Founded by Siddhartha Gautama in the 6th Century BC, Buddhism is one of the most prevalent religions in Asia and South-East Asia. It is a faith that worships no deity but focuses on achieving personal spiritual enlightenment. According to Buddha, suffering is an inherent part of human life. The main causes of suffering are attachment and craving. To end suffering, one must let go of attachment and craving. The path to nirvana (freedom from suffering) is through the Eightfold Path, which includes the right understanding, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right meditation.
If you are someone who intends to follow this path, Jonah Engler recommends you begin by understanding the many complex Buddhist terminologies. In this article, we will break down some of the key Buddhist terms that you should know.
Jonah Engler‘s Guide to Buddhist Terminologies
Nirvana is a state of perfect peace and happiness, free from suffering and rebirth. It is the goal of Buddhism to attain nirvana.
Samsara is the cycle of birth and death. It is the continuous cycle of rebirth that beings undergo due to their attachment to desires. In order to escape samsara, one must let go of all desires.
Karma is the law of cause and effect. It is the idea that our actions have consequences, both in this life and in future lives. Jonah Engler explains that good deeds lead to positive karma while bad deeds lead to negative karma
Dharma is the Buddha’s teachings. It is the path that leads to nirvana. Following the dharma allows us to end our suffering and attain enlightenment.
Sangha is a community of Buddhist monks and nuns. It is also used to refer to the wider community of Buddhist followers. The sangha helps practitioners to stay on the path to enlightenment.
A bodhisattva is a being on the path to nirvana but delays their own final awakening to help others achieve enlightenment. The bodhisattva ideal is one of kindness, generosity, and selfless compassion.
7. Eightfold Path
The Eightfold Path is the path comprising eight rules of ethical conduct that lead to nirvana. It includes the right understanding, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right meditation.
8. Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths are the cornerstone of Buddhist teachings. They are: (1) life is suffering; (2) suffering is caused by attachment and craving; (3) suffering can be ended by letting go of attachment and craving; and (4) the Eightfold Path leads to the end of suffering.
9. Three Jewels
The Three Jewels are the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. They are considered to be the most important things in Buddhism. The Three Jewels provide guidance on the path to enlightenment.
10. Five Precepts
The Five Precepts are ethical guidelines for Buddhist practitioners. They are: (1) do not kill; (2) do not steal; (3) do not engage in sexual misconduct; (4) do not lie; and (5) do not take intoxicants. Following the Five Precepts leads to a life of morality and integrity.
Jonah Engler believes that the key to truly comprehending a religion lies in grasping its basics. Those mentioned above are a few primary terminologies that, if understood thoroughly, can make the task of implementing Buddhism ten times easier.