Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha was a spiritual teacher from ancient India. He lived around the time of 500BC and from his teachings, Buddhism was formed. Gautama was known to his followers as the Buddha or “Awakened One” (“Buddha” is also sometimes translated as “The Enlightened One”).
Siddhārtha was born in a Royal Hindu family. Although his father ensured that Siddhartha had everything he could want or need, Buddhist scriptures say that the future Buddha felt that material wealth was not life’s ultimate goal.
Although his father had tried to shield him from life’s suffering, Siddhārtha ventured out of the palace and for the first time in his life, saw sickness and death. At the age of 29, he escaped the palace in search of enlightenment.
When he finally discovered that meditation was the right way to enlightenment, he spent 49 days under a Bodhi tree and when he ended his meditation, he realized the reason behind human suffering and how to end it.
Below is a selection of the 10 most inspirational quotes by Buddha, and what they mean for us today.
1. “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done”
Buddha believed that we spend too much time consumed by our thoughts of the past, and planning for the future, that we miss the joy of the present moment. When we finally reach the moment that we have planned for, we are again in the process of thinking of a future moment so in fact, we are never in the present. A concept brilliantly explained in The Power of Now.
Being able to focus on the moment is essential because we cannot change the past, we cannot predict the future, and all that there exists is the present moment. Working hard now and remaining happy in the present will ensure us a great future.
2. “The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart”
Instead of looking up for some sort of salvation or enlightenment, Buddha taught that Nirvana was available to all, regardless of caste or creed, and they did not have to wait for a sign from above or a higher power to achieve it.
3. “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned”
The damage that a hurtful thought or an angry intent can do to the body and the mind is the same if not more than the damage you wish to inflict on your enemy. Hatred is a redundant and damaging emotion. Having abundant patience and forgiveness is the only way to free yourself from anger and frustration.
4. “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared”
The Buddha believed that happiness and love were forces that could be given without any loss to the person who is giving. By acting against greed and hatred, we free ourselves from them and live a happier life.
5. “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. The mind is everything. What you think you become”
What you think about is incredibly important because your thoughts create your actions and your actions create your future. Your attitude and perspective on life create what you become. Right thinking can help you get what you want. Changing your mind will change your life.