The History Of Buddhism

Soon after Buddha’s death or parinirvana, five hundred monks met at the first council at Rajagrha, under the leadership of Kashyapa. Upali recited the monastic code, Vinaya, as he remembered it. Ananda, Buddha’s cousin, friend, and favorite disciple, and a man of prodigious memory, recited Buddha’s lessons, the Sutras. The monks debated details and voted on final versions. These were then committed to memory by other monks, to be translated into the many languages of the Indian plains.

It should be noted that Buddhism remained an oral tradition for over 200 years after the first council, for the simple reason that India did not as yet have an alphabet. In the next few centuries, the original unity of Buddhism began to fragment. The most significant split occurred after the second council, held at Vaishali 100 years after the first. After debates between a more liberal group and traditionalists, the liberal group left and labeled themselves the Mahasangha, “the great sangha. ” They would eventually evolve into the Mahayana tradition of northern Asia.

The traditionalists, now referred to as Sthaviravada, “way of the elders” or, in Pali, Theravada, developed a complex set of philosophical ideas beyond those elucidated by Buddha. These were collected into the Abhidharma or “higher teachings. ” But they, too, encouraged disagreements, so that one splinter group after another left the fold. Ultimately, 18 schools developed, each with their own interpretations of various issues, and spread all over India and Southeast Asia. Today, only the school stemming from the Sri Lankan Theravadan survives.

One of the most significant events in the history of Buddhism is the chance encounter of the monk Nigrodha and the emperor Ashoka Maurya. Ashoka, succeeding his father after a bloody power struggle in 268 bc, found himself deeply disturbed by the carnage he caused while suppressing a revolt in the land of the Kalingas. Meeting Nigrodha convinced Emperor Ashoka to devote himself to peace. On his orders, thousands of rock pillars were erected, bearing the words of the Buddha, in the new brahmi script, the first written evidence of Buddhism.

The third council of monks was held at Pataliputra, the capital of Ashoka’s empire. There is a story that tells about a poor young boy who, having nothing to give the Buddha as a gift, collected a handful of dust and innocently presented it. The Buddha smiled and accepted it with the same graciousness he accepted the gifts of wealthy admirers. That boy, it is said, was reborn as the Emperor Ashoka. Ashoka sent missionaries all over India and beyond. Some went as far as Egypt, Palestine, and Greece. St. Origen even mentions them as having reached Britain.

The Greeks of one of the Alexandrian kingdoms of northern India adopted Buddhism, after their King Menandros was convinced by a monk named Nagasena, the conversation immortalized in the Milinda Panha. A Kushan king of north India named Kanishka was also converted, and a council was held in Kashmir in about 100 ad. Greek Buddhists there recorded the Sutras on copper sheets which, unfortunately, were never recovered. It is interesting to note that there is a saint in Orthodox Christianity named Josaphat, an Indian king whose story is essentially that of the Buddha. Josaphat is thought to be a distortion of the word bodhisattva.

Emperor Ashoka sent one of his sons, Mahinda, and one of his daughters, Sanghamitta, a monk and a nun, to Sri Lanka, Ceylon, around the year 240 bc. The king of Sri Lanka, King Devanampiyatissa, welcomed them and was converted. One of the gifts they brought with them was a branch of the bodhi tree, which was successfully transplanted. The descendants of this branch can still be found on the island. The fourth council was held in Sri Lanka, in the Aloka Cave, in the first century bc. During this time as well, and for the first time, the entire set of Sutras were recorded in the Pali language on palm leaves.

This became Theravada’s Pali Canon, from which so much of our knowledge of Buddhism stems. It is also called the Tripitaka, or three baskets. The three sections of the canon are the Vinaya Pitaka, the monastic law, the Sutta Pitaka, words of the Buddha, and the Abhidamma Pitaka, the philosophical commentaries. In a very real sense, Sri Lanka’s monks may be credited with saving the Theravada tradition. Although it had spread once from India all over southeast Asia, it had nearly died out due to competition from Hinduism and Islam, as well as war and colonialism.

Theravada monks spread their tradition from Sri Lanka to Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Laos, and from these lands to Europe and the west generally. Mahayana began in the first century bc, as a development of the Mahasangha rebellion. Their more liberal attitudes toward monastic tradition allowed the lay community to have a greater voice in the nature of Buddhism. For better or worse, the simpler needs of the common folk were easier for the Mahayanists to meet. For example, the people were used to gods and heroes. So, the Trikaya, three bodies, doctrine came into being.

Not only was Buddha a man who became enlightened, he was also represented by various god-like Buddhas in various appealing heavens, as well as by the Dharma itself, or Shunyata, emptiness, or Buddha-Mind, depending on which interpretation we look at, sort of a Buddhist Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. More important, however, was the increased importance of the Bodhisattva. A Bodhisattva is someone who has attained enlightenment, but who chooses to remain in this world of Samsara in order to bring others to enlightenment. He is a lot like a saint, a spiritual hero, for the people to admire and appeal to.

Along with new ideas came new scriptures. Also called Sutras, they are often attributed to Buddha himself, sometimes as special transmissions that Buddha supposedly felt were too difficult for his original listeners and therefore were hidden until the times were ripe. The most significant of these new Sutras are these: Prajnaparamita or Perfection of Wisdom, an enormous collection of often esoteric texts, including the famous Heart Sutra and Diamond Sutra. The earliest known piece of printing in the world is, in fact, a copy of the Diamond Sutra, printed in China in 868 ad.

Suddharma-pundarika or White Lotus of the True Dharma, also often esoteric, includes the Avalokiteshwara Sutra, a prayer to that Bodhisattva. Vimalakirti-nirdesha or Vimalakirti’s Exposition, is the teachings of and stories about the enlightened householder Vimalakirti. Shurangama-samadhi or Hero’s Sutra, provides a guide to meditation, shunyata, and the bodhisattva. It is most popular among Zen Buddhists Sukhavati-vyuha or Pure Land Sutra, is the most important Sutra for the Pure Land Schools of Buddhism. The Buddha tells Ananda about Amitabha and his Pure Land or heaven, and how one can be reborn there.

There are many, many others. Finally, Mahayana is founded on two new philosophical interpretations of Buddhism, Madhyamaka and Yogachara. Madhyamaka means “the middle way. ” You may recall that Buddha himself called his way the middle way in his very first sermon. He meant, at that time, the middle way between the extremes of hedonistic pleasure and extreme asceticism. But he may also have referred to the middle way between the competing philosophies of eternalism and annihilationism, the belief that the soul exists forever and that the soul is annihilated at death.

Between materialism and nihilism, an Indian monk by the name of Nagarjuna took this idea and expanded on it to create the philosophy that would be known as Madhyamaka, in a book called the Mulamadhyamaka-karika, written about 150 ad. Basically a treatise on logical argument, it concludes that nothing is absolute, everything is relative, nothing exists on its own, everything is interdependent. All systems, beginning with the idea that each thing is what it is and not something else, Aristotle’s law of the excluded middle, wind up contradicting themselves.

Rigorous logic, in other words, leads one away from all systems, and to the concept of shunyata. Shunyata means emptiness. This doesn’t mean that nothing exists. It means that nothing exists in and of itself, but only as a part of a universal web of being. This would become a central concept in all branches of Mahayana. Of course, it is actually a restatement of the central Buddhist concepts of anatman, anitya, and dukkha. The second philosophical innovation, Yogachara, is credited to two brothers, Asanga and Vasubandhu, who lived in India in the 300’s ad.

They elaborated earlier movements in the direction of the philosophy of idealism or chitta-matra. Chitta-matra means literally mind only. Asanga and Vasubandhu believed that everything that exists is mind or consciousness. What we think of as physical things are just projections of our minds, delusions or hallucinations, if you like. To get rid of these delusions, we must meditate, which for the Yogachara school means the creation of pure consciousness, devoid of all content. In that way, we leave our deluded individual minds and join with the universal mind, or Buddha-mind.

The last innovation was less philosophical and far more practical, Tantra. Tantra refers to certain writings which are concerned, not with philosophical niceties, but with the basic how-to of enlightenment, and not just with enlightenment in several rebirths, but enlightenment here-and-now. In order to accomplish this feat, dramatic methods are needed, ones which, to the uninitiated, may seem rather bizarre. Tantra was the domain of the siddhu, the adept, someone who knows the secrets, a magician in the ways of enlightenment.

Tantra involves the use of various techniques, including the well-known mandalas, mantras, and mudras. ndalas are paintings or other representations of higher awareness, usually in the form of a circular pattern of images, which may provide the focus of one-pointed meditation. Mantras are words or phrases that serve the same purpose, such as the famous “Om mani padme hum. ” Mudras are hand positions that symbolize certain qualities of enlightenment. Less well known are the yidams. A yidam is the image of a god or goddess or other spiritual being, either physically represented or, more commonly, imagined clearly in the mind’s eye.

Again, these represent archetypal qualities of enlightenment, and one-pointed meditation on these complex images lead the adept to his or her goal. These ideas would have enormous impact on Mahayana. They are not without critics, however, Madhyamaka is sometimes criticized as word-play, and Yogachara is criticized as reintroducing atman, eternal soul or essence, to Buddhism. Tantra has been most often criticized, especially for its emphasis on secret methods and strong devotion to a guru.

Nevertheless, these innovations led to a renewed flurry of activity in the first half of the first millenium, and provided the foundation for the kinds of Buddhism we find in China, Tibet, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and elsewhere in east Asia. Legend has it that the Chinese Emperor Ming Ti had a dream which led him to send his agents down the Silk Road, the ancient trade route between China and the west, to discover its meaning. The agents returned with a picture of the Buddha and a copy of the Sutra in 42 Sections. This Sutra would, in 67 ad, be the first of many to be translated into Chinese.

The first Buddhist community in China is thought to be one in Loyang, established by “foreigners” around 150 ad, in the Han dynasty. Only 100 years later, there emerges a native Chinese Sangha. And during the Period of Disunity, or Era of the Warring States, 220 to 589 ad, the number of Buddhist monks and nuns increase to as many as two million. Apparently, the uncertain times and the misery of the lower classes were fertile ground for the monastic traditions of Buddhism. Buddhism did not come to a land innocent of religion and philosophy, of course.

China, in fact, had three main competing streams of thought; Confucianism, Taoism, and folk religion. Confucianisim is essentially a moral-political philosophy, involving a complex guide to human relationships. Taoism is a life-philosophy involving a return to simpler and more “natural” ways of being. And the folk religion, or religions, consisted of rich mythologies, superstitions, astrology, reading of entrails, magic, folk medicine, and so on. Although these various streams sometimes competed with each other and with Buddhism, they also fed each other, enriched each other, and intertwined with each other.

Over time, the Mahayana of India became the Mahayana of China and, later, of Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. The first example historically is Pure Land Buddhism. The peasants and working people of China were used to gods and goddesses, praying for rain and health, worrying about heaven and hell, and so on. It wasn’t a great leap to find in Buddhism’s cosmology and theology the bases for a religious tradition that catered to these needs and habits, while still providing a sophisticated philosophical foundation.

The idea of this period of time as a fallen or inferior time, traditional in China, led to the idea that we are no longer able to reach enlightenment on our own power, but must rely on the intercession of higher beings. The transcendent Buddha Amitabha, and his western paradise, “pure land”, introduced in the Sukhavati-vyuha Sutra, was a perfect fit. Another school that was to be particularly strongly influenced by Chinese thought was the Meditation School, Dhyana, Ch’an, Son, or Zen. Tradition has the Indian monk Bodhidharma coming from the west to China around 520 ad.

It was Bodhidharma, it is said, who carried the Silent Transmission to become the First Patriarch of the Ch’an School in China. From the very beginning, Buddha had had reservations about his ability to communicate his message to the people. Words simply could not carry such a sublime message. So, on one occasion, while the monks around him waited for a sermon, he said absolutely nothing. He simply held up a flower. the monks, of course, were confused, except for Kashyapa, who understood and smiled. The Buddha smiled back, and thus the Silent Transmission began.

Zen Buddhism focuses on developing the immediate awareness of Buddha-mind through meditation on emptiness. It is notorious for its dismissal of the written and spoken word and occasionally for his rough-house antics. It should be understood, however, that there is great reverence for the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, even when they are ostensibly ignoring, poking fun, or even turning them upside-down. Zen has contributed its own literature to the Buddhist melting-pot, including The Platform Sutra, written by Hui Neng, the Sixth Patriarch, around 700 ad.

The Blue Cliff Record, written about 1000 ad. , and The Gateless Gate, written about 1200 ad. And we shouldn’t forget the famous Ten Ox-Herding Pictures that many see as containing the very essence of Zen’s message. During the Sui dynasty and T’ang dynasty, Chinese Buddhism experienced what is referred to as the “blossoming of schools. ” The philosophical inspirations of the Madhyamaka and Yogachara, as well as the Pure Land and Ch’an Sutras, interacting with the already sophisticated philosophies of Confucianism and Taoism, led to a regular renaissance in religious and philosophical thought.

We find the Realistic School, based on the “all things exist” Hinayana School; the Three-Treatises School, based on Madhyamaka; the Idealist School, based on Yogachara; the Tantric School; the Flower Adornment School, which attempted to consolidate the various forms; and the White Lotus School, which focused on the Lotus Sutra. All the Chinese Schools had their representatives in neighboring countries. Korea was to develop its own powerful form of Ch’an called Son. Vietnam developed a form of Ch’an that incorporated aspects of Pure Land and Hinayana.

But it was Japan that would have a field day with Chinese Buddhism, and pass the Mahayana traditions on to the US and the west generally. Again, we begin with the legendary. A delegation arrived from Korea with gifts for the Emperor of Japan in 538 ad. , including a bronze Buddha and various Sutras. Unfortunately a plague led the Emperor to believe that the traditional gods of Japan were annoyed, so he had the gifts thrown into a canal. But the imperial court on the 600’s, in their constant effort to be as sophisticated as the courts of their distinguished neighbors, the Chinese, continued to be drawn to Buddhism.

Although starting as a religion of the upper classes, in the 900’s, Pure Land entered the picture as the favorite of the peasant and working classes. And in the 1200’s, Ch’an, relabeled Zen, came into Japan, where it was enthusiastically adopted by, among others, the warrior class or Samurai. Zen was introduced into Japan by two particularly talented monks who had gone to China for their educations, Eisai brought Lin-chi Ch’an, with its koans and occasionally outrageous antics; Dogen brought the more sedate Ts’ao-tung Ch’an. In addition, Dogen is particularly admired for his massive treatise, the Shobogenzo.

Ch’an has always had an artistic side to it. In China and elsewhere, a certain simple, elegant style of writing and drawing developed among the monks. In Japan, this became an even more influential aspect of Zen. We have, for example, the poetry, calligraphy, and paintings of various monks; Bankei , Basho, Hakuin, and Ryokan. One last Japanese innovation is usually attributed to a somewhat unorthodox monk named Nichiren. Having been trained in the Tendai or White Lotus tradition, he came to believe that the Lotus Sutra carried all that was necessary for Buddhist life. More than that, he believed that even the name of the Sutra was enough.

So he encouraged his students to chant this mantra, Namu-myoho-renge-kyo, which means “homage to the Lotus Sutra. ” This practice alone would ensure enlightenment in this life. In fact, he insisted, all other forms of Buddhism were worthless. Needless to say, this was not appreciated by the Buddhist powers of the day. He spent the rest of his life exiled to a remote island. The Nichiren School nevertheless proved to be one of the most successful forms of Buddhism on the planet. Finally, let’s turn out attention to the most mysterious site of Buddhism’s history, Tibet.

Its first encounter with Buddhism occurred in the 700’s ad, when a Tantric master, Guru Rinpoche, came from India to battle the demons of Tibet for control. The demons submitted, but they remained forever a part of Tibetan Buddhism, as its protectors. During the 800’s and 900’s, Tibet went through a “dark age,” during which Buddhism suffered something of a setback. But, in the 1000’s, it returned in force. And in 1578, the Mongol overlords named the head of the Gelug School the Dalai Lama, meaning “guru as great as the ocean. ” The title was made retroactive to two earlier heads of the school.

The fifth Dalai Lama is noted for bringing all of Tibet under his religious and political control. The lineage continues down to the present 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, born 1935. In 1989, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts on behalf of his people and nation, which had been taken over by the Communist Chinese in 1951. It was in the latter half of the 1800’s that Buddhism first came to be known in the west. The great European colonial empires brought the ancient cultures of India and China back to the attention of the intellectuals of Europe.

Scholars began to learn Asian languages and translate Asian texts. Adventurers explored previously shut-off places and recorded the cultures. Religious enthusiasts enjoyed the exotic and mystical tone of the Asian traditions. In England, for example, societies sprang up for devotees of “orientalia,” such as T. W. Rhys Davids’ Pali Text Society and T. Christmas Humphreys’ Buddhist Society. Books were published, such as Sir Edwin Arnold’s epic poem The Light of Asia. And the first western monks began to make themselves know, such as Allan Bennett, perhaps the very first, who took the name Ananda Metteya.

In Germany and France as well, Buddhism was the rage. In the United States, there was a similar flurry of interest. First of all, thousands of Chinese immigrants were coming to the west coast in the late 1800’s, many to provide cheap labor for the railroads and other expanding industries. Also, on the east coast, intellectuals were reading about Buddhism in books by Europeans. One example was Henry Thoreau, who, among other things, translated a French translation of a Buddhist Sutra into English.

A renewal of interest came during World War II, during which many Asian Buddhists, such as the Zen author D. T. Suzuki, came to England and the U. S. , and many European Buddhists, such as the Zen author Alan Watts, came to the U. S. As these examples suggest, Zen Buddhism was particularly popular, especially in the U. S. , where it became enmeshed in the Beatnik artistic and literary movement as “Beat Zen. ” One by one, European and Americans who studied in Asia returned with their knowledge and founded monasteries and societies, Asian masters came to Europe and America to found monasteries, and the Asian immigrant populations from China, Japan, Vietnam and elsewhere, quietly continued their Buddhist practices.

Today, it is believed that there are more than 300 million Buddhists in the world, including at least a quarter million in Europe, and a half million each in North and South America. I say “at least” because other estimates go as high as three million in the U. S. alone. Whatever the numbers may be, Buddhism is the third largest religion in the world, after Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. And, although it has suffered considerable setbacks over the centuries, it seems to be attracting more and more people, as a religion or a philosophy of life.

Buddhism and Siddhartha Gautama

Buddhism has a very long drawn out origination starting in about 565 B. C. with the birth of Siddhartha Gautama. The religion has guide lines in two forms in which Buddhist followers must follow the “Four Noble Truths” and the “Eightfold Path” There are many aspects of this religion that can be explored but the one that is most interesting seems to be it origination and it’s beliefs. In about 565 B. C. Siddhartha Gautama was born, a young Indian prince born to the ruler of a small kingdom that is now known as Nepal.

Gautama’s birth is described as a miraculous event, his birth being the result f his mother’s impregnation by a sacred white elephant that touched her left side with a lotus flower. The scriptures claim that when Gautama was born “immeasurable light spread through ten thousand worlds; the blind recovering their sight, as if from desire to see his glory” After birth the future Buddha (Gautama) supposedly talked and walked while lotus leafs formed in his footprints. Gautama’s father was said to have been told his son’s destiny for greatness, either as an emperor or as a religious leader.

Therefore Gautama’s father decided to isolate his son from the outside world, where he might “see how he other half lived” and maybe even be tempted to belong to a different religion. pg 141 “What man Believes” Evans, Allan E. , Moynes, Riley E. , Martinello, Larry Since the complete seclusion as Gautama’s father had wished was impossible and Gautama was a curious young man he did venture out and that is when he eventually say the four sights, which would, if experienced as it had been told to Gautama’s father, lead the young prince to a religious life.

These sights or as how Buddhist refer to them “The Four Signs” were in turn, a sick man covered with terrible sores, an old man, a corpse, and a andering monk. The sightings of these men made Gautama think of the suffering and inevitable death which comes to all people great and small. This brought further questioning such as the meaning of life and the ultimate fate of man. As time passed these thoughts became great burdens upon Gautama and he increasingly became dissatisfied with the shallow dissolute life of the royal court in which he lived.

Therefore at the age of 21, although married with a beautiful young son and also the heir to a very rich throne he forsook it all and became a travelling holy man. After a while of travelling as a holy man there was a great even that transformed Gautama into the Buddha (or the Enlightened One). It all began at dusk on Gautama’s thirty-fifth birthday. While sitting under a tree it is said that he thought a break through was obvious and here again is where the legend takes over.

It says that the evil one, Mara tempests him with beautiful Goddesses and attacked him with tempests, flaming rocks and other devices, all of which Gautama blocked himself from. Eventually at dawn Gautama finally realized the essential truth about life and about the path to salvation. Because f this Gautama then became the Buddha and remained this spot for many days while remaining in a trance-like state for many weeks.

This experience made Gautama feel a desire to share his knowledge with others and he did so very well, as a preacher and a teacher until his death in about 483 B. C. Buddhism is a lot like other Indian religions based upon the beliefs. Such as the beliefs in reincarnation, dharma, karma and Nirvana. But mostly in Raja Yoga the profound meditation which holds the key to enlightment and therefore to the salvation of Nirvana. Buddha himself expressed the base of his beliefs when he said “I each only 2 things, O disciples, the fact of suffering and the possibility of escape from suffering. These ideas are expanded upon in the “Four Noble Truths” and the “Eightfold Path”.

The “Four Noble Truths” can be summarized by saying, life is suffering (dukkha), the cause of suffering is desire (tanha) the way to end suffering is to overcome desire, and to overcome desire on must follow the “Eightfold Path” Buddha taught that man is a slave to his ego . That man wishes happiness, security, success, long life, and many other things for himself and his loved ones. However, pain, frustration, sickness and death are all inevitable and the only way to eliminate these evils is to overcome desire.

The “Eight Fold Path” is a little more difficult to summarize it begins with, “Right to Knowledge”, which means basically the four noble truths. “Right Aims” in next, one must resolve in order to make progress towards salvation. pg 146 “What Man Believes” Evans, Allan E. , Moynes, Riley E. , Martinello, Larry “Right Speech”, our speech reflects our character. We must avoid speaking falsely, obscene, slanderous, and belittling words. Right Conduct”, you must follow the five constitutes at the core of Buddhism’s moral code which are, no killing, no stealing, no lying, no committing indecent sexual acts or no consuming of intoxicants.

Right Livelihood”, some jobs are condemned by Buddha such as slave dealer, butcher, prostitute, and traders of lethal weapons and substances. “Right Effort”, one must have the will power to overcome obstacles. “Right Mindfulness”, Buddhism says that what a person is, comes from what he thinks. By improving our thoughts we can become more virtuous. And the last is Right Meditation” by this meaning the practice of the Raja Yoga. Since Buddhism emphasizes the desirability of self removal from the problems involved with everyday life, Buddhism easily became a monastic religion.

The Buddha advised his followers to seek out men of wisdom and remain close to them. Within monasteries, everyone has the same goal, which is to attain Nirvana. Nirvana is “selfannihilation or the extinguishing of all traces of desire, which represents final enlightment and which releases a person from the cycle of rebirth”. There are many monasteries in the world, in some of them n countries such as Burma, Thailand, and Ceylon, almost every young male spends at least a few weeks of his life within a monastery.

Typically at the age of four the boy celebrates an elaborate ceremony which involves first dressing him in fine clothing. Then stripping the clothing from him. Shaving his head and he is given a beggar-bowl along Pg 407 “What Man Believes” Evans, Allan E. , Moynes, Riley E. , Martinello, Larry with a saffron-coloured robe, these three things all being traditional symbols of a Buddhist monk. For those who become monks it is a life of poverty and celibacy.

Before gaining the admittance into the monastery a monk must proclaim his faith by saying “I go to Buddha for refuge; I go to Dharma for refuge; I go to Sangha for refuge” by saying this a monk gives up his civil rights such as voting and being eligible for public services. Plus few sects permit marriage. Much more could be said of Buddhism but there are so many more aspects that could be explored that it would take forever. This is just short overview of the origination of Buddhism and the Buddha. Along with a short overview over the beliefs and customs of the religion.

Protestant vs. Socially Engaged Buddhism

Somewhere in the sixth century BCE Buddhism was born, born from a single man Siddhartha Guatama, the Buddha. After gaining his enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, the Buddha didnt think that the rest of the world could handle all that he had learned. He did not want to teach others, nor did he want to spread his wisdom. Until at last his great compassion came over him and he started to gain the respect of few by going to his old peers first. By starting with other intellectuals he secured that they at least had the capacity to learn what he had to teach.

From this point on he spread his philosophy on the middle path with everyone who would listen. He preached pacifism and that it was wrong to take any life be it a mans or any lesser beings. He taught that the noble eightfold path was the route to end all suffering, and that the individual was the most important factor in achieving enlightenment. The Buddha taught about the five aggregates, the notion that the human being is made up of matter, sensation, consciousness, perception, and mental formations.

In all of his teachings however the Buddha did not do so much as a lay a groundwork for which his followers could build a society on. The Buddha was acting out of compassion in that he had found the way to end his suffering and wanted to help others do the same. He was not however trying to build himself up as a God, and create a religion under which he was the focal point. Since this was not his goal, he did not get into politics, social formations, or anything else of the like.

However, sooner or later, with the rapid growth of Buddhism in India, and the whole of Southeast Asia, these were the things that would determine the survival of its followers. That is, an entire society of Buddhists had emerged, far greater numbers and organization than even the Buddha had imagined. With this emergence of community came more and more problems with which the leaders had no frame of reference to combat. For instance, what to do when pacifism doesnt work in protecting your community.

How to maintain peacefulness when outside forces are conquering violently. In many areas, where this sense of a Buddhist community had been created, the members had a great deal of pride in what they had created and were a part of, but their pride was kept in check by their inability to justify the right course of action. For example the Buddhists of Sri Lanka believed that they were the custodians of the teachings of the Buddha. It was there, on their Island, where the Theravadan tradition, the only sect of the Hinayana still around, had been born.

Buddhism had prospered in Sri Lanka for over sixteen hundred years, until the first colonizers came from Portugal in the 1550s CE. Sri Lanka was then ruled, by one or another European colonizers, until the year of 1948. The reason for their inability to rule themselves was not because of lack of numbers, for 75% of all people in Sri Lanka ascribe to Buddhism, but because of the non-violent nature of their resistance. In the contradiction between pride and pacifism they had simply seen pride as a vice and continued to try and live their lives in accordance to non-violent virtues.

For nearly four hundred years the Buddhist of Sri Lanka had tolerated the overbearing nature of their western habitants, that is until Anagarika Dharmapala began his career as a Buddhist revivalist. It was Dharmapala who was able to justify a more active resistance; he started by tailoring the innate Sinhala nationalism to correspond to his goals. He cultivated the natives of Sri Lanka to believe in the good old days, the days when Buddhism had prospered under King Aschoke and others.

When there was a great link between the rulers of their nation and them, the people, a time when temples, stupa, and great pillars were being erected in the name of the Buddha. And once he had the ear of the people, he used every ounce of knowledge within his plethora of teachings to stimulate change. He integrated the beliefs of Buddhism, with the active nature of Christianity. This Protestant Buddhism was at the heart of the resistance, without the reforms it allowed for, the Buddhists of Sri Lanka might still be struggling under British rule to this day.

The original goal of Protestant Buddhism was for the independence of the Sinhala, and for the building of a stronger Buddhism worldwide. By adapting Christian sensibility the revivalists were able to confidently combat the other main religions. No longer where they at a disadvantage in the educational system, because they created Buddhist Sunday school. No longer were they disadvantaged by lack of uniformity drawn out of oral tradition, for they emphasized scripture much like the Christians put their faith in the Bible.

The Protestant Buddhists also took responsibility for this worldly things, such as politics, economics, and other social factors. Therefor, the beliefs of Buddhism were not changed, just adapted to fit the times. Each individuals personal journey was still at the heart of the Theravadan tradition, only the application of its teachings had changed. Another example of the modernization of Buddhism, is the idea of Socially Engaged Buddhism. This seemingly new aged phenomenon has been born out of the ignorance of many to the potential extending effects of Buddhism.

From the start, meditation, and self-knowledge has been at the heart of Buddhism. However, this does not mean that Buddhism, as it has evolved today is simply an individual thing. Just as lay people, monks, and nuns make up the sangha, or Buddhist community, creating a give and take relationship among themselves. So should the Buddhist people interact with the outside world in much the same way. Their community fits into a worldly community just as they individually fit into the sangha. And just as the individual can influence, and contribute to the larger group, so can the group influence and contribute on a larger, global forum.

The Buddha himself, though selfish and self absorbed at first, did not retreat to the safety and serenity of the Bodhi tree, withdrawing from this world, but rather went out and actively spread his wisdom so that others may also have a chance to become enlightened. Compassion, they seem to say, must ultimately express itself in action, must take form, if it is to be real. The world in the 21st century is inextricably different from that of 2500 years ago in the time of the Buddha. We have innumerous causes to believe in, from the threat of nuclear destruction, to the plight of the rainforests.

Buddhism has taught us that it is not just acceptable, but our duty to put effort into the aid of these things. Our compassion must be expressed through action, Buddhists cannot sit idly while this kind of strife goes on in the world. The socially engaged Buddhist aims to live a life based on pure moral principles, while contributing to the lifting of the suffering of all, not just themselves. One example of a Buddhist view on social reform comes from the Digha-nikaya, where it teaches that poverty breeds many crimes such as theft and violence.

And that in order to eradicate this evil, government must not punish the wrongdoers, because this just causes more of the same types of action, but rather should do what it can to help the impoverished people. Once poverty is gone the Buddha says, then these crimes of poverty will also vanish. This is a bit idealistic, but holds much more truth than any other leading party will admit, in that if given the chance to earn an honest living most people would rather accept it than deal with a life of necessary crime. In this way, peaceful, non-intrusive Buddhist ideals can be coupled with activism.

Buddhists want to create a society where there are no distractions, where everyone can afford to direct their attention towards their own journey to enlightenment. However, in order to reach this lofty goal, the individual must take a supporting role for the time being. The idea that although the enlightenment of the individual is the most important thing to that individual, the ultimate enlightenment of any one member of the community is the most important goal of the community as a whole, and must be true of its members as well.

This view is very similar to the evolutionary explanation for siblcare, one generation of a type of bird staying with the parents and helping them rear the young of the next generation. At first there doesnt seem to be any adaptational benefit to that brother bird staying with the family when he could be out spreading his genes directly by means of mating. The benefit to this puzzling behavior was finally discovered, and explained in that the general ability of birds of this kind to successfully mate in their first year away from the nest was very low. They did not have any nest building skills in which to attract a viable mate.

They actually had a better chance of indirectly passing on their genes by aiding their parents in the care of the young, because every sibling shares at least 50% of their genes with one another. So in a sense, some of their genes are in fact being added to the world. This is every animals most basic goal in life. Also, this bird learns valuable skills from its father so that it can go out the next year and have a better chance of mating and passing off its genes directly. The Buddhist people are in a sense like the brother bird, looking to further themselves, but doing so while helping the whole society at the same time.

This is what Nagarjuna, a second century Buddhist activist, calls the first principle of Buddhist social ethics; individualist transcendentalism. Nagarjuna continues his teachings with that of compassionate socialism, based on a psychology of abundance, achieved by generosity. He insightfully wrote about a number of policies that could be adopted by the government, furthermore he wrote extensively on why they should be adopted and how they would help everything from the economic situation of nations, to the ants and dogs within each community.

Nagarjuna was very specific as to how these principles of his could and should be carried out in the building of shelters and the providing of clean water to drink and so forth. The socially engaged Buddhist wants not only to live a life of good karma and further their journey to a state of enlightenment, but also wants to create a society that would be beneficial to be born back into. A society where each person helps each other, every person contributes to the greater community, and especially where the community aids the individual.

The only way for this goal to be reached is to do something about it in this lifetime. To address the need for a Buddhist perspective on public policy, in essence, to merge the inner with the outer beings. Though they came forth from different stimuli, Protestant Buddhism and Socially Engaged Buddhism share a lot in common, mainly as examples of the evolving nature of Buddhism as a whole. Whereas the integrity of the ancient teachings can be preserved, but not with the rigidity that would prevent them from being applicable to todays world.

The Raise of Buddhism

Buddhism is one of the major religions of the world. It was founded by Siddhartha Guatama (Buddha) in Northeastern India. It arose as a monastic movement during a time of Brahman tradition. Buddhism rejected important views of Hinduism. It did not recognize the validity of the Vedic Scriptures, nor the sacrificial cult, which arose from it. It also questioned the authority of the priesthood.

Also, the Buddhist movement was open to people of all castes, denying that a person’s worth could be judged by their blood. Siddhartha Gautama was born in 563 B. C to the royal family of the Sakya tribe, Prince of Kapilavasthu, at the part of the Himalaya Mountains near the border of Nepal. [Siddhartha] He possessed certain markings that the tribe believed that he had the potential of either becoming a great king, or an influential spiritual leader.

After the birth of Siddhartha his mother and father passed away fearing that the Siddhartha would leave. He was married and had a son, he was surrounded by all the court’s glamour, luxuries, and by beautiful women, with so many pleasures around him, he dint feel any pain, he don’t know what is pain, death, or any disease, with such pleasures around him Siddhartha did not leave the palace for over twenty-five years.

One day, when Siddhartha rode his chariot beyond the castle walls into the surrounding city, he saw an three amazing things, that he never saw in his whole life, he saw an old age, [a man who is old, suffering from his old age] sickness [who he saw an old woman who is sick going through all suffering and pain ] and death [he saw that many people were crying at the dead body of some one ]. These three really amazing things went through his heart, having been so secluded in his own domain he was unaware of the existence of these true aspects of human nature, which he realized to be suffering which is away from his palace.

Siddhartha] He encountered wandering ascetics and learned of their quest for enlightenment. Upon returning to his palace, he decided to leave his luxuries in order to take on the lifestyle of an ascetic and seek an escape from suffering. Although Siddhartha was married and had recently become a father, but the three amazing truth about the nature left such a deep impression upon His Mind that, at the age of twenty-nine, he decided to leave his palace and enter “the homeless life” (Neill 59).

The homeless is where nobody is around you, where your living your life by yourself by undergoing the suffering) of a monk to seek the truth and find a way to salvation for all sentient beings. Siddhartha cut his long hair and joined some nearby ascetics in their practice of austerities. For six years Siddhartha followed this path; eating very little and meditating constantly. He realized that no one had ever transcended suffering by these means; therefore he followed what he called the Middle Path.

After taking bath and eating he was again back in his good health, Siddhartha made a journey to a village called Senayani, there sitting beneath the bodhi tree, he vowed not to stand until he had attained enlightenment. While attaining enlightenment Siddhartha was able to recall his past lives. He was able to view the karmic constituents of everyone moving from one life to another. Determined to attain the highest enlightenment, Siddhartha was the liberated form the cycle of death and rebirth.

The Buddha then realized the four Noble Truths. Those Truths are: First Noble Truth of Suffering: Rebirth, old age, disease, death, sorrow, lamention, pain, grief and despair. These are all separation form the objects that we love. There are also many happy hours and pleasure in man’s life-time, but according to the law of nature, they are impermanent and these last only for a short time and vanish into nothing. Only sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are left by them behind.

The Second Truth of the Arising of Suffering: The Threefold Craving leads every being from birth to birth and is accompanied by joy and lust, seeking its gratification here and there, namely; Sensual Craving, Craving for Existence and Craving for Wealth and Power. There are also a sixfold craving, namely the eye craves for forms, the ear craves for sounds, the nose craves for odours, the tongue craves for taste, the body craves for objects, and the mind craves for noun, dreams or illusions.

These Cravings and ignorance of the law of nature are the condition of origin of individual suffering. The Third Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering: The condition of cessation of suffering is the complete fading away and extinction of this three fold craving, forsaking it and giving it up, the liberation and detachment from it. The condition of mind of a person who has been giving up his threefold cravings or this sixfold craving together with ignorance can realize Nirvana (or the Extinction of the Cravings).

The Fourth Noble Truth of The Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering: It is the Noble Eightfold Path (or the Middle Path because it avoids the two extremes of sensual pleasure and self-mortification), that leads to the Cessation of Suffering. The Noble Eightfold Path is defined as: right views, right intention, right effort, right action, right livelihood, right speech, right mindfulness, right meditation. Upon attaining enlightenment, or freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth, Siddhartha was known as Buddha.

He then took up many disciples and began to teach the way of the Buddha, the dharma. As he neared his death, Buddha refused a successor. He told his followers to work hard to find their salvation. After his death, it was decided that a new way to keep the community’s unity and purity was needed, since the teachings of Buddha were spoken only. To maintain peace, the monastic order met to decide on matters of Buddhist doctrines and practice. Four of these meetings are considered to be the Four Major Councils.

The World’s Religions

Buddhism begins with a man. In his later years, when India was afire with his message, people came to him asking what he was. Not Who are you? but What are you? Are you god? they asked. No. An angel? No. A saint? No. Then, what are you? Buddha answered, I am awake. His answer became his title, for this is what Buddha means. The Sanskrit root budh means to awake and to know. While the rest of humanity was dreaming the dream we call the waking human state, one of their number roused himself. Buddhism begins with a man who woke up.

Buddhism The Worlds Religions p. 60) Buddha was born a prince named Siddhartha Gautama in a small kingdom in what is now Nepal in 563b. c. e. Gautamas birth is described as a miraculous event, his birth being the result of his mother’s impregnation by a sacred white elephant that touched her left side with a lotus flower. The scriptures claim that when Gautama was born immeasurable light spread through ten thousand worlds; the blind recovering their sight, as if from desire to see his glory” (What Man Believes Evans p. 1)

Shortly after his birth, his father consulted with a number of astrologers, all of whom declared that the newborn prince would become a great king and that he would rule the world in truth and righteousness. Among these astrologers, there was one who declared that if the prince were to see a sick person, an old person, a corpse, and a world-renouncing ascetic, he would become dissatisfied with life and become a wandering monk in order to seek final peace.

King Shuddhodana decided he wanted his son to have the former destiny and went to no ends to keep his son on this course, surrounding him with pleasant diversions during his early years, such as palaces and dancing girls. Finally the prince convinced his father into letting him visit a part of the city that was beyond the palace gates. Before allowing the prince to ride in his chariot, Shuddhodana ordered the streets to be cleared of the sick or the infirm, that the prince not be allowed to see any of the corpses or the world renouncers.

Despite the kings efforts, at one point the path of the royal chariot was blocked by a sick man. He found that the man had only grown old and that such afflictions were the result of age. Siddhartha was amazed to find that most people see such sights every day but persist in short-sighted pursuit and mundane affairs, apparently unconcerned that they will become sick, grow old, and die. In two other journeys outside the palace, Siddhartha saw a man stricken with disease and a corpse, and when he learned that eventually his young healthy body would become weak he fell into a deep depression.

On the fourth trip, Siddhartha saw a world renouncer, a man who stood apart from the crowd, who owned nothing and was unaffected by the petty concerns of the masses, and who radiated calm, serenity, and a profound inner peace. This man had nothing, yet he had obtained happiness. This made Siddhartha realize the vanity of earthly pleasures. That very night Siddhartha did the unthinkable. At the age of 29, although married with a beautiful young son as well as heir to a very rich throne, he forsook it all, leaving them to set out on a pilgrimage to find the ultimate truth.

Siddhartha left the palace and started to practice meditation with many teachers, but none could show him a path leading to the end of suffering. He met with five spiritual seekers who told him that the way to salvation lies in severe asceticism. He followed their practices, and eventually was eating only a single grain of rice per day. He grew so weak that he almost died. Siddhartha continued on his journey. One day on Gautamas thirty-fifth birthday, sensing a breakthrough was approaching, he settled under a tree to mediate, promising not to arise until he had reached his goal.

According to legend, Mara, the Evil One, attempting to disrupt Siddhartha, tempted him with beautiful Goddesses, attacked him with flaming rocks and other devices, all from which Gautama blocked himself. During the night, Siddhartha entered into progressively deeper meditative states, in which the patterns of the world fell into place for him, and thus he came to understand the causes and effects of actions, why beings suffer, and how to transcend all the pains and sorrows of the world.

By the dawn of the next morning he had completely awakened from the misconceptions of ordinary people, realized the essential truth about life and about the path to salvation; at this point he became Buddha, remaining in the same spot for many days in a trance-like state. This experience stirred in Gautama a desire to share his knowledge with others. He spent the remainder of his life as a preacher and a teacher until his death in about 483 BCE. He preached on the Four Sacred Truths as the way to enlightenment, which he received during his original vision. The Four Sacred Truths are steps to spiritual improvement and salvation.

The first sacred truth is that all the world is sorrow and suffering. From birth to death, man is in a constant state of suffering. The second noble truth reveals that all this suffering comes from the craving of the pleasures of life. The third truth reveals that the end of suffering will come when craving ceases. Finally the fourth truth explains that the end to these cravings comes through an eightfold path. The steps to this path include: Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Meditation. (Buddhism Halverson p. )

Right Understanding, , one sees the universe as impermanent and illusory and is aware that the I does not, in reality, exist. (Buddhism Halverson p. 58). Right Thought is to renounce all attachment to the desires and thoughts of our illusory selves. (Buddhism Halverson p. 58). As a person attains such a literally selfless perspective, her or she finds the power to speak well of others (Right Speech), to obey Buddhisms moral commands or abstentions (Right Action), and to avoid making his or her living through an occupation that breaks the moral precepts of Buddhism (Right Livelihood).

Buddhism Halverson pp. 58-59) The basis of Buddhisms ethical conduct were to refrain from killing, stealing, lying, committing indecent sexual acts or consuming of intoxicants. This is the Buddha’s Dharma, or body of his teachings. According to tradition, Buddha taught strict allegiance to the Four Sacred Truths, and insight through the practice of meditation. His teachings also stressed avoidance of ill will, lusting, incorrect talk, and destruction of any living thing. The Buddha’s path was one of strict meditation, in which one seeks Nirvana.

Nirvana is a state of emptiness or bliss. Those who finally achieve nirvana are spared from the suffering of rebirth, or reincarnation. They are made one with the sea of nothingness, and all their desires are quenched. This extinguished flame (What Man Believes Evans p. 106 ) is salvation for humankind. If desires cannot be quenched then the cyclical existence (reincarnation) will begin again, with more suffering. This form of salvation, is centered around works of the individual.

Although later followers make him into a god, Gautama never taught that he was divine. His teachings never focused on any reliance on God, or gods. Rather than rejecting any form of a god, his teachings are indifferent to traditional gods, thus making his teachings more universal. While there are gods in the Buddhist religion, they are not part of salvation. The main focus of his teaching is not to rely on any god, but rather on the individual and his/her search for truth. After Gautamas death, his disciples passed along his message by oral tradition.

There are many monasteries in the world; in some of them in countries such as Burma, Thailand, and Ceylon, almost every young male spends at least a few weeks of his life within a monastery. Typically at the age of four the boy celebrates an elaborate ceremony which involves first dressing him in fine clothing, then stripping the clothing from him, shaving his head and is given a beggar-bowl along with a saffron-colored robe. (What Man Believes Evans p. 407 ) These three things all being traditional symbols of a Buddhist monk. For those who do become monks, it is a life of poverty and celibacy.

Buddhism’s Trek Through History

Buddhism’s trek through history, politics, and America Zen, or Zenno (as it is known by the Japanese word from which it derives), is the most common form of Buddhism practiced in the world today. All types of people from intellectuals to celebrities refer to themselves as Buddhist, but despite its popularity today in America, it has had a long history throughout the world. “Here none think of wealth or fame, All talk of right and wrong is quelled. In Autumn I rake the leaf-banked stream, In spring attend the nightingale.

Who dares approach the lion’s Mountain cave? Cold, robust, A Zen-person through and through, I let the spring breeze enter at the gate. ” -Daigu (1584-1669, Rinzai) (DailyZen) Zen Buddhism’s history begins where Buddhism’s history began. It originated on the continent of Asia around 500 B. C.. The founder of Buddhism; Gotama Siddhattha, a former price in what is now known as India, is known as “The Buddha,” which roughly translates to ” one who is awake” (Merit 102).

At the age of twenty-nine, deeply troubled by the suffering he saw around him, he renounced his privileged life to seek understanding. After six years of struggling as an ascetic he finally achieved enlightenment at age thirty-five” (DailyZen). In 475 A. D. a Buddhist teacher, Bodhidharma, traveled to China and introduced the teachings of Buddha there. In China Buddhism mixed with Taoism, and the result was the Ch’an School of Buddhism, and from there Ch’an spread to Japan where it is called Zen Buddhism (DailyZen).

The Buddhist Religion has always been passed down from teacher to student, and through the use of books and sacred works such as the Malind-panha, Pali Tipitaka, and the Pitaka series (Merit 102). These books and teachers taught students of the religion the philosophies of the practice. They taught of Satori, or enlightenment, which is the main goal of the Zen Buddhist, which is to achieve peace of mind despite external turmoil ( Archer ninety-six). One way to reach enlightenment is through meditation.

Zaren is sitting in meditative absorption as the shortest yet most steep way to reaching enlightenment (Zen 233). The Buddhists stressed the fact that existence is painful. They believed that suffering was a result of false human attachments to things that were impertinent, “including the attachment to the false notion of self or ‘I'(DailyZen). ” They said that, ” the conditions that make an individual are precisely those that also give rise to suffering. Individuality involves limitation; limitation ends in suffering (Buddhism eighty-six).

They taught that ridding themselves of these attachments they could end suffering (DailyZen). ” This pure Mind, the source of everything, Shines forever and on all with the brilliance Of its own perception… If you students of the Way desire knowledge of this great mystery, Only avoid attachment to any single thing beyond Mind. -Huang Po (DailyZen). ” As well with the philosophical side of the teachings were the basics of Guidance and ethics. “Buddhist philosophy is both a system of thought and a set of ethical norms (Buddhism eighty-six).

It offers practical guidance in everyday social affairs. Socially, the Buddhists have often been thrown into the political arena. Due to the nature of politics, where originally, “in Vietnam, the Buddhist Community was not politically activated until it was mistreated (Brittanica ninety-two), “the Buddhists have been divided into two groups. There is the moderate group that was led by Thich Tri Quang, that claimed political neutrality, but any of their movements for peace were seen as a weakness in the face of communism by the government of Saigon.

And there are the militant Buddhists, who support upheavals. One such incident of upheaval was in 1963 when ” the government (of Vietnam) forbade the flying of the Buddhist flag during the May eighth celebration of Buddha’s birthday (Britanica ninety-two). “A riot erupted by Buddhists against their cruel treatment, but it was it was put down by heavily armed guards. Not only did the government serve as a political persuader for the Buddhists, but the Roman Catholic Church was excessively partisan against the Buddhists, and the Ngo Dinn Diem family had an anti-Buddhist policy.

The militant Buddhists also organized a coup against the Diem regime on November first, 1962, but it too was put down. The Buddhists also protest in more passive ways, “since 1963 there have been over thirty self- immolations of monks in South Vietnam protesting the ruin of their country (Britanica ninety-two). ” China Town in San Francisco, California, is where much of Buddhism started in the U. S.. By the mid 1850s many temples began to appear, “within a quarter century several hundred temples dotted the California coastline (experience 670).

The American form of Zen owes its origins to Sogaku Harada, who had three deciples who each contributed to the American form of Zen. One deciples of Harada was Taizan Maezumi, who arrived in America in 1956. Taizan Maezumi founded the Zen Center of Los Angeles. Another one of Sogaku Harada’s deciples was Hakuun Yasutani Roshi. Hakuun held Zen meditation sessions in many major US cities from 1962, until he died in 1973. Sogaku Harada’s Third deciple was Philip Kapleau.

Not only did Philip Kapleau found the Zen Meditation center in Rochester, New York, But he also published a book called “The Three Pillars of Zen” (experience 670). The Nations first Buddhist monastery was founded in Big Sur, California, in 1967, by Richard Baker and Zen master Shunryu Suzuki, it was called Tassajara. It was the main learning ground for Zen Buddhism in the US. The sixties is when Zen’s popularity made it’s way into the mainstream. It was referred to as a cult, just as was Hare Krishna, by the American Public.

It attracted many intellectuals, such as scientists and doctors (Archer ninety- three). It also attracted poets and writers, “Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, the beat poets of the fifties, were early apostles of the Zen and Hare Krishna cults that flowered in the sixties (Archer ninety-three). ” “All the constituents that exist are transitory and there’s no permanent self (bigtable). ” Allen Ginsberg was one poet who understood, and practiced the Buddhist philosophy. The Religion’s ideals were slightly radical as compared to the mainly Christian population of the time.

It also came as a shock because women were welcomed to join. America was in a chaotic state during the 1960s. The country was basically torn apart, and highly tormented by the controversy over the Vietnam war. People were breached by the traditional American ideals of serving the country, and heroic nationalism, and new ideologies and beliefs systems. More Americans were open to try different things. The Hippie era, trials of free love, and experimenting with fresh cultural aspects, all probably led to a sort of flourishing of spiritual awareness.

As the cultures’ curiosity and confusion led to a blossoming of new religious forms, or at least new to the Americana. Zen Buddhism was among these ideas, that was grasped at by Americans seeking new spiritual enlightenment. Zen went from India to China to Japan to Western civilization, and made a variable impact in each place it traveled to. The ideas, customs, beliefs, and philosophies of the Zen Buddhist religion spread globally due to its universality. From politics to poets, Zen impacts all aspects of life, and forms ethics through guideline, and basic philosophies of human nature and spirit.

Hinduism and Buddhism

Throughout the world, different nations have different believes or religion. Some religions evolve from others, and others are combination of other religions. Religion is a way of life, a life style; it should dictate how you live your life. For instance, in India, Buddhism evolved from Hinduism, a religion were people believe in 300, 000 gods. Even though, Hinduism and Buddhism have different similarities such as believes in god, soul, and rituals, which in some ways connected to each other, both religions believe of what happens after life.

Although Buddhism evolved from Hinduism it differs from Hinduism in god beliefs. According to Buddhists there is no God, but they reverence the Buddha and his teachings as though he were one. Buddha, believe in no Atmans, nor is there a Brahman or supreme being because all is not permanent. They believe that to have faith in a higher power is nothing more than illusion. The Buddhist athirst in fact think that life is not a reality. In Buddhism, a person strives to reach the Nirvana through mediation. The Nirvana is the blowing out of the fame of desire by ending the vicious cycle of reincarnation.

By not going with their instincts and ending all desire for the illusion of this world, one is able to reach enlightenment and finally rest from his suffering. The Buddhists worship the Buddha and follow the four noble truths in order to reach salvation. The four noble truths are: life is suffering, all suffering is caused by ignorance of the nature of reality and the craving, attachment and grasping that result from such ignorance, suffering can be ended by overcoming ignorance, and the path to the suppression of suffering is the Eightfold Noble Path.

The Eightfold Noble Path is divided into three categories: morality, wisdom, and concentration. In contrast, Hindus say, that thou art. This statement means that Brahman is the same as one true self, or his Atman. Not only do the Hindus worship Brahman, they also worship several other gods as well. The other gods are in the reincarnation series, or the samsara, they are not ultimate but they help to bring liberation throughout the grueling cycle. All Hindus believe in three most popular gods, which they are: Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma. Shiva is the deity of the renounces, especially of the many shiava sects that imitate him.

These are Kapalicas, Pashupatas, and Aghoris. Shiva is also the deity that is said to have appeared on earth in various human, animals, and vegetable forms. Vishnu, to his worshipers, is all-powerful and supreme. He is believed to be to god from whose navel a lotus sprang giving birth to Brahma, the creator. Vishnu created the universe by separating the heavens and the earth and has rescued it on a number of occasions. As Hopfe and Woodward state Vishnu is known as a god of love, benevolence, and forgiveness (Hinduism 94). In some incarnations, he has come as a man. (94). The third popular god is Brahma, the creator of the world.

Since Buddhism and Hinduism have different believes they also have different holy days. Moreover, because Hindus worship variety of gods they have a variety of festivals. The three main festivals of Hinduism are: Holi, Divali, and Dasehra. Holi is the most popular festival. This holy day is celebrated each year during February-March to welcome spring. Holi is dedicated to god Krishna and it was once a fertility ceremony (104). Throughout the days of Holi, many of the casts and taboo restrictions are set aside and pleasure is emphasized. The second ceremony Divali, celebrated in November, is a festival to welcome a new year.

Finally the third festival, the Dasehra, celebrated up to nine days in October, in honor of Durga, a consort of Shiva. On the other hand Buddhism is divided in many ways according to philosophy and geography. The major festivals that are celebrated by most Buddhists are New Year, Buddhas birthday, the festival of souls, and robe offering. In many Buddhist countries the New Year is celebrated in April. It usually lasts three days. Another festival is Buddhas birthday. During this festival the birth of Gautama, celebrated on April 8 in China and Japan and on the last full moon on May in Southeast Asia.

Buddhist communities celebrate by washing the statue of the infant Buddha and a basin of fragrant water filled with flower petals to honor the gods who bathed the Buddha immediately after his birth. The festival of souls id celebrated during July (in Japan), and August (in China). Buddhists believe that purgatory is opened and the souls of the dead are allowed to wonder about the world. The last festival celebrated by Buddhists is robe offering. This festival is celebrated in November at the end of rainy season. During this festival the laity present new yellow robber to the monks of their region.

This robe is one that has been made in a single day or night. Hindus believe in souls and Buddhists do not. In Hindus religion it is believed that an individual should abolish all once and desires in addition to refraining from any temptations of sin in order to discipline himself or herself. Once all of these things are done, the perfect joy and harmony with the infinite spirit is reached. The infinite spirit refers to Hinduism belief that the soul never dies. Hindus believe that each time a body dies the soul is reborn into a new body. On the contrary, Buddhism believe in the Anatman or no soul.

Buddhism sees human existence as made up of five bundles or Skandhas. These are material body of feelings, perceptions, predispositions or Karmic tendencies, and consciousness. Buddhists deny the permanent soul. Buddhists believe that as long as they follow the four noble truths they would be freed from the life sufferings. Eventually, today both religions are still greatly worshiped and have millions of followers. Buddhism and Hinduism are connected in many ways and still continue to flourish after many, many centuries. Both religions have a similar goal, and path to achieve that goal.

The Enlightend One

Buddhism is based on the man Siddhartha Gautama. He became what they call Buddha which means The Enlightend One . In this report I looked in to the wedding Ceremonies of people that so not have enough money. The death rituals of the Sikkim people and the birth rituals.

Death Rituals

As soon as a person dies the head Lama is called to perform the rites of passage and chant mantras to help the dead on their way. The body is bathed and then bent almost in the foetal position and put into a large trapezium- shaped box. The head is closest to the top.
The body is kept in the household. Each night a lama sits by the box and chants mantras all night.

On the day of the funeral the box is decorated. Friends and family come to offer scarves and follow the body to the body to the funeral ground. The box is sat upon a fixed number of sticks. The rimpoche chants and then lights a lamp. Then the people place the scarves on the box. Anyone is envited, even women and children.

Post – Death Rituals

Every seven days after the funeral for forty nine days, the family performs pooja. On the forty ninth day, family, friends, and well- wishers come to offer scarves, money etc.

Buddhism – one of the major religions of the world

Buddhism is one of the major religions of the world it was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, who lived in northern India from c. 560 to c. 480 BC. The time of the Buddha was a time of social and religious change, the development of trade and cities, the breakdown of old tribal traditions, and the rise of many new religious movements that answered the demands of the times. These movements came from the Brahmanic tradition of Hinduism but were also reactions against it. Of the new sects, Buddhism was the most successful and eventually spread throughout India and most of Asia.

Today Buddhism is divided into two main branches. The Theravada, or “Way of the Elders,” the more conservative of the two, it is mainly found in Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand. The Mahayana, or “Great Vehicle,” is more liberal, it is found mainly in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan, and among Tibetan peoples, where it is known by its emphasis on the Buddhist Tantras. In recent times, both branches, as well as Tibetan Buddhism, have gained followers in the West. It is almost impossible to tell the size of the Buddhist population today.

Statistics are difficult to obtain because some individuals may have Buddhist beliefs and engage in Buddhist rites while maintaining folk or other religions; hese people may or may not call themselves Buddhists. Nevertheless, the number of Buddhists worldwide is estimated at more than 300 million. The matter of what Buddha’s original teachings were cause of major controversy. Even so, it is said to have centered on certain basic doctrines. The first of the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha held, is suffering.

By this, he meant not only that human existence is occasionally painful but that all beings–humans, animals, ghosts, hell-beings, even the gods–are caught up in samsara, a cycle of rebirth, a maze of suffering in which their actions keep them wandering. Samsara and karma are not doctrines specific to Buddhism. The Buddha, however, specified that samsara is characterized by three marks: suffering, impermanence and no self. Individuals not only suffer in a constantly changing world, but what appears to be the “self,” the “soul,” has no independent reality apart from its many separable elements.

The second Noble Truth is that suffering itself has a cause. At the simplest level, this may be said to be desire; but the theory was fully worked out in the complex doctrine of “dependent origination,” which explains the interrelationship of all reality in terms of an unbroken chain of causation. The third Noble Truth is that this chain can be broken–that suffering can cease. The Buddhists called this end of suffering nirvana and thought of it as a rebirth, an escape from samsara. Finally, the fourth Noble Truth is that a way exists through which this reversal can be brought about, the practice of the noble Eightfold Path.

This combines ethical and disciplinary practices and training in concentration and meditation with initial faith, which is finally transformed into wisdom. With the death of the Buddha, his followers immediately faced a crisis, what were they to do in the with their master one? The followers who had remained householders proceeded to honor his bodily relics, which were monuments called stupas. This was the beginning of a cult of devotion to the person of the Buddha that was to focus not only on stupas but also on many holy sites, which became centers of pilgrimage, and eventually on Buddha images too.

On the other hand, those Buddhists who had become monks and nuns took on the gathering and preservation of their departed master’s teachings. According to tradition, a great council of 500 monks was held at Rajagriha, mmediately after the Buddha’s death, and all the Buddha’s sermons and the rules of the discipline were remembered and recited. In the years that followed, the monks gradually unified their communal life. Like many other wandering mendicants of their time, they were always on the move, coming together only once a year for the three months of the monsoon.

Gradually, these rain-retreats grew into more structured year-round settlements. As new communities developed, it was inevitable that some differences in their understanding of both the Buddha is teaching and of the rules of the order should arise. Within 100 years of the Buddha’s death, a second council took place at Vaisali, during which the advocates of certain relaxations in the vinaya rules were condemned. Then, c. 250 BC, the great Buddhist emperor Asoka is said to have held a third council at Pataliputra to settle certain doctrinal controversies.

It is clear from the accounts of these and other Buddhist councils that whatever the unity of early Buddhism may have been, it was rapidly split into various sectarian divisions. One of the earliest and most important of these divisions was that between the Sthavira and the Mahasamghika schools. Within the former developed such important sects as the Sarvastivada and the Theravadins, whose canon is in Pali and who today are the only surviving representatives of the whole of the Hinayana, or “Lesser Vehicle,” of Buddhism.

The Mahasamghika, also a Hinayanist sect, died out completely, but it is important because it represents one of the forerunners of the Mahayana doctrines. These doctrines were to include a different understanding of the nature of the Buddha, an emphasis on the figure of the bodhisattva, and on the practice of the perfection. In addition, within the Mahayana, a number of great thinkers were to add some new doctrinal dimensions to Buddhism. One of these was Nagarjuna, the 2d-century AD founder of the Madhyamika School.

Using subtle and thoroughgoing analyses, Nagarjuna took the theory of dependent origination to its logical limits, showing that the absolute relativity of everything means finally the emptiness of all things. Another important Mahayana school arose in the fourth century AD when the brothers Asanga and Vasubandhu sought to establish the doctrine of Vijnanavada–that the mind alone exists and that objects have no reality external o it. This idealist doctrine and Nagarjuna’s emptiness were to play important roles in the further developments of Buddhist thought outside of India.

Within India itself, they paved the way for yet another stage in the elaboration of the religion: the development of Buddhist tantra. Tantric Buddhism, which is sometimes separated from the Mahayana Buddhism as a distinct “Thunderbolt-Vehicle,” became especially important in Tibet, where it was introduced starting in the seventh century. It was, however, the last phase of Buddhism in India, where the religion–partly by reabsorption into the Hindu tradition, partly by ersecution by the Muslim invaders–ceased to exist by the 13th century.

Before its demise in India, Buddhism had already spread throughout Asia. This expansion started at least as early as the time of the emperor Asoka in the 3d century BC. According to tradition, this great monarch, who was himself a convert to Buddhism, actively supported the religion and sought to spread the dharma. He is said to have sent his own son, Mahinda, as a missionary to Sri Lanka. Their Buddhism quickly took root and prospered, and the island was to become a stronghold of the Theravada sect.

The Pali Canon was first written there in the first century BC; ater the island was to be host to the great Theravadin systematizer and commentator Buddhaghosa. Asoka is also said to have sent missionaries to the East to what is now Burma and Thailand. Whatever the truth of this claim, it is clear that by the first several centuries AD, Buddhism, accompanying the spread of Indian culture, had established itself in large areas of Southeast Asia, even as far as Indonesia. Also, tradition has it that another son of Asoka established a Buddhist kingdom in Central Asia.

Whether or not this is true, it is clear that in subsequent centuries more missionaries followed the established trade routes west and north o this region, preaching the dharma as they went. Throughout Asia, wherever Buddhism was introduced, its leaders tended to seek the support of kings and other rulers of the state. The pattern of this relationship between a Buddhist king and the monastic community was given its definitive formulation by Emperor Asoka in the 3d century BC.

This was a symbiotic relationship in which, in exchange for the allegiance and religious support of the sangha, the emperor became the patron and backer of the Buddhist dharma. To some extent, this pattern was extended to the laity as well. Everywhere, Buddhist monastic communities tended o depend on the laity for food and material support. Although in some places the sangha as a whole became well to do and the controller of vast monastic estates, traditionally monks were beggars and, in Southeast Asian countries, they still go on daily alms rounds.

Traditionally also, Buddhist monks have been celibate. Thus, they depend on the faithful not only for food and financial support but also for new recruits. Often children will enter a monastery and spend a number of years as novices, studying, learning and doing chores. Then, following ordination, they become full members of the community, vowing to uphold its discipline. Henceforth their days will be taken up in ritual, devotions, meditation, study, teaching and preaching.

Twice a month, all the monks in a given monastery will gather for the recitation of the rules of the order and the confession of any violation of those rules. One of the pivotal concepts behind the rites and festivals of Buddhist laity and monks is that of offering. This includes, for the laity, not just the giving of food and of new robes to the monks, but also the offering of flowers, incense, and praise to the image of the Buddha, stupas, bodhi trees, or, especially in Mahayanist countries, to other embers of the Buddhist pantheon such as bodhisattvas.

For the monks, the notion of offering extends also to the giving of the dharma in the form of sermons, to the chanting of scriptures in rituals, and to the recitation of sutras for the dead. All of these acts of offering are intimately involved in the concept of merit making. By performing them, individuals, through the working of karma, can seek to assure themselves rebirth in one of the heavens or a better station in life, from which they may be able to attain the goal of enlightenment.

Hinduism and Buddhism

Hinduism and Buddhism are two very old and sacred religions. Although they are very similar in many ways, the differences are distinct enough to separate them completely. One significant difference is the idea of a god or supreme being. While Hinduism believes and puts faith in a god, Buddhism does not. Hinduism teaches of an ultimate reality called Brahman. It is without qualities and limiting attributes, transcending this universe. (pg. 101, A) The Brahman is the center of all reality and the force that controls life.

It is beyond understanding to any man but is very personal to the Hindus and highly reverenced. In fact, it is every Hindus goal to know the Brahman better, but it takes much dedication and spiritual insight. (pg. 102, A) Every person possesses a true nature or self called an Atman. In western views, it is similar to a soul without carrying any personal characteristics. (B) Everyones Atman is what makes up the ultimate Brahman. So, in a sense, by learning more about the Brahman, Hindus are in turn learning more about themselves and the unity around them.

Because the Atman keeps no record of personality of other traits, the reincarnation cycle continues through a persons karma- which is the actions or deeds that one committed during their past life. By building good karma, one can draw closer to ending the cycle and release his Atman. Buddhism also believes in this Hindu concept but has several differences as well. Buddhists believe that everyone is suffering. Nothing in the world is permanent and because of this, life is unsatisfactory.

The only way to be free of this suffering is realize the impermanence of life, overcome all worldly desires, and become free from the law of karma. (C) Buddhists do not believe in a god, but they reverence the Buddha and his teachings as though he were one. According to the Buddha, there are no gods, no Atmans, nor is there a Brahman or supreme being because all is impermanent. To have faith in a higher power is nothing more than an illusion. The Buddhist atheist view seems to have a lot to do with the fact that life is not a reality.

Through meditation, a person strives to reach the Nirvana. The Nirvana is the blowing out of the flame of desire by ending the vicious cycle of reincarnation. (D) By ending all desire for the illusions of this world, one is able to reach enlightenment and finally rest from his suffering. The Hindu view of Brahman has much to do with life. In the Upanishads, (Chandogya Upanishad 6. 13. 1-3) a wise father, Uddalaka, is telling his son Svetaketu about the Atman and states, That thou art. This statement means that the Brahman is the same as ones true self, or his Atman. (pg. 8, A)

The Brahman is the backbone of the entire Hindu religion and everyone person in the world. By realizing that everyone is a part of the unified Brahman and coming to grips with the idea that the Atman is the only enduring part of this world, one can finally be free from the continuous reincarnations. Because of this extreme difference in belief, Hindus and Buddhists live very different lives and have different rituals. The Hindus are divided into different castes, or social groups, and it is said that ones karma from the previous life determined which caste they would be in this life.

If one leads a good life, then they can hope to be in a higher caste the next time around, and vice versa for those who had bad karma. Not only do the Hindus worship Brahman, they worship several other gods as well. By worshipping other gods, they can get a fuller understanding of Brahman on a more personal level. Of course, these gods are in the reincarnation series, or the samsara, so they are not ultimate, but they help to bring liberation throughout the grueling cycle.

They allow one to understand Bhakti, the importance of loving and devoting ones soul to Brahman and turning all needs and desires over to It rather than to ones self. It is important that every Hindu meditate on Brahman to realize that It is the only true existence in the world. This brings spiritual growth and progress. Buddhists do not worship a god, but rather believe in the Four Noble Truths and follow the Eight-fold path set by the Buddha. By living and thinking honestly and right, good karma is acquired. Meditation is a large part of Buddhism as well.

It is the act of pursuing enlightenment and concentrating on it. Maura OHalloran, a Zen Buddhist monk, spoke of her meditations on mu, which means nothingness. (pg. 19, E) By grasping the idea of nothingness and disciplining oneself spiritually, one can eventually reach enlightenment. In my life, I have found a new respect for two religions that were foreign to me, but it did not cause me to change my personal beliefs. One thing that I truly value is life itself. It is hard for me to comprehend the idea that life is suffering and that I should want to escape it.

Perhaps the reason I feel that way is because I am suffering, but I dont really see it. My Christian views are similar to Hinduisms in that I follow an eternal, ultimate God. Although my prayers are much different than the Hindu meditations, they can reach the same spiritual depth and be just as, if not more, meaningful. However, that is about the only similarity. The Christian God has a lot more to offer His children that the Brahman does. We only live one short, meaningful life and then we die. Each one of us is an individual, created by God, in His likeness.

We have a free will to make our own decisions and whether or not we chose to accept Him, we will all have an eternal afterlife. God offers His children a Nirvana, but this one is more of a paradise than it is a freedom from suffering. One thing that I noticed in Hinduism/Buddhism that is significantly different from Christianity is that there is no evil force. The samsara could be considered an enemy and I read of Mara trying to tempt the Buddha, but there is no constant battle of good versus evil. Its more of a self versus self battle. This concept adds another difference to the Christian God.

He is a protector and comforter for all of us, and rather than just accept the terrible things that happen to us in life as the Hindus do, we can look to Him for guidance. Though all three of these religions have some similarities, each one is very distinct in its own way. Each view on life, and idea of a god is amazingly unique. I think that in a way, I have acquired a slightly different view of my own beliefs because here, in the Western world, most religions are focused around one God and one main idea. By learning about these new concepts, I have started to think more about why I believe what I do rather than what.

The founding of Buddhism

For over 2000 years Buddhism has existed as an organized religion. By religion we mean that it has a concept of the profane, the sacred, and approaches to the sacred. It has been established in India, China, Japan and other eastern cultures for almost 2000 years and has gained a strong foothold in North America and Europe in the past few centuries. However, one might ask; what fate would Buddhism face had Siddartha Guatama been born in modern times; or more specifically in modern day North America? Would his new found enlightenment be accepted now as it was thousands of years ago?

Would it be hunned by society as another cult movement? What conflicts or similarities would it find with modern science; physics in particular? The answers to these questions are the aim of this paper, as well as a deeper understanding of modern Buddhism. Although I will stick with traditional ideas raised by Buddhism, one detail in the story of Siddartha Guatama must be addressed in order for it to be relevant to the main question being asked: What obstacles would Siddartha Guatama face had he been born in modern day North America.

Primarily, it must be recognized that rather than being born into the Hindu religion (which in tself is mystical), Siddartha would have most likely been born into a Christian family. This in itself presents the first obstacle, that being that Christianity is a strictly monotheistic and non-mystical faith. Hence from the outset, although in the traditional story Siddartha faced a conflict with his father (Ludwig 137), in the North American scenario the conflict would have been heightened by the fact that his search for enlightenment was not even closely similar to the Christian faith.

As with science, changes in religious thought are often met with strong opposition. It is interesting to note though, that many parallels can be found between modern physics and Eastern Mysticism. As Fritjof Capra writes: The changes, brought about by modern physics . . . all seem to lead towards a view of the world which is very similar to the views held in Eastern Mysticism. The concepts of modern physics often show surprising parallels to the ideas expressed in the religious philosophies of the Far East. 17-18)

Thus by examining some of the obstacles imposed by typical western thought on modern physicists attempting to develop new theories, we can apply the same onclusions to the situation that would be faced by Siddartha Guatama in modern day North America. Traditionally, western thought can be summed up by French philosopher RenJ Descartes’ famous saying, “Cogito ergo sum” or “I think therefor I exist”. That is, typically, western man has always equated identity with his mind, instead of his whole organism (Capra 23).

This same line of thought can be found in traditional Newtonian Mechanics in which the observer of an event is never taken into account when describing the event. Rather, all things are said to occur at an “absolute time” in space, never taking into ccount the observer’s position or speed relative to the event or the rest of the Universe. However, in the beginning of the 20th century, new developments in physics began to shake the framework of the scientific world.

Due mostly to work by Albert Einstein, but also Ernest Rutherford and others, the scientific view of the universe took a drastic turn. These scientists recognized flaws in the classical Newtonian view of the universe. The recognition of these flaws led to the development of the Quantum Theory of Matter as well as Einstein’s Relativity Theory. These theories, as well as the discoveries that they led to, incorporated the entire universe as being comprised of energy, and that particles, time, and space, are just different representations of this energy.

Naturally this faced strict opposition. So much so that in spite of it’s ground-breaking nature as well as the fact that it had been proven, Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity failed to earn him the Nobel Prize. Even to this day many find it difficult to comprehend these more abstract theories. Both concepts – that of empty space and that of solid material bodies (Newtonian Mechanics) – are deeply ingrained in our habits of thought, so it is extremely difficult for us to imagine a physical reality where they do not apply (Capra 64).

Thus, by applying the obstacles faced by modern physicists, it easy to see how a more close-minded western way of thought would be skeptical of Siddartha’s new philosophy. Rather than accept, or even recognize, the more abstract theory of reality that Siddartha would be presenting, western society would rather push it off to the side and stick with it’s more concrete concept; that being Christianity. However, as with modern physics, this opposition would ot be out of stubbornness but simply out of a lack of the ability to grasp the concepts that Siddartha would be trying to portray.

By hypothesizing what would happen had Buddhism been formed in 20th century North America rather than 5th century BCE India, we would be putting Buddhism into a category of Fringe religions. By Fringe religions we mean: all those groups not accorded full social respectability nor recognized as being of equal status with those religious groups in which most important societal spokespersons participate and with which they identify (Shupe 7).

Since Buddhism, ad it been formed by Siddartha in 20th century North America, would be viewed as a Fringe religion at first, we can also apply western societies reaction towards actual Fringe religions to the thesis. It is not a far leap of imagination to move from the observation that a fringe religious group is odd to a sense that its religious challenge really possess a serious potential threat to one’s way of life and valued social relations (Shupe 27). It is this common misconception, imposed upon virtually all new religions, that would prove to be the main obstacle in the formation of Buddhism.

Currently such religious movements as the Jehovah’s Witness, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, and the Black Muslims – established and relevant as they are – face this type of obstacle (Shupe 7). Be it through negative exposure by the media or trouble with the law (one is reminded of Waco Texas) these new Fringe religious face a constant barrage of opposition. The opposition can often get so trumped up, especially by the media, that the religion will often be dismissed as a cult.

The media picked up on the term (cult) undoubtedly because of it’s vaguely xotic, unsavory connotation . . . in the 1970’s, many cults included Mormon’s, Jehovah’s Witnesses . . . and Zen Buddhists . . . irrespective of their differing affinities to Judeo-Christian tradition (Shupe 8). With such a backlash against new religions, it is amazing that Buddhism was even able to get a foothold in North America, despite being a established religion for over 2 millenniums. Despite having these obstacle to overcome, Siddartha’s new found religion would not have to fight on it’s own.

As stated earlier, there are many parallels that can be drawn between Buddhism and modern physics. As a matter of fact, Siddartha Guatama stated over 2000 years ago what has only come into realization by physicists today: He proclaimed it as shiki soku zeku and ku soku zeshiki1. Ku, literally “emptiness” or “void,” does not mean “nothingness” but “equality. ” Shiki soku zeku indicates the idea that all things . . . originate from the same foundation . . . Similarly, ku soku zeshiki means that all things . . . are produced by ku, and therefore ku is identical with shiki (Niwano 207).

It is through this main parallel that it is likely that scientists, hysicists in particular, would embrace this new concept of reality. Through personal experience it is my interest in modern physics that piqued my interest in Eastern Mysticism. Therefor through the western ideal of attaining as much knowledge of the universe as possible (read: space exploration, particle accelerators, etc) it is quite possible that Buddhism, had it been formed in 20th century North America, could become a mainstream religion after surviving the initial onslaught of opposition.

Thus, had Siddartha Guatama been born in modern day North America, there ould be a number of obstacles for him to face in the founding of Buddhism. He would have to overcome the problems of being born into a Christian family/society; a society not used to such abstract ideas of reality, the close- minded nature of western thought, and the problems posed by a media that likes to jump on anything new and unusual and tear it to shreds. However, if it were to overcome these obstacles it is quite probable that it would become a deeply rooted religion in North America due to the likely support it would gain from the scientific community.

The time of the Buddha

The time of the Buddha was one of social and religious change, marked by the further advance of Aryan civilization into the Ganges Plain, the development of trade and cities, the breakdown of old tribal structures, and the rise of a whole spectrum of new religious movements that responded to the demands of the times (Conze 10). These movements were derived from the Brahmanic tradition of Hinduism but were also reactions against it. Of the new sects, Buddhism was the most successful and eventually spread throughout India and most of Asia.

Today it is common to divide Buddhism into two main branches. The Theravada, or “Way of the Elders,” is the more conservative of the two; it is dominant in Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand (Berry 23). The Mahayana, or “Great Vehicle,” is more diverse and liberal; it is found mainly in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan, and among Tibetan peoples, where it is distinguished by its emphasis on the Buddhist Tantras (Berry 24). In recent times both branches, as well as Tibetan Buddhism, have gained followers in the West.

It is virtually impossible to tell what the Buddhist population of the world is today; statistics are difficult to obtain because persons might have Buddhist beliefs and engage in Buddhist rites while maintaining folk or other religions such as Shinto, Confucian, Taoist, and Hindu (Corless 41). Such persons might or might not call themselves or be counted as Buddhists. Nevertheless, the number of Buddhists worldwide is frequently estimated at more than 300 million (Berry 32). Just what the original teaching of the Buddha was is a matter of some debate. Nonetheless, it may be said to have centered on certain basic doctrines.

The first of the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha held, is suffering, or duhkha. By this, he meant not only that human existence is occasionally painful but that all beings; humans, animals, ghosts, hell- beings, even the gods in the heavens; are caught up in samsara, a cycle of rebirth, a maze of suffering in which their actions, or karma, keep them wandering (Coomaraswamy 53). Samsara and karma are not doctrines specific to Buddhism. The Buddha, however, specified that samsara is characterized by three marks: suffering, impermanence, and no- self, or anatman.

Individuals not only suffer in a constantly changing world, but what appears to be the self, the soul, has no independent reality apart from its many separable elements (Davids 17). The second Noble Truth is that suffering itself has a cause. At the simplest level, this may be said to be desire; but the theory was fully worked out in the complex doctrine of “dependent origination,” or pratityasamutpada, which explains the interrelationship of all reality in terms of an unbroken chain of causation (Conze 48).

The third Noble Truth, however, is that this chain can be broken, that suffering can cease. The Buddhists called this end of suffering nirvana and conceived of it as a cessation of rebirth, an escape from samsara. Finally, the fourth Noble Truth is that a way exists through which this cessation can be brought about: the practice of the noble Eightfold Path. This combines ethical and disciplinary practices, training in concentration and meditation, and the development of enlightened wisdom, all thought to be necessary.

For the monks, the notion of offering extends also to the giving of the dharma in the form of sermons, to the chanting of scriptures in rituals (which may also be thought of as magically protective and salutary), and to the recitation of sutras for the dead (Corless 57). All of these acts of offering are intimately involved in the concept of merit-making. By performing them, individuals, through the working of karma, can seek to assure themselves rebirth in one of the heavens or a better station in life, from which they may be able to attain the goal of enlightenment.

Zen Buddhism Zen or Chan Buddhism represents a movement within the Buddhist religion that stresses the practice of meditation as the means to enlightenment. Zen and Chan are, respectively, Japanese and Chinese attempts to render the Sanskrit word for meditation, dhyana (Coomaraswamy 94). Zen’s roots may be traced to India, but it was in East Asia that the movement became distinct and flourished. Like other Chinese Buddhist sects, Chan first established itself as a lineage of masters emphasizing the teachings of a particular text, in this case the Lankavatara Sutra (Coomaraswamy 96).

Bodhidharma, the first Chan patriarch in China, who is said to have arrived there from India in 470 A. D. , was a master of this text. He also emphasized the practice of contemplative sitting, and legend has it that he himself spent nine years in meditation facing a wall (Davids 101). With the importance of lineages, Chan stressed the master-disciple relationship, and Bodhidharma was followed by a series of patriarchs each of whom received the dharma, or religious truth, directly from his predecessor and teacher.

By the 7th century, however, splits in the line of transmission began to develop, the most important of which was between Shenxiu (606-706) and Huineng (638-713), disciples of the 5th patriarch, Hung-jen. According to a later and clearly biased legend, Huineng defeated Hung-jen in a stanza-composing contest, thereby demonstrating his superior enlightenment (Davids 104). He was then secretly named 6th patriarch but had to flee south for fear of his rival’s jealousy. The split between Shenxiu and Huineng accounts for the southern and northern branches of Chan, which competed vigorously for prestige and state support.

Huineng’s branch dominated in the long run, and by 796 an imperial decree settled the matter in his favor posthumously (Berry 122). By then, however, Huineng’s branch was itself beginning to subdivide into several different schools. The subsequent history of Chan in China was mixed. The sect suffered from the great persecution of Buddhism in 845. It recovered better than many Buddhist schools, however, partly because, in contrast to other monastic communities, Chan monks engaged in physical labor, which made them less dependent on state and lay support (Davids 109).

During the Song dynasty (960-1279), Chan again prospered and was a leading influence on the development of Chinese art and neo-Confucian culture (Conze 105). It was during this period that Chan was first established in Japan. Within 30 years of each other, two Japanese monks, Eisai (1141-1215) and Dogen (1200-53), went to China, where they trained respectively in the Linji and Zaodong schools of Chan (Davids 112). These they then introduced into Japan. Rinzai emphasizes the use of the koan, a mental stumbling block or riddle that the meditator must solve to the satisfaction of his master.

Soto lays more stress on seated meditation without conscious striving for a goal, or zazen. Both schools fostered good relations with the shoguns and became closely associated with the Japanese military class (Berry 127). Rinzai in particular was highly influential during the Ashikaga period (1338-1573), when Zen played an important role in propagating neo-Confucianism and infusing its own unique spirit into Japanese art and culture. The heart of Zen monasticism is the practice of meditation; it is this feature that has been most popular in Zen’s spread to the West.

Zen meditation highlights the experience of enlightenment, or satori, and the possibility of attaining it in this life. The strict training of Zen monks, the daily physical chores, the constant wrestling with koans, the long hours of sitting in meditation, and the special intensive periods of practice, or sesshin, are all directed toward this end. At the same time, enlightenment is generally thought of as being sudden. The meditator needs to be jolted awake, and the only one who can do this is his Zen master (Davids 113).

The master-disciple relationship often involves private interviews in which the Zen trait of unconventionality sometimes comes to the fore; the master will allow no refuge in the Buddha or the sutras but demands from his disciple a direct answer to his assigned koan (Davids 114). Conversely, the master may goad the disciple by remaining silent or compassionately help him out, but with the constant aim of trying to cause a breakthrough from conventional to absolute truth (Corless 131). Buddha taught that in order to live a life that is free from pain and suffering people must eliminate any attachments to worldly oods.

Only then will they gain a kind of peace and happiness. They must rid themselves of greed, hatred, and ignorance. They strive to cultivate four attitudes, loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. The basic moral code prohibits killing, stealing, harmful language, sexual misbehavior, and the use of intoxicants. Morality, wisdom, and samadhi, or concentration form the cornerstone of Buddhist faith. By observing these, lust, hatred, and delusion may be overcome. This is known as Nirvana. It is a realistic goal only for members of the monastic community.

The most devoted followers of the Buddha were organized into the monastic sangha. They were identified by their shaved heads and robes made of unsewn orange cloth. Many early monks wandered from place to place, settling down only during the rainy season when traveling was difficult. The Buddhist have lasted because they have the ability to adapt to changing conditions and to a variety of cultures. Monks are expected to live a life of poverty, meditation, and study. They must avoid all sexual activity. They devote themselves to work, study, and prayer. They all dress in special robes.

Monks lay an important part in preserving and spreading Buddhism. The doctrine of Karma is a spiritual doctrine based on the theory of cause and effect. Although Karma does not exactly fit the definition of supernatural phenomenon it is a spiritual doctrine based on the philosophy that God is not responsible for the happiness or failure of an individual, rather, we as individuals are solely responsible for the consequences of our own behavior. The concept of Karma has two major interpretations; the most common approaches are to the idea of reincarnation, particularly in the West where the idea has almost no existence.

In the East, people believe in reincarnation and hold a fatalistic idea of Karma. I favor neither westerner nor easterner extremist approaches to Karma Doctrine. I on the other hand favor only the basic concept of the Karma, since it has gradually inspired me to become a better person. It has motivated me to neglect the satisfaction of my enlarging ego and instead it has encouraged me to take responsibility for my actions; hoping that with this attitude, I might one day achieve peace of body and mind. The West shows almost no interest in the law of Karma.

This is due to its strong links to reincarnation. Most westerners refuse to believe in the transmigration of souls. Believing that you could be a human being in one life and an animal in the succeeding life, is a basic idea of reincarnation that some of us refuse to accept. For example, the act of swatting a fly could be perceived as killing a person, perhaps your mother in a past life. I myself have a hard time believing in such occurrence. If in fact westerners show interest in reincarnation, it is only with a skeptical curiosity of knowing who they were in previous lives.

In the west, no serious research is done on the subject. As stated in the short story The Politics of Being Mortal, “the arrogance of Western science seeking to master rather to work with nature. “(Making Contact, pg. 618). Western society refuses to attempt a true understanding of the spiritual and mystical forces in the soul and in nature. The influence of Christianity in the Western Hemisphere has left us with the belief that God chooses to punish or reward your actions in life and perhaps in heaven or hell.

Christianity which holds the soul works out its rewards or punishments in a single lifetime. The closest mentioning of Karma is in the biblical scripture: ‘for whatever a man sowest, that shall he reap. ‘ (Gal. 6:7)” www. sconline. com. The non-religious western believe that we are in full control of our own destiny, which we are to some extent, but that there is no greater law governing our life is not, in my opinion, entirely true. Good and bad Karma must not be regarded as a reward or punishment, but just simply as a consequence of your actions.

The East is a devoted believer in reincarnation and consequently in the Law of Karma. In the east as well as in the west, Karma is viewed with extreme viewpoints. They believe that their status in this life is a consequence of their actions in a previous life. Drastically differing from the west, easterners humbly accept their destiny and believe it cannot be changed. Unlike westerners, fatalistic eastern people are not really curious to find out what they were in the past life. The eastern society believes that the reason for having an unhappy and miserable life is due to The Law of Karma.

That is, they have no doubt that they deserve the misery they are in now because of the terrible person they once were in their preceding existence. It is within their beliefs that if they accept their punishment calmly and try to be good in this lifetime that they will be rewarded with higher status next time around. In my opinion, the acceptance of the Law of Karma on that basis is too extreme and even pathetic. The Orient’s extremist viewpoint of Karma is clearly reflected in their failure of democracy and social happiness.

Both the western and eastern perspective on the principle of Karma is too extreme. The western society is too unconcerned in respect to reincarnation. Westerners also approach the doctrine of Karma in a cynic manner. Contradictory to western opinion, eastern society holds a fatalistic attitude and no positive outlook on life. A balance has to be reached. People think that believing in the Law of Karma is believing in reincarnation. This is not necessarily true. Karma as a spiritual law, is not adjusted according to our various and conflicting definitions of success and failure.

Good Karma comes about good actions that usually bring happiness to the soul at the expense of your ego. Bad Karma usually results in happiness of ego and pain to the soul. Karma is the concept that every thought, every action that we create sets a consequence. Everything we do will produce effects, which will rebound on us for good or for ill. This is the way we experience what good and bad Karma is. Every instant we are creating Karma, we are creating our fortune right now. Good Karma is created through rendering service or good actions. You serve and you draw yourself to good energy.

By giving positive energy, you set in motion a cause, the effect is love in return; that is the Law of Karma. It is basically the Law of Love. Love strengthens the individual in a way in which he can deal with his own Karma. It is not until we find the right relationship with each other, with ourselves, nature and with whole of which we are a part, we will go on making bad Karma. Learning about the Karma doctrine has brought nothing but positive effects in my life, it has slowly enhanced my desire to become more spiritual and at peace with everyone and everything around me.

Although Karma does not exactly fit the definition of supernatural phenomenon it is a spiritual doctrine based on the philosophy that God is not responsible for the happiness or failure of an individual, rather, we as individuals are solely responsible for the consequences of our own behavior. The concept of Karma has two major interpretations; the most common approaches are to the idea of reincarnation, particularly in the West where the idea has almost no existence. In the East, people believe in reincarnation and hold a fatalistic idea of Karma.

I favor neither westerner nor easterner extremist approaches to Karma Doctrine. I on the other hand favor only the basic concept of the Karma, since it has gradually inspired me to become a better person. It has motivated me to neglect the satisfaction of my enlarging ego and instead it has encouraged me to take responsibility for my actions; hoping that with this attitude, I might one day achieve peace of body and mind. The West shows almost no interest in the law of Karma. This is due to its strong links to reincarnation.

Most westerners refuse to believe in the transmigration of souls. Believing that you could be a human being in one life and an animal in the succeeding life, is a basic idea of reincarnation that some of us refuse to accept. For example, the act of swatting a fly could be perceived as killing a person, perhaps your mother in a past life. I myself have a hard time believing in such occurrence. If in fact westerners show interest in reincarnation, it is only with a skeptical curiosity of knowing who they were in previous lives. In the west, no serious research is done on the subject.

As stated in the short story The Politics of Being Mortal, “the arrogance of Western science seeking to master rather to work with nature. “(Making Contact, pg. 618). Western society refuses to attempt a true understanding of the spiritual and mystical forces in the soul and in nature. The influence of Christianity in the Western Hemisphere has left us with the belief that God chooses to punish or reward your actions in life and perhaps in heaven or hell. “Christianity which holds the soul works out its rewards or punishments in a single lifetime.

The closest mentioning of Karma is in the biblical scripture: ‘for whatever a man sowest, that shall he reap. ‘ (Gal. 6:7)” www. sconline. com. The non-religious western believe that we are in full control of our own destiny, which we are to some extent, but that there is no greater law governing our life is not, in my opinion, entirely true. Good and bad Karma must not be regarded as a reward or punishment, but just simply as a consequence of your actions. The East is a devoted believer in reincarnation and consequently in the Law of Karma. In the east as well as in the west, Karma is viewed with extreme viewpoints.

They believe that their status in this life is a consequence of their actions in a previous life. Drastically differing from the west, easterners humbly accept their destiny and believe it cannot be changed. Unlike westerners, fatalistic eastern people are not really curious to find out what they were in the past life. The eastern society believes that the reason for having an unhappy and miserable life is due to The Law of Karma. That is, they have no doubt that they deserve the misery they are in now because of the terrible person they once were in their preceding existence.

It is within their beliefs that if they accept their punishment calmly and try to be good in this lifetime that they will be rewarded with higher status next time around. In my opinion, the acceptance of the Law of Karma on that basis is too extreme and even pathetic. The Orient’s extremist viewpoint of Karma is clearly reflected in their failure of democracy and social happiness. Both the western and eastern perspective on the principle of Karma is too extreme. The western society is too unconcerned in respect to reincarnation. Westerners also approach the doctrine of Karma in a cynic manner.

Contradictory to western opinion, eastern society holds a fatalistic attitude and no positive outlook on life. A balance has to be reached. People think that believing in the Law of Karma is believing in reincarnation. This is not necessarily true. Karma as a spiritual law, is not adjusted according to our various and conflicting definitions of success and failure. Good Karma comes about good actions that usually bring happiness to the soul at the expense of your ego. Bad Karma usually results in happiness of ego and pain to the soul.

Karma is the concept that every thought, every action that we create sets a consequence. Everything we do will produce effects, which will rebound on us for good or for ill. This is the way we experience what good and bad Karma is. Every instant we are creating Karma, we are creating our fortune right now. Good Karma is created through rendering service or good actions. You serve and you draw yourself to good energy. By giving positive energy, you set in motion a cause, the effect is love in return; that is the Law of Karma. It is basically the Law of Love.

Love strengthens the individual in a way in which he can deal with his own Karma. It is not until we find the right relationship with each other, with ourselves, nature and with whole of which we are a part, we will go on making bad Karma. Learning about the Karma doctrine has brought nothing but positive effects in my life, it has slowly enhanced my desire to become more spiritual and at peace with everyone and everything around me. “My belief is correct for me-you have to find the belief that is correct for you and it will not necessarily be the same as my belief. “

Dukkha – the first of the four noble truths of Buddhism

Dukkha is the first of the four noble truths of Buddhism. The word means suffering, but just to state suffering as the entirety of the first noble truth, is not enough because the expression of dukkha is the first truth that is needed for salvation. Moreover, dukkha is the conclusion of a logical chain of ideas that explains the life and death cycle of mankind. Before a person recognizes the truth of dukkha, he lives in a space of ignorance and with ignorance he seeks the fulfillment of his desires, yet with every demand met, he soon finds dissatisfaction. The longer a person lives the more apparent the truth of demise.

With birth comes pain; with living comes pain and suffering. In life there is despair, confusion and grief. In just one day a man experiences hunger and failure and sickness and at every moment that man knows that no matter how successful, or rich, or famous, or healthy he is; he will die. There is nothing externally that is safe because everything is temporal; even we are temporal. The knowledge of this truth is the first part of the Buddhist salvation. Knowing that all is futile and there is nothing externally that can release us from the truth is the acceptance of dukkha. Hidden in the first noble truth is the dea of dependence.

The human is completely dependent on all that is around him and all that is not in his control. Even death brings a new cycle of rebirth, but it is not really new because the re-birth gathers all of the dependent conditioning activities of the last life cycle. The truth of dukkha has to be an absolute. It is foundational for salvation because it is release from ignorance. In addition, dukkha is unshakable and constant. Though it be the truth in the negative, it is the only safe harbor that one can cling. The second noble truth is the answer to the first noble truth.

That is, what is the root cause of ukkha? In fact, to leave man with dukkha alone there is no salvation. Gautama concluded that tanya is at the heart of dukkha. Tanya, translated-craving, or desire gives a logical explanation for suffering and another releasing truth. Man is born with thirst. Thirst for physical and emotional satisfaction. Man loves friends and family that all perish with man. It is the love that is the problem, not the temporary nature of life. In addition, it is the desires of man that causes sufferings. The book of James stated the truth of tanya in James 1:14, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

Gautama’s discipline in the second noble truth is to extinguish the craving. It is man’s lusts, desires and cravings that are the cause of dukkha, certainly not the dukkha itself. Tanya also contains the concept of ignorance. Ignorance is the inability to see the truth about things, to see things as they really are. It is true that ignorance is a component of dukkha, but Gautama states that ignorance sits in the root cause of dukkha. Therefore, ignorance begins with tanya. Plainly stated, ignorance is not the casual western definition of the word, but it is a link in a chain.

For example, man strives for ermanence and fulfillment, but he is ignorant of the fact that existence will never bring true satisfaction. The practices of satisfaction often times carries an evil type of karma that just fuels the fire for more karma due to the unsatisfied nature of man. So, it is self defeating to attempt to satisfy the desire. Although knowledge is an important aspect for the Buddhist way to salvation; it is not parallel to the Hindu belief that through knowledge-jnana salvation can be achieved. In Buddhist theory, knowledge is a tool that is utilized to achieve the basics of the need for nirvana.

The third noble truth is the sensation of dukkha. Since the root cause of dukkha is explained and known as truth, then with every cause, logically, there must be a way to stop the cause. This is the truth of nirodha. Again, it is another stage of enlightenment, but not the path to enlightenment. It is a foundational truth and the first three truths are connected through the thought processes. The second noble truth tells man the cause. The third noble truth tells man the solution. Simply stated, cease to have desires, expectations and cravings.

In the West, the dea of nirodha is expressed in the book The Road Less Traveled when in the first chapter the author states, “ Life is difficult. Once we accept that life is difficult, it is no longer difficult. ” At first glance the third noble truth may cause one to believe in asceticism, but Buddhism is “the middle way” and asceticism did not work as a means of salvation for Siddhartha. Nirodha is actualized with the realization that pleasure is good, but temporary. Dukkha is present, but acceptance of the good and the evil, or suffering part of the realm of dukkha brings release.

Cessation of the experiences of dissatisfaction can be achieved. First, by accepting pleasure and the enjoyment of pleasure. Second, by accepting that all is impermanent. There is no grief once one internalizes the truth. Buddhism denies dualism and denies the existence of the human soul. An aspect of nirodha is to quench the desire and craving; the experience of dukkha. Once quenched, there is liberation in the all aspects of life. With the realization that dissatisfaction is created through the human psyche, It is in ourselves that we can undermine the process.

The fourth noble truth, magga, is the path by which man comes to know nirvana. The way to release is expressed in an eight fold path. The path is not meant to be a set of ethics to adhere to in fear of an external source, but a way to salvation and liberation from the samsara cycle. Buddhism utilizes meditational and yogic disciplines. Without yoga and concentration the truths of the liberation cannot be realized. Nirvana is the ultimate goal, but the enlightenment is also a progression that begins with insight that leads to knowledge. From knowledge to calmness, then to a higher knowledge, enlightenment and finally nirvana.

Taoism and Buddhism

Taoism and Buddhism were born in the same century. Siddhartha reached enlightenment in approximately 535 B. C. and Lao Tzus teachings were recorded around 500 B. C. There are many similarities in the basics of these two religions. Some of the similarities can be seen clearly when examining the three meaning of Tao. The first definition of Tao is “the way of ultimate reality. ” This means that Tao cannot be percieved, defined, talked about, or thought of. It is too big a concept for humans to comprehend. As in the first line of the Tao Te Ching (the Taoist text meaning The Way and Its Power): “The Tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao.

This is very similar to the Buddhist idea of Nirvana or Enlightenment. Nirvana cannot be understood by one who has not attained it. Even when one has reached Nirvana, he cannot describe it to others, but only help others to reach it as well. In its second sense, Tao means “the way of the universe. ” Tao is something that goes through all beings, all of the earth. It is everywhere, all the time. It is something that flows through everything. This flowing idea links with the idea in Buddhism that Nirvana can be reached by anyone, as long as one is devoted enough and has lost all attachments.

Thirdly, one life must be a certain way to work with the Tao: Tao also refers to “the way of human life” as it “meshes” with the universal Tao in its second sense. This fundamental idea of Taoism has much to do with the “view of unity of man with Heaven and Earth, that is, with Nature. ” Buddhists also believe that one must live in a certain harmony with nature and the universe to reach Nirvana, or, as it is in Taoism, be at one with the Tao. Another vital concept of Taoism is that of the wu-wei which is to achieve action through minimal action or inaction. Action is friction and inaction is pure effectiveness in Taoism.

This concept compares with Buddhist meditation in which one remains perfectly still and uses only ones mind. In this state, one may reach enlightenment. Also, in the Tao Te Ching (13) an idea close to the Buddhist idea of reincarnation is illustrated: Attain to the goal of absolute emptiness, keep to the state of perfect peace. All things come into existence, And thence we see them return. Earth goes back to its origin He who knows eternity is called enlightened. He who does not know eternity is running blindly into miseries” Buddhist reincarnation is the concept that one must go through many cycles of birth, iving, and death.

After many such cycles, if a person releases their attachment to desire and the self, he can attain Nirvana. In the third and fourth lines of the Taoist passage above, the basic idea of Buddhist reincarnation is explained. In the idea of reincarnation lies the belief that a person will be born and reborn until he or she reaches Nirvana. Taoists also believe in that basic idea: “The Tao surrounds everyone and therefore everyone must listen to find enlightenment. ” As you can see, although Taoism is more of a philosophy and less of a religion as Buddhism is, there are many similarities.

Buddhism In America

The stresses and intensity of modern American society have influenced many people to adopt and adapt the principles of Buddhism and other Eastern religions. Some recent statistics from the US department of Health and Human Services show that 75% of the General Population experiences at least “some stress” every two weeks (National Health Interview Survey). Half of those experience moderate or high levels of stress during the same two-week period. It is common knowledge that stress can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and other illnesses in many individuals.

Stress also contributes to the evelopment of alcoholism, obesity, suicide, drug addiction, cigarette addiction, and other harmful behaviors. It was reported that tranquilizers, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications account for one fourth of all prescriptions written in the US each year. With so many mental health problems, it is almost reassuring that Eastern religions are steadily growing. Buddhism On The Move Eastern religions have been practiced in Asia and the Subcontinent for thousands of years longer than Christianity. Buddhism, a main religion of Asia has been practiced in Tibet for Millennia.

Buddhism, Zen and Hindu were first introduced to the western world in 1893 at the World Religions Conference in Chicago. The Dalai Lama represented Buddhism and D. T. Suzuki represented Zen. However, Eastern religions went relatively ignored until 1959, when the Chinese invasion of Tibet left 1. 3 million Tibetans dead and 6,000 Buddhist monasteries destroyed. Tibetan refugees escaped to bordering countries and some fled farther to the US and Europe. Those who fled remembered how the Buddha taught his enlightened disciples to continue to spread his teachings.

“With the Chinese Invasion of Tibet, it was as if a dam had burst; suddenly Tibetan wisdom began to flow freely down from the roof of the world and to the West… and there to fulfill the prophecy come Westerners looking for guidance and eager to develop their own spiritual lives and transplant the flowering tree of enlightenment to their own lives. “(Das, 29) The first westerners to begin to adopt Eastern principles were often people on the fringes of society or in the avant-garde of the arts, literature, and philosophy. The beatniks in the 50s, the Hippies in the 60s and 70s.

Evidence of eastern thought in the writings of Jack Kerouac, Hippies George Harrison and the Beatles studying with the Maharishi Mahesh Yoga. Richard Albert turned his name to Baba Ram Das. In our society today, it seems like everyone knows someone into Eastern religion. From businessmen to politicians to celebrities individuals are joining meditating groups while still maintaining ties to their traditional faiths to “wet their feet” in more satisfying and less materialistic lives. “At retreats youre likely to find yourself sitting next to a stockbroker or a therapist or a retired social worker who may or may not claim to be Buddhist. (Wood, 3)

Unlike the rush of mostly younger Americans to Buddhism that occurred in the 1950s and 1960s, the new ranks include a larger percentage of seekers over 50″(Wood, 2). Now in the West we see many variations of Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Zen, such as Mahayana, Pali, and Vajpareena. Our new, multi-religious land that combines Eastern and Western religion can be described as “the scientific West arriving at something like the fusion of the Confucian cultivation of virtue through the bonds of family and community, Taoist laissez-faire and yearning for nature, and Buddhist compassion for mans need or Nirvana. (Layman, 80) We have adapted religions in many ways to fit our lives.

“Buddhism in America is characterized by great diversity, with both conservative and liberal trends within the same sect and denomination of course, differences in furnishings and hairstyles are superficial, and are either tangential or irrelevant to the Buddhist system of beliefs and basic way of life. But fundamental and widespread changes in American Buddhism are occurring. Its priests and adherents are recognizing that Buddhism must be shown to have relevant approaches to the problems which plague American Society.

Accordingly, sermons and lectures delivered by the clergy are making less use of illustrations recounted by ancient Buddhist saints and are becoming more applicable to everyday living in modern American society. “(Layman, 32) As a result, “The ancient religion of Buddhism grows even stronger roots in a new world, with the help of the movies, pop culture, and the politics of repressed Tibet. ” (Van Biema, 1) Because of the inroads that eastern religions have made in our country there is an increase in personal reform via retreats, “sanghas” a circle of friends who regularly meditate together, and elf-help groups.

We are also undergoing social reform, creating a more accepting society, and building upon an ancient religion. “The number of English language Buddhist teaching centers coast to coast has grown from 429 to almost 2,000″(Wood, 1). What makes Eastern Thought so different from Western Thought. What we currently have in the West, “which is a sort of anti-religious, psychological way of thinking… these psychologies often work against our spiritual side. Buddhism, on the other hand, can help by providing psychological bridges that will reinforce the spiritual side. Toms, 143)

Unlike Western religions, Eastern religions do not teach commandments, rather, natural ways of ordinary human practice. Nor do they teach right and wrong correct and incorrect or wise and ignorant. The Buddha is different from a God or Jesus in that Buddha became perfectly aware of the nature of reality and nature of the self, and he was then able to remove limitations on manifestation and could actually manifest whatever was most helpful to those around him. He was known as Shasta, or teacher, and his objective was to remove the cause of all suffering to find true happiness.

The Buddha can be perceived as omnipotent, he was enlightened and awakened, but he was not the creator. Hinduism, Brahma, Buddhism, Zen, and other Eastern religions are consistent in the belief that there are many gods and one creator, only, they are not sure of the true creator. There are no set areas where one must practice, however, quiet, natural places are encouraged and it can be practiced any time one feels necessary. It can be a daily, weekly, yearly or once in a lifetime act, there are no rules as to when a student must pray.

The basic tenets and ideas of Eastern religions are enerally very different from those of Western religions. Mindfulness the Zen practice of embracing the present, is being profoundly aware of each moment so that people can better appreciate their own lives, and being more compassionate about the suffering of others. Buddhism tries to make sense out of life without fear and guilt that some other religions induce. You find the way that you want to live, open up that way, and then pursue that way. The best way to live the life you want is to “actualize what you realize. ” In other words, make real your dreams.

Thich Nhat Hanh teaches in Zen that, “The other ay be a beautiful sunrise. The other may be your friend, your husband, your wife. The other is love. Mindfulness helps you recognize what is there that makes life real, that makes life possible. “(Toms, 19). Buddhism doesnt believe in God, but believes in the nature of god. They are theistic, only not sure of true creator. The Tibetan vision of reality is in a way, the most super-positive vision of human evolution that one could imagine. The Buddha regarded himself as an empiricist, only relying on that which is known and testable in experience.

What is new to Western thinking is the Buddhist idea hat ethics and spiritual development are also governed by universal laws. “In the West we have a clear sense of personal and group responsibility for the government and welfare of everyone, set forth by Locke, Rousseau, and others in the late 18th century and developed for the next 200 years in the democratic societies in Eastern Europe and the Americas. As Western Buddhists, we are building on one tradition of social responsibility that has been cultivated in monastic settings… ith such a synthesis of traditions, Buddhism in the West is sure to apply the precepts in a new way. (Aitken written by Tworkov, 53)

The forms of introspection that have, to date, been available to Western Philosophers as the raw materials of their craft, have been very limited in their scope and have consequently produced limited world views. What has made people turn to it. Eastern religions have become as accessible as Western religions, because they have spread to every corner of earth. If all else fails, the Internet is a wealth of information. One of the key elements in all of spiritual life is making ourselves available to others. What young men need is nitiation, someone to whom they can show their stuff and prove it otherwise they do it on the street. “(Toms, 849)

The main ideas and themes appeal to many, Buddhist belief in using the mind to change our lives provides practical methods and exercises that we can use every day to change our perception of reality. “Rather than turning us away from what is best in Western Culture, Buddhism can help us return to it, for the west today is in the grip of a major cultural crisis of confidence. (Kulananda, 210)

Buddhism has become so popular in the West, because it teaches one how to be happier and more aware by use of; eeing things as they are, living a sacred life, speaking the truth, loving, attention and focus on what is important to you, and meditation. These concepts work with us, because they are easily adaptable and understandable to the Western way of life. “Zen can be adapted to be useful I modern times. Like water it takes the form of the vessel that contains it without any change in its nature: water remains water whether it is held in a rice bowl or a coffee mug.

Many who seek enlightenment in this day and age may not be able to fulfill their destiny within a purely monastic lifestyle. “(Simpkins, p. 1) Another aspect of Eastern religions that attract Westerners is the ability to be independent in the search of enlightenment. Jakusho Kwong, Soto Priest and abbot of the Soto Zen Buddhist Temple in Genjoji, expresses, “Theres a lot to read, and theres a lot to learn. But for me, the most important thing is whats yours. What can you call your own? And to know that. Not what Suzuki Roshi said, or Maezumi Roshi said, or Katagari Roshi said. What you say. What it means to you.

Thats the only way. ” (Tworkov, 103) “In Zen terms, we are born alone, we die alone, and we have realization alone. “(Toms, 131) Maintaining a lear awareness of our feelings and sensations, we can open out the gap between feeling and craving. This experience strengthens our intuition of how things really are and a series of ever more intensely positive mental states therefore follow. Hindu promotes the ability to listen when people need to be heard. When asked “Whats your road man? ” Jack Kerouac answered, “Holyboy road, madman road, rainbow road, guppy road, its an anywhere road for anybody anyhow.

By saying this, Kerouac means that his path in life is to follow his Taoist religion, be free from others, seek happiness and peace, innocence of outh, and that the path he is on can be universally reached. This just shows how conclusive people can be with their words when they learn what the really important things are. Eastern religions seek to fulfill self and understand the nature of self. They teach the seeker to let “body and mind fall away” and look at the greater picture (Toms, 73). “In going for refuge to the Buddha one commits oneself to becoming more than one is now. (Kulananda, 72)

“In seeking happiness by clinging to a restricting, ego-identity, again and again we cause ourselves and others to suffer. “(Kulananda, 87) More and more public igures such as; Richard Gere, Michael Yauch, Steven Segal, Courtney Love, Oliver Stone, and more, practice the eastern religions and praise their effectiveness. “Yauch is slight and soft-spoken, he says Buddhism, felt real, not hokey. Two generations ago, given his milieu he would have been a curiosity, today he is something of a role model. “(Van Biema, 8-9) Eastern religions can be a cheap alternative to psychotherapy because they are very similar.

Given the sophistication of the Buddhist analysis of the mind and its preoccupation with the eradication of suffering, it is only natural that trong similarities have come to be seen between Buddhism and the contemporary Western Psychotherapy. “(Kulananda, 222) As Buddhism and psychotherapy become closer acquainted with one another, there is an emerging trend towards a kind of psychotherapeutic Buddhism, where the drive towards enlightenment is replaced with the overriding impulse to simply come to terms with oneself and feel better about oneself and the world.

Why has it become important to our society. “Anything infused into our world today about nonviolence can only help. “(Scorsesce) Most people in our society struggle to find the right views. Right views bring us in touch with some of the most important concepts in Buddhist philosophy. How do you perceive life, death, impermanence, suffering, dissatisfaction, and cause and effect? Do we really believe, and know, that we reap what we sow, or do we regard that as just another clich? In the west, we are typically conditioned to push these serious matters aside, and deal with them later.

Buddhism says deal with them now, and youll transform your life. “(Das, 95) Maintaining a clear sense of our feelings and sensations, we can open out the gap between feeling and craving. This experience strengthens our intuition of how things are and a series of ever more intensely positive mental states therefore follow. Two Buddhist ideas, that there is a natural hierarchy of values and that reality is perceived in the imagination, contain within them the seeds of Western Cultural renaissance.

What Buddhism most has to offer Western Philosophy is the notion that ways of conceptualizing are intertwined with ways of being and although one can go about philosophy as if it were a purely intellectual exercise, there is little value in that thought alone cannot apprehend reality. Dharma is timeless not culture bound. “(Das, 378) Dharma, the cosmic law underlying all existence; combines with the Buddha and the Sangha (the community of believers), to form the Three Treasures of the faith. It is one of Buddhisms great strengths that it has at its heart the ideal of spiritual fellowship.

Today, Buddhism is at a critical juncture as it encounters the West. It is no surprise that there have been formidable culture, linguistic, political, and material barriers to overcome in the transmission of Buddha Dharma from the East to the West and from the past on to he present and the future. This is a transition through time as well as through space, spanning continents and oceans, from a traditional Oriental world to a scientific postmodern Western Culture. “(Das, 378) “Modern Western culture is marked by an unprecedented degree of technological sophistication and material abundance.

It is highly complex and deeply fragmented. “(Kulananda, 25) All over, people seem torn between a sincere desire to conquer ego and the drive to be doing so. A great benefit to our society has been the increase in people who aintain less interest in self and more for the benefit of others, as well as the increase of knowledge of the effects. The majority of Eastern Religions promote the ability to listen when people need to be heard. Everything that lives is subject to decay. All conditioned things are impermanent. To be alive is to change.

Without change we would be absolutely inert, but the un-enlightened human condition is to fight change every inch of the way. A following of well known peoples (celebrities, business men, politicians, etc. ) has made Eastern Religion appealing to those who were originally skeptical. A poem that appeared in New Yorker Magazine shows how Buddhism has practically become a “household term” “The huge head of Richard Gere, a tsonga blossom / in his hair, comes floating like a Macys / Parade balloon above snowcapped summit / of sacred Kailas.

Some very outstanding people of the Eastern religions have reached out to those in need, like Roshi Bernard Glassman, founder of the “Bakery Zendo” in Brooklyn, who uses what he learns and teaches to benefit his community. He employs the local homeless and unemployed in his bakery, garment company, and building-renovation services, and houses hem in his large suburban New York mansion where they are allowed to study Zen with the great master.

There has been much progression of Buddhism in the US because, “Americans have always been a do it yourself culture, and this is a do it yourself philosophy. “(Van Biema, 8). But it is definite that there will be much more progression. As Richard Gere said, “There has not been enough time to ferment and intoxicate the culture in America, but our approach, because were so new at it, has a certain eagerness and excitement that you sometimes dont see in Tibetans.

Westerners ask uestions, they take notes. Individuals join meditating groups while still maintaining ties to their traditional faiths to “wet their feet” in more satisfying and less materialistic lives. The progression of Western views to adapt Eastern ideas can be explained as, “Combining monastic views with secular lifestyle has nonetheless served two functions. It has introduced the monastic dimension of the Japanese Zen tradition to the United States, where it may someday figure prominently. It has also been a skillful means for establishing the authority of Zen teachings both within and without the communities. “

Buddhists in Tibet

For over 2000 years Buddhists in Tibet have lived freely and independently, but in 1949-50 that all change when China invaded and took control. 1 All of their traditions and customs, government, environment and rights were taken away and destroyed by this tragic invasion. 2 The majority of Tibetans were either killed or exiled, but the ones exiled have been very strong throughout all of this and stayed true to their beliefs and themselves. After enduring the exile to India, Tibetan Buddhists still managed to live their lives in the traditional Tibetan fashion.

The origin of Buddhism dates back to around 563 BCE , with a man by the name of Siddhartha Guatama. 3 He was an Indian prince born in Lumbini, India. He was completely sheltered as a child and was not let out of the palace. 4 As a result of this, at age 29 he fled the palace and became a homeless monk. 5 This event is called the Great Renunciation. While on his journey he encountered the 4 messengers; an old man, a sick man, a dead man, and a holy man. 6 This was a great revelation for him because he had no idea that those things existed.

After traveling for a while, he decided to join the 5 scetics, where he went without food or sleep for a long period of time and almost died. He did all this in search of the truth. After recovering from his food and sleep deprivation, he decided to turn to meditation to find the truth. So he went to the Bodh Gaya tree and meditated under it until he entered nirvana, which is known as a state of perfect joy. 7 Because he was able to do this, he became the first Buddha. He then traveled for 45 years with his followers called the Sangha, which were his family and the 5 ascetics. They went around teaching people what the Buddha had learned on his journey. He died at the age of 80 and entered nirvana forever. 9

After the Buddha died, the Sangha kept traveling and teaching more and more people Buddhism. In the 7th century Buddhism was introduced to Tibet by teachers from China and Nepal. 10 Then in 775, an Indian monk set up the first monastery in Tibet. 11 Soon after that, Tibetans developed a different style of Buddhism called Vajrayana with Lamas as teachers.

Vajrayana is a combination of the major aspects of Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism. 12 In the 14th century a new sect was formed called Gelugpas. In this a new eader was started called the Dalai Lama, which means great as the ocean. Then from the 17th century until 1950, the Dalai Lama was the head of the state in Tibet and the spiritual leader. 13 He lived in the Potala Palace in the holy city of Lhasa. Prior to the tragedy in 1950, Tibet was a entirely sovereign country.

For example, the Government of Tibet had complete control over their internal and external affairs, the Chinese had no involvement of any kind. Also Tibet had its own currency, stamps, language and writing, maintained it own small army and stayed neutral during World War II. They were entirely ndependent and living their peaceful happy lives. Mr. Sonam T. Kazi, one of the Dalai Lamas Chief Interpreters, on his first visit to Tibet in 1948 said Could there be any other place on this earth where peace and happiness really prevail?

The peace and happiness I saw in Tibet at this time must surely have been the result of the freedom that independent Tibet enjoyed since 1912, under the leadership of H. H. the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, and which continued even after his demise, up until the Communist invasion in 1950. 14 In 1949-50, the Peoples Republic of China invaded and took control of Tibet and ts people. 15 This was an act of unprovoked aggression, and there was no logical reason for it. 6 In doing this China destroyed the Tibetans cultural and religion, independence, environment and universal human rights. 17 China had broken the international laws, violated it own constitution, and went without punishment. 18 Since the Dalai Lama was such a strong believer in non-violence, he tried for 8 years to coexist with the Chinese people in his own country. 19

But even when young children would say, Tibet is independent or Long Live His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Chinese would rrest and put them in prison or labor camps for trying to split the motherland. 0 Exile sources estimated that around 260,000 people died in those camps between 1950 and 1984. 21 Finally on March 10, 1959, the Tibetans decided they could not take it anymore and started a national upraise against the Chinese. 22 The Chinese fought back and stopped the upraise, killing 87,000 Tibetans in central Tibet alone. 23 The International Commission of the Jurists stated in its reports in 1959 and 1960, that there was an a attempted genocide on the Tibetans by the Chinese. 24 The Dalai Lama and around 80,000

Tibetans fled Tibet in search of peace, where the majority of them, including the Dalai Lama, ended up in Dharamsala, India. 25 Local states are still today reporting that up 4 Tibetans a day are trying to cross the border from Tibet to Nepal or India, but the Nepalese government has started to turn the Tibetan refugees over to the Chinese. 26 With the help of the Government of India , the UN High Commission for Refugees and many other, 54 agricultural and agro-industrial refugee settlements were set up, 85 Tibetan schools and almost 200 monasteries. 7

Even though the Tibetans lost basically their entire ives, there have been numerous institutions established to help preserve and promote an ancient heritage and culture facing imminent extinction in its own homeland, whilst enhancing the cultural life of the exile community. 28 When they arrived in India, the Dalai Lama immediately started his plans to create a new community. In 1959, he re-established his government in Dharamsala, India. A popularly elected body of peoples representatives, parliament-in-exile, was created. 9 This was started so the Dalai Lama was not the only person making the momentous decisions that would affect the future on the Tibetan community.

In 1961, the Dalai Lama made a draft constitution and received the help and the opinion of Tibetans. The detailed draft was completed in 1963 and publicized. 30 In January, 1992 the Dalai Lama announced the Guidelines for future Tibets Polity and the Basic Features of its Constitution, where he said that he would not play any role in the future government of Tibet, let alone seek the Dalai Lamas traditional political position. 1 The future government of Tibet would be elected by the people on a basis of adult franchise. 32

The Dalai Lama also announced that during the transition period , between withdrawal of the epressive Chinese troops from Tibet and the final promulgation of the constitution, the administrative responsibilities of the state will be entrusted to the Tibetan functionaries presently working in Tibet. 33 Also during this period the Dalai Lama selected an interim president, who delegated all of his political powers and responsibilities.

Even while not in their homeland, the Tibetans were able to create and run a functioning government. Not only were the Tibetans able to keep their government in existence, they were also able to still practices their spiritual rituals while in exile. One very important ritual that the Tibetans still practice is the Kalachakra Initiation. This is a series of teaching and rituals that began during the fourth century B. C. 34 Today, the high lamas, or teachers, are the people that give the teachings and rituals.

The present Dalai Lama has given the initiation 25 times. The initiation usually lasts 10 days. During this time, students vow to have compassion for all beings and to work for the benefit of others. The initiation urges students to reach a pure, peace-filled inner world while still living in this imperfect earthly world. 5 One important object in the initiation is the Mandala. A Mandala is a circular pictorial representation of the universe created in sand.

It contains images of 722 deities in the shapes of animals, plants, human forms, and abstract symbols. Students in the initiation use the Mandala to visualize in meditation the steps that lead to enlightenment. 36 This spiritual ritual has been around for many, many years and is still able to be practiced by Tibetans in their exiled home. The Tibetans had to experience one of the hardest things anyone could encounter, attempted genocide and exile, and they survived it. This is a very commendable thing because they it would be extremely hard to do.

They had to give up everything they had in their lives, including for many, the ones they love. They had to out that behind them, move into a foreign land and completely start over. They did make a few changes in their government, while in India, but primarily the live their lives in the traditional Tibetan way. They stayed true to their religion and never lost faith in it. Also they never lost faith in the Dalai Lama, and without him I do not think they would be as well off as they are today.

The History Of Buddhism

Soon after Buddha’s death or parinirvana, five hundred monks met at the first council at Rajagrha, under the leadership of Kashyapa. Upali recited the monastic code, Vinaya, as he remembered it. Ananda, Buddha’s cousin, friend, and favorite disciple, and a man of prodigious memory, recited Buddha’s lessons, the Sutras. The monks debated details and voted on final versions. These were then committed to memory by other monks, to be translated into the many languages of the Indian plains.

It should be noted that Buddhism remained an oral tradition for over 200 years after the first council, for the simple reason that India did not as yet have an alphabet. In the next few centuries, the original unity of Buddhism began to fragment. The most significant split occurred after the second council, held at Vaishali 100 years after the first. After debates between a more liberal group and traditionalists, the liberal group left and labeled themselves the Mahasangha, “the great sangha. ” They would eventually evolve into the Mahayana tradition of northern Asia.

The traditionalists, now referred to as Sthaviravada, “way of the elders” or, in Pali, Theravada, developed a complex set of philosophical ideas beyond those elucidated by Buddha. These were collected into the Abhidharma or “higher teachings. ” But they, too, encouraged disagreements, so that one splinter group after another left the fold. Ultimately, 18 schools developed, each with their own interpretations of various issues, and spread all over India and Southeast Asia. Today, only the school stemming from the Sri Lankan Theravadan survives.

One of the most significant events in the history of Buddhism is the chance encounter of the monk Nigrodha and the emperor Ashoka Maurya. Ashoka, succeeding his father after a bloody power struggle in 268 bc, found himself deeply disturbed by the carnage he caused while suppressing a revolt in the land of the Kalingas. Meeting Nigrodha convinced Emperor Ashoka to devote himself to peace. On his orders, thousands of rock pillars were erected, bearing the words of the Buddha, in the new brahmi script, the first written evidence of Buddhism.

The third council of monks was held at Pataliputra, the capital of Ashoka’s empire. There is a story that tells about a poor young boy who, having nothing to give the Buddha as a gift, collected a handful of dust and innocently presented it. The Buddha smiled and accepted it with the same graciousness he accepted the gifts of wealthy admirers. That boy, it is said, was reborn as the Emperor Ashoka. Ashoka sent missionaries all over India and beyond. Some went as far as Egypt, Palestine, and Greece. St. Origen even mentions them as having reached Britain.

The Greeks of one of the Alexandrian kingdoms of northern India adopted Buddhism, after their King Menandros was convinced by a monk named Nagasena, the conversation immortalized in the Milinda Panha. A Kushan king of north India named Kanishka was also converted, and a council was held in Kashmir in about 100 ad. Greek Buddhists there recorded the Sutras on copper sheets which, unfortunately, were never recovered. It is interesting to note that there is a saint in Orthodox Christianity named Josaphat, an Indian king whose story is essentially that of the Buddha. Josaphat is thought to be a distortion of the word bodhisattva.

Emperor Ashoka sent one of his sons, Mahinda, and one of his daughters, Sanghamitta, a monk and a nun, to Sri Lanka, Ceylon, around the year 240 bc. The king of Sri Lanka, King Devanampiyatissa, welcomed them and was converted. One of the gifts they brought with them was a branch of the bodhi tree, which was successfully transplanted. The descendants of this branch can still be found on the island. The fourth council was held in Sri Lanka, in the Aloka Cave, in the first century bc. During this time as well, and for the first time, the entire set of Sutras were recorded in the Pali language on palm leaves.

This became Theravada’s Pali Canon, from which so much of our knowledge of Buddhism stems. It is also called the Tripitaka, or three baskets. The three sections of the canon are the Vinaya Pitaka, the monastic law, the Sutta Pitaka, words of the Buddha, and the Abhidamma Pitaka, the philosophical commentaries. In a very real sense, Sri Lanka’s monks may be credited with saving the Theravada tradition. Although it had spread once from India all over southeast Asia, it had nearly died out due to competition from Hinduism and Islam, as well as war and colonialism.

Theravada monks spread their tradition from Sri Lanka to Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Laos, and from these lands to Europe and the west generally. Mahayana began in the first century bc, as a development of the Mahasangha rebellion. Their more liberal attitudes toward monastic tradition allowed the lay community to have a greater voice in the nature of Buddhism. For better or worse, the simpler needs of the common folk were easier for the Mahayanists to meet. For example, the people were used to gods and heroes. So, the Trikaya, three bodies, doctrine came into being.

Not only was Buddha a man who became enlightened, he was also represented by various god-like Buddhas in various appealing heavens, as well as by the Dharma itself, or Shunyata, emptiness, or Buddha-Mind, depending on which interpretation we look at, sort of a Buddhist Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. More important, however, was the increased importance of the Bodhisattva. A Bodhisattva is someone who has attained enlightenment, but who chooses to remain in this world of Samsara in order to bring others to enlightenment. He is a lot like a saint, a spiritual hero, for the people to admire and appeal to.

Along with new ideas came new scriptures. Also called Sutras, they are often attributed to Buddha himself, sometimes as special transmissions that Buddha supposedly felt were too difficult for his original listeners and therefore were hidden until the times were ripe. The most significant of these new Sutras are these: Prajnaparamita or Perfection of Wisdom, an enormous collection of often esoteric texts, including the famous Heart Sutra and Diamond Sutra. The earliest known piece of printing in the world is, in fact, a copy of the Diamond Sutra, printed in China in 868 ad.

Suddharma-pundarika or White Lotus of the True Dharma, also often esoteric, includes the Avalokiteshwara Sutra, a prayer to that Bodhisattva. Vimalakirti-nirdesha or Vimalakirti’s Exposition, is the teachings of and stories about the enlightened householder Vimalakirti. Shurangama-samadhi or Hero’s Sutra, provides a guide to meditation, shunyata, and the bodhisattva. It is most popular among Zen Buddhists Sukhavati-vyuha or Pure Land Sutra, is the most important Sutra for the Pure Land Schools of Buddhism. The Buddha tells Ananda about Amitabha and his Pure Land or heaven, and how one can be reborn there.

There are many, many others. Finally, Mahayana is founded on two new philosophical interpretations of Buddhism, Madhyamaka and Yogachara. Madhyamaka means “the middle way. ” You may recall that Buddha himself called his way the middle way in his very first sermon. He meant, at that time, the middle way between the extremes of hedonistic pleasure and extreme asceticism. But he may also have referred to the middle way between the competing philosophies of eternalism and annihilationism, the belief that the soul exists forever and that the soul is annihilated at death.

Between materialism and nihilism, an Indian monk by the name of Nagarjuna took this idea and expanded on it to create the philosophy that would be known as Madhyamaka, in a book called the Mulamadhyamaka-karika, written about 150 ad. Basically a treatise on logical argument, it concludes that nothing is absolute, everything is relative, nothing exists on its own, everything is interdependent. All systems, beginning with the idea that each thing is what it is and not something else, Aristotle’s law of the excluded middle, wind up contradicting themselves.

Rigorous logic, in other words, leads one away from all systems, and to the concept of shunyata. Shunyata means emptiness. This doesn’t mean that nothing exists. It means that nothing exists in and of itself, but only as a part of a universal web of being. This would become a central concept in all branches of Mahayana. Of course, it is actually a restatement of the central Buddhist concepts of anatman, anitya, and dukkha. The second philosophical innovation, Yogachara, is credited to two brothers, Asanga and Vasubandhu, who lived in India in the 300’s ad.

They elaborated earlier movements in the direction of the philosophy of idealism or chitta-matra. Chitta-matra means literally mind only. Asanga and Vasubandhu believed that everything that exists is mind or consciousness. What we think of as physical things are just projections of our minds, delusions or hallucinations, if you like. To get rid of these delusions, we must meditate, which for the Yogachara school means the creation of pure consciousness, devoid of all content. In that way, we leave our deluded individual minds and join with the universal mind, or Buddha-mind.

The last innovation was less philosophical and far more practical, Tantra. Tantra refers to certain writings which are concerned, not with philosophical niceties, but with the basic how-to of enlightenment, and not just with enlightenment in several rebirths, but enlightenment here-and-now. In order to accomplish this feat, dramatic methods are needed, ones which, to the uninitiated, may seem rather bizarre.

Tantra was the domain of the siddhu, the adept, someone who knows the secrets, a magician in the ways of enlightenment. Tantra involves the use of various techniques, including the well-known mandalas, mantras, and mudras. ndalas are paintings or other representations of higher awareness, usually in the form of a circular pattern of images, which may provide the focus of one-pointed meditation. Mantras are words or phrases that serve the same purpose, such as the famous “Om mani padme hum. ” Mudras are hand positions that symbolize certain qualities of enlightenment. Less well known are the yidams. A yidam is the image of a god or goddess or other spiritual being, either physically represented or, more commonly, imagined clearly in the mind’s eye.

Again, these represent archetypal qualities of enlightenment, and one-pointed meditation on these complex images lead the adept to his or her goal. These ideas would have enormous impact on Mahayana. They are not without critics, however, Madhyamaka is sometimes criticized as word-play, and Yogachara is criticized as reintroducing atman, eternal soul or essence, to Buddhism. Tantra has been most often criticized, especially for its emphasis on secret methods and strong devotion to a guru.

Nevertheless, these innovations led to a renewed flurry of activity in the first half of the first millenium, and provided the foundation for the kinds of Buddhism we find in China, Tibet, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and elsewhere in east Asia. Legend has it that the Chinese Emperor Ming Ti had a dream which led him to send his agents down the Silk Road, the ancient trade route between China and the west, to discover its meaning. The agents returned with a picture of the Buddha and a copy of the Sutra in 42 Sections. This Sutra would, in 67 ad, be the first of many to be translated into Chinese.

The first Buddhist community in China is thought to be one in Loyang, established by “foreigners” around 150 ad, in the Han dynasty. Only 100 years later, there emerges a native Chinese Sangha. And during the Period of Disunity, or Era of the Warring States, 220 to 589 ad, the number of Buddhist monks and nuns increase to as many as two million. Apparently, the uncertain times and the misery of the lower classes were fertile ground for the monastic traditions of Buddhism. Buddhism did not come to a land innocent of religion and philosophy, of course.

China, in fact, had three main competing streams of thought; Confucianism, Taoism, and folk religion. Confucianisim is essentially a moral-political philosophy, involving a complex guide to human relationships. Taoism is a life-philosophy involving a return to simpler and more “natural” ways of being. And the folk religion, or religions, consisted of rich mythologies, superstitions, astrology, reading of entrails, magic, folk medicine, and so on. Although these various streams sometimes competed with each other and with Buddhism, they also fed each other, enriched each other, and intertwined with each other.

Over time, the Mahayana of India became the Mahayana of China and, later, of Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. The first example historically is Pure Land Buddhism. The peasants and working people of China were used to gods and goddesses, praying for rain and health, worrying about heaven and hell, and so on. It wasn’t a great leap to find in Buddhism’s cosmology and theology the bases for a religious tradition that catered to these needs and habits, while still providing a sophisticated philosophical foundation.

The idea of this period of time as a fallen or inferior time, traditional in China, led to the idea that we are no longer able to reach enlightenment on our own power, but must rely on the intercession of higher beings. The transcendent Buddha Amitabha, and his western paradise, “pure land”, introduced in the Sukhavati-vyuha Sutra, was a perfect fit. Another school that was to be particularly strongly influenced by Chinese thought was the Meditation School, Dhyana, Ch’an, Son, or Zen. Tradition has the Indian monk Bodhidharma coming from the west to China around 520 ad.

It was Bodhidharma, it is said, who carried the Silent Transmission to become the First Patriarch of the Ch’an School in China. From the very beginning, Buddha had had reservations about his ability to communicate his message to the people. Words simply could not carry such a sublime message. So, on one occasion, while the monks around him waited for a sermon, he said absolutely nothing. He simply held up a flower. the monks, of course, were confused, except for Kashyapa, who understood and smiled. The Buddha smiled back, and thus the Silent Transmission began.

Zen Buddhism focuses on developing the immediate awareness of Buddha-mind through meditation on emptiness. It is notorious for its dismissal of the written and spoken word and occasionally for his rough-house antics. It should be understood, however, that there is great reverence for the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, even when they are ostensibly ignoring, poking fun, or even turning them upside-down. Zen has contributed its own literature to the Buddhist melting-pot, including The Platform Sutra, written by Hui Neng, the Sixth Patriarch, around 700 ad.

The Blue Cliff Record, written about 1000 ad. , and The Gateless Gate, written about 1200 ad. And we shouldn’t forget the famous Ten Ox-Herding Pictures that many see as containing the very essence of Zen’s message. During the Sui dynasty and T’ang dynasty, Chinese Buddhism experienced what is referred to as the “blossoming of schools. ” The philosophical inspirations of the Madhyamaka and Yogachara, as well as the Pure Land and Ch’an Sutras, interacting with the already sophisticated philosophies of Confucianism and Taoism, led to a regular renaissance in religious and philosophical thought.

We find the Realistic School, based on the “all things exist” Hinayana School; the Three-Treatises School, based on Madhyamaka; the Idealist School, based on Yogachara; the Tantric School; the Flower Adornment School, which attempted to consolidate the various forms; and the White Lotus School, which focused on the Lotus Sutra. All the Chinese Schools had their representatives in neighboring countries. Korea was to develop its own powerful form of Ch’an called Son. Vietnam developed a form of Ch’an that incorporated aspects of Pure Land and Hinayana.

But it was Japan that would have a field day with Chinese Buddhism, and pass the Mahayana traditions on to the US and the west generally. Again, we begin with the legendary. A delegation arrived from Korea with gifts for the Emperor of Japan in 538 ad. , including a bronze Buddha and various Sutras. Unfortunately a plague led the Emperor to believe that the traditional gods of Japan were annoyed, so he had the gifts thrown into a canal. But the imperial court on the 600’s, in their constant effort to be as sophisticated as the courts of their distinguished neighbors, the Chinese, continued to be drawn to Buddhism.

Although starting as a religion of the upper classes, in the 900’s, Pure Land entered the picture as the favorite of the peasant and working classes. And in the 1200’s, Ch’an, relabeled Zen, came into Japan, where it was enthusiastically adopted by, among others, the warrior class or Samurai. Zen was introduced into Japan by two particularly talented monks who had gone to China for their educations, Eisai brought Lin-chi Ch’an, with its koans and occasionally outrageous antics; Dogen brought the more sedate Ts’ao-tung Ch’an. In addition, Dogen is particularly admired for his massive treatise, the Shobogenzo.

Ch’an has always had an artistic side to it. In China and elsewhere, a certain simple, elegant style of writing and drawing developed among the monks. In Japan, this became an even more influential aspect of Zen. We have, for example, the poetry, calligraphy, and paintings of various monks; Bankei , Basho, Hakuin, and Ryokan. One last Japanese innovation is usually attributed to a somewhat unorthodox monk named Nichiren. Having been trained in the Tendai or White Lotus tradition, he came to believe that the Lotus Sutra carried all that was necessary for Buddhist life. More than that, he believed that even the name of the Sutra was enough.

So he encouraged his students to chant this mantra, Namu-myoho-renge-kyo, which means “homage to the Lotus Sutra. ” This practice alone would ensure enlightenment in this life. In fact, he insisted, all other forms of Buddhism were worthless. Needless to say, this was not appreciated by the Buddhist powers of the day. He spent the rest of his life exiled to a remote island. The Nichiren School nevertheless proved to be one of the most successful forms of Buddhism on the planet. Finally, let’s turn out attention to the most mysterious site of Buddhism’s history, Tibet.

Its first encounter with Buddhism occurred in the 700’s ad, when a Tantric master, Guru Rinpoche, came from India to battle the demons of Tibet for control. The demons submitted, but they remained forever a part of Tibetan Buddhism, as its protectors. During the 800’s and 900’s, Tibet went through a “dark age,” during which Buddhism suffered something of a setback. But, in the 1000’s, it returned in force. And in 1578, the Mongol overlords named the head of the Gelug School the Dalai Lama, meaning “guru as great as the ocean. ” The title was made retroactive to two earlier heads of the school.

The fifth Dalai Lama is noted for bringing all of Tibet under his religious and political control. The lineage continues down to the present 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, born 1935. In 1989, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts on behalf of his people and nation, which had been taken over by the Communist Chinese in 1951. It was in the latter half of the 1800’s that Buddhism first came to be known in the west. The great European colonial empires brought the ancient cultures of India and China back to the attention of the intellectuals of Europe.

Scholars began to learn Asian languages and translate Asian texts. Adventurers explored previously shut-off places and recorded the cultures. Religious enthusiasts enjoyed the exotic and mystical tone of the Asian traditions. In England, for example, societies sprang up for devotees of “orientalia,” such as T. W. Rhys Davids’ Pali Text Society and T. Christmas Humphreys’ Buddhist Society. Books were published, such as Sir Edwin Arnold’s epic poem The Light of Asia. And the first western monks began to make themselves know, such as Allan Bennett, perhaps the very first, who took the name Ananda Metteya.

In Germany and France as well, Buddhism was the rage. In the United States, there was a similar flurry of interest. First of all, thousands of Chinese immigrants were coming to the west coast in the late 1800’s, many to provide cheap labor for the railroads and other expanding industries. Also, on the east coast, intellectuals were reading about Buddhism in books by Europeans. One example was Henry Thoreau, who, among other things, translated a French translation of a Buddhist Sutra into English. A renewal of interest came during World War II, during which many Asian Buddhists, such as the Zen author D.

T. Suzuki, came to England and the U. S. , and many European Buddhists, such as the Zen author Alan Watts, came to the U. S. As these examples suggest, Zen Buddhism was particularly popular, especially in the U. S. , where it became enmeshed in the Beatnik artistic and literary movement as “Beat Zen. ” One by one, European and Americans who studied in Asia returned with their knowledge and founded monasteries and societies, Asian masters came to Europe and America to found monasteries, and the Asian immigrant populations from China, Japan, Vietnam and elsewhere, quietly continued their Buddhist practices.

Today, it is believed that there are more than 300 million Buddhists in the world, including at least a quarter million in Europe, and a half million each in North and South America. I say “at least” because other estimates go as high as three million in the U. S. alone. Whatever the numbers may be, Buddhism is the third largest religion in the world, after Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. And, although it has suffered considerable setbacks over the centuries, it seems to be attracting more and more people, as a religion or a philosophy of life.

Buddhism – Religion or Philosophy

The Buddha’s Words on Kindness This is what should be done Be the one who is skilled in goodness,And who knows the path of peace:Let them be able and upright,Straightforward and gentle in speech. Humble and not conceited,Contented and easily satisfied. Unburned with duties and frugal in their ways. Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful, Not proud and demanding in nature. Let them not do the slightest thing That the wise would later reprove.

Wishing: In gladness and in safety, May all beings be at ease. Whatever living beings there may be; Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none, The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,The seen and the unseen, Those living near and far away, Those born and to-be-born, May all beings be at ease! Let none deceive another, Or despise any being in any state. Let none through anger or ill-will Wish harm upon another.

Even as a mother protects with her life Her child, her only child, So with a boundless heart Should one cherish all living beings: Radiating kindness over the entire world Spreading upwards to the skies, And downwards to the depths; Outward and unbounded, Freed from hatred and ill-will. Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down Free from drowsiness, One should sustain this recollection. This is said to be the sublime abiding.

By not holding to fixed views, he pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision, Being freed from all sense desires, Is not born again into this world. Coexist with any other religion Buddhism is probably the most tolerant religion of the world, as the teaching can coexist with any other religion. Other religions however, aim to be exclusive and cannot accommodate Buddhism at the same time. The Buddhist teaching on God – in the sense of an ultimate Reality – is neither agnostic (as is sometimes claimed), nor vague, but clear and logical.

Whatever Reality may be, it is beyond the conception of the finite intellect, as it follows that attempts at description are misleading, unprofitable, and a waste of time. For these good reasons the Buddha maintained about Reality a noble silence. If there is a Causeless Cause of all Causes, an Ultimate Reality, a Boundless Light, an Eternal Noumenon behind phenomena, it must clearly be infinite, unlimited, unconditioned and without attributes. It follows that we can neither define, describe, nor usefully discuss the nature of THAT which is beyond the comprehension of our finite consciousness.

It may be indicated by negatives and described indirectly by analogy and symbols, but otherwise it must ever remain in its truest sense unknown and unexpressed, as being to us in our present state unknowable. In the same way, Buddhism denies the existence in man of an immortal soul. The Enlightenment which dwells in life does not belong to one form of life. All that is man’s changing and mortal; the Immortal is not any man’s. The Buddha examined the phenomenal life objectively.

Studying effects, and tracing their causes, he produced a science of living which ranks with any other science known to man. Having analysed form, he described the life which uses it, and showed it to be one and indivisible. Man, he declared, can become Buddha, Enlightened, by the principle of Enlightenment within. The process, therefore, is to become what you are, to develop to the full the innate Buddha-Mind by destroying the ignorance-produced, desire-maintained illusion of self which binds us from life to life on the Wheel of Becoming.

All forms of life, said the Buddha, can be shown to have three characteristics in common; impermanence, suffering, and an absence of permanent soul which separates each from the other forms of life. The Buddha pointed out how no thing is the same at this moment as it was a moment ago. Even the everlasting hills are slowly being worn away, and every particle of the human body, even the hardest, is replaced every seven years. There is no finality or rest within this universe, only a ceaseless becoming and a never-ending change.

Buddhism is a natural religion; it does not violate either mind or body. Its ethics closely approximate the Natural Law. The Buddha became cognizant of how men are born and die according to their good and evil actions, according to their self-created Karma (or the consequence of meritorious and demeritorious deeds). Buddhism is a teaching of the Buddha who was born a prince of Kapilavathu, at the part of the Himalaya mountains near the border of Nepal in 623 B. C. He married and had a son.

Although surrounded by all the Court’s glamour and luxuries, the sight of a decrepit old man, sick man, dead man and mendicant monk, these four signs left such a deep impression upon His Mind that, at the age of twenty-nine, He decided to leave His palace and enter \”the homeless life\” of a monk to seek the truth and find a way to salvation for all sentient beings. In His search for salvation among the teachers, He surpassed them and found that their doctrines were insufficient, not leading to Awakening, to Extinction and to Enlightenment and Insight.

He departed those teachers and turned to practice self-mortification for six years with great zeal and effort. Buddha met five ascetics who offered their services to Him, and finally, the Buddha realized that the ascetic exercises were not the right way to attain salvation. He had practiced self-mortification to the limit of His endurance and felt very weakened without achieving anything. So, He partook of food, regained strength and began to practice meditation which finally led to His enlightenment under the Holy Bodi tree near the town of Uruvela, the present Buddha-Gaya when he was only thirty-five years old.

In the Name of Buddha

It is fascinating how belief in something or other could be so powerful and yet deadly. Over the centuries people committed themselves to religion and different kinds of Gods. In some cases peace would rule the people in the name of God, yet people also killed in the name of God. The question I always asked myself was if there really was the right religion or God to believe in. In some cases people believed ways, people it is not an easy question to answer, yet somehow people choose one, and stick by it.

And usually religion comes with the territory or the people around. In this paper I will talk about two types of religions that caught my eyes; Mahayana Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism. I will compare and contrast the roots of each religion and the big concept in each of them, if there is one. The foundation of these religions is one, Buddha. But they were introduced in different times and ways. Theravada Buddhists believe that they practice the original form of Buddhism as it was handed down to them by Buddha.

Theravada Buddhism dominates the culture of Sri Lanka, but is also very prominent in Thailand and Burma. While Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, spent several decades teaching, none of his teachings were written down until several hundred years later. In the third century, Asoka, the great Mauryan emperor, converted to Buddhism and began to sponsor several monasteries throughout the country. He even sent missionaries out to various countries both east and west. During his reign, the teachings of Buddha spread all across India and Sri Lanka.

Disturbed by the prolific growth of Buddhist heresies, a council of Buddhist monks was convened at the Mauryan capital of Patna during the third century BC to purify the doctrine. What arose from that council, more or less, were the definitive teachings of Theravada Buddhism; from this point onwards, Theravada Buddhism undergoes little if any change. When the teachings of Buddha were finally written into a canon, they were written not in Sanskrit, but in a language derived from Sanskrit, called Pali.

This language was spoken in the western regions of the Indian peninsula, but from Sri Lanka (which is off the eastern coast of India) to Burma, the Pali scriptures would become the definitive canon. We can’ determine precisely when they were written down, but tradition records that the canon was first written down somewhere between 89 and 77 BC, that is, over four hundred years after the death of Buddha. This canon is called the Tripitaka, or “Three Baskets,” for it is divided into three parts, the Vinaya, or “Conduct,” the Sutta , or “Discourses,” and the Abhidhamma , or “Supplementary Doctrines. The second part, the Discourses, is the most important in Buddhism.

These are discourses by the Buddha and contain the whole of Buddhist philosophy and morality. The basic doctrines of Theravada Buddhism correspond fairly exactly with the teachings of Buddha. Theravada Buddhism is based on the Four Noble Truths and the idea that all of physical reality is a chain of causation; this includes the cycle of birth and rebirth. Through the practice of the Eightfold Noble Path and the Four Cardinal Virtues, an individual can eventually attain Nirvana .

Theravada Buddhism, however, focussed primarily on meditation and concentration, the eighth of the Eightfold Noble Path; as a result, it emphasized a monastic life removed from the hustle and bustle of society and required an extreme expenditure of time in meditating. This left little room for the bulk of humanity to join in; Theravada Buddhism was, by and large, an esoteric religion. A new schism then erupted within the ranks of Buddhism, one that would attempt to reformulate the teachings of Buddha to accomodate a greater number of people: the “Greater Vehicle,” or Mahayana Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism

Theravada Buddhism focused primarily on meditation and concentration, the eighth of the Eightfold Noble Path; as a result, it centered on a monastic life and an extreme expenditure of time in meditating. This left little room for the bulk of humanity to join in, so a new schism erupted within the ranks of Buddhism in the first century AD, one that would attempt to reformulate the teachings of Buddha to accomodate a greater number of people. They called their new Buddhism, the “Greater Vehicle” (literally, “The Greater Ox-Cart”) or Mahayana, since it could accomodate more people and more believers from all walks of life.

They distinguished themselves from mainstream Theravada Buddhism by contemptuously referring to Theravada as Hinayana, or “The Lesser Vehicle. ” The Mahayanists, however, did not see themselves as creating a new start for Buddhism, rather they claimed to be recovering the original teachings of Buddha, in much the same way that the Protestant reformers of sixteenth century Europe claimed that they were not creating a new Christianity but recovering the original form.

The Mahayanists claimed that their canon of scriptures represented the final teachings of Buddha; they accounted for the non-presence of these teachings in over five hundred years by claiming that these were secret teachings entrusted only to the most faithful followers. Whatever the origins of Mahayan doctrines, they represent a significant departure in the philosophy. Like the Protestant Reformation, the overall goal of Mahayana was to extend religious authority to a greater number of people rather than concentrating it in the hands of a few.

The Mahayanists managed to turn Buddhism into a more esoteric religion by developing a theory of gradations of Buddhahood. At the top was Buddhahood itself which was preceded by a series of lives, the bodhisattvas. This idea of the bodhisattva was one of the most important innovations of Mahayana Buddhism. The boddhisattva , or “being of wisdom,” was originally invented to explain the nature of Buddha’s earlier lives. Before Buddha entered his final life as Siddhartha Gautama, he had spent many lives working towards Buddhahood.

In these previous lives he was a bodhisattva, a kind of “Buddha-in-waiting,” that performed acts of incredible generosity, joy, and compassion towards his fellow human beings. An entire group of literature grew up around these previous lives of Buddha, called the Jataka or “Birth Stories. ” While we do not know much about the earliest forms of Buddhism, there is some evidence that the earliest followers believed that there was only the one Buddha and that no more would follow. Soon, however, a doctrine of the Maitreya , or “Future Buddha,” began to assert itself.

In this, Buddhists believed that a second Buddha would come and purify the world; they also believed that the first Buddha prophesied this future Buddha. If a future Buddha was coming, that meant that the second Buddha is already on earth passing through life after life. So someone on earth was the Maitreya . It could be the person serving you food. It could be a child playing in the street. It could be you. What if there was more than one Maitreya? That certainly raises the odds that you or someone you know is a future Buddha.

The goal of Theravada Buddhism is practically unattainable. In order to make Buddhism a more esoteric religion, the Mahayanists invented two grades of Buddhist attainment below becoming a Buddha. While the Buddha was the highest goal, one could become a pratyeka-buddha , that is, one who has awakened to the truth but keeps it secret. Below the pratyeka-buddha is the arhant , or “worthy,” who has learned the truth from others and has realized it as truth. Mahayana Buddhism establishes the arhant as the goal for all believers.

The believer hears the truth, comes to realize it as truth, and then passes into Nirvana. This doctrine of arhanthood is the basis for calling Mahayan the “Greater Vehicle,” for it is meant to include everyone. Finally, the Mahayanists completed the conversion of Buddhism from a philosophy to religion. Therevada Buddhism holds that Buddha was a historical person who, on his death, ceased to exist. There were, however, strong tendencies for Buddhists to worship Buddha as a god of some sort; these tendencies probably began as early as Buddha’s lifetime.

The Mahayanists developed a theology of Buddha called the doctrine of “The Three Bodies,” or Trikaya. The Buddha was not a human being, as he was in Theravada Buddhism, but the manifestation of a universal, spiritual being. This being had three bodies. When it occupied the earth in the form of Siddhartha Gautama, it took on the Body of Magical Transformation (nirmanakaya ). This Body of Magical Transformation was an emanation of the Body of Bliss (sambhogakaya ), which occupies the heavens in the form of a ruling and governing god of the universe.

There are many forms of the Body of Bliss, but the one that rules over our world is Amithaba who lives in a paradise in the western heavens called Sukhavati, or “Land of Pure Bliss. ” Finally, the Body of Bliss is an emanation of the Body of Essence (dharmakaya ), which is the principle underlying the whole of the universe. This Body of Essence, the principle and rule of the universe, became synonymous with Nirvana. It was a kind of universal soul, and Nirvana became the inspirational joining with this universal soul.

Theravadan Buddhism Essay

Throughout history there have been numerous religions and theologies that men and women have entrusted their lives and ways of living to. One of the most intriguing is that of Buddhism. The great Buddha referred to his way as the middle way, and he, as the Enlightened One began the teachings of the religion with his first five Ascetics who he shows his middle way. This great occasion is the start to what will be known as Theravadan Buddhism. Although Theravadan Buddhism would later be seen as the small vehicle, it provides the first idea of the doctrine anatman or having no-self that shapes the ideas of every Buddhist today.

Theravadan Buddhism which means The teaching of the elders, is the teaching of the Buddha in its true traditional form. After attaining enlightenment under the Bohdi tree, the Buddha returns to five ascetic monks he had been associated with previously. He taught them the essential parts of Buddhism which include the vital Four Noble Truths. These teachings were taught by monks, and they give the fundamental truths on which the religion was founded.

These are the Four Noble Truths: (1) all life is inevitably filled with sorrow; (2) sorrow is directly due to craving; (3) sorrow can only be stopped by stopping the craving; and (4) this can be done only by disciplined and moral conduct with meditation led by the Buddhist monk. These truths show that the Buddhists saw all things as transient, and being transient there is no eternal Self or soul, hence anatman or no true self. While the Theravadan Buddhist practiced the idea of anatman, there were other movements that practiced the idea of atman or true self.

The Upanishadic movement, which started about 300 years before the Theravadan practice, revolves around a story of a boy who Yama tells there is a self in everyone. This true self or atman is covered up by the illusion of an individual. As this way of thinking was being taught, people began to uprise and question if religion is worth it. This leads to many ascetic movements in which people leave their homes to be scavengers. Because this could be done by any it began to get very popular. The many ascetic movements gave rise to many different individual movements, but the main one besides Buddhism was Jainism.

Jainism was a movement that said in every thing there is a Jiva or soul which resembles the atman. Karma is the stuff or gunk that covers up the Jivas and makes things appear to be different. Even though a monk was the only one who could totally free Jivas, lay people could do good deeds and suffer willingly to dissipate karma from their atman. In this movement the final step for a monk to reach Nirvana was the starving to death of ones self. In a complete contrast to the teachings of the Jainic movement the Theravadan Buddhists saw there being no atman at all.

Buddhists accepted the teaching of the doctrine of karma which causes all who have it to be reborn into a state of life according to the built up karma. The only way to stop this rebirth is to achieve Nirvana. The state of non-existence or annihilation. They also felt that when passing from one existence to another no permanent entity or atman transmigrated from body to body. The reason for there being no self is because self can not be found in the five basic aggregates or Skandhas. These being matter, feeling, perception, constructing activities, and consciousness were all made up of dharma or small atomic units.

This seems to be contradictory because if there is no self then these dharma shouldnt be present because they would in a sense create a self, even if they just came in and left every second. The Theravadan Buddhists were very particular in what they practiced and what they worshipped. They were never found praising idols or human images, rather they took to praising the Bodhi trees, footprints, and stupas or burial mounds. Their worship centered around the continuous life and rebirth into one of the five levels of society.

These were heavenly devas, humans, animals and plants, praeta, and hell beings. All of ones karma that he or she accumulates in their life determines the level they are reborn into. This is all tied into the seeing of existence as Dukka and the goal is to get out of Dukka into Nirvana. In almost a total contrast to the Theravadan way of thinking is the much earlier teaching of the Vedic religion of the Aryan people. According to Vedic thought, Brahman or the atman is a passenger of a chariot. The chariot is the body and the driver of the chariot is the mind which the atman is trying to escape from.

In their religion there are numerous gods like Indra the god of war and Agni the god of fire. There are eventually four classes structured from the body of Purusa, these are Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. While people liked the idea of having gods watching over them, the fact that the Brahman class began to gain a monopoly on maintaining cosmic order and power made many uneasy. People begin to see the earth as a trap, and they doubt the greatness of Heaven and the oneness, unchanging unity in the world. From this is a rise to the Upanishads. These are speculative elaborations of the Vedas.

While each of these movements has a very distinct meaning to it and path to follow, I feel that all of these ways of life are flawed. In most of the religions only the higher classes can reach the supreme way of life. The regular people are stuck, and they can only help the monks or Brahmans to attain their goal. This seems very unfair even if they are producing good karma. In the Vedic religion the Shudras dont even have the option of studying the holy text. They have no chance of gaining entrance to another level of being until their next life. Theravadan belief of the being no true self is all together mind boggling.

If there was no self then how can karma pass from one existence to another. It cant. Each period in time has new ways of thinking and viewing the world. India has been a place of many movements in the field of religion. These early ideas and practices of Theravadan monks can be seen as one of the many religious ideas of the past, that has in some places lasted to the present day. As is the case with all religion, it will be subject to scrutiny, questioning, and slander. While many may not see the Theravadan way of anatman as being right or even sane, it is their way of life and they should be respected for it.

The Concept of Dukkha in Buddhism

From its origins in India to its expansion North to Tibet and East through China and eventually Japan, Buddhism has undergone many changes. These changes are usually evidenced in its iconography, and somewhat in popular practice, but the essential tenets remain unchanged. One of these tenets is “Dukkha” or the idea of inescapable human suffering.

The kinds and origins of dukkha are as varied as the regional practices of Buddhism itself, ranging from the ancient and very symbolic, to the modern and very pragmatic. Explanations of dukkha, no matter from what ideology they come, offer an interesting insight into one religions standpoint on human suffering. Dukkha is a fascinating concept that asserts that suffering is the lot of anyone born to this existence, the so-called “bad news” of Buddhism.

Unlike other religions that assert that suffering is either the will of God, or an inheritance of original sin, Buddhism places suffering squarely at the bearers doorstep, either by past bad karmic actions, the discomfort we cause ourselves by searching for inherently unfulfilling paths, or by the simple fact that by inhabiting a human form we are subject to the deterioration of all physical matter. Aging, growing, living, and dying are all facts that even the most enlightened cannot transcend.

Since all of the translations of Buddhist philosophy I’ve been able to consult are in English, and for the most part done by Americans (with the exception of a few ) I will begin by acknowledging the fact that by definition English translation/ relation of Buddhist text are at least minimally affected by modern influence the fluctuation in meaning of the same kinda of dukkha. I will clarify: Buddhism is a religion of numbers. While in many religions the symbolism of numbers has long been mystical, memorial, or even used as a way to teach the illiterate; Buddhism makes use of numbers in so many ways as to make your head spin.

The first and foremost among those numbers being the Four Noble Truths: the first, as was mentioned earlier, that we all, great and small, must suffer (dukkha). The second being that while there are different kinds of dukkha we tend to bring it on ourselves because we seek satisfaction in ways that are inherently dissatisfying. The third, and fourth noble truths are respectively, that the possibility of liberationfrom dukkha exists for all, and that the way to liberation is virtue, wisdom, and meditation; all delineated in The Eightfold Path of Enlightenment.

While these Four Noble Truths have been stated much more bluntly or eloquently than I have managed here, it is most necessary to understand the first two Noble Truths for our purposes. In my research to list and define different kinds and origins of dukka, I was more suprised to find that indeed, putting a finger (an English speaking finger at that) on the word dukkha itself was quite a challenge. The word “dukkha” does not translate well to English, it has an antonym in the word “sukkha” which means satiated or comfortable, but dukkha is not the exact opposite.

The literal Sanskrit word means “wheel out of balance” but it is used in many ways such as “off the mark” “frustrating” “hollow” and even “pain”, but in most cases it is equated with the English word “suffering”. So by agreeing that suffering has many different forms ranging from minor inconveniences to blunt physical torture, and every emotional shade of grey in between, “suffering” then becomes an adequate word. Any book you pick up on Buddhism will touch on dukkha in some way.

In fact, a good way to tell a westernized translation from something translated as closely as possible to the literal is to read the Four Noble Truths (also addressed in almost all Buddhist books). The ones that come straight from China translated by a first year English student will say something like: First Noble Truth: Life is Pain, Second Noble Truth: Life is Pain Because of Attachments, Third Noble Truth: All Can Be Free From Attachments, Fourth Noble Truth: Enlightenment.

The ones that are published by a Yoga teacher from Berkeley, begin something like: Life Can Have Hardships… It is an interesting point to witness how unpalatable the idea of difficulty is to Western consciousness when comparing the two versions. There are so many kinds of dukkha, I cannot fit them all into this paper. There is so-called “Ordinary” dukkha; which entails things that we encounter constantly; this is also called Pain dukkha, but again there is a problem with translation as we usually take “pain” to mean something strong and physical, when in fact it may be included in the grey scale we discussed earlier. Ordinary dukkha consists of everyday problems.

Everybody has to endure emotional as well as physical pain. Cars break down, accidents happen, and eventually someone you love dies. In the Buddhist religion this is seen as an opportunity to keep a realistic outlook on life. “Mental suffering takes place when we don’t get what we want or are forced to live with something we don’t want (Hagan. Bp&s). But from a Buddhist point of view this is seen as an opportunity to face, overcome, and accept as well as being the counterpoint to the other things life has to offer : namely the enormous potential for joy and transcendence.

This is an interesting point in that few, if any, other religions is everyday suffering addressed. So often it is the constant stream of small trials we face that break us down and turn us into the ugly creatures we so often are. By acknowledging this as a polarity and a necessary evil Buddhism addresses an issue so often overlooked in the contemplation on human suffering. One of the m ost common things that cause us pain is change. Man above all resists change; so much so that even when people are in a painful or dangerous situation they will continue in this fashion rather than risk the uncertainties of change.

Change is traumatic, even when it is a happy one. This is evidenced by the fact that events such as getting married, having a child, and winning the lottery register among the most stress producing events in a persons life (Comer, Abnormal Psych. ch. 5) The Buddha knew that not only was Pain an inevitable fact of human life but also change. “Change Dukkha” is caused by any change in ones circumstances that cause us discomfort; all aspects of our lives and ourselves is in constant flux, and as a result we try to “nail” things down. This fixation on fixation is a cause of dukkha .

By externally trying to manipulate, control or force our circumstances we set ourselves up for disappointment. Dukkha is funny in that one cause can encompass all forms of dukkha, as is apparent when our disappointment resulting from our reaction to change becomes pain dukkha because of the fruitless outcome. The attempts we unconciously make to keep things as we want are an endless source of dukkha, and most of the time we are completely unaware. Taken to the extreme on one hand and the mundane on the other, most of our personal and social rituals are based in the hope of making things concrete.

Opening a bank account, getting married, or joining a fellowship of any kind are all common ways of trying to ensure that things on which we depend (spiritual/mortal crutches) don’t go away or disappear. Societies are full, both in secular and religious practice of rituals that are meant to bind, from having a Delchamps gold card, to baptizing a child, we forever seek to align ourselves with something, depending on the person, in order to protect ourselves from the unknown that change represents.

However, reality is change and in Buddhist philosophy the awakened mind seeks not to solidify but to de-construct, losing the attachments, great and small that are the plague of human existence. All that exists changes, and being at peace with that change is a major step in the path to enlightenment. The third and last major cause of dukkha is that of existence.

The “dukkha of existence” is the distress caused by the question of being human; “Who am I? Who or what, if anything, is experiencing my experience? ” “Where or how is the experiencer? ” It is from the dukkha of existence that we are introduced to the five skandhas which when examined offer the Buddhist answer to all these philosophical questions to which we do not posses the answer, not the least of which is: “What happens when we die? ” In the Buddhist faith it is believed that the individual is composed of five Skandhas, or complex conglomerates, for lack of a better term.

The first being a form and ‘material’, the last four being of the mind and therefore immaterial. The five skandhas are said by Buddha to be what makes up a person, the body being the vehicle with its own attributes and, and the mind composing the other characteristics of an individual. This could also be described as mind and body; Nama mind, Rupa body, in sanskrit. A quick reference chart follows: This is again where it is interesting to witness the translatory difference between the “western” and more traditional or ancient texts.

The singular difference I find is that if the skandhas are mentioned in westernized texts they are depicted as five different and distinctly separate groups working to cause their own contribution to your tribulation, whereas in the oldest texts things aren’t nearly so clearly delineated and are perceived to be part of a larger cycle of pain and causation. Nama-Rupa is the Buddhist / Sanskrit term for individual, and it translates pretty well. Literally Nama-Rupa means mind / body, but it refers to not just the physical person but all that is mental and experiential that makes up the person.

There is a great question in Buddhism that is one of Cause. In numerous Buddhist texts the form / formulas and components of cause are discussed. “Cause” actually means the prime causes of pain, or dukkha. One very interesting point is that these formulas can be applied universally (as in to the human condition) as well as individually in every case. One of the simpler forms is demonstrated here: This is taken from the Lalita Vistara within the Mahavastu: “… Then again the Bodisattva thought: When what exists do old age and death come to be, and what are the causes of old age and death?

He thought: When birth exists do old age and death arise for they have birth as their cause. ” If we follow this thought further we realize that in the same way birth has coming into existence (bhava) as its cause, coming into existence has grasping (upadana) as its cause, grasping has craving (tanha) as its cause, craving has sensation (vedana) as its cause, sensation has contact (sparsa) contact has the six sense organs (sadayatana) the six sense organs have mind-body (nama rupa) mind-body has consciousness (vijnana), consciousness has the aggregates of intentionality, or Will (samskarah) and will has ignorance (avidya)

We have no idea that it is the wheel of Samsara and our existence on it that causes us to suffer. So with our will and intentions we create our own consciousness, consciousness needs a format this level of existence to act through, so it inhabits a body, the body includes the sensory faculties, which through any stimulatory contact creates sensation, these sensations are temporarily satisfying and so we crave them, craving is a result of grasping for existence, and it is the grasping for existence that leads us to continual rebirths.

This has been called the “wheel of becoming” and even though I simplified much of process in interest of space, it is a clear and simple formula of causation. In the Divyavadana (300) Buddha requires there to be built a “Five Spoked Wheel” for learning and reminding purposes. He describes how it is to be made: “The five spoked wheel … is to be made with the five destinies (gati), the hells, the animals, ghosts (pretas), gods and human beings… ”

These are directly descended from the consciousness skandha and are addressed on the chart, but require too much space to go into here. Another interesting point is that the philosophers who wrote the texts for Americans (because at this point it is too interpretive to be called translation) have found that the wheel of gods and hungry ghosts can be relative to the six senses, And so, I have also included this in the chart for the sake of comparison, but unfortunately, not discussion.

In some books (I’ve come across two; both Zen oriented and western) the explanations and discussions of skandhas are forsaken in favor of a simpler explanation of our craving and how it affects us: The first is Sensual Desire; the second is Craving Existence; and the last one deals with beings who are no longer ignorant of the fact that it is the material form and rebirths that cause us hardship but instead find craving in an ‘enlightened way’ and crave Non-Existence. The sensual desire is physical and at the same time mental.

We want to be physically comfortable but we also desire mental pleasures as well, conversation, art, relationships, etc. The thirst for existence is pretty self-explanatory: we do not wish to die. Or, for that matter cease existing at all, and we have a thousand ways to ensure that we somehow continue to exist after we are gone. But even those who have abandoned their search for existence still face the third craving of non-existence. Once we realize this is where all our trouble and pain arises, we wish to be released from it.

Buddhism is one of the worlds largest religions with almost two hundred and eighty million followers, Buddhism was founded about 500 b. c. and has been a dominant religion, cultural, and social determinant in most of Asia. Buddhist philosophy is highly adaptable and has meshed well with every culture it has been introduced to; especially India, China, Tibet, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, as well as the rest of South East Asia. Perhaps Buddhisms longevity is a result of the idea that while suffering is inescapable, there are real actions we can take to alleviate this pain.

Buddhism is singular in that not only does pain have a real and tangible source instead of a vague philosophical idea, but it is up to the practitioner to end his own suffering with the pragmatic steps provided in Buddhist scripture. Indeed, Buddhisms steps to freedom and enlightenment offer wise words to even non-Buddhists. Perhaps with a little more time the west will let go of the fear of acknowledging pain and be able to read and understand Buddhist philosophy with a richer understanding, bringing us all closer to the goal.

Zen Buddhism Essay

Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha (the enlightened one), in southern Nepal in the fifth and sixth centuries B. C. Buddhism teaches that meditation and the practice of good religious and moral behavior can lead to nirvana. The teachings of the Buddha have, to this day, been passed down from teacher to student. Around 475 A. D. one of these teachers, Bodhidharma, traveled from India to China and introduced the teachings of the Buddha there. In China Buddhism mingled with Taoism. The result of this mingling was the Ch’an School of Buddhism.

Around 1200 A. D. Ch’an Buddhism spread from China to Japan where it is called (at least in translation) Zen Buddhism. Zen is also known as Eastern Buddhism, which is prominently in China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Buddhism was initially accepted by the working class and then slowly became accepted in the ruling classes. Buddhism flourished from the sixth century until the nineteen sixties when it was repressed in China during the Cultural Revolution. Zen Buddhism spread into Canada in the nineteen nineties. Buddhism has spread to all parts of the globe. Zen has influenced Japan by infiltrating all classes of citizens.

What is the essence of Zen? The question cuts right to the heart of the matter and can only be answered by you. Perhaps the best answer is “practice”. One of the central points of Zen is intuitive understanding. As a result, words and sentences have no fixed meaning, and logic is often irrelevant. Words have meaning only in relation to who is using them, who they are talking to, and what situation they are used in. Some postings are indeed nonsense; other postings appear to be nonsense at first but this is because the meaning is all between the lines.

Zen and poetry have gone hand in hand for centuries. Meditation is the key element in Zen. The harder you work to achieve Zen the less likely you are to achieve it. In fact, Zen means meditation practice. It is sometimes called a religion and sometimes called a philosophy. Choose whichever term you prefer; it simply doesn’t matter. Through my research I have found some common meditation techniques used by Zen Buddhists. These techniques are about the positioning of body and mind to experience the full affect of meditation. Hand Positioning is the first element.

Gassho is performed by placing the hands palm to palm slightly in front of the chest with the arms parallel to the floor. Shashu is performed by placing the thumb-tip of the left hand as close to the left-palm as comfortable and making a fist around it. Place the fist in the center of the chest and cover it with the right hand. Keep the elbows away from the body with the forearms parallel to the floor. Isshu is the same as shashu but with the left fist turned thumb side toward the chest. Left fist and thumb are parallel to the floor and not vertical as in shashu.

Hokkaijoin (Cosmic Mudra) is performed in the following manner. Place your right hand palm upward in your lap against the lower abdomen. Place the left-hand palm upward on top of the right. The second joints of the middle fingers should be touching, and your fingers parallel. Raise the thumbs up opposite the fingers and touch the thumb tips lightly together; forming an oval between the thumbs and fingers. The thumb tips should join at the approximate level of the navel. In some Tibetan teaching lines the right hand is placed on top of the left.

Settling Into the Posture is the second step. Place a thick mat (zaniku or zabuton) in front of the wall and place a small round cushion (zafu) on it. Sit on it facing the wall. There are several positions for the legs. If not too cold sit with bare feet. The cross-legged positions provide greatest stability. To sit in full lotus, place the right foot on the left thigh and then the left foot on the right thigh. To sit in half lotus place your left foot on your right thigh. Try to cross the legs firmly so that the knees and the base of the spine provide a stable tripod of support.

The order of the crossing of the legs may be reversed. It is also possible to simply sit on the floor with one foreleg in front of the other or kneeling using a bench or a cushion. To sit in a chair, place the feet flat on the floor and use a cushion to elevate the seat so that the upper thighs fall away from the body and follow the rest of the applicable instructions. Rest the knees firmly on the zaniku, straighten the lower back, push the buttocks outward and the hips forward, and straighten your spine. Pull in your chin and extend the neck as though to support the ceiling.

The ears and shoulders should be in the same plane with the nose directly above the navel. Straighten the back and relax shoulders, back, and abdomen without changing posture. Keep the mouth closed placing the tongue with the tip just behind the front teeth and the rest of the tongue as close to the roof of the mouth as comfortable. Keep the eyes at least slightly open cast downward at a 45 degree angle without focusing on anything. If closed you may slip into drowsiness or daydreaming. Rest the hands palm up on the knees and take 2 or 3 deep abdominal breaths.

Exhale smoothly and slowly with the mouth slightly open by pulling in on the abdominal wall until all air has been expelled and inhale by closing the mouth and breathing naturally. Hands still on the knees sway the upper half of the body left to right a few times without moving the hips. Sway forward and back. These swayings are at first larger and then smaller enabling you to find the point of balance of your posture. Finally, place your hands in Hokkaijoin (Cosmic Mudra, the oval shape against your abdomen described above under Hand Positions).

Observe breathing during zazen, but do not try to manipulate the rhythm or depth of the breath. Breathe gently and silently through the nose without attempting to control or manipulate the breathing. Let the breath come and go naturally so that you forget all about it. Simply let long breaths be long and short ones short. On inhalation the abdomen expands naturally like a balloon inflating, while on exhalation simply let it deflate. Do not concentrate on any particular object or attempt to control thoughts, emotions, or any modification of consciousness.

By simply maintaining proper posture and breathing the mind settles by itself without fabrication. When thoughts, feelings, etc. arise, do not get caught up by them or fight them. Simply permit any object of mind to come and go freely. The essential point is to always strive to wake up from distraction (thoughts, emotions, images, etc. ) or dullness and drowsiness. Letting go of any thought is itself thinking non-thinking. One may need to rise from meditation for various reasons. To do this, first Bow in gassho.

Place hands on the knees and sway the body slightly and then more so. Take a few deep breaths and unfold the legs. Arise slowly especially if the legs are asleep and do not stand abruptly. Return your sitting place to its original condition. (Fluff up the zafu and brush it off with your hand. ) There is also something known as walking zazen, or basically walking meditation. Place the hands in shashu (or isshu). Walk clockwise around the room so that your right shoulder is toward the altar in the center of the zendo. The posture from waist up is the same as in zazen.

Walk taking a half step for each full breath, slowly, smoothly, and noiselessly, without dragging the feet. Always walk straight ahead and turn to the right. I have learned a lot about Zen Buddhism and meditation while researching this paper. Although a lot of the information was confusing it was well worth the effort because of the knowledge I have gained. The Zen way is a different way to approach life and it is not for everyone. For those who like to meditate and are looking for new ways, should try Zen meditation to achieve true enlightenment.

Buddhism in India, China, Japan and other eastern cultures

For over 2000 years Buddhism has existed as an organized religion. By religion we mean that it has a concept of the profane, the sacred, and approaches to the sacred. It has been established in India, China, Japan and other eastern cultures for almost 2000 years and has gained a strong foothold in North America and Europe in the past few centuries. However, one might ask; what fate would Buddhism face had Siddartha Guatama been born in modern times; or more specifically in modern day North America? Would his new found enlightenment be accepted now as it was thousands of years ago?

Would it be hunned by society as another cult movement? What conflicts or similarities would it find with modern science; physics in particular? The answers to these questions are the aim of this paper, as well as a deeper understanding of modern Buddhism. Although I will stick with traditional ideas raised by Buddhism, one detail in the story of Siddartha Guatama must be addressed in order for it to be relevant to the main question being asked: What obstacles would Siddartha Guatama face had he been born in modern day North America.

Primarily, it must be recognized that rather than being born into the Hindu religion (which in tself is mystical), Siddartha would have most likely been born into a Christian family. This in itself presents the first obstacle, that being that Christianity is a strictly monotheistic and non-mystical faith. Hence from the outset, although in the traditional story Siddartha faced a conflict with his father (Ludwig 137), in the North American scenario the conflict would have been heightened by the fact that his search for enlightenment was not even closely similar to the Christian faith.

As with science, changes in religious thought are often met with strong opposition. It is interesting to note though, that many parallels can be found between modern physics and Eastern Mysticism. As Fritjof Capra writes: The changes, brought about by modern physics . . . all seem to lead towards a view of the world which is very similar to the views held in Eastern Mysticism. The concepts of modern physics often show surprising parallels to the ideas expressed in the religious philosophies of the Far East.

Thus by examining some of the obstacles imposed by typical western thought on modern physicists attempting to develop new theories, we can apply the same onclusions to the situation that would be faced by Siddartha Guatama in modern day North America. Traditionally, western thought can be summed up by French philosopher RenJ Descartes’ famous saying, “Cogito ergo sum” or “I think therefor I exist”. That is, typically, western man has always equated identity with his mind, instead of his whole organism (Capra 23).

This same line of thought can be found in traditional Newtonian Mechanics in which the observer of an event is never taken into account when describing the event. Rather, all things are said to occur at an “absolute time” in space, never taking into ccount the observer’s position or speed relative to the event or the rest of the Universe. However, in the beginning of the 20th century, new developments in physics began to shake the framework of the scientific world.

Due mostly to work by Albert Einstein, but also Ernest Rutherford and others, the scientific view of the universe took a drastic turn. These scientists recognized flaws in the classical Newtonian view of the universe. The recognition of these flaws led to the development of the Quantum Theory of Matter as well as Einstein’s Relativity Theory. These theories, as well as the discoveries that they led to, incorporated the entire universe as being comprised of energy, and that particles, time, and space, are just different representations of this energy.

Naturally this faced strict opposition. So much so that in spite of it’s ground-breaking nature as well as the fact that it had been proven, Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity failed to earn him the Nobel Prize. Even to this day many find it difficult to comprehend these more abstract theories. Both concepts – that of empty space and that of solid material bodies (Newtonian Mechanics) – are deeply ingrained in our habits of thought, so it is extremely difficult for us to imagine a physical reality where they do not apply (Capra 64).

Thus, by applying the obstacles faced by modern physicists, it easy to see how a more close-minded western way of thought would be skeptical of Siddartha’s new philosophy. Rather than accept, or even recognize, the more abstract theory of reality that Siddartha would be presenting, western society would rather push it off to the side and stick with it’s more concrete concept; that being C….. hristianity. However, as with modern physics, this opposition would ot be out of stubbornness but simply out of a lack of the ability to grasp the concepts that Siddartha would be trying to portray.

By hypothesizing what would happen had Buddhism been formed in 20th century North America rather than 5th century BCE India, we would be putting Buddhism into a category of Fringe religions. By Fringe religions we mean: all those groups not accorded full social respectability nor recognized as being of equal status with those religious groups in which most important societal spokespersons participate and with which they identify (Shupe 7).

Since Buddhism, ad it been formed by Siddartha in 20th century North America, would be viewed as a Fringe religion at first, we can also apply western societies reaction towards actual Fringe religions to the thesis. It is not a far leap of imagination to move from the observation that a fringe religious group is odd to a sense that its religious challenge really possess a serious potential threat to one’s way of life and valued social relations (Shupe 27). It is this common misconception, imposed upon virtually all new religions, that would prove to be the main obstacle in the formation of Buddhism.

Currently such religious movements as the Jehovah’s Witness, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, and the Black Muslims – established and relevant as they are – face this type of obstacle (Shupe 7). Be it through negative exposure by the media or trouble with the law (one is reminded of Waco Texas) these new Fringe religious face a constant barrage of opposition.

The opposition can often get so trumped up, especially by the media, that the religion will often be dismissed as a cult. he media picked up on the term (cult) undoubtedly because of it’s vaguely xotic, unsavory connotation . . . in the 1970’s, many cults included Mormon’s, Jehovah’s Witnesses . . . and Zen Buddhists . . . irrespective of their differing affinities to Judeo-Christian tradition (Shupe 8). With such a backlash against new religions, it is amazing that Buddhism was even able to get a foothold in North America, despite being a established religion for over 2 millenniums. Despite having these obstacle to overcome, Siddartha’s new found religion would not have to fight on it’s own.

As stated earlier, there are many parallels that can be drawn between Buddhism and modern physics. As a matter of fact, Siddartha Guatama stated over 2000 years ago what has only come into realization by physicists today: He proclaimed it as shiki soku zeku and ku soku zeshiki1. Ku, literally “emptiness” or “void,” does not mean “nothingness” but “equality. ” Shiki soku zeku indicates the idea that all things . . . originate from the same foundation . . . Similarly, ku soku zeshiki means that all things . . . are produced by ku, and therefore ku is identical with shiki (Niwano 207).

It is through this main parallel that it is likely that scientists, hysicists in particular, would embrace this new concept of reality. Through personal experience it is my interest in modern physics that piqued my interest in Eastern Mysticism. Therefor through the western ideal of attaining as much knowledge of the universe as possible (read: space exploration, particle accelerators, etc) it is quite possible that Buddhism, had it been formed in 20th century North America, could become a mainstream religion after surviving the initial onslaught of opposition.

Thus, had Siddartha Guatama been born in modern day North America, there ould be a number of obstacles for him to face in the founding of Buddhism. He would have to overcome the problems of being born into a Christian family/society; a society not used to such abstract ideas of reality, the close- minded nature of western thought, and the problems posed by a media that likes to jump on anything new and unusual and tear it to shreds. However, if it were to overcome these obstacles it is quite probable that it would become a deeply rooted religion in North America due to the likely support it would gain from the scientific community.

Buddhism, like Christianity

In reading this account on Buddhism, the goal is, for you (the reader) to understand a fascinating belief system, that has been around since before Christ ever set foot on this earth. This will provide a connection to the minds and hearts of the people who live and die in this sacred world, so that an understanding may be arroused and ultimatly give an acceptance as well as a clear path to minister to these people. The most important aspect of reaching out to people of other cults or religions could possibly be an understanding and common ground with your neighbor.

Therefore, knowing Buddhism and learning about it will help give you a stepping stone in you mission on spreading the gospel of Christianity, plus expose you to some of the profoundly interesting culture of Asia. (Yamamoto 1) History We have all seen and heard about Buddha and the yin and yang, do to the exploitation of an ancient religion, however aside from this popular fad is a complex and ancient religion deriving from a place called Kapilavastu located in southern Nepal. It began with a man named Siddhartha Gautama, who in fact was the son of a chieftain of the Sakya Clan.

Basically he was a prince, enjoying all the luxuries accompanying it. He was born in at about 560 BC, it is debatable as to the exact history of his life, because of the many different forms of Buddhism, however there are substantial bits and peace’s that are agreed on among the different Buddhists. (Mead 23) He grew up in a sheltered type of life, in that his father refused to let him see any human misery, so he was secluded from the outside world he was never meant know. However, one day at the age of twenty-nine he came to the conclusion of how empty his life had become.

As an effect of this, he decided to renounce all his worldly possessions and break all attachments he had in order to set out on a journey. A journey in search of peace and enlightenment. He then, on one fateful day set out on his voyage, eluding the royal attendants his father had contained him with. When reaching the outside, he experienced the effects of human suffering, by veiwing an old man, a leper, a corpse, and an ascetic. With this newfound truth he had discovered he realized that worldly happieness was merely and illusion. After his departing from captivity he decided to give up everything and become a wandering monk.

During this time Gautama practiced many forms of extreme austerity or painful rituals, such as sleeping on brambles to mortify the desires of his body and denying his body of sitting by instead crouching on his heels to develop his concentration. He did these things for six or seven years in order, so he believed, to attain truth. One day while on his pilgrimage of enlightenment he came to the realization that his life as an ascetic was of no greater value than that of his previous existence as a prince. His self-torturing acts were then viewed by him as vain and fruitless, just as a life with worldly pleasures would be described as.

Once he discovered the importance of the “middle way”, (the way to truth, which averts both worldly pleasures and extreme austerities) he abandoned his life of extreme austerities and moved on in his search for truth. (Mead 30) Later on in his life, it is not certain exactly when, Gautama sat under a particular fig tree in Gaya, which now is christened the Bodhi-tree. Gautama sat at the foot of that tree and meditated, he meditated until he became enlightened. At the point of enlightenment he discovered the “Four Noble Truths”, which became the focal point of his teachings, and of his Buddhist philosophy.

This marked perhaps the most important point in his spiritual journey, where he became the Buddha or “the Enlightened One”. With his newly found title as the Buddha he decided to set out and share the enlightenment he experienced and the “Four Noble Truths” to all who would be willing to receive his message. Buddha’s (Gautama) choice to share his teaching rather than withdrawing from all human contact, as did many holy men had done symbolized a very important point in the Buddha’s teaching and philosophy. The decision symbolized the compassion of Buddha or his unselfish concern for others.

Therefore establishing the Buddhist teachings on wisdom and compassion. Shortly after his enlightenment, approximately two months, Buddha gave his first sermon, in the Deer Park at Rishipatana. This brings us to another concept, it is believed that this event sparked the motion that Buddhists call the “Wheel of the Law” (stages in comprehending ultimate reality). Consequently his actions inspired people to begin to believe in his sermons and eventually follow him; thus a community of beggar monks called Sangha was formed.

Unique from many religions, Buddha’s followers did not have to be submissive to him nor give any vow of any sort. The people merely followed because of faith rather than leadership. Buddha devoted his life to the creation and growing of the Buddhist faith. He was dedicated to his ministry in full force up until his death at the ripe old age of eighty. (Encarta Ecyclopedia, Buddhism 3) Despite the great Buddha’s death, the religion continued on and growing quite considerably as well. His followers continued his work, of spreading the gospel of Buddhism to all people.

They wandered from village to village seeking out and obtaining more and more followers. However as the Sangha grew larger, the monks had different opinions and ways of interpreting the religion and Buddha’s word. Hence, a separation was eminent; the monks now formed numerous groups each interpreting the Buddha’s teachings differently from one another, however still spreading the similar word more quickly. The monks eventually grew to such a significant number that they created monasteries, evolving from, a time when the wealthy landowners would invite the monks into their homes and provide shelters during the rainy season.

Buddhism therefore continued to grow by leaps and bounds spreading like a fire run of control. King Asoka was responsible for many conversions, do to the fact that he used his great power and wealth to vigorously promote the campaign to spread the Buddhist doctrine throughout Asia and the East. During this time Buddhism graduated into a world religion, being etched in the stone of history forever. (Laymen 45) Buddhism soon grew to such a large number of believers that a leadership or organizer would have to be formed.

There was a grouping of leaders referred to as the moralistic order, they met periodically to discuss and reach agreements on the matters of the doctrine and the practice. These meetings were known as major councils. There were four of these large and very important meetings throughout Buddhist history. The first occurred after Buddha’s death at Rajagrha. A monk named Mahakasyapa ordered the meeting, calling it to order; in order to go over and come to an agreement on the actual teaching of the Buddha.

The second happened about a century later, it is believed that this council met at Vaihall. Its sole purpose was to discuss ten practices, more specifically the ten questionable monastic practices. The first being use of money, then the drinking of palm wine, and other practiced that were called to be questionable by the higher Buddhist monks. This meeting was very influencial in that it was said to have cause one of the first major splits in the religion, as spoken of prior. Later meetings occurred and eventually two major groups emerged out of the disagreements.

Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism. (Mead 35) Theravada Buddhism is said to be the purest or most traditional branch of Buddhism because of its great effort in conserving the original nature of the Buddhist teachings. At about the first century BC, some of the first Buddhist scriptures arose, by the Theravada Buddhists, they were written in the Pali language, a vernacular that descended from Indian Sanskrit. These scriptures then became known as the Pali Canon, they provided a written basis for the Theravada belief system and practices.

According to the Tharavadians this written document is an accurate account as to what the Buddha taught. (Encarta 4-5) There are major points in the beliefs of the Tharavadains that differ from that of the Mahayana beliefs. Most importantly, the teaching that Buddha was a man, but a great man who was an ethical teacher, contrary to the Mahayanains who say he is a god. Secondly they reserve their teachings just for the saints (arhants), their most holy people, the common Buddhist believers are forbidden from the teachings.

Coinciding with this it is a belief that only a saint may obtain ultimate deliverance or Nirvana, in order for a common person to obtain Nirvana he/ she must accumulate merits or in other words gain good Karma and possibly be reincarnate as saint in his or her next life. One of the most influential persons in the Tharavadain Buddhists was Buddhaghos who composed compiled an extensive encyclopedia of Buddhist literature written in the Pali language. He was born in the latter half of the latter half of the fourth century AD into a Brahman family, but had converted away from his family to the Buddhist faith.

Theravadins regard this scholar as one of the most important writers of there faith. Theravada Buddhism today primarily thrives in Sri Lanka while at the same time also residing in parts of Southeast Asia and India. While receiving opposition and discrimination from other religions, the Tharavadains have a surprisingly peaceful relationship with the Mahayana Buddhists. (Yamamoto 8-10) In reaction against the severe austerity and individualism of the early Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhists emerged; they had a newer radical view of the Buddhist faith.

In this denomination of Buddhism a more relaxed modern view is taken as well as gives the common man a chance to have faith in and for the devotion of Buddha. In the Mahayana belief, nirvana (the attainment of enlightenment during life) is reached by the realization that the essence of suffering is empty. Mahayana Buddhism, sometimes called the Northern School of Buddhism, is yet again divided up into two even smaller and more concentrated denominations called the Madhyamika School and the Yogacara School.

These two schools basically are just conflicting ideas that have been broken up and peace back together into two separate groupings. (Yamamoto 10-12) The importance of the many groups and branches of Buddhism, including; Amida, Zen, Nichiren, as well as Taoism and Confucianism, Bon, and Shinto, are for the most part similar to the basic Buddhist belief. The importance of them is quite trivial in learning about general Buddhist beliefs because they break down the realigion and change vital bits and peace’s so much that it really takes away from traditional Buddhist teachings.

For the most part most of Asia is Buddhist not a collection of smaller Buddhist branches, except for the small noted exceptions. In fact, worldwide there are about 314,939,000 Buddhists (approximently 313,000,000 in Asia alone), and only 19,000,000 other Buddhist branches, with the exception of Toaists ranging from about 180,000,000, however, the reason being that they are not very similar to Buddhist teachings. (Yamamoto 22) Theology The beliefs and values of the Buddhists are very different from the tradition Christian based realigns of the west we know so well.

Their religion is based more on nature and the world around us, or the mysterious force that drives nature. Any real religion will answer many questions and enlighten on various concepts. These concepts include the obvious mysteries people struggle to solve every day in every form possible. Such things as human suffering, the idea of a soul, in the Buddhists case they have a concept called “Emptiness”. As well as other topics including, the way to salvation or forgiveness, and probably the biggest issue of all: God. Who and what is he? Does he exist?

Buddhism, like Christianity has its story on these subjects and they differ greatly from that of a Christians, however the basses of this belief is thousands upon thousands of years old and has today developed into a complex network of people coming together in the belief of Buddhism. So what do they believe? Lets begin with the idea of suffering, in the Christian world and Buddhist as well as all others, suffering is present, it is not a thing you can run or hide from and is a part of life. Every being suffers. So how do explain why bad things happen to obviously good people or why some people even need to suffer.

Well Christianity simply says it is Gods intricate plan at work and we have neither the brain power nor the logic that God has to understand it, so they believe it to be all part of the big picture. This, however, is hugely different form that of the Buddhists. The Buddhists believe that one suffers because of there past lives, if they have done bad they will be punished in the present life. They also have the idea that all human life is really not important there are much higher things then it, this is about as close as Buddhism comes to Christians, in that they believe God is above all.

Moving on, Buddhists use something they call the “Four Noble Truths”, in other words the way the world goes. (Yamamoto 27) (Rahula 56) The first of four noble truths is what Buddhists call dukkha. Dukkha basically means suffering, pain or misery, sorrow. This translation is very loose, it does get the basic meaning, but still does not portray the word as it is meant in its native language, thereby giving the Buddhists a bit of a deceptive look. So from our vantage point there is no full proof translation for this word, however the concept of it can be explained.

The Buddha’s outlook on suffering is described as realistic. A good explanation of this is, how Buddhists priests would describe Buddha, they say that he is a doctor who tells you the absolute truth, by not giving the whole truth to make you feel better nor tell you such bad news you will as if you were dyeing. The Buddha simply tells the truth, understanding the cause of and effect of our problems. Dukkha has three major aspects, one; it is all forms of suffering weather it be mental or physical. Two; it is change, and the third is the essence of life, this is the equivalent to what we would describe as the soul.

The Second Noble Truth is “samudaya” or the origin of suffering; this is where dukkha comes from, samudaya. This concept reveals that suffering is originated from this idea, that a craving or thirst (sin) called Tanha is one of the causes of suffering. Within samudaya is the Twelvefold Chain of Causation, this is Buddha’s explanation of suffering and where it is arisen from. (Yamamoto 28) The Third Noble Truth is called nirodha, nirodha is yet again in relation to dukkha, and it is described as the censation of dukkha or the feeling of the dukkha.

This reveal in some way that there is a liberation from suffering. The term Nirvana (nothingness) comes into play with nirodha because when one attains Nirvana he is experiencing nirodha. Nirodha is the annihilation of the false ideas of the world or the so-called soul you have on earth, because they believe in no soul. The only way to achieve Nirvana (which is like salvation) is to illiminate craving or coveting (like sin) called tanha. Once you have eliminated craving and experienced nirodha, a way is paved for you to achieve your salvation or deliverance from the ignorance of the world.

The Fourth and last Noble Truth is “magga”, this is the path paved I spoke of. The magga is made up of Buddhist ethics called the Noble Eightfold Path. This is like the right way; similar to Jesus this is what to follow how to live you live the difference between right and wrong. This concept is taught to perfect Buddhist tradition of discipline and wisdom, their way of life. The Eightfold Path spoke of is a sort of new dimension a new way of life rather than a path, this can guide a person away from selfish desires which cause suffering.

So put into simple terms magga is a guidance of what is needed for deliverance. (Yamamoto 30) Another big issue is the idea of humans having a soul an unseen life force that drives them. Buddhists have the idea that the soul does not exist, other wise called anatta to them. “All the factors of a human personality form, feeling, perception, dispositions, and consciousness are not identified with the self” (David J. Kalupahana). What this means is that the human as a self is mearly a collection of parts working in unison.

However, you may take parts away to construct a new living being when it is reborn, much as an automobile is put together with parts and can be dismantled and used for other cars. People are weak beings and the fear and desire cause people want or in fact need a feeling of having something more than just the obvious physical appearances. When a person searches for a soul he or she really is searching for truth as Buddha explains, this truth is eventually received at the point of enlightenment. This idea astonishes unique, being that this is the only religion that rejects any idea of a soul.

The Buddhists have the idea that in having no soul nothing is permanent all is Empty to them this is known as shunyata or openness, the void or simply put absolute nothingness. Finally, Salvation, how is it achieved in the Buddhist faith? Salvation is achieved, briefly stated, by renouncing the world and becoming a monk so that in being a monk you give up everything and your selfish desires are annihilated and you are saved. Also going along with this concept, meditation is very important to the salvation of an individual because it connects them with the truth, and truth leads to deliverance, then to salvation.

To be saved, you must first attain the highest level of perfection called arhant, this is the end of the Eightfold Path one who is free form all ignorance, selfish desires and so on. After dying as an arhant you achieve nirvana, and simply die out and fade away into nothingness. However when speaking of your salvation, God should be in the game, well in Buddhism God is non-existent he is a hindrance in a person’s quest for knowledge he is yet another one of the false teachings of the world.

God to the Buddha is not only non- existent, but is on equal plain with man. Therefore, Buddhism is not atheistic because they believe a race of gods inhabit the cosmos and as we do have to achieve Nirvana for salvation. Gods are not to be worshiped in this religion, though, because the faith focuses on the self and the attainment of knowledge, god is not needed. Even Buddha who is viewed as a godlike figure is not worshipped or served just as no other gods are, Buddha was a teacher not a god. To them God is pointless. (Rahula 60) Evangelizing

These people in the Buddhist religion are being lead astray, so how would a Christian onlooker try and evangelize and help the people. Well first of all, look at who you are talking to, most Buddhists are speaking a different language than you and I, so try to talk to the new generations of Buddhists. People who speak the English language are easier to communicate with obviously, so begin with them. So now that you have found you target group and know that a language barrier does not protect them, find out what you will say, because in all honesty you need a plan.

If preaching the gospel word for word out of the Bible is your plan, then just give up now, because the people you talk to will have no real concept of your religion just as you do not with them because of the major differences. Therefore, approach in a different manner; explain it at if it were a part of their everyday life, relate the books of the Bible to for instance the teaching of Buddha. Telling stories is the universal language, telling a story of a great man named Jesus who saved so many from sin will surely spark anyone’s interest and give them hope.

Speaking of hope, it is a very powerful tool in evangelizing, especially when people need hope and something to believe in. With Buddhism people cannot interest there lives in a secure figure like God, they are left to toil in the mysteries of ignorance and searching for truth, why search for truth if all you are called is ignorant, there is no hope in that. Heaven is especially influential because heaven is beautiful and full of life. In comparison to the Buddhist Nirvana of nothingness and complete voidness, people will understand that there is no hope in nothingness.

Shouldn’t we be searching for something if we are looking for truth? Not just a final answer of nothingness, it poses no real reward or incentive to love or obey. As with all religions they will fight back it is not unheard of. A spiritual warfare battle is eminent because we need to let them get out their side, which is good and fair. (Yamamoto 30-40) The only thing you need to know is how to respond and know all the basis of what they believe so that you can refute it. There are millions of unsaved souls in the world; helping just one is a task we should all take on if not more.

Buddhist Monks Aim for Nirvana

Buddhism states that there is a path to happiness and the Buddha can lead you there. Buddhist monks of all different orders are trying to reach happiness, or Nirvana. There may be some differences between the sects but the core beliefs surround the Buddha’s teachings and practices. An ordained monk or nun lives a special life. Some last a lifetime while others only for a brief time, however both experiences are moving. Tibetan Buddhist monks take there vows for life. When becoming a Buddhist monk it is very important that you do not rush into taking your vows.

Time must be taken to fully understand the advantages and isadvantages of becoming a Buddhist monk. Currently there are monasteries that allow you to live the life of a Buddhist monk for a few days, weeks or months in order to make the correct decision. The Tibetan tradition does not encourage those who take the vows to give them back and return to a secular lifestyle. As long as a monk asks permission he is able to freely leave the order. Theravadin Buddhist countries, like Thailand, believe that every man must have served as a monk at one point in his life.

These monks are referred to as “short-term” monks. The period that they are actually monks ay range from a few days to as long as a few months. This short-term service is seen as primarily a teaching tool. Living even a short period of time as a monk is believed to prepare the individual for life as a layman, householder and family head. Also this practice helps the individual earn merit with his family and especially his parents. Many people in these countries still chose to remain a monk for their lifetime.

Before making any final decisions on becoming either a short-term monk or a lifetime monk the fundamental teachings of the Buddha must be thoroughly understood. These teachings include the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, and the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment. Normally this involves a number of years of study and practice with the help of a teacher. This teacher will be your guide and sponsor. With your teacher you will learn how to live your everyday life according to the Buddhist teachings and practices. During this time you may live in a monastery to fully understand and appreciate this lifestyle.

Once you have made the decision to lead a monk’s life, you must approach the abbot or his secretary for an interview. You are then ccepted as a naga. Then are given training in the rules, daily chanting, and the ordination procedure. The length of training before ordination can be one month or less, the abbot might expect an applicant to spend at least 9 months as a layman and novice before higher ordination. During this period the layman wears a white robe and learns eight precepts. Novice monks wear the orange robes and are given ten precepts to follow along with seventy-five training rules.

There are certain requirements that must be met in order to be ordained. The novice must be at least twenty years old, ree of debt, free of any government or military duties and they must have the consent of their immediate family. The ordination ceremony uses the Pali language and the novice must memorize the lines. The novice must also memorize the 227 rules of discipline, called the Patimokkha, that the monks follow. Originally the Buddha did not allow woman to become nuns. Then Buddha received many requests from woman to allow them to become nuns.

He reconsidered his position and decided to allow woman in to the order. The first woman accepted as a nun was Paccabadi Gotami, the Buddha’s tepmother, who was ordained by the Buddha himself. In establishing the Bhikkhuni Sangha, or nuns, the Buddha added that any other ordinations should be held with a fully ordained bhikkhuni present as a witness. Since the time of Buddha there have always been nuns ordained into the order. In more recent years the number of woman becoming nuns became smaller and smaller. There came a point were there were no longer any fully ordained nuns in the world.

Without these fully ordained nuns there cannot be any present at the ordination of new nuns, this prohibits any new nuns rom becoming fully ordained themselves. Buddhist woman today can live in the order as an eight or ten precept novice but can never be fully ordained. Monks fall into two categories, the forest monk and the temple monk. The least common is the forest monk, he lives a solitary, hermetic state removed from monastic or lay society. Most Buddhist monks are temple monks. The temple monks live in a monastic community on temple grounds. Each monk regardless of lifestyle is in continuous pursuit of enlightenment and nirvana.

The temple monks are more involved in some lay community affairs than he forest monks are. Temple monks will participate in Buddhist holy day ceremonies, blessing new homes and businesses as well as funeral and cremation rites. Temple monks are also the teachers of novice monks, short- term monks and lay persons. Temple monks live in small huts called a khuti. The huts are plainly furnished with a table and a chair. The monk sleeps on a low, narrow bed, with a hard mattress. The monks are also allowed to keep books and texts. The forest monk can be found sleeping under a tent on a mat with no other material comforts.

Buddhist monks are truly extraordinary individuals. Not only have they left their families and careers but they live a purely ascetic life. Monks live a chaste, poor life with few possessions. Monks possessions are collected from offerings that are given to them by their family or community. People can only offer the monks items that are considered essential for the monk’s life. There are a total of eight necessary items included in a Buddhist monk’s garments and utensils, as passed down from Lord Buddha. The first garment piece is the Jeeworn or Mantle Robe. In ancient days monks would collect pieces of cloth from graveyards.

Several ifferent pieces had to be sewn together in one piece to form the robe. These dyes would turn the fabric into a brownish-yellow color. As more and more men became followers, Lord Buddha rejected any patched-together Jeeworn because it was not neat. The Buddha asked his cousin Ananda to create a neat design for the Jeeworn. Monks today still follow this neat design of the single piece Jeeworn. Their Jeeworn must cover their entire body when outside of the temple. However, when the monks are in their temple they leave the right shoulder uncovered. The second piece is the Sabong or skirt.

This is a simple, unadorned skirt. The size of this Sabong is much smaller than the size of the Jeeworn. The Sabong is regarded as the most important garment of Buddhist monks because it must be worn 24 hours a day. The third piece is the Prakod or cotton belt. This is a wide and thick belt. The primary purpose of the Prakod is to secure the Sabong. The fourth item completes the necessary items of the monks’ garments. The Sangkati or shoulder scarf is a long thick piece of fabric. The scarf is worn simply draped over the shoulder. The scarf is meant to serve the monks as a multipurpose cloth.

Some of the uses for the scarf range from a blanket or a pillow to a wash cloth and napkin. The monks’ next four necessary items are there only other possessions. The first item is a Bart or an alms bowl and its lid. The Bart is used when the monk goes collecting offerings of food to eat. Monks also need to keep a Meedgoan or razor with them. In order to show their rejection of ego and vanity monks are supposed to shave their head, and sometimes eyebrows, once a month. The shaving must be done one day before the middle of the lunar month. The Khem and Dai or needle and thread are also essential to a monk.

Having these two items allow the monks to patch any tears or holes that may damage their garments. Lastly, monks must have a Grabog Grong-Naam or water strainer. Monks believe that they must refrain from killing or hurting any animals and human beings. Therefore, the water-strainer assures that the drinking water is freed of all dirt and insects. Today there are several modern items that can be included here. These items are a blanket, a pillow, a hat, an umbrella, sandals, a palm fan, a bag and eating utensils. A day in the life of a monk is simple and beautiful.

Monks wake up hen the temple gongs are sounded in the early hours of the morning. After they wash and dress they meditate until it is light enough to go around and collect the alms offering. When a monk goes on his rounds he accepts whatever foods are placed in his alms bowl. He never asks for anything, accepting what is offered, standing silently, with eyes lowered, until after the offering is made, when he may chant a brief blessing for the donor. When they return to their huts they can eat their meal. This meal is usually their only one for the day. Some monks eat a second meal but no onks are allowed to eat after noon.

The rest of their day is spent meditating, reading, studying, and can sometimes include a nap. In the evening they attend the twilight ceremonial chanting. At night the monks sleeps for six sometimes four hours. Meditation is a conscious effort to change how the mind works. The Pali word for meditation is bhavana, meaning to grow or to develop. Meditation is very important because although we may want to make changes in our lives, it is not easy to have control of our thoughts and actions. Meditation develops awareness and the energy needed to change our old ways nd prepare for the right path.

There are many types of meditation, the Buddha taught a number of ways to meditate and particular ways to deal with specific problems. The most common are Mindfulness or Insight Meditation, called Vipassana, and Loving-kindness Meditation, called Samatha. The Pali word Nibbana is formed of Ni and Vana. Ni is a negative article and vana means desire. The ultimate goal of all Buddhists is to end the cycle of life and death, of reincarnation, by enlightenment and reaching nirvana or nibbana. Nirvana is not a place where we go; it is a state of mind and being.

Nirvana can be reached here on earth as the Buddha has. The Buddha said that “Nirvana is the highest happiness”. All Buddhist are living for Nirvana. The simple life facilitates the process. Meditations and ascetic living allow the mind to focus on its path and state of being. The Buddha ordained woman and there were many nuns for years, the teachings of the Buddha however prevents any future woman from being ordained. Buddhism may be all over the world and have different practices, but the Buddha is always the center and happiness is always everyone ultimate goal.

Hinduism vs Buddhism

It is first of all necessary to establish what is meant by the term “God”. This term is used to designate a Supreme Being endowed with the qualities of omnipotence and omniscience, which is the creator of the universe with all its contents, and the chief lawgiver for humans. God is generally considered as being concerned with the welfare of his human creatures, and the ultimate salvation of those who follow his dictates. God is therefore a person of some kind, and the question whether such an entity exists or not is fundamental to all theistic systems.

In contrast to this notion of a personal God some modern theologians have interpreted the term “God” as representing some kind of abstract principle of good. This view was first developed in the ancient Indian Upanishads where God is equated with an abstract principle, the Brahman. The ancient Indian philosophers could entertain such a view because they also had a theory of karma, which really does away with the need for a personal God. Buddhists too have a theory of karma, which is different from that of the Hindus, and which even more unequivocally dispenses with the need for a deity.

The use of the term “God’ to denote an abstract reality by monotheistic theologians who have no theory of karma is difficult to justify, consequently this is merely a device to explain away the contradictions that arise from the notion of a personal God. In fact the actual practice of theistic religion proceeds as if God is a real person of some kind or other. Buddhism Buddhist gods Buddhism has 33 Gods the most potent one of them all is Indra. It is Buddhist beliefs that the gods and spirits are with us persistently. The mountain Meru can be compared with mount Olympus of the Greek gods.

Buddhists believe that on top of this sacred mountain are the 33 gods with Indra as their principal. Buddhism primary principal is moral strength and exercises. It is concluded in three regions. The first is the principles of lust, which belongs to the realm of animals, humans and various divine essences. The realm of the gods consists of six levels, which are the liberation of material desires. The subsequent region compromises entities that are born in the dominion of the Braham gods liberated from lust and wishes, they constitute a term of embodiment.

They divide in four stages which seventeen levels represents the degree of emancipation the spirit has reached. The last region is where mater has ceased to exist, the third and infinite Nirvana. A ceasing that does not characterize obliteration, but an absence of matter and place. The Buddhist perception of a divine entity Buddhism has been described as a very pragmatic religion. It does not indulge in metaphysical speculation about first causes; there is no theology, no worship of a deity or deification of the Buddha. Buddhism takes a very straightforward look at our human condition; nothing is based on wishful thinking, at all.

Everything that the Buddha taught was based on his own observations of the way things are. Everything that he taught can be verified by our own observation of the way things are. The Buddha pointed out that no God or priest nor any other kind of being has the power to interfere in the working out of someone else’s Karma. Buddhism, therefore, teaches the individual to take full responsibility for himself. For example, if you want to be wealthy then be trustworthy, diligent and parsimonious, or if you want to live in a heaven realm then always be kind to others.

There is no God to plead for or to ask favours from, Buddhists sees it as there was no corruption possible in the workings of Karma. Do Buddhists believe that a Supreme Being created the universe? Buddhists would first ask which universe do you mean? This present universe, from the moment of the ‘big bang’ up to now, it is but one among countless millions in Buddhist cosmology. The Buddha gave an estimate of the age of a single universe-cycle of around 37,000 million years that is quite plausible when compared to modern astrophysics.

After one universe- cycle ends another begins, again and again, according to impersonal law. A Creator God is redundant in this scheme. No being is a Supreme Saviour, according to the Buddha, because whether God, human, animal or whatever, all are subject to the Law of Karma. Even the Buddha had no power to save. He could only point out the Truth so that the wise could see it for themselves. Everyone must take responsibility for his or her own future well being, and it is dangerous to give that responsibility to another.

The Buddha argues that the three most commonly given attributes of God, omnipotence, omniscience and benevolence towards humanity cannot all be mutually compatible with the existential fact of dukkha, which is the “argument from evil” which in the Buddhist sense could be stated as the argument from dukkha, suffering or unsatisfactory. The Buddha did not encourage speculation on the existence of Iswara, among his disciples. He wanted them to confine themselves to what was within their field of awareness, that is, to understand the causes of suffering and work for its mitigation.

He preached that the individual was a product of ignorance and an illusion that were responsible for all the suffering and evil. He therefore urged his disciples to become aware of the various aspects of their individual personalities and work for Nirvana, which was, but the total extinction of this individuality and cessation of all becoming and changing. From the enlightened to a supreme being Gradually the concept of God, as contrasted with the Absolute, began to appear in Buddhism. Its sources are back in the early days of this differentiation of the followers of the Lesser Road and the Greater Road.

It was among the latter division of Buddhism that the dual conception of God and the Absolute finally matured. Step by step, century by century, the God concept has evolved until, with the teachings of Ryonin, Honen Shonin, and Shinran in Japan, this concept finally came to fruit in the belief in Amida Buddha. Hinduism Brahman Brahman is the central theme of all the Hinduisms believes. Brahman is the indescribable, inexhaustible, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, rudimentary, eternal and absolute principle who is without a beginning and without an end. He is not like the other gods either.

He is incomprehensible even to almost all the gods. Brahman is not adulated in the temples and other places of worship but in one’s heart and mind as the in dweller of the material body. He could also be described as a pantheistic God. That is why we do not see any temples or forms of ritualistic worship existing for Brahman either at present or in the past. We only hear of fire sacrifice, later to be called Nachiketa fire. Perhaps the sacrifice was more a meditative or spiritual practice involving the sacrifice of soul consciousness than of ritual worship.

Whatever it is, the fact is that Brahman of the Upanishads is more appealing to the seekers of Truth and Knowledge than seekers of material gains. Even during the Islamic rule when the principles of monotheism challenged the very foundations of Hinduism, Brahman was never brought into the glare of public debate to challenge the invading and overwhelming ideas of the monotheistic foreign theology. Brahma Brahma is one of Hinduism many deities. He is depicted as the rudimentary creator. Among his creations are the Universe, animals, plants and man. He is depicted as an entity with four arms, the four arms symbolises the four cardinal points.

In his four hands the Brahma is carrying an item, each with its own representation. The jar containing water symbolises the source of life, since water is the spring of all living. A spoon, which epitomizes the sacrifices, conducted during worship. In one of his arms there is a lotus flower, it denotes the Universe, humanity and purity. There are also illustrations of him portrayed with the four books of Veda in his hands. Brahma also has a vessel, the goose, which is significant for wisdom. Another characteristic that separates Brahma from the other deities are that he has four heads.

There is a legend concerning the acquirement of Brahma’s four heads. When the first woman was created she was carved out of his own body. Her beauty immediately enchanted the supernal, but she resisted and hid from Brahma. To be able to have supervision over his beautiful creation he acquired himself three new heads. In present time Brahma is seen as inconsequential God and the extent of his worship is greatly less than it has once been. There are very few shines dedicated to him. His wife, Sarasvati, is the goddess of wisdom and learning. Many, especially the students or the brahmacharis of the Vedic schools, worship the celestial entity.

Tibetan Buddhists Essay

For over 2000 years Buddhists in Tibet have lived freely and independently, but in 1949-50 that all change when China invaded and took control. 1 All of their traditions and customs, government, environment and rights were taken away and destroyed by this tragic invasion. 2 The majority of Tibetans were either killed or exiled, but the ones exiled have been very strong throughout all of this and stayed true to their beliefs and themselves. After enduring the exile to India, Tibetan Buddhists still managed to live their lives in the traditional Tibetan fashion.

The origin of Buddhism dates back to around 563 BCE , with a man by the name of Siddhartha Guatama. 3 He was an Indian prince born in Lumbini, India. He was completely sheltered as a child and was not let out of the palace. 4 As a result of this, at age 29 he fled the palace and became a homeless monk. 5 This event is called the ” Great Renunciation”. While on his journey he encountered the “4 messengers”; an old man, a sick man, a dead man, and a holy man. 6 This was a great revelation for him because he had no idea that those things existed.

After traveling for a while, he decided to join the 5 scetics, where he went without food or sleep for a long period of time and almost died. He did all this in search of the “truth”. After recovering from his food and sleep deprivation, he decided to turn to meditation to find the “truth”. So he went to the Bodh Gaya tree and meditated under it until he entered nirvana, which is known as a state of perfect joy. 7 Because he was able to do this, he became the first Buddha. He then traveled for 45 years with his followers called the Sangha, which were his family and the 5 ascetics.

They went around teaching people what the Buddha had learned on his journey. He died at the age of 80 and entered nirvana forever. 9 After the Buddha died, the Sangha kept traveling and teaching more and more people Buddhism. In the 7th century Buddhism was introduced to Tibet by teachers from China and Nepal. 10 Then in 775, an Indian monk set up the first monastery in Tibet. 11 Soon after that, Tibetans developed a different style of Buddhism called Vajrayana with Lamas as teachers.

Vajrayana is a combination of the major aspects of Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism. 12 In the 14th century a new sect was formed called Gelugpas. In this a new eader was started called the Dalai Lama, which means “great as the ocean”. Then from the 17th century until 1950, the Dalai Lama was the head of the state in Tibet and the spiritual leader. 13 He lived in the Potala Palace in the holy city of Lhasa. Prior to the tragedy in 1950, Tibet was a entirely sovereign country.

For example, the Government of Tibet had complete control over their internal and external affairs, the Chinese had no involvement of any kind. Also Tibet had its own currency, stamps, language and writing, maintained it own small army and stayed neutral during World War II. They were entirely ndependent and living their peaceful happy lives. Mr. Sonam T. Kazi, one of the Dalai Lamas Chief Interpreters, on his first visit to Tibet in 1948 said “Could there be any other place on this earth where peace and happiness really prevail?

The peace and happiness I saw in Tibet at this time must surely have been the result of the freedom that independent Tibet enjoyed since 1912, under the leadership of H. H. the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, and which continued even after his demise, up until the Communist invasion in 1950. “14 In 1949-50, the Peoples Republic of China invaded and took control of Tibet and ts people. 15 This was an act of “unprovoked aggression”, and there was no logical reason for it. 6 In doing this China destroyed the Tibetans cultural and religion, independence, environment and universal human rights. 17

China had broken the international laws, violated it own constitution, and went without punishment. 18 Since the Dalai Lama was such a strong believer in non-violence, he tried for 8 years to coexist with the Chinese people in his own country. 19 But even when young children would say, “Tibet is independent” or “Long Live His Holiness the Dalai Lama”, the Chinese would rrest and put them in prison or labor camps for trying to “split the motherland”. 0

Exile sources estimated that around 260,000 people died in those camps between 1950 and 1984. 21 Finally on March 10, 1959, the Tibetans decided they could not take it anymore and started a national upraise against the Chinese. 22 The Chinese fought back and stopped the upraise, killing 87,000 Tibetans in central Tibet alone. 23 The International Commission of the Jurists stated in its reports in 1959 and 1960, that there was an a attempted genocide on the Tibetans by the Chinese. 24 The Dalai Lama and around 80,000

Tibetans fled Tibet in search of peace, where the majority of them, including the Dalai Lama, ended up in Dharamsala, India. 25 Local states are still today reporting that up 4 Tibetans a day are trying to cross the border from Tibet to Nepal or India, but the Nepalese government has started to turn the Tibetan refugees over to the Chinese. 26 With the help of the Government of India , the UN High Commission for Refugees and many other, 54 agricultural and agro-industrial refugee settlements were set up, 85 Tibetan schools and almost 200 monasteries. 7

Even though the Tibetans lost basically their entire ives, there have been numerous institutions established to help “preserve and promote an ancient heritage and culture facing imminent extinction in its own homeland, whilst enhancing the cultural life of the exile community”. 28 When they arrived in India, the Dalai Lama immediately started his plans to create a new community. In 1959, he re-established his government in Dharamsala, India. A popularly elected body of people’s representatives, parliament-in-exile, was created. 9

This was started so the Dalai Lama was not the only person making the momentous decisions that would affect the future on the Tibetan community. In 1961, the Dalai Lama made a draft constitution and received the help and the opinion of Tibetans. The detailed draft was completed in 1963 and publicized. 30 In January, 1992 the Dalai Lama announced the Guidelines for future Tibet’s Polity and the Basic Features of its Constitution, where he said that he would not “play any role in the future government of Tibet, let alone seek the Dalai Lama’s traditional political position. 31

The future government of Tibet would be elected by the people on a “basis of adult franchise. “32 The Dalai Lama also announced that “during the transition period , between withdrawal of the epressive Chinese troops from Tibet and the final promulgation of the constitution, the administrative responsibilities of the state will be entrusted to the Tibetan functionaries presently working in Tibet. “33 Also during this period the Dalai Lama selected an interim president, who delegated all of his political powers and responsibilities.

Even while not in their homeland, the Tibetans were able to create and run a functioning government. Not only were the Tibetans able to keep their government in existence, they were also able to still practices their spiritual rituals while in exile. One very important ritual that the Tibetans still practice is the Kalachakra Initiation. This is a series of teaching and rituals that began during the fourth century B. C. 34 Today, the high lamas, or teachers, are the people that give the teachings and rituals.

The present Dalai Lama has given the initiation 25 times. The initiation usually lasts 10 days. During this time, students vow to have compassion for all beings and to work for the benefit of others. The initiation urges students to reach a “pure, peace-filled inner world while still living in this imperfect earthly world”. 5 One important object in the initiation is the Mandala. A Mandala is a circular pictorial representation of the universe created in sand.

It contains images of 722 deities in the shapes of animals, plants, human forms, and abstract symbols. Students in the initiation use the Mandala to visualize in meditation the steps that lead to enlightenment. 36 This spiritual ritual has been around for many, many years and is still able to be practiced by Tibetans in their exiled home. The Tibetans had to experience one of the hardest things anyone could encounter, attempted genocide and exile, and they survived it. This is a very commendable thing because they it would be extremely hard to do.

They had to give up everything they had in their lives, including for many, the ones they love. They had to out that behind them, move into a foreign land and completely start over. They did make a few changes in their government, while in India, but primarily the live their lives in the traditional Tibetan way. They stayed true to their religion and never lost faith in it. Also they never lost faith in the Dalai Lama, and without him I do not think they would be as well off as they are today.

Buddhism, Tolerant Religion

Buddhism is probably the most tolerant religion in the world, as its teachings can coexist with any other religions. Buddhism has a very long existence and history, starting in about 565 B. C. with the birth of Siddhartha Gautama. The religion has guidelines in two forms in which Buddhist followers must follow. These are the “Four Noble Truths” and the “Eightfold Path. It all started in about 565 B. C. when Siddhartha Gautama was born. He was a young Indian prince born to the ruler of a small kingdom that is now known as Nepal.

Gautama’s father was said to have been told by a prophet that if Gautama saw the sick, aged, dead, or poor he would become a religious leader. If he didnt see these four things he would become an emperor. Because of this prophecy Gautama’s father decided to isolate his son from the outside world, where he might “see how the other half lived”, for the good of his empire and his citizens. Trying to shelter Gautama from all the four sights was impossible, and Gautama ventured out and that is when he eventually saw the four sights, which would, if experienced as it had been told to Gautama’s father, lead the young prince to a religious leader.

These sights or as how Buddhists refer to them “The Four Signs” were in turn, a sick man covered with terrible sores, an old man, a corpse, and a wandering monk. The sightings of these men made Gautama think of the suffering and inevitable death which comes to all people great and small. This brought further questioning such as the meaning of life and the ultimate fate of man. As time passed these thoughts became great burdens to Gautama and he increasingly became dissatisfied with the shallow dissolute life of the royal court in which he lived.

Therefore at the age of 21, although married with a beautiful young son and also the heir to a very rich throne he forsook it all and became a traveling holy man. After a while of traveling as a holy man there was a great even that transformed Gautama into the Buddha (or the Enlightened One). Siddhartha had been meditating under a bodhi tree for six years, but had never been fully satisfied. Eventually at dawn it all began on Gautama’s thirty-fifth birthday.

He finally realized the essential truth about life and about the path to salvation. He realized that physical harshness of asceticism was not a means of achieving Enlightenment and Nirvana. From then on, he encouraged people to follow a path of balance rather than extremism. He called this path the Middle Way. “Devotion to the pleasures of sense, a low practice of villagers, a practice unworthy, unprofitable, the way of the world [on one hand]; and [on the other] devotion to self- mortification, which is painful, unworthy and unprofitable.

By avoiding these two extremes the Buddha has gained knowledge of that middle path which giveth vision, which giveth knowledge, which causeth calm, special knowledge, enlightenment, Nirvana. ” He cleaned his mind of all evil thoughts and achieved Enlightenment at the age of thirty-five, earning the title Buddha, or “Enlightened One. ” Because of this Gautama then became the Buddha and remained at this spot for many days while remaining in a trance-like state and told his teachings to five ascetics for many weeks.

This experience made Gautama feel a desire to share his knowledge with others, so he and his five students preached to the world. Gautama was a teacher and guru until his death in about 483 B. C. Buddhism is a lot like other Indian religions based upon the beliefs. Such as the beliefs in reincarnation, dharma, karma and Nirvana. But mostly in Raja Yoga the profound meditation which holds the key to enlightment and therefore to the way of Nirvana. Buddha himself expressed the base of his beliefs when he said, “I teach only 2 things, O disciples, the fact of suffering and the possibility of escape from suffering.

These ideas are expanded upon in the “Four Noble Truths” and the “Eightfold Path”. In His first sermon to the five ascetics in the Deer Park near Varanasi, the Buddha spoke of the Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble Truths summed up, in a systematic formula, are the central teaching of the Buddha and can be summarized by saying, life is suffering (dukkha), the cause of suffering is desire (tanha) the way to end suffering is to overcome desire, and to overcome desire one must follow the “Eightfold Path”. Buddha taught that man is a slave to his ego.

That man wishes happiness, security, success, long life, and many other things for himself and his loved ones. However, pain, frustration, sickness and death are all impossible to avoid and the only way to eliminate these evils is to overcome desire. The “Eight Fold Path” is a little more difficult to summarize it begins with, “Right to Knowledge”, which means basically the four noble truths. “Right Aims” in next, one must resolve in order to make progress towards salvation. “Right Speech”, our speech reflects our character.

We must avoid speaking falsely, obscene, slanderous, and belittling words. “Right Conduct”, you must follow the five constitutes at the core of Buddhism’s moral code which are, no killing, no stealing, no lying, no committing indecent sexual acts or no consuming of intoxicants. “Right Livelihood”, some jobs are condemned by Buddha such as slave dealer, butcher, prostitute, and traders of lethal weapons and substances. “Right Effort”, one must have the will power to overcome obstacles. “Right Mindfulness”, Buddhism says that what a person is, comes from what he thinks.

By improving our thoughts we can become more virtuous. And the last is “Right Meditation” by this meaning the practice of the Raja Yoga. Since Buddhism emphasizes the desirability of self-removal from the problems involved with everyday life, Buddhism easily became a monastic religion. Within monasteries, everyone has the same goal, which is to attain Nirvana. The Enlightenment which dwells in life does not belong to only one form. Man is always changing and entirely mortal. Buddhism is a natural religion. It does not violate either the mind or the body.

The Buddha became aware that men are born and die according to their good or evil actions, according to their self-created Karma-the consequences of good or evil acts. Nirvana is “self annihilation or the extinguishing of all traces of desire, which repre- sents final enlightment and which releases a person from the cycle of rebirth”. There are many monasteries in the world, in some of them in countries such as Burma, Thailand, and Ceylon, almost every young male spends at least a few weeks of his life within a monastery.

Typically at the age of four the boy celebrates an elaborate ceremony which involves first dressing him in fine clothing. Then stripping the clothing from him, shaving his head and giving him a beggar-bowl along with a saffron-colored robe. These three things are all traditional symbols of a Buddhist monk. For those who become monks it is a life of poverty and celibacy. Before gaining the admittance into the monastery a monk must proclaim his faith by saying “I go to Buddha for refuge; I go to Dharma for refuge; I go to Sangha for refuge” by saying this a monk gives up his civil rights such as voting and being eligible for public services.

Also a few sects permit marriage. This report was just a short overview of traditional Buddhism, the Buddha, its beliefs and its way of life. It did not include the two major sects; Theravada the conservative sect, and Mahayana the liberal sect. Much more could be said of Buddhism but there are so many more aspects that could be explored that it would take a twenty-page report and forever to do.

Ethics In Buddhism And Change Over Time

Ethics in a particular belief system, is a moral philosophy or set of moral principles and rules of conduct that a group of people believe in and live by. In the Buddhist religion, the fundamental Buddhist teaching is the doctrine of conditionality. Everything is dependent on conditions nothing has a fixed and final essence and this includes ourselves. Buddhism seeks to minimize any thoughts or actions, that cause humans to suffer and that suffering results from the nature of the reaction to events, rather than necessarily the nature of those events.

Buddhist scriptures provide guidelines to ethical behavior. Ones own conscience and understanding of the Dharma ( The religious teaching of Buddha), provides an insight into the working of Karma,( The action that will inevitably give rise to certain results) . Buddhist lay people try to practice the Five Precepts, to live morally, act in a just and spiritual manner, to abstain from: killing living beings, taking what is not given, engaging in sexual misconduct, speaking falsely and taking drink and drugs which confuse the mind.

The following data has been collected from resources obtained from Buddhist philosophy and ethics and from guided conversations with two Thai families, who are practicing Buddhists and uphold and live by the fundamental principles of the Buddhist teaching. The four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path form the core of Buddhist teachings: that is suffering and sorrow resulting from pain and illness and old age. Death is inevitable and we tend to suffer when we contemplate death. The Buddha argued that a great deal of suffering is caused through the general unsatisfactory nature of the relationships with other human beings.

Most human beings suffer, due to the events and cycles in their life, that are inevitable and their reaction to this suffering. This reaction to human suffering became the Second Noble Truth. Buddha argued that when people desire the world to be different and these desires are impossible to change, e. g. , the onset of old age, the result will be pain and suffering. It is argued that we should take sensible steps to slow down he process, such as eating healthy food and exercising, but we cannot change the final result.

Also, the acquisition of material possessions can cause suffering, as we desire more and more of what we often will never have. Buddhists believe, that we should find strategies to end the cycle of having desires and then suffering would cease. This possibility of ceasing suffering is the Third Noble Truth. The Fourth Noble Truth or The Noble Eightfold, was Buddhas strategy to gradually reduce the tendency to suffer. The first requirement is that the individual should holdRight Views e. g. , appreciate the nature of impermanence.

Buddhists appreciate that all things eventually decay and that attachment to the impermanent, will ultimately lead to unhappiness. Another Right View is the doctrine of no-self that is that no permanent soul or self can continue in existence, after the death of an individual. This will minimize suffering. The Right Resolve is the second feature of the Eightfold Path and is described as the determination to be non-attached to the material world and to show care and sensitivity towards our fellow beings.

Right Speech is the next requirement on the Eightfold Path and involves the willpower not to use unpleasant or harmful speech about others. Related to Right Speech is the requirement of Right Conduct. This prohibits the Buddhist from killing living creatures and from immoral sexual conduct. Stealing is prohibited also, under this Eightfold Path. The Fifth component of the Eightfold Path is that the Buddhist should not engage in an occupation that harms other living things, e. g. Butcher. The next element of the Eightfold Path is Right Attention and this encourages the person to be mindful of everyday events and functions.

This incorporates such things as eating, walking, sitting and breathing. The final aspect is Right Meditation. This is to enable the Buddhist to see the true nature of the physical world and hence avoid suffering. This peace and tranquility is known as nirvana or enlightenment. The focus on breathing or anapanasati, is a common form of meditation to calm the mind and to prepare it for the next stage of meditation. These meditative techniques are used to try and understand the world in a clearer and more objective way.

Buddhism holds, that because death is not the end, suffering does not cease, but continues until the Karma that created the suffering has played itself out. The willful taking of ones life is an intentional act that is egotistically motivated with Karmic consequences. The effects adversely influencing not only me, but many others as well. Therefore, it is pointless to kill oneself or aid another to do so, in order to escape. The intricate relationships of cause and effect fit together and interact. Everyone has the potential to alter the course of his future Karma.

Buddhism is emphatic in its opposition of suicide, and states that only with a human body-mind, can one become enlightened and dispel the ignorance that is the root source of suffering. In the case of abortion, Buddhists believe true nature is indestructible. What kind of karma we are creating for ourselves and others depends on the degree of selfishness or lack of it, which motivates our action. Clear awareness of the law of cause and effect and complete willingness to assume responsibility, will help clear the mind of guilt, anxiety and remorse.

Buddhism doesnt discriminate between people, on the basis of their sexual preferences or ennoble the nuclear family. Marriage is not a sacrament, but simply a social contract. They believe that as long as one doesnt harm other people by ones sexual behavior, they have no trouble accepting monogamy, polygamy or polyandry. They are just different ways of arranging your life. There is a spiritual hunger that draws Westerners into Buddhism today. Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism, never placed emphasis on rites, rituals and ceremonies and neither do the new Buddhist groups today.

The move away from more goal-oriented and masculine approaches, has given over to focus on the needs of the individual members. Gays, Lesbians and other alternate sexual groups are accepted more than in most traditional western religions. In the new and old Buddhism, the highest goal is not faith and belief, proper behavior or ritual devotion, but the direct experience of enlightenment. Both attach great importance to the practice of meditation, Enlightenment is seen as something that must ultimately be realized with the suffering and joy of daily life.

The western followers of the new Buddhism have a high degree of commitment and passion to the beliefs and moral principles underlying this religion. They have a mystical outlook, looking toward the direct personal experience of the ultimate, rather than outward to the world of the established social order. Buddhism is becoming and will continue to become of age in the Western world. It will have a dramatic effect on social change and attitude, in the future for anyone seeking a new direction, new perspective and a different enlightenment.

It is rapidly gaining popularity in its fundamental attitudes, beliefs and assumptions that are so radically different to those found common in the west. They could contribute in the evolutionary path of world culture. Buddhism is a powerful philosophy of life that we could all think about, uphold and live by. It challenges the Western way of life and thought. We need to examine its principles and underlying karma more closely, to fully understand the diversity of ethics and how these will affect and challenge our thoughts and actions in the future.

Siddhartha Gautama

Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha, was born in the sixth century B. C. in what is now modern Nepal. His father, Suddhodana, was the ruler of the Sakya people and Siddhartha grew up living the extravagant life of a young prince. According to custom, he married at the young age of sixteen to a girl named Yasodhara. His father had ordered that he live a life of total seclusion, but one day Siddhartha ventured out into the world and was confronted with the reality of the inevitable suffering of life.

The next day, at the age of twenty-nine, he left his kingdom and new-born son to lead an ascetic life and determine a way to relieve universal suffering. For six years, Siddhartha submitted himself to rigorous ascetic practices, studying and following different methods of meditation with various religious teachers. But he was never fully satisfied. One day, however, he was offered a bowl of rice from a young girl and he accepted it. In that moment, he realized that physical austerities were not the means to achieve liberation.

From then on, he encouraged people to follow a path of balance rather than extremism. He called this The Middle Way. That night Siddhartha sat under the Bodhi tree, and meditated until dawn. He purified his mind of all defilements and attained enlightenment at the age of thirty-five, thus earning the title Buddha, or “Enlightened One. ” For the remainder of his eighty years, the Buddha preached the Dharma in an effort to help other sentient beings reach enlightenment.

Buddhism, The Most Tolerant Religion In The World

Buddhism is probably the most tolerant religion in the world, as its teachings can coexist with any other religion’s. However, this is not a characteristic of other religions. The Buddhist teaching of God is neither agnostic nor vague, but clear and logical. Buddhism was created by Siddhartha Gautama, who was born in the sixth century B. C. in what is now modern Nepal. Siddhartha grew up living the extravagant life of a young prince. His father was Suddhodana and was the ruler of the Sakya people. According to custom, he married a young girl named Yasodhara at the age of sixteen.

His father had ordered that he live a life of total seclusion, but one day Siddhartha ventured out into the world and was confronted with the harsh reality of life and universal suffering. At age twenty-nine, he left his kingdom and new-born son to lead a plain, reclusive life and determine a way to relieve this universal suffering. Siddhartha meditated under a bodhi tree for six years, but he was never fully satisfied. One day, however, he was offered a bowl of rice from a young girl and he accepted it. At that moment, he realized that physical harshness was not a means of chieving liberation.

From then on, he encouraged people to follow a path of balance rather than extremism. He called this “Devotion to the pleasures of sense, a low practice of villagers, a practice unworthy, unprofitable, the way of the world [on one hand]; and [on the other] devotionto self-mortification, which is painful, unworthy and unprofitable. By avoiding these two extremes the Tathagata [or Buddha] has gained knowledge of that middle path which giveth vision, which giveth knowledge, which causeth calm, special knowledge, enlightenment, Nibbana [or Nirvana]. (Smart 236)

That night, Siddhartha sat under the bodhi tree and medi- tated until dawn. He purified his mind of all evil thoughts and attained Enlightenment at the age of thirty-five, thus earning the title Buddha, or “Enlightened One. ” For the re- mainder of his eighty years, the Buddha preached the dharma in an effort to help other people also reach Enlightenment. The Buddha objectively examined the phenomena of life. Studying effects and tracing their causes, he produced a science of living which ranks with any other science known to man.

He de- scribed life to be one and indivisible. Man, he declared, can become Buddha, Enlightened, by the principle of Enlightenment within. This process is simply to become what you are, to de- velop to the full innate Buddha-Mind by destroying the igno- rance, sin, and evils of human nature. According to the Buddha, all forms of life can be shown to have three characteristics in common; impermanence, suffering, and an absence of a permanent soul which separates itself from other forms of life. The Buddha also pointed out that nothing is the same as it was only a moment ago.

Everyone and everything are constantly changing. There is no rest within the universe, only a ceaseless becoming and never-ending change. Buddhism denies that man has an im- mortal soul. The Enlightenment which dwells in life does not belong to only one form. Man is always changing and entirely Buddhism is a natural religion. It does not violate either the mind or the body. The Buddha became aware that men are born and die according to their good or evil actions, according to their self-created Karma–the consequences of good or evil acts.

Even though there are several different forms of Buddhism that ave come into existence since Buddha’s death, there is still a basic essence that all Buddhists agree with. All Buddhists rec- ognize four basic noble truths. The first noble truth of the world is dhukka, or suffering. The second truth is tanha, or desire, which is the cause of suffering. The third truth is that in order to free oneself from suffering, one must overcome desire. The fourth truth tells us how this can be accomplished through the eight-fold path. The eight-fold path is the means to achieve liberation from suffering.

It helps one weed out cravings and ignorance, to overcome rebirth, old age, disease, eath, sorrows, lamentation, grief, and despair. It helps to end mass misery and aids people in attaining Nirvana, or salva- The most simple teaching of the Buddha was to do good, to avoid evil, and to purify the heart. According to Buddha, the hearts of ordinary men are not pure. They are filled with greed, ill will, and delusion. Greed and hatred are impurities caused by desires, and ignorance is the cause of delusion, es- pecially delusion of self. Ignorance, in fact, is the cause of desire and thus the primary cause of all suffering and of re- birth.

Buddhism, At a High School Level

Buddhism, founded in the late 6th century BC by Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha), is an important religion in most of the countries of Asia. Buddhism has come in many different forms, but in each form there has been an attempt to draw from the life experiences of the Buddha, his teachings, and the spirit or essence of his teachings (called dharma) as models for the religious life.

However, before the writing of the Buaciha Charija (life of the Buddha) by Ashvaghosa in the 1st or 2nd century AD, the members did not have a complete record of his life. The Buddha was born in North India (appx. 0 BC) at a place called Lumbini, near the Himalayan Foothills, and he began to teach around Benares (at Sarnath). His era in general was one of spiritual, intellectual, and social ferment.

This was the time when the Hindu idea of giving up family and social life by holy people seeking Truth first became widespread. Siddhartha Gautama was the warrior son of a king and queen. According to the legend, at his birth, a person predicted that he might become a renouncer (withdrawing from the temporal life). To prevent this, his father gave him many luxuries and pleasures.

But, as a young man, he once went on a series of four chariot rides where he first saw the more severe forms of human suffering: old age, illness, and death. The difference between his life and human suffering made him realize that all the pleasures on earth were short, or temporary, and could only hide human suffering. Leaving his wife and new son (Rahula Fetter), he took on several teachers and tried to meditate and worship in the forest until the point of near starvation. Finally, when he realized that this too was only adding more suffering, he ate food and sat down beneath a tree to meditate.

By morning, he had attained Nirvana (enlightenment), which gave him the answers to the causes of suffering and permanent release from it. Now the Buddha began to teach others these truths out of understanding for their suffering. The most important rules he taught included the Four Noble Truths and Eight-Fold Path. His first Noble Truth is that life is suffering (dukkha). The second Noble Truth is that craving for pleasures and for things to be as they are not causing suffering. The third Noble Truth, states that suffering has an end, and the fourth offers the means to that end which are the Eight-Fold Path and the Middle Way.

If someone follows this combined path he or she will obtain Nirvana (Enlightenment), an indescribable state of all-knowing easily understood awareness in which there is only peace and joy. The Eight-fold Path, represented as a picture by an eight-spoked wheel (the Wheel of Dharma), includes Right Views (the Four Noble Truths), Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood/Occupation, Right Endeavor, Right Mindfulness (total concentration in activity), and Right Concentration (meditation).

After the Buddha’s death, his celibate followers slowly settled down into monasteries that were paid for by the married followers as gifts. The monks then taught the followers some of Buddha’s teachings. They also visited the Buddha’s birthplace; worshiped the tree under which he became enlightened (a bodhi tree), built Buddha-images in temples, and put the remains of his body in many burial mounds. A famous king, named Ashoka, and his son helped to spread Buddhism through South India and in Sri Lanka, in the Third Century BC.

The Buddha’s followers built many monastic schools. Around the First Century AD, a major split occurred within the Buddhist fold, between the Mahayana and Hinayana branches. Of the Hinayana branch of schools, only the Theravada school remains; it is currently found in Sri Lanka and all Southeast Asian countries. This school stresses the historical figure of Gautama Buddha, and the center of the monk’s lifestyle and practice (meditation).

Theravada monks hold that the Buddha taught a law of anatta (no soul), when he spoke of the not long lasting of the human body and form, perception, sensations and feelings, consciousness, and volition. They believe that human beings continue to be reformed and reborn, and to collect karma (the effects of moral action on the person who is the cause of the action) until they reach Nirvana. The Mahayana (Greater Vehicle) branch of schools began about the First Century AD; Mahayanists are found today mostly in Korea, China, Japan, and Tibet.

The three well-known schools are Pure Land, Chan or Len, and Tantra. Mahayana schools stress that worshipers can also be good Buddhists. The form of the historical Buddha was only one manifestation of Buddha Nature. Mahayana speaks of many past and also future Buddha’s, some of who are god-like and watch over Buddha-worlds or heavenly paradises. Especially important are bodhisattvas, who are people who have reached the point of Enlightenment, but turn around and take a vow to use their enlightenment, compassion, wisdom, and power to help release others from their suffering.

Buddhism became virtually extinct in India (approximately Twelfth Century AD), partly because of the ways of Hinduism, Muslim invasions, or too great a stress on the monk’s way of life. However, it is still practiced in China, Japan and in parts of Asia. As a religion, it has proved its possibility of living and practical spirituality in the countries of Asia in which it is followed. The many forms and practices that have been developed within the Buddhist fold have allowed many different types of people to become Buddhists.

The origin, traditional Buddhism

The origin, traditional Buddhism began in the 6th century BC with the historical personage born Siddhartha Gautama, but better known by a variety of titles including Shakyammi, Tathagata, or most commonly Buddha, the enlightened one. The legend of the Buddha’s life has acquired plenty of variations and embellishments over the years, but the basic facts are accepted as traditional, including the dates of his birth and death (563-489 BC by Western reckoning, 624-544 according to Sri Lankan tradition). The story of Buddha’s birth is encrusted with myth and fable as that of any God-figure in human history.

For instance, he is said to have issued from his mother’s womb stating that his cycle of rebirths was about to end. Again, some Buddhists devoutly accept the fables as we in the west accept Christmas narratives, while others choose to focus on the truths beneath the myths. We do know with some certainty that the Buddha was born to a royal family in northern India, in the foothills of what is now Nepal. Siddhartha Gautama led a sheltered existence in the court of his father, Shuddhodana, the king of the Shakya clan, who shielded him from any knowledge of human suffering or religions of the time.

Soon after his birth a soothsayer named Asita predicted that he would become either the emperor of all India or if the “Four Passing Sights” should come to pass he would renounced the world and would become the greatest spiritual leader the world has ever known. Shuddhodana, Gautama, a member of the warrior-ruler caste, preferred the royal vocation and provided his son with three palaces located so that his son would not experience the dramatic seasonal changes. He placed at his son disposal anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 dancing girls to keep his mind firmly rooted in the “real” world.

He also gave orders that his son should never see the sick, the aged, dead bodies, and nor should a monk be allowed near his son. But, as so often happens when manipulative fathers groom their sons to take over the family business, Siddhartha rebelled. At 16 he married a beautiful young princess named Yasodhara, by whom he fathered a son, Rahula. Over the ensuing years Gautama, was shielded from the facts of the real world. But legend states the gods intervened with what is now called the “Four Passing Sights. ” In essence, the many variants of this story run something like this.

Gautama is either riding or being driven along the roads of his fathered lands when on successive days he first catches site of an ancient man frail with age, representing the miserable close of every man’s life. The next day he encounters a man covered with repulsive sores and shaking with illness, so he may know how physical illness and misery may attend man all the days of his life. On the third day he sees the body of a dead man, which teaches him the dreadful fact of death and his limited time in this world. These three sights robbed him of all peace of mind.

It is a fact, and perhaps the legend is based upon it, that in one of the oldest passages in the Buddhist writings he is reported as saying: “I also am subject to decay and am not free from the power of old age, sickness and death. Is it right that I should feel horror, repulsion and disgust when I see another in such plight? And when I reflected thus to my disciples, all the joy of life which there is in life died within me. “) The prince remained distraught throughout the remainder of that day pondering these revelations. On the fourth day he befriended a calm ascetic walking toward him as he traveled the road.

From this person, who had gained true peace of soul, he learned how freedom from the miseries of old age, disease, and death may be won. His father sensing his son’s troubled thoughts over the past few days decided to hold a great feast in Gautama honor, something to sway his son back to the path chosen for him at birth, but Gautama surveying the scene of debauchery was revolted by its apparent meaninglessness. After the feast when he was awake, alone, and sober he decided it was time to renounce his present life and to seek his own way in the world.

So later that night, he bided his wife and son goodbye and set out on a six year quest, searching for an end to life suffering, its true meaning. At the beginning Gautama was anxious not to reject the prevalent Brahmin philosophy until he had tested it for himself. So, for awhile, he traveled India and experimented with the yoga meditation traditions. For years he practice the asceticism of the yogis of the time, nearly staving to death in the process of finding a permanent release from suffering. Finally he came to the conclusion that asceticism in and of itself was not the answer.

No matter how much he fasted, he eventually had to replenish his body so that he could continue traveling and learning. Furthermore, he surmised that the only logical conclusion of denying the physical body is death. During his last, life threatening fast, he realized that enlightenment could be reached only through the vessel of the body, and there was a limit to how much deprivation his body could safely endure. So he abandoned the extreme asceticism he had been practicing in favor of what came to be called the Middle Way a path between devotion to pleasures of the senses and the complete denial of them.

Accepting food and drink offered him; he ate, to regain his strength. He then went and sat under a nearby Bodhi tree refusing to move until he became enlightened. In the early morning hours as he sat under the tree, he realized the nature and cause of suffering and the way of release from these causes that constituted his enlightenment. He came to understand that one could be freed from suffering in this life by moderating its real causes: passionate craving, hatred, and ignorance.

According to legend, after sitting in meditation for seven days, Gautama looked up at the heavens and said, “How wonderful, How wonderful. All things are enlightened exactly as they are! ” He then continued to meditate for a total of 49 days, for it was at this time all Buddhist down through the ages believed, Gautama, first experienced Nirvana: the goal of Buddhism; it means freedom from karma; extinction of all craving; the realization of the true nature of the mind. This is the closest thing in Buddhism to the western world’s idea of salvation, the ultimate goal of all religious faiths.

Traditionally, the accounts were committed to writing in Sanskrit and in Pali, a Sanskrit derived Indian dialect within 100 years of the Buddha’s death, but modern scholars places the dates closer to the 2nd and 1st century BC. The written records of his sermons and dialogues are known as sutras. Unlike other major religions of the world the concept of a divine being, as in, Hinduism’s Atman-Brahman, Judaism’s Yahweh, and Islam’s Allah, Buddhism does not proclaim any worship of any god. Buddhist believes that the divine being, per say, is not something you believe in, or worship, or can describe but instead something you experience.

Buddhism Of Theravada And Mahayana

A question asked by many people is ” What is the difference between Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism? ” To find the answer let us look at the history of Buddhism and compare and contrast the beliefs and philosophies of the two. The Buddah, Siddhartha Gautama, was born in the 6th century B. C. E. in Northwestern India. The Buddah was the son of an aristocrat and grew up in a world of affluence and privilege. His father, Suddhodana took every precaution to make sure Siddhartha didnt experience anything that would hurt his happiness.

The Buddah attained enlightenment at the age of 35 and spent his life teaching. He taught for 45 years and only slept for about two hours a day. What he taught was called Buddha Vacana, i. e. the word of the Buddha. Three months after the Buddhas death five hundred of his disciples convened the First Council at Rajagaha. Maha Kassapa, the most respected and elderly monk, presided the council. Since members of the council were not able to agree on any changes, Maha Kassapa ruled that no rules laid down by the Buddha should be changed and no new ones should be introduced.

Maha Kassapa also said “If we changed the rules, people would say that Ven. Gotamas disciples changed the rules even before his funeral fire ceased burning. ” On hundred years later a Second Council was held and they made some changes to certain minor rules. In the 3rd Century B. C. E. , the Third Council was held to discuss the difference between different sects. At the end of this Council, the President of the Council, Moggaliputta Tissa, wrote a book called the Kathavatthu refuting the heretical, false views and theories of some sects.

The teaching approved by this council was known as Theravada. There was nothing known as Mahayana at this time. Between the 1st Century B. C. E. and the 1st Century A. D. , the term Mahayana appeared in the Saddharma Pundarike Sutra or Sutra of the Lotus of the Good Law. About the 2nd Century A. D. , Mahayana became clearly defined. Theravada and Mahayana have a lot of similarities: n Both accept Sakyamuni Buddha as the Teacher. n The Four Noble Truths are exactly the same in both schools. n The Eightfold Path is exactly the same in both schools. The Paticca-samuppada or he Dependent Organization is the same in both schools. n Both rejected the idea of a supreme being who created and governed this world. n Both accept Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta and Sila, Samadhi, Panna without any difference.

There are also some differences. The Mahayanists did not see themselves as creating a new start for Buddhism. They claimed that their canon of scriptures represented the final teachings of Buddha. They accounted for the non-presence of these teachings in over 500 years by claiming that these were secret teachings entrusted only to he most faithful followers.

Like the Protestant Reformation, the overall goal of Mahayana was to extend religious authority to a greater number of people, rather than concentrating it in the hands of the few. ” World Civilizations, Richard Hooker, 1996. The goal of Theravada Buddhism is very hard to accomplish. In order to make Buddhism a more esoteric religion, the Mahayanists invented two grades of Buddhist attainment below becoming a Buddha. The Buddha was the highest goal, the level before that is to become a Pratyeka-Buddha hich is one who is awakened to the truth but keeps it secret.

Below the Pratyeka-Buddha is the Arhant or “worthy”; who has learned the truth from others and has come to realize it as the truth. Mahayana Buddhism establishes Arhant as the goal for all believers. The believer hears the truth, comes to realize it as the truth, then passes into Nirvana. This doctrine of Arhanthood is the basis for calling Mahayan the “Greater Vehicle” because it is meant to include everyone. The Mahayanists completed the conversion of Buddhism from a philosophy to a religion.

Theravada Buddhism says that Buddha was a person who ceased to exist after his death. However Buddhists tended to worship him as a god of some sort, even when he was alive. The Mahayanists developed a theology of Buddha called the doctrine of “The Three Bodies,” or Trikaya. The Buddha was not a human being, as the Theravada Buddhists believed, but a manifestation of a universal, spiritual being. This being had three bodies. When it occupied the Earth as Siddhartha Gautama, it took on the Body of Magical Transformation.

This body comes out from he Body of Bliss, which occupies the heavens in the form of a ruling god of the universe. There are many forms of the Body of Bliss, but the one that rules over our world is Amithaba who lives in a paradise in the western heavens called Sukhavati or “Land of Pure Bliss”. Finally, the Body of Bliss comes out from the Body of Essence, which is the principle underlying of the whole universe. This Body of Essence became synonymous with Nirvana. It was a kind of universal soul, and Nirvana became the wonderful joining with this universal soul.

The birth of the first Buddha

The birth of the first Buddha started out with a dream. Queen Maha-Maya of the Sakya warrior caste had a dream when the moon was full during the midsummer festival. Four guardian angels lifted her up and took her to the Himalaya Mountains where they laid her under a sal-tree. While there she was attended to by the wives of the guardian angels, who bathed her and removed every humanly stain from her being. Then they clothed her, anointed her with perfumes and decorated her with flowers.

The future Buddha had become a white elephant and as it approached his mother-to-be he picked and held a white lotus flower with his trunk. Then he walked around her with his right side towards her, repeating this three times and upon the last time he entered into her womb (Wisdom of Buddha 12-14). The next day Maha-Maya had her dream interpreted by the Brahmans. They told her that she was pregnant with a male child. One who if lived the household life would become a Universal Monarch but if he was to leave the household life he would then become a Buddha (Wisdom of Buddha 14).

Ten months into her pregnancy, Maya left for Lumbini where she went to visit with her kinsfolk. During her trip between the two cities she saw a sal-tree and stopped to admire it. As she stood near it, the tree appeared to reach out its branches for her to hold on to and as she did this, she gave birth to a spotless boy who spoke “This is the best direction”. Then he took seven steps and said “The chief am I in all the world” (Wisdom of Buddha 17). The child was named Siddhartha (meaning “every wish fulfilled”) Guatama (family name). He lived a sheltered life inside the walls of his father’s empire.

His mother died a few days after he was born and his father was the sole guardian of Siddhartha. His father did not want his son to become a Buddha but one day to rule over his empire, so Siddhartha was never allowed outside the empire walls. By the age of twenty-nine, Siddhartha was married and had a son himself, but he had never experienced the outside world. On three separate occasions, Siddhartha left the luxury of his home and found sickness, old age, and death, all of these truths of life that he had never been exposed to before.

Greatly disturbed by what he saw, Siddhartha renounced his worldly possessions and abandoned his family and embarked on a quest for peace and enlightenment. After seven years of wandering, listening to many perspectives on life, and searching, he finally sat under a Bo tree at Bodhi Gaya. There he practiced starvation and self-denial of all physical pleasure, so that he would clearly be able to understand the intense struggle inside of himself until he reached a higher state of consciousness. Under this tree Siddhartha reached what is known as “the great enlightenment”, where all of his teachings and philosophies have come from.

From then on Siddhartha was only referred to by the name of BUDDHA that meant “Awakened One”(web-site, see bibliography). Buddha began to preach while wandering from place to place accompanied by five of his disciples. He returned briefly to his native town and converted his father, wife and other family members. After forty-five years of missionary work, Buddha died in Napal at about eighty years in age (Encarta “Buddhism”). For almost two hundred years, those who followed Buddha were a small, some-what inconsequential group. It wasn’t until the third century B. C. hen the Mauryan emperor,

Asoka, converted to Buddhism that the religion spread quickly through India and to Sri Lanka where the most similar to the original form of Buddha’s teachings were maintained. While the rest of India and other parts of the world where Buddhism fragmented into a million sects (web-site). One major sect that branched from India was the Tibetian sect. Primarily a nomadic and agriculturalistic society, Tibet was first introduced to Buddhism in 747 A. D. by a monk by the name of Padmasambhava, that meant “born of the lotus flower” (Encarta “Tibetan Buddhism”).

Padmasambhava established the first order of “lamas”, or monks and by 766 A. D. the first monastery named “Bsam-yas” was built. The supreme position in the Buddhism of Tibet was occupied by two lamas – the Grand, or Dalai, Lama and the Panchen, or Bogodo, Lama. Although both had the same authority, the Dalai Lama was considerably more powerful. The native religion of Tibet, Bon, was slowly replaced completely by Buddhism. By 814 A. D. Tibet had expanded territorially in favor of Buddhism and many more temples and monasteries had been established (An-Che 21-28).

Tibetans, who have been predominantly Buddhist for more then one thousand years, have suffered greatly at the hands of the communist Chinese government. In 1950, the government of China began to move into Tibet and gradually took control. The peaceful Buddhist culture had now been tainted by the violent force used by the Chinese. In 1959, the fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tensin Gyatso, along with one hundred thousand Tibetans, escaped to India, where they have been receiving political sanctuary up to the present.

Since 1959 the Chinese government has tried to systematically eradicate Tibetan Buddhist culture through the destruction of monasteries, universities, and ethnic collections (Schmidt 314). One of the lasting strengths of Buddhism has been its ability to adapt to changing conditions and to a variety of cultures. Today the population of Buddhist is estimated between one hundred-fifty and three-hundred million and is continually growing in all areas of the world. Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth Dalai Lama is still striving for world peace and has worked constantly for the halt of the Chinese government assault on Tibetan culture.

It is human nature to use symbols in order to express portions of our outer and inner reality. Symbols are signs we use to remind ourselves of the interrelationship between the inward and outward and the mental activities and the material so that we can recognize then more clearly. All elements can be perceived as symbols. In Buddhism every form, every object, every attribute, every gesture of a deity, as well as position and color not only have their own particular significance but usually each part relates to other parts as well. Each symbol, image, color, and placement has its own specific meaning and reasoning behind it (Dagyab 10).

One image that has many components of meaning is the Image of Excellent Merit. It has twenty-one heads in seven stories, each story with three heads. The number twenty-one symbolizes the twenty-one stages on the path to perfection. The number seven represents the seven members of the Bodhisat Road. Each face has a different color, all have their own meaning. The red represents warm-heartedness, white – purity, blue – constancy, green – serenity, fierceness, growth and power, yellow- completeness in all merits, and the multi-colored head represents the comprehensive nature of all phenomena (An-Che 48).

Some other known symbols are the Eight Symbols of Good Fortune. They are the Parasol, the Golden Fishes, the Treasure Vase, the Lotus, the Right-Turning Conch Shell, the Glorious Endless Knot, and the Wheel also known as the Dharma Wheel. The Parasol is used as a symbol of spiritual power. The Golden Fishes is a symbol of good fortune. The Treasure Vase is a symbol of satisfaction of material desires. The Lotus is a symbol of purity. The Right-Turning Conch Shell is a symbol of the fame of Buddha’s teachings. The Glorious Endless knot is a symbol of the infinite knowledge of Buddha: no beginning and no end.

The Victory Sign is a symbol of victory of knowledge over ignorance. The Wheel, consisting of three parts, the hub-training of moral disciple, the spokes- the application of wisdom, and the rid – training in concentration, make up the Dharma Wheel that was all embracing and complete in itself (Rinpoche 17-38). Other items that are symbolic include beads called “mala” which help to create a mind set during a mantra or meditation. Incense can also be found in places of worship along with offerings such as flowers, lamps, fruits, tea, food, treasures and clothes.

The focal symbol found in all places of worship is a statue of Buddha. This is a visual way for people to focus before and during all ceremonies and meditations. A regular ceremony that takes place a few times a month, usually on a full moon, is known as the “Tsog” offering. Other special ceremonies that happen annually include, the New year’s celebration in February, the Flower Feast held at the beginning of summer in commemoration of the incarnation of the Buddha, and the Water Feast observed in August and September to mark the start of autumn.

All Buddhist rituals and ceremonies are based on the esoteric mysticism of Tantra, devotions that involve yoga, mantra, and ancient shamanistic practices (Encarta Tibetan Buddhism). These events take place at local and very holy, sacred temples or monasteries. Other holy and sacred places include, Lumbini, Nepal, the birthplace of Buddha, and Bodhi Gaya, where the “tree of enlightenment” stood when Buddha was enlightened. Buddhism is an analytic religion based on thought and proving a belief. Although early Buddhism did revolve around some mythology and some still does today, much of the mythology has been replaced by scientific findings.

Early Buddhist mythology believed that the universe consisted of innumerable world systems throughout infinite space. In these world systems existed supernatural beings regarded as spirits. These spirits were good and evil and some were considered semi-divine beings. The good and evil spirits brought about troublesome and beneficial feelings, emotions, and actions amongst the beings they surrounded. The semi-divine beings dwelled in gardens, houses, hills, rivers, seas, trees and in the waters. Only those who caused anxiety and fear to mankind were grouped as demons or evil spirits (Haldak 139).

The early mythology of Buddhism also explained Heaven and Hell. Heaven was to be composed of two worlds “Devaloka”, a heaven for the gods, and “Brahmaloka” a heaven for the Brahmas. Under the Brahmaloka, were six worlds of desire known as “Devaloka. ” Under these were the eight major realms of hell. These sixteen worlds are stacked upon each other like stories of a building with heaven being at the top where there is no suffering and with hell at the bottom, a place of endless punishment. Other mythological stories exist about different gods who are above the human level but inferior to Buddha.

Although Buddha is not thought of as a mythological character, his story can be interpreted as somewhat mythical. Unlike many religions of worship, Buddhism focuses on reaching a transcendental state of consciousness, beyond the reach of linguistic expression (Kalupahana 47). It does not seek to convert or force people into believing or joining their faith but it fulfills the spiritual need within its members. Buddhism is a school of thought, based on logic and aesthetics. The pre-requisite for these is honesty.

When members meditate or practice yoga, they may reach a higher state of contemplation where they find peace, balance, and deep meaning in life through their deep thoughts. One Buddhist principle is to respect all forms of life. If one devoutly follows this principle they will discover that they become kinder and less selfish people. These characteristics make for a happier world and lifestyle (Mark Dickinson). All the focal symbols of Buddhism reinforce a peaceful and calm environment for meditation and yoga. From a Freudian perspective, these symbols represent the ego.

The ego strives for a balance between the id, our basic human desires, and the superego, ones mental recorder that has the ability to judge our options in any situation. In life, one must find that balance and meaning to find ones real self and to find spiritual happiness. Millions worldwide of all ages, races, economic classes, and ethnic groups join to make up the religion of Buddhism. In the beginning Buddhism started as a small religion in India and it spread through East Asia to Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka, through China, Korea, Japan, and Tibet.

It wasn’t until 1900 A. D. that Buddhism found its beginnings in the West and by 1960 A. D. Buddhism had widespread establishments in the West (Schmidt 288-311). Buddhist members can always find themselves in a warm community were anger, egos, and attachments are left behind. Members can find peace in meditation together or alone. Most sects of the religion have a democratic like government where all members have a voice in the community (Mark Dickinson). There is a traditional hierarchy organization within Buddhism. There is a higher and lower clergy.

The higher clergy is made up of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, the Hutukutus, spiritual dignitaries, and the Hobilghans or Bodhisattuas, who have undertaken various ethical and spiritual disciplines with view to achieving Buddhahood, or complete enlightenment. These three groups make up the incarnations of Buddhist saints. The lower clergy must take a vow of celibacy, live in monasteries and usually shave their heads. The lower clergy includes the novice, assistant priest, religions mendicant, and the teacher or abbot (Encarta Tibetan Buddhism). The openness of the Buddhist faith does not need to force people to convert.

Buddhists simply spread their teachings and kindness with all they meet. There seems to be a great future for Buddhism in America due to freedom of religion but the American mind set would need to change before Buddhism would ever become a dominant religion of the land (Mark Dickinson). The Buddhist scripture is known as the canon composed of two parts, the Tripitaka and the exegetical commentary. The Tripitaka is separated into three parts, the Vinaya, which describes conduct, the Sutta, which are the discourses, and the Abhidhamma, which are supplementary doctrines.

The basic principle found in the Buddhist scripture relates to suffering and finding the end of it. The Four Noble Truths help explain suffering and how to avoid it. The Four Noble Truths are Duhkhasatya, the truth of dukha, Samudayasatya, the truth of the cause, Nirodhasatya, the truth of cessation, and Mrgasatya, the truth of the way or path. Duhkhastya is translated as “life is suffering” but more appropriately as “life is painfully out of balance”. Dukkha was a word used to refer to a wheel whose axle was off-center.

The Buddha named four specific points in life where this pain is most evident: birth, illness, old age, and the fear approaching death. He also added: to be separated from what one loves, and to be saddled with what one hates. The second truth is that the cause of Dukkha is tanha, or “thirst”. Tanha is also generally translated as “desire”, but “thirst” suggests that it is meant more specifically, as “personal desire”. The desire for private fulfillment causes actions at the expense of others. It interferes with the oneness of all things, leads to ignorance, and brings suffering.

The third truth declares that a nirodha, or “cessation” of the cravings can be attained. When selfish cravings, ignorance, and hatred are overcome, balance will be restored to life. The fourth truth describes that a mrga, “path” or “way” exists to overcome the tanha (cravings). The Eightfold Path is the middle way which lies between the extremes of asceticism and indulgence. The Eightfold Path can be broken down into three aspects, Morality, Concentration, and Wisdom. Under Morality falls right speech, action, and livelihood.

Concentration includes right effort, mindfulness, and concentration. And wisdom contains right understanding and right thought. These three qualities must be developed to attain Nirvana. The ultimate goal of the Buddhist path is release from the round of phenomenal existence with its inherent suffering. To achieve this goal is to attain nirvana, an enlightened state in which the fires of greed, hatred, and ignorance have been quenched. Anyone can attain nirvana but usually it is a more realistic goal for those members of the monastic community.

Karma has a great impact on whether or not one will attain nirvana. The law of karma says that for every event that occurs, there will follow another event whose existence was caused by the first, and this second event will be pleasant or unpleasant according as its cause was skillful or unskillful (web site). Human actions lead to rebirth, where good deeds are rewarded and evil deeds are punished. One’s karma determines such matter as one’s species, beauty, intelligence, longevity, wealth, and social status.

Karma can lead to rebirth as a human, an animal, a hungry ghost, a denizen of hell, or even one of the Hindu gods. This spiritual energy found in all things is part of the continuum of life. Buddha was one of the greatest human beings, a man of noble character, warm compassion, and profound thought. Through the religion he established, he was able to affect millions throughout the world for nearly 2500 years. His teachings and philosophies are a way to live by if one wants to attain peace in one’s life.

Buddhism as the most tolerant religion in the world

Buddhism is probably the most tolerant religion in the world, as its teachings can coexist with any other religions. Buddhism has a very long existence and history, starting in about 565 B. C. with the birth of Siddhartha Gautama. The religion has guidelines in two forms in which Buddhist followers must follow. These are the “Four Noble Truths” and the “Eightfold Path. It all started in about 565 B. C. when Siddhartha Gautama was born. He was a young Indian prince born to the ruler of a small kingdom that is now known as Nepal.

Gautama’s father was said to have been told by a prophet that if Gautama saw the ick, aged, dead, or poor he would become a religious leader. If he didnt see these four things he would become an emperor. Because of this prophecy Gautama’s father decided to isolate his son from the outside world, where he might “see how the other half lived”, for the good of his empire and his citizens. Trying to shelter Gautama from all the four sights was impossible, and Gautama ventured out and that is when he eventually saw the four sights, which would, if experienced as it had been told to Gautama’s father, lead the young prince to a religious leader.

These sights or as how Buddhists refer to them “The Four Signs” were in turn, a sick man covered with terrible sores, an old man, a corpse, and a wandering monk. The sightings of these men made Gautama think of the suffering and inevitable death which comes to all people great and small. This brought further questioning such as the meaning of life and the ultimate fate of man. As time passed these thoughts became great burdens to Gautama and he increasingly became dissatisfied with the shallow dissolute life of the royal court in which he lived.

Therefore at the age of 21, although married with a beautiful young son and also the heir to a very rich throne he forsook it all and became a traveling holy man. After a while of traveling as a holy man there was a great even that transformed Gautama into the Buddha (or the Enlightened One). Siddhartha had been meditating under a bodhi tree for six years, but had never been fully satisfied. Eventually at dawn it all began on Gautama’s thirty-fifth birthday.

He finally realized the essential truth about life and about the path to salvation. He realized that physical harshness of sceticism was not a means of achieving Enlightenment and Nirvana. From then on, he encouraged people to follow a path of balance rather than extremism. He called this path the Middle Way. “Devotion to the pleasures of sense, a low practice of villagers, a practice unworthy, unprofitable, the way of the world [on one hand]; and [on the other] devotion to self- mortification, which is painful, unworthy and unprofitable.

By avoiding these two extremes the Buddha has gained knowledge of that middle path which giveth vision, which giveth knowledge, which causeth calm, special knowledge, enlightenment, Nirvana. He cleaned his mind of all evil thoughts and achieved Enlightenment at the age of thirty-five, earning the title Buddha, or “Enlightened One. ” Because of this Gautama then became the Buddha and remained at this spot for many days while remaining in a trance-like state and told his teachings to five ascetics for many weeks.

This experience made Gautama feel a desire to share his knowledge with others, so he and his five students preached to the world. Gautama was a teacher and guru until his death in about 483 B. C. Buddhism is a lot like other Indian religions based upon the beliefs. Such as the beliefs in reincarnation, dharma, karma and Nirvana. But mostly in Raja Yoga the profound meditation which holds the key to enlightment and therefore to the way of Nirvana. Buddha himself expressed the base of his beliefs when he said, “I teach only 2 things, O disciples, the fact of suffering and the possibility of escape from suffering.

These ideas are expanded upon in the “Four Noble Truths” and the “Eightfold Path”. In His first sermon to the five ascetics in the Deer Park near Varanasi, the Buddha spoke of the Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble Truths summed up, in a systematic formula, are the central teaching of the Buddha and can be summarized by saying, life is suffering (dukkha), the cause of suffering is desire (tanha) the way to end suffering is to overcome desire, and to overcome desire one must follow the “Eightfold Path”. Buddha taught that man is a slave to his ego.

That man wishes happiness, security, success, long life, and many other things for himself and his loved ones. However, pain, frustration, sickness and death are all impossible to avoid and the only way to eliminate these evils is to overcome esire. The “Eight Fold Path” is a little more difficult to summarize it begins with, “Right to Knowledge”, which means basically the four noble truths. “Right Aims” in next, one must resolve in order to make progress towards salvation. “Right Speech”, our speech reflects our character.

We must avoid speaking falsely, obscene, slanderous, and belittling words. “Right Conduct”, you must follow the five constitutes at the core of Buddhism’s moral code which are, no killing, no stealing, no lying, no committing indecent sexual acts or no consuming of intoxicants. “Right Livelihood”, some jobs are condemned by Buddha such as slave dealer, butcher, prostitute, and traders of lethal weapons and substances. “Right Effort”, one must have the will power to overcome obstacles. “Right Mindfulness”, Buddhism says that what a person is, comes from what he thinks.

By improving our thoughts we can become more virtuous. And the last is “Right Meditation” by this meaning the practice of the Raja Yoga. Since Buddhism emphasizes the desirability of self-removal from the problems involved with everyday life, Buddhism easily became a monastic religion. Within onasteries, everyone has the same goal, which is to attain Nirvana. The Enlightenment which dwells in life does not belong to only one form. Man is always changing and entirely mortal. Buddhism is a natural religion. It does not violate either the mind or the body.

The Buddha became aware that men are born and die according to their good or evil actions, according to their self-created Karma-the consequences of good or evil acts. Nirvana is “self annihilation or the extinguishing of all traces of desire, which repre- sents final enlightment and which releases a person from the cycle of rebirth”. There re many monasteries in the world, in some of them in countries such as Burma, Thailand, and Ceylon, almost every young male spends at least a few weeks of his life within a monastery.

Typically at the age of four the boy celebrates an elaborate ceremony which involves first dressing him in fine clothing. Then stripping the clothing from him, shaving his head and giving him a beggar-bowl along with a saffron-colored robe. These three things are all traditional symbols of a Buddhist monk. For those who become monks it is a life of poverty and celibacy. Before gaining the admittance into the monastery a monk must roclaim his faith by saying “I go to Buddha for refuge; I go to Dharma for refuge; I go to Sangha for refuge” by saying this a monk gives up his civil rights such as voting and being eligible for public services.

Also a few sects permit marriage. This report was just a short overview of traditional Buddhism, the Buddha, its beliefs and its way of life. It did not include the two major sects; Theravada the conservative sect, and Mahayana the liberal sect. Much more could be said of Buddhism but there are so many more aspects that could be explored that it would take a twenty-page report and forever to do.

Christianity And Buddhism

This paper is a comparison between two very different religions. Specifically Christianity and Buddhism. Coming from opposite sides of the globe these two religions could not be any farther apart in any aspect. I will discuss who Christ is for Christians and who Buddha is for Buddhists. I will also get into the aspects of charity, love, and compassion in both religions and I will be looking at the individual self and how christians see resurrection where the buddhists feel about the afterlife. One thing to keep in mind is that the two religions are very different but they seem to have a very similar underlying pattern.

Both believe that there was a savior of their people, Buddha and Christ, and both believe that there is something good that happens to us when our time is done here on earth. This is a very generalized summarization but in order to go in to depth I need to explain the two religions more to fully convey this theory. The Christian religion, like all other religions has its strengths and weaknesses in our modern society. Perhaps the strengths out weight the weaknesses as this is one of the largest religions in the world. Hundreds of people follow the Catholic/Christian religion yet still a greater number follow yet other religions.

Perhaps this is because they see the weaknesses or perhaps it is simply because their parents have taught them that it is a sin to follow this religion. The Christian religions do however present much more of an appealing atmosphere than such other religions which are as large as the Christian. The Christian religion is one of few religions where punishments for sins are not severe. In the Christian religion, even if you have lived a life of sin, so long as you repent in the end, you will be saved and given eternal life. This is not so in other religions.

Such religions as Hinduism for instance do not believe this. For everything you do wrong you will be punished. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, if not in this life, then the next. Hindu’s also believe that punishing the body is part of the path to salvation. Christianity is nothing like this. Many Christians live in high class society. Christianity is one of the most appealing in that any sins may easily be corrected and that Christians may live comfortable, if not wealthy lives without guilt. Christianity, like other religions though, has many weaknesses.

Although as time goes on, Christianity is slowly evolving and trying to become even more appealing to society, there are still many downfalls. One thing with Christianity is that from day one we are given a guilt trip. We are born evil. We are born with “the original sin”. We are at the mercy of God. If we beg forgiveness however, it shall be granted. My grandmother for instance has been a firm believer in the Roman Catholic faith. She, being taught in the old style, firmly believes in going to confession weekly and begging for forgiveness. It has been taught to her that man is born evil.

All we can do is pray, beg and hope for forgiveness. With such a guilt upon his sub©conscience, man can never be truly happy. Yet another strength with the Christian faith is that it is one of the more flexible religions. Under the leadership of the pope(s), the Catholic faith has evolved with modern society and become a more “reasonable” faith. Such practices as not eating meat on Fridays, and so forth, have been abolished as the Christian faith has bent to conform with modern society. Some people may see this as a weakness. This is not so.

The Christian religion has modified its rituals yet the central beliefs have not been altered since the very beginning of this religion. This is actually quite a good thing. A religion should change as the modern society does and conform to a more “acceptable” approach to continue its teachings/practices. This is one great thing about the Christian faith. A small, often overlooked draw back to the Christian faith is that there is not any solid proof that Jesus existed. To the Christian faith, Jesus is the central figure. A Christian will tell you that the Bible is proof that Jesus existed.

The Bible however was written much later, after Jesus’ death. Therefore the stories contained have been transferred by word of mouth, which has certainly been distorted and exaggerated. The Shroud of Turin used to be the Christian religion’s artifact which was believed to be the original shroud that Jesus was wrapped in when he was buried and therefore solid proof he existed. Recently due to modern carbon dating, this “artifact” has been proven to have been created with paint approximately one thousand years after the day Christ died.

To a non believer, this is a major drawback. One very strong point about the Catholic/Christian religion is that they strongly believe in correcting our corrupted world. Many missionaries are sent yearly to third world countries where they help educate, feed and provide moral support for a people who have nothing. With such a practice in place, the Christian religion has put a smile on faces which normally would never know anything more than tears. Probably one of the greatest features of the Christian church which helps it survive in modern society s the hierarchy system upon which this religion is based. Such strong organization structure help this religion in well organized money distribution, etc. In a modern society, such structure is necessary. As one of the largest religions, the Catholic/Christian religion is one of the great religions which stills lives strongly among us in our increasingly modern society. Despite its many weaknesses, the Christian faith has even more strengths upon which its survival is based. Times may change, technology may advance, but essential beliefs never alter.

Now that I have explained what the basics of christianity are and how the religion views things I need to do the same with Buddhism. Buddhism is probably the most tolerant religion in the world, as its teaching can coexist with any other religion. Other religions, on the other hand, do not possess this characteristic and cannot accommodate Buddhism at the same time. The Buddhist teaching of God is neither agnostic nor vague, but clear and logical. Buddhism began this way: Siddhartha Gautama was born in the sixth century B. C. in what is now modern Nepal.

His father, Suddhodana, was the ruler of the Sakya people and Siddhartha grew up living the extravagant life of a young prince. According to custom, he married at the age of sixteen to a young girl named Yasodhara. His father had ordered that he live a life of total seclusion, but one day Siddhartha ventured out into the world and was confronted with the harsh reality of life and universal suffering. The next day, at age twenty-nine, he left his kingdom and new-born son to lead and plain, reclusive life and determine a way to relieve this universal suffering.

For six years, Siddhartha meditated under a bodhi tree, but he was never fully satisfied. One day, however, he was offered a bowl of rice from a young girl and he accepted it. In that moment, he realized that physical harshness was not a means of achieving liberation. From then on, he encouraged people to follow a path of balance rather than extremism. He called this the Middle Way. “Devotion to the pleasures of sense, a low practice of villagers, a practice unworthy, unprofitable, the way of the world [on one hand]; and [on the other] devotion to self-mortification, which is painful, unworthy and unprofitable.

By avoiding these two extremes the Tathagata [or Buddha] has gained knowledge of that middle path which giveth vision, which giveth knowledge, which causeth calm, special knowledge, enlightenment, Nibbana [or Nirvana]. ” (Smart 236) That night, Siddhartha sat under the bodhi tree and meditated until dawn. He purified his mind of all evil thoughts and attained Enlightenment at the age of thirty-five, thus earning the title Buddha, or “Enlightened One. ” For the remainder of his eighty years, the Buddha preached the dharma in an effort to help other people reach Enlightenment. The Buddha examined the phenomenal life objectively.

Studying effects and tracing their causes, he produced a science of living which ranks with any other science known to man. He describes life to be one and indivisible. Man, he declared, can become Buddha, Enlightened, by the principle of Enlightenment within. This process is simply to become what you are, to develop to the full innate Buddha-Mind by destroying the ignorance, sin and evils of human nature. All forms of life, according to the Buddha, can be shown to have three characteristics in common; impermanence, suffering, and an absence of permanent soul which separates us from other forms of life.

The Buddha also pointed out that nothing is the same as is was only a moment ago. Everything is changing. Even the hills are being worn away, and every human particle is being replaced every seven years. There is no finality or rest within the universe, only a ceaseless becoming and never-ending change. Buddhism denies that man has an immortal soul. The Enlightenment which dwells in life does not belong to one form of life. Man is always changing and entirely mortal. In addition, Buddhism is a natural religion. It does not violate either mind or body.

The Buddha became aware that men are born and die according to their good or evil actions, according to their self-created Karma — the consequences of good or evil deeds. Even though there are several different forms of Buddhism that have come into existence since Buddhas death, there is still a basic essence that all Buddhists agree with. All Buddhists recognize these. In all, there are four basic noble truths. The first noble truth of the world according to Buddha is dhukka, or suffering. The second truth is tanha, or desire, which is the cause of suffering.

The third truth is that in order to free oneself from suffering, one must overcome desire. The fourth truth tells us how this can be accomplished through the eight-fold path. According to Buddha, the eight-fold path is the means to achieve liberation from suffering. It helps one weed out cravings and ignorance, to overcome rebirth, old age, disease, death, sorrows, lamentation, grief and despair. It helps to end mass misery and aids people in attaining Nirvana, or salvation. Specifically, this path includes: 1. Right View 2. Right Thought 3. Right Speech 4.

Right Action 5. Right Livelihood 6. Right Effort 7. Right Mindfulness 8. Right Concentration The most simple teaching of the Buddha was to do good, to avoid evil and to purify the heart. According to Buddha, the hearts of ordinary men are not pure. They are filled with greed, ill will and delusion. Greed and hatred are impurities caused by desires, and ignorance is the cause of delusion, especially delusion of self. Ignorance, in fact, is the cause of desire and thus the primary cause of all suffering and of rebirth. The Buddha said that one may purify his heart: 1.

By practicing self-control and self-restraint 2. By meditating upon ones own self 3. By following the Eight-Fold Path that leads to the end of all suffering All of these points are the basic essence of Buddhism. They help people understand the worlds of suffering, personal or otherwise, and how to overcome that suffering. Buddhism is a simple religion that focuses on changing the evil of man and society into good. It bring a message of salvation and hope to whoever will follow its paths. As you can see the two religions are very different yet very similar.

It is very interesting to see that even though the cultures of the two religions are quite possibly exact opposites, the underlying message of the religions is quite similar. It seems that human nature all over the world needs something or someone to believe in and entrust their faith in which helps them live a comfortable life. Who is to say that which one is correct, but the idea of a higher being and being saved when we pass, is definitely a prevalent aspect of everyones lives. Category: Religion Christianity And Buddhism This paper is a comparison between two very different religions.

Specifically Christianity and Buddhism. Coming from opposite sides of the globe these two religions could not be any farther apart in any aspect. I will discuss who Christ is for Christians and who Buddha is for Buddhists. I will also get into the aspects of charity, love, and compassion in both religions and I will be looking at the individual self and how christians see resurrection where the buddhists feel about the afterlife. One thing to keep in mind is that the two religions are very different but they seem to have a very similar underlying pattern.

Both believe that there was a savior of their people, Buddha and Christ, and both believe that there is something good that happens to us when our time is done here on earth. This is a very generalized summarization but in order to go in to depth I need to explain the two religions more to fully convey this theory. The Christian religion, like all other religions has its strengths and weaknesses in our modern society. Perhaps the strengths out weight the weaknesses as this is one of the largest religions in the world. Hundreds of people follow the Catholic/Christian religion yet still a greater number follow yet other religions.

Perhaps this is because they see the weaknesses or perhaps it is simply because their parents have taught them that it is a sin to follow this religion. The Christian religions do however present much more of an appealing atmosphere than such other religions which are as large as the Christian. The Christian religion is one of few religions where punishments for sins are not severe. In the Christian religion, even if you have lived a life of sin, so long as you repent in the end, you will be saved and given eternal life. This is not so in other religions.

Such religions as Hinduism for instance do not believe this. For everything you do wrong you will be punished. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, if not in this life, then the next. Hindu’s also believe that punishing the body is part of the path to salvation. Christianity is nothing like this. Many Christians live in high class society. Christianity is one of the most appealing in that any sins may easily be corrected and that Christians may live comfortable, if not wealthy lives without guilt. Christianity, like other religions though, has many weaknesses.

Although as time goes on, Christianity is slowly evolving and trying to become even more appealing to society, there are still many downfalls. One thing with Christianity is that from day one we are given a guilt trip. We are born evil. We are born with “the original sin”. We are at the mercy of God. If we beg forgiveness however, it shall be granted. My grandmother for instance has been a firm believer in the Roman Catholic faith. She, being taught in the old style, firmly believes in going to confession weekly and begging for forgiveness. It has been taught to her that man is born evil.

All we can do is pray, beg and hope for forgiveness. With such a guilt upon his sub©conscience, man can never be truly happy. Yet another strength with the Christian faith is that it is one of the more flexible religions. Under the leadership of the pope(s), the Catholic faith has evolved with modern society and become a more “reasonable” faith. Such practices as not eating meat on Fridays, and so forth, have been abolished as the Christian faith has bent to conform with modern society. Some people may see this as a weakness. This is not so.

The Christian religion has modified its rituals yet the central beliefs have not been altered since the very beginning of this religion. This is actually quite a good thing. A religion should change as the modern society does and conform to a more “acceptable” approach to continue its teachings/practices. This is one great thing about the Christian faith. A small, often overlooked draw back to the Christian faith is that there is not any solid proof that Jesus existed. To the Christian faith, Jesus is the central figure. A Christian will tell you that the Bible is proof that Jesus existed.

The Bible however was written much later, after Jesus’ death. Therefore the stories contained have been transferred by word of mouth, which has certainly been distorted and exaggerated. The Shroud of Turin used to be the Christian religion’s artifact which was believed to be the original shroud that Jesus was wrapped in when he was buried and therefore solid proof he existed. Recently due to modern carbon dating, this “artifact” has been proven to have been created with paint approximately one thousand years after the day Christ died.

To a non believer, this is a major drawback. One very strong point about the Catholic/Christian religion is that they strongly believe in correcting our corrupted world. Many missionaries are sent yearly to third world countries where they help educate, feed and provide moral support for a people who have nothing. With such a practice in place, the Christian religion has put a smile on faces which normally would never know anything more than tears. Probably one of the greatest features of the Christian church which helps it survive in modern society s the hierarchy system upon which this religion is based.

Such strong organization structure help this religion in well organized money distribution, etc. In a modern society, such structure is necessary. As one of the largest religions, the Catholic/Christian religion is one of the great religions which stills lives strongly among us in our increasingly modern society. Despite its many weaknesses, the Christian faith has even more strengths upon which its survival is based. Times may change, technology may advance, but essential beliefs never alter.

Now that I have explained what the basics of christianity are and how the religion views things I need to do the same with Buddhism. Buddhism is probably the most tolerant religion in the world, as its teaching can coexist with any other religion. Other religions, on the other hand, do not possess this characteristic and cannot accommodate Buddhism at the same time. The Buddhist teaching of God is neither agnostic nor vague, but clear and logical. Buddhism began this way: Siddhartha Gautama was born in the sixth century B. C. in what is now modern Nepal.

His father, Suddhodana, was the ruler of the Sakya people and Siddhartha grew up living the extravagant life of a young prince. According to custom, he married at the age of sixteen to a young girl named Yasodhara. His father had ordered that he live a life of total seclusion, but one day Siddhartha ventured out into the world and was confronted with the harsh reality of life and universal suffering. The next day, at age twenty-nine, he left his kingdom and new-born son to lead and plain, reclusive life and determine a way to relieve this universal suffering.

For six years, Siddhartha meditated under a bodhi tree, but he was never fully satisfied. One day, however, he was offered a bowl of rice from a young girl and he accepted it. In that moment, he realized that physical harshness was not a means of achieving liberation. From then on, he encouraged people to follow a path of balance rather than extremism. He called this the Middle Way. “Devotion to the pleasures of sense, a low practice of villagers, a practice unworthy, unprofitable, the way of the world [on one hand]; and [on the other] devotion to self-mortification, which is painful, unworthy and unprofitable.

By avoiding these two extremes the Tathagata [or Buddha] has gained knowledge of that middle path which giveth vision, which giveth knowledge, which causeth calm, special knowledge, enlightenment, Nibbana [or Nirvana]. ” (Smart 236) That night, Siddhartha sat under the bodhi tree and meditated until dawn. He purified his mind of all evil thoughts and attained Enlightenment at the age of thirty-five, thus earning the title Buddha, or “Enlightened One. ” For the remainder of his eighty years, the Buddha preached the dharma in an effort to help other people reach Enlightenment. The Buddha examined the phenomenal life objectively.

Studying effects and tracing their causes, he produced a science of living which ranks with any other science known to man. He describes life to be one and indivisible. Man, he declared, can become Buddha, Enlightened, by the principle of Enlightenment within. This process is simply to become what you are, to develop to the full innate Buddha-Mind by destroying the ignorance, sin and evils of human nature. All forms of life, according to the Buddha, can be shown to have three characteristics in common; impermanence, suffering, and an absence of permanent soul which separates us from other forms of life.

The Buddha also pointed out that nothing is the same as is was only a moment ago. Everything is changing. Even the hills are being worn away, and every human particle is being replaced every seven years. There is no finality or rest within the universe, only a ceaseless becoming and never-ending change. Buddhism denies that man has an immortal soul. The Enlightenment which dwells in life does not belong to one form of life. Man is always changing and entirely mortal. In addition, Buddhism is a natural religion. It does not violate either mind or body.

The Buddha became aware that men are born and die according to their good or evil actions, according to their self-created Karma — the consequences of good or evil deeds. Even though there are several different forms of Buddhism that have come into existence since Buddhas death, there is still a basic essence that all Buddhists agree with. All Buddhists recognize these. In all, there are four basic noble truths. The first noble truth of the world according to Buddha is dhukka, or suffering. The second truth is tanha, or desire, which is the cause of suffering.

The third truth is that in order to free oneself from suffering, one must overcome desire. The fourth truth tells us how this can be accomplished through the eight-fold path. According to Buddha, the eight-fold path is the means to achieve liberation from suffering. It helps one weed out cravings and ignorance, to overcome rebirth, old age, disease, death, sorrows, lamentation, grief and despair. It helps to end mass misery and aids people in attaining Nirvana, or salvation. Specifically, this path includes: 1. Right View 2. Right Thought 3.

Right Speech 4. Right Action 5. Right Livelihood 6. Right Effort 7. Right Mindfulness 8. Right Concentration The most simple teaching of the Buddha was to do good, to avoid evil and to purify the heart. According to Buddha, the hearts of ordinary men are not pure. They are filled with greed, ill will and delusion. Greed and hatred are impurities caused by desires, and ignorance is the cause of delusion, especially delusion of self. Ignorance, in fact, is the cause of desire and thus the primary cause of all suffering and of rebirth.

The Buddha said that one may purify his heart: 1. By practicing self-control and self-restraint 2. By meditating upon ones own self 3. By following the Eight-Fold Path that leads to the end of all suffering All of these points are the basic essence of Buddhism. They help people understand the worlds of suffering, personal or otherwise, and how to overcome that suffering. Buddhism is a simple religion that focuses on changing the evil of man and society into good. It bring a message of salvation and hope to whoever will follow its paths.

As you can see the two religions are very different yet very similar. It is very interesting to see that even though the cultures of the two religions are quite possibly exact opposites, the underlying message of the religions is quite similar. It seems that human nature all over the world needs something or someone to believe in and entrust their faith in which helps them live a comfortable life. Who is to say that which one is correct, but the idea of a higher being and being saved when we pass, is definitely a prevalent aspect of everyones lives.

Hinduism vs Buddhism

The concept of God It is first of all necessary to establish what is meant by the term “God”. This term is used to designate a Supreme Being endowed with the qualities of omnipotence and omniscience, which is the creator of the universe with all its contents, and the chief lawgiver for humans. God is generally considered as being concerned with the welfare of his human creatures, and the ultimate salvation of those who follow his dictates. God is therefore a person of some kind, and the question whether such an entity exists or not is fundamental to all theistic systems.

In contrast to this notion of a personal God some modern theologians have interpreted the term “God” as representing some kind of abstract principle of good. This view was first developed in the ancient Indian Upanishads where God is equated with an abstract principle, the Brahman. The ancient Indian philosophers could entertain such a view because they also had a theory of karma, which really does away with the need for a personal God. Buddhists too have a theory of karma, which is different from that of the Hindus, and which even more unequivocally dispenses with the need for a deity.

The use of the term “God’ to denote an abstract reality by monotheistic theologians who have no theory of karma is difficult to justify, consequently this is merely a device to explain away the contradictions that arise from the notion of a personal God. In fact the actual practice of theistic religion proceeds as if God is a real person of some kind or other. Buddhism Buddhist gods Buddhism has 33 Gods the most potent one of them all is Indra. It is Buddhist beliefs that the gods and spirits are with us persistently. The mountain Meru can be compared with mount Olympus of the Greek gods.

Buddhists believe that on top of this sacred mountain are the 33 gods with Indra as their principal. Buddhism primary principal is moral strength and exercises. It is concluded in three regions. The first is the principles of lust, which belongs to the realm of animals, humans and various divine essences. The realm of the gods consists of six levels, which are the liberation of material desires. The subsequent region compromises entities that are born in the dominion of the Braham gods liberated from lust and wishes, they constitute a term of embodiment.

They divide in four stages which seventeen levels represents the degree of emancipation the spirit has reached. The last region is where mater has ceased to exist, the third and infinite Nirvana. A ceasing that does not characterize obliteration, but an absence of matter and place. The Buddhist perception of a divine entity Buddhism has been described as a very pragmatic religion. It does not indulge in metaphysical speculation about first causes; there is no theology, no worship of a deity or deification of the Buddha. Buddhism takes a very straightforward look at our human condition; nothing is based on wishful thinking, at all.

Everything that the Buddha taught was based on his own observations of the way things are. Everything that he taught can be verified by our own observation of the way things are. The Buddha pointed out that no God or priest nor any other kind of being has the power to interfere in the working out of someone else’s Karma. Buddhism, therefore, teaches the individual to take full responsibility for himself. For example, if you want to be wealthy then be trustworthy, diligent and parsimonious, or if you want to live in a heaven realm then always be kind to others.

There is no God to plead for or to ask favours from, Buddhists sees it as there was no corruption possible in the workings of Karma. Do Buddhists believe that a Supreme Being created the universe? Buddhists would first ask which universe do you mean? This present universe, from the moment of the ‘big bang’ up to now, it is but one among countless millions in Buddhist cosmology. The Buddha gave an estimate of the age of a single universe-cycle of around 37,000 million years that is quite plausible when compared to modern astrophysics.

After one universe- cycle ends another begins, again and again, according to impersonal law. A Creator God is redundant in this scheme. No being is a Supreme Saviour, according to the Buddha, because whether God, human, animal or whatever, all are subject to the Law of Karma. Even the Buddha had no power to save. He could only point out the Truth so that the wise could see it for themselves. Everyone must take responsibility for his or her own future well being, and it is dangerous to give that responsibility to another.

The Buddha argues that the three most commonly given attributes of God, omnipotence, omniscience and benevolence towards humanity cannot all be mutually compatible with the existential fact of dukkha, which is the “argument from evil” which in the Buddhist sense could be stated as the argument from dukkha, suffering or unsatisfactory. The Buddha did not encourage speculation on the existence of Iswara, among his disciples. He wanted them to confine themselves to what was within their field of awareness, that is, to understand the causes of suffering and work for its mitigation.

He preached that the individual was a product of ignorance and an illusion that were responsible for all the suffering and evil. He therefore urged his disciples to become aware of the various aspects of their individual personalities and work for Nirvana, which was, but the total extinction of this individuality and cessation of all becoming and changing. From the enlightened to a supreme being Gradually the concept of God, as contrasted with the Absolute, began to appear in Buddhism. Its sources are back in the early days of this differentiation of the followers of the Lesser Road and the Greater Road.

It was among the latter division of Buddhism that the dual conception of God and the Absolute finally matured. Step by step, century by century, the God concept has evolved until, with the teachings of Ryonin, Honen Shonin, and Shinran in Japan, this concept finally came to fruit in the belief in Amida Buddha. Hinduism Brahman Brahman is the central theme of all the Hinduisms believes. Brahman is the indescribable, inexhaustible, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, rudimentary, eternal and absolute principle who is without a beginning and without an end. He is not like the other gods either.

He is incomprehensible even to almost all the gods. Brahman is not adulated in the temples and other places of worship but in one’s heart and mind as the in dweller of the material body. He could also be described as a pantheistic God. That is why we do not see any temples or forms of ritualistic worship existing for Brahman either at present or in the past. We only hear of fire sacrifice, later to be called Nachiketa fire. Perhaps the sacrifice was more a meditative or spiritual practice involving the sacrifice of soul consciousness than of ritual worship.

Whatever it is, the fact is that Brahman of the Upanishads is more appealing to the seekers of Truth and Knowledge than seekers of material gains. Even during the Islamic rule when the principles of monotheism challenged the very foundations of Hinduism, Brahman was never brought into the glare of public debate to challenge the invading and overwhelming ideas of the monotheistic foreign theology. Brahma Brahma is one of Hinduism many deities. He is depicted as the rudimentary creator. Among his creations are the Universe, animals, plants and man. He is depicted as an entity with four arms, the four arms symbolises the four cardinal points.

In his four hands the Brahma is carrying an item, each with its own representation. The jar containing water symbolises the source of life, since water is the spring of all living. A spoon, which epitomizes the sacrifices, conducted during worship. In one of his arms there is a lotus flower, it denotes the Universe, humanity and purity. There are also illustrations of him portrayed with the four books of Veda in his hands. Brahma also has a vessel, the goose, which is significant for wisdom. Another characteristic that separates Brahma from the other deities are that he has four heads.

There is a legend concerning the acquirement of Brahmas four heads. When the first woman was created she was carved out of his own body. Her beauty immediately enchanted the supernal, but she resisted and hid from Brahma. To be able to have supervision over his beautiful creation he acquired himself three new heads. In present time Brahma is seen as inconsequential God and the extent of his worship is greatly less than it has once been. There are very few shines dedicated to him. His wife, Sarasvati, is the goddess of wisdom and learning. Many, especially the students or the brahmacharis of the Vedic schools, worship the celestial entity.

Vishnu Vishnu is entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining the worlds and looking after their welfare. He rules Vaikunth. He has a number of followers all over the world who venerate Him as the Supreme entity. A number of temples have also been built in His honour right from the post Mary period. Though He was a minor deity in the early Vedic period, He became very popular with the rise of Vaishnavism during the subsequent periods. Some of His incarnations are also worshipped in many parts of India and they attract wider following among people than Himself as Vishnu.

Most famous among his incarnations are Rama and Krishna. They have millions of devotees all over the world. Balaji is also one of Vishnus incarnations, and he is equally famous. His temple at Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh is considered to be the richest Hindu temple the world and attracts huge number of devotees throughout the year. Vishnu is also worshipped as Dhananjaya, Narayana, Anantasayana, Kapila, Narasimha, Varadaraja, Srinivasa and Jagannathaa. His consort Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth is equally popular. Especially the seekers of material wealth worship her in many households regularly.

She is also adulated variously as Padma, Kamala, Sita, and Narasimhi. Shiva Shiva is the destroyer of the worlds. He is the supreme celestial who is easy to be pleased. He is as admired as Vishnu and he is the chief deity of Saivism, which also became popular in the same period as Vaishnavism. In fact a long rivalry existed between the two, each side claiming their supreme deity to be the paramount supernal of the universe. While Vaishnavism caught the imagination of the householders and seekers of material comforts, Saivism caught the imagination of the renounces and seekers of knowledge.

Today both these gods are extremely popular across the length and breadth of Hindu society. Shivas anger is the anger of righteousness, not to be confused with the petty anger of the human beings. It is born of out of a specific divine purpose, to destroy something in order to create something new. It is the manifestation of energy whose intent is to create purity of purpose and harmony of structure in the object of destruction, but not to destroy some thing for the sake of destruction only. He is the destroyer of negativism and egoism and purifier of the consciousness with abundant grace.

He resides in Kailash atop an icy mountain. The ice signifies the ignorance of a frozen and static consciousness (the waters of Hindu scriptures). The word “Si” means cool (sheetal) and the word ” va ” to live (vasa). The word “Shiva” therefore means he who lives on the top of cool mountains (of frozen consciousness). Concept of God Hinduism is characterized by not only one Supreme God but also by many gods and goddesses, such as Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Lakshmi, Parvathi, Saraswathi and so on. In Hinduism they are regarded as the manifestation of Iswara, the Universal Creative Consciousness, or the Saguna Brahman.

In addition to gods and goddesses, in Hinduism also come across the worship of many objects such as trees, plants, rivers, lakes, snakes, hills, the various planets, some stars, constellations, the sun, the moon and so on are objects of their veneration. The Hindus worship the gods and goddesses variously adding further complexity to the manner of worship in Hinduism. They may worship them all or only some of them at a time, or venerate each of them separately as the Supreme God himself. Generally, the present trend is that most of the Hindus believe and worship many gods simultaneously in the hope of receiving blessings from many of them.

Some times this may even create confusion in their minds as to whom to worship in a given situation. But most of them resolve these problems in their own individual ways. There are traditions according to which each Hindu god is to be worshipped on a particular day in a week, month or year and many follow these traditions. There are certain specific rules and regulations to be observed by the devout Hindus while worshipping them, which involve performance of specific rites, rituals and chanting. Many observe these rules with great sincerity.

Polytheism is an integral part of Hinduism, despite of opposition from certain intellectual quarters over the centuries. After contacts with Islam and the Christianity of the British, attempts were made by some educated Hindus like Raja Rammohan Roy and Keshab Chandrasen to discourage polytheism. The reformist movements like Brahmo Samaj were products of such a reaction. But their impact did not last long as is evident from the way present day Hindus visit the temples and worship various gods, observe the festivals and celebrate the glory of gods and goddesses.

They may listen to numerous discourses delivered by enlightened persons, go through numerous books on religion, but they hold their gods and goddesses to their chests dearly and worship them with deep devotion and sublime faith. There is a certain purity of approach and innocence of faith in this practice that is rarely seen elsewhere. The average modern Hindu, who is devoted to his religion, is very clear in his mind as to his approach in this matter. He worships the gods and goddesses because he believes in them and is sure of their existence in the higher worlds of God’s creation.

He conducts himself in tune with the supposed expectations of his beloved gods. For him life without them is simply a sacrilege, which he is sure he cannot afford. It is not for the sake of society or family, though that is not entirely absent, but for himself and his own welfare he worships them and holds them with highest regard in his mind. On a given day a devout Hindu, may worship his gods or goddesses in the morning, noon or in the evening or whenever he chooses to, even while his mind is busy with worldly matters. He may worship them in the comforts of his own house or visit the near by temple or shrine.

In the past there were violent clashes and heated debates among groups of devotees worshipping different gods. Presently there seems to be a total reconciliation and integration of these divergent beliefs into one acceptable whole. Today a majority of the Hindus accept different gods whole-heartedly as a part of one large Divine family without any sense of conflict or animosity in their minds. The gods belong to different worlds and planes of existence and assist the mankind in various ways. At the highest level are the Trinity, namely Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, each ruling a particular divine realm.

Conclusion Hinduism is a monotheistic as well as polytheistic religion. This could be referred to as a henotheistic religion, where Brahman is the supreme God. The two religions concept of god differs since Hindus believe that God can interfere in their lives, subsequently Buddhists do not believe that an entity of divine origin can interfere with their lives. Buddhists believe that everything is based on the individuals own perception of reality. Everything that Buddha taught can be verified by observation of the way things are. Buddhism can be described as a very pragmatic religion.

It does not indulge in metaphysical speculation about first causes; there is no theology, no worship of a deity or deification of the Buddha. Buddhism takes a very straightforward look at the world and its condition. Nothing is based on wishful thinking, at all. While Hinduism concentrates more on the devotion and adoration of gods and endure the scriptures and its dogmas. The teachings of Gautama have continued to evolve during the past two millenniums. Subsequently the concept of Buddha has evolved from an enlightened Buddhist, to deification as a deity. He is no more referred to as the human personality of Gautama.

Moksha-Nirvana Buddhism Most people have heard of nirvana. It has become equated with a sort of eastern version of heaven. The term for entering the final stage redemption, Nirvana, is also used by other religions around the world, notably Jainism. Actually, nirvana simply means cessation. It is the ending of passion, aggression and ignorance, the cessation of the struggle to prove our existence to the world, to survive. Among these believers it is taught that the soul, upon experiencing death, may elect to enjoy a sojourn in Paradise prior to entering Nirvana, the ultimate of existence.

It is proclaimed that this new salvation is attained by faith in the divine mercies and loving care of Amida, God of the Paradise in the west. In Buddhist philosophy, the Amidists hold to an Infinite Reality which is beyond all finite mortal comprehension; in religion, the supporters cling to faith in the all-merciful Amida, who so loves the world that he will not suffer one mortal who calls on his name in true faith and with a pure heart to fail in the attainment of the supernal happiness of Paradise.

The great strength of Buddhism is that its adherents are free to choose truth from all religions; such freedom of choice has seldom characterized in a western faith. The eightfold path is the first step towards Nirvana. When an individual reaches enlightenment and subsequently Nirvana the purpose of life reveals itself for him. When the journey towards the celestial providence is completed the devotee has reached a stage where there is no longer need for worldly desires. The word itself means extinction. The enlightened Buddha is now redeemed from the eternal cycle of samsara and its reincarnation.

This belief occurs in Hinduism as well, the distinction is that Buddhists do not believe in the eternal soul. For a Buddhist devotee there is only karma after the cessation of life, and karma is always located in new entities. Karma is the result of our deeds in the individuals previous lives. Bad karma means in resulting in negative consequences in reincarnation. The person will inherit the negative trades of a human, ignorance and poverty, but if the previous life has been good than subsequently that person will be blessed with the fortunes of life. A person with bad karma can be reincarnated as an animal or worse a stone.

The eightfold path The path to liberation from these miserable states of being, as taught by the Buddha, has eight points and is known as the eightfold path. The first point is called right view, the right way to view the world. Wrong view occurs when imposing expectations onto different situations. Expectations concerning a wishful result, or a fear of what result might be. Right view occurs when seeing things simply, as they are. It is an open and accommodating attitude. By abandoning hope and fear and take joy in a simple straightforward approach to life.

The second point of the path is called right intention. It proceeds from right view. When allowing us to abandon expectations, hopes and fears, there is no longer need to be manipulative. A person does not have to try to manipulate situations into the persons own preconceived notions of how the moments should be. The third aspect of the path is right speech. Once the individuals intentions are pure, there is no longer need to be embarrassed concerning speech. When there is no arterial motive behind peoples statements there is no need for hesitation during conversation.

Instead people can express their opinions bluntly. The fourth point on the path, right discipline, involves a kind of renunciation. An important issue is the need for surrendering peoples tendencys to complicate issues. Instead simplicity is practiced. When conceding the frivolous complications that clouds relationships it is possible to come to terms with others much easier. Right livelihood is the fifth step on the path. It is only natural and right that every person should earn its own living. Often, many of employees do not enjoy their choice of work.

The urge to come home and be free from work is much greater than the willingness to go to work. The sixth aspect of the path is right effort. Wrong effort is struggle. People often approach a spiritual discipline as though they need to conquer their evil side and promote their good side. This causes the individual to try obliterating the tiniest negative tendency. Right effort does not involve struggle at all. When perceiving objects as they are, work can be made much easier, gentle and without any kind of aggression whatsoever. Right mindfulness, the seventh step, involves precision and clarity.

The modern person is mindful of the tiniest details of experience. The way things are, the way of conversation, the performance of jobs, posture, attitude toward friends and family, every detail. Right concentration, or absorption is the eighth point of the path. Usually it is absorbed in absentmindedness. The mind is completely captivated by all sorts of entertainment and speculations. Right absorption means that there are completely absorbed in knowing, in things as they are. This can only happen if the devotees have some sort of discipline, such as sitting meditation.

Argumentation might even say that without the discipline of sitting meditation, the eightfold path could not be conducted at all. Sitting meditation cuts through absentmindedness. It provides a space or gap in the preoccupation of the mind. Karma Both religions believe in reincarnation, and both are certain of the concept of Karma. The law of karma suggests that a person’s mental and physical actions determine the progress of his life on earth. Whatever actions are undertaken. Both the good and bad actions impact life in several ways and bring twists and turns in the course of life.

The bad actions leads to suffering and unhappiness, while the good actions leads to happiness and spiritual success. Sometimes despite of all the good work and sincere intentions, the opposite may also happen. A student may prepare well for his exam and may fail. A very evil and wicked person may earn the jackpot. For a Hindu or Buddhist ordinary logic and intellect cannot explain these events. Instead the karma theory explains what determines peoples lives. According to the concept of karma, the events in life need not be determined by actions in this life, but also by the actions that occurred in previous lives.

This explains why an evil person sometime seems to succeed and amass wealth, while a good hearted soul may be passing through adversity. Hinduism Consequently to Hinduism Moksha is the emancipation of reincarnation. It is written that when reaching Moksha the atman will merge with the omnipresent and omnipotent Brahman. The realm of Moksha is described as a divine place of providence, where there is harmony and utter joy. There are many paths to achieve this celestial haven. The path of devotion is often referred to as Bhakti, it is the most common path of focus for present Hindus. The object of adulation is commonly Krishna.

The method of adoration that is conducted by todays Hindus is by singing and praising the deitys name repeatedly. Another road to salvation is the path of good deeds. It acquires the devotee to be kind and loving towards his fellow man. To never lie, steel or harm anyone else. Affection towards animals is also considered important since the majority of the Hindus are vegetarians. The course of knowledge and perception is an intellectual and demanding method of achievement. To reach Moksha the individual must study Holy Scriptures and through them reach thoughts that will lead to the final stage of emancipation.

The spiritual guide is called a guru. The scriptures are very clear as to what attitude towards the religious texts is to be. An individual must revere and respect the Vedas that are revealed texts directly coming from the supreme deity for the general welfare and guidance of the mankind. The attitude that is expected of a devout Hindu should include, respect towards the sacred books, proper study and understanding of them and proper observation of the truths and laws prescribed there in. An individual must learn to see the omnipresence of God in every thing and everywhere.

That devotee must also lead life in strict accordance with the laws laid down in the scriptures. He must perform daily rituals, various samskaras and live the four ashramas or stages of his life in accordance with the rules prescribed in the scriptures. The choice of privation is when an individual consciously chooses to endure a life of poverty and oppression. Many elderly men choose this path of redemption in their final years of living. They are called Sadhus. Another way to achieve the final stage of Moksha is through Yoga.

It is an ancient technique of exercising the body and senses to achieve fulfilment in concentration and deep spiritual transcendences. The word “dharma” has a very comprehensive meaning in Hinduism. Dharma means the Eternal Law, the Law of God. It is also all those factors that arise out of it or lead towards it. It means religion, beliefs, faith, justice, righteousness, performing morally acceptable actions, being on the positive side of life. It also means the individuals duty and responsibility towards himself and towards others. This is of considerable importance to reach Moksha.

According to the concept of maya, the very existence of an individual as a separate entity is unreal. As long as the individual thinks that he is different from the rest of the creation and strives to work for his own ends, protecting, furthering nurturing and defending his own ego or individuality, he suffers from illusion and his ego continues its journey into an unknown future shaped by his endless actions and desires. The purpose of human life is to realize this truth and work for unity with the Divine. Conclusion Buddhism and Hinduism concept of reaching the realm of eternity does not differ obscurely.

It is both there beliefs that there are many planes of existence that the individual must pass before reaching the final destination. Each plane symbolises a liberating of material desires and gaining enlightenment. Since Buddhism is consequently sprung out of Hinduism, the fact that the two has similar concept of a divine sanctuary and path to destine there is not as unanticipated. The slight difference between their path of reaching Moksha or Nirvana is that in Buddhism the devotee must follow all the rules of the eightfold path. In Hinduism the Hindu is given choice on which path to follow, none of them being less accurate than the other.

Buddhism depicts the cessation as being the ending of passion, aggression and ignorance, the cessation of the struggle to prove our existence to the world, to survive. Subsequently Hindus describe the cessation to be the atman will merge with the omnipresent and omnipotent Brahman. The realm of Moksha is described as a divine place of providence, where there is harmony and utter joy. Both religions believe that it is ceasing of life, the emancipation of reincarnation, except that Hindus believe that the atman will emerge with Brahman, in Buddhism the soul is considered to be an illusion.

Holy Men It is men like Buddha, Jesus and Muhammed who are regenerative and creative moral influences. It is not due to any historical accident that these great souls continue to receive homage from a large portion of humanity. The philosopher and the scientist, the rich and the poor, the peasant and the ordinary wage-earner continue even after millenniums to hold them as ideals, and measure their own conduct by the standards set by them in precept and example. Buddha

What we know about Buddha with any certainty is only this, that overwhelmed by the pain and misery of life, he wandered away from his princely realm, deserting his community, his wife and child, in search of light to solve the problem of cosmic pain. The light that he received showed him the unreality of all life. Life, according to him, could not be mended. The only remedy, therefore, is that it must be ended. Actions, good as well as bad, are the products of desire. Therefore, to end all actions and ultimately all life, all desires should be annihilated. The aim of life should be to negate itself to attain to a desire less state.

Nirvana, to which no category of life or consciousness is applicable, for which reason it is indescribable. Such a metaphysics could lead only to a limited kind of negative morality, i. e. not to tell lies, not to injure any living being, not to be selfish, not to be harsh, but to feel mercy for the unhappiness of all life, not to mix with others on the ordinary social plane, but to prefer the life of the monk who lives on the charity of the wage-earner or the rich, and to engage in no occupation that constitutes the sum total of human civilization and culture.

The beneficial influence of Buddha on some aspects of the life of those who revere and follow him lies in the fact that even some portions of negative morality form a necessary part of ethics, although they could be effectively useful only in their application to the practical affairs of life. One can very well value the philosophy and life attitude of ‘non-attachment,’ if it is a non-attachment of the kind preached by Krishna as related in the Mahabharta, namely, that a person must remain detached from egotistical ambitions and desires while doing his duty – even while fighting a battle for a righteous cause.

Duties emerge only in the complexities of human relations and predicaments. This Karma Joga, as presented by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, comes very close to the positive ethics of Islam. Goethe said that if you tried to understand him by analysis, then you might find out and calculate all the food that had gone into him, so much milk and vegetables, and so many cattle and sheep and pigs, and so much air and water, and organic and inorganic material.

The same is the case with the intellectual and moral outlook of man; you may analyse it into its elements but you can never explain away the distinctive outlook of the individual. Jesus The real triumph of Jesus and his valuable contribution to the uplift of humanity are his preaching and Practising the love of God and Man, exposing the superficialities and hypocrisies of the rigid legalists and worshippers. For him, a pure heart full of love is the essence of all true religion.

He found that Judaism, which, from Abraham downward, had produced great prophets, had deteriorated into a religion of ritual, and ceremonies from which the spirit had departed. He confined his teaching to this vital mission and left aside the whole political, economic and cultural life of the Jews, in the belief that if hearts were changed for the better and religious outlook was genuinely incorporated, laws and customs and the various institutions of civilization would get a new meaning. Jesus preached that when universal love ruled the world it would be transformed into a Kingdom of Heaven.

The Jews were expecting a Messiah who would make them politically dominant and powerful, but when they found this candidate of Messiah hood proclaiming that the Kingdom of Heaven was within the individuals own soul, they were disappointed and considered him to be a charlatan and an impostor, who was incapable of delivering the goods. They wanted to get rid of Caesar, but here was a man who said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. ” If he had stirred up a political revolution the Romans might have crucified him, but not the Jews who would have welcomed such a revolt with a sporting chance of success.

He invited the Jews to a spiritual revolution, promising to them that if they first sought the Kingdom of Heaven in the inner recesses of their own souls everything else would certainly be added unto it. The crowds that began to gather wherever Jesus went, believed him primarily to be a faith healer. The few disciples who attached themselves to him were poor and ignorant people. For the most part they were men of weak and superstitious faith, and of wavering and dubious loyalty, one of them betraying Jesus for a few coins.

According to the Gospel, they could not keep themselves awake during the night when their Master felt the approach of death. It is said that these disciples got utterly dismayed, their hopes having been shattered by the Master’s crucifixion that the Jews believed to be a dishonourable end of the cursed. Their faith revived only when some on the third day saw him alive after his crucifixion. The religion of Jesus suffered from calamity. As Jesus was not a married man, his followers, who took him for a model, began to consider marriage as a concession to the lower, unregenerate animal nature of man.

Jesus had said nothing against marriage. Jesus was not an ascetic but, because he had no opportunity to deal with the practical affairs of life, his followers gave an ascetic bent to his creed. This asceticism continued to develop among the religious enthusiasts and saints in Christian society sometimes to very irrational and perverse extremes. The world and the flesh were identified with the devil and were considered as essentially opposed to the spirit. Mohammed Neither did Islam claim to be a religion taught for the first time by Muhammed.

Islam gathered the half-truths of the followers of different creeds and made them whole by supplying what had been dropped. It removed the veils of mythologies, superstitions and mysteries that had coveted simple rational and natural truths. It emphasises that there is only one omnipotent, just and merciful Creator and Sustainer, that this world is real and rational and not a place of perversion and punishment. It teaches that all nature is God-created, and existence is not divided between the Realms of Darkness and Light with God and the angels ruling in one and the devils creating or dominating the other.

It declares that the essentials of religion consist mainly of pure morality; mere beliefs and dogmas, and worship and sacraments are of no avail if a person is not just and merciful. Muhammed was not original in his monotheism, or in proclaiming that existence is governed by a rational and moral order that comprehends the seen as well as the unseen. He was not the first in making prayer the chief medium of communication between the helpless finite and the omnipresent and omniscient infinite. Miracles

When the unbelievers in Makkah asked the Prophet Muhammed to show them a miracle, he showed them the splitting of the moon. Another miracle was the flowing of water through Muhammeds fingers when his companions got thirsty and had no water except a little in a vessel. They came to him and told him that they had no water to make ablution nor to drink except for what was in the vessel. So, Muhammed put his hand in the vessel, and the water started gushing out between his fingers. So, they drank and made ablution. They were one thousand five hundred companions. Conclusion

Every religion has of necessity to have an institutional side. Some ritual of worship and some laws and regulations are necessary for the purposes of organisation. These things are the external shell to protect the core of morality and religion. But with the passage of time, the followers of a religion begin to identify religion with verbal assent to rigidly formulated dogmas and certain external observances and ceremonies. A person is considered to be religious if he gives this assent and observes some ritual, irrespective of the fact whether love or justice moves him in his dealings with his fellow men.

Jesus’ inspire of love, mercy and peace is identical with the teaching of the Qur’an and Buddhism and the Prophet of Islam, but the difference lies in its practical application to the actual problems of human existence. Real and living love is not passive and negative sentimentality. Love must be creative and positive. It is a light that should lead towards a better life. Religions have suffered from two extremes. They either become mere dogmatism, legalism and ritualism, or emphasising the spirit only, they begin to recommend flight from the practical realities of life and tend thereby to become life negating and ascetic.

Christian dogma and theology have set apart from the other great prophets and have deified Jesus from humanity into divinity. Not being satisfied with his divinised humanity, it made him an incarnation of God instead of Man of God”. The concept of incarnation, against which every great prophet of Israel would have argued against, stigmatising it as a most unforgivable blasphemy, was imported from the Asian religions where it still is a central doctrine.

Besides, some Mediterranean dogmas and mysteries were grafted on the simple monotheistic creed of Jesus. Identifying him with God Almighty Himself did no service either to God or to man. To this deification of Jesus, the doctrine of Original Sin was tacked in order to convince humanity of its innate depravity, for which the sole remedy was not a sanctimonious and virtuous life, but belief in the explicit suffering and sacrifice of “God’s only begotten son” recompensing the inheritable sin of humanity’s first progenitors.

Every great prophet suffers for the sake of humanity and is truly a saviour, but Jesus was made the Son and Saviour. The simple and sweet religion of Jesus was as a result clouded by irrational mysteries, which sapped the very foundations of morality by depriving man of free-will, and making God a benevolent but also a revengeful tyrant. This caused by the Catholic Church. Many Western Christian writers go on repeating the ill-founded opinion that there was nothing original in Islam.

If the Qur’an was only repeating over again what the Jewish and Christian Scriptures had taught or what the Zoroastrians and the Brahmins and the Buddhists already knew and believed, why was the whole world of established religion so bitterly antagonistic to it? In the realm of morals and spiritual life if one means by originality an idea or an utterance not found previously in any creed or philosophy, or never before inculcated by any moral and spiritual leader, then surely you cannot find it anywhere.

Neither Abraham nor Moses nor Jesus nor Buddha nor Muhammed said anything that could not be found either in the religious tradition in which they were born or in creeds and philosophies in other times and places. Many of the great moral teachers often make a direct reference to others, and even if they do not, one can relate their ideas to something that has gone before. To Pernilla Thank you for being patient and I apologize for not turning it in the day I was to. Enjoy your trip.