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Siddhartha Gautama believed that he had attained a state of being, where he fully understood all of the ins and outs of the human condition. He referred to this level as 'nirvana,' which meant that the termination of his desires ended all of his suffering. He began to spread the word, claiming that through his teachings, this state of bliss could be achieved.

BN: That radiant awareness is also suffering, changing and without a self. That's the meaning of emptiness. It may be easier to identify "yourself" with awareness than with the objects. Awareness is also anatta, no self.

Before I left for the Southern Hemisphere, however, I needed a place to practice for awhile, to get back on track, and I knew the perfect place; at Bhante Gunaratana's monastery outside of Washington, DC. The Bhavana Society (bhavana in Pali translates as mental development) is tucked away in the picturesque hills of West Virginia just down the road from Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Bhante Gunaratana is the founder of Bhavana, a Sri Lankan monk who has been in robes for almost seventy years, and a world recognized meditation teacher.

Photos. Not only can photos be faked, but, having lived here in Thailand for five years now I can tell you that when looking at amulets just a half inch from their surface with a jeweler's loupe, it is often impossible for me to tell whether the amulet I am looking at is a copy or real. Photos are worthless when trying to assess the value of the amulet being represented.

There are many Thai amulets sold each day online. A very high percentage of these amulets are non-genuine amulets and generally worthless. I have found bronze and copper amulets for 4 cents each in bags of 500 pieces in Chinese stores in Thailand that I have later seen sell for $19.95 at Ebay. Are you buying four cent amulets for 500 times their worth too?

theravada Lay followers generally engaged in this kind of worship. Monks and nuns also worshiped these objects, but with a different goal in mind. They worshiped these objects in a kind of meditation, to be reminded of the Buddha's teaching.

Spend a few minutes walking just with attention on the breath entering and leaving the body, let go of any unnecessary tension around the breath as it enters and leaves.