10 Utterly Essential Life Lessons from Buddha
Shakyamuni Buddha (Siddhārtha Gautama), known as Buddha, was a spiritual leader and teacher whose life served as the foundation for the Buddhist religion. Although he lived during the 6th to 4th century B.C., his thoughts and quotes are still relevant and inspire millions of people around the world even today.
We here at Bright Side believe that you don’t necessarily have to be a follower of Buddhism to appreciate its ideas and philosophy. Who knows — maybe they’ll help you change something in your life for the better?
1. It’s okay to start with the small things
’A jug fills drop by drop. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.’
An American poet, philosopher and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, ’Every artist was once an amateur.’ Think about it... We all have to start small, but it doesn’t mean you can dislike those small beginnings. Be persistent and patient enough, and you’ll succeed! No one ever got it all in just one night, so remember: start small work hard, and be patiently until the jug is filled.
2. Thoughts are Things
’All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.’
Buddha once said: ’The mind is everything. What you think you become.’ To live a happy life, one must fill their mind with good and kind thoughts only. Negative thinking will eventually destroy you because the way you think determines your future actions, and your actions determine the outcome you get. So if you change the way you think, you change your life. Buddha said, ’All wrong-doing arises because of the mind. If the mind is transformed, can wrong-doing remain?’
3. Learn to forgive
’Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.’
When you release those who you are held in the prison of un-forgiveness, you release yourself from that prison too. You can’t keep someone down, without staying down with them. Learn to forgive, the earlier, the better. Buddha said, ’There is no fire like passion, there is no shark like hatred, there is no snare like folly, there is no torrent like greed.’
4. It’s your actions that matter
’If anything is worth doing, do it with all your heart.’
To grow you must take actions every day. The old saying goes, ’God gives every bird a worm, but he doesn’t throw it into their nest.’ So if you’re doing something, do it with all your heart.
5. Try to understand
’Go forth in every direction — for the happiness, the harmony, the welfare of the many. Offer your heart, the seeds of understanding, like a lamp overturned and re-lit, illuminating the darkness.’
Stephen Covey, an American educator, author and businessman said, ’Seek to understand first, then to be understood.’ One might think, ’Yeah, it’s easy enough to say that’ but it’s really not that difficult. To understand someone else’s perspective, try to let go of the anger first. Listen to others, try to feel what they feel, and you’ll find peace. Be more concerned with being happy, rather than always being right.
6. Control your mind
’Nothing can harm you as much as your own thoughts unguarded.’
He who can conquer himself becomes greater than the one who conquers a thousand men in battle. To conquer yourself you must conquer your mind, and control your way of thinking. Don’t let your thoughts ’behave’ like the waves of the sea — powerful yet uncontrolled. One might think, ’But I can’t control my thoughts, they come when they come.’ Try to think of it this way, ’You may not be able to stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can certainly stop it from building a nest in your hair.’
7. Live in peace and harmony
’Victory breeds hatred. The defeated live in pain. Happily the peaceful live,
giving up victory and defeat.’
Don’t look outside for something that can only be found inside your heart. We often look for something by trying to distract ourselves from reality and peace. Peace isn’t a new job, peace isn’t a new car, or a new marriage...Peace and harmony live only inside of you.
8. Be thankful
’Health is the greatest gift, contentment is the greatest wealth.’
Remember: there’s always something to be thankful for. Not everyone woke up this morning, some went to sleep for the last time, and some are fighting a terminal disease right now. There’s always something to be grateful for; a grateful heart will make you great!
9. Be true to what you know
’Just as a solid rock cannot be moved by the wind, the wise are not shaken by praise or blame.’
We know a lot, but we don’t always do what we know. If you fail, it’s not because you didn’t know what to do; it’s because you didn’t do what you knew to do. Be true to yourself!
10. Share happiness
’Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.’
It’s true — happiness not only never decreases but is also multiplied when shared. Don’t hide you happiness from others, share the light and make this world a kinder and better place.
And never forget: ’Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.’
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