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Buddhism - Chapter 5 Buddhism All Is Impermanence Buddhism...

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C hapter 5 Buddhism: All Is Impermanence Buddhism has already been mentioned during the second period of Hindu history. Although it originated in India, Hinduism eventually absorbed its philosophical and practical insights, and through missionary work Buddhism extended through the rest of Asia and eventually into the Western world. The name of this religion brings to mind the particular teaching and role of its founder, so we can begin our study with the life of Buddha. Born into a ruling family, a prophecy was made at the birth of Siddhartha Gautama. Either he would be a great king, or he would bring enlightenment to the world. Needless to say, his father preferred the former, and so Siddhartha was secluded from all influences that might change his course of becoming a great king. Raised with all the luxury life had to offer, married to a beautiful wife, and having a son, nonetheless Siddhartha reached a crisis point in his adulthood (about age 30) and decided to venture beyond the castle walls in search of meaning. On subsequent nights he had four visions or encounters, first with an old man, then a diseased man, then a corpse, and finally an ascetic practicing meditation. This was his first personal encounter with natural evil (old age, sickness, death), and he decided to renounce his birthright and search for release from suffering. Having lived in extreme of luxury, he now lived in extreme of want. He practiced severe self-denial. He accumulated a few disciples who believed that he would break
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through to enlightenment in this practice. However, his body could not withstand the hardship and he became sick. His disciples left him, and upon recovery he developed the teaching of the Middle Way, which rejects both self-indulgence and self-denial. One night, while meditating under a tree during a full moon, he is said to have achieved full enlightenment. Mara, the personification of evil, tempted him to keep this teaching to himself but the compassion of Buddha (the enlightened one) won out and he spent decades wandering in Northern India teaching his followers. From the beginning these early converts followed Buddha and so together began a monastic way of life. The members of this community, called the Sangha , aided each other in keeping the basic teachings of the Buddha (the dharma ). Buddha’s early teachings were about the practical solution to the problem of evil (as we will see in the 4- noble truths) and initially Buddhism did not involve itself in metaphysical speculation. To join Buddhism one takes the three refuges: I take refuge in Buddha, I take refuge in the dharma, and I take refuge in the Sangha.
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