The Influence Of Mahayana Buddhism

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The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines culture as: “the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group”. The first and foremost foundation of a culture, nation, or civilization is its religion and beliefs. For this reason, it is imperative that world religions are studied in order to gain perspective and understanding of other cultures. In a world that is growing evermore connected by travel, commerce, and connections by the Internet, it becomes more and more important to gain this understanding of other cultures and religions. Because of this, it is not only important to study world religions, but essential.


Christianity was founded around 30 A.D. by Jesus Christ. In the years
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by Siddartha Gautama, who is more commonly known as the Buddha. Buddhism spread across Asia from India in the next thousand years or so, while at the same time splitting into two different branches: Theravada and Mahayana. Therevada Buddhism spread to southeastern Asia and Sri Lanka primarly and is considered to be the stricter version of Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism spread mostly to China, Korea, and Japan, and is considered to be more lenient than Therevada Buddhism. Buddhism is, by some sources, not considered a religion but instead a philophosy. This is because Buddhism is not exclusively theistic and many of its believers do not believe in a god at all. The beliefs of Buddhism include the 4 Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. The 4 Noble Truths are that there is suffering, suffering has an origin, there is an end to suffering, and that there is a path out of suffering, known as the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path says that people should practice right understanding, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration in order to escape suffering. To practice Buddhism, one ust follow this Eightfold Path. Some Buddhists may attend a temple or meditate to practice Buddhism, but neither of these are mandatory. Monks are often seen as leaders of Buddhism, but their only roles are to guide and aid Buddhists and are not needed to perform services. The Dalai Lama is a regional leader of Buddhism in Tibet, but is commonly misconceived to be the leader of all

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