What Do Buddhists Believe?
Quotes that convey Kadampa Buddhist ideas & beliefs:
"Developing compassion and wisdom and helping those in need is the true meaning of life."
"Without inner peace outer peace is impossible."
"Love is the great protector."
"If we train in meditation, our mind will gradually become more and more peaceful, and we will experience a purer and purer form of happiness."
"Liberation from suffering cannot be found outside the mind."
"Every action we perform leaves an imprint, or potentiality, on our very subtle mind, and each imprint eventually gives rise to its own effect."
"Faith is like pure eyes that enable us to see a pure and perfect world beyond the suffering world of samsara."
"We need to learn to love all living beings."
"External circumstances are not the main causes of our problems."
"The only thing that will never deceive us is the attainment of full enlightenment."
"If we want to be truly happy and free from suffering we must improve our understanding of the mind."
"When the turbulence of distracting thoughts subsides, a deep happiness and contentment naturally arise from within."
"We do not need to change our lifestyle, but we do need to change our views and intentions."
"The happiness of future lives is more important than the happiness of this life."
"The path to enlightenment is really very simple - all we need to do is stop cherishing our self and learn to cherish others. All other realizations will naturally follow from this."
"Happiness and suffering are states of mind, and so their main causes cannot be found outside the mind."
"We cannot exist without others, and they in turn are affected by everything we do."
"The solution to all the problems of daily life is to cherish others."
"We can be utterly ruthless with our delusions but kind and patient with ourselves."
"Buddha compared our Buddha nature to a gold nugget in dirt, because no matter how disgusting a person's delusions may be, the real nature of their mind remains undefiled, like pure gold."
"The moment we let go of our obsessive concern for our own welfare, our mind naturally relaxes and becomes lighter."
"The object of faith is any object that is regarded as holy or pure, such as enlightened beings, spiritual teachings, spiritual realizations, and spiritual Teachers and friends."
"Compassion is a mind that is motivated by cherishing others and that wishes to release them from their suffering."
"Our mental attitude transforms a situation into either a problem or an opportunity."
"There is not a single living being who is not a suitable object of our compassion."
"Meditation on emptiness is the universal solution to all problems."
"Without faith everything is mundane."
"By training our mind to recognize the spiritual lessons in all our experiences, we can come to view everyone and everything as our Spiritual Teacher and we can turn any and every situation to our advantage."
"Compassion alone is not enough; we need to balance it with wisdom."
"May all living beings experience the pure and everlasting happiness of enlightenment."
Where does happiness come from?
Happiness is a state of mind, therefore the real source of happiness lies in the mind, not in external circumstances.
If our mind is pure and peaceful we shall be happy, regardless of our external conditions, but if it is impure and unpeaceful we shall never find happiness, no matter how much we try to change our external circumstances.
All living beings have the same basic wish to be happy and avoid suffering, but very few people understand the real causes of happiness and suffering.
We generally believe that external conditions such as food, friends, cars, and money are the real causes of happiness, and as a result we devote nearly all our time and energy to acquiring these. Superficially it seems that these things can make us happy, but if we look more deeply we shall see that they also bring us a lot of suffering and problems.
Happiness and suffering are opposites, so if something is a real cause of happiness it cannot give rise to suffering. If food, money, and so forth really are causes of happiness, they can never be causes of suffering; yet we know from our own experience that they often do cause suffering. For example, one of our main interests is food, but the food we eat is also the principal cause of most of our ill health and sickness.
In the process of producing the things we feel will make us happy, we have polluted our environment to such an extent that the very air we breathe and the water we drink now threaten our health and well-being. We love the freedom and independence a car can give us, but the cost in accidents and environmental destruction is enormous.
We feel that money is essential for us to enjoy life, but the pursuit of money also causes immense problems and anxiety. Even our family and friends, with whom we enjoy so many happy moments, can also bring us a lot of worry and heartache.
In recent years our understanding and control of the external world have increased considerably, and as a result we have witnessed remarkable material progress; but there has not been a corresponding increase in human happiness.
There is no less suffering in the world today, and there are no fewer problems. Indeed, it could be said that there are now more problems and greater unhappiness than ever before. This shows that the solution to our problems, and to those of society as a whole, does not lie in knowledge or control of the external world.
Why is this? Happiness and suffering are states of mind, and so their main causes cannot be found outside the mind. The real source of happiness is inner peace. If our mind is peaceful, we shall be happy all the time, regardless of external conditions, but if it is disturbed or troubled in any way, we shall never be happy, no matter how good our external conditions may be.
External conditions can only make us happy if our mind is peaceful. We can understand this through our own experience. For instance, even if we are in the most beautiful surroundings and have everything we need, the moment we get angry any happiness we may have disappears. This is because anger has destroyed our inner peace.
We can see from this that if we want true, lasting happiness we need to develop and maintain a special experience of inner peace. The only way to do this is by training our mind through spiritual practice – gradually reducing and eliminating our negative, disturbed states of mind and replacing them with positive, peaceful states.
Why is meditation important?
The purpose of meditation is to cultivate those states of mind that are conducive to peace and well-being, and to eradicate those that aren’t.
If we examine our life we will discover that most of our time and energy is devoted to mundane activities, such as seeking material and emotional security, enjoying sensory pleasures, or establishing a good reputation. Although these things can make us happy for a short time, they are not able to provide the deep lasting contentment that we long for. Sooner or later our happiness turns into dissatisfaction, and we find ourselves engaged in the pursuit of more worldly pleasures. Directly or indirectly, worldly pleasures cause us mental and physical suffering by stimulating attachment, jealousy, and frustration. Moreover, seeking to fulfill our own desires often bring us into conflict with others.
Meditation is a method for acquainting our mind with virtue. The more familiar our mind is with virtue, the calmer and more peaceful it becomes. When our mind is peaceful we are free from worries and mental discomfort, and we experience true happiness.
If we train our mind to become peaceful we will be happy all the time, even in the most adverse conditions. But if our mind is not peaceful, even if we have the most pleasant external conditions we will not be happy. Therefore it is important to train our mind through meditation.
What is the meaning of life?
We should ask ourself what we consider to be most important – what do we wish for, strive for, or daydream about? For some people it is material possessions, such as a large house with all the latest luxuries, a fast car, or a well-paid job. For others it is reputation, good looks, power, excitement, or adventure. Many try to find the meaning of their life in relationships with their family and circle of friends. All these things can make us happy for a short while, but they can also cause us much worry and suffering. They can never give us the perfect lasting happiness that all of us, in our heart of hearts, long for. Since we cannot take them with us when we die, if we have made them the principal meaning of our life they will eventually let us down. As an end in themselves worldly attainments are hollow; they are not the real essence of human life.
Every living being has the potential to become a Buddha (a fully enlightened being), someone who has completely purified his or her mind of all faults and limitations and has brought all good qualities to perfection. The only thing that will never deceive us is the attainment of full enlightenment. Therefore, the final goal in Buddhism is the attainment of full enlightenment, or Buddhahood. The Sanskrit term Buddha means Awakened One, and refers to anyone who has awakened from the sleep of ignorance and is free from the dream of mistaken appearance. Because ordinary beings like us have not yet awakened from the sleep of ignorance we continue to live in a dream-like world of mistaken appearances and do not see the true nature of things. This is the fundamental reason why we experience suffering and are of limited benefit to others. Through completely removing all traces of the darkness of ignorance from their minds, Buddhas attained omniscient wisdom and the limitless ability to help all living beings.
How do Buddhas, or enlightened beings, help people?
Their boundless and all-encompassing compassion gives Buddhas the energy to work without interruption for the sake of others. They understand the real causes of happiness and suffering, and they know exactly how to help living beings in accordance with their individual needs and inclinations. Buddhas have the power to bless people's minds, causing their delusions to subside and their virtues to increase; and they also have the ability to emanate innumerable forms for the benefit of others. Of all the ways Buddhas help living beings, the most effective is to teach them how to control their minds and follow the spiritual path to liberation and enlightenment.