As we come to know it, there are five major religions in our world. For centuries, these five religions, namely Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism have dominated and influenced the world and its views in life, death, heaven, and earth. Now, the writer wishes to state on this paper the different key terms, main arguments, and assumptions of one of the most revered faiths on earth. But before anything else, perhaps we should go through an overview of the history of Buddhism and its founder. The general history of Buddhism started around 566-486 B. C.
The traditionally accepted founder of Buddhism is a man named Siddhartha Gautama. Around 486 B. C. , the first Buddhist Council at Rajagaha was formed. It is where the Buddhist Canon, as it still exists today was settled and preserved through oral tradition. Through the passing of centuries, different forms of Buddhism were developed and propagated throughout distant lands. One of the important highlights of the religion’s history is the founding of the Dalai Lama lineage of the Tibetan Buddhism during the 15th century (“A Timeline of Buddhist History: Major Events”).
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Today, Buddhism continues to thrive and according to Wikipedia, most estimates put its number of followers at around 310 million (Jones 2006) In relation to the founding of Buddhism, it is a widely accepted fact that Siddhartha Gautama is the founder of Buddhism. Born in luxury, Siddhartha was the son of a king hence making him prince. At the age of 29, Gautama left his palace to view his subjects. However, what he saw was despair that depressed him so. So one night, he escaped from his palace to live the life of a mendicant.
Thus started the Buddha’s long and fruitful life and the creation of the different principles and beliefs that would guide the ideology of Buddhism and influence world history (“Gautama Siddhattha Buddha”). An event that triggered Gautama’s quest for the truth is the one that happened when he left the palace at the age of 13. After seeing the four sights, which namely are an old man, a man with a disease, a corpse, and an ascetic, he became convinced that suffering in this world is inescapable and even all the riches of the world cannot add up to make a man truly happy and in peace (“Gautama Siddhattha Buddha”).
It is also Siddhartha’s experience that meditation alone cannot ease all the anxieties in a man’s mind. After studying with two teachers on meditation, he was not satisfied so he left. He realized that the only way to detach you from all the pain and suffering in this world is through overall tranquility. Buddha is also credited as the creator of the Four Noble Truths. The first of these noble truths is the Noble Truth of Suffering. According to this truth, life is full of suffering such as pain and grief.
Even in other religions, they share a common ground; that life is full of torment. According to the Second Noble Truth, which is the Truth of the Arising of Suffering, the agony that people experience is due to the Threefold Craving. The Threefold Craving, on the other hand, is what brings beings from birth to rebirth accompanied by lust and joy. These three craving are the sensual cravings, and the cravings for existence, and wealth and power. The Third Noble Truth, according to Buddha is the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering.
According to this truth, there is a way for suffering to stop and that is by giving up the Threefold Craving. And lastly, the Fourth Noble Truth is the Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering. It is in this Noble truth that the Eightfold Path is presented. This path is also known as the Middle Path because this path does not commit to the two extremes of self-mortification and sensual pleasure (“Gautama Siddhattha Buddha”). The Eightfold Path, or the Middle Path, is the principle that guides the followers of Buddhism in eliminating all suffering from his life.
The Eightfold Path is divided into three sections. The first section is called Sila. Sila pertains to the wholesome physical actions. Sila also stands for morality and refraining from objectionable actions of the body and speech. Included in Sila are three of the eight parts of the Eightfold Path. The first one is the Right Speech. In this right, the person should speak in a pleasant, truthful way. The second is the Right Actions wherein the person is taught to do good actions and to avoid doing things that may hurt or harm others.
The last part of this section is the Right Livelihood. In this right, the follower should always choose a means of livelihood that does not harm anyone including himself straightforwardly or not. The second section of the Eightfold Path is called Samadhi. Samadhi, according to Buddhism, is the mastery over a person’s own mind. Included in this division are another three rights of the Eightfold Path. The first of these three is the Right Effort or Exercise. This right concerns itself to the effort of the follower in improving his self.
The second in this section is the Right Mindfulness or Awareness wherein the mental ability to perceive things with clear consciousness is emphasized. And the third one on Samadhi is the Right Concentration or Meditation. It is in this right that awareness of the current reality that happens on self is realized. The absence of craving or aversion is also included in being aware to the reality in one’s life And lastly, the third section of the Eightfold Path is called the Prajna. Prajna is mainly concerned with wisdom that purifies the mind.
The last two rights of the Eightfold Path is included in this section. The first of the two is the Right Understanding. This right teaches that one should reality as what it really is and not just how it appears to be. The last of the rights is the Right Thoughts. In this right, an alteration in the pattern of thinking is taught. Different ways of interpreting the Eightfold Path exists. Some people believe that it is a series of progressive stages. This interpretation stresses out that the mastery of the first right will lead to the beginning of the mastery of the next right and so on.
Others believe that the Eightfold Path and its rights should be developed simultaneously (“The Eightfold Path”). According still to the Buddhist faith, Samsara is the cycle of birth, suffering and agony, death, and rebirth in which humans are bounded. But once a man becomes successful in grasping the Four Noble Truths and in following the Eightfold Path and eliminates all cravings from his life, it is when he experiences Bodhi. Bodhi is the awakening or enlightenment felt by Buddhas. It is also the time when greed, hate, and delusion are eradicated.
In addition to this, it is also the time in which Nirvana or “highest happiness” is attained. These are only some of the basic principles held by the Buddhist faith. The teachings and beliefs of Buddhism are too many to be mentioned in this paper. However, this paper wishes to analyze some of the beliefs of the aforementioned religion. As a world-leading faith with hundreds of millions of followers, Buddhism has influenced not only the faith of multitudes but world history as well. Aside from these, Buddhism has also played a part in the development of oriental art and architecture.
One of the strengths of the Buddhist religion is that their followers are not afraid to show that they are devoted to their belief. And being devoted to their belief has its own advantages. Because these followers adhere to their principles, it becomes better for them to be guided in their everyday lives and decisions. However, being too much devoted to the faith has its own disadvantages. Some people become too dependent on the principles that it starts to interfere with their normal lives.
However, we cannot comment on that issue since it is their own choice and therefore are responsible for their own actions. In Buddhism, there are no recognized gods but there is the Buddha or enlightened beings. In the teachings of Buddhism, it is emphasized that in able to reach true happiness, one must live a simple life. This life that they would live should be one of humility and righteousness. Only then would they achieve nirvana. In parallel with other faiths, especially in Christianity, it is also stressed out that in able to attain salvation, one must live in truthfulness and simplicity.
So this is why Christians, especially the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Church have their own monasteries where people could live in seclusion; far from all the temptations and sins of the Earth. It might be said that most religions, particularly the five leading ones, share the same principles of the need to do good to others and live in humbleness in able to attain salvation. Others believe that the foundations of Buddhism are vague and inaccurate. And still others criticize them for their unique nature.
But let us all remember that even though we share different faiths and beliefs, even though we are separated by cultural and spiritual diversity, some principles are still being shared. And one of those principles is to do the right thing and to never cause harm to anyone. I, as the writer, personally adhere to the belief that we should have religious tolerance. As long as our beliefs do not interfere or cause harm to anyone, then we should free to worship and believe what we desire. And above all, respect is what is needed in a society that prejudices and criticizes what they perceive as odd.
In spite of everything, we are all, in the broadest sense, humans, and therefore, equal. Works Cited "Gautama Siddhattha Buddha. " 12 Sept. 2007 <http://www. crystalinks. com/buddha. html>. Jones, Judy, and Wilson William. "Religion", An Incomplete Education. 3rd ed.. Ballantine Books, 2006. "The Eightfold Path. " 2000. About, Inc. , A part of. 12 Sept. 2007 <http://buddhism. about. com/library/bleightpath. htm>. "Timeline of Buddhist History: Major Events. " 12 Sept. 2007 <http://www. buddhanet. net/e learning/history/b_chron. htm>.
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