Buddhism: history and teachings

Conscious TV

January 13, 2022

Buddhism originated in India 2,500 years ago and, although it has practically disappeared from the country, it is still the main religion of the East. There are more than 360 million Buddhists worldwide. Buddhist concepts have influenced Western society, especially in the areas of meditation and nonviolence.

Buddha ("the Enlightened One") was an Indian prince named Siddhartha Gautama who lived about 500 years before Christ. According to Buddhist tradition, the young prince lived a life filled with riches and comforts, until he went out into the world and encountered a sick man, a poor man and a corpse. Shocked and distressed by the suffering associated with life, Siddhartha abandoned his family to seek enlightenment through asceticism, but the most severe asceticism did not bring him enlightenment.

Finally, Siddhartha sat under a tree and vowed not to move until he attained enlightenment. A short time later, he became a Buddha or "the enlightened one" and spent the remaining 45 years of his life teaching the path of liberation from suffering (dharma) and established a community of monks (the sangha).

Throughout its long history, Buddhism has developed in many forms, from those that emphasize religious rituals and the worship of gods to those that reject rituals and gods altogether and concentrate fully on meditation. However, all forms of Buddhism share a respect for the Buddha's teachings and the goal of ending suffering and the cycle of reincarnations.

  • Theravada Buddhism, widespread in Southeast Asia, is philosophical and atheistic in nature and focuses on monastic life and meditation as ways to attain liberation.
  • Mahayana Buddhism, widespread in China and Japan, incorporates various gods, celestial beings and other traditional religious elements. In Mahayana, the path to liberation may include religious rituals, devotion, meditation or a combination of these three elements. The main forms of Mahayana Buddhism are Zen, Nichiren, Tendai and Pure Land.

Buddhist beliefs:

Buddha only considered knowledge important insofar as it was practical. He rejected speculation on questions such as God, the nature of the universe and the afterlife, and asked his followers to focus on the Four Noble Truths, which could free them from suffering Basic elements of Buddhism

In the 2,500 years since Buddha's enlightenment, Buddhism has spread to numerous countries, splitting into numerous sects and adopting a wide range of beliefs, practices, rituals and customs. However, its essential unity centered on the Buddha's teachings underlies these differences.

Is Buddhism an atheistic religion?

A general doctrine shared by Buddhists is: "We do not believe that this world was created and directed by any God." However, not believing in a creator God does not mean that Buddhism is atheistic.

Buddhas and deities

In Mahayana Buddhism, the universe is filled with heavenly buddhas, bodhisattvas and deities that help and inspire the Buddhist practitioner. Among the most popular are Kuan Yin, the Medicine Buddha, the Laughing Buddha, Tara the Green and Tara the White.

Purpose of life in Buddhism

In Buddhism, the purpose of life is to end suffering. Buddha taught that human beings suffer because they continually suffer from things that do not bring lasting happiness. Reincarnation and life after death About death, Buddha said Life is a journey. To die is to return to earth. The universe is like an inn. The passing years are like dust. Consider this ghostly world to be like a star at dawn, a drop in a river, a ray of light in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp - a ghost - and a dream.