Table of contents
- Four Noble Truths
Buddhism is forth most spread religion after Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism. It is also considered as the most tolerant religion because its teachings can be applied in any other religion. Buddhism, however, is not about religion, believing in Supreme God, but about “a way of living”. It was found in India by Siddhartha Gautama who is mainly known as Buddha. However, he is not God, he is just extraordinary man who achieved enlightenment. Buddhism is mainly spread in countries of East and Southeast Asia, particularly Tibet, China, Mongolia, and others. The most important teachings of Buddha are named Four Noble Truths. Buddha suggests that there is a God inside of every person and only through meditation it can be achievable. People who achieve it free themselves from suffering and reach enlightenment. In this paper I will analyze the importance of life and death in Buddhism.
In Buddhism life has a high importance and is based on cause-effect concept. Buddhists call cause-effect concept Karma. This means that everything that happens in person’s life is a consequence of something else. For example, if person suffers and lives in poor conditions, this means that in previous life he committed wrong deeds. If to compare this concept to other religions, Karma is also practiced by Hindus. However, Christians and Muslims believe that God created everything and destiny of a person determined by him, not his previous deeds.
While in some religion life has an end, in Buddhism in it continuous process. When person dies his life does not come to an end. Buddhists the same as Hindus believe in “Samsara” which is a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Yet, Buddhists believe that it is not the soul that rebirths, but rather karma. The ultimate aim of all Buddhists, however, is to escape this cycle and reach “Nirvana”. Nirvana is neither place nor material thing. Buddhists want to achieve Nirvana because for them life is about suffering (dukkha). They also believe that life is not permanent the same as their sufferings. Therefore, Buddhists try to live their life productively.
Another important belief of Buddhists is “Anatta” which means non-self. When Buddha was asked if there is self, he did not answer the question and stayed silent. His silence led to the debate, however, it was concluded that his silence meant “no”. Buddhist Abhidharmakosha Bhashya, in his writing says that there is no self, but there is dharma-self inside of everyone that consists of five aggregates: material form, feelings, perceptions, mental fabrications, and consciousness (Bhikku, 2014). These aggregates are also named as “Skandhas” and it is believed that they are constantly changing. Modern Buddhists interpret the idea of nonself as a way to escape clinging. For example, if person feels unhappy, he can remind himself that it is not his self and should not cling to it. So, such approach helps people to relief from stress.
Four Noble Truths
In Buddhism it is important to know “Four Noble Truths” which is about suffering, cause of suffering, end of suffering, and path that leads to the end of suffering. It is like a guide for Buddhists which can help them to find roots of suffering and end it. Suffering is named in Buddhism as Dukkha and it is considered as the first Noble truth. So, for Buddha life is about suffering. For him, even happiness is about suffering because it is not eternal. For example, person can feel happy, but suddenly he can hear very bad news, and his feeling of happiness will change to feeling of grief. The question arises: what are causes of all these sufferings? For, Buddha the answer is human desire.
Desire which is also called as “Tanha” is the second noble truth. It is logical that each individual desire to be happy, to have family, to have properties, wealth, and so on. Yet, when person achieves all these desires, one day they come to an end. For example, family is not eternal and one day person’s mother or father can die. Such situation will make him to suffer. Therefore, Buddhism proposes not to be attached to material things. Even Buddha himself left his good life and family in order to cease suffering and reach Nirvana. Buddha also does not speak much about love and marriage as they also make people attached.
Therefore, the third Noble truth is detachment from worldly things. Only those who detach themselves from material things can reach Nirvana. However, this is almost impossible for normal people. From my perspective, very few people would agree to leave their families and wealth to achieve enlightenment. Only those who already lost their families and wealth would agree for that because they already experience suffering.
The fourth and most important Noble truth is named “Magga” and it is about path to Enlightenment. There are eight steps which should be taken in order to achieve Nirvana: Right understanding, Right thought, Right speech, Right action, Right livelihood, Right effort, Right mindfulness, Right concentration (Rahula, 2016). Only those who balance all of the before mentioned steps can reach Enlightenment. These steps seem logical to me, too, because only those who live righteous life without lies and bad deeds deserve Enlightenment.
To conclude, for Buddhists life is about suffering and is based on cause-effect concept. It is not about religion and supreme God, rather than about living righteous life without attachment to worldly things. However, I believe that for normal people teachings of Buddha about achieving Nirvana would not seem rational because people value life, family, and wealth. Those who are happy with their life do not think about suffering until their feeling of happiness come to an end. Thus, we can conclude that aged people who are afraid of death, poor people, and people without families would agree to leave everything behind and live life as Buddha by traveling, meditating, and trying to achieve Enlightenment.