Around the world that are numerous religions and sects to those religions. Many people without knowledge believe that Buddhism is also a religion. Buddhism is in actuality a way of living based on the life and teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, also known as Shakyamuni, or Gautama Buddha. Many people refer to him simply as Buddha. Legend states that Buddha lived a life of extreme privilege as the son of a king. It was not until he left home and saw human suffering that he opted to turn away from his wealthy and spoiled life a more enlightened and compassionate life based on what would become the core beliefs of Buddhism.
Practicing Buddhist understand the importance of meditation. Meditation is a means for the removal of negativity from the mind considered to be ‘delusions.’ With the removal of negativity from the mind comes ‘virtual minds’ which possess more positive and peaceful thought processes and states of mind. The end result of meditation and control of ones thoughts comes a life filled with more love, wisdom, and compassion which leads to a life of happiness and peace.
Buddhists believe that there is a cycle to life. A person is born, lives their life, dies, and is reborn. This is an endless cycle for people. The type of life one has when reborn is believed to be based on the previous life.
The Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths are central to Buddha’s teachings. Buddha realized the following truths:
- All beings experience some type of suffering
- Suffering is the direct result of greed and/or selfish cravings
- The ability to end suffering exists
- The end of suffering comes by following the Eightfold Path
The Five Precepts
In Buddhism, the Five Precepts are the basic ethical guidelines for practicing Buddhists. These are not orders, like God’s commandments, but voluntary guidelines. The messages of each of the precepts sound very similar to Catholic/Christian beliefs.
- Do not kill – All beings are precious and valuable and should not be extinguished
- Do not rob or steal – Taking things not offered or earned is not approved
- Do not spread false information – In essence do not lie, spread gossip, or other false information that could do harm
- Abstain – Buddhists are not to engage in deviant sexual activity, adultery, the exploitation of sex or engage in sexual harassment
- Avoid intoxicants – the consumption or ingestion of alcohol or drugs which alter the mind’s ability to think clearly are forbidden as the help prevent mindfulness
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The Eightfold Path
The Eightfold Path consists of three sections, the Panna, Sila, and Samadhi. The first two points of the Panna speak to wisdom and discernment, the three points of the Sila deal with morality and virtue, and the final three points of the Samadhi deal with meditation and concentration. Each of the eight points speaks to living a moral life in all aspects. The eight points are as follows:
- Right understanding or view – Understanding of the Four Noble Truths
- Right thinking/attitude – Live a life revolving around compassion, kindness, empathy and not one devoted to selfishness or personal cravings
- Right speech – Avoid lying, gossiping, harsh language, condemning or criticizing others
- Right conduct – live a life following the Five Precepts
- Right Livelihood – Obtain a job that provides support without doing damage or harm to other people
- Right Effort – Focus thoughts on positive things and squelch negative or evil thoughts
- Right Mindfulness – Pay attention to how you think, feel, and what you do
- Right Concentration – Learn to meditate on a regular basis to elevate one’s state of consciousness to a higher plain
Living the life of a Buddhist is one that requires a great deal of self-understanding, mindfulness, and mental awareness. Meditation, one of the most important elements to Buddhism, helps the individual live a more enlightened life that focuses on the positives in the world. Fully enlightened Buddhists can achieve a state of Nirvana, or ultimate peace and happiness, through meditation, as well as understanding and following the core beliefs of Buddhism described above as the Four Noble Truths, the Five Precepts, and the Eightfold Path.