Buddhism has a very long drawn out origination starting in about 565 B.C. with the birth of Siddhartha Gautama. The religion has guide lines in two forms in which Buddhist followers must follow the “Four Noble Truths” and the “Eightfold Path” There are many aspects of this religion that can be explored but the one that is most interesting seems to be it origination and it’s beliefs.
In about 565 B.C. Siddhartha Gautama was born, a young Indian prince born to the ruler of a small kingdom that is now known as Nepal. Gautama’s birth is described as a miraculous event, his birth being the result of his mother’s impregnation by a sacred white elephant that touched her left side with a lotus flower. The scriptures claim that when Gautama was born ¹”immeasurable light spread through ten thousand worlds; the blind recovering their sight, as if from desire to see his glory” After birth the future Buddha (Gautama) supposedly talked and walked while lotus leafs formed in his footprints. Gautama’s father was said to have been told his son’s destiny for greatness, either as an emperor or as a religious leader. Therefore Gautama’s father decided to isolate his son from the outside world, where he might “see how the other half lived” and maybe even be tempted to belong to a different religion.
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Since the complete seclusion as Gautama’s father had wished was impossible and Gautama was a curious young man he did venture out and that is when he eventually say the four sights, which would, if experienced as it had been told to Gautama’s father, lead the young prince to a religious life. These sights or as how Buddhist refer to them “The Four Signs” were in turn, a sick man covered with terrible sores, an old man, a corpse, and a wandering monk. The sightings of these men made Gautama think of the suffering and inevitable death which comes to all people great and small. This brought further questioning such as the meaning of life and the ultimate fate of man. As time passed these thoughts became great burdens upon Gautama and he increasingly became dissatisfied with the shallow dissolute life of the royal court in which he lived. Therefore at the age of 21, although married with a beautiful young son and also the heir to a very rich throne he forsook it all and became a travelling holy man.
After a while of travelling as a holy man there was a great even that transformed Gautama into the Buddha (or the Enlightened One). It all began at dusk on Gautama’s thirty-fifth birthday. While sitting under a tree it is said that he thought a break through was obvious and here again is where the legend takes over. It says that the evil one, Mara tempests him with beautiful Goddesses and attacked him with tempests, flaming rocks and other devices, all of which Gautama blocked himself from. Eventually at dawn Gautama finally realized the essential truth about life and about the path to salvation. Because of this Gautama then became the Buddha and remained this spot for many days while remaining in a trance-like state for many weeks. This experience made Gautama feel a desire to share his knowledge with others and he did so very well, as a preacher and a teacher until his death in about 483 B.C.
Buddhism is a lot like other Indian religions based upon the beliefs. Such as the beliefs in reincarnation, dharma, karma and Nirvana. But mostly in Raja Yoga the profound meditation which holds the key to enlightment and therefore to the salvation of Nirvana. Buddha himself expressed the base of his beliefs when he said ¹”I teach only 2 things, O disciples, the fact of suffering and the possibility of escape from suffering. These ideas are expanded upon in the “Four Noble Truths” and the “Eightfold Path”.
The “Four Noble Truths” can be summarized by saying, life is suffering (dukkha), the cause of suffering is desire (tanha) the way to end suffering is to overcome desire, and to overcome desire on must follow the “Eightfold Path” Buddha taught that man is a slave to his ego . That man wishes happiness, security, success, long life, and many other things for himself and his loved ones. However, pain, frustration, sickness and death are all inevitable and the only way to eliminate these evils is to overcome desire.
The “Eight Fold Path” is a little more difficult to summarize it begins with, “Right to Knowledge”, which means basically the four noble truths. “Right Aims” in next, one must resolve in order to make progress towards salvation.
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“Right Speech”, our speech reflects our character. We must avoid speaking falsely, obscene, slanderous, and belittling words. “Right Conduct”, you must follow the five constitutes at the core of Buddhism’s moral code which are, no killing, no stealing, no lying, no committing indecent sexual acts or no consuming of intoxicants. “Right Livelihood”, some jobs are condemned by Buddha such as slave dealer, butcher, prostitute, and traders of lethal weapons and substances. “Right Effort”, one must have the will power to overcome obstacles. “Right Mindfulness”, Buddhism says that what a person is, comes from what he thinks. By improving our thoughts we can become more virtuous. And the last is “Right Meditation” by this meaning the practice of the Raja Yoga.
Since Buddhism emphasizes the desirability of self removal from the problems involved with everyday life, Buddhism easily became a monastic religion. The Buddha advised his followers to seek out men of wisdom and remain close to them. Within monasteries, everyone has the same goal, which is to attain Nirvana. Nirvana is ¹”selfannihilation or the extinguishing of all traces of desire, which represents final enlightment and which releases a person from the cycle of rebirth”. There are many monasteries in the world, in some of them in countries such as Burma, Thailand, and Ceylon, almost every young male spends at least a few weeks of his life within a monastery. Typically at the age of four the boy celebrates an elaborate ceremony which involves first dressing him in fine clothing. Then stripping the clothing from him. Shaving his head and he is given a beggar-bowl along
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with a saffron-coloured robe, these three things all being traditional symbols of a Buddhist monk. For those who become monks it is a life of poverty and celibacy. Before gaining the admittance into the monastery a monk must proclaim his faith by saying ¹”I go to Buddha for refuge; I go to Dharma for refuge; I go to Sangha for refuge” by saying this a monk gives up his civil rights such as voting and being eligible for public services. Plus few sects permit marriage.
Much more could be said of Buddhism but there are so many more aspects that could be explored that it would take forever. This is just short overview of the origination of Buddhism and the Buddha. Along with a short overview over the beliefs and customs of the religion.
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1. Evans, Allan E., Moynes, Riley E., Martinello, Larry