Buddhism Religious Faith
Buddhism is a religion with a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama the awakened one. Buddha lived and taught in northeastern India between 4th century and 6th century B.C.
He is recognized by Buddhist as an awakened or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help human beings end ignorance. This religion is most popular in Asia and is found throughout the world with around 350-500 million followers.
Characteristics of Buddhism Religious Faith
- It is common practice by the Buddhist followers to support monastic community.
- They practice meditation e.g. at the age of 35, Gautama meditated under a scared fig tree and vowed not to rise before achieving enlightenment.
- Buddhist has scriptures which the followers read to achieve enlightenment e.g the Buddha texts.
- They have devotional practices which include bowing and offering to Buddha as a way of worship for blessings, thanksgiving.
- Worship involves invocation (call) of Buddha to take part in the daily activities of his followers.
- There is emphasis on renouncing the material world in order to become a holy man e.g. refraining from using high or luxurious seats and beddings.
- Buddhists call for the middle way, a path of moderation between the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification.
- Buddhism believes in fasting but it’s against prolonged and painful fasting as it causes extreme suffering and pain, not a solution to worldly problems.
- In Buddhism, Karma; the actions of body, speech and mind should cultivate positive actions of ethical conduct.
- Liberation/salvation called Nirvana is the main goal of the Buddhist middle path which saves people from worldly suffering.
- Buddha is title given to those who have attained Nirvana/salvation and these qualify to serve as religious leaders.
- The Dharma is the teaching or law of nature as expounded by Gautama.
- The Dharma provides guidelines for the alleviation of suffering and attainment of Nirvana.
- It discourages its followers from eating at a wrong time and it refrains taking of Alcohol as this may stop a person from attaining Nirvana.
- Buddhism further discourages eating of meat and it encourages vegetarianism.
- It is against worldly enjoyment in form of dancing to worldly Music and attending of shows and other performances.
- It refrains people from using performs, ointments and application of things that tend to beautify people like wearing of Jewelry and cosmetics.
- The Buddhist temples have religious objects symbols and status of different Buddha’s.
- The religion has a number of hymns which are sang during worship such as the threefold refuge “and the four great vows.”
- Pilgrimages are made to Mahabodhi temple in India where Gautama Buddha attained Nirvena
1. Examine the main features/characteristics of Buddhism (13 marks)
The Teaching of Buddhism about Suffering
- Buddhism is a religion found mainly in Asian and it teaches the following about suffering:
- The Buddhist understanding of suffering originates from the writings and teachings of Gautama the Buddha.
- It teaches that suffering originates from human extremes of poverty and riches.
- It says that this makes life and everything in Life painful for humanity and thus suffering.
- Buddhism says that pain and suffering are caused by growing human lust and desires for worldly things
- It teaches that human life itself is painful because giving birth is a painful experience.
- That old age is equally painful and full of suffering as humans strive to continue existing.
- It teaches that in life, there is sickness and death which are equally painful and cause suffering.
- It therefore says that the vary desire for life or to stay alive will always cause future suffering to the individuals.
- Buddhism says that the only way to have good Life and avoid suffering is by giving up with worldly desires and Lust.
- It calls upon its followers to forsake and detach themselves from the things of the world to avoid suffering.
- That prolonged and painful fasting causes extreme suffering and pain.
Strength of Buddhism
Why Buddhism Has Few Followers in East Africa
The strong African cultures that are embedded with in Africans beliefs make Africans look at Buddhism as a foreign religion and culture. The early dominance and influence of Christianity among Africans has made Buddhism that came late to have few followers.
- The influence of Islam on East Africa that had been already spread earlier.
- Buddhism lacks commissioned evangelists that can spread it across East Africa.
- The religion lacks social services such as health facilities, schools etc. to attract e east Africans.
- The Colonization of East Africa by the western Christian nations over shadowed the spread and teaching of Buddhism.
- Food restrictions of the religion like prohibiting of drinks like Alcohol, eating of beef etc. Which most Africans enjoy has also limited its spread.
- The lack of belief in God by the Buddhist followers also scared many Africans from joining this religion.
- It was and is still being considered as a religious faith of the Asians in India, Japan and China hence being too foreign for Africans.
- It’s being criticized by both Christianity and Islam as a religion of worshiping idols because Buddha is a human being.
- The religion is less indiginised i.e it has nothing in common with African culture hence being neglected by East Africans.
- Buddhism was introduced in East Africa very late especially in Uganda and Kenya hence having few followers.
- It has strict rules and regulations which Africans cannot follow e.g followers only eat from sunrise to noon.
- It discourages worldly entertainment inform of dancing to worldly music and attending of music concerts and shows.
- Why has Buddhism registered few followers in East Africa?
It wants reasons why Buddhism as a religion has few followers in East Africa.