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PHIL 431- Reflection Paper 1

Aug 24, 2023

Reflection Paper 1: Overview

For this paper, please reflect and respond to the following question, “What, in your opinion, is the point of Buddhism?” I want you to think about what you know about Buddhism (either from this class or from other classes or outside reading), and think deeply about the question “what’s the point?” “Why bother?” “Why should a Buddhist do what a Buddhist should do?” Your assessment of what “the point” is may differ from that of other students. That’s OK. You will not be graded on getting the answer ‘right.’ You will be graded on how well you understand basic Buddhist principles, the clarity of your thinking, and the strength of your argument.

The paper should be roughly 3 pages in length [5 pages for grad students enrolled in REL / PHL 531], and follow standard academic structure (thesis, body, conclusion, appropriate arguments, citations, and so forth).

Reflection Paper 1: Overview

Thesis Statement: The core belief of Buddhism is based on reincarnation to focus on an individual’s sufferings, the human life cycle, dying, and then rebirth. These practices about the Buddhist differentiations are related to the concepts of rebirth and reincarnation.    


It is an opportunity to reflect on life and religious tradition to discover Siddhartha Gautama, who was like all of us, believed to be the first person to reach the phase of Enlightenment. He is recognized as the person to the world who came to be known as the Buddha mainly known as the “Awakened One”. Gautama was born during the epoch with the Indian culture which was open to the religious message related to the Enlightenment, compassion, and peace. Scholars pointed out that Gautama’s birth through biographies mainly include Mahavastu (Great Story), which was written in the first century CE, the Lalitavistara (Graceful description), and Buddhacarita (Acts of the Buddha) was written by the Asvaghosa.

After learning this, I understood that he wanted to move out in search of the truth about life and came to the conclusion that an individual belongs to a life cycle, from birth to death and then again to get rebirth. In Great Renunciation, Buddha shared about the nature of the conditions of the human condition including human suffering. On the other hand, he responded that being a spiritual teacher is related to learning about Dharma which helps people to avoid any annoyance, with a separate desire so that one can get wisdom, or eventually they are true to Awaken and get Nirvana. Being a teacher he preached about asceticism, which is one of the significant paths followed by him. He stated that this was concluded with an abandoned feature that strived up with an endeavor, as it was resolved when he sat under the Bodhi Tree at Gaya (India), which is termed the “Tree of Awakening”. Through this Buddha could identify that it was the sensual pleasure that is found out in the world.     

Argued by Mitchell, et al. (2013), that Buddhism is based on “The Three Universal Truths” which consist of Sila (Virtue, good conduct, and morality). While Sila is divided into two fundamental principles. These are the principle of equality that develops due to the living entities which are equal. They are the principles of reciprocity. Secondly, it was Samadhi (Concentration, meditation, and mental development). Developing the mind of an individual related to the path of wisdom to bring personal freedom. Thus, this method also focuses on mental strengths. Lastly, it is Prajna (Discernment, insight, wisdom, enlightenment). Wisdom mainly emerges with a mind that is pure and can eventually be pure and calm.    

On the contrary, Lama, (2018) mentioned the Four Nobel Truths to explore human suffering. In this reflection, I would want to disclose that Buddhist ideas are based on the first thing that suffering exists (Dukkha) where life is based on suffering. While suffering is real and is based on almost Universal. Secondly, it is, there is a cause of suffering (Samudaya) that deals with the suffering that is created due to attachments. Moreover, this desire is related to fame; where the desire is avoided with an unpleasant sensation that leads to fear, anger, and even jealousy. Thirdly, this includes the End of suffering which is (Nirodha) suffering, and finishes with a final release which is Nirvana. This mind is full of experiences dealing with comprehensive freedom, and liberation. Lastly, it is, (Magga) mainly based on the ending of suffrage, while following the Eightfold Path. There is a path to accomplish something.      

Apart from this, as stated by Siderits, (2007), case of Buddhist practices are based on the Noble Eightfold Path, which is based right view. This is based on the details that give us a glimpse of Karma or rebirth, which is a significant insight to be at the central Buddhist soteriology. On the other hand, right speech in Buddhism means to relate with abstention from telling lies or even saying any slander to talk about hatred, with an individual group of people. Abstains with harmful speech so one should use words that are friendly and benevolent. Alternatively, Buddhist tradition often argues to develop the right resolve or intention this is the path that gives way to a home or the concept of life or a further religious outcome based on the order to follow the path. It is a particular path related to the concept that aims at a peaceful renunciation measure. Next, it deals with the right to action which aims at promoting morals, with peaceful conduct. Moreover, this is based on the admonishment to abstain from destroying life, or from being involved will illegitimate sexual intercourse, which can help others to be peaceful with a praiseworthy life in the right way. Perhaps, the right livelihood means to abstain from making one’s living through a profession that can harm others from reading arms or any lethal weapons. One can see that Buddhism has strongly opposed different kinds of war, including animal sacrifice in Yajnas. Here I would want to reflect that the implementation of the right effort is mainly based on an energetic will, which prevents evil with a wholesome state based on the mind from arising or getting rid of the evil. However, the right of mindfulness mainly involves the individuals required to be aware of being mindful and active things regarding the different activities related to the body which is Kaya, feelings or sensation is Vedana, the activities of the mind is citta, and lastly it is the thoughts, conception and the things which are dhamma. Apart from this, the right concentration leads to the four stages of Dhyana which is the trance or recueillement. The first stage is related to passion and desire with thoughts of being sensuous. Secondly, it is the intellectual activities that are suppressed by mental activities. The third stage is related to feeling joy, with active sensation and disposition of happiness.  

From the text, I have learned that Karma in the Buddhist tradition is mainly based on an individual’s actions to drive out the intention (cetana), which leads to future consequences. As stated by Kyabgon, (2015), in the article I could recognize that it is based on the intention to consider and determine the different factors to related rebirth in samsara, which is the cycle of rebirth. This can be reflected that Buddhists mainly aim at avoiding bad Karma, which is to escape and be in a pleasant state. These states, which are preferable to human life, are impermanent, while it is believed that gods also die. As compared to this, Siderits, (2007), the rise of Mahayana is subjected to certainty. Mahayana Buddhism is mainly based on the three major phases of Buddhist philosophy. Its origin is unknown, this appeared sometime between 150 BCE to 100 BCE in India. Moreover, this came to a new introduction with the sutras or any authoritative teaching forms of the Buddha. This mainly tells about the Abhidharma. The movement certainly expresses the Mahayana philosophy, which encompasses more than one philosophy.

In this reflection, I will narrate The Way of the Bodhisattva, which was first published in Nalanda. Moreover, in this reflection, I have learned that this is altogether a guide that levels up with cultivating the mind related to enlightenment. As argued by Śāntideva, (2008), it is mainly related to generating different qualities, which are love, affection, compassion, and even patience. This is based on the translation of Santideva’s original verse with a commentary so that one can profound the depths to translate the essential concepts of Mahayana Buddhists. This made the people understand that minks or nuns are required to dedicate themselves to achieve enlightenment that can bring benefit to all human beings.  In my reflective paper, I would want to give an overview of Dharma, which is often referred to in the Buddhist teaching and practices undertaken by the general ideas. Moreover, as stated by Deitrick, (2003), Dharma based on the Buddhist tradition encompasses about everything which is taught to Buddha, to achieve Enlightenment. In Pali, it is known as Dhamma which reveals one’s self-truth. Moreover, this gives people an opportunity to live life in a particular way. Alternatively, this encourages the Buddhist to follow the Eightfold Path and then practice meditation. However, as stated by Jenkins, S. (2003), action dharma mainly charts the ancient faith to give rise to social service as well as political activism leading to Buddhist Asia and the West. Thus, Action Dharma is recognized as the latest urn over for the Dharma system, to treat the historical origins, teachings, and all practices.


I got an opportunity to reflect on the life of the Lord Buddha in the way I wanted. This can be concluded that Buddhism is mainly based on the great religion of the world. This is based on the division catered with several differences based on the tradition. These traditional shares can develop a common system with a system based on fundamental beliefs. The central belief based in Buddhism is based on reincarnation which is the concept related to the people understanding the birth cycle and taking rebirth after death. Therefore, practicing Buddhism is based on the differentiation that takes place between the concept of rebirth as well as reincarnation. Alternatively, he compares it with a leaf based on growing on a tree. Thus, Buddhism is based on the philosophy of life as Gautama Buddha expounded, who was recognized as the Enlightened One during the 6th century BCE. Therefore, Lord Buddha was not a god and it is proved that he believed in god. It is his philosophy that is related to his religious tradition with Buddhism as it does not entail with theistic worldview. Moreover, Buddha’s teachings aim solely to liberate the sentiments that elated the suffering.               


Mitchell, Donald W., and Jacoby, Sarah. (2013). “The Life of Gautama Buddha.” In Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience, by Mitchell, Donald W., and Jacoby, Sarah. Third ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lama, Z., (2018). The Four Noble Truths: A Guide for Everyday Life. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications.

Kyabgon, T. (2015). Karma: What It Is, What It Isn’t, Why It Matters? First ed. Boston: Shambhala.

Siderits, M. (2007). Buddhism as Philosophy: An introduction. London: Hackett.

Śāntideva, (2008). The Way of the Bodhisattva. Translated by Padmakara Translation Group. Revised Edition. Boston: Shambhala.

Deitrick, J. (2003). “Engaged Buddhist Ethics: Mistaking the Boat for the Shore.” In Action Dharma: New Studies in Engaged Buddhism, edited by Damien Keown, Charles S. Prebish, and Christopher Queen. London: Routledge.

Jenkins, S. (2003). “Do Bodhisattvas Relieve Poverty.” In Action Dharma: New Studies in Engaged Buddhism, edited by Damien Keown, Charles S. Prebish, and Christopher Queen. London: Routledge.

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