In times of trial, we often turn to words of wisdom. These Buddhist proverbs might help.
Buddhism is a path of practice and spiritual development. For those who follow Buddhism, it can provide insight into the true nature of reality. It can also bring reflection and meditation, which is what makes it a popular spiritual path for many. Even for those seeking short-term relief from life’s turmoils, Buddhist words of wisdom are the right place to start.
1. Buddhist proverbs about karma
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him.
If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him,
like a shadow that never leaves him.
– The Buddha
We’ve all heard the expression “karma will catch up with them”, but be careful what you wish for!
This Buddhist proverb tells us we are the result of what we have thought. Therefore, wishing bad karma one someone could put you in the category of a “man who speaks or acts with evil thought.” This could make you as bad as your perpetrator.
If someone has treated you badly in life, think about whether you would rather be the sunshine or the shadow. The neglected truth here is really about forgiving. Even if it is more difficult, it is more wholesome.
2. Buddhism on happiness
This brings us onto our second Buddhist proverb. That of happiness. We all seek happiness in life all of the time, even if we are not always aware of how happy we are. It sometimes takes something sad for us to realise how happy we really are. Just as Buddha teaches those who have pure actions or thoughts will find happiness, Buddha also said:
“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.“
The simple yet neglected life truth here is that happiness is not always about the individual. It is sought by sharing with others and sharing in others’ happiness. This particular Buddhist proverb makes us reflect upon what makes us happy and in turn how we can achieve happiness.
I’m sure we can all think of situations where something has made us jealous, or we feel that life is unfair because someone has a better job than you, or they drive a more expensive car. The life truth in this is that those people who have better jobs have worked hard to achieve their goals.
As a result, perhaps they can afford a better car. Those hardships that came to them have been overcome and they are a sign of that individual’s happiness. If they then share that with you, you can make them feel happier that you are pleased for them.
The 18th Century poet, Alexander Pope, also said: “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” This supports the Buddhist proverb that if you can learn to be happy within yourself, then you will achieve ultimate happiness.
3. Buddhist proverbs about love
Sometimes, we seek sanctity in the words of others. Particularly, if you share a common denominator among lots of others – like love.
Navigating the tortuous path to true love is tricky for the best of us, but some Buddhist proverbs could help simplify it. Buddha believed that life is all about finding your purpose and giving your whole heart and soul to it. If you don’t find it, it can lead us to feel isolated.
One Buddhist proverb puts this to rest. If you feel like you are destined to be forever alone, consider this:
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”
4. Buddhist views of death
It is fairly common for people to seek solace in spirituality when faced with true adversity. There is nothing like experiencing the death of a loved one, to question one’s own mortality.
Buddha said: “Everything is changeable, everything appears and disappears; there is no blissful peace until one passes beyond the agony of life and death.”
When we contemplate death, we must realize that it is a certainty.
However, other Buddhist proverbs teach us how we can take an alternative view of death. For those who fear death, Buddha challenges that this is simply because they do not know how to live:
“Perhaps the deepest reason why we are afraid of death is that we do not know who we are.”
Buddha accepts that there is no evading death, but it should be an inclusion as a part of life.
“Good health is simply the slowest way a human being can die.”
5. Buddhist sayings about change
Another time people often contemplate spirituality is during periods of change. These can be due to death, or, they can just be natural life circumstances. Perhaps these changes are afoot at work, or they are in our relationships.
Some fear change and others thrive on it, and one Buddhist proverb helps put this in perspective:
If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.
Opening ourselves up to change could actually improve our lives beyond recognition. Another Buddhist proverb says:
“One moment can change a day, one day can change a life and one life can change the world.”
This particular proverb can make us reflect on life as being full of change. Not only how our environment can impact changes we see, but we can also be the influencer of positive change in the actions and decisions we make.
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