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Buddhism (Pali/Sanskrit: ????? ???? Bauddha Dharma) is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha (P?li/Sanskrit "the awakened one"). Sony VAIO VGN-G118CN Battery

The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.[1] He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end ignorance (avidy?) of dependent origination, thus escaping what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth.Sony VAIO VGN-G118GN/B Battery

Two major branches of Buddhism are recognized: Theravada ("The School of the Elders") and Mahayana ("The Great Vehicle"). Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. Mahayana is found throughout East Asia and includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism,Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, Tiantai (Tendai) and Shinnyo-en.Sony VAIO VGN-G118GN/T Battery

In some classifications Vajrayana—as practiced mainly in Tibet and Mongolia —is recognized as a third branch, while others classify it as a part of Mahayana. The are other categorisations of these 3 Vehicles or Yanas  .Sony VAIO VGN-G118TN/B Battery

While Buddhism remains most popular within Asia, both branches are now found throughout the world. Estimates of Buddhists worldwide vary significantly depending on the way Buddhist adherence is defined. Lower estimates are between 350–500 million.Sony VAIO VGN-G118TN/S Battery

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. The cardinal doctrine of dependent origination is the only doctrine that is common to all Buddhist teachings from Theravada toDzogchen to the extinct schools.Sony VAIO VGN-G11VN/T Battery

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.Sony VAIO VGN-G11VN/TC Battery

Other practices may include following ethical precepts, support of the monastic community,renouncing conventional living and becoming a monastic, the development of mindfulness and practice of meditation, cultivation of higher wisdom and discernment, study of scriptures, devotional practices, ceremonies, and in the Mahayana tradition, invocation of buddhas and bodhisattvas.Sony VAIO VGN-G11XN/B Battery

Life of the Buddha

The evidence of the early texts[which?] suggests that the Buddha was born in a community that was on the periphery, both geographically and culturally, of the northeastern Indian subcontinent in the 5th century BCE.Sony VAIO VGN-G1AAPS Battery

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.

According to the Theravada Tipitaka scriptures[which?] (from Pali, meaning "three baskets"), the Buddha was born in Lumbini in modern-dayNepal, around the year 563 BCE, and raised in Kapilavastu.Sony VAIO VGN-G1AAPSA Battery

According to this narrative, shortly after the birth of young prince Siddhartha Gautama, an astrologer visited the young prince's father—King?uddhodana—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.Sony VAIO VGN-G1AAPSB Battery

?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 efforts, Siddhartha ventured beyond the palace several times. In a series of encounters—known in Buddhist literature as the four sights—Sony VAIO VGN-G1AAPSC Battery

he learned of the suffering of ordinary people, encountering an old man, a sick man, a corpse and, finally, an ascetic holy man, apparently content and at peace with the world. These experiences prompted Gautama to abandon royal life and take up a spiritual quest.Sony VAIO VGN-G1ABNS Battery

Gautama first 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 suffering, so he continued his quest. He next attempted an extreme asceticism, which was a religious pursuit common among the Shramanas, a religious culture distinct from the Vedic one. Sony VAIO VGN-G1KAP Battery

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 suffering. So in a pivotal moment he accepted milk and rice from a village girl and changed his approach. Sony VAIO VGN-G1KBN Battery

He devoted himself to anapanasati meditation, through which he discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way (Skt. madhyam?-pratipad[12]): a path of moderation between the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification.

Gautama was now determined to complete his spiritual quest. Sony VAIO VGN-G1KBNA Battery

At the age of 35, he famously sat in meditation under a sacred fig tree — known as the Bodhi tree — in the town of Bodh Gaya, India, and vowed not to rise before achieving enlightenment. After many days, he finally destroyed the fetters of his mind, thereby liberating himself from the cycle of suffering and rebirth, and arose as a fully enlightened being (Skt. samyaksa?buddha).Sony VAIO VGN-G1LAP Battery

Soon thereafter, he attracted a band of followers and instituted a monastic order. Now, as the Buddha, he spent the rest of his life teaching the path of awakening he had discovered, traveling throughout the northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent, and died at the age of 80 (483 BCE) in Kushinagar, India. Sony VAIO VGN-G1LBN Battery

The south branch of the original fig tree only available in Anuradhapura Sri Lanka known as Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi.

The above narrative draws on the Nid?nakath? biography of the Therav?da sect in Sri Lanka, which is ascribed to Buddhagho?a in the 5th century CE. Sony VAIO VGN-G218LN/T Battery

Earlier biographies such as the Buddhacarita, the Lokottarav?din Mah?vastu, and the Mah?y?na / Sarv?stiv?da Lalitavistara S?tra, give different accounts.

Scholars are hesitant to make unqualified 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.Sony VAIO VGN-G218N/B Battery

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."

In writing her biography of Buddha, Karen Armstrong noted,Sony VAIO VGN-G21XP/B Battery

"It is obviously difficult, therefore, to write a biography of the Buddha that will meet modern criteria, because we have very little information that can be considered historically sound... [but] we can be reasonably confident Siddhatta Gotama did indeed exist and that his disciples preserved the memory of his life and teachings as well as they could."Sony VAIO VGN-G2AANS Battery

Karma

Karma (from Sanskrit: "action, work") in Buddhism is the force that drives sa?s?ra—the cycle of suffering and rebirth for each being. Good, skillful deeds (P?li: "kusala") and bad, unskillful (P?li: "akusala") actions produce "seeds" in the mind which come to fruition either in this life or in a subsequent rebirth.Sony VAIO VGN-G2AAPS Battery

The avoidance of unwholesome actions and the cultivation of positive actions is called ??la (from Sanskrit: "ethical conduct").

In Buddhism, karma specifically refers to those actions (of body, speech, and mind) that spring from mental intent ("cetana"), and which bring about a consequence (or fruit, "phala") or result ("vip?ka").Sony VAIO VGN-G2AAPSA Battery

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. Some Mahayana traditions hold different views. For example, the texts of certain Mahayana sutras (such as the Lotus Sutra, the Angulimaliya Sutra and the Nirvana Sutra)Sony VAIO VGN-G2AAPSB Battery

claim that reciting or merely hearing 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 off previous negative karma. The Japanese Pure Land teacher Genshin taught that Amida Buddha has the power to destroy the karma that would otherwise bind one in sa?s?ra.Sony VAIO VGN-G2AAPSC Battery

Rebirth

Rebirth refers to a process whereby beings go through a succession of lifetimes as one of many possible forms ofsentient life, each running from conception to death. Buddhism rejects the concepts of a permanent self or an unchanging, eternal soul, as it is called in Hinduism and Christianity. Sony VAIO VGN-G2KAN Battery

According to Buddhism there ultimately is no such thing as a self independent from the rest of the universe (the doctrine of anatta). Rebirth in subsequent existences must be understood as the continuation of a dynamic, ever-changing process of "dependent arising" ("prat?tyasamutp?da")Sony VAIO VGN-G2KANA Battery

determined by the laws of cause and effect (karma) rather than that of one being, transmigrating or incarnating from one existence to the next.

Each rebirth takes place within one of five realms according to Theravadins, or six according to other schools.[26][27] These are further subdivided into 31 planes of existence:Sony VAIO VGN-G2KBNA Battery

  1. Naraka beings: those who live in one of many Narakas (Hells)
  2. Preta: sometimes sharing some space with humans, but invisible to most people; an important variety is the hungry ghost[29]
  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  Sony VAIO VGN-NR160E/S Battery
  5. Asuras: variously translated as lowly deities, demons, titans, antigods; not recognized by Therav?da (Mahavihara) tradition as a separate realm
  6. Devas including Brahmas: variously translated as gods, deities, spirits, angels, or left untranslated Sony VAIO VGN-NR160E/T Battery

Rebirths in some of the higher heavens, known as the ?uddh?v?sa Worlds (Pure Abodes), can be attained only by skilled Buddhist practitioners known as an?g?mis (non-returners). Rebirths in thearupa-dhatu (formless realms) can be attained only by those who can meditate on the ar?pajh?nas, the highest object of meditation.Sony VAIO VGN-NR160E/W Battery

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 (the collection of texts on which the Theravada tradition is based), that seem to lend support to the idea that the Buddha taught of an intermediate stage between one life and the next. Sony VAIO VGN-NR180E/S Battery

Sa?s?ra

Sentient beings crave pleasure and are averse to pain from birth to death. In being controlled by these attitudes, they perpetuate the cycle of conditioned existence and suffering (sa?s?ra), and produce the causes and conditions of the next rebirth after death. Sony VAIO VGN-NR180E/T Battery

Each rebirth repeats this process in an involuntary cycle, which Buddhists strive to end by eradicating these causes and conditions, applying the methods laid out by the Buddha and subsequent Buddhists.

Nature of existence

Buddhist scholars have produced a remarkable quantity of intellectual theories, philosophies and world view concepts (see, for example, Abhidharma,Buddhist philosophy and Reality in Buddhism). Sony VAIO VGN-NR290E/S Battery

Some schools of Buddhism discourage doctrinal study, and some regard it as essential, but most regard it as having a place, at least for some persons at some stages in Buddhist practice.

In the earliest Buddhist teachings, shared to some extent by all extant schools, the concept of liberation (Nirvana)—the goal of the Buddhist path—is closely related to the correct understanding of how the mind causes stress.Sony VAIO VGN-NR290E/T Battery

In awakening to the true nature of clinging, one develops dispassion for the objects of clinging, and is liberated from suffering (dukkha) and the cycle of incessant rebirths (sa?s?ra). To this end, the Buddha recommended viewing things as characterized by the three marks of existence.Sony VAIO VGN-NR298E/S Battery

Three Marks of Existence

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

Impermanence (P?li: anicca) expresses the Buddhist notion that all compounded or conditioned phenomena (all things and experiences) are inconstant, unsteady, and impermanent. Sony VAIO VGN-NR460E/L Battery

Everything we can experience through our senses is made up of parts, and its existence is dependent on external conditions. Everything is in constant flux, and so conditions and the thing itself are constantly changing. Things are constantly coming into being, and ceasing to be.Sony VAIO VGN-NR460E/P Battery

Since nothing lasts, there is no inherent or fixed nature to any object or experience. According to the doctrine of impermanence, life embodies this flux in the aging process, the cycle of rebirth (sa?s?ra), and in any experience of loss. The doctrine asserts that because things are impermanent, attachment to them is futile and leads to suffering (dukkha).Sony VAIO VGN-NR498E/L Battery

Suffering (P?li: ????? dukkha; Sanskrit ???? du?kha) is also a central concept in Buddhism. The word roughly corresponds to a number of terms in English including suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness, sorrow, affliction, anxiety, dissatisfaction, discomfort, anguish, stress, misery, and frustration.Sony VAIO VGN-NR498E/S Battery

Although the term is often translated as "suffering", its philosophical meaning is more analogous to "disquietude" as in the condition of being disturbed. As such, "suffering" is too narrow a translation with "negative emotional connotations" which can give the impression that the Buddhist view is one of pessimism,Sony VAIO VGN-NR498E/T Battery

but Buddhism seeks to be neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but realistic. In English-language Buddhist literature translated from P?li, "dukkha" is often left untranslated, so as to encompass its full range of meaning.

Not-self (P?li: anatta; Sanskrit: an?tman) is the third mark of existence. Sony VAIO VGN-NR498E/W Battery

Upon careful examination, one finds that no phenomenon is really "I" or "mine"; these concepts are in fact constructed by the mind. In the Nikayas anatta is not meant as a metaphysical assertion, but as an approach for gaining release from suffering. Sony VAIO VGN-NR50 Battery

In fact, the Buddha rejected both of the metaphysical assertions "I have aSelf" and "I have no Self" as ontological views that bind one to suffering. When asked if the self was identical with the body, the Buddha refused to answer. By analyzing the constantly changing physical and mental constituents (skandhas) of a person or object, Sony VAIO VGN-NR50B Battery

the practitioner comes to the conclusion that neither the respective parts nor the person as a whole comprise a self.

Dependent arising

The doctrine of prat?tyasamutp?da (Sanskrit; Pali: paticcasamupp?da; Tibetan: rten.cing.'brel.bar.'byung.ba; Chinese: ??) is an important part of Buddhist metaphysics. Sony VAIO VGN-NR51 Battery

It states that phenomena arise together in a mutually interdependent web of cause and effect. It is variously rendered into English as "dependent origination", "conditioned genesis", "dependent co-arising", "interdependent arising", or "contingency".

The best-known application of the concept of prat?tyasamutp?da is the scheme of Twelve Nid?nas (from P?li "nid?na" meaning "cause, foundation, source or origin"), which explain the continuation of the cycle of suffering and rebirth (sa?s?ra) in detail.Sony VAIO VGN-NR51B Battery

Emptiness

Mahayana Buddhism received significant theoretical grounding from Nagarjuna (perhaps c. 150–250 CE), arguably the most influential scholar within the Mahayana tradition. Nagarjuna's primary contribution to Buddhist philosophy was the systematic exposition of the concept of ??nyat?, or "emptiness", widely attested in the Prajñ?p?ramit? sutras which were emergent in his era.Sony VAIO VGN-NR52 Battery

The concept of emptiness brings together other key Buddhist doctrines, particularly anatta and prat?tyasamutp?da (dependent origination), to refute the metaphysics of Sarvastivada and Sautrantika (extinct non-Mahayana schools). For Nagarjuna, it is not merely sentient beings that are empty of ?tman;Sony VAIO VGN-NR52B Battery

all phenomena (dharmas) are without any svabhava (literally "own-nature" or "self-nature"), and thus without any underlying essence; they are "empty" of being independent; thus the heterodox theories of svabhava circulating at the time were refuted on the basis of the doctrines of early Buddhism. Sony VAIO VGN-NR71B Battery

Nagarjuna's school of thought is known as the M?dhyamaka. Some of the writings attributed to Nagarjuna made explicit references to Mahayana texts, but his philosophy was argued within the parameters set out by the agamas. He may have arrived at his positions from a desire to achieve a consistent exegesis of the Buddha's doctrine as recorded in the Canon.Sony VAIO VGN-NR71B2 Battery

In the eyes of Nagarjuna the Buddha was not merely a forerunner, but the very founder of the M?dhyamaka system.

Sarvastivada teachings—which were criticized by N?g?rjuna—were reformulated by scholars such as Vasubandhu and Asanga and were adapted into the Yogacara (Sanskrit: yoga practice) school. Sony VAIO VGN-NR72B Battery

While the M?dhyamaka school held that asserting the existence or non-existence of any ultimately real thing was inappropriate, some exponents of Yogacara asserted that the mind and only the mind is ultimately real (a doctrine known as cittamatra). Not all Yogacarins asserted that mind was truly existent; Vasubandhu and Asanga in particular did not.Sony VAIO VGN-NS10E/S Battery

These two schools of thought, in opposition or synthesis, form the basis of subsequent Mahayana metaphysics in the Indo-Tibetan tradition.

Besides emptiness, Mahayana schools often place emphasis on the notions of perfected spiritual insight (prajñ?p?ramit?) and Buddha-nature (tath?gatagarbha).Sony VAIO VGN-NS10J/S Battery

There are conflicting interpretations of the tath?gatagarbha in Mah?y?na thought. The idea may be traced to Abhidharma, and ultimately to statements of the Buddha in the Nik?yas. In Tibetan Buddhism, according to the Sakya school, tath?gatagarbha is the inseparability of the clarity and emptiness of one's mind.Sony VAIO VGN-NS10L/S Battery

In Nyingma, tath?gatagarbha also generally refers to inseparability of the clarity and emptiness of one's mind. According to the Gelug school, it is the potential for sentient beings to awaken since they are empty (i.e. dependently originated). According to the Jonang school, it refers to the innate qualities of the mind which expresses itself in terms of omniscience etc.Sony VAIO VGN-NS110E/L Battery

when adventitious obscurations are removed. The "Tath?gatagarbha Sutras" are a collection of Mahayana sutras which present a unique model of Buddha-nature. Even though this collection was generally ignored in India,[54] East Asian Buddhism provides some significance to these texts.Sony VAIO VGN-NS110E/S Battery

Nirvana

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 different metaphors for the experience. Sony VAIO VGN-NS110E/W Battery

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 fire, delusion: the extinction of delusion is of course in the early texts identical with what can be positively expressed as gnosis, Enlightenment.Sony VAIO VGN-NS115N/S Battery

Theravada

In Theravada doctrine, a person may awaken from the "sleep of ignorance" by 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 human, animal, ghost, or other being.Sony VAIO VGN-NS11ER/S Battery

The commentaries to the Pali Canon classify these awakened beings into three types:

  • Sammasambuddha, usually just called Buddha, who discovers the truth by himself and teaches the path to awakening to others
  • Paccekabuddha, who discovers the truth by himself but lacks the skill to teach others
  • Savakabuddha, who receive the truth directly or indirectly from a Sammasambuddha  Sony VAIO VGN-NS11E/S Battery

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.Sony VAIO VGN-NS11J/S Battery

Mahayana

In the Mahayana, the Buddha tends not to be viewed as merely human, but as the earthly projection of a beginningless and endless, omnipresent being (see Dharmakaya) beyond the range and reach of thought. Sony VAIO VGN-NS11L/S Battery

Moreover, in certain Mahayana sutras, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are viewed essentially as One: all three are seen as the eternal Buddha himself.

Celestial Buddhas are individuals who no longer exist on the material plane of existence, but who still aid in the enlightenment of all beings.Sony VAIO VGN-NS11MR/S Battery

Nirvana came to refer only to the extinction of greed and hate,implying that delusion was still present in one who attained Nirvana. Bodhi became a higher attainment that eradicates delusion entirely.Thus, the Arahant attains Nirvana but not Bodhi, thus still being subject to delusion, while the Buddha attains Bodhi. Sony VAIO VGN-NS11M/S Battery

The method of self-exertion or "self-power"—without reliance on an external force or being—stands in contrast to another major form of Buddhism, Pure Land, which is characterised by utmost trust in the salvific "other-power" of Amitabha Buddha.Sony VAIO VGN-NS11SR/S Battery

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 will liberate one at death into the Blissful (??), Pure Land (??) of Amitabha Buddha. Sony VAIO VGN-NS11S/S Battery

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 suffering is viewed within Pure Land Buddhism as universally efficacious, if only one has faith in the power of that vow or chants his name.Sony VAIO VGN-NS11ZR/S Battery

Buddha eras

Buddhists believe Gautama Buddha was the first 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. Sony VAIO VGN-NS11Z/S Battery

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. The Gautama Buddha, then, is the Buddha of this era, who taught directly or indirectly to all other Buddhas in it (see types of Buddhas).Sony VAIO VGN-NS12M/S Battery

In addition, Mahayana Buddhists believe there are innumerable other Buddhas in other universes. A Theravada commentary says that Buddhas arise one at a time in this world element, and not at all in others. The understandings of this matter reflect widely differing interpretations of basic terms, such as "world realm", between the various schools of Buddhism.Sony VAIO VGN-NS12M/W Battery

The idea of the decline and gradual disappearance of the teaching has been influential in East Asian Buddhism. Pure Land Buddhism holds that it has declined to the point where few are capable of following the path, so it may be best to rely on the power of the Amitabha Buddha.Sony VAIO VGN-NS12S/S Battery

Bodhisattvas

Bodhisattva means "enlightenment being", and generally refers to one who is on the path to buddhahood, typically as a fully enlightened buddha (Skt. samyaksa?buddha). 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. Sony VAIO VGN-NS21M/P Battery

Mah?y?na Buddhism is based principally upon the path of a bodhisattva. According to Jan Nattier, the term Mah?y?na ("Great Vehicle") was originally even an honorary synonym for Bodhisattvay?na, or the "Bodhisattva Vehicle." The A??as?hasrik? Prajñ?p?ramit? S?tra,Sony VAIO VGN-NS21M/W Battery

an early and important Mah?y?na text, contains a simple and brief definition for the term bodhisattva, and this definition is the following?Because he has enlightenment as his aim, a bodhisattva-mah?sattva is so called.

Mah?y?na Buddhism encourages everyone to become bodhisattvas and to take the bodhisattva vows. Sony VAIO VGN-NS21S/S Battery

With these vows, one makes the promise to work for the complete enlightenment of all beings by practicing six perfections (Skt. p?ramit?).  According to the Mah?y?na teachings, these perfections are: giving, discipline, forbearance, effort, meditation, and transcendent wisdom.Sony VAIO VGN-NS21S/W Battery

Devotion

Devotion is an important part of the practice of most Buddhists.Devotional practices include bowing, offerings, 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.Sony VAIO VGN-NS21Z/S Battery

Yoga

Buddhism traditionally incorporates states of meditative absorption (Pali: jh?na; Skt: dhy?na).  The most ancient sustained expression of yogic ideas is found in the early sermons of the Buddha. One key innovative teaching of the Buddha was that meditative absorption must be combined with liberating cognition.Sony VAIO VGN-NS31M/P Battery

The difference 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, 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.Sony VAIO VGN-NS31M/W Battery

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.Sony VAIO VGN-NS31S/S Battery

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.Sony VAIO VGN-NS31Z/P Battery

Another new teaching of the Buddha was that meditative absorption must be combined with a liberating cognition.

Religious knowledge or "vision" was indicated as a result of practice both within and outside of the Buddhist fold.Sony VAIO VGN-NS31Z/S Battery

According to the Samaññaphala Sutta this sort of vision arose for the Buddhist adept as a result of the perfection of "meditation" coupled with the perfection of "discipline" (Pali. s?la; Skt. ??la). Some of the Buddha's meditative techniques were shared with other traditions of his day,Sony VAIO VGN-NS31Z/W Battery

but the idea that ethics are causally related to the attainment of "transcendent wisdom" (Pali. paññ?; Skt. prajñ?) was original.

The Buddhist texts are probably the earliest describing meditation techniques. They describe meditative practices and states which had existed before the Buddha as well as those which were first developed within Buddhism.Sony VAIO VGN-NS38M/P Battery

Two Upanishads written after the rise of Buddhism do contain full-fledged descriptions of yoga as a means to liberation.

While there is no convincing evidence for meditation in pre-Buddhist early Brahminic texts, Wynne argues that formless meditation originated in the Brahminic or Shramanic tradition, based on strong parallels between Upanishadic cosmological statements and the meditative goals of the two teachers of the Buddha as recorded in the early Buddhist texts.Sony VAIO VGN-NS38M/W Battery

He mentions less likely possibilities as well. Having argued that the cosmological statements in the Upanishads also reflect a contemplative tradition, he argues that the Nasadiya Sukta contains evidence for a contemplative tradition, even as early as the late Rig Vedic period.Sony VAIO VGN-NS130E/L Battery

Refuge in the Three Jewels

Traditionally, the first step in most Buddhist schools requires taking refuge in the Three Jewels (Sanskrit: tri-ratna, P?li: ti-ratana)  as the foundation of one's religious practice. The practice of taking refuge on behalf of young or even unborn children is mentioned in the Majjhima Nikaya, recognized by most scholars as an early text (cf. Infant baptism). Sony VAIO VGN-NS130E/S Battery

Tibetan Buddhism sometimes adds a fourth refuge, in the lama. In Mahayana, the person who chooses thebodhisattva path makes a vow or pledge, considered the ultimate expression of compassion. In Mahayana, too, the Three Jewels are perceived as possessed of an eternal and unchanging essence and as having an irreversible effect: Sony VAIO VGN-NS130E/W Battery

"The Three Jewels have the quality of excellence. Just as real jewels never change their faculty and goodness, whether praised or reviled, so are the Three Jewels (Refuges), because they have an eternal and immutable essence. These Three Jewels bring a fruition that is changeless, for once one has reached Buddhahood, there is no possibility of falling back to suffering."Sony VAIO VGN-NS140E/L Battery

The Three Jewels are:

  • The Buddha. This is a title for those who have attained Nirvana. See also the Tath?gata and Gautama Buddha. The Buddha could also be represented as a concept instead of a specific person: Sony VAIO VGN-NS140E/S Battery
  • 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 Imperishable, Eternal, Indestructible and Absolute Refuge." Sony VAIO VGN-NS140E/W Battery
  • 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 which is inseparable from the Buddha. Further, from some Mahayana perspectives,Sony VAIO VGN-NS190J/L Battery
  • 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. Dr. Hiroshi Kanno writes of this view of the Lotus Sutra: Sony VAIO VGN-NS190J/S Battery
  • "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".
  • The Sangha. Those who have attained to any of the Four stages of enlightenment, or simply the congregation of monastic practitioners.Sony VAIO VGN-NS190J/W Battery

According to the scriptures, Gautama Buddha presented himself as a model. The Dharma offers a refuge by providing guidelines for the alleviation of suffering 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.Sony VAIO VGN-NS235J/L Battery

Buddhist ethics

??la (Sanskrit) or s?la (P?li) is usually translated into English as "virtuous behavior", "morality", "ethics" or "precept". It is an action committed through the body, speech, or mind, and involves an intentional effort. It is one of the three practices (sila, samadhi, and panya) and the second p?ramit?. Sony VAIO VGN-NS235J/P Battery

It refers to moral purity of thought, word, and deed. The four conditions of ??la are chastity, calmness, quiet, and extinguishment.

??la is the foundation of Samadhi/Bh?vana (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. Sony VAIO VGN-NS235J/S Battery

According to the Law of Karma, keeping the precepts are meritorious and it acts as causes which would bring about peaceful and happy effects. Keeping these precepts keeps the cultivator from rebirth in the four woeful realms of existence.

??la refers to overall principles of ethical behavior. There are several levels of sila, which correspond to "basic morality" (five precepts), Sony VAIO VGN-NS235J/W Battery

"basic morality with asceticism" (eight precepts), "novice monkhood" (ten precepts) and "monkhood" (Vinaya or Patimokkha). Lay people generally undertake to live by the five precepts, which are common to all Buddhist schools. If they wish, they can choose to undertake the eight precepts, which add basic asceticism.Sony VAIO VGN-NS240E/L Battery

Monastic life

Vinaya is the specific moral code for monks and nuns. It includes the Patimokkha, a set of 227 rules for monks in the Theravadin recension. The precise content of the vinayapitaka (scriptures on Vinaya) differ slightly according to different schools, and different schools or subschools set different standards for the degree of adherence to Vinaya.Sony VAIO VGN-NS290J/L Battery

Novice-monks use the ten precepts, which are the basic precepts for monastics.

Regarding the monastic rules, the Buddha constantly reminds his hearers that it is the spirit that counts. On the other hand, the rules themselves are designed to assure a satisfying life, and provide a perfect springboard for the higher attainments. Sony VAIO VGN-NS290J/S Battery

Monastics are instructed by the Buddha to live as "islands unto themselves". In this sense, living life as the vinaya prescribes it is, as one scholar puts it: "more than merely a means to an end: it is very nearly the end in itself."

In Eastern Buddhism, there is also a distinctive Vinaya and ethics contained within the Mahayana Brahmajala Sutra Sony VAIO VGN-NS50B/L Battery

(not to be confused with the Pali text of that name) for Bodhisattvas, where, for example, the eating of meat is frowned upon and

 vegetarianism is actively encouraged (see vegetarianism in Buddhism). In Japan, this has almost completely displaced the monastic vinaya, and allows clergy to marry.Sony VAIO VGN-NS50B/W Battery

Meditation

Buddhist meditation is fundamentally concerned with two themes: transforming the mind and using it to explore itself and other phenomena. According to Theravada Buddhism the Buddha taught two types of meditation, samatha meditation (Sanskrit: ?amatha) and vipassan? meditation (Sanskrit: vipa?yan?). Sony VAIO VGN-NS51B/L Battery

In Chinese Buddhism, these exist (translated chih kuan), but Chan (Zen) meditation is more popular. According to Peter Harvey, whenever Buddhism has been healthy, not only monks, nuns, and married lamas, but also more committed lay people have practiced meditation.Sony VAIO VGN-NS51B/P Battery

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. The evidence of the early texts suggests that at the time of the Buddha, many male and female lay practitioners did practice meditation, Sony VAIO VGN-NS51B/W Battery

some even to the point of proficiency in all eight jh?nas (see the next section regarding these).

Sam?dhi (meditative cultivation): samatha meditation

In the language of the Noble Eightfold Path, samyaksam?dhi is "right concentration". The primary means of cultivating sam?dhi is meditation. Upon development of sam?dhi, one's mind becomes purified of defilement, calm, tranquil, and luminous.Sony VAIO VGN-NS52JB/L Battery

Once the meditator achieves a strong and powerful concentration (jh?na, Sanskrit ????? dhy?na), his mind is ready to penetrate and gain insight (vipassan?) into the ultimate nature of reality, eventually obtaining release from all suffering. The cultivation of mindfulness is essential to mental concentration, which is needed to achieve insight.Sony VAIO VGN-NS52JB/P Battery

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 (jh?na) There are many variations in the style of meditation, from sitting cross-legged or kneeling to chanting or walking. Sony VAIO VGN-NS52JB/W Battery

The most common method of meditation is to concentrate on one's breath (anapanasati), because this practice can lead to both samatha and vipassana'.

In Buddhist practice, it is said that while samatha meditation can calm the mind, only vipassan? meditation can reveal how the mind was disturbed to start with, Sony VAIO VGN-NS70B/W Battery

which is what leads to knowledge (jñ?na; P?li ñ??a) and understanding (prajñ? P?li paññ?), and thus can lead to nirv??a (P?li nibb?na). When one is in jhana, all defilements are suppressed temporarily. Only understanding (prajñ? orvipassana) eradicates the defilements completely. Jhanas are also states which Arahants abide in order to rest.Sony VAIO VGN-NS71B/W Battery

In Therav?da

In Therav?da Buddhism, the cause of human existence and suffering is identified as craving, which carries with it the various defilements. These various defilements are traditionally summed up as greed, hatred and delusion. These are believed to be deeply rooted afflictions of the mind that create suffering and stress. Sony VAIO VGN-NS72JB/W Battery

In order to be free from suffering and stress, these defilements need to be permanently uprooted through internal investigation, analyzing, experiencing, and understanding of the true nature of those defilements by using jh?na, a technique which is part of the Noble Eightfold Path. Sony VAIO VGN-NS90HS Battery

It will then lead the meditator to realize the Four Noble Truths, Enlightenment and Nibbana. Nibbana is the ultimate goal of Theravadins.

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