”Crash course” in the basics of Buddhism
Buddhism can be approached as religion, philosophy or even as psychology
(”the science of the mind”, as Dalai Lama defines it).
But the simplest definition that I can personally give at this moment is:
buddhism is a practical and clear method of liberation
Practical Buddhism is above all else the direct application of two things
in your life, every day: mindfulness and compassion.
Be good to yourself and to all living beings and avoid being a jerk.
You can basically and formally become a buddhist by ”taking refuge”
in the 3 Jewels – Buddha, Dharma and Sangha –
aknowledging them and asking for their support in your practice.
Taking refuge in the Buddha means formally accepting and declaring there is
a greater/better state of mind that a human being can actually work towards.
Taking refuge in the Dharma means accepting the teachings, the path,
the method and accepting the notion that the practical application of meditation,
non-attachment, and compassion can lead to a greater state.
Taking refuge in the Sangha means you accept and identify yourself
(to some degree) with the large community of actual buddhist practitioners
and you acknowledge that the collective wisdom of this community
may have a direct, and useful/productive impact on your practice.
The Four Noble Truths
1. Your life is dominated by a sense of dissatisfaction and by suffering
(physical, but mostly psychological) = life sucks.
2. Your life sucks because you continuously want something
and because of your attachment and clinging to the objects of your perception
(people, things, ideas).
3. You – and everyone – can make life not suck.
4. In order to do that,you need start walking the Middle Path.
The first talks about suffering (identifying the ilness),
the second why suffering exists (diagnosis),
the third proclaims that all beings can be liberated form suffering
(stating the possibility of defeating the ilness),
and the fourth lines how (prescribing the treatment).
The basic ethical guidelines of Buddhists are The Five Precepts
1. Don’t kill and don’t intentionally bring physical harm to any living being
2. Don’t take what is not freely given
3. No sexual misconduct (adultery, rape)
4. Don’t lie and don’t harm anybody with your words
5. Don’t take intoxicating substances (alcohol, drugs, tobacco).
The Noble Eightfold Path
1. Right View: Realist perspective. See things exactly as they are.
2. Right Intention: Commit to ethical and mental improvement.
Commit to resisting desire and negative feelings, thoughts and actions.
3. Right Speech: Don’t say bad, hurtful or misleading things.
Don’t idle chat, talk only when necessary.
4. Right Action: Do good things; respect the five percepts.
5. Right Livelihood: stay away from immoral vocations (slaughterhouse,
selling weapons, drugs, alcohol etc.) and harmful activities.
6. Right Effort: Work on yourself, everyday.
7. Right Mindfulness: be aware and thoughtful in the NOW,
specifically for the sake of truth and dispelling of delusions.
8. Right Concentration: Meditate. A lot.
The constant applications of the three Jewels, the four noble truths,
the five precepts and the noble eight fold path will guide you
on a life of balanced, harmonius and noble living.