An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World

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They are not just sitting there waiting for the devotees offerings, waiting for things which are ready and never do anything. May be it is because of too many monks or nuns who are not fulfilling their responsibilities that leads to this misunderstanding. Some people who are against Buddhism say that the monks and nuns do nothing, they are parasites of society and are useless.

These people do not know that it is not necessary for one to be engaged in the work force of agriculture or business in order to be considered productive. It is not right to say that the monks or nuns have nothing to do. They lead a simple and hard life and striving diligently everyday. The things that they do, besides benefitting themselves, is to teach others to do good, to emphasise moral values and practices, so that the personality of the devotees can be improved, leading them to the end of the cycle of life and death. They bring great benefit to the people in the world.

Thus, how can we say that they are the parasites that are doing nothing? The monks and nuns are religious teachers.


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They are profound and respectful educators. A person who really leads a renounced life is in fact not free, they are not mere consumers but are busily repaying their gratitude to all living beings whenever they can. Thus, some people thought that one who practises Buddhism must be a vegetarian. People who cannot stop eating meat misunderstood that they are not ready to start to learn about Buddhism. If we look around at the Buddhists in Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand or Tibet and Mongolia, not to mention the lay followers, we find even the monks and nuns have meat in their diet.

They are not Buddhists? Do not think that one must be a vegetarian in order to learn about the teaching of the Buddha and that one cannot practise Buddhism if one cannot be a vegetarian. To practice Buddhism and be a vegetarian are not the same thing. Some people who become a Buddhist, do not learn much about the teachings but only know how to be a vegetarian.

This causes unhappiness among the members of the family. They feel that it is too troublesome to be a vegetarian. In fact one who is practising the teaching of the Buddha should: - after becoming a Buddhist - first understand the teaching of the Buddha and behave according to the teaching in both the family and the society.

At that time, if one wants to be a vegetarian, the family members would not object to it.

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In fact, they may also be encouraged to have sympathy towards other living beings and follow one to be a vegetarian. If one only knows to be a vegetarian after becoming a Buddhist and does not learn about others, one will surely encounter obstacles and cause misunderstanding. Although it is not necessary for a Buddhist to be vegetarian, it is a good moral conduct in the Chinese Buddhism and is something that should be promoted. If one becomes a vegetarian but does not cultivate the mind of loving kindness and compassion, it is only a practice of no killing in a pessimistic way.

It resembles the practice of the Hinayanist. From the view point of the worldly Dharma, the benefit of becoming a vegetarian is very great. It is more economical, highly nutritious and may reduce illness. In the world at present, there are international vegetarian organisations. Everyone who likes to be a vegetarian may join them.


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Thus, it can be seen that it is good to be a vegetarian. And as Buddhist who emphasises compassion, we should advocate the practice more to others. However, one thing to note is that, do not claim that a Buddhist must be a vegetarian. Whenever meeting with a Buddhist, some will ask: have you become a vegetarian? This will frighten some people away.

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To regard practising Buddhism and becoming a vegetarian as the same will in fact obstruct the spreading of Buddhism. The misunderstanding that arises due to the observances.

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When non-Buddhists visit the monastery and see observances such as paying respect to the Buddha, intoning the sutras, repenting and the morning and evening chanting, they cannot understand the meaning behind them and comment that these are superstitious acts. There are many misunderstanding within this category. Now, lets briefly mention some of them:. To pay respects to the Buddha when entering the monastery, to offer incense, flowers, candle and light to the Buddha are the observances of the Buddhist.

The Theistic followers say that we are idol worshippers and superstitious In reality, the Buddha is the master of our religion, he is the saint who has attained the perfect and ultimate stage by practising from the stage of a worldly being.

An End To Suffering The Buddha In The World

The great Bodhisattvas are the Buddhas to be. They are our guides and indicators of refuge. We should be polite in showing respect to the Buddha and Bodhisattva just as when we show respect to our parents. When the Buddha was still in this world, there was no problem. However, now that the Sakyamuni Buddha has already entered final Nirvana; and the Buddha and Bodhisattva of the other worlds are not in our world, we have no way to pay respects. Thus, we have to use paper to draw, ceramic, wood or stone to carve their images, to be the object of our worship.

It is because of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas, merits and images that we are paying our respect to them, and not because of they are the paper, earth wood or stone. It is similar to the way we respect and love our country. We use coloured cloth and make it into a flag. When the flag is flying, we pay respects to the flag. Can we say that this is also a superstitious act? The Catholics also have images in their church.

The Christians, have no image of the God, but use the "cross" as the image for them to pay respect to. Some even kneel down and say their prayer.

How did Buddhism begin?

What is the difference between these acts and the paying of respects to the Buddha? To say that the paying of respects in Buddhism is idol worshipping, is just the intentional defamation of some people. What about the offerings of fragrance flowers, light and candle? During the Buddha time, the Indians offered these to the Buddha.

Light and candle represent brightness, flowers represent fragrance and cleanliness. We believe in the Buddha and pay respect to the Buddha. The offering of these things to the Buddha is to show our respect and faith. On the other hand, it means the gaining of brightness and purity from the Buddha. We do not offer flowers and incense so that the Buddha smells the fragrance; or offer light and candle so that the Buddha can see everything.

Some religions, for example the Catholics, also use these things in their offerings. These are in fact the common observances among the religions. When we are paying respect to the Buddha, we should be respectful and sincere and contemplate on the merits of the real Buddha. If one thinks of other things or talks while paying respect to the Buddha, it is not respectful and loses the meaning of the act of paying respect.

The non-Buddhist or free thinkers always feel that it is an act of superstition when they see Buddhists repent or chant.

Everyone of us, from the past until the present, have committed countless wrong and evil deeds. We have left behind the karma that brings us sufferings and obstructs our progress towards enlightenment and freedom. In order to reduce and get rid of this karma that is obstructing and bringing suffering to us, we should repent in front of the Buddha or the Sangha and admit our mistakes, so that the past evil karma can be reduced.

This practice is very important for us to progress further along the path of Buddhahood.

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One must repent for oneself with great sincerity. Then this repentance can be beneficial and comply with the teaching of the Buddha. People generally do not know how to repent. So, what should we do? The great masters in the past thus compiled some procedures and observances that one could follow if one wants to repent. They taught us to chant word by word, contemplate and understand the teaching behind it. The services of repentance teaches us how to pay respect to the Buddha, seeking for the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas, loving kindness and compassionate protection.

We should admit our own mistakes, knowing that killing, stealing and adultery are evil deeds, sincerely repenting our past evil deeds and be determined to practice for a better future. These are the procedures of repentance taught by the great masters in the past. Some people cannot even read the readily written procedures, hence, they invite the monks or nuns to lead them during the repentance.

As time passes, it gradually turns out to be that these people do not even know that they should repent, and only employ the monks and nuns to repent for them. Some, when their parents or family members pass away, in order to release the past evil karma of the parents and the other family members, invite the monks or nuns to do a repentance service for them.

They hope that relying on the merits of the Triple Gem, the death may be relieved from the realms of suffering. However, sometimes they do not understand the real purpose of the teaching and only emphasise on how big the ceremony should be; or do it for the sake of tradition, and spend money to employ the monks or nuns to do the services for them. They do not have faith in Buddhism, and do not show any sincerity in repenting themselves. In this case the purpose of these repentance services will not be achieved. Gradually, the purpose of the services for repentance becomes vague.

An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the world by Pankaj Mishra | The Independent

The Buddhist devotees do not repent and request the monks or nuns to do everything for them, As a result, the monks and nuns are busy with all these services all day; to do the service for this family today, and the next family tomorrow. And these services become the only activity in some of the monasteries, with the main task of the monks and nuns being neglected.


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This is one of the causes of lack of faith in Buddhism nowadays. Repentance has to come from within. If one repents sincerely, even for just an hour, it has better merits than inviting a lot of people and conducting a few days services but not repenting oneself. It is not right to regard the services of repentance or other services as the occupation of the monks or nuns, as this will not bring any good to the society, but creates more misunderstanding and defamation for Buddhism. Some people who practices the teaching of the Buddha, recite the name of the Buddha and chant the sutras every morning and evening as their daily homework.

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