As per Mr. Christmas
Humphreys the Buddhism has been summarized by 12 principles (Mr.
Christmas Humphreys, was associated with The Buddhist Society, London,
Self-salvation is for any man the immediate task. If a man lay wounded
by a poisoned arrow he would not delay extraction by demanding details
of the man who shot it, or the length and make of the arrow. There will
be time for ever-increasing understanding of the Teaching during the
treading of the Way. Meanwhile, begin now by facing life as it
is, learning always by direct and personal experience.
The first fact of existence is the law of change or impermanence. All
that exists, from a mole to a mountain, from a thought to an empire,
passes through the same cycle of existence - i.e., birth, growth, decay
and death. Life alone is continuous, ever seeking self-expression in new
forms. 'Life is a bridge; therefore build no house on it.' Life is a
process of flow, and he who clings to any form, however splendid, will
suffer by resisting the flow.
3. The law of change
applies equally to the 'soul'. There is no principle in an individual
which is immortal and unchanging. Only the 'Namelessness', the ultimate
Reality, is beyond change, and all forms of life, including man, are
manifestations of this Reality. No one owns the life which flows in him
any more than the electric light bulb owns the current which gives it
The universe is the expression of law. All effects have causes, and
man's soul or character is the sum total of his previous thoughts and
acts. Karma, meaning action-reaction, governs all reaction to them, his
future condition, and his final destiny. By right thought and action he
can gradually purify his inner nature, and so by self-realization attain
in time liberation from rebirth. The process covers great periods of
time, involving life after life on earth, but ultimately every form of
life will reach Enlightenment.
Life is one and indivisible, though its ever-changing forms are
innumerable and perishable. There is, in truth, no death, though every
form must die. From an understanding of life's unity arises compassion,
a sense of identity with the life in other forms. Compassion is
described as 'the Law of laws - eternal harmony', and he who breaks this
harmony of life will suffer accordingly and delay his own Enlightenment.
Life being one, the interests of the part should be those of the whole.
In his ignorance man thinks he can successfully strive for his own
interests, and this wrongly directed energy of selfishness produces
suffering. He learns from his suffering to reduce and finally eliminate
its cause. The Buddha taught Four Noble Truths: -
(a) The omnipresence
(b) its cause,
wrongly directed desire;
(c) its cure, the
removal of the cause; and
(d) Noble Eightfold
Path of self-development which leads to the end of suffering.
The Eightfold Path consists in Right (or perfect) Views or preliminary
understanding, Right Aims or Motive, Right Speech, Right Acts, Right
Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Concentration or mind development, and
finally, Right Samadhi, leading to Full Enlightenment. As Buddhism is a
way of living, not merely a theory of life, the treading of this Path is
essential to self-deliverance. 'Cease to do evil, learn to do well,
cleanse your own heart: this is the Teaching of the Buddha.
Reality is indescribable, and a God with attributes is not the final
Reality. But the Buddha, a human being, became the All-Enlightened One,
and the purpose of life is the attainment of Enlightenment. This state
of Consciousness, Nirvana, the extinction of the limitations of
self-hood, is attainable on earth. All men and all other forms of life
contain the potentiality of Enlightenment, and the process therefore
consists in becoming what you are. 'Look within: thou art Buddha.'
From potential to actual Enlightenment there lies the Middle Way, the
Eightfold Way 'from desire to peace', a process of self-development
between the 'opposites', avoiding all extremes. The Buddha trod this Way
to the end, and the only faith required in Buddhism is the reasonable
belief that where a Guide has trodden it is worth our while to tread.
The Way must be trodden by the whole man, not merely the best of him,
and heart and mind must be developed equally. The Buddha was the
All-Compassionate as well as the All-Enlightened One.
Buddhism lays great stress on the need of inward concentration and
meditation, which leads in time to the development of the inner
spiritual faculties. The subjective life is as important as the daily
round, and periods of quietude for inner activity are essential for a
balanced life. The Buddhist should at all times be 'mindful and
self-possessed', refraining from mental and emotional attachment to 'the
passing show'. This increasingly watchful attitude to circumstances,
which he knows to be his own creation, helps him to keep his reaction to
it always under control.
The Buddha said: 'Work out your own salvation with diligence.' Buddhism
knows no authority for truth save the intuition of the individual, and
that is authority for himself alone. Each man suffers the consequences
of his own acts, and learns thereby, while helping his fellow men to the
same deliverance; nor will prayer to the Buddha or to any God prevent an
effect from following its cause. Buddhist monks are teachers and
exemplars, and in no sense intermediates between Reality and the
individual. The utmost tolerance is practiced towards all other
religions and philosophies, for no man have the right to interfere in
his neighbor’s journey to the Goal.
Buddhism is neither pessimistic nor 'escapist', nor does it deny the
existence of God or soul, though it places its own meaning on these
terms. It is, on the contrary, a system of thought, a religion, a
spiritual science and a way of life, which is reasonable, practical, and
all-embracing. For over two thousand years it has satisfied the
spiritual needs of nearly one-third of mankind. It appeals to the West
because it has no dogmas, satisfies the reason and the heart alike,
insists on self-reliance coupled with tolerance for other points of
view, embraces science, religion, philosophy, psychology, ethics and
art, and points to man alone, as the creator of his present life and
sole designer of his destiny.