One is a Buddhist if he/she accepts the following truths:
- All compounded things are impermanent
- All emotions are pain
- All things have no inherent existence
- Nirvana is beyond concepts
These 4 statements spoken by the Buddha himself are known as the ‘4 Seals (or Hallmark that confirms authenticity)’. This is not to be confused with Buddhism’s 4 Noble Truths which pertain solely to aspects of suffering.
The 4 Seals are believed to encompass all of Budddhism, but people don’t seem to want to hear about them. There is nothing moralistic or ritualistic about the 4 Seals. They are secular truths based on wisdom and wisdom is the primary concern of a Buddhist. Morals and ethics are secondary. A few puffs of a cigarette and a little fooling around don’t prevent someone from becoming a Buddhist and that is not to say we have license to be wicked or immoral.
Wisdom comes from a mind that has what the Buddhists called ‘right view’. But one doesn’t even have to consider oneself a Buddhist to have right view. Ultimately it is this view that determines our motivation and action and that which guides us on the path of Buddhism.
If we can adopt wholesome behaviours in addition to the 4 Seals, it makes us even better Buddhist.
But what makes us not a Buddhist?
If you cannot accept that all compounded or fabricated things are impermanent, if you believe that there is some essential substance or concept that is permanent, then you are not a Buddhist
If you cannot accept that all emotions are pain. If you believe that actually some emotions are purely pleasurable, then you are not a Buddhist
If you cannot accept that all phenomena are illusory and empty and if you believe that certain things do exist inherently, then you are not a Buddhist
And if you think enlightenment exists within the spheres of time, space and power, then you are not a Buddhist