Buddhism is a set of teachings that some describe as religious. Some Buddhists claim that Buddhism is not a religion. Many say it is a body of philosophies influenced by the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. Buddhism started around 5th century BC with the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. There are two main types of Buddhism, Theravada / Hinayana (The great tradition or the way of the elders), and Mahayana (little tradition). Some Buddhists do not believe in a God. Others however are deists, they believe in Gods but the Gods aren’t worth bothering with. They aren’t creator gods like we find in Western religion, but they are gods nonetheless. Not all Buddhists are atheists, but there are quite a few.
The Four Noble Truths:
1. There is suffering
2. There is a cause of suffering — craving
3. There is the cessation of suffering
4. There is a way leading to the cessation of suffering — the Noble Eightfold Path
For Buddhists, The Noble Eightfold Path is the way to ease suffering. Because of the Right Livelihood part of The Eightfold Path, many Buddhists are vegan.
1. Right Speech—One speaks in a non hurtful, not exaggerated, truthful way
2. Right Actions—Wholesome action, avoiding action that would do harm
3. Right Livelihood—One's way of livelihood does not harm in any way oneself or others; directly or indirectly
4. Right Effort—One makes an effort to improve
5. Right Mindfulness/Awareness—Mental ability to see things for what they are with clear consciousness
6. Right Concentration/Meditation—Being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion.
7. Right Understanding—Understanding reality as it is, not just as it appears to be.
8. Right Thoughts—Change in the pattern of thinking.
Buddhists believe in Karma. The philosophical explanation of karma can differ between traditions, but the general concept is the same. Karma is the sum of all that an individual has done, is currently doing and will do. Karma is not about retribution, vengeance, punishment or reward; karma simply deals with what is. The effects of all deeds actively create past, present and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one's own life, and the pain and joy it brings to others.
Many Buddhists, for example the Tibetan Buddhists, also believe in reincarnation. Some Buddhists call reincarnation "Samsara". Samsara means that after you die, you are reborn. It is actually said to be very rare for a person to be reborn in the immediate next life as a human. You can be reborn as a human, any kind of animal, and several types of supernatural being. Your actions in life (Karma) will determine what kind of being you will be reborn as. Good karmas will give you a happier rebirth, bad karmas will produce one which is unhappy.
Last updated by Nelson Feb 12, 2009.