A religion and philosophy, Buddhism is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, the "Buddha". Buddhism has emerged as a universal religion since its origin 2500 years ago. It is a fast growing religion especially in the western countries like Australia and United States.
Gautama Buddha (563 to 483 BC)
Buddha means 'Enlightened one'. Siddhartha Gautama, the prince of Lombini, was impelled by a desire to deal the sorrows of human existence. At 29,he initiated a voyage by renouncing all attachments to worldly pleasures to seek an answer for the misery of human condition. Buddha attained a higher state of enlightenment after six years of rigorous tests including self-mortification and long period of fasts. Later, meditated beneath the Bodhi tree to achieve supreme enlightenment. Spent the later parts of his life establishing Buddhist monastic order or'Sangha' of monks and nuns. Died at the age of 80,in a small town called Kusinara.
Basics of Buddhism: Teachings and Beliefs
Spread of Buddhism
- Meditation and observance of basic moral precepts are the foundation of Buddhist practice.
- "End to suffering and rebirth" is the chief objective of Buddhism. Focussed on the attainment of complete self-realization or Nirvana as the highest and final good.
- Buddhism does not believe in the existence of a creator; change as fundamental and acts as an agent of nature; consequences of actions; nothing as permanent.
- Main teachings are summed up in the Four Noble Truths, of which the Eighth Fold Path is the fourth.
- Mahayana and Theravada, two main branches of Buddhism, have unique collection of canonical texts and developed different practices.
- Buddhism adopts the doctrine of 'Karma' from Hinduism but rejects many of Hindu doctrines and all its Gods.
Creation of major Buddhist sects due to philosophical differences led to its rapid spread. Buddhism is a principal/National religion in many countries such as in Japan, Sri-Lanka, China and many South East Asian Nations. Spread and influence of Buddhism had begun to be widened since the efforts of Emperor Asoka in 3rd century BC. Unfortunately, it has declined in its country of origin, India.
Explosions of interest have occurred in Buddhism in the western countries. It is argued that Buddhism always entered a rich and dynamic relationship with its host culture. Its teachings are relevant to modern society. It explores human sufferings to some extraordinary level and tries to discover freedom and dignity on the Buddhist path.
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