Buddhism is one of the world’s major religions, which originated in india 2500 years ago. It has touched a large percentage of the world’s population mainly in the countries, which includes srilanka, burma. Thailand, cambodia, laos, china, japan, korea, mongolia, tibet, nepal, sikkim, bhutan and vietnam. It has spread to the western world having increasing number of adherents in europe, america and australia .
Buddhism being followed in different forms in the different countries of the world . Buddhism is a tradition, rich in diversity, with several different scriptures and schools of though. The tradition has been very flexible, and has adapted to the different countries and cultures to which it has spread. There are two main branches-theravada ("the way of the elders") and mahayana ("the great vehicle").
Theravada teaches that there is no reality corresponding to the concept of god that we can rely on for salvation. There may be gods, who may even inter-act with human and help or hinder in minor matters, but these are merely other life forms, subject to the cycle of rebirth.
The monastic sangha is at the heart of the practice of theravadabuddhism. Apart from working towards realization and enlightenment for themselves, the role of theravada monks is to preserve and spread the dharma, the buddhist teaching by words and action.
Mahayana buddhists accept a variety of sutras, or scriptures, some of which are not found in the theravada collection. They have a somewhat different concept of the buddhist goal, which they see as buddhahood itself. The path to buddhahood is referred to as the path of the bodhisattva, or “the being of enlightenment”. The bodhisattvas are often defined as ones who put the salvation of others before their own, so they are pictures as self-sacrificing individuals who choose to remain in samsara (the cycle of rebirth) in order to help others, instead of resting in the peace of nirvana. The mahayanabuddhists believe that there are many buddhas in different world systems, able to aid those who call upon them, as can the bodhisattvas who have advanced on their spiritual paths. Mahayana buddhists sometimes refer to the trikaya, or three forms of buddha; the underlying buddha nature, glorious celestial manifestations, and earthly manifestations. Mahayana philosophy has been influenced by the madhyamaka and the yogachara.
There are quite a few variants of mahayanabuddhism:
- Tibetanbuddhism – also referred to as the vajrayana
- Zenbuddhism – developed in china, korea and japan and japan and the meditation is the main attribute of it.
- Pure land buddhism – is focused on one particular mahayana scripture which tells of a living buddha who inhabit another world system.
- Nichirenbuddhism – named after japanese monk who felt the necessity of reforming buddhism and japanese society, and is based on lotus sutra of mahayana scripture.
Buddhism is not based on belief in god nor does it have a set creed nor scripture nor a central authority, but has a goal for human life that transcends the world perceived by the senses, espouses certain truth about life and advocates ways of behaving ethically. It is a rich and varied tradition and has adopted to many different social and cultural context. It has never demanded sole allegiance from people, and can coexist with local religious traditions, folk beliefs, and customs without seeking actively to replace them. Consequently, buddhism can appear to be quite different in different places and time.
Though, difficult to summarize, the teachings and even more the practices of buddhism, are nothing but a quest of true happiness and peace for all beings is a common feature of all the buddhist traditions. Buddha pointed out that life as most people experience it, is unsatisfactory and is characterized by suffering and impermanence. Must of this we bring upon ourselves throughour own greed, selfishness and our ignorance of the true nature of the reality. Buddhism is a religion of wisdom and compassion. Religious practices and beliefs are only means to this end and nothing special in themselves . The five basic moral precepts of buddhism are to abstain from killing, taking what has not been given, sexual misconduct, false speech and intoxicants that cloud the mind.
The four noble truths are:
- All fe involves suffering. There are many evils in the world no pleasant thing lasts forever. Our lives are limited and uncertain.
- The suffering is caused by selfish craving and clinging to things that do not last. This applies to this life and from life to life (sansara – the cycle of rebirth ).
- Having identified the cause, the problem is solved by eliminating the cause rather than the symptoms. Thus, ignorance and selfishness can be replaced by wisdom and compassion, which will finally lead to nirvana.
- To gain wisdom and compassion one has to follow eight fold path, consisting of right view, right intention, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right contemplation.
Always think of compassion. That is all you need to know. This can be achieved by training the mind to realize the truth through meditation.