Sunday, January 16, 2011

Understanding karma, death, and rebirth

Dharma talk by Dennis Estrada

Why is important to understand death? Because we all want to be happy, but in order to be happy, we need to understand that death is also part of life. If not, we are going to live a live of suffering, always fearful of the moment of death and if is not ours, from our loved ones. Today’s talk is going to be just an introduction on the basic concepts of karma, death, and rebirth. This knowledge, when understood and applied, can help us make sense of this present lifetime and make the best out of it.

The story of Kisa Gotami and the Mustard Seed

Kisa Gotami lived in the time of the Buddha Shakyamuni at Savatthi in a poor household where she was called Gotami. She was so lean that they called her Gotami the Lean (Kisa). When she married, her new family scorned her, but when a son was born she was honored. 
When her son was of an age to run to all kinds of places, he one day fell and died. She was very sad. She thought about the scorn she had received and knew that without her son, she would be thrown out of the household. So in her sorrow she took the dead body on her hip and roamed the town, going from door to door asking for medicine. But people mocked her and asked her: of what use is medicine? She was so deeply lost in her sorrow that she did not understand what they meant. 
Then a certain wise man told her ‘Good woman, go to the Buddha, the Enlightened One, and ask Him for medicine for your child.'
So when the Master was teaching nearby, she went where he was staying and said: 'Oh Lord, give me medicine for my child.' And the Master, beholding her destiny, replied: 'Go to town, and beg a mustard seed in a house where no man has died.'  She did so and at the very first house asked: 'I would like a mustard seed as medicine for my child. If in this house no one has died, please give me a mustard seed.' The answer was: 'Who knows how many people have died here'.  'Then what use is such a mustard seed?' she said and went on to the next house, and the next, never getting what she asked. 
Her sorrow had subsided a bit, and she came back to her right mind. She thought: 'All over this town it must be like this. The Buddha must have known this and in his wisdom made me see.' She rejoiced and buried the body out in a field and sang this verse:
This is no law for village or town,
No law for any single family.
Through all the world of devas and men
this law holds good: All is Impermanent.
Content with her insight, she went back to the Buddha and he said: 'Have you found your mustard seed, Gotami?' She said: 'Done is the business of the mustard seed. Please teach me. Gotami was later on ordained as a nun.
This is a good story that shows us how ignorance brings suffering in our lives and after getting wisdom, we can gain happiness. But before we move along about the topic of death, we need to understand what is Karma?
Karma is an impersonal, natural law that operates in accordance with our actions. It is a law in itself and does not have any lawgiver. Karma operates in its own field without the intervention of an external, independent, ruling agent. Karma can be put in the simple language of the child: do good and good will come to you, now, and hereafter. Do bad and bad will come to you, now, and hereafter. In the language of the harvest, karma can be explained in this way: if you sow good seeds, you will reap a good harvest. If you sow bad seeds, you will reap a bad harvest. In the language of science, karma is called the law of cause and effect: every cause has an effect.
In the Dhammapada, which means “the path of the teaching" A  Highly recommended book,  consists of 423 sayings of the Buddha, grouped into 26 categories. The Buddha explained karma in this manner: the mind is the chief (forerunner) of all good and bad states. If you speak or act with a good or bad mind, then happiness or unhappiness follows you just like your shadow which never leaves you. In its ultimate sense, karma means both good and bad, mental action or what we call volition. 'Karma is volition,' says the Buddha. Thus karma is not an entity but a process, action, energy and force.
The bottom line is…Karma is our own doings reacting on ourselves. The pain and happiness man experiences are the result of his own deeds, words and thoughts reacting on themselves. Our deeds, words and thoughts produce our prosperity and failure, our happiness and misery. In other words, we are responsible for our own karma. This is very hard on some people who don’t want to take responsibility for their actions and who always blame others for their problems. So if you wake up in the morning saying it is going to be a bad day, guess what? You will have a bad day.
Which bring us to a very important point…you have complete control of your actions. Every action is preceded by a thought. From getting up in the morning, what you wear, what we eat. We control our own action but sometimes, we are too lazy to admit it or to afraid to take responsibility for your actions, so we always make excuses.
Understanding this concept of karma, we realize that there is no hidden agent directing or administering rewards and punishments, Buddhists do not rely on prayer to some supernatural forces to influence karmic results. (Like praying to win the lottery).  According to the Buddha, karma is neither predestination nor some sort of determinism imposed on us by some mysterious, unknown powers or forces to which we must helplessly submit ourselves.
Buddhists believe that man will reap what he has sown; we are the result of what we were, and we will be the result of what we are. This simply means that karma is not complete determinism. The Buddha pointed out that if everything is determined, then there would be no free will and no moral or spiritual life. We would merely be the slaves of our past. On the other hand, if everything is undetermined, then there can be no cultivation of moral and spiritual growth. Therefore, the Buddha accepted neither strict determinism nor strict undeterminism.
The good news is…we can change our karma!
The story of the Sami 
Once there was a little sami who studied Buddhism with a very wise Teacher. He was a very good student. He was respectful, sincere, and obedient. He learned very quickly. The Teacher was so wise that he could foretell the future. The Teacher knew from the beginning that his little student could not live very long. One day he counted and realized that the little student had only seven days left to live. He felt very sad.
The Teacher called the little sami to him. He said, "Hey, little sami, you haven’t seen your mother for a long time. think you need a vacation. You run on home and visit your mother, and come back eight days from now." He did this so at least the little sami could die in his own parents’ home. When the little sami left, the Teacher was very sorry. He thought he would never see his little student again.
Eight days later, who should show up but the little sami! His Teacher was delighted, but he was also puzzled, because the little student looked wonderful. He didn’t look like someone who had been about to die.
Finally, the Teacher decided to find out what had happened. He told the boy, "Son, I have foretold the future many times, and I have never been wrong. I sent you home because you were doomed to die within seven days. But the seven days have already passed. Not only are you still alive, but you look great. The image of death has left you. How did you do it?"
The little sami was thunderstruck. He didn’t have any idea how to answer his Teacher, so the Teacher entered the settled state of meditation. Before long, he understood.
"Son, on the way home, did you save some ants?"
"Yes, Teacher, on the way home I saw a whole bunch of ants trapped by some water. They were about to drown, so I got a piece of wood and rescued them."
"That’s it, then. Your kind heart has earned you a long life. The wise men of old said, ‘Saving one life earns more merit than building a pagoda of seven stories.’ You have saved hundreds of lives, so you will live a very long time now.
"You have earned a good future, but you still have to keep working to save living creatures. You must spread the message of the Buddha. Teach all people to be merciful. Tell everyone not to kill living creatures. Let animals live in peace."
The little sami never forgot his teacher’s words. He worked very hard and became a great monk. He lived for a long, long time.
By performing good deeds, living a moral life and earning merits, we can change our karma.
 Misconceptions regarding Karma
- the belief that all is the result of creation by a Supreme Ruler. If our lives are destined by faith, and a person becomes a murderer or a thief, then this person would not be held responsible for his evil action, because it was his destiny.
Yet another misconception about karma is that it operates only for certain people according to their faiths. But the fate of a man in his next life does not in the least depend on what particular religion he chooses. Whatever may be his religion, man's fate depends entirely on his deeds by body, speech and thought. It does not matter what religious label he himself holds, he is bound to be happy world in his next life so long as he does good deeds and leads an unblemished life. He is bound to be born to lead a wretched life if he commits evil and harbors wicked thoughts in his mind. Therefore, Buddhists do not proclaim that they are the only blessed people who can go to heaven after their death. Whatever the religion he professes, man's karmic thought alone determines his own destiny both in this life and in the next.
According to Buddhism karma explains the inequalities that exist among mankind. It explains why some people have better lives, why some bad people i.e. gangsters have money and wealth while good people seem to have all kind of misfortunes. It also explains prodigies like Mozart, Rembrandt, or Einstein.
These inequalities are due not only to heredity, environment and nature but also to karma or the results of our own actions. Indeed karma is one of the factors which are responsible for the success and the failure of our life. Since karma is an invisible force, we cannot see it working with our physical eyes.
How karma works
This part is very important, to understand how karma works, we can compare it to seeds: the seeds of karma are stored in the subconscious mind in the same way as the leaves, flowers, fruits and trunk of a tree are stored in its seed. Under favorable conditions in our life, the fruits of karma will be produced just as with moisture and light, the leaves and trunk of a tree will sprout from its tiny seed. This can happen in this life or in the next.
The working of karma can also be compared to a bank account: a person who is virtuous, charitable and benevolent in his present life is like a person who is adding to his good karma. This accrued good karma can be used by him to ensure a trouble-free life. But he must replace what he takes or else one day his account will be exhausted and he will be bankrupt. Then whom will he be able to blame for his miserable state? He can blame neither others nor fate. He alone is responsible. Thus a good Buddhist cannot be an escapist. He has to face life as it is and not run away from it. The karmic force cannot be controlled by inactivity. Vigorous activity for good is indispensable for one's own happiness. Escapism is the resort of the weak, and an escapist cannot escape the effects of the karmic law.
The Buddha says, 'There is no place to hide in order to escape from karmic results.' (Dhammapada 127). 
Our Own Experience To understand the law of karma is to realize that we ourselves are responsible for our own happiness and our own misery. We are the architects of our karma. Buddhism explains that man has every possibility to mould his own karma and thereby influence the direction of his life. On the other hand, a man is not a complete prisoner of his own actions; he is not a slave of his karma. Nor is man a mere machine that automatically releases instinctive forces that enslave him. Nor is man a mere product of nature.
Man has within himself the strength and the ability to change his karma. His mind is mightier than his karma and so the law of karma can be made to serve him. Man does not have to give up his hope and effort in order to surrender himself to his own karmic force. To off-set the reaction of his bad karma that he has accumulated previously, he has to do more meritorious deeds and to purify his mind rather than by praying, worshipping, performing rites or torturing his physical body in order to overcome his karmic effects. This is what we call the practice. Therefore, man can overcome the effect of his evil deeds if he acts wisely by leading noble life.
However, ignorance of the nature of the good and bad effect of the karma is not an excuse to justify or avoid the karmic results if they were committed intentionally. A small child or an ignorant man may commit many evil deeds. Since they commit such deeds with intention to harm or injure, it is difficult to say that they are free from the karmic results. If that child touches a burning iron-rod the heat element does not spare the child without burning his fingers.
The karmic energy also works exactly in the same manner. Karmic energy is unbiased; it is like energy of gravity. The radical transformations in the characters of Angulimala and Asoka illustrate man's potential to gain control over his karmic force.
Angulimala was a highway robber who murdered more than a thousand of his fellow men. Can we judge him by his external actions? For within his lifetime, he became an Arahant and thus redeemed his past misdeeds. Asoka, the Indian Emperor, killed thousands and thousands to fight his wars and to expand his empire. Yet after winning a certain the battle, he completely reformed himself and changed his career to become one of the most influential rulers of India.
Also, we can find cases of people from poor, obscure family backgrounds who rise to fame and popularity as film actors or actresses or beauty queens. Time and occasion are other factors that influence the working of karma. In the time of famine or during the time of war, all people without exception are forced to suffer the same fate.  This is called collective karma. Here the unfavorable conditions open up possibilities for evil karma to operate. The favorable conditions, on the other hand, will prevent the operation of bad karma.
Effort or intelligence is perhaps the most important of all the factors that affect the working of karma. Without effort, both worldly and spiritual progress is impossible. If a person makes no effort to cure himself of a disease or to save himself from his difficulties, or to strive with diligence for his progress, then his evil karma will find a suitable opportunity to produce its due effects. However, if he endeavors to surmount his difficulties, his good karma will come to help him.
The time factor is another important aspect of the karmic energy for people to experience the good and bad effects. People experience certain karmic effects only within this lifetime while certain karmic effects become effective immediately hereafter the next birth. And certain other karmic effects follow the doers as long as they remain in this wheel of existence until they stop their rebirth after attaining Nirvana. The main reason for this difference is owing to mental impulsion of the people at the time when a thought arises in the mind to do good or bad.
 Impartial Energy Those who do not believe that there is an energy known as karma should understand that this karmic energy is not a by-product of any particular religion although Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism acknowledge and explain the nature of this energy. This is an existing universal law which has no religious label. All those who violate this law, have to face the consequences irrespective of their religious beliefs, and those who live in accordance with this law experience peace and happiness in their life. Therefore, this karmic law is unbiased to each and every person, whether they believe it or not; whether, they have a religion or not. It is like any other existing universal law. Please remember that karma is not the exclusive property of Buddhism.
Like the waves of the ocean that flow into one another, one unit of consciousness flows into another and this merging of one thought consciousness into another is called the working of karma. In short, every living being, according to Buddhism, is an electricity current of life that operates on the automatic switch of karma. Karma being a form of energy is not found anywhere in this fleeting consciousness or body. Just as mangoes are not stored anywhere in the mango tree but, dependent on certain conditions, they spring into being, so does karma. Karma is like wind or fire. It is not stored up anywhere in the Universe but comes into being under certain conditions.
Other workings of karma: have you ever wondered, why after a meeting a total stranger, you feel like you had known that person all your life? Or when lovers describe love at first sight? How about people that you just met and they don’t like you?  All products of karmic debts.
As we mentioned already, death is part of life, we are all born with the death certificate in our hands and nobody can change that, then why is when we see death coming, we all try to run away like headless chickens?
To Buddhism, however, death is not the end of life, it is merely the end of the body we inhabit in this life, but our consciousness will still remain and seek out through the need of attachment, attachment to a new body and new life. Where they will be born is a result of the past and the accumulation of positive and negative action, and the resultant karma.
This would lead to the person to be reborn in one of 6 realms which are; heaven, human beings, Asura, hungry ghost, animal and hell.  Realms, according to the severity of ones karmic actions, Buddhists believe however, none of these places are permanent and one does not remain in any place indefinitely. So we can say that in Buddhism, life does not end, merely goes on in other forms that are the result of accumulated karma. Buddhism is a belief that emphasizes the impermanence of lives, including all those beyond the present life.  With this in mind we should not fear death as it will lead to rebirth. But what many fear is to cease to be existent and losing ones identity and foothold in the world.  We are so afraid of what is going to happen with my money, my loved ones, my position.
To clarify again, we don’t believe in a permanent heaven or hell. If we do, how are we going to change and improve?
Buddhist customs during death: Through Buddhist doctrine we are told that the final moment of our consciousness is paramount, the most important moment of all.  If the ill person is in hospital and the diagnosis is grim that the person cannot possibly survived, the family should call in the Buddhist priest to pray for the loved one so that at the final moment, the right state of mind has been generated within the person and they can find their way into a higher state of rebirth as they leave the present lives.
The nurses and family members are not supposed to touch the corpse, having to wait 3-8 hours after breathing ceases before touching the body for any preparation after the death. We Buddhists believe that the spirit of a person will linger on for sometime and can be affected by what happened to the corpse. It is important that the body is treated gently and with respect and that the priest can help the spirit continues its journey calmly to higher states, not causing the spirit to becoming angry and confused and may be more likely to be reborn into the lower realms.
Before the person goes to his next rebirth, they go to the Bardo, a Tibetan word that means “Gap”. The intermediate existence between death and rebirth -- a stage varying from hours to forty-nine days, after which the Karmic body from previous lives will certainly be reborn.
In the Mahayana Buddhism, especially, Vietnamese tradition we pray for the dead for 49 days after passing away, 49 being the estimated time it takes for the spirit to be reborn again into a new life. Some spirits are reborn 3 days, 21 days, 49 days or 100 days after death and in some cases even 7 years.
 Buddhists believe that when a person dies, rebirth will take place somewhere else according to his good or bad actions. As long as the person possesses the craving for existence, he must experience rebirth. Only the people who have gone beyond all passions will have no more rebirths and so after their death, they will attain their final goal Nibbana.
Buddhists are not very particular regarding the burial or cremation of a dead body. In many Buddhist countries, cremation is customary. For hygienic and economic reasons, it is advisable to cremate. Today, the population in the world is increasing and if we continue to have dead bodies occupying valuable land, then one day all remaining available land will be occupied by the dead and the living will have no place to live.
Buddhists do not believe that one day someone will come and awaken the departed person’s spirits from their graveyards or the ashes from their urns and decide who should go to heaven and who should go to hell. The consciousness or mental energy of the departed person has no connection with the body left behind or his skeleton or his ashes. Many people believe that if the deceased is not given a proper burial or if a sanctified tombstone is not placed on the grave, then the soul of the deceased will wander to the four corners of the world and weep and wail and sometimes even return to disturb the relatives. Such a belief cannot be found anywhere in Buddhism.
Rebirth: Unsatisfied desire for existence and sensual pleasures is the cause of rebirth.
The belief in rebirth forms a fundamental tenet of Buddhism. However, the belief in rebirth is not confined to Buddhist; it is also found in other countries, in other religions, and even among free thinkers. Pythagoras could remember his previous birth. Plato could remember a number of his previous lives.
According to Plato, man can be reborn only up to ten times. Plato also believed in the possibility of rebirth in the animal kingdom. Among the ancient people in Egypt and China, a common belief was that only well-known personalities like emperors and kings have rebirths. In 1788, a well-known philosopher, Kant, criticized eternal punishment. Kant also believed in the possibility of rebirth in other celestial bodies. Schopenhauer (1788-1860), another great philosopher, said that where the will to live existed there must be of necessity life. The will to live manifests itself successively in ever new forms. The
Buddha explained this 'will to exist' as the craving for existence.
It is possible but not very easy for us to actually verify our past lives. The nature of mind is such that it does not allow most people the recollection of their previous lives. Our minds are overpowered by the five hindrances: sensual desire, ill-will, sloth, restlessness and doubt. Because of these hindrances, our vision is earth-bound and hence we cannot visualize rebirths.
Just as a mirror does not reflect an image when it is covered with dirt, so the mind does not allow most people the recollection of previous lives. We cannot see the stars during daytime, not because they are not there in the sky, but because they are outshone by the sunlight. Similarly, we cannot remember our past lives because our mind at present is always over-burdened with many thoughts in the present, day-to-day events and mundane circumstances.
The Buddha doctrine of rebirth should be differentiated from the teachings of transmigration and reincarnation of other religions. Buddhism denies the existence of a permanent, god-created soul or an unchanging entity that transmigrates from one life to another. What we ordinarily mean by death is the cessation of the body's vital functions. When the physical body loses its vitality it can no longer support the current of consciousness, the mental side of the process. But as long as there is a clinging to life, a desire to go on existing, the current of consciousness does not come to a stop with the body's loss of life. Rather, when death takes place, when the body dies away, the mental current, driven by the thirst for more existence, will spring up again with the support of a new physical body, one which has just come into being through the meeting of sperm and egg. Thus, rebirth takes place immediately after death. The steam of memory may be interrupted and the sense of identity transferred to the new situation, but the entire accumulation of experience and disposition has been transmitted to the newborn being, and the cycle of becoming begins to revolve for still another term. For Buddhism, therefore, death does not spell either the entrance to eternal life or complete annihilation. It is, rather, the portal to a new rebirth which will be followed by more growth, decay, and then till another death.
Buddhists do not maintain that the present life is the only life between two eternities of misery and happiness; nor do they believe angels will carry them to heaven and leave them there for all eternity. They believe that this present life is only one of the indefinite numbers of states of being and that this earthly life is but one episode among many others. They believe that all beings will be reborn somewhere for a limited period of time as long as their good and bad Karma remains in the subconscious mind in the form of mental energy. The interpretation of the subconscious mind in the Buddhist context should not be confused with that given by modern psychologists since the concepts are not exactly synonymous.
 What is the cause of rebirth? The Buddha taught that ignorance produces desires. Unsatisfied desire is the cause of rebirth. When all unsatisfied desire is extinguished, then rebirth ceases. To stop rebirth is to extinguish all desires. To extinguish desire, it is necessary to destroy ignorance. When ignorance is destroyed, the worthlessness of every such rebirth is perceived, as well as the paramount need to adopt a course of life by which the desire for such repeated births can be abolished. Ignorance also begets the illusive and illogical idea that there is only one existence for man, and the other illusion that this one life is followed by states of eternal pleasure or torment.
Just like in the story we heard about Kisa Gotami, the Buddha taught that ignorance can be dispelled and sorrow removed by realization of the Four Noble Truths, and not through any other source. To disperse all ignorance, one must persevere in the practice of an all-embracing altruism in conduct, intelligence and wisdom. One must also destroy all desire for the lower, personal pleasures and selfish desire. How does rebirth take place? When this physical body is no more capable of functioning, energies do not die with it, but continue to take some other shape or form, which we call another life. The karmic force manifesting itself in the form of a human being can also manifest itself in the form of an animal. This can happen if man has no chance to develop his positive karmic forces. This force, called craving, desire, volition, thirst to live, does not end with the non-functioning of the body but continues to manifest itself in another form, producing re-existence which is called rebirth. Today, there are people in various countries who have spontaneously developed memory of their past births. The experiences of these people have been well-documented in newspapers and periodicals. Some of these people never accepted that there was such a thing as rebirth until memory fragments of their previous lives came to them. Much of the information they revealed about their past lives has been investigated and found to be valid.
Through hypnotism, some people have managed to reveal information of previous lives. Certain hypnotic states that penetrate into the subconscious mind make the recalling of past lives possible. Rebirth or becoming again and again is a natural occurrence not created by any particular religion or god. Belief in rebirth or disbelief does not make any difference to the process of rebirth or avoiding rebirth. Rebirth takes place as long as craving for existence and craving for sensual pleasures or attachment exist in the mind. Those strong mental forces prevail in each and every living being in this universe. Those who hope and pray that they be not born again must understand that their wishes will not materialize until they make earnest efforts to eradicate their craving and attachment. Having seen and experienced the uncertainty and unsatisfactorness of life under worldly conditions, wise people try to rid themselves of these repeated births and deaths by following the correct path.
Those who cannot reduce their craving and attachment must be prepared to face all unsatisfactory and uncertain situations associated with rebirth and becoming again and again.
Is Rebirth Simultaneous? Another difficult thing to understand about rebirth is whether the occurrence of rebirth is simultaneous or not. This is a controversial issue even amongst prominent Buddhist Scholars. For some, rebirth (which happens at the moment of conception) takes place immediately after the death of a being without any intermediate state. At the same time, some others believe that a person, after his death, would evolve into a spirit form for a certain number of days before rebirth takes place. Another interpretation regarding the same belief is that it is not the spirit, but the deceased person's consciousness or mental energy remaining in space, supported by his own mental energies of craving and attachment. However, sooner or later rebirth must take place. The spirits , who are beings born in spirit forms, are unfortunate living beings and their lives in the spirit form is not permanent. It is also a form of rebirth which is temporary.
Another concept that many people cannot understand is that in the process of rebirth a man can be reborn as an animal and an animal can be reborn as a man. The animal nature of the man's mind and the animal way of life adopted by him can condition him to be born as an animal. The condition and behavior of the mind is responsible for the next existence. On the other hand, a person who is born in animal form, owing to certain mental abuses during a previous birth, could be reborn as a human being, if that animal has not committed any serious evil acts. It is a well-known fact that some animals are very intelligent and understanding. This is a clear evidence to prove that they are tending towards the human life. A person who is born as an animal can again be born as a human being when the bad karma which conditioned his birth as an animal is expended and the good karma which was stored becomes dominant.
The Danger of Selfish Desire Craving is a fire which burns in all beings: every activity is motivated by desire. They range from the simple physical desire of animals to the complex and often artificially stimulated desires of the civilized man. To satisfy desire, animals prey upon one another, and human beings fight, kill, cheat, lie and perform various forms of unwholesome deeds. Craving is a powerful mental force present in all forms of life, and is the chief cause of the ills in life. It is this craving that leads to repeated births in the cycle of existence. Once we have realized the cause of suffering, we are in the position to put an end to suffering.
So, how do we put an end to suffering? Eliminate it at its root by the removal of craving in the mind. This is the Third Noble Truth. The state where craving ceases is known as Nibbana. The word Nibbana is composed of 'ni' and 'vana', meaning the departure from or end of craving. This is a state which is free from suffering and rounds of rebirth. This is a state which is not subjected to the laws of birth, decay and death. This state is so sublime that no human language can express it. Nibbana is Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed. If there were not this Unborn, this Unoriginated, this Uncreated, this Unformed, then escape from the conditioned world is not possible.
Nibbana is beyond logic and reasoning. We may engage in highly speculative discussions regarding Nibbana or ultimate reality, but this is not the way to really understand it. To understand and realize the truth of Nibbana, it is necessary for us to walk the Eightfold Path, and to train and purify ourselves with diligence and patience. Through spiritual development and maturity, we will be able to realize the Third Noble Truth. The Noble Eightfold Path is the Fourth Noble Truth which leads to Nibbana. It is a way of life consisting of eight factors. By walking on this Path, it will be possible for us to see an end to suffering.
Because Buddhism is a logical and consistent teaching embracing every aspect of life, this noble Path also serves as the finest possible code for leading a happy life. Its practice brings benefits to oneself and other, and it is not a Path to be practiced by those who call themselves Buddhists alone, but by each and every understanding person, irrespective of his religious beliefs.  

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