The Evolution Of Buddhism Essay

1254 words - 5 pages

Buddhism is a unique religion that bestows upon its members that their actions accumulate karma and too much bad karma leads to rebirth. A person reaches Nirvana (also known as heaven) when achieving enlightenment and is no longer subjected to rebirth. Buddhism also believes there is no one almighty god, but rather many gods, which they refer to as deities. Dharma is commonly known as the sacred teachings of a deity. The Buddha is only born in certain situations that members are in need of re-teaching the Dharma. There are three schools of Buddhism also referred to as vehicles and are taught in different geographic regions. The first is the oldest form known as Theravada and is usually found in Southeast Asia. The second is the most popular; Mahayana, is commonly found in India, China, Tibet, Japan, and Korea. It is also referred to as the Greater vehicle. Within Mahayana, there are separate schools, Pure Land and Zen Buddhism. Theravada and Pure Land share some of the same beliefs of the sacred text and traditions; however, their views on the Buddha and Nirvana are distinctly different. The third vehicle, Vajrayana, is not as widely known as the other two schools. It is commonly practiced in Japan, Tibet, and Mongolia.
The path to nirvana in Pure Land focuses primarily on faith, whereas, Theravada, the focus is on the individuals’ actions. Theravada, reinforces that one must follow the four noble truths to achieve nirvana. In a person’s life, they accumulate both good and bad karma. The good karma will aid a person in breaking the cycle of rebirth, but if too much bad karma accumulates then the person is automatically reincarnated. Reincarnation takes various forms like a deity, man, animal or hungry ghost; however, the only way to nirvana is to be reborn a man. Professor Ch’en describes the four noble truths best when ha says “Life is suffering. Suffering has a cause. Suffering can be suppressed. The way to suppression of suffering is the noble eight fold path, which consists of right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration,” (CH'EN 33). The teachings of the Buddha held a person to high morals and conduct. If a person went against these values, it would be considered the ultimate sin and would, therefore, be trapped in the vicious cycle of rebirth. Theravada also known as “The Doctrine of the Elders,” (CH'EN 30) was for a long time the only teachings and means to obtain nirvana. Nevertheless, Mahayana came along and the appeal of less restrictive acceptance made it popular. One of the major schools within Mahayana is Pure Land Buddhism, which contradicted the teachings of Theravada by allowing anyone to achieve nirvana by devotion to the Buddha, Amitabha. In Theravada, a person’s karma is the distinguishing factor of if and how long a person may be in heaven. Nirvana is not a permanent place in Theravada, but in Pure Land Buddhism it is and that devotion...

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