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Buddhism, similar to Islam and Judaism, is concerned primarily with how we live in this life. Unlike those two traditions, Buddhism has no concern with the origins of the universe, or the nature of God. In fact Buddhism is based on the principle that there is no supreme being, no divine creator, and no eternal soul.

Buddhism, over the millennia, has taught us the way of wisdom, the middle way. It shows us how to live without giving way to either indulgence or asceticism, to live in the world as it is, to live skillfully. It teaches us that there is an eternal truth underlying all that is, a truth that we can each experience. But we continually live in ignorance of that truth, at variance to the truth.

The inherent truth of the universe is that everything changes, nothing is permanent. Joy is transient, and so is sorrow. Every experience grows out of a particular set of conditions within ourselves and in our lived environment. The conditions are continually changing, altering our experience. But we keep struggling to get the good things of life, hold onto them, preserve them. And we equally struggle to avoid the painful, uncomfortable, undesirable aspects of life.

It is our struggles to alter life’s experiences and conditions that set us at odds with the our own life. But we can learn a different way of living, train our mind to experience life in a different way. Buddhism, perhaps more than any other religion, is a practice. It is a detailed approach that transforms the way we see life and therefore the way we experience it.

We learn to recognize our happiness and our unhappiness as both simply part of the ebb and flow of life. We practice noticing the things within ourself that lead us to happiness and unhappiness; we observe the feelings coming and observe them going. We begin to live consciously instead of unconsciously allowing the situations of our life to push and pull us in this way and that way.

Buddhism demonstrates our capacity for awareness; it opens our eyes, expands our conscious experience of life. It teaches us how to live our lives with open hands, to allow the experiences of life to flow through us as water through the rocks of the river. Nothing is permanent, nothing is lasting, all things are continually changing. When we seek to grasp the flow of life and hold it, we never succeed. Allowing our minds to believe we can acquire permanent and lasting happiness through anything in this transitory life, sets us on a path of unhappiness.

Buddhism is an experiential and experimental process. Over thousands of years, it has transformed the lives it has touched, bringing tranquility to the mind, moving us into harmony with our own life.

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