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What’s the point? - The meaning of life according to Buddhism

Updated: May 14

Have you ever got up in the morning and wondered what the point was? Have you ever struggled to find a reason to get through the next meeting, the next deadline, the next boring day?


Buddhists think that there is something beautiful that underpins reality. But it’s not easy for us to see. We have to learn to think differently, and live differently. 


What the Buddha Taught


Imagine a young man, sitting under a beautiful, broad-leafed tree. His body is stick-thin, but upright. On his face is written a smile of incredible serenity. 


More than two-thousand years ago the Buddha gained enlightenment, sitting under the Bodhi Tree. The Buddha then uncovered the meaning of life. And it was not higher status or a bigger paycheck.


What he realised was so beautiful, so profound, that he knew he had to tell everyone about it who would listen. What he saw and taught has become known as “the Dharma”.  


Reality shaping our lives


The Dharma is more than just a set of teachings. It’s reality itself - the meaning and beauty that the Buddha saw. It is a force within the world.


As Buddhists, we try to let this shape and give meaning to our lives. We find out about it by studying the teaching of the Buddha, but also by meditating, talking to others, and trying to live ethical lives. 


A reason to get up in the morning?


The Dharma helps Buddhists to understand how to cut through our tendency towards craving, hatred and confusion. 


The Buddha taught that if we do this, we can see reality in a more beautiful and compassionate way. We can see what the Buddha saw, when he sat under that tree all those years ago. 


Like the Buddha, we too can then see how beautiful life can be, and help others to see it too. Buddhism teaches that a life dedicated to helping others is the best reason to get up in the morning.


Needing an upward spiral


We probably won’t get a vision of all of reality all at once. It took the Buddha years to achieve the insight he had. 


As we begin to understand more, practice more, and live more ethically, our vision opens. So often our lives can feel like downward spirals. Buddhism says that life can just get better and better: an upward spiral of positivity and growth!


Better with friends


This isn’t an upward spiral we need to travel alone. Buddhism, like everything, is better shared. For thousands of years, Buddhists have come together to help each other grow. This is known as “Sangha” or spiritual community. 



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