» Country? Thailand.
» In a few words, what is the idea? Buddhism will be very present on your trip to Thailand, so knowing a little about its principles will make what you see and hear more interesting.
» For whom? Travellers touched or curious about Buddhism.
» Where? Anywhere.
» When? Anytime.
Nearly all religions have certain pillars or cornerstones that support and develop a series of beliefs. In the case of Buddhism, they have to do with suffering, desire and attachment. The way they should be addressed is summarised in the Dharma and the Noble Eightfold Path.
Buddhism is not concerned with proving the existence of a particular god or justifying the world we live in – its real interest lies in eliminating human suffering.
A goal that is not achieved by faith, nor by the intervention of divine grace, but as a result of ultimately understanding how “things really are“, and for which Siddhartha proposes a middle road, equally far from extreme asceticism as from submission to worldly pleasures.
Once he attained Nirvana, as a Buddha, he felt compelled to explain to his contemporary Indians the reasons why to follow in his footsteps and also the essence of that road: the four noble truths of the Dharma (which exists in its own right).
The first (dukkha). Life is suffering and frustration, not as the result of the original sin and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden but because of the circumstances of this world (samsara) and the effect of human behaviour. One also enjoys oneself and is happy, but only temporarily.
The second (anicca). The feeling of attachment and desire inevitably leads to suffering. You will have good times but if you allow yourself to be caught up, if you venture off the middle road, you will inevitably end up in the valley of tears, because, in reality, everything is ephemeral.
The desire to which it refers is one that turns into an obsession and seeks control of the desired object or person, when you wind up controlled by your own desires.
Not all wishes are negative.
The third (anatta). You can stop suffering. If you neutralise and expel your desires, you will no longer suffer. The fewer the desires, the lesser the pain; the more obsessive desires, the higher the dissatisfaction. By eliminating all your ego, you will reach the Nirvana.
The fourth. Follow the middle road, the Noble Eightfold Path. Avoid extremes, show compassion and love for the world, maintain ethical conduct, practise meditation and seek a certain detachment from reality and an understanding of its true nature, i.e., seek wisdom.
Ridding yourself of your ego is the way of avoiding ‘I’ and ‘mine’, thus reducing your instinct for self-protection, give up your properties and even, in the end, give up life itself.