The History of Buddhism

Summarize the history of Buddhism and the life of Buddha.
Explain the basic teachings and moral aspects of Buddhism.
Explain what makes the school of Buddhism (Mahayana) unique.

 

History of Buddhism Mahayana

The history of Buddhism and the life of Buddha

Gautama Buddha took birth in Lumbini Garden in 624 B. C in an imperial family of Nepal to mother Maya Devi and father Suddhodhana, who was the king of Kapilavastu and the leader of the Sakya clan. His parents had named him Siddhartha and prince Siddhartha was raised with utmost affection and care. He grew up into an exceptionally gifted person who had a compassionate heart apart from being a strong and handsome warrior skilled in all kinds of warfare. His parents had nurtured him amidst wealth and prosperity, far away from misery and poverty yet all the pleasures of the world failed to satiate his soul. In his youth, he was gifted five hundred attractive women to enjoy and various opportunities for excitement but prince Siddhartha continued to be seeking solace which he never found in the worldly pleasures. He had an early marriage at the age of sixteen with a beautiful princess Yasodhara, and soon Siddhartha fathered a son named Rahul. It was at the age of twenty nine that Siddhartha confronted with sufferings beyond the great walls of the royal palace. The first day he came across an ailing person who was suffering terribly and the next day, he faced an old man who was frail and dilapidated with age. The last image of suffering came in front of him in the form of a corpse and soon, the prince was no longer the same person. Then he came across a holy man who seemed to him to be happy without having any earthly possessions. By this time he had undergone a sea change within him which propelled him to leave the worldly riches and walk out of the royal household in search of truth and peace. (“The Life of the Buddha”,n.d). He then took a new name Gautama and began extreme asceticism but could not find the answer to his search. Surprisingly, after spending six years of penance and austerity, he found his ‘moksha’ under a fig tree in Bodh Gaya (modern Bihar) and became “Buddha” which means ‘the enlightened one’. (“The Enlightenment of the Buddha”,n.d). On his first visit to Benaras after enlightenment, he was encircled by five holy men who became his followers and eventually his preachings formed a new religion which came to be known as Buddhism.

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Explain the basic teachings and moral aspects of Buddhism.

Buddhism is more of a discipline than a religion because it is based on the four basic tenets known as the “Four Noble Truths” which are the truth of sufferings or ‘dukkha’, the origin of the truth of suffering or ‘samudaya’, the truth of the end of suffering or ‘nirhodha’ and the last one is the truth of the path that frees one from the sufferings or ‘magga’. Buddhism is the pathway that can be achieved by exploration, understanding, testification and realization of the four noble truths. (Basic Beliefs and Tenets of Buddhism, n.d). Buddha had realized that extreme penance does not bring enlightenment rather he preached the practice of middle path through Buddhism. The eight fold ways to practice the middle path is explained by the eight fold path of Buddhism. These are right understanding, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. This eight fold path acts as a guideline while seeking the truth and achieving the moksha according to the teachings of Buddha  (The History, Philosophy and Practice of Buddhism, 2017). The Buddhist morality believes in “karma” as the sole dictator who determines what kind of life a person would get in a lifetime. Buddhism believes in reincarnation and propagates that non violent life full of generosity can relieve one from sufferings in the next birth and human life is entangled in the cycle of ‘Karma’ and thus the sufferings of human life is actually the consequences of the past actions\

Explain what makes the school of Buddhism (Mahayana) unique.

The two distinct schools of Buddhism are the Mahayana and the Hinayana. The Mahayana is a higher form of faith that does not believe in idol worship which believes in eternal emptiness or ‘shunyata’ and hence there is neither reality nor unreality and everything that exists in the universe lives on a relative identity. It is said that Buddhism has two eyes which are insight and empathy and Mahayana teaches that everything in this universe in temporary and nothing is permanent (Basic Beliefs and Tenets of Buddhism, n.d).

References:

The life of the Buddha(n.d). Retrieved February 2, 2018, from https://www.diamondway-buddhism.org/buddhism/buddha/
The Enlightenment of the Buddha:The Great Awakening(n.d). Retrieved February 2, 2018 from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-enlightenment-of-the-buddha-449789
Basic Beliefs and Tenets of Buddhism(n.d). Retrieved February 2, 2018 from https://www.thoughtco.com/introduction-to-buddhism-449715 
The History, Philosophy and Practice of Buddhism, 2017. Retrieved February 2, 2018 from https://www.buddha101.com/p_path.htm

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