If you are feeling empty, what do you do to fill yourself back up? Feeling a certain void, you shouldn’t use drugs, alcohol, food or any other tangible item because that feeling of fullness will only be temporary. You should fill yourself up so that your body, mind, and soul feel happy. Perhaps a look into Buddhism is what you need.
“I hope you have recognized by now that this Ancient city is not a place but a state of mind. We need to uncover the path we need to follow, the map laid out by the Buddha and those before him. This is an inward journey of our hearts and minds. So, the journey will be difficult and the path obstructed by the many habits, conditions, and perceptions that perhaps have blocked our true nature.” – Jason Murphy, LMFT
HISTORY OF BUDDHISM
The founder of Buddhism was Siddhartha Gautama and he was born in 563 BC, therefore, this philosophy predates Christianity. Buddhism is a following of the teachings and ways of Buddha, who lived in the forest for 6 years where he studied different teachings, religions, and philosophies of his time. “After six years of study and meditation, he finally found ‘the middle path’ and was enlightened” (www.buddhanet.net). Buddha then shared his teachings called the Dharma, or truth until he died at 80 years of age.
Buddhism is based on the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. The first three Noble Truths discuss suffering and the Fourth Noble Truth states that suffering can be conquered. “The Noble Eightfold Path is being moral, focusing the mind on being fully aware of our thoughts and actions and developing wisdom by understanding the Four Noble Truths and by developing compassion for others” (www.buddhanet.net). Many people describe Buddhism as a religion, but it is more of a philosophy.
According to Natalie Baker, LMHC, “The Buddha taught that there are three qualities of life that we can’t escape: impermanence, feeling unsatisfied, and selflessness. We typically know these qualities as the experience of surprise when things change, constantly wanting life to be different than it is, and not knowing who we are. What if these qualities were actually the stepping stones to appreciating life?”
Buddhism is very tolerant and supportive of other religions. It believes that some of the tenets of established religions are an important way to live your life. There is no deity or god to worship in Buddhism. Buddha never saw himself as a god and downplayed any type of worship. He just wanted people to learn about his teachings and, basically, live their lives as good people who lived in the present moment. He didn’t say my way is the only way; he wanted people to try out his different teachings and find a way that worked for them.
Being moral is a very important part of Buddhism. The world would be a much better place if everyone lived his or her life with upstanding morals. The five main precepts or teachings of Buddhism include not to take the life of anything that is living, not to take anything that is not freely given, to refrain from sexual misconduct and bodily excess, cease untrue speech and preclude intoxication because with that comes the loss of mindfulness. Some of these may seem extreme, but as Buddha taught, you need to test his teachings and use what works for you.
For instance, as stated in the first precept above, not to take the life of anything living, you would think that means that Buddhists have to be vegans. This is not true because even Buddha was not a vegan. If you eat meat, you are indirectly involved in the death of a creature. But when you eat vegetables, you are also indirectly responsible for the death of something that is living. We cannot go through life eating rocks!!! If you look at the Noble Truths, there is suffering in life, which can be applied to the killing of animals for food. However, the precept refers more to be directly involved in the killing of living beings. It is definitely a paradox that is more than likely discussed quite often within Buddhism.
FILLING YOURSELF UP
If the teachings and beliefs of Buddhism sound like something that you are lacking in your life, there are many online resources to help you find support within the Buddhist community. This could potentially be the community that fills you up so that the empty feeling disappears.
“This is an important step on the path of love: Link your spirit to love itself, open your heart to existence, choose love as your spiritual journey and you will never be disappointed with humans.” – Joan Fenold, LMFT