Buddhism is a religion to about 300 million people around the world. The word comes from “budhi” which means “to awaken”.
It has its origins about 2500 years ago when Siddharta Gotama, known as The Buddha, was awakened or enlightened—at the age of 35.
The 3 key elements of Buddhism are:
To lead a moral life
To be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions
To develop wisdom and understanding
The practice of Buddhism includes a deep understanding of the human mind and natural therapies which prominent psychologists around the world are now discovering to be both very advanced and effective.
Buddhists pay respect to images of Buddha, not necesarily in worship or to ask for favours, but as an ideal to become. A statue of the Buddha with hands gently resting in his lap and with a compassionate smile reminds us to strive to develop peace and love within ourselves. Bowing to the statue is an expression of gratitude for the teachings.
One of the Buddhist teachings is that wealth does no guarantee happiness and that life is impermanent. All people suffer whether rich or poor, but those who understand The Buddha's teachings can find true happiness.
Buddhism is a belief system which is tolerant of all other beliefs or religions and agrees most of their moral teachings. There has never been any war fought in the name of Buddhism.
THE BUDDHA AND HIS TEACHINGS
Siddhartha Gautama was born into a royal family in Northern India in 563 BC. At the age of 29 he realised that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness, so he explored the different teachings of the religions and philosophies of the day to find the key to human happiness. After many years studay and finally six years of meditation he finally found “the middle path” and was enlightened. After enlightenment, The Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism—called the Dharma or Truth—until his death at the age of 80.
The Buddha taught many things, but the basic concepts in Buddhism are the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.
The First Noble Truth is that of suffering. That life includes pain, getting old, disease and ultimately—death. We also endure psychological sufferings like loneliness, fear, frustration, embarrassment, disappointment and anger. Buddhism explains how to avoid suffering and how we can be truly happy.
The Second Noble Truth is that suffering is caused by craving and aversion. We will suffer if we expect other people to conform to our expectations. Getting what you want does not guarantee happiness.
The Third Noble Truth is that suffering can be overcome and happiness can be attained.
The Fourth Noble Truth is that the Noble Eightfold Path is the path which leads to the end of suffering. It is being moral through what we say and do and through our livelihood, and by focussing the mind on being fully aware of our thoughts and actions and by developing compassion for others.
The moral code within Buddhism is the precepts. These are: not to take the life of anything living; to abstain from sexual misconduct and sensual overindulgence; to refrain from untrue speech; and, to avoid intoxication, that is, losing mindfulness.
Buddhist teachers can be understood and tested by anyone. Buddhism teaches that the solution to our problems lies within ourselves and not outside. The Buddha asks all his followers not to take his word as being true, but rather to test teachings for themselves. Each person takes responsibility for their own actions and understandings. This makes Buddhism less a package of beliefs which is to be accepted in its entirety, and more of a teaching which each person uses in their own way.