Becoming a Buddhist is the easiest thing. What you only do is to accept and take refuge in the Triple Gem (Three Refuges) and observe the five training guidelines.
The first Gem is the Buddha—you take refuge in the Buddha as a quality of Enlightenment and truth; the second Gem is Dhamma—the truth or simply nature; and the third Gem is Sangha—which is the community of monks and nuns. Sangha also includes the four great followers of the Buddha; monks, nuns, and the two laities, males and females.
The five training guidelines (precepts) include;
- Abstaining from killing a living being
- Abstinence from taking what is not given to you (stealing)
- Abstinence from sexual misconduct
- Abstinence from telling lies, speaking harshly, slandering. In other words, this precepts implies being truthful in your speech.
- Abstinence from taking intoxicating drugs or substances such as alcohol, marijuana etc., because they lead to heedlessness.
Buddhism is rested upon four pillars (the Four Noble Truths) which the Buddha was awakened to. The Four Noble Truths are the foundation stones of Buddhism, and the Buddha encourages that we must strive diligently to understand them at an experiential level. They include;
- Suffering: the Buddha found out that as long as we are born in this world, we go through a lot of pain. Pain or suffering can be physical disease or mental illness such as stress, anger, greed, anxiety, fear, worry, etc. Therefore, we must diligently strive to understand suffering as suffering.
- Cause: in the second Noble Truth, the Buddha teaches the underlying cause of suffering which include; greed, aversion and delusion. These are the major reasons why you are not happy. So we must strive hard to eradicate greed, hatred and delusion from our mind in order to attain ultimate peace and happiness.
- Cessation to suffering: despite the fact that there is suffering in the world, we can bring it to end by way of practicing or walking the middle path.
- Noble Eightfold Path: the middle path that lead to deathless and to the total eradication of greed, hatred and delusion.
The Noble Eightfold path is categorically divided into three training guidelines to make it simpler to apply in our day today life. These include; the practice of morality—which is simply an expression of our goodness; the practice of mental concentration—guiding our thoughts properly; and the practice of wisdom—to understand the laws of nature. These are the basis of the entire Buddhist spiritual path.
It is a big mistake to say Buddhists worship idols. Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha is the founder of Buddhism. He became awakened to the Dhamma (the teaching) through his own efforts without the help of any special powers. To such a being, Buddhists pay their respects and admirations to express their gratitude for the invaluable teaching he left them. Like you kept a photo of your father or mother, or anybody who was so inspirational to you. Their images remind you of the great lessons, and wonderful experiences you had with them. They left a big footprint in your mind.
Therefore, Buddhists bow down to the Buddha to express their gratitude and humbleness to their master, not in form of asking for favors or taking him as their creator.