Oneof the cultural activities in the most communities in thecontemporary world is religion. People believe that were it not forthe competence and grace of a particular supernatural power, theycould have not existed. For the same reason, they have taken it uponthemselves, as their sanctimonious obligation, to worship thesupernatural beings and offer sacrifices to amuse them for moreblessings. Thetopic of this paper is Buddhism religion and some questions likewhat Buddhism is, who started it, where Buddha was born and raised,what enlightenment is and its importance to the Buddhists, and whatMiddle Way means to this religion, are going to be handled. Internetand printed sources are going to be used to accomplish the mission ofthis paper.
can be defined as the cultural system of practices and demeanors,sacred texts, ethics, societal organizations, and the worldviews thatconnect humanity to what the anthropologists term as “an order ofexistence”. Various religions may or may not comprise of faith,sacred things, divine, supernatural beings, or some transcendencethat will offer power and norms for the rest of life. Some of thereligious practices include sermons, rituals, sacrifices,commemoration, initiations, meditation, prayer, music, trances,public services, feasts, art, dances, festivals, and matrimonialservices. Various religions have narratives and histories that may bepreserved in the Holy Scriptures and places with the principal aim ofgiving meaning to life. s may also have the symbolic accountsthat are believed by the followers to be genuine and have the primaryduty of explaining the origin of the universe, the genesis of life,and other stories that make the human life. Many people adoptedreligion mainly because of their faith. There are more than tenthousand religions in the world and about 85% of the individuals inthe world are the affiliates of the five largest religions thatinclude Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Folk .
Buddhismis the Dharma that constitutes of various beliefs, spiritualpractices, and traditions based on the Buddha teachings. Suchreligion originated in India and spread to Asia, and diminished inIndia during the middle age era. Two distinct branches of Buddism:Theravada and Mahayana have been recognized by the scholars. TheBuddhism teaching institutions vary depending on nature of the pathfollowed to liberation, the particular beliefs practiced, and theeffects of different scriptures and teachings. Buddhism practicesinclude Samatha, Refuge, Vipassana, Bodhicitta, and Vajrayanapractices. In Theravada, the Buddhists primary objective is to attainthe sublime state of Nirvana that is achieved by putting intopractice the Noble Eightfold Path, also known as the Middle Way(Siderits,2003).Through this way, the followers avert the cycle of rebirth andsuffering. Theravada is highly practiced in Southern Asia and SriLanka.
Onthe other hand, Mahayana Buddhism includes the traditional practicesof the Zen, Pure Land, Shingon, Nichiren Buddhism, and Tiantaitradition found in East Asia. Unlike Nirvana, the Mahayana Buddhismleads the followers into Buddhahood through the path calledbodhisattva. It is the path where the believers are left in the cycleof rebirth so that other people attain the awakening. Vajrayana, theteaching body articulated to the Indian Siddhas, is construed to bethe third branch of the Mahayana. Tibetan Buddhism is another branchpracticed in Himalayas, Kalmykia, and Mongolia regions and itsprincipal aim is to preserve eighth century India Vajrayanascriptures. Tibetan Buddhism leads the followers to Rainbow Body. TheBuddhists range between 489 million and 536 million in number. Suchstatistics make this religion one of the major religions in theworld.
Asmentioned from above, Buddhism is an Indian religion based onBuddha’s teachings. More information about the life of Buddha ismentioned in the early Buddhists scriptures. However, suchinformation is not consistent because the details of his life and thesocial backgrounds are difficult to prove. Moreover, the accuratedates of various events in his history are uncertain. Some earlytexts justify that Buddha was born as Siddhartha Gautama inKapilavatthu, the small town in the plain region of India, and hegrew up in the town that is modernly called Bihar (Law,2006).Some legends say that his father was King Suddhodana, and his motherwas Queen Maya. Buddha was born in the gardens called Lumbini as theonly child of the king. However, some scholars like Richard Gombrichconsider such a claim as dubious because the incorporation ofevidence depicts that Buddha was born in Shakyascommunity and his father called him Shakyamuni.In this era, a small oligarchy council governed their community wherethe seniority mattered a lot, and there were no ranks. Some storiesabout Buddha, his teachings, and the details about the society hegrew up were interpolated and invented later into the Buddhistscriptures.
TheBuddhists’ early texts and biographies of Buddha depict thatGautama was taught by the Vedic teachers, for instance, Alara Kalama,Uddaka Ramaputta (Law,2006).In this teachings, Gautama was trained how to meditate and the oldphilosophies, especially the technique of “emptiness, nothingness”and “what is neither seen nor unseen (Law,2006).Buddha was a fast learner where his nature of innate suffering ofhuman beings interested his teachers. He meditated on the sufferingof humanity alone for quite an extended period in different waysembracing asceticism on how to overcome the nature of suffering. Hecarried out most of his meditations under the tree called Ficusreligiosa,now referred to as Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya town, South Asia. Finally,Buddha’s followers propagated his teachings that became over 20Buddhist sub-schools of meditation in the last centuries of thesecond millennium BCE where each text contains different authenticteaching and interpretations of the Buddha. Such schools of thoughtdeveloped into various traditions that are currently divided intoVajrayana, Mahayana, and Theravada.
Conceptsfrom the Buddha’s Early Teaching
Themost important thing the student needs to know about the Buddha isthat he was a human being and not god. Through his teachings, Buddhacame up with the concepts that are currently used by the Buddhists incarrying out their religious activities, such as meditation,suffering, ritual feasts and festivals, and sermons. In this section,some concepts like Dukkha,Samsara,karma,and rebirth are going to be discussed in details.
Dukkha:It is the core concept used in Buddhism and acts as part of its FourNoble Truths (FNT) doctrine. Buddhists use this concept as corecharacteristic that represents life in this world. It can also beinterpreted as the inability to satisfy, the general insecurity andthe unlimited nature of the conditioned phenomenon, and painful.Dukkhacan also be translated as suffering, which is wrongly translatedsince it does not represent the literal pain, but the unsatisfactorystate of temporal things. The truth of this term explains life inthis world as craving and clinging to impermanent things. Peoplebargain for happiness from mortal things and therefore cannot get theactual exuberance. In this case, Dukkha can be ceased if clinging andcraving are confined.
Samsara:In Buddhism, the term Samsarameans wandering, with the connotation of dynamic changes. In thetheory of rebirth, the underlying assumption is made by theBuddhists. It is also considered to be Dukkha,meaning that the dynamic world is painful and unsatisfactory. It isdominated by avidyaand desire that results to karma. The Tibetan Buddhism mainlydeveloped the theory of rebirth due to the existence of Bhavacakradoctrine.Through this theory, Nirvana has been founded, and justification ofthe most important Buddhism history has been achieved.
Rebirth:Itis the Buddhism concept that refers to the stages that people gothrough, each running from birth to death. In this religion, rebirthdoes not incorporate any soul because of the doctrine of anattathat denies the notions of the permanent rigidity of the soul as itis called in Christianity and Hinduism. According to the Buddhists,there is no such thing in any human being. The Buddhism religion doesnot agree with what is in an individual that is reborn and also howthe rebirth process occurs in the people after the demise of each.Their rule states that there is “no self,” but there existsavacyaself that moves on from one life to another (Siderits,2007).
Karma:The term means the endless cycle of the rebirth and suffering in allhuman beings. Both of the good and bad skillful deeds and unskillfuldeeds (akusala) produce various seeds in cataleptic alayathatlater mature in the current life or the next life. Karma is theBuddhist’s fundamental belief, like the other main Indianreligions, which states that karma wreaks neither fatalism noreverything that occur to human beings.
Accordingto the scholars, the term “enlightenment” is the westernvocabulary that was translated from the word bodhi,which means “awakening.” It spread in the western parts of theworld through Max Muller’s 19th-centurytranslations. Since then, this term has been used as the connotationof the west of unequivocal insight into a transcendental truth (Pak,2013).Such term is also used in the Buddhism religion to translate someconcepts that are used to denote vidhya(knowledge), insight (satoriand prajna),vimutti(disturbing emotions), and the achievement of Buddhahood as shown byBuddha. There is no clear evidence of what caused the Buddhismenlightenment. However, the scholars said that the awakeningconstituted of the information that liberation was achieved by themutual combination of the dhyanaand mindfulness that were applied in the confinement of craving. Thecorrelation between insight and dhyanais the chief issue in the research of Buddhism and is the vitalpractice of such a religion.
Theoverall Shakyamuni Buddhia, also called the historical Buddha, wasbelieved to be less than 30 years when he started his pursuit ofenlightenment. His expedition ended after six years when he was about35 years of age. Although Buddha’s story of enlightenment is notnarrated the same in various schools of Buddhism, there is a commonversion. After the Four Passing Sights (FPS) confronting him, PrinceGautama left his domicile to investigate the facts about birth anddeath. He went through the teaching of one yoga master and thenanother one with an aim of examining what they taught him. He fastedfor about six years engaging in rigorous starkness. In the process,his ribs protruded out to an extent of feeling his spine through thestomach. He realized that he should not punish his body to establishrelease from the imprisons of self. Instead, he started practicepurity of the defilement of mind to achieve enlightenment. Hiscompanions deserted him when they saw him eat solid food as thethought that he gave up the pursuit. Finally, Siddhartha discoveredthe path to enlightenment was “Middle Way” between the ends ofself-indulgence and self-denial (Pak,2013).
MiddleWay (madhyamapratipad)is the crucial guiding principle of the Buddhism religion. Itrepresents part of the first sermon of Buddha where he demonstratedthe Noble Eightfold Path (NEP), the middle way between the ends ofhedonistic pleasures and asceticism. The Buddhists came up with the“dependent arising” doctrine that explains the process of rebirthand is considered to be a middle way between eternalism (human beingshave souls that are involved in rebirth) and annihilationism (deathis the last event in human life, and there is no rebirth).
Inconclusion, religion is one of the cultural activities practiced byalmost all communities in the world. From the essay above, manypeople adopted religion mainly because of their faith. The five majorreligions in the world include Islam, Hinduism, Christianity,Buddhism, and Folk . Buddhism is the Dharma that constitutesof various beliefs, spiritual practices, and traditions based on theBuddha teachings. Buddha was born as Siddhartha Gautama inKapilavatthu. He is the one who brought enlightenment to the Buddhismreligion when he was 30 years old and discovered that thepath to enlightenment was “Middle Way” between the ends ofself-indulgence and self-denial.
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Siderits,M. (2007). Buddhismas philosophy: An introduction.Aldershot: Ashgate.
Stone,J. I. (2003). Originalenlightenment and the transformation of medieval Japanese Buddhism.Honolulu: University of Hawai`i Press.