Buddhism expresses the profound wish to contribute to a happier world. A world in which more love is shared amongst all living beings. Where people live in Harmony and Compassion by showing mutual respect. Some people may call it a religion others, among which the Dalai Lama, say it transcends religion. The Buddha Teachings are a way of life, a philosophy. The word philosophy means 'love of wisdom'.
The Buddha Teachings say that the solutions to our problems are from within. External circumstances are not the cause of our problems it is your own response to any circumstance; always there are no exceptions to this. Buddhism teaches that you have to take responsibility for your actions and understanding. The Buddha Teachings are an empirical science. It is a source of knowledge acquired by means of observation or experimentation. The Buddha asks you to test the teaching for yourself. Therefore it is not a set of fixed beliefs, but your own application of the Buddha Teachings.
Siddhartha Gautama was regarded as the first Enlightened being a 'Buddha'. He was born a prince and his destiny was to become king. Buddhist scriptures say that although Siddhartha was provided with everything he wanted the future Buddha felt that material wealth was of no importance to him. At the age of 29 he left the palace, as well as his wife and son to live in seclusion. The future Buddha was confronted for the first time consciously confronted with suffering, as he had not experienced much in his royal life. This made him strive to overcome ageing, sickness, and death by living the life of an aesthetic. The future Buddha tried to achieve enlightenment by deprivation of worldly goods, including food. After nearly starving himself to death he reconsidered his path. After a long and focused Meditation Siddhartha attained Enlightenment at the age of 35. The rest of his life he taught the Buddha Teachings.
According to Buddhism the enlightenment implies that he realized complete insight into the cause of Suffering, and the steps necessary to eliminate it. Once eliminated one can reach Nirvana a perfect state of peace of mind. This state of mind is completely free from any egotistical mind states such as ignorance, greed, hatred, desire, craving and so forth. There is no personal identity Present, only presence of the supreme Reality. The enlightened one sees all as it really is, not as we wish to see them. One is detached from Ego, does not dwell in the past or longs for the future and knows that the present moment is the only reality. It is a feeling of complete calmness and from this state of mind being able to observe everything that exists as the ultimate observer.
Practice. A lot of practice. Buddha recognized that one needs to be free from suffering in order to attain Enlightenment. This is the core of the Buddha Teachings known as The Four Noble Truths. Meditation is an essential part of Buddhism.
The first noble truth is that suffering (Dukkha) exists. There are three forms of suffering. Ordinary suffering (Dukkha-dukkha) such as physical and mental suffering associated with birth, growing old, illness and dying. Suffering due to change (Viparinama-dukkha). Anxiety and stress is caused by the longing to hold on or attach to things that are subject to change. And as everything in life changes, as everything comes and goes, there is a lot of suffering. The third form is suffering from conditioned states (samkhara-dukkha). As everything is impermanent or transformative all forms that exist never live up to our (fixed) expectations.
The Buddha Teachings explain that the second noble truth focuses on the origin of suffering. According to Buddha the suffering is caused by craving, aversion and ignorance. By having desires for ourselves rather than for the whole there will be suffering. The disturbances are caused by three poisons namely:
The Focus on suffering does not make Buddhism a negative philosophy. According to the Buddha Teachings it is merely a practical assessment of the human condition. This becomes clear with the third noble truth namely the cessation of suffering. It is the ending of all the unsatisfactory experiences and their causes. It also focuses on the not arising of these experiences. When a form of suffering ceases a temporary state of Enlightenment may occur with the practitioner.
This is explained in The Fourth Noble Truth 'the path to the cessation of suffering' also known as The Noble Eightfold Path. The Noble Eightfold path is considered as the essence of the Buddha Teachings. It consists of Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Concentration and Right Mindfulness. Learn more about Buddha's Noble Eightfold path. These 8 elements are divided into three divisions namely Wisdom, Morality (Ethical Conduct) and Concentration. By active practice (Meditation) and adherence to Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path one attains Enlightenment.
The Buddha has five rules of moral conduct that one should adhere to. These are called The Five Precepts. A Buddhist practitioner vows to: