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Buddhism Basics

Sonali Perera

I grew up Hindu, Jain and Buddhist went to a Christian school. Aspects of each religion have shaped me into the person I am today. In my recent years, I have been more drawn to Buddhism, and all it has to offer. I feel Buddhism is more of a "way of life" or philosophy. 

What is the Buddhist philosophy?

  1. To lead a moral life
  2. To be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions
  3. To develop wisdom and understanding

The Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path make up the basic concepts of Buddhism. 

The Four Noble Truths

  1. In life there is suffering & sorrow
  2. Suffering & sorrow are caused by people's greedy desire for power, pleasure and possessions
  3. Suffering & sorrow will end when people overcome their greed = Nirvana = enlightenment
  4. People can overcome their greed and uncontrolled desires by following the Noble Eightfold Path

Noble Eightfold Path

The Noble Eightfold Path is grouped into three essential elements of Buddhism

  • Wisdom through: 
    • Right understanding - understand and live the Four Noble Truths. Remove ignorance and and entanglement from life
    • Right thought - avoid desire/greed, hatred/anger and illusion/ignorance in your life
  • Practice moral conduct through:
    • Right speech - avoid all forms of abusive speech like gossip, lying, slander
    • Right action - live a life of non-violence (ahimsa), do not steal, do not harm others
    • Right livelihood - work in a job and live a life where you are not hurting others
  • Mental Discipline through:
    • Right effort - purify yourself from negative thoughts and emotions, such as anger and jealousy
    • Right mindfulness - have a body and mind awareness of the present moment. Be present. Don't be lost in daydreams, anticipation, indulgences, or worry. 
    • Right concentration - meditate to reach enlightenment. 

In summary, Buddhism is a philosophy rather than a religion where one is not worshiping a God but is focusing on the road to enlightenment, a state of being.