Buddhism is a religion with a long history. The founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, was the son of an Indian king. He lived around 566-480 B.C. and enjoyed the many privileges of his wealthy upbringing. Once he began to mature in early adulthood, he tired of the indulgences royal life provided and began to search for understanding.
The Buddhist path to enlightenment began when Gautama met four men: an old man, a corpse, an ascetic, and an ill man. He decided that suffering was at the end of all existence. He then became a monk and denied all of his worldly possessions. He sought to understand the truth in the world around him.
One day, when meditating under a tree, he finally understood how to be free from suffering and have salvation. Gautama is the Buddha, which means “Enlightened One.” He spent the rest of his life teaching others what he then understood.
Buddhists believe that the mind has light nature and can perceive objects. They understood that the right way to cleanse a mind of delusions and impressions is to practice Dharma, which leads to the happiness of enlightenment.
The Truth of Suffering
The truth of suffering is one of the Four Noble Truths of the Buddhist teachings. Buddhists believe that suffering has a cause and an end. It is a practical perspective that explains the way the world is. Pleasure should be understood as fleeting but not necessarily denied. Finally, only sickness, aging, and death are unavoidable.
The Truth of the Cause of Suffering
The first truth identifies suffering. The second truth helps explain the cause of this suffering. Buddhists believe desiring pleasures, immortality, and worldly goods can never be satisfied but will lead to suffering. If someone cannot concentrate and have mental insight, their mind will be undeveloped and unable to understand the truth. This ignorance leads to envy, hatred, greed, and anger.
The Truth of the End of Suffering
Nirvana is a transcendent state without worldly birth or suffering. In Nirvana, a person obtains enlightenment. Buddhists believe that the end of suffering on earth comes through Nirvana. The Noble Eightfold Path provides a way to achieve this end of suffering. This path includes wisdom, insight, meditation, mental development, and moral conduct.
To a Buddhist, karma is negative or good actions that someone takes in their life. Good actions like righteousness, meditation, and generosity lead to happiness in the end. Negative actions, like stealing, killing, and lying, bring about unhappiness. Neutral karma is something that comes from breathing, eating, and sleeping. It has no costs or benefits.
Buddhists believe that people can be reborn into six planes. People with good karma are reborn into a fortunate realm, with the realm of man being the highest. They are free of their conflict here. Those who go to the unfavorable realms suffer among animals, ghosts, and hell. The realm of man also provides an opportunity to achieve Nirvana. Buddhists believe that being born a human is an opportunity that no one should waste.
The Buddha spent his life teaching so that people would be satisfied and happy. He achieved enlightenment himself, and he had compassion for others. He wanted to share his experiences with them, so he taught them to develop their minds as he had done and showed them the path to enlightenment.