World Religions: Buddhism

Ella Barton 6th Period

Important Beliefs

Buddhists focus on spiritual development and gaining deep insight into life. They seek Nirvana, which is a state of mind. They believe you achieve Nirvana through enlightenment. Buddhists believe it is important to overcome desire in order to achieve enlightenment. Many Buddhists do not believe in God, but instead a person's own journey to the highest part of themselves. They believe that nothing is permanent but that everything is always changing.

Why They Believe This

Buddhists believe that all suffering is caused by desire, so if you can overcome desire you will not suffer.

The 4 Basic Truths

"I teach suffering, it's origins, cessation and path. That's all I teach" declared the Buddha 2500 yrs ago.

The first Noble truth is that all life is full of suffering. The second Nobel truth is that suffering is caused by desire. The third Noble truth is that desire can be extinguished. The fourth Noble truth is the desire is overcome by following Eight fold path to enlightenment.

Types of Buddhism

There are two major schools of Buddhism, Mahayama and Theravada or Hinayana. There is a third smaller school called Vajrayana. There are dozens of sects of Buddhism but they all share the same basic beliefs. They believe in reincarnation which means working your way in each life time toward nirvana, the highest point of one's self. They believe in Karma which means you are blessed with good, if you do good. They also all believe in the Eight fold path where the goal is to be 'right' in each area. The Eight fold path is concentration, views, speech, resolve, action, livelihood, effort and mindfulness.

What Makes Buddhist Believe the Buddhist's Teachings

In my opinion, Buddhist believe the teachings of the Buddha because it offers a way to reach inner peace. The teachings help you overcome suffering by overcoming desire and temptation. Another reason why it would be easy to follow these teachings is that there is no pressure or guilt that is often found in other religions. I think people like the focus on open-mindedness and the acceptance of change. I also think it is appealing to people that buddhism focuses on one's own journey as opposed to following the same path as everyone else.

How Do Extremists Justify their Actions

Buddhism is a mostly peaceful religion. They justify their treating of non-believers with compassion because one of the "precepts" of the right conduct is non-violence. There are some extreme examples of Buddhist committing violence in the name of their religion. An example of this is the monks in Sri Lanka and Burma. There is no excuse for this behavior according to the Dalai Lama who is the leader of the Buddhist religion. As peaceful as Buddhism is, it is still a human religion and therefore is not perfect and will always, like every religion, have both good and bad in it.

Dalai Lama

The current Dalai Lama is named Tenzin Gyatso. He is the 14th Dalai Lama. He describes himself as a simple Buddhist Monk. He is the spiritual leader of Tibet. The Dalai Lama is known as a man of peace. He advocates for non-violence, even in situations of hostility. He has received many rewards for his work on peace.


In Buddhism mantras are very important. They are used in meditation.

An important mantra is Om Mani Padme Hum. It represents compassion. It translates to "Om jewel in the lotus hum" or "Praise to the jewel in the lotus".

Om - means purity

Ma - means purify jealous and need for entertainment

Ni - means purifies passion and desire

Pad - means purifies ignorance and prejudice

Me - means purifies poverty and possessiveness

Hum - means purifies aggression and hatred

(found on

This mantra uses the symbol of the lotus and the idea of overcoming suffering by freeing one's self from human negative qualities.

Buddhist Holidays

The most important Buddhist festival is Vesak, which is the birthday of the Buddha. It takes place on the first full moon in May. On this day Buddhists all over the world celebrate the life of Buddha.

Another Buddhist Holiday is the Buddhist New Year. It is celebrated on different days in different countries.

Buddhism in Current Events

The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibet. He was awarded the Nobel peace prize twenty-five years ago. In September the Dalai Lama was denied a visa to travel to the peace summit in South Africa by the Chinese government. Nobel laureates refused to attend the summit in solidarity with the Dalai Lama. Their goal was to send a message to the Chinese government. Tibetans have suffered decades of repression from the Chinese political party which is trying to suppress the Dalai Lama's influence over Tibet. This struggle for Tibetan independence has been happening for years. This month the Dalai Lama is accompanied by many other Nobel peace laureates who are standing up against this oppression. The consequence of this event will hopefully have a positive affect on the Tibetan people and the Chinese leadership. Knowing the Dalai Lama is supported by many peaceful people should give the Tibetan people hope for a peaceful, free future. It will also hopefully help to influence the Chinese leadership to do the right thing and give Tibet it's independence.

Works Cited