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Buddhism

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A statue of Gautama Buddha in Bodhgaya, India. Bodhgaya is traditionally considered the place of his awakening.[1]
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Buddhism

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History
Timeline · Councils
Gautama Buddha
Disciples
Later Buddhists

Dharma or Concepts

Four Noble Truths
Dependent Origination
Impermanence
Suffering · Middle Way
Non-self · Emptiness
Five Aggregates
Karma · Rebirth
Samsara · Cosmology

Practices

Three Jewels
Precepts · Perfections
Meditation · Wisdom
Noble Eightfold Path
Aids to Enlightenment
Monasticism · Laity

Nirvāṇa
Four Stages · Arhat
Buddha · Bodhisattva

Traditions · Canons
Theravāda · Pali
Mahāyāna · Chinese
Vajrayāna · Tibetan

Countries and Regions

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Buddhism (Pali/Sanskrit: बौद्ध धर्म Buddha Dharma) is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha (Pāli/Sanskrit "the awakened one"). The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.[2] He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end suffering (or dukkha), achieve nirvana, and escape what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth.

Two major branches of Buddhism are recognized: Theravada ("The School of the Elders") and Mahayana ("The Great Vehicle"). Theravada—the oldest surviving branch—has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, and Mahayana is found throughout East Asia and includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, Tendai and Shinnyo-en. In some classifications Vajrayana—a subcategory of Mahayana practiced in Tibet and Mongolia—is recognized as a third branch. While Buddhism remains most popular within Asia, both branches are now found throughout the world. Estimates of Buddhists worldwide vary significantly depending on the way Buddhist adherence is defined. Lower estimates are between 350–500 million.[3] However, when including Chinese religion which has traditionally consisted of forms of Mahayana Buddhism alongside Chinese folk religion the number would range from 1–1.6 billion.[4][5][6][7]

Buddhist schools vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures, and especially their respective practices.[8] The foundations of Buddhist tradition and practice are the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings), and the Sangha (the community).[9][10] Taking "refuge in the triple gem" has traditionally been a declaration and commitment to being on the Buddhist path and in general distinguishes a Buddhist from a non-Buddhist.[11] Other practices may include following ethical precepts, support of the monastic community, renouncing conventional living and becoming a monastic, the development of mindfulness and practice of meditation, cultivation of higher wisdom and discernment, study of scriptures, devotional practices, ceremonies, and in the Mahayana tradition, invocation of buddhas and bodhisattvas.

Contents

Life of the Buddha

Ascetic Gautama with his five companions, who later comprised the first Sangha. Wall painting in a Laotian temple

The evidence of the early texts suggests that the Buddha was born in a community that was on the periphery, both geographically and culturally, of the northeastern Indian subcontinent in the 5th century BCE.[12] It was either a small republic, in which case his father was an elected chieftain, or an oligarchy, in which case his father was an oligarch.[12]

This community was not yet likely to have been absorbed into Brahmanical culture (the tradition that would evolve into Hinduism),[13] and it is even possible that the Buddha's mother tongue was not Indo-Aryan.[12]

According to the Theravada Tipitaka scriptures[which?] (from Pali, meaning "three baskets"), the Buddha was born in Lumbini, around the year 563 BCE, and raised in Kapilavastu, both in modern-day Nepal.[14][15]

According to this narrative, shortly after the birth of young prince Siddhartha Gautama, an astrologer visited the young prince's father—King Śuddhodana—and prophesied that Siddhartha would either become a great king or renounce the material world to become a holy man, depending on whether he saw what life was like outside the palace walls.

Śuddhodana was determined to see his son become a king so he prevented him from leaving the palace grounds. But at age 29, despite his father's efforts, Siddhartha ventured beyond the palace several times. In a series of encounters—known in Buddhist literature as the four sights he learned of the suffering of ordinary people, encountering an old man, a sick man, a corpse and, finally, an ascetic holy man, apparently content and at peace with the world. These experiences prompted Gautama to abandon royal life and take up a spiritual quest.

Gautama first went to study with famous religious teachers of the day, and mastered the meditative attainments they taught. But he found that they did not provide a permanent end to suffering, so he continued his quest. He next attempted an extreme asceticism, which was a religious pursuit common among the Shramanas, a religious culture distinct from the Vedic one. Gautama underwent prolonged fasting, breath-holding, and exposure to pain. He almost starved himself to death in the process. He realized that he had taken this kind of practice to its limit, and had not put an end to suffering. So in a pivotal moment he accepted milk and rice from a village girl and changed his approach. He devoted himself to anapanasati meditation, through which he discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way (Skt. madhyamā-pratipad[16]): a path of moderation between the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification.[17][18]

Gautama was now determined to complete his spiritual quest. At the age of 35, he famously sat in meditation under a sacred fig tree — known as the Bodhi tree — in the town of Bodh Gaya, India, and vowed not to rise before achieving enlightenment. After many days, he finally destroyed the fetters of his mind, thereby liberating himself from the cycle of suffering and rebirth, and arose as a fully enlightened being (Skt. samyaksaṃbuddha). Soon thereafter, he attracted a band of followers and instituted a monastic order. Now, as the Buddha, he spent the rest of his life teaching the path of awakening he discovered, traveling throughout the northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent,[19][20] and died at the age of 80 (483 BCE) in Kushinagar, India.

The above narrative draws on the Nidānakathā biography of the Theravāda sect in Sri Lanka, which is ascribed to Buddhaghoṣa in the 5th century CE.[21] Earlier biographies such as the Buddhacarita, the Lokottaravādin Mahāvastu, and the Mahāyāna / Sarvāstivāda Lalitavistara Sūtra, give different accounts.

Scholars are hesitant to make unqualified claims about the historical facts of the Buddha's life. Most accept that he lived, taught and founded a monastic order but do not consistently accept all of the details contained in his biographies.[22][23] According to author Michael Carrithers, while there are good reasons to doubt the traditional account, "the outline of the life must be true: birth, maturity, renunciation, search, awakening and liberation, teaching, death."[24]

In writing her biography of Buddha, Karen Armstrong noted, "It is obviously difficult, therefore, to write a biography of the Buddha that will meet modern criteria, because we have very little information that can be considered historically sound... [but] we can be reasonably confident Siddhatta Gotama did indeed exist and that his disciples preserved the memory of his life and teachings as well as they could."[25]

Buddhist concepts

Life and the world

Traditional Tibetan Buddhist Thangka depicting the "Wheel of Life" with its six realms

Karma

Karma (from Sanskrit: "action, work") in Buddhism is the force that drives saṃsāra—the cycle of suffering and rebirth for each being. Good, skillful deeds (Pāli: "kusala") and bad, unskillful (Pāli: "akusala") actions produce "seeds" in the mind which come to fruition either in this life or in a subsequent rebirth.[26] The avoidance of unwholesome actions and the cultivation of positive actions is called śīla (from Sanskrit: "ethical conduct").

In Buddhism, karma specifically refers to those actions (of body, speech, and mind) that spring from mental intent ("cetana"),[27] and which bring about a consequence (or fruit, "phala") or result ("vipāka").

In Theravada Buddhism there can be no divine salvation or forgiveness for one's karma, since it is a purely impersonal process that is a part of the makeup of the universe. Some Mahayana traditions hold different views. For example, the texts of certain Mahayana sutras (such as the Lotus Sutra, the Angulimaliya Sutra and the Nirvana Sutra) claim that reciting or merely hearing their texts can expunge great swathes of negative karma. Some forms of Buddhism (for example, Vajrayana) regard the recitation of mantras as a means for cutting off previous negative karma.[28] The Japanese Pure Land teacher Genshin taught that Amida Buddha has the power to destroy the karma that would otherwise bind one in saṃsāra.[29][30]

Rebirth

Two Tibetan Buddhist monks in traditional clothing.

Rebirth refers to a process whereby beings go through a succession of lifetimes as one of many possible forms of sentient life, each running from conception[31] to death. Buddhism rejects the concepts of a permanent self or an unchanging, eternal soul, as it is called in Hinduism and Christianity. According to Buddhism there ultimately is no such thing as a self independent from the rest of the universe (the doctrine of anatta). Rebirth in subsequent existences must be understood as the continuation of a dynamic, ever-changing process of "dependent arising" ("pratītyasamutpāda") determined by the laws of cause and effect (karma) rather than that of one being, transmigrating or incarnating from one existence to the next.

Each rebirth takes place within one of five realms according to Theravadins, or six according to other schools.[32][33] These are further subdivided into 31 planes of existence:[34]

  1. Naraka beings: those who live in one of many Narakas (Hells)
  2. Preta: sometimes sharing some space with humans, but invisible to most people; an important variety is the hungry ghost[35]
  3. Animals: sharing space with humans, but considered another type of life
  4. Human beings: one of the realms of rebirth in which attaining Nirvana is possible
  5. Asuras: variously translated as lowly deities, demons, titans, antigods; not recognized by Theravāda (Mahavihara) tradition as a separate realm[36]
  6. Devas including Brahmas: variously translated as gods, deities, spirits, angels, or left untranslated

Rebirths in some of the higher heavens, known as the Śuddhāvāsa Worlds (Pure Abodes), can be attained only by skilled Buddhist practitioners known as anāgāmis (non-returners). Rebirths in the arupa-dhatu (formless realms) can be attained only by those who can meditate on the arūpajhānas, the highest object of meditation.

According to East Asian and Tibetan Buddhism, there is an intermediate state (Tibetan "Bardo") between one life and the next. The orthodox Theravada position rejects this; however there are passages in the Samyutta Nikaya of the Pali Canon (the collection of texts on which the Theravada tradition is based), that seem to lend support to the idea that the Buddha taught of an intermediate stage between one life and the next.[37][38]

Saṃsāra

Sentient beings crave pleasure and are averse to pain from birth to death. In being controlled by these attitudes, they perpetuate the cycle of conditioned existence and suffering (saṃsāra), and produce the causes and conditions of the next rebirth after death. Each rebirth repeats this process in an involuntary cycle, which Buddhists strive to end by eradicating these causes and conditions, applying the methods laid out by the Buddha and subsequent Buddhists.

Suffering's causes and solution

The Four Noble Truths

Polish Buddhists

According to the Pali Tipitaka[39] and the Āgamas of other early Buddhist schools, the Four Noble Truths were the first teaching of Gautama Buddha after attaining Nirvana. They are sometimes considered to contain the essence of the Buddha's teachings:

  1. Life as we know it ultimately is or leads to suffering/uneasiness (dukkha) in one way or another.
  2. Suffering is caused by craving. This is often expressed as a deluded clinging to a certain sense of existence, to selfhood, or to the things or phenomena that we consider the cause of happiness or unhappiness. Craving also has its negative aspect, i.e. one craves that a certain state of affairs not exist.
  3. Suffering ends when craving ends. This is achieved by eliminating delusion, thereby reaching a liberated state of Enlightenment (bodhi);
  4. Reaching this liberated state is achieved by following the path laid out by the Buddha.

This method is described by early Western scholars, and taught as an introduction to Buddhism by some contemporary Mahayana teachers (for example, the Dalai Lama).[40]

According to other interpretations by Buddhist teachers and scholars, lately recognized by some Western non-Buddhist scholars,[41] the "truths" do not represent mere statements, but are categories or aspects that most worldly phenomena fall into, grouped in two:

  1. Suffering and causes of suffering
  2. Cessation and the paths towards liberation from suffering.

Thus, according to the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism[42] they are

  1. "The noble truth that is suffering"
  2. "The noble truth that is the arising of suffering"
  3. "The noble truth that is the end of suffering"
  4. "The noble truth that is the way leading to the end of suffering"

The traditional Theravada understanding is that the Four Noble Truths are an advanced teaching for those who are ready for them.[43][44] The East Asian Mahayana position is that they are a preliminary teaching for people not yet ready for the higher and more expansive Mahayana teachings.[45]

The Noble Eightfold Path

The Dharmachakra represents the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Noble Eightfold Path—the fourth of the Buddha's Noble Truths—is the way to the cessation of suffering (dukkha). It has eight sections, each starting with the word "samyak" (Sanskrit, meaning "correctly", "properly", or "well", frequently translated into English as "right"), and presented in three groups known as the three higher trainings. (NB: Pāli transliterations appear in brackets after Sanskrit ones):

  • Prajñā is the wisdom that purifies the mind, allowing it to attain spiritual insight into the true nature of all things. It includes:
  1. dṛṣṭi (ditthi): viewing reality as it is, not just as it appears to be.
  2. saṃkalpa (sankappa): intention of renunciation, freedom and harmlessness.
  • Śīla is the ethics or morality, or abstention from unwholesome deeds. It includes:
  1. vāc (vāca): speaking in a truthful and non-hurtful way
  2. karman (kammanta): acting in a non-harmful way
  3. ājīvana (ājīva): a non-harmful livelihood
  • Samādhi is the mental discipline required to develop mastery over one's own mind. This is done through the practice of various contemplative and meditative practices, and includes:
  1. vyāyāma (vāyāma): making an effort to improve
  2. smṛti (sati): awareness to see things for what they are with clear consciousness, being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion
  3. samādhi (samādhi): correct meditation or concentration, explained as the first four jhānas

The practice of the Eightfold Path is understood in two ways, as requiring either simultaneous development (all eight items practiced in parallel), or as a progressive series of stages through which the practitioner moves, the culmination of one leading to the beginning of another.

The Middle Way

An important guiding principle of Buddhist practice is the Middle Way (or Middle Path), which is said to have been discovered by Gautama Buddha prior to his enlightenment. The Middle Way has several definitions:

  1. The practice of non-extremism: a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification
  2. The middle ground between certain metaphysical views (for example, that things ultimately either do or do not exist)[46]
  3. An explanation of Nirvana (perfect enlightenment), a state wherein it becomes clear that all dualities apparent in the world are delusory (see Seongcheol)
  4. Another term for emptiness, the ultimate nature of all phenomena (in the Mahayana branch), a lack of inherent existence, which avoids the extremes of permanence and nihilism or inherent existence and nothingness

Nature of existence

Debating monks at Sera Monastery, Tibet

Buddhist scholars have produced a remarkable quantity of intellectual theories, philosophies and world view concepts (see, for example, Abhidharma, Buddhist philosophy and Reality in Buddhism). Some schools of Buddhism discourage doctrinal study, and some regard it as essential, but most regard it as having a place, at least for some persons at some stages in Buddhist practice.

In the earliest Buddhist teachings, shared to some extent by all extant schools, the concept of liberation (Nirvana)—the goal of the Buddhist path—is closely related to the correct understanding of how the mind causes stress. In awakening to the true nature of clinging, one develops dispassion for the objects of clinging, and is liberated from suffering (dukkha) and the cycle of incessant rebirths (saṃsāra). To this end, the Buddha recommended viewing things as characterized by the three marks of existence.

Three Marks of Existence

The Three Marks of Existence are impermanence, suffering, and not-self.

Impermanence (Pāli: anicca) expresses the Buddhist notion that all compounded or conditioned phenomena (all things and experiences) are inconstant, unsteady, and impermanent. Everything we can experience through our senses is made up of parts, and its existence is dependent on external conditions. Everything is in constant flux, and so conditions and the thing itself are constantly changing. Things are constantly coming into being, and ceasing to be. Since nothing lasts, there is no inherent or fixed nature to any object or experience. According to the doctrine of impermanence, life embodies this flux in the aging process, the cycle of rebirth (saṃsāra), and in any experience of loss. The doctrine asserts that because things are impermanent, attachment to them is futile and leads to suffering (dukkha).

Suffering (Pāli: दुक्ख dukkha; Sanskrit दुःख duḥkha) is also a central concept in Buddhism. The word roughly corresponds to a number of terms in English including suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness, sorrow, affliction, anxiety, dissatisfaction, discomfort, anguish, stress, misery, and frustration. Although the term is often translated as "suffering", its philosophical meaning is more analogous to "disquietude" as in the condition of being disturbed. As such, "suffering" is too narrow a translation with "negative emotional connotations"[47] which can give the impression that the Buddhist view is one of pessimism, but Buddhism seeks to be neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but realistic. In English-language Buddhist literature translated from Pāli, "dukkha" is often left untranslated, so as to encompass its full range of meaning.[48][49][50]

Not-self (Pāli: anatta; Sanskrit: anātman) is the third mark of existence. Upon careful examination, one finds that no phenomenon is really "I" or "mine"; these concepts are in fact constructed by the mind. In the Nikayas anatta is not meant as a metaphysical assertion, but as an approach for gaining release from suffering. In fact, the Buddha rejected both of the metaphysical assertions "I have a Self" and "I have no Self" as ontological views that bind one to suffering.[51] When asked if the self was identical with the body, the Buddha refused to answer. By analyzing the constantly changing physical and mental constituents (skandhas) of a person or object, the practitioner comes to the conclusion that neither the respective parts nor the person as a whole comprise a self.

Dependent arising

The doctrine of pratītyasamutpāda (Sanskrit; Pali: paticcasamuppāda; Tibetan: rten.cing.'brel.bar.'byung.ba; Chinese: 緣起) is an important part of Buddhist metaphysics. It states that phenomena arise together in a mutually interdependent web of cause and effect. It is variously rendered into English as "dependent origination", "conditioned genesis", "dependent co-arising", "interdependent arising", or "contingency".

The best-known application of the concept of pratītyasamutpāda is the scheme of Twelve Nidānas (from Pāli "nidāna" meaning "cause, foundation, source or origin"), which explain the continuation of the cycle of suffering and rebirth (saṃsāra) in detail.[52]

The Twelve Nidānas describe a causal connection between the subsequent characteristics or conditions of cyclic existence, each one giving rise to the next:

  1. Avidyā: ignorance, specifically spiritual ignorance of the nature of reality[53]
  2. Saṃskāras: literally formations, explained as referring to karma
  3. Vijñāna: consciousness, specifically discriminative[54]
  4. Nāmarūpa: literally name and form, referring to mind and body[55]
  5. Ṣaḍāyatana: the six sense bases: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind-organ
  6. Sparśa: variously translated contact, impression, stimulation (by a sense object)
  7. Vedanā: usually translated feeling: this is the "hedonic tone", i.e. whether something is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral
  8. Tṛṣṇā: literally thirst, but in Buddhism nearly always used to mean craving
  9. Upādāna: clinging or grasping; the word also means fuel, which feeds the continuing cycle of rebirth
  10. Bhava: literally being (existence) or becoming. (The Theravada explains this as having two meanings: karma, which produces a new existence, and the existence itself.)[56]
  11. Jāti: literally birth, but life is understood as starting at conception[57]
  12. Jarāmaraṇa: (old age and death) and also śokaparidevaduḥkhadaurmanasyopāyāsa (sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and misery)

Sentient beings always suffer throughout saṃsāra, until they free themselves from this suffering by attaining Nirvana. Then the absence of the first Nidāna—ignorance—leads to the absence of the others.

Emptiness

A monk in the Jade Buddha Temple, Shanghai, China.

Mahayana Buddhism received significant theoretical grounding from Nagarjuna (perhaps c. 150–250 CE), arguably the most influential scholar within the Mahayana tradition. Nagarjuna's primary contribution to Buddhist philosophy was the systematic exposition of the concept of śūnyatā, or "emptiness", widely attested in the Prajñāpāramitā sutras which were emergent in his era. The concept of emptiness brings together other key Buddhist doctrines, particularly anatta and pratītyasamutpāda (dependent origination), to refute the metaphysics of Sarvastivada and Sautrantika (extinct non-Mahayana schools). For Nagarjuna, it is not merely sentient beings that are empty of ātman; all phenomena (dharmas) are without any svabhava (literally "own-nature" or "self-nature"), and thus without any underlying essence; they are "empty" of being independent; thus the heterodox theories of svabhava circulating at the time were refuted on the basis of the doctrines of early Buddhism. Nagarjuna's school of thought is known as the Mādhyamaka. Some of the writings attributed to Nagarjuna made explicit references to Mahayana texts, but his philosophy was argued within the parameters set out by the agamas. 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 Mādhyamaka system.[58]

Sarvastivada teachings—which were criticized by Nāgārjuna—were reformulated by scholars such as Vasubandhu and Asanga and were adapted into the Yogacara (Sanskrit: yoga practice) school. While the Mādhyamaka school held that asserting the existence or non-existence of any ultimately real thing was inappropriate, some exponents of Yogacara asserted that the mind and only the mind is ultimately real (a doctrine known as cittamatra). Not all Yogacarins asserted that mind was truly existent; Vasubandhu and Asanga in particular did not.[59] These two schools of thought, in opposition or synthesis, form the basis of subsequent Mahayana metaphysics in the Indo-Tibetan tradition.

Besides emptiness, Mahayana schools often place emphasis on the notions of perfected spiritual insight (prajñāpāramitā) and Buddha-nature (tathāgatagarbha, meaning "Buddha embryo" or "Buddha-matrix"). According to the Tathāgatagarbha Sutras, the Buddha revealed the reality of the deathless Buddha-nature, which is said to be inherent in all sentient beings and enables them all eventually to reach complete enlightenment, i.e. Buddhahood. Buddha-nature is stated in the Mahayana Angulimaliya Sutra and Mahaparinirvana Sutra to not be śūnya, but to be replete with eternal Buddhic virtues. In the Tathāgatagarbha Sutras the Buddha is portrayed proclaiming that the teaching of the tathāgatagarbha constitutes the "absolutely final culmination" of his Dharma—the highest presentation of truth (other sūtras make similar statements about other teachings) and it has traditionally been regarded as the highest teaching in East Asian Buddhism. However, in modern China all doctrines are regarded as equally valid.[60] 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 (see God in Buddhism).

Liberation

Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya, India, where Gautama Buddha attained Nirvana under the Bodhi Tree (left)

Nirvana

Nirvana (Sanskrit; Pali: "Nibbana") means "cessation", "extinction" (of craving and ignorance and therefore suffering and the cycle of involuntary rebirths (saṃsāra), "extinguished", "quieted", "calmed"; it is also known as "Awakening" or "Enlightenment" in the West. The term for anybody who has achieved nirvana, including the Buddha, is arahant.

Bodhi (Pāli and Sanskrit, in devanagari: बॊधि) is a term applied to the experience of Awakening of arahants. Bodhi literally means "awakening", but it is more commonly translated into English as "enlightenment". In Early Buddhism, bodhi carried a meaning synonymous to nirvana, using only some different metaphors to describe the experience, which implies the extinction of raga (greed, craving),[61] dosa (hate, aversion)[62] and moha (delusion).[63] In the later school of Mahayana Buddhism, the status of nirvana was downgraded in some scriptures, coming to refer only to the extinction of greed and hate, implying that delusion was still present in one who attained nirvana, and that one needed to attain bodhi to eradicate delusion:

An important development in the Mahayana [was] that it came to separate nirvana from bodhi ('awakening' to the truth, Enlightenment), and to put a lower value on the former (Gombrich, 1992d). Originally nirvana and bodhi refer to the same thing; they merely use different metaphors for the experience. But the Mahayana tradition separated them and considered that nirvana referred only to the extinction of craving (passion and hatred), with the resultant escape from the cycle of rebirth. This interpretation ignores the third fire, delusion: the extinction of delusion is of course in the early texts identical with what can be positively expressed as gnosis, Enlightenment.
—Richard F. Gombrich, How Buddhism Began[64]

Therefore, according to Mahayana Buddhism, the arahant has attained only nirvana, thus still being subject to delusion, while the bodhisattva not only achieves nirvana but full liberation from delusion as well. He thus attains bodhi and becomes a buddha. In Theravada Buddhism, bodhi and nirvana carry the same meaning as in the early texts, that of being freed from greed, hate and delusion.

The term parinirvana is also encountered in Buddhism, and this generally refers to the complete nirvana attained by the arhat at the moment of death, when the physical body expires.

Buddhas

Gautama Buddha, 1st century CE, Gandhara
Theravada

In Theravada doctrine, a person may awaken from the "sleep of ignorance" by directly realizing the true nature of reality; such people are called arahants and occasionally buddhas. After numerous lifetimes of spiritual striving, they have reached the end of the cycle of rebirth, no longer reincarnating as human, animal, ghost, or other being. The commentaries to the Pali Canon classify these awakened beings 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
  • Savakabuddha, who receive the truth directly or indirectly from a Sammasambuddha

Bodhi and nirvana carry the same meaning, that of being freed from craving, hate, and delusion. In attaining bodhi, the arahant has overcome these obstacles. As a further distinction, the extinction of only hatred and greed (in the sensory context) with some residue of delusion, is called anagami.

Mahayana
The Great Statue of Buddha Amitabha in Kamakura, Japan

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 (see 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.

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,[dubious ] implying that delusion was still present in one who attained Nirvana. Bodhi became a higher attainment that eradicates delusion entirely.[64] Thus, the Arahant attains Nirvana but not Bodhi, thus still being subject to delusion, while the Buddha attains Bodhi.[dubious ]

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 Amitabha 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 the chanting of homage to his name will liberate one at death into the "happy land" (安樂) or "pure land" (淨土) of Amitabha 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 one has faith in the power of that vow or chants his name.

Buddha eras

Buddhists believe 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 Gautama Buddha have vanished. This belief therefore maintains that many Buddha eras have started and ended throughout the course of human existence.[65][66] The Gautama Buddha, then, is the Buddha of this era, who taught directly or indirectly to all other Buddhas in it (see types of Buddhas).

In addition, Mahayana Buddhists believe there are innumerable other Buddhas in other universes.[67] A Theravada commentary says that Buddhas arise one at a time in this world element, and not at all in others.[68] The understandings of this matter reflect widely differing interpretations of basic terms, such as "world realm", between the various schools of Buddhism.

The idea of the decline and gradual disappearance of the teaching has been influential in East Asian Buddhism. Pure Land Buddhism holds that it has declined to the point where few are capable of following the path, so it may be best to rely on the power of the Amitabha Buddha.

Bodhisattvas

Bodhisattva means "enlightenment being", and generally refers to one who is on the path to buddhahood, typically as a fully enlightened buddha (Skt. samyaksaṃbuddha). Theravada Buddhism primarily uses the term in relation to Gautama Buddha's previous existences, but has traditionally acknowledged and respected the bodhisattva path as well.[69]

Mahāyāna Buddhism is based principally upon the path of a bodhisattva. According to Jan Nattier, the term Mahāyāna ("Great Vehicle") was originally even an honorary synonym for Bodhisattvayāna, or the "Bodhisattva Vehicle."[70] The Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra, an early and important Mahāyāna text, contains a simple and brief definition for the term bodhisattva, and this definition is the following:[71][72][73]

Because he has enlightenment as his aim, a bodhisattva-mahāsattva is so called.

Mahāyāna Buddhism encourages everyone to become bodhisattvas and to take the bodhisattva vows. With these vows, one makes the promise to work for the complete enlightenment of all beings by practicing six perfections (Skt. pāramitā).[74] According to the Mahāyāna teachings, these perfections are: giving, discipline, forbearance, effort, meditation, and transcendent wisdom.

Practice

Devotion

Devotion is an important part of the practice of most Buddhists.[75] Devotional practices include bowing, offerings, pilgrimage, and 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.

Yoga

Amitābha Buddha meditating, sitting in the lotus position. Borobodur, Java, Indonesia.

Buddhism traditionally incorporates states of meditative absorption (Pali: jhāna; Skt: dhyāna).[76] The most ancient sustained expression of yogic ideas is found in the early sermons of the Buddha.[77] One key innovative teaching of the Buddha was that meditative absorption must be combined with liberating cognition.[78] The difference between the Buddha's teaching and the yoga presented in early Brahminic texts is striking. Meditative states alone are not an end, for according to the Buddha, even the highest meditative state is not liberating. Instead of attaining a complete cessation of thought, some sort of mental activity must take place: a liberating cognition, based on the practice of mindful awareness.[79]

Meditation was an aspect of the practice of the yogis in the centuries preceding the Buddha. The Buddha built upon the yogis' concern with introspection and developed their meditative techniques, but rejected their theories of liberation.[80] In Buddhism, mindfulness and clear awareness are to be developed at all times, in pre-Buddhist yogic practices there is no such injunction. A yogi in the Brahmanical tradition is not to practice while defecating, for example, while a Buddhist monastic should do so.[81]

Another new teaching of the Buddha was that meditative absorption must be combined with a liberating cognition.[82]

Religious knowledge or "vision" was indicated as a result of practice both within and outside of the Buddhist fold. According to the Samaññaphala Sutta this sort of vision arose for the Buddhist adept as a result of the perfection of "meditation" (Skt. dhyāna) coupled with the perfection of "discipline" (Skt. śīla). Some of the Buddha's meditative techniques were shared with other traditions of his day, but the idea that ethics are causally related to the attainment of "transcendent wisdom" (Skt. prajñā) was original.[83]

The Buddhist texts are probably the earliest describing meditation techniques.[84] They describe meditative practices and states which had existed before the Buddha as well as those which were first developed within Buddhism.[85] Two Upanishads written after the rise of Buddhism do contain full-fledged descriptions of yoga as a means to liberation.[86]

While there is no convincing evidence for meditation in pre-Buddhist early Brahminic texts, Wynne argues that formless meditation originated in the Brahminic or Shramanic tradition, based on strong parallels between Upanishadic cosmological statements and the meditative goals of the two teachers of the Buddha as recorded in the early Buddhist texts.[87] He mentions less likely possibilities as well.[88] Having argued that the cosmological statements in the Upanishads also reflect a contemplative tradition, he argues that the Nasadiya Sukta contains evidence for a contemplative tradition, even as early as the late Rg Vedic period.[87]

Refuge in the Three Jewels

Footprint of the Buddha with Dharmachakra and triratna, 1st century CE, Gandhāra.

Traditionally, the first step in most Buddhist schools requires taking refuge in the Three Jewels (Sanskrit: tri-ratna, Pāli: ti-ratana)[89] as the foundation of one's religious practice. The practice of taking refuge on behalf of young or even unborn children is mentioned[90] 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 or pledge, considered the ultimate expression of compassion. In Mahayana, too, the Three Jewels are perceived as possessed of an eternal and unchanging essence and as having an irreversible effect: "The Three Jewels have the quality of excellence. Just as real jewels never change their faculty and goodness, whether praised or reviled, so are the Three Jewels (Refuges), because they have an eternal and immutable essence. These Three Jewels bring a fruition that is changeless, for once one has reached Buddhahood, there is no possibility of falling back to suffering."[91]

The Three Jewels are:

  • The Buddha. This is a title for those who have attained Nirvana. See also the Tathāgata and Gautama 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. In Mahayana Buddhism, the Buddha can be viewed as the supreme Refuge: "Buddha is the Unique Absolute Refuge. Buddha is the Imperishable, Eternal, Indestructible and Absolute Refuge."[92]
  • The Dharma. The teachings or law of nature as expounded by the Gautama Buddha. It can also, especially in Mahayana, connote the ultimate and sustaining Reality which is inseparable from the Buddha. Further, from some Mahayana perspectives, the Dharma embodied in the form of a great sutra (Buddhic scripture) can replace the need for a personal teacher and can be a direct and spontaneous gateway into Truth (Dharma). This is especially said to be the case with the Lotus Sutra. Dr. Hiroshi Kanno writes of this view of the Lotus Sutra: "it is a Dharma-gate of sudden enlightenment proper to the Great Vehicle; it is a Dharma-gate whereby one awakens spontaneously, without resorting to a teacher".[93]

According to the scriptures, Gautama Buddha presented himself as a model. The Dharma offers a refuge by providing guidelines for the alleviation of suffering and the attainment of Nirvana. The Sangha 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.

Buddhist ethics

Japanese Mahayana Buddhist monk

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 internal, but also peace in the community, which is external. According to the Law of Karma, 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 add basic asceticism.

The five precepts 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), or ahimsā
  2. To refrain from taking that which is not given (not committing theft)
  3. To refrain from sensual (including sexual) misconduct
  4. To refrain from lying (speaking truth always)
  5. To refrain from intoxicants which lead to loss of mindfulness (specifically, drugs and alcohol)

The precepts are not formulated as imperatives, but as training rules that laypeople undertake voluntarily to facilitate practice.[94] In Buddhist thought, the cultivation of dana and ethical conduct will themselves refine consciousness to such a level that rebirth in one of the lower heavens is likely, even if there is no further Buddhist practice. There is nothing improper or un-Buddhist about limiting one's aims to this level of attainment.[95]

In the eight precepts, the third precept on sexual misconduct is made more strict, and becomes a precept of celibacy. The three additional precepts are:

6. To refrain from eating at the wrong time (only eat from sunrise to noon)
7. To refrain from dancing and playing music, wearing jewelry and cosmetics, attending shows and other performances
8. To refrain from using high or luxurious seats and bedding

The complete list of ten precepts may be observed by laypeople for short periods. For the complete list, the seventh precept is partitioned into two, and a tenth added:

6. To refrain from taking food at an unseasonable time, that is after the mid-day meal
7. To refrain from dancing, music, singing and unseemly shows
8. To refrain from the use of garlands, perfumes, ointments, and from things that tend to beautify and adorn (the person)
9. To refrain from (using) high and luxurious seats (and beds)
10. To refrain from accepting gold and silver[96]

Monastic life

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.

Regarding the monastic rules, the Buddha constantly reminds his hearers that it is the spirit that counts. On the other hand, the rules themselves are designed to assure a satisfying life, and provide a perfect springboard for the higher attainments. Monastics are instructed by the Buddha to live as "islands unto themselves". In this sense, living life as the vinaya prescribes it is, as one scholar puts it: "more than merely a means to an end: it is very nearly the end in itself."[97]

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.

Meditation

Buddhist monks praying in Thailand

Buddhist meditation is fundamentally concerned with two themes: transforming the mind and using it to explore itself and other phenomena.[98] According to Theravada Buddhism the Buddha taught two types of meditation, samatha meditation (Sanskrit: śamatha) and vipassanā meditation (Sanskrit: vipaśyanā). In Chinese Buddhism, these exist (translated chih kuan), but Chan (Zen) meditation is more popular.[99] According to Peter Harvey, whenever Buddhism has been healthy, not only monks, nuns, and married lamas, but also more committed lay people have practiced meditation.[100] According to Routledge's Encyclopedia of Buddhism, in contrast, throughout most of Buddhist history before modern times, serious meditation by lay people has been unusual.[101] The evidence of the early texts suggests that at the time of the Buddha, many male and female lay practitioners did practice meditation, some even to the point of proficiency in all eight jhānas (see the next section regarding these).[102]

Samādhi (meditative cultivation): samatha meditation

In the language of the Noble Eightfold Path, samyaksamādhi is "right concentration". The primary means of cultivating samādhi is meditation. 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 ध्यान 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 (anapanasati), 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 knowledge (jñāna; Pāli ñāṇa) and understanding (prajñā Pāli paññā), and thus can lead to nirvāṇa (Pāli nibbāna). When one is in jhana, all defilements are suppressed temporarily. Only understanding (prajñā or vipassana) eradicates the defilements completely. Jhanas are also states which Arahants abide in order to rest.

In Theravāda

In Theravāda Buddhism, the cause of human existence and suffering is identified as 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 deeply rooted afflictions of the mind that 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 (Wisdom): vipassana meditation

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 of attaining nirvāṇa, through its revelation of the true nature of all things as dukkha (unsatisfactoriness), anicca (impermanence) and anatta (not-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. Notably, one could in theory attain Nirvana at any point of practice, whether deep in meditation, listening to a sermon, conducting the business of one's daily life, or any other activity.

Zen

Zen Buddhism (禅), pronounced chán in Chinese, seon in Korean or zen in Japanese (derived from the Sanskrit term dhyāna, meaning "meditation") is a form of Buddhism that became popular in China, Korea and Japan and that lays special emphasis on meditation.[103] 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 (臨済宗) and Sōtō (曹洞宗), the former greatly favouring the use in meditation on the koan (公案, a meditative riddle or puzzle) as a device for spiritual break-through, and the latter (while certainly employing koans) focusing more on shikantaza or "just sitting".[104]

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.[105] According to Zen master, Kosho Uchiyama, when thoughts and fixation on the little 'I' are transcended, an Awakening to a universal, non-dual Self occurs: ' When we let go of thoughts and wake up to the reality of life that is working beyond them, we discover the Self that is living universal non-dual life (before the separation into two) that pervades all living creatures and all existence.'.[106] Thinking and thought must therefore not be allowed to confine and bind one. Nevertheless, Zen does not neglect the scriptures.[107]

Vajrayana and Tantra

Though based upon Mahayana, Tibeto-Mongolian Buddhism is one of the schools that practice Vajrayāna or "Diamond Vehicle" (also referred to as Mantrayāna, Tantrayāna, Tantric Buddhism, or esoteric Buddhism). It accepts all the basic concepts of Mahāyāna, but also includes a vast array of spiritual and physical techniques designed to enhance Buddhist practice. Tantric Buddhism is largely concerned with ritual and meditative practices.[108] One component of the Vajrayāna is harnessing psycho-physical energy through ritual, visualization, physical exercises, and meditation as a means of developing the mind. Using these techniques, it is claimed that a practitioner can achieve Buddhahood in one lifetime, or even as little as three years. In the Tibetan tradition, these practices can include sexual yoga, though only for some very advanced practitioners.[109]

History

Philosophical roots

The Buddhist "Carpenter's Cave" at Ellora in Maharashtra, India.

Historically, the roots of Buddhism lie in the religious thought of Ancient India during the second half of the first millennium BC.[110] That was a period of social and religious turmoil, as there was significant discontent with the sacrifices and rituals of Vedic Brahmanism.[111] It was challenged by numerous new ascetic religious and philosophical groups and teachings that broke with the Brahmanic tradition and rejected the authority of the Vedas and the Brahmans.[112][113] These groups, whose members were known as shramanas, were a continuation of a non-Vedic strand of Indian thought distinct from Indo-Aryan Brahmanism.[114][115] Scholars have reasons to believe that ideas such as samsara, karma (in the sense of the influence of morality on rebirth), and moksha originated in the shramanas, and were later adopted by Brahmin orthodoxy.[116][117][118][119][120][121] At the same time, they were influenced by, and in some respects continued, earlier philosophical thought within the Vedic tradition as reflected e.g. in the Upanishads.[122] These movements included, besides Buddhism, various skeptics (such as Sanjaya Belatthiputta), atomists (such as Pakudha Kaccayana), materialists (such as Ajita Kesakambali), antinomians (such as Purana Kassapa); the most important ones in the 5th century BC were the Ajivikas, who emphasized the rule of fate, the Lokayata (materialists), the [123]

Many of these new movements shared the same conceptual vocabulary - atman ("Self"), buddha ("awakened one"), dhamma ("rule" or "law"), karma ("action"), nirvana ("extinguishing"), samsara ("eternal recurrence") and yoga ("spiritual practice").[111] The shramanas rejected the Veda, and the authority of the brahmans, who claimed to be in possession of revealed truths not knowable by any ordinary human means; moreover, they declared that the entire Brahmanical system was fraudulent: a conspiracy of the brahmans to enrich themselves by charging exorbitant fees for the performance of bogus rites and the giving of futile advice.[124] A particular criticism of the Buddha's was Vedic animal sacrifice.[83] Their leaders, including Buddha, were often known as śramaṇas.[125] The Buddha declared that priests reciting the Vedas were like the blind leading the blind.[126] According to him, those priests who had memorized the Vedas really knew nothing.[127] He also mocked the Vedic "hymn of the cosmic man".[128] He declared that the primary goal of Upanishadic thought, the Atman, was in fact non-existent,[129] and, having explained that Brahminical attempts to achieve liberation at death were futile, proposed his new idea of liberation in life.[130][131] At the same time, the traditional Brahminical religion itself gradually underwent profound changes, transforming it into what is recognized as early Hinduism.[111][112][132] In particular, the brahmans thus developed "philosophical systems of their own, meeting the new ideas with adaptations of their doctrines".[133]

Indian Buddhism

The history of Indian Buddhism may be divided into five periods:[134] Early Buddhism (occasionally called Pre-sectarian Buddhism), Nikaya Buddhism or Sectarian Buddhism: The period of the Early Buddhist schools, Early Mahayana Buddhism, Later Mahayana Buddhism, and Esoteric Buddhism (also called Vajrayana Buddhism).

Pre-sectarian Buddhism

Pre-sectarian Buddhism is the earliest phase of Buddhism, recognized by nearly all scholars. 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 something similar to the Three marks of existence, the Five aggregates, Dependent origination, Karma and Rebirth, the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, and Nirvana.[135] Some scholars disagree, and have proposed many other theories.[136][137]

Early Buddhist schools

According to the scriptures, soon after the parinirvāṇa (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.[138]

According to most scholars, at some period after the Second Council the Sangha began to break into separate factions.[139] 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 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. The Mahāsāṅghikas argued that the Sthaviras were trying to expand the vinaya and may also have challenged what they perceived to be excessive claims or inhumanly high criteria for arhatship. Both parties, therefore, appealed to tradition.[140]

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.[141]

Following (or leading up to) the schisms, each Saṅgha started to accumulate an Abhidharma, a detailed scholastic reworking of doctrinal material appearing in the Suttas, according to schematic classifications. These Abhidharma texts do not contain systematic philosophical treatises, but summaries or numerical lists. Scholars generally date these texts to around the 3rd century BCE, 100 to 200 years after the death of the Buddha. Therefore the seven Abhidharma works are generally claimed not to represent the words of the Buddha himself, but those of disciples and great scholars.[142] Every school had its own version of the Adhidharma, with different theories and different texts. The different Adhidharmas of the various schools did not agree with each other. Scholars disagree on whether the Mahasanghika school had an Abhidhamma Pitaka or not.[142][143]

Early Mahayana Buddhism

Statue of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva, with Sanskrit in the Siddham script. Singapore.

The origins of Mahāyāna are still not completely understood.[144] The earliest views of Mahāyāna Buddhism in the West assumed that it existed as a separate school in competition with the so-called "Hīnayāna" schools. Due to the veneration of buddhas and bodhisattvas, Mahāyāna was often interpreted as a more devotional, lay-inspired form of Buddhism, with supposed origins in stūpa veneration,[145] or by making parallels with the history of the European Protestant Reformation. These views have been largely dismissed in modern times in light of a much broader range of early texts that are now available.[146] The old views of Mahāyāna as a separate lay-inspired and devotional sect are now largely dismissed as misguided and wrong on all counts.[147]

There is no evidence that Mahāyāna ever referred to a separate formal school or sect of Buddhism, but rather that it existed as a certain set of ideals, and later doctrines, for bodhisattvas.[148] Paul Williams has also noted that the Mahāyāna never had nor ever attempted to have a separate Vinaya or ordination lineage from the early schools of Buddhism, and therefore each bhikṣu or bhikṣuṇī adhering to the Mahāyāna formally belonged to an early school. This continues today with the Dharmaguptaka ordination lineage in East Asia, and the Mūlasarvāstivāda ordination lineage in Tibetan Buddhism. Therefore Mahāyāna was never a separate rival sect of the early schools.[149] From Chinese monks visiting India, we now know that both Mahāyāna and non-Mahāyāna monks in India often lived in the same monasteries side by side.[150]

The Chinese monk Yijing who visited India in the 7th century CE, distinguishes Mahāyāna from Hīnayāna as follows:[151]

Both adopt one and the same Vinaya, and they have in common the prohibitions of the five offences, and also the practice of the Four Noble Truths. Those who venerate the bodhisattvas and read the Mahāyāna sūtras are called the Mahāyānists, while those who do not perform these are called the Hīnayānists.

Much of the early extant evidence for the origins of Mahāyāna comes from early Chinese translations of Mahāyāna texts. These Mahāyāna teachings were first propagated into China by Lokakṣema, the first translator of Mahāyāna sūtras into Chinese during the 2nd century CE.[152] Some scholars have traditionally considered the earliest Mahāyāna sūtras to include the very first versions of the Prajñāpāramitā series, along with texts concerning Akṣobhya Buddha, which were probably composed in the 1st century BCE in the south of India.[153][154][155]

Late Mahayana Buddhism

During the period of Late Mahayana Buddhism, four major types of thought developed: Madhyamaka, Yogacara, Tathagatagarbha, and Buddhist Logic as the last and most recent.[156] In India, the two main philosophical schools of the Mahayana were the Madhyamaka and the later Yogacara.[157] According to Dan Lusthaus, Madhyamaka and Yogacara have a great deal in common, and the commonality stems from early Buddhism.[158] There were no great Indian teachers associated with tathagatagarbha thought.[159]

Vajrayana (Esoteric Buddhism)

Scholarly research concerning Esoteric Buddhism is still in its early stages and has a number of problems which make research difficult:[160]

  1. Vajrayana Buddhism was influenced by Hinduism, and therefore the research has to include research on Hinduism as well.
  2. The scriptures of Vajrayana have not yet been put in any kind of order.
  3. Ritual has to be examined as well, not just doctrine.

The early development of Buddhism

Buddhist proselytism at the time of emperor Ashoka (260–218 BCE).
Buddhist tradition records in the Milinda Panha that the 2nd century BCE Indo-Greek king Menander converted to the Buddhist faith and became an arhat.

Buddhism may have spread only slowly in India until the time of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka, 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.[161]

The Theravada school spread south from India in the 3rd century BC, to Sri Lanka and Thailand and Burma and later also Indonesia. The Dharmagupta school spread (also in 3rd century BC) north to Kashmir, Gandhara and Bactria (Afghanistan). In the 2nd century AD, Mahayana Sutras spread from that general area to China, and then to Korea and Japan, and were translated into Chinese. During the Indian period of Esoteric Buddhism (from the 8th century onwards), Buddhism spread from India to Tibet and Mongolia.

Buddhism today

By the late Middle Ages, 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 in India and elsewhere.[162][163] Estimates of the number of Buddhist followers by scholars range from 230 million to 500 million, with most around 350 million. Most scholars classify similar numbers of people under a category they call "Chinese folk" or "traditional" religion, an amalgam of various traditions that includes Buddhism.

Typical interior of a temple in Korea

Formal membership varies between communities, but basic lay adherence is often defined in terms of a traditional formula in which the practitioner takes refuge in The Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings of the Buddha), and the Sangha (the Buddhist community).

Estimates are uncertain for several reasons:

  • difficulties in defining who counts as a Buddhist;
  • syncretism among the Eastern religions. Buddhism is practiced by adherents alongside many other religious traditions- including Taoism, Confucianism, Shinto, traditional religions, shamanism, and animism- throughout East and Southeast Asia.[164][165][166][167][168][169][170]
  • difficulties in estimating the number of Buddhists who do not have congregational memberships and often do not participate in public ceremonies;[171]
  • official policies on religion in several historically Buddhist countries that make accurate assessments of religious adherence more difficult; most notably China, Vietnam and North Korea.[172][173][174] In many current and former Communist governments in Asia, government policies may discourage adherents from reporting their religious identity, or may encourage official counts to underestimate religious adherence.

Demographics

Buddhism is most prevalent in the Far East.

According to one analysis, Buddhism is the fourth-largest religion in the world behind Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.[175] The monks' order (Sangha), which began during the lifetime of the Buddha, is among the oldest organizations on earth.

Most Buddhist groups in the West are at least nominally affiliated with one of these three traditions.

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 it 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. Modern influences increasingly lead to new forms of Buddhism that significantly depart from traditional beliefs and practices.

Overall there is an overwhelming diversity of recent forms of Buddhism.[177]

Schools and traditions

Buddhists generally classify themselves as either Theravada or Mahayana.[178] This classification is also used by some scholars[179][page needed] and is the one ordinarily used in the English language.[180] An alternative scheme used by some scholars[181] divides Buddhism into the following three traditions or geographical or cultural areas: Theravada, East Asian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism.

Some scholars[182] use other schemes. Buddhists themselves have a variety of other schemes. Hinayana (literally "lesser vehicle") is used by Mahayana followers to name the family of early philosophical schools and traditions from which contemporary Theravada emerged, but as this term is rooted in the Mahayana viewpoint and can be considered derogatory, a variety of other terms are increasingly used instead, including Śrāvakayāna, Nikaya Buddhism, early Buddhist schools, sectarian Buddhism, conservative Buddhism, mainstream Buddhism and non-Mahayana 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. For example, according to one Buddhist ecumenical organization,[183] several concepts common to both major Buddhist branches:

Timeline

This is a rough timeline of the development of the different schools/traditions:

Timeline: Development and propagation of Buddhist traditions (ca. 450 BCE – ca. 1300 CE)

  450 BCE[184] 250 BCE 100 CE 500 CE 700 CE 800 CE 1200 CE[185]

 

India

Early
Sangha

 

 

 

Early Buddhist schools Mahayana Vajrayana

 

 

 

 

 

Sri Lanka &
Southeast Asia

  Theravada Buddhism

 

 
 

 

 

 

Central Asia

 

Greco-Buddhism

 

Tibetan Buddhism

 

Silk Road Buddhism

 

East Asia

  Chán, Tendai, Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren

Shingon

 

 

  450 BCE 250 BCE 100 CE 500 CE 700 CE 800 CE 1200 CE
  Legend:   = Theravada tradition   = Mahayana traditions   = Vajrayana traditions

Theravada school

Theravāda ("Doctrine of the Elders", or "Ancient Doctrine") is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It is relatively conservative, and generally closest to early Buddhism.[186] 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 1st 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.

Mahayana traditions

Blue-eyed Central Asian and Chinese Buddhist monks. Bezeklik, Eastern Tarim Basin, China, 9th–10th century.

Mahayana Buddhism flourished in India from the 5th century CE onwards, during the dynasty of the Guptas. Mahāyāna centres of learning were established, the most important one being the Nālandā University in north-eastern India.

Mahayana schools recognize all or part of the Mahayana Sutras. 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 Mahayana Buddhism is practiced today in China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, parts of Russia and most of Vietnam (also commonly referred to as "Eastern Buddhism"). The Buddhism practiced in Tibet, the Himalayan regions, and Mongolia is also Mahayana in origin, but will be discussed below under the heading of Vajrayana (also commonly referred to as "Northern Buddhism". There are a variety of strands in Eastern Buddhism, of which "the Pure Land school of Mahayana is the most widely practised today.".[187] In most of this area however, they are fused into a single unified form of Buddhism. In Japan in particular, they form separate denominations with the five major ones being: Nichiren, peculiar to Japan; Pure Land; Shingon, a form of Vajrayana; Tendai; and Chan/Zen. In Korea, nearly all Buddhists belong to the Chogye school, which is officially Son (Zen), but with substantial elements from other traditions.[188]

Vajrayana traditions

The Vajrayana tradition of Buddhism spread to China, Mongolia, and Tibet. In Tibet, Vajrayana has always been a main component of Tibetan Buddhism, while in China it formed a separate sect. However, Vajrayana Buddhism became extinct in China but survived in elements of Japan's Shingon and Tendai sects.

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 passed on orally first and only 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 theories 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.[189][page needed]

Vajrayana combined and developed a variety of elements, a number of which had already existed for centuries.[190] 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.

Buddhist texts

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. Buddhist scriptures are written in these languages: Pāli, Tibetan, Mongolian, Chinese, along with some texts that still exist in Sanskrit and Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit.

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.[191] 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.[192] Other scholars say there is no universally accepted common core.[193] 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.

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 vinaya. The Pāli sutras, along with other, closely related scriptures, are known to the other schools as the āgamas.

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.

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

Pāli Tipitaka

Pali Canon

    Vinaya Pitaka    
   
                                       
SV. Khandhaka Vin V
               
   
    Sutta Pitaka    
   
                                                 
DN MN SN AN KN
                                                 
   
    Abhidhamma Pitaka    
   
                                                           
Dhs. Vbh. Dhk.
Pug.
Kvu. Yam. Patthana
                       
   


The Pāli Tipitaka, which means "three baskets", refers to the Vinaya Pitaka, the Sutta Pitaka, and the Abhidhamma Pitaka. The Vinaya Pitaka contains disciplinary rules for the Buddhist monks and nuns, as well as explanations of why and how these rules were instituted, supporting material, and doctrinal clarification. The Sutta Pitaka contains discourses ascribed to Gautama Buddha. The Abhidhamma Pitaka contains material often described as systematic expositions of the Gautama Buddha's teachings.

The Pāli Tipitaka is the only early Tipitaka (Sanskrit: Tripiṭaka) to survive intact in its original language, but a number of early schools had their own recensions of the Tipitaka featuring much of the same material. We have portions of the Tipitakas of the Sārvāstivāda, Dharmaguptaka, Sammitya, Mahāsaṅghika, Kāśyapīya, and Mahīśāsaka schools, most of which survive in Chinese translation only. According to some sources, some early schools of Buddhism had five or seven pitakas.[194]

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 teachings. Upāli recited the vinaya. Ānanda, the Buddha's personal attendant, was called upon to recite the dhamma. These became the basis of the Tripitaka. However, this record was initially transmitted orally in form of chanting, and was committed to text in the last century BCE. 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 Gautama Buddha's previous lives, and various other subjects.

Much of the material in the Canon is not specifically "Theravadin", but is instead the collection of teachings that this school preserved from the early, non-sectarian body of teachings. According to Peter Harvey, it contains material which is at odds with later Theravadin orthodoxy. He states: "The Theravadins, then, may have added texts to the Canon for some time, but they do not appear to have tampered with what they already had from an earlier period."[195]

Mahayana sutras

The Tripiṭaka Koreana, an edition of the Chinese Buddhist canon carved and preserved in over 81,000 wood printing blocks.

The Mahayana sutras are a very broad genre of Buddhist scriptures that the Mahayana Buddhist tradition holds are original teachings of the Buddha. Some adherents of Mahayana accept both the early teachings (including in this the Sarvastivada Abhidharma, which was criticized by Nagarjuna and is in fact opposed to early Buddhist thought[196]) and the Mahayana sutras as authentic teachings of Gautama Buddha, and claim they were designed for different types of persons and different levels of spiritual understanding.

The Mahayana sutras often claim to articulate the Buddha's deeper, more advanced 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).

According to Mahayana tradition, the Mahayana sutras were transmitted in secret, came from other Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, or were preserved in non-human worlds because human beings at the time couldn't understand them:[197]

Some of our sources maintain the authenticity of certain other texts not found in the canons of these schools (the early schools). These texts are those held genuine by the later school, not one of the eighteen, which arrogated to itself the title of Mahayana, 'Great Vehicle'. According to the Mahayana historians these texts were admittedly unknown to the early schools of Buddhists. However, they had all been promulgated by the Buddha. [The Buddha's] followers on earth, the sravakas ('pupils'), had not been sufficiently advanced to understand them, and hence were not given them to remember, but they were taught to various supernatural beings and then preserved in such places as the Dragon World.

Approximately six hundred Mahayana sutras have survived in Sanskrit or in Chinese or Tibetan translations. In addition, East Asian Buddhism recognizes some sutras regarded by scholars to be of Chinese rather than Indian origin.

Generally, scholars conclude that the Mahayana scriptures were composed from the 1st century CE onwards: "Large numbers of Mahayana sutras were being composed in the period between the beginning of the common era and the fifth century",[198] five centuries after the historical Gautama Buddha. Some of these had their roots in other scriptures composed in the 1st century BCE. It was not until after the 5th century CE that the Mahayana sutras started to influence the behavior of mainstream Buddhists in India: "But outside of texts, at least in India, at exactly the same period, very different—in fact seemingly older—ideas and aspirations appear to be motivating actual behavior, and old and established Hinnayana groups appear to be the only ones that are patronized and supported."[198] These texts were apparently not universally accepted among Indian Buddhists when they appeared; the pejorative label hinayana was applied by Mahayana supporters to those who rejected the Mahayana sutras.

Only the Theravada school does not include the Mahayana scriptures in its canon. As the modern Theravada school is descended from a branch of Buddhism that diverged and established itself in Sri Lanka prior to the emergence of the Mahayana texts, debate exists as to whether the Theravada were historically included in the hinayana designation; in the modern era, this label is seen as derogatory, and is generally avoided.

Comparative studies

Buddhism provides many opportunities for comparative study with a diverse range of subjects. For example, dependent origination can be considered one of Buddhism's contributions to metaphysics. Additionally, Buddhism's emphasis on the Middle way not only provides a unique guideline for ethics but has also allowed Buddhism to peacefully coexist with various differing beliefs, customs and institutions in countries in which it has resided throughout its history. Also, Its moral and spiritual parallels with other systems of thought—for example, with various tenets of Christianity—have been subjects of close study.

List of Buddhism related topics in comparative studies

See also

References

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  93. ^ Hiroshi Kanno, Huisi's Perspective on the Lotus Sutra as Seen Through the Meaning of the Course of Ease and Bliss in the Lotus Sutra, p. 147, http://www.iop.or.jp/0414/kanno2.pdf, consulted 5 February 2010
  94. ^ Stewart McFarlane in Peter Harvey, ed., Buddhism. Continuum, 2001, page 187.
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  96. ^ Morgan, Peggy; Lawton, Clive A., eds (2007). Ethical Issues in Six Religious Traditions (2nd ed.). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 62–63. ISBN 9780748623303. 
  97. ^ Richard Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988, page 89. He is quoting Carrithers.
  98. ^ B. Alan Wallace, Contemplative Science. Columbia University Press, 2007, p. 81.
  99. ^ Welch, Practice of Chinese Buddhism, Harvard, 1967, p. 396
  100. ^ Peter Harvey, An Introduction to Buddhism. Cambridge University Press, 1990, page 144.
  101. ^ Damien Keown, Charles S Prebish, editors, Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Routledge, 2007. p. 502
  102. ^ Sarah Shaw, Buddhist Meditation: An Anthology of Texts from the Pāli Canon. Routledge, 2006, page 13. Shaw also notes that discourses on meditation are addressed to "bhikkhave", but that in this context the terms is more generic than simply (male) "monks" and refers to all practitioners, and that this is confirmed by Buddhaghosa.
  103. ^ 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 ...".
  104. ^ 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."
  105. ^ (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).
  106. ^ Kosho Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought: Approach to Zen, Penguin Books, New York, 1993, p. 98
  107. ^ Harvey, Introduction, pp. 165f
  108. ^ Williams, Mahayana Buddhism, Routledge, 1st ed., 1989, p. 185
  109. ^ Routledge Encyclopedia of Buddhism, p. 781 .
  110. ^ Gethin, Sayings of the Buddha, Oxford University Press, 2008, p. xv
  111. ^ a b c Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Buddhism: The foundations of Buddhism: The cultural context. Retrieved 19-07-2009.
  112. ^ a b Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Hinduism: History of Hinduism: The Vedic period (2nd millennium - 7th century BCE; Challenges to Brahmanism (6th - 2nd century BCE; Early Hinduism (2nd century BCE - 4th century CE). Retrieved 19-07-2009.
  113. ^ Warder, A.K. 2000. Indian Buddhism. P.32
  114. ^ Y. Masih (2000) In : A Comparative Study of Religions, Motilal Banarsidass Publ : Delhi, ISBN 81-208-0815-0 Page 18. "There is no evidence to show that Jainism and Buddhism ever subscribed to vedic sacrifices, vedic deities or caste. They are parallel or native religions of India and have contributed to much to the growth of even classical Hinduism of the present times."
  115. ^ S. Cromwell Crawford, review of L. M. Joshi, Brahmanism, Buddhism and Hinduism, Philosophy East and West (1972): "Alongside Brahmanism was the non-Aryan Shramanic culture with its roots going back to prehistoric times."
  116. ^ "This confirms that the doctrine of transmigration is non-aryan and was accepted by non-vedics like Ajivikism, Jainism and Buddhism. The Indo-aryans have borrowed the theory of re-birth after coming in contact with the aboriginal inhabitants of India. Certainly Jainism and non-vedics [..] accepted the doctrine of rebirth as supreme postulate or article of faith." Masih, page 37.
  117. ^ Karel Werner, The Longhaired Sage in The Yogi and the Mystic. Karel Werner, ed., Curzon Press, 1989, page 34. "Rahurkar speaks of them as belonging to two distinct 'cultural strands' ... Wayman also found evidence for two distinct approaches to the spiritual dimension in ancient India and calls them the traditions of 'truth and silence.' He traces them particularly in the older Upanishads, in early Buddhism, and in some later literature."
  118. ^ Gavin D. Flood (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University — Press : UK ISBN 0-521-43878-0 - "The origin and doctrine of Karma and Samsara are obscure. These concepts were certainly circulating amongst sramanas, and Jainism and Buddhism developed specific and sophisticated ideas about the process of transmigration. It is very possible that the karmas and reincarnation entered the mainstream brahaminical thought from the sramana or the renouncer traditions." Page 86.
  119. ^ Padmanabh S. Jaini 2001 "Collected Paper on Buddhist Studies" Motilal Banarsidass Publ 576 pages ISBN 81-208-1776-1: "Yajnavalkya's reluctance and manner in expounding the doctrine of karma in the assembly of Janaka (a reluctance not shown on any other occasion) can perhaps be explained by the assumption that it was, like that of the transmigration of soul, of non-brahmanical origin. In view of the fact that this doctrine is emblazoned on almost every page of sramana scriptures, it is highly probable that it was derived from them." Page 51.
  120. ^ Govind Chandra Pande, (1994) Life and Thought of Sankaracarya, Motilal Banarsidass ISBN 81-208-1104-6 : Early Upanishad thinkers like Yajnavalkya were acquainted with the sramanic thinking and tried to incorporate these ideals of Karma, Samsara and Moksa into the vedic thought implying a disparagement of the vedic ritualism and recognising the mendicancy as an ideal. Page 135.
  121. ^ "The sudden appearance of this theory [of karma] in a full-fledged form is likely to be due, as already pointed out, to an impact of the wandering muni-and-shramana-cult, coming down from the pre-Vedic non-Aryan time." Kashi Nath Upadhyaya, Early Buddhism and the Bhagavadgita. Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1998, page 76.
  122. ^ Warder, A.K. 2000. Indian Buddhism. P.30-32
  123. ^ Warder, A.K. 2000. Indian Buddhism. P.39
  124. ^ Warder, A.K. Indian Buddhism. P.33
  125. ^ Warder, A.K. 2000. Indian Buddhism. P.33
  126. ^ Walpola Rahula, What the Buddha Taught, pages 9-10.
  127. ^ "The brahmin by caste alone, the teacher of the Veda, is (jokingly) etymologized as the 'non-meditator' (ajhāyaka). Brahmins who have memorized the three Vedas (tevijja) really know nothing: it is the process of achieving Enlightenment — what the Buddha is said to have achieved in the three watches of that night — which constitutes the true 'three knowledges.'" R.F. Gombrich in Paul Williams, ed., "Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies." Taylor and Francis 2006, page 120.
  128. ^ Richard Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988, page 85.
  129. ^ Richard Francis Gombrich, How Buddhism began: the conditioned genesis of the early teachings Continuum International Publishing Group, 1996, pages 38-39
  130. ^ Michael Carrithers, The Buddha, 1983, pages 41-42. Found in Founders of Faith, Oxford University Press, 1986.
  131. ^ Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Routledge 2007, page 21.
  132. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Vedic religion. Retrieved 19-07-2009.
  133. ^ Warder, A.K. 2000. Indian Buddhism. P.35
  134. ^ A History of Indian Buddhism — Hirakawa Akira (translated and edited by Paul Groner) - Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 1993, p. 7
  135. ^ Mitchell, Buddhism, Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 34 & table of contents
  136. ^ Skorupski, Buddhist Forum, vol I, Heritage, Delhi/SOAS, London, 1990, p. 5; Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, vol 21 (1998), part 1, pp. 4, 11
  137. ^ see also the book Bones, Stones, and Buddhist Monks, University of Hawai'i Press, by Dr Gregory Schopen
  138. ^ Encyclopedia of Religion, Macmillan, New York, sv Councils, Buddhist
  139. ^ Journal of the Pāli Text Society, volume XVI, p. 105)
  140. ^ Janice J. Nattier and Charles S. Prebish, 1977. Mahāsāṅghika Origins: the beginnings of Buddhist sectarianism in History of Religions, Vol. 16, pp. 237–272
  141. ^ Harvey, Introduction to Buddhism, p. 74
  142. ^ a b "Abhidhamma Pitaka." Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.
  143. ^ Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Routledge. p. 485.
  144. ^ Akira, Hirakawa (translated and edited by Paul Groner) (1993. A History of Indian Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass: p. 260
  145. ^ Akira, Hirakawa (1993), A History of Indian Buddhism: From Sakyamuni to Early Mahayana: p. 271
  146. ^ e.g. Williams, Mahayana Buddhism
  147. ^ "One of the most frequent assertions about the Mahayana ... is that it was a lay-influenced, or even lay-inspired and dominated, movement that arose in response to the increasingly closed, cold, and scholastic character of monastic Buddhism. This, however, now appears to be wrong on all counts." Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): p. 494
  148. ^ Nattier, Jan (2003), A few good men: the Bodhisattva path according to the Inquiry of Ugra: p. 193-194
  149. ^ Williams, Paul (2008) Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations: p. 4-5
  150. ^ Williams, Paul (2000) Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition: p. 97
  151. ^ Williams, Paul (2008) Mahāyāna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations: p. 5
  152. ^ "The most important evidence — in fact the only evidence — for situating the emergence of the Mahayana around the beginning of the common era was not Indian evidence at all, but came from China. Already by the last quarter of the 2nd century CE, there was a small, seemingly idiosyncratic collection of substantial Mahayana sutras translated into what Erik Zürcher calls 'broken Chinese' by an Indoscythian, whose Indian name has been reconstructed as Lokaksema." Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): p. 492
  153. ^ Akira, Hirakawa (translated and edited by Paul Groner) (1993. A History of Indian Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass: p. 263, 268
  154. ^ "The south (of India) was then vigorously creative in producing Mahayana Sutras" – Warder, A.K. (3rd edn. 1999). Indian Buddhism: p. 335.
  155. ^ Akira, Hirakawa (translated and edited by Paul Groner) (1993. A History of Indian Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass: p. 253
  156. ^ A History of Indian Buddhism — Hirakawa Akira (translated and edited by Paul Groner) - Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 1993, p. 8,9
  157. ^ Peter Harvey, "An Introduction to Buddhism." Cambridge University Press, 1993, page 95.
  158. ^ Dan Lusthaus, Buddhist Phenomenology. Routledge, 2002, pages 236-237.
  159. ^ Peter Harvey, "An Introduction to Buddhism." Cambridge University Press, 1993, page 113. "There were no great Indian teachers associated with this strand of thought."
  160. ^ A History of Indian Buddhism — Hirakawa Akira (translated and edited by Paul Groner) - Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 1993, p. 9
  161. ^ Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism, Routledge, 2nd ed, 2006, page 135
  162. ^ Carol E. Henderson, Culture and Customs of India. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002, page 42.
  163. ^ Joseph B. Tamney in William H. Swatos, editor, Encyclopedia of Religion and Society. Rowman Altamira, 1998, page 68.
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  172. ^ State Attitudes to Religion[dead link] (PDF), The Atlas of Religion, Joanne O'Brien & Martin Palmer, openDemocracy.net
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  175. ^ Garfinkel, Perry (December 2005). "Buddha Rising". National Geographic: 88–109. 
  176. ^ a b c Major Branches of Buddhism, Adherents.com, retrieved on 2008-01-15
  177. ^ Philosophy East and West, volume 54, page 270
  178. ^ Keown, Buddhism, Oxford University Press, 1996, page 12
  179. ^ Smith, Buddhism; Juergensmeyer, Oxford Handbook.
  180. ^ "Tibetan Buddhism". American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Houghton Mifflin Company. 2004. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tibetan%20buddhism. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  181. ^ (Harvey, 1990); (Gombrich,1984); Gethin (1998), pp. 1–2, identifies "three broad traditions" as: (1) "The Theravāda tradition of Sri Lanka and South-East Asia, also sometimes referred to as 'southern' Buddhism"; (2) "The East Asian tradition of China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, also sometimes referred to as 'eastern' Buddhism"; and, (3) "The Tibetan tradition, also sometimes referred to as 'northern' Buddhism."; Robinson & Johnson (1982) divide their book into two parts: Part One is entitled "The Buddhism of South Asia" (which pertains to Early Buddhism in India); and, Part Two is entitled "The Development of Buddhism Outside of India" with chapters on "The Buddhism of Southeast Asia", "Buddhism in the Tibetan Culture Area", "East Asian Buddhism" and "Buddhism Comes West; Penguin handbook of Living Religions, 1984, page 279; Prebish & Keown, Introducing Buddhism, ebook, Journal of Buddhist Ethics, 2005, printed ed, Harper, 2006
  182. ^ See e.g. the multi-dimensional classification in Encyclopedia of Religion, Macmillan, New York, 1987, volume 2, pages 440ff
  183. ^ A Comparative Study of the Schools, Tan Swee Eng
  184. ^ Cousins, L.S. (1996); Buswell (2003), Vol. I, p. 82; and, Keown & Prebish (2004), p. 107. See also, Gombrich (1988/2002), p. 32: “…[T]he best we can say is that [the Buddha] was probably Enlightened between 550 and 450, more likely later rather than earlier."
  185. ^ Williams (2000, pp. 6-7) writes: "As a matter of fact Buddhism in mainland India itself had all but ceased to exist by the thirteenth century CE, although by that time it had spread to Tibet, China, Japan, and Southeast Asia." Embree et al. (1958/1988), "Chronology," p. xxix: "c. 1000-1200: Buddhism disappears as [an] organized religious force in India." See also, Robinson & Johnson (1970/1982), pp. 100-1, 108 Fig. 1; and, Harvey (1990/2007), pp. 139-40.
  186. ^ Gethin, Foundations, page 1
  187. ^ Clarke & Beyer, The World's Religions, Routledge, 2009, page 86
  188. ^ Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (Volume One), pages 430, 435
  189. ^ Davidson, Ronald M. (2003). Indian Esoteric Buddhism: A Social History of the Tantric Movement. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231126190. 
  190. ^ Prebish & Keown, Introducing Buddhism, page 89
  191. ^ A.K. Warder, Indian Buddhism, 3rd edition (2000)
  192. ^ Eliot, Japanese Buddhism, Edward Arnold, London, 1935, page 16
  193. ^ Gethin, Sayings of the Buddha, Oxford University Press, 2008, page xiv
  194. ^ Journal of the Pali Text Society, volume XVI, page 114
  195. ^ Peter Harvey, The Selfless Mind. Curzon Press, 1995, page 9.
  196. ^ David Kalupahana, "Sarvastivada and its theory of sarvam asti." University of Ceylon Review 24 1966, 94-105.
  197. ^ Indian Buddhism, 3rd edition, page 4
  198. ^ a b MacMillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2004, page 494
  199. ^ Thelema & Buddhism (PDF) in Journal of Thelemic Studies, Vol. 1, No. 1, Autumn 2007, pp. 18-32

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