Discovering the Path to Enlightenment


As human beings, we generally need to believe in a world beyond our own and a higher power governing it all.

Surely the universe we know can’t be all there is, and nothing truly happens by mere chance and coincidence, right?

Religion and spirituality help people connect with others and with a divine power. Sometimes, it even helps them to learn about themselves. It provides strength, affirmation, comfort, and hope. It gives us all something to believe in.

Religious Minds Across the Globe

Reports indicate that at least 84 percent of Earth’s population is connected to some type of religion though beliefs vary widely from one doctrine to the next.

Based on historical accounts, the oldest religions date back thousands of years. One of the longest-running is Hinduism, but Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Confucianism also have extensive histories.

Of course, Buddhism can’t be left off the list. At this point, more than 500 million people follow Siddhartha Gautama and the path to enlightenment he laid out in his teachings.

Taking a Closer Look at Buddhism

Buddhism began in India some 2,500 years ago. Its previously mentioned founder, known as the Buddha himself, deemed that people’s ultimate goal in life should be to reach a state of enlightenment.

He taught that life, in general, is an ongoing cycle of suffering, death, and rebirth. Those who do good deeds and take the necessary measures to become enlightened could escape that cycle and enjoy ultimate nirvana.

Siddhartha Gautama was a prince. Early on in life, he enjoyed great wealth and luxury. Some might say he was a bit sheltered in the beginning. Eventually, though, he came to learn that most people didn’t live the type of life to which he was accustomed.

Sickness, poverty, and death ran rampant, and many people suffered significantly. Once he saw many of the horrors of the world firsthand, he decided there had to be a better way.

The Buddha ultimately turned his back on his wealth and lived a life of destitution for a time. He realized he was just as unfulfilled with the latter extreme as he was with the former.

From there, he decided a bit of a middle ground might be the right choice. In his teachings, he calls this the Middle Way, a life of neither unimaginable wealth nor unmanageable hardship.

Digging Deeper to Reach Enlightenment

Unlike many religions, Buddhism doesn’t revolve around a single god or even multiple deities. However, it does include certain higher beings. They are not to be worshiped; instead, they can help people find enlightenment or keep them from doing so if allowed.

Per Buddhist teachings, people should keep in mind the Four Noble Truths. One of those is the fact that everyone suffers in one way or another.

Secondly, all suffering stems from desire. From there, the religion teaches that it’s possible to end suffering. Lastly, it lays out the Middle Way through which its followers can reach enlightenment.

Achieving Enlightenment for a More Satisfying Existence

These days, extremes seem to be the norm. Peacefulness and violence, wealth and poverty, and health and sickness are a few examples.

Balance appears to be hard to come by. This truth was also evident in India and other places across the globe thousands of years ago.

Siddhartha Gautama saw such problems and set out on a mission to overcome them and aid others in doing the same.

Today, millions of people are seeking enlightenment either purposefully or subconsciously, but many aren’t sure of where to start or have lost their way. With help and guidance, though, it’s certainly possible to get back on track.

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