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Cults and World Religions

Buddhism



Buddhism was started by Siddhartha Gautama about 525 B.C. He, too, was one born into the upper castes who became dissatisfied and, ultimately, abandoned his family to follow his religious meditations. It was a realization of suffering in the world which led Gautama on his quest. During one of the periods of meditation, while sitting under a fig tree, Gautama reached the state of enlightenment. In other words, like Mahavira, Gautama reached Nirvana while still alive. He, thus, became known as Buddha, the Enlightened One, and the tree became known as the Bo or Bodhi, the Wisdom tree.

Gautama fought the caste system and rejected all forms of ritual and occultism. He taught Four Noble Truths:

The Eightfold Path is, in essence, a therapy pathway. It includes:

The concepts of Hinduism on achieving Nirvana by transmigration and karma are maintained in the teachings of Gautama. Transmigration was modified to cover not substance but feelings, impressions, and present moments. The goal of Buddhism is to become independent of the natural realm and to have total awareness of being.

Buddhism spread from India to China, Korea, and Japan, although it has declined in its native India and is almost nonexistent, being reabsorbed in Hinduism.

Pure Land Buddhism is the Buddhism of China. Its tenets are much like historic Buddhism.

Zen Buddhism is the opposite of Pure Land Buddhism. Salvation can only be claimed through self. Adherents look for supernatural experiences. Zen is the equivalent of Chinese and Indian words which refer to meditation that leads to insight. While very individually oriented, most serious Zen students follow a master. Zen has had a very influential effect on Japanese culture.

Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism was formed by Nichiren (1222-1282). This is the Sutra of the Lotus of Truth. Salvation is only found in the Lotus Sutra (sutra is a writing).

Tibetan Buddhism or Lamaism is the Buddhism of Tibet. It is a combination of Buddhism with the occult and the magical. The head of this system is the Dali Lama, who is suppose to be the incarnation of Bodhisattva. In earlier Buddhism, Bodhisattva is one on the way to becoming a Buddha. He postpones attaining Nirvana in order to help others achieve this goal.

 

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November 14, 2018

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