Recently here in NZ we had to fill out a census form. When I got to the ‘state your religion’ I scanned the list. Catholic, yes, check …..ah Buddhist, maybe?? I checked that in half defiance, half wanting to be.
When I announced it to my family my daughter said, you’re not a Buddhist, you don’t even pray. When I asked her what a Buddhist was she replied, someone who is kind to others. Great that will do me I thought. I can try to be one of those.
So what or who is a Buddhist? Here is what I know.
Buddhists do not worship a particular God, nor do they worship Buddha. They try to live by the teachings of Buddha which is an entirely different thing. This philosophy or way of life translates to mean ‘ love of wisdom’; To lead a moral life, and be mindful and aware of your thoughts and actions.The word comes from ‘budhi’, ‘to awaken’.
The Buddha taught many things, but the basic concepts in Buddhism can be summed up by the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.
The four noble truths in short are
1: Life is difficult and filled with sufferings
2: Our suffering is caused by what we crave and what we try to avoid
This sounds a bit grim but the good news is there is hope!
3: The third truth is that suffering can be overcome and happiness can be attained; that true happiness and contentment are possible. lf we give up useless craving and learn to live each day at a time (not dwelling in the past or the imagined future) then we can become happy and free. We then have more time and energy to help others. This is Nirvana.
4: The eight fold path ( being honest and mindful through our speech and action, being compassionate) is the key to ending our suffering
Buddhists work with Karma ( that all our actions have results)
Practice for today: It doesn’t matter what religion you are or how you label yourself. What is more important is how you live your life. Every action and every word is a chance for you to show compassion, wisdom, kindness and will inflate your karma bank account.
If you are interested in learning about Buddhism I enjoyed Buddhism for Busy People audio cd by David Michie