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Buddha and Buddhism - Essay Example

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Buddha, or Shakyamuni Buddha, as he was named, was born in 624 B.C. in the city of Lumbini which was then part of Northern India (Life of Buddha). Today, Lumbini is part of Nepal (Life of Buddha). He was born a Prince to the ruling family of Shakya (Life of Buddha)…
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Harris Kamran Religion and Theology Discussion Paper 16 October Buddha and Buddhism Buddha, or Shakyamuni Buddha, as he was d, was born in 624 B.C. in the city of Lumbini which was then part of Northern India (Life of Buddha). Today, Lumbini is part of Nepal (Life of Buddha). He was born a Prince to the ruling family of Shakya (Life of Buddha). His father’s name was King Shuddhodana, and his mother’s name was Queen Mayadevi (Life of Buddha). He was their only child. Since birth, Buddha is reported to have been noble and spiritual (Life of Buddha). Even before his birth, his mother is reported to have a dream in which she saw a white elephant entering her womb from the heavens (Life of Buddha). His father was greatly satisfied from his son (Life of Buddha), and a local Brahmin priest predicted that he would be saintly and noble, a Buddha in the spirit (Life of Buddha). As a child, Buddha as well versed in many languages and other academic subjects (Life of Buddha). He was equally skilled in sports, such as archery and martial arts (Life of Buddha). He as an able students, and was the pride of his family (Life of Buddha). Even in school, he used to give talks on spiritualism to his classmates, and it is reported he performed miracles as well, due to which he started developing followers right from the beginning (Life of Buddha). Later, when he was a young man, he used to visit his father’s empire and meet the people in the streets (Life of Buddha). There, outside the walls of his prestigious palace, he came across poverty and suffering for the first time (Life of Buddha). He saw the old and the sick, he witnessed the dying and the poor (Life of Buddha). It was then that he realized that life is not just successful and happy the way it is inside the palace walls, but is full of misery and suffering (Life of Buddha). Therefore, he decided to put an end to the suffering of the people by leaving the palace and finding himself a lonely place in the jungle for meditation (Life of Buddha). He believed that by meditating and freeing his mind from the worldly attractions, he would be able t o reach a level of purity that would help him free the mankind of its misery (Life of Buddha). Although his father devised various schemes from keeping Buddha from following his heart, and even got him married (Life of Buddha), Buddha was compelled by his instincts to find purity (Life of Buddha). Therefore, at the age of twenty nine, he left the palace and meditated for six years in the jungle (Life of Buddha). After six years, he found a place under a Bodhi tree near Bodh Gaya in India, and sat himself in the meditating position till he found enlightenment (Life of Buddha). The term Buddha means some one who has found complete salvation and freedom from the constraints of the mind and the heart, and is now filled with purity and sainthood (Who is Buddha). Therefore, according to the Buddha teachings, any one can become a Buddha (Who is Buddha). Indeed, the followers believe that there have been Buddhas in the past and will be in the future (Who is Buddha). There are many branches and groups of the Buddhism religion, with different regions of the world as their majority areas (Buddhism Today). Some of these groups are politically oriented, while others strive to abstain from politics and practice the pure form of the religion (Buddhism Today). The difference in the interpretation of the teachings of the Buddha, and the practices based on and the implications of the scriptures is mostly what differentiates these groups (Chodron). Groups such as the New Kadampa Tradition, or NKT, claim to be purely religious and have no political ties or affiliations (Buddhism Today). They hold annual religious festivals in the U.S. and Europe, and two in England, where they hold speeches and other festivities that inspire sainthood and nobility (Buddhism Today). The Buddhist tradition can be divided into two or three main schools, based on the perceptions one holds (Chodron). The two basic groups are the Theravada, or The School of The Elders, and the Mahayana, or The Great Vehicle (Chodron). Some experts classify the third school, Vajrayana, as a separate group, while others classify it as part of the Mahayana group (Chodron). The Theravada school is famous in Sri Lanka and South East Asia (Chodron), whereas the Mahanaya tradition is commonly practiced in the East Asia (Chodron). The Mahayana school contains the teachings of smaller groups of Buddhism, such as Zen, Tibetan Buddhism, and Shingon (Chodron). Common among all the groups is the teaching that if one wants to enter the faith of Buddhism, he or she must believe in the Buddha, his teachings and the scripture, and take refuge in the Buddhist community (Chodron). This is known as the triple gem (Chodron). The exact practices of the scriptures and the extent to which each group focuses on purity and austere practices is different and separates them from each other (Chodron). Works Cited “Buddhism Today.” About Buddha. About Buddhism, 2007. Web. 16 Oct. 2011. “Life of Buddha.” About Buddha. About Buddhism, 2007. Web. 16 Oct. 2011. “Who is Buddha?” About Buddha. About Buddhism, 2007. Web. 16 Oct. 2011. Chodron, Thubten. Buddhism for Beginners. U.S.: Snow Lion Publications, 2001. Print. Read More
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