Why practise Buddhism?

Enlightenment is the reason to practise Buddhism

Why do we practise Buddhism? Buddha means awareness and enlightenment, enlightening oneself as well as others. Having attained the highest level of enlightenment, one becomes Buddha. Because all sentient beings are blinded by ignorance, confusion, worries and sufferings, it is only through the practise of Buddhism that we can liberate ourselves from these sufferings and worries, and attain the real happiness and bliss. Sakyamuni Buddha is the teacher of our Saha world. There are also many Buddhas in the many other worlds. Sakyamuni Buddha lived in this world for 81 years, of which he spent 49 years expounding over 300 discourses on the Dharma. Of the Dharma which he expounded, the Humanity Vehicle Buddhism or Jen Chen Buddhism is most relevant and most suitable for humanity.
   There are 5 vehicles of Buddhism, namely,

   1. Humanity Vehicle Buddhism or
       Jen Chen Buddhism,
   2. Deva Vehicle Buddhism,
   3. Sravaka Vehicle Buddhism,
   4. Pratyeka-Buddha Vehicle Buddhism,
   5. Bodhisattva Vehicle Buddhism.

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The Buddhism that we are promoting is the orthodox Dharma that Sakyamuni Buddha has expounded to humanity, that is, the Jen Chen Buddhism. Because the Buddha manifested in the human form to attain Buddhahood, and we are all human beings, we therefore promote Jen Chen Buddhism. This is the Buddhism for humanity.

Because human beings live in a world in which sufferings are created by emotions, passions and lusts, they become confused. Thus, the enlightened and compassionate Buddha expounded the Dharma to bring salvation to humanity and to lead them from confusion to realization. Realization means enlightenment, and it is only through enlightenment that we can liberate ourselves from sufferings, attain happiness, and unfold our wisdom. Hence, that is the reason Buddha preached to lead sentient beings into the fold of Buddhism.

How to be a Buddhist? How does one start?

Learning Buddhism starts with taking refuge

It is a simple matter to be a Buddhist. Yet, it is also not easy. A verse from the Buddhist sutra reads: "Avoid all evils; do all that are good; purify one’s mind. These are the teachings of all Buddhas." One may ask about the difference between Buddhism and Christianity, or indeed the other religions. The majority of us have the concept that all religions are the same: they all teach us to be good. Indeed, most religions teach to avoid all evils and do all that are good. However, purifying one’s mind is the underlying tenet of Buddhism. In general, other religions are still within the transmigration of the six realms - the realm of celestial being, human being, asura, animal, ghost and hell, and within the fiery of the Three Planes of existence - world of sensuous desires, world of forms and world of formless. Buddhism is different from all other religions.

How to be a Buddhist? First of all, we need to understand that Buddhists are categorised into those who believe in the Buddha, and those who learn from the Buddha. Those who believe in the Buddha are believers of Buddhism. This category is further subdivided into those who believe blindly, that is, being superstitious, and those who exercise wisdom in their beliefs. Learning Buddhism, however, is different. In learning Buddhism, we cultivate to correct our conduct and habits, we carry out religious duties, and promote the Dharma for the good of sentient beings. We follow the Buddha in his cultivation and practices. That is learning Buddhism.

How does one start? The best way to start is to take refuge in the Three Treasures - the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. Only then, is one really a Buddhist. While on the path of learning Buddhism, there are many things that we ought to do. The most basic of which is to be aware of our self serving and evil habits, and to eradicate these habits. When our mind is impure, we need to purify it. When we are pure and everyone in the family is pure, then our society is pure. When every society is pure, then the entire humanity is pure. In this way, the world becomes a pure land.

How to become an authentic Buddhist?

To be an authentic Buddhist

To be an authentic Buddhist, firstly, one has to take refuge in the Three Treasures - the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. After taking refuge, one has to learn and practise the Dharma, understand the Law of Cause and Effect, and stop being superstitious. In addition, one should observe the Five Precepts

  • refrain from killing,
  • refrain from stealing,
  • refrain from lying,
  • refrain from adultery,
  • refrain from consumption of intoxicants

   performing the Ten Virtuous Deeds

  • refrain from killing,
  • refrain from stealing,
  • refrain from lying,
  • refrain from adultery,
  • refrain from frivolous and meaningless talk,
  • refrain from tale-bearing,
  • refrain from slanderous speech,
  • refrain from covetousness,
  • refrain from ill-will,
  • refrain from pereverted views
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Learning and practising Buddhism, eradicate self serving and evil habits, seek liberation, unfold one’s wisdom and follow the Bodhisattva Path. This is the way to be a righteous Buddhist.

Does one absolutely need to take refuge to learn Buddhism?

Taking refuge and learning Buddhism

Certainly. Just like a student, one needs to register in a school before commencing lessons. Being a Buddhist one needs to take refuge and form a cause with the Three Treasures - the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. Nowadays, many people learn Buddhism, but the majority are either superstitious or lacking in the correct concept. This is because they did not take refuge, and do not follow what the Buddha taught. To be an authentic Buddhist, one needs to take the following steps: take refuge, observe the precepts, and follow the Buddha’s teaching to cultivate one’s conduct.

Are there any advantages in taking refuge?

There is brightness in taking refuge

There are many, many advantages in taking refuge. If you were to ask somebody about the advantages of going to university, he will tell you about the many advantages: you can become an engineer or a doctor after graduating from the university. There is an enormous amount of knowledge, principles and theories which one would be able to understand when one goes to university. It is the same with taking refuge. The many things which we do not understand before, become clear to us when we have unfold our wisdom after taking refuge to learn Buddhism. Being without wisdom is like the night, the room is dark and we do not know how many people are in it. With wisdom is like turning on the light, with one look we know what is in the room and how many people are there. Turning on the light is analogous to the brightness in our mind. With brightness we can understand many things. These are the advantages of taking refuge, learning Buddhism and unfolding our wisdom.

Copyright 2001. Jen Chen Buddhism Centre