Buddhism In A Nutshell

There is an abundance of books on Buddhism filling the bookshops, but what is the heart of the Buddhist teachings? Let's find out...

Looking back to the late 90s, I was really into new age but felt that something was missing. New age practices didn't feel complete and I had doubts about it leading to any serious progress.

So, I decided to spend more time in Buddhist monasteries to learn the meditative approach practiced by Buddhist monks and nuns. Living and breathing in a state of awareness make for solid progress along the spiritual path.

Mindfulness Practice

Today, it's in fashion to study Buddhism at university. There is nothing wrong with intellectualizing, however it's not the path the Buddha prescribed. He was teaching a practical hands-on approach based on mindfulness.

Let me tell you a short anecdote:

A famous Thai monk went to the US and Europe to teach meditation, in the late 1970s. Somewhere along the way a professor had a really highbrow question for him about Buddhist cosmology. The monk never answered her question but said something like, "When we keep chickens we collect the eggs, not the droppings."

So, what did he mean by that? The monk emphasized that intellectualizing about Buddhism is a waste of time. It's not liberating and it doesn't lead to any true wisdom. Spiritual practice is about putting the thinking aside to give room for awareness without thought. Again, wisdom and inner freedom are the fruits of awareness.

Imagine you are walking along a beach early in the morning. The waves brush against the sand and there is a light breeze blowing from the sea. As you pace down the beach, you pay attention to your-every-step. Concentrating intensely only causes physical and mental tension, relaxed attention is all it takes.

Mindfulness is a natural state of being and once it's become a habit, you can be mindful all day long without investing much effort.

Strive on mindfully.

Those were the last words the Buddha uttered before passing away, which confirms how central mindfulness is to Buddhist practice.

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The Fruits Of Mindfulness

The fruits of mindfulness practice are as heart-warming as they are plentiful. For one, mindfulness anchors us in the present moment which calms the mind and gives rise to soothing emotions. The fruits of mindfulness also include supreme qualities such as patience and kindness.

Moreover, when we are mindful it's highly unlikely we would kill any living creature, steal anything, lie to anyone, act selfishly or express any anger.

So, mindfulness has positive effects on people around us!

What is it that makes mindfulness the ultimate tool? The simple act of paying attention to the present moment, raises our awareness. By being aware of the present moment we transcend habitual mental and emotional reactions, thus taking on a much greater perspective on life.

The opposite would be someone who is under the influence of alcohol and doesn't care about the negative consequences of her actions.

The key is to be mindful throughout the day. So, give attention to everything you do. This sums up the very essence of the Buddhist teachings.

Best of luck!

Related:   Spiritual Practice   Mindfulness Explained   4 Noble Truths

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