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



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After the capital was moved to Heian-kyx (modern Kyxto) in794, Buddhism continued to prosper. Chinese influence continued to play an important role, particularly through theintroduction of new Chinese schools that became dominantat the royal court. Mount Hiei and Mount Kxya became the centres for the new T'ien-tai (Tendai) and Esoteric (Shingon) schools of Buddhism, which were characterized by highly sophisticated philosophies and complex and refined liturgies. Moreover, Buddhism interacted with the indigenous Shintx and local tradition, and various distinctively Japanese patterns of Buddhist-oriented folk religion became very popular.
Historical development
Korea and Japan
Japan

New schools of the Kamakura period

The 12th and 13th centuries marked a turning point in Japanese history and in the history of Japanese Buddhism in particular. Late in the 12th century the imperial regime with its centre at Heian collapsed, and a new feudal government, or shogunate, established its headquarters at Kamakura. As a part of the same process, a number of newBuddhist leaders emerged and established schools of Japanese Buddhism. These reformers included proponentsof the Zen traditions such as Eisai and Dxgen; Pure Land advocates such as Hxnen, Shinran, and Ippen; and Nichiren, the founder of a new school that gained considerable popularity. The distinctively Japanese traditions these creative reformers and founders established became—along with many very diverse synthetic expressions of Buddhist-Shintx piety—integral components of a Buddhist-oriented ethos that structured Japanese religious life into the 19th century. Also during this period many Buddhist groups allowed their clergy to marry, with the result that temples often fell under the control of particular families.
The premodern period to the present

Under the Tokugawa shogunate (1603–1867), Buddhism became an arm of the government. Temples were used for registering the populace; this was one way of preventing the spread of Christianity, which the feudal government regarded as a political menace. This association with the Tokugawa regime made Buddhism quite unpopular at the beginning of the Meiji period (1868–1912), at least among the elite. At that time, in order to set up Shintx as the new state religion, it was necessary for Japan's new ruling oligarchy to separate Shintx from Buddhism. This led to theconfiscation of temple lands and the defrocking of many Buddhist priests.


During the period of ultranationalism (c. 1930–45), Buddhist thinkers called for uniting the East in one great “Buddhaland” under the tutelage of Japan. After the war, however, Buddhist groups, new and old alike, began to emphasize Buddhism as a religion of peace and brotherhood. During the postwar period the greatest visible activity among Buddhists has been among the “New Religions” such as Sxka-gakkai (“Value Creation Society”) and Risshx-Kxsei-kai (“Society for Establishing Righteousness and Friendly Relations”). During this period,Sxka-gakkai entered politics with the same vigour it had traditionally shown in the conversion of individuals. Because of its highly ambiguous but conservative ideology,the Sxka-gakkai-based political party (the Kxmeitx) is regarded with suspicion and fear by many Japanese.
Historical development
Tibet, Mongolia, and the Himalayan kingdoms
Tibet
Buddhism, according to the Tibetan tradition, was first given recognition in Tibet during the reign of Srong-brtsan-sgam-po (c. 627–c. 650). This king had two queens who were early patrons of the religion and were later regarded in popular tradition as incarnations of the Buddhist saviouress T(r(. The religion received active encouragement from Khri-srong-lde-btsan, during whose reign (c. 755–797) the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet wasbuilt at Bsam-yas (Samye), the first seven monks were ordained, and the celebrated Indian Tantric master Padmasambhava was invited to Tibet. A great deal of legend surrounds Padmasambhava, who was a mah(siddha (“master of miraculous powers”); he is creditedwith subduing the Bon spirits and demons (the spirits and demons associated with the indigenous religion of Tibet) and with subjugating them to the service of Buddhism. At the time, influences from Chinese Buddhism were strong, but it is recorded that at the Council of Bsam-yas (792–794)it was decided that the Indian tradition should prevail.
Following a period of suppression that lasted almost two centuries (from the early 800s to the early 1000s), Buddhism in Tibet enjoyed a revival. During the 11th and 12th centuries many Tibetans traveled to India to acquire and translate Buddhist texts and to receive training in Buddhist doctrine and practice. With the assistance of the renowned Indian master AtYˆa, who arrived in Tibet in 1042,Buddhism became established as the dominant religion. From this point forward Buddhism was the primary culture of the elite, was a powerful force in the affairs of state, and penetrated deeply into all aspects of Tibetan life.
One of the great achievements of the Buddhist community in Tibet was the translation into Tibetan of a vast corpus of Buddhist literature, including the Bka'-'gyur (“Translation of the Buddha Word”) and Bstan-'gyur (“Translation of Teachings”) collections. The Bka'-'gyur contains six sections: (1) Tantra, (2) Prajñ(p(ramit(, (3) Ratnak¨¡a, a collection of small Mah(y(na texts, (4) Avataisaka, (5) S¨tra (mostly Mah(y(na sutras, but some HYnay(na texts are included), and (6) Vinaya. The Bstan-'gyur contains 224volumes with 3,626 texts, divided into three major groups: (1) stotras (hymns of praise) in one volume, including 64 texts, (2) commentaries on tantras in 86 volumes, including 3,055 texts, and (3) commentaries on sutras in 137 volumes, including 567 texts.
A major development in the history of Tibetan Buddhism occurred in the late 14th or early 15th century when a greatBuddhist reformer named Tsong-kha-pa established the Dge-lugs-pa school, known more popularly as the Yellow Hats. In 1578, representatives of this school succeeded in converting the Mongol Altan Khan, and, under the Khan's sponsorship, their leader (the so-called third Dalai Lama) gained considerable monastic power. In the middle of the 17th century the Mongol overlords established the fifth Dalai Lama as the theocratic ruler of Tibet. The succeeding Dalai lamas, who were regarded as successive incarnationsof the bodhisattva Avalokiteˆvara, held this position duringmuch of the remainder of the premodern period, ruling fromthe capital, Lhasa.
The fifth Dalai Lama instituted the high office of Panchen Lama for the abbot of the Tashilhunpo monastery, located to the west of Lhasa. The Panchen lamas were regarded assuccessive incarnations of the buddha Amit(bha. Unlike the Dalai Lama, the Panchen Lama has usually been recognized only as a spiritual ruler.
Throughout much of Tibetan history many of the great monasteries were controlled by aristocratic abbots who were able to marry and pass along their monastic possessions to their sons. Monks were often warriors, and monasteries became armed fortresses. The Manchus in the18th century and subsequently the British, the Nationalist Chinese, and the Chinese communists have all tried to exploit the division of power between the Panchen and the Dalai lamas for their own ends. In 1959, after the Dalai Lama fled to India, the Chinese communists took over his temporal powers.
Under Chinese rule, Tibetan Buddhists have suffered periods of persecution, some of them severe. Not surprisingly, this has strengthened the bond between Buddhism and nationalist resistance.

Mongolia
The distinctive form of Buddhism that developed in Tibet has exerted a strong influence on neighbouring areas and peoples. Most important in this regard was the conversion of the Mongol tribes to the north and east of Tibet. There are some indications that Buddhism was present among the Mongols as early as the 4th century, but the sources are scarce. It is clear, however, that during the 13th centuryclose relationships developed between the Mongol court in China and some of the leaders of Tibetan Buddhism. Kublai Khan himself became a supporter of the Tibetan form of Buddhism. Kublai Khan's Tibetan advisers helped to develop a block script for the Mongolian language, and many Buddhist texts were translated from Tibetan into Mongolian. In general, however, the religion failed to gain widespread popular support during this period.


In 1578 a new situation developed when the Altan Khan accepted the Dge-lugs-pa version of the Tibetan tradition and supported its spread among his followers at all levels of Mongol society. Over the centuries the Mongols developed their own very rich Buddhist traditions. Mongolian scholars translated a large corpus of texts from Tibetan, and they produced their own sophisticated originaltexts. The Mongols based their Buddhist doctrine, practice, and communal organization on Tibetan models, but they developed and adapted them in a distinctive way.
Between 1280 and 1368 China was part of the Mongol empire, and the Mongols established their variant of Tibetan Buddhism in China. When they no longer held power in China, they continued to maintain the traditions they had developed in their homeland in the Central Asian steppes. During the 20th century, however, Mongolian Buddhism has been undermined by the communist regimes that have ruled in the Mongol areas of the Soviet Union, Mongolia, and China.
Historical development
Tibet, Mongolia, and the Himalayan kingdoms
The Himalayan kingdoms
Tibetan Buddhism has also exerted a considerable influence in the Himalayan kingdoms situated along Tibet's southern border. In Nepal Buddhism has been influenced by both India and Tibet. Though the Buddha was born in the southern part of the area that is now Nepal, at Lumbini, about 15 miles (24 kilometres) from Kapilavatthu (Kapilavastu), the Buddhist religion seems to have been actively propagated only later, probably under Aˆoka. By the 8th century Nepal had fallen into the cultural orbit of Tibet. A few centuries later, as a result of the Muslim invasions of India, both Hindus (such as the Brahmanic Gurkha aristocracy) and Buddhists took refuge in the country. In modern times Buddhist prayer wheels and flagsare reminders of the direct influence of Tibetan Buddhism. The Indian heritage is especially evident in the caste system that embraces Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.
In Bhutan a Tibetan lama introduced Buddhism and a Tibetan style of hierarchical theocracy in the 17th century AD. The Buddhism practiced in Bhutan has been influenced by the Tibetan BkaÆ-brgyud-pa sect, which has stressed the magical benefits of living in caves and has not enforced on its clergy the discipline of celibacy. Buddhism in Bhutan, like Buddhism in Nepal, is coming into increasing contact with modernizing forces that are beginning to undermine many of its traditional practices.

Buddhism in the West


During the long course of Buddhist history, Buddhist influences have from time to time reached the Western world. Though the evidence is weak, some scholars have suggested that, about the beginning of the Christian era, Buddhist monks and teachings had reached as far as Egypt. There are occasional references to what seem to be Buddhist traditions in the writings of the Church Fathers. Inaddition, a version of the biography of the Buddha, known as the story of Barlaam and Josaphat, had a considerable dissemination in medieval Europe. In fact, the Buddha-figure in the story came to be recognized as a Christian saint.
Not until the modern period, however, is there evidence for a serious Buddhist presence in the Western world. The movement of Buddhism from Asia to the West that took place in the 19th and 20th centuries had two aspects. Beginning in the mid-19th century, Buddhism was introduced into the United States and other Western countries by large numbers of immigrants, first from China and Japan but more recently from other countries, especially countries of Southeast Asia. Buddhism gained a foothold among a significant number of Western intellectuals and—particularly during the 1960s and early '70s—among young people seeking new forms of religious experience and expression. The interest of Westerners in Buddhism has been increased by the work of Buddhist missionaries such as the Japanese scholar D.T. Suzuki (1870–1966) and a number of Tibetan Buddhist teachers who have come to the West since the Chinese conquest of their homeland in the late 1950s.
Historical development
Tibet, Mongolia, and the Himalayan kingdoms
The Himalayan kingdoms
Tibetan Buddhism has also exerted a considerable influence in the Himalayan kingdoms situated along Tibet's southern border. In Nepal Buddhism has been influenced by both India and Tibet. Though the Buddha was born in the southern part of the area that is now Nepal, at Lumbini, about 15 miles (24 kilometres) from Kapilavatthu (Kapilavastu), the Buddhist religion seems to have been actively propagated only later, probably under Aˆoka. By the 8th century Nepal had fallen into the cultural orbit of Tibet. A few centuries later, as a result of the Muslim invasions of India, both Hindus (such as the Brahmanic Gurkha aristocracy) and Buddhists took refuge in the country. In modern times Buddhist prayer wheels and flagsare reminders of the direct influence of Tibetan Buddhism. The Indian heritage is especially evident in the caste system that embraces Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.
In Bhutan a Tibetan lama introduced Buddhism and a Tibetan style of hierarchical theocracy in the 17th century AD. The Buddhism practiced in Bhutan has been influenced by the Tibetan BkaÆ-brgyud-pa sect, which has stressed the magical benefits of living in caves and has not enforced on its clergy the discipline of celibacy. Buddhism in Bhutan, like Buddhism in Nepal, is coming into increasing contact with modernizing forces that are beginning to undermine many of its traditional practices.

Buddhism in the West


During the long course of Buddhist history, Buddhist influences have from time to time reached the Western world. Though the evidence is weak, some scholars have suggested that, about the beginning of the Christian era, Buddhist monks and teachings had reached as far as Egypt. There are occasional references to what seem to be Buddhist traditions in the writings of the Church Fathers. Inaddition, a version of the biography of the Buddha, known as the story of Barlaam and Josaphat, had a considerable dissemination in medieval Europe. In fact, the Buddha-figure in the story came to be recognized as a Christian saint.
Not until the modern period, however, is there evidence for a serious Buddhist presence in the Western world. The movement of Buddhism from Asia to the West that took place in the 19th and 20th centuries had two aspects. Beginning in the mid-19th century, Buddhism was introduced into the United States and other Western countries by large numbers of immigrants, first from China and Japan but more recently from other countries, especially countries of Southeast Asia. Buddhism gained a foothold among a significant number of Western intellectuals and—particularly during the 1960s and early '70s—among young people seeking new forms of religious experience and expression. The interest of Westerners in Buddhism has been increased by the work of Buddhist missionaries such as the Japanese scholar D.T. Suzuki (1870–1966) and a number of Tibetan Buddhist teachers who have come to the West since the Chinese conquest of their homeland in the late 1950s.
Basic teachings

The Buddha: divinization and multiplicity

In the Mah(y(na tradition, the Buddha is viewed not merelyas a human master and model but also as a supramundane being. He multiplies himself and is reflectedin a pentad of buddhas: Vairocana, Ak—obhya, Ratnasambhava, Amit(bha, and Amoghasiddhi. Some of these, taking the place of ‰(kyamuni, are revealers of doctrines and elaborate, complicated liturgies.
As Mah(y(na developed, a great deal of literature called Buddhavacana (Revelation of the Buddha) was circulated, but it went far beyond the ancient canons; it was proposed as the highest revelation, superseding prior texts. In this literature the teaching is viewed not as merely of one kind but as on various levels, each adapted to the intellectual capacity and karmic propensities of those who hear it. The Buddha is no longer simply the historical sage of the ‰(kyas but is now supramundane (lokottara). Even the sangha is of two types: that of this world and that beyond it.
The bodhisattva ideal

The essential premise of the bodhisattva ideal is to generate in one's own self the thought of enlightenment and to fulfill the vow to become a buddha, foregoing entrance into nirvana in order to remain in the world as longas there are creatures to be saved from suffering. With that vow the aspirant begins the career of a bodhisattva, which traverses 10 stages or spiritual levels (bh¨mi) and achievespurification through the practice of the 10 perfections (paramitas). These levels, which become progressively higher, elevate the bodhisattva to the condition of a buddha. The first six levels are preliminary, representing the true practice of the six perfections (generosity, morality, patience, vigour, concentration, and wisdom). Irreversibility occurs as soon as the seventh stage is reached. From this moment the bodhisattva assumes the true buddha nature, even though further purification and fortification must be achieved in the stages that follow. This is the moment when, having performed his duty, he engages in activity aimed at completely fulfilling the obligations of a bodhisattva. The difference between this and the precedingsix stages is that now the activity is explained as an innate and spontaneous impulse manifested unconstrainedly and therefore not subjected to doubts. Everything is now uncreated, ungenerated; thus, the body of the bodhisattva becomes identified more and more completely with the essential body (dharma-k(ya), with buddhahood, and with omniscience.


- Encyclopedia Brittanica, 2003.
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