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History of Buddhism and the life of Buddha
Buddhism originated from the northern part of India in 5th BC. It was founded by Buddha Shakyamuni in 624 BC, while he was working and living in Lumbini (Eckel, 2010). Buddhism is an Asiatic religion that has managed to spread across various parts of the globe. Buddhism has three major divisions in South East Asia, North Asia, and Japan. Buddhists consider Buddha as their religious leader. Over the years, Buddhism has developed a number of concepts that play a crucial role in explaining its teachings.
A good example is the concept of karma, which argues that people’s destiny depends on the nature and effect of their actions (Eckel, 2010). Research has also established that there are various types of Buddhism practiced by people across the world.
One of the common types of this religion is Theravada Buddhism, which emphasizes on personal salvation through individual efforts (Eckel, 2010). It is one of the most conservative forms of Buddhism. Theravada Buddhism adheres to Pali scriptures and the non-theistic ideal of self-purification to nirvana. It is very dominant in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia (Eckel, 2010).
The life of Buddha was characterized by loyal treatment. He was born in a loyal family called Shakya to Queen Mayadevi and King Shuddhodana. His second name, Shakyamuni, means the “Able One.” This meaning influenced him to start Buddhism because he believed he had the ability to provide people with the right spiritual guidance (Eckel, 2010).
Buddha’s mother believed that her son’s religious duties were prophesied to her when she was pregnant. She believed that Buddha was already anointed to become a spiritual leader, as evidenced by the fact that she did not experience any pain during his birth. The birth of Buddha was a big delight to elders in his community, as they felt that it was a fulfillment of everyone’s dreams (Eckel, 2010).
As a result of various life experiences, Buddha became more enlightened by learning the value of meditation and various ways of influencing people. Buddha took the opportunity of being a member of the loyal family to influence the development of Buddhism. He was already in an influential position; thus, getting followers was not a hard task. One of the factors that contributed to the speedy development of Buddhism was its inspirational teachings (Eckel, 2010).
Basic teachings of Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion represented by many groups, especially in Asia. The groups acknowledge a range of principles that idolize Buddha. Buddha teaches that life is characterized by various forms of suffering caused by different human aspirations. Suffering often ends when people stop pursuing their desires (Eckel, 2010). This means that the good and bad things that people experience in life result from the nature of desires pursued.
People who pursue positive and inspirational desires tend to have a fulfilling life, while those who go after misinformed desires endure a lot of pain (Eckel, 2010). Additionally, Buddha teaches that the enlightenment obtained through acceptable conduct, wisdom, and meditation often releases one from various desires, as well as suffering and rebirth (Eckel, 2010).
According to the basic teachings of Buddhism, people should consider the effects of their actions (Eckel, 2010). Theravada Buddhism teaches that people should make individual efforts to ensure that they play their part towards achieving the common good (Eckel, 2010).
The uniqueness of Theravada Buddhism
With over 100 million followers across the world, Theravada Buddhism is definitely unique compared to other schools of Buddhism. Due to its huge presence in southern Asia, this doctrine is also known among its adherents as Southern Buddhism (Eckel, 2010). One of the most unique elements of Theravada Buddhism is its highly conservative nature. Up to date, it still adheres to the customary teachings introduced by the Buddha.
In addition, they also hold the teachings of earlier elders in high regard, as they form the basis of its numerous teachings. Another element that makes Theravada Buddhism be unique is the practical nature of its teachings (Eckel, 2010). Unlike the other Buddhism schools, teachings of Theravada are realizable owing to the fact that they deal with just the concept of suffering. According to the teachings, people should strive towards liberating themselves from suffering associated with various life challenges.
The basic principles of Theravada Buddhism also make it different from other types of religion (Eckel, 2010). There are three principles that guide the conduct of the numerous adherents of Theravada Buddhism, namely wisdom, morality, and mental training. According to this type of Buddhism, it is immoral for people to tolerate acts such as abortion and euthanasia, as they compromise the value of life.
Followers of Theravada Buddhism understand the need to utilize knowledge and experience with common sense and insight (Eckel, 2010). In addition, the theory of mental development encourages people to adopt a culture of meditation, as it helps one to deal with distress, disappointments, and find happiness. Unlike all the other types of Buddhism, Theravada focuses a lot on the need for people to understand the nature of things and the importance of appreciation (Eckel, 2010).
Eckel, M.D. (2010). Buddhism. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group.