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How to Convert to Buddhism

What does one need to do in order to become a Buddhist? This is an often asked question that many people ponder.

Let’s start off with some general knowledge of Buddhism. Buddhism is one of the older religions in the world. According to history, Buddhism was started around the fifth century BC by a man known as Siddhartha Gautama.

Siddhartha Gautama seemed to have everything he could ever want. He was a prince who didn’t have to worry about money or any other material necessities. However, one day Siddhartha Gautama left his riches to discover the reasons why so many people around him suffered so much.

Siddhartha Gautama is said to have witnessed the horrors of disease and poverty, and this is what caused him to wonder why he did not have to suffer the same fate as some unfortunate souls. After seeing these horrors, Siddhartha chose to abandon his materialistic beliefs and meditate for a few weeks under a bodhi tree. Siddhartha then became enlightened and is now known as the Buddha, which means “Awakened One”.

As for the Buddhist religion itself, there are three main branches. Theravanda or Southern Buddhism is the oldest and more popular of the three branches. The Mahayana branch teaches individuals about compassion and being selfless. The Vajrayana branch is quite similar to the Mahayana branch except that the Vajrayana branch emphasizes a wider range of spiritual knowledge. This spiritual knowledge supposedly aids individuals in attaining Buddhahood more rapidly.

What about a God or gods? For the most part, Buddhists do not believe in a personal God or deity. However, some branches do have a pantheistic view of gods. In other words, some Buddhists worship several gods but not just one. As for Siddhartha Gautama, he was never a god and never wanted to be thought of as one.

It is said that Siddhartha Gautama never even wanted his portrait to be painted because he did not want people to worship his image as a divine being. I don’t think he would be too thrilled to learn that his image has been carved into statues throughout the world.

So how did these statues come into being, you ask? Apparently, an artist decided to paint the Buddha one day. Upon learning that the Buddha did not want his image to be painted, the artist was struck with an idea. Instead of painting the Buddha directly, the artist painted the Buddha’s reflection. Thus, the Buddha’s image was born.

So what does one have to do to convert to Buddhism? Apparently, not much. All you really have to do is say you’re a Buddhist, and you’re a Buddhist. Does this mean that you have to give up celebrating other holidays such as Christmas? Nope, you don’t. Feel free to celebrate any religious holiday that you like. You’ll still be a Buddhist if you want to be. There are no special ceremonies and no Church on Sunday. It’s that simple.

Personally, I like Buddhism the best out of the five main religions. I prefer it mainly because Buddhism has yet to cause any war (to my knowledge). The main reason why Buddhists avoid war is because they don’t try to convert other people to their religion or way of life.

Buddhists generally don’t judge other people, and they don’t discriminate against other religions. It is a very peaceful religion. Some individuals may argue that Buddhism is not a religion but more of a philosophy. And that’s fine; however, one could also argue that all religions are nothing more than a philosophy. But to each his own.

Buddhism is a religion that has been around for a very long time. It is one of the oldest religions on the planet. Converting to Buddhism is a simple process, and it will not interfere with any holidays that you or your family celebrate. If you want a peaceful religion that will not interfere with your way of life, then Buddhism is for you.

More information:

http://www.aboutbuddha.org/english/index.htm
http://www.answers.com/topic/bodhi-tree