Buddhism Overview

The fundamental structure of Buddhism is that it is a self-governing body of individuals, each of whom is theoretically equal and intent on his or her own salvation while compassionately mindful of fellow beings. This hierarchy was, and continues to be, based on seniority. There is no single authority in the Buddhist world: Rather, each school has a leader or

The earliest holy sites in Buddhism were probably associated with the places where the Buddha’s relics were located. The tradition holds that after the Buddha’s body was cremated, his remains were divided into several portions that were set up in burial mounds (stupas) at important crossroads. These places provided opportunities for laypeople and monks to contemplate the Buddha’s teachings. Images

There are a great many special days in the Buddhist tradition: Some of these days celebrate significant birthdays (of the Buddha or of the Bodhisattvas), whereas others have to do with significant events in the monastic world. Typically on a festival day laypeople go to their local temple or monastery and offer food to the monks, vow to uphold the

The most distinct mode of dress in the Buddhist world is the robes worn by monks and nuns: The symbolic significance of this form of dress can be easily seen in the common phrase for becoming a monk, “taking the robes.” Although the colour and style of robes varies considerably from country to country, as well as from school to

Specific meals for specific occasions vary considerably throughout the Buddhist world, but virtually all traditions in all countries share 2 basic dietary prohibitions: alcohol is typically prohibited (always for monks), being regarded as a clouder of reason; likewise, meat is typically not eaten. One of the most basic ethical principles in Buddhism is that which prohibits the killing of any

Puja, or “honour,” is a ubiquitous form of worship throughout the Buddhist world, most typically directed at images of the Buddha and the various Bodhisattvas and at the Buddha’s relics. Buddhists frequently make offerings to images, typically fruit but sometimes money, as a gesture of respect, as an act of renunciation, or, in some cases, in the hopes of some

The Buddha stressed several key issues with regard to membership within the Buddhist tradition: first, Buddhism was open to anyone, regardless of social status or gender (this would later become an issue within the Sangha, however, as women were excluded in at least some Buddhist schools); and second, that becoming a Buddhist was an entirely self-motivated act. Buddhism has always

It is imperative to understand that the Buddha set out for his quest for Enlightenment not out of a selfish quest for spiritual fulfilment but out of compassion and the burning desire to alleviate the suffering of all beings, and it is this fundamental emphasis on compassion that informs and orients the Buddhist sense of social justice. The number of

Buddhist texts are essentially silent on the subject of Marriage: Although the Buddha did not lay out rules on married life, he did offer basic guidelines for how to live happily within marriage: Married people should be honest and faithful and avoid adultery. As for polygamy, the Buddhist laity are advised to limit themselves to one wife. In traditionally Buddhist

Buddhists, if it is possible to generalize, tend to believe that most issues are decided by the individual or by the basic ethical guidelines that were first laid out by the Buddha himself and then subsequently elaborated on in the Vinaya Pitaka. One central tenet that informs Buddhist’s understanding of such controversial issues as capital punishment and abortion is the