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History

What is Buddhism?

  • Buddhism is an Indian religion. It originated from ancient India sometime between 6th and 4th centuries BCE.
  • It has spread itself through much of Asia where after it declined in India during middle ages.
  • The two major extant branches of Buddhism are Theravada and Mahayana. It is the fourth largest religion in the world.
  • The religion is based on the exact nature of the path of liberation (Murti, 2013).
  • The practice includes taking refuge in the Buddha, The Dharma, And the Sanga.
  • Buddhism is a religion for more than 300 million people around the world.
  • The word has come from the word Budhi which means to awaken.
  • The religion has its origin about 2500 years ago. Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) awakened himself at the age of 35 years (Williams, 2008).
  • For many people Buddhism goes beyond a religion.
  • It is a way of living and the followers profess philosophy of “love of wisdom”
  • The path of Buddhism can be summed up as:
  • A direction for a moral life
  • To make an individual aware of thoughts and actions
  • To develop understanding and wisdom (Harvey, 2012).

History

  • Buddhism is one of the most important Asian spiritual traditions. Buddhism has gained a significant presence outside Asia in the recent time. Siddhartha Gautama was the founder and the leader of the sect. This sect is known as Sanga that distinguish it from the other similar communities. Siddhartha Gautama lived in India during the profound change in the society ((Almond, 2007). 
  • The authority of the Vedic religion was challenged by the number of new religion. The religion has gained popularity especially in the north India near the Ganges plains. Later after his death the knowledge provides by him became an important movement. Apparently it is one of the minor traditions in India and some scholars have proposed the impact of the religion.
  • The religion is limited in its approach due to limited written information. The Mauryan emperor Asoka ruled from 268 to 262 BCE turned the religion into national religion. He gave a favorable social and political climate for acceptance of Buddhism. He encourages the idea of Buddhist missionary activity. There is less archeological evidence in the support of the religion in the current situation (Rubin, 2013).

How it helps people?

  • Buddhism explains purpose of life and noticeable injustice and difference around the word. Buddhism provides a code of practice to lead a happy life. Buddhism sees life as a process of constant change. The practice aims to provide a change in an effective manner. It has developed itself as developing a positive state of mind (Powers, 2007).
  • Buddhist practice meditation and develop characteristic like being calm, aware and friendly. Awareness helps in development of meditation practices and help in understanding oneself. The religion does not coerce people to adopt forcibly.
  • The teachings are available for all those who want to follow the path of truth. Buddhism is seen as a path of enlightenment which creates awareness among people. It makes the path of enlightenment easy for all. From the point of view of Gautama the religion has a purpose to liberate each and every individual from sufferings. People will accomplish after following the path of enlightenment (Bapat, 2016).
  • The rise of Buddhism is closely related with the prevalent practices in the Brahamanical religion. The Brahamanical religion excessively became intolerant and became exclusive. The influence of time was an ideal reason for the spread of Buddhism. 6th century BC was the time when people were fed up of the complex rituals and superstition.
  • Buddhism is gaining popularity in the western countries due to numerous reasons (Wallace and Hodel, 2009). It gives an answer for many problems occurring in the materialistic society. It includes a deep understanding of human mind that helps in healing majority of issues. Simplicity of the religion attracted many people from different corner of the world.
  • The people who were already fed up with the Brahamanical manipulation wanted to adopt the religion due to simple doctrine and simple language. Buddha believed in spreading messages in simple language. The religion attracted masses due to its simple philosophy and pleasing messages (Chang, 2013).

Who was Buddha?

  • The word Buddha is a title that means one who is awake. Siddhartha Gautama was born in a royal family in Lumbini. He grew up in Kapilavastu. Gautama was born as a Kshatriya in the Kingdom of Kosala. He professed that wealth and luxury cannot guarantee happiness. He explores different teaching and religious philosophies to ensure happiness (Keown, 2013).
  • After a thorough study for a year, he found a middle path of enlightenment. He spent rest of his life in teaching different disciple of Buddhism. The concept of suffering prompted question of life in Siddhartha. Finally he felt impelled and left the palace to follow the traditional path of the wandering holy man. He became adept to meditation & took up ascetic practices.
  • The concept was based on free spirit. He practiced the path of austerities and almost starved to death. The principles were very well called as Dhamma or truth. He died at the age of 80 years (Suzuki, 2010).

Was Buddha a god?

  • No, he was a man who taught a path of enlightenment from his own experience. He never claimed to be a god. Buddha like a modern sociologist and psychologist believed that religious ideas and the idea of god originates from fear. According to him people do create an idea of god due to fear in their mind.
  • Buddha taught each individual to understand their fear and response in an ideal way to their fear. Buddha has taught to understand one’s fear and to lessen their desires and to fight calmly and courageously in order to adopt changes (Lopez Jr, 2009). He replaced fear with a rational understanding by replacing the irrational thoughts.
  • Secondly there is no strong evidence that supports existence of god. According to the religion there is no strong proof that establishes any concrete, substantial unquestionable evidence. Buddhist suspend such evidence is forthcoming. Few think that it is not necessary to believe in god. The religion does not profess that the overall purpose of existence of god is an unnecessary concept. Hence it is clear that Buddha was not a god as per the concept of Buddhism (Keown, 2016).

Do Buddhist worship idol

  • It is customary amongst the Buddhist to keep an image of Buddha to pay respect. Te concept of revering the image is to evoke that the great man actually lived in this world. The worship of the Buddha is to pay homage and devotion to him. The image is a visual aid that allows an individual to pay respect and to recall this to coming generations. The concept of religion is to support peace, tranquility and enables individual to devote themselves.  Buddhist pays respect to the images of Buddha. They do not either worship or ask for favors. A statute of Buddha reminds them to strive to develop peace and love. The principle to bow down in front of a statue is to pay respect (Queen, 2012).
  • There are many different types of Buddhism followed in different part of the world. But it needs to be considered that the basic principle of the religion is to profess path of truth (Coomaraswamy, 2011).

Is Buddhism Scientific?

  • Buddhism and science are often discussed as compatible. The philosophic and psychological teaching shares commonalities with modern scientific and philosophic thoughts. Some of the famous concept of Buddhism is similar to the scientific concept of evolution, quantum theory and cosmology.
  • The religion encourages the impartial investigation Science is the knowledge based study that depends upon seeing ad testing facts. The core practice of Buddhism is related to four noble truths (Faure, 2009). It can be tested by anyone who follows or do not follow it. The whole purpose of Buddhism is to test the teaching rather than accepting it.
  • The religion is more related with understanding the faith. The religion is described as one of the rational and non-dogmatic religion. All the proofs related to the religion are based on the scientific research. It gives more focus on the modern times and possesses effective combination. Kalama Sutta includes a proper assessment of evidence and rather base on the faith (Lopez Jr, 2015).

Teaching of Buddha

  • The original teaching of Buddhism is related to the historical knowledge given by Siddhartha. The original teaching is called as the Buddha Vacana. These sources have given rise to different concept and arguments. The teaching has passed down over the period in the form of oral teaching and writing.
  • During this time they have codified the religion in order to provide an effective knowledge to an individual. Academics are in disagreement with the overall concept of original source teaching. Various different traditions and scriptures arose later. Buddha taught many things but the basic concept of Buddhism is summed up by the four Noble truths and the noble eightfold path (Flanagan, 2011).
  • The first truth is related to sufferings. It establishes a fact that life includes pain, getting old, disease and ultimate path. There are other parts of suffering life loneliness, frustration etc. these are irrefutable facts that cannot be denied. All these are the realistic situations in one’s life. Buddhism teaches the path to avoid suffering caused in life. This is one of the most skillful teachings that promote a simple formula that is easy to remember.  It applies to everything one does possibly to experience deeds done in the past, present or in future.
  • Suffering is the common bond faced by every individual. The first noble truth has three concepts that are related to: there is suffering, suffering should be understood and the dukha need to be understood. The thought can only penetrate if one is ready to understand the purpose of suffering that includes vision, insight, wisdom, knowing (Prebish, 2010).
  • Most of the sufferings are caused due to craving and hatred. People generally suffer when they expect from other people. In other words expecting others to like you doesn’t guarantees happiness. Rather than struggling for happiness one should control his wants. A lifetime of wanting and craving causes creation of powerful energy which causes the individual to born.
  • Craving causes physical suffering as well. The craving in an individual causes excess pressures which is accompanied by relish, lust and craving. The desires for more are one of the core reason causing majorities of problems. The noble truth arises after abandoning the origin of sufferings.  The origin of suffering is attached to the desires.  The only possibility to attain effective results is through letting go. The attachment to materialistic objects has caused majority of issues in individuals (King, 2009).
  • The overall aim of developing Buddhist teaching is to develop a reflective mind. The purpose is to let go delusions in order to understand various different concept of life. The mental state of an individual is important. The worldly attachment creates more suffering in an individual. These insights can only develop through effective knowledge and learning process.  The mind needs to be developed to be receptive. 
  • The purpose of the religion is to liberate an individual from the attachments. Liberating the brain from the worldly attachment helps attaining life goals easily. The sufferings can be overcome and happiness can be attained. True happiness can be attained if one give up unless craving and learn to live each day at a time in this way one can become happy and free. In this way one have more time and energy t help other people this path is called as Nirvana (Albahari, 2016).
  • The final noble truth is the Buddha prescription for the end of sufferings. Fourth truth is the path that leads to end of suffering i.e. Noble 8-fold Path. The eight stages are connected with the path of enlightenment.
  • As per Buddha the path of Enlightenment is more related to reaching the destination through the path of enlightenment. The purpose is to attain wisdom by understanding the purpose of wisdom, ethical conduct, meditation and concentration. Developing mental awareness is one of the most important aspects of the religion.
  • The path is related to being moral that focus on the mind and being fully aware of actions and developing compassion for others. This will help in attaining the path of wisdom and truth.
  • Right understanding
  • Right intention
  • Right speech
  • Right action
  • Right livelihood
  • Right efforts
  • Right mindfulness
  • Right concentration (De Silva, 2016)

What are 5 percepts?

  • The moral code of Buddhism is the percepts. The major 5 percepts are:
  • Not to take the life of anything living
  • Not to take anything not freely given
  • To withdraw from sexual misconduct and sensual intemperance
  • To refrain from untrue speech
  • To avoid intoxication, that is, losing mindfulness.

What is karma?

  • Karma is the law that is based on cause and effect relationship. This law is related with number of actions in the world. This is relating with the inequality in the world, why few are handicapped and few are gifted.  Why some live a short life. The concept underlines the significance of deed and one’s responsibility for his actions. It can be summed up as: the intention behind the action, effects of the action on oneself, and the effects on others.
  • The Buddha teaching of Karma is not strictly deterministic but depends upon the different circumstances. There is no set of linear relationship that exists between a particular action and its results. The effects of karma are not determined by the deed itself but also through the nature of the person who commits the deeds.
     Karma is not as similar to fate or predestination.   It is all related with the natural process that is caused due to one’s deed.  Unjust behavior with an individual leads to unfavorable circumstances which will create unjust situations in future. The concept of Karma is to prevent unjust behavior (Sahni, 2007).

What is Wisdom?

  • Buddhism is based on the wisdom and concept of compassion. At one extreme one can be a good fool hearted person on the other extreme he can attain knowledge without any emotion. Buddhism is based on the middle path.
  • The highest wisdom is in relation with the reality. It is related with the phenomenon that everything in this world is impermanent. True wisdom is not related with believing what is told by others but to test through experiencing and understanding the reality.
  • Wisdom is based on open, objective and unbigoted mind. The path of Buddhism encourages patience, intelligence and flexibility.

What is compassion?

  • Karuna is generally translated as compassion. It is one of the important concepts in the schools of Buddhism. It is related with attaining a happy present life and heavenly rebirth. Compassion is related with the qualities of sharing and readiness to give comfort, sympathy and concern.
  • Buddhism is all related with understanding ourselves and others through compassion. It is a co requisite for becoming a bodhisattva. Moved by compassion Bodhisattva has to take a vow to liberate all sentiments.  It is the only root through which one can attain the path of enlightenment (Hagen, 2011).

Conclusion

Buddhism is a religion that is based on the real life theories. The religion holds no bias towards any other religion. The doctrine within the religion professes humanity. The motto of the religion is to let go the selfish motives and intention. The purpose is to make every individual realize enlightenment. The path of Buddhism can be summed up as: A direction for a moral life and to make an individual aware of thoughts and actions. As a fourth largest religion in the world, it enlightens followers through the teaching by Buddha. The purpose is to attain wisdom by understanding the purpose of wisdom, ethical conduct, meditation and concentration.

References

Albahari, M., 2016. Analytical Buddhism: The two-tiered illusion of self. Springer.

Almond, P.C., 2007. The British Discovery of Buddhism. Cambridge University Press.

Bapat, P.V., 2016. 2500 years of Buddhism. Publications Division Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.

Chang, G.C., 2013. The Buddhist teaching of totality: the philosophy of Hwa Yen Buddhism. Routledge.

Coomaraswamy, A.K., 2011. Hinduism and Buddhism. Golden Elixir Press.

De Silva, P., 2016. Environmental philosophy and ethics in Buddhism. Springer.

Faure, B., 2009. The power of denial: Buddhism, purity, and gender. Princeton University Press.

Flanagan, O., 2011. The Bodhisattva's Brain: Buddhism Naturalized. MIT Press.

Hagen, S., 2011. Buddhism plain and simple. Tuttle Publishing.

Harvey, P., 2012. An introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, history and practices. Cambridge University Press.

Keown, D., 2013. Buddhism: A very short introduction(Vol. 3). Oxford University Press.

Keown, D., 2016. Buddhism and bioethics. Springer.

King, S.B., 2009. Socially Engaged Buddhism. University of Hawaii Press.

Lopez Jr, D.S., 2009. Buddhism and science: A guide for the perplexed. University of Chicago Press.

Lopez Jr, D.S., 2015. Buddhism in Practice:(Abridged Edition). Princeton University Press.

Murti, T.R.V., 2013. The central philosophy of Buddhism: A study of the Madhyamika system. Routledge.

Powers, J., 2007. Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism. Shambhala.

Prebish, C.S. ed., 2010. Buddhism: a modern perspective. Penn State Press.

Queen, C.S. ed., 2012. Engaged Buddhism in the west. Simon and Schuster.

Rubin, J.B., 2013. Psychotherapy and Buddhism: Toward an integration. Springer Science & Business Media.

Sahni, P., 2007. Environmental ethics in Buddhism: a virtues approach. Routledge.

Suzuki, D.T., 2010. Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism. Lulu. com.

Wallace, B.A. and Hodel, B., 2009. Contemplative science: Where Buddhism and neuroscience converge. Columbia University Press.

Williams, P., 2008. Mahayana Buddhism: the doctrinal foundations. Routledge.

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