Meditation is a key part of the Buddhist faith. Even the youngest disciple perfects this discipline. Here a young Buddhist boy is praying for “The Awakening.”
Buddhism is a path of spiritual development leading to insight into the true nature of reality. Meditation is the central religious practice of Buddhism and becomes the means of changing oneself in order to develop qualities of awareness, kindness and wisdom.
If we compare people’s minds and hearts to pools of water that have been muddied with troubling thoughts and agitating emotions, then the quietness and peace of mind that meditation brings enables the mud to settle and allows one to achieve stillness, clarity and the beauty of present moment awareness.
The basic tenets of Buddhism are straightforward and practical, addressing all people irrespective of race, nationality, caste or gender and leads one to a path which ultimately culminates in Enlightenment, or Buddhahood.
Further notes regarding Buddhism:
Buddhism is a religion that was founded by Siddhartha Gautama (“the Buddha”) more than 2,500 years ago in India. With about 470 million followers, scholars consider Buddhism one of the major world religions. The religion has historically been most prominent in East and Southeast Asia, but, its influence is growing in the West. Many Buddhist ideas and philosophies overlap with those of other faiths.
Some key Buddhism beliefs include:
Followers of Buddhism don’t acknowledge a supreme god or deity. They instead focus on achieving enlightenment— a state of inner peace and wisdom. When followers reach this spiritual echelon, they’re said to have experienced nirvana.
The religion’s founder, Buddha, is considered an extraordinary man, but not a god. The word Buddha means “enlightened.”
The path to enlightenment is attained by utilizing morality, meditation, and wisdom. Buddhists often meditate because they believe it helps awaken truth.
There are many philosophies and interpretations within Buddhism, making it a tolerant and evolving religion.
Some scholars don’t recognize Buddhism as an organized religion, but rather, a “way of life” or a “spiritual tradition.”
Buddhism encourages its people to avoid both self-indulgence and self-denial.
Buddha’s most important teachings, known as The Four Noble Truths, are essential to understanding the religion.
Buddhists embrace the concepts of karma (the law of cause and effect) and reincarnation (the continuous cycle of rebirth).
Followers of Buddhism can worship in temples or in their own homes.
Buddhist monks, or bhikkhus, follow a strict code of conduct, which includes celibacy.
There is no single Buddhist symbol, but a number of images have evolved that represent Buddhist beliefs, including the lotus flower, the eight-spoked dharma wheel, the Bodhi tree, and the swastika (an ancient symbol whose name means "well-being" or "good fortune" in Sanskrit).
There are considered three 'branches' of Buddhism:
Theravada Buddhism has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia such as Cambodia, Myanmar, and Thailand.
Mahayana, which includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Shingon, and Tiantai (Tendai), is found throughout East Asia.
Vajrayana, a body of teachings attributed to Indian adepts, may be viewed as a separate branch, or as an aspect of Mahayana Buddhism.
Tibetan Buddhism, which preserves the Vajrayana teachings of eighth-century India, is practiced in the countries of the Himalayan region, Mongolia, and Kalmykia.
His Holiness, The Dalai Lama is a title given by the Tibetan people for the foremost spiritual leader of the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" school of Tibetan Buddhism, the newest of the classical schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The 14th and current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso, who lives as a refugee in India.