Buddhism is one of the world’s largest and most lasting religions. And celebrities like Orlando Bloom and Sarah Jessica Parker make headlines when they talk about how Buddhism changed their lives. But why is this centuries-old religion so popular? We think it’s because Buddhism is based on three universal truths that help us navigate our stressed-out daily lives.
How It Began
The founder of Buddhism was Buddha Shakyamuni, who was born as a royal prince in 624 BC. At age 29, he went to a forest and began following a spiritual life of meditation. History tells us that he founded Buddhism to help all living beings find lasting peace or nirvana. Today, researchers estimate that approximately 500 million people practice some form of Buddhism, a number that does not include those living in China.
Three Universal Truths–and Why They Matter
Buddha Shakyamuni wrote thousands of teachings, all based on three universal truths. The first is annica, which means nothing lasts and everything on earth changes constantly. Think about this idea: plants grow, rivers flood, we get married, have children or take a new job. Accepting that change happens all the time is a good way to let go of things we can’t control. As a wise Buddhist might say, nothing is forever so enjoy the moment as it happens.
Second, is dukkha, which means all living things suffer, from a giant redwood tree that loses a limb to the toddler who falls and scrapes her knee. However, suffering is not limited to pain. It includes boredom, embarrassment, sadness, being unsatisfied in a relationship and more. Buddhists teach that when we acknowledge that our life will never be perfect–and accept suffering–we will be more content. Dukkha helps us also understand that our desires can make us greedy and cruel. If we only think of what we want, we will be unhappy–and less compassionate.
The third universal truth is anatta, meaning no self. Some scholars believe this means we do not have a soul that goes into another life, only the energy we create in this life. However, others think anatta means we don’t have egos. Therefore, we should not claim or try to control other people or possessions. When you were a small child, your mom probably told you to share your toys and not be selfish. This good advice is the root of anatta. If you get a raise, try to share your good fortune with others who have less. Or remember to drop the ego and put others ahead of yourself.
How to Include the Teachings of Buddha in Your Life
You can study Buddhism or take a meditation class in just about every community. There are also countless books, DVDs and online classes to help you get started. In addition, think about a spa and wellness getaway to a country like Thailand. There are properties like Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary & Holistic Spa where you can reflect or meditate in a Buddhist monk’s cave. Or you experience age-old Thai healing traditions at Six Senses Spa Yao Noi.
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 Dhamma.com, “Buddhists Around the World”
 TeachingsOfTheBuddha.com, “What Are The Three Universal Truths?