Buddhism

12/10/98

Introduction
To understand the ways of Buddhism is to understand a concept of thinking that is rare. While there is religion, legend and imagination attached to the life of the Buddha, the historical role of the Buddha himself plays a critical role in the understanding of the teachings and philosophy. This paper will attempt to identify and examine the life of the Buddha, his teaching and philosophies through the Three Jewels. There are Three Jewels to the creed of the Buddhist. Known as The trinity, these consist of the Buddha as the finder of the Truth, the Doctrine or dharma and the sangha, which is the Buddhist Community of monks.

The Buddha
Siddhartha Gautama was the Buddha and he (ca. 563-483 B.C.) served as an inspiration to millions of believers in the past and present. Buddha, meaning "Enlighted One", believed in an ultimate enlightenment called Nirvana.
According to Zurcher in his book called Buddhism Buddha chose his life from the time he was born. "When the time came he made five surveys, choosing the moment for his descent, the right continent and birthplace, the clan into which he would be born and the persons who were to be his father and mother. His father was Suddhodana of the Sakyas and his mother queen was Maya. According to the legend the gods received the child in a golden net and bathed him. It is said that while this took place the earth shook and trembled, the universe became illuminated, he stood up and declared \'I am the highest one in the world-this is my last existence (Zurcher 18)!
His birth was predicted, by brahmin soothsayers that he would become a universal monarch ruling over four continents or abandon the world and become an Enlightened One (19).
It is said that the gods had sent the Bodhisattva, a \'being destined to Enlightenment\', Four signs. He saw an old man, a sick man, a corpse and a wandering ascetic. He discovered the first three to be forms of suffering and decay, which no man can escape. When the Gods showed him the wandering monk on the fourth encounter he decided to, under divine inspiration to abandon the world at once. After a spell, the Gods guided him to the \'Tree of Enlightenment\'. It was here that he made \'Let my skin, sinews and bones become dry, and the flesh and blood in my body dry up! But I will never stir from this seat without having realized Supreme Enlightenment (20)." According to Zurcher, Buddha reached this \'\'Total Extinction\' (death) at age of eighty.

The dharma consists of many factors such as space and time, karma and rebirth, the non-existence of the ego, the Four Noble Truths, the monastic ideal, the disciples career, and causation (Zurcher 26-29).

Space and time
Space and time is the notion of ones reality behind the world of limited and ephemeral existence, however the attainment of Buddhahood is extremely rare in both time and space because certain world systems do not accept the existence of a Buddha (The Three Pillars of Zen, Kapleau 89).

Karma and rebirth
Karma and rebirth like time and space are not restricted to ideas of just Buddhism, says Christmas Humphreys in his book, Exploring Buddhism. Karma says, no man has luck, whether good or bad, and nothing occurs by chance. Coincidence is the \'falling together\' of events by cause-effect, however obscure. Rebirth is related with Karma, as it says that a man cannot escape his actions, even through death (Humphreys 78).

Non-existence of the ego
"Buddhism denies the existence of both an eternal \'world-soul\' and a permanent \'self\' in man. The individual is not a certain something \'endowed with a number of qualities, but simply the sum of those qualities taken together, a bundle of elements without any permanent substratum such as a soul (The Wisdom of Buddhism, Humphreys, 102)."

Four Noble Truths
"To bring about a change in the way man views himself in the world is the highest purpose of religion and philosophy. From the moment of his own awaking to his death, he attempts to show men how to transform themselves (Stryk 56)."
1. Suffering: birth, sickness, death, to be associated with what is unpleasant, to be dissociated from what is pleasant, and not to obtain ones desires.
2. Origin of Suffering: thirst which leads