Choon Yong-ACE Class Report-Religious Freedom-Buddha

Author of Book: Instructor: Professor Mark W. Muesse
Date Read: December 31, 2023

Book Report

ACE Class Report – Religious Freedom – Buddha
Title: Religious Freedom – Buddha
Instructor: Professor Mark W. Muesse
Rhodes College.

Why I choose to take this class:
This class will educate me about the Buddha and Buddhism. This will help me better understand the religion of Buddhist.

What I learned from this class:
The Buddha’s name was Siddhartha Gautama. The title Buddha means Enlightened One. No written information exists about the details of the Buddha’s life. But most historians believe that such a man lived in Northern India during the 500’s and 400’s B.C. Most of the information about Buddha was spread by Buddha’s followers.

Early Life:
Archeological excavation indicated that Siddhartha Gautama was born in Nepal near Katmandu. He spent his youth living in luxury in the palace of his father, the warrior prince Suddhodhana. Gautama at 20 years old married the princess Yasodhara. When he was 29, Gautama had a series of four visions. His first vision was an old man. His second vision, he saw a sick man, and in his third, a corpse. In the fourth vision, he met a wandering holy man. the first three vision convinced Gautama that life involves aging, sickness and death. the vision of the holy man convinced Gautama that he should leave his wife and son Rahula and seek religious enlightenment. Such enlightenment would free him from life’s suffering.

The Search for Enlightenment:
Gautama became a wandering monk, He sought enlightenment by practicing extreme forms of self-denial and self-torture. He lived in filth and ate only grains of rice. He also pulled out all his hair and beard. But Gautama finally decided that extreme self-denial and self-torture could never lead to enlightenment. He then abandoned such practice. One day Gautama wandered into a village near Gaya and sat under a shady Bo tree – Bodhi tree. He meditated under the tree until he gained enlightenment, later enlightenment came. Others learned of his experience and called him Buddha. Buddha learned from his enlightenment that people could find release from the suffering of life in Nirvana, a state of complete happiness and peace. To achieve Nirvana, people had to free themselves of all desires and worldly things.

Later Life:
Buddha preached the message on how to overcome suffering. This message is called the Dharma, which means Saving Truth. The Buddha preached the Dharma throughout Northern India and attracted disciples. The Buddha organized them into a religious community of monks, nuns and laity. As Buddha’s fame increase, stories spread among his followers and dramatically described his magical powers, religious insight and compassion. His follower believed that the Buddha had lived many lives before he was born Gautama. At the age of 80, the Buddha became ill and died. His disciples gave him an elaborate funeral, burned his body and distributed his bones as sacred relics. Buddhists believe his powers is still present in the relics and the many images of Buddha.

Beliefs and Practices – All Buddhist take refuge – that is seek comfort, guidance, and security in

  1. Buddha,
  2. His Teachings (Dharma) and
  3. The religious community he founded called the Sangha.

These are know as the three refuge or Jewels. Buddha is a title given to a person believed to have transcended the cycle of rebirth known as Samsara and attained Nirvana (Enlightenment). Gautama resolved to leave his family and palace to seek spiritual liberation as a wandering Ascetic )A person who denies himself of worldly comforts and pleasures). After travelling for 6 years, he experienced Nirvana and discovered the four Nobel Truth:

  1. Suffering is part of life,
  2. There are causes of suffering such as emotional attachment, ignorance, and selfishness,
  3. There is a state of transcendence of suffering, and
  4. There is a path that leads to that state .

The Dharma:
The Buddha preached the existence was c continuing cycle of death and rebirth. Each persons position and well being in life was determined by their behavior in previous life. The Buddha also taught as long as individuals remain within the cycles of death and rebirth, they will encounter suffering. They can transcend the cycle by following the middle way and the noble eightfold path. The middle way calls for moderation and avoidance of both self indulgence and extreme self denial. The Nobel Eightfold Path includes:

  1. Knowledge of the truth,
  2. The intention to resist evil,
  3. Say nothing to hurt others,
  4. Respecting life, morality and property,
  5. Holding a job that does not injure others,
  6. Striving to free one’s mind of evil,
  7. Controlling one’s feeling and thoughts and
  8. Practicing proper forms of concentration.

After the Buddha death, his followers collected his teaching in a set of text called the Tripitaka ( Three baskets). The first part, the basket of discipline, deals with the rules of living for a monk, the second part, the basket of discourses, consist of sermons, the third part, the basket of higher Dharma, contain philosophical discussion of Doctrines.

How will this class contribute to my success upon release:
This class improved my knowledge about Buddhism and my critical thinking skills. It will help me work with others and respect their cultures.