What are the basic principles that serve as the foundation for Buddhism? I'm really confused right now. I was born and raised a Christian, however I have stopped practicing it 3 years ago. Then I became an atheist, then an agnostic. I still feel empty so I think I need "something" to believe in, something that actually agrees with my reasoning..
There are four basic concepts in Buddism called the Four Noble Truths. They are as listed:
1) “life is suffering i.e., life includes pain, getting old, disease, and ultimately death. We also endure psychological suffering like loneliness frustration, fear, embarrassment, disappointment and anger. This is an irrefutable fact that cannot be denied. It is realistic rather than pessimistic becaue pessimism is expecting things to be bad. Instead, Buddhism explains how suffering can be avoided and how we can be truly happy.”
2) “suffering is caused by craving and aversion. We will suffer if we expect other people to confrom to our expectation, if we want others to like us, if we do not get something we want, etc. In other words, getting what you want does not guarantee happiness. Rather than constantly struggling to get what you want, try to modify your wanting. Wanting deprives us of contentment and happiness. A lifeteime of wanting and craving and especially the craving to continue to exist, creates a powerful energy which causes the individual to be born. So, craving leads to physical suffering because it causes us to be reborn.”
3) “suffering can be overcome and happiness can be attained; that true happiness and contentment are possible. If we give up useless craving and learn to live each day at a time (not dewlling in the past or the imagine future) then we can become happy and free. We then have more time and energy to help others. This is Nirvana.”
4) “The fourth truth is that the Noble 8-Fold Path is the path which leads to the end of suffering. It is being moral (through what we say, do and our livelihood), focusing the mind on being fully aware of our thoughts and actions, and developing wisdom by understanding the Four Noble Truths and by developing compassion for others.”
Buddhists also believe in Karma, which is the law that every cause has an effect - this is what I call the “Ripple Effect”. To test the karmic effect of our actions we must look at the intention that is behind the action as well as the effects from it on oneself and the finally how it effects others.
It is also believed that true wisdom is attained by experiencing and understanding truth and reality; it requires and open, objective, unbigoted mind and is something that I actually try to do, though I’m not Buddhist.
One thing that I’ve even mentioned before on this site is that people need to listen to themselves - not others - as other people’s paths don’t really teach them anything. Basically saying, that the person needs to take their own path, decide for themselves and take responsibilty for their own actions and understanding. This is something basic that buddhists also apply within themselves as “he Buddha asked all his followers not to take his word as true, but rather to test the teachings for themselves.”