The Rise of Buddhism
For those who follow the faith of Buddhism, there is nothing wrong with celebrating and enjoying many parts of life. Their prophet, Buddha, held the same beliefs as his original followers. As a member of their religion, his goal was to achieve nirvana through hard work and the discipline of denial of earthly delights. In his early career, he denied himself many earthly delights as did all others. Everything changed when he had his personal epiphany, and he discovered that the lack of fulfillment in the sensual arena of life was part of what was holding him back from reaching his goal.
Buddha’s epiphany might seem extreme, but the ancient mystics of his time were a disciplined group who denied their body everything possible. Fasting was a common way to work toward reunited with the One, and denial of any earthly pleasures was often thought to be an important ritual. Each day was a struggle for them to go without food and drink, and they believed that this lack would eventually transport them to the next level of their existence.
It was a shock to his followers when he began to explain his new knowledge, and many of them turned away from him at first. Their denial was a way of life for many of the practicing priests and mystics of the time, and its reversal was unacceptable. Enjoyment of earthly pleasures such as food and drink was a cornerstone of Buddha’s new beliefs, but they could not comprehend the change it brought to their religious practices.
While many of his original followers turned from him, he did find plenty of new followers who were willing to explore the new concepts he espoused. He eventually gained enough ground that Buddhism has become a religion that is practiced in many areas of the modern world.