Religion in Canada

Buddhism in Canada

Buddhism is based on the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. The Buddha is in reference to Lord Gautama Buddha, born Siddhartha, an Indian prince who lived circa 560-480 BCE. He was born wealthy and then escaped his royal family and discovered the suffering of the world. He travelled and lived a completely ascetic life for several years. However, he then realised that the "middle-way" is the true path to enlightenment. When he reached the state of enlightenment, he became the Buddha, or "enlightened one," and he devoted the rest of his life to teaching others how to escape suffering. However, Buddha never wrote down his teachings, they were passed on orally for centuries before being written down. All forms of Buddhism agree with the basic teachings of Lord Buddha, which can be found in the Four Noble Truths.

The First Noble Truth is that ordinary existence is a state of suffering, or dukkah. There are three types of suffering: physical suffering, impermanence and mental suffering.

The Second Noble Truth describes the cause of suffering, or the arising of dukkah, that suffering comes from desire. Culture has bred an ignorant state of mind that does not agree with the teachings of Lord Buddha. As a result, humans are bound to a false reality.

The Third Noble Truth describes the end of suffering, or the cessation of dukkah, that to end suffering we must end desire. Renouncing the negative mind and embracing a love for all beings, as well as compassion, and escaping ignorance to gain understanding of the true nature of reality constitute the path for escaping dukkah.

The Fourth Noble Truth shows that the release from suffereing is possible and can be attained by following the Noble Eightfold Path. Only through the teachings of the Buddha can Nirvana be attained.

The Dharma is the sum total of Buddhist teachings about how to view the world and how to live properly. In this way Nirvana can be achieved, meaning the end of suffering, inner peace, liberation from the limitations of the world. The Sangha is the community of monks and nuns. Ordained monks and nuns may provide teachings, based on Buddhist Scriptures, for lay people.

According to Buddhist teachings, there are three marks of reality: constant change, no permanent identity, and suffering. Buddhists also believe in karma and reincarnation. They also endorse the "middle-way" as the true path to enlightenment and freedom from suffering.

There are several different streams of Buddhism :

Theravada

Mahayana

Hinayana

Zen

Vajrayana

Temples are common places of worship for Buddhists. They usually have a Buddhist shrine with a statue of Buddha, in front of which meditation may take place. Some Buddhist groups also maintain refuges with a temple and individual accommodations nearby for retreats. Buddhists commonly maintain small shrines in the home.

Daily meditation is practised. In Canada, Buddhist temples commonly hold services on Sundays and offer group meditation on other days. There are also several other special days of celebration, mostly related to the Buddha. There are approximately 200 Buddhist temples and centres across Canada. According to Stats Canada, approximately 300, 345 people in Canada are Buddhists.

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