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Theravada Tradition

Essay by   •  January 3, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,701 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,466 Views

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Theravada Tradition

How can we begin to understand such a diverse and ancient religion? The width of Buddhism is immense. It is a religion without any written rules. Buddhism is based on self-discovery. Buddhists are born with the quest to find their true form. They believe that they are prisoners of the physical plain until they reach nirvana. Nirvana is the ultimate goal for a Buddhist. It is the state that saves them from all suffering and evil. They believe that only nirvana can remove them from the never-ending circle of life. This is the same circle that puts them back in a world of suffering and pain. The very thing they want to escape from.

Buddhists must conquer the mind before they could ever reach nirvana. The mind is full of lust and greed. A Buddhist eradicates temptations like greed and lust by rejecting the source of evil. They live independently from most of the luxuries required by westerners. They rely mainly on the basic necessities of life. By removing temptation, they gain more control of the mind.

Buddhists are very spiritual about their surroundings. They cherish all living things. They would remove all living organism with such care before an area is used for construction. Reducing the suffering of others provides a meaning to their lives. They believe that all things have the right to live. By doing good things they ease the mind from all the suffering around them. We cannot remove suffering. We can only reduce it. By controlling the mind, we control most of the suffering we create ourselves. We are neurotic beings that strive on suffering. Most people do not control their suffering. The suffering controls them.

Buddhists insist that karma plays an important part in their reincarnation. The reincarnation is the rebirth of a person into the next life. By reaching nirvana, the cycle stops and they are not reborn again. By living by the constant fear of karma, they live prosperous lives. They always try to find peaceful solutions to all problems. Buddhists are peaceful people but they are not pacifists. They will only turn to violence if they have to defend themselves. They loathe wars because it takes lives. This might give them a negative outlook on the world and provide a negative reincarnation. To a Buddhist, every action on earth will have its consequences. It is just the magnitude of the consequences that have them worried. They try and live a pure life to ensure a prosperous reincarnation.

Buddhists do not challenge other religions. They believe that by honoring other religions that they help their own religion. They will not argue with you about your religion. They know that you are only fighting about a certain dogma. They will also not try and convert you to Buddhism. They think that it would be devastating to westerners because of our strong beliefs in our dogmas. They will merely try and show you the guidelines of Buddhism. Through these guidelines you can find your own way.

Buddhism is a very difficult religion because of its diversity. There is no right and wrong. What might be right for you might be wrong according to others. It all basically depends on you. The only way to truly see all the possibilities of Buddhism is to study it for many years. Then at the end of your life you might have found the truth. What is the truth? That is up to you.

Theravada, or Path of the elders, is the school of Buddhism, which emphasizes the historical Buddha, and has adopted a conservative adherence to the Buddha’s teachings.

The Theravada Buddhist believed that they practiced the original teachings of Buddhism as it was handed down to them by Buddha. Theravada Buddhism corresponds fairly exactly with the teachings of Buddha. Theravada Buddhism is based on the Four Noble Truths and the idea that all physical reality is a chain of causation. This includes the cycle of birth and rebirth. Through the practice of Eightfold Noble Path and the Four Cardinal Virtues, an individual can eventually attain Nirvana. Theravada Buddhism focused primarily on meditation and concentration, the eighth of the Eightfold Noble Path. As a result, it emphasized on a monastic life and required an extreme expenditure of time meditating. This left little room for the bulk of humanity to join in. Theravada Buddhism was, by and large, an esoteric religion. Theravada Buddhism holds that Buddha was a historical person who, on his death, ceased to exist. There were, however, strong tendencies for Buddhists to worship Buddha as a god of some sort; these tendencies probably began as early as Buddha's lifetime. Where I think the teaching of the Buddha, as preserved in the Theravada tradition, surpasses all other attempts to resolve the spiritual dilemmas of humanity is in its persistent refusal to sacrifice actuality for unity. The Buddha's Dhamma does not point us towards an all-embracing absolute in which the tensions of daily existence dissolve in metaphysical oneness or inscrutable emptiness. It points us, rather, towards actuality as the final sphere of comprehension, towards things as they really are. Above all, it points us towards the Four Noble Truths of suffering, its origin, its cessation, and the way to its cessation as the liberating proclamation of things as they really are. These four truths, the Buddha declares, are noble truths, and what makes them noble truths is precisely that they are actual, undeviating, and invariable. (Understanding Religion in a Global Society 236). It is the failure to face the actuality of these truths that has caused us to wander for so long through the long course of self realization. It is by penetrating these truths exactly as they are that one can reach the true consummation of the spiritual quest: making an end to suffering.

For Buddhist, practicing Buddhism in a Theravada tradition is very important. They practice this in a form of Dhamma. Practicing Dhamma is the most inclusive way of life; for it does not separate us from others. Every action becomes an expression of the values inherent in the Buddha's Path. It is sustained by virtue and finds expression in loving kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity to all. The application of Dhamma relies not only on determined

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