Gongyo is a japanese word that means “assiduous practice” and refers to a formalized service performed by followers of nearly every Chinese, Korean, and Japanese Buddhist denomination. It is often done once or more times a day and consists of the recitation of a sutra passage or passages, a mantra or matras, or a combination of both. Gongyo can be done at a temple and at home, almost always in front of an object or objects of veneration and accompanied by offerings of light, incense, and food.
Buddhism is a “family of beliefs and practices” honored in various ways depending on the geographical area. Buddhism originates with the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who is considered to be “The Buddha”, the Awakened One, The Enlightened One.
Born to a father King, in the city of Lumbini around the year 485 BCE, and was raised in Kapilavastu, Nepal. According to the scriptures, only moments after being born, he performed the first of miracle. It is said that he, took a few steps and proclaimed, “Supreme am I in the world. Greatest am I in the world. Noblest am I in the world. This is my last birth. Never shall I be reborn.”
As in other religions, for example Jesus in Christianity, Mohamed in Islam, Buddhists recognize Siddhartha Gautama as an awakened teacher, he shared his insights to help sentient beings end their suffering by understanding the true nature of phenomena, thereby escaping the cycle of suffering and rebirth.
When Siddhartha was very young, a wise man visited his father, King ?uddhodana.The wise man said that Siddhartha would either become a great king or a holy man, based on whether he saw life outside of the palace walls. Determined to make Siddhartha a king, ?uddhodana shielded his son from the unpleasant realities of daily life. Years after this, Gautama married Yasodhara, with whom he had a son, Rahula, who later became a Buddhist monk.
When he was 29, despite his father’s wishes, Siddhartha frequently ventured outside the palace complex and as a result, he discovered the suffering of his people through encounters with an old man, a diseased man, a decaying corpse, and an self-starving man. These are known among Buddhists as “The Four Sights, which eventually prompted Gautama to abandon royal life and take up a spiritual quest to free himself from suffering by living the life of what was known as a “Mendicant Ascetic” —a respectable spiritual practice at the time. He found companions with similar spiritual goals and teachers who taught him various forms of meditation.
One day, after almost starving to death, Gautama accepted a little milk and rice from a village girl named Sujata. After this experience, he concluded that ascetic practices such as fasting, holding one’s breath, and exposure to pain brought little spiritual benefit. He abandoned asceticism, concentrating instead on meditation, the awareness of breathing, thereby discovering what Buddhists call the Middle Way. After this discovery, he sat under a sacred fig tree, better known as the Bodhi Tree, in the town of Bodh Gaya, India, and vowed not to rise before achieving Nirvana. At the age of 35, and after many days of meditation, he attained his goal of becoming a Buddha. After this spiritual awakening he attracted a band of followers and founded a monastic order. He spent the rest of his life teaching the Dharma (what lead him to enlightenment), travelling mainly throughout the northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent.
Siddhartha died at the age of 80 (405 BCE) in Kushinagar, India, from food poisoning.
Buddhism remains most popular in Asia, however it is now being practiced around the world, His teachings are the foundation of the 2 main branches in Buddhism. The Four Noble Truths were the first teaching he shared after attaining enlightenment. The Noble Eightfold Path is the fourth Noble Truth.