What is Buddhism?
Buddhism offers an interesting model of the mind and consciousness – based on the theory of dependent origination where all phenomena – from atoms to organisms to thoughts – are subject to a preceding cause for their existence. To the point where nothing, not even the individual self, can be said to have an independent existence.
One side effect of this endless cycle or wheel of existence is the central depiction of human life as suffering. Thanks to karma and ignorance (of ultimate reality or the true nature of things), we’re all trapped on the wheel.
This suffering, however, can be greatly reduced and maybe even eliminated by training and calming the mind via practices like mindfulness and meditation. Which may even lead, in turn, to enlightenment and full liberation from suffering (nirvana). Fingers – or maybe mudhras – crossed!
Buddhism has gained popularity in the West in recent decades, though mostly in a secular or naturalistic form “without beliefs”, shorn of its metaphysical and supernatural elements like reincarnation.