Buddhism, like most of the great religions of the world, is divided into many different traditions. However, most traditions share a common set of fundamental beliefs.
For many Buddhists, Buddhism is a way of life that focuses on faith, ultimate reality, and understanding of human nature. One of the important fundamentals of Buddhism is reincarnation. The goal is to break the cycle of reincarnation by breaking their attachment to desire. Doing so, one will attain Nirvana and will be free of suffering.
The Buddha was referred to as “The Enlightened One”. After the Buddha became enlightened, his goal was to teach others how to become enlightened as well. He taught that eliminating suffering is done by fully understanding the world. In order to do this, he urged his followers to focus on the Four Noble Truths.
Four Noble Truths:
Dukkha: The truth of suffering. Suffering is real and almost universal. Suffering has many causes: loss, sickness, pain, failure, the impermanence of pleasure.
Samudaya: The cause of suffering. It is the desire to have and control things. It can take many forms: craving of sensual pleasures; the desire for fame; the desire to avoid unpleasant sensations, like fear, anger or jealousy.
Nirodha: There is an end to suffering. Suffering ends with the final liberation of Nirvana. The mind experiences complete freedom, liberation and non-attachment. It lets go of any desire or craving.
Magga: In order to end suffering, the Eightfold Path must be followed.
The Eightfold Path of Buddhism, also called the Middle Path or Middle Way, is the system of following these eight divisions of the path to achieve spiritual enlightenment and cease suffering:
1) Right understanding of the Four Noble Truths
2) Right thinking; following the right path in life
3) Right speech; no lying, criticism, condemning, gossip, harsh language
4) Right conduct; by following the Five Precepts (do not kill, do not steal, do not lie, do not misuse sex, and do not consume alcohol or other drugs).
5) Right livelihood; support yourself without harming others
6) Right effort; promote good thoughts and conquer evil thoughts
7) Right mindfulness; become aware of your body, mind and feelings
8) Right concentration; meditate to achieve a higher state of consciousness
There are three important practices in Buddhism. The first one is Sila, which means to have good conduct. It is based on two principles: 1) equality, that all living entities are equal and 2) reciprocity, treating others the way you would wish to be treated. The second important practice is Samadhi, which is the practice of concentration and meditation. The third important practice is Prajna, which is wisdom and enlightenment and the real heart of Buddhism. It is believed that wisdom will emerge if the follower is calm and pure.