is one of the world's most interesting religions, and has
been widely practiced throughout the Far East.
However, it has also recently become very popular
amongst many people in the United States.
For example, actor Richard Gere as well as many other
celebrities have embraced and promoted Buddhism's benefits.
The origins of Buddhism date back more than 2,000
years, and although Buddhism is now a religion all on its
own it owes its spiritual "roots" to figures in
Hinduism. Buddhism, which has as its idol a statue of founder
Siddhartha Gautama (who is most often called the Buddha),
promotes a doctrine of peace, inner resolve and tranquility,
and moral living, and following the teachings of the Buddha
is said to bring peace and perfect spiritual harmony.
is a word meaning, "supremely enlightened one" or
one who has a fully awakened mind and spirit.
Siddhartha Gautama earned this term during the sixth
century B.C. after a profound spiritual journey. He
came up with several tenets or truths, and these teachings
have gone on to be the fundamental backbone of Buddhist
teachings have been interpreted somewhat differently in
places where Buddhism has spread (such as Japan, for
example) but the principles of Buddhism remains the same
throughout: Buddhism is a quest for the reduction of
suffering and pain through meditation and a quest for a
simple life free of cravings.
Buddha is not considered a god, and Buddhists do not pray to
him or his image for favors. Instead,
they meditate on how they can attain peace, love, and
compassion within themselves.
Buddhism has five major precepts, and Buddhists
strive to follow these precepts.
- Not to kill anything
- Tot to steal or take
anything not freely given
- To abstain from sexual
misconduct and sensual overindulgence
- Not to lie
- To avoid the use of
alcohol and drugs which cloud the mind and impair
following these precepts and freeing themselves from
cravings, Buddhists feel that they can attain Nirvana, a
spiritual peace. Once
they have attained Nirvana and have realized that life is
not about cravings, material things, or lust, Buddhists will
then be able to use their time to improve the world.
The idol most commonly associated with Buddhism is
the statue of Buddha with his arms folded in his lap and a
beatific smile on his face.
The statue is said to represent Buddha's compassion
and spiritual tranquility, and while Buddhists do not pray
to the Buddha, they do nod their heads to the statue to
acknowledge and thank Buddha for his teachings.
As more and more people discover Buddhism, the statue
of Buddha is being found in many new households throughout