The Psychological Aspect of Following Buddhism

Alone, under the branches of the Bodhi tree, Prince Siddhattha was overcome with enlightenment (Kelsang, 2002). This great achievement came after the Prince, later known as Buddha, had lived through many years of self-initiated seclusion. The Prince was sheltered by his father during his young life, and it was only in his adult years that he became aware of the unavoidable fact that to live is to suffer.

Aging and death were paths in life that could not be avoided. The Prince realized that throughout life, no matter what, one will endure suffering to no end, via life, and will continue to experience suffering at life’s end, via reincarnation. The belief that reincarnation would continue to repeat itself inspired Prince Siddhattha to seek a way out of this never-ending cycle that people were destined to undergo.

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The Prince believed that if he could live a pure, good life, he would be awarded admittance to a final destination, never to experience suffering, and never to live again by means of reincarnation (Hendricks, 2000). After years of solitude, self-induced starvation and torture, Prince Siddhattha Gautama found the “out” he was looking for…and so began the practice of Buddhism.

Buddhism is based on achieving enlightenment (Wikipedia, 2004). For this reason, the practice of Buddhism can be considered psychological. According to Buddha, enlightenment can be achieved by recognizing the Four Noble Truths, and existing on the premise of the Noble Eightfold Path (Frederick, 1997). The Four Noble Truths state, in short, that a person must understand that in life there is suffering, and that suffering is derived from desire (Hendricks, 2000). Once the desire is overcome, there will be no more suffering.

The Noble Eightfold Path is made up of eight different “Rights” (Frederick, 1997). The eight “Rights” include right understanding, right intent, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration (Hendricks, 2000). The only

Achieving Enlightenment

way an individual can fully experience all that Buddhism has to offer is to psychologically have the right understanding of the world around them. In addition, one must also have the right intent. This means that one must have the ability to commit to this unique lifestyle, and accept it with no reservation.

Psychologically examined, this entire religion is based on an individual’s inner-self and the will power that he or she retains. There may be guidelines to set a follower on the right path to Buddhism, but it is impossible for everyone to have the same intentions, livelihood, or concentration.

While one may be inspired to live life in a pure manner, such as that of the Buddhist, the psychological aspects of inspiration will drive one to determine exactly what “pure” is and how to get there. Buddhism must receive credit for displaying the possibility of a person living a life free of desire. Psychologically, however, the mental ability a person possesses will be the driving force to personal enlightenment.


1.History of Buddhism. (2002). AboutBuddism.Org: Kelsang, G. January 2007.

2.Buddhism. (1997) GeoCities: Frederick, S. January 2007.

3.The History of Buddhism. (2000) E-Silk Road: Hendricks, M. January 2007.

4.Definition of Buddhism. (2004) Wikimedia. Wikipedia Writing Staff. January 2007.



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