A Brief Introduction of Buddhism
To many, the most enduring picture of Buddhism that comes to mind is the ever calm, radiant, understanding and welcoming smile upon the faces of countless Buddha images… which hints of the Buddha’s perfectly awakened compassion and wisdom. Indeed, it is this smile which draws many to learn more about Buddhism.
In the eyes of fellow Buddhists, Buddhism is a unique treasure trove of immeasurably precious teachings, with something valuable to offer everyone, capable of leading one and all towards True Happiness, as attained upon Enlightenment – which is the realisation of the true nature of our mind, life, and the universe.
Founded by the historical Shakyamuni Buddha, he showed us with his impeccable example that True Happiness and liberation can indeed be achieved by the individual – even in this very lifetime – if only one puts in the right effort to enhance one’s spirituality. The ultimate goal of all Buddhists is thus to become Buddhas, even if it takes more than one lifetime – to spiritually evolve to be a perfected being with all-encompassing compassion and wisdom, thereby transcending all human weaknesses and limitations.
Enlightenment is the attainment of ultimate freedom from everything – even from one’s egocentric “self” – which the Buddha realised to be a great illusion and the universal source of all suffering when attached to, since every being is in reality constantly fluxing from moment to moment, both physically and mentally. When selflessness is fully realised, all selfishness fully dissolves, as one becomes “one” with the world. It is this realisation that liberates one, that perfects one’s wisdom while perfecting compassion for all.
As Buddhism is a beautiful multi-faceted gem which reflects the various aspects of life, it is not easy to accurately define it in one single way. It can be at times be seen as a wonderful religion, a form of spiritual education, a profound philosophy, an ideal way of life, a penetrating psychology, or an intelligent science… This is well reflected in the thoughts of many prominent characters in history, as follows, all of whom were ground-breaking leaders in their respective fields:
In the words of the greatest scientist of the last century, Albert Einstein, he commented that “If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism.” And as the greatest philosopher of the last century, Lord Bertrand Russell, put it, “Of the great religions of the world, I prefer Buddhism. Buddhism is a combination of both speculative and scientific philosophy.” Reflected by Dr Carl Jung, one of the greatest psychologists ever and a pioneer of modern psychology, “As a student of comparative religions, Buddhism is the most perfect one the world has seen.”
As history’s longest serving religious founder, The Buddha was an incredibly dedicated, pragmatic and peaceful missionary in his time, teaching harmoniously in the presence of more than 60 other religions. He untiringly shared the path to True Happiness with any who sought his advice, regardless of gender, race, religion or social standing, while emphasising on the importance of intelligent doubting as a guide to perfecting wisdom.
Due to the timeless practical relevance of Buddhism in helping all lead more fulfilling lives, Buddhism happens to currently be the West’s fastest growing religion, as Westerners discover the beauty of this ancient jewel for the very first time. Indeed, the Buddha’s smile continues to inspire the world, beckoning us to experience the True Happiness that he realised!