Buddhism Concepts & Beliefs
Buddhism does not focus on worshipping god(s), but is rather based on teaching the dharma, or the truth about things in nature and the universe. Central to Buddhism are the Four Noble Truths that came to Buddha as he meditated under the Bodhi tree. They are: Dukkha (existence is full of suffering), Trsna (suffering is caused by the attachment to wrong things), Nirvana (suffering can end), and the Eightfold Path (how to end suffering and begin a life of Enlightenment).
Buddhism also teaches the principles of karma, according to which our current lives reflect our past dealings, as well as the belief in rebirth by which consciousness exists in future lives. Buddhism is a peaceful religion that is against war and killing.
Samsara translates to "continuous moving" and in Buddhism is the cycle of birth and rebirth. Samsara is based on the idea that human beings desire constant pleasure and try to avoid pain from the moment of birth to death. This lifestyle is largely associated with suffering and a conditioned existence. This lifestyle also results in the conditions and causes of the next life after death. According to Buddhism, all beings suffer in Samsara and the cycle can only be broken through enlightenment when Nirvana is attained.
Karma can be translated to "action," or "work" in Buddhism. Karma is what fuels the cycle of suffering and rebirth, or "Samsara." The idea of karma is that certain actions, whether good or bad, come back in another form or as a consequence of the act in the current life or in a later life after rebirth. These actions are believed to come from the intention of the mind. It is this mental intent that determines the resulting effect later on. In other words, a good action in this life can bring a positive result in the next.
Rebirth is a central belief of Buddhism and is the idea that living beings go through several lifetimes. There is a cycle of birth and rebirth from conception to death. In this cycle, the self is constantly changing and is never permanent, unlike the belief of the self in Hinduism and Christianity. The rebirth is determined by the laws of karma. A being can be reborn into any of the five realms which are: animals, human beings, devas (gods, deities, spirits, etc), Naraka beings (Naraka can be translated into Hells), and Preta (invisible beings that share the space of humans).
Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths are the early teachings of Siddhartha Gautama after he attained Nirvana. The definitions of the four truths are:
- The Noble Truth of Suffering: Life ultimately leads to suffering. Suffering includes birth, aging, illness, death, sorrow, pain, despair, separation from what is pleasing to oneself, not attaining what one wants, etc.
- The Noble Truth of the Accumulation of Suffering: This is also referred to as the origin of suffering which is considered to be craving something that leads to pleasure, lust, and delight. Cravings are considered to be the cause of suffering.
- The Noble Truth of the Elimination of Suffering: The third truth is the idea of giving up the craving and relinquishing it.
- The Noble Truth of the Path that Leads Away from Suffering: This truth is the way that leads to the end of suffering and is also called the Noble Eightfold Path. The path that leads away from suffering consists of having the right intention, right action, right concentration and right mindfulness in each day.
The Noble Eightfold PathThe path to ending suffering, which is the Buddha's fourth Noble Truth, is divided into eight sections. The ultimate goal of the Eightfold Path is to achieve self-awakening. This path is thought to bring insight into the truth about reality and is used to eliminate hatred and greed. An individual must first accept the Four Noble Truths.
The eight sections of the path all begin with the word "right." The Eightfold Path is often represented as the dharma wheel, or dharmacakra, in Buddhist imagery and symbolism. In Buddhism, dharma refers to phenomenon or constituents of material and mental factors of human experience. Dharma also has various other definitions including the source of things and the truth.
The Noble Eightfold Path can be divided into the three basic sections which include the eight sections. The three divisions are: Wisdom (right view and right intention), Ethical conduct (right speech, right action, right livelihood), and Concentration (right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration).
Nirvana or "Enlightenment"
In the West, nirvana is generally called "Enlightenment" or "Awakening." Nirvana can be translated to "cessation," which is specifically associated with the ending of suffering and the end of the cycle of birth and rebirth. Once nirvana is attained, a being is extinguished or enlightened.