The teachings of Buddhism have been a part of my life for many years going back to when I was a teenager. And was part of my education when I studied comparative religion at McGill University in the Faculty of Religious Studies in the 70’s.
Buddhist practice is part of my daily life. I follow the Pure Land Buddhist Mahayana traditions of China. Pure Land Buddhism is a branch of Buddhism focused on Amitābha “The Buddha of Infinite Light.” Kuan Shih Yin / Guanyin is part of my daily practice.
Buddhism is a religion, or philosophy, that originated in India based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama an Indian prince who became who the Buddha. The word Buddha is derived from ‘budhi’ or to ‘awaken’. Siddhartha awakened when he 35 years old.
To many people, Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy or ‘way of life’. It is a philosophy because philosophy ‘means love of wisdom’ and the Buddhist path can be summed up as:
- to lead a moral life,
- to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and
- to develop wisdom and understanding.
The basic concepts in Buddhism can be summed up by the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.
Schools of Buddhism
Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs, and practices. Generally speaking Buddhists usually classify themselves as belonging to one of two schools of Buddhism namely Theravada or Mahayana. Although some say that there are three schools Theravada, Mahayana and Tibetan Buddhism.