Buddhism – the doctrine that arose in ancient India in the VI-V century BC. e. and in the course of further development it has become one of the three world religions, along with Christianity and Islam. Depending on the point of view, Buddhism is regarded as a religion, as a philosophy, an ideology, as a cultural complex and way of life.
In India, Buddhism flourished until about 500 AD. e. Then it gradually declined, by the second century. n. e. was absorbed in Hinduism and almost completely disappeared. By that time Buddhism had spread and gained influence in other countries of Central and East Asia, where it remains viable to this day.
As in Hinduism, Buddhism clearly represents the idea of cyclicity in rebirths, karma and nirvana. Buddhists believe in the Wheel of Reincarnation. They believe that a person is born on Earth, lives on Earth and, dying, returns to Earth in another body.
Good or bad activity of a person in the past determines the type of his birth (his body), his social status, psychology and consciousness. Man again begins a new life: he is born again, grows old, dies, having experienced all kinds of grief, suffering, anxiety, despair.
He constantly moves in the circle of birth and death, and this continues as long as a person is in the fetters of ignorance. This endless process of reincarnation is called the wheel of life, or samsara.
In this case, according to Buddhism, in all of his sufferings the person is to blame. And he is destined to be reborn to re-learn the lessons missed in past lives. Therefore, it is necessary to bear humbly all the tortures and try to avoid them in the future.
An important concept in Buddhism is karma. At the same time, karma is more a philosophical than a physical category. Figuratively speaking, if the life process is compared with the river, then its course is karma. The life of the river is supported by thousands of streams (desires), which carry both pure waters (good deeds) and impurities (bad deeds).
By discarding impurities or, on the contrary, taking them in, the river can change its future karma (but not real) and in the next existence reincarnate into a transparent mountain stream or a fetid river, whose channels are again predetermined by new karma (this is an allegory, for karma is created only conscious actions).
Buddhism is based on the teaching of the Four Noble Truths: about suffering, about the origin and causes of suffering, about the true cessation of suffering and the removal of its sources, about the true ways to stop suffering.
At the same time, the Four Noble Truths are formulations that are quite comparable with the formulations of the doctor setting the patient diagnosed and prescribing treatment.
And really: the first Truth (the Truth of suffering) is the statement of the illness and the diagnosis;
the second (Truth about the cause of suffering) indicates the cause of the disease (what is called “etiology and pathogenesis” in modern medicine);
Thus, from the very beginning of its existence, Buddhism was conceived as a kind of project for transforming a person from a suffering and unhappy creature into a free and perfect being. For this, a median, or Eightfold Path to the attainment of nirvana is suggested. This path is directly related to the three varieties of cultivation of virtues: morality, concentration and wisdom – prajna.
The spiritual practice of passing through these paths leads to a true cessation of suffering and finds its highest point in nirvana. The consequence of the right attitude to things in Buddhism is the state of sinlessness, which acts as general softness, non-harm to everything around, tolerance, coupled with a lack of understanding of the strictness of the moral prescriptions and norms.
The eightfold path of salvation presupposes:
correct understanding – the most important thing to do is to realize that the world is full of suffering and sorrow;
the right intentions – it is necessary to take the path of limiting your passions and aspirations, the basis of which is human egoism;
the right speech – it should be good, so it’s worth keeping an eye on your words (so that they do not exude evil);
right actions – it is necessary to do good deeds, to refrain from non-virtuous deeds;
correct way of life – only a decent way of life, not harmful to all living things, is capable of bringing a person closer to deliverance from suffering;
right efforts – you must tune in to good, drive away all evil from yourself, carefully following the progress of your thoughts;
right thoughts – the most important evil comes from our own flesh, having got rid of desires which you can get rid of and suffering;
correct concentration – the octal way requires constant training, concentration.
The first two stages are called prajna and presuppose the stage of attaining wisdom. The next three are regulation of morality and correct behavior (awls). The remaining three steps represent the discipline of the mind (samadha).
We can distinguish three main philosophical schools of Buddhism, formed in different periods of the doctrine:
1. Hinayana. The main ideal of the direction is a monk – only he can get rid of reincarnations. There is no pantheon of saints who could intercede for a person, there are no rites, the concept of hell and paradise, cult sculptures, icons. Everything that happens to a person is the result of his actions, thoughts and way of life.
2. Mahayana. Even a layman (of course, if he is pious), along with a monk, can achieve salvation. There is an institution of bodhisattvas who are saints who help people in the way of their salvation. Also there is the concept of paradise, the pantheon of saints, images of buddhas and bodhisattvas.
3. Vajrayana. It is a tantric teaching, based on the principles of control of self-awareness and meditation.
So, the basic idea of Buddhism is that human life is suffering and one must strive to get rid of it. This teaching continues to spread confidently around the planet, gaining more supporters.
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