Buddhist Studies

Written by Donald Sparacin
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Beginning over 2500 years ago in northern India, Buddhism is a religion that first spread into China, Japan, Tibet, and today it is practiced throughout the world by over 350 million followers. While Buddhist studies practitioners follow its own special teachings and practices like other religions, Buddhists do not believe in God. Many would call Buddhism an atheistic religion, while others prefer to call it a philosophy. Either way, what Buddhist studies would teach is enlightenment.

Who Was Buddha?

Buddhist studies teaches us that Buddha was an Indian prince, Gotama Siddhattha, who became discontented with his hedonistic life of pleasure and excesses, and felt that there should be more to his existence. He left his home and traveled for six years in search of enlightenment. He starved his body, meditated, and searched within himself for answers, but he found nothing but hunger. Disillusioned, he went back to eating again. According to the legend and what is taught in Buddhist studies, one day he sat under a tree and began to meditate until he found his enlightenment or died trying. Before he arose he had found his enlightenment and became Buddha - an enlightened being. When asked if he was God, Buddha simply answered that he was "awake."

Buddha realized that everything is subject to change, and that suffering and discontentment are the result of attachment to circumstances and things. By their very nature, circumstances and things are an impermanent, and only by ridding oneself of these attachments, including attachment to the false notion of self or "I", one can be free of suffering.

Unlike the Bible's 10 Commandments, Buddhist studies teach The Four Noble Truths. First is The Noble Truth of Suffering, or dukkha. It is written that any happiness we find in life will eventually pass into some form of suffering - it's inevitable. Second is The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering, in essence craving. We desire something, get it, eventually lose it and suffer. Third is The Noble Truth of the Extinction of Suffering. When craving fades, so does its inevitable suffering - we achieve peace at this stage. Fourth and lastly is The Noble Truth that leads to the Extinction of Suffering. According to Buddhist studies, this is the Eightfold Path of right understanding, right thought, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.

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