173 Reading: Buddhism

The photo shows, left, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, dressed in a gray suit, holding hands with, right, Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, dressed in maroon and yellow robes.
Buddhism promotes peace and tolerance. The 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) is one of the most revered and influential Tibetan Buddhist leaders. (Photo courtesy of Nancy Pelosi/flickr)

Buddhism

Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama around 500 B.C.E. Siddhartha was said to have given up a comfortable, upper-class life to follow one of poverty and spiritual devotion. At the age of thirty-five, he famously meditated under a sacred fig tree and vowed not to rise before he achieved enlightenment (bodhi). After this experience, he became known as Buddha, or “enlightened one.” Followers were drawn to Buddha’s teachings and the practice of meditation, and he later established a monastic order.

A man dressed in an orange robe is shown with his legs crosses, sitting within outdoor brick walls.
Meditation is an important practice in Buddhism. A Tibetan monk is shown here engaged in solitary meditation. (Photo courtesy of Prince Roy/flickr)

Buddha’s teachings encourage Buddhists to lead a moral life by accepting the four Noble Truths: 1) life is suffering, 2) suffering arises from attachment to desires, 3) suffering ceases when attachment to desires ceases, and 4) freedom from suffering is possible by following the “middle way.” The concept of the “middle way” is central to Buddhist thinking, which encourages people to live in the present and to practice acceptance of others (Smith 1991). Buddhism also tends to deemphasize the role of a godhead, instead stressing the importance of personal responsibility (Craig 2002).

 

 

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Introduction to Sociology by Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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