The true meaning of Buddhism and Spirituality

The name Buddhism comes from the word ‘budhi’ which means ‘pure wisdom’ or ‘awakened’ and thus Buddhism is the philosophy of awakening. This philosophy has its origins in the experience of the man Gautama, known as the Buddha, who was himself awakened at the age of 35. Buddhism is now 2,500 years old and has about 300 million followers world-wide. Until a hundred years ago, Buddhism was mainly an Indian philosophy but increasingly it is gaining adherents all over the world.

You might be wondering who Gautama was and how come he attained enlightenment. Gautama was born in the Royal family as a son of an Indian king in Northern India 623 years before Christ. Then few wisemen or pandits of that scenario foresaw that he would become either an emperor or a Buddha. But his father being a king, also wanted him to be an emperor and kept him totally secluded from all unpleasant things, so that he might not become wise by seeing life. And it was the biggest thing which finally led Gautama to follow a path of Buddha.  The Natural forces or the Almighty knew that Gautama must become the Buddha, and so they visited earth in various forms to let him see them.

Its said that on three successive days, while on his way to the royal park, Gautama saw an old man, a sick man with sorrow, and a corpse, and thus he learned that men—all humans—must suffer and die. On the fourth day he saw a rishi (a monk); from this he understood that to learn the way of overcoming man’s universal sorrow, one must give up worldly pleasures. Accordingly, in his twenty-ninth year, he renounced his kingdom and became an ascetic.
Gautama wandered about the countryside, as a seeker after truth and peace. He approached many a distinguished teacher of his day, but none could give him what he sought. He strenuously practiced all the severe austerities of monkish life, hoping to attain Nirvana. Eventually his delicate body was reduced almost to a skeleton. But the more he tormented his body the further away he was from his goal. Realizing the futility of self-mortification, he finally decided to follow a different course, avoiding the extremes of pain and indulgence.

The new path which he discovered was the Middle Way, the Eightfold Path, which subsequently became part of his teaching. By following this path his wisdom grew into its fullest power, and he became the Buddha.
As a man, king Gautama, by his own will, love, and wisdom, attained enlightenment and became Buddha—the highest possible state of intellectual and ethical perfection—and he taught his followers to believe that they might do the same. Buddha knew and taught that any man, within himself, possesses the power to make himself good, wise, and happy.

All the teachings of the Buddha can be summed up in one word: Dharma. It means truth, that which really is. It also means law, the law which exists in a man’s own heart and mind. It is the principle of righteousness. Therefore the Buddha appeals to man to be noble, pure, and charitable not in order to please any Supreme Deity, but in order to be true to the highest in himself.

Dharma, this law of righteousness, exists not only in a man’s heart and mind, it exists in the universe also. All the universe is an embodiment and revelation of Dharma. When the moon rises and sets, the rains come, the crops grow, the seasons change, it, is because of Dharma, for Dharma is the law of the universe which makes matter act in the ways revealed by our studies of natural science.

Thus Buddhism is not a religion at all, in the sense in which the word is commonly understood. It is not a system of faith or worship. In Buddhism, there is no such thing as belief in a body of dogma which must be taken on faith, such as belief in a Supreme Being, a creator of the universe, the reality of an immortal soul, a personal savior, or archangels who are supposed to carry out the will of the Supreme Deity. Buddhism begins as a search for truth. The Buddha taught that we should believe only that which is true in the light of our own experience, that which conforms to reason and is conducive to the highest good and welfare of all beings. Men must rely on themselves. Even though he may “take refuge in Buddha,” the expression used when a man pledges himself to live a righteous life, he must not fall victim to a blind faith that the Buddha can save him. The Buddha can point out the path, but he cannot walk it for us.

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