Everybody says “I want world peace” but I believe that world peace can only be achieved through acknowledging and accepting the fact that not everybody will believe what you believe and with that in mind today’s edition of my Religions of the World series will focus on a religion that I knew very little about prior to doing researching for this blog post – Buddhism.
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha (Pāli/Sanskrit “the awakened one”). The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. He is recognized by adherents as an awakened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end suffering (or dukkha), achieve nirvana, and escape what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth.
Two major branches of Buddhism are recognized: Theravada (“The School of the Elders”) and Mahayana (“The Great Vehicle”). Theravada—the oldest surviving branch—has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, and Mahayana is found throughout East Asia and includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, Tendai and Shinnyo-en. In some classifications Vajrayana, a subcategory of Mahayana, is recognized as a third branch. While Buddhism remains most popular within Asia, both branches are now found throughout the world. Various sources put the number of Buddhists in the world at between 230 million and 500 million, making it the world’s fourth-largest religion.
Buddhist schools vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures, and especially their respective practices. The foundations of Buddhist tradition and practice are the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings), and the Sangha (the community). Taking “refuge in the triple gem” has traditionally been a declaration and commitment to being on the Buddhist path and in general distinguishes a Buddhist from a non-Buddhist. Other practices may include following ethical precepts, support of the monastic community, renouncing conventional living and becoming a monastic, meditation (this category includes mindfulness), cultivation of higher wisdom and discernment, study of scriptures, devotional practices, ceremonies, and in the Mahayana tradition, invocation of buddhas and bodhisattvas.
(Excerpt from Wikipedia)
What I have discovered in writing these posts on the different religions of the world is that no matter what religion you subscribe to the key ingredient is belief and as long as no one tries to prove the existence of one religion over all the others I believe that we can live life to together in peace and harmony so in that spirit I would like to ask all the scientists in the world who are trying to prove or disprove the existence of a higher power to please stop – you’re wasting your time – because those of us who truly believe in the existence of a higher power don’t really need proof.