Buddhism is different than the other major world religious traditions because it is not oriented around God but oriented around human beings, So Buddhism is a philosophy, what Buddha taught is that we create our own mental suffering and the path out of suffering lies with us. The Buddha explained to us that dissatisfactions or mental suffering arise because of our own mental state. Buddha taught that we suffer because we crave for things, because we are focused on ego and because we assume things are permanent when they are actually temporary. We can alleviate suffering by changing our perception of ourselves and our world by recognizing that everything is temporary even ourselves. And by understanding the changing nature of all things, so Buddhist Meditation aims at purifying the mind, which enables one to develop the wisdom to realize the true nature of things.
Though considered a major world religion, upon examination Buddhism is not a religion at all. There is a doctrine (The Dhamma), but no deity or God to pray to. The central focus of Buddhism is not creation, sin, or necessarily an after-life, it is instead a focus on life as we experience it now. The lack of a deity, the focus on love, kindness, and compassion is exactly why the teachings of the Buddha are universally accepted, and why you will often find Buddhist scholars and practitioners within every religion. Even atheists and those who describe themselves as “spiritual but with no religious affiliations”, are among those who try to live by the lessons of the Buddha.
So, what is Buddhism? A very simple definition is that Buddhism is the practice of living our lives in as realistic, and compassionate manner as possible. We do this by using the lessons from the Buddha’s understanding of how our lives are made more difficult by how we perceive moments in our life. When we desire an item, a relationship, a change in circumstance, and do not get what we want, we can become very unhappy emotionally. By examining our reactions, beliefs, and desires, it is possible to see a more clear picture of how life truly is, not as we might believe it is. Seeing this, we begin to understand the true nature of ourselves and the world around us.
As followers of The Buddha’s teachings, we strive to understand his lessons and to live our lives with feelings of love, and compassion toward all beings.
Is Buddhism a philosophy alone..?
Buddhism is called a philosophy by some people. There is truth in this term. Lord Buddha’s philosophy is the reality of the world. Since one can free himself or herself from suffering through the practice of this doctrine, Buddhism can also be called a religion.
Who is Lord Buddha?
Lord Buddha, born 2551 year ago, is the greatest human being to have graced this world. He freed Himself from greed, hatred and ignorance. Lord Buddha realized the Four Noble Truths and achieved enlightenment without any guidance from a Guru or master.
Lord Buddha gained many psychic powers: the ability to see previous births of all living beings; the ability to see where beings are reborn after death; to see forms at distances that the ordinary eye would not; the ability to walk in the air; to dive in the earth and emerge somewhere else as though one were diving in water; to walk on the surface of water as though one were walking on earth; to move through large rocks, mountains, and walls; the ability to touch the sun, the moon and stars; so long is the list of Lord Buddha’s physic powers.
At the same time, Lord Buddha freed Himself from defilements, led a very pure life, discovered and attained supreme Nibbāna. Lord Buddha understood both the human and celestial worlds and freed Himself from them once and for all. He tamed uncontrollable gods and humans and guided them, away from suffering, to Nibbāna. He is the master of humans and gods. Lord Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths in clear, simple and lucid words, so that listeners could understand the doctrine. Lord Buddha is the most fortunate one as He has cultivated the most superior qualities.
Lord Buddha has passed away, how can He help us now?
One day Lord Buddha called Bhikkhu Ānanda and said to him; “Ānanda, after I pass away you may think that ‘this is a doctrine sunk into the past and we do not have a master now’. But, Ānanda never think so. Ānanda, any doctrine I have preached, any discipline I have endorsed, will be your master after my passing.”
It is very clear from this expression of Lord Buddha that even after He attains Parinibbāna, the supreme doctrine, which was clearly and vividly preached by Him, remains intact. Lord Buddha can be seen through the Dhamma. Therefore, we can take refuge in the Dhamma. We should not be frustrated that Lord Buddha is not physically with us.
Is Lord Buddha a god?
Lord Buddha is not a god, nor is He a normal human being. He was born among human beings and achieved enlightenment, becoming the greatest of all beings.
If He is not a god why is He venerated by human beings?
Lord Buddha, a great character, has many great qualities, not found in other human beings. The qualities of Lord Buddha can only be found in the lineage of Supreme Buddhas. One day, a Brahmin named Weranja asked Lord Buddha “Why does The Blessed One not respect
and venerate other elderly people when He sees them?” Then Lord Buddha explained “Brahman, a hen may lay eight, ten or twelve eggs and incubate them. After some time the chicks may break the egg-shell and come out. In this case, the first chick that comes out of the egg by breaking its shell would be the elder to all other chicks that come out after it. Likewise, Brahman, I also was encapsulated in the shell of ignorance and came out breaking that shell of ignorance. By attaining enlightenment, I have become the greatest of all.” Accordingly, the Blessed One is the eldest of all, the most senior and the greatest of all as He demolished ignorance and attained enlightenment. Lord Buddha, therefore, deserves veneration above all others; no one else equals Him.
Why are Buddha Images worshipped?
We Buddhists have a place of worship; it is called a vihāra. The Blessed One is offered the first place in a vihāra. Out of respect and veneration Lord Buddha’s image is worshiped in a vihāra. But, an image can never do justice to the great physique of Lord Buddha, depicting his thirty great physical features. We worship the image by visualizing the great qualities of Lord Buddha.
What is the meaning of strange worships taking place in Buddhist vihāras?
In Buddhist vihāras various kinds of Buddhist worship take place. In some vihāras the sounding of belfries, lighting of lamps, incense, the offering of flowers and food (dāna) etc., take place. All these are done as an offering to the Lord Buddha. However, Lord Buddha clearly taught that the greatest way to honour Him is through the practice of the doctrine taught by Him and to free oneself from the continuous cycle of birth and death.
Why have multiple Buddhist traditions been born in the world..?
The Dhamma preached by Lord Buddha existed for generations through Arahants and noble Buddhist monks who retained the doctrine by memory. Over time however, personal views have also emerged. These views, masked as Dhamma amongst the Buddhist clergy, resulted in the development of sects within Buddhism, hence, the birth of the multiple Buddhist traditions that exist today. But the truth is, Nibbāna can be attained only by strict adherence to the pure Dhamma as expounded by Lord Buddha. There is no dispute about that. So, even today, if one can discipline oneself in the pure Dhamma as explained in the Nobel Eightfold Path he or she will attain freedom from the never ending journey of life, regardless of which sect he or she belongs to. This pure Dhamma you will hear through Buddha Vision.