The Evolution of Buddhism

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Buddhism is a unique religion that bestows upon its members that their actions accumulate karma and too much bad karma leads to rebirth. A person reaches Nirvana (also known as heaven) when achieving enlightenment and is no longer subjected to rebirth. Buddhism also believes there is no one almighty god, but rather many gods, which they refer to as deities. Dharma is commonly known as the sacred teachings of a deity. The Buddha is only born in certain situations that members are in need of re-teaching the Dharma. There are three schools of Buddhism also referred to as vehicles and are taught in different geographic regions. The first is the oldest form known as Theravada and is usually found in Southeast Asia. The second is the most popular; Mahayana, is commonly found in India, China, Tibet, Japan, and Korea. It is also referred to as the Greater vehicle. Within Mahayana, there are separate schools, Pure Land and Zen Buddhism. Theravada and Pure Land share some of the same beliefs of the sacred text and traditions; however, their views on the Buddha and Nirvana are distinctly different. The third vehicle, Vajrayana, is not as widely known as the other two schools. It is commonly practiced in Japan, Tibet, and Mongolia.

The path to nirvana in Pure Land focuses primarily on faith, whereas, Theravada, the focus is on the individuals’ actions. Theravada, reinforces that one must follow the four noble truths to achieve nirvana. In a person’s life, they accumulate both good and bad karma. The good karma will aid a person in breaking the cycle of rebirth, but if too much bad karma accumulates then the person is automatically reincarnated. Reincarnation takes various forms like a deity, man, animal or hungry ghost; however, the only wa...

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...ion allows people to believe that the unknown is not a threat so as long as they follow a set of rules or guidelines. Overall, having three different ways for people to practice Buddhism ensures that restrictive measures will not leave anyone without a religious option.


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