Buddhism is a religious, philosophical and spiritual doctrine and its precept is the reincarnation of the human being in order to bind us to the sufferings of the material world.
Characteristics of Buddhism
Buddhism represents an attitude towards the world, a behavioral technique. His followers learn to detach themselves from all that is transitory, which results in a kind of spiritual self-sufficiency.
In the Buddhist universe, which has no beginning or end, Nirvana would be the ideal stage, but this cannot be taught, only perceived.
The Karma is a prominent issue in Buddhism. According to this idea, good and bad deeds (arising from mental intention) will have consequences in the next reincarnations, for which there is no divine salvation.
Therefore, the Renaissance, a process in which we go through successive lives, is precisely the cycle that seeks to break when ascending to the purest abodes.
This vicious cycle of suffering is called “Samsara” and is governed by the laws of Karma.
Thus, the intended path in Buddhism is the “Middle Way,” that is, the practice of non-extremism, both physical and moral.
The Buddha is not to the followers of the doctrine a particular entity, but a title given to a Buddhist master or to all who have attained the spiritual realization of Buddhism. Thus Buddha in Hindu means “the Enlightened One.”
Origin of Buddhism
In the year 563 was born in India, Siddhartha Gautama. Buddha’s life can be summed up in birth, maturity, renunciation, seeking, awakening and liberation, teaching and death.
Siddhartha Gautama Statue
Aristocratic family, cultured, was shocked when he discovered the reality of his country.
The main problems were the misery, hunger, and scourge of the ascetics, who mortified themselves in strict fasting.
Gautama’s perplexity at the evils of the world was gradually evolving.
He shaved his head in humility, changed his sumptuous clothes for the unpretentious orange suit, and launched himself into the world for explanations of the riddle of life.
New to spiritual matters the wanderer joined the ascetics to learn from them the best way to reach the higher truths.
But since he learned nothing on an empty stomach, he lost faith in the system.
Gautama chose the shadow of a sacred fig tree and began to meditate, remaining so until all his doubts were answered.
During this time, the spiritual awakening he sought so much occurred. Her confusion fell apart.
Enlightened by a new understanding of all things in life, he headed for the city of Benares, on the bank of the Ganges. His idea was to convey to others what had happened to him.
In the 45 years he preached his doctrine throughout the regions of India, the Buddha always mentioned the “Four Truths” and the “Eight Tracks.”
In addition, he added the summary of all his thinking – the Golden Rule:
” Everything we are is a result of what we think .”
After his death, a council was held which defined the Buddhist precepts, of which Theravada prevailed.
Gautama’s teachings, delivered in the park of the city of Benares, set the ways forward for the wisdom of moderation and equality.
First of all, according to him, it is to recognize that pain is universal and that its cause lies in the desire for things that cannot satisfy the spirit.
Suffering is extinguished when man renounces these desires. This is because the root of these desires stems from ignorance and wisdom is the best way to master pain.
With these “Four Noble Truths” man has the basic elements to embark on the “Path of Eight Tracks.”
From him they will require purity of faith, will, language, action, life, application, memory, and meditation.
From the third and fourth tracks Buddha’s followers later extracted five precepts, similar to the Jewish Christian commandments, as they advised not to kill, not to steal, not to commit unclean acts, and not to lie. And also do not drink intoxicating liquids.
The Buddhists’ pacifist spirit was “Hate does not end with hate, but with love,” Gautama said.
Four are the best known Buddhist schools:
The path of liberation through the Three Jewels prevails in them:
- The Buddha as a guide;
- Dharma as the fundamental law of the universe;
- The Sangha as the Buddhist community.
In this community is followed the Theravada (most ascetic) and Mahayana (most popular).
In addition, they also follow the Buddha’s “Four Noble Truths”:
- life is suffering (1);
- suffering is the result of desire (2),
- it ends when desire ceases (3);
- it is achieved by following those taught by the Buddha (4).
The Expansion of Buddhism
For the next three centuries after Gautama’s death, Buddhism spread throughout ancient India. He ended up having more followers than Hinduism itself , the traditional religion of the country.
But after spreading throughout Asia, it disappeared from its home country, giving way to Hinduism. In the course of the expansion, carried by the silk trade route, it crossed the whole East.
The original doctrine differed, became less rigorous, adapted to the spiritual needs of simple people. This form of Buddhism was called mahayana, or “larger vehicle.”
In Tibet the doctrine merged with the ancient bon-po religion and later drifted to Lamaism .
In Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Ceylon, and Vietnam, Buddhism remained orthodox, being called the hinayana, or the smaller vehicle.
Gradually, Chinese pilgrims and Hindu Buddhist monks began to cross the mountains as missionaries.
One of the Hsuan-Tsang pilgrims left China in 629 across the Gobi desert and arrived in India. There, for 16 years he collected data on Buddhism and wrote, according to tradition, over a thousand volumes.
In China, the Tsang Dynasty ruled, and thousands of people converted to Buddhism.
Among the other religions, Confucianism, Taoism , Zoroastrianism, Buddhism presented the most profound concepts and eventually branched into many sects.
Around the seventh century, Buddhism came to Korea and Japan, which after the conversion of Prince Shotoku Taishi, was made a national religion.
In the next century, Buddhism came to Tibet, but already quite changed. It was introduced by Padma Sambhava, Hindu Buddhist Monk.
The official religion was already in full decay. It easily merged with the new concepts and Lamaism arose . This made Tibet a theocratic state, ruled by the Dalai and Panchen Lamas – lamaist monks considered reincarnation of holiness.
Buddhism entered Europe in 1819, where German Arthur Schopenhauer developed new concepts, very close to Buddhism.
In 1875 the Theosophical Society was founded, which encouraged research on Asian religions.
Buddhism has expanded around the world and there are Buddhist temples in various countries in Europe, the Americas and Australia. Buddhist leaders take their concepts of life around the world, adapting to each society.