What are the beliefs and values of Buddhism? Buddhists follow the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama who is known as the Buddha, meaning the enlightened one. Buddhism originated in northern India and is the fourth largest religion of the world. However, Buddhism is more a philosophy or way of life other than a religion because unlike so many other religious traditions, Buddhism is founded on the teaching of a human being and not a god. Philosophy means love of wisdom and the Buddhist’s believe in leading a moral life, being mindful and aware of thoughts and actions and developing wisdom and understanding.
Buddha Siddhartha Gautama was a warrior prince who founded Buddhism and lived from 566 to 483 BC . He was born in Lumbini, in the Himalayas and lived in Northern India. Siddhartha Gautama was a prince of a wealthy, royal family, he was aware of his luxurious life as a prince and was tired of it. He wanted to discover the truth about life and spent many years in meditation, sitting underneath a Bodhi tree in order to discover a way to end suffering for everyone and to release himself from the material values of life.
After many years under the Bodhi tree he came to an epiphany and become the “Buddha”. The night he became enlightened was divided into four periods in which he learnt something new each time. Firstly, he gained understanding of all the past, and of what had led him to the point of seeking enlightenment. He then understood the way in which all living things came into this world and pass away. After this, he understood how all the negative feelings and cravings that make people cling to life, bring more suffering and that he had overcome these cravings.
Then, at dawn he gained full enlightenment and experienced the peace of Nirvana, which is the point where the three poisons, greed, hatred and ignorance disappear and a sense of happiness and calm is achieved. After he was enlightenment at 35 years old, he travelled around India teaching the wise knowledge he had achieved. Siddhartha Gautama spent most of his life teaching in the cities of the Ganges plain and was the first person of his time to discover the true cause of suffering in the world and show people real compassion. Buddha is a itle, which means “the one who is enlightened” or “one who has woken up to the truth”. What makes a person a Buddha is that a Buddha discovers and teaches the path to enlightenment. According to Buddhist tradition, there have been and will be other Buddha’s. Siddhartha Gautama inspired people by what he did and what he taught, so that they followed him and tried to put his teachings into practice. Beliefs and Values of Buddhism Buddhists believe that everyone has the potential to become enlightened and that, by practising their religion, they will develop wisdom and happiness.
Four Noble Truths In Siddhartha Gautama’s first sermon in the Deer Park in Varanasi, the holiest city of ancient India, he spoke about the Four Noble truths and the Eightfold Path. The four noble truths are the most basic expression of the Buddha’s teaching. In the Four Noble Truths Buddha sets out the problem of life, the cause of that problem, that the problem can be overcome and the way to achieve it. The First Truth is that all life involves suffering. The first truth is Dukkha, which is the pali word for suffering. 3] Dukkha is deeper than physical pain, it refers to the suffering that occurs on a number of levels. There is the suffering that comes with feeling sick, old age, death and injuries, which are inevitable as we are fragile human beings.  Then there is the frustration and the feeling of being discontent with life, that our life is not what we want or expect it to be and nothing is ever good enough. The second truth is that the origin of suffering is craving and attachment.
The Buddha discovered that the direct causes of suffering are desire, craving, and ignorance and this is the cause of suffering. The belief that suffering is caused by craving is not the natural need for food or enjoyment from experiences in our lives but the attempt to hold on to the things we enjoy and never want to let them go and try to stop them from changing. In the second truth, it is said that the origin of suffering is attachment to desire and craving, greediness causes a person to never be happy or content. The third noble truth is Nirodha, which is the end of suffering.
The Buddha taught that the only way to end suffering was to stop grasping at life and craving, although a person who is unhappy will want to try and hold on to the things which bring enjoyment and happiness. So, the only way to end craving is to discover inner happiness and satisfaction and learn to appreciate life just the way it is. If Buddhists can reduce craving. Tanha, it is because they enjoy life at the moment and they do not need to crave. Once all craving is diminished, a person reaches Nirvana, which is when a person is freed from craving.
This third truth explains how to overcome suffering and achieve happiness. It explains that life would be happy and blissful if one learns to live each day at a time, never dwelling on the past or thinking too much about the future. The fourth truth, is the final truth. According to the fourth truth, to end suffering and reach nirvana, an individual must follow the Eight-fold Path. The Eightfold Path focuses on the mind and being aware of thoughts and actions. By being compassionate and kind to others and developing wisdom, one would have a better understanding of the Four Noble Truths.
The fourth truth is “The Middle Way”, Magga and is set out in eight steps. These steps are eight features of a Buddhists life. By following the Eightfold Path, a person reduces the amount of suffering they have by living a life of virtue. People who follow the Eightfold Path usually have a positive outlook on other people, animals and the world.  The Eightfold Path The Eightfold Path aims to improve wisdom by practising right view and intention, ethical conduct, by practising right speech, action and livelihood and mental capabilities, by practising right effort, mindfulness and concentration.
There are three aspects to the Buddhist way of life. Wisdom (prajna), Morality (sila) and Mental training (Samadhi). The Noble Eightfold Path is the way of wisdom. Number 1 is Right View, this is when a Buddhist seeks to follow the teachings of Buddha and deepen his or her understanding on life. Number 2 is Right Intention; it is the decision to follow the Buddhist path. Every action a person makes comes from a thought and this right intention is the positive thought a person needs to make in order to progress. All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become. ” Buddha. Number 3 is Right Speech. Right Speech is the principle of always expressing oneself in a way that enhances the quality of other peoples lives and does no harm. It means to not tell lies, refrain from lies and deceit, malicious language, angry or offensive language and gossip. One should always tell the truth, speak with warm gentleness and refrain from speaking when they have nothing important to say.
Number 4 is Right Action and it is to follow the fine general guidelines for life which are, 1, not to destroy life, 2, not to steal, 3, not to misuse sex or overindulge the senses, 4, not to lie, 5, not to drink alcohol or take drugs which can stop one from thinking clearly. Right Livelihood means that a person following the Buddhist path should refrain from employment that goes against Buddhist principles. Right Effort is to make a conscious effort to take away all negative, evil thoughts and replace them with good, positive ones.
This step recognises that a Buddhist should be aware of this and make an effort to shape the way in which he or she thinks. Right Mindfulness is a state of heightened consciousness which a person has the mental ability to see the world around them clearly and with no delusion. Part of the mental training that Buddhists do aims at helping them become more aware of themselves and the world around them. People cannot control or develop themselves if they are unaware of how they feel or why they respond to life the way they do or they cannot help others if they are lost in a world of their own.
Buddhists practise meditation to help them be aware of this. Right concentration is the belief that through meditation the mind is enable to become calm, clear, develop loving kindness and gain insight into the truths of life. The goal of this is to reach nirvana but regular meditation is a very important part of the life of every practising Buddhist. The Buddha taught that everything we do, think and say has a consequence or result. Kind actions have positive results while unkindness results in unhappiness. Buddhists believe in karma, which is the idea that actions have consequences.
It is believed that karma is the result or consequence from a previous action, this is the way Buddhists believe that we influence the process of change and we shape the future by out actions of today. Buddhists believe in rebirth, which is the idea that creatures are constantly being born, growing old, dying and being born again. This is known as samsara and for Buddhists; rebirth is a constant process of change. What a person will be in another life develops out of what the person was before. Buddhists value compassion for others and causing them no harm above everything else.
The Buddha taught that to reach enlightenment, one must develop two qualities, wisdom and compassion. Being kind, loving and compassionate to humans and animals are important values in Buddhism. Buddhists aim to live kindly and wisely and follow the teachings of the great spiritual leader Siddhartha Gautama, Buddha. Buddhists beliefs are based on the idea that all life involves suffering but by following the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, people can free themselves from suffering and move towards enlightenment.
Buddhists values kindness, compassion and wisdom and believe that every action has a consequence which is karma, therefore always try to have a loving heart towards living beings and the environment and avoid causing harm. ———————–  Buddhism, A new approach, Steve Clarke and Mel Thompson, page 6  Buddhism, A new approach, Steve Clarke and Mel Thompson, page 12  Early Buddhist Discourses, Edited and Translated by John J. Holder  Buddhism, A new approach, Steve Clarke and Mel Thompson, page 22  We are Buddhists, My Religion and Me, Philip Blake, page 13
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