Buddhism term paper

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Buddhism term paper

A Sample Buddhism term paper: 

I-Introduction & General Informationbuddha

Buddhism is one of the most popular religions in Asia, particularly in South East Asia in countries such as China, Japan, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka and others. There are over 600 million Buddhists in the world. Although some argue that Buddhism is not as popular as it used to be in the past, yet, we do hear of famous people such as Richard Gere converting to Buddhism as they get fascinated by the teachings of this Oriental religion which is based on self-denial and spirituality.

II-The Birth of Buddha

Buddhism started with Buddha (The Enlightened) and most of the teachings of Buddhism developed during his lifetime in which he tried to reach the highest levels of spirituality and self-denial.

A-Pre-birth Phase

According to the Karma law, human beings, lived different lives at different times. However, Buddha lived in a divine world called Tushita where all joys are satisfied (Corless, p.5). He found out that this life of his was not permanent and so decided to descend to the human world to release himself from suffering, because it was in the human world where he could reach Buddhahood or enlightenment (Corless,p.5).

B-Buddha in Mayadevi’s Womb

He appointed Maitreya to be his successor as Buddha and departed to Jambudvipa where he grew in the womb of Queen Mayadevi (Corless,p.7). It is believed that the material body of his mother illuminated while she held him in her womb. The mother died shortly after the Buddha came out from her side without any pain to rule the world with his wisdom. The mother’s womb is believed to have transferred to another heavenly world so that it would not bear any children. The birth of the Buddha according to the Western Calendar was in the year 563 BC (Corless,p.7).

III-The Life of Buddha

A-Buddha’s Upbringing

He was named Prince Siddhartha and his father the King tried to prevent his son from meeting any unpleasant scenes or experiences. He was taught the arts of war and literature but he was not satisfied as he knew more than his teachers. Siddhartha married beautiful Yashodhara and became a father (Conze,p.19). However, once he saw a suffering human being and his own suffering began as came to the belief that the life in which he lived was not real, and that it contained a lot of spiritual suffering too. He became bored with his life and fled from his palace to the forests to gain the knowledge that would lead him to total self-denial and spirituality.

B-The Journey in The Forest

In the forest, he was taught by two teachers. The first taught him liberation (moksha) which could be achieved by reducing psycho-physical activity. The other taught him how to reach the bhavagra, the limit of existence (Maung,p.23). However, he was not satisfied as he felt that suffering still existed. He finally decided for himself. He discovered that it was the mind that made him suffer, so it should be the mind that would make him released(Corless,p.9).

C-The Enlightened Circle

The Buddha trained until he reached the Bodhi-mandala, “The Enlightenment Circle” where he must sit and become unconquerable (Corless,p11). Mara, the Lord of Samasra of lust and evil tried to move him, by terrifying him with illusions and then by seducing him with his daughters. However, the Buddha had reached the extreme depth of himself and was not moved (Corless,p12). Mara was defeated and Buddha reached the extreme point of self-denial and liberty of the soul. Mara asked Buddha to bring witnesses for his triumph, and Buddha touched the Earth with his right hand, thus choosing the Earth as witness, and this became a religious gesture for Buddhists (Corless,p.13).

IV-Doctrine of Buddhism

A-Buddha The Teacher

After reaching Buddhahood, Buddha decided that it was useless to teach the people what he had reached. However, the King of Gods asked him to attempt to enlighten the people who were still in darkness.

Consequently, Buddha spent forty-five years traveling in the Ganges delta region teaching those who listened to him. His teachings were so immense that it would take many years to grasp them all (Maung, p.56).

B-Buddhist Vision

Buddha divided his vision into the Four Truths, the Eightfold Path, the Twelvefold Cycle of suffering (duhkha), its arising, its ceasing, and the path to its ceasing. The Eightfold Path elaborates the Fourth Truth, and the Twelvefold Cycle explains the cycle of ignorance and desire. Understanding all these spiritual paths and teachings which involve control over the body and spirit, especially by using Yoga, will lead the human being into a full understanding of Buddhism, hence putting an end to his suffering (Corless,p.12).

C-Nirvana {Final Disappearance}

The final phase of Buddha’s life was the Nirvana, that is final disappearance. He did not die, but rather went out like a candle after going through a trance for days (Corless, p.13). The disappearance  was believed to have taken place in the year 483 BC. The sacred bright remains of his body were distributed to the four quarters and to the heavens so that he remained in existence forever (Corless,p.13).

V-Buddhist Rituals

Worship is divided into two forms. The first form is the meditation practiced by the monasks and nuns, which involves yoga and other ways of meditation and detachment with the material world. The other type of ritual is the worship, or Puja, that can be practiced by ordinary people. It involves creating an image of a Buddha or a god or goddess, and then worshipping this image with all senses involved, trying to get the self totally involved with the worshipped. Buddhists do not believe in the supreme gods since the gods cannot lead to the nirvana phase (Kalupahana,p.36).

The worshippers try to use their entire bodies by adopting postures such as standing or prostrating, and gestures such as joint hands. The shoes are always removed (Kalupahana,p.38). The worship enables the worshipper to gain punya (liberty). At the end of the ritual, the punya is transferred to a dead relative or even to humanity to assist human beings to reach enlightenment (Kalupahana,p.40).

Conclusion

In conclusion, Buddhism is not a sophisticated religion in its teachings. To the contrary, it is not impossible to reach the highest levels of Buddhism, enlightenment and faith. However, the difficult part is in how the human being is going to pass through each path without surrendering to the strong powers of desire and materialism. It is a fascinating religion and philosophy of life, and many people, even in the Western world regard it to be a best remedy for the suffering of humanity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

Conze, Edward. (1980). A Short History of Buddhism. London: George Alleen & Union.

 

Corless, Roger. (1989). The Vision  of Budhism. New York: Paragon House.

 

Kalupahara, Doria. Ed. (1991). Buddhist Thought & Ritual. New York: Paragon House.

 

Maung, Tin. (1964). Buddhist Devotion & Meditation. London: S.P.C.

 

By | 2017-03-23T17:42:34+00:00 September 27th, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized|Comments Off on Buddhism term paper