What is meant by early Buddhism

Key messages of Buddhism

What is buddhism

According to the Buddha, experiences and events have their causes not only in this life, but also in previous existences. Accordingly, thoughts, speech and action also have an effect in the future - the so-called karma principle. This also explains why people's internal and external circumstances are so different. Buddhism is a religion, but it differs significantly from the so-called religions of faith such as Christianity, Judaism or Islam.

Like Hinduism and Taoism, Buddha's teaching is a religion of experience. The aim is to develop one's own mind, to achieve "Buddha-nature". This means that the capacity for enlightenment is already present in every person. The way there leads through independence and personal responsibility.

In Buddhism, therefore, there are few regulations from outside. Buddha's teachings should be consciously questioned and checked through one's own experience. "If you meet Buddha, kill him" is a famous quote that expresses this.

How do you become a Buddhist?

In a little ritual one takes refuge in the Buddha, Dharma (the teaching) and Sangha (the spiritual community). They are also called the three jewels. Going for refuge means walking the Buddha's path and following his teaching. We need a refuge that is outside of samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth. Other people can never offer refuge because they are still trapped in this cycle and their concepts. As a rule, the refuge is linked to a commitment to what are known as the five silas. They are:

1. Not to kill or injure any living being
2. Not to take what is not given
3. To refrain from having unwholesome sexual relations and to practice using the senses correctly
4. Not to lie or speak unwholesome
5. Not to cloud one's consciousness by intoxicating means

The four noble truths

Buddha basically summarized the essence of his teaching in the "Four Noble Truths". They should help to see through life and to cope with it.

1. What is the suffering?
There are three types of suffering: suffering from suffering, suffering from change, suffering from conditionality. Life itself is suffering: birth, work, separation, old age, illness, death.

2. How does suffering arise?
Through ignorance, selfishness, attachment, aversion and fear.

3. How can suffering be overcome?
By giving up attachment to the idea of ​​an independently existing self. This is the only way to avoid new karma, the result of good and bad deeds.

4. How should this be achieved?
On the path of the reasonable middle - neither indulgence nor self-chastisement. The famous eightfold path to nirvana consists of: right knowledge and disposition, right speech, right action and life, right effort, mindfulness and concentration.

What is the cause of suffering?

Our ignorance and failure to understand the true nature of things is the cause of all suffering. But what do we not understand? Our untrained mind is unable to perceive that the seer, the seen and the seeing are mutually dependent. They do not exist independently of one another and also not on their own. Incidentally, Buddha's explanations coincide with the findings of the theory of relativity and quantum theory, according to which the properties of matter depend on the observer. It is the dilemma of the subjectivity of knowledge.

It is through this ignorance that the experience of duality arises. We divide the world into "I" - the inner world and "You" - the outer world. Although things are constantly changing, we hold on to our idea that they are real, permanent, and separate from us.

What does emptiness mean?

If you look for something timeless and permanent, you won't find anything. All objects are devoid of self-existence. But the objects are not nothing either. This also applies to us humans. We are definitely there, have feelings and thoughts. All of this exists. But what is the "I"? If one looks for it, nothing can be determined that can be called self. The ego is devoid of self-existence. It is neither permanent nor solid, like everything that surrounds us.

Our spirit is open in its true nature like space, a kind of timeless container that lets everything appear, embraces and connects with one another. Hence the mind cannot die like the body. The mind exists continuously over an infinite number of existences. The aim of all Buddhist endeavors is enlightenment. In this state, our limited ideas and conceptual worlds dissolve. We no longer think in either-or categories, but are connected to everything and consciously linger in the here and now.

What does karma mean?

Karma means action, whereby Buddhism distinguishes three actions: that of the body, that of speech and that of the mind. All forms of human activity create imprints, which in turn form the basis of future activity and experience. The concept of karma is closely related to the concept of rebirth. Our actions can produce good or bad karma, or be neutral in karmic terms. The decisive factor for this is the motivation with which an action is carried out.

Good karma leads to favorable conditions in the current life or to a rebirth in pleasant human conditions or in the sphere of gods. Bad karma, on the other hand, leads to rebirth under negative circumstances, for example as an animal or a demon. Good deeds fill the mind with good impressions, and therefore one should do as many good deeds as possible. But as long as we see the world in a dualistic way with our ego, the effect of every action remains limited.

An act can only have a liberating and enlightening effect in connection with a deep insight into emptiness. Emptiness means that everything is ultimately part of the same wholeness. This highest wisdom is only gradually developing, but there are certain actions that help a person to achieve perfect realization. These so-called six paramitas are:

1. Generosity
2. Meaningful behavior
3. Patience
4. Joyful effort
5. Meditation
6. Wisdom

What does reincarnation mean?

Rebirth means that after death on this earth or other areas of existence the human spirit is reborn in a new body as a sentient being. Buddhists believe in a mind continuum that goes through many lifetimes. Therefore, karma works not only in the present life but also into the next. Conversely, in the present life we ​​are exposed to conditions created by our karma in previous lives.

What is samsara

According to Buddhist ideas, all living beings are in a cycle of existences, of death and rebirth, samsara. The cause of this is karma. Actions, both good and bad, which we carry out because of the completely impure state of our ignorant mind, are the cause and consequence of rebirths. When the mind is cleansed of all karmic impressions and no new karma arises, enlightenment is achieved. In nirvana there is neither death nor rebirth. The mind has broken away from the samsaric cycle.