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Buddhism

About Buddhism

Buddhism Has Over 500 Million Worldwide Followers

Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world and has over 500 million followers worldwide. It has a complex history and system of beliefs. Buddhism began in north-eastern India 2500 years ago and is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha). Buddha was born in Lumbini, Nepal between 563 CE – 480 CE. Troubled by the suffering of humanity he witnessed around him, he wanted to ease their affliction.

Buddha studied under many teachers and gurus and ascetics but eventually at the age of 35 left to meditate on his own beneath a Bodhi tree as he found these teachings inadequate to reach his goal. After forty nine days of meditation he achieved understanding into the workings of karma and of his former lives, attaining enlightenment and became the Buddha. According to Buddhist text, the Buddha meditated without moving from his seat for seven weeks (49 days) under this tree.

He travelled and taught until his death at the age of 80. After his death, Buddha’s lessons and teachings were recorded by monks and became the core tenets of Buddhism.

    Spiritual Enlightenment

    Buddhism has no god or deity at the centre of its beliefs. Buddhist don’t worship the Buddha as he never claimed to be divine and is seen by Buddhists as having gained what they are also striving to attain, which is spiritual enlightenment and with it, freedom from the continuous cycle of life and death. born an infinite number of times.

    The Buddhist religious book is called the Tripataka. Buddhist, worship in the home or at a Stupa or Pagoda (temple). Buddhists can worship either at home or at a temple, as it is not deemed as necessary to go to a temple to worship with others. All Buddhist temples contain an image or a statue of Buddha. There are many forms of Buddhist worship and schools of Buddhism.

    Significance To Buddhism

    The main Buddhist festival of the year is Buddha Day (Wesak / Vaisakha), the celebration of the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. Homes are decorated and lanterns are made of paper or wood.

    The Buddhist symbols are the Wheel of Life (Bhavacakra) which represents the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Another Buddhist symbol is the Lotus Flower which symbolises purity and divine birth. The three main schools of Buddhism are:

    1. Theravāda Buddhism – found in South and South East Asia
    2. Mahāyāna Buddhism – found in East Asia
    3. Vajrayana Buddhism – found in Tibet and Mongolia

    Buddhism includes a number of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices mainly based on original teachings associated to Buddha.

    Meditation

    Buddhism is a religion about suffering and the need to get rid of it. A key concept of Buddhism is Nirvana, the most enlightened, and blissful state that one can achieve. Meditation is seen as a big part of the process in reaching nirvana. Buddhists believe in life after death because the Buddha taught that human beings are each born an infinite number of times, unless they achieve Nirvana.

    Noble Truths

    Buddhist schools have a different understanding to the fundamentals of Buddhism compared to the various Buddhist text and their specific teachings and practices. Buddhist schools usually first mention the ‘Three Jewels’ if asked about their faith, which is to take refuge in:

    1. The Buddha – the original teacher, the historical Buddha
    2. The Dharma – the Buddhist teachings
    3. The Sangha – the community

    The Buddhist textbooks however, usually outline the ‘Four Noble Truths’ are the core of Buddhism which contain the essence of the Buddha’s teachings.

    1. The truth of suffering – Dukkha
    2. The truth of the origin of suffering – Samudāya
    3. The truth of the cessation of suffering – Nirodha
    4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering – Magga

    Within the fourth noble truth is found the guide to the end of suffering: the noble eightfold path. The eight parts of the path to liberation are grouped into three essential elements of Buddhist practice: moral conduct, mental discipline and wisdom. The Noble Eightfold Paths are:

    1. Right understanding – Samma Ditthi
    2. Right thought – Samma Sankappa
    3. Right speech – Samma Vaca
    4. Right action – Samma Kammanta
    5. Right livelihood – Samma Ajiva
    6. Right effort – Samma Vayama
    7. Right mindfulness – Samma Sati
    8. Right concentration – Samma Samadhi

    Buddhism was introduced into Britain in the 19th century through translations of scriptures from the East, inspiring some to practising Buddhism as a way of life. Buddhism became more popular in the U.K. for the first time in the 1960’s. Furthermore, the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950 eventually contributed to bringing Lamas to the west.