Buddhism is one of the world’s oldest religions. It isn’t considered one of the major 3 religions – that distinction belongs to the Abrahamic religions – but millions of people follow the principles that Buddha taught. For a teacher who was born into royalty, the passion for truth came out immediately when he saw the sickness and poverty that were just outside the gates of the palace. He dropped his birth name and looked for the true meaning of life.
In some ways, Buddhism is more of a lifestyle than a religion. It all depends on the individual perspective. Here are some interesting facts about Buddhism to think about today.
1. Buddha Wasn’t Actually Fat
Most of the statues of Buddha that exist today show him as a rather chubby individual in a happy, rather care-free pose. Some of them show his more serious side, but in more of a neutral facial expression more than anything. Part of this portrayal is because happiness was supposed to be communicated through symbolism. In reality, Buddha practiced great moderation and encouraged others to do the same. He walked hundred of miles and fasted regularly.
2. Buddhism Is the Middle Way For a Reason
There were two schools of thought when it came to spirituality during the time of Buddha. One was that there should be a great overindulgence of the senses. Imagine eating a large feast every day for several weeks and that was the idea behind some spirituality. The other idea was that it was necessary to deprive oneself of any luxuries, including food, for as long as several weeks. Buddhism is considered the middle path because the emphasis was on balance and moderation, not extreme rewards or punishments.
3. Buddha Isn’t Actually a God
Although many who study Buddhism wouldn’t call the Great Buddha a god, there are certain god-like treatments to him as a figurehead. The spot of enlightenment under the bodhi tree where he meditated until being able to overcome suffering is still preserved to this day. His teachings were spread by word of mouth or through various carvings that were placed on buildings. Unlike others who are treated with reverence, however, Buddha lived a long life. He lived to the age of 80.
4. There Are Two Forms of Buddhism Today
There are two basic types of Buddhism that are practiced. The first is the authentic Buddhism, based on the sayings, speeches, and teachings from Buddha himself. The second is more of a mystical version of Buddhism, but it is the one that the West seems to be more exposed to from a spiritual standpoint. This second version believes that Buddha got his knowledge from Devas and that he was simply the messenger of their message.
5. Buddhism Is Male Orientated
In Buddhism, men tend to have an easier journey to walk than women. Both genders can reach enlightenment, but women are not allowed to be in a position of authority, such as becoming the Dalai Lama. Even in literature, most of the characters represented in past lives are male.