There have been so many important life lessons from Buddhism practice that I came across in the journey of mindful living and here, I would love to share you.
Before I go deeper into the topic of this article and share the best life lessons that I’ve learned from practicing Buddhism, let me first tell you how I got introduced to the real concepts of Buddhism.
Well, even today, most people think that Buddhism is a religion – just like Hinduism, Islam, Christianity or Jainism.
Honestly, I was no different, until 2015, when I met this friend of mine who helped me realize that Buddhism is not a religion – but rather, a way of life.
If you’ve studied even a bit about Buddhism, you’d know that the real name of Gautama Buddha was Siddharth. Quite interestingly, (might seem a coincidence though) my friend’s name is Siddharth as well.
It was him, who encouraged me to sign up for the Vipassana Meditation Course, and that was when I got closer to practicing Buddhism.
During those 10 days, I realized the beauty of simple living and felt alive like never before. I was 24 years old then, and for the first time ever, I was learning to breathe, consciously.
Before that, no one ever taught me the importance of breathing and at times, I wondered how the science classes in school could skip such an important lesson – the lesson of conscious breathing.
Other than this, there have been so many important lessons that I came across in the journey of mindful living and here, I would love to share the 7 most powerful life quotes & lessons that I learned from practicing Buddhism.
1. Everything is impermanent, and change is the only constant.
“Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that, and all will be well.” – Gautama Buddha.
It’s difficult for us to accept that everything is prone to change. Impermanence can be seen as the cornerstone of Buddhist teachings and practice.
It’s an eternal truth, all that exists is impermanent and nothing lasts forever. When we are born, we have to die. Therefore nothing can be grasped or held onto. The more we are open to accepting this reality, the lesser the pain would be.
Most of the time, when we are happy, we tend to think that we would hold on to this state of happiness – but that’s an act of foolishness.
Happiness & sadness are all in cycles, like day & night. We only get to understand the feeling of happiness since sadness exists. Just as we know the importance of light, for darkness.
Nothing new appears unless something old ceases, and the more we believe in it, the simpler our lives will be. Impermanence is the biggest truth of life, and we should appreciate it & live it.
2. It’s important to choose your words carefully.
“Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.” – Gautama Buddha.
It’s not our appearance that defines us, but the words that we choose to express ourselves. A person might be really handsome, but if he speaks nonsense, he’ll be seen as a fool. Similarly, someone might not be gorgeous to look at, but if she speaks gently & wise, she’ll always be admired by all.
Precisely, our words portray our characters. Thus, it’s really important to think before you speak, because you can’t take those words back once they have been sent out into the world. Would you rather impart joy or inflict pain with your words?
3. Learning to let go.
“You only lose what you cling to.” – Gautama Buddha.
Let’s be honest and accept that we’re living in the days of attachment. The culture is such that we buy things to fill a void, we hold on to people for the sake of being comfortable, we stick to the regular & we believe that having more will bring us satisfaction.
In short, we attach meaning and status to the things we own & that surround us. But what is not meant to be ours, will never be ours – and we often take ages to understand this simple thing.
Sometimes we hang on so fiercely to certain things or people, that our sense of self becomes hopelessly intertwined with them that fill our life: the failed relationship, the expensive designer watch, the graduation certificates, so on and so forth.
We never realize that clinging onto them will only cause more pain, and nothing else. To it’s better to let go and live peacefully.
4. Happiness lies within us.
“There is no path to happiness: happiness is the path.” – Gautama Buddha.
We strive for peace and happiness but keep seeking it in the wrong places. We usually seek happiness from the world – may be from a material possession or from someone close to our heart. But as long as we aren’t happy from within, we can’t really seek happiness from the world.
For example, if I’m not happy with what I’m doing, or at peace with my own existence, I’ll always keep finding faults in others, or keep being irritated, no matter how good things unfold before me.
Happiness is something that we need to feel inside ourselves, as we feel comfortable in our own skin.
Similarly, following someone else’s plan might seem amazingly easy and a quick route to success, but it won’t really fetch you the desired happiness and self-satisfaction that your own plans can do!
At times of distress, we often think that a change of place will help us but we never realize that we always carry the stress along with us, no matter where we go.
There’s no path that can lead us to happiness unless we make conscious efforts to turn the journey into a happy one!
5. Believing in the power of compassion.
“Have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike; each has their suffering. Some suffer too much, others too little.” – Gautama Buddha.
Being compassionate is the best thing we can do for ourselves, as well as for others. You must be wondering how we can be compassionate towards our own selves, right?
Well, like you can’t spread happiness unless you’re happy from within, similarly, you can’t be compassionate towards others if you are fighting a battle with yourself.
Compassion not only helps you connect with others but with yourself. Buddha once said: “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”
Love yourself the most and believe that you can do everything, no matter how impossible it may seem.
Be sympathetic towards yourself and don’t over stress unnecessarily. Let the worries come and go, like tides. And slowly, practice empathy towards others.
If someone says something rude to you, try and understand that there might be some reason behind it. If you see someone hungry, share your food, no matter how little you have.
Realize that every person in this world is suffering in some way or the other – and the best we as an individual can do is lessen the pain.
6. Our thoughts create our reality.
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Gautama Buddha.
Our lives are shaped by our thoughts, and wherever we stand today, is because of how we have perceived ourselves in our thoughts.
I had a stable 9 – to – 5 job with a decent paycheque, which more or less provided me with a sense of stability & security – but in spite of that, I wasn’t really happy from within.
Sitting in the cubicle at the office, my mind used to roam around the streets of an unknown country or I thought of walking around beaches, admiring the colors of the sky at dusk.
It was the desire to convert those thoughts into reality, that I gave up my job and decided to be a travel blogger, satiating my passion for exploring the world and writing about places that I visit.
Most people have it back to front, believing that they feel or think a certain way because of their circumstances, not knowing the truth that it is their thought power that is creating those very circumstances, whether wanted or unwanted.
To put it in a simpler way, the conditions and circumstances of your life are as a result of your collective thoughts and beliefs. Whether you realize it or not, you are already creating your reality through your thought power.
7. Live in the moment, because it’s never gonna be back.
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Gautama Buddha.
Drawing lines from the thoughts of impermanence, I would love to say here that most people are either reminiscing over the past or contemplating the future, completely missing out on the present which is real and happening now.
The past is gone and would never return, and the future is uncertain. So what is the point in thinking about both of these, while the best you can do now is to live the moment?
Over the years, I’ve been consciously making an effort to live in the present, to soak in the beauty that life is offering me now and to appreciate the fact that whatever is happening to me, is for good.
While we would keep striving for mental peace, we often fail to realize that true peace is found when you center your awareness in the present moment and accept the stillness and clarity of now.
During my month-long journey across Bhutan, known to be the Happiest Country in the World, I met some amazing people and generous monks and realized how impactful the teachings of Buddhism can be.
I’m sure that while reading all these pointers that I’ve mentioned above, you’ve also been trying to relate some of them to your own experiences. To be honest, Buddhism as a way of life isn’t an easy choice. It surely needs practice and dedication.
And the best way to start off is to take at least 5 minutes out of your busy schedule, to breathe consciously & block everything out of your mind. Precisely, MEDITATE 🙂
It’s your life, and it completely depends on how you want to shape it. The more you slow down, the more manageable it will be and when you begin living fully in the present moment, you’ll automatically feel the happiness from within.
Furthermore, you’ll find more energy – both physical and mental – when you free yourself from the burden of constantly micromanaging your thoughts.
I hope you have a beautiful life out there!