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Course: Philosophy 1000
Name of Professor: Alexander Izrailevsky
Name: Seiji Maekawa
Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha)
The purpose of this assignment is to introduce philosopher who is chosen by me. I chose
Siddhartha Gautama because he is very popular in Japan, and a lot of Japanese religion is
Buddhism, so I am interested in him. I think there are two main religion in Japan, one is “Shinto”
that is Japanese traditional religion, and another one is Buddhism. Most Japanese belong to both
of them. I think my family also belong to both. However, most Japanese do not have sense of
belonging to religions, so if Japanese have wedding, some people go to church, but some people
go to temple or shrine. I think Buddhism relate to Japan deeply, so I choose Siddhartha Gautama.
This essay has included the following three parts: 1) biography, 2) philosophy, and 3) my
response.

1. Biography
Siddhartha Gautama who is known Buddha was born in Nepal in 560 B.C, and he was dead
in 480 B.C. He was recognized an archetype to himself, and now, the archetype of the Buddha
influences for over two billion people. He was sage, yet more than a sage, and he was founded
Buddhism. His father who was Suddhodana was a king of the Shakya, and he ruled the tribe.
Therefore, the Buddha had wealth and power as the son of a prince when he was born. His
mother who was Maya died seven days later after she gave birth to the Buddha. According to
Douglas, “Legend teaches that the Buddha died from either poisonous mushrooms or tainted

pork. His last meal was at the humble home of a blacksmith (significantly, a person of low status
in ancient Asia culture). Soon after eating, the Buddha took sick. He asked his host to bury the
rest of the food so that no one else would eat it.” Therefore, we do not know exact reason that he
was dead, but maybe, he died from some food.

2. Philosophy
The Buddha explained us Nirvana. Nirvana means a state of bliss and utter detachment.
According to Douglas, “Nirvana is annihilation of ego, a state pf emptiness or ‘no-thing-ness’. It
is described as a state of bliss because there is only ‘pure consciousness’ with no sense of
individuality. It cannot be explained in words because words are limiting and exist to identify
similarities and differences. Nirvana is beyond even similarity.” Therefore, nirvana can release
from suffer. Nirvana must be experienced, so it cannot explain and understand for a lot of people.
The Buddha explained us Karma. According to Buddhist tradition, karma is the law of moral
causation or actions. This is like cause and effect. If you do some actions, it will result
something. For example, if you like to eat fast food, and if you eat fast food only, you will be
sick. Your action is to eat fast food only, and your result is to be sick. This is so important,
because karma includes past and present actions. Good or bad karma result from our own
actions. Moreover, your actions will affect your child, grandchild, great grandchild, and it will
affect by your six generations descended. Therefore, karma is so important for people.
However, the Buddha did not teach that everything that happens is because of Karma.
According to Douglas, “In the first place, different laws govern natural change, physical
phenomena, certain psychological processes, and so forth. In the second place, if karma alone
accounted for the human condition, a person with good karma would always be good, and a

person with bad karma would always be bad. Yet such is not the case. Indeed, self-reliance and
peace of mind come only form understanding karma and living wisely in light if that
understanding. ‘No one,’ said the Buddha, ‘can escape the wheel of suffering who does not
understand the causes of suffering.’” Therefore, everything that happens is not only from karma.
Karma is so important for people, but people need to understand their results are not only from
karma.
The Buddha teaches us something that is called the Four Noble Truths: 1) suffering is the
condition of all existence, 2) suffering comes from possessiveness, greedy, and self–
centeredness, 3) however, these traits can be understood and overcome, and 4) this overcoming
can be alleviated by following an Eightfold Path. Eightfold Path is a practical cure for suffering
caused by being partial to ourselves: 1) right understand, 2) right purpose, 3) right speech, 4)
right conduct, 5) right livelihood, 6) right effort, 7) right mindfulness, and 8) right meditation.
Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path were taught by the Buddha, and they are essentially the
same through sect and tradition of Buddhism.
It is essential to explain Four Noble Truth when people lean about the Buddha. These are
included the purpose of Buddhism and its method. Two of them that are Dukkha and Samudaya
explain about suffering and causing of human suffering. We are suffering, and the causes of our
suffering are from possessiveness, greedy, and self-centeredness. So these are like cause and
effect. Other two of them that are Nirodha and Magga explain that we can alleviate suffering,
and how to alleviate or release. If people want to alleviate or release from suffering, they need to
understand and do the Eightfold Path. Eightfold Path is divided three vital component: 1)
Eightfold Path of wisdom (panna), right conduct (sila), and right mental training (samadhi). The
fist two steps along the Eightfold Path are the steps of panna; step three, four, and five are the

steps of sila; and step six, seven, and eight are the steps of samadhi. The step one that is right
understanding (or view) means we need to understand everything are changing. Most people do
not want to change, so they do not want to understand changes. Everything is existing, and
people are existing, so everything must be changing. Therefore, we need to understand
everything is changing. Also, we need to understand cause and effect, and when people see
something, they must not use their feeling or thinking. The step two that is right purpose means
people need to think deeply, and people should be kind other people, and people should be strict
themselves. When people do first two steps that are right understand and right purpose, they can
remove their desire. The step three that is right speech means the speech should make someone
feel happy. It includes talking, email, or something like that way. So if you say something, it
should make someone feel happy, or it should make peace. The step four that is right conduct
means people need to consider others and everything that is all over the world. People do not
bother others. Of course, people must not kill others, and must not steal something. The step five
that is right livelihood means how we earn a living and more. People need to work for their life,
but their works should have benefits for their life. So they should not work to make poison or
weapon. The step six that is right effort means cultivating an enthusiasm, a positive attitude in a
balanced way. If you did bad things, you need to make efforts for reducing bad effects. Also, if
you want to make good things for future, you should make efforts for good effects. The step
seven is right mindfulness (or awareness). According to Barbara, “The Pali word for
"mindfulness" is sati (in Sanskrit, smriti). Sati can also mean "retention," "recollection," or
"alertness." Mindfulness is a whole-body-and-mind awareness of the present moment. To be
mindful is to be fully present, not lost in daydreams, anticipation, indulgences, or worry.
Mindfulness also means observing and releasing habits of mind that maintain the illusion of a

separate self.” The step eight is Right Concentration. According to Barbara, “Right
Concentration is focusing all of one's mental faculties onto one physical or mental object and
practicing the Four Absorptions, also called the Four Dhyanas (Sanskrit) or Four Jhanas (Pali).”
People need to understand they can practice all together, so it is not eight step program.
Moreover, each part of the Eightfold Path supports each other.

3. My response
The Buddha taught me a lot, and maybe I understand a little why Japan relate to Buddhism
deeply. I think it is too hard to reach nirvana, and maybe most people cannot reach nirvana
because people have desire. It is easy to say I do not have desire, but it is hard to understand my
desire, and it is hard to reduce desire in my mind. Moreover, I think karma is so important for
our life, and I think karma is similar to Japanese tradition. If I do something, I need to think
about my future, my children, grandchildren, and so on because of karma. I need to think about
not only my life, I need to think about my descendants. Also, I do not know the reasons if I face
bad things. I do not know because of my behavior or action, or my ancestor’s behavior or action.
In either case, I need to make efforts for reducing bad effects for my descendant. However, it is
so hard to make efforts because I think if I do good things, and if I think I will reduce bad effects,
maybe I cannot reduce bad effects. Because my behavior or action has meaning like deal, so I
think I cannot reduce bad effects. So, first of all, I think if I do some good things, I should not
think about reducing bad effect, or I should not make deal. I know it is so hard, but I should try. I
think his philosophy is very related to cause and effect. The Forth Noble Truths is also very
related to cause and effect. First two are that we are suffering because it has the reasons. Other
two of the Four Noble Truths are that the cause of suffering and how to alleviate by using the

Eightfold Path. If we do Eightfold Path, we can alleviate from suffering. So I think these are also
very related to cause and effect. I think I need to study more to understand the Buddha and
Buddhism. I want to know more the reason why Japan relate to Buddhism deeply. So this
assignment gave me interests of Buddhism.

References
Barbara, O'Brien "Right Mindfulness" About Religion. About Religion, 22 April 2016. Sun. 24
April 2016
Barbara, O'Brien "The Four Noble Truth " About Religion. About Religion, 22 April 2016. Sun.
24April 2016
Biography.com Editor. "Buddha Biography" Biography. Biography, 24 Februaly 2016. Sun. 24
April 2016
Dana, Nourie. "What is the Eightfold Path?" Secular Buddhist. Secular Buddhist, 3 May 2013.
Sun, 24 April
Douglas, Sossio. Archetypes of Wisdom. Boston: Wadsworth, 2012. Print.
"The History, Philosophy and Practice of Buddhism" buddha101. buddha101, n.d. Sun. 24 April
2016
"業(カルマ)の本当の意味とは?" Bukkyouoshie. Bukkyouoshie, n.d. Sun. 24 April 2016
"四聖諦" Bukkyouoshie. Bukkyouoshie, n.d. Sun. 24 April 2016
"根本仏教講義" j-theravada. j-theravada, n.d. Sun. 24 April 2016