Buddhism is a spiritual tradition that has been around for over 2,500 years and has over 376 million followers across the globe. Buddhists believe that all life is interconnected and that compassion, morality, meditation and wisdom are the way to enlightenment. Buddhists don’t believe in a god, but believe in people.
There are many different sects of Buddhism although the main ones practiced are Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism. Buddhism worship is flexible and can be practiced at home or in a temple. There are various Buddhist festivals and special events held throughout the year, during which time followers visit temples to pay their respects.
The four basic concepts of Buddhism are about ridding oneself of wants and to develop spiritually into a perfect person that craves nothing and can be happy and content with the basics, which will let them experience the ultimate happiness in this life and the next.
Practicing Buddhism involves the art of meditation, for which there are different types depending on which sect of Buddhism followed. With all meditation there is a common goal and that is to concentrate in a way that can calm one’s thoughts and consciousness to a state of tranquility. All types of meditation are about controlling the mind and letting everything go.
Things to do when interacting with Buddhist monks / visiting Buddhist temples:
- Make offerings of food or other necessities to monks in temples. Generally there are shops nearby to temples selling pails filled with general items that can be purchased then offered to monks.
- Bow three times with your forehead to the ground when sitting in front of a monk.
- Remove shoes before entering a Buddhist temple.
- Be respectful when taking pictures inside a Buddhist temple.
- Dress appropriately with no revealing clothes.
- Turn off mobile phones.
Things not to do when interacting with Buddhist monks / visiting Buddhist temples:
- Point your feet toward a monk or Buddhist statue.
- Talk loudly inside a Buddhist temple.
- Eat inside a Buddhist temple.
- Touch a monk, particularly if you are a woman.
- Interrupt meditation sessions.