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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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