Why we should practice according to Buddha’s teachings

Learn about the basic teachings of the Buddha and how they can help us overcome suffering and find peace and happiness in our lives.

The Buddha was a spiritual teacher who lived in northern India sometime between the 6th and the 4th century BCE. He is regarded as the founder of Buddhism, one of the major religions and philosophical systems of the world. The word buddha means “awakened one” or “enlightened one” and refers to someone who has realized the true nature of reality and attained freedom from suffering.

The Buddha’s teachings are based on his own experience of awakening and his compassion for all living beings. He taught that life is full of suffering, but that suffering can be ended by following a path of ethical conduct, mental discipline and wisdom. He also taught that everyone has the potential to become a buddha, because everyone possesses the buddha nature, which is the innate capacity for awakening.

In this article, we will explore some of the basic teachings of the Buddha and how they can help us overcome suffering and find peace and happiness in our lives.

The Four Dharma Seals

The Four Dharma Seals are four characteristics that reflect the genuine teachings of the Buddha, just as a legal document is stamped with a royal seal. They are:

• Impermanence (anicca): Everything in life, our feelings and thoughts, people, animals, plants, bacteria and countries are always changing and reacting. Without change, there could be no life, no flowers, no grandparents, and no happiness.

• Suffering (dukkha): People suffer because they want things to be permanent when they are not. They cling to things that are ending and try to avoid things that are unpleasant. But thanks to change, we can change suffering into happiness.

• Non-self (anatta): Nothing lives on its own, not even you or me. We are alive due to our parents, air, food, water, and everything around us. We cannot even remain the same for two moments. We are born, grow old, get sick and die. There is nothing that can be called a permanent “I” or a soul. That which carries on to our next life is our life force, or karma. The concept of “me” and “mine” is an illusion we create with our minds.

• Nirvana (true peace): By accepting and understanding that change is a part of life, we can be content with what we have and who are. We can reach the state of nirvana, a state of complete selflessness. The word nirvana means to blow out a candle. It is not a place, like heaven, but more a state of being in harmony with the universe, and is beyond words.

These four seals help us to see reality as it is, not as we wish it to be. They also help us to let go of our attachments and aversions, which are the main causes of our suffering.

The Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths are the core of the Buddha’s teaching. They are:

• The truth of suffering: Life is full of unhappiness. No one can stay happy for long. We become sad when we cannot get what we want or when we lose something that we prize, or a loved one dies.

• The truth of the origin of suffering: Suffering and unhappiness are a result of unfulfilled desire. No matter how good or how much we receive, we never seem to have enough. And we certainly don’t want things we do not like.

• The truth of the cessation of suffering: We can end suffering, but we have to give up wanting what we don’t have and stop being envious of what others have. This is not easy to do. It takes a good deal of diligence and self-discipline.

• The truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering: The Buddha taught that the way to conquer feelings of greed and selfishness is to follow the Eightfold Path.

The Four Noble Truths show us the problem of suffering and its solution. They also show us that suffering is not inevitable, but rather a result of our own actions and choices.

The Eightfold Path

The Eightfold Path covers eight aspects of our lives—from the way we think and speak to how mindful we are of others. By carefully following the Eightfold Path, we can live a life of virtue and find peace of mind and enlightenment. Sometimes these eight steps are called the Middle Path. Life should not be too hard or too easy. They are:

• Right view: Developing wisdom by understanding the Four Noble Truths.

• Right intention: Cultivating positive thoughts and motivations, such as compassion, generosity and renunciation.

• Right speech: Speaking truthfully, kindly and respectfully, avoiding lying, gossiping and harsh words.

• Right action: Acting ethically, avoiding harming oneself or others, and respecting life, property and sexuality.

• Right livelihood: Earning a living in a way that does not harm oneself or others, and that supports one’s spiritual practice.

• Right effort: Applying oneself diligently to overcome unwholesome states of mind and to cultivate wholesome ones.

• Right mindfulness: Being aware of one’s body, feelings, thoughts and phenomena in the present moment, without judgment or distraction.

• Right concentration: Developing mental stability and clarity through meditation.

The Eightfold Path is a practical guide for living a wholesome and harmonious life. It also leads to the development of the three higher trainings of morality, concentration and wisdom, which are essential for attaining nirvana.

The Buddha’s teachings are not dogmas or doctrines that we have to blindly accept. They are invitations to investigate and verify for ourselves the nature of reality and the causes of suffering and happiness. They are also methods and tools that we can use to transform our minds and hearts, and to awaken our buddha nature.

By practicing according to the Buddha’s teachings, we can overcome suffering and find peace and happiness in our lives. We can also benefit others by sharing our wisdom and compassion with them. We can become a source of light and hope in this world.

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