Even though the Buddhist theologies explain about numerous Buddhas, only Gautama Buddha is the historical Buddha. Gautama Buddha, who was named Siddhartha Gautama, was born as a prince in a small town called Lumbini, Nepal, about 26 hundred years ago. The Gautama Buddha is the founder of Buddhism. Buddhism is not just a religion; it is also a philosophy, a way of life.
The main thesis of Buddhism is the awareness of a person. The Buddha emphasised that until a person reaches the state of awareness, he will continue to be chained in the cycle of birth and birth. The world where we live is Samsara. Samsara is the place where we take birth, we live, we die, and then again take birth, live and die. This kind of chain of events will continue until the person is in the state of awareness.
What does awareness means exactly? Awareness means you know the essence of your individual existence as well as the roots of the universal existence. Awareness means you know the temporal nature of life and the world. Awareness means you understand pain and pleasure, and other similar dualities are illusory. Awareness means having knowledge of something. Awareness is the state of undifferentiated consciousness.
How is awareness caused? Awareness can be caused by itself, or by knowledge and wisdom that you gain through learning or experience. You take a deep breath and suddenly realise that you need air to survive. You became aware of the truth of your existence, you need air to live. Your awareness is caused by itself.
You read and find out that your present life is the outcome of the karma you have done in your previous life. Your awareness is caused by knowledge and wisdom you gained through reading.
Awareness is the fundamental characteristic that is endemic to human beings only. The basic difference between a human being and animal is the knowledge and wisdom. Animals too, have some knowledge, which they use as the means of survival, but their knowledge is in primitive stage. Thus, animals cannot reach the state of awareness, where as human beings can. In Buddhism, people who do not try to become aware are often compared with animals.
How awareness is gained? One of the ways to gain awareness is through knowledge and wisdom. There are four fundamental means to acquire knowledge and wisdom at the disposal of human beings. They are: Perception, the idea gained through direct experience; Inference, an idea concluded through the analysis of things and events by using senses; Recognition of likeness, identifying a certain thing through the attributes of other things; and Testimony, the accepted understanding through the conclusion of other people’s perception.
When you are aware about your being, you become conscious about your existence. You know what you can do and what you cannot do. You may not admit your inability and failures in public, but when you are alone you scold yourself and say, “You don’t have skills to do this, you failed with this job.”
When you are aware, your dissatisfaction vanishes, your frustrations will go off, your desires, wants and wishes will dissolve. You will live a happy life.