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Buddhism: key issues evaluated

1.) Identify key events in the life of Siddhartha Gautama.

2.) Analyze the three marks of reality as defined by Buddhist doctrine.

3.) Distinguish between the two main forms of Buddhism, Theravada and Mahayana.

4.) Analyze Vajrayana Buddhism as a distinct form of Buddhism.

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1.) Identify key events in the life of Siddhartha Gautama.

Siddhartha was born around 583 BC in the region of Nepal. His father was the king of a fairly large clan and wanted Siddhartha to become a powerful military leader. He attempted to shield his son from religious influences and the awareness of the extreme poverty in the region. He was able to insulate Siddhartha from these influences until he was nearly 30 years old.

When he was approximately 30 years old he finally was curious enough to venture outside the palace. He was shocked by the misery, death and old age he saw. He also noticed a man who had renounced this world's pleasures in order to seek spiritual enlightenment. This idea intrigued Siddhartha. Upon returning to the palace he was unable to enjoy the riches and pleasures that had been a part of his life up until that time. Though married, upon the birth of his first child he named it Rahula meaning "fetter" illustrating the captivity and entanglement he felt in his current life. Soon after this he renounced his former life, became a monk and began wondering the countryside in search of spiritual enlightenment.

He experimented with self-mortification and pain as a means to enlightenment. He realized that while pleasure was one extreme, pain was another extreme and perhaps the way to enlightenment could be found by pursuing a "middle path." He also theorized that this way could be achieved through disciplining the mind rather than focusing on denying the body.

According to legend, Buddha achieved enlightenment after engaging in a spiritual war with the demon Mara. Mara tried to attack Siddhartha with his demons but failed, he tried to seduce Siddhartha by offering his young daughter to him, finally he asserted his control over the path to enlightenment. Supposedly when asked who would speak for Siddhartha's right to the path to enlightenment he touched the ground and the earth itself cried out, "I bear you witness." When this happened, Siddhartha achieved enlightenment and became a Buddha.

Though reluctant to teach, since ...

Solution Summary

The solution takes a look at Buddhism. Key events in the original Buddha's life are examined. Buddhist doctrine and several variants of Buddhism are examined. Over 1,200 words with sources identified for further research.