.. rtha revealed that he had become the Buddha, and described the pleasure that he had first known as a prince, and the life of severe asceticism that he had practiced. Neither of these was the true path to Nirvana. The true path was the Middle Way, which keeps aloof from both extremes.

“To satisfy the necessities of life is not evil,” the Buddha said.”To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom and keep our mind strong and clear.” Buddha then taught them the Dharma, which consisted of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. The five holy men and others soon joined Buddha, accompanying him everywhere. As more joined, Buddha organized the Sangha, a community of bhikkus (dedicated monks and later nuns). The Sangha preserved the Dharma, and allowed bhikkus to concentrate on the goal of Nirvana. On raining seasons they would settle in Viharas (resting places in cave dwellings) followers who believed in Buddha’s teachings, but could not follow the strict rule of the Sangha, were taught to follow the Five Precepts.

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Buddha returned to his birthplace in Kapilavastu, and his father was mortified to see his son begging for food. Buddha kissed his father’s foot and said, “You belong to a noble line of kings. But I belong to the lineage of Buddhas, and thousands of those have lived on alms.

“(www.who2.com) King Shuddhadana then remembered the Brahmin’s prophesy and reconciled with his son. Buddha’s wife, son, and cousin (Ananda) later joined the Sangha. When Buddha was about eighty, a blacksmith named Cuanda gave him a meal that caused him to become ill. Buddha forced himself to travel to Kushinagara, and laid down on his right side to rest in a grove of shala trees.

As a crowd of followers gathered, the trees sprouted blossoms and showered them on Buddha. Buddha told Ananda, “I am old and my journey is near its end. My body is like a worn-out cart held together only by the help of leather straps.

” Three times, Buddha asked the people if they had any questions, but they all remained silent. Finally Buddha said, “Everything that has been created is subject to decay and death. Everything is transitory.Work out your own salvation with diligence. After passing through several states of meditation, the Buddha died, reaching Parinirvana (the cessation of perception and sensation).

Buddha is not a Supreme God nor the Creator of Universe in Buddhism. Buddha is just an enlightened being. If a person enlightened, the person is Buddha too.

All sentient beings can be Buddha. There are numerous enlightened beings in millions and millions of worlds in millions and millions of years. Shakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, was the enlightened being in the world of time. Although Buddha is the most supreme being known in all realms, he has no power to control everything.

For instance, he is unable to change the principle of cause and effect. In other words, if you commit an evil deed, Buddha cannot save you by “waiving” the effect caused by your evil deed.Nevertheless, Buddha can advise you how to mitigate the diverse effect, if a person repent of his/hers evil deed.( Snelling, J. p47-55) Buddhism is perhaps the only religion that claims the eventual extinction of itself, and also the sutra.

Buddhism and its sutra inevitably abide by the universal truth of impermanence. Whichever exists, it will extinguish, and vice versa. Buddhism is a “vehicle” to carry all beings to the shore of the Sea of Suffering.When you arrive at the shore, get off the vehicle. Don’t attach to it! Let other beings use it.

It is just a “convenient tool” to facilitate all beings to understand and certify the reality of the nature and lives, and liberate themselves. Thus, in view of highest wisdom, all verbal and written Buddhism with names and forms are “not real” By the time of enlightenment, there will be no Buddhism. However, before one is enlightened, one has to study and practice Buddhism wholeheartedly and vigorously, cultivating all merits and virtues.

(Buswell, R. p29-46) Buddhism is pragmatic and practical. Buddhism was originated from and established for the sentient beings.It teaches how to observe and understand and certify the reality of the nature and lives in objective and scientific way. Do practice and don’t just study theories, especially those which are abstract. Some people would like to know about the origin of the universe, finite or not, eternal or not, before they will undertake to practice a religion. It is just like a man who is wounded by an arrow wishes to know who shoots the arrow, what the arrow is made of, and other irrelevant questions before he will have the arrow removed.

Buddhism is optimistic and enthusiastic towards life.It rejects the principle of fate, though it emphasizes karma. The principle of impermanence and the principle of no-self enlighten us that we should not attach and crave to fame and wealth, not benefit ourselves by hurting others.

One can enlighten and realize oneself by enlightening and realizing others. Therefore, one has to cultivate and commit oneself in society. Without selfishness, we can really serve the society and people. Without the craving and clinging to personal fame and wealth, we can be really free, comfortable and “rich”.The principle of Middle Way enlightens us about the interdependent nature of existence, therefore we should not go extreme. Be optimistic! The secret of happiness is not doing things what we like, but liking things what we do.

The 3 processes of learning, namely belief/faith, interpretation, practice and certification, are known as The three Ways. The faith to a religion should not be affected by the behavior or performance of an individual in the religion. A group of people is just a miniature of society, having some good guys and some had guys.All religions and philosophies have their doctrines, values and functions. Within a specific time frame and space, different religions will serve and benefit a particular group of human beings towards kindness and wholesomeness.

Amongst the right religions, there is no such religion that is “better” than the others. However, since the wisdom and vision of the founders of the religions are different, there are different levels in their doctrines, different methods of teaching and different goals and objectives. Therefore, the extent of the benefits of the religions is different.(Hinnells, J, 45-68) Bibliography Siddhartha Hesse, herman New York; bantam 1951 Buddhism: Central Asia and China.

1994.The New Encyclopedia Brittanica. (15th ed).

Vol 23. Chicago: Encyclopedia Brittanica Inc. pp.

273-274. Buswell, R. (Ed).

1990. Chinese Buddhist apocrypha. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. Eliade, M. (Ed).1987. The Encyclopedia of Religion.

New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. Hinnells, J. (Ed). 1985.A handbook of living religions.

London: Penguin Books. Snelling, J. 1992. The Buddhist handbook: A complete guide to Buddhist teaching and practice.

London: Rider.


Buddhism is a religion founded by an ex-Prince Siddhartha Gaumata. Gaumata wasa prince who was brought up in a perfect surrounding. When the prince left thepalace he saw all the poverty.

At the age of twenty nine, the prince left hiswife and his infant son to meditate and practice Yoga to find peace andenlightenment. Gaumata was meditating for a long time when finally while he wassitting under a Bo tree he had attained the enlightenment he was looking for. Itis for this reason he got the name Buddha, meaning the enlightenedone. Buddhabecame a traveling teacher and taught everyone his discovery. Buddha did notwrite any of his lessons down. He taught about the Four Noble Truths, (1) lifeis suffering, (2) all suffering is caused by ignorance, (3) Ending ignorancewill end suffering, and (4) The path to the destruction of suffering is theNoble Eightfold Path.

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The Eightfold Path consists of (1) Knowledge of the truth,(2) the intention to resist evil, (3) not saying anything that will hurt someoneelse, (4) respecting life, (5) having a job that doesn’t injure anyone, (6)striving free one’s mind of evil, (7) controlling one’s feelings, and (8)concentrating properly. Buddha preached that the life was a continuing cycle ofdeath and rebirth. The well-being of oneself was determined on your behavior inyour previous life. Buddha said that by ridding oneself of worldly things hewould be in nirvana, peace and happiness.

After Buddha’s death, his followerscollected his teachings that became the dharma.The sangha is what sometimes referred to as an ideal Buddhist community. All thepeople in the community follow all the laws and seek nirvana. The arrangement ofthe monks that had a role in the sangha. The monks’ arrangement kept thepreserving and the spreading of Buddhism.

In many Buddhist countries the monkshad to live in poverty and meditate. The monks wore very long robes. In a sanghaeveryone, including the common Buddhists.The Buddhists have a book called Tripitika, meaning three baskets.

The firstpart of the book is about the Basket of Discipline, which talks about regulatingthe order of Buddhist monks. The second part is the Basket of Discourses, whichtalks about the sermons of Buddha. The last part is about the Basket of theHigher Dharma, which talks about systematic discussions of principle. AllBuddhists have the obligation to pray to Buddha whenever they see a statue ofhim. There are different customs in Buddhism. The three places that thesedifferent customs come from are from the Theravadas, the Mahayanas, and the Zens.The Zens are the group that originated in China.

The marriage and death followthe different customs. The Theravadas have a wedding by going to a monastery,after the legal wedding. There they give a generous gift to the sangha.

They geta special chant for themselves to have a great future. When someone dies theirbody is sent to the monastery and is burned by the monks. Wesak is a Tibetanholiday.

It is celebrated in may to honor the birth, enlightenment and death ofthe Buddha. Some people fast, but others are picnicking, dancing, acting andplaying sports. Buddhism sounds like a funny religion, but in fact there areabout 300 million Buddhists in the world.Category: Religion


I have considered myself to be a fairly religious person. I went to aPresbyterian elementary and middle school, a Christian School. At C.S. we had areligion class everyday.

The difference from then and now is then we learnedstrictly about Christianity. I had never heard about evolution and otherreligions until I was in high school. I had only known that there was one God,and it was He to which we prayed.

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I knew that there was a heaven and a hell. Thegood people went to heaven and the bad to hell. In much more depth of course,but needless to say that was very naive. I had a Humanities class my sophomoreyear in high school. In this class we learned about all of the religions, howthey operated, and what they believed. It was then that I took a deep interestin Buddhism.

I didnt know much, but what I did know seemed so much differentand it really caught my eye. Buddhism has two parts. These parts are MahayanaBuddhism and Theravada Buddhism.

The first part is Mahayana. It can be definedas, “Large Raft Buddhism; one of the two branches of Buddhism, dominantin East Asia and Vietnam. So named because its people carry a large raft tocarry people to enlightenment.” (Niwano, 87-88) And Theravada is defined as,”Way of the Elders; surviving school of one of the two branches ofBuddhism, found in Southeast Asia. Claims to bet he most ancient expression ofBuddhist teaching.

Called Hinayana by Mahayana Buddhist teachers.” (Niwano,87-88) The Theravada Buddhism has dated back to as late as sixth century B.C.E.,and its was founded in one of the countries that it flourishes in today,Southeast Asia. There one founder of this school of Buddhism that is SiddharthaGautama. He has shown people what is known as the “middle way.

” This path isa path of liberation from the cycle of rebirth. All Buddhists honor this man. Nomatter what type of Buddhism they believe the focus is on him. The believers maynot know what the significance of his life is, but they do know that he is ofgreat importance. Siddhartha was born in about 563 B.C.E. He was a warrior inIndia.

Siddhartha was raised in luxury to protect him from the bad parts oflife. His father did this in hopes to raise religious questions in his mind.Guatama felt empty inside, so he decided to venture out into an unknown area.This is where he saw the “four passing sights.” “The first was asorrowful, old man. The second was a man racked by illness.

The third was a manbeing carried on a funeral pyre.” This was the first time that he had seenthat life is not just pleasure and joy. But it does include bad things, such asmisery, despair, and death.

He then came to realize that this too would happento him. He became almost depressed until one day he saw the fourth sight. “Hisfourth sight was a mink calmly walking alone in a yellow robe.”(Encyc. Brit.)He was now determined to find out a better way to live. He wanted to finds a wayto get out of the inevitable suffering. This was the beginning of a six-yearquest.

Through this quest, he established an order of nuns and monks. He wasenlightened, said to have “woken up”. His title was now Buddha. His middleway of thinking and living was a path between self-denial and self-indulgence.

(Gombrish,23) The major, sacred texts of Buddhism are known as “Pali Canon.”There are thirty-one separate texts. These all came from five hundred yearsafter Buddha died. Like many religious books, this book started as stories toldby mouth, before they were written down. The scripture was broken down intobaskets.

The first basket included guidelines for being a monk. The secondcontained basic teachings of Buddha. The third focuses on an analysis of thenature of existence. (Gombrish, 23) On the contrary, Mahayana Buddhism says thatany person possesses the ability to become a Buddha. Also, it says that we arenot in our own quest for freedom. Help is available from past Buddhas and othercompassionate beings.

“In this branch of Buddhism there are three forms ofBuddha, the earthly body, Siddhartha, another heavenly body, Amithaba, and thosewho inhabit the fully spirited realm.” (Gombrish, 52) There are two majorschools that show the teachings of Mahayana. These are Pure Land and Zen. ThePure Land is the devotional school and Zen is the meditational school. The PureLand is based on the story about the heavenly Buddha, Amitabha. HE lives in the”celestial region” or area known as the “Pure Land”.

The text describesa place that is rich, fertile and heavenly. It is inhabited only by gods andmen, not by ghosts or demons. Admission into such a place is rebirth and oncethere you are considered to be in a state of nirvana. Zen is the place thatteaches skepticism about ordinary language and mocks attempts to explain truthrationally. This tradition has brought this insight and beliefs to China.

One ofthe main ideas of Zen id that we all are and can be Buddha, but it is a matterof us convincing ourselves that we are not. We do this by becoming attached tothe pleasures of this world and the diversity of objects we think that we see.But we also fool ourselves by thinking that we need to escape the world that weknow.

Zen says that we have to rely on ourselves to know what is true in thisworld. “The truth lies within, for only there can we awaken to reality thatthere is no distinction between ourselves and the rest of reality.” (Burtt,12)Zen uses strict meditation. You are proposed a question, and sit there andponder. This is to try to eliminate analytical thinking. It is sometimes saidthat Zen does not use any philosophy or scripture, but this is just to theBuddha himself. It is an inner-self meditation. It confounds rational thought.

The difference with Zen and many other religions is that once one is”enlightened” he would not withdraw from the world, but he would go on withthe same daily routine. As in every religion there is a story of creation. InBuddhist beliefs this story is called the “Shinto.” There are many thingsthat the Buddhist culture holds sacred.

The atheistic religion does not believethat there is a central role for a personal god or gods. They focus on personaldeities who have a small role in the final transformation. Buddhism claims thatgods have no role to play in human liberation, any more than any other person orspirit. Each person must find his or her own destiny and final path to spiritualredemption.

“Buddhism, like Jainism, is atheistic in a functional rather thana theoretical sense. Theoretical atheism denies that gods exist.Functional atheism is not concerned about the question of the existence ofgods; it only knows whether they exist or not, they are irrelevant to humandestiny.” (Carter,253) As many other religions Buddhists practice manyholidays and religious ceremonies. They are very in depth, but this is a veryserious part of their everyday life. There are few religious festivals inBuddhism that are observed by all buddhists at the same time. This is duepartially to the nature of Buddhism’s historical development and partially tothe impact of the regions and countries Buddhism entered.

On the one hand,because of the differences in the structure of belief among Theravada Mahayanaand Vajrayana and among the different schools of Mahayana, there is no one eventor person who is understood in the same manner, and thus worshipped in the samemanner. So although all forms of Buddhism celebrate the Buddha’s life, they doso at different times. Of course, all monasteries have a day celebrating theirfounding.

On the other hand, different countries have celebrations commemoratingwhen Buddhism entered their country. Or, they may celebrate the reign of aparticular dynasty. Or, when Buddhism entered the country, it may have takenover a festival from the indigenous religion.

So, with all these differentreasons for establishing a religious holiday, it becomes clear why so fewholidays are celebrated throughout Buddhism. The following discussion willmention just a few holidays, organized by the three divisions of Buddhism. (Prebish,98) The main festivals of Theravada Buddhism are Buddha Day and observanceslinked to the rain retreat of the monsoon season. Buddha Day is often called”Visakha Puja” because it occurs on the full-moon day of the month of”Visakha” (April-May).

It celebrates the Buddha’s birth, his attainment ofenlightenment, and his death, which Theravadans believe miraculously occured onthe same day. The lay people gather at a monastery to hear the telling of thestory of the Buddha’s life, wash the sacred Buddha images, observe the FivePrecepts, and the reliquary.(Carter, 91) With regard to the rainy seasonretreat, which the monks observe from July to October, Theravada has a smallcelebration at the beginning of the rains when the monks traditionally enterretreat. This is called “Magha Puja” because it occurs on the full-moon ofthe month of “Magha.” It consists primarily of listening to a sermon by amonk minister.

In countries where it is customary for young men to enter the”sangha” as their rite of passage into adulthood, it usually happens on thisday. “The Rain Retreat usually ends with the Kathina ceremony, where the laitygive the monks robes and other needed items, and the monks read certain sutrasfor the benefit of the deceased.” (Niwano, 205-209) In Thailand, a Theravadancountry, Chakri Day in April commemorates the founding of the current dynasty.Many acts of worship are woven into the day’s observances; indeed, the famousEmerald Buddha statue of Bangkok plays a key role in the ceremonies, receivinghomage from the Emperor.

In Mahayana Buddhism, the important action of Buddha’sDay is the washing of the Buddha’s images. Celebrated in China, Korea and Japanon the eighth day of the fourth lunar month, the main focus of this celebrationfrom the sangha’s perspective is the Buddha’s attainment of enlightenment.”Mahayana Buddhism, especially in China, celebrates the life of thebodhisattva Kuan Yin: her birthday is the in the second month, her enlightenmentthe sixth month, and her entry into nirvana of the ninth month.” (Niwano, 210)All of these days are the nineteenth. This is a special number.

The Buddhistreligion has many new and different things, to me. It is a whole new experience.Their beliefs are something that I personally would never practice, but I knowthat these are the beliefs that these people have grown up with. I know thatthey would most likely go to a Baptist church and think that the singing anddancing that we do is completely sinful. After all, dancing is practically assinful as murder to them. It is on their list of sins. I respect this religion,as I do all religions.


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.

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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 place 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 behelded 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. The word itself is a Sanskirt word meaning “blown out,” like a candle, representing the extinguishing of all craving. It is believed that during this time he was tempted by Mara, the evil one, to keep this insight to himself and continue to realize this bliss, to shed his body and forego a return to the real world.

The Buddha: the Enlightening One, as Gautama later became known, chose to wander the land begging for food and shelter and teaching the Middle Way to the men and women of his time. When Buddha preached his first sermon, following his enlightenment, the sermon is usually titled “Setting in Motion the Wheel of Dharma,” he put forth the Four Noble Truths that he experienced in the course of his enlightenment. 1) All existence involves suffering (duhkha). 2) The cause of suffering is craving (trishna).

3) Release from suffering (nirvana) comes through eradicating passionate craving for material or sensual satisfaction. 4) The way to achieve that release is the Eightfold Path. These eight ways of right being encompass right understanding, thought, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration. For the next 45 years, Buddha preached this path to all that would listen, and at the age of 80, the Buddha died. He left no writings. All Buddhist scriptures are based on accounts of his life and teaching passed down orally by his disciples from generation to generation. 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 Yahwey, 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’s concepts of deliverance rest’s solely within the individual experience. Because of this emphasis on experience, the terminology of Buddhism is often elusive. More attention is given to how to attain the experience than a specific description of its character. Indeed Buddhism teaches that no verbal description of the rapture is possible. That is, Buddhism insists that experience is indescribable. This, I believe, can be explained by Buddha’s revelation under the Bodhi tree when he exclaimed, “All things are enlightened exactly as they are!” with no other explanation necessary in his initial experience.

With this we can deduce that Buddha believed that all he has searched for was within him and all things all along. To expand upon this let say that if all things are already enlighten as Buddha exclaimed, then we can assume the search for enlightenment should begin and end within ones self. Taking this further we should be able to see that Buddha believed his deliverance from human suffering rested within his own means and that no divine intervention was essential to achieve true awaking. One other thing, we the western world misperceived the life’s true nature, we think of it as relative. The Buddhist believes that when we truly understand the world then and only then will we experience nirvana. Also remember, when Buddha chose the Middle Way, he sheded all pre-concepts of the Hinduism teachings in proscribing a path to moksha, the attainment of the Atman-Brahman relationship, and the release from Maya, or the illusion world of the Hindu faith. He theorized that a release from suffering (duhkha) or from the cravings, hatred, and ignorance of ones life were the keys to nirvana, the awaking, the only thing needed to find ones true self or salvation for want of a word. Rituals and Practices Buddhism is not a single monolithic religion.

Many of its adherents have combined the teachings of the Buddha with local religious rituals, beliefs and customs. Little conflict occurs, because Buddhism at its core is a philosophical system to which such additions can be easily grafted. After the Buddha’s death, splits occurred. There are now three main systems of thought. First, there is Southern Buddhism or Therevada Buddhism, is mainly found in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka and Thailand, and parts of Vietnam. Second, Eastern Buddhism or Mahayana Buddhism’s is the predominant religion in China, Japan, Korea and much of Vietnam. They celebrate New Years, harvest festivals, and five anniversaries from the lives of Buddha and of the Bodhissattva Kuan-yin. They also engage in Dana, Sila, Chanting, Worship and Pilgrimage.

Third there is Northern Buddhism which has perhaps 10 million follows in parts of China, Mongolia, Russia and Tibet. The heads of the Gelu School of Buddhist teaching became the Dalai Lama, and ruled Tibet. They developed the practice of searching out a young child at the time of death of an important teacher. The child is believed to be the successor to the deceased teacher. They celebrate New Years, harvest festivals and anniversaries of five important events in the life of the Buddha. Common rituals and practices between the three denominations are as follows: Dana – thoughtful, ceremonial giving.

Sila – accepting Buddhist teaching and following it in practice of refraining from killing, stealing, wrong behavior, use of drugs, and on special days, three additional precepts may be added, restricting adornment, entertainment, and comfort. Karma – the balance of accumulated sin and merit, which will determine ones future in the present life, and the nature of the next life to come. The Cosmos – consists of billions of worlds grouped into clusters; clusters are grouped into galaxies, which are they grouped into super-galaxies. The universe also has many levels: our underworlds and 21 heavenly realms. Paritta – ritual chantingWorship – of relics of a Buddha, of items made by a Buddha, or of symbolic relics.

Festivals – days of the full moon, and three other days during the lunar cycle are celebrated. There is a New Year’s festival, and celebrations tied to the agricultural year. Pilgrimages – particularly to Buddhist sites in Sri Lanka and India.


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