Through doing my research in order to answer this question I found out that there are many different teachings and beliefs that might influence Buddhists in their daily lives.
Firstly there is the life of Siddhartha Gotama. He had a ‘perfect’ life with everything you could want, money, a wife, a child power etc. However as we know nothing is ever perfect and he felt something was missing. When he visited the city to search for the meaning of life he saw four sites. An old man, a sick man, a dead man and a holy man. The only man who looked happy was the holy man and all he had were the rags he was wearing and his bowl.
Sid then became and ascetic and gave up all his luxuries in life. He learnt great control of himself and his mind but through being an ascetic he became weak and unwell and so he followed the eight fold path, the middle way. While sitting under a Bodhi tree he accepted his first meal and meditated. He gradually gained insight to human nature and perfect peace. He had reached enlightenment and became known as the Buddha. The Buddha then taught others how to live a good life by teaching them three main things. The Three Marks Of Existence, The Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path.
The Three Marks Of Existence are:
* Anicca: All things are changing-nothing is fixed. Impermanence.
* Anatta: There is no separate self and all beings are interdependent. This means that all beings are dependant on each other and are always changing. The Buddha taught that there is nothing that can be called a soul. Instead people are made up of five parts, and it is these five things that ‘make-up’ a person; They have a body, and they can feel things, they have ideas, they can think and they can be aware of things going on around them.
* Dukkha: As all life is changing, everything we know will eventually not exist, this distresses us and causes us suffering, Dukkha means ‘suffering’.
These influence Buddhists in their everyday lives by showing them how things, come into existence in life, change in life and why we suffer from them. They are three things that every existent thing or person will experience in everyday life.
The Four Noble Truths influence Buddhists in their daily lives by showing them the problem in life and how to overcome it.
* The problem with life / All life is suffering
* The cause of this problem / We suffer because we crave
* That the problem can be overcome / To stop suffering we have to stop craving
* The way to achieve it / Follow the middle way or The Eightfold Path
All life is suffering because of three main things; ignorance, greed and hatred. There is also the suffering of pain, sickness and death. Nothing in life is permanent and when we try and experience the good things over and over again for longer and longer we crave them and the more we crave we suffer. The only way to stop suffering is to stop craving and appreciate the reality of life. The point where suffering stops is Nirvana. To reach Nirvana Buddhists follow The Eightfold Path.
The Eightfold Path:
* Right speech: Buddhists shouldn’t lie, gossip, waste time chatting or swear.
* Right Thought: No dirty or greedy thoughts and try follow the Buddha’s path.
* Right Understanding: Understand the teachings of the Buddha and realise that life is suffering.
* Right Concentration: Concentration on everything and do not let your mind wander during meditation. This helps Buddhists to reach enlightenment.
* Right Living: To live an honest life and earn decent money. Don’t be a prostitute. (Ahimsa-respect for life)
* Right Effort: Training yourself to avoid bad things in life. Think of positive aspects of life and others.
* Right Mindfulness: Become more aware of yourself and everything around. Meditation.
* Right Action: Buddhists try to follow The Five Moral Precepts: Don’t destroy life, Don’t steal, Don’t misuse sex, Don’t lie, Don’t take drugs or drink excessively.
The Eightfold path influences Buddhists in their everyday life by guiding them how to stop craving things and follow in the path of the Buddha.
The Five Moral Precepts also influence Buddhists in their everyday lives by showing them how to enjoy life but to act sensibly and responsibly for their actions. For example, you do not have to steal because if you stop suffering you will stop craving the things you want that you cant afford. You can drink alcohol but don’t drink too much. Don’t destroy life basically means not to kill. Squashing the odd fly is not harmful it is really saying to become vegetarian. Do not abuse sex is meaning not to become a prostitute and don’t lie because that is abusing right speech in the eightfold path. These precepts are possible to practice in everyday life and so they influence Buddhists a great deal.