Sample Essay on Buddhism

Buddhism

Buddhism comprises religious and philosophical teachings (dharma) of a spiritual awakening (bodhi), which arose around the VI century BC in ancient India.
Scientists believe that the founder of Buddhism is Siddhartha Gautama, which received later the name of Buddha Sakyamuni.
It is believed that this is one of the world's oldest religions recognized by many different people with heterogeneous traditions.

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"Without an understanding of Buddhism we cannot understand the great cultures of the East Indians and Chinese, not to mention the culture of Tibet and Mongolia with the spirit of Buddhism at the first level".
After several years of observation of the consciousness, Buddha Shakyamuni came to the conclusion that the cause of suffering is people’s actions. Thus, we should attain nirvana by the self-restraint and meditation practice in order to stop it.
Buddha said that his teaching is not a divine revelation as he got it through the meditative contemplation of his own spirit and all of the surrounding phenomena. The teaching is not a dogma, and the results depend on the person.
Buddhism has absorbed a variety of beliefs and ritual practices for two thousand years. Some followers of Buddhism enlighten themselves through the meditation; others are initiated through the good deeds or through the worship of Buddha. 
The distinctions in ideas and rules in different Buddhist schools are forced to ‘recognize’ Buddhism as ‘any doctrine, considered the Buddhist tradition itself’.

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However, they are all based on these doctrines:
Four Noble Truths;
the doctrine of cause and dependent origination and karma;
“no-soul” principle;
the doctrine of instantaneous;
Buddhist cosmology.

Unlike the monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), Buddhism does not have:
Almighty God, the creator or God-self;
eternal soul;
redemption;
unconditional faith, in particular, the belief in the supernatural (although Buddhism points to the possibility of verifying the existence of magic, but does not allow the desire to obtain it);
absolute devotion;
religious organization similar to the church (the Buddhist Sangha is a community, not an organization);
heresies; for the reason that Buddhism does not have also single canon of texts common to all schools (general or a collection of the Tripitaka Buddhist texts in the latest edition of the Chinese Mahayana is a 220-volume edition);
general and indisputable dogma for all schools.

FLOWS OF BUDDISM

Buddhism is traditionally divided into Hinayana (“small vehicle”) and Mahayana ("Great Vehicle").
Hinayana is also divided into the Shravakas cart and the Pratyekabuddha cart, thus forming three chariots. Furthermore, these three chariots appear after another classification, when Hinayana is regarded as a single chariot, and Diamond “Vajrayana” Chariot stands out from the Mahayana.
Modern Buddhism is also divided into Mahayana ("Great Vehicle"), which includes Tibetan and Far Eastern schools, and Theravada ("the doctrine of the oldest"). It is the only surviving school of the early Buddhism. 
The reason for renewed separation is that the term “Hinayana” due to abusive Theravada is not applied by some researchers, as well as by those of Buddhism, whose representatives arrived at the sixth Buddhist Council, held in the middle of the XX century, and entered into an agreement not to use the term for Theravada.

Prevalence

The estimated number of Buddhism followers throughout the world varies considerably depending on the method of calculation, but the most minimal numbers fluctuate around 350-500 million people. 
The largest number of Buddhists lives in South, Southeast and East Asia: Bhutan, Cambodia, India, China (and the Chinese population of Singapore and Malaysia), Korea, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Tibet, Sri Lanka, and Japan. In Russia, Buddhists are local inhabitants of Buryatia, Kalmykia, and Tuva. In recent years, Buddhist communities in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other Russian cities started to appear.

Criticism of Buddhism

The criticism of Buddhism, as well as criticism of religion in general, comes from people who do not agree with the beliefs, statements and other features of various schools of Buddhism. Individual people and personalities, who practice Buddhism, can be criticized in some form or another for their actions. Criticism can come from agnostics, skeptics, atheists, and people of other religions or even Buddhists who want to make some reforms.

Criticism: War and Violence

Michael Dzherrison argues that Buddhism has been associated with the government since the inception: “The inability to imagine a state without a trace of Buddhism demonstrates the kind of religious nationalism.” It is shown by the author in a number of conflicts of medieval Buddhist Southeast Asia. 
In contemporary Sri Lanka, Buddhist monks are often involved in nationalistic politics, although Buddha never went beyond passive advisory role in political life. Despite such appalling modern changes, pacifists of Sri Lanka still refer to Buddhism as to the source of inspiration.
Asian Buddhists also often received governmental support. In his book “Zen at War’”, Zen Buddhist priest, Brian Victoria Daydzen described how Buddhist institutions justify Japanese militarism in the official publications and collaborate with the Japanese army in the battlefield. In response to the book, some of the schools of Zen Buddhism published their apologies to support the military actions of the government.

In 2010, Oxford University published the book “Buddhist Warfare”, which details the cases of the “use of violence and war in the distribution and protection of Dharma”, as well as cases of “compassionate violence”, and the issues of nationalism and collaboration of the Buddhist Sangha and the state.

Ethics in Buddhism

Buddhist ethics is based on the principles of harmlessness and moderation. Upbringing in this case is focused on the development of morality (the village), concentration (samadhi), and wisdom (panels). Through meditation, Buddhists learn the workings of the mind and cause-and-effect relationship between the bodily and mental processes.
The noble path to the salvation includes 8 elements (faces):
The right vision – a vision of reality as it is and not as it looks;
the right intention – the intention of self-denial, dismissal and safety;
the right speech – truthful and inoffensive language;
the right action – action that is not harmful;
the correct way of life – a lifestyle that does not harm;
the right effort – to make efforts for improvement;
the right mindfulness – work to see what a thing is with a clear consciousness, the awareness of the current reality of being in the body without a passionate attachment to it or disgust;
the right concentration – correct meditation or concentration.

In Buddhist ethics, there are 10 unskillful actions that lead to the suffering of both the Buddhists and the surrounding people. They are divided into three categories: Physical (bodily), verbal and spiritual inept actions.
The physical (bodily) actions include murder, theft and false sexual relations (adultery, pedophilia, etc.). The verbal ones include inept lies, sowing discord (conversations that lead to quarrels), offensive words and meaningless conversation. The spiritual inept actions are self-interest, negative attitude towards others and wrong views.
Therefore, Buddhism is one of the world's oldest religions, recognized by the most different people with dissimilar traditions.

The fundamental provisions of Buddhism contained the Four Noble Truths: 
1. Life is closely related to the suffering;
2. The cause of suffering is desire for sensual pleasures;
3. In order to avoid suffering, we should get rid of this desire;
4. We should reach full calm – Nibbana (Sanskrit Nirvana).
Thus, Buddhism teaches us to do good and fulfill skillful actions, to avoid evil and inept deeds, as well as to purify and develop the mind.

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