People belonging to different cultures have different perceptions about Buddhism which is one of the major religions of the world. People in West have been intrigued by the religion of Buddhism and their thoughts are imbued with sympathy towards this religion. The western world has cut and dried examples rife on people practising Buddhism or having sympathy towards Buddhism. A case in point would be the Father of Modern Science, Albert Einstein. He in his autobiography stated that he was not a religious man and if he were he would be Buddhist. People are often taken aback by these words of Einstein as it did not behove of a person of stature to remark such a thing. Yet contemporary society is not lying behind the old western society as there are many examples of people following Buddhism till now. You could find an astrophysicist in France who is a Buddhist; an amazing psychologist at the University of Rome is a Buddhist. The reason that Buddhism is breathing in different parts of the world is because of the pragmatism of this religion. In Europe Buddhism is believed to be an advanced, sophisticated and rational religion. Buddhism gets edge over other religions because it is not idiosyncratic to any particular culture, race, society or ethnic group. That is why we find Indian Buddhists, Chinese Buddhist, Sri Lankan Buddhists, Burmese Buddhists and Thai Buddhists and there is every possibility that we will have American Buddhists, French Buddhists and other Buddhists in the near future. Buddhism has pervaded almost all the cultures because it is based on internal practice and is irrelevant with your attire, food, and hair and so forth. Instead of talking about the litany of metaphysics and academic theories, Buddha talks about the problems with their concrete solutions.
This is one thing which is in consonance with the western concept of utilitarianism which dominates the political, economic and scientific sphere. This type of practicality is found in Culama-lunkya Sutra where a wounded man exemplifies the real man in quest of purpose of life. The man in the parable is wounded by an arrow and he wishes to know who shot the arrow and from which direction it was shot, if iron of bone is used to make the head of the arrow before removing the injury causing arrow. Likewise man is inclined to know about the universe, whether the world is infinite or not before he takes to practising a religion. He will die before the answers are disclosed to him just like the man in the story. This is called Buddha’s practical approach which says a lot about arranging priorities and resolving problems. The arrow that which wounded the man signifies the sufferings of individuals and the total end to this suffering must be the goal of man and the achievement of this goal is called nirvana. As a part of teachings, called as Dharma Buddha teaches about four noble truths that are:
- Life is suffering
- Craving is the cause of suffering
- Suffering can have an end
- There is a path which leads to cessation of suffering
It is believed that even if a person is happy at one moment, he may not be happy the other moment because of the impermanence of life. Since life is suffering, the ultimate goal in Buddhism is to end the cycle of suffering i.e. the cycle of repeated death and rebirth. The achievement of this goal is called nirvana. Nirvana is attained when one eliminates all ignorance, greed, hatred within himself. Some of the Buddhists believe that nirvana is a type of heaven where there is no suffering. Buddhism believes that final nirvana is attained at the time of an enlightened person’s death and who ceases to be a part of the cycle of birth and death.
Buddha says that just as the ocean despite being vast taste same i.e. salty, his teachings are similar to the ocean but the taste is same: the taste of Nirvana. Buddha describes Nirvana as immortal, as supreme happiness as peace. He talks about Nirvana as something which is beyond the earth, sun, moon, air, fire, water; as something which is unformed, unfathomable, uncreated and immeasurable. So there are two approaches that describe nirvana. The former is the positive approach which compares Nirvana with extreme happiness and sense of immense peace. At the same time we can say that Nirvana is formless. It cannot be compare to any form through which we experience the world. It is uncreated. To understand Nirvana, one has to experience it for oneself. One has to go through the suffering and seek an end to his suffering. The path towards nirvana is believed to be called the Middle Way or Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path consists of wisdom, moral conduct and concentration.
Moral conduct consists of right speech, right action and right livelihood.
Concentration is comprised of right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.
Wisdom consists of right understanding and right thought.
Practising Buddhism leads to short term happiness of mind in life which can be of material or spiritual nature which can be achieved in this very life.
To honour the significance of attainment of Nirvana i.e. a beings’ end Nirvana Memorial Garden, a privatised columbarium in Singapore is a care service provider in times of bereavement. The columbarium is a great blend of modern architecture and Chinese culture. The place of this columbarium is the grand home of the memorial is the abode of three Buddha’s of Same : Amitabh Buddha, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. The three Buddhas take care of the realms of heaven, man and earth. The famous ceremony of departure called as Sheng Tian Yi Shi is the ceremony of placing the urn in its niche. This ritual calms the mourners who find peace with the fact of the loss of their beloved. The brands of nirvana memorial garden are well identified in Singapore and Malaysia for its technology, quality services, facilities and maintenance.