Buddhism is a culture with a deep and spiritual message to convey and with no predefined customs to practice religion. The liberty to conduct free thinking and mediate independent spiritual development has rendered in my heart respect and personal admiration for the Buddhist culture.
Buddhism is a spiritual invocation of an individual and the ability to intercept the true value of our lives and existence. According to statistical records worldwide, Buddhism has 376 million followers. In the sixth century BC, Gautama Buddha, who was then known as Siddhartha Gautama followed a path of complete enlightenment to achieve a state of nirvana.
It is his principles and teachings that lay the foundations of the Buddhist culture. The inception of Buddhism dates back to 2500 years and is marked by the birth of Gautama Buddha. Buddhism has been defined by different sects of belief of which the most popular ones are Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism. The path of Buddhism motivates an individual to traverse a path of enlightenment.
Buddhism does not rely on the idolizing on spiritual grounds the worship of a particular God or Goddess. Buddhist culture defines no boundaries in the name of religion by associating its tradition values with established beliefs and doctrines. Instead, it is directed towards a path in a life governed by humanity, meditation, and mental peace.
Besides, Buddhists believe that every aspect of our life and our lives are transient and shaped in accordance to the sufferings we are subjected to in every birth. Our birth through many lives is a culmination of our past and present experiences towards the quest of a future and finds its meaning through the various reincarnations that our physical being goes through.
The Buddhist culture believes that the anticipation of the permanence and immortality of every good and bad aspect of our lives is the primary cause of suffering for every human being. The acceptance of the belief that the various circumstances and situations in our lives both good and bad, are permanent and, enables us to experience the joy of our existence.
Though conventional praying may not be mediated, Buddhists have their own methods of praying, by chanting of mantras and meditating. They preach the greater truths of life by practicing love and kindness to other people and invoke the optimism in our lives. The good aspects of one’s existence are directed towards the well-being of the entire society as a whole.
Moreover, the free teachings of Buddha enable you to contribute as much as you can or take back a food for thought by interacting with spiritual leaders practicing Buddhism for years. According to the doctrines of Buddhism, religion or traditional practices associated with it cannot be imposed on an individual but practiced in appreciation of humanity.
Actions or deeds known by Karma finds it’s meaning through the positivity achieved helping to restore mental peace through chanting when meditation falls short. The shrine of Buddha sculpted in the monasteries preaching Buddhism brings into light the life of Buddha and the spirit of morality he embodies.
Buddha stands tall in the shrine and his followers pay him due respect by bowing to express their deep regards and respect towards the qualities the great leader embodies. The acknowledgment of the greatness of Buddha by praying to him enables a preacher to submit himself completely by denouncing selfish motives and ego.
Among the places for pilgrimage in acknowledgment of Buddhism is Lumbini, the birth place of Buddha, Bodh Gaya, the site of his enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, Sarnath where his first teachings were delivered, and Kusinagra where Buddha left for a heavenly abode.
Buddhist festivals are simple but marked with intense happiness and personal joy. On full moon nights in the month of May, Buddha Vaisakhi is an occasion when the life of Buddha is celebrated and the death of Buddha is remembered. In Theravada tradition, fasting following midday, preventing indulging in sleep much, and participating in meditation and sermons is conducted.
Cleaning the house, decoration with flowers, polishing Buddha statues outside temples, is a part of the traditional celebration. Candles and small oil lamps are lit up to commemorate the ceremony where Buddhist worshippers assemble around the statue and pray. Among other social functions as in weddings, monks are not entitled to be a part of the celebration, however, they can grace the occasion with their presence by blessing couples.
In funeral services, a simple occasion with kind thoughts, sharing of love and acknowledging the departed soul and his good will. The death of Buddha, Buddhist saints, and leaders are marked by the collection of relics significant in his life and placed in a stupa or a pagoda with carvings of his teachings and principles.
The hallmark of the Buddhist culture is the possibility of embracing the religion by a non-Buddhist. Relative to other cultures, non-Buddhists as visitors can perform the traditional aspects of Buddhist preaching by meditation, chanting and burning incense sticks. The participation in Buddhist rituals is at the discretion of the visitors and merely being present in the monastery or temple is itself a rejuvenating experience.