Buddhism Essay

Essay by stueyschoolHigh School, 11th gradeA, September 2012

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Buddhism Essay

One of the Buddha's most significant teachings is that everyone is different, and hence each individual's path to enlightenment is unique. For this reason, Buddhists acknowledge that they must take inspiration from a variety of sources to complete their individual journey to Nirvana. Belief in the concept of enlightenment is therefore important within Buddhism with different branches and schools giving varying emphasis to the many teachings of Buddha and his close followers, while some believe in Bodhisattvas, from whom they take motivation, all believe in shaping their individual effort to achieve enlightenment. Throughout this essay, the Buddha's teachings on belief and enlightenment, how the four Noble Truths and Buddhist practices relate to belief and enlightenment, and the positions of the two major branches of Buddhism - Theravada and Mahayana - will all be analysed to determine the role of belief in Buddhism, and hence prove or disprove the above comments on enlightenment and belief for Buddhists.

Enlightenment or Nirvana is a supreme state; free from suffering, individual existence and all worldly concerns; such as greed, hate and ignorance. It is the ultimate goal of all Buddhists, breaking the otherwise endless cycle of death and rebirth known as samsara. Theravada Buddhism ("Doctrine of the Elders") teaches that by refraining from all kinds of evil, purifying the mind and having a deep thirst for knowledge, "… a Theravada Buddhist can reach the state of perfection and enter Nirvana." (Oracle ThinkQuest, 2012) This knowledge comes almost entirely from the Tipitaka, meaning "three baskets". This collection of scriptures contains slightly different versions between the two schools, but is considered to comprise of the most accurate accounts of the Buddha and his close disciples. It is important to note that Theravada Buddhists believe that due to the requirements for enlightenment, monks and nuns...