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).

Dharma and Dharmas | Definition

Sanskrit uses the term dharma in a variety of contexts requiring a variety of translations. Dharma derives from the root dhṛ (to hold, to maintain). From its root meaning as “that which is established” comes such translations as law, duty, justice, religion, nature, and essential quality. The Dharma, which was rediscovered by the Buddha, was the subject matter of his teaching; hence, dharma also means...

Bodhisattvas Mahā-sattvas

The term Bodhisattva refers to a sattva (person) on a Buddhist mārga (path) in pursuit of Bodhi (awakening) or one whose nature is awakening. In the Mahāyāna tradition, a Bodhisattva is a practitioner who, by habituating himself in the practice of the Pāramitā (perfection), aspires to become a Buddha in the future by seeking complete, perfect awakening through Prajñā (wisdom) and by benefiting all sentient...

Compassion (Karuṇā) | Definition

Karuṇā (Compassion), along with Prajñā (Wisdom), are the two virtues universally affirmed by Buddhists: Basically, Karuṇā is defined as the wish that others be free of suffering, in contradistinction to maitrī (love; Pāli, mettā), which is the wish that others be happy. Compassion is a quality that a Buddha is believed to possess to the greatest possible degree, and that Buddhists still on the path...

Buddhist Doctrine of Karma (Action)

The term Karma, which literally means “action,” is frequently used in the context of what can be called the doctrine of Karma: This belief is nowadays shared by many Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and others, but the details can vary considerably between different believers. Early Buddhism does not identify bodily and mental motion, but Desire (or thirst, tṛṣṇā), as the cause of karmic consequences.

Merit and Merit-Making in Buddhism

Merit (puṇya) is karmic virtue acquired through moral and ritual actions; it is widely regarded as the foundation of Buddhist ethics and salvation. the vast majority of Buddhist communities affirm the soteriological effects of good actions. As indicated by the term merit- making, virtue is the deliberate result of human consideration and conduct. As a moral commodity, merit is quantifiable. Merit can also be transferred...

Mainstream Buddhist Schools

Mainstream Buddhist Schools By several centuries after the death of the Buddha, the itinerant mendicants following his way had formed settled communities and had changed irrevocably their received methods of both teaching and praxis: Most sources agree that the first schism in early Buddhist community occurred with the separation of the Mahāsaṁghika School, or “those of the great community,” from those referred to as Sthāviras,...

Monasticism in Buddhism

The majority of Buddhist monastics are not hermits or solitary wanderers. Monastics, even those who may choose to take up a solitary life from time to time, belong to the Buddhist Saṅgha or community. Buddhist monastic communities include everything from extremely large and wealthy urban monasteries, to mid-size and small village monasteries, to forest, cave, and mountain monasteries. Buddhist monasticism dates back to the Śākyamuni...

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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