Buddhism Philosophy & Teachings

Schools of Buddhism | Introduction

We will give next a general historical account of the chief branches of Buddhist thought in India such as Vaibhasikas, Sautrantikas, Yogacaras and Madhyamikas and briefly show their relation to the central teachings of the Buddha such as three fundamental principles of Impermanence (anitya), Sorrow (duhkha), and Non-self (anātman).

Buddhism: Overview

Buddhism is the world’s oldest missionary religion. Since its beginnings some 2,500 years ago in northern India, it has spread to nearly every region of the world. There are now more than 350 million Buddhists in the world, most of whom belong to one or the other of the 2 major schools: the Mahayana and the Theravada. Buddhist core philosophical tenets and beliefs include Karma,...

Buddhism: History

Buddhist tradition holds that the man who would become the Buddha was born in a small village near what is now the border between Nepal and India in the middle of the 6h century B.C.E. He was born into a Kṣatriya family, part of the Śākya clan, and was given the name Siddhārtha (he whose goal will be accomplished) Gautama. It was clear that he...

Buddhism: Central Doctrines

As Buddhism gained followers and monks began to form distinct groups, often united on the basis of doctrinal commonalities and matters of monastic discipline, Buddhism was marked by a doctrinal explosion. This doctrinal profusion Buddhists is truly one of the hallmarks of Buddhism. That said, however, certain key doctrines also are shared by all. Underlying virtually all of Buddhism is the basic doctrines of Samsāra,...

Buddhism: Code of Conduct

The central theme of the Buddhist ethics is the cultivation of mindfulness (sati)— - to develop a mental attitude of complete and selfless awareness, a mental attitude that necessarily influences the manner in which one acts toward other living beings, a mental awareness that fundamentally informs one’s every act and intention to act. The pañcha śīla are the basic ethical guidelines for the layperson, the...

Buddhism: Sacred Books and Symbols

Tradition holds that during the first rainy-season retreat after the Buddha’s death, in 483 BCE., 500 of Buddha’s disciples gathered at Rajagriha (present-day Rajgir, in Bihar) – - to agree the contents of the Dhamma and Vinaya and orally collected all of the Buddha’s teachings into 3 sets, or “three baskets” (Tripitaka; Pali, Tipiṭaka): Ānanda recited the Suttas, the monk Upāli recited the Vinaya, the...

Buddhism: Teachers and Leaders

The Buddha’s immediate disciples not only formed the first Buddhist community but also were responsible for orally preserving his teachings. One of the most important of these early followers was Ānanda, the Buddha’s cousin, who accompanied the Buddha for more than 20 years and figures prominently in early Buddhist texts. Perhaps the most important theologian of early Buddhism was Nāgārjuna (c. 150 – c. 250...

Theravada Buddhism | Introduction

Theravada Buddhism comes from the teachings of the Buddha, who lived in the 5th century B.C.E. The Theravada (School of the Elders, in the Pali language) is the sole surviving branch of the earliest Buddhism. Its primary emphasis was on monastic life, with the single goal of individual Liberation through Enlightenment, until the early 20th century, when it became more widely available. Laypeople practice generosity...

Buddhist Monks

While terms for Monk in the Buddhist tradition (Sanskrit, Bhikṣu or Śramaṇa; Pāli, Bhikkhu or Samaṇa) are rooted in words connoting mendicancy and austerity, the Buddhist Monk is more generally understood as a member of a community of religious renunciants (the Saṅgha in Pāli, Saṁgha in Sanskrit) who has undergone a formal Ordination ceremony conducted by a quorum of fully ordained Monks. Novice Monks (Śrāmaṇera)...

Pāramitā (Perfection) | Definition

Pāramitā (Perfection) | Definition Pāramitā (Pāli, pāramī;) refers to the spiritual practice accomplished by a Bodhisattva. The term has been interpreted variously as meaning, for example, “perfection,” “to reach the other shore,” or “to cross over.” Traditionally, the term Pāramitā comprises 4 groups: a) the group of 6 Pāramitās; b) the group of 10 Pāramitās; c) the group of 4 Pāramitās; d) the perfections of...

Pāli language & Buddhist classic literature

The term Pāli, used today in both Buddhist and Western cultures as a designation of a language, is a relatively modern coinage, not traceable before the 17th century. Although Pāli is clearly younger than the time of the Buddha, it is the oldest surviving variety of Middle Indic. The dialect used by the Buddha himself when instructing his disciples is unknown and irretrievably lost. It...

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