26 e) Review of major belief systems – Buddhism & Hinduism (more a way of life than a belief system.)
“Buddhism is a nontheistic religion or (Pali : dhamma), “right way of living”, that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices largely based on teachings attributed to (Siddhartha) Gautama Buddha, commonly known as the Buddha (“the awakened one”). According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha lived and taught in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end their suffering through the elimination of ignorance and craving. Buddhists believe that this is accomplished through direct understanding and the perception of dependent origination and the Four Noble Truths. The ultimate goal of Buddhism is the attainment of the sublime state of Nirvana, by practicing the Noble Eightfold Path (also known as the Middle Way).
Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognized: Theravada (“The School of the Elders”) and Mahayana (“The Great Vehicle”). Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar etc.). Mahayana is found throughout East Asia (China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan etc.) and includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, and Tiantai (Tendai). In some classifications, Vajrayana—practiced mainly in Tibet and Mongolia, and adjacent parts of China and Russia—is recognized as a third branch, with a body of teachings attributed to Indian siddhas, while others classify it as a part of Mahayana.”
Hinduism “Unlike other religions in the World, the Hindu religion does not claim any one Prophet, it does not worship any one God, it does not believe in any one philosophic concept, it does not follow any one act of religious rites or performances; in fact, it does not satisfy the traditional features of a religion or creed. It is a way of life and nothing more”.
Part of the problem with a single definition of the term “Hinduism” is the fact that Hinduism does not have a single historical founder. It is a synthesis of various traditions, the Brahmanical orthopraxy, the renouncer traditions and popular or local traditions.”
“Hinduism is the dominant religion, or way of life, in South Asia. It includes Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism among numerous other traditions, and a wide spectrum of laws and prescriptions of “daily morality” based on karma, dharma, and societal norms. Hinduism is a categorisation of distinct intellectual or philosophical points of view, rather than a rigid, common set of beliefs. Hinduism, with almost one billion followers is the world’s third largest religion, after Christianity and Islam.
Hinduism has been called the “oldest religion” in the world, and some practitioners refer to it as Sanātana Dharma, “the eternal law” or the “eternal way” beyond human origins. Western scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots, and no single founder. It prescribes the eternal duties, such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings (ahimsa), patience, forbearance, self-restraint, compassion, among others. Hindu practices include daily rituals such as puja (worship) and recitations, annual festivals, and occasional pilgrimages. Select group of ascetics leave the common world and engage in lifelong ascetic practices to achieve moksha.”
Stay tuned for more on this subject next week