By Adriana Jaramillo
Buddhism continues to sweep the nation, from tattooed symbols on Hollywood stars to crowded religion sections in bookstores, pushing many of us to see the Buddha as much more than a lucky charm with a belly good for rubbing.
And while Buddhism might seem like “another New Age trend,” its teachings are centuries old.
The nucleus of this ancient philosophy begins with the birth of Siddhartha Guatama, in what is now Nepal, around 563 B.C. Siddhartha, the son of a prince, was prophesized to become either the greatest king known to man or a world savior.
After a shielded palace life, Siddhartha managed to escape the limits of his royal home and witnessed death and suffering all around him. This profound experience led Siddhartha into a realm of meditation where he renounced his worldly belongings to follow the middle way, the road of moderation.
This new life led him towards awakening, and he retreated to sit under the Bodhi (banyan) tree to contemplate life and liberation from suffering. It was here that Siddhartha emerged as the Buddha, The Enlightened One.
The Buddhas basic philosophy can be summed up into the Four Noble Truths: Life is full of suffering. Suffering happens as a result of our selfish cravings. Overcoming desire conquers suffering. To overcome desire, follow the Eightfold Path.
Buddhism stresses eight crucial paths in order to break away from suffering:
· Right Knowledge
· Right Aspiration
· Right Speech
· Right Behavior
· Right Livelihood
· Right Effort
· Right Mindfulness
· Right Absorption
While the sands of time have passed, Buddhism is hanging on strong and even stepping into the limelight in the lives of many young adults.
Debbie Chavez, vice President of the Society for the Study of Religions and Cultures at the University of Miami felt that “Buddhism was refreshing.”
“It focuses on the simpler things in life. Society tells you to get money, get this, and get that. With Buddhism, all you need is your faith,” she said.
And while its true that we live in a material world, its also true that Buddhism rejects that. Instead, it turns to disciplined meditation and renouncement of possessions as a way to be free.
As a response to the rise of Buddhism among young adults, Dr. Stephen Sapp, Chair of Religious Studies at the University of Miami, explained that “there is a spiritual dimension in all of us that needs to connect beyond this world of iPods and cell phones. Buddhism shows us the way to reach that connection and attain peace.”
To find Buddhism you dont necessarily have to go to Asia and the Middle East– you can find the Watbuddharangsi Buddhist Temple in Homestead and be received with open arms as all are welcome to join.
As the Buddha himself said, “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”