Buddhism is the third most popular religion in the world. Unlike Christianity and Islam, this religion is nontheistic, which means it has no god.
Buddhism is based on the teachings of Buddha and is more similar to a philosophy than religion. It is believed that Buddha lived between the 6th and 4th centuries BC. Buddhists refer to him as “enlightened” teacher, whose main goal was to help sentient beings by eliminating craving and ignorance. There are several branches of Buddhism today, but all of them share the same set beliefs and truths.
The core beliefs of Buddhism are the Four Noble Truths. They explain the nature of suffering sentient beings face during their lives (dukkha), its causes, and explain how to overcome said suffering.
In simple terms, the Four Noble Truths can be explained like this:
Suffering exists and it’s almost universal. It has many causes and can come in many forms. Three aspects of dukkha are:
i. Obvious suffering (illness, aging, dying).
ii. Anxiety experienced when one tries to hold onto things in the ever-changing word.
iii. Dissatisfaction experienced by everyone (all forms of life) due to the fact that they are constantly changing and therefore have no defined inner core.
Suffering has a cause. This concept is often referred to as “craving conditioned by ignorance”. On the basest level, the cause of dukkha is ignorance of the true nature of things.
It’s possible to stop suffering. A sentient being can cease the cycle of suffering by reaching Nirvana. At this point, the mind becomes completely free of craving and desires.
To end suffering one must follow the Eightfold Path.
The Noble Eightfold Path
According to Buddha’s teachings, the Eightfold Path consists of eight factors that can lead you to the end of suffering if developed together. These factors are separated in three categories, wisdom, ethical conduct, and concentration. All of them are interconnected and one can cease dukkha only by following all these eight guides at the same time.
I. Right view.
One must see reality as it really is and understand the Four Noble Truths.
II. Right intention.
Your intentions must be noble. Thinking right will allow you to follow the right path in life.
III. Right speech.
When you speak, you must say the truth and not be hurtful. Gossiping is viewed to be the same as harsh and abusive speech, so you should avoid it as well.
IV. Right action.
Your actions, like your thoughts and words, must be noble and non-hurtful. Note that Buddhism doesn’t endorse any kind of violence, regardless of whether it’s aimed towards a human being, animal, or plant. Simply not hurting anyone and anything is not enough as you should seek to commit actions that actively help other beings and the environment.
V. Right livelihood.
Learn to support yourself without harming others, and this includes nature in general. Both your work and lifestyle must be non-hurtful towards other forms of life.
VI. Right effort.
You need to make an effort to grow and improve yourself by following the Eightfold Path and leading a life of deep harmony with all beings. Encourage good thoughts and discourage evil and hurtful thoughts.
VII. Right mindfulness.
When your consciousness becomes clear, you gain awareness, which allows you to see the true nature of things. You need to be aware of every part of your mind and body and be free of any craving or aversion.
VIII. Right concentration.
Meditate to achieve the state of mind that leads to self-awareness. Continuous practice of meditation is the way to reach Nirvana.
The Four Stages Of Enlightenment