Religion of Thailand and interesting religious sites

Buddhist traditions

Hello dear readers.

Contrary to the common European opinion that Buddhism is an integral movement, this is not entirely true. Just like Christianity or Islam, it has several directions. Some originated in ancient times, others appeared later and interpret ancient texts a little differently. In this article we will try to figure out these intricacies.

Buddhism is one of the world's religions, which originated in the 4th century. BC ... in the northeast of present-day India, therefore, there is a close connection with ancient Indian philosophy. There are more than 450 million adherents, and most of them are concentrated in Asian countries - Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. It is possible to become a Buddhist regardless of previous religion, as well as eye shape, skin color and class affiliation.

Directions

The doctrine is divided into many schools - on average there are 18. So, briefly about the main directions of Buddhism:

  • Theravada. The oldest direction, the second largest. In the 21st century, there are almost 40% of adherents.
  • Mahayana or Great Vehicle. Adherents make up the bulk - more than 50% of all Buddhists in the world. The centers are concentrated in Japan, Mongolia, China, Korea, Tibet.
  • Vajrayana - "Diamond chariot". Tantric direction, formed within the Mahayana (tantra is the oldest system of self-improvement, which helps to heal the body, prolong life, and develop spirituality).
  • Tibetan branch (formed on the basis of Mahayana and Vajrayana), the smallest - 6%. The centers are located in Mongolia, Buryatia, Tuva, Kalmykia, Manchuria and North China.

Some researchers believe that Buddhism has three branches, while others speak of two main ones - Theravada and Mahayana.

Theravada

The teachings of the elders. Theravada is based on texts that were compiled after the Buddha went into nirvana. The adherents of this direction believe that much of the later directions are innovations that distort the essence of the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni, and in some cases completely contradict it.

Some people use the name Hinayana or Little Chariot to refer to Theravada. This is not entirely correct. The concept of Hinayana originated within the Mahayana and literally means "lower", "narrow", "despicable". However, to apply such "epithets" to the Teachings of the oldest - one of the most ancient schools, you must agree, is not entirely correct.

Briefly about the main directions of Buddhism

Hello, dear readers - seekers of knowledge and truth!

Buddhism is so widespread in our time that, probably, in any corner of our planet there is a person who, if not professes it, then at least is clearly interested in it. This article will tell you in which countries Buddhism is professed, and also tell about its features, depending on the location on the map and national mentality.

Buddhism on the World Map

The oldest of the world's religions appeared in the middle of the first millennium BC. ... During this time, it managed to take root at its origins - in India, weakened due to the appearance of Hinduism there, “spread” throughout Asia and convey its knowledge, like streams, to many states in the world.

As early as the 4th century, Buddhism reached Korea. By the 6th century, he reached Japan, and in the 7th century he burst into Tibet, where he turned into a special direction of philosophical thought. The islands of Southeast Asia were conquered by Buddhism gradually - from about the 2nd century, and by the beginning of the second millennium it was widespread.

The “capture” of Mongolia by this religion lasted for many centuries - from the 8th to the 16th centuries, and from there, by the 18th century, it reached the border of Russia represented by Buryatia and Tuva. In the last two centuries, Buddhist teachings have covered tens of thousands of kilometers and have attracted the interest of the inhabitants of Europe and America.

Today Buddhism has become the state religion of Thailand, Cambodia, Bhutan and Laos. It has largely affected the lives of people from most of Asia. Countries can be ranked by the number of followers:

  • China
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Myanmar
  • Tibet
  • Sri Lanka
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Cambodia
  • Japan
  • India

In addition, there are many followers of Buddha in Bhutan, Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia.

Interestingly, in every country Buddhism took on its own, not similar to others, outlines, new forms of this philosophy, directions of thought appeared. This was due to folk characteristics, religions that existed there earlier, cultural traditions.

In Europe, Buddhism spread to the largest and most powerful countries. Here at the beginning of the XX century. the first Buddhist organizations appeared: Germany (1903), Great Britain (1907), France (1929). And today in the United States, Buddhism boasts an honorable fourth place in the number of followers, following Christianity, Judaism and atheism.

There is a World Brotherhood of Buddhists whose purpose is to spread and support Buddhist thought in the world. It includes 98 centers from 37 states. Thailand has been chosen as the site for the headquarters of this organization.

In this article, we briefly talk about the main directions of Buddhism and its ideas. Buddhism is divided into several streams.

When you first come to this country, you are surprised at the number of temples, monasteries and sacred images. Near every building, house and just by the road, you can see small houses on elevations, decorated with ribbons and flowers. These are the houses of the spirits. In the Kingdom of Thailand, religion plays a very important role in the life of every inhabitant and the entire state. A tourist invariably raises a question - what kind of god do Thais worship, what religion they profess, what norms control their life. In ancient and modern Siam, this issue is so complicated, religious teachings and beliefs are so mixed up, that you can't figure it out right away.

Kingdom of Thailand and Religion

A closer look reveals a few interesting features. Thais can worship and make offerings to several religions at once. Religion, in our understanding, is some kind of god and the company of the holy apostles, his followers. Thailand has this too. Deities and celestials are present in every corner of the Thai life. The main religion of the Kingdom of Siam since the 11th century and even earlier is Buddhism. But the religion of Thailand is a mixture of ancient and later beliefs, introduced philosophies and their understanding of the structure of nature. There are also Buddhist teachings, Chinese Taoism, remnants of Hinduism and local belief in spirits.

Buddhism

Buddhism in Thailand originated long ago, back in the 4th century AD in the principality of Dvarovati and Lavo. It was brought here by the Khmer conquerors. In modern Burma, the remnants of Khmer Buddhism have remained to this day. The Mon principalities are famous for their ancient statues and temples. Gradually, Buddhism was supplanted by local customs and modified. In the XI century, with the emergence of more perfect principalities in their state structure, Buddhism again became the main religion, which remains to this day.

There are many monasteries and temples of Buddha in Thailand. It is believed that if you donated money for the temple, then you have corrected your karma. Therefore, churches are being built with the money of parishioners and patrons of the arts. The same principle - "give and receive a hundredfold" and the notorious "tithe" is perceived here as something natural.

We discussed with a familiar monk why there are few Buddhist datsans in Russia. There is a rule - a Buddhist monk should not be distracted from the path of enlightenment by everyday trifles, a Buddhist monk is fed by laymen. For the normal existence of a Buddhist monastery, at least 1000 parishioners are needed per monk. After all, those offerings and donations for the local population are not something obligatory. If there are not enough funds today, then the donation to the monk is purely symbolic. Things went uphill, a substantial offering to the monastery.

Thailand and Buddhism are almost identical concepts. It is interesting that the local population understands the teachings of Buddha as correct as possible. Service to Buddha is, first of all, meditation, work on oneself. Buddha, the prince of Sitgharha Gautama and the Sakya clan, is not a god, he is a teacher who showed the way to enlightenment and liberation from suffering. Everything in this world depends on the person himself, on his observance of certain principles. But man is man. He needs someone's support, he wants to ask someone for protection. Therefore, a Thai man, having meditated in a Buddhist temple, having made a "there bun" offering, goes to a nearby Hindu temple or to a Chinese one.

Hinduism

This ancient Indian religion essentially became the basis for Buddhist teachings. Therefore, Hindu deities are also worshiped here. Everywhere you can see large gazebos, much more houses for spirits, in which the four-faced, many-armed Brahma, the supreme deity of the Hindus, sits. One of the trimurti-trinity, along with Shiva and Vishnu. Brahma is the creator god. Shiva destroys the old, and Vishnu is the balancing principle, he is the preserving deity.

Sometimes in such beautiful gazebos you can see the elephant-headed Ganesha, the god of luck. This son of Shiva is in charge of fulfilling desires. Rather, he is called upon to free people from worldly whims, he is a "great bummer", he interferes with our desires. People worship him and ask him not to interfere with the fulfillment of the coveted. In general, the Hindu pantheon is so diverse and confusing that it is very difficult for an uninformed European to figure it out. An interesting reading of ancient legends is described in the book They came to change this world for themselves. Rather, it is a fantasy, but you can get an idea of ​​the world of gods and asuras.

I want to note that the remnants of Hinduism have survived in the highest religious rites to this day. The very deification of the king as a high priest, the rite of cremation and even the coronation date back to Hindu ceremonies.

Buddhism is one of the largest religions in the world, with a considerable number of different directions. Nevertheless, the main cultural and religious traditions of Buddhism have a single basis, since they are inextricably linked with the milestones in the life of the founder of the movement - Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha). These traditions and rituals differ significantly from other major world religious movements and are performed in a strict atmosphere of asceticism - strict observance of prescriptions, customs, rituals and vows.

Monastic life

The concept of a monk in Buddhism does not quite correspond to the usual idea. These are not priests and novices who have not taken a certain vows, but ordinary students undergoing general training, studying the scriptures, texts, mantras and the basics of meditation. They live in communities called sangha and located on the territory of a certain Buddha temple. There are practically no restrictions on joining the community, it can be either a man or a woman.

Each direction of Buddhism has a certain set of rules, these regulations must be observed by monks from among the followers of this teaching rigorously. For example, some of them impose a ban on the consumption of meat food, others oblige to engage exclusively in agricultural work, and others strictly prohibit participation in the social and, moreover, the political life of society. All that is needed for life, the followers of this religious teaching receive from alms.

Traditional Buddhist Festivals

The very concept of a holiday in this case differs from the generally accepted one. If in our country the word “holiday” itself means “to be idle, to do nothing”, then for the followers of Buddha these are special days, in which more duties and restrictions are imposed on monks than permissions. According to this teaching, on such days, a person's thoughts and actions, as well as their positive or negative consequences, influence on life and the state of karma, increase a thousand times. It is believed that it is at these moments that the observance of purity of mind and the right actions allow one to advance as far as possible on the path to the Absolute. Observance of cleanliness must be observed in yourself and around you. To achieve this, special rituals are offered to help, in particular, the recitation and repeated repetition of mantras, certain sounds and melodies when playing musical instruments, the use of special cult objects, and so on.

On the basis of all this, consciousness is gradually purified, everything superficial leaves, a special fine structure of the human soul is restored. On the days of Buddhist holidays, it is considered necessary to visit the temple, in addition, offerings are made to members of their community, temple, Teacher, Buddha. Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong if the monk stays at home on the holiday, if he considers it necessary and decides that this will help the better mood of his soul. It is believed that if he tunes it correctly, then, regardless of the location of the body, he will be able to join the general energy field of celebration.

The list of special days in Buddhism is quite wide, let us dwell on the main and most important and significant ones.

Visakha Puja

This holiday is a symbol of three main events from the earthly life of the Buddha. This is his birth, subsequent enlightenment or awakening and departure from earthly life into nirvana. In many areas of religion, there is an opinion that the dates of these events coincide. The celebration lasts a week. By this time, decorations from paper lanterns and bright flower garlands are hung on all churches, and many burning lamps are placed on their territory. The visiting laymen are told stories from the life of the Great Teacher and philosophical edifications, prayers are read.

Buddhism is a religious and philosophical teaching (dharma) about spiritual awakening (bodhi), which arose around the 6th century BC. e. in Ancient India (the territory of modern Nepal and northeastern India). What is Buddhism? Who is the Buddha of Buddhism? Below we will tell you about Buddhism History, development, basic teachings, even Buddhism in China. ado read to the end-7 interesting facts about Buddhism.

Buddha Shakyamuni (Siddhartha Gautama)

Details of the life of the Buddha and the original teachings presented in Buddhist scriptures in the first century BC is essential for understanding how Chinese Buddhism developed. Gautama Buddha was the founder of the religion. He lived between 600 and 400 BC. The Buddha and his followers left no pmsaniya, but his rules for monastic life and teachings were orally memorized and transmitted until about the second century BC. . when the first Buddhist scriptures were written. The oral tradition has been damaged. After that, the first scriptures were brought to China.

It is said that Buddha Gautama was the prince of a small kingdom located in modern Nepal. Maybe he was not Indo-European. There were many legends, for example, they say that there was a wise man who predicted that Gautama would be either a great holy man or a great king. His father wanted him to become a great king and renounce all religions, death, as well as disasters. Thus, when he grew up, he was shocked to see the old man and the corpse. Then, he decided to deal with the problems of suffering and death.

When he was 29 years old, he became a famous teacher in India. He knew a lot about Hinduism, but still he was not happy. Then he tried to find out the truth through hunger strike and abstinence. He nearly starved himself to death and nearly drowned. Then he began to eat, meditate and avoid indulgence or withdrawal. But he was almost as thin as a skeleton. He insisted on sitting under a tree until he learned the truth and became enlightened. he finally did it when he was 35.

Then he started teaching. He believed that everyone could be enlightened. It contradicts the Hindu belief that only people of the highest caste could be saints. Because this thought threatens a hierarchical society. It is said that many of the students became "arhats", and he taught everyone, regardless of their caste. Some Hindus believed that the religion was false and his enemies tried to kill him. His idea would have destroyed a hierarchical society. He died at an advanced age and his body was cremated.

Which types of Buddhism? -History and development

About 2 thousand years ago, Buddhism split into two main schools: Mahayana and Theravada. For centuries, Theravada has been the dominant school of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos. Mahayana is a major destination in China, Japan, Taiwan, Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, Korea and Vietnam. Recently, more and more Mahayana followers appear in India. Mahayana in turn is divided into sub-schools such as Zen and Pure Land Buddhism.

The very first difference that attracts attention is the concept of a bodhisattva. If in the Mahayana schools a bodhisattva is an awakened person who has given dinner to bring all living beings to awakening and does not consciously go into final nirvana, then in Theravada a bodhisattva is a person who practices the Dharma, but has not yet attained enlightenment, does not make any vows to save sentient beings ...

Second, this is the status of arhats. In the Mahayana, the nirvana of the arhats is considered incomplete in comparison with the buddhas, in the Theravada, the nirvana of the arhats and the buddhas is exactly the same.

In this regard, in Mahayana, the goal of practice is to achieve the state of a bodhisattva, and in Theravada, an arhat.

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