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Buddhism:Its Impact Political and Social Institutions

Itis agreed by a consensus of historians that Buddhism began in partsof Northern India during the 5thCentury B.C. The author of the religion was named Siddhartha Gautamawho was referred to as the Buddha, owing to the present day’s namefor the religion. Buddha means “The Awakened One” or “TheEnlightened One.” History has it that Gautama’s father was kingand wanted his son to the palace hence confining him to the palace.However, Gautama found his way out to experience the outside worldand how it felt to be a commoner. In his visits to the surroundings,Gautama observed that there was great suffering and agony. Hepurposed to find a solution to the sufferings that people had beenexperiencing. Gautama broke away from the palace life to seekknowledge on the existence of an antidote for the miseries of life.He committed his time to the study of the philosophy that had existedat the time as well as consulting with religious leaders for possiblesolutions. His search did not to bear fruits as his questions werenot addressed to his satisfaction. Gautama resorted to meditation itis through it and constant analysis that he was enlightened and gotto an awakened state. He described the process as one that wassymbolized by death, and hence detachment from suffering, and there-birth awakening being enlightened the life cycle is referred toas Samsara. Gautama, then

Buddhathen selected groups of people whom he introduced to his doctrinesand findings. He explained his philosophy to them, making it clearthat he was not luring anyone to worship him nor any deity. He taughtthat the solutions to the suffering that the human beings encounterare hidden within themselves. It is the individual realization thatwould enable a person to eliminate suffering and lead a happy andsatisfying life. Over the years, Buddhism has grown and evolved atthe same time. There have been many modifications and schisms thathave led to division of the religion in different regions. Thevariations in Buddhism are influenced by the political and socialfactors. Another possible explanation for the variations is the factthat Buddhism does not teach of a specific method or activity, butonly guides individuals and lets them decide what is right for them.

Buddhism,just as any other religion, has had various social political impactsin various cultural settings. Socially, it is evident that Buddhismhas created a sense of belonging to many people. There are around 350million followers of Buddhism from all over the world although thereligion is most prevalent in Central Asia, there have been convertsand subscribers from other many regions including the West. Thesepeople would be a stranded lot without a sense of belonging, were itnot for Buddhism. Additionally, Buddhism has been described as areligion whose doctrines are practicable and pragmatic. Every aspectof their beliefs is subject to experiment, hence presenting thereligion as scientific. The religion is also characterized by a richbase of knowledge. All these aspect of Buddhism have enabled peopleto realize their purpose of life, to end their suffering and misery,and be happy and satisfied with whatever they have. This has had agreat impact on the way people change their routines and activities,to suit the execution of only those activities that are deemedcorrect and without blemish.

Politically,Buddhism has enabled cohesion between citizens and governments, aswell as that amongst themselves. It is notable that unlike otherreligions, Buddhism has never staged any war in its name. Buddhistshave only come out to defend their beliefs and provide explanationsto people who seem to misunderstand them. The prevalence of peace inareas dominated by Buddhists eases government operations anddevelopment is a characteristic. Harmony among the Buddhists and withtheir neighbors has also seen the reduction of crimes. All the same,it is claimed that Buddhist-dominated areas are among the poorest inthe world. An explanation of such a trend could be that, from theirteachings and beliefs, they learn to be contented and happy with thelittle they have. The international community quantifies riches inmonetary terms and physical assets whereas the Buddhist valuehappiness and end of suffering as their greatest satisfaction andachievement.

Buddhismis an effective religion as its doctrines are not oppressive nor arethey enforced it is a matter of self realization and discipline.Currently it has been termed as the fastest growing religion in theworld. People especially in the capitalist economies are joiningBuddhism since it provides them with the solution to their myriads ofproblems. It is also important to note that the Buddhists posses alot of information which they obtain through meditation, testempirically, and apply in life to make it easier and worth living.Modern scientists are slowly conforming to the reality of Buddhism.This is evident in the use of Yoga for therapeutic purposes.