The name Buddha means “Enlightened one” or “one who is awake” and Buddhism originated with the Buddha. Buddhism is a religion or philosophy to about 300 million people around the world. It is said that Buddhism is more a philosophy than a religion and offers a purpose to life. It started with Siddharta Gautama around 2600 years ago in India near the border of Nepal. Although born a prince, he realized that wealth and luxury could not provide lasting happiness or protection from suffering. After a long spiritual search where he spent years learning meditation techniques with various masters, one day he went into deep meditation where he stayed until he became self-realized or enlightened. He reached the state of unconditional and lasting happiness, the state of enlightenment or Buddhahood. For the rest of his life he taught anyone who asked how they could reach the same state.
The Buddha taught many things, but the basic concepts in Buddhism can be summed up by the Four Noble Truths:
The first truth is the understanding of suffering, that we all eventually grow old and die. We all suffer loneliness, frustration, anger and disappointment. Buddhism teaches how suffering can be avoided and how we can be happy.
The Second Truth is that suffering is caused by wanting what we can’t have. If we don’t get what we want, we suffer when in fact we just need to modify what we want. Wanting stops us feeling happiness.
The third truth is that suffering can be overcome and happiness can be attained. By controlling our desires and wants, By living each day one day at a time, not focusing on the past or the imagined future, then we can become happy and free.
The fourth Noble Truth is about being moral, though our actions, thoughts, words and deeds. By focusing and controlling our minds, by developing our inner wisdom and by developing compassion for others, there is a way out of suffering.