The Buddha told us that we all have an inherent Buddha-nature. By realizing the Buddha-nature, each of us can attain Buddhahood. In the Platform Sutra considered as a canonical text, the Sixth Patriarch said, "Our Buddha-nature is fundamentally pure and serene. Use the undefiled mind to directly realize and attain the Buddhahood." He gave us an insight into the realization of enlightenment.
Noble Eightfold Path
Only when our Buddha-nature is discovered, can we attain the Buddhahood. The Buddha showed us the way to realize the Buddha-nature. The way is called the "Noble Eightfold Path". It is so designed that by practicing it we can extinguish our afflictions and discover our Buddha-nature.
The eight aspects of the Path are:
(1) Right Speech
(2) Right Behavior
(3) Right Livelihood
(4) Right Effort
(5) Right Thought
(6) Right Meditation
(7) Right Views
(8) Right Aspirations
Precepts, Concentration and Wisdom
Precepts, concentration and wisdom are the three essential Buddhist practices that lead to enlightenment. Precepts are based on the first three paths, namely, right speech, right behavior and right livelihood. The purpose of precepts is to refrain from committing any karma that will lead to the cycle of birth and death. The Buddha established five precepts as the basics of precepts, namely, do not kill, do not steal, do not engage in sexual misconduct, do not speak falsely, and do not take intoxicants.
Concentration is based on : right effort, right thought and right meditation. The purpose of these is to free us from idle thoughts that entangle our mind with nothing but greed, hatred and foolishness.
Wisdom is based on right views and right aspirations. Their aim is to discern the truth to realize the way things really are. The eight aspects of the path can be practiced as a whole, anywhere, at any moment and simultaneously. They are all interrelated and each helps develop the others.
Revolution of Compassion and Wisdom
In actual practice, we encounter many obstacles due to the weakness of our body. The Buddha urged us to use wisdom to safeguard our mind from the three poisons of greed, hatred and ignorance. Wisdom as mentioned here is not ordinary wisdom, rather it is wisdom that flows out from compassion. Wisdom tempered by compassion can sustain us through situations of hardship, temptation and humiliation. However, compassion without wisdom is defiled, and wisdom without compassion is imperfect. According to the Buddha, compassion and wisdom go hand-in-hand. They revolve incessantly and become eventually a key to open the door to Enlightenment.
Bodhisattva's Methods of Practice
The Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who do not enter Nirvana but choose instead to
remain in the world to help others realize enlightenment.
The Bodhisattva's methods of practice are called the Six Paramitas.
They are listed as follows:
(2) Upholding the precepts
(3) Patience under insult
(4) Vigor and progress
The Bodhisattvas vowed to reach out to those who are still entangled in illusions and help free them from the sea of sufferings.
Because their sincere wish is consistent with the spirit of the Buddha, the Bodhisattvas' way of practice is said to be a short cut to attain Buddhahood.
Three Major Steps
In conclusion, there are three major steps to attain Buddhahood:
|Refrain from doing evil deeds and engage in practicing good deeds
|Uphold precepts and cultivate concentration and wisdom
|Cultivate the mind of compassion of the Bodhisattvas and follow their path