The founder of Buddhism was son of the raja of Sakya tribe ruling at Kapilavastu, India. His personal name was Suddhartha, but he was also known by his family name Gautama. He is thought to have lived between 563 and 483 BCE. When he was about 30, he left the luxuries of the court, his beautiful wife and all earthly ambitions in a search for enlightenment. He became an ascetic and through several years of severe austerity, he came to the conclusion while sitting under a Bodhi tree that the way to enlightenment was through contemplation and meditation. For approximately 40 years he taught and gained many disciples and followers. He died at Kusinagara in Oudh.
The word Buddha means The Enlightened One.
The principle tenants of Buddhism The principle thoughts and practices of Buddhism are derived from the teachings of Siddharth Gautama, The Buddha. The teachings of The Buddha are summarized in the Four Noble Truths, the last of which affirms a path leading to the end of suffering, or Nirvana, which is the state of being free from both suffering and the cycle of rebirth. The central tenant to Buddhism is the law of Karma, the principle that a personís actions have consequences, by which good and evil deeds result in appropriate reward or punishment in this life or in a succession of rebirths. Buddhists believe that through a proper understanding of this condition and by adherence to the right path, human beings can break the chain of Karma.
Forms of Buddhism
There are many forms of Buddhism, but the two main types which date back to the religions earliest history are Theravada, which believes in a strict interpretation of Buddhist teachings and believes that Nirvana can only be reached by a few who indulge in severe discipline and effort, and Mahayana, which takes a more liberal view of Buddhist teachings and believes that salvation can be achieved by anyone. As Buddhism spread, other schools of Buddhism and different interpretations proliferated.
Buddhism in Japan
Buddhism was imported to Japan via China and Korea in the form of a present from the friendly Korean kingdom of Kudara in the 6th century. While the ruling nobles welcomed Buddhism as Japan's new state religion, it did not initially spread among the common people due to its complex theories.
There were also a few initial conflicts with Shinto, Japan's native religion. The two religions were soon able to co-exist and even complement each other.
In 1191, during the Kamakura period, the period that SHOGUN MACBETH is staged in, the Zen sect was introduced from China. Its complicated theories were popular particularly among the members of the military class. According to Zen teachings, one can achieve self-enlightenment through meditation and discipline. At present, Zen seems to enjoy a greater popularity overseas than within Japan.