While looking at different Japanese names and aspects of the culture yesterday, I stumbled onto some interesting articles about Buddhism. I read Siddhartha many years ago, and I’m sure that we covered Buddhism during my Religion 101 class at GSU but I really didn’t remember much about it. Then I started to read the basic tenets yesterday and they are not only really interesting but most of them make a lot of sense.
Like Christianity Buddhism focuses on good works in this life so that when you are “reincarnated” you will come back as something good. The goal is to eventually do enough good works and meditate so that you become “enlightened.” I’m not sure what it takes to become sufficiently “enlightened,” but when you do, you are taken from the cycle and eventually awarded Nirvana, which sounds a lot like Heaven. But unlike Christianity, Buddhism seems to say that you are only responsible for yourself. In fact one of the tenets I read stated that “we are responsible for our own suffering. Good works and meditation are what keeps a person from suffering. I also like the way that Buddhism doesn’t make it’s practitioners responsible for everyone else in the world. It seems like individuals are forced to take ownership of themselves and are not charged with saving the world like in Christianity. In Buddhism you are not responsible for someone elses soul. The goal is for the individual to become awakened through leading a moral life, and developing wisdom.
There is no deity in Buddhism only the example of Buddha and his life. It is more like a philosophy or guide on how to live your life than it is a religion. Just reading about the tenets makes me feel more relaxed and I’m even thinking about checking out the local Zen Center here in Savannah. Maybe I can find out if the 300 million Buddhist practitioners around the world are onto something.