By: Jordan Brown, Yacine Issioui, and Alan Ritchie
Origins of the Religion
Origin of the Buddhist Religion
Basic Religious Beliefs
Buddhism is divided into several different traditions. Most traditions share a common set of basic beliefs. One basic belief is reincarnation which is the belief that people are reborn after dying. They also believe that most individuals go through several cycles of reincarnation.
Buddha compares the difference between rebirth and reincarnation to a leaf growing on a tree. When the withering leaf falls off, a new leaf will eventually replace it. It is similar to the old leaf, but it is not identical to the original leaf. After many such cycles, if a person releases their attachment to desire and the self, they can attain Nirvana. This is a state of liberation and freedom from suffering.
It is said that in a deer park in Sarnath, a small town outside modern Banaras, Buddha preached his first sermon in which he spoke of the outline for the four noble truths. They were:
1) that suffering is characteristic of human existence
2) that suffering is caused by longing for pleasure and avoidance of pain
3) that it is not necessary to suffer
4) that there is a path to end suffering known as the “Eightfold Path”
The Eightfold Path consists of....
- Sila: Virtue, good conduct, morality. This is based on two fundamental principles:
- Samadhi: Concentration, meditation, mental development. Developing one's mind is the path to wisdom which in turn leads to personal freedom. Mental development also strengthens and controls our mind; this helps us maintain good conduct.
- Prajna: Discernment, insight, wisdom, enlightenment. This is the real heart of Buddhism. Wisdom will emerge if your mind is pure and calm.
Classification of the Buddhist Religion
Branches and Divisions in the Buddhist Religion
There are 3 main branches or divisions of Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana.
Theravada (originally Hinayana) is the oldest form of the religion . (oldest way to reach enlightenment) and also the most gradual way.
Mahayana ( greater Vehicle) is a more direct form of reaching enlightenment but is a bit more rapid.
Vajrayana is the form of Buddhism that developed in Tibet (aka Tibetan Buddhism). It is a much faster and risky way of overcoming ignorance and reaching enlightenment. It is kind of referred to as a “shortcut” but is also not safe because many people who attempt this method could end up going “mad”.
Geographic Distribution of Buddhism
How Buddhism Diffused
Holy Places for Buddhists
Lumbini - Buddah was born in this place.
Bodh Gaya - Buddah reached enlightenment at this place.
Sarnath - This is where Buddah gave his first sermon.
Kusinara - He died here and went into nirvana
The last four are places where a certain miraculous event is reported to have occurred:
Sravasti: Buddah performed the Twin Miracle, showing his miracles infront of others. Sravasti is also the place where Buddha spent the largest amount of time, being a major city in ancient India.
Rajgir: Buddah tamed an angry elephant here through friendship.
Sankassa: At this place buddah ascended into heaven, taught his mother and descended back.
Vaishali: Vaishali was the capital of the Vajjian Republic of ancient India. He announced his impending death at this location.
Places where Buddhism is Practiced Today
Number of Followers of Buddhism
The number of followers od the Buddhist religion is 1,921,989,641.
Here is a map that shows the distribution of those followers around the world.