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14.S: Chapter Summary
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Review of Key Points
- Although Yoga and Buddhism have significant religious overtones, they are actually lifestyle guidelines that promote psychological well-being.
- The principles of Yoga are outlined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and in the Bhagavad Gita, both of which are approximately 2,500 years old.
- In Yoga there is a dichotomy between spirit and nature, with spirit being pure consciousness. Our belief that we are actually our physical selves (our natural self) is an illusion.
- Karma refers to the cosmic law of cause and effect. Our past actions, both good and bad, affect our future.
- Everything in the natural world is composed of three gunas: rajas (craving and action), tamas (ignorance and dullness), and sattva (light and joy).
- A guru is a teacher, someone who is advanced in their practice of Yoga. The guru is essential for a student to properly follow the complex teachings and practices of Yoga.
- There are a wide variety of schools within Yoga, including Hatha-Yoga (which is popular in America), Bhakti-Yoga (devotional Yoga), Kriya-Yoga (believed to be the original Yoga of Patanjali), and Mantra-Yoga (which emphasizes the chanting of mantras, such as the sacred Om).
- Patanjali described five hindrances to personal development: avidya (ignorance), sense of personality, desire, hate, and sense of attachment.
- The ancient Vedic teachings propose four stages in the ideal life: student, householder, hermit or forest-dweller, renunciant.
- Yoga is well established in America, having been taught formally for over 85 years. This mixing of cultures has been possible, in part, because of similarities between Yoga and Christian practices. Two such common practices are contemplative prayer (which is similar to meditation) and singing to God.
- Buddhism is based on the 2,500 year-old teachings of Siddhattha Gotama, who is also known as Gotama Buddha. Bodhidharma brought Zen Buddhism to China some 1,500 years ago, and the Dalai Lama is a very famous Tibetan Buddhist leader alive today.
- The Buddha taught that there are four noble truths: suffering is a reality in human life, suffering comes from craving, the craving that leads to suffering can be destroyed, the path to destroy craving is the Middle Way (aka, the Eightfold Path).
- Buddhists believe in three basic characteristics of existence: nothing is permanent, suffering is an integral part of human life, and we have no immortal, unchanging soul.
- The Buddhist concept of interbeing emphasizes the connection between all living things, and even inanimate objects, because there is only one single source of all creation.
- Meditation, the common element in all forms of Yoga and Buddhism, is a means for controlling our mind and moving it in a more virtuous direction. Soto Zen emphasizes sitting meditation alone, whereas Rinzai Zen adds to seated meditation the practice of meditating on a koan, an unsolvable riddle.
- Mindfulness is the practice of maintaining a meditative state throughout our daily routine.
- In a very general sense, enlightenment refers to transcending this life, thus eliminating craving and suffering and escaping from the cause and effect of karma. In the Mahayana tradition, some Buddhists forego complete enlightenment so that they might remain in the world to help others achieve enlightenment.
- The ideal emotional state for Buddhists is compassion. Both compassion and loving-kindness flow naturally from mindfulness, since mindful individuals recognize the reality of our existence.
- Buddhists believe in three poisons, or obstacles to personal growth: greed, anger, and delusion.
- Zen Buddhism has been taught in the United States for over 100 years. It has found its way into popular literature and has had a clear influence on psychology.
- Buddhists refer to the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings of the Buddha), and the Sangha (a community of Buddhists). The importance of community is by no means unique to Eastern thought, but certainly takes on great significance in a culture that is generally recognized as collectivistic.