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Buddhism Essay, Research Paper


Buddhism has grown to become a major world religion since its founding by Siddharta Gautama, known as the Buddha, in 5th and 6th centuries. It now has over 300 million followers. Buddha, or enlightened one, was born around 563 BC in the town of Kapilavastu, what is now Nepal. He was born a prince, son to King Siddhartha and Queen Maya. He was raised in the palace and never left the grounds. At the age of 29, he ventured from there. Outside of the city he saw four things that changed his life: He saw old age, sickness, death, and a holy man. After seeing these things, he became a holy man himself, traveling all over India, talking to holy men. He learned about Reincarnation, Karma, and Moksha. After learning these things, he moved to the Nairanjana River, where he ate only what he needed and mediated constantly. Siddartha then sat down under a fig tree, hoping to figure out the answer to life and suffering. During this meditation, he recalled all his previous births and lives, gained knowledge of the cycle of births, and cast off the ignorance and passion of his ego which bound him to the world. This attained him enlightenment, and therefore was named Buddha. This way of recognizing what bound you to the world is known as Nirvana. Once someone has reached Nirvana, they are taken out of the endless cycle of life and death, and never reincarnate again. Instead of leaving his body, he remained on Earth to preach what he had learned and therfore started, Buddhism.

Even though there are many forms of Buddhism, since his death, there is still a basic essence they all believe in, the Four Noble Truths. The first noble truth is dhukka, or suffering, the second is tanha, or desire, the cause of suffering, the third is that to overcome suffering, one must overcome desire, and the fourth tells how the third can be accomplished by the eight-fold path. The eight-fold path is the way to overcome suffering. This also helps people attain Nirvana. It includes, right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. The most simple teaching, and one of the most important, was to do good, avoid evil, and to purify the heart. He said that one may purify his heart by practicing self-control and self-restraint, by meditating upon one’s own self, and by following the eight-fold path that leads to the end of all suffering.

Their are very few Buddhist holidays, but one very important holiday, is Vesak day. It commemorates the birth and enlightenment of Buddha, and his entry into Nirvana.

The day starts with chanting of the sutras, by saffronclad monks, while followers visit the temples to pray and meditate and to make offerings. Acts of generosity known as dana are observed by Buddhist organizations and temples. These include the freeing of caged birds and animals, visiting and giving alms to the poor and needy, while some Buddhist youths organize mass blood donation at hospitals. The celebration concludes with a candle lit procession through the streets. Observers as well as followers are welcome to join in the celebration at Buddhist temples.

Buddhism is a religion that unites its followers. Buddhism teaches peacefulness. Those who follow it are hardly ever violent. This is a very needed thing in countries like China and other Asian countries with so much poverty and conflict. Those who embrace the religion, are changed with the way they look at the world and the way people look at them.

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