Research Project on Buddhism
I was never open-minded to learn about different religions, because there was still much about my own Catholic religion that I have yet to learn. I never had the erg to find out and research different cultures and religions, so when I was faced to pick which topic I would research I was stuck. What does it matter to me what other people believe? I picked a religion that sounded different and unique, Buddhism. What pops into your mind when you hear the word “Buddhist”? For myself I think of a little fat man crossing his legs and praying, yet Buddhism is much more than that. It’s a religion that is often misunderstood and a culture people are not interested in learning about.
Siddhartha Gautama is known as the original Buddha. During the sixth century B.C. he left his royal lifestyle to pursue new things and venture out. From here on he preached that there should be ‘balance in ones life’, and he taught that a portion of human suffering is caused by roots of moral evil. Gautama stated that only destruction of greed, hatred, and delusion roots would cure someone of moral evil (Drummond 56). This belief is a main element in Buddhist religion. Buddhism holds many important values, yet the most important comes from the teaching of the Buddha. This is that ‘the ultimate goal is the conquest of the miseries of existence,’ basically saying that the first and foremost truth about life is its unsatisfactories. You must decide what is unpleasant and unsatisfied in your life, and once you establish your weaknesses, then you can live a healthier life (Coleman 98).
One symbol of the Buddhist religion is the Ritual Mandala. This is a mediation device used to enter ones mind and ride the ‘evil’. It is a visual aid for concentration leading to the attainment of insights and to supernatural forces (Drummond 123). Buddhist use hand gestures to communicate with others of their same religion, and chant when they are not able to meditate. Chanting is a way to express ones confidence, and helps Buddhist feel calm and peace within the body (Gross). I feel the most important fact that I learned about this religion is that they have very little value to all material riches that ordinary folk usually have. Buddhist do not value money, homes, jewelry, etc. like ordinary people cherish. They refer to Buddhism as ‘voluntary life of few wants’ (Coleman 112).
As I found information on Buddhism, I came across many shocking customs to this culture. The one that I found most shocking was that Buddhist do not pray to a Creator God, instead they dedicate the goodness of one’s life to the benefit of all living beings. Usually each religion believes in a Creator, yet Buddhism only believes in benefiting living humans any way possible (Erwitt 35).
Another interesting fact I found was in order to be a Buddhist; you must provide four items for your family. One must be able to provide food; to prevent from hunger and maintain a healthy body, clothing; to appear socially decent, housing; to provide safety and security, and medicine; to cure and prevent diseases. Buddhists look down upon families that are not able to provide these four requirements (Gross).
Now that I have learned more about the Buddhist religion, I feel differently towards learning about new cultures. Buddhism has opened my mind to new thoughts and feelings toward their customs. I often thought Buddhism was pointless and weird only because it isn’t my own religion. After reading books, journals, and Internet sites, I understand the importance of the Buddhist religion in India and throughout the world. I also look at material riches differently than what I did before; this made me realize that you don’t have to be wealthy or popular to live a spiritual life. Buddhism has changed the way I look at other religions and will impact me for the rest of my life.
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