It must be asserted that the Pancha Sila (Five Precepts) do not necessarily make a person a Buddhist, but to be a real Buddhist, one has to observe the five precepts. This poses the question, "who is a Buddhist?" The simplest answer is, a Buddhist is one who takes refuge in the "Triple Gem" (Tissrana), namely the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.
Let us explore and understand the role of joy in daily meditation practice. The quote below reflects what I think about this very key aspect of meditation. Essentially it means that joy is a natural consequence of watching the mind and thoughts in action.
Joy in Meditation:
A boil cannot be cured by merely cutting it off. In the same manner, we never experience peace by force but by removing the main cause of the conflict.
This aspect of the Dhamma namely Kamma as one's refuge is emphasized in several places in the SuttaPitaka. A notable instance and an oft-quoted passge occurs in the AnguttraNikaya,PanchakaNipata-pp. 87 and 88. "My Kamma is my possession. My Kamma is my inheritance. My Kamma is the womb that bears me. My Kamma is the race to which I am skin. My Kamma is my refuge."
Religion, as is ordinarily understood, binds one to such untenable beliefs as a Supreme Creator, immortal soul, eternal heavens and hells. The Buddha Dhamma is free from such beliefs, dogmas, superstitions, and speculative theories. Hence, it cannot strictly be called a religion. The Dhamma is essentially the teaching of cause and effect (Hetuphalavada).
The Four Noble Truths are thus:
1. Life means suffering
2. The origin of suffering is attachment.
3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.
4. The path to the cessation of suffering.
1. To be born is to suffer
The end of a long process of mental activity, not long perhaps as chronological time is involved, but long in a line of experiences and consequences, there comes consciousness.
It begins, if one may speak of a beginning anywhere at all, with a physical contact (phassa) with one of the six senses of perception (salayatana). This produces a sensation (vedana) which is the experiencing of a challenge. It is at this stage that the process tends to become mental, when the sensation is perceived (sanna).
He who aspires to attain Samma Smabuddhahood is called a Bodhisattva. This Bodhisattva ideal is the most refined and the most beautiful that is ever presented to this ego-centric world, for what is nobler than a life of service and purity.
In the Middle Length sayings of Gotama Buddha, it has been recorded:
"The Buddha is like a physician in that He is able to heal sickness of the defilements. The dhamma is like a rightly applied medicine, and the Sangha with the defilements cured, are like people restored to health by the medicine."
The feeling of a separate "I", which we call ego-consciousness, is directly related to the strength of ignorance, greed, and hatred. The deepest meaning of ignorance is the believing in, identifying with and clinging to the ego, which as we have seen, is nothing but an illusive mental phenomenon. But because of this strong clinging to ego-consciousness, attachment/desire, anger/hatred arise and repeatedly gain strength.