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    Buddhism: Teaching and Practice

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    What is religion? There are many religions that people believe in today. When I think of the word religion I think of a group of people who believe in a god or gods that created the world and determine your faith. However, other people may interpret the definition of religion differently from each one of us. Each person’s faith is different. This is a question that has been asked for centuries, and regardless of the answer given there is no right or wrong answer. Religion can be defined as a group of people who have shared beliefs who feel their life has purpose or meaning. The feeling or belief that your life has a meaning can come from outside of themselves, as well as within. Taking this one step further, these shared beliefs put into action in the form of worship, can be easily identified because they happen regularly. In general, a religion is a set of beliefs based on a common principle shared by a community. Today we will learn about the Chinese religion and what is expected to be done by the it’s believers or followers. What is the definition of Chinese religion? The definition of Chinese religion is a diverse mixture of beliefs, such as Buddhism, Daoism, and other religious aspects of Confucianism that are combined with other religions to sort of set the backbone of the Chinese religion. In China the way people practice a certain religion is much more different from the way people in American pursue a certain religion. For instance, in America there are multiple religions that people practice such as Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Catholic, etc., but in China the government only recognizes 5 specific religions that can only be practiced in China according to ( In addition it states on that “As a Communist country, China has no official religion. That being said, the government does officially recognize five religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism”. This emphasizes that the Chinese don’t have unlimited choice of religion because of their government systems runs. Meaning, in China people are only allowed to practice those 5 religions and they are prohibited from all the other religions that aren’t allowed by the government. Meanwhile in America people are opened to all religions and to practice whatever religion best fits them. The famous religion in China that we will talk about is Buddhism.

    Buddhism is a path of teaching and practice. Buddhist practices such as meditation are means of changing oneself in order to develop the qualities of awareness, kindness, and wisdom. The experience developed within the Buddhist tradition over thousands of years, and it created an incomparable resource for all those who wish to follow the path of spiritual development. The word Buddha is a title not a name. It means ‘one who is awake’ in the sense of having ‘woken up to reality’. The title was first given to a man called Siddharta Guatemala, who lived in the fifth or sixth century B.C. in Lumbini (in modern-day Nepal). Siddhartha is a Sanskrit name meaning ‘one who has accomplished a goal,’ and Gautama is a family name.

    Now we will get a little deeper into Buddhism and talk about the Noble Eightfold Path. The Noble Eightfold Path is an early summary of the path of Buddhist practices leading to liberation from samsara and the painful cycle of rebirth. Samsara means the cycle of death and rebirth to which life in the material world is bound. However the Noble Eightfold Path consists of eight practices: the right view, the right resolve, the right speech, the right conduct, the right livelihood, the right effort, the right mindfulness, and the right samadhi. The first practice we will discuss about is the Right View. In Buddhism the right view means seeing things in the right perspective. For example, ‘Our happiness and the happiness of those around us depend on our degree of Right View…Right View is not an ideology, a system, or even a path. It is the insight we have into the reality of life, a living insight that fills us with understanding, peace, and love.’ (The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, page 51). In addition, it means seeing things as they really are, without any false illusions or pretenses. Buddha wanted his followers to see and to understand the transient nature of worldly ideas and possessions and to understand that they can attain salvation only if they practiced the right karma.

    The second practice we will discuss about is the right intention. In the right intention Buddhism emphasizes that we are what we are because of what we think. For example, what goes on inside our minds (our thought process) determines our course of action. To have the right Intentions or the right thoughts, a person should be aware of his purpose or role in life and is studying the teachings of Buddha. According to ( The Buddha taught that there are three kinds of Right Intention, which counter three kinds of wrong intention. One of the three is the intention of renunciation, which counters the intention of desire. Second, is the intention of good will, which counters the intention of ill will (cultivate loving kindness for all beings, without discrimination or selfish attachment, to overcome anger, ill will, hatred, and aversion). Third, the intention of harmlessness, which counters the intention of harmfulness (describes a practice of not harming or doing violence to anything).

    The third practice is the right speech. Furthermore, Buddha stressess his followers to speak the truth, so that they would avoid slander and malicious gossip and to refrain from abusive language. For instance, the way you speak to someone uses harsh words can cause distress or offend others should also be avoided while also staying clear of mindless idle chatter which lacks and depth. According to Buddha has four parts to the right of speech. These four parts are “Abstain from false speech; do not tell lies or deceive, do not slander others or speak in a way that causes disharmony or enmity, Abstain from rude, impolite, or abusive language, and do not indulge in idle talk or gossip”. These four parts mean speaking truthly to one another, speaking to one another with respect or kindness, using language to reduce anger and ease tensions, and using language in a way that is useful.

    The fourth practice in Buddhism is the right Action is a major rule. According to buddha behaving peacefully and harmoniously represents the right action. For example, in Buddhism they are specific guidelines that needs to be followed like staying in harmony with fellow human beings, behaving peacefully, not stealing, not killing anyone, avoiding overindulgence in sensual pleasure, abstaining from sexual misconduct, not indulging in fraudulent practices, deceitfulness, and robbery. These guidelines are also similar to the guidelines Muslims follow.

    The fifth practice we will talk about is the right livelihood. In the right livelihood there’re guidelines given by Buddha. Buddha advises his followers to earn their bread and butter righteously, without resorting to illegal and nefarious activities. He does not expect his followers to exploit other human beings or animals or to trade in weapons or intoxicants. The sixth practice is the right effort. Buddha believed that human nature imposes undue restrictions on the mind at times, causing a person to harbor ill thoughts. So we have to train our mind to think in the right direction if we wish to become better human beings. Once we gain control over our thoughts and replace the unpleasant ones with positive ones, we shall be moving in the right direction.

    The seventh practice is the right mindfulness. Buddha suggests his followers to focus mentally on their emotions, mental faculties, and capabilities while staying away from worldly desires and other distractions. This reflects on the ability of the mind to see things as they are without being led astray by greed, avarice, anger, and ignorance. The eighth practice in Buddhism is the right concentration. This eighth principle laid down by Buddha is fundamental for proper meditation. For example, the Zazen (or, Zen meditation) is the way used in Zen to reach the right concentration or ‘state of mind’. Needless to add, this is the most vital of all the aspects stated in the Noble Eightfold path or without proper meditation an individual cannot move on to a higher level of well-being.

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