Buddhism was found by Buddha (Enlightened One) in the year of 589 before Christ (BC.) on Vesakha Day, Full Moon, B.E. 1 at Bodhi Gaya, present India. The essence of Buddhism particularly handles the problems of living. Buddha has initiated to explore the meaning of life and he attained this life research eventually. Any one who has followed the Buddha’s pathways, they can attain the ultimate meaning or Truth of life like Him.
To comprehend Buddhism and to become a Buddhist, one should learn about the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.
Buddha himself is not a sin redeemer but an Enlightenment policy maker. He is a Truth founder and an icon of Enlightenment. Enlightenment or Buddha nature omnipresently exists. When people have engaged in Buddhism, they can grasp this reality in their mind and heart.
Buddha is known as Gautama Sakyamuni. Lakhmi Narasu described Him that “Gautama Sakyamuni is generally spoken of as the founder of the Dharma. But Sakyamuni himself refers in is discourses to Buddhas who had preached the same doctrine before him. Nor can we speak of the Buddha as the founder of Buddha in the same sense as we speak of the founder of Christianity or Mahometanism. Their founder is essentially supernatural being; he is the incarnation of the son of God, who no other than God himself.”
To become a Buddhist is different from other religions as Narasu described “No one can call himself a true Christian, who doesn’t accept the divinity of Jesus, and who does not believe that Christ rose from the dead after dying on the cross to take upon the sins of all those who believe in him.” He reflects with Islam that “Mahomet, the founder of latter religion, though not an incarnation of God or any of his relations or servants, is yet a privileged human being, who was chosen as the special vehicle for the communication of a supernatural revelation to mankind, and no man can call himself a Mahometan who does not believe that Mahomet is the prophet of God.” And Narasu describes a Buddhist that “But the Buddha nowhere claims to be anything more than a human being. No doubt we find him a full and perfect man. All the same he is a man among men. He does not profess to bring a revelation from a supernatural source. He does not proclaim himself a saviour who will take upon himself the sins of those that follow him. He professes no more than to teach men the way by which they can liberate themselves as he has liberated himself. He distinctly tells us that every one must bear the burden of his own sins, that every man must be the fabricator of his own salvation, that not even a God can do for man what self-help in the form of self-conquest and self-emancipation can accomplish.”
Dhamma(Pali) or Dharma(Sansrkit) means teaching, Truth or way of living. It is comprehensive teaching discovered by an unsurpassed human being, Buddha.
This teaching is the reality of nature that has never been discovered before. This reality focuses on ethics, humanity, meditation, freedom, compassion, tolerance and love, human rights and democracy, science and technology, universe, missionary, spiritual and belief, enlightenment, development…etc
In Social and Moral Code, Prof. Max Muller said “the most important element of the Buddhist reform has always been its social and moral code. That moral code taken by itself is one of the most perfect which the world has ever known. On this point all testimonials from hostile and friendly quarters agree; philosophers there may have been, religious preachers, subtle metaphysists, disputants there may have been, but where shall we find such an incarnation of love, love that knows no distinction of caste and creed or colour, a love that over- flowed even the bound of humanity, that embraced the whole of sentient beings in its sweep, a love that embodied as the gospel of universal ‘Maitri’ and Ahimsa.”
With a clearer account for meditation, Edward Conze said “here are a number of methods of winning salvation by meditation of which Buddhist tradition gives a clearer and fuller account than I have found elsewhere.”
In order to win peace, Nehru said “The question that inevitably suggests itself is, how far can the great message of the Buddha apply to the present-day world? Perhaps it may apply, perhaps it may not; but if we follow the principles enunciated by the Buddha, we will ultimately win peace and tranquility for the world.”
Buddha taught that ultimate peace is Nibbana “Two extremes should be avoided by human beings: indulgence in sensual pleasures and addiction to self-mortification. Abandoning both these extremes the Tathagata has comprehended the Middle Path promoting sight and knowledge and tends to peace, higher wisdom, enlightenment and Nibbana.” – Dhammapada
We have to take Buddha as refuge to seek Enlightenment, Dhamma as refuge to realize Truth and Sangha as refuge to participate with social activities and civic engagement. Enlightenment, Truth and Community are the vision and goal of Buddhism.
Sangha is a Pali word means community or union. In Buddhism, Sangha refers to Buddhist followers co-exists of four types membership: male monk (Bhikkhu), female monk (Bhikkhuni), laymen (Upasaka) and laywomen (Upasika).
But generally, in Buddhist countries, Sangha refers to the whole group of monk, or monk order, or monk ministry.
To be called Sangha must constitute at least four individual monks and up. Single individual does not represent the Sangha. So when individual monk has committed something inappropriate or offended the rules, this likely does not represent the Sangha. It is the individual responsibility.
Sangha or monk order includes Buddha himself, past prominent disciples and present Buddhist monks. So, up to present, the Sangha monk community has lasted longer than other community, union or ministry. It is 2551 years old. Sangha monk community is the symbol of world’s ethic and modern NGOs.