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Budism By Huston Smith

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As a college student that has lived and grown up in western New York, I do not have too much experience with the other religions of the world. I have grown up a Christian Protestant my whole life, and I am a firm believer in my religion. Soon after reading the chapter on Buddhism in Huston Smith’s book The World’s Religions, I came to understand and respect the Buddhist religion. I came to learn who the Buddha as a man really was, and the steps he took in becoming a religious icon. I know understand that Buddhism is not all meditation and relaxing. There is a strict code of the four noble truths and the prescription of getting through them called the eightfold path. Much like Christianity Buddhism also has many different views on how to follow the religion, and has been broken up into different paths (yanas). The book also covers how Buddhism has a way of crossing into nirvana, and the journey enlighten followers have to make. In conclusion of the chapter Smith talks about the similarities between Hinduism and Buddhism and how they work with each others ideas. Throughout reading this chapter on Buddhism has had a profound affect on my view and my opinion of the religion has changed drastically.

Siddhartha Guatama was the given name of the Buddha before he became the “enlightened one” or the “Awakened One”. Siddhartha was a very lucky man he was the son of a king, had a very beautiful wife and many material objects and yet he was not happy, so at the age of 20 he left his estate to find what he was missing. Siddhartha wondered with Hinduism for a while and found that the extremes of the religion were not for him and decided to go the middle way. The story goes that Siddhartha wondered into the wilderness and sat down under a peepul tree until he reached enlightenment. The Gods did not want Siddhartha to reach enlightenment so they tempted Siddhartha. First the God of desire (Kama) tempted Siddhartha with three women, which had no effect. Then Mara the lord of death tried to distract Siddhartha with hurricanes, thunder, earthquakes, and falling flaming rocks. Yet nothing distracted Siddhartha from his journey and after 49 days Siddhartha was transformed into the Buddha, but Mara had one more temptation for Buddha. Mara try to get Buddha not to bother teaching others the way to enlightenment because he had already reached nirvana and “why bother to play the idiot before an uncomprehending audience?” Buddha’s reply was that there would be some that would understand and thus went to teach the path to enlightenment. When Buddha went to preach he taught one the devoid of authority, devoid of ritual, skirted speculation, intense self-effort, and to devoid of the supernatural. All of these aspects have been implanted in the formation of the four noble truths.

Buddhism’s four noble truths are Buddha’s declaration of key discoveries of his quest to find enlightenment. The first noble truth is that all humans suffer, this is called dukkha. This philosophy came through to Buddha by realizing that all being try to achieve happiness and when they fail to succeed they suffer and thus life is full of suffering. People also suffer because of fear, fear of death, fear of sickness, fear of poverty. The second noble truth is what causes the suffering which is desire or also called tanha. Our desires are endless, people always want bigger and better things, and when our desires are not met we suffer because of it. The third noble truth is the cure or the prescription to the first two truths, it is called the eightfold path. The eightfold path is the release of the individual from ignorance, unwitting impulse, and tanha (desire). If an individual follows the eightfold path they will be on their way to enlightenment. The first step is that a person has to have the right views on life, which are their beliefs and values. The second step an individual has to have the right intent. The person has to follow what their heart says is the right thing to do. The third step is right speech in the eightfold path. A persons speech tells much about their character, so that means no chatter, gossip, and slander. The fourth step deals with the right conduct. Here like in the bible’s Ten Commandments, Buddhists have general guidelines to follow. They are do not kill, do not steal, do not lie, do not be unchaste, and do not drink intoxicants. Following these will lead you in the right path to enlightenment. The fifth step is the right livelihood. This means that an individual’s occupation is not to be a speculator or a user of others. The sixth step is the right effort, for in order to obtain enlightenment it takes a great amount of commitment and immense exertion. The seventh step in the eightfold path is the right mindfulness. This means individuals have to become one with their thoughts and understand. Then when they understand they are open to a number of insights. The final step in the eightfold path is right concentration. When a individual and just sit and concentrate and block out all distractions, desires, cravings, hostility, and temptations they will be one and have been enlightened.

Much like in Christianity, Buddhism has different view or paths they follow for the religion. The two paths being, one Theravada and the other Mahayana, each of them has there own views on different aspects of the Buddhist religion. As for Theravada followers they believe that human beings are emancipated by self effort without supernatural aid, their key virtue is wisdom, and attainment



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