Frequently asked Questions about Buddhism
Who was Buddha?
Buddha Shakyamuni, after whom Buddhism is named, was born as the Indian prince Siddhartha around 2,500 years ago. Although materially, he had everything we could imagine anyone ever wanting, he became restless and disturbed when he realized that he and everyone else have no choice but to experience suffering and eventually death, with no control. Leaving his status, wealth, and family behind, Siddhartha embarked on a spiritual journey which culminated in his becoming a Buddha, or an enlightened being. He lived for another fifty years, giving over 84,000 teachings which form the basis of Buddhism as we know it today.
Is Buddhism a philosophy or a religion?
Buddhism is both. As a philosophy, it deals with the nature of life, reality, conduct, and all of the big questions which have engaged humans for many ages. As a religion, it is concerned with these same issues, detailing how, through entering into an exploration of our minds, we can develop our human potential to the fullest, becoming Buddhas ourselves. In its religious aspect, Buddhist thought deals with the formless, non-material realm and explains its relationship to the material world around us. It also explains methods whereby we can develop minds such as faith, love, compassion, and wisdom, as well as the significance of developing these.
Is Buddha the same as God?
While Buddhism is considered one of the world’s major religions, it is not theistic. Buddhism accepts the concept of holy beings but does not posit a creator deity. Buddhist belief is that we all can ultimately become Buddhas (awakened or enlightened ones) ourselves. Buddha Shakyamuni, therefore, is not thought of in the same sense as a divine creator but rather as more of a role model of what we can all aspire to become. This can be accomplished by simply cultivating minds such as faith, love and compassion and learning to practice moral discipline, concentration and wisdom. We explain this process in our three study programs.
Many Westerners first hear about Buddhism from another religion’s partial idea of it, often out of context. It is not a cult. A great number of beings from all walks of life are presently following the Buddhist path, keeping compassion and wisdom as their motivating forces.
What are some facts about Buddhism?
Buddhism is the world’s third oldest and fourth largest religion–A 2,500-year-old tradition of teachings and practices. The main motivation in Buddhism is the wish to become more compassionate and wise.
Why is Buddhism relevant to my life?
Although Buddhism first appeared in India over two and a half thousand years ago, it has a timeless and universal relevance. In a nutshell, Buddha explained that all of our problems arise from confused and negative states of mind. He taught methods for ridding the mind of these destructive states and thereby realizing true happiness and fulfillment. These methods work for any mind, in any country, in any era.