Spirituality Articles

doodad watercolorA Short History Of Buddhism
Submitted by wpo1408
Fri, 2 Mar 2012

Buddhism was started by the adherents of Siddhartha Gautama (circa 563-483 BC). He was born into a Hindu family of the kshatriya caste in what is now called Nepal. At the age of 29, he left his wife and young son and went in search of enlightenment.

He achieved enlightenment some time later whilst sitting under a bodhi tree near Patna. After 49 days of rapture and withstanding temptations (Mara), He, now known as Buddha, formed an order of monks and went forth to preach the word. After 45 years of preaching their philosophy of enlightenment Buddha passed away and reached Nirvana, the state in which 'ideas and consciousness cease to be'.

One of the most important concepts to Buddhists is the Tipitaka (the 'Three Baskets'), which is a record of the Buddha's teachings as set down by His early followers after his death. The writings in these 'three baskets' tell the story of Buddha's life (Buddha); record his laws (Dharma); and his guidelines for establishing and maintaining a monastic order (Sangha).

Buddhists believe in reincarnation and the wheel of life in a similar fashion to Hindus. They also believe that this cycle of life, death and rebirth may be stopped by attaining enlightenment. Enlightenment can be gained by devotion to the Four Noble Truths.

Life is impermanent despite the cycle of life, death and rebirth and can only produce suffering (dukka) because of the pursuit of earthly desires. Suffering and desire may only be conquered by attaining Nirvana, which can be attained by following the Eightfold Path, otherwise known as the 'Middle Way'.

The Middle Way consists of: right belief, thought, speech, action, livelihood, work, mindfulness and concentration. These make up the core of Buddhist ethics.

A hallmark of Buddhism is the monastic order. Men can be monks for a couple of years or for life. There is also a female monastic order. In some sects, boys go into a monastery for a period of between a couple of weeks and a couple of months as part of their passage into adulthood. Boys in Thailand are expected to become monks for a number of weeks before they eventually get married.

Monks live an ascetic life in monasteries or temples. Each village has a temple in much the same way as western villages have a church, but every temple tries to uphold a population of at least nine monks, which is considered the ideal number for some of their duties like blessing a household or carrying out a wedding ceremony.

Buddhist monks live on charity donated by the local villagers. In Thailand the young monks walk the streets in the early morning collecting donations of food, which has to be eaten before midday, after which they may not dine.

Monks are not permitted any contact with women at all. They may not even sit next to them on a bus or give the fare to a female bus conductress.

Buddhist temples are principally for personal contemplation and meditation. They are open to anyone twenty-four hours a day and people use them to obtain respite from the hustle and bustle of every day life.

Group prayer meetings are far less common a trait of Buddhism than they are in Judaism, Christianity, Islam or even Hinduism.

Owen Jones, the author of this article, writes on a variety of topics, but is now concerned with Hindu religious beliefs. If you want to know more go to What is Religious Belief?

Source: ArticleTrader.com
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