Written By Franklin V on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 | 10:14 PM
Create balance and harmony in your life
Who was Buddha
Buddhism is a religion based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama and is one of the three most widespread major world religions. Siddhartha Gautama Buddha was born in the fifth or sixth century BC-the exact dates of his birth and death are uncertain. His father Sudddhodana, the king of the Sakya tribe of Nepal., brought Siddhartha up in luxury as befitted a warrior prince and sought to shield him from the sight and knowledge of evil and suffering. Siddhartha married early and had a son, Rahul, while still a youth .
The turning point in the prince’s life came when he was twenty nine years old. One day, while out driving with his charioteer he say an aged man, a sick man and a dead body and a religious mendicant. Shocked by these sights, he left the comforts of his home to seek the meaning of the suffering he saw around him. After six years of practicing austerities, he abandoned the way of self-mortification and instead sat in solitary and mindful meditation beneath a bodhi tree, which the Buddhists now call a tree of wisdom.
On the full moon of May, with the rising of the morning star, Siddhartha Gautama experienced a profound realization of the nature of life, death and existence. He came to be called "the Buddha," which means "Awakened One," or “ Enlightened One “The Buddha preached his first sermon at Sarnath to the five who had been his first followers. He taught the Four Noble Truths. The First Noble Truth is that man’s existence is dukka, full of conflict, dissatisfaction, sorrow and suffering. The Second Noble Truth is that the cause of suffering are man’s selfish desires and cravings. The third noble truth is that there is emancipation, liberation and freedom for human beings from this suffering. The fourth noble truth is the path to this liberation is by practicing the middle path avoiding the extremes of self indulgence and self mortification. The middle path or the Eight fold path consists of right view, right thought, right speech, right endeavour, right mindfulness, right concentration.
What is Buddhism
For the next 45 years , the Buddha wandered the plains of northeastern India teaching the path or Dharma he had realized in that moment. However, he didn't teach people what he had realized when he became enlightened. Instead, he taught people how to realize enlightenment for themselves. He taught that awakening comes through one's own direct experience, not through beliefs and dogmas. Buddhism is different from other religions. While the central focus of most religions is God, or gods, Buddhism is non-theistic. The Buddha taught that believing in gods was not useful for those seeking to realize enlightenment. Most religions are defined by their beliefs. But in Buddhism, merely believing in doctrines is beside the point. The Buddha said that we should not accept doctrines just because we read them in scripture or are taught them by priests. Instead of teaching doctrines to be memorized and believed, the Buddha taught how we can realize truth for ourselves. The focus of Buddhism is on practice rather than belief.
Around the Buddha developed a community or Sangha of monks and, later, nuns, drawn from every tribe and caste, devoted to practicing this path. At the age of 80, the Buddha died leaving a thriving monastic order and a dedicated lay community to continue his work. His last words are said to be... Impermanent are all created things; Strive on with awareness. In the centuries following the Buddha's life, Buddhism spread throughout Asia to become one of the dominant religions of the continent. For centuries Indian royalty and merchants patronized Buddhist monasteries and raised beautiful, hemispherical stone structures called stupas over the relics of the Buddha in reverence to his memory. Since the 1840s, archaeology has revealed the huge impact of Buddhist art, iconography, and architecture in India. But by the thirteenth century, Buddhism became nearly extinct in India, the country of its origin, primarily due to continuous destructive activity of different fundamentalist muslim emperors.
Buddhist teachings, beliefs and practices
About 2,000 years ago Buddhism divided into two major schools, called Theravada- the dominant form of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma (Myanmar) and Laos- and Mahayana which is dominant in China, Japan, Taiwan, Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, Korea and Vietnam.. The two schools differ primarily in their understanding of a doctrine called "anatman" or "anatta." According to this doctrine, there is no "self" in the sense of a permanent, integral, autonomous being within an individual existence. Very basically, Theravada considers anatman to mean that an individual's ego or personality is a delusion. Once freed of this delusion, the individual may enjoy the bliss of Nirvana.
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