- Buddhism is the world’s fourth-largest religion, with over 500 million followers or 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists
- Buddhism is basically divided into two parts ‘’Theravada’’ and “Mahayana”
- Many forms of Buddhism are practiced around the world but all Buddhists do not follow the same teachings and the texts
Sept 12, 2016: Buddhism is a religion that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices that are largely based on teachings by Gautam Buddha. Buddhism is the world’s fourth-largest religion, with over 500 million followers or 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists.
Many forms of Buddhism are practiced around the world but all Buddhists do not follow the same teachings and the texts. The core principle stays the same but numerous important aspects are observed in each type of practices.
Buddhism is basically divided into two parts- “Theravada’’ and “Mahayana,” which is also the origin of Vajrayana form. Theravada Buddhism is also known as the doctrine of the elders, Southern Buddhism or Ancient Teachings. The main area of influence includes the following countries: Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Burma (Myanmar). Mahayana is also known as the great vehicle, “Bodhisattvayana’’ or the Bodhisattva Vehicle and it is a larger of the two major traditions of Buddhism that exists today, the other being that of the Theravada school.
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Nichiren Buddhism is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism based on the teachings of the 13th Century Japanese monk “Nichiren”. Nichiren Buddhism is named after his founder, Nichiren Daishonin (1222-1282), a Japanese monk.
The son of a poor fisherman, Nichiren became a monk in the Tendai School. He became frustrated by the many paths of salvation that were taught and left the Tendai monastery at Mount Hiei for 10 years in search of the true Buddhist path.
“Nichiren Buddhism stress the profound connection between one’s own happiness and the happiness of others. The greatest personal satisfaction and fulfillment in life is realized by working for the happiness of others’’.
Nichiren, the priest who established the form of Buddhism practiced by the members of the SGI (Soka Gakkai International) is a unique figure in Japanese social and religious history. An outspoken critic of the established Buddhist schools and the secular authorities, he was also a person of great warmth and humanity, as is evident in the content of the numerous letters he sent to his followers. It was this deep concern for the welfare of ordinary people that made him such an unrelenting opponent of the often corrupt and oppressive social structures of his time.
Nichiren’s philosophy originates in the teachings of Shakyamuni, the historical founder of Buddhism who lived in India some 2500 years ago. Nichiren discovered that the Lotus Sutra contains the heart of the Buddhist teachings and the truth to which Shakyamuni was awakened. This sutra reveals that a universal principle, called the Buddha nature, is inherent in all life. It affirms that all people are capable of attaining enlightenment.
The Soka Gakkai International (SGI) is an international Nichiren Buddhist organization founded in 1975 by Daisaku Ikeda. The SGI is the world’s largest Buddhist lay organization, with approximately 12 million Nichiren Buddhist practitioners in 192 countries and regions.
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The SGI movement has its roots in the life-affirming philosophy of Nichiren, a Buddhist monk who lived in 13th century Japan. Nichiren’s teachings assert that each individual, regardless of race, gender, capacity or social standing, has the power to overcome life’s inevitable challenges, to develop a life of great value and creativity, and to positively influence their community, society and the world. It characterizes itself as a support network for practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism and a global Buddhist movement for “peace, education, and cultural exchange.”
“Study” is an important part of the practice, as followers believe Buddhist study to be fundamental in illuminating one’s path in life. They also read Nichiren’s writing in a book called the ‘Gosho’, which expounds his beliefs and insights through letters and stories. A number of Nichiren Buddhist organizations are actively working across the globe to spread peace.
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