Buddhism is based on "the awakening" of one man. Buddhism holds that life is full of suffering which comes from desire. The ultimate goal of Buddhism is nirvana, the extinguishing of human desire and suffering. This is accomplished by seeking enlightenment to end desire, and thus end suffering. Since desire is inherent in human nature, this results in an effort to renounce the self and "awaken" to the truth of reality. Once a seeker has awakened, he or she is said to be "enlightened." Buddhism was inspired by Hinduism which teaches intelligent indulgence in human desires. The Buddha thought desire to be the prime adversary to human life, and attempted to rid himself of all desire. During his awakening the Buddha resisted all desires, and nearly starved to death at one point. Soon after he realized that indulgence nor denial was the answer to end desire, and thus developed The Middle Way: the Buddhist philosophy of controlled response to human desire. The Western philosopher Spinoza summarized the Buddhist ethic as, "to understand something is to be delivered of it." (Smith, 75) In analyzing religions, you will often see many of the same characteristics; some of them being authority, ritual, questions, explanations, and tradition. Buddhism started in India, in a concentration of Hindu people. Buddhism was influenced by Hinduism, but diverged from the Hindu structure (and that of religion in general) dynamically. I find this unique structure very interesting. There is no authority figure in Buddhism. Buddha taught that each seeker must strive for enlightenment and attain it himself or herself. One can not rely on external influences to tell them what to believe or what to do, these things must come from inside the seeker. The Buddha said, "Do not accept what you hear by report. Be lamps unto yourselves." (Smith 68) Buddhism does not answer questions to life like "where did the world come from?" because there is no certain answer. Any answer to...
Cited: Smith, Huston. The Illustrated World 's Religions: A Guide to Our Wisdom Traditions. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1994.
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