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Current Issues Paper and Class Handout Essay

As one of the most popular religions in the entire world, Buddism is believed to be originated by Siddhattha Gotama, also referred to as Siddhartha Gautama, 2500 years ago in Northern India (“Religious Tolerance”, 2015). More than 75% of its followers are from the Far East. Burma, Korea, Japan, China and Sri Lanka are places where Buddhism is commonly practiced (Molloy, 2010).

Common Characteristics

Although Buddhism is a major, strong religion on its own, it does share some similarities with other religions of the world. Hinduism is the one religion Buddhism probably shares the most similarities with. They share commonality on issues of reincarnation, enlightenment, salvation, suffering and yoga practices (Molloy, 2010).

Reincarnation: the way you live presently will determine the worth of your reincarnated life. So if you live an honorable life now, you’ll be rewarded in reincarnation, vice versa. Enlightenment: both religion philosophies agree there’s no one path to achieve enlightenment. The paths are vast and can be attained through the mastering of one’s six senses.

Salvation: can only be achieved individually and taking full responsibility of your own fate and the actions you take in your life.
Suffering: is caused by materialism or becoming attached to things in and of the world we live in excessively.

Yoga: both religions believe concentration and meditation promotes liberation and the path to enlightenment.

Buddhism also shares a few similarities with Jainism. For example, each religion believes Nirvana is a state of becoming nothing, by freeing yourself from the world and rebirth. However, in state of non-being is referred to as ‘sunya’ in Buddhism and ‘moksha’ in Jainism. Modern World Challenges

At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, new opportunities, as well as challenges, needed to be addressed by Buddhism as a religion. Cultural and religious patterns were being affected and across regions at the expense of the pre-modern Buddhist world (“Encyclopedia Britannica “, 2014). Westernization began to settle in a lot of Buddhist countries due to conquests. Economic, political, cultural and religious influence from the west was becoming heavy. All across Asia the everyday life and thoughts of Buddhist communities became infused with notions of socialism and liberal democracy, modern rationalistic and scientific thinking and modern capitalistic economies. Also, Buddhism, as a religion started to reappear in communities it previously flourished many years ago. Buddhism rapidly moved into the west and prospered with new developments, which energized the Buddhism religion back in Asia (“Encyclopedia Britannica “, 2014).

Women In Buddhism

Women have fully been permitted to participate in a religious community since the early days of Buddhism. But they were bound by restrictions, since they’ve typically been look upon as being inferior to men (“Buddhist Studies”, 2008). Discrimination within their religion is an obstacle women have consistently been faced with. In some cases nuns actually have to bow to a monk. Originally, Buddha felt allowing women to be part of the religious institutions, as ordained nuns, decreases the importance of his teachings, as well as how long his teachings would remain relevant (Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera, n.d.). Buddha restricted all ordained nuns to be subordinate to monks once he allowed them to become nuns. In Buddhism, women continually referred to as the reason for man’s sins and the sins of the world. Often depicted as a temptress and the blame for man’s misfortunes, in Buddhism men are warned about women. Some feel being reincarnated as a man it probably the only way a woman will get salvation. Buddha’s radical decision to allow women into the Holy Order allowed women to show they to reach or attain enlightenment, the highest place in the religion, just as a man can (Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera, n.d.).

In Buddhist communities, today women are forcibly establishing their roles. Both internationally and within the U.S., a more formal role of women within the Buddhist culture is becoming more of a reality, thanks to the nuns and teachers in Buddhism of today (“The Pluralism Project”, 2006). Social activism for Buddhist women is an important tool or creative instrument in promoting their connection with other human beings and the earth. Scholarly women are getting their messages and thoughts heard inside and outside of the classroom to inspire other women and young people of Buddhism. Women who are discovering new and innovative ways to communicate and inspire people of the Buddhism community will shape the future of Buddhism around the world. (“The Pluralism Project”, 2006).

Buddhist Studies. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/history/position.htm ncyclopedia Britannica . (2014). Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/83184/Buddhism/68769/Buddhism-in-the-contemporary-world Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera, Venerable K. (n.d.). What Buddhists Believe. Retrieved from http://www.budsas.org/ebud/whatbudbeliev/227.htm The Pluralism Project. (2006). Retrieved from http://pluralism.org/reports/view/46 Religious Tolerance. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.religioustolerance.org/buddhism5.htm Molloy, Michael. Experiencing the World’s Religions. 5th ed. NY: McGraw, 2010. Print.

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