Buddhism

"Applied Buddhism" is the application of Buddhist teachings in our daily life. It is a broad umbrella under which all the essential aspects of life such as physical, mental, social and spiritual well being as well as philosophical, bio-ethical, financial and modern scientific aspects could be incorporated. This includes the Buddhist ideas practiced by the three major schools of Buddhist thoughts in modern era, namely the Theravada, Mahayana and Tantrayana (Tibetan) traditions. Apart from the commonly discussed philosophical and psychological aspects, more emphasis is given here on the traditional culture and social aspects of Buddhism.

Buddhism arrived in the West early in the nineteenth century, after the centuries of Western economic and political expansion. Asian religions like Buddhism were certainly known to travelers and missionaries long before then, but it was not until the early nineteenth century that Buddhism fully captured the western imagination. The nineteenth century was one of social and philosophical upheaval, both for the west as well as for Asian cultures newly exposed to western ideas, education, and values. So inevitably, the versions of Buddhism that have come to the West, from that time forward, have been impacted by Western ideas, directly and indirectly, at the hands of both Western interpreters and Asian exponents.

Students look for applications of Buddhist principles in their own lives in coping with problems, visit a Buddhist temple, and learn to master meditation. Most often in the Western world it is a book or a movie that introduces people to Buddhism and Buddhist teachings. Although things such as its history, the different kinds of buddhism and a Buddhist dictionary also have their importance, most Buddhist communities are mainly interested in showing people what buddhist ideas can mean for their life. Most of the times it is to end the situation we suffer from or to seek answers to why people must suffer. These are reasons why people may become Buddhists. Another thing we should note is that, after attaining enlightenment, Buddha immediately attempted to teach all others the path to enlightenment so that they, too, could put an end to their sufferings. This is also a basic concept of Buddhism: To take care of others around you.

There needs to be one thing that is attributed to all religions, a common factor. For many, the common factor is God. However, if we conclude that God is the focus of all religion then much of the material found in Asia must be excluded because there is no God here, and occasionally not even Gods. From the perspective that religion entails belief in a God, Buddhism is excluded from having the title of religion. Many outsiders to the Buddhist tradition may claim that the Buddha held some divinity and is elevated to a Godly position, but the Buddha himself refused to be regarded as divine. For the Buddha, humanity is here to improve ourselves and achieve liberation rather than worrying about ultimate questions. Buddhists would argue that knowledge of a God or the afterlife does not matter as neither help in the quest for nirvana.

As Buddhism was transmitted to other countries in Asia, it also continued to develop in striking ways. It was carried to Sri Lanka by Buddhist missionaries. From there it was carried to most of South East Asia. Buddhism entered China and developed some distinctive traditions interacting with the indigenous traditions already present. China, as you may know, is a supremely confident and bold civilization, and it wasn't easy at all for Buddhism to be accepted as it was a foreign teaching. However, there was some kind of affinity between Buddhist teachings and some aspects of the Chinese culture.