HRT3M Introduction to Buddhism
Ethnic:the religion of a particular people or culture (e.g., Judaism, Hinduism) (tend to be localized and do not actively seek converts) Universal:a religion which sees its message as true for all people (e.g., Christianity, Islam, Buddhism) (have spread throughout the world and tend to be very large in population, have actively sought converts from many cultures) Categorizing Religions: Ethnic vs. Universal
Buddhism • Founded by Siddhartha Gautama in the 6th Century BCE • Founded in India near Nepal • Spread to China by the 1st Century BCE • Spread to Japan by the 6th Century CE • By the end of the 6th Century CE it had spread all over
The Life of Siddartha Gautama • He was born in 563 B.C., in Southern Nepal, to King Suddhodana, and Queen Maya. Tradition saw him as the son of a king. • One week after Gautama was born, his mother died. As a prince, he was showered with the luxuries of living. • The Buddhists faith rests in Buddha, his teachings(dharma), and the religious community that was founded (sangha). • Buddha's real name is Siddartha Gautama. Siddartha means "every wish fulfilled."
Things began to change… • Gautama became overwhelmed with the conviction that his life was filled with suffering and unhappiness; therefore, he began to take interest in religious and philosophical thoughts. • Gautama married a beautiful princess named Yasodhara and had a son named Rahula. He fulfilled his duty by bringing an heir into the world. • While on his way to a park, he saw a saffron robed monk with a shaven head and a calm demeanor. That sight inspired him to adopt that kind of life-style. • On his 29th birthday, his conviction led to the abandonment of his wife and son to seek religious enlightenment as a monk. That time was known as the Great Renunciation.
He joined the spiritual teachers of his time, mastered their disciplines, and relentlessly practiced asceticism (deliberate self denial of bodily pleasures, usually food and sex ). • He felt, however, that none of these efforts could--nor would--open the path to enlightenment. • Six years later, after his body was exhausted, he realized that asceticism was meaningless. • He was free after renouncing both his family life and the ascetic practices. He sat under a Bodhi tree. • With the sharpness of insight accessible only in the middle way of meditation, he penetrated into the true nature of things. • He discovered why people were suffering and also found a way of escaping it. • The people from then on called him "Buddha”, which means the Enlightened One. • After becoming known as Buddha, he returned to his family, taught them and took his son under him as a monk. Gautama sought out teachers from what he could learn spiritual techniques and master their teachings. • He then inquired after the meditation state on which they were based on.
Buddha gave his first sermon at Benares to five ascetic monks who had practiced with him earlier. • That is called the turning wheel of Dharma. • Following that initial conversation, he traveled throughout northern India for 45 years teaching the rich and the poor, the powerful and the lowly, the beggars and the sages with deep compassion for all and with tempered wisdom and cool logic. • He passed away peacefully at the age of 80 in Kusinagara.One interesting thing in Gautama's life is that he was born under a tree, he achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi ("tree of wisdom") tree, and gave his first sermon in an animal park, and he died between two trees.
Scriptures No revealed book! • Basic beliefs are contained in the Tripitaka (Three Baskets) which contain the teachings of Buddha
Made up of Three Parts The Tripitaka - called the three baskets because the palm leaf manuscripts written by Buddha’s followers were kept in three different baskets • Vinaya-Pitaka • Basket of Discipline • consists of five books that address the rule of monasitc life • Sutta-Pitaka • Basket of Discourses • is contained in five collections and incorporates the teachings of the Buddha • The most important one for Buddhists • also contains 424 verses on ETHICS • Abhidhamma-Pitaka • Basket of Further Teachings • consists of the nature of “consciousness” and technical explanations - philosphy
God • Buddha rejectedthe idea of a Supreme God • Holy souls (Bodhisattvas) exist which guide humans.
AdherentsAbout 364 Million adherents, mainly in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, China, Japan, & Tibet. Branches Two Main Branches: TheravadaMahayana • Other sects include Zen & Pureland in Japan, and Tibeten
Bodhisattvas • Meaning: “bodhi” = “enlightened” • “sattva” = “being” • In Theraveda Buddhism, the bodhisattva is on the way to becoming a buddha and embodies “self-salvation” • In Mahayana Buddhism – bodhisattvas embody the ideals of life and compassion for lesser beings • Bohisattvas vary according to the country of origin
BASIC BELIEFS • Buddhism’s ultimate goal: TO END HUMAN SUFFERING • Emphasizes “personal responsibility for one’s own salvation” • Unlike Christianity or Islam, Buddhism does NOT have a central source of beliefs such as the Bible or the Qur’an • There are a number of sources for Buddhists to use which form a guide to a proper life • All Buddhist teachings show the way to END THE SUFERING OF LIFE AND TO STOP THE ENDLESS CYCLE OF REBIRTHS – SAMASARA(just like in Hinduism!)
Basic Beliefs – the “sources” A. Reincarnation B. The goal of life is Nirvana (nothingness) – the end to pain and suffering. C. The Three Characteristics of Existence D. The Five Precepts D.The Three Jewels(CREED or Three Refuges) which leads to… E. Eight-Fold Path F. The Four Noble Truths 1. All life is suffering 2. Desire causes suffering 3. Eliminating desire eliminates Suffering 4. We can eliminate desire by following the Middle Way of the 8-fold path to salvation.
Samsara – Reincarnation • The “rebirths”, Samsara, involve the transference of one’s mind or consciousness into NEW BODIES AFTER DEATH • When one achieves NIRVANA – one has reached PERFECT WISDOM • Then one is released from the endless cycle of samsara • Nirvana was reached by Siddhartha through meditation, and in a state of higher consciousness (psychic state), when he remembered all his “previous lives” – and saw “karma” (good and bad deeds) • He removed “craving” and “ignorance” and achieved a “supreme enlightenment” or NIRVANA – perfect wisdom and absolute peace
The Three Characteristics of Existence • All that exists in the universe is subject to three characteristics: • Anicca: Everything is limited to a certain duration and, consequently, liable to disappear - IMPERMANENCE • Dukkha: Everything is unsatisfactory. There is nothing that can be relied upon, there is nothing that can bring true happiness - DISSATISFACTION • Anatta: Everything is deprived of a self. There is no self-inherent entity, nothing that can be controlled - SELFLESSNESS
THE FIVE PRECEPTS (like Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments!): Followed by Buddhists to control improper physical or verbal behaviour that might cause suffering: 1. Abstain from Killing or Harming living beings: • AHIMSA • Avoid killing or harming any living being. • I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures. • I shall endeavor to protect and take care of all living creatures. • Do not do harm to other beings.
2. Abstain from stealing 3. Abstain from improper sexual conduct 4. Abstain from false speech, e.g. telling lies, setting people against each other and gossiping 5. Abstain from taking alcohol and harmful drugs Additional precepts (observed by nuns and monks)… • Abstain from eating after noon • Abstain from looking at dancing, singing or drama • Abstain from the use of perfumes and things that tend to beautify and adorn a person • Abstain from using comfortable beds • Abstain from accepting gold or silver
TheThree Jewels (or “The Three Refuges”) • This is like the basic CREEDfor Buddhists • The three jewels as they are referred to in Buddhism are: the Buddha the Dhamma or Dharma (in Sanskrit) the Sangha. • They are also referred to as the 'triple gem' and are depicted as such in many Buddhist paintings. • The fact that they are referred to as something precious indicates the reverence with which they are regarded by Buddhists.
A.K.A. “The Three Refuges” • These three are also referred to as the three refuges in that they are seen to offer a degree of security in an uncertain and ever-shifting world. • The Buddha established the Three Refuges to make it easier to follow his teachings and take refuge from a difficult existence • Its purpose is to guide followers along the right path: The Buddha (the GUIDE) The Dharma (the path) The sangha (companions and teachers) • One way of formally becoming a Buddhist is to recite the following formula in front of a ordained monk or nun: • I take refuge in the BuddhaI take refuge in the DharmaI take refuge in the Sangha.
Buddhism Part 2…
The Buddha • The Buddha is obviously the key figure of Buddhism, representing the highest authority in the sense that he achieved enlightenment and was able to provide a pathway to guide others to enlightenment too. • His experiences have shown that there is a way to escape from the world of suffering, and that it can be achieved through ones own efforts. • The Buddha which means “awakened one”, suggests that his enlightenment was a “waking up” to the world as it really is, free from its delusion and ignorance. • Consequently, in Buddhism, the fact that he wanted to show others the way to Nirvana also makes him worthy of the greatest respect and as the prime source of inspiration and authority for adherents.
The Dharma (Dhamma) • The Dharmaare the teachingsof the Buddha encapsulated in the Four Noble Truths. • The Buddha is believed to have faced a great dilemma after his enlightenment - whether he should pass on his knowledge or to keep it to himself. • But out of compassion for the rest who could not experience the profound insight on the truth of life and death, he decided to pass on his teachings. • These teachings came to be collectively known as the Dhamma or Dharma which embodies the essential doctrines of Buddhism - the Four Noble Truths, Kamma, Rebirth, Samsara, Dependent Origination, and so on. • Since they offer the means to escape from sufferings (Dukkha), Buddhists revere it as one of the Three Jewels.
The Sangha • The Sangha is the Buddhist community as a whole, though in early Buddhism it referred to the community of monks and nuns specifically and was therefore used in a narrower sense. • The sangha is the practical realization of the Buddha’s thought - an institution where there is no hierarchy. • The Sangha, or the monastic community of monks and nuns was thus founded by the Buddha, based on this high ideal. • The sangha became the central institution of the Buddhists, where the monks and nuns, after vowing themselves into celibacy, devoted their lives to meditation and study, and also teach people to achieve Nirvana. • The sangha is therefore accorded a special significance because it is seen as the making of the Buddha’s teachings as an exclusive focus of their lives.
The Four Noble Truths 1. Life means suffering. 2. The origin of suffering is attachment. 3. The cessation of suffering is attainable. 4. The path to the cessation of suffering.
1. The Noble Truth of Suffering: • To live means to suffer, because human nature is not perfect and neither is the world we live in. • In our lives we have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death; and we have to endure psychological suffering like sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression. • Although there are different degrees of suffering and there are also positive experiences in life that we perceive as the opposite of suffering, such as ease, comfort and happiness, life in its totality is imperfect and incomplete, because our world is subject to impermanence. • This means we are never able to keep permanently what we strive for, and just as happy moments pass by, we ourselves and our loved ones will pass away one day, too
2. The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering • The origin of suffering is attachment to changing things and the ignorance thereof. • Transient things do not only include the physical objects that surround us, but also ideas, • Ignorance is the lack of understanding of how our mind is attached to impermanent things. • The reasons for suffering are desire, materialism, pursuit of wealth and prestige, striving for fame and popularity, or in short: desire and clinging • Because the objects of our attachment are changing and moving, their loss is inevitable, thus suffering will necessarily follow. • People, greedy for the wrong kind of pleasures, do harmful things to their bodies and peace of mind • Everyone has basic needs, that is, food, clothing, and shelter • When these needs are met – one should enjoy them without becoming greedy!
3. The Noble Truth of the Extinction of Suffering • The extinction or ending of suffering can be attained The third noble truth expresses the idea that suffering can be ended by attaining dispassion – or Freedom from or lack of strong feeling, calmness . • This means that suffering can be overcome through human activity, simply by removing the cause of suffering. • Attaining and perfecting dispassion is a process of many levels that ultimately results in the state of Nirvana. • Nirvana means freedom from all worries, troubles, complexes, fabrications and ideas. • Nirvana is not comprehensible for those who have not attained it • Westerners think that it is BUDDHIST HEAVEN • But it is NOT A PLACE – BUT A STATE OF BEING!
4. The Noble Truth of the Path Leading to the Extinction of Suffering • There is a path to the end of suffering - a gradual path of self-improvement, which is described more detailed in the Eightfold Path • The Eigthfold Path is the middle way between the two extremes of excessive self-indulgence (hedonism) and excessive denial (asceticism); and it leads to the end of the cycle of rebirth – NIRVANA (end of desire and suffering) • Adopting this path is to live the Buddhist way of life – a life of self-improvement • For some, the Eight-Fold Path is the “blueprint for a happier life”
Eight Fold Path • The Buddha summarized the correct attitude and actions in the Eight-fold Noble Path: • (The first 3 are avoiding the 10 non-virtues of mind, speech and body:) 1. Correct thought: avoiding covetousness, the wish to harm others and wrong views (like thinking: actions have no consequences, I never have any problems, there are no ways to end suffering etc.) 2. Correct speech: avoid lying, divisive and harsh speech and idle gossip. 3. Correct actions: avoid killing, stealing and sexual misconduct 4. Correct livelihood: try to make a living with the above attitude of thought, speech and actions. 5. Correct understanding: developing genuine wisdom. (The last three aspects refer mainly to the practice of meditation:) 6. Correct effort: after the first real step we need joyful perseverance to continue. 7. Correct mindfulness: try to be aware of the "here and now", instead of dreaming in the "there and then". 8. Correct concentration: to keep a steady, calm and attentive state of mind.
Mantras and Symbols • Mantras are symbolic phrases that are chanted by Buddhists to help them keep in touch with their spiritual nature • They also help to serve MEDITATION • OM MANI PADME HUM: - six-syllable mantra - It means: “HAIL, THE JEWEL IN THE LOTUS” Anyone who recites this phrase will be saved from all dangers
Symbols of Buddhism: • In the earliest centuries of Buddhism, statues of the Buddha were not used. Instead, Buddhist art consisted of images symbolizing the Buddha and his teachings, such as the lotus, the Wheel of Life, Stupa, the Bodhi tree, the Mandala and the Buddha's footprints. • Other important types of symbolism in Buddhism include colors, especially the five colors of white, yellow, red, blue and green, and symbolic hand gestures called mudras
Lotus Flower • Lotuses are symbols of purity and 'spontaneous' generation and hence symbolize divine birth. • 'the spirit of the best of men is spotless, like the new lotus in the [muddy] water which does not adhere to it' • the heart of the beings is like an unopened lotus: when the virtues of the Buddha develop therein the lotus blossoms. • This is why the Buddha sits on a lotus in bloom. • The Buddha had a vision of the human race as a bed of lotus flowers • Some were stuck in mud, some were emerging from it, and other were about to bloom • In the same way, ALL PEOPLE HAVE THE ABILITY TO DEVELOP THEIR POTENTIAL AND RISE FROM AN UNDESIRABLE LIFE
Charity in Buddhism: • Every pious Buddhist more or less carries out the deeds of charity, observing morality and practising meditation. • Out of these three, the Buddhists usually perform the charitable deeds daily. • At every house of Buddhists, they offer food, water and flowers dedicated to The Three Jewels every morning. • The Buddhists believe that the daily act of offering alms-food to is the main cause for following Buddha's Teaching • According to their wealth, they occasionally make other donations such as inviting the monks to their home and offering food • Dana – ALMS/CHARITY – first of Ten Virtues • Buddhist charity is both the act of charity and the things—money or goods— charitably given. • But charity is not necessarily limited to the giving of material things For example…
Kindly looks for everyone. • Always greeting people with a smile and gentle expression. • Speaking kind words to others. • Doing physical labor for the sake of others. • Dealing with people sincerely and in good faith. • Kindly doing things like giving one's seat to others. • Happily providing the needy with lodging.