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?
Last semester, I had an internship in Omaha, Nebraska, working for a large company. I lived on the University of Nebraska – Omaha Campus, with three other girls, who I was randomly assigned. I lived with Nyochat, Min, and Yunghee. Nyochat was from Green Island, Nebraska, about two and a half hours west of Omaha, but she was born in South Sudan. Min and Yunghee were from South Korea, and were studying abroad that semester to learn and improve their English. During the semester, the four of us did things as roommates, Nyochat and I tried to show Min and Yunghee the “American” lifestyle.
Through autumn, Min and Yunghee also showed us traditional Korean dishes and celebrations. They shared with me how they are embarrassed by the American’s ignorance: when Min and Yunghee say they are from Korea, and people ask “form North or South?”, “Isn’t it obvious?” they reply that they would be from South Korea, since only a few select people have escaped from North Korea in the last 60 years. They think it is a shame that more American’s do not know the history of their own country and that of other countries.
Nyochat brought in her family traditions from South Sudan as well; she showed us local music, food, and dishes which she loved to cook. Nyochat told us about growing up in her family, which still was very influenced by South Sudan culture, yet also Americanized as well, and the struggles she dealt with living in a predominately-white community. She also informed with me that African’s and African-American’s don’t normally get along with each other, that is people who were brought over in the slave-trade many years ago from Western Africa, and those who have come to America within this generation on their own. I had heard this amongst society, but never observed it in first-person; I enjoyed learning about why the two cultures clash and what she had to say about them, and their cultural differences.
From living with such a diverse group of women, in such a “white” community, I grew in many ways personally during my time in Omaha. I realized what it must be like for somebody of distinct minority, in everyday life to be stared at because of the color of their skin, the language they spoke, and the way they dressed. I also learned, that people love America for our diversity, and my South Korean roommates really admired how we truly do have people from all over the world living in America, and although, we may still have some major issues to iron out, it is encouraging that we are so accepting of multi-cultural people coming to live in our country.
I want you to think about what diversities that you’ve encountered in your life, and also what you may be prejudice about in your life. Everybody is prejudice in their own way, whether it be from ethnicity, gay & lesbian, how somebody looks, where somebody is from, the music they may listen to, how in shape or unfit somebody is. Think about it and we’ll talk about these things next week! Please post a comment about it, as it’s anonymous!