Gautama Buddha and Siddhartha Gautama Essays

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A Comprehensive Research Paper about Buddhism

Cerdenia, Cathrina Anne C.
Noblejas, Kathleen Alexis
Perez, Olivia Anne P.
Porio, Lorraine F.
Villanueva, Samantha Jane P.
Vito, Maria Lyra T.
Zarraga, Margaret J.

October 13, 2008 I. INTRODUCTION

Buddhism, a religion and philosophy founded by Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, in northeast India during the period from the late 6th century to the early 4th century BC. The time of the Buddha was one of social and religious change, marked by the further advance of Aryan civilization into the Ganges plain, the development of trade and cities, the breakdown of old tribal structures, and the rise of a whole spectrum of new religious movements that responded to the demands of the times. Spreading from India to Central and Southeast Asia, China, Korea, and Japan, Buddhism has played an influential role in the spiritual, cultural, and social life of much of the Eastern world. Today it is common to divide Buddhism into two main branches. The Theravada, or “Way of the Elders,” (also called as Hinayana, or “Lesser Vehicle”) is the more conservative of the two and it is dominant in Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand. The Mahayana, or “Greater Vehicle,” is more diverse and liberal and it is found mainly in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan, and among Tibetan people. During the present century it has attracted some adherents in the West.

History of Buddhism

The founder of this widespread religion is generally known as the Buddha, a title meaning “the Enlightened One.” The life of Siddhartha Gautama is known only through the traditions of his followers.

Life of Siddhartha Gautama

The future Buddha was born in Kapilavatsu, in what is now southern Nepal, about 563 BC. His father, Suddhodhana, a wealthy ruler of the important Shakya tribe, belonged to a Kshatriya (warrior) caste. According to tradition, at Siddhartha’s birth it was predicted that he would be either a great Universal Emperor or a Universal Teacher, and that four signs would show him which course he should follow. He spent his youth in luxury, a rich young man possessed of radiant health and adept in all things. For the first time in his life he saw old age (old man), sickness (sick man), death (dead man), and true serenity (a wandering holy man). The first three visions convinced him that life involves aging, sickness, and death. The vision of the holy man convinced him that he should leave his wife and newborn son, and seek religious enlightenment that would free him from life’s suffering. Setting out alone Siddhartha began his great search for enlightenment and the solution to the problem of escaping from the universal impermanence and sorrow of the world. This search, known in Buddhist tradition as The Noble Quest, began with a period of wandering, but before long he settled in the forest as a hermit. There he learned the techniques of meditation and self-discipline. But these gave him no satisfaction, and he soon joined a band of ascetics in the hope that extreme self-mortification might bring insight and peace. One day Siddhartha Gautama, now thirty-five years old, seated himself beneath a large bo tree (a kind of fig tree) on the outskirts of the town of Gaya in eastern India and vowed that he would not leave his place until the riddle of suffering was solved. The friendly gods and spirits surrounding him fled when the tempter Mara, the Buddhist devil, approached. Mara called his demon hosts and attacked the meditating Siddhartha with whirlwind, flood, and earthquake. He had his daughters Desire, Pleasure, and Passion dance seductively before Siddhartha but the bodhisattva (future Buddha) was not moved. When Mara called on him to produce evidence of his goodness and benevolence, the bodhisattva touched the ground with his hand, and with a voice like thunder the earth intoned, “I am his witness.” Fully enlightened, he achieved nirvana, the