Topics: Buddhism, Gautama Buddha, Theravada Pages: 5 (1570 words) Published: February 1, 2014


Since the beginning, people have searched for something far beyond themselves for answers about life and how we became. Early on we had beliefs that there was something far greater than ourselves in this world controlling things that we could not understand. From these beliefs came the development of religions. Religion provides us with spiritual guidance, moral direction and death preparation. One practice that provides this spiritual guidance is Buddhism. This religion is practiced in such countries as India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos. This paper will discuss its history, scriptures, beliefs, rites of passage, meditation principles and major festivals and ceremonies that are a part of their religious practice. History of Buddhism and Buddha’s Life

Buddhism was founded in the late 6th century B.C.E. by Siddhartha Gautama, the son of a rich ruler of the Kshatriya castle. In its earliest forms it was not a religion but a system of psychological ethical discipline based on philosophy of life. There are stories prophesied by a Hindu saint of his future greatness and non-human conception. Gautama, the Buddha, was born in Lumbini, near where the Indian-Nepal border is today. He had a sheltered but very comfortable life when growing up. By the time he reached his upper twenties, he felt his life was meaningless as he was unable to help those that were suffering with pain and anxiety. He left his family to try and find answers so that he may be able to resolve all of the suffering. Through meditation, Gautama received the Great Enlightenment: The Four Noble Truths and the Eight-fold Path. This is how his name Buddha (enlightened one) came to be. Buddha did not believe man had a soul or that we each had our own personal God. He stressed the importance of us working out our own salvation by self-effort. For over forty five years, the Buddha travelled throughout India teaching others. There was no complete biography produced of him until centuries after his death which was at the age of eighty in 480C.E (http://www.urantiabook.org ). Scriptures and Denomination

The Tripitaka is the scripture of Buddhism, which is made up of the Vinaya Pitaka, The Sutta Pitaka, and the Abhidhamma. It is the earliest collection of Buddhist teachings and the only text recognized as canonical by Theravada Buddhists. Tripitaka means "three baskets," due to the way it was recorded. The text was written on long, narrow leaves, and then put in groups and then storing them in baskets for safe keeping. The Tripitaka was handed down orally, then written down in the third century B.C.E. according to Buddhist tradition (http://www.religionfacts.com). The writings were verified by others who had also been present and then they organized it into the Tripitaka. There are two branches of Buddhism that have been subdivided into various sects which are Theravada, the Way of the Elders, and Mahayana, the Great Vehicle. Theravada Buddhism, which is found primarily in Southeast Asia, is the oldest and most orthodox Buddhist tradition. It is conservative and follows the original teachings of Buddha. It sees wisdom as the important virtue while regarding this religion as a full time occupation. Prayer is limited to meditation. Mahayana Buddhism, another main branch, has impacted such places as China, Japan, Taiwan, Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, Korea, Vietnam, as well as India. is throughout the world and follows the principle that Buddha taught things in secret to the few that were able to interpret them. This branch is very much influenced by cultural beliefs. They see Buddha as being a savior for them. The Theravada tradition sees man involved with others and believes we are saved by grace. The important virtue for them is having compassion while believing what they teach is pertinent to life. This branch engages in petitionary prayer and recognizes the various celestial Buddha’s and gods that are...

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Sprunger, Meredith. “Buddhism: The Religion of Peaceful, Ethical Self-culture”. Retrieved on November 14, 2013 at: http://www.urantiabook.org/archive/readers/buddhism-introduction.htm
Tibetan Prayer Wheel. Retrieved December 12, 2013 at: http://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/things/prayer_wheel.htm
Vesak: How Buddha 's Birthday Is Celebrated Around The World. Retrieved on November 24, 2013 at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/05/vesak-how-buddhas-birthda_n_1478896.html
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