There are several dominant religions in the world. Christianity and Islam are considered some of the most numerous and well-represented around the world. They are very similar to one another in many ways, including religious teachings and the concept of One God. Buddhism, however, is different. It is a religion widely-spread in the Far East, particularly in India, China, Japan, and some portions of the Middle East. Buddhism has no specific god to worship, which differs it from other religions. Instead, Buddhism focuses on how to solve real-life problems. One of its defining traits is the absence of the concept of revenge. Buddhism is not about who stabbed you with the sword but about how to pull it out.
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Buddhism is like a journey on a boat towards the shore. It provides the boat, but it is up to the person to sail. There are 2 major schools of Buddhism, called “The big boat” and “the small boat.” The Big Boat focuses on allowing others to accompany you on the journey to Nirvana, while the Small Boat only allows room for oneself. On the journey to Nirvana, traditions of donation of money and donation of the body are important, as charity is said to benefit those around you and make the journey easier.
When people die, they are brought to the mountains, where the body is given to the vultures. Without the spirit, the body is useless, so it is viewed as the last step of separating the spirit from the body.
Before Buddhism, Tibet had the religion of Bon. Similar rituals and symbols, different in history and religious authority. Buddhism has different wings. The Chinese, Indian, and Tibetan Buddhism. Chinese Buddhism is about Oa Chun – big boat. Sothern (Indian) – Show Chun (small boat). Tibetan Buddhism is very close to Bon – the religion it merged with during the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet.
In Bon, as it is in Tibetan Buddhism, there are three regions – evil, human, and divine. Human lies in between and is in this world to find its path between good and evil. Witchcraft is used to communicate. Bon and early Tibetan Buddhism have strong ties to witchcraft.
In Tibet, Buddhism and Bon competed with one another, being supported by different social groups. Royalty supported Buddhism, while rich and noble families – Bon. Eventually, Buddhism won. The two religions became incorporated into one another, with Buddhism taking some elements from Bon while disregarding those considered faulty.
Buddhist temples play an important part in preserving the legacy of Buddhism, its history, traditions, and beliefs. They are scattered all around the world, but the majority of the temples can be found in China, India, and Japan. Afghanistan holds one of the largest Buddha statues in the world. In Tibet, Buddhist temples are few and far between due to the scarcity of materials necessary for construction. It is the reason why the concept of “Temple within oneself” is so important for Tibetan Buddhists – as long as they have it, they can conduct the rituals and practice their faith whenever they go, with no need for walls and altars to justify the divinity of their experience.
These are the main points of the lecture about Buddhism that I attended. It was fairly informative, and the translator did a good job explaining to us the meaning of the lecturer’s words. However, I believe that having a foreign lecturer and a translator is not a very effective model. It takes twice the time to deliver the information. Instead, the foreign lecturer should have written his script on the paper, had it translated, and let someone else read it to us. It would have been much more efficient and informative.