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Running head: CURRENT ISSUES IN BUDDHISM

Current Issues in Buddhism


Eric Raymond
REL/133
September 21, 2015
James Finch

CURRENT ISSUES IN BUDDHISM

Current Issues in Buddhism


The purpose of this paper is to discuss current issues in the religion of Buddhism. The
author will discuss the common characteristics Buddhism shares with other religions and how
the religion is responding to changes in the modern world. The author will also discuss how
Buddhism has changed in reference to the roles of women in the region throughout its history.
Buddhism is a religion that was founded in northern India in 500 C.E. and has over 350
million followers worldwide. Buddhisms founder, a wealthy prince named Siddhartha Gautama
set all of his worldly possessions aside and went outside his palace in search of the answers to
life such as why is there suffering in the world, why do people suffer, and why do we
exist. He was very sheltered from the outside world but he had previously went outside his
palace grounds for the first time and witnessed the Four Passing Sights that lead him to embark
on his journey. He saw an old man, a sick man, a corpse, and a holy man. Siddhartha noticed
the Holy man had no possessions but was completely at peace. The Holy man had no need for
worldly possessions like what Siddhartha was used to since he lived in a palace all of his life,
(Raymond, n.d.).
Siddhartha found several teachers to learn from and to try to find the answers he was
seeking. He learned how to meditate and about philosophy but still did not find the answers to
his questions. After six years, he was found exhausted and asleep under a sacred tree by a
woman who came to worship the tree spirit. She gave him food and drink so he could regain his
strength. After that, he travelled to another sacred tree and began fasting while facing the east.
He meditated for a long time until he was able to gain the understanding to the questions he had
which is called his Awakening. He became the Buddha and began travelling westward and
spreading his teachings and his way of life.

CURRENT ISSUES IN BUDDHISM

Common Characteristics With Other Religions


Buddhists does not believe in a higher being or deity because Buddha taught that humans
are in control of their lives and are responsible for their own suffering or happiness depending on
how they lived their life. Buddhism is similar to Confucianism in a way because Confucians
also do not believe in a deity or higher being. Buddhism encourages performing good deeds,
being charitable, and not doing wrong to others. Christianity, Islam, Shintoism, Confucianism,
Hinduism and many other religions share this basic principle.
Response to Change in the Modern World
As the world becomes more and more violent, Buddhism is faced with a challenge since
one of the basic foundational teachings of Buddhism is non-violence. There are many
discussions, writings, meetings, and groups focused on ways to deal with violence in the modern
world in a non-violent manner.
In some countries, Buddhism conflicts with the local government such as in China. In
China, the practice of Buddhism was discouraged for much of the 20th century. The Chinese
government would destroy Buddhist temples and artwork. The monks and nuns were forced to
stop practicing Buddhism. The Chinese government also took over Tibet, which was a Buddhist
society, and forced the Dalai Lama into hiding killing between 200 thousand to 1 million
Tibetans in the process.
Women in Buddhism
The role of women in Buddhism has evolved over time. In ancient India, women were
looked at as inferior to Men and were not provided education. Buddhist women were not
allowed as many freedoms as the men and had many restrictions placed upon them. The men
were considered responsible for the women and Buddha taught that wives should be obedient to

CURRENT ISSUES IN BUDDHISM

their husbands. He also taught that husbands should always respect their wives. In modern
times, women now share the responsibility of maintaining the household and family so the men
are not as much considered responsible for the women. Women have more freedom and more of
a voice in society in Buddhism these days. In Buddhism, women are more considered equals to
men in modern society.
Conclusion
In conclusion, Buddhism is a religion that has evolved over time without losing its core
values. It started with a young princes burning desire to gain knowledge of the world and has
become a religion with over 350 million followers. Buddhism does not worship a sole deity but
does share many core values and characteristics with other religions.

CURRENT ISSUES IN BUDDHISM

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References

Buddhism in Modern Life. (n.d.). Retrieved from


http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma3/modern.html
How Buddhist Is Modern Buddhism?. (2008). Retrieved from
http://www.tricycle.com/reviews/how-buddhist-modern-buddhism
Liu, C. (2006). Buddhism. The essentials of philosophy and ethics. Retrieved from
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dhism/0
Molloy, M. (2013). Experiencing the worlds religions: Tradition, challenge, and change (6th
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Patheos Lenses Side by Side Comparison. (n.d.). Retrieved from
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Raymond, E. G. (n.d.). Vajrayana Buddhism. : .
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http://www.patheos.com/Library/Buddhism/Historical-Development/Modern-Age