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Buddhism

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Buddhism

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  1. Buddhism an inward path

  2. Origins • Gautama Siddhartha • A man who achieved enlightenment at the age of 35 • Not a prophet, god, or a spokesman for a god • A prince who abandoned the life of luxury around 2500 BC and established a community of thousands of monks near the Ganges River in north-eastern India • He based his beliefs on insights achieved through meditation • A radical egalitarian who welcomed even the “untouchables” into his community and rejected the caste-based beliefs of the Brahmanic tradition

  3. Meaning of “Buddha” • The correct term is “the Buddha” meaning the awakened one. • The Buddha is upheld as a teacher and a role model (indicating that any person can achieve nirvana) • Other people before and after the Buddha are believed to have achieved nirvana • The Buddha advocated the “middle way” between comfort and austerity, rejecting the comfort of his princely life but also the extreme austerity practiced by other monks of his time

  4. Theravada • The oldest surviving Buddhist school • Predominant in Southeast Asia • Emphasis on personal experience, study & meditation • Mahayana • Prominent today in India, China, Tibet, Japan • Belief in bodhisattvas, persons who delay nirvana in order to help others on the path • Emphasis on compassion and mutual assistance • Tantrayana or Vajrayana • Prominent in Tibet and Mongolia • Ritualistic and mystical elements • Use of mantras, yoga, mandalas, bells, even sex to accelerate enlightenment • Its teachings are well-guarded

  5. The Four Noble Truths • Suffering is universal (at least for humans, and even among those who do not recognize their own suffering) • Suffering has a cause and its cause is ultimately internal to oneself • Suffering can be transcended • The transcendence of suffering depends upon releasing attachments and recognizing one’s inherent Buddha-nature, which is possible in this life with a particular “path,” which is a way or life or dharma

  6. The Eightfold Way a path toward enlightenment

  7. Basic Insight: all aspects of life are interrelated

  8. How do we know if a teaching conforms to Buddhist thought? • Three Dharma Keys • Impermanence • All that is passes away and ceases to be • Interdependency • This is because that is • This is not because that is not • Nonself (applying this insight to one’s sense of being a distinct person with a birth and death) • Dukkha/nirvana • Unsatisfactoriness is inherent to life, as one releases attachments one simultaneously discovers complete contentment and the lack of need to keep existing (and no longer is reincarnated, according to some traditions)

  9. Differences • Christians believe that if a person is good he/she will go to heaven after death • Buddhists release their attachment to the illusion of separate personhood so death becomes an acceptable aspect of life • Christians believe the causes of their suffering can be removed by appealing to a supreme being who is creative and loving • Buddhists believe the experience of suffering can be transcended by releasing attachments to things that must necessarily change or pass away

  10. Buddhist view of nature • The Diamond Sutra lists four signs that we can get caught in • Self, person, living being, and life span • Releasing attachment to the first three signs implies recognition that: • to protect oneself one needs to protect everything that is not oneself • the human species’ well-being cannot be separated from the well-being of other species • we even need to take care of rivers and other non-living entities

  11. Practices of Lay Buddhism • Do not kill • Do not steal • Remain faithful to your spouse • Do not lie • Do not drink or use other intoxicants

  12. Practices of Monastic Buddhism • Walking and sitting meditation • Abandonment of virtually all possessions • Communal life in the sangha • Pursuit of nirvana

  13. Buddhist Landscape Features Temples Stupas (Chortens) Monasteries

  14. Buddhist Temples Yangon, Thailand Angkor Thom, Kampuchea

  15. Bodnath StupaKathmandu, Nepal

  16. Stupas in Crestone, CO and China • A stupa symbolizes many different aspects of Buddhism • more information

  17. Potala, Lhasa

  18. Potala was the palace of the Dalai Lamas and political center of Tibet from the 1600s until 1949 when the Dalai Lama fled to India

  19. Taktshang monastery, Bhutan