15 Essential Buddhist Teachings Described in One Sentence

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Jumping into a Buddhist practice can be intimidating. After all, there are various teachings or sutras in addition to 2,500 years of Buddhist history. However, Buddhism is essentially a teaching of empowerment, meant to be accessible to all people in any age.

Here are 15 essential teachings of Buddhism, each condensed to one sentence.

1. We are perfect and complete just as we are.

We each have Buddhability or unlimited wisdom, courage and compassion within. Buddhism is a practice of awakening to and acting based on this reality. Here is a great recap of Buddhist history and how this teaching is the foundation of Buddhism.

2. Believe in yourself against all odds.

Since we are Buddhas in reality, the practice of Buddhism is essentially a fight with our self-doubt or negativity. We chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the title of the Lotus Sutra, each day to essentially believe in ourselves and our Buddhahood each day. Here’s a great video on fighting self-doubt.

3. Our best self emerges when we support other people.

Here is a great article on why “other-care” is as important as “self-care.”

4. Where there’s life, there’s hope. Hope only disappears when you decide something is hopeless.

Anything is possible, that’s why we can never ever give up. Here’s a great podcast on overcoming setbacks.

5. When we change, the world changes.

As we change for the better, so does our ability to impact the world around us. Here is a great video on someone who has put this into action.

6. Just because we’ve suffered in the past, doesn’t mean we can’t be incredibly happy in the present and future.

Daisaku Ikeda writes, “Those who have suffered the most deserve the greatest happiness.” Here is an incredible story of changing bitter suffering into a sense of mission to help all people.

7. None of us exists in isolation—to be aware of these connections and have gratitude for them is the happiest way to live.

Having gratitude for the many people and functions in our environment that support us is the key to building a happy life. Here is a great podcast on gratitude.

8. Instead of avoiding problems, become someone who is strong enough to take on any challenge.

Real happiness is not the absence of problems but feeling an unshakable sense of self and purpose in the face of any problem. Here is a great article on handling stress.

9. We each have a unique mission that only we can fulfill.

We are the authors of our lives. Each of us has a mission on planet Earth that only we can fulfill. That is why we have to win over ourselves. Here’s a great article on figuring out what you want to do in life.

10. Since everything is interconnected, we become happy through supporting others.

Here is a great article on how caring for others is caring for ourselves.

11. We only fail when we give up.

Here is a great podcast about not giving up on yourself.

12. To be fearless no matter what happens―that is the root of true happiness.

How can you overcome your fear? We’ve got the Buddhability guide for you. Read how to overcome fear.

13. If you fall down seven times, get up an eighth.

Listen to our podcast episode on how to use setbacks to push us forward.

14. We are not defeated by adversity but by the loss of the will to strive.

Here is a great podcast on how to win in the morning.

15. We are inherently and equally unique and wonderful.

Here is a great article on accepting ourselves.

The essential teachings of Buddhism are often easy to understand. The hard part comes when we try to put them into practice each day. Through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and connecting to a local Buddhability community, we naturally find a way to put these essential teachings of Buddhism into practice in our lives.

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