|Buddha's Life||Teachings||Special Days||Interesting Facts|
This religion is unlike any other religion. They do not believe in gods. They believe in kindness and life after death. If you live a good life, you will have a better life in the next life and it will build up good Karma. If you live a bad life, you will have bad Karma the next life. Meditation is important because it allows Buddhists to see how things are and to strengthen their beliefs. The ultimate goal in Buddhism is Enlightenment which leads to Nirvana.
Buddha's Life (back to top)
In a short period of time he left the palace with his charioteer four different times. The first time he saw a old man the next time he saw a sick man and the third time he saw a dead man. Each time he met a stranger who suffered, he became more disturbed by it. He realized he had lead a very good life. On the fourth time he left the palace he met with a begging preacher who seemed at peace with himself and asked him why was there suffering and death. The begging preacher told him that peace and understanding comes from hardship and prayer.
Siddhartha wanted to find out why people suffer and how to prevent people from suffering. He left secretly one night and went with his charioteer. They traveled into the woods. The charioteer cut Siddhartha’s long hair and Siddhartha changed into a orange robe and sandals, and took a bowl to beg for food with. He went to many teachers to learn why people suffered but none of them could answer his question. One day he found a man who said you should try not eating for months. Siddhartha ate very little, 1 grain of rice each day. One day he got ill and a milk lady helped him. The milk lady gave him all he could eat and he said that he would never starve himself again.
Siddhartha had suffered and also lived a life of luxury and realized both were wrong. He discovered "the middle way". A few days later he left, found a tree and started meditating. Through meditation he became aware of his past lives and this bought Enlightenment. He said to himself that he would never get up until he understood why people suffered. He found that suffering was caused by desire which causes unhappiness and creates the process of good and bad Karma.
From this point on Siddhartha
now was named Buddha which means "Enlightened One. Buddha began teaching
at Varanasi, the holy city of the Hindus. His first talk set in motion
the "Wheel of the Law", which created the Four Noble Truths and the EightFold
Paths. He spent the rest of his life meditating and teaching others his
religion until the age of 81 when he died.
The Teachings (back to top)
The Eightfold Paths are:
1. The true understanding of the Four Noble Truths;
2. The true thought-having friendly thoughts about people and all forms of life;
3. The true speech- speak nicely and honestly and avoid harsh words against anyone or anything;
4. The true action- act from your heart and do not be vain and avoid \ violence;
5. The true work-work in a profession that will not hurt another;
6. The true effort- work to improve yourself;
7. The true mindfulness- be compassionate and think before you act, and;
8. The right concentration- Focus and concentrate on religious meditation.
Today there are two kinds of Buddhism. The first is Theravada Buddhism and is based on the Buddha's first teachings. It is based on the individual finding his own salvation. The second is called Mahayana Buddhism.They believe that life is connected to all others the things people do affect all others and help can come from others.
Buddha's first followers were men who were organized into monks. Later women were added and were called nuns. The monks and nuns helped spread Buddhism.
Special Days (back to top)
Wesak, Vesak or Buddha Day - Every May on the night of the full moon, Buddhist share the Birth and death of the "Enlightened One."
The Festival of the Tooth - Celebrated in Sri Lanka on the full moon in August. A tooth from the Buddha is carried around the city in a golden casket on an elephant’s back.
Magha Puja - This celebrates 3 important things: 1. The occasion when he took his first two chief disciples; 2. The occasion when he recited the rules that Monks should live no matter what,and; 3. His announcement that he could die in 3 months. This is celebrated,in Thailand on the full moon in February.
Interesting facts (back to top)
Buddhists go to temple, not at a special time or day, but when they can. It is commom for Buddhists to go on a full moon day. A Buddhist temple is called Vihara and is a place for education. In a temple, you will find a shrine room with a large Buddha and statues of his disciples.You will also find relics and manuscripts. There is also a lecture room, meditation room and a library. Shoes are removed before entering a temple out of respect for Buddha. Buddha is known as a teacher not a god. Candles and incense are lit and Buddhists recite verses. Flowers and food are placed on the front of the Buddhist Statue. The flowers are to remind the person that they will not live forever. The food is given to the Monks since they own nothing of their own. In addition, Buddhists feel that giving food will help get them to Nirvana. The following vows are said to help Buddhists to act well: 1. Not to hurt living things; 2. Do not take avantage of what is not there; 3. Use senses correctly; 4. Speak kindly, and; 5. Do not take or use drugs or alcohol.
Wedding ceremonies are usually arranged by parents of the bride and groom. They are usually held at home or a hotel. The ceremony will last for several days and is not performed by a monk.
There are 250 million members world wide and over 200,000 in the USA
Nuns - women can hold a position as a nun. In Theravade Buddhism, a nun is below the monks position. Nuns are not aloud to criticize monks but monks are aloud to criticize nuns. Nuns are required to show respect for a monk. In Mahayana Buddhism, the position of the nun is not equal to a monk.
Nuns wear sandals, skirts and shirts.
Monks wear orange robes and sandals.
Places you can find Buddhism: Asia Cambodia Thailand Sri Lanka Laos South Korea Tibet Vietnam India Japan Mongolia Parts of China Nepal United States Burma England
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