Amongst the great religions of the world today, Buddhism has stood its ground since inception. Just as there are codes and practices amongst other great religions, so has Buddhism come by with its own share of tradition, practice and belief’s. However, if we look into the Core beliefs of Buddhism, one gets to understand, that just like other religions and their practices, all fundamentals associated with any religion including Buddhism, share a common set of beliefs.
The History of Buddhism
The history of Buddhism, speaks of the historical Buddha Siddhartha Gautama, who was born in Lumbini, now known as southern Nepal. He had a very early life of luxury and comfort, one could say that he was born with a golden spoon in his mouth and belonged to a very protective family, especially his father, Suddhodna, the then ruler of Kapilavastu. It was when Siddharta, faced realities of the world on an evening out on his chariot ride, that he concluded that real life was about inescapable of suffering and pain. He thus decided to renounce his meaningless life of comfort and luxury to become an ascetic. However, he found no fruitful purpose in become an ascetic and later on he chose the middle path of moderation away from self- indulgence of the mind body and soul and self mortification of the human body and spirit.
Thus, he began his quest for the Inner Truth and ultimately at the age of thirty-five under the Enlightened Fig tree, he attained his quest on Enlightenment. From then on, he was known as Buddha or the Enlightened One.
Reincarnation, most popularly known by the common person would mean to come back or have a rebirth after the body passes away. It is believed by many following the Core beliefs of Buddhism that all go through the concepts of birth, life, death and then re-birth. If you ask a practicing Buddhist, they would tell you that the concepts of re-birth and reincarnation are two different concepts and are not to be confused to be the same. Reincarnation, in the literal sense would mean to come back as a human in the form of flesh and perform duties and responsibilities as a human and to go through your karmic cycle this lifetime. A new personality is developed in each reincarnated cycle the soul undergoes, it is to be kept in mind that the soul does not change in the cycle of reincarnation, however it’s only the body that is different.
Rebirth on the other hand according to the Core beliefs of Buddhism, speaks about the consciousness that is constantly evolving, it is neither identical nor is it entirely a new form of consciousness within the person, each moment is an experience of an individuals state of mind, it could be a memory, a feeling or a thought. The explanation of re-birth as a cycle of consciousness is at par with the other Core beliefs of Buddhism.
Looking into the basic doctrines of the Core beliefs of Buddhism, they can be classified or demonstrated as the Four Noble Truths. A practicing Buddhist would always preach and say that realization of the Four Noble Truths is the first step on the path of termination of dukkha.
Four Noble Truths
The First noble truth is to realize that all worldly phenomena are dukkha- suffering exists. Every aspect of life is unsatisfactory and unfulfilling and life is subject to birth, decay, disease and death.
The Second noble truth is to understand the cause of dukkha- suffering arises because of the attachment to human desires and needs, the senses of the human mind and body crave for many things material and immaterial, which can never be satisfied completely and hence the creation of pain which can never be averted completely.
The Third noble truth is the ending of dukkha- suffering ceases when the attachement to human desires and needs end, the termination or the ending of such worldly cravings and desires can free an individual from the concept of dukkha. The attainement of Nirvana popularized in the new age concepts and marketed the world over, however it is important to understand the simple concept of Nirvana from a very noble source and teachings of the Buddha. It is basically the freedom from ignorance and making of a perfect human being.
In addition, the Fourth noble truth is the road that leads to the ultimate end of dukkha- freedom from suffering is possible when one follows the Eightfold path.
The Buddha had taken learning’s from his inherited background some religious beliefs, which came from ancient Indian texts and tradition.
For example : The law of Karma- a pretty common term used these days and very easily understood even by all, in simple terms, it is preached by all religions and individuals alike. So remember what you do in this birth, will be taken into account for a future life.
Secondly, the Doctrine of Reincarnation- well by now I am sure that most of you know what we are talking about with regard to this concept. It is said that human beings do not live just once, however, the soul comes back again, do this for yourself, make a mark on the wheel of a cycle and probably name it point A, now go ahead and spin it, you would see that point A would return to its original position t some point and junction, it never would go away completely, that is exactly what the doctrines propagates.
Lastly, the Realms of Rebirth – there are six realms considered into which one is born. To give you an insight, here are the categories one can fall into, a God, a demon, a human ( which we are now) , a ghost, an animal, or as a spirit in HELL, where as the old wives tales or maybe our grandparents would say, we would go for not saying our prayers or for not speaking out the truth.
To do as much as good and to avoid evil at all costs is what every religion preaches, however, without being cynical, in today’s cut throat competition, it is wondered how much of it can be practically implied and perfected. Buddhism does not ask for perfection, however it does ask for getting better at what you do. Therefore, until next time folks, one may want to know more about how to go about cleansing your Karma and following your road to Nirvana. So keep a watch and do your bit of research, you never know where the answers to all those questions from within you could come from.