Sunday, July 3, 2011

What Is Buddhism?(1)


For more than 2,500 years,the religion we know today as Buddhism has been the primary
inspirationbehind many successful civilizations, a source of great cultural achievements
and a profound guide tothe very purpose of life for millions of people. Today, large
numbers of men and women fromdiverse backgrounds throughout the world are following
the teachings of the Buddha.So who was theBuddha and what are his teachings?

The Buddha

The man who was to become the Buddha was born Siddhattha Gotama around 2,600 years
ago asa prince of a small territory near what is now the Indian-Nepalese border. Though he
wasraised insplendid comfort, enjoying aristocratic status, no amount of material wealth and 
sensual pleasurecould conceal life's imperfections from the unusually inquisitive young man.
So at the age of 29 heleft wealth and family behind for the remote forests and mountains of
Northeast India to search for a lasting answer to life's problems He studied under the
wisest religous teachers and philosophers of his time, learning all they had to impart,but
they could not provide the answers he was seeking. Hethen struggledon the path of
self-mortification,taking that practice to the extremes of asceticism,butstill tono avail.
By the age of 35 he realized that neither self-indulgence nor self-mortification were leading
him tothe answers that he was looking for.Then,on the full moon night of May,having turned
away fromthese two extreames, he sat beneath the branches of what is now known as
the Bodhi Tree in asecluded grove by the banks of a river,and developed his mind in
deep, luminous and tranquil states of meditation.With the extraordinary clarity and
sharp penetrative power that is generated by inner stillness,he focused his attention on
investigating the nature of existence, its cause and itscessation.Through this contemplation
of the essence of reality, he attained the supreme awakening,
the experience of enlightenment. From that point on he was known as the Buddha, the
His enlightenment consisted of the most profound and all-embracing insight into the nature of the
body, mind and all phenomena. This awakening was not a revelation from a divine being, but a
discovery made by himself based on the deepest levels of mediation.It was an insight that liberated
his mind from the roots of all suffering: selfish desire, anger and delusion.This experience eliminated
all traces of inner conflict and discontent, revealing unshakeable peace. He had found the ultimate
solution to life's problems that he'd sought, and the result was unparalleled, sublime, true happiness.
Having realized the goal of perfect enlightenment, the Buddha spent the next 45 years teaching a
path of training and development which, when accurately and diligently followed, will lead anyone
regardless of race,class or gender to the same awakening.These teachings are called the Dhamma,
literally meaning the nature of all things or the underlying truths of existence.The following is a brief
overview of the Buddha's teachings.
(to be continued....)

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