I’ve always been interested in different religions. I even took a Psychology of Religion class when I was in college as an elective. For our final paper, we were asked to write an essay about our personal religious upbringing or lack thereof. Since I’ve already covered that in a past blog, I wanted to explore the religious upbringing of one of my classmates instead. For our final paper, we also had the option to give a formal presentation for extra credit. In her family, her parents left religious beliefs up to her & each of her siblings once they turned 10 years old. Unlike my parents, who chose to baptize me as a Catholic, it was incredibly fascinating. While I enjoyed learning about all of the various religious & non-religious beliefs in that class, the one that stuck with me the most has always been Buddhism.
Here are some basics of Buddhism:
- Buddha was not a god, a prophet, or any kind of supernatural being. He was born, lived & died, as a normal human.
- The core of the Buddha’s teachings aka “Dharma” — are The Four Noble Truths:
- Suffering exists.
- Desire is the cause of suffering.
- There is freedom from suffering through the Eightfold Path.
- The Eightfold Path is the eight ways of living that will help a Buddhist reach nirvana: right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, & right concentration. This way of life will ensure that you “escape” a rebirth filled with karma.
It is through desire & suffering that humans change for the better or worse. When you’re trapped in chasing after your desires, the universe tends to force you to repeat your behavioral patterns & continue to suffer as many times as it takes for you to learn your lesson. With this in mind, I do believe that people can change, but only on their own terms. Once you’ve grown tired of upsetting yourself or breaking your own heart over & over again, you can either let it consume you, or you can rise from the ashes like a phoenix.
We are not the same people that we were a decade ago, physically, emotionally, or mentally. You can possibly even argue that people can change from minute to minute depending on their current mindset. If I wasn’t already Catholic, I truly would have chosen to be a Buddhist. I believe that everything happens for a reason, & it’s up to us to decide what to do with the lesson that it comes with.
Who knows… maybe I was even a Buddhist in a past life?