Buddhism is divided into two schools of thought. The "Northern School," known as Mahayana Buddhism, is found most often in China, Japan, Tibet, Korea, and Vietnam. The "Southern School," called Theravada (or Hinayana) Buddhism, predominates in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, and Sri Lanka. Theravada Buddhists stress the importance of becoming a monk and achieving Nirvana, a state in which there is no self or rebirth, through one's own efforts. Mahayana Buddhists lay more emphasis on help from Bodhisattvas, enlightened beings who have delayed achieving Nirvana in order to help others become enlightened.
Fundamental to the Buddhist doctrine are the Four Noble Truths: (1) Existence inevitably leads to unhappiness which follows from the impermanence and disintegration of all living elements; (2) Unhappiness is caused by desire inherent in human nature; desire causes man to become attached to the impermanent; (3) Unhappiness can be avoided by the crushing of desire; and (4) Desire can be crushed by strict adherence to a prescribed moral path. In Buddhism all worldly things are considered changing and impermanent. Those who are not aware of the impermanent nature of the world become attached to worldly things, and this leads to suffering. The suffering will continue as the soul goes through a cycle of rebirths, continually drawn back to worldly desires. Meditation and a moral, disciplined life can enable a believer to overcome desires. The soul that successfully overcomes all desires may reach Nirvana.
Monday, March 7, 2011
I've been doing some research on a website called everyculture.com and have been learning tons of information about various ethnic groups around the world. I read a couple of interesting paragraphs tonight that I thought I would share with you since it give a good summary of what Buddhism teaches. 93% of Thai people are Buddhists, so it's a good to know a little about what Thai people believe!