The following is a summary of some of the ideas of Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 BCE) courtesy of the Peoria Buddhist Studies Group.

-- Written and contributed by Dan Dexter

Gentleness, serenity and compassion through liberation from selfish craving. These are the fundamental teachings of the philosophy of Buddhism, begun 2500 years ago by Prince Siddhartha Gautama. According to Buddhism, suffering in human life is caused by self-centered desire. The ultimate aim of the good person should be the elimination of such desire, which can be attained through grasping the truth about reality and following the eightfold path leading to Nirvana. The Dharma is a remarkable guide down the ancient path of a great religion devoted to the realization of universal love.

Buddhism is open minded.

"Friends, do not be hasty to believe a thing even if everyone repeats it or if it is written in holy scripture or spoken by a revered teacher. Accept only those things which accord with your own reason, things which the wise and virtuous support, things which in practice bring benefit and happiness."

It is realistic and centered on experience.

"My teaching is not a doctrine or philosophy. It is not the result of thought or mental conjecture. It is the result of direct experience. The things I say come from my own experience. You can confirm them all by your own experience.

"My goal is not to explain the universe. My teaching is not a dogma or a doctrine. I must state clearly that my teaching is a method to experience reality, and not reality itself, just as a finger pointing at the moon is not the moon itself. An intelligent person makes use of the finger to see the moon. A person who only looks at the finger and mistakes it for the moon will never see the real moon. My teaching is a means of practice, not something to hold onto or worship. Only a fool would continue to carry his raft around after he had already used it to reach the other shore, the shore of liberation."

Living in the present is the way to freedom.

Understanding, compassion and love are one. They are keys to freedom. In order to attain them, it is necessary to live mindfully, making direct contact with life in the present moment, truly seeing what is taking place within and outside oneself. Practicing mindful attention strengthens the ability to look deeply, and when we see deeply into the heart of anything, truth will reveal itself. This is the secret treasure of mindfulness -- it leads to the realization of enlightenment.

The foundation of Buddhism

  1. Frustration and suffering seem to be unfortunate conditions of human life. If it ain't one darned thing, it's another.
  2. There are causes of all this.The causes are ignorance and craving. We often cannot see the truth about life and get caught up in desire, anger, jealousy and so forth.
  3. There is a cure to this problem. Frustration and suffering can be stopped.
  4. The way to do that is a way of dealing with life called the noble eightfold path.

Eight Practices of Wisdom Life is a golden path illumined by eight practices:

1. Perfect understanding
2. Perfect thought
3. Perfect speech
4. Perfect action
5. Perfect livelihood
6. Perfect effort
7. Perfect mindfulness
8. Perfect concentration