The Buddha on the Realms of Rebirth and Beyond with Professor Peter Harvey
The person known as the Buddha is seen as having awakened to the true nature of reality: as an interlocking dance of physical and mental conditions encompassing a huge universe and many kinds of beings – beings driven by craving and ignorance through a series of rebirths, unpleasant or relatively pleasant, depending on the nature of their karmas, or intentional actions in this and past lives.
Buddhist practice aims at a range of goals: a more harmonious life of generosity, kindness, compassion and inner calm; a better rebirth; but ultimately Nirvana, the end of any rebirth. Heavenly rebirths and their deities are accepted, but Nirvana is beyond even these. The path to Nirvana involves the mindful cultivation of wholesome, skilful qualities including those of the Noble Eight-factored Path of Right understanding and direct insight, Right resolve, Right action, Right speech, Right livelihood, Right effort, Right mindfulness and Right concentration (the four jhānas or meditative absorptions, of deep calm and clarity, joy, happiness and equanimity).
Speaker Professor Peter Harvey is Emeritus Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Sunderland with a special interest in early Buddhist thought and practices, and Buddhist ethics. In 1995 he founded the UK Association for Buddhist Studies with Ian Harris, has edited its journal Buddhist Studies Review, and from 2002 to 2011 ran an online MA Buddhist Studies program. His many publications include An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics: Foundations, Values and Practices (University of Cambridge Press, 2000). Peter is a teacher in the Samatha Trust tradition of Theravāda Buddhism, which focuses on a systematic form of mindfulness of breathing.
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