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Faith based on reason

Foreword to Buddhism for Beginners

Cover of Buddhism for Beginners.

I am happy to know about this book, Buddhism for Beginners, by Thubten Chodron. This book is written mainly for people wanting to understand basic Buddhist principles and how to integrate them into their lives. It might be useful if I mention a few words here about what should be their approach to Buddhism. In the beginning, one should remain skeptical and rely on questioning and checking the teachings based on one’s understanding. One can then have trust and confidence in the teachings. Buddha himself suggested this approach when he told his followers to accept his teachings after due analysis, and not merely out of respect and faith. Hence it is important to know that the main cause of faith is reflecting on reasons. This promotes conviction and helps develop actual experience. As one thinks more and more upon reasonings, one’s ascertainment increases, and this in turn, induces experience whereby faith becomes more firm.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual leader of Tibet. He was born on July 6, 1935, to a farming family, in a small hamlet located in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet. At the very young age of two, he was recognized as the reincarnation of the previous 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and the patron saint of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are believed to be enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a man of peace. In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet. He has consistently advocated policies of non-violence, even in the face of extreme aggression. He also became the first Nobel Laureate to be recognized for his concern for global environmental problems. His Holiness has traveled to more than 67 countries spanning 6 continents. He has received over 150 awards, honorary doctorates, prizes, etc., in recognition of his message of peace, non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion. He has also authored or co-authored more than 110 books. His Holiness has held dialogues with heads of different religions and participated in many events promoting inter-religious harmony and understanding. Since the mid-1980’s, His Holiness has begun a dialogue with modern scientists, mainly in the fields of psychology, neurobiology, quantum physics and cosmology. This has led to a historic collaboration between Buddhist monks and world-renowned scientists in trying to help individuals achieve peace of mind. (Source: Photo by Jamyang Dorjee)