Buddha's teachings, known over than 2,500 years, contain significant wisdom of a man who has devoted his life to knowledge. The term Buddhism is written in European chronicles quite briefly. Only in the early 19th century was Siddhartha Gautama's teaching of Buddha, which was first named and defined as so-called Buddhism, thereby creating a religion in society that currently has over 300 million people, making it the fourth largest on Earth.
Buddhism - Faith or Philosophy?
Buddhism is often, and ought not to be, confused with faith, as unlike religion, it builds on experience, experience and self-knowledge, not on faith based on spiritual conviction rather than proof. One who can bring the awareness into being, one awakens and attains enlightenment and wisdom, just as the Buddha did. The label 'religion' in association with Buddhism is not therefore entirely accurate, as it may cause a misinterpretation of the true essence of the Buddha's teachings and can create an image of faith in one particular God and in result propel the observance of dogmas associated with religious beliefs, from which the Buddha's teachings could not be further apart. For a Buddhist, the idea of a God Creator is unrealistic, it is therefore more appropriate to understand Buddha's teachings as a spiritual journey which gives the emergence of wisdom of one teaching accepting . Buddhism uses contradictions to show what is timeless, unmanifested, it, that recognises external and internal worlds - that is, the very same life and via its perceptive mind itself.
On his journey, Indian prince Siddhartha Gautama was challenged with many hardships, that later in life became the source of his life awakening. From his birth, everything suggested that he would succeed to the throne from his father and continue the royal tradition of the Shakya clan. The prince since his youth was surrounded by luxury, which also was the contribution factor in his decision giving up everything and embarking on a pilgrimage of understanding life. At age of 29, he left everything behind, including his family, wife and child behind with intent to free himself and all people from suffering. Witnessing all the suffering around him, he realised that having a constant of exposure to suffering, and he never can be truly free unless leaving the endless cycle of it.
There is a story telling how the Buddha met an ascetic of a wanderer who convinced him that the way out of the cycle of suffering is possible. He began to follow various teachers, wandered with the fakirs, but in the end finding only disappointment and therefore began to make his own way.
On his long path of deep meditation, one day he sat at a tree in Bodhgaya, it came upon him what is referred to as enlightenment, awakening or awareness. Suddenly, he could recall his past lives and past lives of others. He described that man rebirths according to his actions, thinking and speech. According to him, the cause of rebirth was human desires and that is why one lives in the constant cycle of life and death.
In early days of his realisation, he described all his knowledge as The Four Noble Truths and in course of his lifetime of another 45 yeas he passed on and explained his teaching (Sasana) to others. After his death, Buddha's disciples recorded his teachings for future generations. Buddhism has become one of the main religions in India, and further it has spread throughout all Asia taking many forms influenced by a variety of different Asian cultures. At present, Dalai Lama, the Tibetan leader, is the most renowned teacher of Buddhism.
The Core Of The Buddha's Teachings - Acceptance & End Of Suffering
Liberation from suffering
The Buddha's teaching builds on the effort to break free from the constant cycle of dying and rebirth. The cyclical nature of the universe is connected with the transience of all things and situations. This truth is the core of Buddha's teaching. Everything is temporary and transience is the basic feature of everything. It is only by realisation (by liberation from the unconscious, sleep, or dreaming) that one can get out of the vicious circle. It follows that, in order to be satisfied, one must leave behind the transient in order to realise that attachments to material objects, and also ones thoughts, causes a misalignment with the true-self.
Everything in this world of change and confusion in the cycle of individual rebirths accompanied by suffering (duhkha). The opposite is "sukha", which means "pleasant" or "sweet", so we can "duhkha" translate the word "sour". It sours because we have kept it for a long time, just as we keep 'sourness' in our lives.
A person who only thinks about things cannot get to the true nature of matters and is trapped in the maze of his thoughts and illusions. Since everyone has different thoughts and different views of the world, he is constantly in conflict with others, e.g. even though everyone sees the same thing each describes it differently. This leads to countless interpretations of reality and promotes illusions of the truth. The essence of truth is a personal experience, Buddha believed. Particularly well-known form of Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, teaches that explaining Buddhism verbally is a waste of time. Buddha only gave his statements as a means to his own path of knowledge and awareness. He compared them with a raft that only serves a transportation purpose across a river, but it has no purpose of its own. Buddha also taught that it is not advisable to blindly accept views of others, but to infer whether the claim reasonably resonates internally with them.
The Illusion Of 'I' And The Path To Awakening
The essence of suffering is the illusion of phenomenas, things, or situations that have a common transience. The cycle of illusory existence is distressful. Abandoning this cycle is called "nirvana" - it is another foundation of Buddha's teachings and, above all, the Buddhist life goal. According to Buddha, the "Illusory Self" is in the conviction of a man that he is nothing but a material body and a mind. The Buddha sees this as a common fundamental error. We can call the illusory belief a dualism in which human minds are still anchored. In three characteristics of all existence (trilakkhana), which is anatman, impermanence and Dukkha, anatman is translated as "No-Self" defining there is no real human-self, due to the impermanence and endless shared cycle of suffering.
Can Enlightenment / Awareness Be Expressed Verbally?
Enlightenment (sanskrit bodhi) can be defined as state of existence, purified of all deception and while in full awareness of all qualities.
An excerpt from the book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle's spiritual leader can bring us closer to the start of enlightenment. In particular, Eckhart explains what is or is not an enlightenment as according to the Buddha:
"I love the Buddha's simple definition of enlightenment as "the end of suffering." There is nothing superhuman in that, is there? Of course, as a definition, it is incomplete. It only tells you what enlightenment is not: no suffering. But what's left when there is no more suffering? The Buddha is silent on that, and his silence implies that you'll have to find out for yourself. He uses a negative definition so that the mind cannot make it into something to believe in or into a superhuman accomplishment, a goal that is impossible for you to attain. Despite this precaution, the majority of Buddhists still believe that enlightenment is for the Buddha, not for them, at least not in this lifetime."
So what happens when suffering disappears? How do we know that suffering has gone? With certainty, we will not have to ask these questions, if we know, there are no more questions. In that moment we awoke in awareness and enlightenment.