Basic Beliefs of Buddhism

Basic Beliefs of Buddhism photo from Rev Nancy's Collection

Basic Beliefs of Buddhism. One of the amazing statues to see in Bodhgaya, where The Buddha - The Awakened One - attained enlightenment.

I took this photo during an astonishing journey to India back in the early 1990s. If you wish to explore what it's like on a spiritual pilgrimage with a Nyingma Buddhist Master, then click this link for the story with many pictures and info on the sacred sites of
India, Land of Buddha Shakyamuni

About this Author, Rev. Dr Nancy Ash, DD, PhD, E-RYT

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Article - Buddhism Beliefs: "Skillful Means"
Article - "Gods of Buddhism"
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Basic Beliefs of Buddhism

East Meets West: Buddhism is now the fourth largest religion in the world. It has become popular in the West mostly due to the diaspora of the Tibetan people (99% Buddhist) since the invasion of Tibet by communist China in 1959.

Ultimately the most famous Buddhist is His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. To learn about Tibetan Buddhism, click here

Buddhism has at least 375 million followers, and is practiced at every sacred corner of our Earth. It is estimated that China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam (respectively) have the highest number of people with Buddhist beliefs.

Surprisingly, India has only 7 million Buddhists, whereas the tiny country of Cambodia has a Buddhist population of 9 million.

The Three Jewels One of the basic beliefs of Buddhism is what is reverently known as The Triple Gem or The Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

Buddha wisely gave a variety of teachings because all sentient beings (beings with consciousness, feeling) have different personalities, inclinations and interests. So, in this same way we each understand these teachings according to our level of mind and disposition. Here I offer a very simple explanation:

  • The Buddha is The Awakened One. It is what we aspire to be: awakened, enlightened to our true nature.The root word budh means to open your eyes, or 'wake up.' There are many Buddhas. The 'historical' Buddha is Buddha Shakyamuni from the Shakya clan of India who lived around 2,500 years ago when he purified all of the defilements of his mind. He then realized during meditation (under the famous bodhi tree) the skilful means of love, compassion and wisdom, and developed one of the most sophisticated, sacred philosophies and traditions ever recorded. Today of course this is called Buddhism.
  • The Dharma is the complete body of teachings that Buddha gave. It is the essential philosophy that all may attain peace and joy because fundamentally that is our true nature.
    Imagine The Buddha as an amazingly effective, intuitive doctor of complementary and alternative medicine. The Dharma is the perfect medicine that cures root causes, and The Sangha is like a loving supportive nurse who assists us in taking our medicine.
  • The Sangha is the community of ordained monks, nuns and lay persons that practice the Dharma. The Buddha taught that we should surround ourselves with those of similar interests, teachers and lay practitioners to inspire us in the beneficial activities of the Dharma.

The Four Noble Truths are essential Buddhist beliefs that Buddha taught when he Turned the Wheel of Dharma. In order to understand Buddhism beliefs and practices, one must learn and then apply these Four Nobles and Eight Fold Path:

  • The First Noble Truth is: Suffering Exists. In Sanskrit the word is Duhkha, pronounced "doo kah." This is not a pessimistic view but actually it is very realistic.
  • The Second Noble Truth is The Cause of Suffering, which is our ignorance (not knowing the true nature of our mind), and attachment or desire (Trishna.)
  • The Third Noble Truth is The End or Cessation of Suffering. This is what is termed Nirvana, which is liberation or an end to misery. Buddha taught that we don't have to suffer in our lives.
  • The Fourth Noble Truth is The Path to Freedom, or liberation (marga). This is taught as The Eight Fold Path which is the prescription, so to speak, for enlightenment. It is "The Way" to live without suffering.

The Eight Fold Path has basic beliefs of Buddhism as follows:

  • Right View
  • Right Thought
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action
  • Right Livelihood
  • Right Effort
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Concentration

These fundamental Buddhist beliefs are very important today as they were 2,500-plus years ago when The Buddha taught aspirants to study and contemplate them. Also, one of the most basic Buddhism beliefs is the practice of meditation, which is the focus of this 360 healing meditation methods web-site.

The essence of The Three Jewels, The Four Noble Truths and The Eight Fold Path is the same in other sects, or branches of Buddhism, such as: Theravada, Pure Land, Zen, Vajrayana, etc.

Remember the core intent for all Buddhist practitioners is to emerge from the miserable cycle of what we call samsara (suffering) by developing immeasurable love, compassion and wisdom, which are basic beliefs of Buddhism.

One of the Basic Beliefs of Buddhism is:
May all beings be happy!

Poetry Book: Garland of Grace

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Garland of Grace: Sitting with the Dying Sun

Related Articles by Dr Ash

"Gods of Buddhism"
Buddhist Beliefs: Skillful Means
"Generosity, The First Paramita" (one of the core Buddhist beliefs)
"Bodhichitta" (more core Buddhism beliefs) Scroll to 3rd article
The First of The Five Tibetan Rites (Tibetan Yoga)
Core Buddhism Beliefs: MEDITATION - Learn here

Basic Beliefs of Buddhism photo from Rev Nancy's Collection: His Eminence, The Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche

His Eminence, Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche
Stainless, Sacred Upholder of The Red Hat Lineage, The Nyingmapas of Tibetan Buddhism. Dzogchen Master of the Vajrayana, The Indestructible Diamond Vehicle passed into parinirvana in June, 2010. He was my life-mentor and spiritual father, and is sorely missed...

May he return swiftly for the sake of all sentient beings!

Best with Blessings, Tashi Delegs!

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