Written Content From an AGWM Ministry: https://www.prayforbuddhists.com/buddhism101/
INTRODUCTION TO BUDDHISM
Buddhism began in Northern India with a prince named Siddhartha Gautama around 550 B.C. Dissatisfied with Hinduism, he began a quest to find truth and meaning in life and the source of pain and suffering in this world. To find the answer, he first lived in opulence and indulgence, and then in poverty and self-deprivation.
Gautama decided that life is best lived on the middle path, avoiding both extreme wealth and extreme want. Through his journeys and meditations, he came to believe that all of life is suffering, and that suffering is caused by cravings and desires for this world and its pleasures. Even love is considered undesirable, because it too leads to suffering.
While attempting to separate from all worldly attachments through the use of meditation and right living, Gautama had a mystical experience referred to as his enlightenment. Tradition holds that he meditated under a tree for 49 days. During this period, he was able to see things as they truly were. He had finally discovered the path to extinguishing desire and escaping the cycle of suffering. At the age of 35, Siddhartha Guatama became known as the Buddha, meaning “the Awakened One”.
Karma is the belief that the quality of our life today has been determined by the fruit of our past lives. According to the law of karma, if a person’s good works exceed his or her bad works, it is possible to reach a higher existence in the next life. The lowest level of existence is a demon in hell. The next levels move from insects to animals, to human beings, to angels in heaven. Ultimately the goal is enlightenment, escaping the cycle of death and rebirth completely. In some Buddhist traditions, people do not think they will reach enlightenment any time soon, but simply hope to attain a higher level in the next life.
One religious exercise is called making merit. Merit can be earned in many ways, including visiting the temple, burning incense, meditating, giving gifts to a monk, being blessed by a monk, donating money, purchasing and placing a gold leaf on Buddha statues, saying prayers, or ringing temple bells.
Many practices of merit making have developed over the years and have been greatly influenced by culture. For example, Buddha images seen in temples and virtually every home and business in Thailand were originally meant as reminders and encouragements to follow the steps of the Buddha. Over time, people began to offer flowers, incense, and other gifts to these images as a way to make merit.
FORMS OF BUDDHISM
There are two main branches of Buddhism: Mahayana and Theravada. Several smaller branches have formed from them. Mahayana Buddhism is mainly practiced in northern parts of Asia (for example, China, Taiwan, Mongolia), while Theravada Buddhism is found mostly in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos).
The Serban Family is Serving in Bangkok, Thailand as Foreign Missionary Workers. Pray for Nick Serban IV, Brittney, Allie and Zoey as they disciple buddhist's in Southeast Asia and work as Assemblies of God World Missions (AGWM) Missionaries throughout Asia Pacific.