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).

Jewels of Buddhism

Jewels occupy important narrative and ritual spaces throughout the history of Buddhism. The Buddha routinely employed the metaphor of the jewel (rātna) in a variety of sūtras to refer to the unlimited value of Enlightened Wisdom, a value that can be seen as represented in the form of an infinitely beautiful and valuable jewel that at the same time stands in contrast to the limitations...

Bodh Gaya

In approximately 250 BCE, about 200 years after the Buddha attained Enlightenment, Buddhist Emperor Aśoka visited Bodh Gaya in order to establish a monastery and shrine on the holy site, which have today disappeared. Though the emperor Aśoka probably established Bodh Gaya and the Bodhi tree as Buddhism’s most sacred Buddhist Pilgrimage site and object, the earliest extant remains and inscriptions are from times of...

Arhat (Arahant) | Definition

The Arhat (Sanskrit) or Arahant (Pāli) is a being who has attained the state of Enlightenment that is the goal of Theravāda and other Mainstream Buddhist Schools. The Arhat is fully human yet has reached a transcendent state of wisdom and liberation that the texts describe as being almost identical with that of the Buddha. Arhat fulfils a role as an ideal for imitation veneration.

6 Higher Knowledges (Abhijñā)

6 Higher Knowledges (Abhijñā). Abhijñā (Pāli, abhiññā; higher knowledge) refers to a stereotyped set of typically 6 spiritual powers ascribed to Buddhas and their chief disciples: The first 5 are mundane and attainable through the perfection of concentration (samādhi) in meditative trance (dhyāna; Pāli, jhāna). the 6th higher knowledge is supra-mundane and exclusively Buddhist, and attainable only through insight into the Buddhist truths, it is...

The Law of Dependent Origination

The theory of Dependent Origination (Pratītya Samutpāda; Pāli: paticca-samuppāda), which literally means “arising on the ground of a preceding cause.” The texts of the Theravada tradition portray Śāriputra (the Buddha’s disciple) as saying “whoever understands Dependent Origination understands the teaching of the Buddha, and whoever understands the teaching of the Buddha understands Dependent Origination”. The theory of Dependent Origination is usually divided into 12 links...

Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths are known best for their appearance in the classic Turning of the Wheel of Dharma. The Four Noble Truths are often employed as an organizing principle to describe the more detailed and complex set of teachings that are the framework for more specific meditation practices. The Four Noble Truths are the most significant teaching in all of Buddhism’s varied schools and...

Suffering (Dukkha) | Definition

Suffering is a basic characteristic of all life in this world, and is the first of the four noble truths taught by the Buddha and recorded in the various Buddhist canons. Suffering is a characteristic of an ordinary – imperfect existence and it continues until Liberation from the 3 Poisons of the Mind is reached, until the perfect Buddhahood is attained. Suffering is also the...

Impermanence (anitya) | Definition

Impermanence, as the Sanskrit word anitya or Pāli word anicca are generally translated, is one of the 3 characteristics of the phenomenal world, or the world in which human beings live: The concept of impermanence is fundamental to all Buddhist schools: Everything that exists in this world is impermanent. No element of physical matter or any concept remains unchanged, including the Skandha (Aggregate) that make...

No-Self & Self | Anātman & Ātman

Etymologically, Anātman (Pāli, anattā) consists of the negative prefix an- plus Ātman (i.e., without Ātman) and is translated as no-self, no-soul, or no-ego. Buddhism maintains that since everything is conditioned, and thus subject to Anitya (Impermanence), the question of Ātman as a self-subsisting entity does not arise, that anything that is impermanent is inevitably Duḥkha (Suffering) and out of our control (Anātman), and thus cannot...

Abhidharma texts

Traditional accounts of early Indian Buddhist schools suggest that while certain schools may have shared some textual collections, many transmitted their own independent Abhidharma treatises. However, only 2 complete canonical collections, representing the Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda schools and several texts of undetermined sectarian affiliation are preserved. It is assumed that Abhidharma texts of the earliest period bear the closest similarities to the sūtras and are...

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