21
Jun
07

Q&A- meditation, miracles, ambitions, realms of existence


Does meditation allow demons or evil spirits to enter and
possess the mind?

Meditation has been practiced in many different forms, and by many different
cultures for thousands of years. It is taught and practiced all over the
world and is gaining much popularity, especially in Western countries.
Large international corporations are sending their staff and
executives for lessons and retreats in increasing numbers. They recognize
the benefits of meditation to be improved concentration and clarity of mind, as
well as better management of stress, pain, aggravation and anger.
Neuroscientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical
School, by studying the brain waves of people who meditate regularly, have
shown that they are more peaceful and tranquil than non-meditators.
Researchers at the University
of California, San
Francisco Medical Centre, have shown that because of meditation, Buddhists
really are happier and calmer than most other people!
Some people might discourage us from practicing meditation
because of their own irrational fears. It would be wise to treat
such talk as superstitious nonsense.

Are stories of
miracles and psychic powers in the Buddha’s life true?
According to Buddhism, anything may be possible. Some say that the
power of the mind may allow for feats or miracles unexplainable by our current
level of knowledge. However, it could also be the case that such stories
may have been exaggerations by monks to boost up the Buddha’s image so as to
compete with other mystics and popular figures of the time.
Buddhism does not encourage blind faith, even in its own
stories. It is up to each individual to exercise their own discernment
and believe in such stories or not.
The Buddha himself said that any psychic powers, if they
exist, are unimportant. What is of far more importance is the practice of
His Teachings.

Buddhism teaches contentment, but people have ambitions
in work and also want better lives for their families. How can this be
reconciled?

While it is true that Buddhism considers contentment to be a virtue, it also
realizes that everyone may take different paths to attain their own peace and
happiness. In such cases, the Buddha would recommend taking the Middle
Path.
Be not too ambitious that you may cause harm or hurt to
others in achieving your ambitions. And also don’t be too contented that
your own livelihood and family be adversely affected.

What are the
different realms of existence, and are they real places?


Traditionally, Buddhists recognize six different realms or planes of
existence. These are the Hell, Animal, Hungry Ghost, Demon, Human and
Heaven realms. Some of these realms, such as the Animal and Hungry Ghost
realms, overlap our realm.

It is said that there are also different ‘levels’ within the
Heaven and Hell realms. To put this in perspective, take our own world as
an example. There are currently 193
countries in the world, spread over seven continents. Living in a
peaceful country with a pleasant climate is a far cry from being in a war-torn
country wracked by hunger and disease. It is clear that even in our own
world, there are vast differences between different countries!

Thus a Heaven realm is a plane of existence which is far
more agreeable than even the best country in our world, and a Hell realm is a
plane where conditions are far harsher than anywhere on earth. Even the
different ‘levels’ within these realms can be compared to different countries
in each continent where the living conditions in some countries may be ‘better’
or ‘worse’ than others.

There is an alternative viewpoint that the Buddha was
speaking allegorically when He was talking of these different realms of
existence. For example, a person who is suffering from severe physical
disabilities, very serious illnesses, or is mentally deranged may be said to be
reborn in a Hell realm. People who undergo lives of deprivation where
their only focus is looking for their next meal and staying alive, may be said
to be born in the Animal realm.

People who have constant unfulfilled and burning desires and
are never satisfied no matter how much they have, may be said to be in the
realm of Hungry Ghosts. Those who are overly aggressive and constantly
fighting and struggling for power and possessions may be in the Demon
realm. And people who are born with great physical beauty and wealth may
be said to be reborn in a Heaven realm. For example, sports and movie
stars who have all of these attributes along with literally millions of fans or
‘worshippers’, are often described as gods!

Quite obviously the Lower realms of Hell, Animals, Hungry
Ghosts and Demons are places of suffering, and the Heavenly realms are places
of enjoyment. However, the Buddha says that these realms are not
particularly suitable places for the practice of Buddhism, or to accumulate
positive kamma. This is because the beings in the Lower realms are
usually in too much suffering, and the Heavenly beings are too busy enjoying
themselves.

Therefore, because the Human realm has both suffering and
happiness, it can be considered the most suitable place to learn and practice
the Buddha’s Teachings. Also, it is the Human realm that offers the
greatest opportunity to do good and accumulate positive kamma.

However, the Buddha also said that many Heavenly beings do
practice His Teachings and are able to achieve Nibbana. He therefore
encouraged everyone to strive for a good rebirth in either a Heavenly or Human
realm.

Whether these six realms of existence are actual or
figurative doesn’t really matter. What really matters is to maintain the
practice so as to ensure a good rebirth. This is very important as it is
only in either a Human realm or a Heavenly realm that we are able to learn and
practice the Buddha’s Teachings, and thus attain Nibbana.


http://www.justbegood.net/More%20Questions.htm

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1 Response to “Q&A- meditation, miracles, ambitions, realms of existence”



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