Buddhism is a “family of beliefs and practices” honored in various ways depending on the geographical area. Buddhism originates with the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who is considered to be “The Buddha”, the Awakened One, The Enlightened One.
Born to a father King, in the city of Lumbini around the year 485 BCE, and was raised in Kapilavastu, Nepal. According to the scriptures, only moments after being born, he performed the first of miracle. It is said that he, took a few steps and proclaimed, “Supreme am I in the world. Greatest am I in the world. Noblest am I in the world. This is my last birth. Never shall I be reborn.”
As in other religions, for example Jesus in Christianity, Mohamed in Islam, Buddhists recognize Siddhartha Gautama as an awakened teacher, he shared his insights to help sentient beings end their suffering by understanding the true nature of phenomena, thereby escaping the cycle of suffering and rebirth.
When Siddhartha was very young, a wise man visited his father, King ?uddhodana.The wise man said that Siddhartha would either become a great king or a holy man, based on whether he saw life outside of the palace walls. Determined to make Siddhartha a king, ?uddhodana shielded his son from the unpleasant realities of daily life. Years after this, Gautama married Yasodhara, with whom he had a son, Rahula, who later became a Buddhist monk.
When he was 29, despite his father’s wishes, Siddhartha frequently ventured outside the palace complex and as a result, he discovered the suffering of his people through encounters with an old man, a diseased man, a decaying corpse, and an self-starving man. These are known among Buddhists as “The Four Sights, which eventually prompted Gautama to abandon royal life and take up a spiritual quest to free himself from suffering by living the life of what was known as a “Mendicant Ascetic” —a respectable spiritual practice at the time. He found companions with similar spiritual goals and teachers who taught him various forms of meditation.
One day, after almost starving to death, Gautama accepted a little milk and rice from a village girl named Sujata. After this experience, he concluded that ascetic practices such as fasting, holding one’s breath, and exposure to pain brought little spiritual benefit. He abandoned asceticism, concentrating instead on meditation, the awareness of breathing, thereby discovering what Buddhists call the Middle Way. After this discovery, he sat under a sacred fig tree, better known as the Bodhi Tree, in the town of Bodh Gaya, India, and vowed not to rise before achieving Nirvana. At the age of 35, and after many days of meditation, he attained his goal of becoming a Buddha. After this spiritual awakening he attracted a band of followers and founded a monastic order. He spent the rest of his life teaching the Dharma (what lead him to enlightenment), travelling mainly throughout the northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent.
Siddhartha died at the age of 80 (405 BCE) in Kushinagar, India, from food poisoning.
Buddhism remains most popular in Asia, however it is now being practiced around the world, His teachings are the foundation of the 2 main branches in Buddhism. The Four Noble Truths were the first teaching he shared after attaining enlightenment. The Noble Eightfold Path is the fourth Noble Truth.
As written in “Tantra: The Art of Conscious Loving”©
by Caroline & Charles Muir
These days, not many of us believe in happily ever after. Statistics show that well over half the married couples in our culture divorce, and many of those who stick it out do so for reasons other than personal happiness–because its such a hassle dividing everthing, moving, having to start over– not to mention children and the emotional and financial aspects of splitting up. In this practical 20th century climate, it’s hard to take happily ever after as much more than a metaphor in which “ever after” means “for a while”.
Theoretically, this definition could allow a person to live happily ever after if he or she livedin consecutively happily-for-a-while relationships. These were fashionable to a degree in the 60’s and 70’s, but became first questionable and then dangerous in the 80’s as the AIDS epidemic was recognized and understood. But it is not just fear of AIDS that is changing contemporary relationships. In our seminars we meet men and women whose desire for partnetship stems from a feeling that there is something important to be gained from a significant relationship. And it seems to be more than a desire to “settle down”. Couples today are looking for a commitment from each other, but a special kind of commitment-one that contains a spiritual as well as a physical element and emotional and psychological aspects as well as material ones.
This may be the start of the “we” generation, a generation that desires an end to the batttle of the sexes and the beginning of a new form of relationship in which partners work together as a team to satisfy needs, uplift one another, and journey together toward personal growth and sexual and spiritual fulfillment.
The past few decades made us some promises of sexual sophistication, personal independence, and prosperity. For a large number of men and women today, many of these promises have been fulfilled. We are richer because we know more about ourselves – in fact, we are a culture fascinated with itself. We take care of our bodies, we exercise andeat well, we stop smoking. We look to imporve. We visualize bright futures.
Being so blessed, so evolved, why are we less successful than previous generations in making relationships last?
IF WE’RE SO SMART, HOW COME WE’RE NOT IN LOVE?
There’s love, and then there’s Love. There’s passionate love, and then there’s love after passion or without passion. The latter has been known, in fact, to be quite cozy and satisfying in many ways; but without passion, may also deteriorate into a pale verson of the original, a benign tolerance. And there is the risk that it may die completely or turn into resentment of disrespect, or worse.
It is not dispassionate love that we want to discuss. We want to focus on love that is full of passion and heat, love that makes your blood fairly pulse inside you; love that is all the nourishment you need. This is the love that overcomes all obstacles, dissolves time, obsesses you, possesses you, and radiates from you so that people comment on your “glow”, and are drawn to you as if by a magnet. This is love that expresses itself sexually as a wonder, the best ever. It is so for both of you-youcan’t get enough of one another.
Love is nor necessariy blind, as Shakespeare claimed, but it is surely an altered state. Physicians tell us that bio-chemically, love shares a lot of the same exhilarating effects that amphetamines produce. We know that the immune system can be strengthened by it; that white blood cells perform better, and that the production of endorphins increases. We feel terrific!
So what happens? What causes passion to close its doors after such a promising opening to such good reviews?
Part of the answer can be found if we consider passion as a kind of energy that depends on other energy for survival. When we are in the early passionate stages of a relationship, we expend a lot of time trying to win one another, enchant, impress, and attract one another. We mentioned that passionate love overcomes obstacles. It is the energy required in that overcoming that is most significant. For example, when men and women decide to live together, they eliminate one of the biggest obstacles of all–physical separation–but they don’t realize that they are removing something that has contributed to their passion. They need to find a way to compensate for the energy-hole their relationship experiences when they no longer need to overcome the obstacle of living separately. They have created an energy void, and passion suffers for it. The diminuition of energy diminishes passion.
In the early stages of a love affair, passionate energy seems self-generating. The newly attracted couple is in a nearly constant state of arousal. They’re charged. They’re superconductors. And then, usually, the lovemaking falls off–quantitatively, anyway. It’s less urgent once you’ve come to trust your ralationship, come to rely on one another–but why must we lose Love?
In fact, we don’t have to lose anything. What usually happens isthat the lessening oflovemaking means a lessening of energy in the relationship. When couples don’t make that physical connection as often, the atmosphere changes. Love begins to stagnate and energy is directed elsewhere.
Men and women who are passionate about their work, or their art, or their politics are recognized for the energy they manufacture in order to pursue and maintain and advance the endeavor to which they are devoted. In the same way, men and women who are passionate about their relationship must be committed to manufacturing the energy needed to sustain it. This is especially true in an era that offers so many opportunities and so much personal freedom. Many of us have several passions, and sometimes the amount of energy spent pursuing them exceeds the amount of energy they return. When this happens, we operate with a ‘passion deficit’ . We have to borrow energy from other source to compensate. Ultimately, unless we rectify the deficit at its source, we will suffer serious losses. Too often one of these losses is passion.
We meet many couples who are simply too busy or too tired to make love. Both work, they have children, they contribute time and energy to their community and to their church. They’re concerned about self-improvement, so they devote several hours a week to health and physical fitness. Many have aging parents to lok after.
The irony is that making love can provide both partners with more energy….
The solution we teach in our seminars and workshops is based in part on the tantric “lifestyle” that was designed centures ago specifically for householders–that is, couples. The tantric texts are exdplicit on how the differences between the sexes can be used as a positive force in a partnership, how the proper combination of these differences can produce a near alchemical reaction, an ether in which everything flourishes, in which the garden of your relationship bursts with color and a new life and growth, and you and your beloved thrive.-
Charles and Caroline Muir are teachers of Tantra yoga and their approach to sexuality incorporates spirituality as well as an honest affinity for pleasure. They have been reviewed by magazines and newspapers, and have appeared on national radio and television as tantric sex experts.
Visit www.sourcetantra.com for more information.
By Alan Cohen
A friend told me, “Marriage is a great institution – if you don’t mind living in an institution”.
So, what does it take to be a great lover…
The funny thing about love is that the more you try to organize it, the less like love it becomes. As spiritual master Meher Baba noted, “Love and coercion can never go together. Love has to spring spontaneously from within. It is in no way amenable to any form of inner or outer force and it cannpt be forced upon anybody, yet it can be awakened in one through love itself.”
People usually institutionalize things when they dont trust life to take care of itself naturally and spontaneously. I’m not saying that institutions are bad or we should not have them; they serve a purpose. But institutions have a way of becoming hollow shells that the heart gradually dies out of. Most religions, for example, began with a genuine enlightenment experience by a prophet whom God spoke to. That experience was so powerful that it inspired others to follow in their footsteps. The glitch in that formula is that if you really want to meet God, you have to follow your own footsteps, not those of another. It’s more about energy than action; more about consciousness than behavior.
A friend of mine studied with a Native American shaman whom she adored. One day my friend asked the shaman, “How can I be more like you?”. The shaman gave the best answer I have ever heard: “If you want to be more like me, be more like yourself”. He was teaching that the road to enlightenment is paved with authenticity, not imitation.
The story is told about an African tribesman who went to his favorite rock by a river and sat there eating an avocado. Suddenly a shaft of light broke through the leaves above him and he realized he was one with all life, eternally whole, and filled with peace. In other words, he became enlightened. When the fellow returned to the village, everyone realized there was something extraordinary about him; he had been transformed and he glowed with a new light. When the villagers asked him, “What happened to you?” he explained, “I was just sitting on the big rock down by the river eating an avocado. A beam of light fell upon me, and I saw God”.
The next morning when the tribesman awoke, he found no one in the village. He looked in all the huts, but everyone had mysteriously disappeared. Finally he decided to give up searching and just go back to the rock he loved to sit on. When he arrived, he was amazed to find all the people from the village clustered on the rock, avocados in hand, scrambling to get to the top of the rock.
Silly as this parable sounds, it’s not very different from the way we try to institutionalize spirit. The key to the tribesman’s illumination is that he sat on his favorite rock enjoying his favorite avocado. The villagers would have met God more quickly and directly by going to their own sacred places rather than legislating his.
Great relationshops are built on joy, choice, and full presence. If you meet in the temple upheld by those pillars, you are in a holy place indeed. You fuel the flame of love by being fully alive yourself, and when your partner is fully alive too, you have a bonfire. If one or both of you brings less than full life to the altar, the relationship becomes a charade of fear, and it will wither and die.
Abraham-Hicks suggests an odd but meaningful marriage vow: “I like you pretty good, and I plan to stick with you as long as being together brings joy to both of us”.
While such a vow may sound scary if you are afraid your relationship might not last without more of a commitment, it can be empowering if you recognize that commitment to life is the foundation of great relationships. If you stay true to your spirit and your partner stays true to his or her spirit, and you find yourself paddling in the same canoe, you are in for the best ride of your life.
I heard about a spiritual community in Italy at which married couples renew their marriage contract on an annual basis. Each year the couple revisits their agreement to be together and they ask each other if they want to remain married for another year. I rather like this formula, since that’s how it is anyway. We are all making it up as we go along.
Commitment is important, and a meaningful lifetime commitment can be highly empowering. Just be sure that your commitment is less about time in your life, and more about life in your time.
St John of the Cross said, “Take God for your spous and friend and walk with Him continually, and … you will learn to love, and the things you must do will work out prosperously for you”. The Steve Winwood song, “Bring me a higher love” bears the same message: Show up as yourself, trust life and love, let higher power orchestrate your relationship, and no rule you make will be as powerful as the joy you feel together when willingness is your motivator.
Alan Cohen is the author of inspirational books, including “The Dragon Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”, and his new bestseller “Don’t Get Lucky-Get Smart”.
Visit www.alancohen.com for more information on his work or to recieve his free daily inspirational quotes and monthly newsletter.