Nature and Deity
Generally recognizes the existence of “supernatural” or god-like beings, but
adherents do not believe in an omnipotent creator God. All Buddhists
recognize a transcendent truth and some conceive this in terms of a
“Buddha Nature” which infuses everything.
Understanding of Beginnings
The Creation is cyclical, having no start and no end. For Buddhists, it is part
of the wheel of suffering to which we are attached through rebirth. Creation is
seen as just part of this wheel.
Conception of Time
Time is cyclical. Each existence continues through death and rebirth so long
as the sense of self keeps us attached to this world. Individual desires are
finally quenched (nirvana) but the world continues on its cyclical pattern.
Some forms of Buddhism believe in a future Buddha who will come and
bring release to all beings.
Mortality (and Afterlife)
At death, each life continues in some other form—human, divine or animal,
depending upon the results of behavior in the last life. The goal of Buddhism
is to extinguish the flame of wanting or attachment to the sense of self so that
rebirth does not occur and Nirvana is attained.
Sacred are the teachings of the Buddha, handed down in a collection of
writings known as the “Three Baskets” (Tri-Pitaka) and comprising the
discourses of the Buddha, the rules of discipline for Buddhist monks and
nuns, and further knowledge—the “great teaching basket.” Three versions
survive: one in the Pali language (used by southern Buddhists), and two
Mahayana versions in Chinese and in Tibetan (used by northern Buddhists).
The Mahayana versions include later books not recognized as authoritative
by southern Buddhists.
Prophets and Founders
The Buddha was an Indian Prince, Siddhartha Gautama, who lived in the 5th
century BCE. He became known as the “Enlightened One” (the Buddha)
when he understood the cause of suffering and the way to end suffering.
Rites of Birth and Death
Buddhists invite monks and nuns to attend such events and to read the
scriptures, but the main ceremonies are generally from older traditions. In
Theravada Buddhism, funerals are occasions for teaching about suffering
and impermanence and for chanting paritta (protection) in order to gain and
transfer merit for the sake of the deceased.
Festivals and Calendar Events
Wesak celebrates the life of the historical Buddha. Dhammacakka
celebrates the Buddha's first sermon where he taught the principles of
Teaching About Religion
in support of civic pluralism