Buddhism is a religious practice that is common in the Asian continent of the world. The religion is unique to other religious practices in the world such as Christianity and Islam. The unique set of beliefs that the Buddhist agree on is there a supernatural. The subscription of the religious beliefs of the Buddhist is limited to their subscription to the teachings of the Buddha. The Buddhist perceive the Buddha to be a prince who offers wise guidance to humanity on how humanity needs to conduct itself. This paper delves on the importance of Buddhism, different forms of Buddhism, popularity of Buddhism and divergence from Buddhism.
Buddhism as religion has a remarkable importance and significance to the people who practice it. The region ranks as one of the five main practiced religion in the world, thereby signifying its importance to the world. The significance of Buddhism anchors on its teachings. The teachings opine that anger, greed and ignorance are the three most important factors that are needed to exterminate evil mindset that exists in human beings. Buddhism, as a religious practice, is concerned with ensuring that humanity lives harmoniously with other creatures that are created by God.
Buddhism is important is dissecting life and its components to two categories to which, all humans belong. The two categories are peace and pleasure. The two are antagonistic, and there is no way one can occupy a grey zone. The teachings of Buddhism, therefore, enables humanity to conduct a self-assessment of the areas of their lives that they need to have based their beliefs in order to live a life of tranquility. The significance of Buddhism, as well draws from the teachings of their religious leader, Buddha. Buddha postulates that there is a need for all human beings to desert from the pleasures of the world to have tranquility within their hearts and desist from plotting or conducting any evil activity.
Based on the teachings, Buddhism is, therefore, important in promoting peace and good governance all over the world. Buddhism is a religion that equips their followers with the beliefs on things that do not cause harm to the human race. Buddhism is also important in affecting positive self-esteem in an individual. Buddhism drives a point that there is good that exists innately in all individuals and the individuals have the capacity to manifest the good through their acts. The main significance of Buddhism, therefore, is to impart progressive character traits to those who believe. The character traits that Buddhism promote are compassion and wisdom. The two traits enable humankind to ensure critical thinking in all the actions that they either plan or do. Compassion enables the entire human race to have a rigorous thought of the impact of their actions to humanity and life.
Buddhism, as a religion, offers the spiritual nourishment that is necessary for improving the moral standards all over the world. The teachings of Buddhism encourage individual to have a culture of positive thought by exterminating any impurity that exists in their minds. The genesis of the troubles and issues that is borne by the earth and the human race traces their etymological roots in the mind of a human being. The teachings of Buddhism are strict on the needs of the human race to exterminate any evil plan or nature that might exist in their lives. Straying away from evil means that the whole world will be free from corruption, environmental degradation, lack of compassions and harm for nature.
There are four main forms of Buddhism that is, Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana and Zen Buddhism. The four different types of Buddhism have start differences that they portray thereby the need to analyze each form of Buddhism is independent. First, Theravada Buddhism draws from the doctrine that is primarily set for the elders. The Buddhism is meant for the class of the population whose primary agenda is to impart wisdom amongst the believers. Those who subscribe to Theravada Buddhism revere the advice and consultations that they receive from their elders. The leadership of the Theravada Buddhism is a reserve of the elders only.
Second, Mahayana Buddhism draws from the Theravada Buddhism. The key characteristic of Mahayana is the need and necessity of showing compassion and enlighten to the populace. The chief driving force for the practice of Mahayana by its believers is its recognition of the problems that human beings face. Mahayana presents a premise that since deleterious issues face humanity at different times, the fortunate are the source of a helping hand for the downtrodden. Mahayana presents an argument that the bodhisattvas have the capability of offering liberation to those who are victims of suffering. The bodhisattvas are the religious figures within the society to whom all, the societal members look forward to deriving guidance and help that they might need.
Third, Vajrayana Buddhism opines that there is an intricate relationship between the spiritual and the physical worlds of a human being. Vajrayana believes that the physical and spiritual realms of the worlds to which, human exist are objectively subjective. Any slight change in one aspect of the life of the life of a human beings leads to further detrimental effects on the other component of the life of the very human being. Vajrayana, therefore, enables its believers to resonate that which they believe and that which exists. Vajrayana abhors illusions that other religious beliefs present and instead empowers one to focus on the true and seeable features of life. There are three factors that characterize Vajrayana Buddhism. The three are performance of rituals, conducting of tantra and occasionally chanting.
Finally, Zen Buddhism borrows largely from the religious practices of the monk. Zen Buddhism exists as a hybrid religion of the monks and the Buddhist. While Zen Buddhists partakes in the practices of the three other forms of Buddhism, it integrates practices of the monks as well. Those who practice Zen Buddhism have a habit of meditating in their personal lives, meditation is, therefore, a key characteristic of the Zen Buddhists.
The main comparison of the different types of Buddhism anchors on their primary origin. All the forms of Buddhism derive from Theravada Buddhism. Second, all the four forms of Buddhism encourages their believers to have a firm foundation to the teachings and the scriptures. The teachings and emphasis of the scriptures that the four forms of Buddhism use encourage humanity to shy from evil, do well and be pure. Third. All the forms of Buddhism subscribe to the teachings of Buddha. The main teachings of all the forms of Buddhism have a primary hope of the four forms of Buddhism is that one day all forms of life will be freed from suffering. Suffering is a dehumanizing phenomenon that weighs down on the capacity of the living creatures to co-exist. Teachings of the four forms of Buddhism acknowledges the presence of suffering that is exhibited in the world such as the survival of the fittest. All forms of Buddhism discourage pegging existence of an organism on the extinction of another organism. They instead present a premise that all organism have an equal right to life and survival and, therefore, organisms need to exist collaboratively.
On the contract, there are stark differences between the different types of Buddhism. The fours forms of Buddhism exist independently and have characteristics that are already mentioned in the different forms of Buddhism. The different forms of Buddhism have control particular geographical locations. For example, Theravada Buddhism is more common in Sri Lanka, Thailand and Cambodia while Mahayana Buddhism is more pronounced in Japan and China. Though Zen emphasizes the need of self-reflection, the other three forms of Buddhism relate the spiritual understandings and the existence of life in the natural world.
Buddhism is believed to have originated from Asia and India from which it got the waves to spread. Buddhism has penetrated most parts of the world and currently is practiced by greater number of populations. Many countries including Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, China, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. It has also been enrooted in India, Europe and some parts of the U.S.A. These summed up together reveal that about 500 million people of the world’s population practice Buddhism. In the 19th Century Buddhism gained grounds in the sense that its teachings were translated into other languages and many books printed in different languages. Majority off the pioneers got interested in its teachings thus attracting many more people.
Today in history Buddha could stand tall and put a bright smile of how far Buddhism has spread. This is evident in many countries in which the presence of Buddhist temples, monasteries and stupas are freely erected in the city centers. Many people in the world now seem to be under the influence of Buddhism teachings that encompasses practicalities in science and varying ideologies that have proven to be mind blowing to those willing to pay loyalty.
Asia as a continent and pioneer of Buddhism has all aspects of Buddhism being practiced. The international flag that is a symbol of peace and harmony formulated during the revival celebration of Buddhism in Siri Lanka got accepted and became an international Buddhists flag.
In a nut shell, statistics by demographic analysis categorizes the spread of Buddhism as Eastern, Northern and Southern Buddhists. The Eastern Buddhists are approximated to tally at 360 million followers of Mahayana, the northern being 150 million and are followers of Theravada .The Southern being about 18.2 million and followers of Vajrayana. In addition, a total of more than seven million are found outside the geographical map of Asia.
Popularity of Buddhism traces its way when the Indian emperor sent missionaries to spread acts and teachings of Buddhism to different parts of the world. Many people got interested in it owing to certain factors that never put pressure on the converts who realized these while undertaking lessons in the already established Buddhism philosophy schools.
From the teachings and lessons learnt, many converts became contended with the ideologies of the religion. They realized that it did not require an individual to meet certain conditions neither did it want an individual to fulfill certain obligations. It thus gained popularity in the sense that it offered guidance and a sense of direction to those who believed in its ideologies without asking for an accountability and loyalty to God.
Many people today in the world and the present circumstances tend to live each day they wake up under pressure. The living standards are very much above majority’s earnings thus increased buildup of domestic feuds and violence among couples, youths and children are no surprise. Buddhism through its lessons of tranquility and guidance gives peace to many who have mastered the art of concentration for they find solace during the mediation process and enlightenment.
Losing loved ones in every individual’s life is an ordeal that nobody ever wants to happen. Unfortunately, a time comes that we have to let go of the old, sick or the weak for nature just seem never to be lenient to its laws’. Life has to continue and new generations have to take the space. Buddhists through their lessons only mastered in obedience and patience have the ability to collect themselves together and in the process can meet their long dead loved ones through incarnations. In addition, the living are promised additional chance of life.
At the political level, Buddhism stopped being exercised by the elite and instead it was manifested in the magnificent arts, cultural arts and architectural designs that drew many of the people’s attentions drawing these people to come and learn how these arts were made.
Film and art industry has also promoted the popularity of Buddhism taking into account that it is always very easy to believe in what you see rather than what you don’t. This taken into account, children who have watched movies that portray Buddhism idols grow up hoping to one day have the powers to make fire on their fists ,fly with the dragons or rescue a million people as shown by Steven Seagal without getting even a single blow. Other artists in the film industry other than Seagal are Richard Gere, Sharone Stone and Phil Jackson just to name but a few.
Divergence as described by the term refers to Buddhism having originated from one point but due to difference in ideologies-sub, branches have been formed. The base line though is that Buddha is their unifying factor. Mahayana Buddhists evolved from the stupa who were loyal and fully marked themselves as the warships. The Mahayana originally attributed to lay men emerged having been disappointed by the continuous arrogance, disloyalty and the mere pretense of the monastic monks.
The radicalized monks viewed Buddha as one that could take different forms. This was the group that formed the Theravadas but all the same, they believe in Buddhahood of the perfect Buddha. The Theravadas believes and highly upholds ethical living, ability to mediate and the eagerness to seek wisdom.
The Vajrayana is an intersect between the Mahayana and the Theravadas schools of thought. They emerged believing that the changes that had occurred and changed the society resulted into changes that enlightened the techniques that were offered.
In conclusion, Buddhism encourages the entire humanity to practice strictly good deeds. Buddhism also integrates the aspect of meditation to enable the populace to inculcate a culture of hard work. Buddhism is mainly practiced on the Asian continent. The roots of the religion have, however, not buttressed to the other religions. In locations where practice Buddhism rampant, such as China and Japan, the society is positively connected. In addition, the societies have a remarkably higher innovation rate credit to the meditation process. The prominence of Buddhism grows on a daily basis leading to the disintegration of Buddhism into four forms. The four include Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana, and Zen Buddhist.