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2020-12-05 05:30

The questions and answers in this FAQ were extracted from the Buddhist Questions and Answers pamphlet published by Wat Mongkolratanaram (Wat Tampa). WatTampaInEnglish is not the official Wat Mongkolratanaram web site and the content below should be considered unofficial.

What is Buddhism?

Buddhism may be defined and explained from various standpoints as follows:

  1. Buddhism, the teachings of the Buddha (the Enlightened One), proposes to develop humankind through purity (by means of morality), calmness (by means of concentration) and clarity (by means of wisdom).
  2. Buddhism is a religion founder by the Buddha for the welfare of many, for the happiness of many and for helping the world. People from all walks of life can apply the teachings to practice in accordance with their ability and free will.
  3. Buddhism is a religion of reason and practice for self-help and self-reliance and for extending a helping hand to others out of loving-kindness and compassion.
  4. Buddhism is both a philosophy and practice. Though it accepts the existence of divine beings, it did not put belief in a supreme being as a significant part of the religion. Instead it teaches the followers to have qualifications such as moral shame and moral fear, making one devine in the Dhamma in this life; to be endowed with right faith, morality, learning, generosity, and wisdom. Furthermore, Buddhism teaches that one who is free from defilement's of greed, hatred, and delusion is reckoned as superior.
  5. General information about Buddhism is as follows:

Country of Origin: India

Date of Origin: Sixth Century BC (Buddhist Century)

The Founder: The Buddha (The Enlightened One - previously Prince Siddhattha of Gotama clan within the Sakya lineage.

Doctrinal Tenets: To avoid all evil, to do good, and to purify the mind

Type of Religion: Universal, spreading out to many countries of the world; Atheistic, regarding no divine being as the centre of the teaching

Main Divisions: Theravada and Mahayana

Unity of Diversity: The World Fellowship of Buddhist is the world organization for unity of all Buddhist throughout the world. It has one hundred twenty three regional centers in 37 countries (B.E. 2539 (1996)). The permanent headquarters of the World Fellowship of Buddhist is in Thailand.

 

What are the purposes of the Buddha's preaching?

 In the First Sermon, Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (the Discourse of the Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma or Truth), the Buddha pointed out the Middle Way which gives vision, which gives knowledge, which is conducive to calmness, insight, enlightenment and Nibbana (the state of being free from all defilements and suffering).

In one of His discourses, the Buddha summarized His teaching with the words "Vimutti or Spiritual Freedom from all defilements and sufferings in the Ultimate."

When sending His first sixty disciples on their preaching tour, the Buddha said:

"I, now, monks, am free from all bonds of gods and men. And you too, monks, are free from all bonds of gods and men. Travel, monks, for the welfare of the many, for the happiness of the many, for helping the world, for the good, welfare, and happiness of gods and men."

From Buddha's words, above mentioned, we can say that Nibbana or Vimutti is the main purpose of the preachings of the Buddha. He encouraged His disciples to walk the Middle Way in order to eradicate all defilements and sufferings and then, out of compassion for all, lend a help hand to others.

In brief, Buddha taught people how to be happy and prosperous in a worldly as well as a spiritual sense. Those who follow His teachings can select their way of life practicable for themselves.

This article is extracted from the Buddhist Questions and Answers pamphlet published by Wat Mongkolratanaram (Wat Tampa). WatTampaInEnglish is not the official Wat Mongkolratanaram web site and the content below should be considered unofficial.

What is the historical and geographical background of Buddhism?

Buddhism came into existence in India some 2,600 years ago when an Indian Prince, Siddhatta, became enlightened and hence came to be known as the Buddha, meaning the Enlightened One. His teaching is preserved in Buddhist scriptures known as Tripitaka, which literally means the three baskets, namely the Vinaya or Vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), Sutta or Suttanta-pitaka (collection of the teachings of the Buddha and His disciples) and Abhidhamma or Abhidhamma-pitaka (higher philosophy).

Buddhism is Atheistic; it does not give significance to Divine beings. There are two major Schools in Buddhism: Theravada, the teachings as preserved by the elders, and Mahayana, the later development. The former is practiced in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma (Myanmar), Laos, and Cambodia. The later is more prevalent in China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Tibet.

 

What is the status of Buddhism among world living religions?

World living religions can be classified according to their doctrinal tenets into various categories such as:

  1. Theistic religions: believing in the supremacy of a divine being or beings.
  2. Atheistic religions: not believing in the supremacy of any divine being.

Buddhism belongs to the latter. It lays stress on virtuous quantities which every human being can develop. According to Buddhism, good knowledge and conduct (Vijja-carana) make a person excellent among divine and human beings. Good knowledge and release from all defilements and suffering (Vijja-vimutti) are Buddhistic ideas.

 

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