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Buddhism

Buddhadharmaredirects here. For the magazine, see


Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly.
Buddhism /budzm/* [1]* [2] is a religion* [note 1]* [3]

Truths.
Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognized by scholars: Theravada Buddhism (Pali:
The School of the Elders) and Mahayana Buddhism
(Sanskrit: The Great Vehicle). In Theravada Buddhism, the ultimate goal is the attainment of the sublime
state of Nirvana, achieved by practicing the Noble Eightfold Path (also known as the Middle Way), thus escaping what is seen as a cycle of suering and rebirth.* [6]
Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and
Southeast Asia.
Mahayana Buddhism, which includes the traditions of
Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Shingon, and
Tiantai (Tendai) is found throughout East Asia. Rather
than Nirvana, Mahayana instead aspires to Buddhahood
via the bodhisattva path, a state wherein one remains in
the cycle of rebirth to help other beings reach awakening.
Vajrayana, a body of teachings attributed to Indian siddhas, may be viewed as a third branch or merely a part of
Mahayana; Tibetan Buddhism, which preserves the Vajrayana teachings of eighth century India,* [7] is practiced
in regions surrounding the Himalayas, Mongolia* [8] and
Kalmykia.* [9] Tibetan Buddhism aspires to Buddhahood
or rainbow body.* [10]
Buddhist schools vary on the exact nature of the path
to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various
teachings and scriptures, and especially their respective
practices.* [11]* [12] Buddhism denies a creator deity and
posits that mundane deities such as Mahabrahma are
misperceived to be a creator.* [13] Instead, the foundations of Buddhist tradition and practice are the Three
Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings), and
the Sangha (the community). Taking refuge" in the
triple gem has traditionally been a declaration and commitment to being on the Buddhist path, and in general distinguishes a Buddhist from a non-Buddhist.* [14]
Development along the Buddhist path is generally accomplished by practicing some or all of the Ten Meritorious Deeds; however, the threefold practice of generosity,
virtue, and meditation (including samatha and vipassan)
is often given special emphasis. Other practices include
the study of scriptures; cultivation of higher wisdom and
discernment; renouncing conventional living and becoming a monastic; devotional practices; ceremonies; the Mahayana practices of bodhicitta, invocation of buddhas and
bodhisattvas, and the Vajrayana practices of Generation
stage and Completion stage.

Standing Buddha statue at the Tokyo National Museum. One of


the earliest known representations of the Buddha, 1st2nd century CE.

and dharma that encompasses a variety of traditions,


beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on teachings
attributed to Gautama Buddha, commonly known as the
Buddha (the awakened one). According to Buddhist
tradition, the Buddha lived and taught in the northern part
of the Indian subcontinent, sometime between the 6th and
4th centuries BCE in ancient Magadha kingdom.* [4] He
is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened, divine,* [5]
or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help
sentient beings end their suering through the elimination of ignorance and craving. Buddhists believe that
this is accomplished through the direct understanding and Buddhists number between an estimated 488 milperception of dependent origination and the Four Noble
1

1 LIFE OF THE BUDDHA

lion* [web 1] and 535 million,* [15] making it one of the because we have very little information that can be conworld's major religions.
sidered historically sound... [but] we can be reasonably
condent Siddhatta Gotama did indeed exist and that his
disciples preserved the memory of his life and teachings
as well as they could.* [20]
1 Life of the Buddha
The evidence of the early texts suggests that Siddhrtha
Gautama was born in a community that was on the
periphery, both geographically and culturally, of the
northeastern Indian subcontinent in the fth century
BCE.* [21] It was either a small republic, in which case his
father was an elected chieftain, or an oligarchy, in which
case his father was an oligarch.* [21]

The Great Departure, relic depicting Gautama leaving home,


rst or second century (Muse Guimet).

Main article: Gautama Buddha


This narrative draws on the Nidnakath of the Jataka
tales of the Theravada, which is ascribed to Buddhaghoa
in the 5th century CE.* [16] Earlier biographies such as
the Buddhacarita, the Lokottaravdin Mahvastu, and the
Sarvstivdin Lalitavistara Stra, give dierent accounts.
Scholars are hesitant to make unqualied claims about
the historical facts of the Buddha's life. Most accept that
he lived, taught and founded a monastic order, but do not
consistently accept all of the details contained in his biographies.* [17]* [18]

The Vajrashila, where Gautama sat under a tree and became


enlightened, Bodh Gaya, India, 2011.

Ascetic Gautama with his ve companions, who later comprised


the rst Sangha. (Painting in Laotian temple)

According to author Michael Carrithers, while there are


good reasons to doubt the traditional account, the outline of the life must be true: birth, maturity, renunciation,
search, awakening and liberation, teaching, death.* [19]
In writing her biography of the Buddha, Karen Armstrong noted,It is obviously dicult, therefore, to write
a biography of the Buddha that meets modern criteria,

According to this narrative, shortly after the birth of


young prince Gautama, an astrologer named Asita visited the young prince's father, Suddhodana, and prophesied that Siddhartha would either become a great king or
renounce the material world to become a holy man, depending on whether he saw what life was like outside the
palace walls.
uddhodana was determined to see his son become
a king, so he prevented him from leaving the palace
grounds. But at age 29, despite his father's eorts, Gautama ventured beyond the palace several times. In a series of encountersknown in Buddhist literature as the
four sightshe learned of the suering of ordinary people, encountering an old man, a sick man, a corpse and,

3
nally, an ascetic holy man, apparently content and at the rest of his life teaching the path of awakening he had
peace with the world. These experiences prompted Gau- discovered, traveling throughout the northeastern part of
tama to abandon royal life and take up a spiritual quest.
the Indian subcontinent,* [23]* [24] and died at the age of
80 (483 BCE) in Kushinagar, India. The south branch
of the original g tree available only in Anuradhapura Sri
Lanka is known as Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi.

2 Buddhist concepts
Main article: Glossary of Buddhism

2.1 Life and the world


Dhamek Stupa in Sarnath, India, where the Buddha gave his rst
sermon. It was built by Ashoka.

Gautama rst went to study with famous religious teachers of the day, and mastered the meditative attainments
they taught. But he found that they did not provide a
permanent end to suering, so he continued his quest.
He next attempted an extreme asceticism, which was a
religious pursuit common among the ramaas, a religious culture distinct from the Vedic one. Gautama underwent prolonged fasting, breath-holding, and exposure
to pain. He almost starved himself to death in the process. He realized that he had taken this kind of practice
to its limit, and had not put an end to suering. So in
a pivotal moment he accepted milk and rice from a village girl and changed his approach. He devoted himself
to anapanasati meditation, through which he discovered
what Buddhists call the Middle Way (Skt. madhyampratipad):* [22] a path of moderation between the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortication.* [web
2]* [web 3]

Traditional Tibetan Buddhist Thangka depicting the Wheel of


Life with its six realms

Buddha statue depicting Parinirvana (Mahaparinirvana Temple,


Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, India).

Gautama was now determined to complete his spiritual


quest. At the age of 35, he famously sat in meditation
under a Ficus religiosa tree now called the Bodhi Tree
in the town of Bodh Gaya and vowed not to rise before
achieving enlightenment. After many days, he nally destroyed the fetters of his mind, thereby liberating himself from the cycle of suering and rebirth, and arose
as a fully enlightened being (Skt. samyaksabuddha).
Soon thereafter, he attracted a band of followers and instituted a monastic order. Now, as the Buddha, he spent

2.1.1 Sasra
Main article: Sasra (Buddhism)
Within Buddhism, samsara is dened as the continual
repetitive cycle of birth and death that arises from ordinary beings' grasping and xating on a self and experiences. Specically, samsara refers to the process
of cycling through one rebirth after another within the
six realms of existence,* [note 2] where each realm can
be understood as physical realm or a psychological state
characterized by a particular type of suering. Samsara

BUDDHIST CONCEPTS

arises out of avidya (ignorance) and is characterized by


dukkha (suering, anxiety, dissatisfaction). In the Buddhist view, liberation from samsara is possible by following the Buddhist path.

The doctrine of anatt (Sanskrit antman) rejects the


concepts of a permanent self or an unchanging, eternal
soul, as it is called in Hinduism and Christianity. According to Buddhism there ultimately is no such thing as a self
independent from the rest of the universe. Buddhists also
refer to themselves as the believers of the anatta doctrine
2.1.2 Karma
Nairatmyavadin or Anattavadin. Rebirth in subsequent
existences must be understood as the continuation of a
Main article: Karma in Buddhism
dynamic, ever-changing process of prattyasamutpda (
dependent arising) determined by the laws of cause and
In Buddhism, Karma (from Sanskrit: action, work) eect (karma) rather than that of one being, reincarnating
is the force that drives sasrathe cycle of suering from one existence to the next.
and rebirth for each being. Good, skillful deeds (Pali:
Each rebirth takes place within one of ve realms
kusala) and bad, unskillful (Pli: akusala) actions
according to Theravadins, or six according to other
produceseedsin the mind that come to fruition either
schools.* [30]* [31]
in this life or in a subsequent rebirth.* [25] The avoidance
of unwholesome actions and the cultivation of positive
1. Naraka beings: those who live in one of many
actions is called sla. Karma specically refers to those
Narakas (Hells);
actions of body, speech or mind that spring from men*
tal intent (cetan), [26] and bring about a consequence
2. Preta: sometimes sharing some space with humans,
or phala fruitor vipka result.
but invisible to most people; an important variety is
In Theravada Buddhism there can be no divine salvation
or forgiveness for one's karma, since it is a purely impersonal process that is a part of the makeup of the universe.
In Mahayana Buddhism, the texts of certain Mahayana
sutras (such as the Lotus Sutra, the Agulimlya Stra
and the Mahyna Mahparinirva Stra) claim that the
recitation or merely the hearing of their texts can expunge
great swathes of negative karma. Some forms of Buddhism (for example, Vajrayana) regard the recitation of
mantras as a means for cutting o of previous negative
karma.* [27] The Japanese Pure Land teacher Genshin
taught that Amitbha has the power to destroy the karma
that would otherwise bind one in sasra.* [3]* [28]
2.1.3

Rebirth

Gautama's cremation site, Ramabhar Stupa in Kushinagar, Uttar


Pradesh, India

Main article: Rebirth (Buddhism)

the hungry ghost;* [32]


3. Animals: sharing space with humans, but considered another type of life;
4. Human beings: one of the realms of rebirth in which
attaining Nirvana is possible;
5. Asuras: variously translated as lowly deities,
demons, titans, or anti-gods; not recognized by
Theravada tradition as a separate realm;* [note 3]
6. Devas including Brahms: variously translated as
gods, deities, spirits, angels, or left untranslated.
The above are further subdivided into 31 planes of existence.* [web 4] Rebirths in some of the higher heavens,
known as the uddhvsa Worlds or Pure Abodes, can be
attained only by skilled Buddhist practitioners known as
angmis (non-returners). Rebirths in the rpyadhtu
(formless realms) can be attained by only those who can
meditate on the arpajhnas, the highest object of meditation.
According to East Asian and Tibetan Buddhism, there is
an intermediate state (Tibetan "bardo") between one life
and the next. The orthodox Theravada position rejects
this; however there are passages in the Samyutta Nikaya
of the Pali Canon that seem to lend support to the idea
that the Buddha taught of an intermediate stage between
one life and the next.* [34]* [35]

2.2 Suering's causes and solution

2.2.1 The Four Noble Truths


Rebirth refers to a process whereby beings go through a
succession of lifetimes as one of many possible forms of Main article: Four Noble Truths
sentient life, each running from conception* [29] to death. The teachings on the Four Noble Truths are regarded as

2.2

Suering's causes and solution

5
2.2.2 Noble Eightfold Path
Main articles: Noble Eightfold Path and Buddhist Paths
to liberation
The Noble Eightfold Paththe fourth of the Buddha's

The Buddha teaching the Four Noble Truths.


manuscript. Nalanda, Bihar, India.

Sanskrit

central to the teachings of Buddhism, and are said to provide a conceptual framework for Buddhist thought. These
four truths explain the nature of dukkha (suering, anxiety, unsatisfactoriness), its causes, and how it can be overcome. The four truths are:* [note 4]
1. The truth of dukkha (suering, anxiety, unsatisfactoriness* [note 5])
2. The truth of the origin of dukkha

The Dharmachakra represents the Noble Eightfold Path

3. The truth of the cessation of dukkha

Noble Truthsconsists of a set of eight interconnected


factors or conditions, that when developed together, lead
4. The truth of the path leading to the cessation of
to the cessation of dukkha.* [36] These eight factors are:
dukkha
Right View (or Right Understanding), Right Intention
(or Right Thought), Right Speech, Right Action, Right
The rst truth explains the nature of dukkha. Dukkha is Livelihood, Right Eort, Right Mindfulness, and Right
commonly translated assuering,anxiety,un- Concentration.
satisfactoriness, unease, etc., and it is said to have
Ajahn Sucitto describes the path asa mandala of interthe following three aspects:
connected factors that support and moderate each other.
*
[36] The eight factors of the path are not to be under The obvious suering of physical and mental illness, stood as stages, in which each stage is completed before
growing old, and dying.
moving on to the next. Rather, they are understood as
eight signicant dimensions of one's behaviourmental,
The anxiety or stress of trying to hold onto things
spoken, and bodilythat operate in dependence on one
that are constantly changing.
another; taken together, they dene a complete path, or
*
A subtle dissatisfaction pervading all forms of life way of living. [37]
due to the fact that all forms of life are changing, im- The eight factors of the path are commonly presented
permanent and without any inner core or substance. within three divisions (or higher trainings) as shown beOn this level, the term indicates a lack of satisfac- low:
tion, a sense that things never measure up to our expectations or standards.* [note 6]
2.2.3 The Four Immeasurables
The second truth is that the origin of dukkha can be
known. Within the context of the four noble truths, the
origin of dukkha is commonly explained as craving (Pali:
tanha) conditioned by ignorance (Pali: avijja). On a
deeper level, the root cause of dukkha is identied as ignorance (Pali: avijja) of the true nature of things. The
third noble truth is that the complete cessation of dukkha
is possible, and the fourth noble truth identies a path to
this cessation.* [note 7]

Main article: Brahmavihara


While he searched for enlightenment, Gautama combined the yoga practice of his teacher Kalama with what
later became known asthe immeasurables.* [38] Gautama thus invented a new kind of human, one without
egotism.* [38] What Thich Nhat Hanh calls theFour Immeasurable Mindsof love, compassion, joy, and equa-

BUDDHIST CONCEPTS

4. Another term for emptiness, the ultimate nature of


all phenomena (in the Mahayana branch), a lack
of inherent existence, which avoids the extremes of
permanence and nihilism or inherent existence and
nothingness.

2.3 Nature of existence

Statue of Buddha in Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, Phitsanulok,


Thailand

nimity* [39] are also known as brahmaviharas, divine


abodes, or simply as four immeasurables.* [web 5] Pema
Chdrn calls them thefour limitless ones.* [40] Of the
four, mett or loving-kindness meditation is perhaps the
best known.* [web 5] The Four Immeasurables are taught
as a form of meditation that cultivates wholesome attitudes towards all sentient beings.* [web 6]* [web 7]
The practitioner prays:
1. May all sentient beings have happiness and its
causes,
2. May all sentient beings be free of suering and its
causes,
3. May all sentient beings never be separated from bliss
without suering,
4. May all sentient beings be in equanimity, free of Monks debating at Sera Monastery, Tibet
bias, attachment and anger.* [web 8]
2.2.4

Middle Way

Main article: Middle Way

Buddhist scholars have produced a number of intellectual


theories, philosophies and world view concepts (see, for
example, Abhidharma, Buddhist philosophy and Reality
in Buddhism). Some schools of Buddhism discourage
doctrinal study, and some regard it as essential practice.

The concept of liberation (nirva) the goal of the


Buddhist path is closely related to overcoming ignorance (avidy), a fundamental misunderstanding or misperception of the nature of reality. In awakening to the
true nature of the self and all phenomena one develops
dispassion for the objects of clinging, and is liberated
1. The practice of non-extremism: a path of modera- from suering (dukkha) and the cycle of incessant retion away from the extremes of self-indulgence and births (sasra). To this end, the Buddha recommended
self-mortication;
viewing things as characterized by the three marks of existence.
2. The middle ground between certain metaphysical
views (for example, that things ultimately either do
or do not exist);* [41]
2.3.1 Three Marks of Existence
3. An explanation of Nirvana (perfect enlightenment),
a state wherein it becomes clear that all dualities ap- Main article: Three marks of existence
parent in the world are delusory;

An important guiding principle of Buddhist practice is


the Middle Way (or Middle Path), which is said to have
been discovered by Gautama Buddha prior to his enlightenment. The Middle Way has several denitions:

2.3

Nature of existence

The Three Marks of Existence are impermanence, suffering, and not-self.


Impermanence (Pli: anicca) expresses the Buddhist notion that all compounded or conditioned phenomena (all
things and experiences) are inconstant, unsteady, and impermanent. Everything we can experience through our
senses is made up of parts, and its existence is dependent
on external conditions. Everything is in constant ux, and
so conditions and the thing itself are constantly changing.
Things are constantly coming into being, and ceasing to
be. Since nothing lasts, there is no inherent or xed nature
to any object or experience. According to the doctrine of
impermanence, life embodies this ux in the aging process, the cycle of rebirth (sasra), and in any experience of loss. The doctrine asserts that because things are
impermanent, attachment to them is futile and leads to
suering (dukkha).
Suering (Pli: dukkha; Sanskrit dukha) is
also a central concept in Buddhism. The word roughly
corresponds to a number of terms in English including suering, pain, unsatisfactoriness, sorrow, aiction,
anxiety, dissatisfaction, discomfort, anguish, stress, misery, and frustration. Although the term is often translated
as suering, its philosophical meaning is more analogous to disquietudeas in the condition of being disturbed. As such, sueringis too narrow a translation
withnegative emotional connotations* [web 9] that can
give the impression that the Buddhist view is pessimistic,
but Buddhism seeks to be neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but realistic. In English-language Buddhist literature translated from Pli,dukkhais often left untranslated, so as to encompass its full range of meaning.* [note
8]* [42]* [43]

Angkor Thom in Cambodia

a mutually interdependent web of cause and eect. It is


variously rendered into English as dependent origination,conditioned genesis,dependent relationship
, dependent co-arising, interdependent arising,
Not-self (Pli: anatta; Sanskrit: antman) is the third or contingency.
mark of existence. Upon careful examination, one nds The best-known application of the concept of
that no phenomenon is reallyIormine"; these con- prattyasamutpda is the scheme of Twelve Nidcepts are in fact constructed by the mind. In the Nikayas nas (from Pli nidnameaning cause, foundation,
anatta is not meant as a metaphysical assertion, but as an source or origin), which explain the continuation of the
approach for gaining release from suering. In fact, the cycle of suering and rebirth (sasra) in detail.* [note
Buddha rejected both of the metaphysical assertions I 10]
have a Self" and I have no Selfas ontological views
Main article: Twelve Nidnas
that bind one to suering.* [note 9] When asked if the
self was identical with the body, the Buddha refused to
answer. By analyzing the constantly changing physical The Twelve Nidnas describe a causal connection beand mental constituents (skandhas) of a person or object, tween the subsequent characteristics or conditions of
the practitioner comes to the conclusion that neither the cyclic existence, each one giving rise to the next:
respective parts nor the person as a whole comprise a self.
1. Avidy: ignorance, specically spiritual ignorance
of the nature of reality;* [44]
2.3.2 Dependent arising
2. Saskras: literally formations, explained as referMain article: Prattyasamutpda
ring to karma;
The doctrine of prattyasamutpda, (Sanskrit; Pali: paticcasamuppda; Tibetan Wylie: rten cing 'brel bar 'byung
ba ; Chinese: ) is an important part of Buddhist
metaphysics. It states that phenomena arise together in

3. Vijna: consciousness, specically discriminative;* [45]


4. Nmarpa: literally name and form, referring to
mind and body;* [46]

BUDDHIST CONCEPTS

5. ayatana: the six sense bases: eye, ear, nose, from a desire to achieve a consistent exegesis of the Budtongue, body and mind-organ;
dha's doctrine as recorded in the Canon. In the eyes of
Nagarjuna the Buddha was not merely a forerunner, but
6. Spara: variously translated contact, impression, the very founder of the Mdhyamaka system.* [49]
stimulation (by a sense object);
Sarvastivada teachingswhich were criticized by Ngr7. Vedan: usually translated feeling: this is the he- junawere reformulated by scholars such as Vasubandhu
donic tone, i.e. whether something is pleasant, and Asanga and were adapted into the Yogacara school.
While the Mdhyamaka school held that asserting the exunpleasant or neutral;
istence or non-existence of any ultimately real thing was
8. T: literally thirst, but in Buddhism nearly always inappropriate, some exponents of Yogacara asserted that
used to mean craving;
the mind and only the mind is ultimately real (a doctrine
known as cittamatra). Not all Yogacarins asserted that
9. Updna: clinging or grasping; the word also means
mind was truly existent; Vasubandhu and Asanga in parfuel, which feeds the continuing cycle of rebirth;
ticular did not.* [web 11] These two schools of thought,
10. Bhava: literally being (existence) or becoming. in opposition or synthesis, form the basis of subsequent
(The Theravada explains this as having two mean- Mahayana metaphysics in the Indo-Tibetan tradition.
ings: karma, which produces a new existence, and Besides emptiness, Mahayana schools often place emthe existence itself.);* [47]
phasis on the notions of perfected spiritual insight
(prajpramit) and Buddha-nature (tathgatagarbha).
11. Jti: literally birth, but life is understood as starting
There are conicting interpretations of the tathgataat conception;* [48]
garbha in Mahyna thought. The idea may be traced
12. Jarmaraa: (old age and death) and also soka, to Abhidharma, and ultimately to statements of the Budparideva, dukkha, domanassa and upys (sorrow, dha in the Nikyas. In Tibetan Buddhism, according to
lamentation, pain, aiction and despair).* [web 10] the Sakya school, tathgatagarbha is the inseparability of
the clarity and emptiness of one's mind. In Nyingma,
tathgatagarbha also generally refers to inseparability of
Sentient beings always suer throughout sasra until the clarity and emptiness of one's mind. According to
they free themselves from this suering (dukkha) by at- the Gelug school, it is the potential for sentient beings
taining Nirvana. Then the absence of the rst Nidna to awaken since they are empty (i.e. dependently origiignoranceleads to the absence of the others.
nated). According to the Jonang school, it refers to the
innate qualities of the mind that expresses themselves as
omniscience etc. when adventitious obscurations are re2.3.3 Emptiness
moved. The "Tathgatagarbha Sutras" are a collection of
Mahayana sutras that present a unique model of BuddhaMain article: nyat
nature. Even though this collection was generally ignored
in India,* [50] East Asian Buddhism provides some sigMahayana Buddhism received signicant theoretical nicance to these texts.
grounding from Nagarjuna (perhaps c. 150250 CE), arguably the most inuential scholar within the Mahayana
tradition. Nagarjuna's primary contribution to Buddhist 2.4 Liberation
philosophy was the systematic exposition of the concept of nyat, or emptiness, widely attested in the 2.4.1 Nirvana
Prajpramit sutras that emerged in his era. The concept of emptiness brings together other key Buddhist doc- Main article: Nirvana (Buddhism)
trines, particularly anatta and dependent origination, to
refute the metaphysics of Sarvastivada and Sautrantika
(extinct non-Mahayana schools). For Nagarjuna, it is Nirvana (Sanskrit; Pali:Nibbna) meanscessation
not merely sentient beings that are empty of tman; all , extinction(of craving and ignorance and therefore
phenomena (dharmas) are without any svabhava (literally suering and the cycle of involuntary rebirths (sasra)),
own-natureor self-nature), and thus without any extinguished,quieted,calmed"; it is also known
underlying essence; they areemptyof being indepen- asAwakeningorEnlightenmentin the West. The
dent; thus the heterodox theories of svabhava circulating term for anybody who has achieved nirvana, including
at the time were refuted on the basis of the doctrines of the Buddha, is arahant.
early Buddhism. Nagarjuna's school of thought is known Bodhi (Pli and Sanskrit, in devanagari: ) is a term
as the Mdhyamaka. Some of the writings attributed to applied to the experience of Awakening of arahants.
Nagarjuna made explicit references to Mahayana texts, Bodhi literally meansawakening, but it is more combut his philosophy was argued within the parameters set monly translated into English as enlightenment. In
out by the agamas. He may have arrived at his positions Early Buddhism, bodhi carried a meaning synonymous to

2.4

Liberation

9
arahant has attained only nirvana, thus still being subject to delusion, while the bodhisattva not only achieves
nirvana but full liberation from delusion as well. He thus
attains bodhi and becomes a buddha. In Theravada Buddhism, bodhi and nirvana carry the same meaning as in
the early texts, that of being freed from greed, hate and
delusion.
The term parinirvana is also encountered in Buddhism,
and this generally refers to the complete nirvana attained
by the arahant at the moment of death, when the physical
body expires.
2.4.2 Buddhas
Main article: Buddhahood
According to Buddhist traditions a Buddha is a fully
awakened being who has completely puried his mind of
the three poisons of desire, aversion and ignorance. A
Buddha is no longer bound by Samsara and has ended the
suering which unawakened people experience in life.

Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya, India, where Gautama Buddha


attained Nirvana under the Bodhi Tree (left)

nirvana, using only some dierent metaphors to describe


the experience, which implies the extinction of raga
(greed, craving),* [web 12] dosa (hate, aversion)* [web
13] and moha (delusion).* [web 14] In the later school of
Mahayana Buddhism, the status of nirvana was downgraded in some scriptures, coming to refer only to the extinction of greed and hate, implying that delusion was still
present in one who attained nirvana, and that one needed
to attain bodhi to eradicate delusion:
An important development in the Mahayana [was] that it came to separate nirvana
from bodhi ('awakening' to the truth, Enlightenment), and to put a lower value on the
former (Gombrich, 1992d). Originally nirvana
and bodhi refer to the same thing; they merely
use dierent metaphors for the experience.
But the Mahayana tradition separated them
and considered that nirvana referred only to
the extinction of craving (passion and hatred),
with the resultant escape from the cycle of
rebirth. This interpretation ignores the third
re, delusion: the extinction of delusion is
of course in the early texts identical with
what can be positively expressed as gnosis,
Enlightenment.
Richard F. Gombrich, How Buddhism
Began* [51]

Buddhists do not consider Siddhartha Gautama to have


been the only Buddha. The Pali Canon refers to many
previous ones (see List of the 28 Buddhas), while the
Mahayana tradition additionally has many Buddhas of
celestial, rather than historical, origin (see Amitabha or
Vairocana as examples, for lists of many thousands Buddha names see Taish Shinsh Daizky numbers 439
448). A common Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist belief is that the next Buddha will be one named Maitreya
(Pali: Metteyya).

Shwezigon Paya near Bagan, Myanmar

Theravada Buddhism In Theravada doctrine, a person may awaken from the sleep of ignoranceby directly realizing the true nature of reality; such people are
called arahants and occasionally buddhas. After numerous lifetimes of spiritual striving, they have reached the
end of the cycle of rebirth, no longer reincarnating as huTherefore, according to Mahayana Buddhism, the man, animal, ghost, or other being. The commentaries to

10

BUDDHIST CONCEPTS

the Pali Canon classify these awakened beings into three The Buddha's death is seen as an illusion, he is living
types:
on in other planes of existence, and monks are therefore permitted to oer new truthsbased on his input. Mahayana also diers from Theravada in its con Sammasambuddha, usually just called the Buddha,
cept of nyat (that ultimately nothing has existence),
who discovers the truth by himself and teaches the
and in its belief in bodhisattvas (enlightened people who
path to awakening to others
vow to continue being reborn until all beings can be en*
Paccekabuddha, who discovers the truth by himself lightened). [52]
but lacks the skill to teach others
Savakabuddha, who receive the truth directly or indirectly from a Sammasambuddha
Bodhi and nirvana carry the same meaning, that of being
freed from craving, hate, and delusion. In attaining bodhi,
the arahant has overcome these obstacles. As a further
distinction, the extinction of only hatred and greed (in the
sensory context) with some residue of delusion, is called
anagami.

The method of self-exertion or self-powerwithout


reliance on an external force or beingstands in contrast
to another major form of Buddhism, Pure Land, which
is characterized by utmost trust in the salvic otherpowerof Amitabha Buddha. Pure Land Buddhism is
a very widespread and perhaps the most faith-orientated
manifestation of Buddhism and centres upon the conviction that faith in Amitabha Buddha and the chanting of
homage to his name liberates one at death into the Blissful (), Pure Land () of Amitabha Buddha. This
Buddhic realm is variously construed as a foretaste of
Nirvana, or as essentially Nirvana itself. The great vow
of Amitabha Buddha to rescue all beings from samsaric
suering is viewed within Pure Land Buddhism as universally ecacious, if only one has faith in the power of
that vow or chants his name.

2.4.3 Buddha eras


Buddhists believe Gautama Buddha was the rst to
achieve enlightenment in this Buddha era and is therefore
credited with the establishment of Buddhism. A Buddha era is the stretch of history during which people remember and practice the teachings of the earliest known
Buddha. This Buddha era will end when all the knowledge, evidence and teachings of Gautama Buddha have
vanished. This belief therefore maintains that many Buddha eras have started and ended throughout the course of
human existence.* [web 15]* [web 16] The Gautama Buddha, therefore, is the Buddha of this era, who taught directly or indirectly to all other Buddhas in it (see types of
Buddhas).
In addition, Mahayana Buddhists believe there are innumerable other Buddhas in other universes.* [53] A Theravada commentary says that Buddhas arise one at a time
in this world element, and not at all in others.* [54] The
The Great Statue of Amitbha in Kamakura, Japan
understandings of this matter reect widely diering inMahayana Buddhism In the Mahayana, the Buddha terpretations of basic terms, such asworld realm, betends not to be viewed as merely human, but as the earthly tween the various schools of Buddhism.
projection of a beginningless and endless, omnipresent The idea of the decline and gradual disappearance of the
being (see Dharmakaya) beyond the range and reach of teaching has been inuential in East Asian Buddhism.
thought. Moreover, in certain Mahayana sutras, the Bud- Pure Land Buddhism holds that it has declined to the
dha, Dharma and Sangha are viewed essentially as One: point where few are capable of following the path, so it
all three are seen as the eternal Buddha himself.
may be best to rely on the power of Amitbha.

11
2.4.4

Bodhisattvas

Main article: Bodhisattva


Bodhisattva meansenlightenment being, and generally

as space endures, and for as long as living beings remain,


until then may I too abide to dispel the misery of the
world.

3 Practice
3.1 Devotion
Main article: Buddhist devotion
Devotion is an important part of the practice of most Buddhists.* [61] Devotional practices include ritual prayer,
prostration, oerings, pilgrimage, and chanting. In Pure
Land Buddhism, devotion to the Buddha Amitabha is the
main practice. In Nichiren Buddhism, devotion to the
Lotus Sutra is the main practice.
3.1.1 Yoga

A statue of Prajpramit personied, Java

refers to one who is on the path to buddhahood. Traditionally, a bodhisattva is anyone who, motivated by great
compassion, has generated bodhicitta, which is a spontaneous wish to attain Buddhahood for the benet of all
sentient beings.* [55] Theravada Buddhism primarily uses
the term in relation to Gautama Buddha's previous existences, but has traditionally acknowledged and respected
the bodhisattva path as well.* [web 17]
According to Jan Nattier, the term Mahyna Great
Vehiclewas originally even an honorary synonym
for Bodhisattvayna Bodhisattva Vehicle.* [56] The
Aashasrik Prajpramit Stra, an early and important Mahayana text, contains a simple and brief denition for the term bodhisattva: Because he has enlightenment as his aim, a bodhisattva-mahsattva is so called.
*
Statue of the Buddha in meditation position, Haw Phra Kaew,
[57]* [58]* [59]
Mahayana Buddhism encourages everyone to become
bodhisattvas and to take the bodhisattva vow, where the
practitioner promises to work for the complete enlightenment of all beings by practicing the six pramits.* [60]
According to Mahayana teachings, these perfections are:
dna, la, kanti, vrya, dhyna, and praj.
A famous saying by the 8th-century Indian Buddhist
scholar-saint Shantideva, which the 14th Dalai Lama often cites as his favourite verse, summarizes the Bodhisattva's intention (Bodhicitta) as follows: For as long

Vientiane, Laos

Buddhism traditionally incorporates states of meditative


absorption (Pali: jhna; Skt: dhyna).* [62] The most ancient sustained expression of yogic ideas is found in the
early sermons of the Buddha.* [63] One key innovative
teaching of the Buddha was that meditative absorption
must be combined with liberating cognition.* [64] The
dierence between the Buddha's teaching and the yoga
presented in early Brahminic texts is striking. Meditative
states alone are not an end, for according to the Buddha,

12

PRACTICE

even the highest meditative state is not liberating. Instead


of attaining a complete cessation of thought, some sort
of mental activity must take place: a liberating cognition,
based on the practice of mindful awareness.* [65]
Meditation was an aspect of the practice of the yogis
in the centuries preceding the Buddha. The Buddha
built upon the yogis' concern with introspection and developed their meditative techniques, but rejected their
theories of liberation.* [66] In Buddhism, mindfulness
and clear awareness are to be developed at all times; in
pre-Buddhist yogic practices there is no such injunction.
A yogi in the Brahmanical tradition is not to practice
while defecating, for example, while a Buddhist monastic
should do so.* [67]
Religious knowledge or visionwas indicated as a result of practice both within and outside of the Buddhist
fold. According to the Samaaphala Sutta, this sort of
vision arose for the Buddhist adept as a result of the perfection of meditationcoupled with the perfection of
discipline(Pali sla; Skt. la). Some of the Buddha's
meditative techniques were shared with other traditions
of his day, but the idea that ethics are causally related to
the attainment of transcendent wisdom(Pali pa;
Skt. praj) was original.* [web 18]
The Buddhist texts are probably the earliest describing meditation techniques.* [68] They describe meditative practices and states that existed before the Buddha
as well as those rst developed within Buddhism.* [69]
Two Upanishads written after the rise of Buddhism do
contain full-edged descriptions of yoga as a means to
liberation.* [70]
Relic depicting footprint of the Buddha with Dharmachakra and
While there is no convincing evidence for meditation in triratna, 1st century CE, Gandhra.
pre-Buddhist early Brahminic texts, Wynne argues that
formless meditation originated in the Brahminic or Shra- times adds a fourth refuge, in the lama. In Mahayana,
manic tradition, based on strong parallels between Upan- the person who chooses the bodhisattva path makes a vow
ishadic cosmological statements and the meditative goals or pledge, considered the ultimate expression of compasof the two teachers of the Buddha as recorded in the early sion. In Mahayana, too, the Three Jewels are perceived
Buddhist texts.* [71] He mentions less likely possibilities as possessed of an eternal and unchanging essence and as
as well.* [72] Having argued that the cosmological state- having an irreversible eect: The Three Jewels have
ments in the Upanishads also reect a contemplative tra- the quality of excellence. Just as real jewels never change
dition, he argues that the Nasadiya Sukta contains evi- their faculty and goodness, whether praised or reviled,
dence for a contemplative tradition, even as early as the so are the Three Jewels (Refuges), because they have an
late Rig Vedic period.* [71]
eternal and immutable essence. These Three Jewels bring

3.1.2

Refuge in the Three Jewels

Main articles: Refuge (Buddhism) and Three Jewels


Traditionally, the rst step in most Buddhist schools requires taking refuge in the Three Jewels (Sanskrit: triratna, Pli: ti-ratana)* [web 19] as the foundation of one's
religious practice. The practice of taking refuge on behalf
of young or even unborn children is mentioned* [73] in
the Majjhima Nikaya, recognized by most scholars as an
early text (cf. Infant baptism). Tibetan Buddhism some-

a fruition that is changeless, for once one has reached


Buddhahood, there is no possibility of falling back to suffering.* [74]
The Three Jewels are:
The Buddha. This is a title for those who have attained Nirvana. See also the Tathgata and Gautama
Buddha. The Buddha could also be represented as a
concept instead of a specic person: the perfect wisdom that understands Dharma and sees reality in its
true form. In Mahayana Buddhism, the Buddha can
be viewed as the supreme Refuge: Buddha is the
Unique Absolute Refuge. Buddha is the Imperish-

3.2

Buddhist ethics

13

able, Eternal, Indestructible and Absolute Refuge.


*
[75]
The Dharma. The teachings or law of nature as
expounded by the Gautama Buddha. It can also,
especially in Mahayana, connote the ultimate and
sustaining Reality that is inseparable from the Buddha. Further, from some Mahayana perspectives,
the Dharma embodied in the form of a great sutra
(Buddhic scripture) can replace the need for a personal teacher and can be a direct and spontaneous
gateway into Truth (Dharma). This is especially
said to be the case with the Lotus Sutra. Hiroshi
Kanno writes of this view of the Lotus Sutra: it
is a Dharma-gate of sudden enlightenment proper
to the Great Vehicle; it is a Dharma-gate whereby
one awakens spontaneously, without resorting to a
teacher.* [76]
The Sangha. Those who have attained any of the
Four stages of enlightenment, or simply the congregation of monastic practitioners. The monks' order,
which began during the lifetime of the Buddha, is
among the oldest organizations on Earth.
According to the scriptures, Gautama Buddha presented
himself as a model. The Dharma oers a refuge by providing guidelines for the alleviation of suering and the
attainment of Nirvana. The Sangha is considered to provide a refuge by preserving the authentic teachings of the
Buddha and providing further examples that the truth of
the Buddha's teachings is attainable.

3.2

Buddhist ethics

Statue of Gautama Buddha, 1st century CE, Gandhara, presentday Pakistan. (Muse Guimet)

Main article: la
la (Sanskrit) or sla (Pli) is usually translated into English as virtuous behavior, morality, moral
discipline, ethicsor precept. It is an action
committed through the body, speech, or mind, and involves an intentional eort. It is one of the three practices
(sla, samdhi, and pa) and the second pramit. It
refers to moral purity of thought, word, and deed. The
four conditions of la are chastity, calmness, quiet, and
extinguishment.

and monkhood(Vinaya or Patimokkha). Lay people


generally undertake to live by the ve precepts, which are
common to all Buddhist schools. If they wish, they can
choose to undertake the eight precepts, which add basic
asceticism.

la is the foundation of Samdhi/Bhvana (Meditative


cultivation) or mind cultivation. Keeping the precepts
promotes not only the peace of mind of the cultivator,
which is internal, but also peace in the community, which
is external. According to the Law of Karma, keeping the
precepts is meritorious and it acts as causes that would
bring about peaceful and happy eects. Keeping these
precepts keeps the cultivator from rebirth in the four woeful realms of existence.

1. To refrain from taking life (non-violence towards


sentient life forms), or ahims;

The ve precepts are training rules in order to live a better life in which one is happy, without worries, and can
meditate well:

2. To refrain from taking that which is not given (not


committing theft);
3. To refrain from sensual (including sexual) misconduct;
4. To refrain from lying (speaking truth always);

5. To refrain from intoxicants which lead to loss of


la refers to overall principles of ethical behavior. There
mindfulness (specically, drugs and alcohol).
are several levels of sla, which correspond to basic
morality(ve precepts), basic morality with asceticism(eight precepts),novice monkhood(ten precepts) The precepts are not formulated as imperatives, but as

14

training rules that laypeople undertake voluntarily to facilitate practice.* [77] In Buddhist thought, the cultivation
of dana and ethical conduct themselves rene consciousness to such a level that rebirth in one of the lower heavens is likely, even if there is no further Buddhist practice.
There is nothing improper or un-Buddhist about limiting
one's aims to this level of attainment.* [78]

PRACTICE

in the Theravadin recension. The precise content of the


vinayapitaka (scriptures on Vinaya) diers slightly according to dierent schools, and dierent schools or subschools set dierent standards for the degree of adherence to Vinaya. Novice-monks use the ten precepts,
which are the basic precepts for monastics.

Regarding the monastic rules, the Buddha constantly reIn the eight precepts, the third precept on sexual mis- minds his hearers that it is the spirit that counts. On the
conduct is made more strict, and becomes a precept of other hand, the rules themselves are designed to assure a
celibacy. The three additional precepts are:
satisfying life, and provide a perfect springboard for the
higher attainments. Monastics are instructed by the Buddha to live as islands unto themselves. In this sense,
6. To refrain from eating at the wrong time (eat
living
life as the vinaya prescribes it is, as one scholar puts
only from sunrise to noon);
it:more than merely a means to an end: it is very nearly
7. To refrain from dancing and playing muthe end in itself.* [80]
sic, wearing jewelry and cosmetics, attending
In Eastern Buddhism, there is also a distinctive Vinaya
shows and other performances;
and ethics contained within the Mahayana Brahmajala
8. To refrain from using high or luxurious seats
Sutra (not to be confused with the Pali text of that name)
and bedding.
for Bodhisattvas, where, for example, the eating of meat
is frowned upon and vegetarianism is actively encouraged
The complete list of ten precepts may be observed by (see vegetarianism in Buddhism). In Japan, this has allaypeople for short periods. For the complete list, the most completely displaced the monastic vinaya, and alseventh precept is partitioned into two, and a tenth added: lows clergy to marry.
6. To refrain from taking food at an unseasonable time, that is after the mid-day meal;

3.4 Meditation

7. To refrain from dancing, music, singing and


unseemly shows;
8. To refrain from the use of garlands, perfumes, ointments, and from things that tend to
beautify and adorn (the person);
9. To refrain from (using) high and luxurious
seats (and beds);
10. To refrain from accepting gold and silver;* [79]

3.3

Monastic life

Buddhist monks in Thailand

Main article: Buddhist meditation


Buddhist meditation is fundamentally concerned with
two themes: transforming the mind and using it to explore itself and other phenomena.* [81] According to
Theravada Buddhism the Buddha taught two types of
meditation, samatha meditation (Sanskrit: amatha) and
vipassan meditation (Sanskrit: vipayan). In Chinese
Buddhist monks performing a ceremony in Hangzhou, China
Buddhism, these exist (translated chih kuan), but Chn
(Zen) meditation is more popular.* [82] According to PeVinaya is the specic moral code for monks and nuns. It ter Harvey, whenever Buddhism has been healthy, not
includes the Patimokkha, a set of 227 rules for monks only monks, nuns, and married lamas, but also more

3.4

Meditation

committed lay people have practiced meditation.* [83]


According to Routledge's Encyclopedia of Buddhism,
in contrast, throughout most of Buddhist history before
modern times, serious meditation by lay people has been
unusual.* [84] The evidence of the early texts suggests that
at the time of the Buddha, many male and female lay
practitioners did practice meditation, some even to the
point of prociency in all eight jhnas (see the next section regarding these).* [note 11]
3.4.1

15
understanding (praj Pli pa), and thus can lead to
nirva (Pli nibbna). When one is in jhana, all delements are suppressed temporarily. Only understanding (praj or vipassana) eradicates the delements completely. Jhanas are also states that Arahants abide in order
to rest.

In Theravda Main article: Jhna in Theravada


In Theravda Buddhism, the cause of human existence

Samdhi (meditative cultivation): samatha


meditation

Main articles: Samdhi (Buddhism) and Dhyna in Buddhism


In the language of the Noble Eightfold Path, samyak-

Samadhi Buddha statue in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

samdhi is right concentration. The primary means


of cultivating samdhi is meditation. Upon development
of samdhi, one's mind becomes puried of delement,
calm, tranquil, and luminous.
Once the meditator achieves a strong and powerful concentration (jhna, Sanskrit dhyna), his mind is
ready to penetrate and gain insight (vipassan) into the ultimate nature of reality, eventually obtaining release from
all suering. The cultivation of mindfulness is essential
to mental concentration, which is needed to achieve insight.
Samatha meditation starts from being mindful of an object or idea, which is expanded to one's body, mind and
entire surroundings, leading to a state of total concentration and tranquility (jhna). There are many variations in the style of meditation, from sitting cross-legged
or kneeling to chanting or walking. The most common method of meditation is to concentrate on one's
breath (anapanasati), because this practice can lead to
both samatha and vipassana'.

A young monk in Sri Lanka

and suering is identied as craving, which carries with


it the various delements. These various delements are
traditionally summed up as greed, hatred and delusion.
These are believed deeply rooted aictions of the mind
that create suering and stress. To be free from suering and stress, these delements must be permanently uprooted through internal investigation, analyzing, experiencing, and understanding of the true nature of those delements by using jhna, a technique of the Noble Eightfold Path. It then leads the meditator to realize the Four
Noble Truths, Enlightenment and Nibbna. Nibbna is
the ultimate goal of Theravadins.

In Buddhist practice, it is said that while samatha medi- 3.4.2 Praj (Wisdom): vipassana meditation
tation can calm the mind, only vipassan meditation can
reveal how the mind was disturbed to start with, which is Main articles: Praj and Vipassana
what leads to insight knowledge (jna; Pli a) and

16

HISTORY

which is equated with the Buddha himself.* [note 14] According to Zen master Kosho Uchiyama, when thoughts
and xation on the little Iare transcended, an Awakening to a universal, non-dual Self occurs: When we
let go of thoughts and wake up to the reality of life that is
working beyond them, we discover the Self that is living
universal non-dual life (before the separation into two)
that pervades all living creatures and all existence.* [89]
Thinking and thought must therefore not be allowed to
*
Initially, praj is attained at a conceptual level by means conne and bind one. [90]
of listening to sermons (dharma talks), reading, studying, and sometimes reciting Buddhist texts and engaging 3.4.4 Vajrayana and Tantra
in discourse. Once the conceptual understanding is attained, it is applied to daily life so that each Buddhist can Though based upon Mahayana, Tibeto-Mongolian Budverify the truth of the Buddha's teaching at a practical dhism is one of the schools that practice Vajrayana
level. Notably, one could in theory attain Nirvana at any or Diamond Vehicle(also referred to as Mantrayna,
point of practice, whether deep in meditation, listening Tantrayna, Tantric Buddhism, or esoteric Buddhism). It
to a sermon, conducting the business of one's daily life, accepts all the basic concepts of Mahyna, but also inor any other activity.
cludes a vast array of spiritual and physical techniques
designed to enhance Buddhist practice. Tantric Buddhism is largely concerned with ritual and meditative
3.4.3 Zen
practices.* [91] One component of the Vajrayna is harnessing psycho-physical energy through ritual, visualizaMain article: Zen
Zen Buddhism (), pronounced Chn in Chinese, seon tion, physical exercises, and meditation as a means of developing the mind. Using these techniques, it is claimed
that a practitioner can achieve Buddhahood in one lifetime, or even as little as three years. In the Tibetan tradition, these practices can include sexual yoga, though only
for some very advanced practitioners.* [92]

Praj (Sanskrit) or pa (Pli) means wisdom that is


based on a realization of dependent origination, The Four
Noble Truths and the three marks of existence. Praj is
the wisdom that is able to extinguish aictions and bring
about bodhi. It is spoken of as the principal means of attaining nirva, through its revelation of the true nature
of all things as dukkha (unsatisfactoriness), anicca (impermanence) and anatta (not-self). Praj is also listed
as the sixth of the six pramits of the Mahayana.

4 History
Main article: History of Buddhism

4.1 Philosophical roots


Ginkaku-ji, a Zen temple in Kyoto, Japan

in Korean or zen in Japanese (derived from the Sanskrit


term dhyna, meaningmeditation) is a form of Buddhism that became popular in China, Korea and Japan
and that lays special emphasis on meditation.* [note 12]
Zen places less emphasis on scriptures than some other
forms of Buddhism and prefers to focus on direct spiritual breakthroughs to truth.
Zen Buddhism is divided into two main schools: Rinzai
( ) and St (), the former greatly favouring
the use in meditation on the koan (, a meditative
riddle or puzzle) as a device for spiritual break-through,
and the latter (while certainly employing koans) focusing
more on shikantaza or just sitting.* [note 13]

The BuddhistCarpenter's Caveat Ellora in Maharashtra, India

Zen Buddhist teaching is often full of paradox, in order


to loosen the grip of the ego and to facilitate the pene- Historically, the roots of Buddhism lie in the religious
tration into the realm of the True Self or Formless Self, thought of ancient India during the second half of the rst

4.2

Earliest teachings

17

millennium BCE.* [93] That was a period of social and


religious turmoil, as there was signicant discontent with
the sacrices and rituals of Vedic Brahmanism.* [note 15]
It was challenged by numerous new ascetic religious and
philosophical groups and teachings that broke with the
Brahmanic tradition and rejected the authority of the
Vedas and the Brahmans.* [note 16]* [94] These groups,
whose members were known as shramanas, were a continuation of a non-Vedic strand of Indian thought distinct from Indo-Aryan Brahmanism.* [note 17] Scholars have reasons to believe that ideas such as samsara,
karma (in the sense of the inuence of morality on rebirth), and moksha originated in the shramanas, and were
later adopted by Brahmin orthodoxy.* [note 18]* [note
19]* [note 20]* [note 21]* [note 22]* [note 23]
Rock-cut Lord Buddha statue at Bojjanakonda near Anakapalle
in the Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, India

(such as Purana Kassapa); the most important ones in


the 5th century BCE were the Ajivikas, who emphasized
the rule of fate, the Lokayata (materialists), the Ajnanas
(agnostics) and the Jains, who stressed that the soul must
be freed from matter.* [106] Many of these new movements shared the same conceptual vocabularyatman (
Self), buddha (awakened one), dhamma (rule
or law), karma (action), nirvana (extinguishing), samsara (eternal recurrence) and yoga (spiritual practice).* [note 24] The shramanas rejected the
Veda, and the authority of the brahmans, who claimed
they possessed revealed truths not knowable by any ordiA ruined Buddhist temple on Gurubhakthula Konda (konda
meaning hillin Telugu) in Ramatheertham village in nary human means. Moreover, they declared that the entire Brahmanical system was fraudulent: a conspiracy of
Vizianagaram, a district of Andhra Pradesh, India
the brahmans to enrich themselves by charging exorbitant
fees to perform bogus rites and give useless advice.* [107]
This view is supported by a study of the region where
these notions originated. Buddhism arose in Greater A particular criticism of the Buddha was Vedic animal
Magadha, which stretched from Sravasti, the capital of sacrice.* [web 18] He also mocked the Vedic "hymn
Kosala in the north-west, to Rajagrha in the south east. of the cosmic man".* [108] However, the Buddha was
This land, to the east of aryavarta, the land of the Aryas, not anti-Vedic, and declared that the Veda in its true
was recognized as non-Vedic.* [102] Other Vedic texts re- form was declared byKashyapato certain rishis, who
veal a dislike of the people of Magadha, in all probability by severe penances had acquired the power to see by
because the Magadhas at this time were not Brahman- divine eyes.* [109] He names the Vedic rishis, and deised.* [103] It was not until the 2nd or 3rd centuries BCE clared that the original Veda of the rishis* [110]* [note
that the eastward spread of Brahmanism into Greater 25] was altered by a few Brahmins who introduced anMagadha became signicant. Ideas that developed in imal sacrices. The Buddha says that it was on this alGreater Magadha prior to this were not subject to Vedic teration of the true Veda that he refused to pay respect
inuence. These include rebirth and karmic retribution to the Vedas of his time.* [111] However, he did not dethat appear in a number of movements in Greater Mag- nounce the union with Brahman,* [note 26] or the idea
adha, including Buddhism. These movements inherited of the self uniting with the Self.* [113] At the same time,
notions of rebirth and karmic retribution from an earlier the traditional Hindu itself gradually underwent profound
changes, transforming it into what is recognized as early
culture* [104]
Hinduism.
At the same time, these movements were inuenced
by, and in some respects continued, philosophical
thought within the Vedic tradition as reected e.g. in
the Upanishads.* [105] These movements included, besides Buddhism, various skeptics (such as Sanjaya Belatthiputta), atomists (such as Pakudha Kaccayana), 4.2 Earliest teachings
materialists (such as Ajita Kesakambali), antinomians

18
4.2.1

4
Tracing the oldest teachings

Information of the oldest teachings may be obtained by


analysis of the oldest texts. One method to obtain information on the oldest core of Buddhism is to compare the
oldest extant versions of the Theravadin Pali Canon and
other texts.* [note 27] The reliability of these sources, and
the possibility to draw out a core of oldest teachings, is a
matter of dispute.* [116]* [117]* [118]* [51] According to
Vetter, inconsistencies remain, and other methods must
be applied to resolve those inconsistencies.* [114]* [note
28]
According to Schmithausen, three positions held by
scholars of Buddhism can be distinguished:* [122]
1.Stress on the fundamental homogeneity and substantial authenticity of at least a considerable part of
the Nikayic materials;"* [note 29] and Richard Gombrich.* [123]* [subnote 2]</ref>

HISTORY

were seen as responsible for rebirth, but intentions and


desire.* [133]
According to Tilmann Vetter, the core of earliest Buddhism is the practice of dhyna.* [117] Bronkhorst agrees
that dhyana was a Buddhist invention,* [116] whereas
Norman notes thatthe Buddha's way to release [...] was
by means of meditative practices.* [134] Discriminating insight into transiency as a separate path to liberation
was a later development.* [135]* [136]
According to the Mahsaccakasutta,* [note 33] from the
fourth jhana the Buddha gained bodhi. Yet, it is not
clear what he was awakened to.* [134]* [116] Liberating insightis a later addition to this text, and reects a later development and understanding in early Buddhism.* [119]* [116] The mentioning of the four truths as
constitutingliberating insightintroduces a logical problem, since the four truths depict a linear path of practice,
the knowledge of which is in itself not depicted as being
liberating.* [137]* [note 34]

Although Nibbna (Sanskrit: Nirvna) is the com2.Scepticism with regard to the possibility of remon term for the desired goal of this practice, many other
*
trieving the doctrine of earliest Buddhism;" [note
terms can be found throughout the Nikayas, which are not
30]</ref>
specied.* [138]* [note 35]
3.Cautious optimism in this respect.* [note 31] According to Vetter, the description of the Buddhist
Johannes Bronkhorst* [subnote 5] and Donald path may initially have been as simple as the term the
middle way.* [117] In time, this short description was
Lopez.* [subnote 6]</ref>
elaborated, resulting in the description of the eightfold
path.* [117]
4.2.2 Dhyana and insight
According to both Bronkhorst and Anderson, the four
truths became a substitution for prajna, orliberating inA core problem in the study of early Buddhism is the
sight, in the suttas* [139]* [140] in those texts wherelibrelation between dhyana and insight.* [117]* [116]* [51]
erating insightwas preceded by the four jhanas.* [141]
Schmithausen, in his often-cited article On some Aspects
According to Bronkhorst, the four truths may not have
of Descriptions or Theories of 'Liberating Insight' and 'Enbeen formulated in earliest Buddhism, and did not serve
lightenment' in Early Buddhism notes that the mention of
in earliest Buddhism as a description of liberating inthe four noble truths as constituting liberating insight
sight.* [142] Gotama's teachings may have been per, which is attained after mastering the Rupa Jhanas, is a
sonal, adjusted to the need of each person.* [141]
later addition to texts such as Majjhima Nikaya 36.* [119]
The three marks of existence may reect Upanishadic or
other inuences. K.R. Norman supposes that the these
terms were already in use at the Buddha's time, and were
4.2.3 Core teachings
familiair to his hearers.* [143]
Bruce Matthews notes that there is no cohesive presenta- The Brahma-vihara was in origin probably a brahmanical
tion of karma in the Sutta Pitaka,* [127] which may mean term;* [144] but its usage may have been common to the
that the doctrine was incidental to the main perspective shramanic traditions.* [116]
of early Buddhist soteriology.* [127] Schmithausen is a
notable scholar who has questioned whether karma already played a role in the theory of rebirth of earliest Bud4.3 Indian Buddhism
dhism.* [128]* [129]* [note 32] According to Vetter,the
Buddha at rst sought the deathless(amata/amrta),
which is concerned with the here and now. According Main article: History of Buddhism in India
to Vetter, only after this realization did he become acquainted with the doctrine of rebirth.* [131] Bronkhorst The history of Indian Buddhism may be divided into
disagrees, and concludes that the Buddha introduced ve periods:* [145] Early Buddhism (occasionally called
a concept of karma that diered considerably from the Pre-sectarian Buddhism), Nikaya Buddhism or Sectarcommonly held views of his time.* [132] According to ian Buddhism: The period of the Early Buddhist schools,
Bronkhorst, not physical and mental activities as such Early Mahayana Buddhism, Later Mahayana Buddhism,

4.3

Indian Buddhism

19

and Esoteric Buddhism (also called Vajrayana Buddhism).

Sthavira group oers two quite distinct reasons for the


schism. The Dipavamsa of the Theravda says that the
losing party in the Second Council dispute broke away in
protest and formed the Mahasanghika. This contradicts
4.3.1 Pre-sectarian Buddhism
the Mahasanghikas' own vinaya, which shows them as on
the same, winning side. The Mahsghikas argued that
Main article: Pre-sectarian Buddhism
the Sthaviras were trying to expand the vinaya and may
also have challenged what they perceived were excessive
Pre-sectarian Buddhism is the earliest phase of Bud- claims or inhumanly high criteria for *arhatship. Both pardhism, recognized by nearly all scholars. Its main scrip- ties, therefore, appealed to tradition. [151]
tures are the Vinaya Pitaka and the four principal Nikayas The Sthaviras gave rise to several schools, one of which
or Agamas. Certain basic teachings appear in many was the Theravda school. Originally, these schisms were
places throughout the early texts, so most scholars con- caused by disputes over vinaya, and monks following difclude that Gautama Buddha must have taught some- ferent schools of thought seem to have lived happily tothing similar to the Three marks of existence, the Five gether in the same monasteries, but eventually, by about
Aggregates, dependent origination, karma and rebirth, 100 CE if not earlier, schisms were being caused by docthe Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, and trinal disagreements too.* [152]
nirvana.* [146] Some scholars disagree, and have proFollowing (or leading up to) the schisms, each Sagha
posed many other theories.* [147]* [148]* [149]
started to accumulate an Abhidharma, a detailed scholastic reworking of doctrinal material appearing in the
Suttas, according to schematic classications. These Ab4.3.2 Early Buddhist schools
hidharma texts do not contain systematic philosophical
treatises, but summaries or numerical lists. Scholars genMain articles: Early Buddhist schools, Buddhist councils
erally date these texts to around the 3rd century BCE, 100
and Theravada
to 200 years after the death of the Buddha. Therefore
the seven Abhidharma works are generally claimed not to
According to the scriptures, soon after the parinirva represent the words of the Buddha himself, but those of
(from Sanskrit: highest extinguishment) of Gautama disciples and great scholars.* [note 38] Every school had
Buddha, the rst Buddhist council was held. As with its own version of the Abhidharma, with dierent theoany ancient Indian tradition, transmission of teaching was ries and dierent texts. The dierent Abhidharmas of
done orally. The primary purpose of the assembly was the various schools did not agree with each other. Scholto collectively recite the teachings to ensure that no er- ars disagree on whether the Mahasanghika school had an
rors occurred in oral transmission. In the rst coun- Abhidhamma Pitaka or not.* [note 38]* [153]
cil, nanda, a cousin of the Buddha and his personal
attendant, was called upon to recite the discourses (stras, Pli suttas) of the Buddha, and, according to some 4.3.3 Early Mahayana Buddhism
sources, the abhidhamma. Upli, another disciple, recited the monastic rules (vinaya). Most scholars regard Main article: Mahyna
the traditional accounts of the council as greatly exagger- Several scholars have suggested that the Prajpramit
ated if not entirely ctitious.* [note 36]Richard Gombrich
noted Sariputta led communal recitations of the Buddha's
teaching for preservation in the Buddha's lifetime in Sangiti Sutta (Digha Nikaya #33), and something similar to
the First Council must have taken place to compose Buddhist scriptures.* [150]
According to most scholars, at some period after the Second Council the Sangha began to break into separate factions.* [note 37] The various accounts dier as to when
the actual schisms occurred. According to the Dipavamsa
of the Pli tradition, they started immediately after the
Second Council, the Puggalavada tradition places it in
137 AN, the Sarvastivada tradition of Vasumitra says it A Buddhist triad depicting, left to right, a Kushan, the fuwas in the time of Ashoka and the Mahasanghika tradi- ture buddha Maitreya, Gautama Buddha, the bodhisattva
Avalokitevara, and a Buddhist monk. 2nd3rd century. Muse
tion places it much later, nearly 100 BCE.
Guimet

The root schism was between the Sthaviras and the


Mahsghikas. The fortunate survival of accounts from stras, which are among the earliest Mahyna sboth sides of the dispute reveals disparate traditions. The tras,* [154]* [155] developed among the Mahsghika

20

HISTORY

along the Ka River in the ndhra region of South India.* [156]


The earliest Mahyna stras to include the very rst versions of the Prajpramit genre, along with texts concerning Akobhya Buddha, which were probably written down in the 1st century BCE in the south of India.* [157]* [158] Guang Xing states, Several scholars
have suggested that the Prajpramit probably developed among the Mahsghikas in southern India, in
the ndhra country, on the Ka River.* [159] A.K.
Warder believes that the Mahyna originated in the
south of India and almost certainly in the ndhra country.* [160]
Anthony Barber and Sree Padma note that historians of Buddhist thought have been aware for quite
some time that such pivotally important Mahayana
Buddhist thinkers as Ngrjuna, Dignaga, Candrakrti,
ryadeva, and Bhavaviveka, among many others, formulated their theories while living in Buddhist communities
in ndhra.* [161] They note that the ancient Buddhist
sites in the lower Ka Valley, including Amaravati,
Ngrjunako and Jaggayyapea can be traced to at
least the third century BCE, if not earlier.* [162] Akira
Hirakawa notes the evidence suggests that many Early
Mahayana scriptures originated in South India.* [163]

Buddhas of Bamiyan: Vairocana before and after destruction by


the Taliban in 2001

Mahyna texts. These Mahyna teachings were rst


propagated into China by Lokakema, the rst translator of Mahyna stras into Chinese during the 2nd century CE.* [note 39] Some scholars have traditionally considered the earliest Mahyna stras to include the very
rst versions of the Prajpramit series, along with
texts concerning Akobhya Buddha, which were probably composed in the 1st century BCE in the south of InThere is no evidence that Mahyna ever referred to a
dia.* [170]* [note 40]
separate formal school or sect of Buddhism, but rather
that it existed as a certain set of ideals, and later doctrines,
for bodhisattvas.* [164] Initially it was known as Bod- 4.3.4 Late Mahayana Buddhism
hisattvayna (theVehicle of the Bodhisattvas).* [165]
Paul Williams has also noted that the Mahyna never During the period of Late Mahayana Buddhism, four mahad nor ever attempted to have a separate Vinaya or jor types of thought developed: Madhyamaka, Yogacara,
ordination lineage from the early schools of Buddhism, Tathagatagarbha, and Buddhist Logic as the last and
and therefore each bhiku or bhiku adhering to the most recent.* [172] In India, the two main philosophical
Mahyna formally belonged to an early school. This schools of the Mahayana were the Madhyamaka and the
continues today with the Dharmaguptaka ordination lin- later Yogacara.* [173] According to Dan Lusthaus, Madeage in East Asia, and the Mlasarvstivda ordination hyamaka and Yogacara have a great deal in common,
lineage in Tibetan Buddhism. Therefore Mahyna was and the commonality stems from early Buddhism.* [174]
never a separate rival sect of the early schools.* [166] There were no great Indian teachers associated with tathaFrom Chinese monks visiting India, we now know that gatagarbha thought.* [175]
both Mahyna and non-Mahyna monks in India often
lived in the same monasteries side by side.* [167]
4.3.5 Vajrayana (Esoteric Buddhism)
The Chinese monk Yijing who visited India in the 7th
century CE, distinguishes Mahyna from Hnayna as Main article: Vajrayana
follows:* [168]
Both adopt one and the same Vinaya, and
they have in common the prohibitions of the
ve oences, and also the practice of the Four
Noble Truths. Those who venerate the bodhisattvas and read the Mahyna stras are
called the Mahynists, while those who do not
perform these are called the Hnaynists.
Much of the early extant evidence for the origins of
Mahyna comes from early Chinese translations of

Scholarly research concerning Esoteric Buddhism is still


in its early stages and has a number of problems that make
research dicult:* [176]
1. Vajrayana Buddhism was inuenced by Hinduism,
and therefore research must include exploring Hinduism as well.
2. The scriptures of Vajrayana have not yet been put in
any kind of order.
3. Ritual must be examined as well, not just doctrine.

4.5

4.4

Buddhism today

21

Development of Buddhism

saries were sent to various countries west of India


to spread Buddhism (Dharma), particularly in eastern
Main article: Timeline of Buddhism
provinces of the neighboring Seleucid Empire, and even
Buddhism may have spread only slowly in India until the farther to Hellenistic kingdoms of the Mediterranean. It
is a matter of disagreement among scholars whether or
not these emissaries were accompanied by Buddhist missionaries.* [177]

Buddhist proselytism at the time of emperor Ashoka (260218


BCE).

The gradual spread of Buddhism into adjacent areas


meant that it came into contact with new ethnical groups.
During this period Buddhism was exposed to a variety of
inuences, from Persian and Greek civilization, to changing trends in non-Buddhist Indian religionsthemselves
inuenced by Buddhism. Striking examples of this syncretistic development can be seen in the emergence of
Greek-speaking Buddhist monarchs in the Indo-Greek
Kingdom, and in the development of the Greco-Buddhist
art of Gandhra. A Greek king, Menander, has even been
immortalized in the Buddhist canon.
The Theravada school spread south from India in the 3rd
century BCE, to Sri Lanka and Thailand and Burma and
later also Indonesia. The Dharmagupta school spread
(also in 3rd century BCE) north to Kashmir, Gandhara
and Bactria (Afghanistan).
The Silk Road transmission of Buddhism to China is most
commonly thought to have started in the late 2nd or the
1st century CE, though the literary sources are all open to
question.* [178]* [note 41] The rst documented translation eorts by foreign Buddhist monks in China were in
the 2nd century CE, probably as a consequence of the expansion of the Kushan Empire into the Chinese territory
of the Tarim Basin.* [180]
In the 2nd century CE, Mahayana Sutras spread to China,
and then to Korea and Japan, and were translated into
Chinese. During the Indian period of Esoteric Buddhism
(from the 8th century onwards), Buddhism spread from
India to Tibet and Mongolia.

Coin depicting Indo-Greek king Menander, who, according to


Buddhist tradition records in the Milinda Panha, converted to
the Buddhist faith and became an arhat in the 2nd century BCE
. (British Museum)

time of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka, who was a public supporter of the religion. The support of Aoka and
his descendants led to the construction of more stpas
(Buddhist religious memorials) and to eorts to spread
Buddhism throughout the enlarged Maurya empire and
even into neighboring landsparticularly to the Iranianspeaking regions of Afghanistan and Central Asia, beyond the Mauryas' northwest border, and to the island of
Sri Lanka south of India. These two missions, in opposite
directions, would ultimately lead, in the rst case to the
spread of Buddhism into China, and in the second case,
to the emergence of Theravda Buddhism and its spread
from Sri Lanka to the coastal lands of Southeast Asia.

4.5 Buddhism today


Main article: Timeline of Buddhism:Common Era
By the late Middle Ages, Buddhism had become vir-

This period marks the rst known spread of Buddhism


beyond India. According to the edicts of Aoka, emis- Buryat Buddhist monk in Siberia

22

5 DEMOGRAPHICS

tually extinct in India, although it continued to exist in


surrounding countries. It is now again gaining strength
worldwide.* [181]* [182] China and India are now starting to fund Buddhist shrines in various Asian countries
as they compete for inuence in the region.* [web 20]
Most Buddhist groups in the West are nominally aliated
with at least one of these three traditions:
Theravada Buddhism, using Pli as its scriptural language, is the dominant form of Buddhism in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Burma. The
Dalit Buddhist movement in India (inspired by B. R.
Ambedkar) also practices Theravada.
East Asian forms of Mahayana Buddhism that use
Chinese scriptures are dominant in most of China,
Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam as
well as such communities within Indochina, Southeast Asia and the West. Vietnam and Singapore
are major concentrations of Mahayana Buddhism in
Southeast Asia.

Map showing regions where Buddhism is a major religion

In the second half of the 20th Century a modern movement in Nichiren Buddhism: Soka Gakkai (Value Creation Society) emerged in Japan and spread further to
other countries. Soka Gakkai International (SGI) is a lay
Buddhist movement linking more than 12 million people
Tibetan Buddhism is found in Tibet and other parts
around the world, and is currently described asthe most
of China (particularly in Inner Mongolia), Bhutan,
diverse* [185] andthe largest lay Buddhist movement
Nepal, Mongolia, areas of India (it's the majorin the world.* [web 21]
ity religion in Ladakh; signicant population in
Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim),
and Russia (mainly Kalmykia, Buryatia, and Tuva).

5 Demographics

Formal membership varies between communities, but basic lay adherence is often dened in terms of a tradi- Main article: Buddhism by country
*
tional formula in which the practitioner takes refuge in Buddhism is practiced by an estimated 488 million, [web
The Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings of the Buddha), and the Sangha (the Buddhist community). At the present time, the teachings of all three
branches of Buddhism have spread throughout the world,
and Buddhist texts are increasingly translated into local
% of population
Buddhist
languages. While in the West Buddhism is often seen as
90-100
80-90
exotic and progressive, in the East it is regarded as fa70-80
50-70
30-50
miliar and traditional. Buddhists in Asia are frequently
15-30
5-15
well organized and well funded. In countries such as
1-5
Cambodia and Bhutan, it is recognized as the state religion and receives government support. Modern inuences increasingly lead to new forms of Buddhism that Percentage of Buddhists by country, according to the Pew Research Center, as of 2010.
signicantly depart from traditional beliefs and practices.
Overall there is an overwhelming diversity of recent 1] 495 million,* [186] or 535 million* [15] people as of the
forms of Buddhism.* [note 42]
2010s, representing 7% to 8% of the world's total population.

4.6

Late 20th century Buddhist move- China is the country with the largest population of Buddhists, approximately 244 million or 18.2% of its toments
*

tal population. [web 1] They are mostly followers of


Chinese schools of Mahayana, making this the largest
body of Buddhist traditions. Mahayana, also practiced
in broader East Asia, is followed by over half of world
Buddhists.* [web 1]

A number of modern movements or tendencies in


Buddhism emerged during the second half of the
20th Century, including the Dalit Buddhist movement* [183]* [184] (also sometimes called 'neoBuddhism'), Engaged Buddhism, and the further According to a demographic analysis reported by Pedevelopment of various Western Buddhist traditions.
ter Harvey (2013):* [15] Mahayana has 360 million ad-

6.1

Timeline

23

herents; Theravada has 150 million adherents; and tradition, however, does have its own core concepts, and
Vajrayana has 18,2 million adherents. Seven million ad- some comparisons can be drawn between them. For exditional Buddhists are found outside of Asia.
ample, according to one Buddhist ecumenical organiza*
According to Johnson and Grim (2013), Buddhism has tion, [web 23] several concepts common to both major
grown from a total of 138 million adherents in 1910, of Buddhist branches:
which 137 million were in Asia, to 495 million in 2010, of
which 487 million are in Asia.* [186] According to them,
there was a fast annual growth of Buddhism in Pakistan,
Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and several Western European
countries (19102010). More recently (20002010), the
countries with highest growth rates are Qatar, the United
Arab Emirates, Iran and some African countries.* [187]
There are 10 countries with the highest Buddhist majority:

Both accept the Buddha as their teacher.


Both accept the Middle way, dependent origination,
the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path and
the Three marks of existence.
Both accept that members of the laity and of the
sangha can pursue the path toward enlightenment
(bodhi).
Both consider buddhahood the highest attainment.

Schools and traditions

Main articles: Schools of Buddhism and Buddhahood


Buddhists generally classify themselves as either
Theravada or Mahayana.* [191] This classication is also
used by some scholars* [192] and is the one ordinarily
used in the English language.* [web 22] An alternative
scheme used by some scholars* [note 43] divides Buddhism into the following three traditions or geographical
or cultural areas: Theravada, East Asian Buddhism and
Tibetan Buddhism.

6.1 Timeline
This is a rough timeline of the development of the dierent schools/traditions:

6.2 Theravada school


Main article: Theravada
The name Theravda comes from the Sthaviras, from
which the Theravadins claim descent. The Second
Buddhist council resulted in the rst schism in the
Sangha, probably caused by a group of reformists
called Sthaviras who split from the conservative majority Mahsghikas.* [194] After unsuccessfully trying to
modify the Vinaya, a small group of elderly members, i.e. sthaviras, broke away from the majority
Mahsghika during the Second Buddhist council, giving rise to the Sthavira sect.* [195] Sinhalese Buddhist reformers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries portrayed the Pali Canon as the original version of
scripture.* [196] They also emphasized Theravada being
rational and scientic.* [196]

Theravda is primarily practiced today in Sri Lanka,


Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia as well as small portions of China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bangladesh. It has
Some scholars* [note 44] use other schemes. Buddhists a growing presence in the west.
themselves have a variety of other schemes. Hinayana
(literally lesser vehicle) is used by Mahayana follow- Theravadin Buddhists believe that personal eort is reers to name the family of early philosophical schools and quired to realize rebirth. Monks follow the vinaya:
traditions from which contemporary Theravada emerged, meditating, teaching and serving their lay communican perform good actions, producing
but as this term is rooted in the Mahayana viewpoint and ties. Laypersons
*
[197]
merit.
can be considered derogatory, a variety of other terms are
increasingly used instead, including rvakayna, Nikaya
Buddhism, early Buddhist schools, sectarian Buddhism,
6.3 Mahayana traditions
conservative Buddhism, mainstream Buddhism and nonMahayana Buddhism.
Main article: Mahayana
Young monks in Cambodia

Not all traditions of Buddhism share the same philosoph- Mahayana Buddhism ourished in India from the 5th
ical outlook, or treat the same concepts as central. Each century CE onwards, during the dynasty of the Guptas.

24

Chinese and Central Asian monks. Bezeklik, Eastern Tarim


Basin, China, 9th10th century. (National Institute of Informatics and the Ty Bunko)

BUDDHIST TEXTS

Japanese Mahayana Buddhist monk with alms bowl

6.4 Vajrayana traditions


Main article: Vajrayana
Mahyna centres of learning were established, the most Various classes of Vajrayana literature developed as
important one being the Nland University in north- a result of royal courts sponsoring both Buddhism
and Saivism.* [200] The Majusrimulakalpa, which later
eastern India.
came to classied under Kriyatantra, states that mantras
Mahayana schools recognize all or part of the Mahayana
taught in the Saiva, Garuda and Vaisnava tantras will be
Sutras. Some of these sutras became for Mahayanists a
eective if applied by Buddhists since they were all taught
manifestation of the Buddha himself, and faith in and
originally by Manjushri.* [201] The Guhyasiddhi of Padveneration of those texts are stated in some sutras (e.g.
mavajra, a work associated with the Guhyasamaja tradithe Lotus Sutra and the Mahaparinirvana Sutra) to lay
tion, prescribes acting as a Saiva guru and initiating memthe foundations for the later attainment of Buddhahood
bers into Saiva Siddhanta scriptures and mandalas.* [202]
itself.
The Samvara tantra texts adopted the pitha list from the
Native Mahayana Buddhism is practiced today in China, Saiva text Tantrasadbhava, introducing a copying error
Japan, Korea, Singapore, parts of Russia and most of where a deity was mistaken for a place.* [203]
Vietnam (also commonly referred to as Eastern Buddhism). The Buddhism practiced in Tibet, the Himalayan regions, and Mongolia is also Mahayana in ori- 7 Buddhist texts
gin, but is discussed below under the heading of Vajrayana (also commonly referred to as Northern Buddhism). There are a variety of strands in Eastern Bud- Main article: Buddhist texts
dhism, of which the Pure Land school of Mahayana is
the most widely practised today..* [198] In most of this Buddhist scriptures and other texts exist in great variety.
area however, they are fused into a single unied form of Dierent schools of Buddhism place varying levels of
Buddhism. In Japan in particular, they form separate de- value on learning the various texts. Some schools venernominations with the ve major ones being: Nichiren, pe- ate certain texts as religious objects in themselves, while
culiar to Japan; Pure Land; Shingon, a form of Vajrayana; others take a more scholastic approach. Buddhist scripTendai, and Zen. In Korea, nearly all Buddhists belong tures are mainly written in Pli, Tibetan, Mongolian, and
to the Chogye school, which is ocially Son (Zen), but Chinese. Some texts still exist in Sanskrit and Buddhist
with substantial elements from other traditions.* [199]
Hybrid Sanskrit.

7.1

Pli Tipitaka

25
merely a preliminary, and not a core, teaching. The Tibetan Buddhists have not even translated most of the gamas (though theoretically they recognize them) and they
play no part in the religious life of either clergy or laity
in China and Japan.* [205] Other scholars say there is
no universally accepted common core.* [206] The size
and complexity of the Buddhist canons have been seen
by some (including Buddhist social reformer Babasaheb
Ambedkar) as presenting barriers to the wider understanding of Buddhist philosophy.
The followers of Theravda Buddhism take the scriptures
known as the Pli Canon as denitive and authoritative,
while the followers of Mahyna Buddhism base their
faith and philosophy primarily on the Mahyna stras
and their own vinaya. The Pli sutras, along with other,
closely related scriptures, are known to the other schools
as the gamas.
Over the years, various attempts have been made to synthesize a single Buddhist text that can encompass all of
the major principles of Buddhism. In the Theravada tradition, condensed 'study texts' were created that combined popular or inuential scriptures into single volumes
that could be studied by novice monks. Later in Sri
Lanka, the Dhammapada was championed as a unifying
scripture.

Boudhanath, Kathmandu, Nepal

Dwight Goddard collected a sample of Buddhist scriptures, with the emphasis on Zen, along with other classics of Eastern philosophy, such as the Tao Te Ching,
into his 'Buddhist Bible' in the 1920s. More recently, Dr.
Babasaheb Ambedkar attempted to create a single, combined document of Buddhist principles in The Buddha
and His Dhamma. Other such eorts have persisted
to present day, but currently there is no single text that
represents all Buddhist traditions.

7.1 Pli Tipitaka


Main article: Pli Canon

Buddhist monk Geshe Konchog Wangdu reads Mahayana sutras


from an old woodblock copy of the Tibetan Kanjur.

Unlike many religions, Buddhism has no single central


text that is universally referred to by all traditions. However, some scholars have referred to the Vinaya Pitaka
and the rst four Nikayas of the Sutta Pitaka as the common core of all Buddhist traditions.* [204] This could
be considered misleading, as Mahyna considers these

The Pli Tipitaka, which means three baskets, refers


to the Vinaya Pitaka, the Sutta Pitaka, and the Abhidhamma Pitaka. The Vinaya Pitaka contains disciplinary
rules for the Buddhist monks and nuns, as well as explanations of why and how these rules were instituted, supporting material, and doctrinal clarication. The Sutta Pitaka
contains discourses ascribed to Gautama Buddha. The
Abhidhamma Pitaka contains material often described as
systematic expositions of the Gautama Buddha's teachings.
The Pli Tipitaka is the only early Tipitaka (Sanskrit:
Tripiaka) to survive intact in its original language, but
a number of early schools had their own recensions of
the Tipitaka featuring much of the same material. We
have portions of the Tipitakas of the Srvstivda, Dharmaguptaka, Sammitya, Mahsaghika, Kyapya, and

26

BUDDHIST TEXTS

Mahsaka schools, most of which survive in Chinese designed for dierent types of persons and dierent levtranslation only. According to some sources, some early els of spiritual understanding.
schools of Buddhism had ve or seven pitakas.* [207]
The Mahayana sutras often claim to articulate the BudAccording to the scriptures, soon after the death of the dha's deeper, more advanced doctrines, reserved for
Buddha, the rst Buddhist council was held; a monk those who follow the bodhisattva path. That path is
named Mahkyapa (Pli: Mahkassapa) presided. The explained as being built upon the motivation to libergoal of the council was to record the Buddha's teachings. ate all living beings from unhappiness. Hence the name
Upli recited the vinaya. nanda, the Buddha's personal Mahyna (lit., the Great Vehicle).
attendant, was called upon to recite the dhamma. These According to Mahayana tradition, the Mahayana sutras
became the basis of the Tripitaka. However, this record were transmitted in secret, came from other Buddhas or
was initially transmitted orally in form of chanting, and Bodhisattvas, or were preserved in non-human worlds
was committed to text in the last century BCE. Both the because human beings at the time could not understand
stras and the vinaya of every Buddhist school contain them:* [210]
a wide variety of elements including discourses on the
Dharma, commentaries on other teachings, cosmological
Some of our sources maintain the authenand cosmogonical texts, stories of the Gautama Buddha's
ticity of certain other texts not found in the
previous lives, and various other subjects.
canons of these schools (the early schools).
Much of the material in the Canon is not specically
Theravadin, but is instead the collection of teachings
that this school preserved from the early, non-sectarian
body of teachings. According to Peter Harvey, it contains material at odds with later Theravadin orthodoxy.
He states:The Theravadins, then, may have added texts
to the Canon for some time, but they do not appear to have
tampered with what they already had from an earlier period.* [208]

7.2

Mahayana sutras

These texts are those held genuine by the later


school, not one of the eighteen, which arrogated to itself the title of Mahayana, 'Great
Vehicle'. According to the Mahayana historians these texts were admittedly unknown
to the early schools of Buddhists. However,
they had all been promulgated by the Buddha.
[The Buddha's] followers on earth, the sravakas
('pupils'), had not been suciently advanced
to understand them, and hence were not given
them to remember, but they were taught to various supernatural beings and then preserved in
such places as the Dragon World.

Main article: Mahayana sutras


The Mahayana sutras are a very broad genre of Buddhist Approximately six hundred Mahayana sutras have survived in Sanskrit or in Chinese or Tibetan translations.
In addition, East Asian Buddhism recognizes some sutras
regarded by scholars as of Chinese rather than Indian origin.

The Tripiaka Koreana in South Korea, an edition of the Chinese


Buddhist canon carved and preserved in over 81,000 wood printing blocks.

Generally, scholars conclude that the Mahayana scriptures were composed from the 1st century CE onwards:
Large numbers of Mahayana sutras were being composed in the period between the beginning of the common era and the fth century,* [211] ve centuries after the historical Gautama Buddha. Some of these had
their roots in other scriptures composed in the 1st century BCE. It was not until after the 5th century CE that
the Mahayana sutras started to inuence the behavior of
mainstream Buddhists in India: But outside of texts, at
least in India, at exactly the same period, very dierent
in fact seemingly olderideas and aspirations appear
to be motivating actual behavior, and old and established
Hinnayana groups appear to be the only ones that are patronized and supported.* [211] These texts were apparently not universally accepted among Indian Buddhists
when they appeared; the pejorative label Hinayana was
applied by Mahayana supporters to those who rejected
the Mahayana sutras.

scriptures that the Mahayana Buddhist tradition holds


are original teachings of the Buddha. Some adherents
of Mahayana accept both the early teachings (including
in this the Sarvastivada Abhidharma, which was criticized by Nagarjuna and is in fact opposed to early Buddhist thought)* [209] and the Mahayana sutras as authen- Only the Theravada school does not include the Matic teachings of Gautama Buddha, and claim they were hayana scriptures in its canon. As the modern Ther-

8.1

Is Buddhism a religion?

27

avada school is descended from a branch of Buddhism


that diverged and established itself in Sri Lanka prior to
the emergence of the Mahayana texts, debate exists as to
whether the Theravada were historically included in the
hinayana designation; in the modern era, this label is seen
as derogatory, and is generally avoided.
Scholar Isabelle Onians asserts that although the
Mahyna ... very occasionally referred contemptuously
to earlier Buddhism as the Hinayna, the Inferior Way,
the preponderance of this name in the secondary literature is far out of proportion to occurrences in the Indian
texts.She notes that the term rvakayna was the
more politically correct and much more usualterm used
by Mahynists.* [212] Jonathan Silk has argued that the
term Hinayanawas used to refer to whomever one
wanted to criticize on any given occasion, and did not refer to any denite grouping of Buddhists.* [213]

Comparative studies

Buddhism provides many opportunities for comparative


study with a diverse range of subjects. For example, The Great Buddha of Kamakura, Ktoku-in in Japan
Buddhism's emphasis on the Middle way not only provides a unique guideline for ethics but has also allowed
Buddhism to peacefully coexist with various diering bepractices and mind trainings can eectively show us
liefs, customs and institutions in countries where it has
how to awaken our Buddha-nature and liberate us
resided throughout its history. Also, its moral and spirfrom suering and confusion.* [216]
itual parallels with other systems of thoughtfor exam B. Alan Wallace states: When we in the West rst
ple, with various tenets of Christianityhave been subengage with Buddhism, it is almost inevitable that
jects of close study. In addition, the Buddhist concept
we bring out one of our familiar stereotypes and apof dependent origination has been compared to modern
ply it to Buddhism, calling it simply a 'religion.'...
scientic thought, as well as Western metaphysics.
But Buddhism has never been simply a religion as
we dene it in the West. From the very beginning it
has also had philosophical elements, as well as em8.1 Is Buddhism a religion?
pirical and rational elements that may invite the term
'science.'"* [217]
There are dierences of opinion on the question of
whether or not Buddhism should be considered a religion.
Rupert Gethin states: I am not concerned here to
Many sources commonly refer to Buddhism as a religion.
pronounce on a question that is sometimes asked of
For example:
Buddhism: is it a religion? Obviously it depends
on how one denes 'a religion'. What is certain,
Peter Harvey states:The English term 'Buddhism'
however, is that Buddhism does not involve belief
correctly indicates that the religion is characterized
in a creator God who has control over human desby devotion to 'the Buddha', 'Buddhas', or 'buddhatiny, nor does it seek to dene itself by reference to
*
hood'. [214]
a creed; as Edward Conze has pointed out, it took
over 2,000 years and a couple of Western converts
Joseph Goldstein states: Although there are many
to Buddhism to provide it with a creed. On the other
dierence among the various religions of the world,
hand, Buddhism views activities that would be genand among the various schools of Buddhism itself,
erally understood as religioussuch as devotional
there is also a great deal in common...* [215]
practices and rituals as a legitimate, useful, and
even essential part of the practice and training that
Other sources note that the answer to this question deleads to the cessation of suering.* [218]
pends upon how religion is dened. For example:
Surya Das states: For Buddhism is less a theology
or religion than a promise that certain meditative

Damien Keown states: Problems [...] confront us


as soon as we try to dene what Buddhism is. Is it a
religion? A philosophy? A way of life? A code of

28

10
ethics? It is not easy to classify Buddhism as any of
these things, and it challenges us to rethink some of
these categories. What, for example, do we mean by
'religion'? Most people would say that religion has
something to do with belief in God. [...] If belief
in God in this sense is the essence of religion, then
Buddhism cannot be a religion. [...] Some have suggested that a new category that of the 'non-theistic'
religion is needed to encompass Buddhism. Another possibility is that our original denition is simply too narrow.* [219]

SEE ALSO

argued that we should nd some other way of dening religion than the one based on the idea of belief
in gods or superhuman beings.and Buddhism
does not have to be the problematic touchstone for
a global concept of religion.* [221]
Martin Southwold states: It is argued that Buddhism, though non-theistic, resembles other religions in depending on mystical notions; it is shown
how this contributes to understanding the social
functions of religions.* [222]
Walpola Rahula states: The question has often
been asked: Is Buddhism a religion or a philosophy? It does not matter what you call it. Buddhism
remains what it is whatever label you may put on it.
The label is immaterial. Even the label 'Buddhism'
which we give to the teaching of the Buddha is of little importance. The name one gives it is inessential.
What's in a name? That which we call a rose, By any
other name would smell as sweet. In the same way
Truth needs no label: it is neither Buddhist, Christian, Hindu nor Moslem. It is not the monopoly of
anybody. Sectarian labels are a hindrance to the independent understanding of Truth, and they produce
harmful prejudices in men's minds.* [223]
Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche states: If you are interested in 'meeting the Buddha' and following his
example, then you should realize that the path the
Buddha taught is primarily a study of your own mind
and a system for training your mind. This path is
spiritual, not religious. Its goal is self-knowledge,
not salvation; freedom, not heaven. And it is deeply
personal.* [web 24]

9 Criticism
Main article: Criticism of Buddhism
Czech Buddhists

The Dalai Lama states:From one viewpoint, Buddhism is a religion, from another viewpoint Buddhism is a science of mind and not a religion. Buddhism can be a bridge between these two sides.
Therefore, with this conviction I try to have closer
ties with scientists, mainly in the elds of cosmology, psychology, neurobiology and physics. In these
elds there are insights to share, and to a certain extent we can work together.* [220]
Ilkka Pyysiinen states: There are thus great diculties involved in conceptualizing religion as belief
in god(s), superhuman agents, etc., although we intuitively think that some such beings, nevertheless,
are essential in religion. As is well-known, Buddhism is the favorite example of scholars who have

Some Marxist groups have criticized Buddhism for


causing Tibet to have an undeveloped, agrarian economy.* [web 25]

10 See also
Outline of Buddhism
Buddhism by country
Buddhism and science
Chinese folk religion
Easily confused Buddhist representations
Iconography of Gautama Buddha in Laos and Thailand

29
Index of Buddhism-related articles
Indian religions
List of books related to Buddhism
List of Buddhist temples
Nonviolence

11

Notes

[1]Buddhism. (2009). In Encyclopdia Britannica. Retrieved November 26, 2009, from Encyclopdia Britannica Online Library Edition
[2] Earlier Buddhist texts refer to ve realms rather than six
realms; when described as ve realms, the god realm and
demi-god realm constitute a single realm.
[3] Andr Bareau: the top of p. 212 says: Here are the theses of the Theravadins of the Mahavihara"; then begins a
numbered list of doctrines over the following pages, including on p. 223: There are only ve destinies ... the
kalakanjika asuras have the same colour, same nourishment, same foods, same lifespan as the petas, with whom
... they marry. As for the Vepacittiparisa, they have the
same colour, same nourishment, same foods, same lifespan as the gods, with whom they marry."(Translated from
the French)* [33]
[4] See the article Four Noble Truths for further details and
citations. In particular, the section "The four truths"
within that article provides a footnote showing variety of
translations of these four statements.
[5] For clarication of translations, see Dukkha#Translating
the term dukkha.
[6] See the article Dukkha for further details and citations.
[7] See the article Four Noble Truths for further details and
citations.
[8] Rahula: What the Buddha Taught, Chapter 2
[9] Thanissaro Bhikkhu, The Not-Self Strategy, See Point 3
The Canon quote Thanissaro Bhikkhu draws attention to
is the Sabbasava Sutta.
[10] This twelve nidana scheme can be found, for instance,
in multiple discourses in chapter 12 of the Samyutta
NikayaNidana Vagga (e.g., see SN 12.2, Thanissaro,
1997a). Other applicationsof what might be termed
mundane dependent originationinclude the nine-nidana
scheme of Digha Nikaya 15 (e.g., Thanissaro, 1997b) and
the ten-nidana scheme of Samyutta Nikaya 12.65 (e.g.,
Thanissaro, 1997c). So-calledtranscendental dependent
origination(also involving twelve nidanas) is described in
Samyutta Nikaya 12.23 (e.g., see Bodhi, 1995). In addition, Digha Nikaya 15 describes an eleven-nidana scheme
(starting withfeeling) that leads to interpersonal sueringthe
(
taking up of sticks and knives; conicts, quarrels,
and disputes; accusations, divisive speech, and lies)

[11] Shaw also notes that discourses on meditation are addressed to bhikkhave, but that in this context the
terms is more generic than simply (male) monksand
refers to all practitioners, and that this is conrmed by
Buddhaghosa.* [85]
[12] According to Charles S. Prebish:* [86]Although a variety
of Zen 'schools' developed in Japan, they all emphasize
Zen as a teaching that does not depend on sacred texts,
that provides the potential for direct realization, that the
realization attained is none other than the Buddha nature
possessed by each sentient being ....
[13] Prebish comments (op. cit., p. 244): It presumes that
sitting in meditation itself (i.e. zazen) is an expression
of Buddha nature.The method is to detach the mind
from conceptual modes of thinking and perceive Reality
directly. Speaking of Zen in general, Buddhist scholar
Stephen Hodge writes: "... practitioners of Zen believe
that Enlightenment, the awakening of the Buddha-mind or
Buddha-nature, is our natural state, but has been covered
over by layers of negative emotions and distorted thoughts.
According to this view, Enlightenment is not something
that we must acquire a bit at a time, but a state that can
occur instantly when we cut through the dense veil of mental and emotional obscurations.* [87]
[14] Commenting on Rinzai Zen and its Chinese founder,
Linji, Hisamatsu states: Linji indicates our true way of
being in such direct expressions as 'True Person' and 'True
Self'. It is independent of words or letters and transmitted
apart from scriptural teaching. Buddhism doesn't really
need scriptures. It is just our direct awakening to Self ...
*
[88]
[15] Buddhism: The foundations of Buddhism, The cultural
context. In Encyclopdia Britannica. Retrieved 19-072009, from Encyclopdia Britannica Online Library Edition
[16] Encyclopdia Britannica Online. Hinduism: History of
Hinduism: The Vedic period (2nd millennium 7th century BCE); Challenges to Brahmanism (6th 2nd century
BCE); Early Hinduism (2nd century BCE 4th century
CE). Retrieved 19-07-2009.
[17] According to Masih:* [95] Alongside Hinduism was the
non-Aryan Shramanic culture with its roots going back to
prehistoric times.
[18] Masih:* [96]This conrms that the doctrine of transmigration is non-aryan and was accepted by non-vedics like
Ajivikism, Jainism and Buddhism. The Indo-aryans have
borrowed the theory of re-birth after coming in contact
with the aboriginal inhabitants of India. Certainly Jainism and non-vedics [..] accepted the doctrine of rebirth
as supreme postulate or article of faith.
[19] Karel Werner:* [97]Rahurkar speaks of them as belonging to two distinct 'cultural strands' ... Wayman also found
evidence for two distinct approaches to the spiritual dimension in ancient India and calls them the traditions of
'truth and silence.' He traces them particularly in the older
Upanishads, in early Buddhism, and in some later literature.

30

11 NOTES

[20] Flood:* [98]The origin and doctrine of Karma and Sam- [30] A proponent of the second position is Ronald Davidsara are obscure. These concepts were certainly circuson.* [subnote 3]
lating amongst sramanas, and Jainism and Buddhism deproponent of the third position are J.W. de
veloped specic and sophisticated ideas about the pro- [31] Well-known
Jong,* [124]* [subnote 4]
cess of transmigration. It is very possible that the karmas and reincarnation entered the mainstream brahamini[32] According to Schmithausen, the karma doctrine may
cal thought from the sramana or the renouncer traditions.
have been incidental to early Buddhist soteriology.* [130]
[21] Padmanabh S. Jaini states:* [99] Yajnavalkya's reluctance and manner in expounding the doctrine of karma
in the assembly of Janaka (a reluctance not shown on any
other occasion) can perhaps be explained by the assumption that it was, like that of the transmigration of soul,
of non-brahmanical origin. In view of the fact that this
doctrine is emblazoned on almost every page of sramana
scriptures, it is highly probable that it was derived from
them.

[33] Majjhima Nikaya 36


[34] Vetter: [T]hey do not teach that one is released by knowing the four noble truths, but by practicing the fourth
noble truth, the eighfold path, which culminates in right
samadhi.* [137]

[23] Kashi Nath Upadhyaya: The sudden appearance of this


theory [of karma] in a full-edged form is likely due, as
already pointed out, to an impact of the wandering muniand-shramana-cult, coming down from the pre-Vedic nonAryan time.* [101]

[35] Vetter: I am especially thinking here of MN 26


(I p.163,32; 165,15;166,35) kimkusalagavesi anuttaram
santivarapadam pariyesamano (searching for that which
is benecial, seeking the unsurpassable, best place of
peace) and again MN 26 (passim), anuttaramyagakkhemam nibbiinam pariyesati (he seeks the unsurpassable safe
place, the nirvana). Anuppatta-sadattho (one who has
reached the right goal) is also a vague positive expression
in the Arhatformula in MN 35 (I p, 235), see chapter 2,
footnote 3, Furthermore, satthi (welfare) is important in
e.g. SN 2.12 or 2.17 or Sn 269; and sukha and rati (happiness), in contrast to other places, as used in Sn 439 and
956. The oldest term was perhaps amata (immortal, immortality) [...] but one could say here that it is a negative
term.* [138]

[24] Encyclopdia Britannica Online. Buddhism: The foundations of Buddhism, the cultural context. Retrieved 1907-2009.

[36] Charles Prebish (2005). Councils: Buddhist Councils


. In Lindsay Jones. Encyclopedia of Religion. New York:
Macmillan.

[25]Atthako, Vmako, Vmadevo, Vessmitto, Yamataggi,


Angiraso, Bhradvjo, Vsettho, Kassapo, and Bhagu" in
P. 245 The Vinaya piaka: one of the principle Buddhist
holy scriptures ..., Volume 1 edited by Hermann Oldenberg

[37] See Journal of the Pli Text Society, volume XVI, p. 105

[22] Govind Chandra Pande:* [100]Early Upanishad thinkers


like Yajnavalkya were acquainted with the sramanic
thinking and tried to incorporate these ideals of Karma,
Samsara and Moksa into the vedic thought implying a
disparagement of the vedic ritualism and recognising the
mendicancy as an ideal.

[26] H: Even so have I, monks, seen an ancient way,


an ancient road followed by the wholly awakened ones of
olden time....Along that have I done, and the matters that I
have come to know fully as I was going along it, I have told
to the monks, nuns, men and women lay-followers, even
monks, this Brahma-faring brahmacharya that is prosperous and ourishing, widespread and widely known become popular in short, well made manifest for gods and
men.* [112]
[27] The surviving portions of the scriptures of Sarvastivada,
Mulasarvastivada, Mahisasaka, Dharmaguptaka and other
schools,* [114]* [115] and the Chinese Agamas and other
surviving portions of other early canons.
[28] Exemplary studies are the study on descriptions of liberating insightby Lambert Schmithausen,* [119] the
overview of early Buddhism by Tilmann Vetter,* [117]
the philological work on the four truths by K.R.
Norman,* [120] the textual studies by Richard Gombrich,* [51] and the research on early meditation methods
by Johannes Bronkhorst.* [121]
[29] Well-known proponents of the rst position are A.K.
Warder* [subnote 1]

[38]Abhidhamma Pitaka.Encyclopdia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopdia Britannica, 2008
[39]The most important evidence in fact the only evidence
for situating the emergence of the Mahayana around the
beginning of the common era was not Indian evidence at
all, but came from China. Already by the last quarter of
the 2nd century CE, there was a small, seemingly idiosyncratic collection of substantial Mahayana sutras translated
into what Erik Zrcher calls 'broken Chinese' by an Indoscythian, whose Indian name has been reconstructed as
Lokaksema.* [169]
[40]The south (of India) was then vigorously creative in producing Mahayana SutrasWarder* [171]
[41] See Hill (2009), p. 30, for the Chinese text from the Hou
Hanshu, and p. 31 for a translation of it.* [179]
[42] See Philosophy East and West, volume 54, page 270
[43] (Harvey 1990),(Gombrich,1984); Gethin (1998), pp. 1
2, identiesthree broad traditionsas: (1)The Theravda tradition of Sri Lanka and South-East Asia, also
sometimes referred to as 'southern' Buddhism"; (2)The
East Asian tradition of China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam,
also sometimes referred to as 'eastern' Buddhism"; and,
(3)The Tibetan tradition, also sometimes referred to as

31

'northern' Buddhism."; Robinson & Johnson (1982) divide their book into two parts: Part One is entitled The
Buddhism of South Asia(which pertains to Early Buddhism in India); and, Part Two is entitled The Development of Buddhism Outside of Indiawith chapters on
The Buddhism of Southeast Asia, Buddhism in the
Tibetan Culture Area, East Asian Buddhismand
Buddhism Comes West; Penguin handbook of Living
Religions, 1984, page 279; Prebish & Keown, Introducing Buddhism, ebook, Journal of Buddhist Ethics, 2005,
printed ed, Harper, 2006

canonical writings could very well have been proclaimed


by him [the Buddha], transmitted and developed by his
disciples and, nally, codied in xed formulas."<ref
name='FOOTNOTEJong199325'>Jong 1993, p. 25.
[5] Bronkhorst: This position is to be preferred to (ii) for
purely methodological reasons: only those who seek nay
nd, even if no success is guaranteed.* [125]
[6] Lopez: The original teachings of the historical Buddha
are extremely dicult, if not impossible, to recover or reconstruct.* [126]

[44] See e.g. the multi-dimensional classication in Encyclopedia of Religion* [193]


[45] Cousins, L.S. (1996); Buswell (2003), Vol. I, p. 82; and,
Keown & Prebish (2004), p. 107. See also, Gombrich
(1988/2002), p. 32: [T]he best we can say is that [the
Buddha] was probably Enlightened between 550 and 450,
more likely later rather than earlier.

12 References
[1] Wells 2008.
[2] Roach 2011.

[46] Williams (2000, pp. 6-7) writes: As a matter of fact


Buddhism in mainland India itself had all but ceased to
exist by the thirteenth century CE, although by that time
it had spread to Tibet, China, Japan, and Southeast Asia.
Embree et al. (1958/1988), Chronology,p. xxix:
c. 1000-1200: Buddhism disappears as [an] organized
religious force in India.See also, Robinson & Johnson (1970/1982), pp. 100-1, 108 Fig. 1; and, Harvey
(1990/2007), pp. 139-40.

[3] Lopez 2001, p. 239.

Subnotes

[7] White, David Gordon (ed.) (2000). Tantra in Practice.


Princeton University Press. p. 21. ISBN 0-691-05779-6.

[1] According to A.K. Warder, in his 1970 publication Indian Buddhism, from the oldest extant texts a common kernel can be drawn out.* [115] According to Warder,
c.q. his publisher: This kernel of doctrine is presumably common Buddhism of the period before th great
schisms of the fourth and third centuries BC. It may be
substantially the Buddhism of the Buddha himself, although this cannot be proved: at any rate it is a Buddhism
presupposed by the schools as existing about a hundred
years after the parinirvana of the Buddha, and there is
no evidence to suggest that it was formulated by anyone
else than the Buddha and his immediate followers."<ref
name='FOOTNOTEWarder1999inside ap'>Warder, &
1999 inside ap.
[2] Richard Gombrich: I have the greatest diculty in accepting that the main edice is not the work of a single
genius. By the main ediceI mean the collections of
the main body of sermons, the four Nikyas, and of the
main body of monastic rules.* [51]
[3] Ronald Davidson: While most scholars agree that
there was a rough body of sacred literature (disputed)(sic) that a relatively early community (disputed)(sic) maintained and transmitted, we have little condence that much, if any, of surviving Buddhist scripture is actually the word of the historic Buddha."<ref
name='FOOTNOTEDavidson2003147'>Davidson 2003,
p. 147.
[4] J.W. De Jong: It would be hypocritical to assert that
nothing can be said about the doctrine of earliest Buddhism [...] the basic ideas of Buddhism found in the

[4] Lopez, Donald. Buddha: Founder of Buddhism. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
[5] Guang Xing (2005). The Three Bodies of the Buddha: The
Origin and Development of the Trikaya Theory. Oxford:
Routledge Curzon: pp.1 and 85
[6] Gethin 1998, pp. 2728, 7374.

[8] Powers, John (2007). Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism


(Rev. ed.). Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications.
pp. 2627. ISBN 978-1-55939-282-2.
[9]Candles in the Dark: A New Spirit for a Plural World
by Barbara Sundberg Baudot, p305
[10] Powers, John (2007). Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism
(Rev. ed.). Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications.
pp. 3923, 415. ISBN 978-1-55939-282-2.
[11] Williams 1998, pp. 275f.
[12] Robinson 1998, p. xx.
[13] Harvey 2013, p. 36-8.
[14] Padmasambhava 2004, p. 111.
[15] Harvey 2013, p. 5.
[16] Swearer 2004, p. 177.
[17] Buswell 2004, p. 352.
[18] Lopez 1995, p. 16.
[19] Carrithers 1986, p. 10.
[20] Armstrong 2004, p. xii.
[21] Gombrich 1988, p. 49.
[22] Kohn 1991, p. 143.
[23] Keown 2003, p. 267.

32

12

[24] Skilton 1997, p. 25.

[62] Dumoulin 1988, p. 22.

[25] Kasulis 2006, pp. 112.

[63] Miller 1996, p. 8.

[26] Harvey 1990, p. 40.

[64] Wynne 2007, p. 73.

[27] Payne 2006, p. 74.

[65] Wynne 2007, p. 105.

[28] Lopez 1995, p. 248.

[66] Carrithers 1986, p. 30.

[29] Keown 1996, p. 107.

[67] Wynne 2007, p. 72.

[30] Harvey 1990, p. 34.

[68] Gombrich 1988, p. 44.

[31] Buswell 2004, p. 711.

[69] Bronkhorst 1993, pp. 117.

[32] Harvey 1990, p. 33.

[70] Collins 2000, p. 199.

[33] Bareau 1955, p. 212223.

[71] Wynne 2007, p. 51.

[34] Buswell 2004, p. 377.

[72] Wynne 2007, p. 56.

[35] Bodhi 2000.

[73] Nanamoli 1995, p. 708f.

[36] Ajahn Sucitto 2010, p. 87-88.

[74] Sebastian 2005, p. 83.

[37] Gethin 1998, p. 82.

[75] Sebastian 2005, p. 82.

[38] Armstrong 2004, p. 77.

[76] Kanno 2004, p. 147.

[39] Nhat Hahn, p. 36.

[77] McFarlane 2001, p. 187.

[40] Chodron 2002, p. 37.

[78] McFarlane 2001, pp. 195196.

[41] Kohn 1991, pp. 131,143.

[79] Morgan 2007, pp. 6263.

[42] Prebish 1993.

[80] Gombrich 1988, p. 89.

[43] Keown 2003.

[81] Wallace 2007, p. 81.

[44] Harvey 1990, p. 56.

[82] Welch 1967, p. 396.

[45] Harvey 1990, p. 57.

[83] Harvey 1990, p. 144.

[46] Harvey 1990, p. 58.

[84] Keown 2007, p. 502.

[47] Harvey 1990, p. 59.

[85] Shaw 2006, p. 13.

[48] Harvey 1990, p. 60.

[86] Prebish 1993, p. 287.

[49] Lindtner 1997, p. 324.

[87] Hodge 2002, pp. 1213.

[50] Williams 2000, p. 161.

[88] Hisamatsu 2002, p. 46.

[51] Gombrich 1997.

[89] Uchiyama 1993, p. 98.

[52] Gombrich 1999, pp. 40, 46.

[90] Harvey 1990, pp. 165f.

[53] Mizuno 1996, p. 57.

[91] Williams 1989, p. 185.

[54] Buddhaghosa 1991, p. 184.

[92] Keown 2004, p. 781.

[55] Gyatso 1995, p. 1.

[93] Gethin 2008, p. xv.

[56] Nattier 2003, p. 174.

[94] Warder 2000, p. 32.

[57] Mall 2005, pp. 5354.

[95] Masih 2000, p. 18.

[58] Hirakawa 1993, p. 297.

[96] Masih 2000, p. 37.

[59] Conze 2001, p. 2001.

[97] Werner 1989, p. 34.

[60] Gyatso 1995, pp. 412.

[98] Flood 1996, p. 86.

[61] Harvey 1990, p. 170.

[99] Jaini 2001, p. 51.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Buddhism


Religion and Spirituality: Buddhism at Open Directory Project
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Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 2007-1206.
Buddhist texts at Sacred Texts.com
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Library. Retrieved 2012-12-19.
Berzin, Alexander (November 2001). Historical
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Berzin Archives.
Wei, Wei Wu (1960).Why Lazarus Laughed: The
Essential Doctrine Zen-Advaita-Tantra. Routledge
and Kegan Paul Ltd., London. Sentient Publications.
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Dhammananda, K. Sri (2002). What Buddhists
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41

15
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Huang 2, JChris90, Dust Filter, Ptr123, Dabomb87, Varanwal, Janjeewa, Pinkadelica, Gantuya eng, Jobas, Randy Kryn, Sudheeras, Angelo
De La Paz, Emptymountains, Barkjon, Explicit, ImageRemovalBot, SallyForth123, WikipedianMarlith, Faithlessthewonderboy, Atif.t2,
Johnny Undead, Loren.wilton, Saman SL, ClueBot, Kathmandu2007, Centaurioid, Yesser, Rumping, UniQue tree, Jivearse, MacCraich,
The Thing That Should Not Be, Simonteoh, Wikiwoowiki, Dharmaling, Lastbetrayal, Eeepl, Rjd0060, Goldenhawk 0, Valaris17, Wisebuddy, Gaia Octavia Agrippa, Rebel XTi, Arakunem, Meekywiki, Ed2975, Drmies, Sevilledade, Bobisbob, FabFaris, Wikilost, Julianlzb87, SuperHamster, Doseiai2, Dbdolan, CounterVandalismBot, Niceguyedc, Lampak, Harland1, Gkedpage, Lokantha, Neverquick, Cirt,
Gyroerrol, Puchiko, Auntof6, 22kevin, Shatrunjaymall, Mspraveen, Robedob22, Cardinal 1962, Wutizevrybudylookingat?, Iziizi, Drag-

15.2

Images

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onBot, E mc46, Anonymous101, Jusdafax, Haden is a homo, Ggbsha, Alegge, Winston365, Ludwigs2, Danscottgraham, HeroGiant, S
paw1, Simon D M, Kalamrir, Cheezybeans1, Arjayay, Jayefex, Jotterbot, Sbfw, Drawn Some, Camerajohn, Nozix, Dumdumdom, M.O.X,
Lloydee7, Elizium23, Revotfel, Ebaran, Rpm099, Beat Buddha, SchreiberBike, Mr.whiskers, BOTarate, Thehelpfulone, Lisaspank, EdwardLawrence, Esteban.barahona, Amcsports, Thingg, Oliverkahnisthebest07, Azucar1223, Right America, Russel Mcpigmin, Aitias,
Gettochink21, Branden-Olsen, Jester5x5, Mhockey, Adriansrfr, Burner0718, Lewsbestfriend, Editor2020, Party, Crowsnest, Rossen4,
Pikdude, DumZiBoT, Fionnch, Ano-User, Redhill54, Jerryofaiken, XLinkBot, Qscaxz, Fedaykinx, Dsvyas, Andrewbowden987654321,
Jakemitra, Zoey101fan, Kimsoohyun, PseudoOne, Mitsube, Stickee, Nannan123, Rror, Catman7965, SkinSack, 1ChineseKid, MACNIFICINT, Dr3w1492, Darkstar8225, Raze5667, Pgallert, Nepenthes, Little Mountain 5, WikHead, NellieBly, Mifter, Gabbiegurl,
Borock, Alexius08, Ocean92~enwiki, Gtg462y, Sonyray, Aunt Entropy, Sploot, Ejosse1, Cfahland, Eklipse, HexaChord, Chamath Mc,
Prowikipedians, Addbot, Xp54321, Proofreader77, Jakewilliam, Franceroy, DivineDeeds, DOI bot, Khmaisoldier94, Betterusername,
Opus88888, Montgomery '39, CL, DougsTech, Ocdnctx, Rich jj, Tanhabot, Wingspeed, Windy Wanderer, Fieldday-sunday, Ironholds,
Tengu800, The Thin Man Who Never Leaves, Martindo, CanadianLinuxUser, Leszek Jaczuk, Stormed~enwiki, Chummi, Rejectwater,
Swimmerfan13, BenTrotsky, Truthsayer62, Glum Mun, CarsracBot, Pasta4470, Loopady321, Jessrobinson83, Goldtop72, Glane23, Lihaas, Leo messi123, Tehtrigger, Debresser, SpBot, Anam Gumnam, Josephbg, LinkFA-Bot, ViskonBot, Deathblud, Tassedethe, Numbo3bot, Tide rolls, Gerrymc1960, Paragonson, Gail, MuZemike, Jarble, Emperor Genius, VVPushkin, Bermicourt, Ret.Prof, , Jackelve,
Luckas-bot, Yobot, Windyhead, Tongueey, Cm001, Rsquire3, Setmymax, Pectore, EditingElite, Washburnmav, Ajh16, THEN WHO
WAS PHONE?, Noah03, Tkdman99, Truthbody, KamikazeBot, Isshii, Shashmann, Tao2911, DiEb, South Bay, Filodelphia, Vicithorana, , Dmarquard, DiverDave, AnomieBOT, Kyocat1234, TenzinNamgyal, Tryptosh, Arjun G. Menon, Shamrockman455,
Jim1138, Abstruce, Galoubet, AloysiusLiliusBot, Andi 3, AdjustShift, Jo3sampl, Giants27, Materialscientist, Thisara.d.m, Citation bot,
OllieFury, AzianPyro, Lukewaring, Optimusprimechucknorris, Eumolpo, Ryanmartel6, Didaktron, Dewan357, WorldWarUSA, ArthurBot, Pmdkh, Xqbot, Bhvintri, Suddha, Ep347, The Banner, TechBot, Ceci14, Lele giannoni, DSisyphBot, XZeroBot, HFret, Wall of putrid
esh., Anna Frodesiak, Bodinagamin, Almabot, Heygosh1, King, Ble, J04n, GrouchoBot, Oasis08, Omnipaedista, Nikolyne~enwiki,
RibotBOT, Richard Pecorino, Alexandru Stanoi, Brutaldeluxe, GhalyBot, MerlLinkBot, Sael, Shadowjams, Moby-Dick3000, Bluehotel,
iedas, SlayerBloodySlayer, Who then was a gentleman?, Mannymm25, FrescoBot, Jacob Newton, Paine Ellsworth, Tobby72, Lothar von
Richthofen, Seibun, D'ohBot, Sudipta.kamila, Seanbond5, Bodigami, Bambuway, Askalan, CynofGavuf, Airborne84, KnowledgeAndVision, HamburgerRadio, AchillesTruth, Citation bot 1, Composemi, Mizanthrop, Kim-Zhang-Hong, Notedgrant, LinDrug, FILWISE,
King Zebu, Tomcat7, A8UDI, Fat&Happy, Ravikanthvarmag, . , MastiBot, SpaceFlight89, Olivemountain, Arthurborges, Tlhslobus, Socksiong, Comancheros, Jemesouviens32, Modernyoo, Buddhisttrain, FluyRocks, UkFaith, Kgrad, Ashisshy, Ff22, Lightlowemon, Leggette, FoxBot, Changewords, Kurri, Mnmsgp, TheoloJ, Sabotager808, Newt Winkler, Sblenz, Lotusfred22, Baz00k4 Jo3,
Lotje, Javierito92, Dulandias, Anjafa7, Vancouver Outlaw, January, Chavezh19, Capt. James T. Kirk, Canuck100, Lakewood re, Greg
Pandatshang, Pleasespammelater, Robtoth1, Aoidh, Mikessej, Oakleywisdom, GlooscapSinclair, Marinaro, Apop123, JFerrand, Diannaa,
Pham Hoang-Khoi, Alexander Rudik, Ijustplainrockok, Mogimogi~enwiki, Ajraval, Bennett858, World8115, Aero13792468, RjwilmsiBot, Hermes67, TjBot, Punyam, Mandolinface, Zujine, EmausBot, WikitanvirBot, Griswaldo, Thigle, Seren-dipper, SafwanZabalawi,
Vidium, Elvenmuse, Sarpasarpeti101, Malcolm77, Buddhakahika, AvicBot, ZroBot, Iwanttoeditthissh, Kamalmonami, Euloiix, Stemoc,
Lechonero, LordSuryaofShropshire, Aeonx, SporkBot, Samuel de mazarin, Someone65, Brandmeister, Rabuve, Sahimrobot, Shrigley, Erget2005, Ppyoonus, Ollyoxenfree, Dineshmed, Mjbmrbot, Helpsome, Krizpo, Pebble101, Nobody60, CocuBot, SheenShin, Movses-bot,
Vlad.Ureche, Winston786, Snotbot, Frietjes, Geoerybard, AbelBergaigne, Dorje108, Geotaylor1969, Adityamadhav83, MerlIwBot,
Helpful Pixie Bot, ?oygul, MediaJet, BG19bot, Battman95, Vagobot, Wrathjtr, Scilover386, ComputerJA, PhnomPencil, Malnormalulo,
Repmartinshaw, TomUSA, AvocatoBot, Marcocapelle, LhunGrub, Notlivingdead, Gorthian, FoxCE, AnwarInsaan, CitationCleanerBot,
Joshua Jonathan, Min.neel, Rakhmanhakim, Snowcream, , Zedshort, Drewrau, Vegetarianiwow9, Matmill, Ctny, Wikibdt,
Joe Feather, Pierrewee, Jonadin93, BattyBot, Justincheng12345-bot, Amilaganegoda, CO2Northeast, Magerius, Ashish-Sharma-Dilli,
Williamteoh97, Cyberbot II, ChrisGualtieri, SD5bot, Khazar2, JCJC777, Shrabulator, Nathanielrst, JYBot, Cpt.a.haddock, Soni, Rockin
It Loud, Avisbliss, Borakai, Dexbot, Mogism, Retrospector87, Emil K2, Nasir Ghobar, Brianna8cD, Sagar R Salvi, TheNano7474, Happyseeu, Obaid Raza, Trphierth, Rupert loup, Bunny bella, NeWorldorder, Puttingfacts, Mason0190, Msundqvist, Ambrosius80, Cherubinirules, Accepttruth, Horst 75, Apophaticlogos, Duckduckstop, JimRenge, Rekowo, Noyster, Bladesmulti, GreyWinterOwl, Hosogami,
Prestigiouzman, Dr Prashanna Jain Gotani, Mooch025, Cookieballer, Villanator, Ethically Yours, BillyTanjung, Friend.hey, Blobr186,
Monkbot, VictoriaGrayson, Kristoer Shae-Khow, Filedelinkerbot, Bookworm729, Calypsomusic, Verdana Bold, TanmayaPanda, Peter238, Aclarke9913, Dayan de Alwis, Prof.t.adamson, Skynden, Piledhighandeep, Rajatantra, Tulsirama, Ashvawiki, Knowledgebattle, Riversid, Cartakes, Xyxyo, Abhi.dhakal, Hobbitschuster, Tapasya Dev, Human3015, Jegr9, Jerodlycett, Ankush 89, KasparBot,
Suntalkha, Ephemerance, Saint Tapasya, Furthershore, Dongar Kathorekar, Philosi4, Dorpater, Buddhanet, Osaka855, Peppy Paneer,
Neel.arunabh, Allthefoxes and Anonymous: 2730

15.2

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commons/c/cd/20110725_Budha_eyes_closeup_Bodhnath_Stupa_Kathmandu_Nepal.jpg License: CC BY-SA 3.0 Contributors: Own
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_
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Wikidata-logo.svg/30px-Wikidata-logo.svg.png 1.5x, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/ff/Wikidata-logo.svg/
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File:Rock-cut_Lord_--Buddha--_Statue_at_Bojjanakonda_near_Anakapalle_of_Visakhapatnam_dist_in_AP.jpg
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