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Lindsay Pruitt  Buse
Philadelphia University








                                                               Theravada Buddhism:

Name: Lindsay P. Buse

Course: World Religions

Institution: Philadelphia University

Date: 03/21/2017







Theravada Buddhism


Theravada Buddhism also referred to as the elder’s doctrine, forms one of the three sects found in Buddhism. It was established in the fourth century as a series of schisms and through it, became known among the Indians, Southeast Asians, and in Sri Lanka. The practices of this religion claim to adhere to the original doctrines and practices of Buddha. In this context, the essay will illustrate on the history of the religion, the major figure associated with the religion, the major scriptures of the religion, the expectations of a believer, and the view of afterlife.

History of Theravada Buddhism

Buddhism was established out of the intention of achieving lasting peace for human beings. This resulted from an encounter by way of the evils of the world i.e. sickness, old age, as well as death. The works and foundation of Buddhism is associated with its founder, Buddha Shakyamuni, who was born Siddhartha Gautama in a royal family in Lumbini (Upham, 1829). At the age of 29, while on his successful chariot rides, Siddhartha made first three encounters with the evils of life that his father was so determined to shield from him and while on his forth chariot ride, his decision to renounce the world and seek enlightenment was made after having an encounter with an ascetic (Upham, 1829). After six successful years of fasting and enlightenment, resisting the temptations of ‘the king of the demons,’ Buddha Shakyamuni was ready to pass on the teachings pertaining to human liberation from self and the sufferings associated with life. Amongst the first recipients of his doctrines were traveling merchants who, out of their traveling, spread his doctrines to central Asia as well as China (Upham, 1829). Soon after, his former companions as well as family members became informed by his doctrines and were converted to Buddhism that was made possible through compassion and love for humanity.

The Major Figure associated with Theravada Buddhism

As history has it, Siddhartha Gautama was born of a royal family in Lumbini and lived in the era between 563 and 483 B.C (Upham, 1829). His father a king and mother a queen from Shakya clan, Siddhartha Gautama was expected to live in his father footsteps, which he did until he was 29 years old. According to the legend that surrounded his conception as well as birth, Siddhartha Gautama was said to be miraculous and upon his birth (Ashton & Whyte, 2001), which took place on his mother’s right side; the child proceeded to undertake the ‘seven steps.’ He was later given to an astrologer who made predictions concerning his life. In his predictions, the astrologer saw the boy as either a great king or religious leader. Out of the fear of loosing his son to religion, his father thought it fit to shield the boy from the truth of life since his father knew that the unpleasantness of life would lead his son to renounce his position (Upham, 1829), which he did upon finding the truth about life, as a Shakya prince. The life of Siddhartha Gautama changed while making his chariot rides outside the palace when he encountered the reality of life. He finally decided to renounce his prince hood, as feared by his father, and sought the life of an ascetic that later saw him become Buddha Shakyamuni (Ashton & Whyte, 2001).

The Major Scriptures associated with Theravada Buddhism

Buddhism is built on ‘four noble truths’ that are the guiding principles of this religion. First is the truth of agony. In this truth, life and all its stages is made up of agony. This is seen in the painful moments of life from birth to death and in between the challenges that come along with life such as sickness as well as aging (Coward, 1997). Second truth is that of reason: According to this truth, the agony that is experienced in human life comes from human cravings. Additionally, lack of knowledge, which acts dependently to cravings and vice versa have led humans to endure so much agony (Upham, 1829). The third truth is that of closure. Here, the agony experienced by human beings can be brought to an end if cravings as well as lack of knowledge are taken away and this can be achieved through transformation rather than elimination (Coward, 1997). The last truth is that of means. From this truth, an individual can achieve closure from the agony through taking 8 extremes between asceticism and cosset which include the rights to knowledge, resolve, speech, conduct, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and meditation (Upham, 1829).

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