Introduction to Buddhism

What is Buddhism?
Over 2,500 years ago, Shakamuni Buddha realized the origin of the sufferings of this world and revealed the path to go beyond them.
Shakamuni Buddha taught that we should not turn our eyes away from various doubts and sufferings in our daily life. Rather, we should look correctly and transform them to wisdom to live at this moment and gain enlightenment. This is called Buddhism.
Buddhism has spread all over Japan since it came to Japan over 1,500 years ago.

The teachings of Buddhism
The central teachings of Buddhism are The Four Noble Truths and The Noble Eightfold Path.
The Four Noble Truths are as follows.
1. Life is suffering.
2. The cause of suffering is desire.
3. The cure for suffering is the elimination of desire.
4. The way to eliminate desire is to follow the path of the Buddha (The Noble Eightfold Path).
The Four Noble Truths can be summarized like this: The Buddha had a clear insight into the nature of reality: he realized that all things are transient and we will suffer if we get attached to them.
The Noble Eightfold Path involves eight ways of living and thinking correctly, including right perception, right livelihood, and right meditation.
Eightfold Noble Paths
Right View
Right Thought
Right Speech
Right Behavior
Right Livelihood
Right Effort
Right Mindfulness
Right Concentration

Buddhist Temples
There are about 75,000 temples in Japan, where Buddhist monks practice and live. In addition, Buddhist statues and various images of worship are enshrined at the temples. Some famous Buddhist temples for sightseeing require admission fees as your donation for the temple.

As you know, there are two kinds of religion in Japan. Buddhism and Shinto. It is easy to distinguish them.
In Buddhist temples, there are big gate called “Sanmon”, five-storied pagoda, and main hall.
When you make a prayer, you do not need to clap your hands. Instead, place your palms together and bow in front of the Buddhist statue. After that, please look at the face of the Buddhist statues and separate your palms quietly.

Buddhist Statues
Various Buddhist statues are worshiped in Japan. There are four kinds of Buddhist statues, Nyorai, Bosatsu, Myo-O, and Ten.

Nyorai: Nyorai based on Buddha
Nyorai means “one who comes from the world of enlightenment.” And Buddha was called “Shaka Nyorai.” Then, many Nyorai statues were produced such as Yakushi Nyorai, Dainichi Nyorai, Amida Nyorai, etc.

Bosatsu: Wishing to save all sentient beings
Bosatsu statues originally represented a Buddha before his renunciation of the world. A Bosatsu intentionally does not become a Buddha and continue to be a practitioner to save various people by taking on various guises, there are many Bosatsu such as Kannon Bosatsu, Miroku Bosatsu, Monju Bosatsu, etc.

Myo-O: Nyorai’s messenger who possesses abundant spiritual powers
In order to spread the teachings of Nyorai in the world, Myo-O provokes people realize the Buddhist path by showing an angry face. Myo-O is mainly worshiped in esoteric Buddhism, and Fudo Myo-O are famous.

Ten: Guardian Deity of Nyorai and Bosatsu
Ten brought various ancient Indian gods in Brahmanism and Hinduism to Buddhism. Ten protects the Buddha-Dharma as guardian deities such as Bon-Ten, Taishaku-Ten, Benzai-Ten, etc.

Sayings of the Buddha
To live a single day and hear a good teaching is better than to live a hundred years without knowing such teachings.
It is worthy to perform the present duty well and without failure, do not seek to avoid or postpone it till tomorrow. By acting now, one can live a good day.
The secret of health for both mind and body is not mourn for the past, not worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live wisely and earnestly for the present.
Do not become attached to the things you like, do not maintain aversion to the things you dislike. Sorrow, fear, and bondage come from one’s like and dislikes.
Everything is changeable, everything appears and disappears; there is not blissful peace until one passes beyond the agony of life and death.
To be healthy is a great advantage: to be contented with what one has is better than the possession of great wealth: to be considered reliable is the truest mark of friendliness: to attain Enlightenment is the highest happiness.

By Masa


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