All the teachings of the Buddha can be summed up in one word: Dhamma. It means truth, that which really is. Therefore Buddhism appeals to man to be noble, pure, and charitable not in order to please any Supreme Deity, but in order to be true to the highest in himself.
If we live by Dhamma, we will escape misery and come to Nirvana, the final release from all suffering. It is not by any kind of prayer, nor by any ceremonies, nor by any appeal to a God, that a we will discover the Dhamma which will lead us to our goal. We will discover it in only one way – by developing our own character. This development comes only through control of the mind and purification of the emotions. Until we stills the storm in our hearts, until we extend our loving-kindness to all beings, we will not be able to take even the first step toward our goal.
Thus Buddhism is not a religion at all, in the sense in which the word is commonly understood. Buddhism begins as a search for truth. The Buddha taught that we should believe only that which is true in the light of our own experience, that which conforms to reason and is conducive to the highest good and welfare of all beings. We must rely on ourselves. Even though we may “take refuge in Buddha,” the expression used when one pledges themself to live a righteous life, we must not fall victim to a blind faith that the Buddha can save us despite our actions.
If Buddhism teaches us anything it shows that we can have the intelligence to be shown the path, but only strength of heart and wisdom gained allow us to walk it.
Peace and Love, Jim