Mother Teresa Term Paper

This essay has a total of 2340 words and 11 pages.


Mother Teresa





-Mother Teresa and the “Right Path”-
Intro:
Mother Teresa and Siddharta Guartma are centuries apart in time and leagues apart in
religious declination. Despite this religious and time divide, the life of Mother Teresa,
its positive and negative events, can be critiqued through and attributed to the
principals and tenets of, Siddharta Guartma, the Buddha.

Mother Teresa was chosen to be the personality figure in this paper because as a person
she may be defined on many levels through human suffering. As suffering served as the
Buddha’s main motivation I found their relation to be direct; both gave great
consideration to the essence of suffering and worked towards it alleviation. Furthermore,
she exemplified many of Buddha’s teachings in her life.


History/ Background:
Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a Roman Catholic nun and founder of the Missionaries of
Charity, to care for the most destite of Indian society. In 1952 Mother Teresa opened the
Nirmal Hriday (Pure Heart) Home for Dying Destitutes in Calcutta. She and her fellow nuns
took in dying Indians off the streets of Calcutta and brought them to this home to care
for them during the days before they died, so that they might be able to die in peace and
with dignity. In addition she worked with and cared for lepers. Mother Teresa expanded her
work by creating a network of 569 missions in 120 nations. Today over 5000 sisters,
brothers, and volunteers run approximately 500 centers worldwide, feeding 500,000 families
and helping 90,000 lepers every year. For her work she was awarded many honors. For
example she was awarded the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971, and the Nobel Peace Prize
in 1979.


Mother Teresa who was known to the world as “The Saint of Gutters” and
“The Saint of Calcutta”, was not actually from Calcutta or India for that
matter. In fact, she was of Albanian descent and grew up in Skopje, Macedonia, which
would make her a Yugoslav-Albanian. Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, on August 26,
1910. Her family was Catholic, though the majority of Albanians in Macedonia were Muslim.

She was raised in a middle-class working family. Her mother and father, Drana and Kolë,
provided very well for their three children. It was said that she “never lacked for
nothing.” Her father was a contractor with a successful business and a politically
active member of society. He, unfortunately died when she was twelve and the direction of
her life changed significantly. In Buddhism, his death is an example of Anicca- one of the
three characteristics of existence, which means that all existence is impermanent and
everything is subject to continuous change.

While her father had been alive, Teresa’s household was primarily political in
atmosphere. Described by many as a patriot, Kolë was intensely involved in politics and
held a seat on the County Council. After his death the atmosphere of the house changed
and with it followed the direction of Teresa’s development. Drana, her mother, had
become Teresa’s primary role model and laid the roots of religious devotion that
defined Teresa’s later life. Drana was an intensely religious woman, who used the
church to instill the virtues of charity to her young daughter. Her brother explains
“Where our house had been a hotbed of political discussions while my father lived,
after his death it was more of a religious center. . . Our mother was unusually
religious.” (26 Serrou) Buddhists would use her father’s death as an event in
the cycle of dependant origination, an event that contributes directly to her future path.
Teresa’s focus in life changed from politics to the church and she approached this
new spiritual and religious growth with enthusiasm. She became very active in her local
church, as a parishioner and an outstanding member of the choir. Under the Budhhist law of
Dependant Origination, her latter work with the poor, which occurred through her deep
religious values, can be directly attributed to her father’s death. This law states
that nothing exists on its own, but always has come from earlier circumstances. In other
words, her father’s death, because it caused the religious shift in her life, is the
reason why she would latter come to work for the poor through the church.

Continuing on, her religious development and her acute understanding of suffering, was
cultivated through the politically tumultuous atmosphere of the Balkans. During her
infant years the Turkish ruled with barbarism, terror, and repression. Further upheaval
began when the first of the Balkan wars broke out in 1912; Teresa was only three years
old. The end of the war leads to yet another period of foreign occupation. The constant
foreign occupation and war caused the displacement and death of thousands, there were
constant flows of the homeless, hungry, and wounded. This is where Teresa was first
exposed to destitution and suffering, and where she initially became aware of the third
characteristic of existence known as Dukkha- the universality of suffering in life.

The continued influence of her mother taught her not to turn away but to embrace and aid
those in need. Again her brother explains, “we constantly tried to help people. My
mother was interested in missions, and [we] would take in local people too and feed and
help them.” (Serrou) It is easy to see that the influence and goodwill of her mother
directly shaped the development of Teresa’s character. She “did not just
spring out of the blue” (Serrou), but was a product of her mother. Once again the
influence of Dependant Origination is strong. Had her father lived, she may not have had
this direct exposure to suffering. In which case, she would not have developed the
internal religious declination that inspired her to leave home, to receive formal
religious training.

Her life’s religious path began at eighteen, when joined Ireland’s Sisters of
Loreto for formal religious training. Here she took the name Teresa in honor of the French
missionary saint Therese of Liseux, known for her piety, goodness and unflinching courage
in the face of early illness and early death.”2 She learned English and was trained
in religious life for about a year. On December 1, 1928 she begins her journey to India.
In Darjeeling she continues her training for two years, after which she takes her vows.

She is immediately sent to Calcutta where she helps care for the sick in a little
hospital, while working as a teacher and principal at St. Mary’s, an upper-class
girl’s high school. While working at the school and hospital she exposed for the
first time to advanced suffering of the Calcutta slums, which are located a close distance
to the school. In this way Calcutta is great social and economical paradox; next to the
great opulence of palaces there exists the revolting squalor of local shantytowns. From
her St Mary’s room, Teresa could see strait down into the heart of the Moti Jheel
slums, where entire families lived heaped together in the mud (37).

Letters form her mother provides meaning for the suffering she observes in these
shantytowns. They remind her of her basic call: to care for the poor. The plight of these
poor and her inability to do more for them, troubled her greatly. She spends two years,
under the guidance of a spiritual director named father Henry, in prayer and contemplation
searching for an answer.
Continues for 6 more pages >>




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