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History of Buddhism

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Kiki Torrez


July 13, 2015

Joseph Butryn


History of Buddhism

        Buddhism is one of the oldest religions there is to date.  Although it is spread to many places around the world, its beginning was in India.  This whole religion began with one person.  The person was Siddhartha Gautama, who would be known as the Buddha or the Awakened One (Molly, 2013).  Siddhartha was born the son of a prince of the Shakya tribe in what is today Nepal, in the lower Himalaya Mountains (Molly, 2013).  His path was foretold that he could either follow in his father’s footsteps and become a king or take another path and become a spiritual leader.  In the beginning he did follow the path of his father and got married and had a son.  But in time his true calling spoke more to him and he eventually left the kingdom and went out in search of answers to his spiritual needs.  After long journeys and many struggles to find these answers Siddhartha reached a state of profound understanding, called his Awakening, or Enlightenment (bodhi), (Molly, 2013).  Siddhartha arose and said that he was now a person who had woken up. From this came his new name: the Buddha, the Awakened One, taken from a Sanskrit word meaning “to wake up.” (Molly, 2013)  From this Buddha savored his new way of life and used meditation as a way to calm.  The Buddha spent the rest of his long life traveling from village to village in northeast India, teaching his insights and his way of life (Molly, 2013).  

Basic Teachings

        Buddha’s teaching were never recorded or written down, and what was written happened sometime after his death.  According to “Molly”, 2013, “At the core of what is generally regarded as basic Buddhism are the Three Jewels (Sanskrit: Triratna; Pali: Tiratana)—that is, the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. The Buddha is thought of as an ideal human being whom other human beings should imitate; the image of him, seated in meditation, is a constant model of self-control and mindfulness. He is not usually thought of as being dead but instead as existing in a timeless dimension beyond the world. The Dharma (Sanskrit), or Dhamma (Pali), means the sum total of Buddhist teachings about how to view the world and how to live properly. The Sangha is the community of monks and nuns.”        

        Common to all forms of Buddhism is a way of looking at the world.  According to this view, reality manifests three characteristics: constant change, a lack of permanent identity, and the existence of suffering. This view is the foundation for the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path (Molly, 2013).  The Four Noble Truths are a linked chain of truths about life: (1) suffering exists; (2) it has a cause; (3) it has an end; and (4) there is a way to attain release from suffering—namely, by following the Noble Eightfold Path (Molly, 2013).



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