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Buddhist Practices

Buddhist Practices

There is a major rise in the number of people turning to Buddhism these days, and it very evidently isn't without reason. Find out what it is about these Buddhist religious practices that is influencing people with every passing day.
Komal Bakhru
There is hardly be a person who is a stranger to the name Siddhartha Gautama, more popularly known as Gautama Buddha. The ideas and beliefs of this great spiritual leader from ancient India have today transformed into the widely known concept or religion of Buddhism. Since the name Buddha essentially means the Enlightened One or Awakened One, it doesn't take much guessing to figure out that the taking up Buddhism, and following Buddhist religious customs and rituals, is supposed to lead one to the path of divinity and enlightenment. We all know what a cult following this religion has today, and truth be told, that is only increasing. Interestingly, this religion does not limit itself to the eastern countries only. It extends as far as the west too, and the prevalence of Buddhist religious customs in America today is highly visible. So now how about taking a look at some of the commonly followed practices of Buddhism.

Some Popular Practices

Most Buddhist religious customs today are no different from those that have been followed since centuries. Here are some of the most commonly followed practices of Buddhism.

The first amongst all Buddhist religious customs is that of meditation. It is believed that this is the first, and possibly the only real step towards attaining enlightenment and allowing yourself spiritual freedom. Buddhism believes in two particular forms of meditation, the forms being Samatha (Tranquility Meditation) and Vipassana (Insight Meditation).

Tranquility meditation is reference to training the mind to concentrate and ward off all unnecessary thoughts. It is also about learning how to detach from all worldly possessions of the external world, and leading yourself to the path of self control, self possession, and absolute composure if the mind.

The next kind is Insight meditation, and this form is considered as a higher form of meditation as opposed to the one formerly mentioned. This form of meditation is also more about mindfulness rather than just concentration. Unlike concentration, which is only about complete focus on an object (irrespective of what it is), when practicing mindfulness, it is about a combination of focus along with comprehension on the object of focus.

Mantras or Chanting
Chanting is a large part of the religion. In ancient India, when the concept of written text or scriptures was rare, it was through these words that were chanted that knowledge was passed down. The mantras are also believed as being very powerful words with immense spiritual or supernatural powers. The various chants used in Buddhism are also said to be so powerful, that they have the ability to protect, and they are used in times of danger, or to protect oneself against misfortune of any kind.

It truly is interesting to learn that although several Buddhists, or rather, most Buddhists follow vegetarianism, Buddha did not prohibit the consumption of meat as a part of the diet. Today however, this decision has become a matter of individual choice. While some people choose not to eat meat, others do not mind working otherwise. There are also some who may eat meat, but will limit their consumption to the bare minimum. Possibly the best part about Buddhism is the fact that it does not believe in imposing anything on people, most of the beliefs of Buddhism are quite liberal, thus allowing them the freedom to make decisions.

While those were some of the more commonly followed practices, other practices include:
  • Mudras (Hand gestures)
  • Pilgrimage
  • Prayer Wheels
  • Making Offerings
  • Lighting of Candles and Incense
  • Following Gestures of Respect
  • Monasticism or Asceticism
Buddhism has always been a fascinating religion, and has seen disciples from the world-over. It is a great way to go for all those people who have always been seeking the purpose of life, and have been trying to understand what the purpose of their being is. And for those who are trying to understand, here are some words by Buddha that you may want to remember always...

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.