"Gautama, although revered by Buddhists for his wisdom, was neither a messiah nor a prophet, and he did not act as a medium between God and man. His ideas were arrived at through reasoning, not divine revelations, and it is this that marks Buddhism out as a philosophy as much as (perhaps even more than) a religion.' (p31)
Gautama used philosophy as his method to search for truth. His early life was marked by self-indulgence, and he noticed suffering in the world around him. He noticed that people used self-indulgence to alleviate the results of suffering in their lives and thought there must be a middle ground between the transitory pleasure of self-indulgence and self-mortification (where people suffer in order to be happy). Their must be a middle path he reasons.
He discovered what he called the Four Noble Truths
The truth of suffering.- suffering is an inherent part of existence
The truth of the origin of suffering.- the cause of suffering is desire
The truth of the ending of suffering - Detaching oneself from cravings
The truth of the path to the ending of suffering - following the eightfold path rids desire
I found this short study on Buddhism enlightening. I never quite understood what they believed in. I find it disturbing how it's so works oriented. Live this way, fight against your desires, and you will have no suffering. I also now understand the confusion people have in calling it a religion or simply just a way by which you live life.
I find it horrible how Buddhist thought has gotten into some circles of Christianity. If you love God enough and do what he wants you to do you will live a prosperous life.
God doesn't promise us a life without suffering. What he promises us is that he will never give us more than we can endure, through his grace. God calls us to seek HIM first. That is how we can keep our desires under control.
Seek God, not the lack of desire. :)