Probably the simplest religion of the world in my opinion; Buddhism is often misunderstood.
“Buddha” means “the awakened one”, and there are a lot of Buddhas, not just one. Many sages have awakened from the delusion of separateness, which is what we are all capable of doing. That’s why you are a Buddha, Everyone’s a Buddha.
In India we have our own depiction of the Buddha, as do the Thai, the Japanese, and, of course, the fat Chinese Buddha you often see at restaurants. It is simply a cultural depiction of absolute Happiness the way they understand it, nothing more. Ten years ago I misunderstood it as some avatar of Buddha.
What I really like about Buddhism is that the Buddha was a simple man. Something we could be. He is just like you and I. He wasn’t a God (although some refer to him as “Lord Buddha”), nor was he special in any way until his enlightenment.
Is Buddhism a religion? That depends on how you define “religion”. So if it is a religion, then it’s like no other. I think of it as a philosophy or a school of thought. You can be Christian or Jewish, for example, and still, find the teachings helpful and motivational.
Buddha taught that we cause our own suffering when we get attached to impermanent things. We cling to people, health and youth, even though we intellectually know that nothing lasts forever. That’s why the concept of “letting go” is so fundamental to Buddhism.
There is nobody sending you to hell for what you do, but there are natural consequences to every action (cause and effect… Karma). We compassionately understand that everyone is on their own path and, furthermore, honour where everyone is on their journey at every moment. No fear, no hatred, bigotry or animosity, just deep understanding, empathy, love and respect for all beings. We were all born with the ability to clearly see the world without judgment and to be amazed by its beauty and wonder. However, after years of being surrounded by greed, ego, selfishness and fear, our vision is clouded and we can’t clearly see anymore that we are all the same despite our differences.
The more you read, the more moments of clarity you’re going to have, and the happier you will be. Because reading gives you the knowledge and with knowledge comes power. With power comes to content and with content comes happiness!
Blessed Be )O(