Emotionally difficult and painful situations are part of the cycle of life. Furthermore, we usually lose control of them, or they are a direct consequence of our choices or actions. This is why we usually tend to bury our heads in the sand because we don’t know what to do or how to react. In such cases, Buddhist psychology can help us.
In order to cope with an awkward situation, we often use the support of our environment, which motivates us to keep going. But what should we do if we don’t want to rely on the help of our friends or family members, or if we don’t have friends or relatives to help us out? Then the time has come to learn a little more about the benefits of Buddhist psychology.
Buddhism was born to put an end to human suffering
Buddhism is one of the most important religions in the Far East. About 2,500 years ago this current was created as a philosophical and psychological system with no religious approach whatsoever. According to the ascetic Siddharta Gauama, better known as Buddha, Buddhism is the science of the mind.
Buddha founded a school with the aim of promoting a method that would end human suffering. To do this, he relied on a number of very useful postulates and thought structures in order to be able to understand and accept our feelings.
4 Noble Truths of Buddhist Psychology
“Suffering arises from longing, desire and ignorance. But they can be defeated. “
Buddhist psychology is based on an idea that may seem pessimistic but also hopeful: It is human nature to suffer. Four noble truths emanate from this thought. These contain the majority of the teachings of Buddhist psychology and form the foundation on which Buddhist meditation rests:
- Suffering exists
- Suffering has a reason
- An end can be put to the suffering and the associated cause
- To do this, we must follow the noble eightfold path
To cope with difficult situations and remove the pain , the Buddha suggests that we seek out the source of the suffering. Only when we have recognized this can we free ourselves from our suffering. Only then will we be able to see the futility of our worries and discouragements.
According to Buddhist psychology, we humans have numerous habits that have made us ignorant of life. We no longer know what the processes and phases of life are and that is what causes our suffering.
The last of the four truths speaks of the Noble Eightfold Path. A path or path made up of eight branches or practical postulates that make it possible to achieve harmony, balance and an absolute consciousness. It is usually depicted as a Dharma wheel, with each of the spokes symbolizing an element of the path. The branches can in turn be divided into three broad categories:
- Wisdom : right understanding and thinking
- Ethical behavior : correct choice of words, appropriate action and proper employment
- Involvement of the mind : exertion, conscious attention and concentration, meditation or correct absorption
These eight postulates should not be interpreted as a series of linear steps. They have to be developed at the same time, depending on the skills of each.
The misunderstood happiness and the need to free ourselves from desires
We all want to be happy, but none of us understand how happiness should be defined. Everyone has a different idea of happiness: a promotion, material goods, having children, etc. Such wishes assure us that we could not feel perfect even if we achieved all our goals, because if one of our wishes is fulfilled , let’s move on to the next one and then we have another wish. So we get deeper and deeper into a spiral that seems to have no end. And all of this with the false hope of still being happy at the bottom.
“10% of our life is related to what happens to us and the remaining 90% is related to the way we react to it.”
Stephen R. Covey
Buddhist psychology says that the desires present in our minds distract us and lead to an outright addiction, an addiction to people, material goods and beliefs. That is precisely one of the main reasons for our suffering. Because when we are addicted to something, we identify ourselves through objects or people and lose our own identity. We forget who we are and what the real needs of man are.
Buddhism equips us with tools so that we can work on that addiction and gain knowledge. Only in this way can we understand what we really need – in terms of our personal development, a harmonious coexistence, etc. – and move with greater awareness in the school of life.
How can we end our suffering?
Through meditation. As we have seen, Buddhist practices of reflection are aimed at gaining greater understanding and wisdom and ending our suffering. Even if the techniques vary depending on the school and tradition, they all have the common goal of achieving a state of greater alertness and calm.
Below we would like to list the most important Buddhist currents that help us to leave our suffering behind, especially when it comes to situations in which we struggle with complicated emotions:
- Theravada : Defines yourself as an analyst. Therefore he would like to describe the different psychological or meditative states in order to systematize the meditative experience.
- Zen : Focuses on the spontaneity and intuition of wisdom. His practice aims at a natural harmony of the individual and avoids dualism in understanding reality.
- Vajrayana : Seeks to improve your understanding of reality in a profound way. Hence, he focuses on the symbolic and unconscious mechanisms of the mind. It is the most symbolic and magical of all Buddhist traditions.
- The Pure Land : Emphasizes devotion, humility, and gratitude as direct routes to spiritual realization. It is a kind of devotional meditation in which mantras are the protagonists.
In summary, we can say that Buddhism wants us to connect openly with our feelings, to do this consciously, to deal with them and to accept them. They are part of our existence, but most of all they change, which is why we shouldn’t feel the need to control them.