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The History And Evolution Of Buddhism Across The World

2658 words - 11 pages

The History and Evolution of Buddhism Across the World

Religions have been an ever-growing, ever-changing part of peoples lives throughout the history of the world. One of the most dynamic of these religions is the practice of Buddhism. Today nearly 450 million people are influenced by its traditions worldwide. It is this massive influence that makes understanding Buddhism so crucial in today’s world. This paper aims to express its relatively simple history and also how it has evolved today as an influential religion not only in the United States, but throughout the world. Also included will be a comparison and contrast of Buddhism’s past and present, where a deeper insight will be given into the problem of how diluted by other influences Buddhism has become in its great expansion. The conclusion will consist of an insight as to why Buddhism is so difficult to practice in this day and age.
In the years between 800 BCE and 200 BCE some of the greatest people in the history of the world lived their lives. One of these people was a young prince named Siddhartha Guatama. The night before the birth of the prince his mother, “queen Mahamaya, had a dream in which an elephant carrying a lotus flower in its trunk entered her womb through the right side of her body. Brahmins, upon hearing of the dream predicted that the child would become either a great monarch or a Buddha.”# Later, at a name-giving ceremony, seven Brahmins predicted that if Siddhartha did not leave his home, he would some day become a great ruler. His father, King Suddhodana, was ecstatic to here this news and began to lavish upon his young monarch every wish that he desired. This spoiling was done in order to persuade his son that life within the kingdom would give him all he ever needed and to show that their was no need to venture outside of the city walls. Apparently growing tired of his wealth-ridden, hedonistic life style, Siddhartha one day commanded his chariot driver to take him outside the city walls where he would be exposed for the first time to the lower caste. In a series of visits outside of the walls, Siddhartha “saw four thought-provoking sights: an aged man, a man suffering in agony from a hideous disease, a corpse, and finally an old wandering monk who appeared content.”# These were later to become known as the Four Passing Sights. These spectacles sparked a revelation, in the now twenty-nine year old, which made him want to cast aside all he had and live the rest of his life as a monk. After leaving his town behind, he fell under the tutelage of several different teachers, each of whom taught him a different way to reach enlightenment. Growing tired of these men and their rigorous sacrifices, an emaciated Siddhartha came to the conclusion that their had to be another way. The method he devised was known as the middle path. It consisted of a life in which you tried not to experience either extreme pleasure of pain, instead you would revel in the happy...

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