Religion of Buddhism First Just Term Paper

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Dharma is related to "karma," another basic Buddhist principle that governs reincarnation and rebirth. Karma is the idea that a person must perform moral deeds throughout his life to attain a higher level of reincarnation and rebirth. Karma governs these moral deeds, and a person must "pay" in the next life if they do not act morally and spiritually in this life. Thus, karma governs more than one life, and is an important concept in the religion.

Buddhism differs from many of the world's major religions in many ways. For example, monks are the holy men of the religion, but they do not act as priests or officials of the church. In fact, many rituals, such as baptism and marriage, are considered family rituals and are not presided over by monks. They do attend funerals, because Buddhists believe death is simply the gateway to another life, and the beginning of a rebirth for another life here on Earth. A central tenet of the Buddhist religion is reincarnation and rebirth, which can occur repeatedly. A person may come back as the same person again and again, or they may come back as many different people, which is more common. However, this does not mean that a person does not have to "pay" for their sins on earth. One writer notes, "Rebirth is thought to take place among all forms of sentient life, and the worlds into which beings can be reborn include a range of heavens and hells."

If, during these many lives, a person reaches a plateau, where they live selflessly and with love for others, they can reach a state of Nirvana, or perfection. However, many of the Buddhist sects' different beliefs have blended together to form central beliefs that all sects practice, and some western customs, such as the marriage ceremony, have found their way into Buddhist culture and religion.

While these generalizations apply to most forms of Buddhism, it is important to remember there are several different sects of Buddhism, and each has small aspects they alter or do not subscribe to. Some of the diverse sects include Zen Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, and Theravada Buddhism, which some call Southern Buddhism. Sometimes it is spelled "Therevada." Each of these sects shares core beliefs, but they have evolved separately, due to their location and differences in belief systems. For example, Tibetan Buddhism evolved in Tibet, and is isolated from other sects just as Tibet is isolated with the rest of the world, and Theravada Buddhism is the most popular form of the religion in Southeast Asia.

It is interesting to note that Buddhism has caught on in many aspects of American culture, even if Americans do not fully embrace the Buddhist religion. For example, Buddhist the Buddhist traditions of meditation and reincarnation are extremely popular with Americans. Another author notes that "large numbers" of Americans say they meditate, and almost 25% of Americans believe in reincarnation and former lives.

While Americans and many other western cultures may not understand all the nuances of Buddhism, they do understand some of the basic principles, and perhaps this is one way Buddhism spread after its inception. It was simple enough for people to understand, and it made a difference in their lives. That is something positive that everyone can look forward to in their daily spiritual lives.

In conclusion, Buddhism is part religion, part spirituality, part enlightenment, and part lifelong path toward understanding and self-awareness. It is an ancient belief system that still is prevalent in today's world, and brings happiness and contentment to many of its followers. While the western world may not always understand or accept all the tenets of Buddhism, it is becoming more popular and influential as more people see the benefits of self-awareness and moral enlightenment.


Keown, Damien. Buddhism a Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Robinson, B.A. "Buddhism, Based on the Teachings of Siddhartha Gautama." 2007. 28 June. 2007.

Schmidt-Leukel, Perry. "Buddhism and the Idea of Human Rights: Resonances and Dissonances." Buddhist-Christian Studies (2006): 33+.

Seager, Richard Hughes. Buddhism in America. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. Witham, Larry. "Buddhism Influences U.S. Thought." The Washington Times 11 Oct. 1997: 7.

Damien Keown, Buddhism a Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996) 3-4.

Robinson, B.A. "Buddhism, Based on the Teachings of Siddhartha Gautama." 2007. 28 June. 2007.

Richard Hughes Seager, Buddhism in America (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999) 13.


Keown, 96.…[continue]

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