Buddhism is rich with wonderful philosophies and perspectives. But there are three particularly potent Buddhist beliefs and values that are real eye openers and potential life changers.
Western society is obsessed with the quick fix, with the pill pop, the cure-all, the tablets. We get consumed in the whirlwind of “Getting by.” Life flies past us so quickly we never really see what’s going on. The present moment is witnessed like the countryside from a speeding train—it’s all a blur. Sometimes we need to just stop…
And appreciate the world. But what do you have to be thankful for? Well. A lot.
This present moment, for example.
That’s one thing Buddhism teaches you: living in the moment. Stopping. Living now. Not tomorrow. Not yesterday. Not in hope. Not in regret. Just now.
Living in the moment is definitely my favourite lesson from Buddhism. But it’s just one of the many lessons the religion teaches us.
Here are three more powerful Buddhists beliefs and values that i hope will mean as much to you as they do to me.
Pain is suffering and suffering is optional. Buddhists call suffering Dukkha. It is the Buddhsit belief that Dukha can be controlled through meditation.
Dukka: Life is Painful And Causes Suffering
Taken at face value this belief doesn’t seem all that positive now, does it?.
Life causes suffering.
Well, gee, that’s just swell. So you mean I’m going to suffer all my life?
Yup. Inevitably life will lead to pain.
But here’s the point. If you accept the fact that life causes pain, you will immediately become stronger in the mind.
So much of the suffering in life is caused by:
a) fear of possible pain,
b) the idea that we suffer more than others,
c) the idea that if we’re in pain, we must be doing something wrong.
When you simply accept that life always includes a degree of pain, you remove all three of those issues. You don’t fear pain, because doing so would be pointless—pain is going to happen anyway, so why fear it? You know that all life experiences pain, so you no longer feel alone. Finally, you know that you’re not doing something wrong. No matter what you do, your life will involve some suffering. It’s inevitable. As soon as you realise the inevitability of some degree of pain, you gain strength.
- You can read more about Dukka on WildMind.
2: Anitya: Life is in Flux
One huge flaw in the way we westerners look at the world is that we try to keep things stable. You want to know that your job is secure, your relationship is solid and will never change, your health is constantly in a good state, and that all is fine.
Just one problem: Life doesn’t work like that.
Life is as the ocean currents, ever rolling, ever moving, ever stirring the waters of change.
You can’t stop life from changing. The more you try to cling on to life, the more pain you’ll suffer.
You get ill. You get healthy. You find a good job. You lose a good job. You get married. Maybe you get divorced. That’s life. Change.
Imagine if there was no change. Imagine if it were all the same, day in, day out, yesterday being tomorrow being today, all one. Imagine. What would be the point?
The thrill of life comes from riding the waves. You can’t stop the current from stirring, you can’t stop the waves from flowing, you just get up on surf on the waves of life. And you love the ride. And if you fall of, from time to time, you love the feeling of being in deep water. Life is change. Embrace it.
You can read more about Anitya on Buddhism Today
Another Buddhist belief is that we should have no attachments. No, not email attachments, mental and spiritual attachments.
3: Anatma: The Self is Ever Changing
One of the most important of all Buddhist beliefs and values is Anatma: the idea that the self is always changing.
One of the most important of all Buddhist beliefs is that there is no soul. This Buddhist quote about the soul explains it.
Who are you?
I’m a writer and meditation teacher, 32, healthy, look alright, have a loving family… that’s me. But here’s the deal. That me, that self, is going to change. 32 turns to 33. Maybe I lose my job. Maybe I get a better job. Maybe something happens to my family. I change.
And besides, you also have to ask, where does this idea of your “self” come from? (click that link for a truly elucidating read).
I actually changed a lot recently.
My father died this year. As you may know it can be hard overcoming the death of a parent. My father’s death changed me forever. The self I clung to before isn’t there now. I’m different. And next year, or next month, or maybe even today, something will happen that will change me.
We are forever changing.
But in the west we tend to try and cling on to one idea of ourselves. The problem is that if you cling on to one idea of yourself, you prevent yourself from experiencing the full reality of your own existence.
Accept your impermanence, embrace your ever changing state. You might have just one life. But in that one life, you’ll exist in a million different colours. And that’s the beauty of you and me: we have the potential to be anything.
Thanks for reading.
These are the four noble truths, quoted. Click the image for full size.
Share your thoughts on these Buddhist beliefs and values. Leave a comment.