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Buddhism-The Gentle Religion

Updated on February 5, 2015
Goutama Buddha Meditating Under A Tree At Bodh Gaya, India Source: in.com gallery
Goutama Buddha Meditating Under A Tree At Bodh Gaya, India Source: in.com gallery
North side view of Mount Kailash, Tibet. Source Wikimedia Commons
North side view of Mount Kailash, Tibet. Source Wikimedia Commons
Lake Manasarovar, source Wikimedia Commons
Lake Manasarovar, source Wikimedia Commons
The Dalai Lama, source Wikimedia Commons
The Dalai Lama, source Wikimedia Commons

Mount Kailash located in Tibet is a holy pilgrimage that most Indians practicing Hinduism wish to undertake at least once in their lifetime. They believe that their reigning deity Lord Shiva resides there with his eternal companion and consort Parvathi. To reach Mount Kailash and the adjacent sacred lake Manasarovar is a rather daunting task involving an arduous trek through the Himalayas if one were to travel from India. The other option is to fly up to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet,drive downward towards India and then reach the place. This is a story about some Indians who chose to take the Tibetan route.

When China invaded Tibet, the spiritual leader of the Tibetans and the great Buddhist philosopher and preacher Dalai Lama fled to India with his entire entourage of disciples and followers. Since then, he has resided in a small quaint town in the Himalayas, and is considered by the Tibetans and many other Buddhists as the reincarnation of Lord Buddha himself.

So the group who were driving down to Kailash stopped over at a small place for lunch. Not knowing the exact value of the exchange rate between the two currencies, they wanted to leave a rather large tip in Tibetan currency for the persons waiting on them. To their utter surprise, the waiters wished to be paid in lower denominations of Indian currency. When asked why, they came up with an explanation that left the travelers astounded. They felt that the chances of the lower denominations of Indian currency passing through the hands of Dalai Lama were far greater than the higher ones, and they thus wanted to take a chance at touching a bill that had perhaps passed through the hands of the Lama once. Such was their faith and devotion! The Indians made the trip, came back and recounted their tale in a leading newspaper of India.

The Dalai is worshiped as a living reincarnation of the Buddha even today. His preaching follows what Buddha once taught. The life and times of Buddha is inspiration enough for his followers to still seek God among humans rather than relying on a God that exists in a formless, all powerful entity that orchestrates everything in the universe from an unknown location called Heaven. The Buddhists believe that God exists in nature and among us. This is my tribute to a great religion that tries to pacify and join rather than trying to divide and separate through distinctive interpretations.

Birth of Siddhartha, Jamalgarhi, author Photo Dharma, source Wikimedia Commons
Birth of Siddhartha, Jamalgarhi, author Photo Dharma, source Wikimedia Commons
Sketch of Buddha at age 41, supposedly drawn by one of his disciples while he was teaching (veracity unknown) source: eastbound88
Sketch of Buddha at age 41, supposedly drawn by one of his disciples while he was teaching (veracity unknown) source: eastbound88

Origins of Buddhism

Buddha, or Buddha Shakyamuni as he is known from the royal lineage of Shakyas of which he was a descendant, was born in 624 BC (?) in present day Nepal. The word Muni means the 'Able One', so Shakyamuni denoted an Able One born to the royal family of Shakyas.

Siddhartha Gautama, as he was also known prior to his renunciation, was born to a great Indian king, His mother died seven days after childbirth, but there was a prophecy that he would either be a great king or a religious leader some day.

Fearing the second prophecy, Gautama's father shielded him from religion, hardship for survival, and the vagaries of the outside world within a palace where he resided exclusively with his servants and retinue. He was married by the age of 16, and lived in splendid isolation within the confines of the palace walls for the next 13 years.

One day, when he was around 29, he took his chariot outside the palace walls for the first time. He saw a very old man, which his charioteer recounted was everyone's destiny, that everyone would grow old some day. He then saw an ill man. a decaying corpse, and an ascetic. His charioteer once again explained the men, and said that the ascetic had renounced everything to overcome his fear of death. Siddhartha was greatly disturbed and anguished by what he saw, and the next day left his kingdom and family to pursue his path to relieve suffering and gain enlightenment.

Over the next six years, Siddhartha led an ascetic life along with five other ascetics. His dedication was so profound that the other ascetics became his followers in due course of time.When he still did not get answers, he redoubled his efforts at renunciation, starving himself of food and water at times, and enduring unbearable pain at other times.

One day while accepting a bowl of rice from a young girl, realization dawned on him that self denial was not the proper way to achieve salvation. He ate the rice, drank water and bathed in a river. His five followers felt Siddhartha had given up his asceticism and abandoned him, leaving Buddha to continue his search for truth and salvation alone.

Once, Siddhartha sat underneath a tree in a small village to rest after a long journey. While meditating there, he understood the real path to free oneself of suffering. He then began advocating the Middle Way, which really was a balanced path in life devoid of extreme means of self denial to achieve salvation and liberation.

He began being known as the Buddha, a Sanskrit word meaning a person who has been enlightened. Buddha spent the rest of his life preaching through the length and breadth of the country, and continued doing so until he passed away around 483 BC (?) at the old age of 80.


“You only lose what you cling to.”

— ― Gautama Buddha

Teachings of Buddha

The Three Universal Truths

Buddha while meditating under a tree one day noticed that flowers were in full bloom while the trees were getting covered with new foliage. He was appreciating the beautiful world around him when he noticed a farmer beating his ox, an earthworm being eaten by a bird, and then an eagle swooping down and killing the bird. He started questioning himself about the necessity of killing another to survive in the world. After some inner search, he realized the three great truths that led to his subsequent enlightenment

1. Everything is accounted for in the universe

The very basic understanding of Buddhism is that the sum total of the universe is always constant. While a leaf that has fallen decays into the soil and then enriches it, a seed from the same tree sprouts and gives birth to a new plant. We are born to our parents and our children are born to us. The cycle of life progresses without hindrance, and that is what is really true and prevails in the world. For example, destruction leads to further destruction, while cheating others is a way of cheating ourselves. Buddha firmly believed in non-violence, and forbade killing animals to live in harmony with nature and the surrounding world.

2. Nothing around us is constant

Buddha also realized that everything around us is in a constant state of flux. Life is never steady, sometimes it flows without hindrance and other times is obstructed by failures and disappointments. Evolution has seen the extinction of some species and development of new ones, yet the world has remained unchanged and the flow of life unhindered.

3. Changes Due to Cause and Effect

Buddha explained "Karma" as something that happens as a consequence of our actions. Our life today is the result of our past deeds. The thoughts and actions we have today will ultimately determine the way we live later. Thus, every moment is new to us and we create new Karma through what we say and behave. This is similar to Newton's Third Law which says that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This is also where Buddhism and science seem to meet.

With this view, Buddha had said,

"The kind of seed sown
will produce that kind of fruit.
Those who do good will reap good results.
Those who do evil will reap evil results.
If you carefully plant a good seed,
You will joyfully gather good fruit."


“A man is not called wise because he talks and talks again; but if he is peaceful, loving and fearless then he is in truth called wise.”

— ― Gautama Buddha

Basic Buddhist Teachings by Bikhu Ananda

The Five Basic Rules of Buddhism

Buddha himself framed the five basic rules for his followers and disciples. They are,

1. Respect life, do not kill anyone.
2. Respect property of others, do not steal.
3. Respect defined and pure nature as laid down by society, do not do any sexual misconduct.
4. Respect honesty, do not lie.
5. Respect a clear mind, do not intoxicate yourself.

What Is Buddhism?

“Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking and pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness.”

― Gautama Buddha

Relevance of Buddhism in Today's World

Buddhism promotes a simple way of living. The religion is based on five simple precepts of not to kill, steal, lie, to stay away from intoxicants, and not to engage in sexual relations outside societal norms. The religion makes one aware of the fundamental faults and weaknesses within a person that one should consciously try to avoid. It also explains the cause of most inter-personal problems being animosity, hatred and intolerance of others. When we practice self control, we are able to control the cause of such turmoil within. Buddha understood that hatred only begets furtherance, thus leading to ultimate destruction. To overcome that, he advocated leading a virtuous life entwined with love, kindness and compassion.

If we are able to lead a life that has been preached by Buddha, there will neither be hatred, nor rivalry, competition or intolerance in the world. To achieve that, the mind needs to be controlled through meditation to offer it a soothing calmness to tackle any adverse situation.That is essentially what the world needs today, rid of its tensions, mutual distrust, hatred and intolerance to make it a safer and better place to live now and forever.

“Purity or impurity depends on oneself,

No one can purify another.”

— -Gautama Buddha

10 Celebrated Buddhists in the World

1. Tiger Woods

2. Orlando Bloom

3. Tina Turner

4. The Dalai Lama

5. Leonard Cohen

6. Herbie Hancock

7. Richard Gere

8. Kate Bosworth

9. Steven Seagal

10. Aung San Suu Kyi

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Which Part of Buddhism Do You Like Best?

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Note from the author-

Recent world events have been a cause of great concern to me. The clockwork like beheadings in the Middle East, the strife in Ukraine, killing of innocent children in Pakistan, and the disturbances in Chechnya and other parts of the world got me wondering whether any religion has really been born in peace and harmony. The major world religions have some violent events as precursors and related to them, be it crucification of Christ, Prophet Muhammad's wars with other clansmen, or the epic battles between Hindu Gods and the demons, to name a few. It got me looking at other religions in the world, and Buddhism was one religion that was born in peace and developed in brotherhood to relieve mankind of its sufferings in a peaceful, coexistence and mutual respect approach .

This is my humble tribute to Buddhism and its uniqueness and relevance in today's world. I hope you find my presentation suitable. As always, I would very much appreciate your comments to know if you have liked this and also to help me know you better.

With best wishes,


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    • Stella Kaye profile image

      Stella Kaye 16 months ago

      A great introduction to Buddhism. I've been to several Buddhist meditation meetings in the past and found them useful. I find it has a very simple and sensible belief structure although I don't adhere to any particular religion myself.

    • Dip Mtra profile image
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      Dip Mtra 2 years ago from World Citizen

      Hi Nicholas, welcome to HubPages. Yes, these are hubs here. The waiting period is for the weekend, so your hub should be featured by US Monday morning. I read some, and believe they are all featured quality.

      Thanks for stopping by and doing a read on this hub.

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      Nicholas Daly 2 years ago from NSW Australia

      Thanks for your follow as I'm new here, I enjoyed your article (this one on Buddhism, no doubt I'll get to others later), I happened to just post a new one on the Golden Rule mentioning Buddhism and the other major religions and humanist versions (I suppose I should say hub also rather than article?!). It may or may not be up given I have a waiting period happening for checks etc. Anyway thanks for your follow as I believe you're no. 2 haha, & all the best

    • Dip Mtra profile image
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      Dip Mtra 2 years ago from World Citizen

      For your information, it is widely believed that the protrusion of hair on Buddha's scalp was actually an oversize tumor, but nonetheless it gave him a "crown" look that made him seem holier. Yet, looks aside, his preaching were as relevant then as they are now.

    • Dip Mtra profile image
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      Dip Mtra 2 years ago from World Citizen

      Thanks Pundarikda for your kind words. Thanks also for stopping by to read it. While at this, I request that you please read my other works including the comparison chart between Shia and Sunni sects of Muslims, comparison chart of the three major religions in the world, and of course my other hubs as well.

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      Pundarik Sanyal 2 years ago

      Very appropriate concluding comments brother.Touched by your timely thoughts.Dip has Deep sense of humanity.Lots of love.

    • Dip Mtra profile image
      Author

      Dip Mtra 2 years ago from World Citizen

      Bhaskar, to answer about Judaism, I quote from wikipedia "While the Bible and the Talmud specify many violent punishments, including death by stoning, decapitation, burning, and strangulation for some crimes,[26] these punishments were substantially modified during the rabbinic era, primarily by adding additional requirements for conviction." Further "Judaism's doctrines and texts have sometimes been associated with violence. Laws requiring the eradication of evil, sometimes using violent means, exist in the Jewish tradition. "Moreover, Some critics of religion such as Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer argue that all monotheistic religions are inherently violent. For example, Nelson-Pallmeyer writes that "Judaism, Christianity and Islam will continue to contribute to the destruction of the world until and unless each challenges violence in "sacred texts" and until each affirms nonviolent power of God"

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      Bhaskar 2 years ago

      Fantastic. Very well written. However, I thought sanatan dharma also evolved peacefully. And what about jews and jains? Finally, martial arts developed under Buddhist patronage!

    • Dip Mtra profile image
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      Dip Mtra 2 years ago from World Citizen

      Thanks Sunitha. Greatly appreciated. Wish you read my others hubs here especially the one about buchun My Girl Scouty and the one on our car My Corolla My Uhuru. Personal touch to these two that you might relate. Thanks again.

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      sunitha mitra 2 years ago

      A peaceful read, dipda. Reading your article indeed brought a sense of peace this morning. How simple is the effort to live in harmony- in harmony with other ppl, in harmony with nature, in harmony with self. True, Buddhism preaches n practices just that. Beautifully compiled. Thanks for sharing.

    • Dip Mtra profile image
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      Dip Mtra 2 years ago from World Citizen

      Thanks Devika for reading this. Perhaps the reason for this present day chaos and intolerance is because most religions were born out of violence, thus paving the way for its furtherance. Example, Mahabharata, Bible, Struggle of Prophet Muhammad, Judaism etc. Buddhism is the only religion founded in peace and preaching peace and harmony with others and the world around us. I am a Hindu, but an atheist though, so it shouldn't be inferred that I am promoting one religion over the other. These are just my objective assessments.

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      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Indeed a humble religion! I admire the lifestyle and interesting information.

    • Dip Mtra profile image
      Author

      Dip Mtra 2 years ago from World Citizen

      Thanks Mana. Thanks Jo. Thanks Ruby. Thanks Dana. I completed this late last night, so there have been some repetitive sentences, spelling and grammatical errors that I am trying to fix now.

      Great that you liked it. I live in a town where Buddhism is the predominant religion. That was after the backward classes embraced Buddhism and renounced Hinduism to rid themselves of untouchability and the like that still dogged the societal hierarchy some 50 years back when casteism was still deeply entrenched. Things have changed now.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 2 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      Truly an amazing read. I have read a little about the practice of Buddhism since a good friend of mine started practicing it's faith. I find it very interesting and similar in a lot of ways in how I think.

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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I enjoyed this piece very much. I wish all mankind would think and act in such manner. I especially liked the nonkilling of animals and karma. I do wish that all religions would somehow join forces, unite and developed a love/bond toward all people. This was beautifully written. Thank you. Tweeted. Peace.

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      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      This is the most beautiful piece of work I've read in a very long time. We're living in a world that is destroying itself, the glue that should hold us together is also the termites in the foundation that is tearing us apart. Buddhism holds many truths, thank you for this interesting read. Voting up and sharing,

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 years ago from london

      A very noble effort, brother Dip. Truly inspirational!