View Full Version : The History of Buddhism

March 23rd, 2007, 08:23 AM
Food for thought for many here delving into Buddhism...be careful...realize what you embrace...: Buddhism and Christianity:
The History of Buddhism

Buddhism is a related to Hinduism, and there are a number of similarities. Buddhism began in India in about the 6th century B.C., and from there it spread throughout Asia. Today it is found mainly in Japan, China, and the Far East. Very few people in India itself are Buddhists today.
The system was begun by Gautama Buddha (the title "Buddha" means "one who is enlightened"). He was born about 563 B.C., and raised in a very wealthy family where he was protected from problems and suffering. Later he was exposed to suffering and became concerned with the cause of it. At age 29 he left his wife and son to seek a solution.
He tried and rejected both Hinduism and extreme self-deprival (asceticism). After 6 years of seeking, he arrived at the system that became Buddhism. He established an order of monks and one of nuns devoted to his plan of overcoming suffering, then he spent the rest of his life as a wandering religious teacher.
Major divisions of Buddhism
Buddhists have tried to adapt their religion to the views of people converted from other religions. The result was that people could believe almost anything and be Buddhist. The differences within Buddhism can be likened, not to the differences between Catholics and Protestants, but to those between Christians, Jews, and Moslems.
Two major branches of Buddhism:
* Theravada is the older, conservative wing which follows the original teachings of Gautama. These Buddhists are found mainly in Southern Asia - Thailand, Burma, etc.
* Mahayana is the newer, liberal wing of Buddhism. Those of this view refer to conservatives as the "little vehicle" and themselves as the "great vehicle" because they believe their views are more practical for most people. They are found mainly in central and northern Asia - Japan, China, Korea, etc.
Scriptures of Buddhism
* Conservative Buddhists (Theravada) have three groups of writings called "3 baskets" - the Tripitaka. It is written in the Pali language and is 11 times the size of the Bible.
It is supposed to contain the sermons and doctrines of Gautama, but it was written centuries after he died. Hence, it is not an eyewitness account of his life or teachings. There is no such eyewitness account. All we have are traditions.
* Liberal Buddhists (Mahayana) follow much more than the Tripitaka. Their Scriptures contain over 5000 volumes. Each sect emphasizes their favorite portions. Teachings of various parts of their Scriptures contradict one another.
The material here presented is based on the Encyclopedia Britannica (articles on "Buddha" and "Mahayana"); also World Religions, article by Bentley-Taylor and Offner.
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Please consider the Buddhist teaching as compared to the Bible teaching