is a religion..Buddhism is a philosophy based on the teachings
Buddha, There is some debate as to the exact year that Buddhism
was formed, but it is believed that the buddhism religion began
in the 6th century B.C. in Nepal by Siddhartha Guatama. When
Siddhartha was a young man, he left society and went to meditate
on the causes and relief of human suffering. Six years later,
Siddhartha achieved enlightenment and became the Buddha. He
began to teach others how to achieve enlightenment, too. In
the 3rd century B.C., the Indian emperor Ashoka spread Buddhism
by sending missionaries to Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, and
other parts of Asia. Gradually Buddhism has spread worldwide.
two and a half thousand years, people have followed a buddhism
religion based on the teachings of a man they called the Buddha,
meaning the Enlightened One. The starting pint in Buddism is mankind
and the way in which they suffer not just physical pain but the
general feelings of dissatification with life, the craving to
achieve or have something more, the fear of change and death.
It seeks to give a person peace of mind and to encourage and develop
loving compassion towards all living beings.
many, Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy
or 'way of life'. It is a philosophy because philosophy 'means
love of wisdom' and the Buddhist path can be summed up as:
(1) to lead
a moral life,
(2) to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and
(3) to develop wisdom and understanding.
is not a dogmatic religion in the sense that it does not required
a person to accept fixed beliefs and ideas. It does not concern
itself by debationg whether or not there is a God. It regards
all such beliefs as secondary importance. The main thing is
to help people overcome suffering and to achieve a full life.
The goal of Buddism religion is enlightenment which means to
be fully awake to the reality of life, to have an understanding
of why there is suffering in the world and how it man be overcome.
Buddhists claim that in the teaching of the Buddha they find
a path which will eventually lead them to achieve this enlightement
is great variety within Buddhism. Ther are two main Branches of
the religion - Theravada or Hinayana Buddhism in the North. Nevertheless
there is a common basis to all Buddhism expressed in what is called
the Triple Jewel (Tri Ratna). The Buddha ( the enlightened one),
the Dharma (teaching) and the Sangha (community of monks.)
look upon the judgements of right and wrong as the serpentine
a dragon, and the rise and fall of belief as traces left by the
Attributed to Buddha
MAJOR SECTS OF BUDDHISM
of opinons and arguments arising from time to time caused the
formation of new sects. Finally there arose two sects of thought
which are known as Hinayana and Mahyana. The Hinayana adhered
more to the concept of four noble truths and eightfold paths which
were primarly a philoshophy with rules of conducts and ethics.
For them the worship of deities was secondary. The conception
of Nirvana was
the freedom from the cycle of rebirth. Hinayana got it's name
because this doctrine is meant for the individual salvation where
each person has to work out his own destiny comparatively few
are able by their own efforts to obtain emancipation and chieve
Nirvana. Hinayan Buddhism is alos called Theravada Buddhism.
Literal: School of the Elders (Small Vehicle)
Main Focus: Four Noble Truths, Meditation, Sage Buddha
Main adherents: Southeast Asia
MAHAYANA BUDDHISM :
Buddhism stressed that the goal of each individuals was to seek
freedom from the chain of rebirth and thus from all sufferings
and death. the word used to describe this goal was Nirvana. Although
there were man different philosophical schools, the religion centered
around the instituiton fo the monastery, with its ordained monks
and a lay congregation that supported the monastery. the ritual
were simple and minimum. Mediation and introspection were encouraged.
Each individual sought his own Nirvana. where as in Mahayana Buddhism
the concept of Boddhisatwa, the being who desired highest enlightnment
for the welfare of other and his practice of six Parmita (Dana,
Sila, Kshanti, Birya, Bhyana, Prajna ) is emphaised. The function
of the Boddhisatwa was to postpone his own final leap into Nirvana
and to remain in the round as long as a single sentient beings
remained undelivered form suffering. This form of Buddhism came
to be known as Mahayana (the great way) or the Boddhisatwyana.
goal of Mahayana is attain buddhahood. The method of attaining
was modified. Buddhism changed through Mahayana into an altruistic
faith oriented system in wihch in addition to meditative practices,
devotion to a Boddhisatwa was as an equally valid way to reach
Buddhahood. The goal was now characterised as the state of Tatatha,
emptiness and nonduality.
Literal: Large Vehicle
Main Focus: Four Noble Truths, Meditation, Divine Buddha,
Main adherents: China, Japan, and Korea
Subdivisions : Pure Land School, Tian Dai (China) or Tendai
Chan (China) or Zen (Japan) Buddhism
Main Focus: Meditation, Chanting , Teacher-Student dialog,
Sometimes influences Tea ceremoni.
which is dominated by Mantras is known as mantryana. Tantrayana
or Vajrayana. It is characterised as the path which leads to perfect
enlightenment. Vajrayana literally means the adamantine path or
vehicle, but its technical meaning is the 'Sunya Vahicle' where
Sunya is used to special sense to represent vajra. Vajra also
mens "Thunderbolt" or 'diamond' and Yana means 'Path,
Way or Vehicle'.
connoting diamond, was chosen as the name of the tantric Buddhist
tradition because of the diamond's industructability as well as
of its physical ability to cut through all substances. Vajrayana
constitutes the last major stage in the development of Buddhism.
Buddhism accepts all assumptions of Mahayana, but expands and
elaborates them futher adding a few of its own. the goal is now
characterised as Boddhi Nature ( the matrix of Enlightment). Every
sentient being is a potential Buddha, but he or she is unware
of it beacuse of the dense fog of ignorance that clouds the mind.
the fog is said to be discursive thought, which discriminates
and polarises all concepts. Once it is moved Boddhi nature will
emerge like a clear ligh. This state of reality it achieved by
combining "Prajna" (Knowledge, wisdom or insight) with
"Upaya" (means of fitness of action which is the same
as karuna or compassion). Thus, both literally and figuratively,
Vajrayana is the belief in the twin principles of insight and
compassion and in their "Sahaja" (co-emergence) which
leads one to the state of Mahasukha (greatbliss).
Literal: Diamond Vehicle
Main Focus: Meditation, Chanting, Enlightenment in one
lifetime, Tibetan gods and demons, Religious visualizations, Philosophical
debate, Ritual, Yoga, Tantric Sex.
Main adherents: Tibet.
MAJOR COMPONENT OF BUDDHISM
religion has a set of ideas that serve as the basis for the teachings
that it offers. These are called presuppositions. These are concepts
about the nature of existence that are the basis for the teachings
of the religion. For example, the major Judeo-Christian-Islamic
presupposition is that there is a universal creator God who can
affect our day to day existence. The Buddhist presuppositions
originated in early philosophical and religious speculation that
took place in India between 4500 and 2500 years ago. They are
The Buddhist theory of existence (ontology)
All physical existence is in a cycle much like the "big Bang"
theory of modern astro-physics where all matter come together
in a big ball and then explodes. It expands for billions of years
and then collapses back into a ball for billions of years until
it and explodes again. This the Buddhist system this cycle is
called a kalpa and these cycles will repeat infinitely. The physical
form of the world is a Vast mountain in the center of the universe,
with all of the continents around it: At the top are 28 heaven
worlds, next, below them there are the five realms of Mount Meru
itself, after that there are alternating rings of mountains and
seas and after that there is a great sea with the continents in
it. Various heavenly beings live in the heaven worlds, humans
animals and ghosts live on the continents, and beings who have
been reborn in the hells live in six realms that are under the
continents. They are not shown in this drawing.
life emerges from disturbances in the dharma. Life is also eternal
and any individual may be reborn an infinite number of times.
He or she can be reborn as anything from a bacteria to a heavenly
being in the highest heaven. The cycle of lives of an individual
continues so often and in so many ways that some Buddhists have
developed a saying. "Every being now alive has been your
mother at some time in the past," and they really do mean
to count all of the insects, and even earthworms.
Buddhist theory of the end of the being/world/universe (eschatology)
states that the universe will go on for all infinite time. World
cycles, or kalpas, will repeat over and over and the life cycle
of individual beings will repeat over and over- infinitely!
Buddhist view of personal salvation (soteriology) is that the
individual may escape the endless cycle of rebirths by attaining
enlightenment. Enlightenment is essentially knowledge of how the
system works and how the individual is literally identical with
the totality of the universe. This knowledge is called enlightenment.
It may be attained through:
3) ethical/moral behavior/well being
of these beliefs were in existence before the lifetime of the
person we call the Buddha.
founder was Gotama Siddhartha who became known as the Buddha or
"Enlightened One." He lived about 2500 years ago in
a small kingdom in the Indian-Nepalese border region. There are
four main events in his life.
The first was his birth which was accompanied by many good omens
and events. After his birth, he grew up as a well educated prince
of his kingdom and married a young woman who gave birth to their
son. However, he tired of the princely life and, feeling dissatisfied,
soon left home to become a wandering ascetic, a beggar. He joined
a band of such beggars and wandered about from place to place
seeking teaching from great masters. What he sought from these
teachers was a special kind of knowledge that would allow him
to understand the nature of the universe. For six years the young
prince lived a beggar's life. During this time he nearly starved
to death through deliberately depriving himself of food.
The second great event is his enlightenment in which he attained
that special knowledge. There is a very long story of this event.
Essentially it is as follows. Prince Gotama, having nearly starved
to death from his ascetic practices, resolved to eat again and
to then meditate (essentially sitting quietly and thinking about
it) until he attained the knowledge that he was seeking. To gain
this knowledge, he sat down under a big tree and begin to meditate.
At one point in his meditations, an evil being, named Mara attacked
the prince with an army of evil warriors representing hate, lust
and greed. A great battle followed in which the weapons of the
evil army turned into flowers and Mara, the evil being, was defeated.
At the defeat of Mara, Prince Gotama had won the right to the
knowledge he sought. That knowledge is called enlightenment or
bodhi. Once he attained that knowledge, Gotama became known as
the Buddha which means the "enlightened one." The name
is actually the word bodhi combined with the verb ta, "to
be," combined into one word, i.e. bodhi+ta = Buddha. So when
we say Gotama the Buddha we are actually saying "Gotama the
3) The third great event is the first sermon. After he had attained
his special knowledge, Gotama the Buddha decided to teach his
special way of attaining this knowledge to others. He went to
a place known as the deer park where the ascetics who had been
his former companions were living. They quickly realized that
Gotama the Buddha had attained the special knowledge and asked
him to teach them how to attain it. What he taught them will be
talked about later. The act of teaching it to his former fellow
ascetics is called the first sermon. From this first teaching
arose all future teachings by Gotama the Buddha and his followers.
He would teach for over forty years.
4) The fourth event is his last death, which is called the parinirvana.
The word parinirvana means something quite different than just
death. The Buddhists believe that an individual life force would
live forever. It does this by being born and dying over and over
again. If one has been good, he or she will be reborn in the higher
levels of birth such as in the human realms or in the worlds of
the heavenly beings. However, if one has been bad, he or she will
be reborn in the lower levels of birth, as an animal, a ghost
or even in one of many hells. To die to be reborn is ordinary
death to the Buddhists. However the Buddha was not to be reborn
again. Thus his death was like the flame of a candle going out.
It was the cessation of all rebirths. Gotama the Buddha had attained
his final release. What would happen to his individual being?
He would reunite with the totality of the universe- like a drop
of water falling into the ocean.
OF TEACHINGS IN BUDDHISM
on the presuppositions we have just learned about buddhism, Gotama
Buddha taught that others could also attain the special knowledge
and thereby attain release from the cycle of rebirth by fully
realizing the following.
four noble truths:
1) Life is suffering - dukkha :Birth trauma, Illness, Old age,
Fear of approaching death, Separation from what one loves, Stuck
with what one hates.
2) The cause of suffering is desire-tanhan
3) The cure for suffering is to remove desire.
4) To remove desire, follow the eightfold path.
Understand the Four Noble Truths
2) Right Thinking
Decide to set a life on the correct path
3) Right Speech
Don't criticize others unjustly
Don't use harsh language
4) Right Conduct
Follow the Five Precepts
Earn a living that does not harm living things
6) Right Effort
Conquer all evil thoughts
Strive to maintain good thoughts
7) Right Mindfulness
Become intensely aware of all the states in body, feeling, and
8) Right Concentration
Deep meditation to lead to a higher state of consciousness (enlightenment)
Do not kill
2) Do not steal
3) Do not lie
4) Do not be unchaste
5) Do not take drugs or drink intoxicants.
Buddham saranam gachami
# To the Buddha I go for refuge.
# Buddha is truth and example of path.
Dharmam saranam gachami
# To the Dharma I go for refuge.
# Dharma is teachings.
Sangham saranam gachami
# To my Sangha I go for refuse.
# Sangha is spiritual community.
teachings of the Buddha as explained by the teachers who followed
him is a truly vast subject. This covers thousands of volumes
of literature and more than a hundred different approaches or
sects of Buddhism. There are three divisions of major approaches
and each of those major sub-schools is divided into many sub-schools.
One can spend a lifetime learning about them.
believe that there will be very few Buddhas while others believe
that there can be many Buddhas; others believe that to attain
Buddhahood takes many thousands of lifetimes while others believe
that one can attain Buddhahood in this lifetime; some believe
in detailed and secret rituals while others believe in totally
unstructured individual approaches. Yet others believe in rebirth
in a kind of Buddhist paradise while some believe that the final
attainment is to be made right here and now in this very life
time. By Buddhist definition all these approaches are valid and
each is free to follow the teachings of his or her own choosing.
addition, as Buddhism was spread into countries near India and
throughout the rest of Asia, adaptations to local concerns were
made in the teachings. Thus a Thai Buddhist may believe one thing,
a Tibetan Buddhist another and a Chinese yet another. All of this
adaptation was done by the teachers who followed the original
teachings of Gotama Buddha.
community of followers is divided into four categories:
1) the male beggars or, as they are usually called, "monks."
2) the female beggars, or nuns
3) the male lay followers
4) the female lay followers
order has its own rules, essentially defining right, views, intentions,
speech, conduct and livelihood.
lay community is, as with all lay populations, deeply concerned
with the problems of daily life and they have many rituals and
ceremonies concerned with:
1) good health
3) well being
the outset Buddhism was a missionary religion. The Buddha travelled
over a large area spreading his teachings, and explicitly charged
his disciples to do likewise with the words: 'Go, monks, and wander
for the good and welfare of the multitudes.' The spread of Buddhism
was given a considerable boost in the third century BC when one
of the greatest figures in Indian history -- Ashoka Maurya --
became emperor of India around 268 BC. Through conquest Ashoka
extended the Mauryan empire, making it the largest Indian empire
to be seen until the British Raj. After a bloody campaign on the
east coast, in the region of present-day Orissa, he experienced
remorse and turned to Buddhism. For the remainder of his long
reign he ruled according to Buddhist principles, and under his
patronage Buddhism flourished. As well as helping to establish
Buddhism within India, Ashoka also dispatched ambassadors to the
courts of rulers in the Near East and Macedonia, and, according
to the Sinhalese chronicles, to South-East Asia. The record of
these early missions is found in the stone inscriptions Ashoka
left throughout his realm, which provide some of the most reliable
data on early Indian history. It is not known with any certainty
what became of the missions, but the ones to the West seem to
have had little impact, as the earliest surviving mention of Buddhism
in Western documents is found in the writings of Clement of Alexandria
in the second century AD (earlier classical references to the
Indian sarmanes and samanaioi may also refer to Buddhism).
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