"I teach suffering, its origin, cessation and path. That's all I teach," declared the Buddha 2500 years ago.

image source: http://alumni.imsa.edu/~trasched/siddhartha/soc.html

Buddhism

Religion and Philosophy

Buddhism began in India, but brought to China new ideas such as karma, reincarnation, hell, monks and monasteries. Buddhism encountered opposition in China, especially from Confucians but grew and thrived none-the-less.

 

History of Buddhism

Buddhism began in the 6th century BCE in India. The Siddhartha Buddha sought a way to end suffering through a "middle way."


According to legend, whilst seated beneath the Bodhi tree the Buddha experienced the four noble truths:

Dukkha: All existence is unsatisfactory and filled with suffering

Trsna: The root of suffering can be defined as a craving or clinging to the wrong things; searching to find stability in a shifting world is the wrong way

Nirvana: It is possible to find an end to suffering

The Noble Eightfold path is the way to finding the solution to suffering and bring it to an end

 

He offered an "eightfold path" which provides a way to live your life without suffering and achieve nirvana.

The eightfold path is split into three categories: moral, concentration, and wisdom.

Achieving Nirvana requires all the following:

 

Moral

  • right speech
  • right action
  • right livelihood

Concentration

  • right effort
  • right mindfulness
  • right concentration

Wisdom

  • right thought
  • right understanding

 

image source: http://selfknowledge.com/109713.htm

Dharma wheel

The wheel is a very important symbol in Buddhism because it depicts the cycle of life and death. It symbolizes how Buddhists separate the physical from the spiritual:

image source: http://www.dharma-haven.org/

The world, samsara, is an illusion designed by evil spirits, mara, to prevent wisdom and enlightenment or dharma.

Karma

Good Karma regulates your reincarnation. Karma - or cause and effect - comes from:

image source: http://karma.astrology.com

  • finding the good in everything
  • working happily
  • inflicting no harm
  • seeking moderation

Important Dates in the Life of Buddha

Celebration of Buddha's life

Vesak, Birth of Buddha The Buddha was born in his mother's homeland of Nepal in May. Both his birth and his death are days of celebration in Buddhism.
Parinirvana or Buddha's death

Parinirvana translates as detachment and means the complete condition of rest, harmony, stability or joy.

Buddha died in October, so Parinirvana occurs then.

Buddhist Councils:

1st Buddhist Council (5th century BC) occurred at death of buddha. His cousin and favorite, Ananda, was able to recite all lessons or sutras as well as the monastic code or vinaya. Obviously, Buddhism was originally an oral tradition. And as with all facts based on oral communication, over time change creeps in and divisions grow. The delegation of monks marking his death, included monks from Tibet, demonstrating how Buddhism began as a "multinational" phenomenon.

3d Council (250 BC) in Patiliputra under the Indian King, Ashoka, created the bhramin script - the first written evidence of Buddhism. Ahoka's reign carried Buddhism out to the middle east.

4th Council (100 AD) saw Buddhism move in Thailand (Sri Lanka)

Buddhism comes to Asia

Over time, the "great way" of Buddhism or Mahayana of India became the Mahayana of China and, later, of Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.

Buddhism has gained followers and has spread through out the world. Each society adapts Buddhism to fits their own needs. No doubt, this flexibility has contributed to its influence and longevity in the world.

Buddhism in China and Korea:

Han Dynasty is the first buddhist community in 150 AD, but Buddhism had come to China along the silk road in 67 BC. By 3d century, China had developed its own Buddhist tradition or sangha. There are estimates that 2 million Chinese practiced Buddhism at this time.

From China, Buddhist monks traveled to Korea and in 6th century monks arrived in Japan carrying a buddhist statue.

Buddhism in Asia

Pilgrims spread religion throughout the area and also sought out the sacred spots of their religions. One such pilgrim was Hye Ch'o. He left a journal of his travels. Next take a look at this extraordinary, three year journey: Hye Ch'o's journey .
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Sources:

http://alumni.imsa.edu/~trasched/siddhartha/soc.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/beliefs/fournobletruths.shtml

http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/buddhahist.html

Waka Takahashi Brown, "Religions and Philosophies in China: Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism," SPICE (Stanford: 2002)