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Buddhism Essence Essay, Research Paper
Buddhism is probably the most tolerant religion in the world, as its teaching
can coexist with any other religion. Other religions, on the other hand, do not
possess this characteristic and cannot accommodate Buddhism at the same time.
The Buddhist teaching of God is neither agnostic nor vague, but clear and
logical. Buddhism began this way: Siddhartha Gautama was born in the sixth
century B.C. in what is now modern Nepal. His father, Suddhodana, was the ruler
of the Sakya people and Siddhartha grew up living the extravagant life of a
young prince. According to custom, he married at the age of sixteen to a young
girl named Yasodhara. His father had ordered that he live a life of total
seclusion, but one day Siddhartha ventured out into the world and was confronted
with the harsh reality of life and universal suffering. The next day, at age
twenty-nine, he left his kingdom and new-born son to lead and plain, reclusive
life and determine a way to relieve this universal suffering. For six years,
Siddhartha meditated under a bodhi tree, but he was never fully satisfied. One
day, however, he was offered a bowl of rice from a young girl and he accepted
it. In that moment, he realized that physical harshness was not a means of
achieving liberation. From then on, he encouraged people to follow a path of
balance rather than extremism. He called this 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 Tathagata [or Buddha] has gained knowledge of that middle
path which giveth vision, which giveth knowledge, which causeth calm, special
knowledge, enlightenment, Nibbana [or Nirvana]." (Smart 236) That night,
Siddhartha sat under the bodhi tree and meditated until dawn. He purified his
mind of all evil thoughts and attained Enlightenment at the age of thirty-five,
thus earning the title Buddha, or "Enlightened One." For the remainder
of his eighty years, the Buddha preached the dharma in an effort to help other
people reach Enlightenment. The Buddha examined the phenomenal life objectively.
Studying effects and tracing their causes, he produced a science of living which
ranks with any other science known to man. He describes life to be one and
indivisible. Man, he declared, can become Buddha, Enlightened, by the principle
of Enlightenment within. This process is simply to become what you are, to
develop to the full innate Buddha-Mind by destroying the ignorance, sin and
evils of human nature. All forms of life, according to the Buddha, can be shown
to have three characteristics in common; impermanence, suffering, and an absence
of permanent soul which separates us from other forms of life. The Buddha also
pointed out that nothing is the same as is was only a moment ago. Everything is
changing. Even the hills are being worn away, and every human particle is being
replaced every seven years. There is no finality or rest within the universe,
only a ceaseless becoming and never-ending change. Buddhism denies that man has
an immortal soul. The Enlightenment which dwells in life does not belong to one
form of life. Man is always changing and entirely mortal. In addition, Buddhism
is a natural religion. It does not violate either mind or 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 deeds.
Even though there are several different forms of Buddhism that have come into
existence since Buddha?s death, there is still a basic essence that all
Buddhists agree with. All Buddhists recognize these. In all, there are four
basic noble truths. The first noble truth of the world according to Buddha is
dhukka, or suffering. The second truth is tanha, or desire, which is the cause
of suffering. The third truth is that in order to free oneself from suffering,
one must overcome desire. The fourth truth tells us how this can be accomplished
through the eight-fold path. According to Buddha, the eight-fold path is the
means to achieve liberation from suffering. It helps one weed out cravings and
ignorance, to overcome rebirth, old age, disease, death, sorrows, lamentation,
grief and despair. It helps to end mass misery and aids people in attaining
Nirvana, or salvation. Specifically, this path includes: 1. Right View 2. Right
Thought 3. Right Speech 4. Right Action 5. Right Livelihood 6. Right Effort 7.
Right Mindfulness 8. Right Concentration The most simple teaching of the Buddha
was to do good, to avoid evil and to purify the heart. According to Buddha, the
hearts of ordinary men are not pure. They are filled with greed, ill will and
delusion. Greed and hatred are impurities caused by desires, and ignorance is
the cause of delusion, especially delusion of self. Ignorance, in fact, is the
cause of desire and thus the primary cause of all suffering and of rebirth. The
Buddha said that one may purify his heart: 1. By practicing self-control and
self-restraint 2. By meditating upon one?s own self 3. By following the
Eight-Fold Path that leads to the end of all suffering All of these points are
the basic essence of Buddhism. They help people understand the worlds of
suffering, personal or otherwise, and how to overcome that suffering. Buddhism
is a simple religion that focuses on changing the evil of man and society into
good. It bring a message of salvation and hope to whoever will follow its paths.
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