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Buddhism is one of the major religions of the world, which was founded, in the fourth or fifth century B.C.E. in northern India by a man known traditionally as Siddhartha (“he who has reached his goal”). Buddhism has been and still remains a dominant religious, cultural, and social force in most of Asia, especially in India, China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. Buddha is the title given to the founder of Buddhism. Buddha’s name was Siddhartha Guatama, the son of a warrior prince. Some scholars believe that he lived from 563 to 483 B.C.E., nobody knows for sure how long he lived and when exactly he lived. Throughout his life he was frustrated by the deterioration of human life, he left home and fled from his uneasy life at the age of 29 to wander as an ascetic. He sought religious insight and a solution to the struggles of human existence. He passed through many trials and practiced extreme self-denial. Through a 6 year period, Siddhartha applied himself to ascetic practices, studying and following different methods of meditation with various religious teachers. But he was never fully satisfied. One day, however, he was offered a bowl of rice from a young girl and he accepted it. At that exact time, he realized that physical austerities were not the means to achieve liberation. From then on, he encouraged people to follow a path of balance in the place of extremism. He called this “The Middle Way”. That night Siddhartha sat under the bodhi tree, and meditated until dawn. He purified his mind of all corruption and was enlightened at the age of thirty-five – he was then called the Buddha, or “Enlightened One.” For the next 80 years of his life, the Buddha preached the dharma in an effort to help other beings reach enlightenment. As a result, Siddhartha Gautama is the one who is given credit for spreading the religion of Buddhism.
Four Noble Truths of Buddhism
1. The world is full of suffering. Birth is suffering, old age is suffering, sickness and death are sufferings. To meet a man whom one hates is suffering. To be separated from a beloved one is suffering. To be vainly struggling to satisfy one’s needs is suffering. In fact, life that is not free from desire and passion is always involved with distress.
2. The cause of human suffering is found in the thirsts of the physical body and in the illusions of worldly passion. If these thirsts and illusions are traced to their source, they are found to be rooted in the intense desires of physical instincts.
3. If desire, which lies at the root of all human passion, can be removed, then passion will die out and all human suffering will be ended.
4. In order to enter into a state where there is no desire and no suffering, one must follow a certain path.
Like the Hindus, Buddhism taught to believe in reincarnation, the cycle of birth and death. He taught that all were reincarnated except those who lived with no cares in life. They believed that the soul released into nirvana (state of total transcendence). Another great emphasis of Buddhism is their great stress on the need for inward concentration and meditation; this through time helps develop the inner spiritual faculties.
The religion of Buddhism is one of action such as chanting which is a common means of maintaining the early teachings and the use of translations is now very common. Chanting uses repetition, numeric groupings and meter as an aid both to support memory and to reinforce the main theme of a discourse. Buddhist also do worship as they do so towards Buddha, devout (but pagan) Buddhists pray before a statue for hours with a rosary. Also relics of bones, teeth and hair are enshrined in Buddhist temples and worshipped. Buddhists keep guardian statues and images for protection and to shake off evil spirits, but a Buddhist’s favorite object of prayer is his Kuan Yin, a female goddess. What I have just said proves that Buddhism is a religion of group participation in prayer but it is also required for one to be privately devoted towards Buddha.
Buddhism, as a religion, originated in India in the sixth century and spread across the continent of Asia. Over the centuries it gradually made a big impact on the culture, art, customs and rituals of many different countries it reached. “Way of the Elders,” and Mahayana “Greater Vehicle of Salvation”. While Maharani had a great impact on` the thinking in northern India, Bhutan, Nepal, China, Korea and Japan.
There are many different symbols of Buddhism and these are them. The first one is the indestructible diamond, it is clear, yet showing all colors, becomes a symbol of the nature of the mind. The next symbol of Buddhism is the bell, which is the female part of the Tantric polarity, the symbol of emptiness, the boundless openness, giving room for wisdom. Vajra is the next symbol symbolizing the male part of the Tantric polarity: the symbol of effective means and Buddha’s active compassion with the meditating person. Originally it was the thunderbolt of the god Indra, later it came to represent the diamond
One of the last symbols is the Dharma Wheel which holds the eight hubs, these are a symbol of the Eightfold Path (right belief, right resolution, right speech, right action, right living, right effort, right thinking, peace of mind through meditation) leading to perfection. The last symbol is the Lotus and this is the symbol of the teaching of Buddha.
The Buddhist flag, first arised in 1885 in Sri Lanka, is a symbol of faith and peace used throughout the world to represent the Buddhist faith. The six colors of the flag represent the colors of the aura that came from the body of the Buddha when he attained Enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree. The horizontal stripes represent the races of the world living in harmony and the vertical stripes represent eternal world peace. The colors symbolize the perfection of Buddhahood and the Dharma. Each of these colors mean something for example: The Blue light that radiated from the Buddha’s hair symbolizes the spirit of Universal Compassion for all beings. The Yellow light that radiated from the Buddha’s epidermis symbolizes the Middle Way, which avoids all extremes and brings balance and liberation. The Red light that radiated from the Buddha’s flesh symbolizes the blessings that the practice of the Buddha’s teaching brings. The White light that radiated from the Buddha’s bones and teeth symbolizes the purity of the Buddha’s Teaching and the liberation it brings. The Orange light that radiated from the Buddha’s palms, heels and lips symbolizes the unshakable Wisdom of the Buddha’s Teaching. The Combination Color symbolizes the universality of the Truth of the Buddha’s Teaching. Overall flag represents that: Regardless of race, nationality, division or color, all human beings possess the potential of Buddhahood.
In Mahayna countries ritual is more important than in Theravada. Images of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas on temple altars and in the homes of devotees serve as a focus for worship. Prayer and chanting are common acts of devotion, as are offerings of fruits, flowers, and incense. 10 There is a story of a man who was a follower of another religion who went to the Buddha as a unbeliever looking to be convinced of the Buddha’s teachings. After he heard what Buddha said he was persuaded and asked how he should become a Buddhist. Buddha said: “You need to make a proper investigation the way you would investigate anything else. Talk to followers of the religion, find a temple in your area, study, read, read, read, and read some more. Read not only the explanations of how
The religion works also read other people’s experiences with Buddhism. The Buddha would want you to look at all sides of it before making a choice. As you delve farther into the religion your real initiation into it will come along on its own”.
Benefits of Buddhism
Buddhism allows each individual to study Truth internally and requires no faith without seeing before you accept it. Buddhism advocates no dogmas, no creeds, no rites, no ceremonies, no sacrifices, and no penance’s, which all of those must usually be accepted on blind faith. Buddhism is not a system of faith and worship but it is merely a Path to Supreme Enlightenment. Buddhism and the Dharma (dhamma) or doctrine is the Path to ending the addictions, the craving, the becoming again and again of constructed false states of existence; and instead, attaining the goal, the true state of permanent reality.
Natalia Gordon, The Buddha, pg.33-34
Wasley and Barnigan Corp. (C) 1990.
Eva Judy Jansen. The Book of Buddha’s: Ritual Symbolism Used on Buddhist
Statuary and Ritual.
Civil Tibet Corp. (C) 1997
William R. La Fleur, Images of Enlightenment: Tibetan Art in Practice,
Pg. 42-56. Published by Allen Greer, (C) 1993- World Education
Jonathan Landaw, Holy Places of the World.
James L. Turnbound, Religious People, pg. 271 K. Barnes reference
Corp. (C) 1995
World Book Encyclopedia, pg.555
World Book Inc. 1996,
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