I thought I’d give a brief introduction into the religion of Buddhism, I think it’s important to understand the different religions across the world you’ll come into counter with and as a young woman, it’s important to know the different religions for multiple reasons:
You’re more educated of all the worldly religions, thus you’re more educated
You’re empowered to choose what religion is “right” for you, if you decide to be religious
You’re culturally accepting of other people’s behaviors and traditions if you know a little of their background
The way Buddhism was founded is actually pretty cool, there was this son of a very wealthy man in India, named Siddhartha Gautama. Growing up and through young adulthood, Siddhartha lived a very flamboyant lifestyle, but he soon came to boredom of his indulgent life, and he began wandering the world searching for meaning—probably the meaning of life, as many of us do. Whilst wandering Siddhartha came across a dead body, a diseased stricken man and an ascetic (a person who practices strict self-discipline from abstaining from the normal pleasures of life). Through this life-changing encounter, he gave up his royal title as well as all of his material possessions to become a monk, and to seeking to further understand the world about him.
Would you do something like what Siddhartha did? Give up all of your materialistic possessions to lead a simple, possession free life?
One day, after a long time of searching, he finally comprehended how to be free from the suffering, and found salvation—through this enlightenment, he became known as Buddha, which means “Enlightened One”. He then lived the rest of his life travelling throughout India, teaching others.
Buddha taught The Four Noble Truths:
The Truth of Suffering
The Cause of Suffering
The End of Suffering
The Path that Leads to the End of Suffering
Buddha did not mean to intend a negative-connotation of the world, but a more realistic view of the world, and how to try to change it. Attaining to the idea that there is suffering in the world, there is a cause for it, but there is an end to suffering, and the cause will bring about its end. Buddha acknowledges that pleasure is unappeasable—a recurring problem, which can never be appeased. One will search and search for it, only to never be fully satisfied.
What do you think of Buddha’s theory of pleasure? Can it be attained and kept? On the other hand, once you attain pleasure, then you want more pleasure, flowing into a vicious cycle.
Furthermore, Buddha has a similar concept of happiness—stating that in the end, only aging, sickness, and death are definite.
I want to continue the story of Buddhism next week, and I hope that this week’s post makes you reflect and contemplate the purpose of life, as Buddha did so long ago.
Buddhism – The Eightfold Steps & Three Premises to End Suffering
I hope you enjoyed last weeks blog on Buddhism, so I’m going to continue where I left off:
Buddha realized that suffering was caused primarily by unawareness and craving; we as humans hunger after gratification, selfish possessions, and immortality. I mean, right, don’t we all want that purse, or those shoes, or a double-caramel macchiato from the local coffee shop? Nevertheless, after we buy those cute heels, or that adorable bag, and drink that coffee we forget about it and move on to the next item on our want list. Thus, as Buddha says, these desires will never be satisfied, therefore desiring it and fulfilling these desires encapsulates us to suffering. Buddha also states that being unaware, and uninformed of the world around you trains your mind to become undeveloped, therefore you’re unable to grasp the true reality of things. Thus, these cravings we so desire cause envy, hate, anger, and greed, which are all derived from this ignorance.
Once you’ve reached the third level of truth, the End of Suffering, you achieve the Nirvana, which is described as a magnificent state, free from the suffering surrounding us, you have reached a spiritual illumination. Phew, only one more step to go! The final stage of truth, is walking the path to the end of suffering, through this it’s known as the Eightfold Path
Then, there are three dividing premises the path is divided into:
Good Moral Conduct (Understanding, Thought, Speech)
Meditation & Mental Development (Action, Livelihood, Effort)
Wisdom & Insight (Mindfulness and Concentration)
These eight steps and three defined levels are steps one takes to transgress into a better individual.
So, even if you’re not Buddhist, what step would you consider yourself at? What do you think of the eight steps Buddha outline for self-enlightenment and a state of Nirvana? What about the three different premises? What do you think of Buddhism so far? How does it compare to what religion you were raised as, as well as your own personal beliefs on the meaning of life?
Next week, I’ll wrap the Buddhism segment up with a discussion on Karma. We hear it a lot, don’t do that, for you’ll have bad karma! What does Karma mean to you and amongst your friends?
Cuba has an interesting mix of religions in the country; whereas a lot of countries have a few main religions but they do not intermingle per say like how Cuba has incorporated multiple beliefs into one conviction. Before Columbus settled in Cuba in 1492, the Arawak and Taino native peoples of Cuba were polytheists, which is worshipping and believing in more than one god figure. Their gods, Zemi, reined many aspects of the cosmos; although similar to the Greek Gods, Zemi did not have individual characteristics (Corbett).
Through their ritualistic religion, there were three aspects:
Sacred adoration and homage to the Zemi
Giving gratitude, appreciation and thankfulness as well as appealing requests in communal areas through dancing rituals
Important community figures, such as the medicine man or priest, known as the Shaman, would provide consultation for guidance as well as curative healing through ceremonial dances and songs in the public.
The rituals were taken seriously and people would wear outfits decorated feathers and paint on themselves. The Zemi would be carved onto wood and placed on a stool for honor by the Shaman. Accompanied by traditional drum pounding; riddance of impurities in the body and soul occurred. After a sacred staple was provided, a poet would recite a historical lesson to the tribes (Corbett).
Though the Arawak and Taino religion is not wholeheartedly practiced anymore it plays an important role in the Cuban culture of religion. After Columbus conquered Cuba and brought over the slaves from Africa, a mixture of both Western African tribal religions (Yoruba) came about, then eventually the missionaries came and tried converting the Cubans to Catholicism (Van Dine); somewhat successful, but still, the people intermingled all three religions into what is know today as Santeria (Knight). Spanish for “the way of the saints”, originated from Africa, of the Yoruba tribe (Murphy).
Santeria is a syncretic religion of West African and Caribbean origin influenced by Roman Catholic Christianity.
It is believed that each individual has a predefined destiny created by God, filled with the help and spirit of the Orishas. If the correct rituals are held accordingly, their defined destiny will be correctly accomplished. Catholicism plays a role in Santeria through their Saints (Religion):
Saint Barbara Shangó – justice and strength; associated with lightening, fire, artillery and sailing (Daniel).
Our Lady of Charity Ochún – being associated with water, sweets, money, and love (Our Lady).
Saint Lazarus Babalú-Ayé – allied with the sick and ill
Today, most people in Cuba associated themselves with Santeria religion. It is important to see how some people find peace within their soul through multiple angles. Religion is a tough topic and many people personally struggle finding an answer they’re satisfied with, so I encourage you to find peace within your soul.