This day in age, people are turning to religion in droves. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism has embedded it’s ideology in the hearts and minds of millions globally. While all these religions deserve respect and tolerance, few in the west have a grasp on the complicated concept of Buddhism.
The end all and be all of online encyclopedias, Wikipedia grabs the first slot on a Google search for the term Buddhism and the breakdown reads like this: “Buddhism is a religion and a philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha (Pali/Sanskrit “the awakened one”). The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.
He is recognized by adherents as an awakened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end suffering, achieve nirvana, and escape what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth. Buddhism is traditionally conceived as a path of liberation attained through insight into the ultimate nature of reality. Two major branches of Buddhism are recognized: Theravada (“The School of the Elders”) and Mahayana (“The Great Vehicle”). Theravada, the oldest surviving branch, has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, and Mahayana is found throughout East Asia and includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, Tendai and Shinnyo-en. In some classifications, a third branch, Vajrayana, is recognized, although many see this as an offshoot of the Mahayana. While Buddhism remains most popular within Asia, both branches are now found throughout the world.
Various sources put the number of Buddhists in the world at between 230 million and 500 million.” After living abroad in Asia for several years I have found that Buddhist cultures are more tolerant because the focus is on the ‘self’ and the meditation on the calming of the mind, concentrating on controlled breathing and the idea that meditation to bring one closer to peace is central to discovering one’s self.
If you have the opportunity to investigate the practice of Buddhism, I would highly recommend it. I’m not saying to take up the path and convert to a religion but the calming affect that is central to this religions concept will bring a peaceful serenity to your life that you may find useful. All in all respect and tolerance for all religious perspectives is something that people are beginning to make a conscious effort to practice and understanding ideas from various religions can teach us an appreciation that can bring us all closer together.