Buddhism The Fourth Largest Religion in the World Essay

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Today there are approximately 500 million people in the world who identify as Buddhists. This is 7% of the world’s population making Buddhism the 4th largest religion, behind Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. Buddhists are predominantly located in the Asia-Pacific region; about 99% of adherents are located in that area. Despite being centrally located geography-wise, the majority of Buddhists live as religious minorities. There are only 7 countries in the world where Buddhists enjoy majority status: Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. There are three major branches of Buddhism that have survived into the modern world: Mahayana (The Great Vehicle), Theravada (The Way of the Elders), and Vajrayana (The …show more content…
Perhaps the universe had other plans or perhaps it was just happenstance but one day as he was in his chariot he crossed paths with a sick person, the first he had ever seen. His chariot driver has to explain to him what sickness is and how nobody is immune from it. On his second outing he comes across an old man and again his chariot driver has to explain this part of the human condition and how nobody can escape the ravages of old age. On the third they drive past a corpse, which of course Siddhartha has never seen, and he is faced with the mortality that looms over every living person. On the fourth and final drive they overtake a wandering priest or holy man and the driver explains that this is a person who has forsaken everything in order to search for a way to liberate the spirit from the chains of suffering the previous sights illustrated. As the well-known religious professor Stephen Prothero puts it, “these four sights bring on the most momentous midlife crisis in world history.” After these experiences Siddhartha’s life of pleasure and leisure held no allure for him. He decides that there must be more to it than pleasures of the flesh and decides to leave his life behind at the age of 29. In this “Great Departure” he says his farewells to his family and rides away from the lands and property that would have soon been his

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