Many people have a misunderstanding of what Buddhism is so in this page I’ve explained what Buddhism is and what Buddhists believe and how to become a Buddhist, how it is different from other religions.
- What is Buddhism?
- What does Buddhism teach?
- What is Nirvana
- How to become a Buddhist?
- My life as a Buddhist
What is Buddhism?
When it comes to Buddhism a question that most people ask is ‘Is Buddhism a religion?’ well the answer is yes and no. A religion is a belief system, and worship of a God or gods. Buddhism is also a belief system which is more tolerant of all other beliefs or religions. But Buddhists do not worship nor do they have a God, however they do pay respect to images/statues of the Buddha, neither in worship nor to ask for any favours rather as an expression of gratitude for teaching how to end the suffering from life.
Buddhism is a teaching about the subject called life that leads to enlightenment or the ending of suffering.
As Buddhism teaches the solutions to our problems are within our selves.
‘Was the Buddha a God?’ is another question that most people ask. Well the answer is no, he was not, nor did he claim to be.
“As a lotus that is not soiled by the water, I’m not soiled by the world. Therefore I am Buddha” is the answer given by Lord Buddha him self to this question. What he meant by this is ‘Like a lotus that grows in the mud within water he grew up as a normal person in this world with desires, craving for things just like us and like a lotus that bloom above the water without getting soiled by water he awakened himself and ended all the desires and suffering and stays above the world without getting dirtied by the desires unlike others’.
He was a man who found his path to enlightenment through his own experience and taught it to the world
What does Buddhism teach?
The Four Noble Truths
The First Noble Truth is suffering.
From birth to death all we go through is misery; birth, ageing, sickness and death are suffering. Even though everyone struggle for pleasure they receive only pain; having loved ones close to you a pleasure but being separated from them is a sorrow, pain and grief; you suffer. Having a lot of money is a pleasure but if someone stole it, hatred, anger, sadness, and pain all take over your whole body so you suffer. And even if these things do attain a little happiness they soon tire of it and again become dissatisfaction.
The Second Noble Truth is the cause of suffering.
Desire and greed always lead to suffering. Wanting someone to love/like you, not being able to have something you want, these things only cause you pain. Craving and attachment for sensual pleasures, the desire to end grief and the aspiration to go on living, these are the causes of rebirth, which brings further suffering.
The Third Noble Truth is the termination of suffering and reaching true happiness. If the useless craving is give up and live each day at a time (without dwelling in the past or the imagined future) suffering and dissatisfaction end, and peace and satisfaction replaces them.
The Fourth Noble Truth is the way to ending of suffering.
The Buddha taught Middle Way that avoids extreme pleasure-seeking or extreme hardships. This middle way leads to enlightenment, and is called the Noble Eightfold Path.
What is Nirvana
Nirvana is the ending of suffering and finding eternal happiness. As Lord Buddha said, Nirvana can not be imagined, it’s like a flame once blown out you don’t know where it goes and once gone it never returns.
If you do not achieve Nirvana you will be reborn and cycle of life will continue as always so Nirvana is the ultimate stage and the end of death. If you are not reborn you will not die.
How to become a Buddhist?
Unlike most of the other religions you do not have to go through any special ceremonies or anything, it’s rather a simple matter to become a Buddhist yet harder than other religions.
A verse from the Buddhist sutra reads "Avoid all evils; do all that are good; purify one's mind. These are the teachings of all Buddhas."
First you have to follow the main 5 precepts for everyday life
- Refrain from Killing
- Refrain from Stealing
- Refrain from Lying, Slandering, Gossiping and Spreading Rumours
- Refrain from Sexual Misconduct
- Refrain from Taking Intoxicants
You also have to understand what Buddhism teaches. These teachings can be understood and tested by anyone even if you are not a Buddhist. In fact Lord Buddha asked all his followers not to take his word as true but rather to test the teachings for themselves so that each person decides for themselves and takes responsibility for their own deeds and understanding.
This makes Buddhism more tolerant belief and a teaching that everyone can learn and uses in their own ways.
My life as a Buddhist
I became a Buddhist because my parents are Buddhists. Even though I didn’t really understand much about being a Buddhist I always followed the 5 precepts as my parent taught me since I was little (I should say that I’ve lied but not the kind of lies that will hurt anyone). Now I’m glad that I did follow them. Now I can understand how others might feel being hurt so I don’t want to hurt anyone and I want to help everyone as I can, because seeing people smile, the innocent look in animals eyes brings me happiness.
I didn’t like going to Sunday schools at all but I always liked going to the temple, it makes me feel calm and happy, I forget all the problems I have. I always liked the fragrant of flowers and the incense sticks mixed with the burning of oil lamps that brings peace to my mind. All Buddhist’s festivals are unforgettably beautiful.
After experiencing all these things and once I could understand Buddhists’ teachings I knew that even if my parents weren’t Buddhists I would have definitely chosen Buddhism.
As a Buddhist my life is more peaceful and I always find meditation more helpful when I want to relax and forget the problems I’m going through.
In Buddhism there are no rules saying that you have to go to the temple or you have to worship at certain times or anything like that, you are completely free. There are no rules to prevent you from wearing what you want but when you go to the temple you have to wear cloths that are appreciate to the place as you are going to pay your respect to the Buddha. Buddhism gives me peace in mind and soul. If you follow the teachings correctly it will definitely create a more peaceful world.