The Universality of Buddhism
Buddhism is the oldest of the major religions found in the world. The followers of this religion are mainly found in Asia. They make up the largest number of religious adherents due to the fact that Asia is the most populous continent. Their numbers make the religion universal in a way. Unlike other religions that had tried to keep their practices among a few people or a community, Buddhism was the first ever religion to have missionaries who would spread the wisdom and knowledge impacted by Buddha to people from distant lands. This was before even the other religions, such as Judaism and Christianity came into being. Judaism contrasts sharply with Buddhism in the fact that it is confined to an ethnic community that consider themselves to be the chosen race. Buddhism on the other hand, welcomes strangers into the faith willingly.
One of the passages that motivated the monks to become missionaries of Buddhism was given by Samyutta Nikaaya when the number of faithful was still scanty:
“Go ye, O monks, wander around for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, good and happiness of humans and devas. Let not any two go in the same way. Proclaim, monks, the Dhamma which is beautiful in the beginning, good in the middle and good at the end. Be exemplars of the pure life perfected and purified in every respect. There are beings with little dust in their eyes who will surely perish without the Dhamma, but who can join those other Dhamma-farers. I myself, monks, will go to Uruvelaa to preach the Dhamma. (SN i, 104-5).”
This religion was even spread to Western Europe in ancient times, but it is never really caught on. It was only successful in Greece, though the effects were short-lived. It might have played a part in the civilization of Greece.The difference between Buddhism and the other missionary religions, such as Christianity was that it was spread in peaceful means where the new persons were converted using logic, argument, and example. The other religions, such as Christianity and Islam were spread using violence, deceit, and propaganda. Buddhism is not confined to any ethnic group as the other religions. Their origin is not as concrete as that of the other religions. The other two major religions are known to have come from the Middle East, and Christianity is mainly associated with Europeans while Islam is for Arabs. It is easy to profile persons using these two religions. On the other hand, Buddhism has been adopted by persons all over the world, and the number of faithful is increasing in the western nations. It preaches peace and tolerance. This is taken favorably by most modern persons. There is a trend in the developed nations where individuals are dropping restrictive religions in favor of Buddhism.
The teachings of Buddhism have been translated into numerous languages in order to cater for the different persons that are interested in it. This has been done without any restrictions. The other major religions have for a long time stuck to the original language in which the teachings were conveyed, portraying fear of sharing their wisdom with others. Christianity had been stuck to the usage of Latin language until less than a century ago when it was dropped and persons were allowed to practice it in their language and context. Islam religion teachings are still conveyed in Arabic, which may alienate persons that do not understand Arabic. The fear has been that translation might lead to distortion of the message. Buddhism has been translated to many languages for centuries, and its principles have remained firm. This shows that it is a universal faith.
Buddhanet. net. ‘Buddhanet Magazine Article: Ethnic Buddhism and Other Obstacles to the Dhamma in The West’. Last modified 2012. Accessed June 12, 2014.http://www.buddhanet.net/bsq14.htm#sec2.
Buddhanet.net, ‘Buddhanet Magazine Article: Ethnic Buddhism And Other Obstacles To The Dhamma In The West’, last modified 2012, accessed June 12, 2014, http://www.buddhanet.net/bsq14.htm#sec2. Ibid.