Buddhism has existed for over two thousand years as an organized religion. . Buddhism is usually called a religion; though, it differs from the common meaning of a religion in that it has no deities, does not encourage worship of demigods, and is based on observation and logical reasoning rather than spiritual faith. (Boeree) At the heart of philosophy of Buddhism is the Buddha’s enumeration of Four Noble Truths: Samudaya (origin of suffering), Dukkha (suffering), Magga (path to cessation of suffering), and Nirodha (cessation of suffering).
The Four Noble Truths of Buddha are based on archetypical traits that were explained through careful experiential observance and exhaustive introspection. One may frown on a life of no indulgence and little pleasure. In the teachings of Buddha, life is suffering. In that respect, the experience of desire, temptation, and pleasure only leads to more of the same. It is an endless cycle of desire and suffering. (Boeree) Buddhism is not a sadistic religion that advocates pain and suffering. It shows one how to limit that suffering by limiting temptation through meditation and faith.
To meet one’s goals in Buddhism is to teach the ultimate experience or like I discussed before, Nirvana. The goal of Buddhism is to limit experiences such as temptation, desire, lust, and dissatisfaction. In return, one will experience more peace of mind and less suffering. (Ludwig) The mythic dimension is not unlike other religions. The story of Buddha and his attainment of enlightenment guides the Buddhist faith in the form of myth. It is the power of this myth that drives many Buddhists to stick hard to the 8-fold path. Buddha did not have this path written down when he went to sit under the tree.
As I understand it he believed the 8-fold path was the best way to help others put an end to suffering. Even if a Buddhist does not reach Nirvana, the 8-fold path should help them live a peaceful life with the least amount of suffering. The next topic is the ritual dimension and how it relates to Buddhism. (“The Noble Eightfold Path”) Unlike Christianity, Buddhism does not have a strict set of rituals that are to be followed. If one wants freedom from suffering one must follow the 8-fold path. It is an individual’s decision. There is no Archbishop or Pope in Buddhism.
There are monks that have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of enlightenment. These monks, along with common Budddhists, have rituals they perform to help in the pursuit of enlightenment. (Richardson) For instance, it is a sort of ritual or tradition for young men to enter a monastery as part of their transition into adulthood. They usually stay for about 3 weeks. Laypeople should give a daily offering of food to the monks. This is done to support the monks their quest for enlightenment. (Healey) They do this while realizing that someday even if not in this life they may obtain the discipline to become a monk.
Some other rituals include chanting and meditating at a shrine or Buddhist statue. Keep in mind that in there?? Buddhism the statues are not to be worshiped. They are mainly there to provide motivation and focus during meditations. (Niwano) The Doctrinal Dimension is very important for individual that subscribe to Buddhist tradition. Buddhism is not really a group effort. Is it up to the individual to adhere to the 8-fold path. If one doesn’t believe in Buddhism, there is really no reason to pretend or try to stick around. The 8-fold path provides individuals with strict doctrine to follow in order to rid oneself of suffering.
The doctrine or body of ideas introduced by Buddha himself are the backbones of Buddhism. (Boeree) Without the 8-fold path, Buddhists would be wandering the cities and forests without any guidance or moral support. In addition to the 8-fold path, the four noble truths also influence the behavior and beliefs of the Buddhists. How far you travel in Buddhism depends on one’s dedication and belief in the doctrines Buddha presented. If you believe that life is suffering, then you will be more likely to adhere to the 8-fold path. (“The Noble Eightfold Path. ”) The connection here is simple.
If one does not believe that temptation and desire causes suffering, then how can one be dedicated to the 8-fold path? As we can see, doctrine influences individuals greatly in Buddhism. I find the Buddhist doctrine to be a lot more straightforward than certain other religions. The doctrinal dimension in Buddhism gives order to the story of Buddha through the 8-fold path. (“The Noble Eightfold Path”) Before going into the various religious dimensions of Buddhism, I want to make clear how Buddhism provides answers to certain boundary questions.
Unlike Mahayara Buddhism, Theravada does not have a happyland. (Encyclop? ia Britannica) In fact it does not really explain Nirvana, except to say that people who reach it are liberated from all that binds them to a life of ignorance and immune from the intoxications that stimulated the cravings. Nevertheless, Theravada Buddhism tries to explain why one suffers and what happens if one follows its doctrines. (Ludwig) The one boundary question Buddhism doesn’t attempt to answer in detail is about creation. Buddha made no assumption about how the world originated. The four truths, if acted upon, are said to provide humans with salvation which may provide peace of mind pertaining to boundary questions.
Buddhism also is appealing because it has no hell. In terms of where we go when we die, there is no chance of damnation in Buddhism. One will be reborn over and over, and depending on their karma, they can achieve a better rebirth that may allow them to follow the 8-fold path honestly. (“The Noble Eightfold Path. ”) In that manner, Buddhism does give hope and answers many profound life questions. Now that I covered what Buddhism can do for people and what its purpose is, I would like to examine its outward effects on society. The ethical dimension is very important to the Buddhist religion.
The way in which a person interacts with society could affect his or her karma and rebirth. A Buddhist’s behavior is dictated by their faith in religious doctrine. One who follows the 8-fold path implements its teachings into everyday life. Subscribing to Buddhism entails many virtues. When one carries out these virtues in everyday life, we are witnessing the ethical dimension at work. For example, if a true believer in Buddhism is robbed, what would he do? Sticking to Buddhist virtues and following the 8-fold path would not allow the man to seek revenge on his assailant.
This example shows how the ethical dimension is connected a great deal with doctrinal dimension. In the same example, the man should refrain from holding a grudge against the thief. I tried to implement this particular belief into my life because I tend to get upset by people who are unjust toward me. If I think about them and their current situation, my anger often turns to pity. In Buddhism, there are a lot of morals and ethical reasonings that impact the individual and his or her effect on the outside world. (Encyclop? dia Britannica)
The social structure of Buddhism is a little different than religions such as Hinduism and even Christianity. There are people such as monks and saints to look up to in Buddhism, but nobody is responsible for ensuring one’s faith but oneself. Buddhism tells the story of an individual’s quest for enlightenment. It is the individual that must be motivated to better his or herself. In traditional Buddhism, the social community supports the monks in the temple by offering food and offerings. Buddhist society revolves around the relationship between the monks and the laity.
Usually, the Buddhist monks have no opinion on politics, but modern movements have seen more involvement from the Sanghaor the order of Buddhist monks. (Boeree) For example, Burma Buddhist monks supported the movement for independence from the British. The modern Buddhists are seeing more involvement in the social dimension of religion. Mahayana Buddhism in Japan involves many aspects of the social dimension. Mahayana Buddhism is more worldly and nationalistic. (Ludwig) People worship in groups and actually enjoy good times with Buddhists in social settings. Buddhism does not discriminate against women as much as some religions.
Buddha provided the same goals equally to both women and men. (Chappell) However, the focus of the Buddhist order has usually involved mostly men. The social aspect for Buddhist women has been to test the shrines and offer food to the monks. Hopefully, in the future we will see more women involved in the advanced teachings of Buddha. Buddhism is an interesting religion. It has won many converts in western society for those seeking freedom from the predominantly materialistic western society. It advocates peace and tranquility in a stressful competitive world.
One is able to redeem his or herself through karma. In many religions, if you stray from the doctrine, you are forever damned. This is not so in Buddhism. The religion allows individuals to see enlightenment when one is ready. I am not saying other religions are wrong or right. The idea of eternal damnation is just too unsettling for me. In this world, it is nearly impossible not to sin. Buddhism allows one to better themselves if they are not satisfied with their lives. I am glad I had the opportunity to study this religion. I feel it will continue to grow in the future.