The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Who is the Founder of Buddhism?
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Q1. Who is the Founder of Buddhism?
Buddhism was founded by Sakyamuni Buddha. He was a Prince of Kapilavatthu in Northern India (currently Nepal) in about 600 B.C. and was named Siddhartha Gautama. He was perturbed by the suffering of ageing, sickness and death, and when he saw a monk looking so calm and peaceful, he decided to renounce the world to seek the truth of life and universe. After several years of cultivation, finally sitting under a Bodhi tree in deep contemplation, he was fully enlightened and was entitled as the Buddha.
Q2. What is Buddhist scripture and how important is it?
The Buddhist scripture is the Buddhist Canon or Tripitaka. It includes Sutras (Dharma or Buddha’s teachings), Vinaya (Precepts) and Abhidharma (Commentary). The voluminous Tripitaka is estimated to be about eleven times the size of the Bible. Before the Buddha passed away, he told his disciples, “Whatever doctrine and discipline have been taught and promulgated by me, they will be your teacher when I am gone.” Thus the Tripitaka becomes the sole guide and source of inspiration to all Buddhists.
The lotus flower is one of the most complex and prominent Buddhist symbols of purity and enlightenment. From the swampy depths, lotus flower grows into an uncontaminated, exquisite and fragrant flower. Likewise, people can emerge from ignorance, become pure and blossom into enlightenment. The lotus is also a cosmic flower, representative of the supramundane. Most of the Buddha and Bodhisattva figures are on lotus thrones.
The symbol of elephant represents endurance and a character that is strong and unshakable. According to Buddhist texts, Sakyamuni Buddha’s mother, Queen Maya dreamt that a white elephant with six tusks entered her side – a sign of divine conception. Thus, a white elephant has long been synonymous with the Buddha himself.
A Sauvastika sign is usually seen on the chest of Buddha’s statues. It is an ancient auspicious sign used over 3,000 years ago in ancient Persia, Greece, India etc. with the symbolic meaning of universality and the power to overcome evil. The arms of the Buddhist Sauvastika point in a counterclockwise direction and the sign is always in an upright “+” position. It is NOT related to the Nazi sign of Hitler who made use of it, reversed its direction, tilted it in an ‘X’ position and named it Swastika.
To Sakyamuni Buddha, his prime intention is to teach people the truth of life and the universe and to guide them to the way of enlightenment - a way that leads us to liberation and ultimate happiness. Buddhism is more than a religion and a way of life but is a perfect education as we address Sakyamuni Buddha as our ‘original teacher’. ‘Buddhism’ refers to his teaching and practice. Buddha never had the intention of establishing his status or soliciting fame and praise from people in propagating his teaching but purely to benefit others and deliver people from suffering. Please refer to the website for more information.