Life of Buddha Essay

  • Length: 3 pages
  • Subject: Reading
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #77420443

Excerpt from Essay :

Life of the Buddha:

What was the Buddha's name? How else do Buddhists refer to him?

His name is Siddhartha Gautama and he is often referred to as the 'awakened' or 'enlightened' one.

What are the circumstances in which the Buddha grew up?

Siddhartha was born in 563 B.C. He lived in a place called Lumbini and then was raised in Kapilavashtha, Sakya Kingdom's capital. During this time, Northern India was made up of various small and independent states. It is during this period, people came to challenge and question Vedic philosophy through a number of new religious and philosophical schools. There was a strong moral vacuum present.

What are the "four passing sights"?

The first is an old man that reminded Buddha of aging. The second was a sick person that reminded Buddha of pain and disease. The third was a corpse that reminded Buddha of suffering. The fourth was an ascetic who renewed his faith in finding an end to suffering, thus enabling him to devote himself to asceticism.

What experiences led Buddha to formulate the doctrine of the "Middle Way"?

He lived like a prince for most of his life, indulging and living in splendor. Then he lived as an ascetic, almost starving to death. He understood neither opulence or austerity would lead to enlightenment. What is important is moderation.

What events transpired under the Bodhi Tree?

Through three watches in the night, where he had to fight temptation from beauty, and danger, Buddha achieved enlightenment.

What did the Buddha do after attaining enlightenment? How did he come to spread his teachings?

He contemplated the truths he had discovered and then decided to preach his work to five holy men in Deer Park. These men became his disciples. These disciples helped him spread his teachings to others.

2. Describe in detail (and in your own words) the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. In your explanation, be sure to explain how and why the Four Noble Truths can be described in terms of a medical diagnosis.

In terms of medical diagnosis it can be interpreted as:

1. What's wrong with me?

2. What is causing my illness?

3. What can cure me?

4. What must be done to feel better?

The Noble Truths are:

1. Everyone experiences suffering.

2. We cause our suffering

3. To end suffering, the actions causing suffering must be stopped.

4. Enlightenment can lead to an end of suffering.

The Eightfold Path is:

Right View, Thought, Speech, Conduct, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness, and Concentration. One must have the perspective of Buddha (compassion and wisdom), possess kind and clear thoughts, be kind and helpful with our words, be mindful of criticizing others, choose a job that will not hurt people, create a worthwhile life by being goo to others, be aware of one's words, deeds, and actions, and focusing on one thing at a time via meditation.

3. Give a detailed explanation of the meaning of the term nirvana.

Nirvana is a transcended state where individual experiences no desire, no suffering, no sense of self. The person is no longer affected by karma or rebirth. It is the final objective of a Buddhist and is an ideal.

4. Define the following key terms in your own words, based only on course materials (textbook, podcasts, etc.):

Sangha: Companions/teacher along the way.

Prajna: direct understanding of Buddha's truth, aptitude essential to attain enlightenment.

Anatman: a departure from the Hindu belief in the self or atman. The absence of self.

Five skandas: form, emotions and sensations, perceptions, formations/mental activity, and consciousness.

Dependent origination: If this thing (dharma) exists, that exists.

Bodhisattva (vs. arhat): An arhat is permanently liberated from samsara (selfish). A bodhisattva chooses to remain in samsara to help others collect merit to achieve enlightenment (selfess).

The Five (Plus Three) Precepts: no killing, stealing, sex, lying, alcohol consumption, wearing perfumes, any form of entertainment, no sleeping on a nice bed, no eating after noon.

5. What have you learned from the reading about the distinction between Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism?

Theravada appears to be the original version of Buddhism. Mahayana has Taoism and Confucianism influences. Furthermore, Theravada is more selfish in its translation of achieving enlightenment, whereas Mahayana is more selfless concerning enlightenment. The core concepts, however remain for both.

6. Identify the distinctive features of the following schools of Mahayana Buddhism:

Madhyamaka: A Nagarjuna founded school of philosophy stating phenomena are empty of essence, substance, and nature, giving them an independent and solid state.

Buddha-Nature School: It is hard to define Buddha nature. However, fundamentally, it is the basic nature of all beings. This means all beings can attain enlightenment.

Pure Land: The most widely practiced schools of Buddhism for those living in East Asia. Information comes from three main texts named 'Three Pure Land Sutras'.

Ch'an/Zen: founded by Bodhidharma focuses on meditation to achieve enlightenment and certain practitioners…

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