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Do I need to be a Buddhist to practice Dhamma?

The answer to this is straight NO, although I think that it will be more effective to fully implement Dhamma if you are Buddhist. Meaning by being a Buddhist is observing Five Precepts (Pancasila), taking homage or refuge to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, engaging in the Buddhist community and chanting Paritta.

In order to practice Dhamma, it is beneficial for us to know what is Dhamma and the nature of it. As quoted from Dhamma Vandana (Homage to the Dhamma verse)

Sandiṭṭhiko
Apparent here and now,
Akāliko
Timeless,
Ehipassiko
Encouraging investigation,
Opanayiko
Leading inwards,
Paccattaṃ veditabbo viññūhi
To be experienced individually by the wise.

For example, the first of Four Noble truth – the basic of all Buddhist teaching,regardless of tradition- is the existence is a Dukkha. Dukkha means that every living being experiences suffering or unsatisfactory-ness in any stage of life. Take an example of buying a new gadget. You have worked like a horse and saved a lot of money to own this gadget. As soon as you buy it, you feel the satisfaction and pride and excitement from things that you can do with this gadget. The following day, you use the gadget and find out the highly advertised features is not working as you have expected. You may feel discontented, unhappy, dissatisfied. That feeling may evolve and become rage and angry and thinking that You should have bought more inexpensive gadget since that feature sucks. Sounds or Feel Familiar? That is exactly what DUKKHA is, that feeling.

More dramatic representation of Dukhha is being born, aged, sick and die. Does it apparent here and now? Does this truth is timeless?

Buddha never urge anyone to become his disciples if one is unable to relate to this truth. Moreover, he also stated in Dhamma Vandana that Dhamma is Ehipassiko. Meaning that it needs to be investigated and it is not just believe because your parent / teacher / best friend told you to believe that whatever The Buddha said It is True.

 

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Four truth that change my perspective of life

The Noble Truth is the first Dhamma explained by The Buddha to His Disciples. It consists of:

The Noble Truth is the first Dhamma explained by The Buddha to His Disciples. It consists of:

  1. The truth is Suffering (Dukkha in Pali term)
    Meaning that being born is a Dukkha (Pali word means Suffering). It may sound pessimistic but many time the Truth is like a bitter pill. Since any living being could not escape from Birth, Being Old, Contracted a disease/diseases and Death. In addition, The Buddha told His Disciples Three other kind of Suffering, which are the followings:
    – Association with the Unpleasant
    – Separation from the beloved
    – Not to obtain one’s desire
    In brief, Grasping is Suffering.
  2. The cause of suffering (Samudaya in Pali term)
    is basically is the Craving feeling.  For example craving of sensual pleasure, existence and non-existence.
  3. The cessation of suffering (Nirodha in Pali term)
    is the complete extinction of that Craving by giving it up, detach and liberate from it.
  4. The path leading to the cessation of suffering (Magga in Pali term)
    That is The Eight-fold Path.

That said, let’s look at The Eight-fold Path which The Buddha suggested to his disciples.

What is Dhamma?

This question is common when we start learning Buddhism. What is Dhamma? Dhamma (in Pali language) or Dharma (in Sanskrit language) has a lot of meaning. Does it mean the truth? Does it mean the Buddha’s teaching? What is it actually? I see Dhamma is the umbrella term of all the truth as well as the Buddha’s teaching and doctrine.

Dhamma is like the tip of an iceberg, in order to practice it we need to understand what Dhamma consists of.

Dhamma is one of the Triple Gem is Buddhist religion. It serves as one of the foundation of the Buddhism. Therefore, whenever we participate either Morning or Evening Chanting at Temple or Monastery, we refer The Triple Gem as our refuge, which is Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Buddha is our Teacher, Dhamma is the Teaching and the Truth and Sangha is the community of monks.

Dhamma as the Truth.

During the first Dhamma sermon, The Enlightened One explained The Four Noble of Truths, which are:

  1. The truth of Dukkha
  2. The cause of Dukkha
  3. The cessation of Dukkha
  4. The path of cessation of Dukkha

Dhamma as The Teaching

In relation of the 4th truth which is the path or the way of cessation of Dukkha, He explained The Noble Eightfold Path, which are:

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right speech
  4. Right action
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration