Buddhism is not a new philosophy or religion we don't know exactly when Buddhism did begin but we have a pretty good idea. Even when the historical Buddha laid out the main principles of Buddhism, he borrowed heavily on his own culture and on Hinduism. For this reason, there are many similarities between Hinduism and Buddhism.
Reincarnation is something known by everyone but it is also misunderstood. It might not be what you expect it to be. Rebirth is a cycle we are all caught in and its prison doors are called the five skandhas.
Likewise, Karma is explained here and it is another misunderstood subject. Most people think is a synonym of fate but that is not the case.
We will now explore the main points of Buddhism, the ones that are common to all the schools.
The teachings of the Buddha are known as the Dharma.
It consists of these principles:
A fourth principle is often attached to the Three Marks of Existence. It is that Nirvana is attained when we are at peace with the three principles mentioned above.
According to tradition, these 10 qualities are those of a bodhisattva (someone who is on the path of Buddhahood).
In Buddhism, theory is not enough. To really aspire to an end of suffering, you need to practice meditation.
Meditation is not a simple exercise of sitting down and trying to think about nothing. It would be more appropriate to call it Mindful-living as it should be in our every actions. When we walk, eat, talk, sleep and work, we should be aware at all time of what we are doing and all the emotions passing through us. Doing so will help develop insight,effort and serenity which are some of the 10 perfections.
If you are interested in Buddhism but are afraid of all the theory presented here, there are some key points that anyone can practice and are a sure way to improve your life, and the one of others around you.
Like Christianity has it's 10 commandments, so does Buddhism have it's recommendations:
Do no-evil, cultivate good, purify your heart.
Buddhists value compassion above all virtues as it encompass or is the source of many other virtues. A compassionate person will not harm others, will be generous to others, honest and it will lead to a sense of serenity.
So if you want to start living a better life, start by cultivating compassion in your heart and in your actions.
Start by being compassionate to yourself and when you see how good it feels, spread it to the people around you. It will make you fell better but most importantly, it will make others feel good too.
Another good thing to do is meditation, as we just discussed.
Rituals and ceremonies will become useful later on as they give you tools to reduce your sense of 'I' and create a wider and more important sense of 'all'.
It is good to keep in mind that the ultimate goal of any Buddhist is to attain Buddhahood and help others do the same.