Buddhism has become widespread throughout many Asian countries including India, China, Tibet, Nepal, Korea, Japan and Sri Lanka, as well as many countries in the western world where there is an increasing Buddhist following. There are currently approximately three hundred million people following the Buddhist tradition in its various forms.
The title “Buddha” and the term "Buddhism" derives from the word “budhi” which means “ to awaken”. The “awakening” to which this refers is a Spiritual awakening whereby practitioners seek enlightenment, the “Buddha within”, which is analogous to discovering the truth that the Universe, God is within everyone. The person who became known as the Buddha, Siddartha Gautama, achieved full awakening or enlightenment at the age of thirty five years old.
As with many enlightened traditions Buddhism or the Buddhist religion transcends the title of a mere religion, not being dogmatic or orthodox in its teachings and with no rigid doctrines. Like Hinduism, Buddhism is more of a philosophy and indeed a way of life to the many of the hundreds of thousands of Buddhists practicing it today. Philosophy means “love of wisdom”, and the Buddhist philosophy broadly embraces the need to live a moral life, to be Mindful and aware of all thoughts and actions at all times and to develop Universal wisdom and understanding.
Notwithstanding being born into a royal family with all the wealth he could possibly need, Siddartha Gautama realised himself at the age of twenty nine years that wealth and luxury did not guarantee, and was not a route to ultimate happiness. After several years of dedicated searching and meditation Siddartha Gautama finally discovered the middle path and was enlightened, after which he devoted the remainder of his life to teaching the principles of Buddhism, known as the “Dhamma” or “truth”, until his death at the age of eighty.
Although there are many variations and traditions of Buddhism, the central focus of the Buddhist is to always teach the word of real truth. Buddhism is based upon four noble truths and the eightfold path. The four noble truths may be summarised as follows:
The first noble truth: teaches that to most people life is suffering, including pain, disease and untimely death. Suffering also includes loneliness, fear, frustration, disappointment and anger. Buddhism teaches how all of these problems are due to the way people live, and how to avoid them.
The second noble truth: states that suffering is due to craving and aversion. It teaches that people will suffer if they expect others to conform to their expectations. This noble truth also teaches that wanting deprives people of contentment and happiness due to always striving for more and more material gain and possessions over others. A lifetime of craving and wanting, especially the craving to want to continue to exist in the current physical body, creates a powerful Energy in which people become trapped, and ultimately the result after passing is to be reborn once again in order to learn the lessons failed to be learned in the previous life.
The third noble truth: states that suffering can be overcome and happiness attained. This noble truth teaches the reality that if all useless craving and desires are set aside, and each day is lived one at a time not dwelling on the past or an imagined future, then you will be set free and attain happiness and contentment providing at the same for more time to help others. This is a condition known as “Nirvana”.
The fourth noble truth: states that the “Eightfold Path” is the path that leads to the end of suffering.
The Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism consists of eight principles to be practiced by the Buddhist that may be summarised as follows:
First: “Samma-Ditthi”: complete or perfect vision. The vision of the true nature of reality and the path of transformation.
Second: “Samma-Sankappa”: perfected emotion or aspiration. This is to maintain rightful thinking and attitude, liberating emotionality and acting from love or compassion.
Third: “Samma-Vaca”: perfected or whole speech. Clear, truthful, uplifting and non-harmful communication.
Fourth: Samma-Kammanta: integral action. An ethical foundation for life based upon the principle of non-exploitation of self or others.
Fifth: “Samma-Ajiva”: proper livelihood. Based upon correct action and ethical principles of non-exploitation. This is the basis for the ideal society.
Sixth: “Samma-Vayama”: complete or full effort, Energy or vitality. Consciously directing life Energy to the transformative path of creative and healing action, thus fostering wholeness. This is conscious evolution.
Seventh: “Samma-Sati”: complete or thorough awareness, also called “right Mindfulness”. Levels of awareness and Mindfulness of everything, oneself, feelings, thought, people and reality.
Eighth: “Samma-Samhadi”: full, integral holistic “oneness” with The Source or The All. This includes concentration, meditation, and single pointedness of Mind, and the progressive establishment of the whole being into the many levels of conscious awareness. Note, the word “Samma” means whole, perfect, integral complete, thorough.