Right view, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.
These make up Buddha's Eightfold Path. Here is an simple explanation of what they all mean -
Right view: Where are we now in relation to the world? What kind of person are we? What are our views and opinions and what is important to us? Do we stand for justice or cruelty, worth or lustre, right or wrong?
Right aspiration: Where would we like to be in the future? Are we moving forwards or not?
Right speech: Quote by Rumi explains this perfectly. "Before we speak, let our words pass through these three gates - is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?"
Right action: What is the right course of action to follow? Are we acting patiently and conscientiously?
Right livelihood: Are we engaged in the correct work? Or is our livelihood damaging?
Right effort: Do we expect everything to come to us or do we strive to succeed?
Right mindfulness: Do we live in the present moment without making judgement?
Right concentration: Where is our thought centred? Is it on ourselves or on others?
If we follow these eight principles then we can cease desire and bring ourselves out of suffering. These principles are really important for any Buddhist. They are the path set for them by the enlightened one.
Buddha's four noble truths are:
All is suffering
Desire is the root of all suffering
Desire can be destroyed
The path to the destruction of desire is the eightfold path.
Buddha's understanding of suffering is that all beings will suffer. We suffer as children all the way up to old age. This is a fundamental truth. Our suffering may be transient, but we have all suffered.
Krishna said a similar thing to Arjuna in that "Anger is frustrated desire." How does desire create suffering for the individual. After all, we all desire something - wealth, health, peace of mind. Some of the desires I have mentioned are healthy as well. Why would desire be unhealthy?
Desire itself is not unhealthy. It is when it becomes frustrated that it becomes unhealthy. By frustrated, I mean that the thing that is desired does not come to be. For example, I might be in love with a woman. She may fall in love with somebody else. This may lead to my suffering. I might become jealous or envious of their relationship. I might wish that they never met. All of these feelings may surface because I have desired something that has not come to be.
How do we cease desire? Some would say that we should seek to let go and let be. The first stage of this is acceptance. We should accept that things have not turned out the way we wanted them to. We must be willing to accept that this may or has happened in our hearts and just go "To hell with it" and move on. This is the way to let go.
I should just say a little about the eightfold path: Right view, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. This is the eightfold path of the Buddha. If we do these things correctly, we will become elevated from suffering. Buddha's eightfold path can allow the cessation of desire.
In India, millions of Hindus practice a beautiful ritual of giving to animals which, to this day, is followed all over the country.
Hindus believe in reincarnation. Each Human birth comes every 2.4million lifetimes. Before that we pass through 2.4million animal lifetimes. Each animal lifetime has only one intention - to enable the rebalancing of the karmic account before the next human lifetime. Buddhists believe in a similar thing of the realm of the Animal Kingdom.
Hindus believe that the birth before human was canine. Hence before every dinner, they will offer chapatti to stray dogs in an attempt to honour their past incarnation or possibly a future incarnation that may bless them in this lifetime. You could say, as per the old English adage, that they are indeed Man's Best Friend.
The second animal to be fed is the (holy) cow in order to appease the gods. Hindus say that each cow carries 30 million gods and goddesses within its heart. To feed a cow therefore is an extremely pious deed.
No wonder the animals roam the streets in India like they own the place. They are extremely well looked after. By doing this Hindus promote the circle of life for animals that may not have any other place to feed.
And pets are fed daal (lentils) and rice like any member of the family. And they all remain very healthy. No need to even buy pet food.
Vaping is the new phenomenon taking the UK by storm. Vapes or E-cigarettes use a liquid which is heated by an internal coil in the vape to deliver either an aroma or a minute dose of Nicotine to the user. E-liquids come in a variety of flavours such as Tobacco (without the toxins present in cigarettes), Cherry or Menthol which allow the user to enjoy smoking without needing to adhere to restrictions on smoking in public places or having to worry about the effects of passive smoking.
Vaping could be the most effective form of quitting aid to the smoker, Why? Well, it addresses the psychological and physical withdrawals of nicotine addiction. Physical addictions can be characterised by the users physiology being affected by withdrawal from the drug. Crack users feel paranoia, alcohol users get the shakes and nicotine users feel tense, stressed and irritable. Psychological addictions are ritualistic and habits that are formed from taking the drug. So for a smoker, they might be the feeling of lighting up, holding a cigarette, boredom and "taking a cigarette break".
While patches, gums and nicorettes all address the physical dependency of smoking, they do little to address the psychological dependency. E-cigarettes go further than any other quitting aid at fixing the problem of habitual and ritualistic behaviours to do with chronic smoking. This is probably why the uptake of e-cigarettes is much higher amongst smokers than the uptake of other quitting aids.
But, do we really have a wonder cure here? Common sense would indicate that given a non-smoker taking up vaping, the opposite would also be true - that vapes would create ritualistic behaviours for them. Although not physically addictive, vaping flavoured e-liquids could also be habit forming due to the fun of vaping and the taste of vapes. Videos on the internet show the viral craze of blowing vape rings which could potentially increase the likelihood of habit forming behaviours.
Whether this could turn out to be a gateway drug requires much research. At the moment, too little is known about the step up, if any, to nicotine e-liquids and then tobacco. But, if so, we could be creating a whole new generation of young smokers, given the number of teen smokers was falling. This could be disastrous for a health service already under immense strain due to government cutbacks.
Nagarjuna, the first proponent of Madhyamika Philosophy, claimed that all Indian Philosophies were uroboric and hence became self-defeating. This was propounded upon in the Mulamadhyamikakarika or the Emptiness Doctrine.
The "Two Buddhist Truths" stand as (i) the conventional truth that there are existents or reducible phenomena (ii) the ultimate truth which is the set of ontological Skandas or Dharmas. For the Abhidharmika, causal interactions between these Dharmas explain all conventional events.
So, the interaction between physical form, say seeing a snake in the dark, mental perception, mistakenly seeing a rope as the snake, and volitions, no longer misinterpreting the rope as a snake, explain this conventional event. If we add the feelings and consciousness skandas to the mix, then we can explain all existent phenomena via causal interactions between all five skandas.
Nagarjuna's problem lies in that by trying to disprove ascetism (or the ultimate truth of the enduring or eternal, he becomes at risk of advocating Nihilism. Nihilism is ethical non-causation, where actions have no ethical consequences, and are thus a reduced to eliminativism. If all existents are mutually dependent, we can reduce ethical causation to the metaphysics of dependent origination, where causality becomes something hypothetical and abstract. To avoid this, Nagarjuna claims not that there is no essence, but rather that essence is empty and that all existents are mutually dependent and hence empty as well
For the Madhyamikan, all existents are dependently originated. That is, any moment of existence can be explained as arising from an innumerable number of causes, hence creating a denial of what something really is. The Madhyamikan aims to deny the existence of any ultimately existent things as foundation for conventional events, ruling out all exceptions. So all the Dharmas remain dependently originated as well. "There is no Dharma that is not dependently originated and hence no dharma that is not empty." And with that Nagarjuna strikes out essence (which is the Ultimate truth or Dharma) as empty.
Nagarjuna's proposal that all existents are therefore empty can explain the first noble truth (all is suffering) and the third noble truth (suffering can be eliminated) as all existents (even suffering) are mutually dependent and therefore lack endurance.
Hence Madhyamika becomes a philosophy which supports the entirety of Buddha's first sermon and the closest philosophy to the Buddha's original path of the Middle Way. He takes essence (ultimate truth) and existence (conventional truth) and applies the neither and nor of Buddha's Middle way to them so that all we are left with is Emptiness.
The future is X-rated. i-phone X (pronounced "ten") launches in November to mark the i-phone's 10 year anniversary.
Touted as the biggest phone revolution since the i-phone 4, this is a serious attempt by Apple to revive the Jobs blueprint for success - the WOW factor.
The phone showcases Apple's new commitment to AMOLED screens (surprisingly made by Samsung of all companies) and with that comes Face ID and wireless charging. And a lofty price tag of $999
All very impressive but there is another X-phone that will be hot on its heels next year. That is the Samsung Galaxy X.
It has pioneering technology that allows the screen to fold. It looks simply stunning.
LG will also be following suite with a folding screen for its new generation of smart phones.
So it could be a case of 6 being scared of 7 because 7, 8, 9. Or something like that...
Jain philosophy is known to many as non one-sided inclusiveness. While Nagarjuna's Madhyamika attempted to exclude all philosophies as uroboric and hence self-defeating, the Jains attempt to reconcile all Indian Philosophies, Orthodox and Heterodox.
Jain Practice is something extraordinary. Monks of the Jain orders of Digambara and Svetambara practice Jain Veganism (choosing not to eat ginger, garlic and onions as well as meats, fish and eggs). They wear white as a sign of purity and peace. They also carry sweeps so that they can avoid killing insects that may cross their paths while walking. They will do this their entire lives.
The justification behind this practice comes from the Jain principle (and I say Jain because it is originally Jain) of Ahimsa or non-violence. Violence for the Jain can come in three forms - physical, mental (which can come about from disagreement) and spiritual (such as curses and magic). The lineage of thirty six Mahaviras has propounded and discoursed on Ahimsa and Karma at length and they are mostly responsible for what we know today about these principles.
So, what about the philosophy of non one-sided inclusiveness?
Jain philosophy is built on their firm belief in Ahimsa. As a result, Jains have attempted to reconcile the Orthodox and Heterodox schools to try and uphold both as correct and eradicate the disagreement between them. So for the Jain, the self can be permanent and changing at the same time. If I say Devadutta has changed, then this is obviously true as he is not the Devadutta of 10 years ago neither will he be the Devadutta of 10 years from now. But at the same time Devadutta has not changed. He is still Devadutta and will remain that person for his life and beyond. Some may argue that that which is changing is not the self but nature but that won't trouble the Jain. They will continue to give respect to both sides, be it Orthodox or Buddhist.
Some may say that the Jains have compromised their philosophy in favour of a single principle. Some may even claim that it is relativism as the philosophy does the opposite of what it set out to do. But the Jains will not mind. The Jain mind is one of peace and tranquility. Anybody who has kept the company of Jains will know this.
So as far as the Jain is concerned, non one-sided inclusiveness is doing exactly what it set out to do - giving Jains the opportunity to not join the argument and remain diligent in their practice of Ahimsa.
Relative speed is the difference in speed between two objects. If two bodies are travelling at the same speed, then the relative speed will be zero. They will appear to be stationary. You can often experience this when driving on the highways with the motion of other cars compared to you.
But, Einstein thought differently. In a dream, Einstein realised that if one body is travelling at the speed of light and another body is travelling slower, the relative speed will still be the speed of light. This is because light will never catch the object travelling at the speed of light so you will never see it come any closer.
Mathematically: Relative speed = Faster object - Slower object = 100mph - 50mph = 50mph
But in Einstein's example: Relative speed = Speed of Light = Faster object - Slower object = Speed of light - x.
The formula in Einstein's example makes no sense but physically the concepts still hold true. If that is so, then mathematics seems to be failing in Einstein's example.
Why would that be?
Well, Scientists have proven that time moves slower when we move slower. This was proven when an atomic clock was taken onto a jet plane and flown around the world a few times. It minutely sped up compared to an atomic clock on earth. This happened because the speed of the clock on the jet had moved closer to the speed of light leading to a change in the relative time. So, speed does not change but time does. This can be explained via Einstein's Theory of Relativity
But does this make logical sense. How can Newtonian Mechanics be so accurate in one scenario and Einstein's Theory of Relativity be so accurate in another. Either one is right, or the other or neither. But here, both still stand true.
And so comes the point. The Orthodox schools state that the self is exists and can be known. That what exists and is permanent can only be known. Change brings about temporality and hence the uncertainty that comes with that. Buddhism on the other hand states that the self does not exist but can still be known. Everything is under constant change but the self goes beyond the conventional truth and hence it can be known as that that exists only and momentarily as well.
Both schools oppose each other and cannot be true at the same time. The non one-sided exclusiveness of Nagarjuna would claim that neither are true at all times, The non one-sided inclusiveness of the Jainas would claim that both are true at all times. The Buddhists claim they are right given their philosophy and the Orthodox schools claim they are correct given their philosophy.
And yet all philosophies are completely cogent in their own way. Confused. Well so is science. And if science can also be this confusing why do we frown on philosophy when it claims different arguments for a certain truth?
Some would claim NO FAIR!!!
Outside this universe lies something called the Quantum Fluctuation. The flux itself is made of plasma, a highly charged substance devoid of any form. Due to the nature of the potential of the fluctuation we can say it has unlimited potential. From this flux comes something called virtual particles. Virtual particles are said to exist for minute amounts of time and then quickly go out of existence.
Thirteen billion years ago, a part of this flux cooled down to such a level that it caused what we now call The Big Bang. Thus, the universe was borne in a nanosecond and expanded instantly at many times the speed of light. Somehow, the virtual particles that were emitted by the Quantum Flux, became energy and matter and were discharged into what we know as our Universe. The Flux hence is the source of the Universe and the Universe projects outwards from that initial inflation.
The Bang began as both sound and hydrogen atoms. As the Hydrogen atoms fused, they created helium and other denser particles which then formed stars and planets. All of the matter of the universe can be traced back to this cosmic event over 13 billion years ago. Similarly, all the current light, heat, kinetic energy and so on can be traced back to the initial explosion of The Big Bang.
Science is now split on how the Universe will end.
If the amount of energy in the Universe is greater than the amount of matter then the Universe will expand infinitely and eventually, due to the law of the Conservation of Energy, will die of a Heat Death. If the amount of matter in the Universe is greater than the amount of energy, then by the Law of Gravitation, that matter will slow down the expansion of the Universe and eventually there will be a Big Crunch. This, currently, is seen as the most likely outcome.
Unlimited Potential is a quality of two things - the Quantum Fluctuation and also Consciousness. Consciousness as all-knowing has unlimited potential. It is also the primary source, sustainer and the ultimate destination for the Universe. The Universe itself is a particular type of cause and effect called Karma. Just like the universal cause and effect of the Conservation of Energy. In effect, Vedanta has left us a blueprint for the origins and the future of the Universe.
Before quantum physics was born, science maintained the existence of a very real universe. Solids are solid, liquids are liquid and gases and gaseous. Gases are able to permeate space better than liquids and solids can only occupy a fixed space.
But what if all there is was is space?
Niels Bohr first stated that this is a probabilistic universe. What he meant by this is that matter exists as a wave probability function. An electron rotating around a nucleus is nothing of the sort - all an electron is, is a probability of its existence at a certain position around the nucleus over a certain time. It occupies no space and all space simultaneously. How is that? Well, Heisenberg said that we can never measure the speed and position of a particle at the same time. This was his Uncertainty Principle. Locus is a position at a point in time while speed is the change in position over time. By measuring one we lose the ability to measure the other. If we know the probability of the electron being at a certain locus over a period of time we cannot be sure of its location at a particular point in time. Hence we have the electron occupying all space via the wave probability function and and no space as we cannot ever exactly determine its locus.
The existence of particles as waves can be further substantiated by Young's double-slit experiment. If we measure the scatter of electrons fired at a screen through a single slit then we see them behaving like particles with the scatter pattern looking much like bullets. But on firing them through a double-slit, we start to record interference behind the slits, which leads us to think that the electrons are now behaving as waves, not particles. According to quantum physics, the same must be true of larger matter. All matter must behave as waves.
Now take an atom. 99.9% of an atom is vacuum. We can think of the nucleus of the atom as a cricket ball in the centre of a cricket field and the electrons as grains of sand on the boundary.
In a probabilistic universe, there could be the distinct possibility that all the particles - protons, neutrons and electrons - in my arm could interfere with all the atoms in a wall, resulting in my arm just passing through the wall. And if this could happen, we are left with the distinct possibility of matter and the universe not being there. Particles behaving as waves lets Quantum Physics decide on a Universe that doesn't really exist.
And this is where the Mahayanans begin. For the Mahayanans, the Universe doesn't actually exist. This is all just a waking dream. Mahayanans maintain that there are no external objects therefore we lack access to anything real.