Buddhism and facts: Buddhism is not well known in the West.
Respected, but not known. Here are the top 10 facts to know about
Buddhism, as a Japanese religion.
If you are here, chances are you would like to know about Buddhsim and facts. Many people in the west know very little about Buddhism. Even Japanese people who are born Buddhists often know very little. They often don't even know which school of Buddhism their family adheres to. I often end up teaching Japanese people about their own religion and traditions.
Here are 10 facts about Buddhism:
1-Buddhism was founded between the 6th and the 4th century BCE in a region encompassing Nepal and the North of India. It is one of the largest Asian religions territory wise.
2-The founder was Siddhartha Gautama commonly referred to as the Buddha. He is said to have died around 460 BCE.
3-The name Buddha comes from the Sanskrit word Bodhi ( बोधि) meaning awaken. Hence the Buddha is called the awakened one.
4-Theravedic Buddhism is a religion without a god. Buddha is not a god. This doesn't mean that they don't believe that there is one. They just leave it out of the tenets. In Mahayana Buddhism, as practiced in Japan, Buddha, especially Amida Nyorai, are imbuded with special powers, and are revered as gods but none of these gods is considered the creator of the world or of the human race. Read here to for discussion on whether Buddhism is a religion or a philosophy
The Buddha also teaches that to achieve salvation one did not have to accept the authority of the scriptures or the existence of God. This makes Buddhism independant from a dogma.
5-Buddhism stemmed from Hinduism and many Hindu gods were adopted. Giving them a status as guardians of the Dharma. They are merely angels (called tenbu in Japanese) who may be willing to help good Buddhists but are in no way wise guides to the Way, since they need instruction themselves.
A good comparison would be the saints and angels in Christianity. Each of them have a realm of power. For example, the all powerful Shiva, the Destroyer, is Makeishura in Japan, The lord of Cosmic Destruction or Indra, the Hindu god of war, storms and thunder is Taishakuten in Tibet, China and Japan. He defends both deities and humans against all that is evil.
5-The Japanese Buddhist pantheon has more than 3,000 entities. Some are Buddhas, guardians, Bodhisattvas, wisdom kings and various other deities and enlightened monks.
7-The teachings of the historical Buddha were handed down orally and only later accounts of his teaching have been recorded. Much like the New Testament. The oldest accepted collection of such scriptures is called the Pali Canon after the language it was written in.
9-The Buddhist teachings are called the Buddha-Dharma or Dharma in short.
10-One doesn't need to abandon ones' God or religion in order to be freed from suffering as long as they follow the noble eightfold path.
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