By Damien Keown
This Very brief advent introduces the reader to the lessons of the Buddha and to the combination of Buddhism into everyday life. What are the distinct gains of Buddhism? Who was once the Buddha, and what are his teachings? How has Buddhist inspiration built over the centuries, and the way can modern dilemmas be confronted from a Buddhist viewpoint? phrases reminiscent of karma and nirvana have entered our vocabulary, yet what do they suggest? Damien Keown's ebook offers a full of life, informative reaction to those commonly asked questions on Buddhism
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Extra info for Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Karma is not a system of rewards and punishments meted out by God but a kind of natural law akin to the law of gravity. Individuals are thus the sole authors of their good and bad fortune. In popular usage karma is thought of simply as the good and bad things that happen to people, a little like good and bad luck. The literal meaning of the Sanskrit word karma is ‘action’, but karma as a religious concept is concerned not with just any actions but with actions of a particular kind. Karmic actions are moral actions, and the Buddha deﬁned karma by reference to moral choices and the acts consequent upon them.
Suffering is thus engrained in the very fabric of our being. The content of the Truth of Suffering is supplied in part from the Buddha’s vision of the ﬁrst three of the four signs – the old man, the sick man, and the corpse – and his realization that life is shot through with suffering and unhappiness of all kinds. Many who encounter Buddhism ﬁnd this assessment of the human condition pessimistic. To this, Buddhists tend to reply that their religion is neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but realistic, and that the Truth of Suffering simply presents the facts of life in an objective way.
Sometimes when teaching on a subject, the Buddha religious knowledge, and attained enlightenment at the age of 35. The remaining forty-ﬁve years of his life were spent giving religious teachings and he died at the age of 80. Buddhists traditionally focus on certain key events in the Buddha’s career as the most important, and commemorate them in various ways in literature, myth and ritual, and pilgrimage to the sites where they took place. The four most important events are his birth, enlightenment, ﬁrst sermon, and death.