From its beginnings, Buddhism has offered a profound understanding of the human mind and the suffering we experience that is inherent to existence itself. The Buddha’s teachings, born more than 2500 years ago, offer a profound psychology, which has as its main objective personal transformation, liberation from suffering and the attainment of a fulfilling life, in harmony with ourselves and others.
The basis of Buddhist teaching is the recognition of suffering (dukkha) and its causes. Buddha did not deny the existence of pleasures in life, but pointed out that all pleasures are ephemeral and that attachment to them inevitably leads to suffering. Similarly, modern psychology recognizes that inappropriate attachment, unrealistic expectations and resistance to change are common sources of psychological distress.
In this guide you will find the fundamental teachings, which the Buddha himself taught, and which form the basis of the various Buddhist traditions. But the richness of Buddhism is immeasurable, and within each branch or tradition, we find a great number of teachings that expand and complement the Buddha’s original teaching, and here we will present those that we consider most important and practical for anyone, regardless of their beliefs, since one of the distinguishing characteristics of Buddhism is its emphasis on direct, personal experience, rather than dogmatic, mechanical and blind belief.
At the core of all Buddhist schools are what are considered the essential teachings, which the Buddha preached until his death.
- The Four Noble Truths, which are the core of the Buddha‘s teachings, resemble the therapeutic process: identifying the problem (suffering), determining its cause (ignorance and attachment), visualizing a solution (the cessation of suffering) and applying a treatment (the Noble Eightfold Path). In this sense, Buddha provided a framework for self-help and self-transformation.
- The Noble Eightfold Path is the practical guide proposed by the Buddha for self-realization and the path to the cessation of suffering. Suffering is understood as all the psychological pain that we self-inflict as a result of our erroneous perceptions of reality. The eight components are divided into three categories: Wisdom (pañña), Morality (sīla) and Concentration (samādhi).
- The Three Marks of Existence are the inherent characteristics of reality itself: impermanence (Anicca), dissatisfaction or suffering (Dukkha) and absence of a permanent essence (Anahata). Understanding and experiencing these characteristics are the true path to inner peace and liberation from suffering. From this understanding arise positive qualities such as detachment, equanimity and compassion, among others.
- The Five Aggregates (Skandhas) are the categories or components that, according to Buddhism, constitute the subjective experience of an individual. Together, they form the basis of identity and personal perception. Understanding these aggregates is essential because they dismantle the notion of a permanent, unchanging“self” and instead present existence as an interdependent combination of constantly fluctuating processes. By understanding how our experience is constructed, we can gain clarity about the nature of suffering and thereby move toward liberation from suffering.
Buddhist, Tibetan and Zen Symbols
Within Buddhism we can find a large number of symbols that encapsulate within themselves the Buddha’s own teachings. Within the different traditions, it is in Tibetan Buddhism, perhaps because of its esoteric character, where we can find more symbols. We invite you to explore and deepen the meaning of these symbols, as they hide profound teachings.