According to Ralph Dougherty, a board of trustee member at the Tallahassee Buddhist Community, Buddhism is the largest religion in the world but it is often left unknown to many college students.
The community is located near Florida A&M University in Railroad Square and has been around since the year 2000 according to Dougherty.
Buddhism began on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama who lived 2500 years ago, and is also known as the Buddha.
Dougherty said the organization began as Lotus Lake a Tibetan practice that was dismissed in 2004 to become the Tallahassee Buddhist Community. The Buddhist practice uses the basic principles called the Four Noble Truths and The Noble Eightfold Path.
“Buddhism is a path of self-cultivation and practices that ending suffering and its causes perfects wisdom and compassion,” said Jimmy Yu, a religion professor at Florida State University. “Some do not recognize Buddhism as a religion, but as a practice,” said Dougherty.
Allison Parish, a fellow Buddhist, thinks that practicing Buddhism could improve her way of life.
“There are many forms of Buddhism that are more complicated,” Parish said.
“But for me, it is a set of guiding principles that are based on not harming yourself or others with your thoughts, speech or actions.”
Parish sat Indian style on the comfort pillow, posed her hands beside her and closed her eyes to begin her meditation.
“The primary way to do that [guiding one’s principles] is through meditation,” Parish said.
“Meditation changed my life in that it made me a much calmer person, a happier person and a nicer person. I no longer worry about things that used to bother me.”On the practice of worshiping Buddha itself, Parish said Buddhist don’t.
“The Buddha is a teacher, a role model, and many other things, but he is not an object of worship,” Parish said. “For me, wearing a necklace with the Buddha or having statues of Buddha in my home and office are simply for reminding me to aspire to be like the Buddha.”
Dougherty agreed with Parish saying that Buddha is the original teacher of guiding principles.
“Buddha is a real man like other men, but was unusually insightful,” said Dougherty.
“Buddha is an image of you and inspires the possibility of one’s own awakening.”
There is no single leader such as pastors or priests in Buddhism. Instructors in Buddhism are called Dharma teachers according to Yu.
“We don’t call it a church, but the TBC is a conglomeration of separate Buddhists that meditate together,” Parish said. “The group is run with a board of trustees and finances are usually donation based.”
The Tallahassee Buddhist Community welcomes everyone to come and for further information his or her Web site is tallahasseebuddhistcommunity.org.