Buddhism is a religion that began in India over 2,500 years ago. It has gained worldwide recognition with many people practicing it. Buddhism involves a wide variety of practices, traditions, and beliefs that people follow in accordance to Buddha (Chodron 14). Most people however, believe that it is not merely a religion but a way of life for the people that involves following Buddha’s philosophy.
The Buddha, as the people believe, was an enlightened teacher who helped people with his deep insight on different issues with regard to human suffering. The name Buddha means ‘the awakened one’ due to his ability to give meaning to human life. His real name is Siddhartha Gautama as commonly known in Buddhist tradition. He was born in a royal family in Nepal, India where he grew up (Cohen 25). When he grew older, he realized that not all the wealth that his family possessed could guarantee him happiness. This lead to his research where he studied and explored the different religions and related their teachings. After six years of studies, he found a neutral teaching that did not have any biasness. This is the enlightenment that he was searching for all this time and from that day onwards, he began teaching the principles of Buddhism that he had just learned. He continued his mission for the rest of his life until he passed on at the age of 80. Buddha, as he was commonly referred to, did not claim to be god, but rather used his experience to teach people on a life that they could be enlightened from the experience he had over the years after his discovery of Buddhism (Conze 47).
Buddhism is a philosophy system that believes in four noble truths that include suffering, suffering is triggered by desires, dislikes, suffering can be overcome, happiness attained, and finally the Noble 8-fold path is the only one that leads to the end of suffering (Keown 32). Firstly, the first noble truth is suffering which means that life is made up of suffering. This is a realistic thing since everyone has different types of suffering including diseases, disappointments, fear, frustration, and ultimately death. These are sufferings that are part of human life and Buddhism now explains that these types of suffering can be avoided and people can lead happy and fulfilling lives (Keown 35). The second noble truth states that suffering is caused by human desires and dislikes. This means that suffering comes about when people expect too much from others and getting things that they desire. Buddha teaches that getting your desires does not constitute happiness. This struggle that human have is therefore the root cause of physical suffering that we experience (Keown 36).
The third noble truth states that suffering can be overcome and true happiness gained. This is with regard to the third noble truth and explains that if humans get rid of their desires, then they may be able to become free and happy individuals by learning to take each day at a time. Therefore, focusing on the future and forgetting the past will enable a person to achieve more time and energy to enable him/her help others referred to as ‘Nirvana’ (Keown 41). The fourth and final noble truth explains about the Noble 8-fold path that in which a person has to be fully aware of his/her actions and thought at all times, morally upright through daily life, gaining wisdom using the four noble truths as well as having compassion to others who may require any assistance (Keown 42).
Buddhism also follows a strict moral code that involves a number of precepts that guide Buddhist’s on their daily lives. They include not taking the life of anything living, abstaining from sexual and sensual transgression and over indulgence, refraining from untrue speech, avoid any form of intoxication, and not taking anything that has not freely given (Penney 112). These are the laws that Buddhist follow to reach the path of the enlightened. Buddhists believe in karma, which is the law that anything with a cause has an effect that comes with it. This means that every action that a person takes has its results. This therefore explains the reason behind everything that is in the world and the inequality that it comes with (Thien 66).
Buddhism therefore explains the things that humans cannot understand in the world such as inequality and injustice thus providing believers a way of life that may ultimately lead to true happiness. It involves understanding how the mind works and give answers in the modern world that we now live in and help people live better and satisfying lives that many people search for.