Buddhism Religion and philosophy that developed from the teachings of the Buddha Gautama



Download 85.95 Kb.
Page1/3
Date conversion29.04.2016
Size85.95 Kb.
  1   2   3
Buddhism
Religion and philosophy that developed from the teachings of the Buddha Gautama who lived in the 6th century BCE. He was born Siddhartha in present-day Nepal.

He left his palace at age 29 to wander out among the people.

Shocked by the suffering he saw, he lived for 6 years in a cave until he realized that he had to find a Middle Way between asceticism and indulgence.

- Achieved enlightenment under tree near the Ghanghes River.

Spread from India Central and Southeast Asia, China, Korea, and Japan.
4 Noble Truths:

1. there is suffering in the world,

2. suffering occurs from too great attachment to one's desires,

3. by eliminating the cause of one's desires, you can eliminate suffering;

4. there is a method of eliminating the cause = 8-fold path

8-fold path = guide to wisdom, virtue mental discipline, effort, mindfulness, concentration.

Meditation is one of the tools of the 8-fold path.

- "Buddha Rising", National Geographic December, 2005, pp. 96-97.



From the Encyclopedia Britannica:
Buddhism came into being in northeastern India during theperiod from the late 6th century to the early 4th century BC, a period of great social change and intense religious activity. There is disagreement among scholars about the dates of the Buddha's birth and death. Most scholars in Europe, the United States, and India believe that the historical Buddha lived from about 563 to about 483 BC. Many others, especially in Japan, believe that he lived about 100 years later (from about 448 to 368 BC).
… In northwestern India there were ascetics who tried to go beyond the Vedas (Hindu sacred scriptures). In the literature that grew out of this movement, the Upanishads, a new emphasis on renunciation and transcendental knowledge can be found. But northeastern India, which was less influenced by the Aryans who had developed the main tenets and practices of the Vedic Hindu faith, became the breeding ground of many heterodox sects. Society in this area was troubled by the breakdown of tribal unity and the expansion of several petty kingdoms. Religiously, this was a time of doubt, turmoil, and experimentation.
… Among the most important sects to arise at the time of the Buddha were … the Jainas, an ascetic movement stressing the need to free the soul from matter. Though the Jainas, like the Buddhists, have often been regarded as atheists, their beliefs are actually more complicated…
Nirvana = transcendent freedom.

Atman = self or soul.

Karma = causality.

Buddha = enlightened one.

Samsara = eternal recurrence, becoming.

Dhamma = rule or law.

Most contemporary religious ideas were based on the practice of yoga.

According to tradition, the Buddha himself was a yogi—that is, a miracle-working ascetic.


Buddhism, like many of the sects that developed in northeastern India at the time, was constituted by the presence of a charismatic teacher, by the teachings this leader promulgated, and by a community of adherents that was often made up of renunciant members and lay supporters. In the case of Buddhism this pattern became the basis for the Triratna—the “Three Jewels” of Buddha (the teacher), dharma (the teaching), and sangha (the community)—in which Buddhists have traditionally taken refuge.
Suffering, impermanence, and no-self
It may be said that the Buddha based his entire teaching on the fact of human suffering. Existence is painful. The conditions that make an individual are precisely those that also give rise to suffering. Individuality implies limitation; limitation gives rise to desire; and, inevitably, desire causes suffering, since what is desired is transitory, changing, and perishing. It is the impermanence of the object of craving that causes disappointment and sorrow. By following the “path” taught by the Buddha, the individual can dispel the “ignorance” that perpetuates this suffering. The Buddha's doctrine was not one of despair. Living amid the impermanence of everything and being themselves impermanent, human beings search for the way of deliverance, for that which shines beyond the transitoriness of human existence—in short, for enlightenment.
According to the Buddha, reality, whether of external things or the psychophysical totality of human individuals, consists in a succession and concatenation of microseconds called dhammas (these “components” of reality are not to be confused with dhamma meaning “law” or “teaching”). The Buddha departed from the main lines of traditional Indian thought in not asserting an essential or ultimate reality in things.
Moreover, contrary to the theories of the Upanishads, the Buddha did not want to assume the existence of the soul as a metaphysical substance, but he admitted the existence of the self as the subject of action in a practical and moral sense. Life is a stream of becoming, a series of manifestations and extinctions. The concept of the individual ego is a popular delusion; the objects with which people identify themselves—fortune, social position, family,body, and even mind—are not their true selves. There is nothing permanent, and, if only the permanent deserved to be called the self, or atman, then nothing is self. There canbe no individuality without a putting together of components. This is becoming different, and there can be no way of becoming different without a dissolution, a passing away.
To make clear the concept of no-self (anatman), Buddhistsset forth the theory of the five aggregates or constituents (khandhas) of human existence: (1) corporeality or physical forms (r¨pa), (2) feelings or sensations (vedan(), (3) ideations (saññ(), (4) mental formations or dispositions (sankh(ra), and (5) consciousness (viññ(pa). Human existence is only a composite of the five aggregates, none of which is the self or soul. A person is in a process of continuous change, with no fixed underlying entity.

Karma
The belief in rebirth, or samsara, as a potentially endless series of worldly existences in which every being is caught up was already associated with the doctrine of karma (Sanskrit: karman; literally “act,” or “deed”) in pre-Buddhist India, and it was generally accepted by both the Therav(daand the Mah(y(na traditions. According to the doctrine of karma, good conduct brings a pleasant and happy result and creates a tendency toward similar good acts, while badconduct brings an evil result and creates a tendency toward repeated evil actions. This furnishes the basic context for the moral life of the individual.


Some karmas bear fruit in the same life in which they are committed, others in the immediately succeeding one, and others in future lives that are more remote.
The acceptance by Buddhists of the belief in karma and rebirth while holding to the doctrine of no-self gave rise to adifficult problem: how can rebirth take place without a permanent subject to be reborn? Indian non-Buddhist philosophers attacked this vulnerable point in Buddhist thought, and many modern scholars have also considered it to be an insoluble question. The relation between existences in rebirth has been explained by the analogy of fire, which maintains itself unchanged in appearance and yet is different in every moment—what may be called the continuity of an ever-changing identity.
The foundations of Buddhism
The Buddha's message
The Four Noble Truths
Awareness of these fundamental realities led the Buddha to formulate the Four Noble Truths: the truth of misery, the truth that misery originates within us from the craving for pleasure and for being or nonbeing, the truth that this craving can be eliminated, and the truth that this elimination is the result of a methodical way or path that must be followed. Thus, there must be an understanding of the mechanism by which a human being's psychophysical being evolves; otherwise, human beings would remain indefinitely in samsara, in the continual flow of transitory existence.

The law of dependent origination


Hence, the Buddha formulated the law of dependent origination (pa¡icca-samupp(da), whereby one condition arises out of another, which in turn arises out of prior conditions. Every mode of being presupposes another immediately preceding mode from which the subsequent mode derives, in a chain of causes. According to the classical rendering, the 12 links in the chain are ignorance (avijj(), karmic predispositions (sankh(ras), consciousness (viññ(pa), form and body (n(ma-r¨pa), the five sense organs and the mind (sag(yatana), contact (phassa), feeling-response (vedan(), craving (taph(), grasping for an object (up(d(na), action toward life (bhava), birth (j(ti), and old age and death (jar(marapa). Thus, the misery that is bound up with all sensate existence is accounted for by a methodical chain of causation.
The law of dependent origination of the various aspects of becoming remains invariable and fundamental in all schools of Buddhism. There are, however, diverse interpretations.
The foundations of Buddhism
The Buddha's message
The Eightfold Path
Given the awareness of this law, the question arises as to how one may escape the continually renewed cycle of birth, suffering, and death. Here ethical conduct enters in. It is not enough to know that misery pervades all existence and to know the way in which life evolves; there must also be a purification that leads to the overcoming of this process. Such a liberating purification is effected by following the Noble Eightfold Path constituted by right views, right aspirations, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right meditational attainment. The term right (true or correct) is used to distinguish sharply between the precepts of the Buddha and other teachings.

Nirvana
The aim of religious practice is to be rid of the delusion of ego, thus freeing oneself from the fetters of this mundane world. One who is successful in doing so is said to have overcome the round of rebirths and to have achieved enlightenment. This is the final goal—not a paradise or a heavenly world.


The living process is likened to a fire burning. Its remedy is the extinction of the fire of illusion, passions, and cravings. The Buddha, the Enlightened One, is one who is no longer kindled or enflamed. Many poetic terms are used to describe the state of the enlightened human being—the harbour of refuge, the cool cave, the place of bliss, the farther shore. The term that has become famous in the West is nirvana, translated as dying out—that is, the dying out in the heart of the fierce fires of lust, anger, and delusion. But nirvana is not extinction, and indeed the craving for annihilation or nonexistence was expressly repudiated by the Buddha. Buddhists search not for mere cessation but for salvation. Though nirvana is often presented negatively as “release from suffering,” it is more accurate to describe it in a more positive fashion: as an ultimate goal to be sought and cherished.
The Buddha left indeterminate questions regarding the destiny of persons who have reached this ultimate goal. Heeven refused to speculate as to whether such purified saints, after death, continued to exist or ceased to exist. Such questions, he maintained, were not relevant to the practice of the path and could not in any event be answered from within the confines of ordinary human existence.
Though it is true that the Buddha avoided discussion of theultimate condition that lay beyond the categories of the phenomenal world, he often affirmed the reality of the religious goal. For example, he is reported to have said: “There is an unborn, an unoriginated, an unmade, an uncompounded; were there not, there would be no escape from the world of the born, the originated, the made, and the compounded.”
In his teaching, the Buddha strongly asserted that the ontological status and character of the unconditioned nirvana cannot be delineated in a way that does not distort or misrepresent it. But what is more important is that he asserted with even more insistence that nirvana can be experienced—and experienced in this present existence—by those who, knowing the Buddhist truth, practice the Buddhist path.
Historical development
India
Expansion of Buddhism
The Buddha was a charismatic leader who discovered and proclaimed a religious message and founded a distinctive religious community. Some of the members of that community were, like the Buddha himself, wandering ascetics. Others were laypersons who venerated the Buddha, followed those aspects of his teachings that were relevant to them, and provided the wandering ascetics with the material support that they required.
During the first several centuries after the Buddha's death, the story of his life was remembered and embellished, his teachings were preserved and developed, and the community that he had established became a significant religious force. Many of the followers of the Buddha who were wandering ascetics began to settle in permanent monastic establishments and to develop the procedures needed to maintain large monastic institutions. At the sametime, the Buddhist laity came to include important membersof the economic and political elite.
During the first century of its existence Buddhism spread from its place of origin in Magadha and Kosala throughout much of northern India, including the areas of Mathur( and UjjayanY in the west. According to the Buddhist tradition, invitations to the Council of Ves(lY (Sanskrit: Vaiˆ(lY), held just over a century after the Buddha's death, were sent to monks living in many distant places throughout northern and central India. By the middle of the 3rd century BC, Buddhism had gained the favour of a Mauryan king who had established an empire that extended from the Himalayas in the north almost as far south as Sri Lanka.
To the rulers of the kingdoms and republics arising in northeastern India, the patronage of heteroprax sects (those with differing practices) was one way of counterbalancing the enormous political power enjoyed by Brahmans (high-caste Hindus) in the affairs of state. The first Mauryan emperor, Candra Gupta (c. 321–c. 297 BC), patronized Jainism and finally became a Jaina monk. His grandson, Aˆoka, who ruled over the greater part of the subcontinent from about 270 to 230 BC, became the archetypal Buddhist king. Aˆoka attempted to establish in his realm a “true dhamma” based on the virtuesof self-control, impartiality, cheerfulness, truthfulness, and goodness. Though he did not found a state church, he did attempt to forge a Buddhist-oriented religiopolitical culture that would include Hindu, Jaina, )jYvika ()[Yvaka), and Buddhist alike. His aim was to create a religious and social milieu that would enable all “children of the king” to live happily and attain heaven in the next life. Thus, he created a “welfare state” by setting up medical assistance for menand beasts, maintaining reservoirs and canals, and promoting trade. A system of dhamma officers (dhamma-mah(mattas) was set up to provide for the empire magistrates, district attorneys, preachers, bureaucrats, social workers, and spies. The lay ethic preached by the king of the dhamma (dhamma-r(ja) and his officers was focused on the layman's obligations in this world. Though Aˆoka created a new ideal of kingship that would have powerful repercussions throughout the later Buddhist world, the various problems posed by a state of such vast dimensions in India proved greater than he couldsolve. Soon after Aˆoka's death, the Mauryan empire beganto crumble.
Although Buddhists seem to have suffered some persecutions during the subsequent ‰unga–K(pva period (185–28 BC), Buddhism succeeded in maintaining and even expanding its influence. Buddhist monastic centres and magnificent Buddhist monuments such as the great stupas at Bh(rhut and S(ñchi were established throughoutthe subcontinent, and these institutions often received royalpatronage. In the early centuries of the Common era, Buddhism was especially flourishing in northwestern India, and from there it spread rapidly into Central Asia and China.

Buddhism under the Guptas and P(las


By the time of the Gupta dynasty (c. AD 320–c. 600), Buddhism in India was being affected by the revival of Brahmanic religion and the rising tide of bhakti (a devotional movement that emphasized the intense love of adevotee for a personal god). During this period, for example, some Hindus were practicing devotion to the Buddha, whom they regarded as an avatar (incarnation) of the Hindu deity Vishnu.
During the Gupta period some monasteries joined together to form monastic centres (mah(vih(ras) that functioned as universities. The most famous of these, located at N(land(,had a curriculum that went far beyond the bounds of traditional Buddhism. N(land( soon became the leading centre for the study of Mah(y(na, which was rapidly becoming the dominant Buddhist tradition in India.
Though Buddhist institutions seemed to be faring well under the Guptas, various Chinese pilgrims visiting India between AD 400 and 700 could discern an internal decline in the Buddhist community and the beginning of the reabsorption of Indian Buddhism by Hinduism. Among these pilgrims were Fa-hsien, Sung Yün, Hui-sheng, Hsüan-tsang, and I-ching.
The accounts of these Chinese travelers provide invaluable information about Asian cultures from the S(s(nian (Persian) empire in the west to Sumatra and Java in the east, and from Turfan in Central Asia to K(ñchi in the southof India. In 399 Fa-hsien left China, crossed the Gobi (Desert), and visited various holy places in India. He then returned to China via Sri Lanka and Java, taking with him numerous Buddhist scriptures and statues. The most famous of the Chinese travelers was the 7th-century monk Hsüan-tsang. When he arrived in northwestern India, he found “millions of monasteries” reduced to ruins by the Huns, a nomadic Central Asian people. Many of the remaining Buddhists were developing their own form of Tantrism, an esoteric psychic-physical system of belief and practice. In the northeast, Hsüan-tsang visited various holy places and studied Yog(c(ra, a Mah(y(na system, and Indian philosophy at N(land(. After visiting Assam and southern India he returned to China with some 600 sutras.
After the destruction of numerous Buddhist monasteries in the 6th century AD by the Huns, Buddhism revived, especially in the northeast, where it flourished for a time under the Buddhist P(la kings (8th–12th century AD). These kings continued to protect the great monastic establishments (mah(vih(ras), building such new centres as OdantapurY, near N(land(, and establishing a system ofsupervision for all such institutions. Under the P(las, Tantric Buddhism (i.e., Vajray(na) became the dominant sect. Adepts of this sect, called siddhas, identified nirvanawith the passions, maintaining that one could “touch the deathless element with his body.” Though some of its practices seemed excessive, scholars of this school sought to revalorize some of the most archaic elements in Indian religion. During this period, the university of N(land( became a centre for the study of Tantric Buddhism and the practice of Tantric magic and rituals. Under the P(la kings, contacts with China decreased as Indians began to turn their attention to Tibet and Southeast Asia.
Historical development
India
The decline of Buddhism in India
With the collapse of the P(la dynasty in the 12th century, Buddhism suffered another defeat, and this time it did not recover. Though some pockets of Buddhist influence remained, the Buddhist presence in India became so negligible that it could hardly be noticed.
Scholars do not know all the factors that contributed to the demise of Buddhism in its original homeland. Some have maintained that Buddhism was so tolerant of other faiths that it was simply reabsorbed by a revitalized Hindu tradition. This did occur, although Indian Mah(y(nists occasionally displayed a hostile attitude toward bhakti and toward Hinduism in general. However, there was another factor that was very important as well: Buddhism in India, having become mainly a monastic movement, probably paid little heed to the laity. Some monasteries became wealthy enough to have slaves and hired labourers to care for the monks and tend the lands they owned. Thus, after the Muslim invaders sacked the Indian monasteries in the 12th century AD, Buddhists had little basis for recovery. After the destruction of the monasteries, the Buddhist laity showed little interest in restoring the “Way.”

Contemporary revival


At the beginning of the 20th century Buddhism was virtuallyextinct in India. Since the early 1900s, however, a significant Buddhist presence has been reestablished. In the early decades of the 20th century a number of Buddhistsocieties were organized by Indian intellectuals who found in Buddhism an alternative to a Hindu tradition that they could no longer accept; an alternative that was, in addition, part of the cultural heritage of India. Following the Chinese conquest of Tibet in the late 1950s, there was an influx of Tibetan Buddhists who established a highly visible Buddhist community in northern India. In addition, the incorporation of Sikkim in 1975 into the Republic of India has brought into the modern Indian nation a small Himalayan society that has a strong Buddhist tradition related to the Vajray(na Buddhism of Tibet.
The major component in the 20th-century resurgence of Buddhism in India has, however, been the mass conversionof large numbers of people from the so-called scheduled castes (formerly called Untouchables). This conversion movement, originally led by Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, began in the 1950s. In October 1956 Ambedkar and severalhundred thousand of his followers converted to Buddhism, and—although accurate figures are difficult to determine—the group has continued to grow. Some estimates indicate that the number of converts is as high asfour million. This group, which in the past has tended to favour the Therav(da version of Buddhism, is developing itsown distinctive patterns of Buddhist teaching and practice.
Historical development
India
The decline of Buddhism in India
With the collapse of the P(la dynasty in the 12th century, Buddhism suffered another defeat, and this time it did not recover. Though some pockets of Buddhist influence remained, the Buddhist presence in India became so negligible that it could hardly be noticed.
Scholars do not know all the factors that contributed to the demise of Buddhism in its original homeland. Some have maintained that Buddhism was so tolerant of other faiths that it was simply reabsorbed by a revitalized Hindu tradition. This did occur, although Indian Mah(y(nists occasionally displayed a hostile attitude toward bhakti and toward Hinduism in general. However, there was another factor that was very important as well: Buddhism in India, having become mainly a monastic movement, probably paid little heed to the laity. Some monasteries became wealthy enough to have slaves and hired labourers to care for the monks and tend the lands they owned. Thus, after the Muslim invaders sacked the Indian monasteries in the 12th century AD, Buddhists had little basis for recovery. After the destruction of the monasteries, the Buddhist laity showed little interest in restoring the “Way.”

Contemporary revival


At the beginning of the 20th century Buddhism was virtuallyextinct in India. Since the early 1900s, however, a significant Buddhist presence has been reestablished. In the early decades of the 20th century a number of Buddhistsocieties were organized by Indian intellectuals who found in Buddhism an alternative to a Hindu tradition that they could no longer accept; an alternative that was, in addition, part of the cultural heritage of India. Following the Chinese conquest of Tibet in the late 1950s, there was an influx of Tibetan Buddhists who established a highly visible Buddhist community in northern India. In addition, the incorporation of Sikkim in 1975 into the Republic of India has brought into the modern Indian nation a small Himalayan society that has a strong Buddhist tradition related to the Vajray(na Buddhism of Tibet.
  1   2   3


The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2016
send message

    Main page