Buddhism Unit Five. Introduction. Buddhism has become very popular in the west as people try to “find themselves” and search for the meaning of life. It emphasizes things to do rather than things to believe, and does not recommend that anyone accept its teachings without experimentation.
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When he was 29, Siddhartha visited the city four times and experienced what Buddhists refer to as the four sights. He saw an old man leaning on his staff, a sick man lying by the roadside, a corpse being prepared for cremation and a Hindu monk with his shaven head and tattered robe, holding a bowl.
For Buddhist monks there are an additional five precepts: abstain from eating after noon, abstain from looking at dancing, singing or drama, abstain from the use of perfumes or things that beautify or adorn, abstain from using comfortable beds and abstain from accepting gold and silver. In some monasteries there could be as many as 200 precepts to follow.
Adopting this path is to live the Buddhist way of life, a life of self-improvement.
When giving his first sermon Buddha put in motion the wheel of the dharma, the eight-spoke wheel that represents the eight steps of the path. The center is nirvana, the only fixed point.
7. Right Mindfulness – full attention must be paid to proper thoughts, words and deeds.
8. Right concentration – focus on one thought or object at a time. Deep meditation will lead to enlightenment.
For a Buddhist, taking refuge is the first step to enlightenment.
1. Mahayana School – aka northern school, found in China, Vietnam, Korea and Japan. Considered the new school, less conservative.
2. Theravada School – aka southern school, found in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Considered the old school, more conservative.
3. Vajrayana School – aka esoteric school, found in Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal. More emphasis on rituals, mantras and visualization. Combined with Tibetan “BON”