Previous to the main religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism the three predominant Indian philosophies and practices consisted of Tantra, Yoga, and Veda. The spiritual path and practice of Yoga largely saw its origins in Tantra, an ancient Indian practice that already included concepts such as meditation, pranayama, asanas, and a few others. Veda, on the other hand, was a sacred tradition introduced to India by the Aryans which soon enough blended with both Tantra and Yoga.
Around the 6th Century B.C. Siddhartha Gautama, founder of Buddhism abandoned his palace and title of prince in a quest to understanding life and the suffering that often envelops it. By following the ascetic lifestyle and training of a monk, he soon after found himself becoming a yogi who was largely acquainted with Tantra practices. Having his disagreements with both a royal life full of luxury and a monk-like lifestyle marked by harsh poverty, he decided to go after a way of life that he denominated the ‘Middle Path’. One day, while seating under a Banyan or Bodhi tree located in Bodh Gaya, he meditated deeply until he reached full enlightenment, becoming the Buddha or “the enlightened one”.
Thereafter, the Buddha went on and shared his teachings with his fellow devotees. The Four Noble Truths made up the basis of his teachings; these basically touched upon the ideas on the truth of suffering (Dukkha), the truth of the origin of suffering (Samudāya), the truth of the cessation of suffering (Nirodha) and the truth of the path of the cessation of suffering (Magga). The concept of karma was also included in the philosophy he preached; underscoring the belief in that all our deeds, good or bad, will, later on, come back in this or later lifetimes as corresponding consequences.
An important part of Buddhist philosophy is also The Wheel of Life. According to Buddhism, your current life’s journey will determine the realm in which you will be born next. The wheel or cycle is made up of six different realms which are being held by the hands of the god of death. These are the realm of the gods, the realm of the demigods, the realm of humans, the realm of the animals, the realm of the hungry ghosts and the hell realm. Having been born a human is seen as a blessing by Buddhists as, just like the Buddha, we have the necessary awareness for reaching Nirvana or enlightenment and that who reaches liberation is said to be freed from the Wheel of Life.
Mindfulness, therefore, is seen as a key aspect for all Buddhist practitioners, as it is only by being conscious of one’s own thoughts, words, and actions that one can follow his or her own path towards illumination. The practice of authentic morality, meditation and wisdom are of utmost importance too; as it is the acceptance of impermanence and change that eventually leads to a state of detachment. After all, nothing lasts forever; “all things must pass”.