Sample essay topic, essay writing: Life Of Buda - 1275 words
General Essay on BuddhismLife of the BuddhaBuddhism arose in northern India in the 6th century BCE. The historical founder of Buddhism, Siddharta Gautama (c.560-480 BCE) was born in a village called Lumbini into a warrior tribe called the Sakyas (from where he derived the title Sakyamuni, meaning 'Sage of the Sakyas'). According to tradition Gautama's father, Suddhodana was the king of a small principality based on the town of Kapilavastu. His mother, Queen Maya, died seven days after Gautama's birth. Following the death of Maya, Suddhodana married Maya's sister, Prajapati, by whom Gautama was brought up in great luxury and sheltered from the harshness of the outside world. At sixteen the prince married Yasodhara. Yasodhara bore him a son whom he called Rahula (meaning 'chain' or 'fetter'), a name that indicated Gautama's sense of dissatisfaction with his life of luxury. His apparent sense of dissatisfaction turned to disillusion when he saw three things from the window of his palace, each of which represented different forms human suffering: a decrepit old man, a diseased man, and a corpse. So traumatised was Siddharta by his new found awareness of the transience of pleasure and the universality of suffering, that he decided to embark on a life dedicated to true knowledge.
Inspired by the example of a mendicant monk, Siddharta abandoned his family and life as a prince, cut off his hair and adopted the lifestyle of a wanderer. Siddharta began his spiritual quest under the guidance of two teachers who showed him how to reach very deep states of meditation (samadhi). This did not, however, lead to a sense of true knowledge or peace, and the practice of deep meditation was abandoned in favour of a life of extreme asceticism which he shared with five companions. But again, after five or six years, of self-mortification, Siddharta felt he had failed to achieve true insight and rejected such practices as dangerous and useless. Resolved to continue his quest, Siddharta made his way to a deer park at Isipatana, near present day Benares. Here he sat beneath a tree meditating on death and rebirth. It was here that Siddharta attained a knowledge of the way things really are; it was through this knowledge that he acquired the title 'Buddha' (meaning 'awakened one'). This awakening was achieved during a night of meditation, which passed through various stages. In the first stage he saw each of his previous existences
In the second he surveyed the death and rebirth of all living beings and understood the law that governs the cycle of birth and death. In the third he identified the four noble truths: the universality of suffering, the cause of suffering through selfish desire, the solution to suffering and the way to overcome suffering. This final point is called the Noble Eightfold Path, this being eight steps consisting of wisdom (right views, right intention) ethics (right speech, right action, right livelihood), mental discipline (right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration), which ultimately lead to liberation from the source of suffering. Although initially hesitant to share his insight on the grounds that humanity might not be ready for such a teaching, the Buddha decided to communicate his discovery to those willing to listen. His first converts were the five ascetics with whom he had lived when he himself followed the lifestyle of the ascetic. To these he preached his first sermon in the Deer Park at Benares, outlining to them the Four Noble Truths.
Out of this small group the community of monks (or sangha) grew to about sixty in size and included Buddha's cousin, Ananda, and his son, Rahula. Later the Buddha was persuaded by his step-mother and cousin to accept women into the sangha. The remaining forty-five years of the Buddha's life were spent journeying around the plain of the Ganges, teaching and receiving visitors. At the age of 79 the Buddha fell seriously ill and died. During his life the Buddha had taught that no one was to succeed him as leader of the Sangha. Instead, his followers were to take his teaching and rule as their sole guides. Councils and Early Schisms in the CommunityFollowing the Buddha's death, his teachings were gathered together at the first Buddhist council, which is said to have taken place at Rajagrha shortly after the Buddha's Final Nirvana. A second council, which is said to have taken place a century after the Buddha's death, took place at Vaisali.
The purpose of this council was to consider allegations that certain monks at Vaisali permitted ten practices that contravened the rules of conduct of the Vinaya. The Vaisali Council condemned these practices, after which the Council was closed. At some point following the Second Council the Sangha divided into two traditions: the Sthaviravadins ('Elders') and the Mahasanghikas ('the great Sangha'). The difference between the two traditions seems to relate to their perception of the status of the layperson and the status of the arhant. Whereas the Mahasanghikas were more open to the laity practising Buddhism and tended to believe that the lay person was capable of becoming an arhant, the Sthaviravadins believed that monastic life alone could lead to arahantship and, therefore, nirvana. Sometime in the 3rd century B. C. E. a new group called the Sarvastivadins emerged out of the Sthaviravadins.
The name 'Sarvastivadin' is believed to derive from the phrase sarva asti (everything exists). The Sarvastivadins taught that the dharmas, the most basic elements of existence, exist in the past, present and future which are simply modes of being. The growth of this movement led King Asoka, of the Maurya dynasty, to call the third Buddhist Council at Pataliputra (c. 250 BCE) which decided against the teachings of the Sarvastivadins. This decision prompted some of them to emigrate to north India and establish a center in Kashmir where they survived for about a thousand years. Another group that emerged in the 3rd century B. C. E.
Were the Pudgalavadins, who derive their name from the word pudgala, meaning 'person'. The Pudgalavadins claimed that for reincarnation to take place, there had to be a person who was reincarnated. This view was criticised by other Buddhist sects who said that Pudgalavadin teaching implied the reality of a self and, therefore, contradicted the basic Buddhist teaching of anatman (no self).Those Sthaviravadins who did not accept the doctrines of either the Sarvastivadins or the Pudgalavadins came to be called Vibhajyadins ('Distinctionists'). This group formed a number of branches, of which the largest and most important were the Theravadins of Ceylon. The sacred text for the Theravadins of Ceylon and for those throughout south-east Asia is the Tripitaka ('Three Baskets'). These three baskets consist of the Vinaya Pitaka (rules for monks and nuns), the Sutta Pitaka (the discourses given by the Buddha) and the Abhidhamma Pitaka (the systematic ordering and analysis of Buddhist doctrine). Accompanying the Tripitaka was a large body of commentarial literature explaining in detail the meaning of particular sutras.
Early Mahayana BuddhismAt about the beginning of the common era there appeared texts which did not belong to the Tripitaka of the early schools (in so far as the Tripitaka existed at this time). The movement associated with these texts came over time to call itself the Mahayana ('Great Vehicle') in contrast to non-Mahayana schools, which were pejoratively named Hinayana ('Lesser Vehicle'). In India Mahayana Buddhism developed through a number of stages. Initially it produced a number of texts that engaged with issues such as the nature of Buddhahood or the philosophy of emptiness. Later identifiable schools such as Madhyamaka and Yogacara emerged. Then, between the fifth and seventh centuries Classical Mahayana Buddhism developed as an attem...
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