What is your opinion on Mahayana Buddhism

Bavaria 2 - radio knowledge

Buddhism, which, together with Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism, is one of the five major world religions, has an increasing fascination for stress-ridden people in western industrialized countries.

Meditation as a way to enlightenment

In contrast to the two great revelation religions Christianity and Islam, Buddhism is not about the revelation of the divine will in a self-communication of God to the people and as a consequence of this revelation about the belief in this revealed God. Rather, the center of the Buddhist worldview is the knowledge of truth through enlightenment; that the Buddhist can attain enlightenment on the path of meditation, to awaken "from the night of error and ignorance", is reflected in the meaning of the word "budh", "awaken". "Buddha", "the enlightened" or "the awakened", is an honorary title in Sanskrit that was bestowed on the former prince's son Siddharta Gautama after he had become an enlightened one meditating from an ascetic by identifying the cause of suffering and the way to had recognized its cancellation.

The life of Prince Siddharta Gautama

The prince's son Siddharta Gautama is said to have grown up as the only founder of religion in the luxurious palace of a noble family of the Kshatrija caste. His father was Raja, the ruler of a southern Nepalese republic. As a legend, the young Siddharta only left this overprotected comfort zone four times and as a result experienced an existential crisis, as he first came into contact with the basic forms of human suffering at the age of 29: old age, illness and death. Finally, on the fourth exit, Siddharta meets an ascetic, whereupon he leaves his existence as a husband and father at the royal court to go on a quest for the truth as a wandering monk. Neither the teachings of wise gurus nor the strictest asceticism in years of loneliness brought Siddharta on the path of salvation, and so he remained in almost defiant meditation under a fig tree until he attained enlightenment. Now the "Buddha", accompanied by five monks, moved to Benares, where he gave his first sermon on knowledge and redemption, which from then on had become possible for all people. He preached for 45 years all over northeast India before he died of a rotten mushroom dish at the age of eighty in 480 BC.

The four noble truths

Buddha's central knowledge is the teaching of the "Four Noble Truths", which free people from the cycle of rebirths and promise them salvation in nirvana:

  • The truth of life as suffering.
  • The truth of the causes of suffering.
  • The truth of the abolition of suffering.
  • The truth of the way to the lifting of suffering.

Mindfulness as an attitude to life

The fourth truth describes the "Noble Eightfold Path", which summarizes the entire Buddhist path to salvation in Nirvana with the first three noble truths:

  • Right Knowledge (of the Four Noble Truths)
  • Right thinking (overcoming self-centeredness)
  • Right talking
  • Right action
  • Right lifestyle
  • Right pursuit
  • Right mindfulness
  • Right immersion

Only through many rebirths can the eightfold path be followed and ultimately lead to eternal peace in nirvana; this means liberation from the chain of rebirths and ultimate salvation.

Rebirth and karma

The Buddha adopted the concept of karma from Brahmanism. It describes the philosophy of the totality of good and bad actions and the corresponding consequences of the actions. Karma is the Sanskrit term for "action, deed". According to the principle of cause and effect, action shapes all life cycles of a person. After death and reincarnation in a new body, the soul is determined by the previous karma and in this way can cyclically approach nirvana through the attainment of ever higher levels of consciousness.

The Hinayana School of Buddhism

This school is also called "small vehicle" with a mocking undertone and can be traced back to Buddha and his first followers.
There are five moral commandments for the layperson:

  • do not kill and injure
  • don't steal
  • do not abuse anyone
  • do not lie
  • do not take intoxicating substances

There are another five precepts for monks and nuns.

The Mahayana School of Buddhism

According to the teaching of the "Great Vehicle", every person has a secret Buddhahood: The ideal here is the "Bodhisattva"; he does not achieve enlightenment for himself alone, but through his own rebirths helps his fellow human beings to achieve liberation from the cycle of reincarnations.