Buddhist beliefs and how they differ

There are various beliefs in Buddhism that are centred around reaching enlightenment and ending suffering (also called dukkha.

The Wheel of Life

The Buddha taught that all human experience is ultimately tainted by dukkha. Often translated as suffering, dukkha refers also to the sense of unsatisfactoriness, which the Buddha believed was ever-present. The Buddha taught that dukkha has various causes and effects. The idea of kamma (kamma is also known as karma) is that actions have consequences.

The Wheel of Life (Bhavachakra) represents the idea in Buddhism of life, death and rebirth. This idea is also known as samsara. Buddhists believe that what they are reborn as in future will depend on how they live their current life. For example, if a person lives a good life and has good kamma, they will be reborn into a better realm.

A wall hanging depicitng The Wheel of Life

The Wheel of Life is a way of picturing the beliefs of samsara. The wheel has seven elements:

  1. The inner hub of the wheel shows the Three Poisons, which are ignorance, attachment (or greed) and hatred.
  2. The second layer represents kamma.
  3. The third layer represents the six realms of samsara.
  4. The fourth layer represents the 12 links of dependent arising (or paticca-samuppada).
  5. The demon figure over the wheel represents the idea that nothing lasts forever (impermanence).
  6. The moon above the wheel represents the idea of liberation or freedom from samsara.
  7. The Buddha pointing towards the white circle shows the idea that it is possible for people to become free from samsara.

The Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths are one of the most important teachings of the Buddha. They consist of the following ideas:

  1. All life is imperfect and involves suffering (dukkha).
  2. The cause of suffering is desire (samudaya).
  3. Suffering can end (nirodha).
  4. The way to end suffering is by following the Noble Eightfold Path (magga).