5.2   BUDDHISM

Buddhism is in many respects a unique religion.  Its leaps of logic and faith often take much study and contemplation to even begin to comprehend.  At the center is the belief in the teachings Buddha—namely the four noble truths and the eightfold path of enlightenment.  Though there are differing opinions among the various schools of Buddhism, all adhere to at least these two ideals.   In short the four noble truths are: 

1.  There is suffering in the world.
2.  Suffering is caused by desire (this is represents longing of any kind not just of a physical nature).
3.  To alleviate suffering one must reach a state of nirvana, which is in essence an absence of desire.
4.  Nirvana can only be reached by the eightfold path of enlightenment.

The eightfold path of enlightenment consists of the following ideas:  right action, right composure, right effort, right knowledge, right livelihood, right mindfulness, right speech, and right though. 

Unlike many religions, the Buddha is not seen as a prophet spouting revelations directly from the Almighty.   Though well loved and cherished, he is not of divine origins but is an enlightened soul that has migrated through many lifetimes.   His revelations came not from the outside, but rather from introspection. 

There are two major schools of Buddhism.  They are Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism.  Theravada is closer in nature to the original sense of the religion, its devotees do not believe in idolizing the Buddha and scoff at rituals of any sort.   Theirs is a strict and difficult path to follow.   Mahayana, while it diverges slightly from the Buddha's teachings, is far more liberal in its approach.  Incorporating the original belief systems of the converted, it is a simpler path to follow and so is more prolific through out the world.

There is also a third school that is worth mentioning here.  That is the school of Mantrayana.  While it shares many aspects of Mahayana Buddhism it is consumed with the idea of rituals and the occult.  It is said some of these practitioners can perform great magic.

There is not much difficulty in incorporating Buddhism into the Children of Fire world.  The Mahayana Buddhists believe in Bodhisattva (spirits).  These can easily be transformed into the idea of angels and demons.  Additionally, the magic inherent in Mantrayan Buddhism can be seen as an offshoot of Solomonic Sorcery using the same mechanical style as this discipline. 

Where one comes across a bit of difficulty is in the perception of the afterlife.  Buddhists believes in reincarnation, but it differs greatly from the Hindu concept.   Buddhists believe all things are a sum of their parts, and upon death these parts are returned to the universe to be recombined and reformed.  That which makes up a human being cannot be destroyed, but never again will that same unique combination of parts exist.   There is no conscious soul that remembers all the previous permutations of its parts. 

 

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