Buddhist Practices

Meditation

Smatha meditation: 'breathing meditation' Count your breath to focus, beginners, "whever your mind becomes scattereed...use breath"

Vipissana meditation:'insight meditation' Meditate on a teaching to help you full understand it, more advanced, helps you see things as they really are-to understand the true nature of reality.

why meditate?: to calm/focus the mind, to reach enlightenment

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Places of worship

Temples: A place where Buddhists can get together. Monks will give talks. Lay Buddhist take gifts for the monks (e.g. food)

Temples have a main hall where Buddhists practice together. Quiet meditation hall (gompa). A shrine. A stupa-dome shaped structure containing bones of the Buddha/monks

Shrines:Found in the temple and home. In the centre is a statue of the Buddha (rupa). Buddhists meditate infront of the shrine. Objects remind them of Buddhas teachings.

Shrines have candles to symbolise wisdom/enlightenment. Flowers that will wilt and die that remind them nothing lasts forever (annica). Incense reminds them of pure speech/behaviour.

Monasteries (Viharas): Buildings where monks and nuns live. Monks spend their days studying holy books and meditating. The monastery helps the monks live a simple lifestyle.

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Puja (Worship)

Why do Buddhists worship?:  Shows respect to Buddha. To say thank you for his teachings. To gain good karma. Helps them understand teachings.

Malas: A string of prayer beads. Used to count the number of chants or breaths.

Mandalas: These are colourful, circle shaped patterns made out of sand. It takes weeks to make but they are brushed away once finished to remind the monks that nothing lasts forever (annica)

Mantras: A sequence of sacred syllables chanted out loud or in the mind. They calm/concentrate the mind and help develop qualities such as compassion.

Chanting: Where you say a teaching over and over again. In the early days this was the way to remember teachings before there were ways to write it down. It calms and focuses the mind.

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Festivals

Wesak: Remembers the Buddhas birth and enlightenment. Its a happy time, they celebrate his life and teachings. They get together as a family. Decorate their homes with candles and make giant paper lanterns as a symbol that light can overcome the darkness of ignorance. Birds are released as a symbol of liberation (freedom). Gifts are given to monks (food, candles)

Painirvana day: Remembers the Buddha dying and passing into paranirvana. Sad occassion as buddhists think about their own death and remember thoes who died. They focus on anicca for the day. They read from their holy book. They worship in the temple and meditate. Some go on retreats

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Visualisations

This is where you imagine a Buddha or Bodhisattva in your mind in as much detail as possible. Thangkas-detailed painings of Buddha might be used to get them started. 

Some people visualise the 'Medicine Buddha' to heal them and reduce their suffering. 

Some visualise Amitabha in the hope that he will help them be reborn in the pure land.

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6 Perfections

1) Generosity -give food, clothes, money etc

2) Morality -follow the 5 precepts

3) Patience 

4) Energy -put effort into reaching enlightenment over many years

5) Meditation 

6) Wisdom -seeing things as they really are, seeing the truth about life

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5 precepts

1) Avoid harming living beings 

2) Avoid taking what is not given

3) Avoid harmful sexual activity

4) Avoid lying

5) Avoid intoxicants

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Karuna (compassion)

This means wanting others to be free from suffering and doing whatever you can to stop the suffering. 

Particularly imporatant to Mahayana buddhists.

"I believe...the key to a happier world is the growth of compassion" Dali Lama.

ROKPA is a Buddhist charity that was set up to show compassion to others, it helps people in poverty by giving them an education.

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Metta (kindness)

Buddhists to to develop loving, kind attitudes towards themselves and all other beings.

It leads to good karma and a good rebirth, closer to enlightenment.

It helps create a world of love, peace and happiness.

It can be developed through metta meditation, there are 5 steps: developing metta towards yourself, a good friend, a neutral person, a difficult person and then everyone in the world.

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Funeral/Mourning

Theravada: Little money is spent on funerals. They donate to chairty and transfer good karma to the dead person to help them have a good rebirth. A shrine is set up to display the dead persons picture and candles, incense and flowers are offered. Monks attend funerals.

Japan: The coffin is placed with the head pointing west (towards the pureland). Mourners chant as they walk around the coffin. Bodies are cremated and relations pick the bones out of the ashes using chopsticks.

Tibet: 'Sky burials' where the body is left on the mountain and eaten by vultures. The ground is often too frozen to dig a grave. Giving away a body was seen as generous. Tibetan book of the dead is read.

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Karma and Rebirth

Rebirth: karma effects your rebirth, good karma leads to a good rebirth, bad karma to a bad rebirth. There are 6 realms of rebirth.

1) Gods, 2) Angry gods, 3) Animals, 4) Hungry ghosts, 5) hell, 6) Human (best realm as you can reach enlightenment)

Karma: This means "actions have consequences". 'Unskilfull' actions (based in greed, hatred and ignorance) create bad karma which leads to suffering. 'Skillful' actions (based in metta and karuna) creates good karma which leads to happiness.                                                                This is empowering as you can change your future through your actions

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