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Buddhism is both a world religion and a philosophy with distribution throughout the world, and significant variation in beliefs among its adherents. Depending on the source,Buddhists number between 230 million to 1.691 billion, most of them living in Asia. Buddhism is based on the teachings of Gautama Buddha, sometimes known simply as "The Buddha", who lived during the fifth century BCE in what is now Nepal and the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar located in the northeastern region of the Indian subcontinent.
Buddhism has spread through two main branches: Theravada which extended south and east from its origins and now has a widespread following in Southeast Asia, and Mahayana (the parent branch to many other schools), which diffused from its origins first west, north and east throughout East Asia, then further west into Europe and currently to the Americas. Buddhist schools disagree over the interpretation of the Dharma (the teachings of Gautama Buddha) and various practices. The Pāli Tipitaka (in Pāli, literally "Three Baskets") is a collection of Buddhist sacred books categorized in three large sections, and common to all schools. However, it does not include the Mahayana sutras, a document that's central to the Mayahana branch but irrelevant to Theravadins. Nonetheless, Mahayanans consider their sutras to be a compliment to the Pali Tipitaka, and part of the Buddhist texts, not a replacement.
All traditions recognize Gautama Buddha as an enlightened teacher who shared his insights in order to help sentient beings end their suffering in accordance with the laws of Karma by understanding the Four Noble Truths; realizing the true nature of phenomena and thereby escaping the cycle of suffering and rebirth known to Buddhists as sāra. Among the methods Buddhist schools apply towards that goal are ethical conduct, the cultivation of wisdom, the training of one's mind through learning and meditation, altruistic behaviour, renunciation of worldy matters, devotional practices and, in some branches, the invocation of holy beings to seek their help in achieving Nirvana. A Buddhist is one who takes refuge in The Three Jewels: Buddha; one who is Awakened, Dharma; The Teaching (of Buddha), and Sangha; The Community (of Buddhists).
While it is usually considered a religion, some scholars have defined religion in ways that exclude Buddhism. Another view is that Buddhism is "a family of religious traditions". Also, there are scholars who claim that Buddhism is much more diverse than usually thought and doesn't have a clearly definable common core.
Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, was born in the city of Lumbini and was raised in Kapilavastu.According to the Tipitaka he was born a prince. Shortly after his birth a wise man visited his father, King Śuddhodana. The wise man said that Siddhartha would either become a great king (chakravartin) or a holy man (Sadhu) based on whether he saw life outside of the palace walls. Determined to make Siddhartha a king, Śuddhodana shielded his son from the unpleasant realities of daily life.
However, at the age of 29, he ventured outside the palace complex several times despite his father's wishes. As a result he discovered the suffering of his people, through encounters with: an old man, a diseased man, a decaying corpse and an ascetic. These are known among Buddhists as The Four Sights; one of the first contemplations of Siddharta. Years after this, he married Yasodhara, with whom he had a son.
Eventually, The Four Sights prompted Gautama to be free from suffering by living the life of a mendicant ascetic, a highly respected spiritual practice at the time in ancient India. He left the palace, abandoning royal life to take up his spiritual quest, eventually finding companions with similar spiritual goals. He had various teachers who taught him various forms of meditation, including dhyāna.
One day, after almost starving to death, he accepted a little milk and rice from a village girl. After this experience, he concluded that ascetic practices, such as fasting, holding one's breath, and exposure to pain brought little spiritual benefit. He viewed them as counterproductive due to their reliance on self hatred and mortification. He abandoned asceticism, concentrating instead on anapanasati meditation (awareness of breathing), thus discovering what Buddhists call the Middle Way; a path of moderation between the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification. However, his companions left him believing he had given up on his spiritual quest.
After discovering the Middle Way, he sat under a Sacred fig (Ficus religiosa), also known as the Bodhi tree, in Bodh Gaya and vowed not to rise before achieving Nirvana. At age 35, after many days of meditation, he attained his goal of becoming a Buddha. He spent the rest of his life teaching the Dharma. He died at age 80 in Kushinagara, India.
Karma: Cause and Effect
Karma (from Sanskrit: karman) means literarily "action" or "work"; in a religious context it has an ethical or moral connotation. In Buddhism, this term is used specifically for those actions which spring from mental intent (in Pāli: cetana), which brings about phala (from Sanskrit: fruit) or vipāka (from Sanskrit: result or consequence). Karma can be either negative or positive; with its respective negative or positive vipāka.
Karma is the energy which drives sāra (the cycle of suffering and rebirth) for each being. The kusala (skillful) and akusala (unskillful) actions produces "seeds" in the mind which come to fruition either in this life or in a subsequent rebirth. The content of unwholesome actions and the lower types of wholesome actions belongs to the subject of Śīla (from Sanskrit: ethical conduct).
The suffering caused by the karmic effects of previous thoughts, words and deeds can be alleviated by following the Noble Eightfold Path. In Theravada Buddhism there is no divine salvation or forgiveness from one's karma. In contrast, in some Mahayana sutras it is teached that powerful sutras (such as the Lotus Sutra, the Angulimaliya Sutra and the Nirvana Sutra) can wholly expunge great swathes of negative karma by being heard or recited. According to the Japanese Pure Land teacher Genshin, the Buddha Amitabha has the power to destroy the karma that would otherwise bind one in samsara.
Rebirth means to be born again in one of many possible types of lifes, which where later formally classified as the Six Realms:
Naraka beings: those who live in one of many Narakas (Hells)
Animals: sharing some space with humans, but considered another type of life
Pretas: hungry ghosts, sometimes sharing some space with humans
Human beings: one of the types of life in which attaining Nirvana is possible
Asuras: variously translated as lowly deities, demons, titans, antigods
Devas and Brahmas: variously translated as gods, deities, spirits, angels, or left untranslated
Rebirths in the higher heavens can be attained by the practice of the Noble Eightfold Path.
The Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths
According to the Pali Tipitaka, the Four Noble Truths were the first teaching of Gautama Buddha after attaining Nirvana. They are sometimes considered as containing the essence of the teachings of the Buddha and are presented in the manner of a medical diagnosis and remedial prescription in a style that was common at that time:
the noble truth of the nature of dukkha or "suffering",
the noble truth that is the fundamental cause or arising of all suffering
the noble truth that is the end or escape of suffering
the noble truth that is the way or effort leading to the end of suffering and to "attain happiness."
On a very basic level of understanding, they state that:
life as we know it ultimately is or leads to "suffering" in one way or the other.
the cause of this "suffering" is attachment to, or craving for worldly pleasures of all kinds and clinging to this very existence, our "self" and the things or people we - due to our delusions - deem the cause of our respective happiness or unhappiness.
the "suffering" ends when the craving ends, one is freed from all desires by eliminating the delusions, reaches "Enlightenment";
the way to reach that liberated state is by following the path the Buddha has laid out.
This interpretation is followed closely by many modern Theravadins, described by early westerns scholars and taught as an introduction to Buddhism by some contemporary Buddhist teachers like the Dalai Lama.
According to other interpretations by Buddhist teachers and scholars and lately recognized by some western scholars as well the "truths" do not represent mere statements, but divisions or aspects of most phenomena, which falls into one of these four categories:
1.sufferings and causes of sufferings
2.cessations and paths towards liberation of suffering.
The early teaching and the traditional understanding in the Theravada is that the four noble truths are an advanced teaching for those who are ready for them. The Mahayana position is that they are a preliminary teaching for people not yet ready for the higher and more expansive Mahayana teachings.They are little known in the Far East.
The Noble Eightfold Path
The Noble Eightfold Path is the way to the cessation of suffering, the fourth Noble Truth. In the early sources (the four main Nikayas) it is not generally taught to laymen, and it is little known in the Far East. It has eight sections, each starting with samyak ( in Sanskrit: correctly, properly, well), which are grouped in three groups:
Prajñā is the wisdom which purifies the mind to attain spiritual insight into the true nature of all things:
drsti - understanding of reality as it is, not just as it appears to be.
samkalpa - thinking with no ignorance.
Śīla is the ethics or morality of abstaining from unwholesome deeds:
vāk - speaking in a truthful and non hurtful way
karmān - acting in a non harmful way
ājīvana - a non harmful livelihood
Samadhi is the meditation or concentration to develope mastery over one’s own mind through the practice of various mental disciplines:
vyāyāma - making an effort to improve
smrti - correct contemplation, mindfulness or awareness:
Mental ability to see things for what they are with clear consciousness, being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion.
samādhi - correct meditation or concentration:
explained as the first 4 dhyānas.
There are basically two ways to interpret the practice of the Eightfold Path:
The states of the Path require simultaneous development, they're practiced in parallel.
It is spoken as being a progressive series of stages through which the practitioner moves, the culmination of one leading to the beginning of another
An important guiding principle of Buddhist practice is the Middle Way which was said to have been 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.
An explanation of the state of nirvana and perfect enlightenment where all dualities fuse and cease to exist as separate entities
Another term for emptiness, the ultimate nature of all phenomena, lack of inherent existence, which avoids the extremes of permanence and nihilism or inherent existence and nothingness.
Reality in Buddhism
According to the scriptures, in his lifetime, the Buddha refused to answer several metaphysical questions. On issues such as 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. One explanation for this is that such questions distract from practical activity for realizing enlightenment. Another is that such questions assume the reality of world/self/person.
In the Pali Canon and numerous Mahayana sutras and Tantras, the Buddha stresses that Dharma (Truth) cannot truly be understood with the ordinary rational mind or logic: Reality transcends all worldly concepts. What is urged is study, mental and moral self-cultivation, faith in 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. In the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Buddha in the self-styled "Uttara-Tantra", 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, a scripture of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism) also emphasises how Buddhist Truth lies beyond the range of thought and is ultimately mysterious. The Supreme Buddha, Samantabhadra, states there: "The mind of perfect purity ... is beyond thinking and inexplicable ...." Also later, the famous Indian Buddhist yogi and teacher mahasiddha Tilopa discouraged any intellectual activity in his 6 words of advice.
Most Buddhists agree that, to a greater or lesser extent, words are inadequate to describe the goal; schools differ radically on the usefulness of words in the path to that goal.
Buddhist scholars have produced a prodigious quantity of intellectual theories, philosophies and world view concepts. See e.g. Abhidharma, Buddhist philosophy and Reality in Buddhism. Some schools of Buddhism discourage doctrinal study, but most regard it as having a place, at least for some people at some stages.
Mahayana often adopts a pragmatic concept of truth: doctrines are "true" in the sense of being spiritually beneficial. In modern Chinese Buddhism, all doctrinal traditions are regarded as equally valid.
Mahāyāna Buddhism received significant theoretical grounding from Nāgārjuna (perhaps c.150–250 CE), arguably the most influential scholar within the Mahāyāna tradition. Some of the writings attributed to him made explicit references to Mahāyāna texts, but his philosophy was argued within the parameters set out by the Tripiṭaka sūtras. 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. He may have arrived at his positions from a desire to achieve a consistent exegesis of the Buddha's doctrine as recorded in the Canon. In the eyes of Nagarjuna the Buddha was not merely a forerunner, but the very founder of the Madhyamaka system.
Sarvāstivāda teaching, which was criticized by Nāgārjuna, was reformulated by scholars such as Vasubandhu and Asaga and were adapted 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 metaphysics in the Indo-Tibetan tradition.
In the Mahayana school, 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). in the tathagatagarbha sutras the Buddha is portrayed proclaiming that the teaching of the tathagatagarbha constitutes the "absolutely final culmination" of his Dharma—the highest presentation of Truth (other sūtras make similar statements about other teachings). This has traditionally been regarded as the highest teaching in East Asian Buddhism. However, in modern China all doctrines are regarded as equally valid. 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
Theravāda promotes the concept of Vibhajjavada (Pali), literally "Teaching of Analysis". This doctrine says that insight must come from the aspirant's experience, critical investigation, and reasoning instead of by blind faith.
The Cycle of Samsara
Human beings crave pleasure and satisfaction of the six senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking) from birth to death. After another rebirth they do the same, and continue repeating this cycle (Samsara). Humans always expect pleasure and do not like to feel pain. This cycle of suffering is explained in twelve links of dependent origination, each conditioning the next:
Avidyā: ignorance, specifically spiritual
Sanskāras: literally formations, explained as referring to Karma.
Vijñāna: consciousness, specifically discriminative
Nāmarūpa: literally name and form, referring to mind and body
nannāyatana: the six sense bases: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind-organ
Sparśa: variously translated contact, impression, stimulation
Vedanā: usually translated feeling: this is the "hedonic tone", i.e. whether something is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral
Tanhā: literally thirst, but nearly always in Buddhism used to mean craving
Upādāna: clinging or grasping; the word also means fuel, which feeds the continuing cycle of rebirth
Bhava: literally being (existence) or becoming. (The Theravada explains this as having two meanings: karma, which produces a new existence, and the existence itself.)
Jāti: literally birth, but life is understood as starting at conception
Jarāmaraa (old age and death) and also śokaparidevadunkhadaurmanasyopāyāsa (sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness and misery)
Human beings always suffer throughout Samsara, until they become free from this suffering when attaining Nirvana. Then the absence of ignorance leads to the absence of the others as above.
Nirvana is a concept that comes from Sanskrit and means "cessation", "extinction" (of suffering) or (Tanhā) "extinguished", "quited", "calmed"; it's also known as "Awakening" or "Enlightenment" in the West. Also, Buddhists believe that anybody who has achieved nirvana (also known as bodhi) is in fact a Buddha
Mahayana Buddhism generally regards as its most important teaching the path of the bodhisattva. This already existed as a possibility in earlier Buddhism, as it still does in Theravada today, but the Mahayana gave it an increasing emphasis, eventually saying everyone should follow it.
In the Mahayana, the Buddha tends not to be viewed as merely human, but as the earthly projection of a beginningless and endless, omnipresent being (Dharmakaya) 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.
Bodhi is a term applied to the experience of Awakening of Arahants. Bodhi literally means "awakening", but is more commonly referred to as "enlightenment". In Early Buddhism Bodhi carries a meaning synonymous to Nirvana, using only some different similies to describe the experience, which implied the extinction of raga (greed), dosa (hate) and moha (delusion).
A person may awaken from the "sleep of ignorance" by directly realizing the true nature of reality; such people are called arahants. After numerous lifetimes of spiritual striving they have also reached the end of the compulsive cycle of rebirths, no longer reincarnating as human, animal, ghost, or other being.
These people, also occasionally referred to as buddhas, are classified into three types.
Sammasambuddha, usually just called Buddha, who discovers the truth by himself and teaches the path to awakening to others
Paccekabuddha, who discovers the truth by himself but lacks the skill to teach others
Sāvakabuddha, who has followed the teaching of a Buddha, and may use it to guide others (see also: Arhat)
Bodhi and Nirvana carry the same meaning, that of being freed from craving, hate and delusion. The Arahant, according to Theravada doctrine, has thus overcome greed, hatred, and delusion, attaining Bodhi. In Theravada Buddhism, the extinction of only greed (in relation to the sense sphere) and hatred, while a residue of delusion remains, is called Anagami.
Celestial Buddhas are individuals who no longer exist on the material plane of existence, but who still aid in the enlightenment of all beings.
Nirvana came to refer only to the extinction of greed and hate, implying that delusion was still present in one who attained Nirvana. Bodhi became a higher attainment that eradicate delusion entirely. Thus, the Arahant attains Nirvana but not Bodhi, thus still being subject to delusion, while the Buddha attains Bodhi.
The method of self-exertion or "self-power" - without reliance on an external force or being - stands in contrast to another major form of Buddhism, "Pure Land", which is characterised by utmost trust in the salvific "other-power" of Amida Buddha. Pure Land Buddhism is a very widespread and perhaps the most faith-orientated manifestation of Buddhism and centres upon the conviction that faith in Amitabha Buddha and/or the chanting of homage to his name will provide the spiritual energy that will liberate one at death into the "happy land" (sukhavati) or "pure land" of Amitabha (called Amida in Japanese) Buddha. This Buddhic realm is variously construed as a foretaste of Nirvana, or as essentially Nirvana itself. The great vow of Amitabha Buddha to rescue all beings from samsaric suffering is viewed within Pure Land Buddhism as universally efficacious, if only people will have faith in the power of that limitless great Vow, or will utter the liberational chant of Amida's name.
Nearly all Chinese Buddhists accept that the chances of attaining sufficient enlightenment by one's own efforts are very slim, so that Pure Land practice is essential as an "insurance policy" even if one practises something else.
Buddhists believe the Gautama Buddha was the first to achieve enlightenment in this Buddha era and is therefore credited with the establishment of Buddhism. A Buddha era is the stretch of history during which people remember and practice the teachings of the earliest known Buddha. This Buddha era will end when all the knowledge, evidence and teachings of the Guatama Buddha have vanished. This belief therefore maintains that many Buddha eras have started and ended throughout the course of human existence. The Gautama Buddha, then, is the Buddha of this era, who taught directly or indirectly to all other Buddhas in it
In addition, Mahayana believes there are innumerable other Buddhas in other universesbut Theravada denies this.
Mahayana encourages everyone to follow a bodhisattva path, while Theravada regards it as an option. Theravada and some Mahayana sources consider a bodhisattva as someone on the path to Buddhahood, while other Mahayana sources speak of bodhisattvas renouncing Buddhahood. The Mahayana summarizes bodhisattva practice in six perfections: giving,morality, patience, energy, concentration and wisdom.
Devotion is an important part of the practice of most Buddhists. Devotional practices include bowing, offerings, pilgrimage, chanting. In Pure Land Buddhism, devotion to the Buddha Amitabha is the main practice. In Nichiren Buddhism, devotion to the Lotus Sutra is the main practice.
Refuge in the Three Jewels
Traditionally, the first step in most Buddhist schools requires taking refuge in the Three Jewels (Sanskrit: त्रिरत्न TriRatna, Pali: Tiratana)., as the foundation of one's religious practice. The practice of taking refuge on behalf of young or even unborn children is mentioned in the Majjhima Nikaya, recognized by most scholars as an early text (cf Infant baptism). Tibetan Buddhism sometimes adds a fourth refuge, in the lama. In Mahayana, the person who chooses the bodhisattva path makes a vow/pledge; which 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 Nirvana. See also the Tathāgata and Śākyamuni Buddha. The Buddha could also be represented as a concept instead of a specific person: the perfect wisdom that understands Dharma and 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" (of Buddhists) or "congregation" (of monks), 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 noble stage (Sotapanna (pali): one who has entered the stream to enlightenment). According to some modern Buddhists, it also consists of laymen and laywomen, usually also the caretakers of monks.
According to the scriptures, Gautama Buddha presented himself as a model, however, he did not ask his followers simply to have faith (Sanskrit श्रद्धा śraddhā, Pāli saddhā) in his example of a human who attained Nirvana. In addition, he encouraged them to put his teachings to the test and accept what they could verify on their own, provided that this was also "praised by the wise" (see Kalama Sutta). The Dharma offers a refuge by providing guidelines for the alleviation of suffering and the attainment of Nirvana. The Saṅgha (Buddhist Order of monks) is considered to provide a refuge by preserving the authentic teachings of the Buddha and providing further examples that the truth of the Buddha's teachings is attainable.
The Three Jewels is part of Buddhist devotion.
Śīla (Sanskrit) or sīla (Pāli) is usually translated into English as "virtuous behavior", "morality", "ethics" or "precept". It is an action committed through the body, speech, or mind, and involves 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.
Śīla is the foundation of Samadhi/Bhāvana (Meditative cultivation) or mind cultivation. Keeping the precepts promotes not only the peace of mind of the cultivator, which is internally, but also peace in the community, which is externally. According to the Law of Kamma, keeping the precepts are meritorious and it acts as causes which would bring about peaceful and happy effects. Keeping these precepts keeps the cultivator from rebirth in the four woeful realms of existence.
Śīla 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. (non-violence towards sentient life forms)
2. To refrain from taking that which is not given. (not committing theft)
3. To refrain from sensual (sexual) misconduct.
4. To refrain from lying. (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 jewelry, going to shows, etc.
8. To refrain from using a high, luxurious bed.
Vinaya is the specific moral code for monks and nuns. It includes the Patimokkha, a set of 227 rules for monks 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). In Japan, this has almost completely displaced the monastic vinaya, and allows clergy to marry.
Buddhist meditation is fundamentally concerned with two themes: transforming the mind and using it to explore itself and other phenomena.
Samādhi/Bhāvanā (Meditative cultivation)
In the language of the Noble Eightfold Path, samyaksamādhi is "right concentration". The primary means of cultivating samādhi is meditation. According to Theravada Buddhism the Buddha taught two types of meditation, viz. samatha meditation (Sanskrit: śamatha) and vipassanā meditation (Sanskrit: vipaśyanā). In Chinese Buddhism, these exist (translated chih kuan), but Chan (Zen) meditation is more popular. Throughout most of Buddhist history before modern times, serious meditation by lay people has been unusual. 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 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 jñāna (Pāli ñāna knowledge), prajñā (Pāli paññā pure understanding) and thus can lead to nirvāna (Pāli nibbāna). When one is in jñāna, all defilements are suppressed temporarily. Only prajñā or vipassana eradicates the defilements completely. Jhanas are also resting states which arahants abide in order to rest.
In Theravāda Buddhism, the cause of human existence and suffering is identified as the craving, which carries with it the various defilements. These various defilements are traditionally summed up as greed, hatred and delusion. These are believed to be parasites that have infested the mind and create suffering and stress. In order to be free from suffering and stress, these defilements need to be permanently uprooted through internal investigation, analyzing, experiencing, and understanding of the true nature of those defilements by using jhāna, a technique which is part of the Noble Eightfold Path. It will then lead the meditator to realize the Four Noble Truths, Enlightenment and Nibbana. Nibbana is the ultimate goal of Theravadins.
Prajñā (Sanskrit) or paññā (Pāli) means wisdom that is based on a realization of dependent origination, The Four Noble Truths and the three marks of existence. Prajñā 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 as dukkha (unsatisfactory), anicca (impermanence) and anatta (devoid of self). Prajñā is also listed as the sixth of the six pāramitās of the Mahayana.
Initially, prajñā 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.
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. 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.
Ch'an (Chinese) or Zen (Japanese) Buddhism (whose name is derived from the Sanskrit term, dhyana - "meditation") is a form of Buddhism that became popular in China and Japan and that lays special emphasis on meditation. According to Charles S. Prebish (in his Historical Dictionary of Buddhism, Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi, 1993, p. 287): "Although a variety of Zen 'schools' developed in Japan, they all emphasize Zen as a teaching that does not depend on sacred texts, that provides the potential for direct realization, that the realization attained is none other than the Buddha nature possessed by each sentient being ...". Zen places less emphasis on scriptures than some other forms of Buddhism and prefers to focus on direct spiritual breakthroughs to truth.
Zen Buddhism is divided into two main schools: Rinzai and Soto, the former greatly favouring the use in meditation of the koan (meditative riddle or puzzle) as a device for spiritual break-through, and the latter (while certainly employing koans) focussing more on shikantaza or "just sitting". Prebish comments (op. cit., p. 244): "It presumes that sitting in meditation itself (i.e. zazen) is an expression of Buddha nature." The method is to detach the mind from conceptual modes of thinking and perceive Reality directly. Speaking of Zen in general, Buddhist scholar Stephen Hodge writes (Zen Masterclass, Godsfield Press, 2002, pp. 12–13): "... practitioners of Zen believe that Enlightenment, the awakening of the Buddha-mind or Buddha-nature, is our natural state, but has been covered over by layers of negative emotions and distorted thoughts. According to this view, Enlightenment is not something that we must acquire a bit at a time, but a state that can occur instantly when we cut through the dense veil of mental and emotional obscurations."
Zen Buddhist teaching is often full of paradox, in order to loosen the grip of the ego and to facilitate the penetration into the realm of the True Self or Formless Self, which is equated with the Buddha himself (Critical Sermons on the Zen Tradition, Hisamatsu Shin'ichi, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2002, passim). Commenting on Rinzai Zen and its Chinese founder, Linji, Hisamatsu states: "Linji indicates our true way of being in such direct expressions as 'True Person' and 'True Self'. It is independent of words or letters and transmitted apart from scriptural teaching. Buddhism doesn't really need scriptures. It is just our direct awakening to Self ..." (Hisamatsu, op. cit., p. 46). Nevertheless, Zen does not neglect the scriptures.
Though thoroughly based upon Mahāyāna, Tibeto-Mongolian Buddhism is also one of the schools that practice 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 and physical 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
The history of Indian Buddhism may be divided into the following five periods:
Early Buddhism or Early Buddhist Schools (also called Pre-sectarian Buddhism); Hajime Nakamura subdivides this into two subperiods:
original Buddhism (other scholars call this earliest Buddhism or precanonical Buddhism
Period of the Early Buddhist schools (also called Sectarian Buddhism, Nikaya Buddhism)
Early Mahayana Buddhism
Later Mahayana Buddhism
Vajrayana Buddhism (also called Esoteric Buddhism)
These developments were not always consecutive. For example, the early schools continued to exist alongside Mahayana. Some scholars have argued that Mahayana remained marginal for centuries.
The earliest phase of Buddhism (pre-sectarian Buddhism) recognized by nearly all scholars (the main exception is Dr Gregory Schopen,) is based on a comparison of the Pali Canon with surviving portions of other early canons. Its main scriptures are the Vinaya Pitaka and the four principal Nikayas or Agamas.
Certain basic teachings appear in many places throughout the early texts, so most scholars conclude that Gautama Buddha must have taught at least:
the three characteristics
the five aggregates
karma and rebirth
the four noble truths
the eightfold path
Some scholars disagree, and have proposed many other theories.
According to the scriptures, soon after the paranirvāṇa (from Sanskrit: "highest extinguishment") of Gautama 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 teachings to ensure that no errors occurred 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). Scholars regard the traditional accounts of the council as greatly exaggerated if not entirely fictitious.
According to most scholars, at some period after the Second Council however, the Sangha began to break into separate factions. Schopen suggests that Buddhism was very diverse from the beginning and became less so. The various accounts differ as to when the actual schisms occurred: according to the Dipavamsa of the Pāli 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 may refer 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. However, the late Professor Hirakawa argued that the first schism occurred after the death of Asoka. These schisms occurred within the early Buddhist schools, 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. The Sthaviras gave rise to several schools, one of which was the Theravāda school. Originally, these schisms were caused by disputes over vinaya, and monks following different schools of thought seem to have lived happily together in the same monasteries, but eventually, by about 100 CE if not earlier, schisms were being caused by doctrinal disagreements too
Following (or leading up to) the schisms, each Saṅgha started to accumulate an Abhidharma, a collection of philosophical texts and commentaries. 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 Gautama 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-hsien (Faxian) (5th century CE), Yuan Chuang and Hsüan-tsang (Xuanzang, 7th century CE), Mahasanghika School did have their own version of Abhidhamma.
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 stūpas (Buddhist religious memorials) 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 island of Sri Lanka 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 Buddhism (Dharma), 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. It is a matter of disagreement among scholars whether or not these emissaries were accompanied by Buddhist missionaries
Buddhism had become virtually extinct in India, and although it continued to exist in surrounding countries, its influence was no longer expanding. It is now again gaining strength. Estimates of the number of Buddhist followers are uncertain, ranging from 230 to more than 1.600 million worldwide. Most scholars classify similar numbers of people under a category they call Chinese folk or traditional religion, which is an amalgam of various traditions, including Buddhism. Estimates are uncertain and in dispute because:
of difficulties in defining who counts as a Buddhist;
of synchretism in the Eastern religions such as Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shinto and traditional religions or Shamanism, animism; having beliefs comprising a mix of religious ideas;
it was difficult to estimate accurately the number of Buddhists because they did not have congregational memberships and often did not participate in public ceremonies;
of uncertainties in the situation for several countries; most notably China, Vietnam and North Korea
According to one analysis, Buddhism is the fourth-largest religion in the world behind Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. The monks' order (Sangha), which began during the lifetime of the Buddha in India, is among the oldest organizations on earth
Theravāda Buddhism, using Pāli as its scriptural language, is the dominant form of Buddhism in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Burma. Also the Dalit Buddhist movement in India (inspired by B. R. Ambedkar) practices Theravada.
East Asian forms of Mahayana 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.
Tibetan Buddhism is found in Tibet and the surrounding areas in India, Bhutan, Mongolia, Northeast China, Nepal, 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.
The numbers of adherents of the three main traditions listed above are about 124, 185 and 20 million, respectively.
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 traditional. Buddhists in Asia are frequently well organized and well funded. In a number of countries, it is recognized as an official religion and receives state support. In the West, Buddhism is recognized as one of the growing spiritual influences.
Schools and Traditions
The most frequently used classification of Buddhism among scholars has two divisions, Theravada and Mahayana. In this classification, Mahayana includes both East Asian and Tibetan Buddhism. This scheme is the one ordinarily used in the English language. Some scholars use other schemes. Buddhists themselves have a variety of other schemes. A common addition to this three is Vajrayana, but it can also be considered part of Mahayana. Hinayana (literally "smaller vehicle") is used to name Theravada, but this can be considered derogatory.
An alternative scheme used by some scholars divides Buddhism into the following three traditions or geographical or cultural areas: Theravada, East Asian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism.
Not all traditions of Buddhism share the same philosophical outlook, or treat the same concepts as central. Each tradition, however, does have its own core concepts, and some comparisons can be drawn between them.
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.
Despite some differences among the Theravada and Mahayana schools, there are several concepts common to both major Buddhist branches:
Both accept the Buddha as their teacher.
Both accept the middle way, dependent origination, the four noble truths and the noble eightfold path, in theory, though in practice these have little or no importance in some traditions.
Both accept that members of the laity and of the sangha can pursue the path toward enlightenment (bodhi).
Both consider buddhahood to be the highest attainment; however Theravadins consider the nirvana (nibbana to the Theravadins) attained by arahants as identical to that attained by the Buddha himself, as there is only one type of nirvana. According to Theravadins, a buddha is someone who has discovered the path all by himself and taught it to others.
Theravāda ("Doctrine of the Elders", or "Ancient Doctrine") is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It is relatively conservative, and generally closest to early Buddhism. This school is derived from the Vibhajjavāda grouping which emerged amongst the older Sthavira group at the time of the Third Buddhist Council (c. 250 BCE). This school gradually declined on the Indian subcontinent, but its branch in Sri Lanka and South East Asia continues to survive.
The Theravada school bases its practice and doctrine exclusively on the Pāli Canon and its commentaries. After being orally transmitted for a few centuries, its scriptures, the Pali Canon, were finally committed to writing in the last century BCE, in Sri Lanka, at what the Theravada usually reckon as the fourth council. It is also one of the first Buddhist schools to commit the complete set of its canon into writing. 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 primarily practiced today in Sri Lanka, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia as well as small portions of China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bangladesh. It has a growing presence in Europe and America.
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). Some scholars have 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 bodhisattva were used to preach Buddhism to the masses. Other scholar reject this theory. 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
Around the second century 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. 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. The new scriptures were first written in Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit or one of the Prakrits. From that point on, and in the space of a few centuries, Mahayana would 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
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.
In addition to the Tripitaka scriptures in the narrower sense, 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, and faith in and veneration of those texts are stated in some sutras (e.g. the Lotus Sutra and the Mahaparinirvana Sutra) to lay the foundations for the later attainment of Buddhahood itself.
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.
Nichiren, peculiar to Japan
Shingon, a form of Vajrayana
In Korea, nearly all Buddhists belong to the Chogye school, which is officially Son (Zen), but with substantial elements from other traditions.
Pure Land Buddhism
Main article: Pure Land Buddhism
There are estimated to be around 100 million Chinese Buddhists. Pure Land Buddhism is the most popular form in China, particularly among the laity. In the first half of the twentieth century, most Chinese monks practised Pure Land, some combining it with Chan (Zen); Chan survived into the 20th century in a small number of monasteries, but died out in mainland China after the communist takeover. In Taiwan Chan meditation is popular,but most Buddhists follow Pure Land.
There are estimated to be about 40 million Buddhists in Vietnam. The Buddhism of monks and educated lay people is mainly Thien (Zen), with elements of Pure Land and tantra, but that of most ordinary Buddhists has little or no Thien element, being mainly Pure Land.
Vajrayāna or Tibetan Buddhism
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. 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, 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 (9th–12th 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.
Vajrayana combined and developed a variety of elements, a number of which had already existed for centuries. In addition to the 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, and versions of a few even in the Pali Canon.
Although it continued to in surrounding countries, over the centuries Buddhism gradually declined in India and it was virtually extinct there by the time of the British conquest.
Scholars categorize Buddhist scriptures by the languages in which they are written. These are the Pāli, Tibetan, Mongolian and Chinese collections, along with some texts that still exist in Sanskrit and Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit. This method doesn't always correspond to the traditions and schools.
Buddhist scriptures and other texts exist in great variety. Different schools of Buddhism place varying levels of value on learning the various texts. Some schools venerate certain texts as religious objects in themselves, while others take a more scholastic approach. The Buddhist canons of scripture are 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 discourses ascribed to the Buddha.
The Abhidharma Pitaka (Pāli: Abhidhamma Pitaka) contains material often described as 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). 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 were transmitted in secret, or via lineages of mythical beings (such as the nāgas), or came directly from other Buddhas or bodhisattvas. Approximately six hundred Mahāyāna sutras have survived in Sanskrit or in Chinese or Tibetan translations. In addition, East Asian Buddhism recognizes some sutras regarded by scholars as of Chinese origin.
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, 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
For the Mahāyānists, in contrast, the āgamas do indeed contain basic, foundational, and, therefore, relatively weighty pronouncements of the Buddha. From the Mahayana standpoint the Mahāyāna sutras articulate the Buddha's higher, more advanced and deeper doctrines, reserved for those who follow the bodhisattva path. That path is explained as being built upon the motivation to liberate all living beings from unhappiness. Hence the name Mahāyāna (lit., the Great Vehicle), which expresses availability both to the general masses of sentient beings and those who are more developed. The theme of greatness can be seen in many elements of Mahayana Buddhism, from the length of some of the Mahayana sutras and the vastness of the Bodhisattva vow, which strives for all future time to help free all other persons and creatures from pain), to the (in some sutras and Tantras) final attainment of the Buddha's "Great Self" (mahatman) in the sphere of "Great Nirvana" (mahanirvana).
Unlike many religions, Buddhism has no single central text that is universally referred to by all traditions. However, some scholars have referred to the Vinaya Pitaka and the first four Nikayas of the Sutta Pitaka as the common core of all Buddhist traditions. However, this could be considered misleading, as Mahāyāna considers these merely a preliminary, and not a core, teaching, the Tibetan Buddhists have not even translated most of the āgamas, though theoretically they recognize them, and they play no part in the religious life of either clergy or laity in China and Japan. 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 to synthesize a single Buddhist text that can 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
|11-12-2010, 02:29 PM||#3|
Join Date: Mar 2008
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IS THERAVADA BUDDHISM FOR ARAHANTSHIP ONLY?By U Silananda
Although Theravada Buddhism is known more widely than before nowadays, there are still some misunderstandings concerning it. There are still people who believe and say (or rather write) that Theravada is for Arahantship only. Before we talk about this subject, we must understand the meaning of the word arahant. According to Theravada Buddhist teachings, an arahant is a person who has reached the fourth and highest stage of enlightenment. All those who have reached this stage are called arahants, worthy ones. Worthy of what? Worthy of accepting gifts from devotees, because gifts made to those persons bring abundant results. According to this definition, all those who have reached this stage, both disciples and Buddhas (and Pacceka-Buddhas also), are called arahants. There are numerous places in the Pali Canon where the Buddha is referred to as arahant, see for instance the formula of homage which Buddhists say everyday: "Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammasambuddhassa!"; observe also the statement in the Mahavagga of Vinaya Pitaka, "There are now six arahants in the world", i.e., the five first disciples and the Buddha. But arahant is also used to refer to the disciples only, and it is in this sense that the word arahant is used hereafter in this article.
According to Theravada teachings, there are three kinds of beings who have reached the fourth stage of enlightenment: Buddhas, Pacceka-Buddhas, and Arahants. Arahants are also called Savakas or Disciples; they are subdivided into Aggasavaka (the Best Disciples), Mahasavaka (the Great Disciples) and Pakatisavaka (the Ordinary Disciples). All of these beings are enlightened persons, but their quality of enlightenment differs from one another. The enlightenment of the Buddhas is the best, that of Pacceka-Buddhas is inferior to the enlightenment of the Buddhas, but is superior to the enlightenment of the Arahants, and the enlightenment of the Arahants is the lowest of them all. Buddhas can ‘save’ many beings, or rather they can help many beings ‘save’ themselves by giving them instructions, but Pacceka-Buddhas do not ‘save’ beings because they are solitary Buddhas and do not teach as a rule. The Arahants can and do ‘save’'beings, but not as many beings as Buddhas do. And the time required for the maturity of the qualities of these beings differ greatly. To become a Buddha, one has to fulfill the Paramis (necessary qualities for becoming a Buddha) for four, eight or sixteen Incalculables and 100,000 worlds cycles; but for a Pacceka-Buddha the time is only two Incalculables and 100,000 world cycles. Among the Disciples, for an Aggasavaka, the time required is one Incalculable and 100,000 world cycles, while for a Mahasavaka, it is only 100,000. But for the Pakatisavaka, it may be just one life, or a hundred lives, or a thousand lives, or more. It is important to note that once a person becomes an arahant, he will not become a Buddha in that life; and since there is no more rebirth for him, he will not become a Buddha in the future either.
In Theravada Buddhism one is not forced to follow the path to Buddhahood only, but is given a choice from among the paths mentioned above. So a Theravada Buddhist can aspire for and eventually reach Buddhahood; indeed he must be determined to fulfill the Paramis for the long, long time required for the fulfillment of Buddhahood. Or if he so desires, he may aspire for Pacceka-Buddhahood, or one of the states of Arahantship and suffer in the round of rebirths for the time required for his particular choice of the path accumulating the necessary Paramis and ‘save’ as many beings as they can. So a Theravada Buddhist is free to choose what suits his willingness to go through the round of rebirths and suffering.
In brief, a Theravada Buddhist can become a Buddha, or a Pacceka-Buddha, or an Arahant according to his choice. So Theravada Buddhism is for all three paths and not for the path to Arahantship only.
Here comes another question: If a Theravada Buddhist can choose any path, why is the attainment of Arahantship so much talked about in Theravada Buddhism? It is because only very few can become Buddhas. As you know (if you have read so far, of course), an aspirant for Buddhahood has to undergo a lot of suffering for a long, long time in the round of rebirths making sacrifices no other being even dreams of; and there can be only one Buddha at a time in the whole world, so that the appearance of a Buddha is very, very rare. Therefore, for every being to aspire for Buddhahood is impractical; it would be like all native citizens of the United States trying to become a President of the United States. Moreover, the purpose of becoming a Buddha is to ‘save’ beings or ‘help beings save themselves.’ But if everybody were to become a Buddha, there would be no beings for a Buddha to ‘save’–please note that Buddhas do not need any instructions from anybody–and so the original purpose would not be served. On the contrary, to become an Arahant is very practical, and millions of beings attained Arahantship during the time of a Buddha. That is why, in Theravada Buddhism, beings are encouraged to try to become Arahants which is practical rather than to become Buddhas which is not so. But as stated before, beings are given freedom to follow the path of their choice in their endeavor for attainment of enlightenment. After all, what is important for all beings is to get free from suffering in the round of rebirths no matter which path they choose.
Still another question: Are there Theravada Buddhists who aspire for Buddhahood? We are glad to answer in the affirmative. But since not many of them are on record, we cannot say how many. At least there was a king in Myanmar during the Pagan Period who built a pagoda and dedicated it to the Dispensation of the Buddha. In that pagoda he left an inscription where he clearly declared his aspiration for Buddhahood; and almost all kings of ancient Myanmar considered themselves to be aspirants for Buddhahood. There are also authors of religious books, mostly monks, who mentioned their aspiration for Buddhahood at the end of their books. So, we can say that there are not a few Theravada Buddhists who aspire for Buddhahood.
|11-12-2010, 02:32 PM||#4|
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,547Rep Power: 44
more Theravada info
Four noble Truths
1. Life is suffering
2. Suffering is from Craving
3. You can cease suffering
4. The eightfold path will lead to suffering
Three marks of existence
1. impermanence (Anicca)
2. Suffering (Dukkha)
3. Not-Self (Anatta)
Levels of Attainment
Stream Enterer- Those who have destroyed the first three fetters
Once Returner- Those who have destroyed the first three fetters and have lessened the fetters of lust and hatred will attain Nirvana after being born once more in the world.
Non Returner- Those who have destroyed the five lower fetters, which bind beings to the world of the senses. Non-returners will never again return to the human world and after they die, they will be born in the high heavenly worlds, there to attain Nirvana. Attaining the state of non-returner is portrayed in the early texts as the ideal goal for laity.
Arahant- Those who have reached Enlightenment, realized Nirvana, and have reached the quality of deathlessness are free from all the fermentations of defilement. Their ignorance, craving and attachments have ended. Attaining the state of Arahant is portrayed in the early texts as the ideal goal for monastics.
The Pali canon identifies ten fetters:
2. doubt or uncertainty, especially about the teachings
3. attachment to rites and rituals
4. sensual desire (kāmacchando)
5. ill will (vyāpādo or byāpādo)
6. craving for fine-material existence
7. craving for immaterial existence
Nirmanakaya- The Buddha in physical or manifest form.
Dharmakaya- The Truth body, Buddha is literally the truth or Dhamma
The first form of meditation is Vipassana Meditation. This meditation is used to help you attain insight to see the noble truths and the marks of existence. The Other is calm abiding. Here you attain a state of tranquility or a state of Nirvana/Samadhi. The last one, which takes life times to master, is Jhana meditation. Here you go threw eight stages to hopefully attain a state of Enlightenment.
Vipassana- Here you will try to see how everything is Impermanent, how suffering is everywhere and how nothing has a self.
Samatha- This can be likened to Samadhi. Here you attain a state of bliss and can effortlessly stay here for hours on end!
Jhana Meditation- Here you go up the three Jhana’s and reach different states of Consciousness
First Jhana- Start you one pointed meditation and begin to create a good physical sensation. This feeling pulls you into the first Jhana.
Second Jhana- Instead of having a physical sensation of happiness or a good feeling, you atop having it be physical and make it emotional, thus you feel a deep happiness.
Third Jhana- Now you in a sense turn down you emotional level until you feel a sense of joy and contentment.
Fourth Jhana- Now you turn that down even more until you reach a state of inner stillness.
Fifth Jhana (base of infinite space)- Feel your sense of self go out side of you body and further and further until you feel as if you are infinite.
Sixth Jhana (base of infinite consciousness)- Now you have to create an infinite awareness so that you can perceive how great the infinite space is. Here you attain a feeling of infinite consciousness.
Seventh Jhana (base of nothingness)- Now you shift your attention to the contents of the infinite consciousness, which is aware of an infinite space, which in full of nothing.
Eighth Jhana (base of neither perception nor non-perception) Here you are aware that you are concentrating on something but you don’t identify it. In a sense you know that the object of concentration is there, but you choose not to perceive or label it. Here there is little recognition of what is happening, but you are also not completely unaware of what is happening.
Sankhara means co-doing in Pali and this means a thing that acts with another thing or things that are made by a combonation of things.
One form of Sankhara talked about in the Pali canon is the Sankhara found in Dependant Arising. That Sankhara is basically Kamma. This Sankhara is Kammicly Active Volitions that create the basis of rebirth and Consciousness.
The other Sankhara is called Sankhara-Khanda or the Aggrigate of Sankhara. This became an umbrella term for all mental things such as thought, attention, energy. unwholesome factors like greed, hatred, and delusion. Also the Wholesome factors of Generocity, Kindness, and Wisdom.
The Last Sankhara is any construction, formation, or condtition.
This is why Buddha says that all Sankhara are imperminant and by this he means that all is imperminant.
Buddhism is a religion of Converts. Every single Buddhist has either converted themselves or earlier in their family there was a Convert. Thus conversion is very well accepted within Buddhism. Now, there are some who feel that conversion is not the best thing and is looked down upon, but that is not true of Theravada. The Dalai Lama himself have discouraged conversion without fully eliminating it. But, again, in Theravada we accept converts very well.
How to convert: If one has fallen in love with Buddhism conversion to it is very simple. It is the same in all schools and sects of Buddhism. It is just taking refuge in the three jewels. The three jewels are
Buddha- The teacher of the Dhamma who attained enlightenment and taught it to the world
Dhamma- The Teachings of the Buddha whom Buddha himself said would be the teacher of humanity when he passes away.
Sangha- This term has been mutilated by American Buddhism (a loose form of Buddhism that is starting to arise in the west). It is not just any meditation group, or any Buddhist, no, it is the order of Bhikkhus or even more precise it is the order of all of those who have attained at least Stream-Entery.
To take refuge in all of these makes one a Buddhist.
The way to take refuge differs in some sects, but that's not of too much matter.
To take refuge you just have to say:
I take refuge in the Buddha
I take refuge in the Dhamma
I take refuge in the Sangha
After saying that you are a Buddhist. The choice of sect and school is up to you.
|11-12-2010, 02:33 PM||#5|
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,547Rep Power: 44
Differences Caused by Kamma
The law of kamma is central to Buddhist thinking, so every Buddhist should have a sound knowledge of it. On the surface it seems simple — good actions give good results, bad actions give bad results — but the workings of kamma are very complex and extend over countless lives. If the workings of kamma were obvious, we would easily avoid unskilful actions and do only skilful ones.
During the time of the Buddha, a Brahman millionaire named Todeyya did not believe in giving charity. He held the view: “If you give, you become poor; so don’t practise charity.” After his death he was reborn as a dog in his own house. When the Buddha went to that house, the dog barked at him, and the Buddha said: “Todeyya! You showed disrespect when you were a human being, and you show disrespect again by barking at me. You will be reborn in hell.” The dog thought, “The recluse Gotama knows me,” and he was so upset that he went to lay down on a heap of ashes.
Seeing the dog on the heap of ashes, Subha was worried. His servants told him that the Buddha had said something to the dog, so he went to the Buddha who told him what had happened. Subha thought, “The Brahmans say that my father has been reborn as a Brahma, but Gotama says that he has been reborn as a dog. He just says whatever he likes.” So he was displeased. The Buddha asked Subha if any of the family’s wealth had not been disclosed by his father. Subha replied that a lot of money was missing. The Buddha told him to feed the dog well and then ask him where the money was. Subha did as the Buddha said, hoping to disprove him. The dog took him to the buried money, so Subha gained faith in the Buddha.
Subha later asked the Buddha about the differences between individuals. Why do some people live for a long time, while others are short lived? Why are some people often sick, while others are healthy? Why are some ugly, while others are beautiful? Why do some have few friends, while others have many? Why are some rich while others are poor? Why are some born in favourable circumstances, while others are not? And why are some intelligent, while others are ignorant? The Buddha replied, “Brahmin youth! Beings are owners of their kamma, heirs of their kamma, have kamma as their seed, their relatives, and their refuge. It is kamma that separates beings into good and bad conditions.” Subha did not understand this short answer, so the Buddha explained in greater detail.
Those who kill others and approve of killing are reborn in the four lower realms (animals, ghosts, demons, and hell) after death. When they are reborn again as human beings, their lives are short. Those who abstain from killing, and have compassion for living beings, are reborn in the celestial realms. When they are reborn again as human beings, they enjoy long lives.
The Buddha then explained about sickness and health. Some people hurt other beings; they enjoy inflicting pain. Due to that kamma, they are reborn in the four lower realms. When they are reborn again as human beings, they are often sick or accident-prone. Those who do not hurt others are reborn in celestial realms. When they are reborn again as human beings, they are healthy.
Why are some people ugly, while others are beautiful? The Buddha explained that some people become angry very easily. Due to anger, they are reborn in the four lower realms. When they are reborn again as human beings, they are ugly. Others do not get angry easily, and have goodwill towards others. They are reborn in celestial realms. When reborn as human beings, they are beautiful.
Some people are jealous. Because of jealousy, they are reborn in the four lower realms. When they are reborn again as human beings, they have few friends. Those who are not jealous are reborn in celestial realms. When they are reborn again as human beings, they have many friends.
Some people are mean, and do not want to give or share anything. Because of meanness they are reborn in the four lower realms. When they are reborn as human beings, they are poor. Those who are generous and unselfish become wealthy.
Some people are proud, and contemptuous of others. Due to this pride they are reborn in the four lower realms. When they are reborn again as human beings, they are born in lowly circumstances. Those who have humility, are reborn in celestial realms. When reborn again as human beings, they are born in fortunate circumstances.
Some people have no desire for knowledge, and do not ask questions to learn about skilful behaviour. Lacking knowledge, they do many wrong actions and are reborn in the four lower realms. When eventually reborn as human beings, they are ignorant. Those who are inquisitive, and ask wise questions are reborn in celestial realms. When they are reborn again as human beings, they are intelligent. So ask appropriate questions whenever you meet a learned person. Make a thorough investigation about every important matter, especially about the Dhamma.
|11-12-2010, 02:35 PM||#6|
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,547Rep Power: 44
The Nature of Kamma
Kamma means any intentional action done by body, speech, or mind. It is the inner intention that the Buddha called kamma, not the outward deed. So to understand kamma properly we must examine our motivation. When we do any good deeds, such as giving charity, if we hope for good results this will affect the result of our action. The Visuddhimagga says: “A deed undertaken out of desire for fame is low. One undertaken with desire for the fruits of merit is moderate. One undertaken with the clear understanding that it is the custom of the Noble Ones is superior.” So it is vital to cultivate insight to purify the mind of ulterior motives, otherwise even our good deeds will tend to prolong suffering in the cycle of existences, not to speak of bad deeds.
The Buddha said that beings are the owners of their kamma (kammassakā), heirs of their kamma (kammadāyāda), have kamma as their origin (kammayonī), are related to their kamma (kammabandhū), and have kamma as their refuge (kammappatisaranā), whatever skilful or unskilful action they do, they will inherit its results.1
In this life, people are said to be the owners of their property, and they will go to extraordinary lengths to protect it. They say, think, and believe firmly, “This is my watch, my car, my house, my wife, my children, my own body.” However, they are not able to take any of these things with them when they die. Everything must be left behind — except for kamma. Whatever good and bad actions they have done throughout life follow them to give results in due course, just like a shadow that never leaves. That is why the Buddha said that beings are the owners of their kamma.
The potential of kamma is not destroyed at death, but we cannot point out where it is stored up. A tree has potential to give fruits in due season, but we cannot point out where the fruits are stored in a tree. Even though a tree is capable of giving fruits, if the weather is not right, no fruits will appear. It is similar with kamma. Only powerful kammas will give a definite result, the result of lesser kammas is not definite. If this were not so, there could be no escape from suffering. Some kammas give results in the same life, others will give their results in the next life. The remainder give results in the lives after that, so everyone has a store of good and bad kamma that is waiting for the right season to give its fruit. In this life too, everyone is doing many good and bad kammas. Powerful good kammas can prevent bad kammas from giving their result, or mitigate their effects. Likewise, powerful bad kammas can prevent good kammas from giving their result, or spoil their effects. The Buddha illustrated this with a simile. If you put a spoonful of salt in a cup of water it becomes undrinkable, but if you put a spoonful of salt in a lake you cannot even taste it. In the Milinda Pañhā, the Arahant Venerable Nāgasena compared good kamma to a boat, and bad kamma to rocks. Even a small rock will sink, but if many small and large rocks are put into a large boat they will not sink. So we should do as much good kamma as we can, we should not do any more bad kamma at all, and we should cultivate knowledge, wisdom, and awareness so that we know the difference and can control our emotions.
Most important, kamma is the sole refuge of all beings. It is both the cause of our difficulties, and the means of our escape. Buddhists should rely on their own efforts to gain salvation. Even the very best teacher can only point out the right way. We have to travel the path by our own efforts. We do unskilful deeds due to our own foolishness, and we must acquire wisdom and discipline to correct our own defects. No one else can do it for us.
The Power of Kamma
What makes one kamma powerful and another one weak? We need intention even to lift an arm, and only one intention is not enough. Intention has to arise continuously in a stream of separate moments of consciousness to lift the arm up, and again to keep it there. To kill a mosquito doesn’t take a very strong intention, but to kill a human being the intention must be powerful. If one is thrown into a threatening situation, anger may boil up suddenly, and the wish to kill one’s assailant may arise, but a good person is unlikely to murder someone because the intention to kill arises only sporadically. However, in a bad person who easily gives vent to anger, the murderous intention might be strong enough to actually kill someone. Premeditated murder needs anger to be sustained over a longer period. That is why the courts inflict a heavier sentence for premeditated murders, than they do for crimes of passion.
Another very important factor is view. Farmers are taught from a young age that certain animals are vermin, and that it is therefore a good thing, or at least a necessary evil, to kill them. Slaughtermen and fishermen learn that livestock or fish have to be killed to earn a living so they kill them without compunction. Doctors who practise abortion hold the view that they are relieving the suffering of the mother, but they ignore the suffering that they are inflicting on the foetus. Once a wrong-view has become established it is difficult to change. To do a wrong action believing it to be right, is more harmful than if one knows that it is wrong.
The virtue of an individual also has a very significant effect on the potency of kamma. Giving food to an animal gives a result a hundred times greater than the food given. Giving food to a non-virtuous human being gives a thousand times result, giving food to a virtuous human-being gives a hundred thousand times result … to a non-Buddhist ascetic with jhāna gives a billion times result … to one striving for stream-winning gives an immeasurable result. So what can be said of the result of giving to a stream-winner … to one striving for once-returning … … to an arahant … to a Paccekabuddha … to an Omniscient Buddha. And a gift to the Sangha gives a result that is immeasurable and greater than any gift to individuals.2 Similarly, killing an animal results in violent death a hundred times, while killing an arahant, or one’s mother or father, definitely results in rebirth in hell where one will suffer millions of violent deaths. Just insulting a Noble One creates obstructive kamma that is powerful enough to prevent the attainment of nibbāna unless one confesses one’s fault.
|11-12-2010, 02:37 PM||#7|
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,547Rep Power: 44
Classification of Kamma
According to the time of giving results their are four kinds of kamma:
1. Kamma that ripens in the same life-time.
2. Kamma that ripens in the next life.
3. Kamma that ripens indefinitely in successive births.
4. Kamma that is ineffective.
According to function there are four kinds:
1. Regenerative kamma, which conditions rebirth.
2. Supportive kamma, which maintains the results of other kamma.
3. Counteractive kamma, which suppresses or modifies the result of other kamma.
4. Destructive kamma, which destroys the force of other kamma.
According to the priority of giving results there are also four kinds of kamma:
1. Heavy kamma, which produces its resultant in this very life or in the next. The jhānas are heavy wholesome kammas. Crimes such as matricide, patricide, murder of an Arahant, wounding a Buddha and causing a schism in the Sangha are heavy unwholesome kammas.
2. Death proximate kamma, which one does at the moment before death. If there is no heavy kamma then this determines the next rebirth.
3. Habitual kamma is any action that one does very often. In the absence of death-proximate kamma this determines the next rebirth.
4. Residual kamma is the last in the priority of giving results. This determines the next birth in the absence of habitual kamma.
A further classification of kamma is according to the realm in which the results are produced:
1. Unwholesome kamma, which produces its effect in the four lower realms.
2. Wholesome kamma that produces its effect in the sensual realm.
3. Wholesome kamma (rūpajhāna) that produces its effect in the realms of form.
4. Wholesome kamma (arūpajhāna) that produces its effect in the formless realm.
Ten Immoral Kammas and their Effects
1. Killing (pānātipātā) is the intentional destruction of a living being. Causing accidental death even by negligence does not amount to killing, though negligence is unwholesome. The evil effects of killing are: having a short life, frequent illness, constant grief caused by separation from loved ones, and constant fear.
2. Stealing (adinnādāna) is taking the property of others by stealth, deceit, or force. Tax evasion and infringement of copyright also amount to stealing. The evil effects of stealing are: poverty, wretchedness, unfulfilled desires and dependent livelihood.
3. Sexual Misconduct (kāmesumicchācārā) is the enjoyment of sexual intercourse with unsuitable persons. A good rule of thumb for modern people is, “If my parents or my partner’s parents know we are doing this, will they be unhappy?” The evil effects of sexual misconduct are: having many enemies, getting an unsuitable spouse, rebirth as a women,3 or rebirth as a transsexual.
4. Lying (musavāda) is the intentional perversion of the truth to deceive others. Telling a lie in jest, expecting not to be believed, comes under the heading of frivolous speech, rather than lying. The evil effects of lying are: being tormented by abusive speech, being subject to vilification, incredibility, and bad breath.
5. Abusive speech (pharusavāca) is speech intended to hurt others. Though speech is hurtful to others, if the intention is to correct or prevent immoral or foolish conduct, it is not abusive speech. The evil effects are being detested by others, and a harsh voice.
6. Slander (pisunavāca) is speech that is intended to divide others. To warn someone about another’s bad character is not slander. The evil effect is the dissolution of friendship without sufficient cause.
7. Frivolous speech (samphappalapa) is speech with no useful purpose. A lot of conversation, and nearly all modern entertainment falls into this category. The evil effects are disorder of the bodily organs and incredibility.
8. Covetousness (abhijjhā) is the longing to possess another’s property, spouse, or children. This evil kamma, though arising in the mind only, is strong enough to cause rebirth in the lower realms. If one strives further to attain the object of one’s desire then one will also have to steal or commit sexual misconduct. The evil effect is non-fulfilment of one’s wishes.
9. Ill-will (byāpāda) is hatred, aversion, or prejudice. This kamma is also only mental. The evil effects are ugliness, many diseases, and a detestable nature.
10. Wrong View (micchā-ditthi) is of many kinds, but in essence all wrong views deny the law of dependent origination (paticcasamuppāda), or cause and effect (kamma). The evil effects are base attachment, lack of wisdom, dullness, chronic diseases, and blameworthy ideas.
|11-12-2010, 02:38 PM||#8|
Join Date: Mar 2008
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Moral Kammas Producing Effects in the Sensual Realms
i. Charity (dāna) is giving, or generosity. It is the volition of giving one’s possessions to others, or sharing them liberally.
The intention is more important than the value of the gift. To get the best results one should give respectfully, while aspiring to attain nibbāna. When giving food to a monk, one should approach within arms-reach, putting the offering into his hands or onto something held by him. If it is after midday or before dawn, food should not be given into his hands, but it can be put down near him to be offered later. Money should never be given to a monk, nor put down near him, but it may be given to a lay person such as a temple attendant or trustee, with instructions to provide whatever the monk needs, or to provide whatever suitable things one wants to give. Alcohol, weapons, foolish entertainments, bribes, or anything else that corrupts morality should not be given to anyone, as this is unwholesome kamma (adhamma dana). The beneficial effects of giving are wealth, the fulfilment of one’s wishes, long-life, beauty, happiness and strength.
ii. Morality (sīla) is the volition of refraining from evil. It is the volition of right speech, right action, and right livelihood.
Lay Buddhists should observe the five precepts as a matter of course. Whenever possible they should observe the eight precepts to refine their morality, and to purify the mind for meditation. The monks’ morality is extremely refined — the Visuddhimagga says that there are more than nine billion precepts to be observed. A lay person can undertake the monastic discipline for a short period, to practise meditation for example. In my view, a candidate should be given proper training before taking full ordination, and should resolve to stay for at least three months. If candidates lack proper training they may make unwholesome kamma, obstructing their spiritual progress.
To follow the novice’s ten precepts is not so demanding, so it is appropriate to ordain for just a week or two, but it is still a serious undertaking; not just something to do for a weekend. There is no longer an order of Theravāda bhikkhunis, but women can ordain as eight precept nuns, shaving their hair and wearing white, pink, or brown robes depending on the tradition. The beneficial effects of morality are rebirth in noble families or in heavenly planes, beauty, fame, and having many friends.
iii. Mental Culture (bhavana) is the volition when one practises tranquillity meditation (samatha); or it is the development of insight by repeatedly contemplating mental and physical phenomena.
Learning to recite suttas and gathas by heart is also included in mental culture. The beneficial effects of mental culture are development of wisdom, good reputation, and rebirth in higher planes.
iv. Reverence (apacāyana) is the volition of paying respect to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha; to one’s parents and elders, to teachers, to others who lead virtuous lives, or to shrines, images, and pagodas.
This wholesome kamma costs nothing. Whether entering a vihara, where people may be meditating, or a library where people may be studying, one can easily make good kamma by restraining one’s actions and speech. The beneficial effects of reverence are noble parentage, commanding respect, and influential positions.
v. Service (veyyavacca) is the volition of helping virtuous people, those about to set out on a journey; the sick, the old, and the feeble.
This wholesome kamma also costs nothing. By serving a monk one gets many opportunities to learn the Dhamma and promote the Buddhadhamma. When living with virtuous monks it will be much easier to refrain from immoral deeds. The beneficial effects of service are having a large following and many friends.
vi. Transference of Merit (pattidāna) is the volition of asking others to participate in wholesome deeds and thereby to share in the resultant merit.
When doing any wholesome deeds such as giving alms, listening to Dhamma, or practising meditation, one can multiply the benefits by urging family and friends to participate. The beneficial effects of transference of merit is the ability to give in abundance.
vii. Rejoicing in Other’s Merit (pattānumodanā) is the volition of rejoicing in the good deeds or virtue of others.
When friends or family members do wholesome deeds, even if one cannot participate, one can make wholesome kamma by giving them encouragement. The beneficial effect of rejoicing in others’ merit is finding joy wherever one is born.
viii. Listening to the Dhamma (dhammassavana) is the volition of listening to or reading Dhamma with a pure intention to gain morality, concentration, or insight; or to learn the Dhamma to teach others.
The traditional way to listen to Dhamma is to sit on a lower seat than the speaker, with eyes downcast and hands held together in añjali, with one’s feet pointing away from the speaker. Shoes, head coverings, and weapons should be removed. If the speaker is standing, then one should also stand. The essential point is to be attentive and respectful. The beneficial effect of listening to the Dhamma is the development of wisdom.
ix. Teaching the Dhamma (dhammadesanā) is the volition of teaching Dhamma motivated by compassion, without any ulterior motive to get offerings, honour, praise, or fame.
Reciting suttas is also dhammadesanā. When preaching, or reciting suttas and gāthas, it is most improper to elongate the sound, as singers and orators do, to arouse the emotions. While reciting, one should concentrate on the meaning of the words, not on the sound. One should not shout, nor recite hurriedly, but keep in harmony with others, enunciating each syllable clearly with reverence for the Dhamma. When learning by heart one may recite very quickly since the purpose is different. The beneficial effects of teaching the Dhamma are a pleasing voice and the development of wisdom.
x. Straightening One’s Views (ditthijjukamma) is the volition to establish right understanding (sammā ditthi).
If one does not understand what a monk says, or disagrees, one should ask pertinent questions. When buying gold or gems people question the seller about their purity. The beneficial effect of straightening one’s views is intelligence and the attainment of nibbāna.
Right view is of two kinds: mundane and supramundane. Mundane right view means belief in kamma; or the belief that as we sow, so shall we reap. This right view is found in all religions. An educated Buddhist will also believe in the tenfold mundane right view as follows: 1) there is a benefit in giving alms, 2) there is a benefit of grand offerings, 3) there is a benefit of trivial gifts, 4) there is a result of good and evil deeds, 5) there is special significance of deeds done to one’s mother, 6) there is special significance of deeds done to one’s father, 7) there are spontaneously arisen beings such as deities, ghosts, and brahmas, 8) there is this human world, 9) there are other worlds, such as heaven and hell, 10) there are some people who, by the power of concentration, can see beings reborn in other worlds.
Supramundane right view means right understanding of the four noble truths, which includes the realisation of nibbāna, eradication of self-view or ego, attaining permanent stability in morality and unshakeable confidence in the Triple Gem.
|11-12-2010, 02:40 PM||#9|
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,547Rep Power: 44
What Kamma is Not
Kamma is not fatalism nor determinism. The view that everything happens because of a past cause is a serious wrong view called Pubbekatahetuditthi. Past kamma is very significant because it determines where we are reborn, whether we are wealthy, healthy, intelligent, good-looking, etc. It also determines many of the trials that we have to face in life, and the family and society that we are born into, which have a very powerful influence on our lives. The law of dependent origination says that because of not understanding the truth of suffering we continue to roll around in the cycle of existence, blinded by ignorance and driven by craving. In this existence too, we continue to make kammas (sankhārā) that will give rise to more existences in the future.
The Buddha taught us how to transcend this cycle by becoming aware of the whole process. The cycle of dependent origination can be broken in two places: at the link between ignorance and mental formations, and at the link between feeling and craving. We must cultivate insight to dispel ignorance, and practise renunciation and patience to abandon craving. Instead of being led around like a bull with a ring through its nose every time a pleasant or unpleasant object appears, we should contemplate the feelings that arise within us. To break the chain at its other weak link, we should study the Dhamma and develop insight, by investigating mental and physical phenomena as and when they occur. Awareness, concentration, and objectivity will reveal their true nature.
If we examine our thoughts and feelings systematically we will overcome the urge to follow them. The grip of craving and delusion will be loosened, and our kamma will incline more and more towards nibbāna, the cessation of all suffering. Mindfulness meditation was taught by the Buddha for the purification of beings, for the transcendence of grief and lamentation, for the extinction of pain and sorrow, for attaining the right method, for the realisation of nibbāna. If we only practise without praying for nibbāna we will achieve it in due course — if we really strive hard. If we only pray for nibbāna without practising, we will continue to suffer, however pious our hopes and prayers.
|11-15-2010, 04:17 AM||#10|
Im gonna read tru, lookin mad dope g, I can find me liking this indeed! I personaly like the bodhisatva Kwan Yin, I like the sutra
Art of Graveyardpoetry
Mother Yin Father Yang are my GrandParents!
Graveface is now Gravespace
Last edited by pro.Graveface; 11-15-2010 at 04:19 AM.
|11-25-2010, 08:40 PM||#11|
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,547Rep Power: 44
Here's a particular and partial list for Buddhism
The Four Noble Truths
The Noble Eightfold Path
The Twelve Links of Interdependent Origination
The Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind to Practice
The Altruistic Wish for Enlightenment and the Bodhisattva Vow
The Six Paramitas
Lojong Mind Training
The Four Buddhist Seals
Buddha's Three Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma
Ground Path and Fruition of the different schools (Hinayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana)
|11-29-2010, 08:06 PM||#12|
Join Date: Mar 2008
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The Six Paramitas (Perfections)
The Sanskrit word paramita means to cross over to the other shore. Paramita may also be translated as perfection, perfect realization, or reaching beyond limitation. Through the practice of these six paramitas, we cross over the sea of suffering (samsara) to the shore of happiness and awakening (Nirvana); we cross over from ignorance and delusion to enlightenment. Each of the six paramitas is an enlightened quality of the heart, a glorious virtue or attribute—the innate seed of perfect realization within us. The paramitas are the very essence of our true nature. However, since these enlightened qualities of the heart have become obscured by delusion, selfishness, and other karmic tendencies, we must develop these potential qualities and bring them into expression. In this way, the six paramitas are an inner cultivation, a daily practice for wise, compassionate, loving, and enlightened living. The paramitas are the six kinds of virtuous practice required for skillfully serving the welfare of others and for the attainment of enlightenment. We must understand that bringing these virtuous qualities of our true nature into expression requires discipline, practice, and sincere cultivation. This is the path of the Bodhisattva—one who is dedicated to serving the highest welfare of all living beings with the awakened heart of unconditional love, skillful wisdom, and all-embracing compassion.
1) The Perfection of Generosity (Dana Paramita)
This paramita is the enlightened quality of generosity, charity, giving, and offering. The essence of this paramita is unconditional love, a boundless openness of heart and mind, a selfless generosity and giving which is completely free from attachment and expectation. From the very depths of our heart, we practice generously offering our love, compassion, time, energy, and resources to serve the highest welfare of all beings. Giving is one of the essential preliminary steps of our practice. Our giving should always be unconditional and selfless; completely free of any selfish desire for gratitude, recognition, advantage, reputation, or any worldly reward. The perfection of generosity is not accomplished simply by the action of giving, nor by the actual gift itself. Rather, the true essence of this paramita is our pure motivation of genuine concern for others—the truly generous motivation of the awakened heart of compassion, wisdom, and love. In addition, our practice of giving should be free of discrimination regarding who is worthy and who is unworthy to receive. To cultivate the paramita of generosity, it is wise to contemplate the enormous benefits of this practice, the disadvantages of being miserly, as well as the obvious fact that our body and our wealth are impermanent. With this in mind, we will certainly be encouraged to use both our body and wealth to practice generosity while we still have them. Generosity is a cure for the afflictions of greed, miserliness, and possessiveness. In this practice of giving, we may offer our time, energy, money, food, clothing, or gifts so as to assist others. To the best of our ability, we may offer the priceless treasure of Dharma instruction, giving explanations on the Buddha's teachings. This offering serves to free others from misperceptions that cause confusion, pain, and suffering. We can offer fearless giving and protection by delivering living beings (insects, animals, and people) from harm, distress, fear, and terror. In this way, we offer care and comfort, helping others to feel safe and peaceful. We do this selflessly, without counting the cost to ourselves. We practice the perfection of generosity in an especially powerful way when we embrace all living beings continually in the radiant love of our heart.
2) The Perfection of Ethics (Sila Paramita)
This paramita is the enlightened quality of virtuous and ethical behavior, morality, self-discipline, impeccability, personal integrity, honor, and harmlessness. The essence of this paramita is that through our love and compassion we do not harm others; we are virtuous and harmless in our thoughts, speech, and actions. This practice of ethical conduct is the very foundation for progressing in any practice of meditation and for attaining all higher realizations on the path. Our practice of generosity must always be supported by our practice of ethics; this ensures the lasting results of our generosity. We should perfect our conduct by eliminating harmful behavior and following the Bodhisattva precepts. We abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, divisive speech, harsh speech, gossip, greed, malice, and wrong views. Following these precepts or guidelines is not meant to be a burden or a restriction of our freedom. We follow these precepts so we can enjoy greater freedom, happiness, and security in our lives, because through our virtuous behavior we are no longer creating suffering for ourselves and others. We must realize that unethical behavior is always the cause of suffering and unhappiness. If we give even the slightest consideration to the advantages of cultivating ethical behavior and the disadvantages of unethical behavior, we will certainly develop great enthusiasm for this practice of ethics. Practicing the perfection of ethics, we are free of negativity, we cause no harm to others by our actions, our speech is kind and compassionate, and our thoughts are free of anger, malice, and wrong views. When our commitment is strong in the practice of ethics we are at ease, naturally confident, without stress, and happy because we are not carrying any underlying sense of guilt or remorse for our actions; we have nothing to hide. Maintaining our personal honor and integrity, our moral impeccability, this is the cause of all goodness, happiness, and even the attainment of enlightenment.
3) The Perfection of Patience (Kshanti Paramita)
This paramita is the enlightened quality of patience, tolerance, forbearance, and acceptance. The essence of this paramita of patience is the strength of mind and heart that enables us to face the challenges and difficulties of life without losing our composure and inner tranquility. We embrace and forbear adversity, insult, distress, and the wrongs of others with patience and tolerance, free of resentment, irritation, emotional reactivity, or retaliation. We cultivate the ability to be loving and compassionate in the face of criticism, misunderstanding, or aggression. With this enlightened quality of patience, we are neither elated by praise, prosperity, or agreeable circumstances, nor are we angry, unhappy or depressed when faced with insult, challenge, hardship, or poverty. This enlightened attribute of patience, acceptance, and tolerance is not a forced suppression or denial of our thoughts and feelings. Rather, it is a quality of being which comes from having our heart open and our mind deeply concentrated upon the Dharma. In this way, we have a clear and correct understanding of impermanence, of cause and effect (karma), and with strong determination and patience we remain in harmony with this understanding for the benefit of all beings. The ability to endure, to have forbearance, is integral to our Dharma practice. Without this kind of patience we cannot accomplish anything. A true Bodhisattva practices patience in such a way that even when we are hurt physically, emotionally, or mentally by others, we are not irritated or resentful. We always make an effort to see the goodness and beauty in others. In practicing this perfection of patience and forbearance, we never give up on or abandon others—we help them cross over the sea of suffering. We maintain our inner peace, calmness, and equanimity under all circumstances, having enduring patience and tolerance for ourselves and others. With the strength of patience, we maintain our effort and enthusiasm in our Dharma practice. Therefore, our practice of patience assists us in developing the next paramita of joyous effort and enthusiastic perseverance.
4) The Perfection of Joyous Effort / Enthusiastic Perseverance (Virya Paramita)
This paramita is the enlightened quality of energy, vigor, vitality, endurance, diligence, enthusiasm, continuous and persistent effort. In order to practice the first three paramitas of generosity, virtuous conduct, and patience in the face of difficulties, we need this paramita of joyous effort and perseverance. Joyous effort makes the previous paramitas increase and become even more powerful influences in our life. The essence of this paramita of joyous effort is the courage, energy, and endurance to continuously practice the Dharma and pursue the supreme goal of enlightenment for the highest good of all beings. From a feeling of deep compassion for the suffering of all sentient beings, we are urged to unfailing, persistent, and joyous effort. We use our body, speech, and mind to work ceaselessly and untiringly for the benefit of others, with no expectations for personal recognition or reward. We are always ready to serve others to the best of our ability. With joyous effort, devoted energy, and the power of sustained application, we practice the Dharma without getting sidetracked by anything or falling under the influence of laziness. Without developing Virya Paramita, we can become easily disillusioned and drop our practice when we meet with adverse conditions. The word virya means persistence and perseverance in the face of disillusionment, energetically striving to attain the supreme goal of enlightenment. When we cultivate this type of diligence and perseverance we have a strong and healthy mind. We practice with persistent effort and enthusiasm because we realize the tremendous value and benefit of our Dharma practice. Firmly establishing ourselves in this paramita, we also develop self-reliance, and this becomes one of our most prominent characteristics. With joyous effort and enthusiastic perseverance, we regard failure as simply another step toward success, danger as an inspiration for courage, and affliction as another opportunity to practice wisdom and compassion. To develop strength of character, self-reliance, and the next paramita of concentration, is not an easy achievement, thus we need enthusiastic perseverance on the path.
5) The Perfection of Concentration (Dhyana Paramita)
This paramita is the enlightened quality of concentration, meditation, contemplation, samadhi, mindfulness, mental stability. Our minds have the tendency to be very distracted and restless, always moving from one thought or feeling to another. Because of this, our awareness stays fixated in the ego, in the surface layers of the mind and emotions, and we just keep engaging in the same habitual patterns of behavior. The perfection of concentration means training our mind so that it does what we want it to. We stabilize our mind and emotions by practicing meditation, by being mindful and aware in everything we do. When we train the mind in this way, physical, emotional, and mental vacillations and restlessness are eliminated. We achieve focus, composure, and tranquility. This ability to concentrate and focus the mind brings clarity, equanimity, illumination. Concentration allows the deep insight needed to transform the habitual misperceptions and attachments that cause confusion and suffering. As we eliminate these misperceptions and attachments, we can directly experience the joy, compassion, and wisdom of our true nature. There is no attainment of wisdom and enlightenment without developing the mind through concentration and meditation. This development of concentration and one-pointedness requires perseverance. Thus the previous paramita of joyous effort and perseverance brings us to this paramita of concentration. In addition, when there is no practice of meditation and concentration, we cannot achieve the other paramitas, because their essence, which is the inner awareness that comes from meditation, is lacking. To attain wisdom, compassion, and enlightenment, it is essential that we develop the mind through concentration, meditation, and mindfulness.
6) The Perfection of Wisdom (Prajna Paramita)
This paramita is the enlightened quality of transcendental wisdom, insight, and the perfection of understanding. The essence of this paramita is the supreme wisdom, the highest understanding that living beings can attain—beyond words and completely free from the limitation of mere ideas, concepts, or intellectual knowledge. Beyond the limited confines of intellectual and conceptual states of mind, we experience the awakened heart-mind of wisdom and compassion—prajna paramita. Prajna paramita is the supreme wisdom (prajna) that knows emptiness and the interconnectedness of all things. This flawless wisdom eliminates all false and distorted views of the absolute. We see the essential nature of reality with utmost clarity; our perception goes beyond the illusive and deceptive veils of material existence. With the perfection of wisdom, we develop the ability to recognize the truth behind the temporary display of all appearances. Prajna paramita is a result of contemplation, meditation, and rightly understanding the nature of reality. Ultimately, the full realization of prajna paramita is that we are not simply a separate self trying to do good. Rather, virtuously serving the welfare of all beings is simply a natural expression of the awakened heart. We realize that the one serving, the one being served, and the compassionate action of service, are all the same totality—there is no separate ego or self to be found in any of these. With this supreme wisdom, we go beyond acceptance and rejection, hope and fear, dualistic thoughts, and ego-clinging. We completely dissolve all these notions, realizing everything as a transparent display of the primordial truth. If our ego is attached even to the disciplines of these paramitas, this is incorrect perception and we are merely going from one extreme to another. In order to free ourselves from these extremes, we must release our ego attachment and dissolve all dualistic concepts with the insight of supreme wisdom. This wisdom transforms the other five paramitas into their transcendental state as well. Only the illumination of supreme wisdom makes this possible.
|11-29-2010, 08:59 PM||#13|
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: in your Head
Posts: 8,613Rep Power: 26
you forgot a school my dude
the biggest in america how can you forget
Last edited by Dokuro; 11-29-2010 at 09:02 PM.