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Posted: Aug 22 2004, 08:34 AM
Member No.: 1
Joined: 11-August 04
so for the sake of getting the ball rolling, so to speak, i thought id start out some of the , as of yet un-touched forums with general information about their religions garnered from Religious tolerance.org
without further adieu, here is the general information on Buddhism
Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world, being exceeded in numbers only by Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. It was founded in Northern India by the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. He was born circa 563 BCE in Lumbini which is in modern-day Nepal. At the age of 29, he left his wife, children and political involvements in order to seek truth. It was an accepted practice at the time for some men to leave their family and lead the life of an ascetic. He joined a group of similarly-minded students of Brahmanism in a forest where he fasted for six years. He is said to have brought himself to the brink of death by only eating a few grains of rice each day. Ultimately, he rejected this path. He realized that enlightenment lay in pursuing a "Middle Way" rejecting both extremes of the mortification of the flesh and of hedonism as paths toward the state of Nirvana - a state of liberation and freedom from suffering. His Middle Way was largely defined by moderation and meditation.
In 535 BCE, he attained enlightenment and assumed the title Lord Buddha (one who has awakened) He is also referred to as the Sakyamuni, (sage of the Sakya clan). He had many disciples and accumulated a large public following by the time of his death in his early 80's in 483 BCE.
Two and a half centuries later, a council of Buddhist monks collected his teachings and the oral traditions of the faith into written form, called the Tripitaka. This included a very large collection of commentaries and traditions; most are called Sutras (discourses).
As Buddhism expanded across Asia, it evolved into two main forms, which evolved largely independently from each other:
Theravada Buddhism (sometimes called Southern Buddhism; occasionally spelled Therevada) "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.
To which might be added:
Tibetan Buddhism, which developed in isolation from Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism because of the isolation of Tibet.
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
Core beliefs of Buddhism:
Buddhism, like most of the great religions of the world, is divided into a number of different traditions. However, most traditions share a common set of fundamental beliefs.
One fundamental belief involves reincarnation: the concept that one must go through many cycles of birth, living, and death. After many such cycles, if a person releases their attachment to desire and the self, they can attain Nirvana - a state of liberation and freedom from suffering.
The Three Trainings or Practices:
These three consist of:
Sila: Virtue, good conduct, morality. This is based on two fundamental principles: The principle of equality: that all living entities are equal.
The principle of reciprocity: This is the "Golden Rule" in Christianity -- to do onto others as you would wish them do onto you. It is found in all major religions.
Samadhi: Concentration, meditation, mental development. Developing one's mind is the path to wisdom which in turn leads to personal freedom. Mental development also strengthens and controls our mind; this helps us maintain good conduct.
Prajna: Discernment, insight, wisdom, enlightenment. This is the real heart of Buddhism. Wisdom will emerge if your mind is pure and calm.
The first two paths listed in the Eightfold Path, described below, refer to discernment; the last three belong to concentration; the middle three are related to virtue.
The Four Noble Truths:
The Buddha's Four Noble Truths explore human suffering. They may be described (somewhat simplistically) as:
1. Dukkha: The reality and universality of suffering. Suffering has many causes: loss, sickness, pain, failure, the impermanence of pleasure.
2. Samudaya: The cause of suffering is a desire to have and control things. It can take many forms: craving of sensual pleasures; the desire for fame; the desire to avoid unpleasant sensations, like fear, anger or jealousy.
3. Nirodha: Suffering ceases with the final liberation of Nirvana (a.k.a. Nibbana). The mind experiences complete freedom, liberation and non-attachment. It lets go of any desire or craving.
4. Magga: The eightfold path leads to the cessation of suffering.
The Five Precepts:
These are rules to live by. They are somewhat analogous to the second half of the Ten Commandments in Judaism and Christianity -- that part of the Decalogue which describes behaviors to avoid.
1. Do not kill. This is sometimes translated as "not harming" or an absence of violence.
2. Do not steal. This is generally interpreted as including the avoidance of fraud and economic exploitation.
3. Do not lie. This is sometimes interpreted as including name calling, gossip, etc.
4. Do not misuse sex. For monks and nuns, this means any departure from complete celibacy. For the laity, adultery is forbidden, along with any sexual harassment or exploitation, including that within marriage. The Buddha did not discuss consensual premarital sex within a committed relationship; Buddhist traditions differ on this.
5. Do not consume alcohol or other drugs. The main concern here is that intoxicants cloud the mind. Some have included as a drug other methods of divorcing ourselves from reality -- e.g. movies, television, the Internet. 1
The Eightfold Path:
The Buddha's Eightfold Path consists of:
Panna: Discernment, wisdom: 1) Samma ditthi Right Understanding of the Four Noble Truths
2) Samma sankappa: Right thinking; following the right path in life
Sila: Virtue, morality: 3) Samma vaca: Right speech: no lying, criticism, condemning, gossip, harsh language
4) Samma kammanta Right conduct by following the Five Precepts
5) Samma ajiva: Right livelihood; support yourself without harming others
Samadhi: Concentration, meditation: 6) Samma vayama Right Effort: promote good thoughts; conquer evil thoughts
7) Samma sati Right Mindfulness: Become aware of your body, mind and feelings
8) Samma samadhi Right Concentration: Meditate to achieve a higher state of consciousness
information courtesy of www.religioustolerance.org