About 2500 years ago, Siddhartha Gautama, a prince likely to become king of several northern states in India, stepped out of his palace to see the real world. He was shocked to learn that the world, contrary to what he had seen inside the palace, was full of suffering. Siddhartha set out on a quest to find the truth and the permanent solution to sufferings such as death, disease, old age, etc. After many years, Siddhartha became the ‘Buddha’ – the Enlightened One. Buddhism as a religion, practice or philosophy as you choose to call it, is based on his teachings. Listed below are top 10 Buddhism facts that you should know.
10. ‘Cause and effect’ is the universal law of universe:
Buddhism recognizes ‘Cause and Effect’ or Karma as the universal law. According to Buddhism, in the transient world, all humans receive good, bad or other outcomes according to the nature of their dispositions and actions. Heaven, in terms of Buddhist principles is the point when the mind of a seeker is freed from the Karmic cycle. It is the point at which a person masters himself. The mind, at that point, is like a tranquil ocean with no ripples of thoughts or emotions.
9. Buddhism as a religion was born because of Hinduism:
Siddhartha Gautama was a Hindu prince by birth. He was born at a time when Hinduism, the oldest religion in the world, was in the grip of superstitions, caste-system and corruption in Vedic way of life. Siddha systems of learning had nearly vanished from the society. Gautama went on to find his own answers (which later become guiding principles of Buddhism) because Hinduism could not satisfy his urge for absolute truth. It is due to this reason that Hinduism and Buddhism, the two spiritual traditions of the East, are quite similar and dissimilar at the same time.
8. It’s the 4th largest religion in the world:
The spread of Buddhism, as many people presume, is not limited to Tibet and mountainous areas in India. There are well over 360 million people all over the world who practice and adhere to the teachings of Buddhism. The number is growing with each passing year as people in the West have begun taking deep interest in Buddhism, its teachings and rituals.
7. Buddha is not God; he’s a teacher:
Buddhists do not look up to Buddha as God, as most people think they do. He’s revered as a teacher or spiritual guide. Buddhists look up to Buddha for wisdom and guidance. Many Buddhists meditate upon Buddha to find their own answers or absolute wisdom.
6. Reincarnation is a doctrine and not an absolute truth:
A large number of people all over the world, especially those who’ve recently heard about Buddhism, think that it fully accepts the system of reincarnation. Yes, it is true, but it’s only partial truth. It’s only a Buddhist doctrine based on the belief that energy or soul conditioned by experiences takes birth over and over again until it’s finally liberated. The higher truth propagated by Buddhism, however, is that a seeker should hold break free from all ‘views or opinions’ about the world. The doctrine is, but a stepping stone to that point.
5. Buddhists may or may not believe in God:
While some Buddhists believe in God, others are agnostic. Yet, few others believe in demigods like Hindus do. Whether they believe in God or not, they make it a point to meditate on their own selves to find the higher truth, beyond an accepted belief. Like Hinduism or any other religion in the world, Buddhism, too, has a multitude of different traditions. It’s in the core philosophy of Buddhism (e.g. Bhagavad Gita or Upanishads in Hinduism) that a seeker can truly rely on for wisdom and direction.
4. Vegetarianism is NOT a commandment:
Many schools of Buddhism preach non-violence and motivate all their students to turn vegetarians. However, the fact is – vegetarianism is NOT an absolute requirement or commandment for Buddhists. To eat or not to eat meat is a personal choice in Buddhism. A Buddhist can quit eating meat when he or she has a reason or feels an inner calling to do so. Buddhism strictly prescribes that no living being should be killed but it does not prohibits consumption of a naturally dead animal.
3. Buddhism does not teach that everyone in the world is destined to suffer:
It is a common misconception about Buddhism. The fact is: Buddhism accepts the world as ‘temporary’ or ‘transitory’. Therefore, the suffering, too, is temporary and there’s a way out of this suffering called the Middle Path. The whole religion or philosophy of Buddhism is based on it.
2. Non attachment does not imply Buddhists cannot have relationships:
When most people learn that monks and other Buddhists practice non-attachment, they simply presume that the religion has no place for relationships or a so called ‘normal life’. To be detached, in terms of Buddhism, is to be control of one’s one self and be detached to everything happening in the world. If practiced regularly, this non-attachment can indeed help a person have the most fulfilling relationships.
1. Buddhism complements science:
Buddhist principles and doctrines, like Vedic scriptures in Hinduism, complement science to a great degree. Over the last couple of years, many parallels have been drawn between Buddhist literature and findings in Quantum Physics. These parallels have, in particular, been drawn by considering ‘spiritual’ principles of Buddhism that appear to indicate sublime truths now being discovered by quantum physicists.