We may be driving home under the influence and have an accident and kill someone; steal money to cover our drink or drug addiction; come out with a pack of lies because we have no control over our mouths; or have unsafe sex with someone we met in a bar, not even considering that we or they may be married or underage.

Once we have become addicted to alcohol and drugs it is extremely hard to break the habit. So, it seems sensible not to put yourself in that position in the first place. We should remember the adage, ‘Everything in moderation’.

Practice appropriate speech

Practice appropriate speech

Buddha stated that appropriate speech is divided into four parts:

‘Refraining from lying, refraining from divisive speech, refraining from harsh speech, refraining from idle talk: This is called appropriate speech’.

Refrain from divisive speech—when people use divisive speech they are hell-bent on causing a severance between a person or a group of people. Divisive speech is never positive or productive. It is used only to harm.

This type of speech mainly stems from jealousy, pride, or hatred. I have come across it several times in the workplace. A colleague has been promoted and some people are jealous, so they try to split the workforce. This is divisive speech.

You are jealous of your sibling, so you tell divisive stories to your parents in the hope they will favour you over your sibling. This is divisive speech.

These are just two examples, but what is clear is that we must refrain from this type of speech because it will harm others and eventually harm ourselves. You will get a reputation for being someone who is always trying to cause trouble, and people will disassociate themselves from you.

Refrain from harsh words—these are swear words, bad language or words that are said only to cause harm. They are never useful or kind, and usually stem from anger or impatience.

If someone upsets us, we can lose control and say things we do not really mean. The words are meant to hurt the other person, but usually, after we have calmed down, we regret them, and the words come back to hurt us also. We must stay mindful of our speech and not allow this to happen.

Sometimes we get impatient with people when they are not doing what we want, they are doing it wrong or just differently, they are not being open and truthful, or they are not doing anything wrong, and it is just us who is irritable. At these times we tend to get angry and start saying harsh words. Obviously, the way around this is to be more patient and have respect for other people’s viewpoints and feelings.

Every time you raise your voice or say harsh words, you have lost the argument. When your voice goes up, your credibility comes down.

Refrain from idle talk—this type of speech stems from jealousy, hatred, aversion, ignorance or just having nothing better to do with your time. It is very destructive, cruel and can never be classed as helpful. At the time we may enjoy spreading some rumour or other, but just think how you would feel if people were saying the same things about you.

Idle talk or gossip is both harmful and a waste of time. I do believe that social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, encourage such unhelpful and wasteful gossip. I am not saying these sites are not of any use—I use them every day—but they can be used wrongly and end up ruining someone’s reputation or career.

So, the antidote to these four wrong ways of talking is: speak only truthful words, words that spread harmony and not discord, words that are kind and compassionate, words that help and not harm others.

If we keep these in mind and follow them, we will always be in the realm of appropriate speech. We shouldn’t take these four ways of inappropriate speech lightly, as words have the power to ruin lives. If you hit someone (which I am not encouraging you to do, I am speaking hypothetically), it will hurt for a short time and then disappear; but if you say harmful or cruel words to someone, the words can mentally scar and stay with them for years.

Support your parents or guardians

Whether your parents live alone, live with you, or live in an old people’s home, we still have to care for them as well as we can. When you came into the world you were totally helpless. It was your parents or guardians that provided for you, kept you safe and ensured you had an education. I believe that in itself deserves our heartfelt respect.

We can show our gratitude emotionally, physically, materially, and financially when it is required. Sometimes they may just want to have a chat, so make time for them. This is helping them emotionally. They may need help in and out of the bath or with some chores around the house. This is helping them physically. If there is something that will make their lives a little easier, you can buy it for them. This is helping materially. People don’t usually have lots of money in old age, so you can support them, as this is helping them out financially.

Don’t think you are too busy building your own life to worry about theirs. Remember what I said about life being like an echo? The way you treat your parents may be the way you will be treated by your children in the future.

Take care of your spouse and children

There are people who do not fulfil their basic duties to their spouse and children. Marriage is a commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I am not saying that all marriages should last forever; that would be unreasonable seeing that everything is impermanent and subject to change. However, whilst you are in the marriage you should be in tune with your spouse’s needs and opinions. It is not just a game of love and respect, but also of compromise and forgiveness.

When children come along, it is a whole different ball game. If you bring children into the world, you have a moral duty to care for them. You must give them parental support, nurture them into a good person, educate them and teach them the difference between right and wrong. The way you treat your children will have a lasting effect on them, so be sure it is a positive one. Scientists believe that a large proportion of the concepts we carry throughout our lives are created between birth and five years old. So, you can see what an extremely important role you have in your children’s upbringing.

Children mimic their parents. If they live in an abusive household where the spouse or children are mistreated, they may behave that way in the future, as these are the imprints that have been lodged in their consciousness and they may look upon them as normal.

You may not be able to shower your spouse and children with material gifts, but you can ensure them a safe and caring life, full of love and respect—that will last longer than any material object.

This blog is based on my book ‘Life’s Meandering Path’- available from Amazon and Kindle.

You can read more blogs, listen to podcasts, watch videos and practice guided meditations on my website.

If you would like to become a supporter of Buddhism Guides work, such as podcasts, blogs, videos and guided meditation practices, please visit here. You can support for as little as $2 a month.

Mangala Sutra – Part One

For centuries people have been indulging in superstitions, lucky charms, omens, divinations, and fortune-telling. They have used these things to help them make decisions and keep them from taking responsibility for their own actions.

The list of superstitions and omens is endless, but they have one thing in common: they are totally irrational and based on fear and ignorance.

Buddha called all of these practices ‘low art’, and on many occasions he stated that such things are of no use as we have to take responsibility for our own lives. He believed in individual responsibility, rational thought, and social obligations rather than unhealthy fears and irrational superstitions.

This point was made very clear in the Mangala Sutra. In this discourse, Buddha was asked what the most auspicious omens were, and which ones should be followed. He didn’t directly answer the question, but instead gave guidelines of how we can make our own lives auspicious without relying on outside omens. He spoke about thirty-eight principles that, if lived by, would bring us true protection.

These thirty-eight principles gradually lead you on a journey that will see you reforming yourself and turning into a responsible person within society.

The excellent thing about this sutra is that it is firmly planted on earth. It is not metaphysical, and you are not required to pray to or believe in any superior beings or mythical characters. It is written for ordinary people and so has universal appeal. It can be followed by anyone as it is not religious and does not involve any ritual practices or ceremonies. You do not need to buy anything or even call yourself a Buddhist. It truly is a breath of fresh air.

I will talk about each of the thirty-eight principles over the next few blogs.

Avoid people exerting a negative influence

Who are these people who exert negative influences on us? They could be people who steal, kill, rape, harm others, deceive, lie, cheat, and generally have no morality and no regard for anyone else. However, they could equally be our friends, family, and acquaintances. None of us is perfect; we all have times when we are being negative.

Negativity is contagious and are minds are easily swayed into bad ways. That is why we must be on our guard and not allow people to influence us negatively.

Having said this about negative people, we must be willing to help those who find themselves in bad ways. Buddha was not saying turn your back on these people. If we can help them in some way we must, but we must remain fully aware and guard our minds, so we are not adversely influenced by them.

Buddha put this at the top of his list of principles, which shows the importance he places on it. We should follow his lead.

Associate with people exerting a positive influence

People who exert positive influences on us will help us grow in morality, wisdom, and social responsibility. They clearly understand their duties within society and know the difference between right and wrong. They will stay mindful of their thoughts and actions, and so will not knowingly cause harm to others. The person can be a parent, teacher, mentor, friend or just an acquaintance. The important thing is that they have a set of ethics and boundaries that you can learn from and follow. But remember that they are only human, and so will have negative lapses from time to time.

It is with these people we should be associated because they will help us understand the importance of virtuous actions and the harm caused by non-virtuous actions. They will help us cultivate a charitable, compassionate, kind, and helpful manner, which will assist us to move smoothly through these thirty-eight principles, so we can reduce suffering for ourselves and others.

Show respect to those who have earned it

Traditionally, the commentaries to this text say we should respect our parents, teachers, elders, and employers, but I don’t think it is up to me to tell you whom you should respect. Nobody knows better than you yourself who is worthy of respect in your life.

What I would say is that respect has to be earned and not given blindly to someone with a title, a position of responsibility or someone older than you. All of these things do not guarantee that a person is worthy of any respect. If someone—anyone—has been of great assistance in your life, you should show that person respect.

Some people do not like to show respect to anyone. They probably overestimate their own abilities, and so find it hard to believe someone else can do something better than they can. This is just pride and something they should work on.

When we show respect to someone worthy of it, we are practicing humility, and where there is humility, there cannot be pride.

Remember this: ‘Treat others with justice and respect. In the long run, how you treat others will be how they treat you’.

Live in a suitable location

Now this may sound a bit strange at first, but just think what it would be like to live in a war-torn country, or a country ruled by a dictator or corrupt government. It certainly wouldn’t be easy to openly follow some of these thirty-eight principles.

I believe in this principle Buddha is talking about a place that is suitable both materially and spiritually.

When we talk about a materially suitable place, we are talking about a place that is peaceful, secure, healthy, comfortable, and well maintained. It is an area where you can go out after dark and your neighbours are friendly and helpful, or at the very least they are not causing you any harm. It is not always possible to live exactly where we wish to because of financial constraints or the location of our workplace. However, if we feel safe and the neighbourhood is clean and tidy, this is a materially suitable location.

A spiritually suitable place would be a place where you are free to follow these thirty-eight principles, free to have your chosen religion and free to express yourself spiritually. Many people in the world do not have this freedom as they are trapped by dictators and religious fanatics.

So, if we live in a suitably material and spiritual place that is a blessing indeed. If we do not live in such a place, we have to do the best we can by following the principles we are able to. But remember that no one outside of us can rule us inwardly. When we know this, we mentally become free.

To have done good deeds in your past

Some people believe in past lives and karma; others don’t. So here it is up to you to decide what Buddha meant by the past. If you believe in past lives, you can take it that way. However, if you don’t believe in past lives or are not sure, you can take it to mean deeds you have done in the past in this life. It doesn’t really matter as the meaning of this principle will be the same.

If you have done good deeds in the past, you will undoubtedly benefit in the future. If you have been kind and helped people in the past, they will be willing to help you in the future when you need it. However, if you have refused to help people in their hour of need, you cannot expect them to run and help you when you’re in trouble. This is known as cause and effect. Whatever actions we do—good, bad, or neutral—there will be consequences. It’s as if life is an echo, and whatever we send out comes back to us.

Cause and effect runs through our lives. Sometimes we can clearly see it, and other times it is not so obvious. If you kill someone and get caught, you will go to prison. That is the obvious cause and effect. However, if you tell a lie to a stranger, you may feel there has been no effect, but it plays on your mind and causes you to be tense and ill at ease—this is subtle cause and effect. You may be able to hide this subtle effect by keeping yourself busy, but if you sit down to meditate, it will reveal itself.

So, your past actions will help shape your life now and in the future. This is not some metaphysical law; it is plain common sense. If we do only bad things and harm people all the time, our minds are going to be agitated. This will in turn cause our thoughts to be the same, and from that our actions of body and speech will be harmful. However, if we do not break the law, we help people, and we are a responsible person in society, our minds will be calm and stable.

To sum it up: ‘as the cause is, so the effect will be. As the seed is, so the fruit will be. As the action is, so the result will be’. This is something we need to constantly reflect on.

Be on a suitable path

What is a suitable path? It is a path that is going to bring us a sense of ease and satisfaction with our lives. It is a path that will help us understand our responsibilities and show us how we are interconnected to everyone around us. It is a path that will reduce our suffering and increase our happiness.

What it isn’t is a path that promises things that it cannot deliver, such as enlightenment, or a path where we feel we are right and other people’s paths are wrong, or a path that gives us more pride and other negative emotions.

There are many paths we can choose to follow. The path I am showing you here is directly from Buddha, but without any mysticism or dogma, and so isn’t something I have dreamed up myself. It is a path I am teaching from my own experience, and I am able to verify it. That doesn’t mean it will work for you; the only way you can find out is by trying it.

No path is going to be clear sailing all the time. We will hit obstacles along the way, but we shouldn’t be put off by this. If we want results, we have to put in the effort. If you are just reading this and thinking it is a good path to follow, but you don’t do any reflecting, implementing, and reviewing, how do you expect anything to change? If you are a sportsperson and you don’t put in the effort, you will not compete in the Olympics. If you are a student and you don’t study, you will not pass your exams. If you read this but don’t put in any effort, you will not get any benefit.

This blog is an extract from my book ‘Life’s Meandering Path.

You can read more blogs, listen to podcasts, watch videos and practice guided meditations on my website.

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The Twelve Links of Dependent Arising

Wheel of Life – Dharmachakra

A central teaching in traditional Buddhism is the principle of dependent arising, which states that all things happen through cause and conditions and that they are interdependent. No phenomenon, whether outer or inner, occurs except as a reaction to a previous cause, and all phenomenon will, in turn, condition the following results. So, in a nutshell, because of one thing something else arises. Nothing in this world arises from its own power. Everything comes through causes and conditions.

By looking at things in this way it avoids the two extremes of eternalism and nihilism. Here, eternalism is the view that there is an external god that shapes our fate. Nihilism is the view that there is no relation between action and result, therefore our fate is predetermined.

The Buddhist view asserts that while there is no godlike figure that controls our fate, there are causes and conditions that effect our lives. We are able to change our lives because these causes and conditions can be known and changed.

There are twelve links that constitute the cycle of existence that makes up samsara. This is the endless circle of dissatisfaction that constitutes an unawakened life. We can escape this cycle of birth, old age, sickness, and death by breaking these links. 

The links are not regarded as a linear path, but a cyclical one in which all links are connected to all other links.

Being able to escape from samsara can be initiated at any link in the chain, once any link is broken, the chain is forever broken.

In Tibetan Buddhism, the twelve links are depicted in the wheel of life (called the Dharmachakra) which represents the cycle of birth, rebirth, and existence in samsara.

Link One – Unawareness

Being unaware is the basis of all the other links. It is a lack of awareness of how things really are. Our belief in a true ‘self’ and thinking phenomena are permanent leads us to project things which do not exist. We become deluded and confused. It is also about not understanding and implementing the four noble truths. The first truth states that life brings about suffering. When we misunderstand this truth, we fail to realise the true nature of our lives. We believe we are seeing the world as it is, but in reality, we are mistaken. This is where our first sense of a self is starting to form. In the wheel of life this link is depicted by a blind person.

Link Two – Action

When we misunderstand the way life is it causes our minds to become poisoned by greed, anger, and delusion, known as the three poisons. These cause us to act in certain unskilful and negative ways. It is not just because of the three poisons we perform unhelpful acts. There are numerous causes, but these are three of the main ones. We need to remember here that any act we carry out through our body, speech or mind will have consequences. This is depicted by a potter making a pot.

Link Three – Experience

Because of our unawareness, the first link, we perform an action, which is the second link, and this plants a seed in our mind. This seed is just a potential at this point and may or may not come to fruition. That will depend on if we do the same action again. In the future, because of the seed we planted, we will have an experience. This is depicted by a monkey because that is how our minds operate. We jump from one thing to another, just like the monkey jumps from tree to tree.

Link Four – Name and Form

Name and form mean the five aggregates. Name refers to the last four aggregates – feelings, perception, actions, and consciousness. Form refers to the first aggregate. The way we experience the world is through the five aggregates. Firstly, there is a form, this can be an object, sound, taste, etc. and this is picked up by your consciousness. At this point the form has not been labelled, it is just an awareness. It gets labelled by your perceptions and conceptions. Once it is labelled it causes a feeling to arise. This feeling can be pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant. We then act on that feeling. You can read more about the aggregates by clicking on this link. This link is depicted by five people in a boat. The people represent the aggregates.

Link Five – Six Perceptual Entrances

All types of form – objects, sound, smell, taste, touch, mind – are pick up by our six sense faculties – eye, ear, nose, taste, touch, and mind (in Buddhism, the mind is also classed as a sense organ). These are all developed in the womb and will soon become our only means of perception of this world. Hence, they are called the six perceptual entrances. This link is depicted by a house with six windows.

Link Six – Contact

Link four is concerned with subject and link five is the object. This link is the contact between these two. It is the contact between the sense organs and the form, through the consciousness. Three things are happening here: the form, the faculties, and the linking consciousness. For example, an object, the eye faculty, and eye consciousness. There is a form, which is picked up by the faculty (eye, ear, nose, etc) and then linked to the corresponding consciousness, such as eye consciousness and so on. This is happening simultaneously. This link is depicted by a man and a woman embracing.

Link Seven – Feeling

When the sense organs encounter a form, they bring up feelings. These feelings can be pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant. One of these feelings will be present in every experience we have. This is depicted by a man with an arrow in his eye.

Link Eight – Desire

Contact, link six, leads to feelings, link seven, which in turn leads to link eight, desire. So, first, we make contact with a form. This leads to feelings, and these lead us to have desires. These can be desiring for good feelings to last, which they obviously won’t, or bad ones to end, which, because of impermanence, they will. This is depicted by a drunken man.

Link Nine – Grasping

In the last link, we craved and desired for things. In this link, we hold onto them. We get attached and grasp at the things we like and want. This attachment to things brings us untold mental suffering. It must be noted that at this stage the process is still only mental. A man picking fruit is how this is depicted in the wheel of life.

Link Ten – Becoming

This is where patterns of behaviour are formed. Up to now the things we have craved for were just on a mental level. At this point, the actions now become physical and verbal, and so it is known as ‘becoming.’ This is depicted by a pregnant lady.

Link Eleven – Birth

Because of the imprints from your patterns of behaviour created in the last link, you have a certain rebirth. This is depicted by someone giving birth.

Link Twelve – Decay and Death

Once we are born it is inevitable that we will age, get sick and finally die. This link contains all the physical and mental suffering of the human existence. It is depicted by a dying man.

Let’s try to break this down. Because of our unawareness or ignorance of how the world really works, we act in negative and unhelpful ways. This leads us to have experiences. These experiences can be broken down into the five aggregates, form, feelings, perception, actions, and consciousness. Form is picked up by our six sense organs, eye, ear, nose, taste, touch, and mind. This contact leads us to have feelings and desires, which lead us to start grasping and becoming attached. This in turn leads us to act, and the imprints of these actions are what cause us to take rebirth. Because we are reborn, we start the cycle of old age, sickness, and death all over again.   

By understanding the 12 links, we can begin to appreciate that things do not happen on their own. There are always going to be causes and conditions. One thing is inevitably going to lead to another.  

One of the best ways to break this cycle of an unsatisfactory life is to truly understand the way the world is. Not how we want it to be or wish it was, but how it actually is. To do this we really need to imbibe Buddha’s key teachings. These are:

  • Understand and implement the four noble truths
  • Understand impermanence, and not just at an intellectual level
  • Understand the dangers of attachment and believing in a permanent and autonomous self
  • Understand that things happen through causes and conditions

If we can understand and implement these teachings, we will be able to break the first link in the chain, which in turn will break the whole chain forever.

You can read more blogs, listen to podcasts, watch videos and practice guided meditations on my website.

If you would like to become a supporter of Buddhism Guides work, such as podcasts, blogs, videos and guided meditation practices, please visit here. You can support for as little as $2 a month.

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