About 35 years of age, Siddhartha Gautama sat under the shade of Bho tree to meditate, and he decided to meditate until he reached the enlightenment. Seven weeks after that, he received the Great Enlightenment which are The Four Noble Truths and the Eight fold path. From that time, he was known as Buddha. The Middle Way is a philosophical idea and psychological causes and healing of suffering and evil. People should understand the four noble truths and follow the Eightfold Path, making them able to reach the complete state of Nirvana. (Theory of Buddhism )
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The Buddha told their followers not to have many earthly possessions. By this way, they will not feel pain or unhappy. Buddha taught people to be good, sincere and kind. They should not kill or harm living things. He wished that the people have good thoughts and help each others. According to the teachings of the Buddha, each person experiences life many times. We call this ¿½reincarnation¿½. If a human do something bad in one life time, he or she might be an little insect or an animal in his or her next life. Buddha also taught that if the people are good during a life, they will not have to return to Earth anymore. Then they would reach a state of Nirvana, a state where there is no death or birth. (Theory of Buddhism )
The basic belief of Buddhism is often called the reincarnation – the idea that people are reborn after death. (Robinson)
In fact, many people go through the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth again and again. There are some practical difference between the Buddhist concepts of reincarnation and rebirth. The Reincarnation, a person can be repeated several times. But rebirth, the man is not necessarily a return to the earth as the same thing ever again. He compared it with the leaves that grow on the tree. When the leaf falls off the tree, a new leaf will later replace it. It looks similar the old leaf, but not look exactly the same. (Robinson)
After several cycles, if a person can abandon their devotion to desire and the self, they can reach Nirvana. It is a state of liberation and freedom from suffering. (Robinson)
Buddhists believe that Buddha is their only Master and there is no god. They take refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. They Following the example of the Buddha and consider that the goal of life is to develop sympathy for all living creators without any perception and to work for their happiness, their good and peace and to enlarge wisdom leading to the understanding of Ultimate Truth. They also accept the Four Noble Truths and accept that there is no self(anaatma). They also accept that in different countries there are differences in the life of Buddhist monks, Buddhist practices and beliefs, rituals and ceremonies, habits and customs. These superficial forms and expressions should not be confounded with the basic teachings of the Buddha. (The Basic Points of Buddhism)
Buddha accepted the law of karma and reincarnation. He said that Nirvana is not just a state of extinction but “the highest destiny of the human spirit.” Buddha did not believe that their is deity and he believes that all men had no soul. He denies the existence of every kind of substance. One’s life after achieving Nirvana is unfathomable and reborn does not belong to him anymore. (Theory of Buddhism )
II. The Four Noble Truths
In his first preachment after attaining enlightenment, Buddha taught the “Four Noble Truths,” which form the fundamental belief for all branches of Buddhism (The Purpose of Life According to Buddhism)
The Four Noble Truths, forming the basic of Buddhism, are:
¿½ The Noble Truth of Suffering (Dukkha)
¿½ The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering (Samudaya)
¿½ The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering (Nirodha)
¿½ The Noble Truth that leads to the an end of Suffering (Magga)
The First Noble Truth shows that the Suffering is real and it causes from sickness, failure, pain, and impermanence of pleasure. (Theory of Buddhism )
The Second Noble Truth shows us the cause of suffering. Suffering are caused by indulging in inherently endless desires. All forms of selfishness that separate us from others, life, and reality, such as, jealousness and anger. (Theory of Buddhism )
The Third Noble Truth states an end of suffering . suffering will stop when we are able to overcome these cravings and desires. We must try to not stick to the objects of the world. (Robinson)
The Fourth Noble Truth tells us how to end suffering. We must follow the Noble Eight-fold Path. (Robinson)
III. The Eight-fold Path
In Buddhism, it is believed that a person can escape from the cycle of birth and death by following the noble eightfold path, by following these eight steps. (Buddhist Belief)
1) Right Understanding of the Four Noble Truths
2) Right thinking, following the right path in life
3) Right speech: no criticism, lying, gossip, harsh language, condemning
4) Right conduct by following the Buddhists Five Precepts
5) Right livelihood; assist yourself without harming others
6) Right Effort: promote good thoughts and overcome bad thoughts
7) Right Mindfulness: Become conscious of your body, mind and feelings
8) Right Concentration: Meditate to attain a higher state of knowledge.
The Buddha analyses the problems of life as Four Noble Truths. And the Eight-fold Path is the way of treatment.
Anyone who have followed the eight-fold path and reaches the point of attending Nirvana are called arhat, or “saint.” (Theory of Buddhism )
IV. Buddhist Deities
Theravada sect of Buddhism does believe that there is no god. But the Mahayana sect, celestial Buddhas and bodhisattvas are at the universe as Gods. The most popular Buddhist supernatural include the Kuan Yin, the Medicine Buddha, the Green, Laughing Buddha and White Taras, etc. (Buddhist Deities)
V. Human Nature
In Buddhism, there is no soul or spirit. But a human being is believed to be made up of five elements, feelings, namely physical form, mental developments, ideations and awareness. These elements combine to form a human being at the time of birth. However, because Buddhism believes in reincarnation and karma, people find a little contradiction here. (Buddhist Belief)
VI. The Purpose of Living
The main goal of life of all Buddhists, is the end of suffering by knowing the four noble truths of life and following the noble eightfold path.
The Buddha taught that humans suffer because we always seek for things that do not give lasting happiness. We attach to persons, health, material things , that do not last and this causes sadness. (Buddhist Beliefs)
The Buddha did not say that there are nothings in life that give joy, but say that none of them last long and if we stick to them, it only causes more suffering. His teachings were focused basically on this problem and its solution. (Buddhist Belief)
VII. Buddhist Beliefs about the Afterlife
According to Buddha¿½s teaching, after death one is either reborn into another body or attains nirvana. (Buddhist Beliefs about the Afterlife)
A. Reincarnation (Transmigration)
Based on his teaching that there is no soul, the Buddha described reincarnation, in a different way than the others understanding. He compared our life to the flame candle. Although each flame is some how connected to the one that came before it, but it is still not the same one. And in Buddhism, reincarnation is usually referred to as “transmigration.”
Nirvana is the state of freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth again and again. It is also the end of any suffering.
VIII. Theravada Buddhism’s Teachings
Hinayana (Little Vehicle) or Theravada Buddhism centered in Southeast Asia is traditional, and they try to follow the original teachings of Buddha. They see human as completely dependent on individual effort. They teach wisdom as the key virtue and consider religion as a duty, mostly for monks. They also consider Buddha as a saint, avoid ritual, and limit prayer to meditation. Their ideal is arhat or sainthood. (Theory of Buddhism )
IX. Mahayana Buddhism’s Teachings
Mahayana (Greater Vehicle) Buddhism has spread all over the world and has the principle that Buddha taught many things in secret to the follower who could properly interpret them. It sees human as associated with others. It considers sympathy as their key virtue and believes that its religion is suitable to life in the world. Hence, it is a religion for everyone not only for monks. The Mahayana Buddhists sees Buddha as a savior.
Their ideal is the Bodhisattva or a person who has achieved enlightenment but postpones Nirvana attainment to stay in heaven and answer prayers and help humans who are in need.
Mahayana Buddhism regards Buddha as a incarnate, divine savior, sinless person. For them, Buddha is all knowing and everlasting. For them, Buddha is a member of the Buddhist Trinity. (Theory of Buddhism )
According to Mahayana believe, those who is regular person could also attain enlightenment and end the cycle of rebirth Mahayana also provided us the faster routes to enlightenment than Theravada, This makes it possible to reach the goal in a single life time.
As it spread into the north of India and throughout Asia, Mahayana Buddhism splited into several groups, each with a different view on the path to enlightenment. But the common believe in all forms of Mahayana Buddhism is that anyone can achieve the goal in this life. (The Purpose of Life According to Buddhism)
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