Buddhism, put simply, is a system designed to bring knowledge
and understanding of the true nature of things. According
to Buddhism, it is our ignorance of the true nature of things
that leads to suffering, so the aim of the Buddhist system
is to alleviate ignorance by revealing things as they really
are. The goal is to achieve perfect clarity, called Nirvana,
through stages of awareness, understanding, compassion and
freedom from craving and desire.
is not described as a religion, nor a philosophy or a law.
The compassionate, moral and philosophical way of life told
by the Buddha is called the Dharma or Dhamma and is the
word used in Buddhism to mean Universal Truth. Dharma demands
no blind faith, has no dogma, no ceremonies and has remained
perfectly preserved for humanity in the written teachings
and oral lessons passed from generation to generation by
Buddha and His disciples. Ananda
was the disciple specially gifted in hearing and preserving
the Dharma, and it is through him that the Buddha's teachings
have been spread throughout the world.
Buddhist Teachings there is no unchanging or eternal soul
created by God or by any Divine Essence. In this sense,
another key Buddhist idea about rebirth does not mean the
reincarnation of the same self into a new body after death,
as Buddhists believe there is no real self either. Just
as you cannot sit down quietly and then point to where your
self is, or which part of you is 'I', there is no substantial
soul either. Buddhists believe instead that there is a flow
of consciousness, a stream running on karma, and all living
beings are like water in this river.
noble truth taught by Buddha after his enlightenment is
the truth of the cause of suffering. Desire, ill-will and
ignorance are the causes of suffering, and a condition of
life for all living beings. Samsara is the circle of suffering
that is the destiny of all living beings until they achieve
enlightenment and break the pattern of rebirth to experience
the truth of existence.
about rebirth are at the root of most ancient religions
and very central to all Buddhist thinking. The Buddha
received three varieties of knowledge on the night of
His enlightenment, one of these was direct knowledge of
His own past lives. The Buddha's chief disciples also
achieved memory of their past lives, including their names
and jobs. Buddhists
teach that we carry 'baggage' from past lives in the form
of likes and dislikes, talents, attitudes and even wisdom
and special powers. It is possible to be reborn into any
living being, and even into other spiritual and physical
realms it is the quality of karma gained in each
life that determines the fortune of the next.
all living beings experience the same truths about life,
and share the same suffering in samsara, every living being
is also completely unique. There are many differences between
us, even plants and animals. There are differences in wealth,
health, closeness to the sun and to water and all the circumstances
of the way our lives unfold. These differences are caused
by karma. Karma explains why some of us flourish, and others
fail; why some are wealthy and others poor; why some are
happy and others rarely so. Karma is all about action. It
is the reflection of our actions, in this life and in previous
as a seedling can only grow according to the conditions
of soil, water and sunlight it is nurtured in, every living
being is also limited or nourished by the conditions of
their life and past lives. The twelve elements of dependent
origination are ignorance, mental formation, consciousness,
name and form, the six senses, contact, feeling, craving,
clinging, becoming, birth, old age and death. These conditions
are like the soil in which the seed of the next life is
planted and therefore determine the nature of that incarnation.
Our habits in this life and previous lives can become our
characters in future lives, with good and bad qualities.
This is why awareness, meditation and reflection are critical
in order to build on wisdom gained or ignorance abandoned.
teaching lies at the heart of Buddhist understanding of
wisdom. It relates to the characteristics, or traits, of
existence which Buddha identified as impermanence, suffering
and notself. Together these realities describe the universal
nature of all existence and provide a key to knowledge and
understanding which opens the way for all other Buddhist
is a conscious effort to change how the mind works. It is
a powerful force and should be practised sensibly. The Pali
word for meditation is 'bhavana', meaning 'to grow' or 'to
develop'. Meditation is very important because even when
we wish to make changes it is very difficult to control
the thoughts and desires that make us think, act and experience
the world as we do. By developing awareness and cultivating
the energy needed to transform ingrained habits and attitudes,
meditation is crucial to mental health and well-being. There
are many types of meditation, the Buddha taught a range
of ways in order to use meditation to tackle particular
problems or develop particular skills. The most common are
Mindfulness or Insight Meditation and Loving-kindness Meditation.
The endless cycle of life and death is a flux that can only
be stopped by enlightenment, according to Buddhists. Enlightenment
leads to Nirvana which means the end of all craving, the
achievement of perfect non-attachment and of happiness.
Nirvana is not a place or a heaven, it is a state of mind
that is available to all living beings in this life. It
is a way of living and being in the world that is free of
suffering and rich in wisdom, happiness and compassion.
Buddhist insights and practices are based on understanding the
true nature of things. Buddhism is essentially the pursuit of
Truth, known as the Dharma. Concepts such as 'Karma', 'Notself',
'Dependent Arising' can be realised through experiential knowing,
by the practice of meditation or mental culture. Nirvana is
the purifying and freeing of the mind of greed, hatred and ignorance.