I feel like this post could be a make or break kind of post on this blog. Knowing my interests in philosophy, spirituality and happiness, I think it’s quite apt but I am also not ignorant to the possibility of this whole spiritual crisis we are living in where people who don’t identify with anything, people who aren’t so sure of themselves, might retaliate and throw negativity at something like this. Nonetheless, this is a positive space and I’d like to talk to you about Buddhism.
We live in a time where no one is really relating to or sees themselves as belonging to any particular religion and I think it’s mostly because a lot of doctrines seem outdated and not flexible enough to move with the times. They’re difficult to apply to situations we face nowadays. As a Philosophy student, I repetitively evaluate and pull apart different beliefs, question what makes a good belief and when faith just isn’t enough to answer to contradictions. However, I still recognise that faith is the most important part of a person’s life. Faith in yourself, in other people, in strength, in the good of your surroundings. Having studied Indian philosophy for a while now, I was very surprised to discover that I agreed, not with the traditional Indian doctrines, but with Buddhism. I really identified with it and I think that I may have found some spiritual guidelines I can learn from and apply to daily life.
Basically, Buddhism stems from the four noble truths, discovered by Siddhartha Gautama who abandoned his responsibilities as prince to meditate until enlightened:
Life is dukkha (suffering)
There will always exist suffering and pain in the world.
There is an origin of dukkha
Our wants and desires for temporary things cause our own self suffering because we grow attached to temporary things.
There is cessation of dukkha
There is an available end to suffering and a path to nirvana and enlightenment and this is to eliminate desires.
The eightfold path will save us from suffering
The noble truths must all be accepted in order for a person to move on and find happiness. The eightfold path offers guidelines which we can utilise to become better people and make the world a better place, whilst simultaneously minimising our desires and, in turn, dukkha.
Seeing what the world actually is; understanding suffering, death etc are all part of the world.
To not be cruel or have negative intentions, to not be attached to, or desire, the benefits of an action.
To not lie or use words to hurt others.
Act in the right way that is never harmful to yourself or others or the world.
Do not engage in activities that promote and cause harm to yourself or other people.
Make the effort to abandon harmful actions and harmful natures. Make the effort to be the best version of you.
Be aware of your physical and mental health and your surroundings.
To focus on the above and positivity. To maintain concentration and mental strength discipline through meditation.
I feel like all of the above makes buddhism a flexible religion that promotes positivity without shoving it in your face. The best part is how personal and subjective it is; Buddha teaches not to be extremist and not to accept rules or anything certain without considering it in direct relevance to yourself and your own enlightenment. I’m personally really interested in Buddhism and think I still have a lot to learn but I want to remember what I’ve already learned and use it to become a better and happier person. Whether you, personally, are religious or not, I think everybody can take something from Buddhism.