Buddhism is a dharmic, non-theistic religion, which is also a philosophy and a system of psychology. Buddhism is also known as Buddha Dharma or Dhamma, which means the "teachings of the Awakened One" in Sanskrit and Pali, the languages of ancient Buddhist texts. Buddhism was founded around the fifth century BCE by Siddhartha Gautama, hereafter referred to as "the Buddha".
Early sources say that the Buddha was born in Lumbini (now in Nepal), and that he died around age 80 in Kushinagar (India). He lived around the fifth century BCE, according to scholarship. Buddhism spread throughout the Indian subcontinent in the five centuries following the Buddha's passing, and thence into Asia and elsewhere over the next two millennia.
Indian Buddhism has become virtually extinct, except in parts of Nepal. The most frequently used classification of present-day Buddhism among scholars divides present-day adherents into the following three traditions:
Southern Buddhism, or Theravada (its own usual name for itself), also known as Southeast Asian Buddhism, or Pali Buddhism - practiced mainly in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and parts of Malaysia, Vietnam, China and Bangladesh (Southeast Asia)
Eastern Buddhism, also known as East Asian Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, Sino-Japanese Buddhism, or Mahayana - practiced predominantly in China, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Singapore and parts of Russia
Northern Buddhism, also known as Tibetan Buddhism, Tibeto-Mongolian Buddhism, or Vajrayana, sometimes called Lamaism - practiced mainly in Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan and parts of Nepal, India, China and Russia.
An alternative scheme used by some scholars has just two divisions, Theravada and Mahayana, the latter comprising both Eastern and Northern. Some scholarsuse other schemes. The term Hinayana, referring to Theravada and various extinct Indian schools, is sometimes used, but is often considered derogatory, and the World Federation of Buddhists recommends it be avoided.
Buddhism continues to attract followers around the world and is considered a major world religion. According to one source, "World estimates for Buddhists vary between 230 and 500 million, with most around 350 million." However, estimates are uncertain for several countries. According to one analysis, Buddhism is the fifth-largest religion in the world behind Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and traditional Chinese religion. The monks' order (Sangha), which began during the lifetime of the Buddha in India, is amongst the oldest organizations on earth.
In Buddhism, any person who has awakened from the "sleep of ignorance" (by directly realizing the true nature of reality), without instruction, is called a buddha. If a person achieves this with the teachings of a buddha, he is called an arahant. Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, is thus only one among other buddhas before or after him. His teachings are oriented toward the attainment of this kind of awakening, also called enlightenment, Bodhi, liberation, or Nirvana.
Part of the Buddhaĺs teachings regarding the holy life and the goal of liberation is constituted by the "The Four Noble Truths", which focus on dukkha, a term that refers to suffering or the unhappiness ultimately characteristic of unawakened, worldly life. The Four Noble Truths regarding suffering state what is its nature, its cause, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation. This way to the cessation of suffering is called "The Noble Eightfold Path", which is one of the fundamentals of Buddhist virtuous or moral life.
Buddhism is one of the largest religeons in the world. Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama who was born in Nepal around 563 B.C. He was the son of the Sakyas tribe. Gautama was raised in a life of total luxery. But at the age of 29 he renounced worldly attachments and left his wife and home to seek enlightment. After six years of of austere living he meditated under the Bodhi Tree and became enlightened. Buddhas teaching gave rise to two main schools, Theraveda or Hinayana, this form found in Byrma, Thailand and Sri Lanka. The other was Mahayana found in Tibet, Korea, China and Japan.
Numerous distinct groups have developed since the passing of the Buddha, with diverse teachings that vary widely in practice, philosophical emphasis, and culture. However, there are certain doctrines which are common to the majority of schools and traditions in Buddhism, though the Mahayana tends not to regard them as central. The Four Noble Truths
According to the scriptures, the Buddha taught that in life there exists sorrow / suffering which is caused by desire and it can be cured (ceased) by following the Noble Eightfold Path. This teaching is called the Catvary Aryasatyani (Pali: Cattari Ariyasaccani), the "Four Noble Truths". Suffering: Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering. The cause of suffering: The desire which leads to renewed existence (rebirth) (the cycle of samsara) The cessation of suffering: The cessation of desire. The way leading to the cessation of suffering: The Noble Eightfold Path; According to the scriptures, the Four Noble Truths were among the topics of the first sermon given by the Buddha after his enlightenment, which was given to the five ascetics with whom he had practiced austerities, and were originally spoken by the Buddha, not in the form of a religious or philosophical text, but in the form of a common medical prescription of the time.
The Noble Eightfold Path Info
The eight spokes represent the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism. According to a saying attributed in some traditions to the Buddha, if a person does not follow the goal of Total Realization, one lives one's life like a preoccupied child playing with toys in a house that is burning to the ground. The Noble Eightfold Path is the way to the cessation of suffering, the fourth part of the Four Noble Truths. This is divided into three sections: Sila (which concerns wholesome physical actions), Samadhi (which concerns the meditative concentration of the mind) and Praj˝a (which concerns spiritual insight into the true nature of all things). Sila is morality abstaining from unwholesome deeds of body and speech. Within the division of sila are three parts of the Noble Eightfold Path:
Right Speech - One speaks in a non hurtful, not exaggerated, truthful way
Right Actions - Wholesome action, avoiding action that would do harm (samyak-karmanta, samma-kammanta) Right Livelihood - One's way of livelihood does not harm in any way oneself or others; directly or indirectly (samyag-ajiva, samma-ajiva) Samadhi is developing mastery over oneĺs own mind. Within this division are another three parts of the Noble Eightfold Path:
Right Effort/Exercise - One makes an effort to improve Info
Right Mindfulness/Awareness - Mental ability to see things for what they are with clear consciousness (samyak-sm?ti, samma-sati) Right Concentration - Being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion. (samyak-samadhi, samma-samadhi) Praj˝a is the wisdom which purifies the mind. Within this division fall two more parts of the Noble Eightfold Path:
Right Thoughts - Change in the pattern of thinking Info.
Right Understanding - Understanding reality as it is, not just as it appears to be. The word samyak means "perfect". There are a number of ways to interpret the Eightfold Path. On one hand, the Eightfold Path is spoken of as being a progressive series of stages through which the practitioner moves, the culmination of one leading to the beginning of another, whereas others see the states of the 'Path' as requiring simultaneous development. It is also common to categorize the Eightfold Path into praj˝a (Pali pa˝˝a, wisdom), sila (Pali sila, virtuous behavior) and samadhi (concentration).
Bodhi is a title given in Buddhism to the specific awakening experience attained by the Buddha. When used in a generic sense, a buddha is generally considered to be a person who discovers the true nature of reality through lifetimes of spiritual cultivation, investigation of the various religious practices of his time, and meditation. This transformational discovery is called Bodhi (literally, "awakening" more commonly called "enlightenment"). In Sino-Japanese Buddhism (Zen) this experience is called Satori. After attainment of Bodhi, it is believed one is freed from the compulsive cycle of sa?sara: birth, suffering, death and rebirth. Bodhi is attained only by the accomplishment of the paramitas (perfections), when the Four Noble Truths are fully grasped, and when all karma has reached cessation. At this moment, all greed (lobha), hatred (Pali dosa), delusion (moha), ignorance (Sanskrit avidya, Pali avijja), craving (Sanskrit t???a, Pali ta?ha) and belief in that which is not the self (anatman, Pali anatta) are extinguished. Bodhi thus implies understanding of anatman (Pali anatta), the absence of ego-centeredness. All schools of Buddhism recognize three types of Bodhi. They are Sravakabodhi (Pali: Savakabodhi), Pratyekabodhi (Pali: Paccekabodhi) and Samyaksambodhi (Pali: Sammasambodhi), the perfect enlightenment by which a bodhisattva becomes a fully enlightened buddha. The aspiration to attain the state of samyaksambodhi, known as the Bodhisattva ideal, is considered as the highest ideal of Buddhism.
Middle Way Info
The primary guiding principle of Buddhist practice is the Middle Way which was discovered by the Buddha prior to his enlightenment (bodhi). The Middle Way or Middle Path 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.
Refuge in the Three Jewels
Acknowledging the Four Noble Truths and making the first step in the Noble Eightfold Path requires taking refuge, as the foundation of one's religious practice, in Buddhism's Three Jewels. Tibetan Buddhism sometimes adds a fourth refuge, in the lama. The person who chooses the bodhisattva path makes a vow/pledge. This is considered the ultimate expression of compassion.
The Three Jewels are:
The Buddha (i.e., Awakened One). This is a title for those who attained Awakening similar to the Buddha and helped others to attain it. See also the Tathagata and Sakyamuni Buddha. The Buddha could also be represented as the wisdom that understands Dharma, and in this regard the Buddha represents the perfect wisdom that sees reality in its true form. The Dharma: The teachings or law as expounded by the Buddha. Dharma also means the law of nature based on behavior of a person and its consequences to be experienced (action and reaction). It can also (especially in the Mahayana) connote the ultimate and sustaining Reality which is inseverable from the Buddha. The Sangha: This term literally means "group" or "congregation," but when it is used in Buddhist teaching the word refers to one of two very specific kinds of groups: either the community of Buddhist monastics (bhikkhus and bhikkhunis), or the community of people who have attained at least the first stage of Awakening (Sotapanna (pali) - one who has entered the stream to enlightenment). According to some modern Buddhists, it also consists of laymen and laywomen, the caretakers of the monks, those who have accepted parts of the monastic code but who have not been ordained as monks or nuns. According to the scriptures, The Buddha presented himself as a model and besought his followers to have faith in his example of a human who escaped the pain and danger of existence. The Dharma, i.e. the teaching of the Buddha, offers a refuge by providing guidelines for the alleviation of suffering and the attainment of enlightenment.
In certain Mahayana sutras, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are viewed essentially as One: all three are seen as the eternal Buddha himself.
Many Buddhists believe that there is no otherworldly salvation from one's karma. The suffering caused by the karmic effects of previous thoughts, words and deeds can be alleviated by following the Noble Eightfold Path, although the Buddha of some Mahayana sutras, such as the Lotus Sutra, the Angulimaliya Sutra and the Nirvana Sutra, also teaches that powerful sutras such as the above-named can, through the very act of their being heard or recited, wholly expunge great swathes of negative karma.
Sila Sila (Sanskrit) or sila (Pali) is usually rendered into English as "behavioral discipline", "morality", or ethics. It is often translated as "precept". It is an action that is an intentional effort. It is one of the three practices (sila - samadhi - panya) and the second paramita. It refers to moral purity of thought, word, and deed. The four conditions of sila are chastity, calmness, quiet, and extinguishment, i.e. no longer being susceptible to perturbation by the passions. Sila refers to overall (principles of) ethical behavior. There are several levels of sila, which correspond to 'basic morality' (five precepts), 'basic morality with asceticism' (eight precepts), 'novice monkhood' (ten precepts) and 'monkhood' (Vinaya or Patimokkha). Lay people generally undertake to live by the five precepts which are common to all Buddhist schools. If they wish, they can choose to undertake the eight precepts, which have some additional precepts of basic asceticism.
The five precepts are not given in the form of commands such as "thou shalt not ...", but are training rules in order to live a better life in which one is happy, without worries, and can meditate well.
1. To refrain from taking life. (i.e. non-violence towards sentient life forms)
2. To refrain from taking that which is not given (i.e. not committing theft)
3. To refrain from sensual misconduct (abstinence from immoral sexual behavior)
4. To refrain from lying. (i.e. speaking truth always)
5. To refrain from intoxicants which lead to loss of mindfulness (refrain from using drugs or alcohol) In the eight precepts, the third precept on sexual misconduct is made more strict, and becomes a precept of celibacy.
The three additional rules of the eight precepts are:
6. To refrain from eating at the wrong time (only eat from sunrise to noon)
7. To refrain from dancing, using jewelery, going to shows, etc.
8. To refrain from using a high, luxurious bed.
Vinaya is the specific moral code for monks. It includes the Patimokkha, a set of 227 rules in the Theravadin recension. The precise content of the vinayapitaka (scriptures on Vinaya) differ slightly according to different schools, and different schools or subschools set different standards for the degree of adherence to Vinaya. Novice-monks use the ten precepts, which are the basic precepts for monastics.
In Eastern Buddhism, there is also a distinctive Vinaya and ethics contained within the Mahayana Brahmajala Sutra (not to be confused with the Pali text of that name) for Bodhisattvas, where, for example, the eating of meat is frowned upon and vegetarianism is actively encouraged (see vegetarianism in Buddhism).
Samadhi/Bhavana (Meditative cultivation)
Main articles: Samadhi, Vipassana, and Buddhist meditation
In the language of the Noble Eightfold Path, samyaksamadhi is "right concentration". The primary means of cultivating samadhi is meditation. Almost all Buddhist schools agree that the Buddha taught two types of meditation, viz. samatha meditation (Sanskrit: samatha) and vipassana meditation (Sanskrit: vipasyana). Upon development of samadhi, one's mind becomes purified of defilement, calm, tranquil, and luminous.
Once the meditator achieves a strong and powerful concentration (jhana, Sanskrit ??????? dhyana), his mind is ready to penetrate and gain insight (vipassana) 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 (jhana) 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 vipassana meditation can reveal how the mind was disturbed to start with, which is what leads to j˝ana (Pali ˝a?a knowledge), praj˝a (Pali pa˝˝a pure understanding) and thus can lead to nirva?a (Pali nibbana). Praj˝a (Wisdom)
Praj˝a (Sanskrit) or pa˝˝a (Pali) means wisdom that is based on a realization of dependent origination, The Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path. Praj˝a 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 nirva?a, through its revelation of the true nature of all things. Praj˝a is also listed as the sixth of the six paramitas. Initially, praj˝a is attained at a conceptual level by means of listening to sermons (dharma talks), reading, studying and sometimes reciting Buddhist texts and engaging in discourse. The Buddha taught dharma to his disciples mainly through the mean of discourse or sermon, many attaining bodhi upon hearing the Buddha's discourse. Once the conceptual understanding is attained, it is applied to daily life so that each Buddhist can verify the truth of the Buddha's teaching at a practical level. Lastly, one engages in insight (vipassana, Sanskrit vipasyana) meditation (Citation needed) to attain such wisdom at intuitive level. It should be noted that one could theoretically attain bodhi at any point of practice, while listening to a sermon, while conducting business of daily life or while in meditation.
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Buddhist symbols Info
The eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism are:
the Parasol (Umbrella)
the Golden Fish
the Treasure Vase
the Conch Shell
the Endless Knot
the Victory Banner
Om Man-Ni Pad-Me Hum is a Tibetan Buddhist mantra. Basically it means "Om - the jewel in the lotus - Hum". The symbolism that is portrayed in the center part of this mantra refers to the sensual union of the lingam within your the yoni. While similar to practices of Vedic society, some traditions of Buddhism have developed their own distinctive understandings and practices of mantra, particularly the Vajrayana.
According to the scriptures, soon after the parinirvaa of the Buddha, the first Buddhist council was held. As with any ancient Indian tradition, transmission of teaching was done orally. The primary purpose of the assembly was to collectively recite the teaching to ensure that no errors occur in oral transmission. In the first council, Ananda, the Buddha's personal attendant was called upon to recite the discourses (sutras, Pali suttas) of the Buddha, and, according to some sources, the abhidhamma. Upali, another disciple, recited the monastic rules (Vinaya).
Rise of Mahayana Buddhism
Chinese Buddhism is of the Mahayana tradition, with popular schools today being Pure Land and Zen.The precise geographical origins of Mahayana are unknown. It is likely that various elements of Mahayana developed independently from the 1st century BCE onwards, initially within several small individual communities, in areas to the north-west within the Kushan Empire (within present-day northern Pakistan), and in areas within the Shatavahana Empire, including Amaravati to the south-east (in present-day Andhra Pradesh), to the west around the port of Bharukaccha (present-day Bharuch, a town near Bombay), and around the various cave complexes, such as Ajanta and Karli (in present-day Gujarat and Maharashtra). The late Professor Hirakawa argued that Mahayana was a movement of lay Buddhists focused around stupa devotion. Pictures within the wall of a stupa representing the story of the Buddha and his previous reincarnation as a bodisattva were used to preach Buddhism to the masses. This theory is still widely held among Japanese scholars, but most western scholars now reject it. The Sangha, at the same time, became increasingly fragmented both in terms of Abhidharma and Vinaya practice. This led to a widening distance between the laity and Sangha. The Mahayana movement, on the other hand, was ecumenical, reflecting a wide range of influence from various sects. Monks representing different philosophical orientations could live in the same Sangha as long as they practiced the same Vinaya. Still, in terms of Abhidharma, the Sarvastivada school (which had been rejected by the 3rd council, according to the Theravada tradition) and the Dharmaguptaka school, both of which were widespread in the Kushan Empire, seem to have had major influence. Moreover, those who believe that Mahayana sutras were composed during this period speculate that the process of reshuffling of sutras according to various Abhidharma eventually led to editing which made the composition of new Mahayana sutras possible. Expansion of Mahayana Buddhism between the 1st 10th century CE.Around 100 CE, the Kushan emperor Kanishka is said to have convened what many western scholars call the fourth Buddhist council and is usually associated with the formal rise of Mahayana Buddhism. This council is not recognised by the Theravada line of Buddhism. According to Mahayana sources, this council did not simply rely on the original Tripitaka in the third council. Instead, a set of new scriptures, mostly notably, the Lotus Sutra, an early version of the Heart Sutra and the Amitabha Sutra were approved, as well as fundamental principles of doctrine based around the concept of salvation for all beings (hence Mahayana "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 Sanskrit. From that point on, and in the space of a few centuries, Mahayana would flourish and spread from India to Southeast Asia, and towards the north to Central Asia and then east to China where Mahayana was Sinicized and this Sinicized Mahayana would be passed on to Korea, Vietnam and finally to Japan in 538 CE. The East Asians would go on to write more indigenous sutras and commentaries to the Mahayana Canon. The most complete Mahayana Canon today is in the Chinese language.
Emergence of the Vajrayana
Mahayana Buddhism received significant theoretical grounding from Nagarjuna (perhaps c.150 - 250 CE), arguably the most influential scholar within the Mahayana tradition. Writings attributed to him made explicit references to Mahayana texts, but his philosophy was argued within the parameters set out by the Tripi?aka sutras. Completely repudiating the then-and-there-dominant Sarvastivada school, which argued for the existence of dharmas (factors of existence) in past, present, and future, Nagarjuna asserted that the nature of the dharmas (hence the enlightenment) to be sunya (void or empty), bringing together other key Buddhist doctrines, particularly anatman (no-self) and pratityasamutpada (dependent origination). His school of thought is known as the Madhyamaka. After the end of the Ku?a?as, Buddhism flourished in India during the dynasty of the Guptas (4th - 6th century). Mahayana centres of learning were established, the most important one being the Nalanda University in north-eastern India. Sarvastivada teaching, which was criticized by Nagarjuna, was reformulated by scholars such as Vasubandhu and Asaga and were incorporated into the Yogacara (Sanskrit: yoga practice) school. While the Madhyamaka school asserted that there is no ultimately real thing, the Yogacara school asserts that only the mind is ultimately existent. These two schools of thought, in opposition or synthesis, form the basis of subsequent Mahayana theology in the Indo-Tibetan tradition. There are differing views as to just when Vajrayana and its tantric practice started. In the Tibetan tradition, it is claimed that the historical Sakyamuni Buddha taught tantra, but as these are esoteric teachings, they were written down long after the Buddha's other teachings. The earliest texts appeared around the early 4th century. Nalanda University became a center for the development of Vajrayana theory and continued as the source of leading-edge Vajrayana 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 (Vajrayana) stems from the late (9th-12th century) Nalanda tradition.
Pali is the language that the texts of the Hinayana Buddhism is written. It was the language of the Indian Buddhists who took the religion to the Southeast Asia. There are certain Sanskrit terms that are used in Yoga that differ in Pali. Pali is a Middle Indo-Aryan language or prakrit of India. It is best known as the language of the earliest extant Buddhist canon, the Pali Canon, and as the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism. Pali has since been written in a variety of scripts. The word Pali itself signifies "line" or "(canonical) text", and this name for the language seems to have its origins in commentarial traditions.
Buddhism Prayer Wheel
A Prayer Wheel is a revoloving drum that contains written prayers. A prayer wheel is a 'wheel' (Tibetan: 'khor) on a spindle made from metal, wood, leather, or even coarse cotton. On the wheel are depicted or encapsulated prayers, mantras and symbols such as the Ashtamangala. According to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, spinning such a wheel will have much the same effect as orally reciting the prayers. The concept of the prayer wheel is a physical manifestation of the phrase "turning the wheel of Dharma," which describes the way in which the Buddha taught. The drum is used by Buddhists of Tibet during their religeous ceromonies. The most commonly used mantra in prayer wheels is Om Mani Padme Hum. This mantra is prayer that invites the compassion of Chenrezig the embodiment of compassion.
Chinese Mahayana Buddhist monk lighting incense in a Beijing temple.The most common way scholars categorize Buddhist schools follows the major languages of the extant Buddhist canons, which exist in Pali, Tibetan (also found in Mongolian translation) and Chinese collections, along with some texts that still exist in Sanskrit and Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit. This is a useful division for practical purposes, but does not necessarily correspond to philosophical or doctrinal divisions. Despite the differences, there are common threads to almost all Buddhist branches:
All accept the Buddha as their teacher.
All accept the Middle Way, Dependent origination, the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, though only the Southern (Theravada, Pali) tradition regards these as central. All accept that both the members of the laity and of the Sangha can pursue the path toward enlightenment (bodhi). All accept three types of Buddha and consider Buddhahood to be the highest attainment.
Southern Buddhism (Theravada)
In addition to the Edicts of Asoka, Buddhist annals compiled at a later date offer a history of the Asokan and post-Asokan period. Among these annals are the Dipavasa, the Mahavasa, and the Samantapasadika of the south Indian Vibhajjavada (Sanskrit: Vibhajyavada) sa?gha, beside the Divyavadana and the Avadanasataka from the northern Sarvastivada (Pali: Sabbatthivada) sa?gha. According to the accounts of the Vibhajjavada, Asoka convened a third Buddhist council (c. 250 BCE), whose purpose was to produce a definitive text of the Buddha's words. According to the Theravada account, given in the Dipavamsa and elsewhere, Asoka called this council to sort out doctrinal disputes within the sangha, which these sources say were caused by the infiltration of the sangha by non-buddhists, apparently not actually ordained. The account goes on to say that the council approved the Kathavatthu, compiled by its president Moggaliputta Tissa, as part of the scriptures. As this text consists of doctrinal debates, apparently with other schools, the account seems to imply the other schools were not proper Buddhists or proper monks. The council also saw the formation of the sagha of the Vibhajjavada ("school of analytical discourse") out of various schools of the Sthaviravada lineage. Vibhajjavadins claim that the first step to insight has to be achieved by the aspirant's experience, critical investigation, and reasoning instead of by blind faith. This school gradually declined on the Indian subcontinent, but its branch in Sri Lanka and South East Asia continues to survive; this branch of the school is now known as Theravada. The Theravada school claims that the Sarvastivada and the Dharmaguptaka schools were rejected by the council, although according to other sources the Dharmaguptaka school is classified as one of the Vibhajyavadin schools. However, these schools became influential in northwestern India and Central Asia and, since their teaching is found among the scriptures preserved by the Mahayana schools, they may have had some formative influence on the Mahayana. The Sarvastivadins have not preserved an independent tradition about the Third Council. it has been argued by some scholars that the council was part of a series of debates and/or disputes resulting in the formation of three main doctrinal schools, Vibhajjavada, Sarvastivada, and Puggalavada, which later were subject to further subdivisions. One such subdivision of the Vibhajjavada was established in Ceylon, and in course of time came to resume the name Theravada (given above in its Sanskrit form Sthaviravada). Its scriptures, the Pali Canon, were written down there in the last century BCE, at what the Theravada usually reckons as the fourth council. It was long believed in Theravada tradition that the Pali language is equivalent to Magadhi, the eastern dialect of the kingdom of Magadha spoken by the Buddha. However, linguistic comparisons of the Edicts of Asoka and the language of the Pali canon show strong differences between the Magadhi of the Edicts (characterized by such changes as r l, masculine nominative singular of a-stems in -e, etc.) and Pali. The greatest similarity to Pali is found in a dialectal variant of the Edicts written on a rock near Girnar in Gujarat. Theravada is Pali for "the Doctrine of the Elders" or "the Ancient Doctrine". Theravada teaches one to encourage wholesome states of mind, avoid unwholesome states of mind, and to train the mind in meditation. The aim of practice, according to Theravada Buddhism, is the attainment of freedom from suffering, which is linked with Nirvana, the highest spiritual goal. Theravada teaches that the experience of suffering is caused by mental defilements like greed, aversion and delusion, while freedom can be attained though putting into practice teachings like the Four Noble Truths and especially the fourth one, the Noble Eightfold Path. The Theravada school bases its practice and doctrine exclusively on the Pali Canon and its commentaries. The Sutta collections and Vinaya texts of the Pali 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. Theravada is the only surviving representative of the historical early Buddhist schools. Theravada is primarily practiced today in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia as well as small portions of China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bangladesh. It has a growing presence in Europe and America.
Eastern (East Asian) Buddhism
Mahayana ("Great Vehicle") is an inclusive, cosmically-dimensioned faith characterized by the adoption of additional texts, seen as ultimately transcending the Pali suttas, and a shift in the understanding of Buddhism. It goes beyond the traditional Theravada ideal of the release from suffering (dukkha) and personal enlightenment of the arhats, to elevate the Buddha to the God-like status of an eternal, omnipresent, all-knowing being, and to create a pantheon of quasi-divine Bodhisattvas devoting themselves to personal excellence, ultimate knowledge and the salvation of humanity (and indeed of all living beings, including animals, ghosts and gods). In Mahayana, the Buddha became an idealized man-god and the Bodhisattva was the universal ideal of excellence. The Mahayana branch emphasizes infinite, universal compassion (maha-karuna) or the selfless, ultra-altruistic quest of the Bodhisattva to attain the "Awakened Mind" (bodhicitta) of Buddhahood so as to have the fullest possible knowledge of how most effectively to lead all sentient beings into Nirvana. Emphasis is also often placed on the notions of Emptiness (shunyata), perfected spiritual insight (prajnaparamita) and Buddha-nature (the deathless tathagatagarbha, or Buddhic Essence, inherent in all beings and creatures). The teaching of the tathagatagarbha is said by the Buddha in the tathagatagarbha sutras to constitute the "absolutely final culmination" of his Dharma - the highest presentation of Truth. The Mahayana can also on occasion communicate a vision of the Buddha or Dharma which amounts to mysticism and gives expression to a form of mentalist panentheism (God in Buddhism). In addition to the Tripitaka scriptures, which (within Mahayana) are viewed as valid but only provisional or basic, Mahayana schools recognize all or part of a genre of Mahayana scriptures. Some of these sutras became for Mahayanists a manifestation of the Buddha himself. Mahayana Buddhism shows a great deal of doctrinal variation and development over time, and even more variation in terms of practice. While there is much agreement on general principles, there is disagreement over which texts are more authoritative. Native Eastern Buddhism is practiced today in China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, parts of Russia and most of Vietnam. The Buddhism practiced in Tibet, the Himalayan regions, and Mongolia is also Mahayana in origin, but will be discussed below under the heading of Northern Buddhism. There are a variety of strands in Eastern Buddhism, which in most of this area are fused into a single unified form of Buddhism. However, in Japan they form separate denominations. The five major ones are the following.
Northern (Tibetan) Buddhism
The Vajrayana or "Diamond Vehicle" (also referred to as Mantrayana, Tantrayana, Tantric Buddhism, or esoteric Buddhism) shares the basic concepts of Mahayana, but also includes a vast array of spiritual techniques designed to enhance Buddhist practice. One component of the Vajrayana is harnessing psycho-physical energy as a means of developing profoundly powerful states of concentration and awareness. These profound states are in turn to be used as an efficient path to Buddhahood. Using these techniques, it is claimed that a practitioner can achieve Buddhahood in one lifetime, or even as little as three years. In addition to the Theravada and Mahayana scriptures, Vajrayana Buddhists recognise a large body of Buddhist Tantras, many of which are also included in Chinese and Japanese collections of Buddhist literature.
A Pagoda is a Buddhist shrine or memorial. In the Orient the Pagoda may take on a very elaborate form It may be in the form of a highly decorated temple or tower.
The Nibbana is a state of consciousness where greed, delusion and hatred(the three evils) are overcome. In attaining Nibbana you are liberated from illusion. In doing so your journey is complete.
Lamaism is a term that describes esoteric Tibetan Buddhism which belongs to Mahayana tradition. Including shamanic, bon and tantric it was introduced to Tibet around the 7th century. Lamaism is made up of rituals, exorcisms and mantras. Refer "The Tibetan Book of the Dead".
The Eightfold path in Buddhism are the qualities presented by Gautama Buddha as the way of attaining Nirvana. These qualities are Right Thoughts, Right Understanding, Right Actions, Right Speech, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. The qualities are then divided into Wisdom, Morality and Concentration.
Satori means sudden enlightenment. This state of mind is usually attained when paradoxes and contradictions, as presented in the Zen Koans, are understood, and one`s inner Buddha nature is realized.
Tumo is the Tibetan Buddhist technique of keeping warm. The Tumo technique enables you to keep warm in spite of snow, freezing winds and ice. Tumo is a meditation that channels mystical heat through the veins, arteries and nerve channels which enables you to remain warm during these freezing conditions. The Tibetan Buddhists believe that knowledge of Tumo sharpens the mental faculties of perception and intuition.
In Buddhist doctrine Anatta is a belief that there is no permanent human soul that reincarnates from one body to another. Gautama Buddha described the individual person not as a specific soul inhabiting a body, but as a collection of events, perceptions, and sensations within the spectrum of human consciousness , and which is in a constant state of flux. Consequently, no fixed entity could survive death and pass to another realm.
A Dagoba is a Buddhist shrine or mound. It contains relics of the Buddha or a saint. The typical relics would be teeth, pieces of bone, fragments from the Bodhi tree. Some examples of Dagobas may be found in India, Sri Lanka and Burma. In some ways Dagobas resemble Stupas.
In Tibetan Buddhism a state between death and rebirth. In the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the consciousness of the deceased individuals passes through various Bardo stages. These are a symbolic effect of Karma, good or evil. The Tibetan Lamas teach a technique of dying that enables the individual to pass through these Bardo visions escaping from the Karmic cycle of rebirth and entering Nirvana.
In Buddhism, Maya was the mother of Gautama. A chaste and virtuous woman she was Queen of the Sakyas. Maya was prepared by the wives of the Gods for the birth of Gautama who entered who womb in the form of an elephant. Maya then died exactly seven days after the birth of Gautama.
According to Mahayana Buddhism Maitreya is still the Buddha to come. Gautama was the fourth Buddha on Earth and Maitreya will be the fifth and final Buddha.
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