Saturday, June 18, 2011

Buddhism in a nutshell

"Do good, avoid evil, and purify the mind." said The Buddha. Do the good (Dana), avoid evil (Sila) and purify the mind (Bhavana).


Dana means to giving or generosity. You do not need to give something material to practice Dana. An encouraging word, a warm smile, a small but useful tip can be enough to practice generosity. But you should give without any expectation. The idea here is to be able to let something you have to go.

Dana is not done to become a flower child, it is done to cultivate the perfection of giving:

1) Dana, giving without expectation, hesitation or regret is a confrontation against the strong "self" and "my" illusion. By letting go the things we have, we practice letting the self go.

2) Dana creates positive karma and helps the sentient being to reborn again in higher planes of being. Planes under this are full of too much suffering to purify mind and reach the Nirvana.


Sila is overall (principles of) ethical behavior in Buddhism. The Buddha warned us to avoid these 5 precepts:

1 - Killing
2 - Stealing
3 - Adultery
4 - Consuming toxic material (alcohol or drugs)/toxic thoughts (anger, jealousy, etc ...)
5 - Lying

5 precepts are not commands. These are things which harms us or others, creates negative karma and avoids us to purify the mind. One who wants to purify the mind needs to stay away from them.


Bhavana is the spiritual cultivation in Buddhism. It is what we call Buddhist Meditation (there was not a exact word corresponding to meditation in classical languages of The Buddha's time). Dana and Sila proects the sentient being from lower planes of Samsara but Bhavana helps to release it from Samsara. The most fundamental error Westerners have about meditation is that they think the Buddhist meditation is a concentration practice.In fact, concentration is a form of "attachment" and the opposite of the goal of the Buddhist goal of Nirvana. Buddhist meditation practice is not concentration, it is "letting go". Nirvana is achieved by losing things on the way not gaining things. Nirvana is achieved when one is able to let this world go.

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