“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” ~ Buddha
Buddhism is a faith that was founded by Siddhartha Gautama (“the Buddha”) more than 2,500 years ago in India. With about 470 million followers, scholars consider Buddhism one of the major world religions. Its practice has historically been most prominent in East and Southeast Asia, but its influence is growing in the West. Many Buddhist ideas and philosophies overlap with those of other faiths.
What can we learn from Buddhism? The Dalai Lama said, “The whole purpose of religion is to facilitate love and compassion, patience, tolerance, humility and forgiveness.” I do not think about Buddhism as a replacement for my personal religious beliefs, but I feel that its philosophical approach can add an important dimension to everyday life. In general terms, Buddhists place importance on personal spiritual development. They study the meaning of life, inner peace and elimination of suffering.
Their realization that life involves suffering as well as pleasure is meaningful. Suffering comes from a desire for non-lasting things. Followers are challenged to uphold five principles which include: Do not kill, steal or lie, and abstain from alcohol and sensual misconduct.
Buddha’s life has been always an inspiration for my spiritual search and there is so much to learn from him. Throughout history there have been many individuals who have awakened and claimed to be enlightened and yet Buddha’s light stands out from everyone. What makes his light so special ? Let’s ponder along with what he taught me.
- There is a search beyond wealth: Buddha was born in extraordinary circumstances. He was a prince, a royal, a ruler from the start. He had all the wealth, power and riches that we can imagine. Now isn’t that we all imagine? But this man even after having everything felt that he had nothing. He felt a deep void, a search, a longing. By just seeing death, old age and sickness he decided that life is suffering and he must find the way out. To me that is extraordinary. Its very easy to fail in life and look inward for answers but a man who has everything and then decides to give up is commendable.
- Don’t stop till you get enough: Very often we begin a journey with an end in mind and suddenly we reach a freeway and decide to savour the journey, thus loosing the end in sight. When buddha began his journey he encountered the famed teacher Alara Kalama. He quickly learned from him and in no time equalled him. On seeing his growth Alara Kalama offered him to teach with him and guide a large following of students. But Buddha quickly realized that this was not the end and he must keep walking. He later met Uddaka from whom he quickly learned but still felt a deeper search. He kept outsmarting the great teachers of his time and yet still felt that the truth was nowhere in sight. Such was the deep longing of Buddha that he would not except anything else but the truth. Isn’t that inspiring? He had the courage to walk alone, to walk till the end, to walk a lonely tiring journey.
Some key Buddhism beliefs include:
- Followers of Buddhism don’t acknowledge a supreme god or deity. They instead focus on achieving enlightenment—a state of inner peace and wisdom. When followers reach this spiritual echelon, they’re said to have experienced nirvana.
- The religion’s founder, Buddha, is considered an extraordinary man, but not a god. The word Buddha means “enlightened.”
- The path to enlightenment is attained by utilizing morality, meditation and wisdom. Buddhists often meditate because they believe it helps awaken truth.
- There are many philosophies and interpretations within Buddhism, making it a tolerant and evolving religion.
- Some scholars don’t recognize Buddhism as an organized religion, but rather, a “way of life” or a “spiritual tradition.”
- Buddhism encourages its people to avoid self-indulgence but also self-denial.
- Buddha’s most important teachings, known as The Four Noble Truths, are essential to understanding the religion.
- Buddhists embrace the concepts of karma (the law of cause and effect) and reincarnation (the continuous cycle of rebirth).
- Followers of Buddhism can worship in temples or in their own homes.
- Buddhist monks, or bhikkhus, follow a strict code of conduct, which includes celibacy.
- There is no single Buddhist symbol, but a number of images have evolved that represent Buddhist beliefs, including the lotus flower, the eight-spoked dharma wheel, the Bodhi tree and the swastika (an ancient symbol whose name means "well-being" or "good fortune" in Sanskrit).
10 Life lessons we can learn from Buddhism
1. Give generously to others
2. Free yourself from attachments
3. Take the journey within to find answers
4. Walk a humble path
5. Conquer the Ego(Mind) and free the Soul
6. Release feelings of Resentment, hate and fear
7. Be here now
8. You are the writer of your own destiny
9. Nourish your body with the right foods
10. Don't resist reality
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