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Buddhism Essay, Research Paper

Summary of Buddhism

Buddhism started with one man who woke up . His full name was Siddhartha Gautama of the Sakyas. His greatness was apparent when he was born around 563 B.C. in Nepal. The world was illuminated with light, the handicapped gained their physical abilities back, and only Mara, the Evil One, didn t celebrate.

Siddhartha was the son an Indian king. When he was born, the king consulted soothsayers to predict Siddhartha s future. He would either mature to be a world conqueror or a world redeemer. The father was determined to direct his son to fame and fortune rather than have him be the world s savior. The king concealed the world s suffering and ugliness from Siddhartha as best he can. When Siddhartha went riding in the countryside, servants would ride out in front, to clear away the old, diseased, ugly, and the deceased. However, on one of his rides, Siddhartha s guards missed an old man along the roadside. He had gray hair, wrinkles on his face, and leaned crookedly on a staff. It was then that Siddhartha learned of old age. On the next journey, Siddhartha confronted a diseased body lying on the road, and on another trip, he discovers a rotting corpse. Despite his father s efforts, on a fourth ride, Siddhartha noticed a monk with a shaven head, a bowl, and a worn cloak. It was then that Siddhartha learned of the life of withdrawal from the earth.

Then, all of life s pleasures lost their luster to him. So, at twenty-nine years of age, he left the comforts of his palaces and rode off into the forest. There, he changed clothes and gave the horse to a man who would go back to break the news to his family. He shaved his head and ventured into the forest looking for enlightenment.

In search of enlightenment, Siddhartha went through three stages. First, he went looking for the two greatest Hindu masters of his time and to learn from them the philosophy of Hinduism and about raja yoga.

Learning all the masters could teach him, Siddhartha went to join a band of ascetics to seek enlightenment. There, he ate only six grains of rice per day during his fasts, and subject his body to various other kinds of asceticism. Siddhartha grew weak and could have died there. Realizing the uselessness of asceticism, he quit the band and came up with a principle from his mistakes: the Middle Way. The Middle Way lies between the two extremes: asceticism and indulgence. The body is given only enough to operate normally.

This leads to his final step toward enlightenment. He spent his time thinking and concentrating along the lines of raja yoga. One evening, Siddhartha, almost succeeding in his search for enlightenment, sat under a tree, later referred to as the Bo Tree, and vowed not to rise until he reached enlightenment. The Evil One came and tried to distract Siddhartha from his meditations.

First in the form of Kama, the God of Desire, he marched three beautiful women to Siddhartha. Ignored, The Evil One used Mara, the Lord of Death to pound Siddhartha with rain, rocks, and wind. However, the forces only turned to flower petals when they entered his field of concentration. Mara fled when the gods of heaven came down to aid the Buddha-to-be.

Deepening his concentration, Siddhartha finally pierced at last the bubble of the universe and shattered it to naught only to find it restored. He sat there in bliss for a total of forty-nine days. Mara came back and tried to question his reason. Buddha only responded, There will be some who will understand, and Mara was gone.

Buddha wandered India for fifty years, preaching and teaching the people. He would rest for a few months, and then would lecture some more. His teachings revolved around the Four Noble Truths.

The first Noble Truth is dukkha which is translated to suffering. Life is suffering: it is dislocated. Buddha further points out the six major dislocations in life:

1. The first one is the trauma of birth. Birth is the most shocking thing we had to endure and it invites other suffering.

2. The fear of sickness is the next disorder.

3. The next dislocation the fear of aging, of growing old.

4. The dread of death is another terror.

5. The fifth dislocation is to be stuck with what one doesn t like, such as relatives, or a disease.

6. The final aversion is to be separated from what we love.

The second Noble Truth is tanha, which means desire. Buddha stated that desire caused dukkha and suffering, without desire you will not have suffering. The desire to help someone or for enlightenment, doesn t count. Tanha only applies to selfish wants and desires. The third Noble Truth is to cure the desire we have for self fulfillment. The Fourth Noble truth tells us how. It is the Eightfold Path.

The Eightfold Path includes eight steps to solve desire and to end suffering. There is a preliminary step. It is right association, There must be a person (Truthwinners) that could lead and offer an example for others to follow. The steps of the Eightfold Path follows.

1. Right Views. We must have a blueprint, a guide of what we are going to do in life. We have to have a reason to go on.

2. Right Intent. We have to focus our intentions on one thing and be persistent about it.

3. Right Speech. We must not deceive others with lies. Gossip, slander, verbal abuse should be avoided.

4. Right Conduct. This includes the Five Precepts, which are similar to the Ten Commandments:

a) Do not kill

b) Do not steal

c) Do not lie

d) Do not be unchaste. Monks and the unmarried should not have sex. The married, restrain one s interest in sex.

e) Do not drink intoxicants.

5. Right Livelihood. We should have jobs that encourages life, instead of destroying it. Jobs such as prostitute, butcher, brewer, weapon maker, etc. are not to be taken.

6. Right Effort. A person must be willful and persistent in order to reach their goal.

7. Right Mindfulness. Ignorance should be avoided. We should have a self-awareness and try to understand ourselves.

8. Right Concentration. This is to follow the techniques in raja yoga.

There are two kinds of Buddhism that should be noted. They are Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism.

Theravada Buddhism is a strict, and exclusive branch. Ritual and holidays are depreciate. Metaphysics are not encouraged and are minimized. There are no gods or supernatural beings to pray to. The most important virtue is wisdom. This branch of Buddhism id mostly for monks nuns. The ideal person is the one who reaches enlightenment after death. They view Buddha as a saint, a person who inspire and motivates people, and a teacher. The religion is practiced through meditation.

The second branch of Buddhism is Mahayana Buddhism. This is a more user-friendly religion. Their practice not only includes monks and nuns, but of regular people as well. Their main virtue is compassion. The people practice Mahayana Buddhism by praying to divine gods and goddesses. Elaborate rituals and holidays are present. Metaphysics are also welcome. Buddha is portrayed as a savior. Their ideal is a person who returns form enlightenment and lives for another life time, helping people.

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