Unlike many other religions, Buddhism doesn’t give you the answers, the purpose, the ultimate truth to existence. They recognise that such answers either don’t exist or if they do, we’re unable to find it. It tells us way a good way to live, not why we live.
Buddhism is more focused on life, that is ethics, not the metaphysics underlying it.
The Four Noble Truths spell it out:
- We suffer
- there are causes to that suffering
- there are steps we can take to reduce our suffering
- the last truth is a general prescription for it
We are irrational beings, but as Dany Ariely shows in his book we are Predictably Irrational. That is we are irrational in knowable ways. We can see the foibles of our minds if we work at looking.
Just as we can look to see the flaws in our eyesight by examine our eyes and then wear corrective lenses. We can examine the mind and see it’s characteristics, it biases and then adopt practices and habits to correct them, so seeing more clearly.
Some have likened Buddhism as closer to psychology and psychotherapy than a faith. Buddhism is therefore sort of therapy or medicine. A corrective lens for the mind, seeing how we contribute to our own suffering. Once seen we get to involve practices that counter our faulty perceptions and misunderstandings.
Buddhism like medicine offers both curative practices to help when you are suffering, and preventive practice to avoid the causes of suffering. Example include, meditation, pondering Koans, Deity Yoga, Nembutsu chanting, iconography and imagery, and the community or Sangha, depending on what school you follow.
Unlike other faiths, Buddhism doesn’t plant flags, making claims on metaphysical truths or facts (although there is a metaphysical side to it).
Instead, it focuses more on our subjective experience of suffering. To point out our suffering, ask us to face it, understand it. Then work to redress it, offering remedies and practices to help us cope with it.
It’s accepting that life is partly suffering and have that be alright. By such acceptance we reduce our suffering.