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BUDDHISM I. THE BEGINNINGS OF BUDDHISM – THE LIFE OF THE BUDDHA i.) Buddhism is one of the world’s OLDEST and MOST SIGNIFICANT religions. ii.) Buddhism had its beginnings in India and came from the experience of SIDDHARTHA GAUTAMA (563-483) who came to be known as THE BUDDHA. iii.)Siddhartha was raised by his aunt. Upon his birth, Siddhartha was inspected by a sage. The sage found marks on his body and declared that the child would either become a world ruler or, if he was exposed to suffering, a world teacher . Because his father wanted him to become a world ruler, he spoiled Siddhartha and kept him away from suffering. One day, however, Siddhartha left the royal grounds and saw the Four Passing Sights: a. An old man, crooked and toothless b. A sick man c. A corpse d. A sannyasin, a wandering holy man, who had no possessions but seemed to be at peace. iv.)At age 29, Siddhartha decided to escape. He went out into the world with nothing but questions. This is called the Great Going Forth: a. First Siddhartha went from teacher to teacher asking questions, learning the arts of meditation, and discussing philosophy. However, he was still unsatisfied. b. Next, Siddhartha gained the company of five other nomadic “seekers” and practiced great austerity. He lived on so little water, food, and sleep that he eventually collapsed from weakness. He realized that his austerities had not helped him find the answers he sought. Siddhartha’s five companions, believing that he was “backsliding,” abandoned him. c. Siddhartha decided to adopt a practice of moderation . He resolved to sit under the Bodhi tree , facing east, until he came to the understanding he needed. An evil spirit, Mara , and his daughters tempted Siddhartha; however, he resisted, and during one night he entered an increasingly profound state of awareness. It was at dawn that he reached a state of profound understanding, called his Awakening , or Enlightenment ( bodhi ). He realized that suffering, aging, and death were inevitable parts of life, but there was a possibility of release. He then became the Buddha , or the Awakened One . v.) The Buddha reunited with his five companions and spent the rest of his life traveling from village to village teaching his insights and his way of life. He gained many followers and donors gave land, groves, and buildings to the movement. Thus, the Buddha began an order of monks called sangha . The Buddha’s way was a path of moderation , or a middle path . vi.)Finally Buddha passed. His last advice: “Trust your own insights, and use self control to reach perfection and inner peace.
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II. THE BASIC TEACHINGS OF BUDDHISM i.) The teachings of the Buddha were not recorded until several hundred years after his death. They are written in Pali and Sanskrit. ii.) At the core of Buddhism are the Three Jewels : a. The Buddha : the ideal human being whom other human beings should imitate. He is a model of self-control and mindfulness and exists in a timeless dimension beyond this world.
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