On Reincarnation

This isn’t usually what we post on this blog, but on the weekend, I was asked what reincarnation is, and as a follower of the Buddhist principles, I often have to allay the misconception that if you ‘don’t make it’ in this life, you come back as a cockroach or some other creature. This is far from the truth and is based on a misinterpretation of a parable and has now become urban legend.

So I found this article by Takashi Tsuji that gives a great insight into what it really is all about!

Namaste
One of the Cats.

On Reincarnation

Do you Buddhists believe in rebirth as an animal in the next life? Are you going to be a dog or a cow in the future? Does the soul transmigrate into the body of another person or some animal? What is the difference between transmigration and reincarnation? Is it the same as rebirth? Is karma the same as fate? These and a hundred similar questions are often put to me.

A gross misunderstanding of about Buddhism exists today, especially in the notion of reincarnation. The common misunderstanding is that a person has led countless previous lives, usually as an animal, but somehow in this life he is born as a human being and in the next life he will be reborn as an animal, depending on the kind of life he has lived.

This misunderstanding arises because people usually do not know-how to read the sutras or sacred writings. It is said that the Buddha left 84,000 teachings; the symbolic figure represents the diverse backgrounds characteristics, tastes, etc. of the people. The Buddha taught according to the mental and spiritual capacity of each individual. For the simple village folks living during the time of the Buddha, the doctrine of reincarnation was a powerful moral lesson. Fear of birth into the animal world must have frightened many people from acting like animals in this life. If we take this teaching literally today we are confused because we cannot understand it rationally.

Herein lies our problem. A parable, when taken literally, does not make sense to the modern mind. Therefore we must learn to differentiate the parables and myths from actuality. However, if we learn to go beyond or transcend the parables and myths, we will be able to understand the truth.

People will say “If such is the case why not speak directly so that we will be able to come to an immediate grasp of the truth?” This statement is understandable, but truth is often inexpressible. [Ed comment: we as human beings are limited in understanding “Buddha Knowledge”. We cannot speak TRUTH, only words ABOUT Truth] Thus, writers and teachers have often resorted to the language of the imagination to lead the reader from a lower to a higher truth. The doctrine of reincarnation is often understood in this light.

What Reincarnation is Not

Reincarnation is not a simple physical birth of a person; for instance, John being reborn as a cat in the next life. In this case John possesses an immortal soul which transforms to the form of a cat after his death. This cycle is repeated over and over again. Or if he is lucky, he will be reborn as a human being. This notion of the transmigration of the soul definitely does not exist in Buddhism.

Karma

Karma is a Sanskrit word from the root “Kri” to do or to make and simply means “action.” It operates in the universe as the continuous chain reaction of cause and effect. It is not only confined to causation in the physical sense but also it has moral implications. “A good cause, a good effect; a bad cause a bad effect” is a common saying. In this sense karma is a moral law.

Now human beings are constantly giving off physical and spiritual forces in all directions. In physics we learn that no energy is ever lost; only that it changes form. This is the common law of conservation of energy. Similarly, spiritual and mental action is never lost. It is transformed. Thus Karma is the law of the conservation of moral energy.

By actions, thoughts, and words, man is releasing spiritual energy to the universe and he is in turn affected by influences coming in his direction. Man is therefore the sender and receiver of all these influences. The entire circumstances surrounding him is his karma.

With each action-influence he sends out and at the same time, receives, he is changing. This changing personality and the world he lives in, constitute the totality of his karma.

Karma should not be confused with fate. Fate is the notion that man’s life is preplanned for him by some external power, and he has no control over his destiny. Karma on the other hand, can be changed. Because man is a conscious being he can be aware of his karma and thus strive to change the course of events. In the Dhammapada we find the following words, “All that we are is a result of what we have thought, it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts.”

What we are, then, is entirely dependent on what we think. Therefore, the nobility of man’s character is dependent on his”good” thoughts, actions, and words. At the same time, if he embraces degrading thoughts, those thoughts invariably influence him into negative words and actions.

The World

Traditionally, Buddhism teaches the existence of the ten realms of being. At the top is Buddha and the scale descends as follows: Bodhisattva (an enlightened being destined to be a Buddha, but purposely remaining on earth to teach others), Pratyeka Buddha (a Buddha for himself), Sravka (direct disciple of Buddha), heavenly beings (superhuman [angels?]), human beings, Asura (fighting spirits), beasts, Preta (hungry ghosts), and depraved men (hellish beings).

Now, these ten realms may be viewed as unfixed, nonobjective worlds, as mental and spiritual states of mind. These states of mind are created by men’s thoughts, actions, and words. In other words, psychological states. These ten realms are “mutually immanent and mutually inclusive, each one having in it the remaining nine realms.” For example, the realm of human beings has all the other nine states (from hell to Buddhahood). Man is at the same time capable of real selfishness, creating his own hell, or is truly compassionate, reflecting the compassion of Amida Buddha. Buddhas too have the other nine realms in their minds, for how can a Buddha possibly save those in hell if he himself does not identify with their suffering and guide them to enlightenment.

The Lesson

We can learn a valuable lesson from the teaching of reincarnation.

In what realm do you now live? If you are hungry for power, love, and self-recognition, you live in the Preta world, or hungry ghosts. If you are motivated only by thirsts of the human organism, you are existing in the world of the beast.

Consider well then your motives and intentions. Remember that man is characteristically placed at the midpoint of the ten stages; he can either lower himself abruptly or gradually into hell or through discipline, cultivation and the awakening of faith rise to the Enlightened state of the Buddha.
http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/reincarnation.htm

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The Different Yoga Styles

We are often asked what the different styles of Yoga are, so we thought that this would be a useful article to post. Here is a list of the most popular 14 styles.
Anusara
Anusara is often described as Iyengar (a purist form of yoga) with a sense of humor. Created by the aptly named John Friend, Anusara is meant to be heartfelt and accepting. Instead of trying to fit everyone into standard cookie-cutter positions, students are guided to express themselves through the poses to their fullest ability.
Ashtanga
Six established and strenuous pose sequences — the primary series, second series, third series, and so on — practiced sequentially as progress is made. Ashtangis move rapidly, flowing from one pose to the next with each inhale and exhale. Each series of poses linked by the breath this way is called a vinyasa.
Bikram
This is probably my favorite. I’m a hot yoga kind of girl, and Bikram features yoga poses in a sauna-like room. The heat is cranked up to nearly 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity in official Bikram classes. If it’s called “Bikram” (for inventor Bikram Choudhury), it will be a series of 26 basic yoga postures, each performed twice.
Hatha
By definition, hatha is a physical yoga practice, which is pretty much all yoga you’ll find in this hemisphere. One of the six original branches of yoga, “hatha” encompasses nearly all types of modern yoga. In other words, hatha is the ice cream if styles like ashtanga and Bikram are vanilla and chocolate chip. Today, classes described as “hatha” on studio schedules are typically a basic and classical approach to yogic breathing exercises and postures.
Iyengar
This is a purist yoga named after founder B.K.S. Iyengar. Props like blocks, straps, harnesses, and incline boards are used to get you more perfectly into positions and have earned the style its nickname, “furniture yoga.” Appropriate for all ages and abilities, Iyengar yoga is all about precise alignment and deliberate sequencing. Don’t take that to mean easy.
Jivamukti
A physical, limit-pushing practice that reintegrates yoga’s traditional spiritual elements in an educational way for Western practitioners. Expect a theme for each class, Sanskrit chanting, and references to ancient scripture. Created by Sharon Gannon and David Life in 1984 in New York City, jivamukti translates as “liberation while living.”
Kripalu
Kripalu is a three-part practice that teaches you to get to know, accept, and learn from your body. It starts with figuring out how your body works in different poses, then moves toward postures held for an extended time and meditation. It then taps deep into your being to find spontaneous flow in asanas, letting your body be the teacher.
Kundalini
The practice of kundalini yoga features constantly moving, invigorating poses. The fluidity of the practice is intended to release the kundalini (serpent) energy in your body. Weren’t aware you had any? Well, just think of it as an energy supply, coiled like a sleeping snake at the base of the spine, waiting to be tapped; the practice aims to do just that — awaken and pulse the stuff upward through the body.
Prenatal
Yoga postures carefully adapted for expectant mothers. Prenatal yoga is tailored to help women in all stages of pregnancy, even those getting back in shape post-birth. When you keep your muscles strong through your term, they will still have the strength and energy to return to normal.
Restorative
Less work, more relaxation. You’ll spend as many as 20 minutes each in just four or five simple poses (often they’re modifications of standard asanas) using strategically placed props like blankets, bolsters, and soothing lavender eye pillows to help you sink into deep relaxation. There’s also psychic cleansing: the mind goes to mush and you feel brand new. It’s something like group nap time for grownups. It’s better not to fall asleep, though.
Sivananda
An unhurried yoga practice that typically focuses on the same 12 basic asanas or variations thereof every time, bookended by sun salutations and savasana (corpse pose). The system is based on a five-point philosophy that proper breathing, relaxation, diet, exercise, and positive thinking work together to form a healthy yogic lifestyle
Viniyoga
A highly individualized practice in which yogis learn to adapt poses and goals to their own needs and abilities. Vini actually means differentiation, adaptation, and appropriate application. Instead of focusing on stretching to get strong and flexible, viniyoga uses the principles of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). PNF simply means warming up and contracting a muscle before stretching it. This decreases your chance of injury.
Vinyasa / Power
An active and athletic style of yoga adapted from the traditional ashtanga system in the late 1980s to appeal to aerobic-crazed Westerners. After having studied with Pattabhi Jois, Beryl Bender Birch and Bryan Kest simultaneously pioneered this westernized ashtanga on the East and West coasts, respectively. Power yoga doesn’t stick to the same sequence of poses each time like ashtanga does, so the style varies depending on the teacher. Classes called “vinyasa” or “flow” in your gym or studio can be vastly different but in general stem from this movement and from ashtanga as well.
Yin
A quiet, meditative yoga practice, also called taoist yoga. Yin focuses on lengthening connective tissues and is meant to complement yang yoga—your muscle-forming Anusara, ashtanga, Iyengar, or what have you. Yin poses are passive, meaning you’re supposed to relax muscles and let gravity do the work. And they’re long — you’ll practice patience here too.
**
One that didn’t make the list but is another yoga style is Tantra Yoga. It’s a practice that can be used to expand the connection and awareness between a couple, creating a deeper bond spiritually with each other. (Think: tantric sex.) That’s basically what it is but with yoga.
Meow.

With thanks to Becky Ward for this article:
http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8622/14-styles-of-yoga-explained-simply.html
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25 Quotes From Buddha That Will Change Your Life

Between the 6th and 4th century BCE, a man named Siddhārtha Gautama began to turn heads in Eastern India with his profound spiritual wisdom.  He was given the name “Buddha”, which literally means “The enlightened one”, and to this day we still receive tremendous insight from his teachings.

Interestingly, Buddha never actually wrote any of his teachings down.  Similar to Jesus and Socrates, his method of teaching was verbal and communicative.  Oral traditions kept the wisdom of the Buddha alive until 400 years after his death when the first transcript of his teachings first emerged.

His awakening occurred when he realized that you didn’t have to starve yourself and mortify your body, as was commonly practiced in India at that time to enhance spiritual clarity and wisdom.  When a young girl offered him some milk and rice pudding as an action of compassion, he realized that there was more to The Way than what he had been taught.

He then meditated for 49 nine days after vowing he would not move until he found the truth.  The insights that came from this still remain some of the most relevant and profound spiritual teachings of all time.  Here are 25 quotes from Buddha that will change your life:

1) “However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?”

2) “The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.”

3) “A jug fills drop by drop.”

4) “Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.”

5) “To understand everything is to forgive everything”

6) “Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.”

7) “Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.”

8) “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

9) “In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.”

10) “In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.”

11) “Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.”

12) “Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time. Hatred ceases through love. This is an unalterable law.”

13) “There has to be evil so that good can prove its purity above it.”

14) “It is easy to see the faults of others, but difficult to see once own faults. One shows the faults of others like chaff winnowed in the wind, but one conceals one’s own faults as a cunning gambler conceals his dice.”

15) “I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done.”

16) “The mind is everything. What you think you become.”

17) “Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.”

18) “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”

19) “Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.”

20) “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”

21) “You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself”

22) “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.”

23) “To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others”

24)  “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”

25) “Have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike; each has their suffering. Some suffer too much, others too little.”

Let’s keep these words alive.

About the Author: My name is Steven Bancarz, and I am the creator of ‘Spirit Science and Metaphysics’.  I am working on a new social platform is being built called ‘The Conscious Forum‘ to provide the best place online for open-minded people to discuss, engage, and connect with one another in a way never offered before.
See more at: http://www.spiritscienceandmetaphysics.com/25-quotes-from-buddha-that-will-change-your-life/#sthash.TdJAIY18.dpuf
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