Buddhism is a practice that began around 2500 years ago. In the same vein, we credit its beginning and teachings to Siddhartha Gautama. A prince born 563 BC in Lumbini, now in Nepal. As a result, we refer to him as the Buddha. Thus, Siddhartha Gautama claimed to be enlightened or “awakened” at the age of 35. This he did while seating under a bo tree on a certain evening. Most of all, Siddhartha Gautama studied the existing religions before his enlightenment. As a matter of fact, he was seeking for an experience that could add more meaning to life. That is to say, a way that was able to stop the sufferings in life.

After being enlightened, the Buddha started traveling around. Consequently, he was teaching people the path to enlightenment or awakening. Later on, the written version of his teachings came into existence. Basically, this was as they became the tenets of Buddhism, known as the Dharma or Truth. Therefore, these teachings of the Buddha made up the basic Buddhist beliefs.

The teachings of Buddhism are mainly a reflection of the life of the Buddha. More so, as the Buddha walked in an enlightened path. Hence, Buddhism is not a religion or faith. However, one can say it is a philosophical way to fulfillment in life. Most importantly, it teaches the way to normal life. And, the need to live a simple life.

We will now define the basic beliefs of Buddhism in the following categories:

  • The Four Noble Truths
  • Noble Eightfold Path
  • Five Buddhist Precepts


The Four Noble Truths came to the Buddha after his enlightenment or awakening. Thus, it defines the process of life as it is. And, not as what we expect it to be. Therefore, these Noble Truths are the foundational teachings of Buddhism. That is to say, every other teaching in Buddhism is based on these Four Noble Truths.

Thus, the Four Noble Truths said:

  1. Life is suffering;
  2. This suffering comes as a result of aversion and cravings;
  3. Suffering can come to a lasting end;
  4. The eightfold path is the way to the end of suffering.

When people see these Four Noble Truths, they immediately conclude that Buddhism is suffering. Ironically, Buddhism actually explains the way out of suffering.


Life is suffering

Also known as Dukkha, this truth is what many people know Buddhism to be. That is to say, they believe that Buddhism has to do with suffering. However, that is not really what the Buddha said. Hence, Theravada monk and scholar Thanissaro Bhikkhu translated “Dukkha” as “stress” in his words. This, this reduces the impact of the word suffering.

In essence, the Buddha said that one can experience suffering in certain cases in life. For example, Fear, embarrassment, anger, disappointments, and discouragements are sufferings. But, these sufferings come upon man as he craves for useless things in life. On the other hand, the Buddha pointed out that in life, we are often Pessimistic. However, hoping for things can keep us in suffering.

But then, this Truth is not to make us afraid of Dukkha. Instead, it is to bring us to the light that there is Dukkha. As a result, we can understand Dukkha. And, finally that we can bring an end to Dukkha.


Suffering Comes As a Result of Aversion and Cravings

This Second Noble Truth explains the origin of suffering. In other words, it tells us how suffering comes about. Hence, the second noble Truth maintained that suffering (dukkha) comes from the desire or cravings of man. Thus, we continually search for something outside ourselves to make us happy. But, no matter how successful we are, we never remain satisfied. Therefore, this truth explains that there is a cause for frustration and suffering. More so, the fact that we hold on to things, grasp after them and become attached to them.

The second truth is not telling us to give up what we love and enjoy in life. Instead, it asks us to look deeper into the nature of craving. And, also, check how we relate it to the things we love and enjoy. In his first sermon, the Buddha described three kinds of cravings which he called “Tanha”. These include craving for sensual pleasure, cravings for becoming, and craving for non-becoming.

Furthermore, in the words of the Buddha himself, he said; “And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of dukkha: it is craving that makes for further becoming; accompanied by passion and delight, relishing now here and now there. Craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for not becoming”


Suffering Can Come to a Lasting End

We can also refer to this as Nirodha. To clarify, this is where the mind experiences complete freedom, liberation, and non-attachment. Also, this truth has it that we will be able to attain a state of happiness if we give up on things such as cravings. Most especially, craving for things that are not beneficial to our mind. As a result, we will attain enlightenment.

Moreover, it is necessary that one believes in this truth that there is a cessation of suffering. Certainly, this is what the Third Noble Truth is all about. Hence, it teaches that the cessation of suffering can be realized.

Further, the cessation of suffering starts in letting go of cravings. Or, most importantly, aversions that beguiled our minds. More so, we must free ourselves from all that we cling to. Generally, the more we hold on to such things, the more suffering we create. Hence, the Buddha taught that we must give up on such things.

We must note also that our cessation of suffering comes from within. Thereby, not in any way dependent on others. Therefore, it is entirely our own efforts. That is to say, the actions that we undertake. Thus, we classify our actions into verbal, physical, and mental.

Furthermore, these actions fall into two groups. These include Virtuous and Non-Virtuous actions. Hence, there is a need to give up on the unvirtuous or non-virtuous actions. By so doing, we can focus on Virtuous things which will lead to cessation of suffering. In addition, these actions which we must avoid are the things the Five Buddhist Precepts pointed out.


Most noteworthy, joy and happiness develops out of virtuous actions and vice versa. Acts like lying, stealing, slandering, and the similar can take away happiness. Most importantly, they can lead one away from attaining awakening. But, when we say the truth, make people happy, it will bring happiness and fulfillment to us.


The eightfold path is the way to the end of suffering.

“And this, monks, is the noble truth of the way of practice leading to the cessation of dukkha: mainly the noble eightfold path: Right Knowledge, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration”. – The Buddha

The Buddha spent a considerable part of his life teaching the Fourth Noble Truth, called the truth of Magga. Certainly, this Fourth Noble Truth leads to the Noble Eightfold Path. Above all, the Fourth Noble Truth teaches how to live out the first Three Truths. Hence, it serves as the guideline to living a life free from suffering. Basically, one can say it teaches the path to enlightenment or awakening.


The Buddha’s eightfold path is classified into three groups. These include Panna (Wisdom or Discernment), Sila (Virtue or Morality), and Samadhi (Meditation or Concentration).

Panna – Wisdom or Discernment

1.Samma Ditthi – Right Knowledge

This implies having the right knowledge and understanding of the Four Noble Truths. More so, the need to follow them up appropriately. In addition, having the right knowledge or understanding serves as a great guide. Especially, when it comes to devoted Buddhists who want to attain enlightenment.

2. Samma Sankappa – Right Intention

This teaches about having the right intention or thinking in life. Most of all, this right intention or thinking will help you to free yourself from cravings or aversions. As a result, you will be far from bringing suffering or dukkha upon yourself. So, the question one should ask is; do I have the right intention or thought on every matter?

Sila – Virtue or Morality

3. Sama Vaca – Right Speech

Right speech means abstaining from:

  • telling lies
  • backbiting and slander and talk that they may bring hatred
  • harsh, rude, impolite and abusive language
  • foolish, idle word or gossip

This is necessary if one must attain enlightenment. Hence, there is a need to use the right kind of speech always.

4. Samma Kammanta – Right Action

This aims at promoting conducts that are honorable and peaceful. As a result, it forbids actions that are hurtful. Or, that will not help in achieving or getting to the awakening of the mind. In fact, anything contrary to the Five Precepts, one should avoid.

5. Samma Ajiva – Right Livelihood

This path means that one must encourage abstinence from professions that causes harm to others. For instance, one should avoid professions such as cheating, killing animals, poisons, trading intoxicating drinks.

Samadhi – Concentration or Meditation

6. Samma Vayama – Right Effort

Right effort means the deliberate will to:

  • Get rid of evil and unwanted state of mind from springing up.
  • Be able to dismiss such evil and unwanted state of mind that has already risen in man.
  • Generate a good and wholesome state of mind not yet arisen.
  • Develop and perfect the good and wholesome state of mind already present in man.

7. Samma Sati – Right Mindfulness

This means awareness regarding:

  • Kaya- activities of the body
  • Vedana- feelings or sensation
  • Citta- activities of the mind
  • Dhamma- ideas, and conceptions

8. Samma Samadhi – Right Concentration

This is a mental discipline that leads to four stages of Dhyana called trance.

  • In the first stage, one abandons worry, restlessness, and doubt. These are unwholesome thoughts, therefore, should not thrive. Most of all, one replaces them with certain mental activities like happiness and joy.
  • In the second stage, the mental capacity is streamlined to the oneness of mind. However, he still maintains the feeling of joy and happiness
  • In the third stage, the feeling of joy disappears leaving the feeling of happiness
  • In the fourth stage, all sensations which include their opposites disappear. Thus, happiness and unhappiness, joy and sorrow disappear. As a result, only awareness of oneself remains.


In Buddhism, there are many sects. But, each and every one of those sects believes and practice the five precepts that the Buddha. Above all, these precepts are not commandments. But, suggestions or recommendations for Buddhist to follow.

The precepts include:

  • Do not kill. Buddhism frowns at killing livings things, humans and animals. Moreover, it teaches that the followers of Buddhism should avoid every form of violence. Therefore, anything that will harm another person is forbidden in Buddhism.
  • Do not lie. This also implies not gossiping about people. Or, on the other hand, slandering people with our words. Literally, anything untrue one must avoid.
  • Do not take drugs or alcohol. Taking alcohol or harmful drugs is forbidden in Buddhism. This is as a result of the effect of these substances on the mind of the person taking them. That is to say, they will make the person to take unjust actions or decisions. Afterward, bringing dukkha upon himself or on others.
  • Do not live an immoral life. Buddhism forbids immoral lives like adultery, or fornication for the unmarried or any form of sexual harassment. Similarly, for monks, celibacy is a way for them to follow.
  • Do not defraud or steal. Buddhism frowns upon defrauding people. More so, this implies every form of exploitation of people. Or, in the same vein, accepting and giving of bribe. Also, taking undue advantage of people and the kinds of it.


In Buddhism, the Buddha taught that there is no soul. This is because if there was a soul, there will be too much worry and anxiety about what will happen in the afterlife. And, this will lead to dukkha. Therefore, the Buddha stressed on the impermanence of self or existence. Hence, there is no need to worry about the afterlife. However, Buddhism teaches rebirth. Thus, after death, everything comes to an end. The self, soul, and everything that signifies the old life comes to an end. Then, with the energy that arises from the past, there is a rebirth.

Although, most foreign Buddhist may not believe this teaching or take it to the heart. However, it is a belief in Buddhism as the Buddha taught.


Meditation is a vital part of Buddhism. Most of all, the Buddha himself even employed it. Meditation helps in conditioning the mind. And, subsequently, leads to achieving enlightenment. Moreover, this meditation helps one to get to a level of concentration, calmness, composure, and clarity. Buddhist Meditation is different from the one we see often in the West. Hence, it focuses on soothing the mind first. And, then getting insights into one’s emotions.

Requirements for Meditation

  • Sit in Padmasana (the Lotus posture)
  • Wear loose clothes
  • Clean environment

Techniques of Meditation

These techniques came from the Buddha himself. Above all, they are still in practice today.

Mindful Breathing

When meditating, you monitor your breath. Most importantly, take note of the movement of your breath which also controls your thoughts. This will help you to concentrate efficiently.

Loving Kindness Meditation

After the first stage, nurture it by thinking about love and kindness. Also, stir it up with positive feelings. Think about yourself, and at the same moment, love yourself. Even more, think about all the people you know. This includes your family, friends or even the persons you are not in good terms with. Then, encircle them with love and you will see a change.

Buddhists believe in Meditation because it helps in live assessment and self-discovery. Also, it helps in building bridges with people. And, most especially, in having a better relationship with all and sundry. Meditation also helps in making good decisions. Mostly because those decisions will be out of a well thought about action.


People do often say that it is Karma when something bad happens to someone. But, in Buddhism, Karma is not the result of something. It is the action, what originated the deed. As a result, it means good or bad actions someone takes in his lifetime. Moreover, Karma is a Sanskrit word which means “action”. In Buddhism, there is a law of Karma which is a law of cause and effect.

This law of Karma teaches that if evil thoughts inspire our actions, we are indirectly building the foundation of suffering that will come in the future. Similarly, if good intentions inspire our actions, we will be laying the foundation of happiness and fulfillment. Therefore, what we sow is what we reap. Hence, you cannot lead a greedy life and expect to have happiness at the end. Karma is a core belief in Buddhism. As a result, one must ensure that every action must have the right intention.

In Conclusion

This article covers the basic teachings of Buddhism. That is to say, those beliefs that originated from the Buddha himself. As a result, they form the foundation of Buddhism. Therefore, if you are new to Buddhism, this page will help to keep you on track. Generally, you will know where the practice is heading towards.

In addition, this will help you understand Buddhism in a go. Especially, if you want to take a chance on the practice. That is why we detailed the points on the basic Buddhist beliefs as clearly as possible.