What is Buddhism

BuddhismBuddhism is a path where an individual is meant to develop on a spiritual level. This spiritual development would eventually lead to the true form of reality. Meditation is a big part of practicing Buddhism. The beliefs, spiritual practices and the teachings of the religion will be addressed in this article. The origins of the religion can be found in India and slowly spread to the rest of Asia in the Middle Ages.

The Buddha

Buddhism is led by the teachings of the Buddha. The way the Buddha lives his life and the details about his life can be found in old Buddhist texts. However, there are many discussions whether these texts can be verified. This is due to the fact that the exact dates are not known and there are not many details given about the Buddha’s social background. It is said that the Buddha was intensely touched by the suffering caused by humanity. The situation on Earth was a reason for the Buddha to start meditation. In this way he was aiming to overcome suffering. It is said that the Buddha was meditating under the so called Bodhi Tree. This tree is located in Bodh Gaya in the Indian state Bihar. The place is now a religious site and is used for people as a pilgrimage destination. While meditating in Bodh Gaya, the Buddha is said to have reached enlightenment. This implies that the found a spiritual way of how to end the suffering caused by society. As an enlightened being, the Buddha did not only attract many followers but he also created the Sangha. Sangha is used to refer to the community, or the order, following the teachings of the Buddha. After the creation of the Sangha, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching. The Buddha taught the Dharma. While there is no single word that explains the concept Dharma, the Dharma refers to the order that makes life and the universe possible. These things include law and justice, non-violence and personal behaviors. The Buddha eventually passed away at the age of 80 in India.

Teachings of Buddhism

The lessons of the Buddha and the concept Dharma are used as a basis of practicing Buddhism. Buddhism considers life to be a process of constant change. The practices of the Buddha, as mentioned in the Buddhist texts, aim to benefit as much as possible from the fact that life changes constantly. It is interpreted that an individual can change and become a better person when following the teachings and practices of the Buddha. In order to be able to change, it is important that one is mentally convinced that one can actually change. Thus, one needs to be able to change the mind. Buddhist texts mention and outline different ways on how to change and work the mind. One of the most important practices in Buddhism is practicing meditation. Meditation is one of the ways to develop a more positive state of mind. Meditation can help create characteristics such as being able to concentrate more, being calm and becoming more aware of your surroundings. Also it can help stimulate more positive emotions, such as friendliness. The awareness that can be created with meditation can lead to becoming more understanding of the self, the people around you and life itself. Moreover, Buddhists do not try to coerce people to adopt their religion. Instead, they want their teachings and practices to be available to everyone who is interested so people are free to make a decision.

Four Noble Truths

The formulation of the teachings of the Buddha are also referred to as the Four Aryan Truths, or the Four Noble Truths. These four truths basically summarize the Buddhist teachings. The first truth states that all existence is dukkha. The term dukkha does not have one single definition but can be described as suffering, unsatisfactory or pain. This implies that all our lives are a struggle. The Buddha believed that it is not possible for us to find ultimate happiness or satisfaction in the things we experience in our lives. Dukkha was therefore considered to be the problem of our existence. The second truth was that the cause of dukkha is craving. The Buddha said that it is a natural human tendency to try to find the cause of our difficulties outside ourselves. We do not want to blame ourselves for the things that go wrong in our lives, and therefore look at external factors. However, the Buddha believes that the actual roots of our problems are to be found in the human mind itself. It is therefore said that we should reflect on our own behavior and mindset before blaming others for the struggles in our lives. The third truth is phrased as “the cessation of dukkha comes with the cessation of craving”. This implies that since we are the cause of our own difficulties, we can also provide the solution to these struggles. If the problem is created by own mind, our mind also has the potential to find the solution to the problem. We therefore might not be able to change the things that happen to us, but we are able to adapt our responses to the things we experience. The fourth truth is that there is a path that leads us away from dukkha. The Buddha holds the individual responsible for the things we experience and the problems we create. Therefore, the Buddha  also mentions methods through which we can change as an individual. These methods are referred to as the Noble Eightfold Path.

Noble Eightfold Path

The Noble Eightfold Path, often also referred to as the Middle Path or the Middle Way, is the fourth noble truth. It is also considered to be one of the most famous Buddha’s teachings. The Noble Eightfold Path is, according to the Buddha, the way to assert from the cessation of dukkha. This path teaches that by practicing mindfulness, cultivating discipline and being able to restrain oneself, the individual can stop their craving. When practicing the abovementioned methods, the individual will eventually be able to stop their suffering. The Noble Eightfold Path is often divided in three divisions, namely wisdom, moral virtue and meditation. The first two paths fall under the division wisdom and are the right view and the right resolve. The right view implies that one should believe that there is a life after death. Not everything ends with death and that one should believe in rebirth. The right resolve means that one should adopt the life of a religious individual in order to be able to follow the right path. When one would be in an environment on non-sensuality one will be able to end suffering and will be able to not only focus on the self. The second division is called right virtue and includes the path of right speech, right conduct and right livelihood. Right speech means that one should not lie or use swear words. Moreover, one should also not be telling others what another person says about them. Right conduct implies that one should not kill or injure another. Also, one should not take what it not theirs and one is not supposed to perform sexual acts. The third path under this division is the right livelihood. This implies that one should only live with the things necessary to live and which are essential. The third division is meditation. The paths under this category include right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. Right effort means that one should prevent thinking about thoughts that could disrupt meditation. Right mindfulness refers that one should always be aware of what they are doing. Right concentration implies that one should practice meditation.


According to the Buddha there are many things in life that we cannot control but it is possible to take responsibility of one’s own mind. The Buddha therefore states that it is the most important thing that we can do in order to overcome feelings such as sleepiness, confusion, hatred and anxiety.  Meditation is considered to be of way of changing and transforming the human mind. Meditation, in Buddhist terms, encourages emotional positivity, clarity and concentration. Moreover, it also provides a way to see things more clearly and from a more objective perspective. By practicing meditation, one learns the patterns of the human mind and offers a way to develop more positive ways of being. Patience and discipline can energize the state of mind and make the mind more calm and focused. It is said that these experiences can lead to a new understanding of life. Many different meditation practices have been developed. Most of them are created according to the Buddhist tradition and are often considered to be mind-trainings. The one thing that all these trainings have in common is the fact that they strive for the individual mind to be in a positive state of mind.

Ethics in Buddhism

As mentioned earlier, the Buddhist tradition recognizes the fact that one faces many struggles in life and that life is complex. Also, Buddhism does not suggest that there is one solution to the many struggles we face in life, but it provides different techniques and means to reflect on the self. By reflecting on the self, one will be able to transform the mindset needed to overcome the challenges in life. Buddhism, therefore, does not refer to actions being right or wrong. Instead, it refers to individuals being skilful or unskillful. Buddhism states that one should have faith in the Three Jewels. The Three Jewels are the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. By having faith in these three concepts, one will find a way to live by ethical principles and therefore  to the best of one’s ability. 



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Article written by: SarahAjaoud
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Added: 01-09-2016 15:53
Last modified: 23-09-2016 23:22

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