Buddhism part 2. You might remember the articles I wrote about our Universal Human Rights, which I wrote mainly for this reason: These days violence, intolerance, racism, discrimination seems to increase again. More and more people need to flee their homes and/or their countries, in the hope to find safety and peace elsewhere on our big world. When even leaders have forgotten our Universal Human Rights, I feel it’s time and very important to remind us all again of our Universal Human Rights.
In my opinion, it is not only the responsibility of leaders (political, financial, corporate, etc.) to educate themselves, but also our responsibility too…you and me, as neighbors living on our globe together. The saying “knowledge is power” can be used in a good way. Educating yourself about the views of your neighbor, will lead to more understanding, tolerance and even though you might not agree with other views, I strongly believe this will increase compassion and kindness towards each other.
John Astria of Mensensamenleving.me writes/creates highly educational articles and he gave me permission to translate a couple of them. Thank you again, dear John! Find out HERE (click), why I think you should visit this Beautiful Soul.
The original article in Dutch “Het Boeddhisme” you can find HERE (click).
I decided to split the article in two. This week the second and final part.
Part one you can find here (click).
Buddhism (part 2)
After Buddha taught his monks his teaching, a prosperous start of Buddhism followed. After some time, the need arose to formulate the doctrine in writing. Spiritual counsels were held. In 300 years, Buddhism reached all of India (the bottom layer remains faithful to Hinduism).
A hundred years later, it spread over Sri Lanka, later in China, and Buddhism significantly influenced those cultures. Around the beginning of our era, it reached Japan and Korea and melded with the local Shinto. In Tibet, Buddhism transformed into a unique form: Tantrism.
Around 900 after Christ a decrease followed and Hinduism reclaimed almost all terrain back in India (during the current century there is again a slight revival of Buddhism in India).
More recently, particularly Zen Buddhism has become known in the West. Of the meditation forms, especially Yoga is popular outside of Buddhism (and practiced in some Catholic monasteries).
Buddhism is a “religion” without sacred revealed books. However, the teachings of the Buddha have been recorded in later times. In the course of time, a lot has been added to the tradition about the life and teachings of Buddha. The texts were only kept in the monasteries and in most cases, were lost with the incursions of Islam. A reconstruction of the doctrine in its most original form is therefore not entirely possible.
The rules of life
The rules of life stem from the statements of the eight-fold path. In the original form of Buddhism, man is strongly focused in/at himself. But one is not allowed to cause harm to his/her neighbor. The Buddhist will avoid extravagance. It is recommended to live for a short or longer period of time like a monk lives.
Around 100 after Christ, Buddhism split into two different directions: Hinayana (‘small vehicle’), the most original and pure current, nowadays better known as Theravada, and Mahayana (‘big vehicle’).
The Hinayana teaches that redemption is only reserved for the few (= small vehicle). It is a tolerant group that mainly Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Laos can be found.
Mahayana, on the other hand, teaches that salvation is reserved for many. God returns in the form of the primal Buddha. Helpers for mankind, the Bodhisattvas (saints) will arrive. Heaven and hell are accepted. A location is reserved for future Buddhas. The worship service becomes similar to ‘church’. Locally, this form of Buddhism easily blends in with other religions such as those in Japan (Shinto) and in Tibet.
Zen Buddhism (Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism) developed around 500 before Christ in China, similar to the form of Buddhism which later also gained a foothold in Japan. Zen Buddhism is rather averse to theory, is more involved with service to your neighbor and places a strong emphasis on mental and physical discipline and training.
After World War II, this form of Buddhism became known and popular in the West too. Yoga is another known Buddhist phenomenon in the West that dates back to the fifth century AD. It is a method of achieving a higher state of consciousness through asceticism and spiritual concentration.
Ceremonies and Calendar
The Buddhist calendar is (with the exception of Japan) a lunar calendar. A year is 11 days shorter and the ceremonies therefore shift in relation to our sun-based calendar. Many celebrations are highly regional. To name a few:
- Birthday of Buddha (for his enlightenment and first teaching-sermon)
- Celebration of the Buddhas (Japan)
- Ceremony of the Dead (kind of All Souls, Japan only)
- Buddha’s Ascension (Tibet only).
Some texts from books
- There are two purposes that a wandering person is not to pursue … The fulfillment of desires and the joys that come from these desires. This is underhanded, vulgar and leads to rebirth, which is disgraceful and, moreover, detrimental … “
- And this is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, old age is suffering, illness is suffering, not fulfilled of wishes is suffering … “
- And this is the noble truth of the lifting of the grief: it is the lifting of the desire, to a level there is no more passion. And this is the noble truth of the way that leads to the lifting of the suffering. It is the noble eight-fold path. “(From the Theravada, Buddha’s sermon at Benares).
Sharing is allowed, if referenced to John and his website: mensenensamenleving.me
The first two articles I translated in this series “Knowledge can increase compassion and kindness” you can find HERE and HERE (click).