BUDDHISM: A Universal Religion By Samantha Martin

Origin Story

Hearth: North East India

Date: 534 B.C.E.

Founder: Siddhartha Gautama

Diffusion, Dispersal, and Evolution

A. Diffusion

Buddhism diffused through the Magadha Empire by hierarchical diffusion starting with Emperor Ashoka and his conversion to Buddhism.

Also spread through relocation diffusion of missionaries and traders.

B. Evolution

Mahayana - 56% (China, Japan, & Korea)

Theravada - 38% (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, & Thiland)

Vajarayana - 6% (Tibet & Mongolia)

The Sacred

A. Symbols

A parasol or umbrella can mean protection from suffering and harmful forces.
The two golden fish symbolize the courage and fearlessness it takes to face the ocean of sufferings and be able to swim freely like fish through water.
The Dharma Chakra has universally become the symbol for Buddhism. The dharma wheel has eight spokes, which represent Buddha’s Eightfold Path.
A white conch shell that spirals to the right can mean the deep and joyful sound of the Dharma teachings. It is representative of the awakening disciples receive when they hear these teachings.

The Three Jewels are symbolic of the three inseparable pieces of the Buddhist faith; The teacher, the teachings, and the community of the taught.

B. Major Beliefs "The Four Noble Truths"

1. All living beings must endure suffering.

2. Suffering, which is caused by a desire to live, leads to reincarnation.

3. The goal of all existence is to escape from suffering and the endless cycle of reincarnation into Nirvana (a state of complete redemption), which is achieved through mental and moral self-purification.

4. Nirvana is attained through an Eightfold Path that stresses rightness of belief, resolve, speech, action, livelihood, effort, thought, and meditation.

~Eightfold Path~

C. Sacred Text

Sutras, the words and teachings of the Buddha, are the canon of Buddhist text.

The Tripitaka (Pali Canon), Mahayana Sutras and the Tibetan Book of the Dead are three major noncanonical Buddhist texts. Pali Canon includes some of the Buddha's discourse but also includes the teachings of his pupils.

D. Sacred Spaces & Places of Worship

1. Bodh Gay

Bodh Gaya is famously known as the place where the Buddha received his enlightenment.

2. Lumbini

Lumbini is the birth place of the Buddha.

3. Sarnath

Sarnath is the place where the Buddha delivered his first sermon.

4. Kusinara

Kusinara, which is known today as Kushinagar, is the place where the Buddha achieved Nirvana after his death.

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