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Buddhism is a religion based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, born in the 5th century BC, in what is now Nepal and northern India. He came to be called "the Buddha", meaning "enlightened", after experiencing a profound awareness of the nature of life, death and existence.

For the rest of his life, the Buddha traveled and taught. However, he did not teach people what he had realized when he became enlightened. Instead, he taught people how to achieve enlightenment for themselves. Let's see what are the fundamental beliefs of Buddhism?

A religion distinct from others

Buddhism is so different from other religions that some people wonder if it is a religion. For example, most religions focus on one or more religions. But Buddhism is not theistic. The Buddha taught that believing in gods was not helpful for those seeking enlightenment.

Most religions are defined by their beliefs. But in Buddhism, simply believing in the doctrines does not matter. The Buddha said that doctrines should not be accepted simply because they are in the scriptures or taught by priests.

Instead of teaching doctrines to memorize and believe, the Buddha taught how to realize the truth for yourself. Buddhism emphasizes practice rather than belief. The main pattern of Buddhist practice is the eightfold path.

Fundamental beliefs in Buddhism

The principles of Buddhist philosophy (The fundamental beliefs of Buddhism) in practice are:

  • The four noble truths,
  • the noble eightfold path
  • and the five precepts

THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS

  1. Dissatisfaction and suffering exist and are universally experienced.
  2. Desire and attachment are the causes of dissatisfaction and suffering.
  3. There is an end to dissatisfaction and suffering.
  4. The end can be reached by walking the Noble Eightfold Path.

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THE NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH

1. Right view/Understanding

Understand the Four Noble Truths: See things as they truly are, without illusions or distortions, for all things change. Develop wisdom by knowing how things work, by knowing yourself, and by knowing others.

2. Think right

Decide to put a life on the right path. Unwavering resolve and dedication to overcoming the dislocation of selfishness through the development of kindness, empathy and compassion.

3. The good speech

Abstinence from lies and deception, backbiting, idle chatter and abusive language. Cultivate honesty and sincerity; practice good and kind language. Let your words reflect your desire to help, not harm, others.

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4. Good conduct

Follow the Five Precepts: Practice self-centered conduct that reflects the highest statement of the life you want to live. Express peaceful, honest and pure conduct by showing compassion towards all beings.

5. Adequate livelihoods

Earn a living without harming living beings. Avoiding work that causes suffering to others or makes a decent and virtuous life impossible. Do not pursue a profession that opposes the path or diverts it from the path. Love and serve our world through your work.

6. The right effort

Seek to find a balance between striving to follow the spiritual path and living a moderate life that is not overzealous. Work to develop healthier mindsets, while gently striving to go deeper and live more fully.

7. Mindfulness

Become intensely aware of all states of body, feelings and mind. Through constant vigilance in thought, speech, and action, we seek to rid the mind of the self-centered thoughts that separate it and replace it with those that bind all beings together. Be aware of your thoughts, emotions, body, and world as they exist in the present moment. Your thoughts create your reality.

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8. Concentration

Deep meditation to lead to a higher state of consciousness (enlightenment). Through the application of meditation and mental discipline, seek to extinguish the last flame of awareness and develop an emptiness that has room to embrace and love all things.

Also read: How to practice Buddhism?

THE FIVE PRECEPTS

The Five Precepts are basic ethical guidelines for followers of Buddhism.

They are undertaken voluntarily, rather than as commands from a god.

Essentially, these precepts promote harmony and reduce suffering among us.

The underlying moral code has two qualities: compassion (karuna) and loving-kindness (metta), which are used as guiding principles in life.

Here are the 5 precepts:

  1. I undertake not to destroy living beings.
  2. I undertake to refrain from taking what is not given.
  3. I agree to refrain from any sexual misconduct.
  4. I undertake to refrain from any incorrect words.
  5. I undertake to abstain from any intoxication.

Misconceptions about Buddhism

There are two things most people think they know about Buddhism: that Buddhists believe in reincarnation and that all Buddhists are vegetarians. However, it should be noted that these two statements are not true.

Buddhist teachings on rebirth are considerably different from what most people call "reincarnation."

Regarding vegetarianism, it is true that it is encouraged, not only in Buddhism but also in many sects. However, this is not an obligation. Besides, it is considered a personal choice. Additionally, it has so many health benefits that even people who are not in a religion are convinced to follow it.

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