Press "Enter" to skip to content


Buddhism Buddhism is probably the most tolerant religion in the world, as its teachings can coexist with any other religions. Buddhism has a very long existence and history, starting in about 565 B.C. with the birth of Siddhartha Gautama. The religion has guidelines in two forms in which Buddhist followers must follow. These are the “Four Noble Truths” and the “Eightfold Path.

It all started in about 565 B.C. when Siddhartha Gautama was born. He was a young Indian prince born to the ruler of a small kingdom that is now known as Nepal. Gautama’s father was said to have been told by a prophet that if Gautama saw the sick, aged, dead, or poor he would become a religious leader. If he didnt see these four things he would become an emperor.

Pssst… we can write an original essay just for you.
Any subject. Any type of essay.
We’ll even meet a 3-hour deadline.

Get your price

Because of this prophecy Gautama’s father decided to isolate his son from the outside world, where he might “see how the other half lived”, for the good of his empire and his citizens. Trying to shelter Gautama from all the four sights was impossible, and Gautama ventured out and that is when he eventually saw the four sights, which would, if experienced as it had been told to Gautama’s father, lead the young prince to a religious leader. These sights or as how Buddhists refer to them “The Four Signs” were in turn, a sick man covered with terrible sores, an old man, a corpse, and a wandering monk. The sightings of these men made Gautama think of the suffering and inevitable death which comes to all people great and small. This brought further questioning such as the meaning of life and the ultimate fate of man. As time passed these thoughts became great burdens to Gautama and he increasingly became dissatisfied with the shallow dissolute life of the royal court in which he lived.

Therefore at the age of 21, although married with a beautiful young son and also the heir to a very rich throne he forsook it all and became a traveling holy man. After a while of traveling as a holy man there was a great even that transformed Gautama into the Buddha (or the Enlightened One). Siddhartha had been meditating under a bodhi tree for six years, but had never been fully satisfied. Eventually at dawn it all began on Gautama’s thirty-fifth birthday. He finally realized the essential truth about life and about the path to salvation.

He realized that physical harshness of asceticism was not a means of achieving Enlightenment and Nirvana. From then on, he encouraged people to follow a path of balance rather than extremism. He called this path the Middle Way. “Devotion to the pleasures of sense, a low practice of villagers, a practice unworthy, unprofitable, the way of the world [on one hand]; and [on the other] devotion to self- mortification, which is painful, unworthy and unprofitable. By avoiding these two extremes the Buddha has gained knowledge of that middle path which giveth vision, which giveth knowledge, which causeth calm, special knowledge, enlightenment, Nirvana.” He cleaned his mind of all evil thoughts and achieved Enlightenment at the age of thirty-five, earning the title Buddha, or “Enlightened One.” Because of this Gautama then became the Buddha and remained at this spot for many days while remaining in a trance-like state and told his teachings to five ascetics for many weeks.

This experience made Gautama feel a desire to share his knowledge with others, so he and his five students preached to the world. Gautama was a teacher and guru until his death in about 483 B.C. Buddhism is a lot like other Indian religions based upon the beliefs. Such as the beliefs in reincarnation, dharma, karma and Nirvana. But mostly in Raja Yoga the profound meditation which holds the key to enlightment and therefore to the way of Nirvana. Buddha himself expressed the base of his beliefs when he said, “I teach only 2 things, O disciples, the fact of suffering and the possibility of escape from suffering.

These ideas are expanded upon in the “Four Noble Truths” and the “Eightfold Path”. In His first sermon to the five ascetics in the Deer Park near Varanasi, the Buddha spoke of the Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble Truths summed up, in a systematic formula, are the central teaching of the Buddha and can be summarized by saying, life is suffering (dukkha), the cause of suffering is desire (tanha) the way to end suffering is to overcome desire, and to overcome desire one must follow the “Eightfold Path”. Buddha taught that man is a slave to his ego. That man wishes happiness, security, success, long life, and many other things for himself and his loved ones.

However, pain, frustration, sickness and death are all impossible to avoid and the only way to eliminate these evils is to overcome desire. The “Eight Fold Path” is a little more difficult to summarize it begins with, “Right to Knowledge”, which means basically the four noble truths. “Right Aims” in next, one must resolve in order to make progress towards salvation. “Right Speech”, our speech reflects our character. We must avoid speaking falsely, obscene, slanderous, and belittling words.

“Right Conduct”, you must follow the five constitutes at the core of Buddhism’s moral code which are, no killing, no stealing, no lying, no committing indecent sexual acts or no consuming of intoxicants. “Right Livelihood”, some jobs are condemned by Buddha such as slave dealer, butcher, prostitute, and traders of lethal weapons and substances. “Right Effort”, one must have the will power to overcome obstacles. “Right Mindfulness”, Buddhism says that what a person is, comes from what he thinks. By improving our thoughts we can become more virtuous.

And the last is “Right Meditation” by this meaning the practice of the Raja Yoga. Since Buddhism emphasizes the desirability of self-removal from the problems involved with everyday life, Buddhism easily became a monastic religion. Within monasteries, everyone has the same goal, which is to attain Nirvana. The Enlightenment which dwells in life does not belong to only one form. Man is always changing and entirely mortal.

Buddhism is a natural religion. It does not violate either the mind or the body. The Buddha became aware that men are born and die according to their good or evil actions, according to their self-created Karma-the consequences of good or evil acts. Nirvana is “self annihilation or the extinguishing of all traces of desire, which repre- sents final enlightment and which releases a person from the cycle of rebirth”. There are many monasteries in the world, in some of them in countries such as Burma, Thailand, and Ceylon, almost every young male spends at least a few weeks of his life within a monastery.

Typically at the age of four the boy celebrates an elaborate ceremony which involves first dressing him in fine clothing. Then stripping the clothing from him, shaving his head and giving him a beggar-bowl along with a saffron-colored robe. These three things are all traditional symbols of a Buddhist monk. For those who become monks it is a life of poverty and celibacy. Before gaining the admittance into the monastery a monk must proclaim his faith by saying “I go to Buddha for refuge; I go to Dharma for refuge; I go to Sangha for refuge” by saying this a monk gives up his civil rights such as voting and being eligible for public services.

Also a few sects permit marriage. This report was just a short overview of traditional Buddhism, the Buddha, its beliefs and its way of life. It did not include the two major sects; Theravada the conservative sect, and Mahayana the liberal sect. Much more could be said of Buddhism but there are so many more aspects that could be explored that it would take a twenty-page report and forever to do. Bibliography Hopfe, Lewis M. Religions of the World.

New York: Macmillan Publi- shing Company, 1991. Mazour, Anatole G. and John M. Peoples. World History People and Nations Revised Edition. Orlando, Florida: Holt, Rinhart and Winston Inc., 1993.


Buddhism Buddhism According to Webster’s definition, Buddhism is not a religion. It states that religion is the belief in or worship of God or gods(Webster’s New World Dictionary pg.505). The Buddha was not a god(About Buddhism pg.1). There is no theology, no worship of a deity or deification of the Buddha(Butter pg.1) in Buddhism. Therefore Buddhists don’t pray to a creator god(Buddhism FAQ’s pg.1). Consequently, Buddhism is catagorized as a philosophy, but is still regarded it as a religion. The name Buddhism comes from the word ‘budhi’ which means to wake up and thus Buddhism is the philosophy of awakening(What is Buddhism pg.1).

Fittingly, buddha literally means ‘awakened one'( Buddhist Basics pg.1). Buddha are aimed soley to liberate sentient beings from suffering(About Buddhism pg.1). They dedicate their lives to showing others the way to end the viscous cycle of samsara, or reincarnation. Buddha are enlightened beings who had the opportunity to reach the ultimate goal, but turned back to help the rest of the world get to where they were. The ultimate goal is to attain Nirvana.

Pssst… we can write an original essay just for you.
Any subject. Any type of essay.
We’ll even meet a 3-hour deadline.

Get your price

Nirvana simply means cessation(The Goal pg.1). It is the cessation of passion, aggression and ignorance(The Goal pg.1). Nirvana is the highest happiness(What is Buddhism pg.5). It has become equated with a sort of Eastern version of heaven.(The Goal pg.1). The way to reach Nirvana is to become empty, to become enpty of thirst, desire, dreams, pleasure, and sorrow- to let the Self die(Hesse pg.11).

Freedom from the Self liberates(About Buddhism pg.1). Once Nirvana is achieved one can escape the cyclical repetition of life, in which one is reincarnated over and over again. In Buddhism, the world is in flux, coming into existence and passing away(Buddhist Basics pg.5). It is a continuous cycle. Time is often viewed to be like that of a river.

If you’ve seen a river you’d have seen that the water continually flowed and flowed and yet it was always there; It was always the same yet every moment it was new(Hesse pg.83). Breaking this cycle was the main goal of the Buddha. This has been the way of thinking in Buddhism, since its beginning. Buddhism emerged in India more than 2.5 thousand years ago as a religious and philosophical teaching(Buddhism pg.1). In fact Buddhism is the most ancient of the four world religions(Buddhism pg.1). They have many followers.

Although an exact number cannot be calculated, for various reasons, one can speak of approximately 400 billion lay practitioners and 1 billion Buddhist monks and nuns in the world(Buddhism pg.1). Buddhism was not started by the first Buddha, for there have been many Buddha(Buddhist Basics pg.1), but by the historical Buddha. Siddartha fasting as a Samana. The historical Buddha was born in approximately 563 B.C.E. in Northern India(Who is Buddha pg.1). His birth took place in the towm of Kapilavastu (located in today’s Nepal)(Introduction to Buddhism pg.2). He was named Siddartha, which means ‘he whose aim is accomplished'(Introduction to Buddhism pg.2).

Siddartha’s parents were King Shuddhodana and Queen Maya, who ruled the Sakyas(Introduction to Buddhism pg. 2). Being the historical Buddha, his compassion and patience were legendary(What is Buddhism pg. 3). He is seen as a timeless mirror of mind’s inherent potential(Who is Buddha pg.1).

His teaching make being fearless, joyful, and kind(Who is Buddha pg 1). Although Buddha felt that nobody finds salvation through teachings(Buddhism FAQ’s pg.1), he did have Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha; the law of the Buddha(FAQ’S pg.1). Because of the way he felt about teachings, Buddha strongly encouraged his followers to ‘be a lamp unto themselves’ and put his teachings to a test(Buddhist Basics pg.2). His Dharma consisted of The Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path. These are the central teachings of the Buddha(Tokyo n.pag.). Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka The First Noble Truth is that there is suffering.

If people were to look at their own lives and the world around them they would realize that life is full of suffering. We suffer because we are constantly struggling to survive(Butter pg.2). Suffering may be Physical or Mental(Tokyo n.pag.). Physical suffering comes in many different forms. An example of such suffering is aged people. They cannot hear as well, see as far or clearly, or move as limberly as they used to be able to. The truth is that the suffering of birth, old age, sickness, and death is unavoidable(Tokyo n.pag.). Besides physical suffering, there are also various forms of mental suffering. This suffering usually occurs due to one’s attraction to impermanent pleasures.

An example of this is a person finding a new friend and being elated while side by side with the new found companion, but when separated, they feel the pain of loneliness. These are also examples of what causes the suffering, which is the next truth. The Second Noble Truth is that suffering has a cause. The direct causes of suffering are desire, or craving, and ignorance.(Tokyo n.pag.) Craving is the deeply- rooted longing, of all living beings, for the pleasures of the senses. For instance, people always want things like delicious foods, entertaining movies, or good company.

The problem with this is that it is a continuous cycle. After you eat you will be hungry again, after the movie will get bored, and after your friends leave, you will be lonely. The same holds true for people who wish to own the best and newest products. They will never be satisfied because there will continue to be newer and better things. This is the case in America today and look where we are. The other cause of suffering is ignorance.

This is also the cause of craving. The search to find out why we crave always leads back to ingorance. If we knew that satisfying those frivilous needs accomplished nothing we would have no reason to do so. If people would develop their minds and acquire enough knowledge they would be able to see the truth. They would be able see that suffering has an end, which is the Third Noble Truth.

The end of suffering is the final goal of the Buddha’s teaching(Tokyo n.pag.). This can be experienced by anyone. When thoughts of anger and greed arise in one’s mind unhappiness, suffering, is experienced, but when they cease these thoughts the suffering temporarily abates. To end the suffering indefinitely, one must completely remove the desire, ill will, and ignorance. There is a path which leads to the end of suffering and that is the Fourth Noble Truth.

Kandy, Sri Lanka Buddha on hill at Sri Maha Bodhi Vihara The path to end suffering is called the Noble Eightfold Path. The central theme of this path is meditation(Butter pg.2). During this meditation mantras are used. They believe that when certain sounds and words, called mantras, are said many times they arouse good vibrations within a person(Buddhism FAQ’s pg.1). The Noble Eightfold Path consists of eight factors: Right Understanding Right Thoughts Right Speech Right Action Right Livelihood Right Effort Right Mindfulness Right Concentration 1. Right Understanding is the knowledge of the Four Noble Truths.

In other words, it is the understanding of oneself as one really is. The main idea of Buddhism is Right Und …


Buddhism I have considered myself to be a fairly religious person. I went to a Presbyterian elementary and middle school, a Christian School. At C.S. we had a religion class everyday. The difference from then and now is then we learned strictly about Christianity. I had never heard about evolution and other religions until I was in high school.

I had only known that there was one God, and it was He to which we prayed. I knew that there was a heaven and a hell. The good 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 sophomore year in high school.

Pssst… we can write an original essay just for you.
Any subject. Any type of essay.
We’ll even meet a 3-hour deadline.

Get your price

In this class we learned about all of the religions, how they operated, and what they believed. It was then that I took a deep interest in Buddhism. I didnt know much, but what I did know seemed so much different and it really caught my eye. Buddhism has two parts. These parts are Mahayana Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism.

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

He has shown people what is known as the “middle way.” This path is a path of liberation from the cycle of rebirth. All Buddhists honor this man. No matter what type of Buddhism they believe the focus is on him. The believers may not know what the significance of his life is, but they do know that he is of great importance. Siddhartha was born in about 563 B.C.E.

He was a warrior in India. Siddhartha was raised in luxury to protect him from the bad parts of life. 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 a sorrowful, old man.

The second was a man racked by illness. The third was a man being carried on a funeral pyre.” This was the first time that he had seen that life is not just pleasure and joy. But it does include bad things, such as misery, despair, and death. He then came to realize that this too would happen to him. He became almost depressed until one day he saw the fourth sight.

“His fourth 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 way to get out of the inevitable suffering. This was the beginning of a six-year quest. Through this quest, he established an order of nuns and monks. He was enlightened, said to have “woken up”.

His title was now Buddha. His middle way 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 years after Buddha died. Like many religious books, this book started as stories told by mouth, before they were written down.

The scripture was broken down into baskets. The first basket included guidelines for being a monk. The second contained basic teachings of Buddha. The third focuses on an analysis of the nature of existence. (Gombrish, 23) On the contrary, Mahayana Buddhism says that any person possesses the ability to become a Buddha.

Also, it says that we are not in our own quest for freedom. Help is available from past Buddhas and other compassionate beings. “In this branch of Buddhism there are three forms of Buddha, the earthly body, Siddhartha, another heavenly body, Amithaba, and those who inhabit the fully spirited realm.” (Gombrish, 52) There are two major schools that show the teachings of Mahayana. These are Pure Land and Zen. The Pure Land is the devotional school and Zen is the meditational school.

The Pure Land 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 describes a place that is rich, fertile and heavenly. It is inhabited only by gods and men, not by ghosts or demons. Admission into such a place is rebirth and once there you are considered to be in a state of nirvana.

Zen is the place that teaches skepticism about ordinary language and mocks attempts to explain truth rationally. This tradition has brought this insight and beliefs to China. One of the main ideas of Zen id that we all are and can be Buddha, but it is a matter of us convincing ourselves that we are not. We do this by becoming attached to the 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 we know.

Zen says that we have to rely on ourselves to know what is true in this world. “The truth lies within, for only there can we awaken to reality that there is no distinction between ourselves and the rest of reality.” (Burtt,12) Zen uses strict meditation. You are proposed a question, and sit there and ponder. This is to try to eliminate analytical thinking. It is sometimes said that Zen does not use any philosophy or scripture, but this is just to the Buddha 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 with the same daily routine. As in every religion there is a story of creation. In Buddhist beliefs this story is called the “Shinto.” There are many things that the Buddhist culture holds sacred.

The atheistic religion does not believe that there is a central role for a personal god or gods. They focus on personal deities who have a small role in the final transformation. Buddhism claims that gods have no role to play in human liberation, any more than any other person or spirit. Each person must find his or her own destiny and final path to spiritual redemption. “Buddhism, like Jainism, is atheistic in a functional rather than a theoretical sense.

Theoretical atheism denies that gods exist. Functional atheism is not concerned about the question of the existence of gods; it only knows whether they exist or not, they are irrelevant to human destiny.” (Carter,253) As many other religions Buddhists practice many holidays and religious ceremonies. They are very in depth, but this is a very serious part of their everyday life. There are few religious festivals in Buddhism that are observed by all buddhists at the same time. This is due partially to the nature of Buddhism’s historical development and partially to the impact of the regions and countries Buddhism entered.

On the one hand, because of the differences in the structure of belief among Theravada Mahayana and Vajrayana and among the different schools of Mahayana, there is no one event or person who is understood in the same manner, and thus worshipped in the same manner. So although all forms of Buddhism celebrate the Buddha’s life, they do so at different times. Of course, all monasteries have a day celebrating their founding. On the other hand, different countries have celebrations commemorating when Buddhism entered their country. Or, they may celebrate the reign of a particular dynasty.

Or, when Buddhism entered the country, it may have taken over a festival from the indigenous religion. So, with all these different reasons for establishing a religious holiday, it becomes clear why so few holidays are celebrated throughout Buddhism. The following discussion will mention just a few holidays, organized by the three divisions of Buddhism. (Prebish, 98) The main festivals of Theravada Buddhism are Buddha Day and observances linked 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 of enlightenment, and his death, which Theravadans believe miraculously occured on the same day. The lay people gather at a monastery to hear the telling of the story of the Buddha’s life, wash the sacred Buddha images, observe the Five Precepts, and the reliquary.(Carter, 91) With regard to the rainy season retreat, which the monks observe from July to October, Theravada has a small celebration at the beginning of the rains when the monks traditionally enter retreat. This is called “Magha Puja” because it occurs on the full-moon of the month of “Magha.” It consists primarily of listening to a sermon by a monk 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 this day. “The Rain Retreat usually ends with the Kathina ceremony, where the laity give the monks robes and other needed items, and the monks read certain sutras for the benefit of the deceased.” (Niwano, 205-209) In Thailand, a Theravadan country, Chakri Day in April commemorates the founding of the current dynasty.

Many acts of worship are woven into the day’s observances; indeed, the famous Emerald Buddha statue of Bangkok plays a key role in the ceremonies, receiving homage from the Emperor. In Mahayana Buddhism, the important action of Buddha’s Day is the washing of the Buddha’s images. Celebrated in China, Korea and Japan on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month, the main focus of this celebration from the sangha’s perspective is the Buddha’s attainment of enlightenment. “Mahayana Buddhism, especially in China, celebrates the life of the bodhisattva Kuan Yin: her birthday is the in the second month, her enlightenment the 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 Buddhist religion 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 know that these are the beliefs that these people have grown up with. I know that they would most likely go to a Baptist church and think that the singing and dancing that we do is completely sinful. After all, dancing is practically as sinful as murder to them. It is on their list of sins.

I respect this religion, as I do all religions.


I'm Lily

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out