Buddhism is one of the oldest religions in the world and it plays a significant role in defining Eastern religion and philosophy. The roots of this religion date back to over 2,500 years ago, when it was founded by Siddhartha Gautam, who upon enlightenment was called the Buddha. Unfortunately, owing to the lack of popular understanding, and the deep nature of this religion, there are a lot of misconceptions regarding Buddhism, predominantly in the Western world. Here are some myths about Buddhism that you need to unlearn today.
Buddhists Are Vegetarians
Unlike several major religions, there are actually no dietary restrictions on practicing Buddhists. Buddha himself consumed meat, and he never preached for practicing vegetarianism either. Ancient Buddist monks, or bhikshus, used to beg for their food and they would consume whatever was generously donated, including meat. Even today several monasteries accept various forms of meat as an offering. However, in modern times, some schools of Buddhism, in certain areas, have taken up vegetarianism, although, it is largely not the common practice, nor enforced.
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Buddhists Worship By Meditation
Meditation is often mistakenly identified as a key practice in Buddhism. Although meditation is one of the aspects that the religion encourages, for its deep impact on the mind, it is not inherently the only form of Buddhist worship. Meditation, traditionally, does play a significant role as a monastic practice among several sects. Chanting, studying the sutras, and other forms of worship are also practiced. But generally, the only thing the religion really preaches is an insistence on excellent conduct. It is since the 20th century that the association of meditation with Buddhism developed, mostly in the Western world.
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Buddhism Is Monotheistic
Contrary to the popular misconception of Buddhism as a monotheistic faith, the religion does not believe in the existence of a god or divine entity. The founder of Buddhism, Gautam Buddha was a human being and he is regarded as one in this religion. His teachings are collected in the form of sutras, and they guide his followers towards the path of enlightenment. In no way, does Buddhism preach Buddha or any other god that the disciples should worship. Buddha is an enlightened teacher who chose to guide his disciples into philosophy or path. In present-day Buddhism, there are monks and spiritual leaders, who take up the mantle of guiding their followers down the righteous path.
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Buddhism is Nihilism
The First Noble Truth roughly translates to “Life is suffering”. However, it is far more complex than that. Primarily the concept of suffering is a deeper understanding and acceptance of all forms of pain, grief, sorrow, and every similar emotion, temporary or permanent. At a glance, people even consider the Buddhist principle of detachment as a solution to counter this suffering. However, while nihilism uses the concept of suffering to negate moral values, Buddhism, on the other hand, uses it to teach a set of values and principles to live life by. Religion merely accepts pain as an inevitability in life and teaches a philosophy to navigate through it.
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Buddhism is a unique and beautiful religion that has a deep and meaningful take on life and its ways. The best way to understand this faith is to delve into it and learn. Don’t follow any misconceptions about Buddhism or any other religion.