Why Form Matters in Buddhism

Why Form Does Actually Matter in Practical Buddhism

buddhists praying hands

The challenge, that all Buddhists face, is not one of whether or not this kind of lifestyle and spiritual calling makes sense – it resonates and rings true, for sure – but one of whether or not the “form” of our Buddhism is “correct”.

 

This is especially true of those that have come to this calling later in life, compared to those that have been embracing all that this spiritual choice has to offer from birth. We wonder whether or not we are doing things the right way, whether or not we are making our offerings correctly and with the right mindset, and whether or not we are embracing all that our hearts tell us we must – or if we’re just playing around with foreign superstitions.

 

Worst of all, so much of what we worry about as practicing Buddhists never seems to impact those that have been “dyed in the wool”. Monks do not seemingly have these concerns, and in truth they reach a place in their minds, their spirits, and their souls that allows them to forget completely about form, ceremony, and pomp (as much as there is “pomp” in this world) and instead just feel the way that they should honor their traditions.

 

This can be particularly confounding for those that want to become more authentic, those striving for a more impactful connection, and those that are looking for answers in a world that has so few with any real weight.

 

Make no mistake about it, the form – the physical rituals we all go through as practicing Buddhists – definitely has a place in our spirituality. It has a way of manifesting the way we feel in the physical realm, and it has a way of making our souls a more tangible thing.

 

And while it is essential to spend as much time honor the form of our bows, our rituals, and our prayers, it is most important that we don’t allow the form – or the stress about whether or not our form is correct – to cloud the connection we feel with all that we have learned and strive to be.

 

Above all else, it is most important that we strive to be our most authentic selves.

 

While this may not always involve pitch perfect form, or the most traditional of rituals, it is what we all owe to ourselves and to our souls. Authenticity is so severally lacking in our world and as Buddhists it is our calling to celebrate it in every way possible. The things we keep, the things we discard, and the things that we hold most dear are all going to shape the future of Buddhism, just as the workings of past generations have. The beauty of this calling is that it is alive, ever changing, and always evolving. By letting go of the stress and pressure of mastering form (sounds a bit like mindfulness, discussed in this post), while at the same time striving to perfect it as much as possible, is the true balance that we all deserve to pursue.

 

It’s not easy. It’s never promised to be easy.

 

But it is worthwhile.

 

 

 

 

Scientific Studies Measure Mind-Body Connection in Meditation

Scientific Studies Measure Mind-Body Connection in Meditation

mind body connection

While some scientists are skeptical about the mind/body connection and consider it to be an element of pseudoscience, there is growing evidence which is peer-reviewed that shows a direct link in functionality between our minds and bodies.

 

A research group has devised a method of measurement of physiological phenomena which is connected to stress reduction that is based on mindfulness. According to their research, meditation helps to synchronize brain and heart processes.

 

There are actually quite a few reputable studies which prove that meditation has a tangible and positive effect on the human body. Scientists from Harvard published an array of studies which detailed the physiological and biological effects of meditation upon the brain and stomach.

 

If you’ve ever meditated for even ten minutes, you probably already know that it calms you and gives you a sense of being centered. It clears away negative thoughts and lets in peace and love. Scientific studies are explaining why…

 

Now, we’d like to talk about important data which comes from researchers at Hong Kong’s Centre for Buddhist Studies.

 

The director of the Centre told a reporter at Newsweek that the practice of MBSR (Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction) helps to create more synchronization between brain and heart, which is great for the body. Data from the study was published and peer-reviewed. The study lasted eight weeks and featured eleven graduate students who had no experience with meditation.

 

Studies such as this definitely underscore the wisdom of ancient cultures which encouraged meditation. Meditation is good for us!

 

Discover the Power of Heart Coherence

 

Scientific researchers at the HeartMath Institute are also studying heart-mind synchronicity. The Institute’s Director, Dr. Rollin McCarthy, has remarked that meditation which fosters a sense of compassion and love causes our hearts to generate measurable electromagnetic waves, which travel into local field environments. These waves make social coherence easier! When heart coherence builds, an energy field emerges which helps others to connect with their own hearts.

 

Is heart coherence the secret of global coherence? it may not solve everything, but it definitely won’t hurt.

 

How Does Epigenetics Factor In?

 

Epigenetics is the study of alterations in organisms which are triggered by a modification of “gene expression”. Epigenetics shows us that DNA and genes aren’t in control of our biology. Instead, DNA is controlled via signals which are situated outside of cells, which come with messages that are derived from our thoughts.

 

Bruce Lipton is a leading authority on epigenetics. He’s a cellular biologist. In his opinion, our feelings do regulate our genetic expression. He wrote about this interaction between mind and body in his books, Spontaneous Evolution and The Biology of Belief.

 

It’s interesting to note that the placebo effect is a facet of epigenetics (this is what Lipton believes). There will be great value in discovering the best way to leverage the power of the placebo effect as a treatment for illness.

 

A study showed that patients who felt nauseated chronically, in a severe way, were able to find relief via the placebo effect. They were told that they were getting an effective treatment for nausea and received a placebo instead (a “dummy pill”). The dummy pill was actually designed to make their nausea worse. Despite the properties of the dummy pill, the patients who received the placebo felt that it helped them. Basically, their brains decreased the nausea that they were feeling. This is startling as the dummy pills should have made them feel much worse.

 

Change begins from the inside. Lots of people on Earth are not happy people and their mindsets may negatively impact their health and the health of those around them. Mind-body connection is extremely important. Our feelings may indeed trigger physiological responses in other people.

 

We Need to Master Our Feelings

 

It would be helpful if schoolchildren were able to learn how to master (or just manage) their feelings at a young age.

 

During 1999, a study performed by a statistics professor who works at UC Irvine showed that people who take daily doses of aspirin for the purpose of preventing heart attacks had stronger results during paraphysiological experiments. Since these stronger results were proven, why are most scientific authorities so reluctant to acknowledge psi experiments?

 

It’s possible that many scientists are concerned about the link between the mind-body connection and magic, superstition and spiritualism. Lots of scientists are clearly more interested in staying far away from “pseudoscience” than they are with promoting scientific exploration. Hopefully, in the future, a new spirit of true academic freedom will prevail and the connection between heart and mind, as it relates to the individual and society as a whole, will be the subject of further study.

 

The studies that we’ve talked about today show that there is a strong mind-body connection and that heart coherence offers amazing possibilities in terms of helping groups of people to come together and get things done effectively.

Neuroscience Backs up a Buddhist Belief?

Neuroscience Backs Up A Crucial Buddhist Belief Regarding The Self

 

neuroscience

It is unlikely that you can remember your life as a toddler. Even so, it is just as likely that your essential being has remained unchanged from then to now. Or at least, this is something that you have always suspected.

 

Yet such a belief goes against one of the core principles of Buddhism. It is believed by Buddhists that this concept of our selfhood is merely an illusion. While it is easy to dismiss such a notion, particularly if it flies in the face of something you truly believe to be the case, neuroscience and recent studies suggest that you may want to reconsider this cornerstone of the Buddhist faith. An increasing number of studies are beginning to suggest that this notion of selfhood is in fact a falsehood.

 

Not surprisingly, there is a great deal to this subject that is worth studying in greater detail.

 

What Does Science Have To Say About The State Of The Self?

One of the main arguments of Buddhism is the idea that nothing is in fact constant. Everything is capable of changing through time. Your consciousness is a constantly moving, constantly evolving stream that drives not only your reality, but your perception of your reality. From the perspective of neuroscience, our brains and bodies are in a constant state of flux. Nothing in its principles contradicts the idea of the ever-changing state of selfhood.

 

While scientists in the West and Buddhism obviously reached these conclusions in profoundly different ways, using profoundly paths to reach their respective conclusions, it is fascinating nonetheless to see these two different entities meet at a corner of cooperation. Theories put forth by Buddhists thousands of years ago are now being embraced and utilized by scientific research. Studies suggest that self-processing within our brains is not merely limited to one area or network. On the other hand, these studies indicate that all of this can be extended towards a wide assortment of fluctuating neuro processes. Furthermore, these do not appear to be self-specific.

 

For example, research suggests that our cognitive capabilities are not static. Quite the contrary, this research strongly points to the possibility that these capabilities can be trained through things like meditation.

 

Does Consciousness Extend Into Deep Sleep?

Buddhists believe profoundly in the idea that our consciousness extends into the act of deep sleep. For a long time, scientists have held on to the notion that our brains enter a blackout state during the act of deep sleep. However, recent studies are beginning to suggest that this is not in fact the case. Some research suggests that meditation impacts our electro-physical brain patterns while we sleep. These studies further suggest that at least some awareness can be carried over into deep sleep.

 

At the same time, don’t expect Buddhism and the lab coats to exist in perfect harmony anytime soon. There are still a number of topics, including deeper aspects of this subject, in which the two efforts to better understand ourselves can differ greatly. For example, Buddhists believe that there is a form of consciousness that is not dependent upon the body in any form or fashion. Neuroscience disagrees – at least for now.

 

Still, the relationship between consciousness and the brain is something that remains shrouded in mystery. Neither modern science nor Buddhism have clear answers on the subject. What they do have is a desire to dig deeper, and to understand more. On that front, you will find that both Buddhism and modern science trends have much to discuss with one another. Perhaps by combining the two, as many are beginning to do, we will get closer to finding the answers that will give us a greater understanding of ourselves.

 

Discover Nalanda, Bihar

Nalanda, Bihar

 

Nalanda is one of the most beautiful religious centers in India which is also a learning and a cultural site. With its establishment around the 5th century, it was the destination of Lord Mahavir and Gautam Buddha for over many years. Being one of the richest in regards to tradition and more, with worldwide recognition, this is the favorite spot for many folks who want to spy monasteries and the aged monolith. This is an irresistible destination for the historians. The historic objects of the old higher level institution is the chief attraction in all parts of the main town. The ravishing temples add more beauty, a representative of the glorious history of the area and the ruined university . It carries a remarkable culture as well as history, a spot that you should never miss.

 

 

Story of Nalanda

 

Nalanda is known to have a colorful history from back to 6th century, the period of Lord Mahavir and Gautam Buddha. There is a close relationship between the dozens of myths and the fulfillment of name Nalanda. One of the most recognized is the Nalam meaning lotus and da signifier giver. Additionally, the place is renowned because of its origin of the Sariputra, a world-shaking devotee of the Gautam Buddha. Lord Buddha has repeatedly visited this critical Buddhism site. Up to date, there are fresh memories of Hiuen Tsang, a traveler from China who happened to be part of the university for 12 years.

 

King Ashoka constructed numerous temples in the 3rd century BC, which were closely situated to the site. The acclaimed alchemist Nagarjuna taught and learned here during the 2nd century BC. It then came under reign of the Guptas in 5th century. The municipality was under the control of empire of Mauryan king Harshavardhana from 606 to 647 AD.

 

Attraction sites not to miss

nalanda temple

Hiuen Tsang Memorial Hall

 

The establishment of this tourist attraction site came after a tourist from China stayed at Nalanda college, the world’s first university. Hiuen Sang Memorial Hall is the most prominent attractive spot that you will get to enjoy and have breathtaking memories.

 

Nav Nalanda, the Mahavihara

 

This is preeminent educational institution of the region which offers education mainly on Buddhism and Pali. With its establishment in 1951 by the Bihar government, and Nav Nalanda is the best site for the students who want to have a broader knowledge of Buddhism. You get every kind of support you need, and the environment is friendly.

 

Bihar Sharif

 

While the name is originally derived from the term for “monastery” this city actually predates the arrival of Buddhism.  This is an area that changed hands in terms of ruling dynasties and has a history of conflict. The city is rich in Jainist and Buddhist relics still and draws tourists from all walks of life. Be sure to take in the many natural attractions as well such as the mountains, trails and many rivers in the region.

 

Rajgir

 

Rajgir is the primary site of the Gautam Buddha in the rainy season. Seven mountains surround this site, which adds its beauty. Rajgi is the home of dance festivals which reveals explicit performances of pro performers. Its tranquil locations and jungle-like landscape make it an exemplary place for both pilgrims and tourists. It has a calm surrounding which colors the tourists’ experience and gives them a chance to enjoy the beauty of nature.

 

How to get there

 

By Air

 

To those wishing to land at the  hallowed city by air, Loknayak Jayaprakash Airport is the most convenient. It links up to the major cities of India like New Delhi, Kolkata, Jaipur Mumbai, Bangalore, and many others by the daily flights. Traveling through air saves time since its faster than the other means.

 

By Train

 

You can get to Nalanda through the nearby railhead at Rajgir which is 12 kilometers away. You can decide to board a taxi from the railway station and head to your desired terminus.

 

By Road

 

Traveling by the road gives you an opportunity to enjoy more because you get to see a lot on the way. Although it might be slower than traveling by air; some people prefer it especially those that are not in a hurry.

Below are the various roads that lead to the holy site:

Patna 90km

Rajgir 12 km

Pawapuri 26km

Bodh Gaya 50km

Other facts:

Favorite time to visit: From October to March

Language: Hindi and Magadhi

Do you think a pilgrimage to this sacred area is in your future?  The NBG in CT is planning a trip in late 2018!  Contact us to learn more!