Written By: Aidan Forshaw
Buddhism is interesting as a religion as it does not focus on the belief of a higher power as its core, but in the focus of the human soul, and all stages it goes through. The main ‘goal’ of the religion is to achieve inner and outer peace, and then become a true Buddha. A Buddha is one who has achieved ‘true Enlightenment’, or one who has mastered their body, minds, and souls, along with all previous reincarnations of their soul. The religion believes that when something dies, a portion of its soul is cast back out into the world, to be reincarnated into a better or worse life than the previous depending on their actions. The cycle itself went in the order of both sins and good weighed together. If it was an ‘evil’ soul, the soul would spend a portion of their life in one of the 6 circles of Hell, and the other half of the soul would be reincarnated. Upon the death of the ‘new’ soul, the punishment and good done in that life would be measured again, and so forth for all of eternity. It was in this belief that the Buddha would then leave the Samsara, and head to Nirvana, which was said to be either paradise, or a place of rest for those before they became one with the World. The practitioner is said to gain enlightenment through a variety of challenges and choices, often of their own choice. A very good example of this is the act of Fasting, or starving the body so that it can better feel the sorrows of the world, and be filled with the ‘energy of the World’. Some other examples would be the almost ritualistic art of meditation, and vows of silence.
Allow me to explain some of these practices. You see, the meditation was used to both close off their minds so that you can see the progress of your soul, as well as sharpen the mind, to improve wit, reactions, and an ability to react to those around the member. Another example of a rarely seen acts in religion would be the Vows of Silence. You see, it is their belief that by not speaking, they can better hear both their inner voices, or experiences from their past lives bleeding through, as well as the voice of the ‘World’, or the various actions and spirits of nature, to better understand the nature of Samsara.
It is also to be noted that the Samsara cycle also has various connections and similarities to a religious pursuit known as Akasha, or the Root of Existence, in an attempt to both leave the cycle of reincarnation and to attain true understanding of the world. Buddhism itself has splintered and branched off numerous dialects, and versions of itself throughout the centuries, ensuring that the message of peace is heard throughout the world.
The head religious figure of Buddhism is known as the Dalai Lama, the reincarnation of the first Dalai Lama, and current 14th reincarnation. He encourages bonds of brotherhood and camaraderie between the various branches of the religion, as well as acts of peace throughout the world, hoping to stop so much of the pointless violence in the system today.