Doctrines and Beliefs
There are different Doctrines around the Globe that developed within the centuries into philosophies that proclaim life as the main value of human being. Historically, religion developed within specific community and was a way of control and obedience, which all inhabitants have to follow. From the Neolithic times, few religion still influence the humanity with their attitude towards life. Ahimsa, Karma,Caste, Tirthankara, Kami, Avalokiteshvara, Catal Huyuk are rarely heard, though their concepts might be found in modern society.
Each doctrine has something in common:
Ahimsa’s meaning is ‘non-killing’. It defines higher realms, infinity and the wish to grow to that level of consciousness. According to Ahimsa doctrine person cannot have dirty thoughts, Ahimsa actually means that you cannot offend anyone; you cannot even cover a merciless view, even in connection with those who may feel your enemy. Note the protected nature of this opinion: "whom would you consider your enemy" and "who can consider them to be your enemy." There are no enemies on the understanding of the followers of the ahimsa doctrine. They rather deny their existence, then except. However, person might be an enemy to oneself and this is the circumstance that barely everyone can overcome.
When one person reacts on the blow with a blow, it means that this person moves far away from the Ahimsa doctrine. The desire to influence the enemy with reactive activity is a step back from the Ahimsa doctrine path, according to which there is no enemy. Despite this, when a person is angry, it is also good, though in such case the enemy is pushed out not by the person to whom the damage was done, but by coincidence and actions of others or heavens. No need to say much about the essence of this doctrine. The important thing is that a person who believes in the effectiveness of this doctrine is in the final stage on the way to the goal. The whole world is at his feet, not that the person wants that, but it should be so. If a person expresses his love, ahimsa itself gives an indelible impression to so-called enemy. So the only thing that remains is returning his love. Another idea, which is singled out from the doctrine is that according to this rule there is no place for organized killings, as well as for any abuse such as killing in order to protect their country or the honor of loved ones, family, and friends. After all, killing is the worst way to protect their honor.
This teaching tells us that we can protect the honor of those entrusted to us, who are responsible for letting themselves in the hands of a man who can do it. This requires much more mental and physical courage than the realization strikes. You can have a certain level of strength, namely courage, and use that power. No concept of patriotism that justifies such wars witnessed what we have witnessed in Europe. Law of Love Courage My non-violence does not allow running away from danger and leaving relatives vulnerable. Ahimsa means that nobody can harm any living creature’s thought, word, and deed, even if it brings this creature anticipated benefits. The following principle is fully impossible for people who kill living creatures, large and small, who breathe or blink on the ground. We catch and hurt snakes and scorpions out of fear that they bite and leave them in some remote place if they do not kill. Damage caused to them thus may be inevitable, but it is clearly ahimsa as defined above. Ashram believes in the principle, but unfortunately you cannot implement it in practice. Humanity has not mastered the art of how to do it yet. It is possible that many people have to give their lives before they take the art to the masses. However, this principle is no longer accepted in India.
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Despite Ahimsa, more and more people speak about Karma when it comes to description of bad luck. Karma is an opposite meaning to Ahimsa and is the moral law with causative notion. The theory of Karma is the fundamental doctrine of Buddhism. Before Buddha, this belief was widespread in India. However, the Buddha, after the emergence of India explained the doctrine and formulated a position in the state that we have today. Human inequality or accident is the reason that no reasonable person would think about the cause of inequality. This inequality and diversity are blind chance or randomness.
In this world, everything happens to a person according to what is, for different reasons, deserved. Generally, people without developed intellect cannot understand the true nature of the cause or causes. However, some invisible cause or causes of the visible effect are not necessarily limited real or, in other words, earthly life. They can be traced back to the last birth in the past.
According to the teaching of Buddhism, this inequality is caused by heredity, environment, and essence of man, his upbringing, and his karma (Sayadaw). In the present life, a man reaps the result of their past actions that affect the outcome of current cases. As a result, each of us is responsible for personal happiness or unhappiness. Thus, each man is the creator of his own heaven or hell, who forms destiny according to his deeds. The baggage of tendencies from previous lives accumulates the karmic principle in the present earthly life.
This is an important text, which refers to the belief that all circumstances the physical and mental relationship entails the only person from the past karma that Buddha contradicted. If present life is fully and completely controlled by our past actions, then Karma is equivalent to essence fatalism and determinism or predestination. However, if it were true, the notion of free will would be nonsense. Life would be not much different from the machine’s operation. Being a creation of God Almighty who controls our destiny and determines our future, or of produced insurmountable karma, which determined our fate and heritage, also controls the course of our lives. Consequently, its development would remain unchanged. So is there any meaning to live, if nothing changes regardless of the effort which a man makes?
Buddha stated five main processes that exist in physical and mental worlds. The first is Utu Niyama that describes the inorganic order of the physical world such as seasons of the year. The second is Bija Niyama, to which belong rice-seed or honey, the order of the germs and seeds. The third order is called Karma Niyama - order of deed and result. The result does not have to be neither bad nor good. However, the nature of the deed influences the result. The fourth layer is Dhamma Niyama, a norm of order as well. One of the samples might be law of gravitation. The fifth layer belongs to Citta Niyama. It is responsible for the consequence of relationships and defines the process, will of mind, consciousness and its processes.
The term Karma literally means an action or doing. Regardless of the type of action, whether intentional mental, verbal or physical act is seen as karma, it covers everything within the "thoughts, words and deeds." Consequently good and bad actions are a manifestation of karma. Karma is the result of moral and immoral will. Karma thus denying willpower. Karma is divided into few types. There is one that reproduces the previous life experience in the present life. Another type of the karma is supportive. It comes closely to reproduction. However, it aims at improving the life, for example, gives health or wealth, so the person can fulfill the present life aim. On the opposite of the supportive, there is obstructive type of karma. When something was bad, it becomes good or vice versa. Within the destructive karma notions, the energy given by reproductive karma might be downed to zero. Nevertheless, destructive karma is either good or bad. It is accepted as a fact. The classification of karma provided above was designed according to the function that karma has. Despite that function, Karma has an effect. It also varies and has four types: effective, effective but subsequent, effective indefinitely, and ineffective.
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The workforce is evil karma and charity. They create conditions to counter and maintain the law of cause and effect. Time of birth or rebirth condition act as powerful tools and barriers to fruition karma. These opposing and supporting factors show that man is neither absolute servant nor the master of karma. The consequences of karma are based mainly on personality, person’s aspirations, surroundings, current conditions, external circumstances. The doctrine of karma gives confidence, hope, and courage. If there are failures or unhappiness, the Buddhist overcomes them with understanding that he is reaping what is sown.
As a result, he is willing to pay past debts and there are no complaints about the presence of the principle of karma. Man makes a conscious effort to overcome adversity because he understands that his future in his own hands. Man thus rely on their own willpower, running continuously for a happy future of themselves and their loved ones. As a consequence, the principle of cause and effect kindles and maintains his enthusiasm and teaches responsibility. Despite the principle of karma, it is a kind of lever conscience that restrains a person from an evil act.
Social structure in India is caste system that divides people to different groups according to ranked categories. “Higher” castes members obtain a greater social status comparing to individuals from a “lower” caste. Caste division influences the local level of the society. People are usually married on a person that belongs to the same caste. Interesting fact, that in last decade only 11 percent of marriages were made by people from different castes. Castes approach for driving of the Indian people was formed around the second millennium before our era (“What Is India's Caste System?”). People were divided into social groups called “varnas” (Elwes and Brown). The meaning of this term is still under question. On one hand, it refers to classification. On the other it is defined by color of skin. Varnas belonged to early Hinduism and are the first known caste system.
The principle of classification was based on prestige. The first were Brahmins. After them were Kshatriyas. Vaishyas and the Shudras were the third and the forth caste. The myth keeps the story that groups were created from the part of the body: mouth, arms, thighs and feet. The ancient character called Purusha the father of four castes (Elwes and Brown). Within the time, the structure of caste became more complex and connected into a system called “Chatuvarnya”. It was accepted under the authority of the British Raj during the colonial period in India. Such division exists today. The categories are set down by colonial administrators persist today. At present, there are around 3,000 castes in India, which are divided into sub-castes. In simple words, a caste system is a dividing process of forming occupational groups of people according to their placement.
Castes are formed in hierarchical order. It has to be mentioned that at the beginning of castes formation, the division was done precisely by personality (Manian). Each caste has determinant behavior within the society. Brahmins are the highest caste and are the smallest part of the Indian population. They were involved in spiritual education and knowledge. Kshatriya means protector of gentle people (Elwes and Brown). Military and servants belonged to this caste. Vaishyas were responsible for commercial part of social life, agriculture and merchants. Shudras were the lowest caste. They were prohibited to read Vedas, sacred Indian text. However, there were Dalits in Indian culture who cleaned streets. Dalits were outcasts.
Buddha was the founder of Buddhism. When we speak about Jainism, we cannot find the single founder of this Doctrine. Despite this fact, Tirthankara revealed the truth to people many times. Tirthankara means a teacher who makes a ford, in other words, shows the way. Before Tirthankara received the name of a teacher, he achieved the highest spiritual goal and only then started to teach others. The aim of learning was to achieve the liberation or moksha ("History of Jainism").
While Buddha came to Earth as the reincarnation of God, Tirthankara was the soul that was born in a human body. Through intense meditation and practices, he managed to achieve the state of Tirthankara. Often, his state is called Avatar, which is a mistake, because his main achievement was the spiritual purity of the soul. Tirthankaras were people who eagered to achieve the spiritual purity and every time they achieved the goal, they looked for the follower, who would have liked to learn. Each of Tirthankara followed the Jain way. This Doctrine’s difference is in one thing: it has different forms that allowed to suit any culture and age.
The Jains believed that Tirthankara might be both men and women. For example, Malli, one the 24 Tirthankaras, was a princess before she started to follow the Jain way. However, Diagamra Jains ("History of Jainism") did not believe that woman can be Tirthankara and Malli became a man. One of the historical fact claims that Parshva lived 250 years. During his life, he proclaimed four key principles of truthfulness, non-stealing, not owing thing that do not belong to the person. These principles became the cornerstone of the Jainism. Mahavira, at a later date, added the fifth principle, which called chastity ("History of Jainism"). Jains believed that time is cyclic and eternal. As a result, each Tirthankara lived and learned till sertain age. During their life, they had to teach another person, who would have to continue the work after their death ("Who Was Mahavira”).
Japanese culture is also rich and religion is not exeption. There exist the notion Shinto, which means the way of good. Kami are Shinto goddesses and gods (Carroll). Kami define everything that is unusual, special and high. The main stress is made on the quality that Shinto names aura. This idea correlates to everything that is present on Earth: ocean, mountains, rivers, stones, bricks, animals and people. Each of this notion has the sense of inspiration and wonder behind. Accordingly, the ultimate approach towards the listed notions above is called Kami.
Kami are divided into three categories: souls of the auspicious dead, family ancestors and abstract power, which associates with nature (Carroll). Abstract power is usually weather event, landscape or water. To family ancestors belong ancestors who are associated with particular aristocratic family or line after death. Souls of the auspicious dead are named soldiers that died during the war with honor and the main worship is done to the kami of the war dead (Carroll). One of the famous kai goddesses is Amaterasu, the Goddess of the Sun. Her name was mentioned in two sacred texts Records of Ancient Matters and Chronicles of Japan (Carroll). It is associated with Japan, that is often called The Land of rising Sun. According to the classification of Kami gods and goddesses, Amaterasu belongs to both natural and ancestor gods.
In Buddhism, there is a god Avalokiteshvara. The meaning of the word is the lord who looks upon the world with compassion ("Buddhist Deity"). In Chinese, it is also known as Quan Yin or Kuan Shih Yin. “Shih” means a region of suffers, “yin” denotes all sound, verbal and mental, of the world, and “kuan” is to observe. Avalokiteshvara has the greatest power among gods. He has no skill limit, might appear in any form of the realm. Often Avalokiteshvara can appear as a monk. This transformation is very popular.
While in Buddhism Avalokiteshvara is often male, in Chinese culture Kuan Yin is a female. Such difference might be the result of the idea that for female it is common to feel compassion. As a result, during Tang Dynasty the majority of Kuan Yin status were female ("Buddhist Deity"). Traditionally, Kuan Yin held water, lotus flower and willow branch in hand. With the help of water Kuan Yin removed suffers, improved speech, mind, and body. The willow branch helped to heal illnesses.
Avalokiteshvara usually was represented with one head and four arms, holding lotus flower. However, the Buddhism art often presented Avalokiteshvara with one thousand hands and an eye on each of them. With the help of eyes, he could picture and see people’s suffering, while with thousand hands he could reach the person to help. Both Buddhism and Chinese culture believe that each person can be Kuan Yin, even if a person has two arms. The attitude and desire are the most powerful aspects that allow making the world a better place.
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Catal Huyuk: Neolithic Village
One of the oldest towns that are known up to now is Catal Huyuk, geographically located in Anatolia (modern Turkey). Before the city was erected, the place was a river valley. The town dates back around 9000 years (Newton and Gazy). The city survived the transition from Neolithic to the Chalcolithic period. It was founded in the early Neolith and was proclaimed one of the excellent places to settle. Population produced food with agriculture, cultivated wheat and breed of cattle (Newton and Gazy).
Catal Huyuk has no streets. For observers, it seems that this is one huge monolithic building. However, it was a choice of inhabitants to build the city so that walls of houses abut onto each other (Newton and Gazy). Entrance to the house was also a ventilation. From the external side, the house was supported by wooden bricks. The roof was the street and the inner walls depicted everyday life of Catal Huyuk’s inhabitants. The town was very simple and clean. This were propitious conditions for the transition towards the Cooper age from hunting to farming.
Catal Huyuk society used pottery and textile ("Catal Huyuk"). There were around one thousand houses in the city and population was nearly 5000 thousand people. As it was mentioned above, the everyday life was depicted on the walls of the houses. Usually, it were scenes of the hunting, or later the pictures of the farming process, or even the landscape. The most common picture on walls was a bull’s head. They showed aggressiveness, thus protecting the house from the enemies. Similar pictures were found in Create ("Catal Huyuk").
Buddhist Doctrine of Annica and Anatman
Despite the listed above Ahimsa and Karma Doctrine, there are few others in Buddhism. Anicca or Impermanent Doctrine refers to the change. It applies to the intimate existence. According to the Anicca,reality is always dynamic, would that be inanimate or animate, non-organic or organic realm. Everything that surrounds and exists in the world is the reason and matter of cause. Anicca might be used to describe reality, or it can come together with dukkha and anattaa, which mean suffering and no-self nor soul (Thera and Ñanajivako). These notions represent the Buddha’s teaching and are the quintessence of reality. In Buddha’s teaching, the problem is not a dead thing, but a man, a human being. The being is divided into consciousness, mental formation, senses, perception, and body. No matter what the conditions are, their aim is to awake the aggregates. Monk belongs to anicca as an impermanent aggregate as well (Thera and Ñanajivako).
The Doctrine of no-self or Anatman (might be also anattaa), is the soulless phycology (Thera and Ñanajivako). The ground for this theory is the notion of momentariness. Scientist explain the notion of the no-self differently. For example, Bergson in the “flux de vecu” stresses that vecu means lived, which is closer to the meaning of the Pali bhava claim as the texture of life (Thera and Ñanajivako). When people speak about the no-self, the first image that appears in mind is word things, in Buddhism “whatever is given”. We can see them, despite the fact that they appear in our mind. As a result, the monk is the part of Anicca.
Brahman and Atman in Hindu Upanishads
Vedas the sacred texts hold the idea of the Brahman or Absolut. In Sanskrit, the root of the verb brh means to grow (Morales). Accordingly, the word brahman means the one who causes the growth. Brahman is no god. Brahman is a sense, that combines dualities, empirical categories and limitations. He keeps the knowledge and is the notion of truth and infinity. Reality within Brahman notion is independent. In this reality both materialistic and spiritual concepts are present.
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Brahman will neither transfer to the non-Brahman principle and matter, nor become an individuated consciousness (Morales). The good is created in the way if Brahman would have never existed. Necessary virtues and qualities are developed through the love, as Brahman is the source. All things proceed to develop. Metaphysical concepts are transformations of Brahman. They have dependence over him. However, the dependence might be an illusion. On the opposite Atman is the eternal soul. It is the concept of the individual Self. Comparing to the Anatman, the meaning of the Atman is the one who breathes (Jayaram). Atman or the soul is a part of the mortal experience. This individual Self is hidden in every object, is the reflection of the macrocosm. Brahman is Atman and vice versa. Thus, the idea that each of us is macrocosm within the microcosm is reproduced. It was divided into particulars of Nature and played the main part in the self-created illusion that was limited by ego. All deeds and experience are the part of the Self, its nature and barely can be described in the human language. However, deeds and experiences still impact the mind and mental structure. Here is the reason why people try to explain the deep desire or grief. As a result, the intellect is still when five senses are still and at the point mind expands the horizons.
Atman rules the life, represents the microcosm within our macrocosm and recreates our illusions. Time is eternal, as well as memories and thoughts. In the Katha Upanishads (Jayaram), there is an explanation of two selves. One is Atman and another is ego. While first is unseen and invisible, the second influences reality and goes deeper into doom. On the opposite, in the Mundaka Upanishads ego and Atman are compared with two birds that live in one body. There is the saying that helps to understand the meaning of this comparison: if one knows the enemy he will win, if one knows himself he is invincible. Our awareness is not enough to understand the Atman, which lies behind the duality and knowing oneself is often not enough.
Lao Zi and Doa de Jing
The same idea was proclaimed by Lao Zi in Doa De Jing. The sacred texts Dao De Jing is often translated as The Books of the Way and begins with Dao, discussing the element De. Dao is the way of virtue; it is the pantheon of gods. Jade-emperor rules above everything, San-guan does the same job without distracting.
Daoism: Yin Religion
According to Daoism, Universe is the web, where different energies of Yin,Yang, and Qi are combined. As a result, things are happening naturally and are developed according to their way. Lao Zi believed that the best and the most effective way is to do nothing, to be an expression of the dark as yin.
Confucianism is said to be yang, that is the notion of the bright. In China, Confucianism was proclaimed the religion of the upper class. Yang is the positive, bright, warm man beginning. This might be the reason, why the religion was popular among upper classes. Not often people wanted to belong to the populous. As the result, Daoism was popular among masses, the darkest part of the China. One of the main principles of the Confucianism is humaneness ("Confucianism") that means follow the norms, be loyal to the true nature. To sum up, Confucianism is very optimistic about view and perception of the human being nature. According to Confucius, T’ien (Heaven) are positive as well as personal force.
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However, the geographical location encouraged the development of Tibetan Buddhism that is ritually symbolic and monastic disciplined in its basis. Tibetian Buddhism has a system of monasteries. Tibet is a religious country with the highest number of lamas reincarnation, which forms the pantheon. The religion became famous due to the Dalai Lama, Tibetan leader, and politician, who in 1989 won the Nobel Price ("Tibetan Buddhism"). The history of Tibetian Buddhism traces back to the 173 AD when Buddhist monks arrived at the southern part of Tibet from India ("Tibetan Buddhism"). Till the end of the 14th century Tibetans translated sacred text into Tibetian. The main text is Bardo Thodol that means liberation through hearing in the intermediate state ("Tibetan Buddhism"). The sacred texts or funeral texts maintained the description of the soul experience between the state of death and rebirth. Bardo in Tibetian means rebirth. There are three states that are defined as bardo: the moment of death chikhai bardo is the light of the reality, chonyid bardo or experience of the reality and the sidpa bardo, in other words, a rebirth that is ruled by karma (“Tibetan Buddhism”). In Bardo Todol there is a description of three states, such as consciousness, meditation, and dream that form the intermediate state.
The Tibetan pantheon consists bodhisattvas, Dharmas, and Buddhas. Dharmas protect bodhisattvas that are able to escape the circle of death. Dharmas have different routs. For example, they arrived from Bon religion and Hinduism ("Tibetan Buddhism"). The different schools have differing approaches. The main teaching practice is Mahamudra, the great seal. Through it monk realizes the state of emptiness and becomes free from samsara. This practice is cohesive with the teaching mention in the Tibetan Book of Death. With the help of the meditation, monks develop the inner intermediate state of mind.
Zen: Religion or Codex of Rules
In Zen Buddhism, there are no categories and notions. As a result, everything is united and cannot be separated. Zen claims that human being forgot the state of consciousness, original state and became more and more complicated. Zen’s aim is to create the sense of clarity, to focus and omit what is useless or not important. Because presence of useless things creates the dissonance in the person's world and mind. It is recommended to follow the principle that claims to limit and omit information, so the level of curiosity left the same and imagination could finish the work. Such approach helps to understand that you are not the only person in the world and it is important to find ways to cooperate, leaving the routine behind with small breaks. The calmer mind is, the better feeling of consciousness develops. The approach to intermediate state of mind, which supposes to be calm, is similar between Tibetan Buddhism and Zen. Only under such condition, it is possible to experience the present consciousness activity. However, Zen seems to be the list of rules and principles that help to keep the materialistic and mental world in order, clean and calm.
To conclude, religion, is the belief in supreme inhuman power that controls the humanity. In order to make control be performed easily, religion has been organized into the system, with pantheons of gods and goddesses. Despite the difference in the views and practice of the religions listed above, all of them make person the center of the Universe, which aims to progress to the next spiritual level during present life.