an offshoot of Hinduism is seen as panacea to modern
ills that possess the spirit. While Hinduism may seem a
tad esoteric to the common man, Buddhism displays the
teachings of Hinduism in a more simplistic manner.
ago, a prince was born in Nepal that was a part of India
then. The prince named Gautama was born with a silver
spoon literally and shielded from the roughness,
complexities and harshness that life spoke of. When
Gautama’s father learnt that the prince would one day
renounce the world and become a hermit, he ensured that
Gautama was protected from the harsh realities of life,
by cloistering him in luxury and joy.
even married and fathered a son, yet, when he set out of
the comforts of his palace, all the harsh realities of
the world swam before his eyes. The first sight to meet
his eyes was a sick man. The sufferings of the sick man
made Gautama realize that the body that preserved the
soul would one day be weakened and would perish. He saw
a toothless, old hag and realized that youth-hood that
we cherish will change into infirmity and the firmness
of the skin, the zest of the spirit and the glint in the
eyes will soon give way to a ravished body. And the last
sight that moved him completely was that of a corpse.
Until then, Gautama who never knew about death witnessed
the passing away of the body-the body which we cherish
and protect would one day perish and we fritter away
life by neglecting the subtle soul and pay attention to
this gross soul.
4 noble truths
soon realized that the basis of sufferings stemmed from
the preoccupation of the self. The narcissistic ‘I’
was the culprit alienating the soul from the truth.
Attachment leads to desire because the ego has to be
fulfilled. Old-age, sickness, death are all sufferings
and we are caught in the mire of all these bonds that
further distances us from the true purpose of our
lifetime here. The ‘aham’ or the ego that demands
immediate gratification separates us from our path. He
learnt some truths that are now known as the 4 noble
truths. These were:
noble truth of suffering...the origin and causes of
suffering...the cessation of suffering and
finally, the noble truth that leads to the
cessation of suffering'
passions urge the soul to assume another form, when the
time on earth is over. While fulfilling earlier
pleasures, new needs and wants surface and thus
continues the cycle of birth and death.
persistent feeling of dissatisfaction and despair with
life, created a dull void in Gautam’s life that could
not be filled by the ordinary pleasures of life. When he
saw a holy man devoid of attachments, he left the palace
grounds in pursuit of the truth. For six years, he
observed severe penance, and indulged in
self-mortification. He initially thought that little
self-consumption would result in scant
self-preservation, as wants would be limited.
Yet, he did not get what he sought.
then realized that the body was the temple of the soul
and must never be abused. From this, emerged the middle
path that Buddhism is famous for.
first of the eightfold path
can be changed if our view about life is changed. The
foremost thing for man to understand is the transient
nature of all and everything. Everything changes and
this is what is explained in the Tao. People grow rich
from rags and riches turn into rags too. Yesterday’s
best pals may become today’s sworn enemies and love
and attachment grow into frustrations and longings.
Nothing is permanent and only change is permanent.
we are inside a framework, we often stay focused and
immersed in the self. The first of the eightfold path
suggests that if we get out of that frame, we will be
able to observe the mind and action as an onlooker. Our
feelings, emotions etc seem gross and manageable when we
assume the stance of an onlooker.
we observe that the ego is the root cause of all misery,
we got to act in the right spirit. Ego can be calmed
when attachment for something is shed. One cannot say,
“Stop loving or let go off attachments.” But, this
change can be brought about with compassion- Compassion
for ourselves and for others. When we view ourselves
compassionately, we will be enabled to view others
compassionately. Compassion for the self and others
resists temptation and the pull of desires. This also
ensures that we curb violence and fosters empathy. Love
and hate are two sides of the same coin. Love frees, but
attachment binds. When in crimes of passion, ditched
lovers destroy the object of their desire, they are
acting, out of the bond that attachment creates. Love
only creates empathy and the practice of right intention
has the power to make a friend of an enemy and an enemy
of a friend. Right speech advises not only gentleness in
speech, but also the practice of the truth. Lies and
deceit only further confusion and attachment. Flattery
also amounts to lie. Speech that is indulged in, to
tarnish someone’s image, idle speech that amounts to
gossip or complain, will all lead to more sufferings.
action stems from courage- the courage to defy the ego
and act for the common good. This includes not willfully
taking what is not yours. What is not given to you
should not be taken as that amounts to stealing,
adultery and culminates into more sufferings. To take
away that which you cannot create, is taking away life
one’s own or others’ leads to sufferings as well.
a decent life that aims in restoring harmony and not
just amassing wealth is of great importance. Being in a
profession that gives life and not that takes away life,
ensures that one leads a hassle and guilt free life.
Raising animals for slaughtery, dealing with weapons
that destroy, selling of poison or liquor, meat and
flesh trade will certainly bode karmic debt accumulation
that will prove costly in rebirths.
human being is an energy field and the efforts taken by
man, is the sublimation of energy. Energy cannot be
destroyed, but is transformed from one form to another.
Efforts taken in the right direction to curb attachment
and serve love will ensure the cessation of sufferings.
Wisdom acknowledges imperfections. Compassion helps in
forming a safe vent to longings and helps sublime hidden
imperfections. Efforts to embrace the good in the self
and to transform the gross by avoiding unpleasant
circumstances will mitigate sufferings.
is a term coined in Buddhism that motivates us to act
dispassionately. The mind segregates things into good
and bad, either through experience or through the words
and dogmas of others. When we form a perception of
something, we are either attracted to it or repelled by
it. The practice of mindfulness, instead focuses on your
perceptions and feelings and not on the external
you feel, you attract. When our feelings of something
are negative, our reaction to it is negative too. And
when we react with hostility, it only breeds more
hostility. Be a calm onlooker of the sea of life.
mind that is capricious flips from one to another,
lacking focus. Meditation that is held a sacred action
by Buddhists, help in leading the wandering mind to
apply itself to an object. When all our energies are
concentrated on this object, there is no energy left to
concentrate on anything else. Sustaining this focus is
necessary to maintain that all the above seven paths are
followed! The eyes see many enchanting objects, but
it’s up to the mind to discern what needs to be
appreciated and left and what needs to be cherished.
While being with one person, the mind engages in acts
with another, leading to unfulfilled passions, desires,
fuelling the need for immediate gratification and
ultimately unsettling all the above seven paths.
the above eightfold path, lead to nirvana or
salvation-liberation from recurrent births and deaths.
That is a sure-shot panacea to worldly ills!