In reading this account on Buddhism, the goal is, for you (the reader) to understand a fascinating belief system, that has been around since before Christ ever set foot on this earth. This will provide a connection to the minds and hearts of the people who live and die in this sacred world, so that an understanding may be arroused and ultimatly give an acceptance as well as a clear path to minister to these people. The most important aspect of reaching out to people of other cults or religions could possibly be an understanding and common ground with your neighbor. Therefore, knowing Buddhism and learning about it will help give you a stepping stone in you mission on spreading the gospel of Christianity, plus expose you to some of the profoundly interesting culture of Asia. (Yamamoto 1)
We have all seen and heard about Buddha and the yin and yang, do to the exploitation of an ancient religion, however aside from this popular fad is a complex and ancient religion deriving from a place called Kapilavastu located in southern Nepal. It began with a man named Siddhartha Gautama, who in fact was the son of a chieftain of the Sakya Clan. Basically he was a prince, enjoying all the luxuries accompanying it. He was born in at about 560 BC, it is debatable as to the exact history of his life, because of the many different forms of Buddhism, however there are substantial bits and peace’s that are agreed on among the different Buddhists. (Mead 23)
He grew up in a sheltered type of life, in that his father refused to let him see any human misery, so he was secluded from the outside world he was never meant know. However, one day at the age of twenty-nine he came to the conclusion of how empty his life had become. As an effect of this, he decided to renounce all his worldly possessions and break all attachments he had in order to set out on a journey. A journey in search of peace and enlightenment. He then, on one fateful day set out on his voyage, eluding the royal attendants his father had contained him with. When reaching the outside, he experienced the effects of human suffering, by veiwing an old man, a leper, a corpse, and an ascetic. With this newfound truth he had discovered he realized that worldly happieness was merely and illusion. After his departing from captivity he decided to give up everything and become a wandering monk. During this time Gautama practiced many forms of extreme austerity or painful rituals, such as sleeping on brambles to mortify the desires of his body and denying his body of sitting by instead crouching on his heels to develop his concentration. He did these things for six or seven years in order, so he believed, to attain truth. One day while on his pilgrimage of enlightenment he came to the realization that his life as an ascetic was of no greater value than that of his previous existence as a prince. His self-torturing acts were then viewed by him as vain and fruitless, just as a life with worldly pleasures would be described as. Once he discovered the importance of the “middle way”, (the way to truth, which averts both worldly pleasures and extreme austerities) he abandoned his life of extreme austerities and moved on in his search for truth. (Mead 30)
Later on in his life, it is not certain exactly when, Gautama sat under a particular fig tree in Gaya, which now is christened the Bodhi-tree. Gautama sat at the foot of that tree and meditated, he meditated until he became enlightened. At the point of enlightenment he discovered the “Four Noble Truths”, which became the focal point of his teachings, and of his Buddhist philosophy. This marked perhaps the most important point in his spiritual journey, where he became the Buddha or “the Enlightened One”.
With his newly found title as the Buddha he decided to set out and share the enlightenment he experienced and the “Four Noble Truths” to all who would be willing to receive his message. Buddha’s (Gautama) choice to share his teaching rather than withdrawing from all human contact, as did many holy men had done symbolized a very important point in the Buddha’s teaching and philosophy. The decision symbolized the compassion of Buddha or his unselfish concern for others. Therefore establishing the Buddhist teachings on wisdom and compassion. Shortly after his enlightenment, approximately two months, Buddha gave his first sermon, in the Deer Park at Rishipatana. This brings us to another concept, it is believed that this event sparked the motion that Buddhists call the “Wheel of the Law” (stages in comprehending ultimate reality). Consequently his actions inspired people to begin to believe in his sermons and eventually follow him; thus a community of beggar monks called Sangha was formed. Unique from many religions, Buddha’s followers did not have to be submissive