And now let’s see what’s with Buddhism. What is it all about? Who is Buddha? In what do they beleive?
The religion of Buddha began in 563 B.C…. Buddhists believe in karma and rebirth. Karma determines in which form a person is reborn and rebirth is a second birth. Also, Buddhists believe in the Three Universal Truths.
First, everything in life is constantly changing and impermanent. Second, everything is unsatisfactory in life because everything is impermanent. Finally, there is no eternal soul. What is called the “self “is just a bunch of changing characteristics.
About the Doctrines:
Numerous distinct groups have developed since the passing of the Buddha, with diverse teachings that vary widely in practice, philosophical emphasis, and culture. However, there are certain doctrines which are common to the majority of schools and traditions in Buddhism, though the Mahayana tends not to regard them as central.
The Four Noble Truths
According to the scriptures, the Buddha taught that in life there exists sorrow / suffering which is caused by desire and it can be cured (ceased) by following the Noble Eightfold Path. his teaching is called the Catvāry Āryasatyāni (Pali: Cattāri Ariyasaccāni), the “Four Noble Truths“.
- Suffering: Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering.
- The cause of suffering: The desire which leads to renewed existence (rebirth) (the cycle of samsara)
- The cessation of suffering: The cessation of desire.
- The way leading to the cessation of suffering: The Noble Eightfold Path;
The Noble Eightfold Path
The Noble Eightfold Path is the way to the cessation of suffering, the fourth part of the Four Noble Truths. This is divided into three sections: Sila (which concerns the physical bodily actions), Samadhi (which concerns the ‘Conscious’ mind) and Panna (which concerns the ‘Unconscious’ mind). (I really like this part 🙂 )
Sila is morality—abstaining from unwholesome deeds of body and speech.
- Right Speech – One speaks in a non hurtful, not exaggerated, truthful way
- Right Actions – Wholesome action, avoiding action that would do harm
- Right Livelihood – One’s way of livelihood does not harm in any way oneself or others; directly or indirectly
Samadhi is developing mastery over one’s own mind.
- Right Effort/Exercise – One makes an effort to improve
- Right Mindfulness/Awareness – Mental ability to see things for what they are with clear consciousness
- Right Concentration – Being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion.
Panna is the wisdom which purifies the mind.
- Right Thoughts – Change in the pattern of thinking.
- Right Understanding – Understanding reality as it is, not just as it appears to be.
(There are much more details but for the time being not interesting for my scope)
Now, let’s see about the history of Buddhism, I know it all started with Buddha himself, but what else? How did it grow into this strong philosophy?
There is “Early Buddhism”, “Rise of Mahayana Buddhism”, “Emergence of the Vajrayāna”, “Decline of Buddhism in India and Central Asia” and “Present state of Buddhism”.
Now, currently the Estimates of the number of Buddhists vary from 230 to 500 million, but the most common figure today is between 350 and 400 million.
- Theravāda Buddhism, using Pāli as its scriptural language, is the dominant form of Buddhism in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar.
- East Asian forms of Buddhism that use scriptures in Chinese are dominant in most of China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam as well as the Chinese communities around the world, especially within Indochina and Southeast Asia as well as in the West.
- Northern Buddhism, using the Tibetan language, is found in Tibet and the surrounding area of India, Bhutan, Mongolia, Nepal, China, and the Russian Federation. Poland, Denmark, Greece and the Russian Federation are the first European countries to recognize Buddhism as an official religion.
- Dalit Buddhist movement in India was largely inspired by B. R. Ambedkar in 1956 with a mass conversion ceremony of Hindu untouchables now known as Dalits. Their practice is general and they do not follow any particular Buddhist school of thought.
- Most Buddhist groups in the West are at least nominally affiliated to some eastern tradition listed above. An exception is the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, though they can be considered Mahayanist in a broad sense.
At the present time, the teachings of all three branches of Buddhism have spread throughout the world, and Buddhist texts are increasingly translated into local languages. While in the West, Buddhism is often seen as exotic and progressive, in the East, Buddhism is regarded as familiar and part of the establishment. Buddhists in Asia are frequently well organised and well funded. In a number of countries, it is recognised as an official religion and receives state support. In the West, Buddhism is recognised as one of the growing spiritual influences.
That’s it for now….