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Buddhism, A Path to Freedom

Buddhism is the term used to describe the teachings and spiritual practises of the Hindu Prince known as Siddhārtha Gotama. Disillusioned by the suffering around him, he sought a solution the finding of which earned him the title of Buddha.

There is much uncertainty as to the date of his birth.
Some say he was born about 600 BC or as early as 1258 BC (India Facts) But most agree his birth place was at Lumbini in what is now southern Nepal. His mother's name was Queen Mayadevi and his father's name was King Shuddhodana. 'Shakya' is the name of the royal family into which he was born, and 'Muni' means 'Able One'.

Siddhartha became concerned for the suffering of ordinary people, and determined to do something about it, he followed a path of yoga and meditation until he found a solution which is referred to as 'enlightenment'.

A clarification of terms:
  • The word Buddha means "awakened one" or "the enlightened one" representing the enlightened state of Buddhahood that one must follow to be fully human.
  • The word Buddhism represents the spiritual practises leading to enlightenment that many erroneously regard as a religion.
  • The practise of Buddha's teachings and Buddhism is referred to as 'Dharma'. Dharma translates as 'protection' in English and it means that by practising Buddha's teachings, (practising Dharma), living beings overcome all suffering and become permanently protected from future suffering.

Some of the fundamentals of the teachings attributed to Gautama Buddha are:

1. The Four Noble Truths:

  1. that suffering is an ingrained part of existence;
  2. that the origins of suffering are ignorance, craving for sensuality, acquisition of identity, and annihilation;
  3. that suffering can be ended;
  4. and that following the Noble Eightfold Path is the means to accomplish this;
2. The Noble Eightfold Path:
  1. right view,
  2. right intention,
  3. right speech,
  4. right action,
  5. right livelihood,
  6. right effort,
  7. right mindfulness, and
  8. right concentration;
3. Dependent origination: The mind creates suffering as a natural product of complex processes;

4. Rejection of the infallibility of accepted scripture: Teachings should not be accepted unless they are borne out by our experience and are praised by the wise. See the Kalama Sutta for details;

5. Anicca (Sanskrit: anitya): That all things that come to be have an end;

6. Dukkha (Sanskrit: duḥkha): That nothing which comes to be is ultimately satisfying;

7. Anattā (Sanskrit: anātman): That nothing in the realm of experience can really be said to be "I" or "mine";

8. Nibbāna (Sanskrit: Nirvāna): It is possible for sentient beings to realize a dimension of awareness which is totally unconstructed and peaceful, an end all suffering due to the mind's interaction with the conditioned world.

Archaeology at Lumbini

Page image: An 8th century relief at Borobudur showing Prince Siddhartha shaving his hair to become an ascetic. Wiki

Ignorance = Suffering
Eight Steps to Happiness
The Diamond Sutra
The Heart of Wisdom Sutra
Buddhist Terminology

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