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Buddhism

Theravada Buddhism is the religion of virtually all of the ethnic Khmer, who constitute about 90 percent or more of the Cambodian population. Buddhism originated in what are now north India and Nepal during the six century B.G. Theravada Buddhism is tolerant, non prescriptive religion that does not require that each individual take full responsibility for his own actions and omissions. Buddhism is based on three concepts: dharna (the doctrine of the Buddha, his guide to right actions and belief); karma (the belief that one’s life now and in the future lives depends upon one’s own deeps and misdeeds and that as an individual one is responsible for, and rewarded on the basis of, the sum total of one’s acts and omissions in all one’s incarnations past and present); and sangha, the ascetic community within which can improve his karma. The Buddhist salvation is nirvana, a final extinction of one’s self. Nirvana may be attained by achieving good karma through earning much merit and avoiding misdeeds. A Buddhist’s pilgrimage through existence is a constant attempt to distance himself or herself from the world and finally to achieve complete detachment, or nirvana. The fundamentals of Buddhist doctrine are the Four Noble Truths: suffering exists; craving (desire) is the cause of suffering; release from suffering can be achieve by stopping all desire; an enlightenment – buddhahood- can be attained by following the Noble Eightfold Path (right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration) which constitute a middle way between sensually and asceticism. Enlightenment consists of knowing these truths. The average layperson cannot hope for nirvana after the end of this life, but can by complying better his condition in the next incarnation.

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Last modified: October 06, 1999