World Religions Report on Buddhism Religions of the World Buddhism is a practical philosophy aimed at awakening people to the limitless potential and value of their own lives. Practicing Buddhism brings about a positive transformation in the depths of an individual’s life, transforming fear into courage, deluded impulses into wisdom and egotism into compassion. Buddhism begins with individuals deciding to take responsibility for their own lives, first reforming themselves and taking action to improve their immediate surroundings and relations, and then gradually extending their wisdom, courage and compassion into a wider sphere.
Buddhism originates in the teachings of Shakyamuni (Gautama Siddhartha), the historical founder of Buddhism who was born in what is now Nepal some 2,500 years ago. Shakyamuni was born a prince but renounced his royal upbringing to embark on a spiritual quest to understand how human suffering could be ended. Eventually, while in deep meditation, he experienced a profound awakening, or enlightenment — a deep, encompassing understanding of life and human nature.
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Shakyamuni then traveled throughout the Indian subcontinent for nearly 40 years sharing his enlightened wisdom, promoting peace and teaching people how to unleash the great potential of their lives. He became known as the Buddha, or “awakened one. ” His teachings were recorded as sutras and spread throughout Asia, giving rise to a number of distinct schools of Buddhism, generally characterized by an emphasis on peace and compassion. I interviewed a fellow employee by the name of Jenni she has been practicing Buddhism for 24 years and has lived in Missoula, MT. all of her live.
She was born into a Christian family and later in life she decided that she wanted more out of religion than Christianity was providing for her. Jenni had a strong interest in Buddhism however, Missoula, MT. is a very small town and when she first began practicing Buddhism the meetings were held at houses. She had to search for other followers through word of mouth because; there was no actual site of worship in Missoula. In recent years Jenni has informed me that there group has grown increasing larger together they were able to purchase a home and create a place to meet as a larger roup instead of smaller groups at each others homes. Currently they are working to remodel and decorate their new place of worship and have yet to name their place of worship. I was lucky enough to meet Jenni one Monday and sit in on one of their meetings at their new place of worship. Members carry out their daily practice at home and meet at regular local discussion meetings to study Buddhist principles and how to apply them in everyday life.
At these gatherings, members also exchange ideas, hopes, challenges and experiences of their Buddhist faith and practice. These small group meetings are a place of mutual encouragement as well as for sharing Buddhist faith with friends. Members are encouraged to employ their Buddhist practice to squarely confront and overcome the specific challenges of their daily lives. Through this process, one is able to appreciate and manifest the profound potential of one’s life. Buddhist practice is also a means to realize and unfold one’s unique life purpose.
Members believe that this process of inner spiritual transformation or “human revolution” not only leads to individual empowerment and constructive action but is the surest way to direct humankind’s energies toward creating a peaceful and prosperous world. I was very surprised to see how involved and caring members were for each other. They meeting were very productive and helpful to a couple who had recently had a negative turn of events. All the members were very helpful in redirecting them back onto the path of Nirvana.
I felt very comfortable around this group and I was very interested to learn more and possibly return with Jenni in the future to meetings. I was very happy to see that the members accepted me and did not see me as a threat to their purpose. After the meeting I helped Jenni and her friends paint murals on the main wall in the entry way of their new meeting place. There is a man I met there by the name of Greg and he is very artistic he drew with pencil the wheel of life and death and the members helped to paint it in color.
He also drew symbols on the adjacent wall the one I recognized was the Om symbol the others were of animals and women meditating. Members strive in their everyday lives to develop the ability to live with confidence, to create value in any circumstances and to contribute to the well-being of friends, family and community. The promotion of peace, culture and education is central to the religion. “Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: it transcends a ersonal God avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural & spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity” Albert Einstein. With about 365 million followers — 6% of the world’s population — Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world. It is exceeded in numbers only by Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Buddhism was founded in Northern India by the first known Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. In the sixth century BCE, he attained enlightenment and assumed the title Lord Buddha (one who has awakened)
Buddhism later died out in India, but had become established in Sri Lanka. From there, it expanded across Asia,??evolving into two or three main forms: Theravada Buddhism (sometimes called Southern Buddhism; occasionally spelled Theravada) “has been the dominant school of Buddhism in most of Southeast Asia since the thirteenth century, with the establishment of the monarchies in Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Laos. ” Mahayana Buddhism (sometimes called Northern Buddhism) is largely found in China, Japan, Korea, Tibet and Mongolia. Vajrayana Buddhism??(a. k. a.
Tantric Buddhism, Mantrayana, Tantrayana, Esoteric Buddhism, or True Words Sect). Some consider this to be a part of Mahayana Buddhism; others view it as a third Buddhist path. Since the late 19th century: Modern Buddhism has emerged as a truly international movement. It started as an attempt to produce a single form of Buddhism, without local accretions, that all Buddhists could embrace. In comparison with Hinduism is similar in ways and to Buddhism however, they have their differences. Followers of Hinduism believe in only one supreme absolute they called “Brahman” he does not advocate the worship of any one particular deity.
Followers also worship Indra- God of thunder and bringer of rain, Agni- God of fire, Soma- sacred drink, Ushas-goddess of dawn. There are three major groupings of deities: Saktas-worship of the mother goddess. Saivites- Worship of the god Siva and Vaishnavites-worship of god Vishnu. Buddhists belief in no specific god because it is a religion of wisdom, enlightenment, and compassion. The central beliefs of Buddhism are all salvations and enlightenments are granted or received by rituals of meditation to rid life’s disillusions and impurities. Nirvana) They also believe in the four noble truths, eightfold path of liberation, wheel of birth sand death, and karma. Hinduism’s central beliefs are Darma-ethics and duties, Samsara- rebirth Karma-right action, Moksha-liberation from the cycle of Samsara. They also believe in truth, honesty, non-violence, celibacy, cleanliness, contentment, prayers, perseverance, and penance. While both religions have their strong differences both religions also have a strong similarity in their rituals and that is the quest for meditation, purity, sanity, relaxation through yoga, meditation and enlightenment.
In conclusion Buddhism is a very interesting and complex religion. This religion has such an interesting history and it has evolved into a very important religion around the world. The site visit was so incredible and surreal they were so welcoming of me into their group and very hopeful that I may come back to visit. Buddhism is a very interesting religion and I there is so much more to learn about it because if it’s very long history. Buddhism today has also branched out and evolved into a more modern style which is really majestic and inviting.
There really is much more to be learned about this religion however, what I have learned this far is motivation enough to want to know more. References 1. Christian apologetics and Research Ministry, Matthew J. Slick, 1996 2. Beliefnet. Com, What Muslims Belief. 3. Islam- MSN Encarta, Islam, 1993-2007 4. Living Religions, Sixth Edition, Fisher, Mary 2005 5. B. A. Robinson, Consultants on Religious Tolerance, 1996-2007 6. Jenni M. Jenni, Interview September 17th, 2007 7. Site Visit 1843 Bancroft, Missoula, MT. 59801 (not yet named)