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Buddhism is a practical, non-religious framework of practices that helps individuals increase happiness and decrease suffering. It’s more than 2,500 years old, is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, and its mindfulness meditation practices have been proven by modern neuroscience to transform our elastic brains in positive, sustainable ways that align with high levels of mental health.

According to Buddhist teaching, our true nature is pure awareness, also known as nirvana, enlightenment, God, etc.; and is characterized by unlimited love, joy, peace, compassion, and equanimity. 

Our existence as human beings is a conditional, physical manifestation of this awareness. This manifestation, like the manifestation of all things that exist, is impermanent and characterized by “interbeing” or “non-self” (no truly separate, distinct self or ego or identity). In other words, we’re all in the same boat, and therefore we can be compassionate toward one another. 

The problem? Our habits of thinking and acting like we are permanent, distinct selves, cause us to be ignorant or unaware of our true nature. And, therefore, we suffer because we crave, avoid, and have aversions and delusions. Such has been the shared plight of human experience.

The Buddha recognized these realities and taught the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path as practices to help us gradually understand and embrace our true nature, so that we might stop suffering and be happy. The energy that fuels these unfolding efforts is called mindfulness.

I unpack these and other Buddhist teachings (all of which fall within the buckets of ethics, concentration, or wisdom) within this category of my website, and apply them daily in my life and work.

And I’ve never been happier.

 

John M. DeMarco is a writer, executive coach, and activist based in Nashville, Tennessee.