Everything You Need to Know About Buddhism in 3 or 4 Minutes
1. A person who has awakened, or obtained enlightenment.
Is Buddhism a religion?
Do Buddhists worship Buddha?
Is Buddha a god?
No, but everyone is a Buddha, and a Buddha is a part of a Greater Wisdom.
"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness." - Dalai Lama XIV
For someone born in the western world surrounded by Christian ideology, Buddhism can be an elusive concept. Something out of an encyclopedia with pictures of bald men meditating in loin cloths and sage burning in a temple. In a nutshell, Buddhism is a way of life on the path of liberation. Liberation from what, you may ask - freedom from our own suffering. The practice of Buddhism is formed by the four noble truths. They sum up the entire lot. Here we go!
1. Life is suffering
Geez, who would of thought Buddhists were so damn negative? Well, they are just speaking the truth. Life involves quite a bit of suffering. Even day one sucks, being pushed out of the womb. Our aversion to change causes suffering. And since life changes about every one second, there is a bit of opportunity for that.
The first noble truth is a paradox. Once we begin to accept that life is suffering, the suffering begins to diminish. The elite cause of all suffering is the avoidance of necessary suffering to grow and change. By trying to escape suffering, we only suffer more because we are avoiding the uncomfortable feelings necessary to move beyond the current problem. When we accept that sometimes life just sucks balls, life ain’t so bad anymore.
The second noble truth is the source of suffering; karma. Some fortune cookie gurus have defined karma as, “what goes around comes around,” or the guy who bums cigarettes says, “good karma, man.” These definitions are 17 percent correct.
Karma is the cycle of good and bad. Sometimes life is good, sometimes life is bad. It is easy to be happy when you have money in the bank, good health, a happy partner, a cat who doesn’t pee in the house, and normal kids. When you get sick, file bankruptcy, have death of a family member, or get divorced, it’s pretty easy to hate life. Because life is an equal balance of chocolate cake and shit pies, there’s tons of opportunity to be upset.
The problem lies here: We love when things are good, hate when they are bad. When things have gone mayday, we try to push it away, ignore it, fight it off, work our way out, resist, or escape. When life is favorable, we try to cling to it, only to have it slip through our clasp as the wave of “shit happens” comes our way. We fear losing the good and really hate the bad. Even though things are equal parts good and bad, we spend less time feeling good. Thanks karma.
3. How to stop the suffering
There’s a way out! Buddhism would really suck if they didn’t even have a way out. The solution to karma is to not attempt to hoard all good karma. The answer is to step out of the cycle of karma. There is a strange, strange word in Buddhism used often: non-attachment. We never learned it growing up. It’s a new deal for us. Think of it this way: it’s the perfect balance between caring about life and not giving a shit. Attachment only leads to suffering - clinging to the good that eventually passes, or running from the bad; which happens to run marathons for breakfast.
Non-attachment isn’t non-caring. It’s coming to a state of acceptance that things come and go. Good flows in, and then bad flows in. That’s normal. When the good stuff flows in we learn to enjoy it, without clinging to it. When it passes, we let it go freely. That’s peace. When the bad flows in, we keep our heads above water, knowing that this too shall pass. Everything passes, and that’s okay. Essentially, the third noble truth is being okay with exactly how life is.
4. Now stop talking about it and do it
The fourth noble truth is walking the path of Buddhism to be free from the grip of karma. The path is called the 8-fold path. It consists of:
So what the hell does all that mean? It means this isn’t something you can conquer over a couple beers. Change takes work and dedication, and Buddhism is no different. The eightfold path includes changing our thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, and daily habits. The change occurs slowly, over time through effort. It’s very practical and effective. There are no unicorns in Buddhism.
The best news is that you don’t have to pick any certain gods or believe in anything. There isn’t even a sacred text for Buddhism. You can be a Christian/Buddhist, Muslim/Buddhist, Atheist/Buddhist, Scientist/Buddhist, or even a Pokemon Catcher/Buddhist. The principles of Buddhism are centered around right living and compassion towards others. Who can argue with that?