There are a number of religions known to mankind, but what most Japanese people practice is Buddhism. However, even for Japanese people, understanding all aspects of Buddhism can be a bit confusing. There are so many statues relating to Buddha and honestly, most of us rarely know a thing about their roles. I’m not a monk nor a specialist but I’d like you to take a journey with me and learn about how interesting this religion is. Who knows, it might even help you deepen your understanding and appreciation of your own morals which could definitely help guide you through this ever changing and stressful world.
Our journey to Buddhism starts 2500 years ago, on April 8th in India. This is the date when Shaka was born.
He is believed to be the first person to have introduced the concept of Buddhism to the world. Buddhism was introduced in Japan in 538. But first, Buddhism spread throughout Shaka’s home country – India. Then it spread to China before it crossed over to the Korean peninsula, and finally Japan. To help spread the religion faster, statues were created. The statues became so popular it was as if the wind blew them itself. The statues reminded people of Buddha.
In my opinion, beliefs or convictions are invisible and more difficult to accept compared to visualizing something, such as statues. Visible things, like statues and charms, are symbols to easily remind us of what they signify or the beliefs associated about them. I think as humans we tend to rely on the spiritual and unknown powers to keep us moving forward probably as a sort of motivator.
That’s a bit of the history of Buddhism. Now, let’s dive into what Buddhism is all about. How Buddhism is accepted into our life is personal and can be different for each individual. Buddhism helps me know how to improve my life by reducing mental strains. Buddhism, to me, means to live a happy, stable, and reliable existence. Humans are prone to facing stressful situations and struggling with money, romance, interpersonal relationship, sickness, job, the past that we can no longer change, etc.
Throughout the world and its history, each country and community had something to put above themselves and their existence – called a god. However different we call or see it, I’m pretty sure, how we regard a god is probably the same. Here’s a short story that hopefully you’ll be able to appreciate and connect to your own religion;
It isn’t farfetched to say why we believe in religions or gods is because we want to solve our problems, find solutions on how to live happily, get rid of stress and uncontrolled problem, etc. Basically find peace.
Thinking about “Buddhism”, many people might have heard something along the lines of, “It took many years of hard training to reach enlightenment.”
“Hard training” can be translated into meaning ‘to go through many difficulties or problems,’ which everyone should experience. There is a word in Buddhism, “四苦八苦“ which means there are four main struggles – living, getting old, sickness, and death. In addition, there are four more struggles: Separation from someone whom we love such as family, friends, partners, pets. Secondly, experiencing feelings of strong jealousy or extreme hate towards someone. Next, not achieving something we eagerly want such as love, money, job, health, etc. Lastly, dealing with aspects of life which we can’t control. So, in total there are eight main struggles or sufferings everyone experiences in life.
Enlightenment can be understood as meaning the purpose of believing in religion (Buddhism); it is the guide to learning how to control our sufferings or negative feelings; it’s the process of becoming the person who doesn’t allow the stress or struggles to consume us in the end.
Now, you realize that looking through this enlightenment, the real purpose for the Buddhism is “to become happy.”