Buddhism: Beliefs and Practices
For many Buddhists, Buddhism is a way of life that focuses on faith, ultimate reality, and understanding of human nature. One of the important fundamentals of Buddhism is reincarnation. The goal is to break the cycle of reincarnation by breaking their attachment to desire. Doing so, one will attain Nirvana and will be free of suffering.
The Buddha was referred to as “The Enlightened One”. After the Buddha became enlightened, his goal was to teach others how to become enlightened as well. He taught that eliminating suffering is done by fully understanding the world. In order to do this, he urged his followers to focus on the Four Noble Truths.
These Four Noble Truths are:
- Dukkha - The truth of suffering: Suffering is real and almost universal.
- Samudaya – The cause of suffering: The desire to have control over things.
- Nirodha – There is an end to suffering: Suffering ends with the final liberation of Nirvana.
- Magga – In order to end suffering, the Eightfold Path must be followed.
The eight elements of the Eightfold Path are:
1) The right understanding of the Four Noble Truths
2) The right intention and the right way of thinking
3) Correct speech; avoiding verbal misdeeds
4) Correct action; avoiding physical misdeeds
5) Correct livelihood; avoiding things that will harm others
6) Correct effort; avoiding negative states of mind
7) Correct mindfulness
8) Correct concentration
In order to follow elements of the Eightfold Path, it is good to know and follow the Five Precepts. The Five Precepts states that one must not harm or kill others, steal, lie, misuse sex, or consume alcohol and other drugs. These are guidelines to live by, but it is recommended that these guidelines be followed.
There are three important practices in Buddhism. The first one is Sila, which means to have good conduct. It is based on two principles: 1) equality, that all living entities are equal and 2) reciprocity, treating others the way you would wish to be treated. The second important practice is Samadhi, which is the practice of concentration and meditation. The third important practice is Prajna, which is wisdom and enlightenment and the real heart of Buddhism. It is believed that wisdom will emerge if the follower is calm and pure.