Buddhism grew from within the context of Hinduism, allowing a godless spirituality to many, is a worldwide religion and philosophy about 2,500 years old with approximately 376 million adherents as of 2005. Buddhism's inception is tied to the historic figure of Siddhartha Gautama, or Buddha Gautama, between 500 to 400 BC in what is modern day Nepal. Siddhartha, born into the kshatriya class within Vedic society, is only one of four classes: brahmin, kshatriya, vaishya and shudra. The kshatriya class were the ruling royal nobility and military elite. Ideologically, the kshatriya was second to the brahmin, but the brahmin found their safety and protection through the kshatriya. The warrior prince Siddhartha lived a pampered lifestyle sheltered by his father yet renounced this life and thus challenging Vedic society as a whole spent seven years traveling and seeking out teachers. During this spiritual journey Siddhartha practiced ascetic or Jainism disciplines such as fasting and extreme self-denial for enlightenment. Eventually the Buddha uncovered his own path and while meditating under the Budhi tree at the 49th day, after temptation from Mara (Buddhist Lord of the senses) he gleaned the Four Noble Truths and gained enlightenment. Buddhists believe there are infinite number of past and future Buddhas.
The Four Noble Truths
After gaining nirvana Siddhartha goes on a 40-year mission to spread his teachings.
- Life means suffering.
- The origin of suffering is attachment.
- The cessation of suffering is attainable.
- The path to the cessation of suffering.
- right views
Theravada meaning, "the Teaching of the Elders" created in what is modern day India is the oldest surviving Buddhist school with about 100 million adherents in the world today. It is mainly found in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka and Thailand, recently taking hold in the West through emigrants from India.
Views on God
Classical Buddhist philosophers have never argued for the concept of God put forth by theism, and in fact can be considered atheist in regard to a theistic conception of God. There does remain appeal to lower deities and so Buddhism has been characterized as "trans-polytheism". Buddhists attempt to deny a theistic conception of God, and articulate arguments against such. However in doing so they bring into the fold, actual theistic arguments to imprint the theology (reasoned discourse about God) of the Christian concept of God, or more broadly philosophical theist, onto the Buddhist concept of Siddhartha Gautama.
The Life of Buddha
Siddhartha Gautama married Princess Yasodharā Siddhartha who gave birth to his only son named Rahula. Prior to the spiritual enlightenment that transformed him into the Buddha (the Awakened One), Siddhartha Gautama was a member of the warrior type being born under a system of regional governmental oligarchies called the gana-sanghas. It is said he lived in palaces and had thousands of dancing girls with a cultured education of martial arts and warfare. A Prince of the Shakyas and member of the clan of Lumbini Siddhartha was intimately familiar with the diplomatic statecraft needed at joint council meetings making decisions for the whole. This would perhaps include decisions for war. Raised to be leader of his clan by the time he founded Buddhism the gana-sanghas was waning under the might of two expanding monarchies, Magadha and Kosala.
These governmental decisions of war and the like present juxtaposition of Jesus Christ the founder of the Christian faith and Siddhartha Gautama founder of the Buddhist philosophy of reality. Christ according to the New Testament was never involved at the governmental level but maintained throughout His life a relationship with the common struggling man at an individual and personal level. In no way can Christ be implicated or involved with war-like decisions during his earthly life. Scholars within the fields of comparative mythology and comparative religion have pointed out differences between the biographies of Buddha and Jesus. Jesus is unique when the major religions or philosophies of the world (Zoroaster, Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam) are compared. Jesus remains special in History by His life, actions, qualities, teachings and even death.
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- Gombrich, Richard F., Theravāda Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo, (Routledge 1988). Page 50-51
- Buddhism: The Four Noble Truths
- Theravada Buddhism - World by Adherents.com
- Charlers Taliaferro, Paul Draper and Phillip L. Quinn, A Companion to Philosophy of Religion (Wiley-Blackwell, 2nd Edition 2010), pg. 20
- Michael Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer, Buddhist Warfare (Oxford University Press 2010), pg. 10
- Jesus, Zoraster, Buddha, Socrates & Muhammad: The Life, Death and Teaching of Jesus Compared with Other Great Religious Figures By Edwin M. Yamauchi, Ph.D.. Copyright © 1971 Edwin M. Yamauchi
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