I became interested in Buddhism a little late in life, but was told that it’s never too late. I have never been much for “organized” religions, because there always seemed to be an underlying agenda. I don’t know if that is true, but that’s the feeling I always seemed to come away with.
I think the thing that sparked my interest was that some of the first words I read about it, like “ask questions”, or “use what works for you”. I liked that. Most religions seem to constantly try and force your mind into a strict obedience mode, and seem discourage any independent thought or evaluation. Buddhism focuses more on helping you become a better person, with the understanding that if everyone does that, many other problems will be solved too.
This is all just IMHO, but it works for me. Here is a little bit about Buddhism. There are different branches of course, but this is the basic idea……
Buddhism is a religion to about 300 million people around the world. The word comes from ‘budhi’, ‘to awaken’. It has its origins about 2,500 years ago when Siddhartha Gotama, known as the Buddha, was himself awakened (enlightened) at the age of 35.
To many, Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy or ‘way of life’. It is a philosophy because philosophy ‘means love of wisdom’ and the Buddhist path can be summed up as:(1) to lead a moral life,(2) to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and(3) to develop wisdom and understanding.
Buddhism explains a purpose to life, it explains apparent injustice and inequality around the world, and it provides a code of practice or way of life that leads to true happiness.
Who was the great Buddha? Siddhartha Gotama was born into a royal family in Lumbini, now located in Nepal, in 563 BC. At 29, he realised that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness, so he explored the different teachings religions and philosophies of the day, to find the key to human happiness. After six years of study and meditation he finally found ‘the middle path’ and was enlightened. After enlightenment, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism — called the Dhamma, or Truth — until his death at the age of 80.
There are many different types of Buddhism, because the emphasis changes from country to country due to customs and culture. What does not vary is the essence of the teaching — the Dhamma or truth.The Buddha taught many things, but the basic concepts in Buddhism can be summed up by the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.
Buddhist teachings can be understood and tested by anyone. Buddhism teaches that the solutions to our problems are within ourselves not outside. The Buddha asked all his followers not to take his word as true, but rather to test the teachings for themselves. ln this way, each person decides for themselves and takes responsibility for their own actions and understanding. This makes Buddhism less of a fixed package of beliefs which is to be accepted in its entirety, and more of a teaching which each person learns and uses in their own way.