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  • Buddhism 1


    Standing Buddha statue at the Tokyo NationalMuseum. One of the earliest known

    representations of the Buddha, 1st2nd centuryCE.

    Part of a series on


    Outline Buddhism


    v t e [1]

    Buddhism is a nontheistic religion[2] that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as the Buddha, meaning "the awakened one". According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha lived and taught in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end their suffering through the elimination of ignorance and craving by way of understanding and the seeing of Dependent Origination and the Four Noble Truths, with the ultimate goal of

  • Buddhism 2

    attainment of the sublime state of Nirvana.[3]

    Two major branches of Buddhism are generally recognized: Theravada ("The School of the Elders") and Mahayana("The Great Vehicle"). Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos,Thailand, Myanmar etc.). Mahayana is found throughout East Asia (China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore,Taiwan etc.) and includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, andTiantai (Tendai). In some classifications, Vajrayanapracticed mainly in Tibet and Mongolia, and adjacent parts ofChina and Russiais recognized as a third branch, while others classify it as a part of Mahayana.While Buddhism is practiced primarily in Asia, both major branches are now found throughout the world. Estimatesof Buddhists worldwide vary significantly depending on the way Buddhist adherence is defined. Estimates rangefrom 350 million to 1.6 billion, with 350550 million the most widely accepted figure. Buddhism is also recognizedas one of the fastest growing religions in the world.Buddhist schools vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of variousteachings and scriptures, and especially their respective practices.[4] The foundations of Buddhist tradition andpractice are the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings), and the Sangha (the community). Taking"refuge in the triple gem" has traditionally been a declaration and commitment to being on the Buddhist path, and ingeneral distinguishes a Buddhist from a non-Buddhist. Other practices may include following ethical precepts;support of the monastic community; renouncing conventional living and becoming a monastic; the development ofmindfulness 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.

    Life of the Buddha

    Relic depicting Gautama leaving home. TheGreat Departure, c.12nd century. (Muse


    Main article: Gautama BuddhaThis narrative draws on the Nidnakath biography of the Theravdasect in Sri Lanka, which is ascribed to Buddhaghoa in the 5th centuryCE.[5] Earlier biographies such as the Buddhacarita, theLokottaravdin Mahvastu, and the Mahyna/ SarvstivdaLalitavistara Stra, give different accounts. Scholars are hesitant tomake unqualified claims about the historical facts of the Buddha's life.Most accept that he lived, taught and founded a monastic order, but donot consistently accept all of the details contained in his biographies.[6]

    Ascetic Gautama with his five companions, wholater comprised the first Sangha. (Painting in

    Laotian temple)

    According to author Michael Carrithers, while there are good reasonsto doubt the traditional account, "the outline of the life must be true:birth, maturity, renunciation, search, awakening and liberation,teaching, death."[7] In writing her biography of the Buddha, KarenArmstrong noted, "It is obviously difficult, therefore, to write abiography of the Buddha that meets modern criteria, because we havevery little information that can be considered historically sound... [but]we can be reasonably confident Siddhatta Gotama did indeed exist andthat his disciples preserved the memory of his life and teachings aswell as they could." Wikipedia:Disputed statement

  • Buddhism 3

    The evidence of the early texts suggests that Siddhrtha Gautama was born in a community that was on theperiphery, both geographically and culturally, of the northeastern Indian subcontinent in the 5th century BCE.[8] Itwas either a small republic, in which case his father was an elected chieftain, or an oligarchy, in which case his fatherwas an oligarch.

    The Vajrashila, where Gautama sat under a treeand became enlightened, Bodh Gaya, India, 2011

    According to the Theravada Tripitaka scripturesWikipedia:Avoidweasel words (from Pali, meaning "three baskets"), Gautama was bornin Lumbini in modern-day Nepal, around the year 563 BCE, and raisedin Kapilavastu.[9][10]

    According to this narrative, shortly after the birth of young princeGautama, an astrologer named Asita visited the young prince'sfatherKing uddhodanaand prophesied that Siddhartha wouldeither become a great king or renounce the material world to become aholy man, depending on whether he saw what life was like outside thepalace walls.

    uddhodana was determined to see his son become a king, so heprevented him from leaving the palace grounds. But at age 29, despitehis father's efforts, Gautama ventured beyond the palace several times.In a series of encountersknown in Buddhist literature as the foursightshe learned of the suffering of ordinary people, encountering anold man, a sick man, a corpse and, finally, an ascetic holy man,apparently content and at peace with the world. These experiencesprompted Gautama to abandon royal life and take up a spiritual quest.

    Dhamek Stupa in Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, India,built by King Ashoka, where the Buddha gave his

    first sermon

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

    Buddha statue depicting Parinirvana.(Mahaparinirvana Temple, Kushinagar, Uttar

    Pradesh, India)

    Gautama was now determined to complete his spiritual quest. At theage of 35, he famously sat in meditation under a sacred fig tree known as the Bodhi tree in the town of Bodh Gaya, India, andvowed not to rise before achieving enlightenment. After many days, hefinally destroyed the fetters of his mind, thereby liberating himselffrom the cycle of suffering and rebirth, and arose as a fully enlightenedbeing (Skt. samyaksabuddha). Soon thereafter, he attracted a band of

  • Buddhism 4

    followers and instituted a monastic order. Now, as the Buddha, he spent the rest of his life teaching the path ofawakening he had discovered, traveling throughout the northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent,[11][12] and diedat the age of 80 (483 BCE) in Kushinagar, India. The south branch of the original fig tree available only inAnuradhapura Sri Lanka is known as Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi.

    Buddhist conceptsMain article: Buddhist terms and concepts

    Life and the world

    Traditional Tibetan Buddhist Thangka depictingthe Wheel of Life with its six realms


    Main article: Sasra (Buddhism)Within Buddhism, samsara is defined as the continual repetitive cycleof birth and death that arises from ordinary beings' grasping andfixating on a self and experiences. Specifically, samsara refers to theprocess of cycling through one rebirth after another within the sixrealms of existence,[13] where each realm can be understood asphysical realm or a psychological state characterized by a particulartype of suffering. Samsara arises out of avidya (ignorance) and ischaracterized by dukkha (suffering, anxiety, dissatisfaction). In theBuddhist view, liberation from samsara is possible by following theBuddhist path.[14]


    Main article: Karma in BuddhismIn Buddhism, Karma (from Sanskrit: "action, work") is the force thatdrives sasrathe cycle of suffering and rebirth for each being.

    Good, skillful deeds (Pli: "kusala") and bad, unskillful (Pli: "akusala") actions produce "seeds" in the mind thatcome to fruition either in this life or in a subsequent rebirth.[15] The avoidance of unwholesome actions and thecultivation of positive actions is called la (from Sanskrit: "ethical conduct").

    In Buddhism, karma specifically refers to those actions of body, speech or mind that spring from mental intent("cetana"),[16] and bring about a consequence or fruit, (phala) or result (vipka).

    In Theravada Buddhism there can be no divine salvation or forgiveness for one's karma, since it is a purelyimpersonal process that is a part of the makeup of the universe. In Mahayana Buddhism, the texts of certainMahayana sutras (such as the Lotus Sutra, the Angulimaliya Sutra and the Nirvana Sutra) claim that the recitation ormerely the hearing of their texts can expunge great swathes of nega