A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Another look at “What is Buddhism?”

What is Buddhism is probably a good starting point. Some call it a Religion others call it a philosophy, some call it a way of life. Wikipedia has an excellent article on Religion. To summarize, it is a belief system, set of values, moral codes, a preferred lifestyle, a shared public practice, a commemoration of a God or Gods. Buddhism does not follow Deity. It does have moral values, ethics, a preferred lifestyle, a shared public experience, among other attributes. Buddhism is followed by over 300 million people around the world. Its name comes from “budhi” a Sanskrit word meaning to awaken. The historical founder was Siddhartha Gotama. He lived about 2600 years ago on the Indian subcontinent in what is now Nepal. UNESCO lists Lumbini Nepal on its register of historical places as the birthplace of Siddhartha Gotama. Until the age of 29 he lived a sheltered life as a Prince. He then became dissatisfied with what he has been taught, and went out to learn the truth; He tried different paths until at the age of 35 he became the first enlightened being of our age, having experienced his budhi. In the same manner as Jesus Christ was not a Christian, Siddhartha Gotama was not a Buddhist. He is the person we refer to when we say Buddha, as he is the historical first teacher of the middle path or middle way.

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