Buddhism (In 362 Words!)

Posted by & filed under Ben Riggs, bliss, Buddhism, enlightenment, nirvana, spiritual awakening, Suffering.

by Benjamin Riggs

Recently, I received an email asking me to explain Buddhism. Here is my answer:

First of all, Buddhism is the recognition of suffering. Second, Buddhism recognizes that suffering is not dumb, but intelligent. So, we look at our own suffering, so as to see the pattern or path that gives rise to our dissatisfaction. Then, we turn around and walk backwards down the path of suffering. Walking backwards down this path is a process of “un-doing” commonly referred to as meditation. Finally, we remember the basic experience of being that we forgot long ago. Through the practice of meditation, we rediscover the basic experience of “oneness” that we misplaced when we imagined a world of “multiplicity.” This discovery is known as enlightenment, which is the transmutation of suffering into bliss. But suffering is only capable of being transmuted into bliss, because it was bliss in disguise all along…insanity is simply sanity misunderstood!

So, Buddhism is an acknowledgement that our life is the path. That nothing—absolutely nothing—is to be discarded. Buddhism is faith in the indestructible nature of truth. This faith is so whole and so complete that even confusion is part of the path. In fact, our confusion is the path, as the observation of confusion is insight. Therefore, practicing Buddhism is an exercise in complete vulnerability. Buddhism is an experiment with vulnerability; being willing to open up and see our bind spots. The path that gives rise to suffering is an exercise in futility, where we attempt to create certainty or solid ground, which forces us to ignore the fluid nature of reality and gives rise to these “blind spots.” So, the practice of meditation is then a mindful participation in vulnerability. This experiment reveals the indestructible nature of basic awareness—the experience of experience, which is without beginning or end.

In short, Buddhism is an experiment that reveals our true nature. In vulnerability, it is realized that we are not apart from or other than life. So suffering slips away, as we cease to feel disconnected and lifeless. In observing our confusion, we realize that we are of “one substance” with truth. Enlightenment is the selfless experience of life—an acknowledgment that “I” is but an example of Life. Enlightenment is touching the earth.


Benjamin Riggs is the Spirituality editor at Elephant Journal. Ben is also a teacher of Buddhist meditation and spirituality at the Refuge Meditation Group in Shreveport, LA. Ben has written extensively about Buddhism, contemplative philosophy, and meditation practice on his blog. Above everything he is committed to presenting Buddhist and contemplative principles from a practical, contemporary, and western point of view. If you would like to follow his blog, The Web of Enlightenment, on Facebook then Click here. If you would prefer to follow him on Twitter then Click here.

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Andrew Cort