The Search of Truth

I hope to find prospective researchers and develope intelligent conversations in delving into the very fabrics of the world around us, both known and unknown.
HomeFAQSearchRegisterMemberlistUsergroupsLog in

Share | 

 What is Buddhism?

Go down 

Number of posts : 95
Age : 38
Registration date : 2007-06-02

PostSubject: What is Buddhism?   Sat Jun 30, 2007 1:18 pm

From Wikipedia

Buddhism is a dharmic religion and a philosophy.[1] Buddhism is also known as Buddha Dharma or Dhamma, which means roughly the "teachings of the Awakened One" in Sanskrit and Pali, languages of ancient Buddhist texts. Buddhism was founded around the fifth century BCE by Siddhartha Gautama, hereafter referred to as "the Buddha".

Prince Siddhartha Gautama is believed by Buddhists to have been born in Lumbini[2] and raised in Kapilavastu near the present-day Indian-Nepalese border.[3] After his attainment of "Awakening" (bodhi - popularly called "Enlightenment" in the West) at the age of 35, he was known as Buddha or Gautama Buddha. He spent some 45 years teaching his insights (Dharma). According to scholars, he lived around the fifth century BCE, but his more exact birthdate is open to debate.[4] He died around the age of 80 in Kushinagara (India).

Buddhism spread throughout the Indian subcontinent and into neighboring countries (such as Sri Lanka) in the five centuries following the Buddha's passing. It spread further into Asia and elsewhere over the next two millennia.

The original teachings and monastic organization established by Buddha can be referred to as pre-sectarian Buddhism, but all the current divisions within Buddhism are too much influenced by later history to warrant inclusion under this name[5] The most frequently used classification of present-day Buddhism among scholars[6] divides present-day adherents into the following three traditions or geographical or cultural areas: Theravada, East Asian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism.

An alternative scheme used by some scholars[7] has two divisions, Theravada and Mahayana, with the latter including the last two traditions above. This scheme is that of ordinary usage in the English language.[8] Some scholars[9]use other schemes. Buddhists themselves have a variety of other schemes.

The terminology for the major divisions of Buddhism can be confusing, as Buddhism is variously divided by scholars and practitioners according to geographic, historical, and philosophical criteria, with different terms often being used in different contexts. The following terms may be encountered in descriptions of the major Buddhist divisions:

Early Buddhist Schools
The schools into which Buddhism became divided in its first few centuries; only one of these survives as an independent school, Theravada
East Asian Buddhism
A term used by scholars[10] to cover the Buddhist traditions of Japan, Korea, Singapore and most of China and Vietnam
Eastern Buddhism
An alternative name used by some scholars[11] for East Asian Buddhism; also sometimes used to refer to all traditional forms of Buddhism, as distinct from Western(ized) forms.
Esoteric Buddhism
Usually considered synonymous with Vajrayana.[12] Some scholars have applied the term to certain practices found within the Theravada, particularly in Cambodia.[13]
A pejorative term used in Mahayana doctrine to denigrate its opponents[14]. It is sometimes used to refer to the early Buddhist schools, including the contemporary Theravada, although the legitimacy of this is disputed[15]. Its use in scholarly publications is controversial[16]. By the Mahayana schools and groups in China, Korea, Tibet, and Japan the term is felt to be only slightly pejorative, or not pejorative at all[17]. By some it is used with respect proper to teachings coming direct from the Buddha. The main use of the term in East Asian and Tibetan traditions is in reference to spiritual levels[18] regardless of school.
An old term, still sometimes used, synonymous with Tibetan Buddhism; widely considered derogatory.
A movement that emerged out of the early Buddhist schools, together with its later descendants, East Asian and Tibetan Buddhism. Vajrayana traditions are sometimes listed separately. The main use of the term in East Asian and Tibetan traditions is in reference to spiritual levels[19] regardless of school.
Usually considered synonymous with Vajrayana.[20] The Tendai school in Japan has been described as influenced by Mantrayana.[21]
Northern Buddhism
An alternative term used by some scholars[22] for Tibetan Buddhism. Also, an older term still sometimes used to encompass both East Asian and Tibetan traditions.
Southeast Asian Buddhism
An alternative name used by some scholars[23] for Theravada.
Southern Buddhism
An alternative name used by some scholars[24] for Theravada.
An alternative term sometimes used for the early Buddhist schools.
Tantrayana or Tantric Buddhism
Usually considered synonymous with Vajrayana.[25] Howevwe, one scholar describes the tantra divisions of some editions of the Tibetan scriptures as including Sravakayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana texts[26] (see Buddhist texts). Some scholars[27] have used the term tantric Theravada to refer to certain practices found particularly in Cambodia.
The traditional Buddhism of Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and parts of Vietnam, China, India, Bangladesh and Malaysia. It is the only surviving representative of the historical early Buddhist schools. The term 'Theravada' is also sometimes used to refer to all the early Buddhist schools.[28]
Tibetan Buddhism
Usually understood as including the Buddhism of Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan and parts of China, India and Russia, which follow the Tibetan tradition.
A movement that developed out of Indian Mahayana, together with its later descendants. There is some disagreement on exactly which traditions fall into this category. Tibetan Buddhism is universally recognized as falling under this heading; many also include also the Japanese Shingon school. Some scholars[29]also apply the term to the Korean milgyo tradition, which is not a separate school. One scholar[30] says, "Despite the efforts of generations of Buddhist thinkers. it remains exceedingly difficult to identify precisely what it is that sets the Vajrayana apart."

Buddhism Today
Indian Buddhism had become virtually extinct, but is now again gaining strength. Buddhism continues to attract followers around the world and is considered a major world religion. While estimates of the number of Buddhist followers range from 230 to 500 million worldwide, most estimates are around 350 million,[31] or 310 million.[32] However, estimates are uncertain for several countries. According to one analysis,[33] Buddhism is the fifth-largest religion in the world behind Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and traditional Chinese religion. The monks' order (Sangha), which began during the lifetime of the Buddha in India, is amongst the oldest organizations on earth.

In Buddhism, any person who has awakened from the "sleep of ignorance" (by directly realizing the true nature of reality), without instruction, and teaches it to others is called a buddha. All traditional Buddhists agree that Shakyamuni or Gotama Buddha was not the only Buddha: it is generally taught that there have been many past Buddhas and that there will be future Buddhas too. If a person achieves this awakening, he or she is called an arahant. Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, is thus only one among other buddhas before or after him. His teachings are oriented toward the attainment of this kind of awakening, also called liberation, or Nirvana.

Part of the Buddhas teachings regarding the holy life and the goal of liberation is constituted by the "The Four Noble Truths", which focus on dukkha, a term that refers to suffering or the unhappiness ultimately characteristic of unawakened, worldly life. The Four Noble Truths regarding suffering state what is its nature, its cause, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation. This way to the cessation of suffering is called "The Noble Eightfold Path", which is one of the fundamentals of Buddhist virtuous or moral life.

Numerous distinct groups have developed since the passing of the Buddha, with diverse teachings that vary widely in practice, philosophical emphasis, and culture. However, there are certain doctrines which are common to the majority of schools and traditions in Buddhism, though only Theravada regards all of them as central. About all Buddhists few valid generalizations are possible.[34]

The Four Noble Truths
Main article: The Four Noble Truths
According to the scriptures, the Buddha taught that in life there exists Dukkha, which is in essence sorrow/suffering, that is caused by desire and it can be brought to cessation by following the Noble Eightfold Path (Sanskrit: Āryāṣṭāṅgamārgaḥ , Pāli: Ariyo Aṭṭhaṅgiko Maggo). This teaching is called the Catvāry Āryasatyāni (Pali: Cattāri Ariyasaccāni), or the "Four Noble Truths".

Suffering: Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering.
The cause of suffering: The craving which leads to renewed existence (rebirth) (the cycle of samsara)
The cessation of suffering: The cessation of craving.
The way leading to the cessation of suffering: The Noble Eightfold Path;
According to the scriptures, the Four Noble Truths were among the topics of the first sermon given by the Buddha after his enlightenment,[35] which was given to the five ascetics with whom he had practised austerities. The Four Noble Truths were originally spoken by the Buddha not in the form of a religious or philosophical text, but in the manner of a medical diagnosis and remedial prescription in a style that was common at that time. The early teaching[36] and the traditional understanding in the Theravada[37] is that these are an advanced teaching for those who are ready for them.

The key to peace is understanding.
The key to understanding is communication.
The hinderance to communication is pride.
Back to top Go down
View user profile

Number of posts : 95
Age : 38
Registration date : 2007-06-02

PostSubject: Re: What is Buddhism?   Sat Jun 30, 2007 1:18 pm

The Noble Eightfold Path
Main article: Noble Eightfold Path

The eight-spoked Dharmachakra. The eight spokes represent the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism.According to a saying attributed in some traditions to the Buddha, if a person does not follow the Eightfold Path, one lives one's life like a preoccupied child playing with toys in a house that is burning to the ground.[38]

The Noble Eightfold Path is the way to the cessation of suffering, the fourth part of the Four Noble Truths. This is divided into three sections: Sila (which concerns wholesome physical actions), Samadhi (which concerns the meditative concentration of the mind) and Prajā (which concerns spiritual insight into the true nature of all things).

Sila is morality abstaining from unwholesome deeds of body and speech. Within the division of sila are three parts of the Noble Eightfold Path:

Right Speech One speaks in a non hurtful, not exaggerated, truthful way (samyag-vāc, sammā-vācā)
Right Actions Wholesome action, avoiding action that would do harm (samyak-karmānta, sammā-kammanta)
Right Livelihood One's way of livelihood does not harm in any way oneself or others; directly or indirectly (samyag-ājīva, sammā-ājīva)
Samadhi is developing mastery over ones own mind. Within this division are another three parts of the Noble Eightfold Path:

Right Effort/Exercise One makes an effort to improve (samyag-vyāyāma, sammā-vāyāma)
Right Mindfulness/Awareness Mental ability to see things for what they are with clear consciousness (samyak-smṛti, sammā-sati)
Right Concentration/Meditation Being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion. (samyak-samādhi, sammā-samādhi)
Prajā is the wisdom which purifies the mind. Within this division fall two more parts of the Noble Eightfold Path:

Right Understanding Understanding reality as it is, not just as it appears to be. (samyag-dṛṣṭi, sammā-diṭṭhi)
Right Thoughts Change in the pattern of thinking. (samyak-saṃkalpa, sammā-saṅkappa)
The word samyak means "perfect". There are a number of ways to interpret the Eightfold Path. On one hand, the Eightfold Path is spoken of as being a progressive series of stages through which the practitioner moves, the culmination of one leading to the beginning of another, whereas others see the states of the 'Path' as requiring simultaneous development. It is also common to categorize the Eightfold Path into prajā (Pāli paā, wisdom), śīla (Pāli sīla, virtuous behavior) and samādhi (concentration).


Gautama Buddha, Gandhara, northern Pakistan.Main article: Bodhi
Bodhi (Pāli and Sanskrit बॊधि, lit. awakening) is a term applied in Buddhism to the specific awakening experience attained by the Buddha. When used in a generic sense, a buddha is generally considered to be a person who discovers the true nature of reality through lifetimes of spiritual cultivation, investigation of the various religious practices of his time, and meditation. This transformational discovery is called Bodhi (literally, "awakening" more commonly called "enlightenment"). After attainment of Bodhi, it is believed one is freed from the compulsive cycle of saṃsāra: birth, suffering, death and rebirth, and attains the "highest happiness" (Nirvana, as described in the Dhammapada). Bodhi is attained only by the accomplishment of the pāramitās (perfections), when the Four Noble Truths are fully grasped, and when all karma has reached cessation. At this moment, all greed (lobha), hatred (Pali dosa), delusion (moha), ignorance (Sanskrit avidyā, Pāli avijjā), craving (Sanskrit tṛṣṇā, Pāli taṇhā) and belief in self(ātmān, Pāli attā) have been extinguished. Bodhi thus implies understanding of anātman (Pāli anatta). All schools of Buddhism recognize Pratyekabodhi (Pāli: Paccekabodhi) and Samyaksambodhi (Pāli: Sammāsambodhi), the perfect enlightenment by which a bodhisattva becomes a fully enlightened buddha. In addition, Theravada recognizes Savakabodhi. According to a saying attributed in some traditions to the Buddha, if a person does not follow the goal of Total Realization, one lives one's life like a preoccupied child playing with toys in a house that is burning to the ground.[39] The aspiration to attain the state of samyaksambodhi, known as the Bodhisattva ideal, is considered as the highest ideal of Buddhism.

Middle Way
The primary guiding principle of Buddhist practice is the Middle Way which was discovered by the Buddha prior to his enlightenment (bodhi). The Middle Way or Middle Path has several definitions:

It is often described as the practice of non-extremism; a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and opposing self-mortification.
It also refers to taking a middle ground between certain metaphysical views, e.g. that things ultimately either exist or do not exist.[40]
An explanation of the state of nirvana and perfect enlightenment where all dualities fuse and cease to exist as separate entities (see Seongcheol).

Refuge in the Three Jewels

Footprint of the Buddha with Dharmachakra and triratna, 1st century CE, Gandhāra.Main articles: Refuge (Buddhism) and Three Jewels
Acknowledging the Four Noble Truths and making the first step in the Noble Eightfold Path requires taking refuge, as the foundation of one's religious practice, in Buddhism's Three Jewels (Sanskrit: त्रिरत्न Triratna or रत्नत्रय Ratna-traya, Pali: तिरतन Tiratana).[41] Tibetan Buddhism sometimes adds a fourth refuge, in the lama. The person who chooses the bodhisattva path makes a vow/pledge. This is considered the ultimate expression of compassion.

The Three Jewels are:

The Buddha (i.e., Awakened One). This is a title for those who attained Awakening similar to the Buddha and helped others to attain it. See also the Tathāgata and Śākyamuni Buddha. The Buddha could also be represented as the wisdom that understands Dharma, and in this regard the Buddha represents the perfect wisdom that sees reality in its true form.
The Dharma: The teachings or law as expounded by the Buddha. Dharma also means the law of nature based on behavior of a person and its consequences to be experienced (action and reaction). It can also (especially in Mahayana Buddhism) connote the ultimate and sustaining Reality which is inseverable from the Buddha.
The Sangha: This term literally means "group" or "congregation," but when it is used in Buddhist teaching the word refers to one of two very specific kinds of groups: either the community of Buddhist monastics (bhikkhus and bhikkhunis), or the community of people who have attained at least the first stage of Awakening (Sotapanna (pali) one who has entered the stream to enlightenment). According to some modern Buddhists, it also consists of laymen and laywomen, the caretakers of the monks, those who have accepted parts of the monastic code but who have not been ordained as monks or nuns.
According to the scriptures, The Buddha presented himself as a model and besought his followers to have faith (Sanskrit श्रद्धा śraddhā, Pāli saddhā) in his example of a human who escaped the pain and danger of existence. The Dharma, i.e. the teaching of the Buddha, offers a refuge by providing guidelines for the alleviation of suffering and the attainment of enlightenment. The Saṅgha (Buddhist Order of monks) provides a refuge by preserving the authentic teachings of the Buddha and providing further examples that the truth of the Buddha's teachings is attainable.

In the Mahayana, the Buddha tends not to be viewed as merely human, but as the earthly projection of a being beyond the range and reach of thought. Moreover. in certain Mahayana sutras, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are viewed essentially as One: all three are seen as the eternal Buddha himself.

Many Buddhists believe that there is no otherworldly salvation from one's karma. The suffering caused by the karmic effects of previous thoughts, words and deeds can be alleviated by following the Noble Eightfold Path, although the Buddha of some Mahayana sutras, such as the Lotus Sutra, the Angulimaliya Sutra and the Nirvana Sutra, also teaches that powerful sutras such as the above-named can, through the very act of their being heard or recited, wholly expunge great swathes of negative karma.

Śīla: virtuous behavior and the precepts
Main article: Sila
Śīla (Sanskrit) or sīla (Pāli) is usually rendered into English as "behavioral discipline", "morality", or ethics. It is often translated as "precept". It is an action that is an intentional effort. It is one of the three practices (sila, samadhi, and panya) and the second pāramitā. It refers to moral purity of thought, word, and deed. The four conditions of śīla are chastity, calmness, quiet, and extinguishment, i.e. no longer being susceptible to perturbation by the passions.[citation needed]

Sīla refers to overall (principles of) ethical behavior. There are several levels of sila, which correspond to 'basic morality' (five precepts), 'basic morality with asceticism' (eight precepts), 'novice monkhood' (ten precepts) and 'monkhood' (Vinaya or Patimokkha). Lay people generally undertake to live by the five precepts which are common to all Buddhist schools. If they wish, they can choose to undertake the eight precepts, which have some additional precepts of basic asceticism.

The five precepts are not given in the form of commands such as "thou shalt not ...", but are training rules in order to live a better life in which one is happy, without worries, and can meditate well.

1. To refrain from taking life. (i.e. non-violence towards sentient life forms)
2. To refrain from taking that which is not given (i.e. not committing theft)
3. To refrain from sensual misconduct (abstinence from immoral sexual behavior)
4. To refrain from lying. (i.e. speaking truth always)
5. To refrain from intoxicants which lead to loss of mindfulness (refrain from using drugs or alcohol)
In the eight precepts, the third precept on sexual misconduct is made more strict, and becomes a precept of celibacy.

The three additional rules of the eight precepts are:

6. To refrain from eating at the wrong time (only eat from sunrise to noon)
7. To refrain from dancing, using jewelery, going to shows, etc.
8. To refrain from using a high, luxurious bed.
Vinaya is the specific moral code for monks. It includes the Patimokkha, a set of 227 rules in the Theravadin recension. The precise content of the vinayapitaka (scriptures on Vinaya) differ slightly according to different schools, and different schools or subschools set different standards for the degree of adherence to Vinaya. Novice-monks use the ten precepts, which are the basic precepts for monastics.

In Eastern Buddhism, there is also a distinctive Vinaya and ethics contained within the Mahayana Brahmajala Sutra (not to be confused with the Pali text of that name) for Bodhisattvas, where, for example, the eating of meat is frowned upon and vegetarianism is actively encouraged (see vegetarianism in Buddhism).

Samadhi/Bhāvana (Meditative cultivation)
Main articles: Samadhi, Vipassana, and Buddhist meditation
In the language of the Noble Eightfold Path, samyaksamādhi is "right concentration". The primary means of cultivating samādhi is meditation. Almost all Buddhist schools agree that the Buddha taught two types of meditation, viz. samatha meditation (Sanskrit: śamatha) and vipassanā meditation (Sanskrit: vipaśyanā). Upon development of samādhi, one's mind becomes purified of defilement, calm, tranquil, and luminous.

Once the meditator achieves a strong and powerful concentration (jhāna, Sanskrit ध्यानम् dhyāna), his mind is ready to penetrate and gain insight (vipassanā) into the ultimate nature of reality, eventually obtaining release from all suffering. The cultivation of mindfulness is essential to mental concentration, which is needed to achieve insight.

Samatha Meditation starts from being mindful of an object or idea, which is expanded to one's body, mind and entire surroundings, leading to a state of total concentration and tranquility (jhāna) There are many variations in the style of meditation, from sitting cross-legged or kneeling to chanting or walking. The most common method of meditation is to concentrate on one's breath, because this practice can lead to both samatha and vipassana.

In Buddhist practice, it is said that while samatha meditation can calm the mind, only vipassanā meditation can reveal how the mind was disturbed to start with, which is what leads to jāna (Pāli āṇa knowledge), prajā (Pāli paā pure understanding) and thus can lead to nirvāṇa (Pāli nibbāna).

The key to peace is understanding.
The key to understanding is communication.
The hinderance to communication is pride.
Back to top Go down
View user profile

Number of posts : 95
Age : 38
Registration date : 2007-06-02

PostSubject: Re: What is Buddhism?   Sat Jun 30, 2007 1:19 pm

Prajā (Wisdom)
Main article: Prajā
Prajā (Sanskrit) or paā (Pāli) means wisdom that is based on a realization of dependent origination, The Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path. Prajā is the wisdom that is able to extinguish afflictions and bring about bodhi. It is spoken of as the principal means, by its enlightenment, of attaining nirvāṇa, through its revelation of the true nature of all things. Prajā is also listed as the sixth of the six pāramitās of the Mahayana.

Initially, prajā is attained at a conceptual level by means of listening to sermons (dharma talks), reading, studying and sometimes reciting Buddhist texts and engaging in discourse. The Buddha taught dharma to his disciples mainly through the mean of discourse or sermon,[citation needed] many attaining nirvana upon hearing the Buddha's discourse.

Once the conceptual understanding is attained, it is applied to daily life so that each Buddhist can verify the truth of the Buddha's teaching at a practical level. Lastly, one engages in insight (vipassanā, Sanskrit vipaśyanā) meditation[citation needed] to attain such wisdom at intuitive level. It should be noted that one could theoretically attain nirvana at any point of practice, while listening to a sermon, while conducting business of daily life or while in meditation.

Indian Buddhism

Early Buddhism
Main articles: History of Buddhism and Buddhist councils
Main articles: The Second Buddhist Council and Early Buddhist schools
According to the scriptures, soon after the parinirvāṇa (Pāli: parinibbāna, "complete extinguishment") of the Buddha, the first Buddhist council was held. As with any ancient Indian tradition, transmission of teaching was done orally. The primary purpose of the assembly was to collectively recite the teaching to ensure that no errors occur in oral transmission. In the first council, Ānanda, a cousin of the Buddha and his personal attendant, was called upon to recite the discourses (sūtras, Pāli suttas) of the Buddha, and, according to some sources, the abhidhamma. Upāli, another disciple, recited the monastic rules (Vinaya).

As the Saṅgha gradually grew over the next century a dispute arose regarding ten points of discipline. A Second Buddhist Council (said in the scriptures to have taken place 100 years after the Buddha's death) was held to resolve the points at dispute. The result was that all the monks agreed that those 10 practices were unallowed according to Vinaya.

At some period after the Second Council however, the Sangha began to break into separate factions. The various accounts differ as to when the actual schisms occurred: according to the Dipavamsa of the Pali tradition, they started immediately after the Second Council; the Puggalavada tradition places it in 137 AN; the Sarvastivada tradition of Vasumitra says it was in the time of Asoka; and the Mahasanghika tradition places it much later, nearly 100 BCE.

The Asokan edicts, our only contemporary sources, state that 'the Sangha has been made unified'. This apparently refers to a dispute such as that described in the account of the Third Buddhist Council at Pataliputta. This concerns the expulsion of non-Buddhist heretics from the Sangha, and does not speak of a schism.

These schisms occurred within the traditions of Early Buddhism, at a time when the Mahāyāna movement either did not exist at all, or only existed as a current of thought not yet identified with a separate school.

The root schism was between the Sthaviras and the Mahāsāṅghikas. The fortunate survival of accounts from both sides of the dispute reveals disparate traditions. The Sthavira group offers two quite distinct reasons for the schism. The Dipavamsa of the Theravāda says that the losing party in the Second Council dispute broke away in protest and formed the Mahasanghika. This contradicts the Mahasanghikas' own vinaya, which shows them as on the same, winning side. On the other hand, the northern lineages, including the Sarvastivada and Puggalavada (both branches of the ancient Sthaviras) attribute the Mahāsāṅghika schism to the '5 points' that erode the status of the arahant. For their part, the Mahāsāṅghikas argued that the Sthaviras were trying to expand the Vinaya; they may also have challenged what they perceived to be excessive claims or inhumanly high criteria for Arhatship. Both parties, therefore, appealed to tradition.[42] The Sthaviras gave rise to several schools, one of which was the Theravāda school.

Buddhist proselytism at the time of emperor Aśoka the Great (260218 BCE).Following (or leading up to) the schisms, each Saṅgha started to accumulate an Abhidharma, a collection of philosophical texts. Early sources for these probably existed in the time of the Buddha as simple lists. However, as time went on and Buddhism spread further, the (perceived) teachings of the Buddha were formalized in a more systematic manner in a new Pitaka: the Abhidhamma Pitaka. Some modern academics refer to it as Abhidhamma Buddhism. Interestingly, in the opinion of some scholars, the Mahasanghika school did not have an Abhidhamma Pitaka, which agrees with their statement that they did not want to add to the Buddha's teachings. But according to Chinese pilgrims Fa Xian (5th century CE) and Yuan Chwang (7th century CE), they had procured a copy of Abhidhamma which belonged to the Mahasanghika School.

Buddhist tradition records in the Milinda Panha that the 2nd century BCE Indo-Greek king Menander converted to the Buddhist faith and became an arhat.Buddhism may have spread only slowly in India until the time of the Mauryan emperor Aśoka the Great, who was a public supporter of the religion. The support of Aśoka and his descendants led to the construction of more Buddhist religious memorials (stūpas) and to efforts to spread Buddhism throughout the enlarged Maurya empire and even into neighboring lands particularly to the Iranian-speaking regions of Afghanistan and Central Asia, beyond the Mauryas' northwest border, and to the islands of Sri Lanka and the Maldives south of India. These two missions, in opposite directions, would ultimately lead, in the first case to the spread of Buddhism into China, and in the second case, to the emergence of Theravāda Buddhism and its spread from Sri Lanka to the coastal lands of Southeast Asia.

This period marks the first known spread of Buddhism beyond India. According to the edicts of Aśoka, emissaries were sent to various countries west of India in order to spread "Dhamma", particularly in eastern provinces of the neighboring Seleucid Empire, and even farther to Hellenistic kingdoms of the Mediterranean. This led, a century later, to the emergence of Greek-speaking Buddhist monarchs in the Indo-Greek Kingdom, and to the development of the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhāra. During this period Buddhism was exposed to a variety of influences, from Persian and Greek civilization, and from changing trends in non-Buddhist Indian religions themselves influenced by Buddhism.

Rise of Mahayana Buddhism
Main article: Mahayana

Chinese Seated Buddha, Tang Dynasty, Hebei province, ca. 650 CE. Chinese Buddhism is of the Mahayana tradition, with popular schools today being Pure Land and Zen.The precise geographical origins of Mahayana are unknown. It is likely that various elements of Mahayana developed independently from the 1st century BCE onwards, initially within several small individual communities, in areas to the north-west within the Kushan Empire (within present-day northern Pakistan), and in areas within the Shatavahana Empire, including Amaravati to the south-east (in present-day Andhra Pradesh), to the west around the port of Bharukaccha (present-day Bharuch, a town near Bombay), and around the various cave complexes, such as Ajanta and Karli (in present-day Gujarat and Maharashtra). The late Professor Hirakawa argued that Mahayana was a movement of lay Buddhists focused around stupa devotion. Pictures within the wall of a stupa representing the story of the Buddha and his previous reincarnation as a bodisattva were used to preach Buddhism to the masses. This theory is still widely held among Japanese scholars, but most western scholars now reject it.[43] The Sangha, at the same time, became increasingly fragmented both in terms of Abhidharma and Vinaya practice. This led to a widening distance between the laity and Sangha. The Mahayana movement, on the other hand, was ecumenical, reflecting a wide range of influence from various sects. Monks representing different philosophical orientations could live in the same Sangha as long as they practiced the same Vinaya. Still, in terms of Abhidharma, the Sarvastivada school and the Dharmaguptaka school, both of which were widespread in the Kushan Empire, seem to have had major influence. Moreover, those who believe that Mahayana sutras were composed during this period speculate that the process of reshuffling of sutras according to various Abhidharma eventually led to editing which made the composition of new Mahayana sutras possible.

Expansion of Mahayana Buddhism between the 1st 10th century CE.Around 100 CE, the Kushan emperor Kanishka is said to have convened what many western scholars call the fourth Buddhist council. This council is not recognised by the Theravada line of Buddhism. According to Mahayana sources, this council did not simply rely on the original Tripitaka in the third council. Instead, a set of new scriptures, mostly notably, the Lotus Sutra, an early version of the Heart Sutra and the Amitabha Sutra were approved, as well as fundamental principles of doctrine based around the concept of salvation for all beings (hence Mahāyāna "great vehicle") and the concept of Buddhas and bodhisattvas who embody the indwelling yet transcendent Buddha-nature who strive to achieve such a goal. However, most western scholars believe this council was purely Sarvastivada, while the late Monseigneur Professor Lamotte considered it entirely fictitious.[44] The new scriptures were first written in Sanskrit or one of the Prakrits. From that point on, and in the space of a few centuries, Mahayana would flourish and spread from India to Southeast Asia, and towards the north to Central Asia and then east to China where Mahayana was Sinicized and this Sinicized Mahayana would be passed on to Korea, Vietnam and finally to Japan in 538 CE. The East Asians would go on to write more indigenous sutras and commentaries to the Mahayana Canon. The most complete Mahayana Canon today is in the Chinese language.

Mahāyāna Buddhism received significant theoretical grounding from Nāgārjuna (perhaps c.150250 CE), arguably the most influential scholar within the Mahāyāna tradition. Writings attributed to him made explicit references to Mahāyāna texts, but his philosophy was argued within the parameters set out by the Tripiṭaka sūtras. Completely repudiating the then-and-there-dominant Sarvāstivāda school, which argued for the existence of dharmas (factors of existence) in past, present, and future, Nāgārjuna asserted that the nature of the dharmas (hence the enlightenment) to be śūnya (void or empty), bringing together other key Buddhist doctrines, particularly anātman (no-self) and pratītyasamutpāda (dependent origination). His school of thought is known as the Madhyamaka.

After the end of the Kuṣāṇas, Buddhism flourished in India during the dynasty of the Guptas (4th 6th century). Mahāyāna centres of learning were established, the most important one being the Nālandā University in north-eastern India. Sarvāstivāda teaching, which was criticized by Nāgārjuna, was reformulated by scholars such as Vasubandhu and Asaṅga and were incorporated into the Yogācāra (Sanskrit: yoga practice) school. While the Madhyamaka school asserted that there is no ultimately real thing, the Yogācāra school asserts that only the mind is ultimately existent. These two schools of thought, in opposition or synthesis, form the basis of subsequent Mahāyāna theology in the Indo-Tibetan tradition.

The key to peace is understanding.
The key to understanding is communication.
The hinderance to communication is pride.
Back to top Go down
View user profile

Number of posts : 95
Age : 38
Registration date : 2007-06-02

PostSubject: Re: What is Buddhism?   Sat Jun 30, 2007 1:19 pm

Emergence of the Vajrayāna
Main article: Vajrayana
There are differing views as to just when Vajrayāna and its tantric practice started. In the Tibetan tradition, it is claimed that the historical Śākyamuni Buddha taught tantra, but as these are esoteric teachings, they were written down long after the Buddha's other teachings. The earliest texts appeared around the early 4th century. Nālandā University became a center for the development of Vajrayāna theory and continued as the source of leading-edge Vajrayāna practices up through the 11th century. These practices, scriptures and theory were transmitted to China, Tibet, Maldives, Indochina and Southeast Asia. China generally received Indian transmission up to the 11th century including tantric practice, while a vast amount of what is considered to be Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayāna) stems from the late (9th12th century) Nālandā tradition.

In one of the first major contemporary academic treatises on the subject, Fairfield University Professor Ronald M. Davidson argues that the rise of Vajrayana was in part a reaction to the changing political climate in India at the time. With the fall of the Gupta dynasty, in an increasingly fractious political environment, institutional Buddhism had difficulty attracting patronage, and the folk movement led by siddhas became more prominent. After perhaps two hundred years, it had begun to get integrated into the monastic establishment.[45]

Decline of Buddhism in India and Central Asia
See also: Decline of Buddhism in India
Buddhism was established in the northern regions of India and Central Asia, and kingdoms with Buddhist rulers such as Menander I and Kaniska. Under the rule of tolerant or even sympathetic Greco-Bactrian and Iranian Achaemenid kings, Buddhism flourished. The rulers of the Kushāna Empire adopted Buddhism, and it continued to thrive in the region under the rule of the Turk-Shāhīs.

Buddhists were briefly persecuted under the Zoroastrian priest-king Kirder. Syncretism between Zoroastrianism and Buddhism had resulted in the rise of a 'Buddha-Mazda' divinity, which Kirder treated as heresy.[46]

The Hinayana traditions first spread among the Turkic tribes before combining with the Mahayana forms during the 2nd and 3rd centuries BCE to cover modern-day Pakistan, Kashmir, Afghanistan, eastern and coastal Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. These were the ancient states of Gandhara, Bactria, Parthia and Sogdia from where it spread to China. Among the first of these Turkic tribes to adopt Buddhism was the Turki-Shahi who adopted Buddhism as early as the 3rd century BCE. It was not, however, the exclusive faith of this region. There were also Zoroastrians, Hindus, Nestorian Christians, Jews, Manichaeans, and followers of shamanism, Tengrism, and other indigenous, nonorganized systems of belief.

From the 4th Century CE on, Hindu dynasties had achieved preeminence elsewhere in India. Even in regions of Buddhist predominance, such as the northwest (Pajāb) and the lower Gangetic plain (Uttar Pradesh and Bengal), the Indian caste system was found. In political contests between Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms, Buddhist rulers were gradually replaced by Hindu ones. By the 4th to 5th century Buddhism was already in decline in northern India, even though it was achieving multiple successes in Central Asia and along the Silk Road as far as China.

The Buddhist states of Central Asia were weakened in the 6th century following the invasion of the White Huns and Buddhism suffered as recorded by Xuanzang. Later Buddhist regions in Central Asia came either under the sway of the Persian Sāsānids or Tibet. When the Muslim Arabs overthrew the Sāssānids they encountered Buddhists in the eastern provinces of the Persian Empire. They called them by the Persian name of butparast, literally meaning "buddha-worshipper", although the term has come to be used generally for any religion in which cult images play a role. Several high officials of the Abbāsid Caliphate, notably the Barmakids, were descended from these East Iranian Buddhists.

When Muhammad bin Qāsim led the invasion of Sindh at the mouth of the Indus river, he was aided by some Buddhists in his campaign against their Hindu overlord, Rājā Dahir. Relations with later Iranian rulers such as the Saffarids and Samanids were more difficult; Buddhist monasteries and stūpas were not exempt from looting under Arab rule.[47]

After the disintegration of the Abbāsid Caliphate, the Muslim Turks rose to prominence among the Persian emirates that emerged in Central Asia and Afghanistan. In the 10th century CE, one of them, Mahmūd of Ghaznī, defeated the Hindō-Shāhīs and finally brought the region firmly under Muslim rule through Afghanistan and the Pajāb. He demolished monasteries alongside temples during his raid across north-western India but left those within his domains and Afghanistan alone and al-Biruni recorded the Buddha as a prophet "burxan", the Mongolian word for a Buddha.

The originally pagan Turkic tribes who lived in western Central Asia converted to Islām as they came to be increasingly influenced by Persian culture. As the Turkic tribes of Central Asia battled for control of land, similarly an ideological battle waged within them as Sufis, faced with an increasing hostile environment in Arabia, moved to Transoxania and found fertile ground here for converts among the Buddhist and non-Buddhist Turkic tribes alike. Buddhism persisted, together with Christianity, Manichaeism, Zoroastrianism, and shamanism in areas to the east (modern Xinjiang) for several centuries, which did not become overwhelmingly Muslim until the 15th century CE; however, under the two-pronged onslaught Buddhism waned and over time Central Asia gradually became predominantly Muslim.

In 1215 Genghis Khan conquered Afghanistan and his horde devastated the local population indiscriminately; in 1227 after his death his conquest was divided and Chagatai established the Chagatai Khanate while Hulegu established the Il Khanate where Buddhism was the state religion across Muslim lands. In the Chagatai Khanate the Buddhist Turkic tribes slowly converted to Islam, including the occasional Khan [2]. When Tarmashirin came to power he made Islam the official religion of the region in 1326. In the Il Khanate, Hulegu and his successors Abaqa and Arghun also established Buddhism as the state religion but were hostile to the Muslims. Many mosques were destroyed and numerous stupas built; however, when Ghazan came to power in 1295 and converted he reverted the state religion to Islam and the climate became hostile towards Buddhism. Today no stupas built by the earlier Mongol Khans survive, and after Ghazan's reign little mention of Buddhism can be found in Afghanistan and Central Asia.[48]

Buddhists retained power in parts of northern India, in Kaśmīr and especially in Bengal, where the Buddhist Pāla kings ruled from the 8th12th centuries CE. These last Buddhist strongholds played an important role in the evolution of the Vajrayāna and the transmission of that form of Buddhism to Tibet before they collapsed under assault from the Hindu Sena dynasty.

Elsewhere in India, Buddhism suffered from pressure by Hindu dynasties, such as the increasingly powerful Rajputs, as well as competition from a Hinduism that had gained ideological coherence and emotional vigor from such movements as Vedānta philosophy and Bhakti devotionalism. One symptom of increased Hindu confidence with regard to Buddhism was the identification of the Buddha as an avatāra of the Hindu god Vishnu an identification which contradicted basic Buddhist understandings and the Buddha's own unequivocal words about the nature of a Buddha and of nirvāna.

In 1193, only a few decades after the fall of the Pāla kingdom, Muhammad Khiljī destroyed Nālandā, the great Buddhist university. Khiljī was one of the generals of Qutbuddīn Aybak, a subject of the Afghan Ghurids but soon to become the monarch of a Muslim sultanate at Delhi. Khiljī's march across northern India caused a precipitous decline in the fortunes of Indian Buddhism, as he destroyed Buddhist walled monasteries fortified by the Sena kings (which he thought were cities), killed the monks and burned their libraries. At about the same time, the Buddhist king of Maldives, a country that had been trading with Bengal, converted to Islam and ordered all his subjects to do likewise.

After the Mongol invasions of Islamic lands across Central Asia, many Sufis also found themselves fleeing towards the newly established Islamic lands in India around the environs of Bengal. Here their influence, caste attitudes towards Buddhists, previous familiarity with Buddhism, lack of Buddhist political power or social structure along with Hinduism's revival movements such as Advaita and the rise of the syncretic bhakti movement, all contributed to a significant realignment of beliefs relegating Buddhism in India to the peripheries.

By the 13th century CE, Buddhism had become a marginal religion in central India; without a monastic infrastructure, Buddhism could not easily maintain its identity, and many Buddhists, especially in Bengal, were converted to Islām, Hinduism or left for the Himalayan foothills. In Kaśmīr Buddhism remained a significant religion down to the early 15th century, when it was displaced by Islām and Hinduism, except among the Tibetan peoples of Ladakh.

Elements of Buddhism have remained within India to the current day: the Bauls of Bengal have a syncretic set of practices with strong emphasis on many Buddhist concepts. Other areas of India have never parted from Buddhism, including Ladakh and other Himalayan regions with a primarily Tibetan population. Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim are the other Indian states where Buddhism is practiced in great numbers. The Newars of Nepal also retain a form of Buddhism that differs from the Buddhism of Tibet. Furthermore, much of Buddhist philosophy was eventually absorbed into Hinduism.

Main traditions

Chinese Mahayana Buddhist monk lighting incense in a Beijing temple.The most common way scholars categorize Buddhist schools follows the major languages of the extant Buddhist canons, which exist in Pāli, Tibetan (also found in Mongolian translation) and Chinese collections, along with some texts that still exist in Sanskrit and Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit. This is a useful division for practical purposes, but does not necessarily correspond to philosophical or doctrinal divisions since, despite the differences, there are common threads to almost all Buddhist branches:

All accept the Buddha as their teacher.
All accept the Middle Way, Dependent origination, the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.
All accept that both the members of the laity and of the Sangha can pursue the path toward enlightenment (bodhi).
All consider Buddhahood to be the highest attainment.

Southern (Theravāda) Buddhism
Main article: Theravada
In addition to the Edicts of Aśoka, Buddhist annals compiled at a later date offer a history of the Aśokan and post-Aśokan period. Among these annals are the Dīpavaṃsa, the Mahāvaṃsa, and the Samantapāsādika of the south Indian Vibhajjavāda (Sanskrit: Vibhajyavāda) saṅgha. According to the accounts of the Vibhajjavāda, Aśoka convened a third Buddhist council (c. 250 BCE), whose purpose was to produce a definitive text of the Buddha's words.[citation needed] According to the Theravada account, given in the Dipavamsa and elsewhere, Asoka called this council to sort out doctrinal disputes within the sangha, which these sources say were caused by the infiltration of the sangha by non-buddhists, apparently not actually ordained. The account goes on to say that the council approved the Kathavatthu, compiled by its president Moggaliputta Tissa, as part of the scriptures. As this text consists of doctrinal debates, apparently with other schools, the account seems to imply the other schools were not proper Buddhists or proper monks. Vibhajjavādins claim that the first step to insight has to be achieved by the aspirant's experience, critical investigation, and reasoning instead of by blind faith. This school gradually declined on the Indian subcontinent, but its branch in Sri Lanka and South East Asia continues to survive; this branch of the school is now known as Theravada. The Theravāda school claims that the Sarvāstivada and the Dharmaguptaka schools were rejected by the council, although according to other sources the Dharmaguptaka school is classified as one of the Vibhajyavādin schools. However, these schools became influential in northwestern India and Central Asia and, since their teaching is found among the scriptures preserved by the Mahāyāna schools, they may have had some formative influence on the Mahāyāna. The Sarvāstivadins have not preserved an independent tradition about the Third Council. it has been argued by some scholars that the council was part of a series of debates and/or disputes resulting in the formation of three main doctrinal schools, Vibhajjavada, Sarvastivada, and Puggalavada, which later were subject to further subdivisions. One such subdivision of the Vibhajjavada was established in Ceylon, and in course of time came to adopt the name Theravada (given above in its Sanskrit form Sthaviravada). Its scriptures, the Pali Canon, were written down there in the last century BCE, at what the Theravada usually reckons as the fourth council.

The key to peace is understanding.
The key to understanding is communication.
The hinderance to communication is pride.
Back to top Go down
View user profile

Number of posts : 95
Age : 38
Registration date : 2007-06-02

PostSubject: Re: What is Buddhism?   Sat Jun 30, 2007 1:20 pm

It was long believed in Theravāda tradition that the Pāli language is equivalent to Māgadhī, the eastern dialect of the kingdom of Magadha spoken by the Buddha. However, linguistic comparisons of the Edicts of Aśoka and the language of the Pāli canon show strong differences between the Māgadhī of the Edicts (characterized by such changes as r → l, masculine nominative singular of a-stems in -e, etc.) and Pāli. The greatest similarity to Pāli is found in a dialectal variant of the Edicts written on a rock near Girnar in Gujarat.

Theravāda is Pāli for "the Doctrine of the Elders" or "the Ancient Doctrine". Theravāda teaches one to encourage wholesome states of mind, avoid unwholesome states of mind, and to train the mind in meditation. The aim of practice, according to Theravāda Buddhism, is the attainment of freedom from suffering, which is linked with Nirvana, the highest spiritual goal. Theravāda teaches that the experience of suffering is caused by mental defilements like greed, aversion and delusion, while freedom can be attained though putting into practice teachings like the Four Noble Truths and especially the fourth one, the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Theravāda school bases its practice and doctrine exclusively on the Pāli Canon and its commentaries. The Sutta collections and Vinaya texts of the Pāli Canon (and the corresponding texts in other versions of the Tripitaka), are generally considered by modern scholars to be the earliest Buddhist literature, and they are accepted as authentic in every branch of Buddhism.

Theravāda is the only surviving representative of the historical early Buddhist schools. Theravāda is primarily practiced today in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia as well as small portions of China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bangladesh. It has a growing presence in Europe and America.

Eastern (East Asian) Buddhism

Chinese Ming dynasty porcelain figure of Guanyin, "Goddess of Mercy."Main article: Mahayana
Mahayana ("Great Vehicle") is an inclusive, cosmically-dimensioned faith characterized by the adoption of additional texts, seen as ultimately transcending the Pali suttas, and a shift in the understanding of Buddhism. It goes beyond the traditional Theravada ideal of the release from suffering (dukkha) and personal enlightenment of the arhats, to elevate the Buddha to the God-like status of an eternal, omnipresent, all-knowing being, and to create a pantheon of quasi-divine Bodhisattvas devoting themselves to personal excellence, ultimate knowledge and the salvation of humanity (and indeed of all living beings, including animals, ghosts and gods). In Mahayana, the Buddha became an idealized man-god and the Bodhisattva was the universal ideal of excellence.

The Mahayana branch emphasizes infinite, universal compassion (maha-karuna) or the selfless, ultra-altruistic quest of the Bodhisattva to attain the "Awakened Mind" (bodhicitta) of Buddhahood so as to have the fullest possible knowledge of how most effectively to lead all sentient beings into Nirvana. Emphasis is also often placed on the notions of Emptiness (shunyata), perfected spiritual insight (prajnaparamita) and Buddha-nature (the deathless tathagatagarbha, or Buddhic Essence, inherent in all beings and creatures). The teaching of the tathagatagarbha is said by the Buddha in the tathagatagarbha sutras to constitute the "absolutely final culmination" of his Dharma the highest presentation of Truth. The Mahayana can also on occasion communicate a vision of the Buddha or Dharma which amounts to mysticism and gives expression to a form of mentalist panentheism (God in Buddhism).

In addition to the Tripitaka scriptures, which (within Mahayana) are viewed as valid but only provisional or basic, Mahayana schools recognize all or part of a genre of Mahayana scriptures. Some of these sutras became for Mahayanists a manifestation of the Buddha himself. Mahayana Buddhism shows a great deal of doctrinal variation and development over time, and even more variation in terms of practice. While there is much agreement on general principles, there is disagreement over which texts are more authoritative.

Native Eastern Buddhism is practiced today in China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, parts of Russia and most of Vietnam. The Buddhism practiced in Tibet, the Himalayan regions, and Mongolia is also Mahayana in origin, but will be discussed below under the heading of Northern Buddhism. There are a variety of strands in Eastern Buddhism, which in most of this area are fused into a single unified form of Buddhism. However, in Japan they form separate denominations. The five major ones are the following.

Pure Land
Nichiren, peculiar to Japan
Shingon, a form of Vajrayana

Northern (Tibetan) Buddhism

Young Tibetan Buddhist monks of DrepungMain article: Vajrayana
Though thoroughly based upon Mahāyāna, Tibeto-Mongolian Buddhism is sometimes characterized as Vajrayāna or "Diamond Vehicle" (also referred to as Mantrayāna, Tantrayāna, Tantric Buddhism, or esoteric Buddhism). It therefore accepts all the basic concepts of Mahāyāna, but also includes a vast array of spiritual techniques designed to enhance Buddhist practice. One component of the Vajrayāna is harnessing psycho-physical energy as a means of developing profoundly powerful states of concentration and awareness. These profound states are in turn to be used as an efficient path to Buddhahood. Using these techniques, it is claimed that a practitioner can achieve Buddhahood in one lifetime, or even as little as three years. In addition to the Theravāda and Mahāyāna scriptures, Vajrayāna Buddhists recognise a large body of Buddhist Tantras, some of which are also included in Chinese and Japanese collections of Buddhist literature.

Intellectualism and Buddhist worldview
Main article: History of Buddhist schools
According to the scriptures, in his lifetime, the Buddha had not answered several philosophical questions. On issues like whether the world is eternal or non-eternal, finite or infinite, unity or separation of the body and the self, complete inexistence of a person after nirvana and then death etc, the Buddha had remained silent. The scriptures explain that such questions distract from practical activity for realizing enlightenment.

In numerous Mahayana sutras and Tantras, the Buddha stresses that Dharma (Truth) and the Buddha himself in their ultimate modus cannot truly be understood with the ordinary rational mind or logic: both Buddha and Reality (ultimately One) transcend all worldly concepts. The "prajna-paramita" sutras have this as one of their major themes. What is urged is study, mental and moral self-cultivation, and veneration of the sutras, which are as fingers pointing to the moon of Truth, but then to let go of ratiocination and to experience direct entry into Liberation itself. The Buddha in the self-styled "Uttara-Tantra", the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, insists that, while pondering upon Dharma is vital, one must then relinquish fixation on words and letters, as these are utterly divorced from Liberation and the Buddha. The Tantra entitled the "All-Creating King" (Kunjed Gyalpo Tantra) also emphasises how Buddhic Truth lies beyond the range of thought and is ultimately mysterious. The Supreme Buddha, Samantabhadra, states there:

"The mind of perfect purity [i.e. the Awakened Mind of Buddha] ... is beyond thinking and inexplicable ... It dwells in the self-perfected bliss which is deedless and self-perfected ... I am the best path of liberation. It is a path, subtle and difficult to understand, which is non-speculative and beyond thinking ... It cannot be captured in words ... It is firm, difficult to comprehend, and totally inexplicable." (The Sovereign All-Creating Mind tr. by E.K. Neumaier-Dargyay, pp. 111112).

Also later, the famous Indian Buddhist yogi and teacher mahasiddha Tilopa discouraged any intellectual activity in his 6 words of advice.

Buddhist missionaries, however, often faced philosophical questions from other religions whose answers they themselves did not know. For those, who have attachment to intellectualism, Buddhist scholars produced a prodigious quantity of intellectual theories, philosophies and worldview concepts. See e.g. Abhidharma, Buddhist philosophy and Reality in Buddhism.

Buddhist texts
Buddhist scriptures and other texts exist in great variety. Different schools of Buddhism place varying levels of value on them. Some schools venerate certain texts as religious objects in themselves, while others take a more scholastic approach. The Buddhist canon of scripture is known in Sanskrit as the Tripitaka and in Pāli as the Tipitaka. These terms literally mean "three baskets" and refer to the three main divisions of the canon, which are:

The Vinaya Pitaka, containing disciplinary rules for the Sanghas of Buddhist monks and nuns, as well as a range of other texts including explanations of why and how rules were instituted, supporting material, and doctrinal clarification.
The Sūtra Pitaka (Pāli: Sutta Pitaka), contains the actual discourses of the Buddha.
The Abhidharma Pitaka (Pāli: Abhidhamma Pitaka) contains commentaries or systematic expositions of the Buddha's teachings.
According to the scriptures, soon after the death of the Buddha, the first Buddhist council was held; a monk named Mahākāśyapa (Pāli: Mahākassapa) presided. The goal of the council was to record the Buddha's sayings sūtras (Sanskrit) or suttas (Pāli) and codify monastic rules (Vinaya), and according to some sources the abhidhamma. Ānanda, the Buddha's personal attendant, was called upon to recite the discourses of the Buddha, and according to some sources the abhidhamma, and Upāli, another disciple, recited the rules of the Vinaya. These became the basis of the Tripitaka. However, this record was initially transmitted orally in form of chanting, and was committed to text in a much later period. Both the sūtras and the Vinaya of every Buddhist school contain a wide variety of elements including discourses on the Dharma, commentaries on other teachings, cosmological and cosmogonical texts, stories of the Buddha's previous lives, and lists relating to various subjects.

The Theravāda and other Early Buddhist Schools traditionally believe that the texts of their canon contain the actual words of the Buddha. The Theravāda canon, also known as the Pāli Canon after the language it was written in, contains some four million words. Other texts, such as the Mahāyāna sūtras, are also considered by some to be the word of the Buddha, but supposedly either were transmitted in secret, via lineages of mythical beings (such as the nāgas), or came directly from other Buddhas or bodhisattvas. Some six hundred Mahāyāna sutras have survived in Sanskrit or in Chinese or Tibetan translations.

The followers of Theravāda Buddhism take the scriptures known as the Pāli Canon as definitive and authoritative, while the followers of Mahāyāna Buddhism base their faith and philosophy primarily on the Mahāyāna sūtras and their own versions of the Vinaya. The Pāli sutras, along with other, closely-related scriptures, are known to the other schools as the āgamas.

Whereas the Theravādins adhere solely to the Pali canon and its commentaries, the adherents of Mahāyāna accept both the agamas and the Mahāyāna sūtras as authentic and valid teachings of the Buddha, designed for different types of persons and different levels of spiritual penetration. For the Theravādins, however, the Mahayana sūtras are works of poetic fiction, not the words of the Buddha himself. The Theravadins are confident that the Pali canon represents the full and final statement by the Buddha of his Dhamma and nothing more is truly needed beyond that. Anything added which claims to be the word of the Buddha and yet is not found in the Canon or its commentaries is treated with extreme caution if not outright rejection by Theravada.

Buddhist monk Geshe Konchog Wangdu reads Mahayana sutras from an old woodblock copy of the Tibetan Kanjur.For the Mahāyānists, in contrast, the āgamas do indeed contain basic, foundational, and, therefore, relatively weighty pronouncements of the Buddha, but in their view, the Mahāyāna sutras articulate the Buddha's higher, more advanced and deeper doctrines, reserved for those who follow the exalted bodhisattva path. That path is built upon the motivation to achieve not only personal liberation, but Buddhahood itself in order to know how best to liberate all living beings from unhappiness. Hence the name Mahāyāna (lit., the Great Vehicle), which has room for both the general masses of sentient beings and those who are more developed. The "Great" of "Maha-yana" is indeed typical of much of this version of Buddhism from the physical bigness (lengthiness) of some of the Mahayana sutras and the vastness of the Bodhisattva vow (to strive for all future time to help free other persons and creatures from pain), to the numbers of beings who are sought to be saved (infinitudes), to the (in some sutras and Tantras) final attainment of the Buddha's "Great Self" (mahatman) in the sphere of "Great Nirvana" (mahanirvana). For the Theravadins, however, this alleged "greatness" proclaimed by some Mahayana sutras does not necessarily equate to "true".

Unlike many religions, Buddhism has no single central text that is universally referred to by all traditions. The size and complexity of the Buddhist canons have been seen by some (including Buddhist social reformer Babasaheb Ambedkar) as presenting barriers to the wider understanding of Buddhist philosophy.

Over the years, various attempts have been made at synthesizing a single Buddhist text that will encompass all of the major principles of Buddhism. In the Theravada tradition, condensed 'study texts' were created that combined popular or influential scriptures into single volumes that could be studied by novice monks. Later in Sri Lanka, the Dhammapada was championed as a unifying scripture.

Dwight Goddard collected a sample of Buddhist scriptures, with the emphasis on Zen along with other classics of Eastern philosophy, such as the Tao Te Ching into his Buddhist Bible in the 1920s. More recently, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar attempted to create a single, combined document of Buddhist principles with his The Buddha and His Dhamma. Other such efforts have persisted to the present day, but currently there is no single text widely accepted as being central to all Buddhist traditions.

The key to peace is understanding.
The key to understanding is communication.
The hinderance to communication is pride.
Back to top Go down
View user profile

Number of posts : 95
Age : 38
Registration date : 2007-06-02

PostSubject: Re: What is Buddhism?   Sat Jun 30, 2007 1:20 pm

Buddhist symbols
Main article: Buddhist symbolism
The eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism are:

the Parasol (Umbrella)
the Golden Fish
the Treasure Vase
the Lotus
the Conch Shell
the Endless Knot
the Victory Banner
the Dharma wheel

Present state of Buddhism
This section stub requires expansion.

Typical interior of a temple in KoreaEstimates of the number of Buddhists vary from 230 to 500 million, but the most common figure today is between 350 and 400 million.[49]

Theravāda Buddhism, using Pāli as its scriptural language, is the dominant form of Buddhism in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. Also the Dalit Buddhist movement in India (inspired by B. R. Ambedkar) practices Theravada.
East Asian forms of Buddhism that use scriptures in Chinese are dominant in most of China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam as well as within Chinese and Japanese communities within Indochina, Southeast Asia and the West.
Northern Buddhism, using the Tibetan language, is found in Tibet and the surrounding area of India, Bhutan, Mongolia, Nepal, China, and the Russian Federation.
Most Buddhist groups in the West are at least nominally affiliated to some eastern tradition listed above. An exception is the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, though they can be considered Mahayanist in a broad sense.
At the present time, the teachings of all three branches of Buddhism have spread throughout the world, and Buddhist texts are increasingly translated into local languages. While in the West, Buddhism is often seen as exotic and progressive, in the East, Buddhism is regarded as familiar and part of the establishment. Buddhists in Asia are frequently well organised and well funded. In a number of countries, it is recognised as an official religion and receives state support. In the West, Buddhism is recognised as one of the growing spiritual influences.

The key to peace is understanding.
The key to understanding is communication.
The hinderance to communication is pride.
Back to top Go down
View user profile


Number of posts : 49
Age : 38
Localisation : Oneida, NY
Registration date : 2007-06-02

PostSubject: Re: What is Buddhism?   Fri Jul 06, 2007 12:55 pm

On a side note, when I was attending Oswego State and friend of mine and I were wandering the campus exploring parts that people don't mormally go (we did this a lot). We eventually found ourselves in the basement of the social sciences building. At the bottom of the main stairway in the corner we found someting very interesting. I believe it is called a prayer pole and I think it is an item used by Tibetan buddhist. P{lease correct me if I am wrong but I know I have seen this item when I saw a documentary on Tibetan culture. A person approaches the pole and kneals before it on a pad. They then spin the pole (The pole spins and has scriptures written all around it) quicklyand they pray aloud while it spins and they continue doing this.

There was nothing in the area to explain why it was there nor any signs for the general public to find it.
Back to top Go down
View user profile
Sponsored content

PostSubject: Re: What is Buddhism?   

Back to top Go down
What is Buddhism?
Back to top 
Page 1 of 1
 Similar topics
» Is Buddhism for happy people?
» Recent Articles about Buddhism, meditation and Zen
» Insightful Essay: Post-Traditional Buddhism - the Quiet Revolution
» Chapter: Scandals in Emerging Western Buddhism by Sandra Bell
» Buddhism and modern psychology

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
The Search of Truth :: Religion :: Buddhism-
Jump to: