Buddhism & Christianity. The Numbers. 4 th Largest Religion in the world 6% of the World’s Population are Buddhist 360 – 550 Million People China, Thailand, Japan, Burma, Sri Lanka have the largest Buddhist populations. 6.3 Million Buddhists (.07% of population) in the U.S.
Tribe in the town of Kapilavastu in N.E. India, now Nepal.
His Father tried to shelter him from the outside world, so
He would never encounter any form of suffering. Siddhartha
Ventured outside the palace and was exposed to 4 different
Kinds of suffering: old age, sickness, death, and poverty.
This had a profound effect on Siddhartha. He became disillusioned with wealth and deeply concerned for the poor.
He would leave his wife and child and life of luxury and commit
Himself to discovering the source of suffering and how to eliminate it.
He began to practice extreme asceticism. This almost
Killed him. He stopped eating and almost
drowned in a river while bathing.
He ate after almost drowning, walked to the city of
Bodh Gaya, where he set under a fig tree by the edge of a river.
He vowed to not rise again until he had attained enlightenment,
And subsequently went into a deep state of meditation.
During his meditation, he was severely tempted by
Mara, the evil one. He resisted temptation and attained
Enlightenment and became the Buddha.
Bodh Gaya is now the site of the holiest temple in the
Buddhist world, the Mahabodhi (“Great Enlighenment”) Temple.
Buddha’s immediate goal was to eliminate the cause of suffering.
His ultimate goal was to become liberated from the cycle of Samsaraby teaching how we can cease craving and thereby eliminate our attachment to and beliefs in this existence of the illusory self.
If we don’t crave anything then we will eliminate karma and be released from the realm of illusion. At that moment of enlightenment, the person achieves the state of Nirvana – the ultimate goal for the Buddhist.
*Interesting to note that one must crave to not crave any longer. One must have a desire to not desire any longer. One must be obsessed with self to eliminate self. This creates enormous problems.
His road to enlightenment became known as the Middle Way, because it avoided both extremes of affluence and asceticism, both had only caused him to suffer.
After attaining enlightenment, Buddha traveled to Benares, and in the Deer Park gave his first sermon – the contents of which have come to be known as the Four Noble Truths.
He would win thousands of followers.
He started communities called sanghas.
He spread his message fro 45 years until he died of
food poisoning .
His last words were: “Decay is inherent in all component things!
Work out your salvation with diligence.”
For 2 Centuries Buddhism did not spread beyond the borders of India.
Then King Ashoka, who ruled India from 274 – 232 B.C., became so revolted by bloodshed while leading a battle that he renounced all such fighting.
He converted to Buddhism and devoted himself and his resources to spreading Buddhism.
He sent missionaries to Syria, Egypt,
Cyrene, Greece, Sri Lanka, Myammar,
While it spread it also split into major divisions.
Primary Issue that caused the split was whether enlightenment is accessible to everyone or only a few.
Those who said it was accessible to everyone were called Mahayana (“the greater vehicle”).
Those who said it was accessible to only a few were called Hinayana (“the lesser vehicle”), but later became Theravada Buddhists.
There are lots of other types of Buddhism.
Some of the other popular ones are Ch’an Buddhism introduced by Indian scholar Bodhidharma in China in the 6thcentry B.C.
Ch’an Buddhism is a technique for meditating on the “Vast Emptiness” within oneself.
Migrated to Japan and was predecessor to Zen Buddhism which was eventually brought to the U.S. by Japanese scholar D.T. Suzuki in early 20th century.
Another popular Japanese form of Buddhism is Jodoor “Pure Land” Buddhism = a transitional realm from which it is easier to attain nirvana than from the realm of earth. One enters the Pure Land through faith in Amitabha – or Amida – Buddha and by repeating newbutsu(Namu-Amida-Butsu).
There is also Vajrayana or TantraBuddhism. These Buddhists uses occultic techniques for the development of spiritual power. They believe in tapping into a spiritual power that allows you to attain enlightenment faster. Vajrayana’s gave the world the Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama is Tibet’s exiled Spiritual and Political Leader. He is considered to be the 14th reincarnation of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion.
Although there are a ton of variations of Buddhism and some extreme forms, there are some beliefs that most Buddhist share.
The common beliefs are contained in the Four Noble Truths
1st Noble Truth – Life consists of suffering. This concept of suffering includes the experiences of pain, misery, sorrow, and unfulfillment.
2nd Noble Truth – Everything is impermanent and ever-changing. We suffer because we desire those things that are impermanent.
3rd Noble Truth – The way to liberate oneself from suffering is by eliminating all desire. We must stop craving that which is impermanent.
4th Noble Truth – Desire can be eliminated by following the Eight-fold path, which consists of 8 points. These 8 points can be categorized into 3 major sections.
1. the taking of life
3. Immoral sexual behavior (monks must be celibate).
5. The taking of intoxicants.