Hinduism Evolves over Centuries • Hinduism is a collection of religious beliefs that developed over a long period of time – some aspects can be traced back to ancient times, but not one founder with one set of ideals. • Hindus share a common belief that religion is a way of liberating the soul from the illusions, disappointments, and mistakes of everyday existence. The achievement of separation from these desires and suffering is detailed in the Upanishads.
Hinduism Evolves over Centuries • When a person understands the relationship between atman (their soul) and Brahman (world soul), then they achieve perfect understanding and release from this world. • This understanding does not come usually in one lifetime – reincarnation in necessary. A soul’s karma, or good and bad deeds, follows it from reincarnation to another. • The karma influences life circumstances, such as caste, etc. • Dharma is the religious and moral duties an individual must have.
Hinduism and Society • Hindu ideas about karma and reincarnation strengthened the caste system – if someone was born as an upper-class male, it was said that he had good karma, or fortune. If he was born lower-class, it was said that he deserved it because of past misdeeds. • With some exceptions, only men of the top 3 varnas were said to be able to reach moksha (enlightenment).
The Buddha Seeks Enlightenment • Siddhartha Gautama founded Buddhism. He was locked in his palace by his father to fulfill a prophecy of him becoming a great king. He finally left the palace and understood that only religion offers freedom from the cycle of birth and death. • He wandered through the forests of India for 6 years to find enlightenment. After 49 days of meditation under a fig tree he achieved an understanding of the causes of suffering in the world. From then on he became known as Buddha, or “Enlightened One.”
Origins & Beliefs of Buddhism • In his first sermon, Buddha outlined the Four Noble Truths of his faith: • First Noble Truth: Life is filled with suffering & sorrow • Second Noble Truth: The Cause of all suffering is people’s selfish desire for the temporary pleasures of this world • Third Noble Truth: The way to end all suffering is to end all desire • Fourth Noble Truth: The way to overcome such desires and attain enlightenment is to follow the Eightfold Path, which is called the Middle Way between desires & denial.
The Eightfold Path • “What is the Middle Way? It is the Noble Eightfold Path – Right Views, Right Resolve, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Livlihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. This is the Middle Way.” • Buddha, from Samyutta Nikaya Dharma Wheel, often used to symbolize the Eightfold Path
Origins & Beliefs of Buddhism • Like Hinduism, Buddha accepted reincarnation, but he rejected the multiple gods. He shared the concept of enlightenment by a belief in nirvana, or a release from selfishness and pain. • The final goals of both Hinduism and Buddhism are similar – both involve a perfect state of understanding and a break from the chain of reincarnation.