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Hello, again New Age Thinkers! I am extremely glad to be writing part two of the Buddhist document. This article is going to observe and discuss the various doctrines that make up Buddhism. Like stated in the last article, this is a three-part series. I will be posting one more article about Buddhism! There are many doctrines that make up the Buddhist faith. Although at first glance they may seem complicated, they are not. The intention of these articles is to break down the religion so that it is simple enough to understand while still introducing the religion for you.
The Law Of Karma
The law of Karma is not what we perceive it to be in the Western notion. We perceive Karma as “What comes around, goes around.” However, this is not the case in Buddhism. Karma is part of the cycle of rebirth. It is the teaching the life is filled with suffering. What you sow is what you reap. In other words, if you violent in this lifetime expect the next lifetime to be filled with misery. On the contrary, if you are living a righteous life, the next life will have less suffering and misery.
The Three Universal Truths
These three truths explain why human beings have a life that is filled with peaks and valley and dilemmas. The truths also help explain the world and the universe around us.
- Annica (Impermanence)- Annica is the concept that everything changes. Nothing will stay stagnant in our lives. No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to stop the earth from moving nor will you be able to stop your life from progressing. One way to look at it is like the seasons. We know that the seasons change. This is the same with human beings. We are born, we live our life, and then we die. During our lifetimes we will experience so many changes. Some get married and have children; some choose a solitary life, yet nothing will stay the same. The main idea of Annica is teaching us to let go.
- Dukkha (Suffering)- The concept of Dukkha at first seems unfair. Why should we suffer? However, this truth teaches that everything will change and eventually die. The Buddha taught that life can never completely satisfy us and that in turn will cause us to suffer. This can be observed when considering at those people who have been finically fortunate in life. They have all the material things that they wanted, yet they still feel empty inside. This idea is shown throughout time. This can also be observed in the Buddha’s one life. He had all of the wealth of the world, a beautiful wife, and everything that his heart desired. Yet, he felt a calling to do more. We experience this when feeling bored or unhappy with our lives. That can be a calling for us to do something to change it.
- Anatta (No-Self) – The concept of Anatta is not a difficult one. This truth teaches us that there is no such thing as a “self.” I know this concept can be difficult to grasp but if you observe the life of a child you will see that from the moment it is born up to its first birthday it experiences rapid changes in growth and personality. This also happens to adults. If you think about who you were ten years ago, you will notice a drastic difference. The concept of Anatta teaches us that we are a collective soul and everything is connected. The concept of “self” is a manmade construct.
The Four Noble Truths
An excellent way to try to understand the concept of the Four Noble Truths is to look at the Buddha like a doctor. Whenever we get sick and need medical attention, we go to the doctor. The doctor will then find a diagnosis of the sickness; try to understand what caused the sickness; then prescribe us medicine to cure it and make you feel healthy and heal your ailment. At the center of Buddhism is the concept of suffering. We suffer because we are selfish beings that put “I” in front of everyone and everything. Understanding the Four Noble Truths will help change your perspective of “I.”
- The Noble Truth of Suffering: Like stated before, suffering is called Dukkha. Suffering starts from the moment we are born. We are ripped from our mother's womb where we feel safe, warm, and comfortable to be exposed to this world of violence, sickness, and death. Then throughout our lives, we experience much suffering through sickness, heartbreak, and financial loss. We then get old and suffer aches and pains of our bodies. Finally, we as humans suffer through death. However, when a person dies, there suffering ceases. We suffer when others die because there is a fear of death.
- The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering: The origin of suffering is explained through greed and ignorance. Human beings become greedy for food, attention, and any other pleasure that a person would enjoy. At times, humans become enthralled in their greed and cause suffering to others. This is when one becomes ignorant. When one decides that their greed is more important than others they ignore the law of Karma.
- The Noble Truth of The End of Suffering: To end suffering, humans must learn to ignore their greedy tendencies and change their views on their life, the lives of others, and the good of human beings. The end of suffering is called Nirvana. Nirvana is the state where humans no longer need to reincarnate into this world. They can finally be at peace and rest. This is the ultimate goal in Buddhism.
- The Noble Truth of the Way leading to the end of Suffering is called The Noble Eightfold Path: I will go into detail about the Eightfold path in the next section.
The Eightfold Path
The Eightfold path can be represented as the Dharma wheel. This wheel has eight bars or spokes on it, each one represents one of the paths. The Buddha's teaching goes round and round like a great wheel that never stops and it eventually leads to the center of the wheel. The center is called Nirvana. Just as every spoke is needed for the wheel to keep turning, we need to follow each step of the path.
- Right View: The right way to view life is with wisdom and compassion. By doing his, we are viewing the world as through the eyes of the Buddha.
- Right Thought: We are what we think. We should be thinking thoughts that help build character, help others, and help us grow.
- Right Speech: By speaking kind and helpful words we respect others, which in return should reciprocate.
- Right Conduct: Actions speak louder than words. Whatever we say will never outweigh our actions. Before we criticize others, we should first see what we do ourselves.
- Right Livelihood: This means choosing a job that does not hurt others. The Buddha said, "Do not earn your living by harming others. Do not seek happiness by making others unhappy."
- Right Effort: A worthwhile life means doing our best at all times and having good will toward others. This also means not wasting effort on things that harm others and ourselves.
- Right Mindfulness: Being aware of our thoughts, words, and deeds. By doing this, we are taking others into consideration.
- Right Concentration: Focus on one thought or object at a time. By doing this, we can be quiet and attain true peace of mind. This can be seen through meditation as an example.
The entire religion of Buddhism is centered on peace and care for others. There are many more laws within the Buddhist traditions. Buddhists highly value virtues as love kindness, humanity, patience, and almsgiving. However, wisdom and compassion are valued most of all. If you are extremely interested in Buddhism I implore you to do your research on it. It is an amazing religion that is filled with life-changing effects.