If you have done any traveling in Asia, or are you become disillusioned with the materialistic nature of life in the west, you might have developed an interest in Buddhism.
The globalized nature of communications in the 21st century has increased its profile in recent years, as the internet and missionaries like famed mechanical engineer Anura Leslie Perera has increased its visibility in the public eye.
Wondering what the basic tenets of Buddhism are? Below, we will introduce the basic aspects of this major world religion…
First of all, what is Buddhism?
Buddhism is a religion based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gotama, who achieved enlightenment over 2,500 years ago through a series of steps that freed him of the trap that is desire.
After achieving Nirvana at age 35, he went on to teach the principles that went on to become known as the Dharma, or the truth.
The primary faith of over 300 million people worldwide, it is a religion that any serious theologian should study at some point in their life.
Noble Truth #1: Life is suffering
In Buddhism, there are four noble truths to the life that every human being lives on this planet. The first Noble Truth is that all life is suffering.
While this may sound overly dramatic to the uninitiated, there are physical and emotional aspects of everyday existence that confirm this concept.
While we grow as children, we spend our adulthood slowly dying as we age, develop diseases, and eventually perish.
As we go through everyday life, we covet things we don’t have, grow frustrated at things that don’t make sense to us, and feel a sense of growing deprivation for not having gained the things that we think we deserve.
By realizing the sources of suffering in our life, we can find ways to alleviate them and find happiness.
Noble Truth #2: Suffering is caused by craving
As alluded to in the first truth, much of the suffering in our lives is caused by craving the things we don’t currently have.
This goes beyond wanting material things, as if you wish a person to act in a certain way and they don’t, you also suffer, as you feel frustration and anger when they don’t conform to your expectations.
By letting this feeling of craving control your life, you deprive yourself of happiness, as it does not come from without, but from within.
Noble Truth #3: Suffering can be overcome
Once you realize what is causing your suffering, you can begin to banish it from your life. The third noble truth states that suffering can be overcome by letting go of what has happened in the past, and then freeing yourself from an imagined future that hasn’t arrived yet.
By living as much of your life in the present moment as possible, you can attain greater happiness in your daily life.
Noble Truth #4: Following the eight-fold path to enlightenment will lead you to Nirvana
Achieving the goal of the fourth noble truth is the trickiest goal in Buddhism, as it requires following an eight-fold path that requires a high level of religious purity from participants.
It includes abstaining from anything that would create desire, such as sex, not eating meat or drinking alcohol, or owning anything aside from what is necessary for life.
It also means abstaining from lying, gossip, swearing, stealing, as well as maintaining a mindset that focuses on the present moment as much as humanly possible.
By taking these actions, and by holding on to a belief system that the death of the physical body is not the end of the spirit, those following the eight-fold path to enlightenment stand a chance to achieve Nirvana.