5 Facts About Buddhism You Should Know
Buddhism is practiced by over 500 million people and is currently the fourth most popular religion in the world. The western world has become more familiar with this fascinating religious practice over the past decades, but there is some information out there that gets forgotten. For example, did you know that modern western psychology is greatly influenced by Buddhist texts? Want to know more cool things about Buddhism that you probably didn’t know? Read on below and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a Buddhist scholar.
1. Practicing Buddhist Monks Own Literally Nothing
That’s right. Imagine owning absolutely no items! Even the clothes on their backs are not considered a possession. It is very important in Buddhism to detach from material things in order to obtain a higher spirituality. The monastic text actually forbids monks from owning anything. Monks are essentially beggars everywhere they go– but unlike in many western cultures, they are not looked down upon! Their begging is often received with a meal, a place to sleep, and respect for their spiritual journey. The people in their village would typically donate their money to the monastery in order to ensure that they at least have robes, rice, and bowls. It would be a very interesting religion if none of the monks even wore a bit of clothing!
2. Buddhism is A Religion Without a Book
Christians have the Bible. Muslims have the Quran. But what do Buddhists have? Buddhists do not have a book for guidance, but instead have a variety of loose scriptures. Buddhism, like many Indian religions, had a long history of oral traditions that would pass down information about their religion. It wasn’t until 400 years after Buddha died that a scripture was finally first crafted in Sri Lanka. These were not instructions on how to be Buddhist, but rather just wise things that the Buddha had been known to share with followers. As Buddhism spread to more cultures, no common scripture was made to inform all. The religion has important scriptures that some people take to heart. However, Buddhism is a largely individualized religion that allows its followers to choose which scriptures apply to them for their life.
3. Buddhists Don’t Believe in God
No, it’s not an oxymoron to be religious but not believe in God. The Buddhists have never believed in one sole creator. The Buddha has been remembered as saying that the construction of a God or Supreme Being is nothing but a way for the ruling powers to have more control over their society and instigate fear in them. It was the Buddha’s belief that each person could be their own God in a way by practicing a lifestyle that purified their minds and by having genuine compassion for other beings. For Buddhists, everyone has the ability to become their own Buddha (god) through mindfulness, meditation, and a dedication to their path.
4. The Buddha Was Born Into a Wealthy Family But Died With Nothing (On Purpose)
The Buddha’s history is definitely an interesting one. Buddha’s birth name was Siddhartha Gautama and the heir to a lot of money and possessions (exactly what a practicing Buddha tries to stay away from). The money and power felt like a terrible curse to him and so he decided to give it all up in order to seek a more spiritual life. According to the history, Siddhartha was miserable despite all of his riches. To contemplate this problem, he sat under a Bo tree for exactly 49 days and came to the conclusion that material things were the cause of his suffering. That’s where he decided to leave them all behind and become a Buddha.
5. Buddhists Believe in Reincarnation in the Form of Karma
Unlike some religions like Christianity that believe in only one life lived, Buddhists believe that we keep coming back to life as different beings. This is the belief in an endless cycle of rebirth. The common misconception is that Buddhists take this in a very literal sense. They use this idea of reincarnation as more of a guide for morals as it relates to karma. Karma is the idea that essentially means if you do something good, good things will happen to you. If you do something bad, bad things will happen. Therefore, the more good that is created in the world, the more good that gets reincarnated into the cycle of life.