Mysterious Questions In The World


Mysterious Question about Buddhism

Mysterious Question in India: Buddha
Although the Buddhism occurred 500 years earlier than Christianity and 1,000 years than Islam, the Buddhism did not spread to the world so widely as Christianity and Moslem did, especially in Middle-East, Africa, Europe, Australia, North and South Americas.
Why didn't the Buddhism spread to the world so widely?

First of all, let’s check the religious distribution in the world today.
*India: Orange/Hinduism
*From north Africa to West Asia; green/Sunnism,Shiism
*North/South America, Europe, Rusia, Middle/South Africa, Austlalia:
Pale purple & blue/Catholicism,Orthodoxism,Protestant
*Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka: yellow/Theravada    
*Korea: yellow-green/Mahayana 
*China: brown/Taoism 
*Japan: pale violet/Shintoism!! 

The result of the survey done by a Ministry of Culture of Japan:
Shintoism; 107 millions, Buddhism; 89 millions, Christianity; 3 millions, Others; 10 millions
It becomes 209 millions in total, about 90 millions more than the Japanese population!
This is because the figure is based on the report from religious groups and they tend to make the figure of their religion larger. The other is that many people tend to think like they are Buddhists and also Shintoes!

If asked on the street, about 30 % of the people reply that they have a religion. But remaining 70 % reply they have no religion or they are non-religious.
For me the result from the street seems more realistic.

I have known that the Buddhism disappeared from India due to a persecution by Hinduism/Moslem and even from China which taught Japan the Buddhism. However, I have not recognized Japan is a Shintoism country! In my feeling, Japan was a Buddhism country.

The pile graph below shows the population rate of each religion in the world.
Religion rate
Although the Hindu people are approx. two times of Buddhists, the Hindu is not taken account of one of the biggest three religions. But the Buddhist is.
This is because the Hindu is much concentrated into India. On the other hand, the Buddhism is popular in several countries.

Me? My family has been belonging to a sect of Buddhism so the religious rituals are done in Buddhism style. Because of this, I am probably a Buddhist. Actually I do not have so much interest in Buddhism. But I do not complain to be named as a Buddhist because I think Buddha is a ‘Great One.’
However, when I visit shrines, I always ask Gods something good to come for me or for my family and throw coins into the donation box at the entrance of the main building. Perhaps I am a Shintoist too? I really do not know what to say about my religion.

Anyway, it is memorable that Buddhism is getting less popular even in Japan where Buddhism was once a National Religion!
Buddhism is one of the oldest religions, older than Christianity and Islam. But why is it not so popular in the world, especially in Middle-East, Africa, Europe, Australia, North and South Americas?

This question & answer was disclosed last October on the network of Production Engineering Research Group that consists of retired engineers from an electrical company in Japan. Unfortunately, this question & answer could not get good reputation as they are too long to read, although there are a few people who kindly said it was interesting.

In a week, I am going to show you my answer to the mysterious question!

Before closing this blog, I would like to report about my tour in India in last October.

First of all is the route of the tour.
The Indian guide was waiting for me at Delhi Airport. He was very fluent in Japanese.
On the second day in Dehli, we visited several spots that are ‘world heritages’and the Gandhi Library too. I was astonished that Gandhi had a strong will not beaten by British Empire.
In the night, we took the sleeper train to Vanarasi(red route in the picture above), the most sacred spot for Hinduists.
Then I started a-sort-of pilgrimage with my guide and a driver by a small automobile(yellow route in the picture above).
I visited all spots named as the Buddhism's Eight Most Sacred Spots in India and Nepal.

The Buddhism's Eight Most Sacred Spots:
1)Lumbini (in Nepal): The birth place of Gotama Siddhattha
2)Bodh-Gaya: 'Awaken' place where Shiddhatta became Boddha
3)Sarnat: First successfully Preaching Spot
4)Raj-Gir: Expansion Place
5)Sahet/Mahet: Base of the sect 'Sanga.' Known as Gion in Japan.
Place where Buddha descended to from Heaven after preaching for his mother!
7)Vaishari: Place where Buddha departed for the last journey.
8)Kushinagar: Place where Buddha passed away.

After driving on the bumpy road in the vast field, we drove as we walked in small towns because there were cows, dogs, rickshaws, food stands, and people gathering for bazar. But I could not complain about it as Buddha himself walked the road!

While driving in the morning, I saw many female highschool students riding on bike with their back straight. How beautiful they were! Most of them were young Ingrid Bergman or Audrey Hepburn.
On the last day, I visited Taj Mahal in the morning and moved to Delhi in the afternoon for the flight to Japan in the late night.

It was a tour of patience and inconvenience. Never-the-less, it was a very wonderful one!

(above) Lumbini in Nepal. Shiddhattha was born in this place. The white building is Mayadevi temple named after his mother Maya.
 マハボディ寺院 marker stone
Inside the building(above left), there is a spot covered with a sheet of glass(above right).You see a green stone on which Shiddhattha was born about 2,700 through 2,500 years ago.

Outside the building, on the left side of it, you can see the brown pillar called 'Ashoka Pillar.'
Ashoka was a king who lived from 304 BC through 232 BC and reigned the Indian Subcontinent for the first time. He was an enthusiastic supporter of Buddhism and visited Buddha’s historic spots in India, repaired if there were damages and built the pillar with the comments about the spot on the surface of it.

But after the prosperity in India, the Buddhism started declining in 5th century as the Hindu denounced that the Buddhism was a bad religion. In addition, in 14th century, many buildings and statues on the spots were destroyed by Moslem that became popular in India.
However, if you find the ruins with the Ashoka Pillar, you can say they are for Buddhism.

In Lumbini, I happened to talk with a female Zhen instructor and her pupils from Finland. They said they have been to Kyoto in Japan too. I think Buddhism is getting popular slowly in the world.

(above) Ashoka Pillar and Ahnanda’s stupa, a pagoda in English. Ahnanda is one of the great pupils of Buddha.
On the pillar was a statue of a Lion. I saw an Elephant as the statue in other place.

In this place, Vaishari, there is a story remained.
When Buddha came to Vaishari, a famous dancer asked him to visit her house and stay for a rest. Buddha accepted her proposal.
Later, a rich man came and asked Buddha the same thing. But Buddha refused his proposal saying that he had already had a promise.
As this story shows, Buddha was fair to everyone. He did not admit the sexism and the Caste, the human discrimination based on one's birth.

玉座囲 菩提樹
(up-left) Surrounded by a yellow fence is the Bodhi-tree in Bodh-Gaya
(up-right) Leaves of the Bodhi-tree.

The Bodhi-tree has expanded its branches. Under the branches, I saw many pilgrims probably from Thailand or Myanmar sitting and praying silently. If you are lucky, you will get the leaf of the Tree coming down from the branchs. It must be a good souvenir for the visit to Bodh-Gaya. But you won’t get it unless you sit there several hours, or days with the mind of respecting Buddha.

I took the picture ubove with my camera putting inside the yellow fence. The place with the flowers is called a Golden Spot or a Diamond Spot where Shiddhattha was sitting and got enlighted after one-day meditation.

Could he get enlightened in one day? Of course not!
He left his position as the prince in Shakya kingdom and his family when he was 29 years old to be free from sufferings by getting enlightened.
He tried ascetic practices as hard as he could for six years to get the peace in mind but he couldn’t. At last, he realized that the peace in mind could not be achieved by ascetic practices. So he left the cave in the mountain where he usually had meditated. He was almost skin and bones due to the hard training. When he was bathing in the river, a young girl, Sujata, came to him and gave him a milk soup. After having the soup, he walked to a Bodhi-tree, sat under it and started meditating with the determination that he would not leave the spot until he got enlightened. After one-day meditation, he could finally get enlightened. So it took six years for Shiddhattha to get enlightened!

After enlightenment, Shiddhattha became a Buddha, or an Enlightened One, or an Awakened One, or the Great One as you like in English.
If you can get enlightened, then you are a Buddha too!

This is Kushinagar where Buddha past away. Between Shara-twin-trees, you can see the temple and the pagoda behind it. The exact spot Buddha past away is just behind the pagoda. His body was cremated and divided into eight for eight people who were deeply respecting Buddha. Some of the bones were left here in the pagoda. The pagoda in the picture is not a genuine one but a 'cover'. The genuine one is inside the white pagoda.
Buddha has been sleeping in this place for almost 2,500 years.

(above) The sleeping Buddha in the Kushinagar Temple.
It was made about one thousand years ago. Around the Buddha, there were many people sitting and praying. Outside the temple, around the pagoda, a monk was preaching to his pupils probably from Thailand.

Hajime Nakamura, one of the famous scholar of Buddhism explains how Buddha past away in his book;'ABC of Buddha.’
‘When Buddha has arrived at Kushinagar with his pupils, he told Ahnanda, one of his pupils:
‘Ahnanda! Please make a bed between the Shara-twin-trees with the head north. Ahnanda, I got tired. I want to lie down.’
Then Buddha's last preach was done. Every pupil cried.
‘Stop crying, Ahnanda. Do not mourn! Do not lament!
I have always told you like this. Everyone goes to a different world someday departing and leaving from loving ones, favorites. Everything appears, exists, gets made and gets destroyed.
So it never happens that anything does not get destroyed.
Ahnanda! You have worked for me,a awakened man, with affection, generosity, words and body that are peaceful, pure and endless. You did good things. Keep studying hard. Then you will become a pure one.’
Then, Buddha past away.

This is Nahranda University, one of the oldest universities in the world. It was built in 5th century. There were 10,000 pupils and 1,500 teachers at maximum for studying Buddhism. The mound on the right in the picture is a ruin of a temple build over the pagoda of Shariputora, one of the great pupils of Buddha.

In the area of the university, there were many buildings for pupils and teachers too. In one of them was a small room in which Xuanzan ,a Chinese monk, stayed for 12 years to study Buddhism. He brought back many scriptures to China through the Silkroad and made the Buddhism popular in China.
The buildings, temples and statues were almost destroyed by Moslems and only ruins remains.

The teachings of Buddha which are fair and free had been believed in by many Indians for about 1,000 years. But Hindus and Moslems who thought that the customs, rituals and caste were important have persecuted the Buddhism. And finally Buddhism has almost disappeared in the birth place;India.