Sometime around the 6th century BCE, an Indian prince by the name of Siddhartha Gautama was born. Upon once seeing the poverty and illness of his father’s subjects, Siddhartha was mortified and escaped the palace to live as an ascetic. The prince-turned-monk nearly died of starvation, begging for alms on the street, when he realized there must be a middle way between flagellation and self-indulgence. Thus, Buddhism was born.
Buddhism is the collective name of three Asian philosophies (Theravada, Tibetan and Zen Buddhism) which have as their common thread the teaching that was uttered by Gautama Buddha: that human suffering is inextricably tied to passions and attachments. While for most of history, Buddhism was confined to Asia, since the 1960s, the eastern religion exploded in popularity in the west, bringing with it many spiritual practices, such as mindfulness meditation, mandalas and more.
The appeal of Buddhism is undeniable, as it is more a philosophy than a religion, and its wisdom pertains to all people, regardless of cultural background. Here are a few examples:
1. Some people think you need to be a lone monk in order to be spiritual, The Buddha did not agree
2. Sound advice from the leader of Tibetan Buddhism
3. Budai (Mandarin for “cloth sack”) or the “Laughing Buddha” is often confused in the West with the Buddha. This story is a koan, a Zen riddle
4. We all have something to impart on others, and in giving, we receive more than we lost
5. The gossip and petty insults of others are not worth your time
6. A key tenet of Buddhism is humility and doubt. A proud man who grows fat on flattery cannot foster doubt or learn how to better himself
7. This is true of most religions, yes, but also of most scholarly learning as well as the arts
8. This is why you should always be wary of texts that claim to have uncovered “the truth”
9. Be loving in all of your actions
10. Revenge is an unbreakable cycle. The only way out is to nip hate in its bud