Current Issues in Buddhism - Eric Raymond

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Current Issues in Buddhism Eric Raymond REL/133 September 21, 2015 James Finch




Current Issues in Buddhism The purpose of this paper is to discuss current issues in the religion of Buddhism. The author will discuss the common characteristics Buddhism shares with other religions and how the religion is responding to changes in the modern world. The author will also discuss how Buddhism has changed in reference to the roles of women in the region throughout its history. Buddhism is a religion that was founded in northern India in 500 C.E. and has over 350 million followers worldwide. Buddhism’s founder, a wealthy prince named Siddhartha Gautama set all of his worldly possessions aside and went outside his palace in search of the answers to life such as “why is there suffering in the world”, “why do people suffer”, and “why do we exist”. He was very sheltered from the outside world but he had previously went outside his palace grounds for the first time and witnessed the “Four Passing Sights” that lead him to embark on his journey. He saw an old man, a sick man, a corpse, and a holy man. Siddhartha noticed the Holy man had no possessions but was completely at peace. The Holy man had no need for worldly possessions like what Siddhartha was used to since he lived in a palace all of his life, (Raymond, n.d.). Siddhartha found several teachers to learn from and to try to find the answers he was seeking. He learned how to meditate and about philosophy but still did not find the answers to his questions. After six years, he was found exhausted and asleep under a sacred tree by a woman who came to worship the tree spirit. She gave him food and drink so he could regain his strength. After that, he travelled to another sacred tree and began fasting while facing the east. He meditated for a long time until he was able to gain the understanding to the questions he had which is called his Awakening. He became the Buddha and began travelling westward and spreading his teachings and his way of life.



Common Characteristics With Other Religions Buddhists does not believe in a higher being or deity because Buddha taught that humans are in control of their lives and are responsible for their own suffering or happiness depending on how they lived their life. Buddhism is similar to Confucianism in a way because Confucians also do not believe in a deity or higher being. Buddhism encourages performing good deeds, being charitable, and not doing wrong to others. Christianity, Islam, Shintoism, Confucianism, Hinduism and many other religions share this basic principle. Response to Change in the Modern World As the world becomes more and more violent, Buddhism is faced with a challenge since one of the basic foundational teachings of Buddhism is non-violence. There are many discussions, writings, meetings, and groups focused on ways to deal with violence in the modern world in a non-violent manner. In some countries, Buddhism conflicts with the local government such as in China. “In China, the practice of Buddhism was discouraged for much of the 20th century”. The Chinese government would destroy Buddhist temples and artwork. The monks and nuns were forced to stop practicing Buddhism. The Chinese government also took over Tibet, which was a Buddhist society, and forced the Dalai Lama into hiding killing between 200 thousand to 1 million Tibetans in the process. Women in Buddhism The role of women in Buddhism has evolved over time. In ancient India, women were looked at as inferior to Men and were not provided education. Buddhist women were not allowed as many freedoms as the men and had many restrictions placed upon them. The men were considered responsible for the women and Buddha taught that wives should be obedient to



their husbands. He also taught that husbands should always respect their wives. In modern times, women now share the responsibility of maintaining the household and family so the men are not as much considered responsible for the women. Women have more freedom and more of a voice in society in Buddhism these days. In Buddhism, women are more considered equals to men in modern society. Conclusion In conclusion, Buddhism is a religion that has evolved over time without losing its core values. It started with a young prince’s burning desire to gain knowledge of the world and has become a religion with over 350 million followers. Buddhism does not worship a sole deity but does share many core values and characteristics with other religions.


5 References

Buddhism in Modern Life. (n.d.). Retrieved from How Buddhist Is Modern Buddhism?. (2008). Retrieved from Liu, C. (2006). Buddhism. The essentials of philosophy and ethics. Retrieved from dhism/0 Molloy, M. (2013). Experiencing the world’s religions: Tradition, challenge, and change (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Patheos Lenses Side by Side Comparison. (n.d.). Retrieved from path1=x340&path2=x1233&path3=x1295 Raymond, E. G. (n.d.). Vajrayana Buddhism. : . Religion Library: Buddhism. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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