Buddhism is a family of beliefs and practices, considered by many to be a religion. A Buddhist is one who takes refuge in The Three Jewels: the Buddha (the Awakened One), the Dharma (the Teaching of the Buddha) and the Sangha (the Community of Buddhists).
Buddhism (of our era) is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as "The Buddha" (of our era), who lived in the northeastern region of the Indian subcontinent around 600 BC. The Buddha taught that the nature of reality was impermanent and interconnected. We suffer in life because of our desire to transient things. Liberation from suffering may come by training the mind and acting according to the laws of karma (cause and effect) i.e. with right action, good things will come to you. This teaching is known as the Four Noble Truths:
- Dukkha: Suffering is everywhere
- Samudaya: There is a cause of suffering, which is attachment or misplaced desire (tanha) rooted in ignorance.
- Nirodha: There is an end of suffering, which is Nirvana (the possibility of liberation exists for everyone).
- Maggo: There is a path that leads out of suffering, known as the Noble Eightfold Path:
- Prajñā is the wisdom that purifies the mind, allowing it to attain spiritual insight into the true nature of all things. It includes:
- dṛṣṭi (right View): viewing reality as it is, not just as it appears to be.
- saṃkalpa (right Thought): intention of renunciation, freedom and harmlessness.
- Śīla is the ethics or morality, or abstention from unwholesome deeds. It includes:
- vāc (right Speech): speaking in a truthful and non hurtful way
- karman (right Conduct): acting in a non harmful way
- ājīvana (right Vocation/occupaion): a non harmful livelihood
- Samādhi is the mental discipline required to develop mastery over one’s own mind. This is done through the practice of various contemplative and meditative practices, and includes:
- vyāyāma (right Effort): making an effort to improve
- smṛti (right Attention): awareness to see things for what they are with clear consciousness, being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion
- samādhi (right Concentration): correct meditation or concentration, explained as the first 4 dhyānas