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World Religion (Buddhism) - Essay Example

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Buddhism with a following of 365 million believers is the fourth largest religion in the world. Based on a series of beliefs and practices, it is considered as a religion by most. …
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World Religion (Buddhism)
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Download file to see previous pages The basis on Buddhism is constructed on recognizing the need to help living beings and truly understand their suffering. If this is achieved, the individual is capable of reaching the highest status available for all followers, nirvana: freedom from suffering and the cycle of rebirth. There are various ways of practicing Buddhism: meditation, physical exercises, devotional practices, ethical conduct and the cultivation of wisdom. Thus, Buddhism is based on teaching its followers a life that would be useful in this world and the next. Religion is an something that is practiced by its followers everyday, thus making it deeply engraved in their lives and actions. Buddhism is similar in this effect because it works to ensure that every belief or practice is beneficial not only to the follower but society as a whole. The word Budh comes from awakening and knowing (Smith 1995). Buddhism is divided into a number of branches. These are practiced and spread over different areas. Theravada is practiced in Southeast Asia and the doctrine states that a follower can lose their ignorance by understanding reality and thus reaching the end of the rebirth cycle. Mahayana is practiced in East Asia and the followers feel Buddha to be omnipotent and thus beyond the reach of the material world. Vajrayana is considered to be a part of the Mahayana sect while others see it to be the third Buddhist path. Though Buddhism is considered to be the strongest in Asia, it now exists all around the world.
There are various scriptures in the Buddhist religions. They are divided into two broad categories: canonical texts are the direct sayings of Buddha himself and non-canonical texts are observations of Buddha's words, compilations of quotes and this history of Buddhism. An instance of a non-canonical text is the Tripitaka which has text written on long leaves and stored in baskets. It has been in existent since Buddha's life and with new additions, now comprises of three volumes.
Buddhism resides in various concepts, most of which are given in the afore mentioned scriptures; amongst these, one is karma. The idea of karma is to be reborn into the cycle of suffering for every individual. Karma refers to the any idea that is affected by a mental or physical action and brings an equal result (Harvey). In this way, every action an individual conducts is done with a specific intent and it is that intent which makes the difference rather than the action itself. In Theravada, there is no forgiveness for a follower's karma. In this way, any action carried out by an individual has to be considered pure at both levels: physical and spiritual for it to help in the attainment of nirvana.
Rebirth is another concept present in the Buddhist religion, it represents the different cycles an individual undergoes. This cycle represents the actions of the follower in the world which is determined by karma, rather than an unexplained jump from one life to another. This ensures that every individual in this society is bound to behave in an acceptable and amicable way in the hopes of reaching one of the six births: Naraka beings (those from hell) being the lowest and Devas (deities or angels) is the highest.
Buddhism also pays great attention to practice of the faith. First and foremost is the show of devotion: bowing, pilgrimage, offering and chanting. This form is perfect in showing the due respect and reverence to the faith. To show this devotion, Buddhist temples, monasteries and stupas have been created all over the world for the followers to gather and practice. Creating a structure for representation allows the religion to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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