It starts with suffering, as though there is nothing to life but suffering; and it blames desire as responsible for suffering, as though desire is always the cause of suffering and nothing more; from these two premises it builds up a philosophy and a life world view of negativism; so that the ultimate end to be aspired after and worked for is Nirvana, which however not officially defined is known in its etymology as like the candle flame extinguished by a gust of wind.
That is the Buddhism of the elitists, namely, concept persons like monks -- although they are monks for the housing and bread just like in every religious asylum, concept persons who think so as to be divorced from the real world of everyday people, humans who put a lot of importance in the world perceived by the eye, ear, nose, tongue, fingers, and other avenues whereby man knows life and the universe.
Buddhists who are concept people like monks and supposedly scholarly Buddhists think apparently most profoundly, tell us that everything, life and the universe, is best returned to the point before the big bang, therefore a universe and matter and energy never having evolved into what life and the universe today is. And that is the aspiration and agenda of Buddhists, elitists that is, like monks of supposedly intellectual caliber.
Common Buddhist folks in traditional Buddhist lands like Thailand and Burma and Sri Lanka, they are just like religious people everywhere, they are after favors from the powers that be whether God, or gods, or spirits, or whatever statues or objects believed to be endowed with efficacy to assist them in their needs, desires, problems, special steps in life.
As common folk Buddhists they long for rebirth into the realms of the gods where everyday is party time and the duration lasts for eons.
No, folk Buddhists do not occupy themselves with Nirvana, certainly not the etymological meaning of life and the universe itself ending up like a candle flame blown off by a gust of wind.
If you ask me, the motto of elitist Buddhism should be R.I.P., that is Rest in Peace, and the degree earned by monks is R.I.P., earned in the campus of the cemetery.
One word about the Buddhism cultivated by Westerners, they go for the psychotherapy through meditation; but they don't want to think or imagine that overcoming the stress of life is best attained by having a good home and family, so that when they look at their spouse, wife or husband, at their children, their pet dog and pet cat, the beautiful or at least comfortable house they live in, and the wonderful neighbors they are surrounded with, then all stress should be gone from their heart and mind.
For assistance they can always look up the mature, experienced. worldly wise among their family members, and also seek solace from neighbors and office colleagues or job companions, who really do care for them, love them -- that is the word, love.
See why Buddhists use the word compassion but never love, and you might just discover that there is no love in Buddhism.
All beings on this Earth are bound to the 'cycle of suffering'. Suffering does not necessarily mean it must be painful or you must not like it, but it means that they are worldly things. i.e. by being bound to these things, you are 'suffering' as in you are not free and you will not find true peace. If you die, you will be reincarnated to suffer through whatever you deserve depending on your karma in the past life.
Buddhism believes in freeing oneself from the otherwise neverending worldly suffering through detaching oneself from worldly things. Buddhism says you will never cease to feel angry, jealous, happy, or whatever as long as you are attached to worldly things like pleasure, love, and hate. Attachment to physical things also contribute to this suffering cycle. All the things that you see, hear, feel, touch, and taste everyday are all created by your brain, so there is no knowing that they are real and true. Thus, it is fair to say Buddhism is about freeing the mind.
When you meditate, you sit still, close your eyes, and clear your mind. This is so that you are less likely bound by 'outside' things, and you can focus on understanding the facts of life and freeing the mind. Enlightened monks are those who have fully detached themselves from all worldly things and therefore have found true peace. Once they die, they will not reincarnate because they are then free of the cycle of suffering.
Some may say that monks are torturing themselves by denying themselves the pleasures in life. In truth, monks who truly understand Buddhism do not wish for those things because it is 'outside' to them. To them, a new house is the same as a new pair of shoes, all of which is of no importance.
Most Buddhists believe in reincarnation, and strive to achieve Nirvana (enlightenment) and thus get off the 'wheel of rebirth' (in other words, cease being reincarnated). This can be interpreted as "nonexistence," or as graduating to a higher plane of existence -- being reunited with the universe itself.
While generally classified as a religion, Buddhism is probably more accurately described as a spiritual path. However, many Buddhist sects contain strong religious elements.
Buddha himself told his disciples that understanding in Buddhism should be established through personal insight rather than faith or revelation.
Some modern Buddhists, especially in the West, do not accept the ideas of karma and rebirth (after death) at face value.