Religious tradition: Buddhism
Buddhism is a non-theistic religious tradition, more so a philosophy, which branched from Hinduism. The ‘Buddha’, from which Buddhism derived its name, was a man named Siddhartha Gautama, who abandoned anything associated with worldly desires in pursuit of freedom from suffering. He led a harsh life of meditation, study and simplicity, and his experiences are what shaped Buddhism. Buddhism is a religion centralising around peace, and strongly based on the preaching of the Buddha – although, anybody can become a Buddhist by following the Noble Eightfold Path. The original school of Buddhism with the oldest traditions is ‘Theravada Buddhism’. The Theravada Buddhists promote that only Siddhartha Gautama was able to achieve enlightenment on his own, and that all other beings need a second party to determine whether they are enlightened. Also, they believe that those who completely dedicate themselves to the teachings of the Buddha can achieve ‘nirvana’ (which is the idea of non-self; having no attachment to desires and suffering, and freedom from the effects of karma. A person who achieves nirvana does not reincarnate). The ‘Mahayana’ Buddhists is a more ‘laid back’ version of Buddhism. They altered monastic rules and texts in order to make Buddhism an easier lifestyle to practice. They believe that nirvana can be easily achieved by anyone, male or female, and they also take Siddhartha Gautama as a transcendent being and not just as a teacher or role model. Theravada Buddhists counter the Mahayana Buddhists because they consider a lot of the Mahayana practices as against the Buddha’s original teachings. A Bodhisattva is an enlightened person who chooses to give up nirvana in order to help others become enlightened. This is one of the attributes of Mahayana Buddhism that Theravada Buddhism criticises. ‘Vajrayana Buddhism’ branched off from Mahayana Buddhism, and is a more spiritualised and mystical version of Mahayana Buddhism. The...
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