SHADMIA'S WORLD

Just Another Guy with Opinions

World Religions – Buddhism

Posted by shadmia on October 27, 2006

The following was an article written by Charith Jayasinghe, a Buddhist. His eloquence and sincerity shine throughout this piece. Visit his column at Newsvine

Why I Love Being a Buddhist

buddha.jpg

A statue of Lord Buddha in Mihintale, Sri Lanka.

 

 

Buddhism is probably the only religion that I personally could follow. This is probably because Buddhism is more of a philosophy really than a religion. It does not deal with the unexplainable, such as origins. It doesn’t contradict anything in the modern world. It is open to interpretation. All it does is provide guidelines for living a peaceful life. Basically, I love being a Buddhist.

Since the only thing most of my American friends know about Buddhists is that they meditate, let’s start with some brief history. Sidhartha Gautama was an Indian prince born around 563 BC in present day Lumbini, Nepal. The prince spent most of his early life in luxury, sheltered from the real world. Legend has it that when Sidhartha happened to see a sick, dying old man on the street he decided to leave his sheltered life and learn about the world around him. He left his palace and traveled, learning from several monks. In an attempt to understand the world better, Sidhartha decided to fast and do nothing but meditate. Well, as most of us know, you can’t really think on an empty stomach, and this method failed Sidhartha. Seeing as that both the luxurious life and the starved life had left him without enlightenment, Sidhartha had come to the conclusion that one should live a life of moderation, saying that one should follow the Middle Path, which states that one should avoid extremes, whether they be of pleasing oneself or depriving oneself, and should live life moderately. It is through this path that Sidhartha achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree . There are currently two main branches of Buddhism, Therevada and Mahayana. Theravada more directly follows the original teachings of Lord Buddha, while Mahayana differs slightly in certain areas and has certain different philosophies.

Buddhism teaches what is known as the *Noble Eightfold Path*.

  1. Right Understanding – Understand what is right.
  2. Right Thought – Think right thoughts.
  3. Right Speech – Say right things.
  4. Right Action – Do right actions.
  5. Right Livelihood – Live right.
  6. Right Effort – Make an effort to rid yourself of bad qualities and gain right ones
  7. Right Mindfulness – Focus on the body, feelings, mind, and mental qualities in order to put away distress in each area.
  8. Right Concentration – Be mindful and alert, avoiding the extremities of life and living moderately.

While Buddhism provides guidelines for how one should live ones life, I find it to be less dictating than other religions. Buddhism encourages followers to consider the teachings and how they apply to one’s life, almost like saying “but don’t take my word for it, think about it yourself.”

It should be understood that Buddha is by no means a god or higher power, to put it simply, Buddha was just a guy who happened to know what he was talking about. Because of this Buddhism is one of the few religions that has absolutely no conflict with the modern scientific world. Buddhism does touch on reincarnation, however this is mostly part of Hinduism that happened to cling on, and isn’t a main tenet in Buddhism. There are no promises of punishment for not following the guidelines of Buddhist philosophy; there is no hell, or heaven either for that matter. One should follow a moral code for the benefit of becoming a better and more content person. Buddhism is really more of a list of life suggestions, or a “How to Live Contently”. Buddhism sticks to what I think a religion should just stick it, providing a moral code for one to live a healthy life.

I am truly grateful for being born into a Buddhist family, because the Buddhist religion seems to cater to me perfectly. It’s the only religion that is not too dogmatic for me to handle, and the philosophical and moral teachings seem to work for me. I love being a Buddhist.

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