Buddhism has an intrinsic interest to many people around the world. It is typically understood that it is a religion of peace. Based on my personal knowledge of Buddhism, it is an important religion that can be examined from a variety of perspectives. For the purposes of developing and conveying a personal opinion, this exploration of Buddhism will be constructed in terms of the political effects of Buddhism, its place as a non-theistic religion, its prevalence, and the conceptual awareness that I have about the religion as a whole concerning the goals of the religion.
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One of the aspects of Buddhism that is of utmost interest to me is regarding their political stances throughout modern history. I find it particularly interesting that there have not been any major wars that have been perpetuated as a result of the religion. This seems to fall into the category of the religion being one that is chiefly about achieving peace. The only major modern war of which I am aware that Buddhism played any part was the Vietnam War. During this time, many of the Buddhist sects that were advocating peace went to demonstrations and also took their own lives to protest the ongoing, vicious hostilities that were causing chaos in the region. From a personal perspective, it seems as though this religion is one of the few that actually lives up to the standards that it set forth concerning the protection and regard for life.
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Another aspect of Buddhism that I find interesting is that it has not spread to other areas as rapidly or in such great numbers that other religions, like the Abrahamic ones, have. While I am aware that there are individuals in North America, South America, and Europe that are Buddhist, they are in much smaller numbers than other religions that are actually much younger than them. I find that this is interesting, but may have something to do with the fact that it is not an organized religion from my understanding. There are ceremonies and meetings, but not on the same large-scale meetings that one would see in a Catholic Church or an Islamic Mosque. This is not an opinion that is meant to be critical, but it appears odd that the leaders of Buddhism would see to it that the spread of Buddhism has not been facilitated, especially since it is a nontheist religion. Without the ability to spread the religion beyond its Asian roots, the message of Buddhism could be lost on billions of people who would benefit and value the message that is contained.
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My understanding of Buddhism is that there is no specific deity that exists and that there is nobody to worship. This idea seems rather alien to me, since the majority of all religions that I have experienced or heard about have a central figure and a set of rules. Instead, there is a goal of self enlightenment that is only reached by personal introspection on the part of the adherents. This is unusual for any religion as there is no being to ask for divine favor. Instead, Buddhism asks the individuals to look at how the world can make them happy or how they can make themselves unhappy. In my opinion, this is quite a beautiful sentiment, and a very realistic one; that humans need to understand the nature of the world around them and attempt to cause as little suffering as possible or to relieve suffering if they find it.
I believe that the fact that there is no deity has led to some of the ability of Buddhism to stay out of conflicts around the world. After all, if there are no specific rules or condemnation that has been passed down as a result of not having commands from a deity, people cannot be motivated to kill. Also, since the religion seems to be built around the idea of self-improvement, it is difficult to be a follower and harm others.
One of the other things that I find most interesting about Buddhism is that it does not have an idea of paradise, but replaces it with the concept of reincarnation. A person that has been leading a fundamentally good life will find the benefit the individual, leading them closer and closer to the stage of final ascendance, which is an interesting concept on its own. The way that the Buddhists go about becoming enlightened is interesting to me as well because the Buddhists tend to advocate a lack of desire for material possessions. This can lead to less conflict from a conceptual standpoint, as many wars and fight are fought over property and land. By focusing on the good in the world and improving the good features, Buddhism divorces itself from conflict.
While Buddhism can be a very positive religious experience, the fact that there is no focus on material goods could be problematic from one perspective: involvement in world affairs. Every other major religion in the world seems to place a lot of emphasis on helping others through missionary work and donations to other countries and people that are in need. One thing that I have never witnessed is Buddhist monks going to other nations to help other individuals. Granted, they are based in East Asia, areas that have some regions which are terribly poor. Thus, it would be a better idea to learn more about any volunteer work that they do before rendering judgment, but it would still seem likely that they have less of a hand in volunteering good and wealth than other religions.
My final impression regarding Buddhism as a religion is that it is one that is much more positive than other religions. The Abrahamic Religions have a tradition of commandments and orders about what a person can and cannot do. These rules are typically based in ethics such as no robbery or murder, but they also range into when you should worship, how to worship, and which days of the week must be worshipped upon. However, I have never heard such a claim about Buddhism. I have never heard that there are specific rules for which an individual will have a negative divine intervention against them for not following. Overall, this creates an image of Buddhism that paints it as friendly, inspiring, and ultimately positive and as a means of self-improvement- all aspects of a religion which I believe to be valuable.