Normally whenever I make any kind of statement referencing my Buddhism, it’s met with puzzled and sometimes even horrified expressions. I’m asked to clarify what I mean by that statement, and how I ever got into it in the first place.
I have been a Buddhist since I was sixteen years old. I first decided I wanted to be Buddhist after researching numerous different religions for a religion class. I was raised in a Catholic home, and taught in a Catholic school, but I have never believed in the Christian system.
These are the teachings of Buddhism that define it.
K I N D N E S S
Kindness is at the centre of Buddhism. The whole religion is focused around non-harming, and loving everything and everyone around you. No one’s life is more important than another’s, imcluding animals and plants and trees. A lot of religions preach about kindness and love and yet Buddhism is still the only religion to have never caused a war in it’s name. Buddhists also believe that no one religion is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, which is why I apply Buddhism as a philosophy and dislike the word ‘religion’.
M E D I T A T I O N
Meditation is one of the three Ethics of Buddhism. It is considered that through meditation, we will reach Enlightenment. It is a commonly misunderstood ideal, but Enlightenment is when someone can end their suffering and find true happiness in life, thus ending the reincarnation cycle. Enlightenment to me means freedom.
Enlightenment to me means freedom. As someone who suffers from poor mental health, meditation is like a religion in itself for me. It has saved me during my darkest nights and my most terrifying moments of panic. Meditation is now actually extremely popular in mainstream society now, as so many of us suffer from anxiety disorders, depression, OCD, bipolar disorder, and other various mental health issues that have been known to be helped by meditation.
The reason meditations are so effect in escaping these problems are because it was originally meant to quiet the mind to the point of Enlightenment. That is freedom, and true happiness.
R E I N C A R N A T I O N
Buddhists believe that when we die, we are reincarnated into the form of another. Personally, I do believe that all of your past lives have an effect on the person you are today, especially in terms of fears you may have. Some people can actually remember their past lives. Some Buddhists believe that when you can remember your past lives, you have stopped the cycle of reincarnation, and when you die in this life, you will go to Nirvana.
D U K K H A (S U F F E R I N G)
Dukkha is the Buddhist word for suffering. And it features predominantly in the Four Noble Truths. In short, these truths say that although all suffering is inevitable in life, our suffering can be reduced if we detach from longing, cravings, or greed.
I really like the way Buddhism is not an “ideal”. We do not ignore that there is pain, suffering and heartache in the world. The first noble truth actually states that “all existence is dukkha”.
T H E P R E C E P T S
These precepts are essentially the moral code within Buddhism. They are: not to take the life of anything living, not to take anything that is not freely given, to abstain from sexual misconduct and sensual overindulgence, to refrain from untrue speech, and to avoid intoxication, that is, losing mindfulness.
If anyone would like me to go into more detail about why I’m Buddhist, I would honestly love to talk about it. Maybe I could do a Buddhism Q&A on YouTube? If you have any question please do let me know.