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Buddhism

Buddhism is the fourth largest religion on earth with 490 million followers, mostly
in Asia. Buddhism isnt about worshipping a god but about following their
spiritual leader, The Buddha (the illuminated), who ennounced his teachings in
563 BCE. Nowadays the most famous Buddhist is the Nobel Price for the Peace,
Dalai Lama.

The founder of Buddhism was at once a wealthy Hindu prince : Sidartha


Gautama. His father, the king decided that Sidharta would never know the
sufferings of life, such as death, misery or sickness. When the young prince went
out the palace and saw all the sufferings of his people, he decided to renounce to
his wealthy life. During 6 years, he followed the way of life of the Hindu Sadhus :
poverty, starvation and meditation. But he didnt find answers to his quest. He
then went to meditate under a bodhi tree and, after defeating Mara (God of
illusion), he got enlightened. After that he went to Sarnath and made his first
speech about the 4 noble truths, Buddhism was born. And over 40 years, he
travelled to spread his teachings through Asia.
All those principles are explained in the Tripitaka, such as the words of Buddha,
the rules of life and philisophic reflexions about life. For example, in the Sutra
Pitaka, the first noble truth is everyone suffers, the second one is all suffering
is caused by selfishness and greed, the third one is anybody can get rid of
suffering by eliminating selfishness and greed and the last one is to follow the 8
fold path. This is the code of conduct of Buddhism and is built on three main
points : Wisdom (right understanding and motivation), Moral Discipline (right
speech and actions) and Mental Discipline (right effort and mindfulness).
Buddhism believe in the cycle of life, ruled by the rules of Karma (you get what
you give). Finally, Buddhists structured their life on 3 jewels : the faith in
Buddha, the understanding of his teachings, Dharma, and the community,
Sangha.
The Buddhist symbols are the Wheel of law (the reincarnation cycle), the lotus,
the Bodhi tree, the empty throne and the gazelle symbolize the Buddha. Buddha
representations are various and very codified : 32 physical marks are necessary
(snow white eyes, silver hair between the eyebrows, long hears, golden skin).

Among the followers are three distinct branches. The small vehicle, the
Theravada, prefers a individual quest to Nirvana (end of reincarnation). The big
vehicle, the Revere, believe in Bodhisattvas (saints). The Diamond vehicle, the
Mahayana, base their quest on the group and is highly represented in Tibet. In
Japan, Buddhism is strongly followed, it created the Zen philosophy of
meditation. The common point of all buddhists, whatever the branch or country,
is their great moral conduct, trying to avoid violence and conflict.
Buddhist rituals are daily visit to the Stupa (temple) for meditation or at home
where they have a small altar with statue and offrands. Most Buddhist festivals
deals with buddhas life : his birthday on April 8 th, the month of Vesak (May)
which celebrates his birth in enlightenment and death, the festival of the Tooth in
Kandy (Sri Lanka), Obon honors the deads.
Finally, some places are holy and are the sources of pilgrimage : Lumbini,
Buddhas birthplace and Bodh-Gaya, where Buddha enlightened, are parts of the
quest.

Hadrien Renault Word count :


556