Relationship between religion and civilization
Throughout the history of civilization, religion has played an essential role in many societies.
A belief or faith in a spiritual or divine power have added meaning and significance to the way of peoples worldly lives.
Recognition of Buddhist civilizationIn parts of his book Clash of civilizations, Huntington clearly states that there is a Buddhist civilization and in other places in the same book he clearly states that there is no such civilization.
Huntington did not include them in his list of civilizations (Western, Sinic/Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American, African); and, in the actual listing and description of civilizations in his book, Huntington stated that Buddhists are included in the Sinic/Confucian civilization.
Siddhartha Gautama - founder
He was a reformer who tried to limit the power of the Brahman, or priest, caste in India
Siddhartha lived a life of luxury in northern India
His parents did not allow him out of the palace because theydid not want him to see or experience the suffering of theworld.
One day, he snuck out of the palace.
Outside of the palace walls he saw people with no homes, no food. He saw sick people and suffering.
Realizing the reality of human suffering, Siddhartha left his life of wealth and set out to find the cause of human suffering.
By meditating under a tree and concentrating all of his efforts, he reached enlightenment and understood the cause and cure of human suffering.
Siddhartha became known as Buddha, or Enlightened One.
The Buddha decided that he would leave his life of meditation to teach others the way to end suffering.
Suffering is universal (birth is suffering, decay is suffering, death is suffering, sorrow, pain, grief and despair are suffering)The cause of suffering is want/desireThe only way to end suffering is to end desire
Nirvana: condition of wanting nothing, feeling of coolness after fever
The way to achieve nirvana is to follow the Eightfold PathThe Four Noble Truths
End suffering by achieving nirvana. Once you are in the condition of wanting nothing, you will be Enlightened, or understand the universe and cause of human sufferingUltimate goal of Buddhism
Theravada: monastic life to reach nirvana, Buddha is a great teacher (Sri-Lanka, South-East Asia Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar etc.)
Mahayana: worship Buddha as a god, more popular (East Asia China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan etc.)Two main Buddhists sects have emerged
Early Buddhist doctrineBy rejecting animism and ritualism and emphasizing a rational outlook which treats reality as a causally and functionally determined system of plural synergies, the emergence of Buddhism marks an important event in the history of Indian thought.
The most distinctive feature of Buddhist ethics is its freedom from theism which leaves room for rationalism and rules out submission to some superhuman power controlling the world-process.
Buddhism rejects both ascetism and hedonism and and emphasizes the importance of the middle way between them.
Buddhism is the elimination of all limits of love
Buddhism is the sublimation of self in a truth which is love itself Rabindranath Tagore
Buddhist views about ordinary manHe is addicted to pleasureHe is at the mercy of his sensesHe follows his natural desires
He is easily provoked to deeds of a morally unwholesome kindHe is greedy and lustfulHe resents any ill fortune When afflicted with pain, he is distressed and overcome with bewilderment about itWhen old age comes upon he mourns and is tormented by sorrowAll this is because he lacks of wisdom and knowledge of real truth , he doesnt see things like they really are
Buddhist attitude to monarchical governmentSocial stability has been recognized by Buddha as a necessary condition for the success of social and moral reconstruction.
Signs of ideal monarchy:Free from all oppressionNot ruled arbitrarily but with equityGood men are honoredKing and officials exhibit qualities of selflessness, mercy, political wisdom and a sense of equal respect for all beings
Buddhism in the modern ageIn some countries it is a cultural institutionIn some countries it is deeply engaged in political conflictsSome governments that are in conflict with Buddhism have tried to destroy itIn some countries, Buddhism has become an integral part of the cultural landscape. In these countries, there are thousands of temples, large and small.Buddhist rituals of national importance, such as the ringing of the temple bell on New Year's Eve in Japan, still attract huge crowds.
Prohibition attempts to BuddhismIn China, the practice of Buddhism was discouraged for much of the 20th century. Temples and works of art were destroyed, and monks and nuns were forced to return to secular life. Buddhism in China was virtually devastated, and is just beginning to recover. The Chinese government also assimilated Tibet, forcing its political and religious leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, to flee the country. In Tibet, temples and art were also destroyed and monks and nuns were killed or imprisoned.
Protesting BuddhistsIn Burma (Myanmar), Buddhist monks have recently protested against the current government at their peril. Buddhists have also been involved in political conflicts in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand.
Buddhism and armed conflictsThere have been occasions in which Buddhist monks have taken up arms and participated in military conflicts. In Tibet, some monks became resistance fighters, while others employed methods of peaceful protest and were jailed or faced gunfire from police or troops. Even before these events, some Tibetan monks were involved in armed conflicts between rival monasteries. During the Vietnam War, some Buddhist monks became North Vietnamese soldiers.
Sri Lanka conflictSri Lanka population consists of the Buddhist Sinhalese (82%), Hinduist Tamils (9%) and other small nations.Buddhist nationalism became one of the triggering factors for the armed conflict between Sinhalese and Tamil communitiesIn 1972, Sri Lanka Constitution formally made Buddhism the countrys primary religion, which ended with the contradiction of Hinduist Tamil community.Armed conflict began in 1983 and ended in 2009, with the victory of Buddhists.
Today some Chinese and Tibetan temples are being rebuilt, some by the government as tourist attractions, others with contributions from overseas Chinese and other Buddhists. In Taiwan, where Buddhism has flourished, new Buddhist charitable organizations have emerged, such as Tzu Chi, supporting hospitals, disaster relief, and education. In Japan, new religions have emerged with strong Buddhist foundations, and a few of these, such asSoka Gokkai, have become international in scope.
Buddhism in the WestInterest in Buddhism in the west began in the 16th century largely due to reports by Jesuit missionaries to China and Japan, and this interest was strengthened in the 19th and 20th centuries as Buddhist texts were translated into western languages and Buddhist monks came to America and Europe to teach.
Buddhism in the West
A marked increase in Asian immigration in the latter half of the 20th century has also contributed to the growth of western Buddhism. Meditation centers, temples, and universities have been built in the United States and Europe, and thousands of books about Buddhism have been published in western languages. Projects to translate the entire Buddhist canon are also underway.
The 14th Dalai Lama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, and the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh (who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1967), are Buddhist leaders who have become enormously popular public figures internationally, publishing many books and attracting crowds to their public appearances.