Buddhism: A Brief Description
The basic purpose of Buddhism is to purify our mind of the “three poisons” of greed, hatred, and ignorance. This is much easier said than done. The focus of Buddhism has always been on how to actually accomplish this in our daily life, rather than merely talking about it or getting caught up in the net of philosophical views. As it is said, “merely talking about food will not make one full.”
As long as we are enveloped in ignorance, our thinking of our “self”, the “world”, or anything else is not true, not real. We are as if dreaming. However, once we successfully cultivate our mind so that we are free from the delusion of “I” and “mine”, and the “thirst” for the pleasures of the five senses, then we realize for ourselves the true nature of reality.
When a person extinguishes his ignorance, his inherent wisdom is naturally revealed. In the words of the Heart of Transcendent Wisdom (Prajna) Sutra:
The ‘veils’ covering his mind are eliminated and he is without any fear whatsoever. He transcends deluded, erroneous, dream-thinking, which culminates in his realization of Nirvana (the unconditioned, true reality that is without birth or death).
All things, all appearances, both outside in the world and inside in our body and thoughts are a creation of our mind. They come about from ignorance which causes our mind to move, to have false thinking, just as the wind causes waves to appear on the surface of the ocean. Every movement, every action we take, whether good or bad, will bring about an equal result which will come back to ourselves when the opportunity and supporting conditions arise in the future. This is the law of karma. It is not off in the slightest. We get precisely what we have earned.
Therefore, it is very important to lead a wholesome life. The five basic moral precepts of abstaining from taking life, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech, and taking intoxicants are the foundation for the spiritual path. Looked at positively they are: compassion for all life, giving liberally to others, purity and fidelity, honesty, and prudence and contentment. Once false thinking ceases, the waves of our mind come to rest, and we have the revelation of our inherent tranquil ocean-like wisdom nature.
The waves of our mind, dream-thinking, for one who has “awakened” are seen to be without any reality. However, all beings who are still dreaming take this realm of appearances, this “I” and “world”, to be quite real. Therefore, those who have awakened, out of an unconditional great compassion for all beings, make the great vow to continuously return to the world to help all of us living beings to also awaken from the dream. This is known as the magnificent vow of the Bodhisattva.