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What is Buddhism? A short introduction for beginners

Posted: July 13, 2018 at 12:46 pm

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The goal of Buddhism is a state of lasting, unconditional happiness known as enlightenment.

To bring us to this state, Buddhism points us tolasting valuesin this impermanent world, and gives us valuable information about how things really are. Through understanding the law ofcause and effect,using practical tools like meditationto gain insight and develop compassion and wisdom, we all of us can tap into our potential to realize the ultimate goal ofenlightenment.

If we really pay attention, we can see that everything in the outside world is changing. Quickly like a candle flame or slowly like a mountain, even the most solid things change. They have no truly permanent essence.

Our inner world of thoughts and feelings is in the same state of constant change.The more we realize how everything is impermanent and dependent on many conditions, the healthier a perspective we can keep on our lives, our relationships, possessions, and values focusing on what truly matters.

If everything comes and goes, is there anything that stays? According to Buddhism,the only thing that is always present is the awareness in which all these experiences and phenomena appear. This awareness is not only timeless but also inherently joyful.

To recognize this timeless awareness here and now means to become enlightened, and it is the ultimate goal of Buddhism.

Buddhism inspires us to take responsibility for our own lives, without moralizing, by understanding cause and effect (karma). Just like gravity, the law of karma functions, everywhere and all the time.

Buddha explained in great detail how we shape our future through our thoughts, words and actions. What we do now accumulates good or bad impressions in our mind. Knowing this gives us great freedom and puts us back in control of our lives. Karma is not fate. We can choose not to do harmful actions, and thus avoid creating the causes of future suffering. To sow the the seeds for good results, we engage in positive actions.

Through Buddhistmeditation, we can also remove the negative impressions already accumulated in our mind from former actions.Once we see how much suffering comes from simply not understanding cause and effect, we naturally develop compassion for others.

In Buddhism, compassion and wisdom go together. Practicing meditation regularly,we get morespace in our mind, and distance from difficult thoughts and feelings. This allows us to see that everyone has the same basic problems as us, and we strengthen our compassionate wishto try to do something to help others.

When we act from compassion, focusing on others rather than ourselves, we get better feedback from the world. The disturbing emotions that we all have, like anger, pride, attachment, and jealousy, loosen their grip. Where there is space that we dont instantly fill with our own concerns any more, wisdom has a chance to appear spontaneously.

Thus, wisdom and compassion grow and support each other on the path.

The Buddha wasspecial because he was the first person to attain full enlightenment in recorded history. But there is no essential difference between the Buddha and us. We all have a mind, and we can all attain liberation and enlightenment by working with our minds.Our body, thoughts, and feelings are constantly changing. Buddhism views them as empty empty of any lasting essence, meaning that they are no basis for a real, separate ego or self. The state of liberation comes when we not only understand this intellectuallybut experience it in a deep, lasting way. With no solid ego we stop taking things personally. We gain an enormous space for joyful development, without the need to react to every negative emotion that comes by.

Enlightenment is the ultimate goal in Buddhism. All positive qualities especially joy, fearlessness, and compassion are now fully perfected. Here, our awareness is all-encompassing, and not limited in any way.With no confusion or disturbance in our minds, we benefit others spontaneously and effortlessly.

If youre interested in getting to know more about Buddhism,you can visit a Buddhist center near you, or continue readingabout what it means to be a Buddhist.

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What is Buddhism? A short introduction for beginners

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July 13th, 2018 at 12:46 pm

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Buddhism and violence – Wikipedia

Posted: March 19, 2018 at 2:46 pm

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Violence in Buddhism includes acts of violence and aggression committed by Buddhists with religious, political, or socio-cultural motivations, as well as self-inflicted violence by ascetics or for religious purposes. Buddhism is generally seen as among the religious traditions least associated with violence, but in the history of Buddhism there have been acts of violence directed, promoted, or inspired by Buddhists. As far as Buddha's teachings and scriptures are concerned, however, Buddhism forbids all forms of violence, even in extreme cases of self-defense.[4]

Even if thieves carve you limb from limb with a double-handed saw, if you make your mind hostile you are not following my teaching.

Kakacpama Sutta, Majjhima-Nikya 28 at MN i 128-29

Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on teachings attributed to Gautama Buddha.[5] Ahimsa, a term meaning 'not to injure', is a primary virtue in Buddhism.

Nirvana is the earliest and most common term used to describe the goal of the Buddhist path and the ultimate eradication of dukkhanature of life that innately includes "suffering", "pain" or "unsatisfactoriness". Violent actions and thoughts, actions which harm and debase others and thoughts which contemplate the same, stand in the way of spiritual growth and the self-conquest which leads to the goal of existence and they are normally deemed unskilled (akusala) and cannot lead to the goal of Nirvana. Buddha condemned killing or harming living beings and encouraged reflection or mindfulness (satipatthana) as right action (or conduct), therefore "the rightness or wrongness of an action centers around whether the action itself would bring about harm to self and/or others". In the Ambalatthika-Rahulovada Sutta, the Buddha says to Rahula:

If you, Rahula, are desirous of doing a deed with the body, you should reflect on the deed with the body, thus: That deed which I am desirous of doing with the body is a deed of the body that might conduce to the harm of self and that might conduce to the harm of others and that might conduce to the harm of both; this deed of body is unskilled (akusala), its yield is anguish, its result is anguish.

The right action or right conduct (samyak-karmnta / samm-kammanta) is the fourth aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path and it said that the practitioner should train oneself to be morally upright in one's activities, not acting in ways that would be corrupt or bring harm to oneself or to others. In the Chinese and Pali Canon, it is explained as:

And what is right action? Abstaining from taking life, from stealing, and from illicit sex [or sexual misconduct]. This is called right action.

For the lay follower, the Cunda Kammaraputta Sutta elaborates:

And how is one made pure in three ways by bodily action? There is the case where a certain person, abandoning the taking of life, abstains from the taking of life. He dwells with his... knife laid down, scrupulous, merciful, compassionate for the welfare of all living beings. Abandoning the taking of what is not given, he abstains from taking what is not given. He does not take, in the manner of a thief, things in a village or a wilderness that belong to others and have not been given by them.[21]

Sarambha can be translated as "accompanied by violence". As the mind filled with lobha, dosa and moha (lust, hatred and delusion) is led to actions which are akusala. Indulging in violence is a form of self-harming. The rejection of violence in society is recognized in Buddhism as a prerequisite for the spiritual progress of society's members, because violence brings pain to beings with similar feelings to oneself. The Buddha is quoted in the Dhammapada as saying, "All are afraid of the stick, all hold their lives dear. Putting oneself in another's place, one should not beat or kill others". Metta (loving kindness), the development of mindstates of limitless good-will for all beings, and karuna, compassion that arises when you see someone suffering of the human being, are attitudes said to be excellent or sublime because they are the right or ideal way of conduct towards living beings (sattesu samma patipatti). The Sutta Nipata says "'As I am, so are these. As are these, so am I.' Drawing the parallel to yourself, neither kill nor get others to kill."[27]

In Buddhism, to take refuge in the Dharmaone of the Three Jewelsone should not harm other sentient beings. The Nirvana Sutra states, "By taking refuge in the precious Dharma, One's minds should be free from hurting or harming others". One of the Five Precepts of Buddhist ethics or la states, "I undertake the training rule to abstain from killing." The Buddha reportedly stated, "Victory breeds hatred. The defeated live in pain. Happily the peaceful live giving up victory and defeat." These elements are used to indicate Buddhism is pacifistic and all violence done by Buddhists, even monks, is likely due to economic or political reasons.[34]

The teaching of right speech (samyag-vc / samm-vc) in the Noble Eightfold Path, condemn all speech that is in any way harmful (malicious and harsh speech) and divisive, encouraging to speak in thoughtful and helpful ways. The Pali Canon explained:

And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and from idle chatter: This is called right speech.[14][15]

Michael Jerryson,[36] Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Ohio's Youngstown State University and co-editor of the book Buddhist Warfare, said that "Buddhism differs in that the act of killing is less the focus than the 'intention' behind the killing" and "The first thing to remember is that people have a penchant for violence, it just so happens that every religion has people in it."

Gananath Obeyesekere, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University, said that "in the Buddhist doctrinal tradition... there is little evidence of intolerance, no justification for violence, no conception even of 'just wars' or 'holy wars.' ... one can make an assertion that Buddhist doctrine is impossible to reconcile logically with an ideology of violence and intolerance"

There is however in Buddhism a long tradition of self-inflicted violence and death, as a form of asceticism or protest, as exemplified by the use of fires and burns to show determinations among Chinese monks or by the self-immolations of monks such as Thch Qung c during the Vietnam war.

In Southeast Asia, Thailand has had several prominent virulent Buddhist monastic calls for violence. In the 1970s, nationalist Buddhist monks like Phra Kittiwuttho argued that killing Communists did not violate any of the Buddhist precepts. The militant side of Thai Buddhism became prominent again in 2004 when a Malay Muslim insurgency renewed in Thailand's deep south. At first Buddhist monks ignored the conflict as they viewed it as political and not religious but eventually they adopted an "identity-formation", as practical realities require deviations from religious ideals.

In recent years the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), the military regime of Burma from 1988 to 2011, had strongly encouraged the conversion of ethnic minorities, often by force, as part of its campaign of assimilation. The regime promoted a vision of Burmese Buddhist nationalism as a cultural and a political ideology to legitimise its contested rule, trying to bring a religious syncretism between Buddhism and its totalitarian ideology.

The Saffron Revolution, a series of economic and political protests and demonstrations that took place during 2007, were led by students, political activists, including women, and Buddhist monks and took the form of a campaign of nonviolent resistance, sometimes also called civil resistance.

In response to the protests dozens of protesters were arrested or detained. Starting in September 2007 the protests were led by thousands of Buddhist monks, and those protests were allowed to proceed until a renewed government crackdown in late September 2007.[42] At least 184 protesters were shot and killed and many were tortured. Under the SPDC, the Burmese army engaged in military offensives against ethnic minority populations, committing acts that violated international humanitarian law.[43]

Myanmar had become a stronghold of Buddhist aggression and such acts are spurred by hardline nationalistic monks.[44][45][46][47][48] The oldest militant organisation active in the region is Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), headed by a Buddhist monk U Thuzana, since 1992.[49] In the recent years the monks, and the terrorist acts, are associated with the nationalist 969 Movement particularly in Myanmar and neighboring nations.[50][51] The violence reached prominence in June 2012 when more than 200 people were killed and around 100,000 were displaced.[52][53] As of 2012, the "969" movement by monks (the prominent among whom is Wirathu) had helped create anti-Islamic nationalist movements in the region, and have urged Myanmar Buddhists to boycott Muslim services and trades, resulting in persecution of Muslims in Burma by Buddhist-led mobs. However, not all of the culprits were Buddhists and the motives were as much economic as religious.[50][54][55] On 20 June 2013, Wirathu was mentioned on the cover story of Time magazine as "The Face of Buddhist Terror".[56] According to the Human Rights Watch report, the Burmese government and local authorities played a key role in the forcible displacement of more than 125,000 Rohingya people and other Muslims in the region. The report further specifies the coordinated attacks of October 2012 that were carried out in different cities by Burmese officials, community leaders and Buddhist monks to terrorize and forcibly relocate the population.[57] The violence of Meiktila, Lashio (2013) and Mandalay (2014) are the latest Buddhist violence in Burma.[58][59][60][61]

Michael Jerryson, author of several books heavily critical of Buddhism's traditional peaceful perceptions, stated that, "The Burmese Buddhist monks may not have initiated the violence but they rode the wave and began to incite more. While the ideals of Buddhist canonical texts promote peace and pacifism, discrepancies between reality and precepts easily flourish in times of social, political and economic insecurity, such as Myanmar's current transition to democracy."[62]

However several Buddhist leaders including Thch Nht Hnh, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Shodo Harada and the Dalai Lama among others condemned the violence against Muslims in Myanmar and called for peace, supporting the practice of the fundamental Buddhist principles of non-harming, mutual respect and compassion. The Dalai Lama said "Buddha always teaches us about forgiveness, tolerance, compassion. If from one corner of your mind, some emotion makes you want to hit, or want to kill, then please remember Buddha's faith. We are followers of Buddha." He said that "All problems must be solved through dialogue, through talk. The use of violence is outdated, and never solves problems."[63][64]

Maung Zarni, a Burmese democracy advocate, human rights campaigner, and a research fellow at the London School of Economics who has written on the violence in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, states that there is no room for fundamentalism in Buddhism. "No Buddhist can be nationalistic," said Zarni, "There is no country for Buddhists. I mean, no such thing as me, my community, my country, my race or even my faith."[65]

Ashokavadana states that there was a mass killing of Jains for disrespecting the Buddha by King Ashoka in which around 18,000 followers of Jainism were killed.[66] However this incident is controversial.[67][68] According to K.T.S. Sarao and Benimadhab Barua, stories of persecutions of rival sects by Ashoka appear to be a clear fabrication arising out of sectarian propaganda.[67][68][69]

Buddhism in Sri Lanka has a unique history and has played an important role in the shaping of Sinhalese nationalist identity. Consequently, politicized Buddhism has contributed to ethnic tension in the island between the majority Sinhalese Buddhist population and other minorities, especially the Tamils.

The mytho-historical accounts in the Sinhalese Buddhist national chronicle Mahavamsa ('Great Chronicle'), a non-canonical text written in the sixth century CE by Buddhist monks to glorify Buddhism in Sri Lanka, have been influential in the creation of Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism and militant Buddhism.[70][71][72][74][75][76][77][78] The Mahavamsa states that Lord Buddha made three visits to Sri Lanka in which he rids the island of forces inimical to Buddhism and instructs deities to protect the ancestors of the Sinhalese (Prince Vijaya and his followers from North India) to enable the establishment and flourishing of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. This myth has led to the widely held Sinhalese Buddhist belief that the country is Sihadipa (island of the Sinhalese) and Dhammadipa (the island ennobled to preserve and propagate Buddhism). In other words, Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists maintain that they are the Buddha's chosen people, and that the island of Sri Lanka is the Buddhist promised land. The Mahavamsa also describes an account of the Buddhist warrior king Dutthagamani, his army, and 500 Buddhist monks battling and defeating the Tamil king Elara, who had come from South India and usurped power in Anuradhapura (the island's capital at the time). When Duthagamani laments over the thousands he has killed, the eight arhats (Buddha's enlightened disciples) who come to console him reply that no real sin has been committed by him because he has only killed Tamil unbelievers who are no better than beasts and go onto say: "thou wilt bring glory to the doctrine of the Buddha in manifold ways; therefore cast away care from the heart, O ruler of men".[86]

The Dutthagamani's campaign against king Elara was not to defeat injustice, as the Mahavamsa describes Elara as a good ruler, but to restore Buddhism through a united Sri Lanka under a Buddhist monarch, even by the use of violence.[87] The Mahavamsa story about Buddha's visit to Sri Lanka where he (referred to as the "Conqueror") subdues forces inimical to Buddhism, the Yakkhas (depicted as the non-human inhabitants of the island), by striking "terror to their hearts" and driving them from their homeland, so that his doctrine should eventually "shine in glory", has been described as providing the warrant for the use of violence for the sake of Buddhism and as an account that is in keeping with the general message of the author that the political unity of Sri Lanka under Buddhism requires the removal of uncooperative groups.

According to Neil DeVotta (an Associate Professor of Political Science), the mytho-history described in the Mahavamsa "justifies dehumanizing non-Sinhalese, if doing so is necessary to preserve, protect, and propagate the dhamma (Buddhist doctrine). Furthermore, it legitimizes a just war doctrine, provided that war is waged to protect Buddhism. Together with the Vijaya myth, it introduces the bases for the Sinhalese Buddhist belief that Lord Buddha designated the island of Sri Lanka as a repository for Theravada Buddhism. It claims the Sinhalese were the first humans to inhabit the island (as those who predated the Sinhalese were subhuman) and are thus the true "sons of the soil". Additionally, it institutes the belief that the island's kings were beholden to protect and foster Buddhism. All of these legacies have had ramifications for the trajectory of political Buddhism and Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism."

With the rise of modern Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as a reaction to the changes brought under the British colonialism,[90] the old religious mytho-history of the Mahavamsa (especially the emphasis on the Sinhalese and Tamil ethnicities of Duthagamani and Elara, respectively) was revitalized and consequently would prove to be detrimental to the intergroup harmony in the island. As Heather Selma Gregg writes: "Modern-day Sinhalese nationalism, rooted in local myths of being a religiously chosen people and of special progeny, demonstrates that even a religion perceived as inherently peaceful can help fuel violence and hatred in its name."[92]

Buddhist revivalism took place among the Sinhalese to counter Christian missionary influence. The British commissioned the Sinhala translation of the Mahavamsa (which was originally written in Pali), thereby making it accessible to the wider Sinhalese population.[93] During this time the first riot in modern Sri Lankan history broke out in 1883, between Buddhists and Catholics, highlighting the "growing religious divide between the two communities".

The central figure in the formation of modern Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism was the Buddhist revivalist Anagarika Dharmapala (18641933), who has been described as "the father of modern Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism". Dharmapala was hostile to all things un-Sinhalese and non-Buddhist. He insisted that the Sinhalese were racially pure and superior Aryans while the Dravidian Tamils were inferior.[96][97] He popularized the impression that Tamils and Sinhalese had been deadly enemies in Sri Lanka for nearly 2,000 years by quoting the Mahavamsa passages that depicted Tamils as pagan invaders.[98] He characterized the Tamils as "fiercely antagonistic to Buddhism".[99] He also expressed intolerance toward the island's Muslim minorities and other religions in general.[100] Dharmapala also fostered Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism in the spirit of the King Dutthagamani who "rescued Buddhism and our nationalism from oblivion" and stated explicitly that the Island belongs to the Sinhalese Buddhists. Dharmapala has been blamed for laying the groundwork for subsequent Sinhalese Buddhists nationalists to create an ethnocentric state and for hostility to be directed against minorities unwilling to accept such a state.[103]

Upon independence Sinhalese Buddhist elites instituted discriminatory policies based on the Buddhist ethno-nationalist ideology of the Mahavamsa that privileges Sinhalese Buddhist hegemony in the island as Buddha's chosen people for whom the island is a promised land and justifies subjugation of minorities. Sinhalese Buddhist officials saw that decreasing Tamil influence was a necessary part of fostering Buddhist cultural renaissance.[105] The Dutthagamani myth was also used to institute Sinhalese Buddhist domination with some politicians even identifying with such a mytho-historic hero and activist monks looked to Dutthagamani as an example to imitate. This principal hero of Mahavamsa became widely regarded as exemplary by the 20th century Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists because of his defense of Buddhism and the unification of Sri Lanka that journalists started talking about "the Mahavamsa mentality".[106]

D. S. Senanayake, who would become Sri Lanka's first prime minister in 1947, reaffirmed in 1939 the common Mahavamsa-based assumption of the Sinhalese Buddhist responsibility for the island's destiny by proclaiming that the Sinhalese Buddhists "are one blood and one nation. We are a chosen people. Buddha said that his religion would last for 5,500 [sic] years. That means that we, as the custodians of that religion, shall last as long." Buddhists monks became increasingly involved in post-independence politics, promoting Sinhalese Buddhist interests, at the expense of minorities. Walpola Rahula, Sri Lanka's foremost Buddhist monk scholar and one of the leading proponents of Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism, played a major role in advocating for the involvement of monks in politics, using Buddhist king Dutthagamani's relationship with the sangha to bolster his position. Rahula also argued for a just war doctrine to protect Buddhism by using the example of wars waged by Dutthagamani to restore Buddhism. Rahula maintained that "the entire Sinhalese race was united under the banner of the young Gamini [Dutthagamani]. This was the beginning of nationalism among the Sinhalese. It was a new race with healthy young blood, organized under the new order of Buddhism. A kind of religionationalism, which almost amounted to fanaticism, roused the whole Sinhalese people. A non-Buddhist was not regarded as a human being. Evidently all Sinhalese without exception were Buddhists." In reflecting on Rahula's works, anthropologist H.L. Seneviratne writes that, "it suits Rahula to be an advocate of a Buddhism that glorifies social intercourse with lay society ... the receipt of salaries and other forms of material remuneration; ethnic exclusivism and Sinhala Buddhist hegemony; militancy in politics; and violence, war and the spilling of blood in the name of "preserving the religion"".

In 1956, the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC) released a report titled, "The Betrayal of Buddhism", inquiring into the status of Buddhism in the island. The report argued that Buddhism had been weakened by external threats such as the Tamil invaders mentioned in the Mahavamsa and later Western colonial powers. It also demanded the state to restore and foster Buddhism and to give preferential treatment to Buddhist schools. The same year, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike capitalized on the ACBC report and its recommendations as the foundation for his election campaign, using it as the 'blueprint for a broad spectrum of policy', which included introducing Sinhala as the sole official language of the state. With the help of significant number of Buddhist monks and various Sinhalese Buddhist organizations, Bandaranaike became prime minister after winning the 1956 elections. Bandaranaike had also campaigned on the basis of Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism, drawing influences from the writings of Dharmapala and the Mahavamsa, arguing that it was the duty of the government to preserve the Sinhalese Buddhist nature of the island's destiny. Once in power, Bandaranaike implemented the 1956 Sinhala Only Act, which would make Sinhala the country's official language and hence all official state transactions would be conducted in Sinhala. This put non-Sinhala speakers at a disadvantage for employment and educational opportunities. As a result, Tamils protested the policy by staging sit-ins, which in turn prompted counterdemonstrations by Buddhist monks, later degenerating into anti-Tamil riots in which more than one hundred people were injured and Tamil businesses were looted. Riots then spread throughout the country killing hundreds of people. Bandaranaike tried to mitigate tensions over the language policy by proposing a compromise with the Tamil leaders, resulting in a 1957 pact that would allow the use of Tamil as an in administrative language along with Sinhala and greater political autonomy for Tamils. Buddhist monks and other Sinhalese nationalists opposed this pact by staging mass demonstrations and hunger strikes.[110] In an editorial in the same year, a monk asks Bandaranaike to read Mahavamsa and to heed its lessons: "[Dutthagamani] conquered by the sword and united the land [Sri Lanka] without dividing it among our enemies [i.e. the Tamils] and established Sinhala and Buddhism as the state language and religion." In the late 1950s, it had become common for politicians and monks to exploit the Mahavamsa narrative of Dutthagamani to oppose any concession to the Tamil minorities.

With Buddhist monks playing a major role in exerting pressure to abrogate the pact, Bandaranaike acceded to their demands in April 9, 1958 by tearing up "a copy of the pact in front of the assembled monks who clapped in joy". Soon after the pact was abrogated, another series of anti-Tamil riots spread throughout the country, which left hundreds dead and thousands displaced. Preceding the 1958 riots, rhetoric of monks contributed to the perception of Tamils being the enemies of the country and of Buddhism. Both Buddhist monks and laity laid the foundation for the justifiable use of force against Tamils in response to their demand for greater autonomy by arguing that the whole of Sri Lanka was a promised land of the Sinhalese Buddhists and it was the role of the monks to defend a united Sri Lanka. Tamils were also portrayed as threatening interlopers, compared to the Mahavamsa account of the usurper Tamil king Elara. Monks and politicians invoked the story of the Buddhist warrior king Dutthagamani to urge the Sinhalese to fight against Tamils and their claims to the island, thereby providing justification for violence against Tamils. As Tessa J. Bartholomeusz explains: "Tamil claims to a homeland were met with an ideology, linked to a Buddhist story, that legitimated war with just cause: the protection of Sri Lanka for the Sinhala-Buddhist people." In order to appease Tamils amidst the ethnic tension, Bandaranaike modified the Sinhala Only Act to allow Tamil to be used in education and government in Tamil areas and as a result a, Buddhist monk named Talduwe Somarama assassinated him on September 26, 1959. The monk claimed he carried out the assassination "for the greater good of his country, race and religion".[114] It has also been suggested that the monk was guided in part by reading of the Mahavamsa.

Successive governments after Bandaranaike implemented similar Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist agenda, at the expense of minorities. In 1972, the government rewrote its constitution and gave Buddhism "the foremost place [in the Republic of Sri Lanka]" and making it "the duty of the state to protect and foster Buddhism". With another pact in 1965 that sought to establish greater regional autonomy for Tamils being abrogated (some members of the Buddhist clergy were at the forefront in opposing the pact) and the implementation of discriminatory quota system in 1974 that severely restricted Tamil entrance to universities, Tamil youth became radicalized, calling for an independent homeland to be established in the Tamil-dominated northeastern region of the island. In 1977, anti-Tamil riots spread throughout the country, killing hundreds of Tamils and leaving thousands homeless.[116] A leading monk claimed that one of the reasons for the anti-Tamil riots of 1977 was the Tamil demonization of the Sinhalese Buddhist epic hero Dutthagamani which resulted in a justified retaliation. Another anti-Tamil riot erupted in 1981 in Jaffna, where Sinhalese police and paramilitaries destroyed statues of Tamil cultural and religious figures; looted and torched a Hindu temple and Tamil-owned shops and homes; killed four Tamils; and torched the Jaffna Public Library which was of great cultural significance to Tamils.[105] In response to the militant separatist Tamil group LTTE killing 13 Sinhalese soldiers, the largest anti-Tamil pogrom occurred in 1983, leaving between 2,000 and 3,000 of Tamils killed and forcing from 70,000 to 100,000 Tamils into refugee camps, eventually propelling the country into a civil war between the LTTE and the predominately Sinhalese Buddhist Sri Lankan government.[118] In the 1983 anti-Tamil pogrom, Buddhist monks lead rioters in some instance. Cyril Mathew, a Senior Minister in President Jayawardene's Cabinet and a Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist who in the year preceding the pogrom reaffirmed the special relationship between Buddhism and Sinhalese and the Buddhist nature of the country, was also responsible for the pogrom.[119] In the months following the anti-Tamil pogrom, authorizations for violence against Tamils began to appear in the press, with Tamils being depicted as interlopers on Dhammadipa. The Mahavamsa narrative of Dutthagamani and Elara was also invoked to justify violence against Tamils. The aftermath of the pogrom spawned debates over the rights to the island with the "sons of the soil" ideology being called into prominence. A government agent declared that Sri Lanka's manifest destiny "was to uphold the pristine doctrine of Theravada Buddhism". This implied that Sinhalese Buddhists had a sacred claim to Sri Lanka, while the Tamils did not, a claim which might call for violence. The Sinhalese Buddhists, including the Sri Lankan government, resisted the Tamil claim to a separate homeland of their own as the Sinhalese Buddhists maintained that the entire country belonged to them. Another government agent linked the then Prime Minister Jayewardene's attempts to thwart the emergence of a Tamil homeland to Dutthagamani's victory over Elara and went on to say, "[w]e will never allow the country to be divided," thereby justifying violence against Tamils.

In the context of increasing Tamil militant struggle for separatism, militant Buddhist monks founded the Mavbima Surakime Vyaparaya (MSV) or "Movement for the Protection of the Motherland" in 1986 which sought to work with political parties "to maintain territorial unity of Sri Lanka and Sinhalese Buddhist sovereignty over the island". The MSV used the Mahavamsa to justify its goals, which included the usage of force to fight against the Tamil threat and defend the Buddhist state. In 1987, along with the MSV, the JVP (a militant Sinhalese nationalist group which included monks) took up arms to protest the signing of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord which sought to establish peace in Sri Lanka by requiring the Sri Lankan government to make a number of concessions to Tamil demands, including devolution of power to Tamil provinces. The JVP, with the support of the Sangha, launched a campaign of violent insurrection against the government to oppose the accord as the Sinhalese nationalists believed it would compromise the sovereignty of Sri Lanka.[121]

From the beginning of the civil war in 1983 to the end of it in 2009, Buddhist monks were involved in politics and opposed negotiations, ceasefire agreements, or any devolution of power to Tamil minorities, and most supported military solution to the conflict.[124] This has led to Asanga Tilakaratne, head of the Department of Buddhist Philosophy in the Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies in Colombo, to remark that "the Sinhala Buddhist nationalists are ... opposed to any attempt to solve the ethnic problem by peaceful means; and they call for a 'holy war' against Tamils". It has been argued that the absence of opportunities for power sharing among the different ethnic groups in the island "has been one of the primary factors behind the intensification of the conflict". Numerous Buddhist religious leaders and Buddhist organizations since the country's independence have played a role in mobilizing against the devolution of power to the Tamils. Leading Buddhist monks opposed devolution of power that would grant regional autonomy to Tamils on the basis of Mahavamsa worldview that the entire country is a Buddhist promised land which belongs to the Sinhalese Buddhist people, along with the fear that devolution would eventually lead to separate country.[127][128]

The two major contemporary political parties to advocate for Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism are The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) or "National Heritage Party", the latter of which is composed solely of Buddhist monks. According to A. R. M. Imtiyaz, these groups share common goals: "to uphold Buddhism and establish a link between the state and religion, and to advocate a violent solution to the Tamil question and oppose all form of devolution to the minorities, particularly the Tamils". The JHU, in shunning non-violent solutions to the ethnic conflict, urged young Sinhalese Buddhists to sign up for the army, with as many as 30,000 Sinhalese young men doing just that.[129] One JHU leader even declared that NGOs and certain government servants were traitors and they should be set on fire and burnt due to their opposition to a military solution to the civil war.[130] The international community encouraged a federal structure for Sri Lanka as a peaceful solution to the civil war but any form of Tamil self-determination, even the more limited measure of autonomy, was strongly opposed by hard-line Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist groups such as the JVP and JHU, who pushed for the military solution.[131][132] These groups in their hard-line support for a military solution to the conflict, without any regard for the plight of innocent Tamil civilians,[133] have opposed negotiated settlement, ceasefire agreement, demanded that the Norwegians be removed as peace facilitators, demanded the war to be prosecuted more forcefully and exerted influence in the Rajapaksa government (which they helped to elect), resulting in the brutal military defeat of the LTTE with heavy civilian casualties.[134] The nationalist monks' support of the government's military offense against the LTTE gave "religious legitimacy to the state's claim of protecting the island for the Sinhalese Buddhist majority."[135] President Rajapaksa, in his war against the LTTE, has been compared to the Buddhist king Dutthagamani by the Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists.[136]

Other minority groups have also come under attack by Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists. Fear of country's Buddhist hegemony being challenged by Christian proselytism has driven Buddhist monks and organizations to demonize Christian organizations with one popular monk comparing missionary activity to terrorism; as a result, Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists, including the JVP and JHU, who oppose attempts to convert Buddhists to another religion, support or conduct anti-Christian violence. Number of attacks against Christian churches rose from 14 in 2000 to 146 or over 200 in 2003 and 2004, with extremist Buddhist clergy leading the violence in some areas. Anti-Christian violence has included "beatings, arson, acts of sacrilege, death threats, violent disruption of worship, stoning, abuse, unlawful restraint, and even interference with funerals". It has been noted that the strongest anti-West sentiments accompany the anti-Christian violence since the Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists identify Christianity with the West which they think is conspiring to undermine Buddhism.[137][138]

In the postwar Sri Lanka, ethnic and religious minorities continue face threat from Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism.[139][140][141] There have been continued sporadic attacks on Christian churches by Buddhist extremists who allege Christians of conducting unethical or forced conversion.[142] The Pew Research Center has listed Sri Lanka among the countries with very high religious hostilities in 2012 due to the violence committed by Buddhist monks against Muslim and Christian places of worship.[143] Extremist Buddhist leaders justify their attacks on the places of worship of minorities by arguing that Sri Lanka is the promised land of the Sinhalese Buddhists to safeguard Buddhism.[144][145] The recently formed Buddhist extremist group, the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), or Buddhist Power Force, founded by Buddhist monks in 2012, has been accused of inciting the anti-Muslim riots that killed 4 Muslims and injured 80 in 2014.[146] The leader of the BBS, in linking the government's military victory over the LTTE to the ancient Buddhist king conquest of Tamil king Elara, said that Tamils have been taught a lesson twice and warned other minorities of the same fate if they tried to challenge Sinhalese Buddhist culture.[135] The BBS has been compared to the Taliban, accused of spreading extremism and communal hatred against Muslims[147] and has been described as an "ethno-religious fascist movement".[148] Buddhist monks have also protested against UN Human Rights Council resolution that called for an inquiry into humanitarian abuses and possible war crimes during the civil war.[149] The BBS has received criticism and oppostition from other Buddhist clergy and politicians. Mangala Samaraweera, a Sri Lankan Theravada Buddhist politician who has served as Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2015, has accused the BBS of being "a representation of Taliban terrorism" and of spreading extremism and communal hatred against Muslims.[150][151] Samaraweera has also alleged that the BBS is secretly funded by the Ministry of Defence.[150][151] Anunayake Bellanwila Wimalaratana, deputy incumbent of Bellanwila Rajamaha Viharaya and President of the Bellanwila Community Development Foundation, has stated that "The views of the Bodu Bala Sena are not the views of the entire Sangha community" and that "We dont use our fists to solve problems, we use our brains".[152] Wataraka Vijitha Thero, a buddhist monk who condemns violence against Muslims and heavily criticized the BBS and the government, has been attacked and tortured for his stances.[153][154][155]

Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism is opposed to Sarvodaya, although they share many of the same influences like Dharmapla's teachings by example, by having a focus upon Sinhalese culture and ethnicity sanctioning the use of violence in defence of dhamma, while Sarvodaya has emphasized the application of Buddhist values in order to transform society and campaigning for peace.[156]

These Buddhist nationalists have been opposed by the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, a self-governance movement led by the Buddhist Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne and based in Buddhist ideals, who condemn the use of violence and the denial of Human rights to Tamils and other non-Buddhists.[157] Ariyaratne calls for non-violent action and he has been actively working for peace in Sri Lanka for many decades, and has stated that the only way to peace is through "the dispelling of the view of 'I and mine' or the shedding of 'self' and the realization of the true doctrines of the interconnection between all animal species and the unity of all humanity,"[158] thus advocating social action in Buddhist terms. He stated in one of his lectures, "When we work towards the welfare of all the means we use have to be based on Truth, Non-violence and Selflessness in conformity with Awakening of All".[159] What Ariyaratne advocates is losing the self in the service of others and attempting to bring others to awakening. Ariyaratne has stated, "I cannot awaken myself unless I help awaken others".[159]

The beginning of "Buddhist violence" in Japan relates to a long history of feuds among Buddhists. The shei or "warrior monks" appeared during the Heian period, although the seeming contradiction in being a Buddhist "warrior monk" caused controversy even at the time.[160] More directly linked is that the Ikk-sh movement was considered an inspiration to Buddhists in the Ikk-ikki rebellion. In Osaka they defended their temple with the slogan "The mercy of Buddha should be recompensed even by pounding flesh to pieces. One's obligation to the Teacher should be recompensed even by smashing bones to bits!"[161]

During World War II, Japanese Buddhist literature from that time, as part of its support of the Japanese war effort, stated "In order to establish eternal peace in East Asia, arousing the great benevolence and compassion of Buddhism, we are sometimes accepting and sometimes forceful. We now have no choice but to exercise the benevolent forcefulness of 'killing one in order that many may live' (issatsu tash). This is something which Mahayana Buddhism approves of only with the greatest of seriousness..."[162] Almost all Japanese Buddhists temples strongly supported Japan's militarization.[163][164][165][166][167][168] These were heavily criticized by the Chinese Buddhists of the era who disputed the validity of the statements made by those Japanese Buddhists supporters of the war. In response the Japanese Pan-Buddhist Society (Myowa Kai) rejected the criticism and stated that "We now have no choice but to exercise the benevolent forcefulness of 'killing one in order that many may live' (issatsu tash)" and that the war was absolutely necessary to implement the dharma in Asia. The society re-examined more than 70 text written by Nichiren and re-edited his writings, making changes in 208 places, cutting all the statements that disagreed with the state Shinto.[169][170] In contrast, a few Japanese Buddhists such as Ichikawa Haku[171] and Senoo Gir opposed this and were targeted. During the 1940s, "leaders of the Honmon Hokkeshu and Soka Kyoiku Gakkai were imprisoned for their defiance of wartime government religious policy, which mandated display of reverence for the state Shinto".[172][173][174] Brian Daizen Victoria, a Buddhist priest in the St Zen sect, documented in his book Zen at War how Buddhist institutions justified Japanese militarism in official publications and cooperated with the Imperial Japanese Army in the Russo-Japanese War and World War II. In response to the book, several sects issued an apology for their wartime support of the government.[175][176]

In more modern times instances of Buddhist-inspired terrorism or militarism have occurred in Japan, such as the assassinations of the League of Blood Incident led by Nissho Inoue, a Nichirenist or fascist-nationalist who preached a self-styled Nichiren Buddhism.[175][177][178]

Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese new religion and doomsday cult that was the cause of the Tokyo subway sarin attack that killed thirteen people and injured more than a thousand, drew upon a syncretic view of idiosyncratic interpretations of elements of early Indian Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism, taking Shiva as the main image of worship, Christian millennialist ideas from the Book of Revelation, Yoga and the writings of Nostradamus.[179][180] Its founder, Chizuo Matsumoto, claimed that he sought to restore "original Buddhism"[181] and declared himself "Christ",[182] Japan's only fully enlightened master and identified with the "Lamb of God".[183] His purported mission was to take upon himself the sins of the world, and he claimed he could transfer to his followers spiritual power and ultimately take away their sins and bad deeds.[184] While many discount Aum Shinrikyo's Buddhist characteristics and affiliation to Buddhism, scholars often refer to it as an offshoot of Japanese Buddhism,[185] and this was how the movement generally defined and saw itself.[186]

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Written by grays

March 19th, 2018 at 2:46 pm

Posted in Buddhist Concepts

Karma in Buddhism – Wikipedia

Posted: March 2, 2018 at 4:42 pm

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For the use of this term in other Indian religions, see Karma.

Karma (Sanskrit, also karman, Pli: kamma) is a Sanskrit term that literally means "action" or "doing". In the Buddhist tradition, karma refers to action driven by intention (cetan) which leads to future consequences. Those intentions are considered to be the determining factor in the kind of rebirth in samsara, the cycle of rebirth.

Karma (Sanskrit, also karman, Pli: kamma, Tib. las) is a Sanskrit term that literally means "action" or "doing". The word karma derives from the verbal root k, which means "do, make, perform, accomplish."

Karmaphala (Tib. rgyu 'bras[note 1]) is the "fruit", "effect" or "result" of karma. A similar term is karmavipaka, the "maturation" or "cooking" of karma:

The remote effects of karmic choices are referred to as the 'maturation' (vipka) or 'fruit' (phala) of the karmic act."

The metaphor is derived from agriculture:

One sows a seed, there is a time lag during which some mysterious invisible process takes place, and then the plant pops up and can be harvested.

Karma and karmaphala are fundamental concepts in Buddhism. The concepts of karma and karmaphala explain how our intentional actions keep us tied to rebirth in samsara, whereas the Buddhist path, as exemplified in the Noble Eightfold Path, shows us the way out of samsara.

Rebirth,[note 2], is a common belief in all Buddhist traditions. It says that birth and death in the six realms occur in successive cycles driven by ignorance (avidy), desire (trsn), and hatred (dvesa). The cycle of rebirth is called samsar. It is a beginningless and ever-ongoing process. Liberation from samsar can be attained by following the Buddhist Path. This path leads to vidy, and the stilling of trsn and dvesa. Hereby the ongoing process of rebirth is stopped.

The cycle of rebirth is determined by karma, literally "action".[note 3] In the Buddhist tradition, karma refers to actions driven by intention (cetan),[quote 1] a deed done deliberately through body, speech or mind, which leads to future consequences. The Nibbedhika Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya 6.63:

Intention (cetana) I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & intellect.[web 1][note 4]

According to Peter Harvey,

It is the psychological impulse behind an action that is 'karma', that which sets going a chain of causes culminating in karmic fruit. Actions, then, must be intentional if they are to generate karmic fruits.

And according to Gombrich,

The Buddha defined karma as intention; whether the intention manifested itself in physical, vocal or mental form, it was the intention alone which had a moral character: good, bad or neutral [...] The focus of interest shifted from physical action, involving people and objects in the real world, to psychological process.

According to Gombrich, this was a great innovation, which overturns brahmanical, caste-bound ethics. It's a rejection of caste-bound differences, giving the same possibility to reach liberation to all people, not just Brahmanins:

Not by birth is one a brahmin or an outcaste, but by deeds (kamma).[note 5]

How this emphasis on intention was to be interpreted became a matter of debate in and between the various Buddhist schools.[note 6]

Karma leads to future consequences, karma-phala, "fruit of action". Any given action may cause all sorts of results, but the karmic results are only those results which are a consequence of both the moral quality of the action, and of the intention behind the action.[note 7] According to Reichenbach,

[T]he consequences envisioned by the law of karma encompass more (as well as less) than the observed natural or physical results which follow upon the performance of an action.

The "law of karma" applies

...specifically to the moral sphere [It is] not concerned with the general relation between actions and their consequences, but rather with the moral quality of actions and their consequences, such as the pain and pleasure and good or bad experiences for the doer of the act.

Good moral actions lead to wholesome rebirths, and bad moral actions lead to unwholesome rebirths.[quote 3][quote 4] The main factor is how they contribute to the well-being of others in a positive or negative sense. Especially dna, giving to the buddhist order, became an increasingly important source of positive karma.

How these intentional actions lead to rebirth, and how the idea of rebirth is to be reconciled with the doctrines of impermanence and no-self,[quote 5] is a matter of philosophical inquiry in the Buddhist traditions, for which several solutions have been proposed. In early Buddhism no explicit theory of rebirth and karma is worked out, and "the karma doctrine may have been incidental to early Buddhist soteriology." In early Buddhism, rebirth is ascribed to craving or ignorance.

In later Buddhism, the basic ideas is that intentional actions, driven by kleshas ("disturbing emotions"),[web 3] cetan ("volition"), or tah ("thirst", "craving") create impressions,[web 4][note 8] tendencies[web 4] or "seeds" in the mind. These impressions, or "seeds", will ripen into a future result or fruition.[quote 6][note 9] If we can overcome our kleshas, then we break the chain of causal effects that leads to rebirth in the six realms.[web 3] The twelve links of dependent origination provides a theoretical framework, explaining how the disturbing emotions lead to rebirth in samsara.[note 10]

The Buddha's teaching of karma is not strictly deterministic, but incorporated circumstantial factors, unlike that of the Jains.[quote 7] It is not a rigid and mechanical process, but a flexible, fluid and dynamic process, and not all present conditions can be ascribed to karma.[note 11][quote 8] There is no set linear relationship between a particular action and its results. The karmic effect of a deed is not determined solely by the deed itself, but also by the nature of the person who commits the deed, and by the circumstances in which it is committed.

Karma is also not the same as "fate" or "predestination".[web 6] Karmic results are not a "judgement" imposed by a God or other all-powerful being, but rather the results of a natural process.[quote 9] Certain experiences in life are the results of previous actions, but our responses to those experiences are not predetermined, although they bear their own fruit in the future.[quote 10] Unjust behaviour may lead to unfavorable circumstances which make it easier to commit more unjust behavior, but nevertheless the freedom not to commit unjust behavior remains.

The real importance of the doctrine of karma and its fruits lies in the recognition of the urgency to put a stop to the whole process. The Acintita Sutta warns that "the results of kamma" is one of the four incomprehensible subjects,[web 7] subjects that are beyond all conceptualization and cannot be understood with logical thought or reason.[note 12]

According to Gombrich, this sutra may have been a warning against the tendency, "probably from the Buddha's day until now", to understand the doctrine of karma "backwards", to explain unfavorable conditions in this life when no other explanations are available. Gaining a better rebirth may have been, and still is, the central goal for many people. The adoption, by laity, of Buddhist beliefs and practices is seen as a good thing, which brings merit and good rebirth, but does not result in Nirvana, and liberation from samsara, the ultimate goal of the Buddha.

According to the Buddhist tradition, the Buddha gained full and complete insight into the workings of karma at the time of his enlightenment.[note 13] According to Bronkhorst, these knowledges are later additions to the story, just like the notion of "liberating insight" itself.[note 14]

In AN 5.292, the Buddha asserted that it is not possible to avoid experiencing the result of a karmic deed once it's been committed.

In the Anguttara Nikaya, it is stated that karmic results are experienced either in this life (P. diadhammika) or in a future lives (P. samparyika). The former may involve a readily observable connection between action and karmic consequence, such as when a thief is captured and tortured by the authorities, but the connection need not necessarily be that obvious and in fact usually is not observable.

The Sammyutta Nikaya makes a basic distinction between past karma (P. purnakamma) which has already been incurred, and karma being created in the present (P. navakamma).[80] Therefore, in the present one both creates new karma (P. navakamma) and encounters the result of past karma (P. kammavipka). Karma in the early canon is also threefold: Mental action (S. manakarman), bodily action (S. kyakarman) and vocal action (S. vkkarman).

Various Buddhist philosophical schools developed within Buddhism, giving various interpretations regarding more refined points of karma. A major problem is the relation between the doctrine of no-self, and the "storage" of the traces of one's deeds, for which various solutions have been offered.

The concept of karma originated in the Vedic religion, where it was related to the performance of rituals or the investment in good deeds to ensure the entrance to heaven after death, while other persons go to the underworld.

The concept of karma may have been of minor importance in early Buddhism. Schmithausen has questioned whether karma already played a role in the theory of rebirth of earliest Buddhism, noting that "the karma doctrine may have been incidental to early Buddhist soteriology." Langer notes that originally karma may have been only one of several concepts connected with rebirth.[note 15] Tillman Vetter notes that in early Buddhism rebirth is ascribed to craving or ignorance. Buswell too notes that "Early Buddhism does not identify bodily and mental motion, but desire (or thirst, trsna), as the cause of karmic consequences." Matthews notes that "there is no single major systematic exposition" on the subject of karma and "an account has to be put together from the dozens of places where karma is mentioned in the texts," which may mean that the doctrine was incidental to the main perspective of early Buddhist soteriology.

According to Vetter, "the Buddha at first sought, and realized, "the deathless" (amata/amrta[note 16]), which is concerned with the here and now.[note 17] Only after this realization did he become acquainted with the doctrine of rebirth." Bronkhorst disagrees, and concludes that the Buddha "introduced a concept of karma that differed considerably from the commonly held views of his time." According to Bronkhorst, not physical and mental activities as such were seen as responsible for rebirth, but intentions and desire.

The doctrine of karma may have been especially important for common people, for whom it was more important to cope with life's immediate demands, such as the problems of pain, injustice, and death. The doctrine of karma met these exigencies, and in time it became an important soteriological aim in its own right.

The Vaibhika-Sarvstivda was widely influential in India and beyond. Their understanding of karma in the Sarvstivda became normative for Buddhism in India and other countries. According to Dennis Hirota,

Sarvastivadins argued that there exists a dharma of "possession" (prapti), which functions with all karmic acts, so that each act or thought, though immediately passing away, creates the "possession" of that act in the continuum of instants we experience as a person. This possession itself is momentary, but continually reproduces a similar possession in the succeeding instant, even though the original act lies in the past. Through such continual regeneration, the act is "possessed" until the actualization of the result.

The Abhidharmahdaya by Dharmar was the first systematic exposition of Vaibhika-Sarvstivda doctrine, and the third chapter, the Karma-varga, deals with the concept of karma systematically.

Another important exposition, the Mahvibha, gives three definitions of karma:

The 4th century philosopher Vasubandhu compiled the Abhidharma-koa, an extensive compendium which elaborated the positions of the Vaibhika-Sarvstivdin school on a wide range of issues raised by the early sutras. Chapter four the Koa is devoted to a study of karma, and chapters two and five contain formulation as to the mechanism of fruition and retribution. This became the main source of understanding of the perspective of early Buddhism for later Mahyna philosophers.

The Drntika-Sautrntika school pioneered the idea of karmic seeds (S. bija) and "the special modification of the psycho-physical series" (S. satatipamaviea) to explain the workings of karma. According to Dennis Hirota,

[T]he Sautrantikas [...] insisted that each act exists only in the present instant and perishes immediately. To explain causation, they taught that with each karmic act a "perfuming" occurs which, though not a dharma or existent factor itself, leaves a residual impression in the succeeding series of mental instants, causing it to undergo a process of subtle evolution eventually leading to the acts result. Good and bad deeds performed are thus said to leave "seeds" or traces of disposition that will come to fruition.

In the Theravda Abhidhamma and commentarial traditions, karma is taken up at length. The Abhidhamma Sangaha of Anuruddhcariya offers a treatment of the topic, with an exhaustive treatment in book five (5.3.7).

The Kathvatthu, which discusses a number of controverted points related either directly or indirectly to the notion of kamma." This involved debate with the Pudgalavdin school, which postulated the provisional existence of the person (S. pudgala, P. puggala) to account for the ripening of karmic effects over time. The Kathvatthu also records debate by the Theravdins with the Andhakas (who may have been Mahsghikas) regarding whether or not old age and death are the result (vipka) of karma. The Theravda maintained that they are notnot, apparently because there is no causal relation between the two, but because they wished to reserve the term vipka strictly for mental results--"subjective phenomena arising through the effects of kamma."

In the canonical Theravda view of kamma, "the belief that deeds done or ideas seized at the moment of death are particularly significant."

The Milindapaha, a paracanonical Theravda text, offers some interpretations of karma theory at variance with the orthodox position. In particular, Ngasena allows for the possibility of the transfer of merit to humans and one of the four classes of petas, perhaps in deference to folk belief. Ngasena makes it clear that demerit cannot be transferred. One scholar asserts that the sharing of merit "can be linked to the Vedic rddha, for it was Buddhist practice not to upset existing traditions when well-established custom was not antithetic to Buddhist teaching."

The Petavatthu, which is fully canonical, endorses the transfer of merit even more widely, including the possibility of sharing merit with all petas.

In the Yogcra philosophical tradition, one of the two principal Mahyna schools, the principle of karma was extended considerably. In the Yogcra formulation, all experience without exception is said to result from the ripening of karma.[web 9] Karmic seeds (S. bija) are said to be stored in the "storehouse consciousness" (S. layavijna) until such time as they ripen into experience. The term vsna ("perfuming") is also used, and Yogcrins debated whether vsna and bija were essentially the same, the seeds were the effect of the perfuming, or whether the perfuming simply affected the seeds. The seemingly external world is merely a "by-product" (adhipati-phala) of karma. The conditioning of the mind resulting from karma is called saskra.[web 10]

The Treatise on Action (Karmasiddhiprakaraa), also by Vasubandhu, treats the subject of karma in detail from the Yogcra perspective. According to scholar Dan Lusthaus,

Vasubandhu's Viatik (Twenty Verses) repeatedly emphasizes in a variety of ways that karma is intersubjective and that the course of each and every stream of consciousness (vijna-santna, i.e., the changing individual) is profoundly influenced by its relations with other consciousness streams.

According to Bronkhorst, whereas in earlier systems it "was not clear how a series of completely mental events (the deed and its traces) could give rise to non-mental, material effects," with the (purported) idealism of the Yogcra system this is not an issue.

In Mahyna traditions, karma is not the sole basis of rebirth. The rebirths of bodhisattvas after the seventh stage (S. bhmi) are said to be consciously directed for the benefit of others still trapped in sasra. Thus, theirs are not uncontrolled rebirths.

Ngrjuna articulated the difficulty in forming a karma theory in his most prominent work, the Mlamadhyamakakrik (Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way):

If (the act) lasted till the time of ripening, (the act) would be eternal. If (the act) were terminated, how could the terminated produce a fruit?[subnote 3]

The Mlamadhyamakavtty-Akutobhay, also generally attributed to Ngrjuna, concludes that it is impossible both for the act to persist somehow and also for it to perish immediately and still have efficacy at a later time.[note 18]

In Tibetan Buddhism, the teachings on karma belong to the preliminary teachings, that turn the mind towards the Buddhist dharma.

In the Vajrayana tradition, negative past karma may be "purified" through such practices as meditation on Vajrasattva because they both are the mind's psychological phenomenon. The performer of the action, after having purified the karma, does not experience the negative results he or she otherwise would have. Engaging in the ten negative actions out of selfishness and delusions hurts all involved. Otherwise, loving others, receives love; whereas; people with closed hearts may be prevented from happiness. One good thing about karma is that it can be purified through confession, if the thoughts become positive. Within Guru Yoga seven branch offerings practice, confession is the antidote to aversion.

Dgen Kigen argued in his Shobogenzo that karmic latencies are emphatically not empty, going so far as to claim that belief in the emptiness of karma should be characterized as "non-Buddhist," although he also states that the "law of karman has no concrete existence."

Zen's most famous koan about karma is called Baizhang's Wild Fox (). The story of the koan is about an ancient Zen teacher whose answer to a question presents a wrong view about karma by saying that the person who has a foundation in cultivating the great practice "does not fall into cause and effect." Because of his unskillful answer the teacher reaps the result of living 500 lives as a wild fox. He is then able to appear as a human and ask the same question to Zen teacher Baizhang, who answers, "He is not in the dark about cause and effect." Hearing this answer the old teacher is freed from the life of a wild fox. The Zen perspective avoids the duality of asserting that an enlightened person is either subject to or free from the law of karma and that the key is not being ignorant about karma.

The Japanese Tendai/Pure Land teacher Genshin taught a series of ten reflections for a dying person that emphasized reflecting on the Amida Buddha as a means to purify vast amounts of karma.[relevant? discuss]

Buddhist modernists often prefer to equate karma with social conditioning, in contradistinction with, as one scholar puts it, "early texts [which] give us little reason to interpret 'conditioning' as the infusion into the psyche of external social norms, or of awakening as simply transcending all psychological conditioning and social roles. Karmic conditioning drifts semantically toward 'cultural conditioning' under the influence of western discourses that elevate the individual over the social, cultural, and institutional. The traditional import of the karmic conditioning process, however, is primarily ethical and soteriologicalactions condition circumstances in this and future lives."

Essentially, this understanding limits the scope of the traditional understanding of karmic effects so that it encompasses only saskrashabits, dispositions and tendenciesand not external effects, while at the same time expanding the scope to include social conditioning that does not particularly involve volitional action.

Some western commentators and Buddhists have taken exception to aspects of karma theory, and have proposed revisions of various kinds. These proposals fall under the rubric of Buddhist modernism.

The "primary critique" of the Buddhist doctrine of karma is that some feel "karma may be socially and politically disempowering in its cultural effect, that without intending to do this, karma may in fact support social passivity or acquiescence in the face of oppression of various kinds." Dale S. Wright, a scholar specializing in Zen Buddhism, has proposed that the doctrine be reformulated for modern people, "separated from elements of supernatural thinking," so that karma is asserted to condition only personal qualities and dispositions rather than rebirth and external occurrences.

Loy argues that the idea of accumulating merit too easily becomes "spirtitual materialism," a view echoed by other Buddhist modernists,[note 19] and further that karma has been used to rationalize racism, caste, economic oppression, birth handicaps and everything else.

Loy goes on to argue that the view that suffering such as that undergone by Holocaust victims could be attributed in part to the karmic ripenings of those victims is "fundamentalism, which blames the victims and rationalizes their horrific fate," and that this is "something no longer to be tolerated quietly. It is time for modern Buddhists and modern Buddhism to outgrow it" by revising or discarding the teachings on karma.

Other scholars have argued, however, that the teachings on karma do not encourage judgment and blame, given that the victims were not the same people who committed the acts, but rather were just part of the same mindstream-continuum with the past actors, and that the teachings on karma instead provide "a thoroughly satisfying explanation for suffering and loss" in which believers take comfort.


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Karma in Buddhism - Wikipedia

Written by simmons

March 2nd, 2018 at 4:42 pm

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Top 20 Buddhism Facts – Types, History, Beliefs |

Posted: February 27, 2018 at 9:48 pm

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Fast FactsEssential FactsInteresting Facts

Buddhism facts reveal that Buddhism is defined as a nontheistic religion, but the relationship of Buddhist teachings and god(s) is a complicated one. Buddha himself rejected the existence of a creator deity, but the notion of divinity is not incompatible with his teachings. In fact, there are gods found in Buddhist teachings, but these are considered to be inferior to Buddha and not necessarily wiser than us.

In conclusion, the concept of god(s) exists in Buddhism, but is not central to the religion, in contrast to Christianity, for example. While most experts agree that this makes Buddhism a nontheistic religion, there are also some who believe that naming Buddhism nontheistic is overly simplistic

According to the Buddhist teachings, we are all prisoners of samsara, the continuing cycle of death, re-birth and suffering. The highest goal is to end this suffering by extinguishing three fires (passion, ignorance and aversion) and thus attaining Nirvana. There are differences among different schools of Buddhism in understanding Nirvana, but all hold up the concept as one worth following.

In the first teaching following his awakening, the Buddha revealed the Noble Eightfold Path (the Middle Way) as the way to achieve Nirvana. The Middle Way is a path of moderation, avoiding the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification, consisting of eight factors: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.

Buddhism facts show that Buddhists account for about 6% of the worlds population, making this the 4th biggest (in terms of followers) religion in the world, following Christianity with 2 billion followers, Islam with 1.3 billion followers and Hinduism with 0.9 billion followers. It is also interesting to note that if the group of nonreligious people (including agnostics) is added to the statistics, Buddhism falls to 5th place.

There are two traditional schools of Buddhism: Theravada (The School of the Elders) and Mahayana (The Great Vehicle). They each interpret certain aspects of Buddhas teachings in their own way. While these two branches of Buddhism are widely known, many people dont know that there is a third branch: Vajrayana (also known as Tantric Buddhism or the Diamond Way). This is sometimes considered a part of Mahayana, although its very different in various concepts.

Theravada is nowadays most popular in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, and is considered to be the largest branch, followed by approximately 56% of all Buddhists. Mahayana is most popular in East Asia, including China and Japan, and is followed by roughly 38% of all Buddhists. Vajrayana is practiced in Mongolia and Tibet and represents about 6% of followers of the Buddhas Way.

The Bodhi Tree was a large sacred fig tree in India where Siddhartha Gautama, on whose teachings Buddhism is founded, is believed to have achieved enlightenment regarding the true nature of things (Bodhi). Although the original Bodhi Tree doesnt exist anymore, there are three other holy Bodhi Trees that are believed to be propagated from the original tree: Bodhi Tree at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, India, the Anandabodhi tree in Sravasti, India, and the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Sacred fig trees are usually planted in the vicinity of all Buddhist monasteries.

The main pilgrimage sites are places where Gautama Buddha resided during the most important periods of his life: Lumbini, Nepal (his birthplace), Bodh Gaya, India (the place of his enlightenment), Sarnath, India (the place of his first teaching) and Kusinara (the place of his death).

These 4 pilgrimage sites are also the first 4 of the 8 Great Places, joined by the ancient cities of Sravasti, Rajgir, Sankassa and Vaishali, where special historical miraculous events are reported to have taken place.

Buddhism facts reveal that Gautama Buddha has inspired many filmmakers over the last century, starting with Dadasaheb Phalkes Lord Buddha (originally Buddhadev) in 1923. The most famous of them, at least to the Western audiences, is Bernardo Bertoluccis Little Buddha from 1993, featuring Bridget Fonda, Keanu Reeves and Chris Isaak.

Most religions are known for their central holy text, such as the Bible for Christianity and Judaism, and the Quran for Islam, but Buddhism has no such single writing. Instead, Buddhists consider the buddhavacana (the Word of the Buddha), works believed to be original Buddhas teachings, as holy. Pali Canon, Kangyur, Taish Tripiaka, Mahayana Sutras, the Tibetan Book of the Dead and others thus all serve as sacred texts of Buddhism for the various schools of Buddhism practiced around the world.

Although Buddhism is based on his teachings, Buddhists believe there were other Buddhas before him. Theravada Buddhism teaches of 28 Buddhas (the last being Gautama Buddha, another 27 coming before him), while Mahayana Buddhism also recognizes various other Buddhas of celestial origin. However, they both believe that the next Buddha will be the one named Maitreya (Metteyya).

These were not monasteries as we know them today, but sacred caves, found in the Deccan Plateau area of India. But, by the 2nd century AD, Buddhist monasteries, known as Viharas in India, already had a standard structure, consisting of a walled quadrangular court that was surrounded by small cells.

The Truths are: all life is marked with suffering (the Truth of Dukkha), suffering is caused by desire and attachment (the Truth of the Origin of Dukkha), suffering can be eliminated (the Truth of the Cessation of Dukkha), and following the Noble Eightfold path eliminates suffering (the Truth of the Path of Liberation from Dukkha).

And yes, the term Dukkha means the all-present suffering that is the main antagonist in Buddhist teachings.

Although it is one of central concepts in Buddhism, Karma is not exclusive to the teachings of Buddha. It is also one of the key concepts in Hinduism, Taoism, Jainism and Sikhism. And what does it mean? It means action, work or deed, but in relation to religious teachings, it means the spiritual principle of cause and effect, in which intents and actions of an individual influence that individuals future. In plain terms: the more good one does, the better his life will be, and the more evil one does, the worse his life will be.

Practically all Westerners know the Christian concept of the Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, but a similar concept is also present in Buddhism a religion that is often understood as being nontheistic. The Buddhist trinity refers to the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (Buddhas teachings) and the Sangha (the community of Buddhists). Buddhism facts also reveal that people have been known to notice some similarities between the two

In the first 400 years after Gautama Buddhas life, they were preserved only orally. They were first written down during the Fourth Buddhist Council in Sri Lanka in 29 BC, and are nowadays known as the Pali Canon or the Tipitaka.

Buddhism facts show that the father of Buddhism was born either in 536 BC or in 480 BC. Similarly to his teachings, the details of his life were also passed orally from generation to generation for the first few centuries, and that is why there are no completely reliable sources regarding the date of his birth. What is known for certain is that he was born in Nepal.

This also explains the fact that Buddhists believe there were many Buddhas prior to Siddhartha Gautama. The term can be applied to anyone who has awakened and realized the true nature of things, but according to Buddhist teachings there have not been that many, since Gautama was the last Buddha among us

According to Buddhism facts, Friedrich Nietzsche, the famous German philosopher from the 19th century, has referred to Buddhism more than a hundred times in his works. His main criticism was that Nirvana, the ultimate goal of traditional Buddhist philosophy, is actually a form of nihilism.

According to Buddhism facts, they are based on the Five Precepts of Buddhism, which constitute the basic ethics of the belief system, and are designed to avert the monks from: killing living creatures, stealing, unchastity, incorrect speech, taking intoxicants, eating at inappropriate times, indulging in any forms of popular entertainment (singing, dancing, etc.), wearing decorative accessories (perfume, cosmetics, fashion accessories etc.), sitting on high chairs, sleeping on soft beds, and accepting money.

One of the most interesting Buddhism facts reveals that the religion is nowadays considered very fashionable in Western societies, and many top celebrities are known to follow (or try to follow) its teachings. Kate Bosworth, Steven Seagal, Richard Gere, Tina Turner, Orlando Bloom, Tiger Woods, Steve Jobs, Naomi Watts, Jack Kerouac and Sharon Stone are just a few names on the very long list of American celebs who follow (or have followed) the path to Nirvana

Buddhism is a 2,500-year-old religion and philosophy that originated in India, but has spread through most of Asia and to a lesser degree to other parts of the world. The fourth biggest religion in the world (by number of followers), Buddhism is split into different schools, of which Theravada and Mahayana are the most popular and wide-spread. The center of Buddhism are the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, which see Nirvana as the ultimate goal of existence. Nirvana is the stillness of mind, devoid of cravings and delusions, which ends the suffering otherwise present in all we do in life.

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Top 20 Buddhism Facts - Types, History, Beliefs |

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February 27th, 2018 at 9:48 pm

Posted in Buddhist Concepts


Posted: January 11, 2018 at 6:42 pm

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Join Us for Meditation

Please join us for meditation Sundays at 10 AM!


Lama Ahbay Rinpoche

How to Deal with Anger and Hatred


Wednesday, April 26, 2017 6 PM

Siebels House

1601 Richland Street

(corner of Pickens and Richland)

Columbia, SC 29201

Ahbay Rinpoche (Lama Ahbay Tulku Jigme Thupten Tendar Rinpoche) has beenrecognized by the Dalai Lama as a reincarnation of Lama Lobsang Tenzin, and hastaught widely in Europe and the United States.


Lama Ahbay Rinpoche teaches Mondays and Thursdays at 6:30 PM at the Dharma Center

Please join us to hear teaching from Ahbay Rinpoche on Mondays and Thursdays until May 25, starting this Thursday, Apr. 8. Teaching will be offered at the Dharma Center at 6 PM on those days. He will also be with us for meditation on Sundays at 10 AM. We hope you can join us!

Ahbay Rinpoche returns to Columbia April 1-May 25, 2017

Lama Ahbay Rinpochewill return to teach in Columbia April 1-May 25, 2017. Hewill offer regular teachingson various topics

and meet with individuals for spiritual advice.He will offer teachings on on Monday and Thursday nights. The teachings on both nights will be at 6:30 PM at the Dharma Center. He will also teach on meditation on Sunday mornings at 10, and may perform pujas and other practices then, as well. He is available for individual meetings--contact us at to schedule appointments. Please join us!We hope everyone has an opportunity to meet this remarkableteacher!

Please join us for meditation!

Please join us for meditation at 10 AM each Sunday! If you'd like an introduction to meditation, contact us at and we can schedule a time to meet with you before or after meditation.

Geshe Dakpa Topgyal teaching in Columbia this weekend (Aug. 26, 27, 28)Geshe Dakpa Topgyal from Charleston will be teaching at the Dharma Center this weekend. Everyone is encouraged to attend.

Here's the schedule

Friday, Aug. 26 7-8 PM

Saturday, Aug. 27 10-12 AM

Sunday, Aug. 28 10-12 AM

Please note that Geshela asks that people arrive on time and not leave early.

Tibetan classes at the Dharma Center!

Please join us for Tibetan classes at the SCDG Dharma Center, the third Sunday of each month, at 11 AM!

These classes will be for absolute beginners, who would like to understand and pronounce the words in recitations and prayers correctly, but students who know a little Tibetan will also benefit. Eric Winter and John Tasevski, who have proficiency in classical Tibetan, will teach the classes.

The class will begin Sunday, Aug. 21, and will be offered on the third Sunday of each month, so dates this fall will be Sept. 18, Oct. 16, Nov. 20, and Dec. 18. The classes will begin after meditation, at 11 AM at the Dharma Center.

On other Sundays at that time, we'll continue the discussion ofThe Path to Enlightenmentby His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Please let us know if you'd like to participate but don't have the book. We can order additional used copies, or you can buy your own online (the ISBN of the edition we use is978-1559390323).

Please let us know if you need more information about either of these!

Join us for meditation Sundays at 10 AM!

Please join us for meditation each Sunday at 10 AM at the Dharma Center! For more information, email or call 803-467-7759.

Ahbay Rinpoche Returns to India

After a wonderful three-month visit, Ahbay Rinpoche has returned to India. He will travel in India and attend the Kalachakra offered by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Bodh Gaya, India, in January. Rinpoche La will also travel in Europe, and we hope will soon return to South Carolina for another visit, if possible.

Here are Rinpoche La and the students attending his last teaching before leaving in July, 2016:

A Peaceful Mind: A Public Talk by Ahbay Rinpoche June 1

A talk on the Buddhist path tomental and spiritual peace will be given by Ahbay Rinpoche at 6 PM on Wednesday, June 1, 2016, in the Seibels House at 1601Pickens St, Columbia, SC 29201 (at the corner of Pickens and Richland Street.The free talk is sponsored by the South Carolina Dharma Group.

The talk will focus on achieving peace by working to eliminate the negativemind of anger and hatred.AhbayRinpoche (Lama Ahbay Tulku Jigme Thupten Tendar Rinpoche) has been recognizedby the Dalai Lama as a reincarnation of Lama Lobsang Tenzin, and has taughtwidely in Europe and the United States.

Lama Ahbay Rinpoche Returns to Columbia!

Lama Ahbay Rinpoche has returned to Columbia for a three-month stay! He is with us April 13-July 4, 2016, and will offer regular teachings and meet with individuals for spiritual advice.He will offer teachings on on Monday and Wednesday nights on various topics. The teachings on both nights will be at 7 PM at the Dharma Center. He will also teach on meditation on Sunday mornings at 10, and may perform pujas and other practices then, as well. He is available for individual meetings--contact us at to schedule appointments. Please join us!We hope everyone has an opportunity to meet this remarkableteacher!

Sand Mandala in Columbia

Visit from Lama Ahbay Rinpoche, July 24-31, 2015

Ahbay's hand on a participant's hand

Ahbay Rinpoche preparing the offerings

Offering bowls at the puja

Lined up for blessings

One person being blessed

Saga Dawa 2015

Members of the South Carolina Dharma Group celebrated

Saga Dawa, the remembrance of Shakyamuni Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and passing into Parinivana. We said prayers and mantras, and released crickets (who would otherwise have been used for bait), reminding us of compassion and liberation.

Aid for Earthquake Victims in Nepal

Many of the victims of the earthquake in Nepal are Buddhists, some in our lineage, and some may even be relatives of a member of CTS, our sister organization in Charleston. We hear that there are many problems with relief money sent to Nepal going only to the cities, while people in the small villages receive nothing.

The Nepalese family in Charleston has connected us with a new fund set up to send aid directly to the villages that so far have had no relief from the government. (A helicopter that was flying up to the mountain to rescue critically injured villagers was taken by the government to rescue rich mountain climbers on Mt. Everest).

If you would like to send aid that will go directly to help the villages in the mountains, please:

1. Send checks made out to Jampa Gompo

2. Mail them to:

Charleston Tibetan Society

ATTN: Karma G. Sherpa

12 Parkwood Avenue

Charleston, SC 29403

Unfortunately this fund is too new to be a 501c3, so there cant be a tax write-off, but all money will go directly to the villages in Nepal.

Meditate with us at our new location!

The South Carolina Dharma Group has a new location in the Earlewood neighborhood of Columbia, in a building on Florence street just behind the house at 3003 Columbia Street (please come to the building on Florence, not to the house). Please join us for meditation there each Sunday at 10 AM. For more detailed directions, write us at or call 803-467-7759.

Talk on "Meditation and Neuroplasticity"

by Dr. Dieter Borrmann

(student of Geshe Topgyal andNeurologist at the Gemeinschaftspraxis frNeurologie, Psychiatrie, Psychotherapie in Emmerich, Germany.)

We were fortunate to have a talk on the effects of meditation on the brain by Dr. Dieter Borrman in April, 2015, co-sponsored by the USC Department of Religion.

Dr. DieterBorrmann is a Neurologist at the Gemeinschaftspraxis fr Neurologie,Psychiatrie, Psychotherapie in Emmerich, Germany. He is a student of Buddhism under Geshe Dakpa Topgyal at TheCharleston Tibetan Society, Charleston, SC. and under Geshe Pema Samten at theTibetisches Zentrum e.V., Hamburg, Germany, where he is morethan halfway into a seven year systematic course of study in Tibetan Buddhism. With the Universitt Bonn he has contributed to the research on"Meditation and White Matter". His fascinating book about meditationfrom the perspective of a neurologist, both in personal experience and inmedical practice, will soon be translated and published in English.


A stupa honoringthe memory of the late Geshe Ngawang Phuntsok, former resident teacher of theSouth Carolina Dharma Group, has been completed and was consecrated in a formalceremony in April 2014 in Bomdila, which lies in the mountains of northeastern India.

The stupa not only honors the memory of Geshe Phuntsok but also servesfor the long-term spiritual benefit of visitors to Bomdila and residents of theregion. Stupas represent the enlightened mind of buddhas and exhibit thespiritual road map to enlightenment. The stupa will exist as a source of meritfor generations of numerous devoted people who can make offerings at andcircumambulations around the sacred monument.

Erection ofthe stupa was made possible through the generous donations of Dr. Jamie Felbergand membersof the Asanga Institute of Montrose, Colorado.

Teachings from Ven. Chonyi

Ven. Thubten Chonyi, of Sravasti Abbey in Washington State, visited SCDG for teachings Dec. 31-Jan. 5. Below are pictures from the visit.

w Book by Spiritual Director Published

The South Carolina Dharma Group, in conjunction with Dr. Jamie Felberg, the Asanga Institute of Montrose, Colorado, and the Charleston Tibetan Society, has established a scholarship fund in memory of Geshe Ngawang Phuntsok. Geshe Phuntsok was the South Carolina Dharma Groups resident teacher in 2002 and 2003 and was the Asanga Institutes resident teacher from 2007 to 2012.

As devoted dharma students of Geshe Phuntsok, and following the moral suggestion of Geshe Dakpa Topgyal, SCDGs spiritual director, the members of SCDG, CTS, the Asanga Institute, and Dr. Jamie Felberg, donated to the scholarship fund to make Geshe Phuntsoks dream reality. We made contributions out of heartfelt respect for our teacher and out of the wish that Geshe Phuntsoks dream be realized.

A second moral imperative, as pointed out by Geshe Topgyal, is to build a stupa in memory of Geshe Phuntsok in his home village, Bomdila, in northeastern India where he was born and where his parents currently reside. We are uncertain if we can succeedthat will depend on collecting funds the needed to build the stupa.

The purpose of the stupa will not just be to honor the memory of Geshe Phuntsok, but also to serve for the long-term spiritual benefit of as many sentient beings as possible. The stupa would exist as a sacred source of merit for generations of numerous devoted people who may make offerings at the stupa and circumambulations around the monument.

Dr. Jamie Felberg has made a commitment to help make the stupa a reality, but any individual who would like to donate can donate online or by mailing a check to the South Carolina Dharma Group, PO Box 50357, Columbia, SC 29250. Contact us for more information at

Your contributions help support our programming, such as teachings by accredited teachers in the Gelugpa Tibetan Buddhist lineage, retreats and meditation lessons.

You can securely make a donation online by clicking the button below.You do not need a PayPal account to donate online. Look for the "Continue" link by the bank card icons on the PayPal donation page.

You may also donate bymailing us a check (SCDG, PO Box 50357, Columbia, SC 29250) or by leaving cash or a check at the Dharma Center.

The South Carolina Dharma Group is a federally-recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and contributions are taxdeductibleto the extent allowed by law.

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Written by grays

January 11th, 2018 at 6:42 pm

Posted in Buddhist Concepts

Buddhism Denver – Diamond Way Buddhist Center Denver

Posted: January 3, 2018 at 2:41 am

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Diamond Way Buddhist Center Denver belongs to an international non-profit network of over 600 lay Diamond Way Buddhist centers of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, founded by Lama Ole Nydahl and under the spiritual guidance of H.H. the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Trinley Thaye Dorje.

Diamond Way Buddhism offers practical and effective methods to realize minds inherent richness for the benefit of all. With an accessible and modern style, it works with peoples confidence and desire, using every situation in life to develop fearlessness and joy. We always present a basic introduction for newcomers, and the meditations are guided in English.

Wednesdays at 7:30pm Introductory Talk and Public Meditation* Wednesday nights are excellent for newcomers. The 2nd and 4th Wednesday of every month features a one-hour lecture.

Thursdays at 7:30pm Dharma Talk and Public Meditation

Fridays at 7:30pm Dharma Talk and Public Meditation

Our free public meditations are preceded by a brief 10min talk. Wednesday nights will be an introduction to Diamond Way Buddhism followed by meditation. This is a great night to come if you are new to Diamond Way Buddhism or Buddhism in general. Thursdays Dharma talk will discuss various topics on the basics of Buddhism.

Our main meditation practice on Wednesdays and Thursday is the Guru Yoga meditation on the 16th Karmapa. This guided meditation is in English and involves visualization and mantra recitation, allowing space, clarity and joy to naturally arise.

H.H. 16th KarmapaRangjung Rigpe Dorje

H.H. 17th KarmapaTrinlay Thaye Dorje

Lama Ole Nydahl &Hannah Nydahl

See more here:
Buddhism Denver - Diamond Way Buddhist Center Denver

Written by admin

January 3rd, 2018 at 2:41 am

Posted in Buddhist Concepts

Drepung Loseling Monastery, Inc. Center for Tibetan Buddhist …

Posted: December 30, 2017 at 6:44 pm

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Year End Retreat - Vajrasattva Practice December 26-30, 2017

Drepung Loseling Monastery is delighted to offer this Year-End Retreat on the Vajrasattva meditation and recitation of the 100-syllable mantra. This powerful practice is especially appropriate to our present times, and is an auspicious way to prepare for the new year.For details click here.

Geshe Ngawang Phende will lead the Foundation Series begining with an introduction to Buddhism and continuing with retreats on the four universal Buddhist meditation practices. For details click here.

Geshe Dadul Namgyal will lead this Intermediate Series beginning with an introduction to Mahayana Buddhism, the foundation for the generation of universal compassion and continue with more advanced topics.For details click here.

Help Us Build the new Drepung Loseling Center for Science & Meditation in India

Senior Monk Care Fund Drepung Loseling Monastery Mungod, India

Building a Community of Compassion: A Space for Meditation Thursdays 6-7 pm

To fulfill our vision of preserving Tibet's unique culture and sharing Tibet's spiritual traditions in North America, we have started creating our Little Tibet in Atlanta but we still need your support to finish building our dream. Click here to find out more about our plans and how you can help or to become a Building Fund Sponsor.

Hi-def videos from all the programs of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Emory University for "The Visit: 2013" are available for viewing on YouTube. Choose from the Full Program or Highlights. Click here for videos

Previous VisitsVisit 2010: click hereVisit 2007: click here

The Loseling Gallery is now home to over 200 handcrafted dolls depicting the culture and tradition of Tibet. These handcrafted, mini-masterpieces celebrate the distinct and diverse cultural identity of Tibetans as manifested in an astonishing variety of secular and religious dress. For details click here.

This altar is one of the few traditionally hand-carved Tibetan Buddhist altars of this magnitude, intricacy and beauty seen in North America.For details click here

Six Tibetan Buddhist monks are studying science at Emory University. It's part of the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative, which is infusing science into monastic education. Take a look inside the life of a Tibetan monk while he's in college.Click here to watch the video

The International Conference on Tibetan Buddhism was held at the Emory Conference Center Hotel from October 18-20, 2010, in conjunction with the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Emory University. This conference was co-sponsored by the Office of Tibet, New York, & Emory University, with support from the Conservancy for Tibetan Art & Culture in Washington, DC, and Drepung Loseling Monastery, Inc., in Atlanta, GA. To watch video footage of events, please click here.

Join us on Facebook and keep abreast of daily news tidbits and interesting articles not otherwise announced in our weekly newsletter. Please visit the following link to become a fan (note: you must be an existing member of Facebook to add the page) Drepung Loseling Facebook Fan Page.

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Drepung Loseling Monastery, Inc. Center for Tibetan Buddhist ...

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December 30th, 2017 at 6:44 pm

Posted in Buddhist Concepts

Dhyna in Buddhism – Wikipedia

Posted: December 26, 2017 at 4:45 pm

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In Buddhism, Dhyna (Sanskrit) or Jhna (Pali) is a series of cultivated states of mind, which lead to a "state of perfect equanimity and awareness (upekkhii-sati-piirisuddhl)." It is commonly translated as meditation, and is also used in Hinduism and Jainism. Dhyana may have been the core practice of pre-sectarian Buddhism, but became appended with other forms of meditation throughout its development.

According to Henepola Gunaratana, the term "jhana" is closely connected with "samadhi", which is generally rendered as "concentration". The word "samadhi" is almost interchangeable with the word "samatha", serenity.[4]

In the suttas samadhi is defined as mental one-pointedness.[4]Buddhaghosa explains samadhi etymologically as:

... the centering of consciousness and consciousness concomitants evenly and rightly on a single object... the state in virtue of which consciousness and its concomitants remain evenly and rightly on a single object, undistracted and unscattered (Vism.8485; PP.85).[4]

In the widest sense the word samadhi is being used for the practices which lead to the development of serenity. In this sense, samadhi and jhana are close in meaning. Nevertheless, they are not exactly identical. Samadhi signifies only one mental factor, namely one-pointedness, while the word "jhana" encompasses the whole state of consciousness.[4]

Samadhi also covers another type of concentration, namely "momentary concentration" (khanikasamadhi), "the mobile mental stabilization produced in the course of insight contemplation of the passing flow of phenomena."[4]

The Pli canon describes eight progressive states of jhna. Four are called meditations of form (rpa jhna), and four are formless meditations (arpa jhna).

There are four stages of deep collectedness which are called the Rupa Jhna (Fine-material Jhna). For each Jhna are given a set of qualities which are present in that jhana:[5]

Beyond the four jhnas lie four attainments, referred to in the early texts as aruppas. These are also referred to in commentarial literature as immaterial/the formless jhnas (arpajhnas), also translated as The Formless Dimensions, in distinction from the first four jhnas (rpa jhnas). In the Buddhist canonical texts, the word "jhna" is never explicitly used to denote them, they are instead referred to as yatana. However, they are sometimes mentioned in sequence after the first four jhnas (other texts. e.g. MN 121 treat them as a distinct set of attainments) and thus came to be treated by later exegetes as jhnas. The immaterial attainments have more to do with expanding, while the Jhanas (14) focus on concentration. The enlightenment of complete dwelling in emptiness is reached when the eighth jhna is transcended.

The four formless jhanas are:

Although the "Dimension of Nothingness" and the "Dimension of Neither Perception nor Non-Perception" are included in the list of nine Jhanas taught by the Buddha, they are not included in the Noble Eightfold Path. Noble Path number eight is "Samma Samadhi" (Right Concentration), and only the first four Jhanas are considered "Right Concentration". If he takes a disciple through all the Jhanas, the emphasis is on the "Cessation of Feelings and Perceptions" rather than stopping short at the "Dimension of Neither Perception nor Non-Perception".

The Buddha also rediscovered an attainment beyond the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, Nirodha-Samapatti, the "cessation of feelings and perceptions".[5] This is sometimes called the "ninth jhna" in commentarial and scholarly literature.[6][7]

The time of the Buddha saw the rise of the ramaa movement, ascetic practitioners with a body of shared teachings and practices.[full citation needed] The strict delineation of this movement into Jainism, Buddhism and brahmanical/Upanishadic traditions is a later development.[full citation needed]

According to Bronkhorst, the practice of the four dhyanas may have been an original contribution by Gautama Buddha to the religious practices of ancient India in response to the ascetic practices of the Jains. According to Wynne, the attainment of the formless meditative absorption was incorporated from Brahmanical practices,[pageneeded] These practices were paired to mindfulness and insight, and given a new interpretation.[pageneeded] The stratification of particular samdhi experiences into the four jhnas seems to be a Buddhist innovation.[pageneeded] It was then borrowed and presented in an incomplete form in the Mokadharma, a part of the Mahbhrata. Kalupahana argues that the Buddha "reverted to the meditational practices" he had learned from ra Klma and Uddaka Rmaputta.

Thomas William Rhys Davids and Maurice Walshe agreed that the term samadhi is not found in any pre-Buddhist text. Samadhi was first found in the Tipiaka and not in any pre-Buddhist text. It was later incorporated into later texts such as the Maitrayaniya Upanishad.[13] But according to Matsumoto, "the terms dhyana and samahita (entering samadhi) appear already in Upanishadic texts that predate the origins of Buddhism".[note 2]

The Mahasaccaka Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya 36, narrates the story of the Buddha's awakening. According to this story, he learned two kinds of meditation, which did not lead to enlightenment. He then underwent harsh ascetic practices with which he eventually also became disillusioned. The Buddha then recalled a meditative state he entered by chance as a child:[pageneeded]

I thought: 'I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Could that be the path to Awakening?' Then following on that memory came the realization: 'That is the path to Awakening.'

In the Mahasaccaka Sutta, dhyana is followed by insight into the four noble truths. The mention of the four noble truths as constituting "liberating insight" is probably a later addition.[pageneeded] Originally the practice of dhyana itself may have constituted the core liberating practice of early Buddhism, since in this state all "pleasure and pain" had waned.[pageneeded] According to Vetter,

[P]robably the word "immortality" (a-mata) was used by the Buddha for the first interpretation of this experience and not the term cessation of suffering that belongs to the four noble truths [...] the Buddha did not achieve the experience of salvation by discerning the four noble truths and/or other data. But his experience must have been of such a nature that it could bear the interpretation "achieving immortality".

Discriminating insight into transiency as a separate path to liberation was a later development, under pressure of developments in Indian religious thinking, which saw "liberating insight" as essential to liberation.[pageneeded] This may also have been due to an over-literal interpretation by later scholastics of the terminology used by the Buddha, and to the problems involved with the practice of dhyana, and the need to develop an easier method.

Alexander Wynne attempted to find parallels in Brahmanical texts to the meditative goals the two teachers claimed to have taught, drawing especially on some of the Upanishads and the Mokshadharma chapter of the Mahabharata.

The suttas describe how the Buddha learned meditative practices from two teachers, Uddaka Ramaputta and Alara Kalama. Alex Wynne argues that Uddaka Ramaputta belonged to the pre-Buddhist tradition portrayed by the Buddhist and Brahmanic sources, in which the philosophical formulations of the early Upanishads were accepted, and the meditative state of "neither perception nor non-perception" was equated with the self. Wynne further argues that the goal of Alara Kalama was a Brahminical concept. Evidence in the Chandogya Upanishad and the Taittiriya Upanishad suggests that a different early Brahminic philosophical tradition held the view that the unmanifest state of Brahman was a form of non-existence. According to Wynne it thus seems likely that both element and formless meditation was learned by the Buddha from his two teachers, and adapted by him to his own system.[note 3]

It appears that in early Brahminic yoga, the formless spheres were attained following element meditation. This is also taught as an option in the early Buddhist texts. The primary method taught to achieve the formless attainment in early Buddhist scriptures, on the other hand, is to proceed to the sphere of infinite space following the fourth jhna.[30]

Wynne claimed that Brahminic passages on meditation suggest that the most basic presupposition of early Brahmanical yoga is that the creation of the world must be reversed, through a series of meditative states, by the yogin who seeks the realization of the self. These states were given doctrinal background in early Brahminic cosmologies, which classified the world into successively coarser strata. One such stratification is found at TU II.1 and Mbh XII.195, and proceeds as follows: self, space, wind, fire, water, earth. Mbh XII.224 gives alternatively: Brahman, mind, space, wind, fire, water, earth.

In Brahmanical thought, the meditative states of consciousness were thought to be identical to the subtle strata of the cosmos. There is no similar theoretical background to element meditation in the early Buddhist texts, where the elements appear simply as suitable objects of meditation. It is likely that the Brahmanic practices of element-meditation were borrowed and adapted by early Buddhists, with the original Brahmanic ideology of the practices being discarded in the process.

On this point, it is thought that the uses of the elements in early Buddhist literature have in general very little connection to Brahmanical thought; in most places they occur in teachings where they form the objects of a detailed contemplation of the human being. The aim of these contemplations seems to have been to bring about the correct understanding that the various perceived aspects of a human being, when taken together, nevertheless do not comprise a 'self'. Moreover, the self is conceptualized in terms similar to both "nothingness" and "neither perception nor non-perception" at different places in early Upanishadic literature.

The latter corresponds to Yajnavalkyas definition of the self in his famous dialogue with Maitreyi in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and the definition given in the post-Buddhist Mandukya Upanishad. This is mentioned as a claim of non-Buddhist ascetics and Brahmins in the Pacattaya Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 102.2).[37] In the same dialogue in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Yajnavalkya draws the conclusions that the self that is neither perceptive nor non-perceptive is a state of consciousness without object. The early Buddhist evidence suggests much the same thing for the state of "neither perception nor non-perception". It is a state without an object of awareness, that is not devoid of awareness. The state following it in the Buddhist scheme, the "cessation of perception and sensation", is devoid not only of objectivity, but of subjectivity as well.

The Brahmanical texts cited by Wynne assumed their final form long after the Buddhas lifetime. The Mokshadharma postdates him.[27]

The Buddhist tradition has incorporated two traditions regarding the use of jhana.[pageneeded] There is a tradition that stresses attaining insight (bodhi, prajna, kensho) as the means to awakening and liberation. According to the Theravada tradition dhyana must be combined with vipassana, which gives insight into the three marks of existence and leads to detachment and "the manifestation of the path".

But the Buddhist tradition has also incorporated the yogic tradition, as reflected in the use of jhana, which is rejected in other sutras as not resulting in the final result of liberation. One solution to this contradiction is the conjunctive use of vipassana and samatha.[43] In Zen Buddhism, this problem has appeared over the centuries in the disputes over sudden versus gradual enlightenment.[pageneeded]

Schmithausen notes that the mention of the four noble truths as constituting "liberating insight", which is attained after mastering the Rupa Jhanas, is a later addition to texts such as Majjhima Nikaya 36.[pageneeded][pageneeded] Schmithausen discerns three possible roads to liberation as described in the suttas, to which Vetter adds a fourth possibility:

According to the Theravada-tradition, the meditator uses the jhna state to bring the mind to rest, and to strengthen and sharpen the mind, in order to investigate the true nature of phenomena (dhamma) and to gain insight into impermanence, suffering and not-self.[citation needed] According to Nathan Katz, the arahant is aware that the jhanas are ultimately unsatisfactory, realizing that the meditative attainments are also anicca, impermanent.[47]

Contemporary scholars have discerned a broader apllication of jhana in historical Buddhist practice. According to Alexander Wynne, the ultimate aim of dhyana was the attainment of insight, and the application of the meditative state to the practice of mindfulness. According to Frauwallner, mindfulness was a means to prevent the arising of craving, which resulted simply from contact between the senses and their objects. According to Frauwallner, this may have been the Buddhas original idea. According to Wynne, this stress on mindfulness may have led to the intellectualism which favoured insight over the practice of dhyana.

According to Richard Gombrich, the sequence of the four rupa-jhanas describes two different cognitive states: "I know this is controversial, but it seems to me that the third and fourth jhanas are thus quite unlike the second."[note 4] Alexander Wynne further explains that the dhyana-scheme is poorly understood. According to Wynne, words expressing the inculcation of awareness, such as sati, sampajno, and upekkh, are mistranslated or understood as particular factors of meditative states, whereas they refer to a particular way of perceiving the sense objects:

Thus the expression sato sampajno in the third jhna must denote a state of awareness different from the meditative absorption of the second jhna (cetaso ekodibhva). It suggests that the subject is doing something different from remaining in a meditative state, i.e. that he has come out of his absorption and is now once again aware of objects. The same is true of the word upek(k)h: it does not denote an abstract 'equanimity', [but] it means to be aware of something and indifferent to it [...] The third and fourth jhna-s, as it seems to me, describe the process of directing states of meditative absorption towards the mindful awareness of objects.[note 5]

According to some texts, after progressing through the eight jhanas and the stage of Nirodha-Samapatti, a person is liberated.[5] According to some traditions someone attaining the state of Nirodha-Samapatti is an anagami or an arahant.[53] In the Anupadda sutra, the Buddha narrates that Sariputta became an arahant upon reaching it.[54]

The emphasis on "liberating insight" alone seems to be a later development, in response to developments in Indian religious thought. Vetter notes that such insight is not possible in a state of dhyana, since discursive thinking is eliminated in such a state. He also notes that the emphasis on "liberating insight" developed only after the four noble truths were introduced as an expression of what this "liberating insight" constituted. In time, other expressions took over this function, such as prattyasamutpda and the emptiness of the self.

Both Schmithausen and Bronkhorst note that the attainment of insight, which is a cognitive activity, can't be possible in a state wherein all cognitive acitivy has ceased. According to Vetter, the practice of Rupa Jhana itself may have constituted the core practice of early Buddhism, with practices such as sila and mindfulness aiding to its development. It is the "middle way" between self-mortification, ascribed by Bronkhorst to Jainism, and indulgence in sensual pleasure. Vetter emphasizes that dhyana is a form of non-sensual happiness. The eightfold path can be seen as a path of preparation which leads to the practice of samadhi.

According to the contemporary Vipassana-movement, the jhna state cannot by itself lead to enlightenment as it only suppresses the defilements. Meditators must use the jhna state as an instrument for developing wisdom by cultivating insight, and use it to penetrate the true nature of phenomena through direct cognition, which will lead to cutting off the defilements and nibbana.[citation needed]

According to the later Theravda commentorial tradition as outlined by Buddhagoa in his Visuddhimagga, after coming out of the state of jhna the meditator will be in the state of post-jhna access concentration. In this state the investigation and analysis of the true nature of phenomena begins, which leads to insight into the characteristics of impermanence, suffering and not-self arises.[citation needed] According to Richard Shankman, the sutta descriptions of jhna practice explain that the meditator does not emerge from jhna to practice vipassana but rather the work of insight is done whilst in jhna itself. In particular the meditator is instructed to "enter and remain in the fourth jhna" before commencing the work of insight in order to uproot the mental defilements.[61][note 6]

A meditator should first master the lower jhnas, before they can go into the higher jhnas. According to Nathan Katz, the early suttas state that "the most exquisite of recluses" is able to attain any of the jhnas and abide in them without difficulty.[47] According to Sujiva, there are five aspects of jhna mastery:[63]

According to the Pli canon commentary, access/neighbourhood concentration (upacra-samdhi) is a stage of meditation that the meditator reaches before entering into jhna. The overcoming of the five hindrances[note 7] mark the entry into access concentration.[citation needed] Access concentration is not mentioned in the discourses of the Buddha, but there are several suttas where a person gains insight into the Dhamma on hearing a teaching from the Buddha.[note 8][note 9]

According to Tse-fu Kuan, at the state of access concentration, some meditators may experience vivid mental imagery,[note 10] which is similar to a vivid dream. They are as vivid as if seen by the eye, but in this case the meditator is fully aware and conscious that they are seeing mental images. According to Tse-fu Kuan, this is discussed in the early texts, and expanded upon in Theravda commentaries.[65]

According to Venerable Sujivo, as the concentration becomes stronger, the feelings of breathing and of having a physical body will completely disappear, leaving only pure awareness. At this stage inexperienced meditators may become afraid, thinking that they are going to die if they continue the concentration, because the feeling of breathing and the feeling of having a physical body has completely disappeared. They should not be so afraid and should continue their concentration in order to reach "full concentration" (jhna).[66]

Mahyna Buddhism includes numerous schools of practice. Each draw upon various Buddhist stras, philosophical treatises, and commentaries, and each has its own emphasis, mode of expression, and philosophical outlook. Accordingly, each school has its own meditation methods for the purpose of developing samdhi and praj, with the goal of ultimately attaining enlightenment.

In China, the word dhyna was originally transliterated with Chinese: ; pinyin: chnn and shortened to just pinyin: chn in common usage. In Chinese Buddhism dhyna may refer to all kinds of meditation techniques and their preparatory practices which can be used to attain samadhi. The word chn became the designation for Chan Buddhism (Korean Seon, Zen). The word and the practice of meditation entered into Chinese through the translations of An Shigao (fl. c. 148180 CE), mainly the Dhyna sutras, which were influential early meditation texts.

Dhyna is a central aspect of Buddhist practice in Chan. Nan Huai-Chin:

Intellectual reasoning is just another spinning of the sixth consciousness, whereas the practice of meditation is the true entry into the Dharma."[68]

According to Sheng Yen, meditative concentration is necessary, calling samdhi one of the requisite factors for progress on the path toward enlightenment.[69]

B. Alan Wallace holds that modern Tibetan Buddhism lacks emphasis on achieving levels of concentration higher than access concentration.[70][71] According to Wallace, one possible explanation for this situation is that virtually all Tibetan Buddhist meditators seek to become enlightened through the use of tantric practices. These require the presence of sense desire and passion in one's consciousness, but jhna effectively inhibits these phenomena.[70]

While few Tibetan Buddhists, either inside or outside Tibet, devote themselves to the practice of concentration, Tibetan Buddhist literature does provide extensive instructions on it, and great Tibetan meditators of earlier times stressed its importance.[72]

Hindu texts later used that term to indicate the state of liberation. According to Walshe, citing Rhys Davids, this is not in conformity with Buddhist usage:[73][pageneeded]

its subsequent use in Hindu texts to denote the state of enlightenment is not in conformity with Buddhist usage, where the basic meaning of concentration is expanded to cover meditation in general.[13][pageneeded]

But according to Vetter, the practice of dhyana may have been the original liberating practice in Buddhism.[pageneeded]

There are parallels with the fourth to eighth stages of Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga, as mentioned in his classical work, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,[74] which were compiled around 400 CE by, taking materials about yoga from older traditions.

Patanjali discerns bahiranga (external) aspects of yoga namely, yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, and the antaranga (internal) yoga. Having actualized the pratyahara stage, a practitioner is able to effectively engage into the practice of Samyama. At the stage of pratyahara, the consciousness of the individual is internalized in order that the sensations from the senses of taste, touch, sight, hearing and smell don't reach their respective centers in the brain and takes the sadhaka (practitioner) to next stages of Yoga, namely Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (mystical absorption), being the aim of all Yogic practices.[78]

The Eight Limbs of the yoga sutras show Samadhi as one of its limbs. The Eight limbs of the Yoga Sutra was influenced by Buddhism.[79][80] Vyasa's Yogabhashya, the commentary to the Yogasutras, and Vacaspati Misra's subcommentary state directly that the samadhi techniques are directly borrowed from the Buddhists' Jhana, with the addition of the mystical and divine interpretations of mental absorption.[81][not in citation given] However, it is also to be noted that the Yoga Sutra, especially the fourth segment of Kaivalya Pada, contains several polemical verses critical of Buddhism, particularly the Vijnavda school of Vasubandhu.[82]

The suttas show that during the time of the Buddha, Nigantha Nataputta, the Jain leader, did not even believe that it is possible to enter a state where the thoughts and examination stop.[83]

There has been little scientific study of these mental states. In 2008, an EEG study found "strong, significant, and consistent differences in specific brain regions when the meditator is in a jhana state compared to normal resting consciousness".[84] Tentative hypotheses on the neurological correlates have been proposed, but lack supporting evidence.[85]

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Buddhism in Japan – Wikipedia

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Buddhism in Japan has been practiced since its official introduction in 552 CE according to the Nihon Shoki[1] from Baekje, Korea, by Buddhist monks.[2][3]Buddhism has had a major influence on the development of Japanese society and remains an influential aspect of the culture to this day.[4]

In modern times, Japan's most popular schools of Buddhism are Pure Land Buddhism, Nichiren Buddhism, Shingon Buddhism and Zen. As of 2008, approximately 34% of the Japanese identify as Buddhists and the number has been growing since the 1980s, in terms of membership in organized religion. However, in terms of practice, 75% practice some form of Buddhism (compared with 90% practicing Shinto, thus most Japanese practice both religion to some extent (Shinbutsu-shg)).[5] About 60% of the Japanese have a Butsudan (Buddhist shrine) in their homes.[6]

The arrival of Buddhism in China is ultimately a consequence of the first contacts between China and Central Asia, where Buddhism had spread from the Indian subcontinent. These contacts occurred with the opening of the Silk Road in the 2nd century BCE, following the travels of Zhang Qian between 138 and 126 BCE. These contacts culminated with the official introduction of Buddhism in China in 67 CE. Historians generally agree that by the middle of the 1st century, the religion had penetrated to areas north of the Huai River in China.[7]

According to the Book of Liang, which was written in 635, five Buddhist monks from Gandhara traveled to Japan in 467. At the time, they referred to Japan as Fusang (Chinese: ; Japanese pronunciation: Fus), the name of a mythological country to the extreme east beyond the sea:[8]

Fusang is located to the east of China, 20,000 li (1,500 kilometers) east of the state of Da Han [, "China"] (itself east of the state of Wa in modern Kansai region, Japan). (...) In former times, the people of Fusang knew nothing of the Buddhist religion, but in the second year of Da Ming of the Song Dynasty (467), five monks from Kipin [Kabul region of Gandhara] travelled by ship to Fusang. They propagated Buddhist doctrine, circulated scriptures and drawings, and advised the people to relinquish worldly attachments. As a result the customs of Fusang changed.

Although there are records of Buddhist monks from China coming to Japan before the Asuka Period, the "official" introduction of Buddhism to Japan is dated to 552 in Nihon Shoki[9] when King Seong of Baekje (, now western Korea) sent a mission to the Emperor Kinmei that included Buddhist monks or nuns together with an image of Buddha and a number of sutras to introduce Buddhism.[3][10] The powerful Soga clan played a key role in the early spread of Buddhism in the country. Initial uptake of the new faith was slow, and Buddhism only started to spread some years later when Empress Suiko openly encouraged the acceptance of Buddhism among all Japanese people.

According to legend, in Japan in 552, there was an attempt to destroy a tooth relic, one of the first of Buddhas to arrive in the country; it was hit by a hammer into an anvil; the hammer and anvil were destroyed but the tooth was not.[11] On January 15, 593, Soga no Umako ordered relics of Buddha deposited inside the foundation stone under the pillar of a pagoda at Asuka-dera.[12]

In 607, in order to obtain copies of sutras, an imperial envoy was dispatched to Sui China. As time progressed and the number of Buddhist clergy increased, the offices of Sj (archbishop) and Szu (bishop) were created. By 627, there were 46 Buddhist temples, 816 Buddhist priests, and 569 Buddhist nuns in Japan.

The initial period saw the six great Chinese schools, called Nanto Rokush (, lit. the Six Nara Sects) in Japanese, introduced to the Japanese archipelago:

These schools centered around the ancient capitals of Asuka and Nara, where great temples such as the Asuka-dera and Tdai-ji were erected respectively. These were not exclusive schools, and temples were apt to have scholars versed in several of the schools. It has been suggested that they can best be thought of as "study groups". The Buddhism of these periods, known as the Asuka period and Nara period was not a practical religion, being more the domain of learned priests whose official function was to pray for the peace and prosperity of the state and imperial house. This kind of Buddhism had little to offer the illiterate and uneducated masses, and led to the growth of "peoples priests" who were not ordained and had no formal Buddhist training. Their practice was a combination of Buddhist and Daoist elements and the incorporation of shamanistic features of indigenous practices. Some of these figures became immensely popular, and were a source of criticism towards the sophisticated academic and bureaucratic Buddhism of the capital.

The Late Nara period saw the introduction of Tangmi (Esoteric Buddhism, Japanese mikky) to Japan from China by Kkai and Saich, who founded Shingon Buddhism and the Tendai school, respectively.

During the Heian period the capital was shifted from Nara to Kyoto. Monasteries became centers of powers, even establishing armies of Shei, warrior-monks.

Shinto and Buddhism became the dominant religions, maintaining a balance until the Meiji-restoration.

The Kamakura period was a period of crises in which the control of the country moved from the imperial aristocracy to the samurai. In 1185 the Kamakura shogunate was established at Kamakura.

This period saw the introduction of the two schools that had perhaps the greatest impact on the country: the schools of Pure Land Buddhism, promulgated by evangelists such as Genshin and articulated by monks such as Hnen, which emphasize salvation through faith in Amitbha and remain the largest Buddhist sect in Japan (and throughout Asia); and Zen, promulgated by monks such as Eisai and Dgen, which emphasize liberation through the insight of meditation, which were equally rapidly adopted by the upper classes and had a profound impact on the culture of Japan.

Additionally, it was during the Kamakura period that the influential monk Nichiren began teaching devotion to the Lotus Sutra. Eventually, his disciples formed their own school of Nichiren Buddhism, which includes various sects that have their own interpretations of Nichiren's teachings. Nichiren Buddhism established the foundation of Japanese Buddhism in the thirteenth century. The school is known for its sociopolitical activism and looks to reform society through faith.[16]

In the Muromachi period, Zen, particularly the Rinzai school, obtained the help of the Ashikaga shogunate and the Emperor of Japan, and accomplished considerable development.

After the Sengoku period of war, Japan was re-united in the AzuchiMomoyama period. This decreased the power of Buddhism, which had become a strong political and military force in Japan. Neo-Confucianism and Shinto gained influence at the expense of Buddhism, which came under strict state control.[17] Japan closed itself off to the rest of the world. The only traders to be allowed were Dutchmen admitted to the island of Dejima.

New doctrines and methods were not to be introduced, nor were new temples and schools. The only exception was the baku lineage, which was introduced in the 17th century during the Edo period by Ingen, a Chinese monk. Ingen had been a member of the Linji school, the Chinese equivalent of Rinzai, which had developed separately from the Japanese branch for hundreds of years. Thus, when Ingen journeyed to Japan following the fall of the Ming dynasty to the Manchu people, his teachings were seen as a separate school. The baku school was named after Mount Huangbo (Chinese: ; pinyin: Hungb shn; Japanese pronunciation: baku shan), which had been Ingen's home in China. Also notable during the period was the publication of an exceptionally high quality reprint of the Ming-era Tripiaka by Tetsugen Doko, a renowned master of the baku school.[17]

With the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the new government adopted a strong anti-Buddhist attitude, and a movement to eradicate Buddhism and bring Shinto to ascendancy arose throughout the country due to the strong connections of Buddhism to the Shoguns.

During the Meiji period (18681912), after a coup in 1868, Japan abandoned its feudal system and opened up to Western modernism. Shinto became the state religion. Within the Buddhist establishment the Western world was seen as a threat as well as a challenge to stand up to.[19][20] Buddhist institutions had a simple choice: adapt or perish. Rinzai and Soto Zen chose to adapt, trying to modernize Zen in accord with Western insights, while simultaneously maintaining a Japanese identity. Other schools, and Buddhism in general, simply saw their influence wane. The edict of April 1872 ended the status of the buddhist precepts as state law and allowed monks to marry and to eat meat.[21] This "codification of a secularized lifestyle for the monk coupled with the revival of the emperor system and development of State Shinto were fundamental in desacralizing Buddhism and pushing it to the margins of society".[22]

Japanese identity was being articulated in Nihonjinron, the "Japanese uniqueness theory". A broad range of subjects was taken as typical of Japanese culture. D. T. Suzuki contributed to the Nihonjinron by taking Zen as the distinctive token of Asian spirituality, showing its unique character in the Japanese culture.[23]Nichirenism was one particular expression of Japanese Buddhist nationalism.

During World War II, almost all Buddhists temples strongly supported Japan's militarization.[24][25][26][27][28][29] In contrast, a few individuals such as Ichikawa Haku,[30] and Gir Senoo were targeted, and the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai, a Nichiren lay believers' organization, was ultimately banned by military authorities. During the 1940s, "leaders of both Honmon Hokkeshu and Sokka Gakkai were imprisoned for their defiance of wartime government religious policy, which mandated display of reverence for state Shinto."[31][32][33]

Post World War II, there was a high demand for Buddhist priests who glorified fallen soldiers, and gave funerals and posthumous names, causing a strong revival.[34][citation needed] However, due to secularization and materialism, Buddhism and religion in general, continued to decline.[need quotation to verify]

Japan has seen a growth in post war movements of lay believers of Buddhism[citation needed] and a decline in traditional Buddhism in the 20th century, with roughly 100 Buddhist organizations disappearing every year.[35][36] As of 2008 approximately 34% of the Japanese identify as "Buddhists" and the number has been growing since the 1980s, as Buddhists were 27% in 1984.

Still, around 90% of Japanese funerals are conducted according to Buddhist rites.[37] "In 1963 Tamamuro Taijo coined the term Funeral Buddhism that came to be used to describe traditional Buddhism in Japan as the religion engaged in funerary rites and removed from the spiritual needs of people".[38]

Contrary to the ritualistic practice of traditional Buddhism, a revived modern form of Nichiren Buddhism led by lay believers Soka Gakkai grew rapidly in the chaos of post war Japan [33] from about 3000 members in 1951 to over 8 million members in 2000,[39] and has established schools, colleges and a university, as well as cultural institutions.[40] A study about the reason for the growth in lay believers and increased engagement in society attributes the cause to Nichiren teachings of social responsibility: In the tradition of Nichiren Buddhism, however, we find the Lotus Sutra linked to a view of social responsibility that is distinctive.[41] According to an academic study, lay believers of Buddhism offer an alternative view of Japan where their form of Buddhism would form the religious foundation of a peaceful and psychologically and materially enriched society [42]

In the post-Meiji, pre-WWII period, there were officially 13 schools and 56 branches (ja:) of traditional Buddhism (i.e., those not established in modern times). The official schools included three from the Nara period, two from the Heian period (Tendai and Shingon), four Pure Land schools, three Zen schools (Rinzai, St and Obaku), and Nichiren. During the war, this was halved to 28 branches, but the law enforcing this was repealed following the end of the war, allowing former branches to return. Further, since then, many groups have split off from existing branches.[citation needed]

625: Introduced into Japan. The Tattvasiddhi school (, Jjitsu-sh) (formerly known as the *Styasiddhi) is considered to be an offshoot of the Bahurutya, an Indian Sautrntika school of Nikaya Buddhism; however, the Tattvasiddhi's position was also close to that of the Sthavira nikya. They were distinguished by a rejection of abhidharma as not being the words of the Buddha. It was introduced to Japan as Jjitsu in 625 by the monk Ekwan of Goryeo. In Japan, it was classified as one of the three approaches of East Asian Mdhyamaka instead of a separate lineage. East Asian Mdhyamaka (, Sanron-sh) was one of the six Nara sects (, Nanto Rokush).

654: Dsh introduces East Asian Yogcra (, Hoss). Yogcra is based on an early Indian philosophy by masters such as Vasubandhu. Practices of this lineage are also known as "consciousness-only" since they teach that all phenomena are phenomena of the mind. The East Asian Yogcra school of Buddhism was founded by Xuanzang (, Jp. Genj) in China c. 630 and introduced to Japan in 654 by Dsh, who had travelled to China to study under him.[45] The Discourse on the Theory of Consciousness-Only (, Jyuishiki-ron) is an important text for the Hoss school.

This school was transmitted to Japan in the 7th century. Literally: Three-Discourse School; a Madhyamaka school which developed in China based on two discourses by Nagarjuna and one by Aryadeva. Madhyamaka is one of the two most important Mahayana philosophies, and reemphasizes the original Buddhist teachings that phenomena are neither truly existent or absolutely non-existent, but are characterized by impermanence and insubstantiality.

736: Bodhisena introduces the Kegon (Huayan or Avatasaka) school to Japan. The Kegon school was founded by Dushun (, Dojun) c. 600 and was introduced to Japan by the Indian monk Bodhisena in 736. The Avatamsaka Sutra (Kegon-ky ) is the central text for the Kegon school. The Shin'yaku Kegonky Ongi Shiki is an early Japanese annotation of this stra.

753: Jianzhen (Chinese: ) introduces the Rissh (Ritsu or vinaya school) to Japan. Founded by Doxun (, Jp. Dosen), China, c. 650First Introduction to Japan: Jianzhen, 753. The Ritsu school specialized in the Vinaya (the monastic rules in the Tripitaka). They used the Dharmagupta version of the vinaya which is known in Japanese as Shibunritsu ()

The Kusha-sh () was one of the six schools of Buddhism introduced to Japan during the Asuka and Nara periods. Along with the Tattvasiddhi school (Jjitsu-sh) and the Rissh, it is a school of Nikaya Buddhism, which is sometimes derisively known to Mahayana Buddhism as "the Hinayana".

A Sarvastivada school,[47] Kusha-sh focussed on abhidharma analysis based on the "Commentary on the Abhidharmakoabhaya" () by the fourth-century Gandharan philosopher Vasubandhu. The school takes its name from that authoritative text.

807: Saich introduces the Tendai (Tiantai) school to Japan. Known as Tiantai () in China, the Tendai school was founded by Zhiyi (, Jp Chigi) in China, c. 550. In 804 Saich () traveled to China to study at the Tiantai teachings, at Mount Tiantai. However, before his return he also studied, and was initiated into, the practice of the Vajrayana, with emphasis on the Mahavairocana Sutra. The primary text of Tiantai is Lotus Sutra (Hokke-ky ), but when Saich established his school in Japan he incorporated the study and practice of Vajrayana as well.

816: Kkai founds Shingon Buddhism (, Shingon-sh). One of the major schools of Buddhism in Japan today and one of the few surviving Vajrayana lineages in East Asia, it originally spread from India to China through traveling monks such as Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra. Known in Chinese as the Tangmi, these esoteric teachings would flourish in Japan under the auspices of a Buddhist monk named Kkai (), who traveled to Tang China in 804 as part of the same expedition as Saich. In the capital he studied Tangmi and Sanskrit and received initiation from Huiguo. On returning to Japan, Kkai eventually managed to establish Shingon as a school in its own right. Kkai received two lineages of teachingone based on the Mahavairocana Tantra (, Dainichiky) and the other based on the Vajrasekhara Sutra (, Kongchky).

The word "Shingon" is the Japanese pronunciation of Zhnyn "True Words",[48] which in turn is the Chinese translation of the Sanskrit word "mantra".[49]

1175: Hnen introduces Pure Land Buddhism to Japan.

Jdo-sh was founded by Hnen (), 1175Japanese name: , "Pure Land"Major Influences: Chinese Jingtu Zong ( "Pure Land school"), TendaiDoctrine: NianfoPrimary Text: Longer Sukhvatvyha Stra (Muryju-ky )

Jdo Shinsh was founded by Shinran (), 1224Japanese name: , "True Pure Land"Major Influences: Jdo-sh, TendaiDoctrine: nembutsu no shinjin ("nianfo of true entrusting", that is, saying nianfo is a declaration of faith in Amida's salvation plan for the individual rather than a plan for salvation.)Primary Text: Longer Sukhvatvyha Stra (Muryju-ky )

Ji-sh was founded by Ippen (), 1270Japanese name: or , "Time"Major Influences: Jdo-shDoctrine: NembutsuPrimary Text:

The Yz-Nembutsu school was founded by Rynin (), 1117Japanese name: Doctrine: sokushitsu j (,)Primary Text: Avatamsaka Sutra (Kegon-ky )Lotus Sutra (Hokke-ky )

Several variants of Zen's practice and experiential wisdom () were separately brought to Japan. Note that Zen influences are identifiable earlier in Japanese Buddhism, esp. cross-fertilization with Hosso and Kegon, but the independent schools were formed quite late.

1191: Eisai introduces the Rinzai school to Japan. Founder: Linji Yixuan (), China, c. 850Chinese name: Linji school (), named after founderFirst Introduction to Japan: Eisai (), 1191Major Influences: East Asian Yogcra, KegonDoctrine: zazen (, "sitting meditation"), especially kan (, "public matter") practicePrimary Texts: Transcendental Wisdom Sutras aka Prajnaparamita (), incl. Heart Sutra

1227: Dgen introduces the St (Caodong school) to Japan. Founders: Caoshan (, Jp. Sosan) and Dongshan Liangjie (, Jp. Tosan), China, c. 850Chinese name: Caodong (), named after its foundersFirst Introduction to Japan: Dgen (), 1227Major Influences: Tendai, East Asian Yogcra, KegonDoctrine: zazen (, "sitting meditation"), especially shikantazaPrimary Texts: Transcendental Wisdom Sutras aka Prajnaparamita (), incl. Heart Sutra

1654: Ingen introduces the baku (Huangbo) school to Japan.Founder: Ingen (), Japan, 1654Japanese name: , named for the mountain where the founder had lived in ChinaMajor Influences: Rinzai schoolDoctrine: kyzen-itchi (, "Unity of Sutras and Zen")Primary Texts: Transcendental Wisdom Sutras aka Prajnaparamita (), incl. Heart Sutra

The Fuke-sh was founded by Puhua ()First introduction to Japan: Shinchin Kakushin (), 1254Major Influences: Rinzai schoolAbolished: 1871

1253: Nichiren (: "Sun-Lotus") expounds his teachings. Nichiren Buddhism split into several denominations after the death of Nichiren in 1282. The Nichiren Fuju-fuse-ha sub-sect of Nichiren Buddhism was abolished in 1669 and legalised again in 1876.Today's Nichiren Buddhism is represented by traditional-oriented schools such as Honmon Butsury-sh, Nichiren-sh and Nichiren Shsh and more recent movements like the Soka Gakkai, Rissh Ksei Kai, Reiykai and Nipponzan-Myhji-Daisanga. See Nichiren Buddhism for a more complete list.

Major Influences: TendaiPrimary Texts: Lotus Sutra (: Myh Renge Ky; abbrev. : Hokke-ky), treatises and letters by Nichiren.Mantra: Nam(u) Myh Renge Ky ()

Japanese culture maintained an uneasy relation to Buddhist culture. While the Chinese culture was admired, Buddhism was also regarded as a strange influence.

During the Kamakura (11851333) and Muromachi (13361573) Buddhism, or the Buddhist institutions, had a great influence on Japanese society. Buddhist institutions were used by the shogunate to control the country. During the Edo (16001868) this power was constricted, to be followed by persecutions at the beginning of the Meiji-restoration (18681912). Buddhist temples played a major administrative role during the Edo period, through the Danka or terauke system. In this, Japanese citizens were required to register at their local Buddhist temples and obtain a certification (terauke), which became necessary to function in society. At first, this system was put into place to suppress Christianity, but over time it took on the larger role of census and population control.

In Japan, Buddhist art started to develop as the country converted to Buddhism in 548. Some tiles from the Asuka period (shown above), the first period following the conversion of the country to Buddhism, display a strikingly classical style, with ample Hellenistic dress and realistically rendered body shape characteristic of Greco-Buddhist art.

Buddhist art became extremely varied in its expression. Many elements of Greco-Buddhist art remain to this day however, such as the Hercules inspiration behind the Nio guardian deities in front of Japanese Buddhist temples, or representations of the Buddha reminiscent of Greek art such as the Buddha in Kamakura.[b]

Various other Greco-Buddhist artistic influences can be found in the Japanese Buddhist pantheon, the most striking being that of the Japanese wind god Fjin. In consistency with Greek iconography for the wind god Boreas, the Japanese wind god holds above his head with his two hands a draping or "wind bag" in the same general attitude.[c] The abundance of hair has been kept in the Japanese rendering, as well as exaggerated facial features.

Another Buddhist deity, Shukongshin, one of the wrath-filled protector deities of Buddhist temples in Japan, is also an interesting case of transmission of the image of the famous Greek god Heracles to East Asia along the Silk Road. Heracles was used in Greco-Buddhist art to represent Vajrapani, the protector of the Buddha, and his representation was then used in China and Japan to depict the protector gods of Buddhist temples.[d]

The artistic inspiration from Greek floral scrolls is found quite literally in the decoration of Japanese roof tiles, one of the only remaining element of wooden architecture throughout centuries. The clearest ones are from the 7th century Nara temple building tiles, some of them exactly depicting vines and grapes. These motifs have evolved towards more symbolic representations, but essentially remain to this day in many Japanese traditional buildings.[e]

Soga no Umako built Hk-ji, the first temple in Japan, between 588 to 596. It was later renamed as Asuka-dera for Asuka, the name of the capital where it was located. Unlike early Shinto shrines, early Buddhist temples were highly ornamental and strictly symmetrical. The early Heian period (9th10th century) saw an evolution of style based on the mikky sects Tendai and Shingon Buddhism. The Daibutsuy style and the Zenshy style emerged in the late 12th or early 13th century.

Although its date and practices vary region to region, the Bon Festival is celebrated primarily in Japan and in communities with large Japanese diaspora communities. It is believed that the spirits of the dead return to earth for three days and visit the family shrines or graves. It is customary to clean the graves and to hold family reunions.

Buddhism in Japan - Wikipedia

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December 23rd, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Posted in Buddhist Concepts

Theravada – Wikipedia

Posted: December 13, 2017 at 7:44 am

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Theravda (Pali, literally "school of the elder monks") is a branch of Buddhism that uses the Buddha's teaching preserved in the Pli Canon as its doctrinal core. The Pali canon is the only complete Buddhist canon which survives in a classical Indic Language, Pali, which serves as the sacred language and lingua franca of Theravada Buddhism.[1] Another feature of Theravada is that it tends to be very conservative about matters of doctrine and monastic discipline.[2] As a distinct sect, Theravada Buddhism developed in Sri Lanka and spread to the rest of Southeast Asia.

Theravada also includes a rich diversity of traditions and practices that have developed over its long history of interactions with varying cultures and religious communities. It is the dominant form of religion in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, and is practiced by minority groups in India, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, Philippines and Vietnam. In addition, the diaspora of all of these groups as well as converts around the world practice Theravda Buddhism. Contemporary expressions include Buddhist modernism, the Vipassana movement and the Thai Forest Tradition.

Theravda Buddhism is followed by countries and people around the globe, and is:

Today, Theravda Buddhists, otherwise known as Theravadins, number over 150 million worldwide, and during the past few decades Theravda Buddhism has begun to take root in the West[a] and in the Buddhist revival in India.[web 2]

The name Theravda comes[b] from the ancestral Sthvirya, one of the early Buddhist schools, from which the Theravadins claim descent. 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.[3] According to its own accounts, the Theravda school is fundamentally derived from the Vibhajjavda "doctrine of analysis" grouping,[4] which was a division of the Sthvirya.

Buddhists from the Indian mainland appear originally to have regarded the Buddhists of Lak as simply the 'Lak school', thus Vasubandhu writing in the fourth century cites the notion of the bhavga-vijna of the Tmraparya-nikya as a forerunner of the laya-vijna. But beginning with Yijings account of his travels in India (671695 ce ) and Vintadevas eighth-century summary of the divisions of the Buddhist schools (Samaya-bhedoparacana- cakra-nikya-bhedopadarana-cakra), we find north Indian sources describing the Buddhist Sagha as comprising four nikyas: (1) the Mahsghikas, (2) the Sthviras, (3) the Sarvstivdins, and (4) the Samatyas. Significantly, the Sthviras in turn comprise three sub-nikyas: the Jetavanyas, the Abhayagirivsins, and the Mahvihravsins. The Buddhists of Lak are thus no longer regarded as the Lak school, they are the Sthviras, despite the fact that both the Sarvstivdins and the Samatyas were also understood as tracing their lineage to the Sthvira side of the original split with the Mahsghikas. The reason for referring to the three Buddhist nikyas of Lak as the Sthviras is probably not so much a recognition of an exclusive claim to be the authentic theravda, as a reflection of the simple fact that the Lak schools alone of the various Sthvira schools continued to refer to themselves as theriya or theravda in certain contexts.[5]

According to Damien Keown, there is no historical evidence that the Theravda school arose until around two centuries after the Great Schism which occurred at the Third Council.[6] Theravadin accounts of its own origins mention that it received the teachings that were agreed upon during the putative Third Buddhist council under the patronage of the Indian Emperor Ashoka around 250 BCE. These teachings were known as the Vibhajjavada.[7] Emperor Ashoka is supposed to have assisted in purifying the sangha by expelling monks who failed to agree to the terms of Third Council.[8] The elder monk Moggaliputta-Tissa was at the head of the Third council and compiled the Kathavatthu (Points of Controversy), a refutation of various opposing views which is an important work in the Theravada Abhidhamma.

Later, the Vibhajjavdins in turn is said to have split into four groups: the Mahsaka, Kyapya, Dharmaguptaka, and the Tmraparya.

The Theravda is said to be descended from the Tmraparya sect, which means "the Sri Lankan lineage". Missionaries sent abroad from India are said to have included Ashoka's son Mahinda (who studied under Moggaliputta-Tissa) and his daughter Sanghamitta, and they were the mythical founders of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, a story which scholars suggest helps to legitimize Theravda's claims of being the oldest and most authentic school.[8] According to the Mahavamsa chronicle their arrival in Sri Lanka is said to have been during the reign of Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura (307 BCE to 267 BCE) who converted to Buddhism and helped build the first Buddhist stupas. According to S.D. Bandaranayake:

"The rapid spread of Buddhism and the emergence of an extensive organization of the sangha are closely linked with the secular authority of the central state...There are no known artistic or architectural remains from this epoch except for the cave dwellings of the monks, reflecting the growth and spread of the new religion. The most distinctive features of this phase and virtually the only contemporary historical material, are the numerous Brahmi inscriptions associated with these caves. They record gifts to the sangha, significantly by householders and chiefs rather than by kings. The Buddhist religion itself does not seem to have established undisputed authority until the reigns of Dutthagamani and Vattagamani (ca mid-2nd century BCE to mid-1st century BCE)..."[9]

The first records of Buddha images come from the reign of king Vasabha (65-109 BCE), and after the 3rd century AD the historical record shows a growth of the worship of Buddha images as well as Bodhisattvas.[9]

In the 7th century, the Chinese pilgrim monks Xuanzang and Yijing refer to the Buddhist schools in Sri Lanka as Shngzub (Chinese: ), corresponding to the Sanskrit Sthavira nikya and Pali Thera Nikya.[10]Yijing writes, "In Sri Lanka the Sthavira school alone flourishes; the Mahasanghikas are expelled".[11]

The school has been using the name Theravda for itself in a written form since at least the 4th century, about one thousand years after the Buddha's death, when the term appears in the Dpavasa.[12][need quotation to verify]

According to Buddhist scholar A. K. Warder, the Theravda

... spread rapidly south from Avanti into Maharashtra and Andhra and down to the Chola country (Kanchi), as well as Sri Lanka. For some time they maintained themselves in Avanti as well as in their new territories, but gradually they tended to regroup themselves in the south, the Great Vihara (Mahavihara) in Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka, becoming the main centre of their tradition, Kanchi a secondary center and the northern regions apparently relinquished to other schools.

Between the reigns of Sena I (833-853) and Mahinda IV (956-972), the city of Anuradhapura saw a "colossal building effort" by various kings during a long period of peace and prosperity, the great part of the present architectural remains in this city date from this period.[14]

The Sri Lankan Buddhist Sangha initially preserved the Buddhist scriptures (the Tipitaka) orally as it had been traditionally done, however during the first century BCE, famine and wars led to the writing down of these scriptures. The Sri Lankan chronicle The Mahavamsa records:

"Formerly clever monks preserved the text of the Canon and its commentaries orally, but then, when they saw the disastrous state of living beings, they came together and had it written down in books, that the doctrine might long survive."[15]

According to Richard Gombrich this is "the earliest record we have of Buddhist scriptures being committed to writing anywhere."[15] The Theravada Pali texts which have survived (with only a few exceptions) are derived from the Mahavihara (monastic complex) of Anuradhapura, the ancient Sri Lankan capital.[16]

Later developments included the formation and recording of the Theravada commentary literature (Atthakatha). The Theravada tradition records that even during the early days of Mahinda, there was already a tradition of Indian commentaries on the scriptures.[17] Prior to the writing of the classic Theravada Pali commentaries, there were also various commentaries on the Tipitaka written in the Sinhalese language, such as the Maha-atthakatha ("Great commentary"), the main commentary tradition of the Mahavihara monks.[18]

Of great importance to the commentary tradition is the work of the great Theravada scholastic Buddhaghosa (4-5th century CE), who is responsible for most of the Theravada commentary literature that has survived (any older commentaries have been lost). Buddhaghosa wrote in Pali, and after him, most Sri Lankan Buddhist scholastics did as well.[19] This allowed the Sri Lankan tradition to become more international through a lingua franca so as to converse with monks in India and later Southeast Asia.

Theravada monks also produced other Pali literature such as historical chronicles (e.g. Mahavamsa), hagiographies, practice manuals, summaries, textbooks, poetry and Abhidhamma works such as the Abhidhammattha-sangaha and the Abhidhammavatara. Buddhaghosa's work on Abhidhamma and Buddhist practice outlined in works such as the Visuddhimagga and the Atthasalini are the most influential texts apart from the Pali Canon texts themselves in the Theravada tradition. Other Theravada Pali commentators and writers include Dhammapala and Buddhadatta. Dhammapala wrote commentaries on the Pali Canon texts which Buddhaghosa had omitted and also wrote a commentary called the Paramathamanjusa on Buddhaghosa's great manual, the Visuddhimagga.

Over much of the early history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, three subdivisions of Theravda existed in Sri Lanka, consisting of the monks of the Mahvihra, Abhayagiri vihra and Jetavana.[20] The Mahvihra was the first tradition to be established, while Abhayagiri Vihra and Jetavana Vihra were established by monks who had broken away from the Mahvihra tradition.[20] According to A.K. Warder, the Indian Mahsaka sect also established itself in Sri Lanka alongside the Theravda, into which they were later absorbed.[20] Northern regions of Sri Lanka also seem to have been ceded to sects from India at certain times.[20]

When the Chinese monk Faxian visited the island in the early 5th century, he noted 5000 monks at Abhayagiri, 3000 at the Mahvihra, and 2000 at the Cetiyapabbatavihra.[22]

The Mahavihara (Great Monastery) school became dominant in Sri Lanka at the beginning of the 2nd millennium CE and gradually spread through mainland Southeast Asia. It was established in Myanmar in the late 11th century, in Thailand in the 13th and early 14th centuries, and in Cambodia and Laos by the end of the 14th century. Although Mahavihara never completely replaced other schools in Southeast Asia, it received special favor at most royal courts. This is due to the support it received from local elites, who exerted a very strong religious and social influence. [23]

Theravada, a group of monks who disagreed with the Mahavihara way, decided to rebel and form their own alliance group. Mahavihara was essential to Theravada, because it was in fact the center of Theravada Buddhism. It was responsible for the development of Sri Lankan people, based off their religious beliefs and acceptable lifestyle. In the religious sense of Theravada, there are no further subdivisions, if Mahavihara does not cease to exist. [24]

Over the centuries, the Abhayagiri Theravdins maintained close relations with Indian Buddhists and adopted many new teachings from India.[25] including many elements from Mahyna teachings, while the Jetavana Theravdins adopted Mahyna to a lesser extent.[22][26]

Xuanzang wrote of two major divisions of Theravda in SriLanka, referring to the Abhayagiri tradition as the "Mahyna Sthaviras", and the Mahvihra tradition as the "Hnayna Sthaviras".[27] Xuanzang further writes:[22]

The Mahvihravsins reject the Mahyna and practise the Hnayna, while the Abhayagirivihravsins study both Hnayna and Mahyna teachings and propagate the Tripiaka.

Akira Hirakawa notes that the surviving Pli commentaries (Ahakath) of the Mahvihra school, when examined closely, also include a number of positions that agree with Mahyna teachings.[28] Kalupahana notes the same for the Visuddhimagga, the most important Theravda commentary.

It is known that in the 8thcentury, both Mahyna and the esoteric Vajrayna form of Buddhism were being practised in SriLanka, and two Indian monks responsible for propagating Esoteric Buddhism in China, Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra, visited the island during this time.[30] Abhayagiri Vihra appears to have been a center for Theravadin Mahyna and Vajrayna teachings.[31]

Some scholars have held that the rulers of SriLanka ensured that Theravda remained traditional, and that this characteristic contrasts with Indian Buddhism.[32] However, before the 12thcentury, more rulers of SriLanka gave support and patronage to the Abhayagiri Theravdins, and travelers such as Faxian saw the Abhayagiri Theravdins as the main Buddhist tradition in SriLanka.[33][34]

The trend of the Abhayagiri Vihara being the dominant sect changed in the 12thcentury, when the Mahvihra sect gained the political support of ParakramabahuI (11531186), who completely abolished the Abhayagiri and Jetavanin traditions.[35][36] The Theravda monks of these two traditions were then defrocked and given the choice of either returning to the laity permanently, or attempting reordination under the Mahvihra tradition as "novices" (smaera).[36][37]Richard Gombrich writes:[38]

Though the chronicle says that he reunited the Sangha, this expression glosses over the fact that what he did was to abolish the Abhayagiri and Jetavana Nikyas. He laicized many monks from the Mah Vihra Nikya, all the monks in the other two and then allowed the better ones among the latter to become novices in the now 'unified' Sangha, into which they would have in due course to be reordained.

Regarding the differences between these three Theravda traditions, the Cavasa laments, "Despite the vast efforts made in every way by former kings down to the present day, the Bhikkhus turned away in their demeanor from one another and took delight in all kinds of strife."[39]

Parakkamabhu I rebuilt the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, restoring Buddhist stupas and Viharas (monasteries).[40] He appointed a Sangharaja, or "King of the Sangha", a monk who would preside over the Sangha and its ordinations in Sri Lanka, assisted by two deputies.[38] The reign of Parakkamabhu also saw a flowering of Theravada scholasticism with the work of prominent Sri Lankan scholars such as Anuruddha, Sriputta Thera, Mahkassapa Thera of Dimbulagala Vihara and Moggallana Thera.[40] They worked on compiling of subcommentaries on the Tipitaka, texts on grammar, summaries and textbooks on Abhidhamma and Vinaya such as the influential Abhidhammattha-sangaha of Anuruddha.

A few years after the arrival of Mahinda, the bhikkhu Saghamitt, who is also believed to have been the daughter of Ashoka, came to Sri Lanka. She ordained the first nuns in Sri Lanka. In 429, by request of China's emperor, nuns from Anuradhapura were sent to China to establish the order there, which subsequently spread across East Asia. The prtimoka of the nun's order in East Asian Buddhism is the Dharmaguptaka, which is different than the prtimoka of the current Theravada school; the specific ordination of the early Sangha in Sri Lanka not known, although the Dharmaguptaka sect originated with the Sthvirya as well.

The nun's order subsequently died out in Sri Lanka in the 11th century and in Burma in the 13th century. It had already died out around the 10th century in other Theravadin areas. Novice ordination has also disappeared in those countries. Therefore, women who wish to live as renunciates in those countries must do so by taking eight or ten precepts. Neither laywomen nor formally ordained, these women do not receive the recognition, education, financial support or status enjoyed by Buddhist men in their countries. These "precept-holders" live in Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, and Thailand. In particular, the governing council of Burmese Buddhism has ruled that there can be no valid ordination of women in modern times, though some Burmese monks disagree. Japan is a special case as, although it has neither the bhikkhuni nor novice ordinations, the precept-holding nuns who live there do enjoy a higher status and better education than their precept-holder sisters elsewhere, and can even become Zen priests.[41] In Tibet there is currently no bhikkhuni ordination, but the Dalai Lama has authorized followers of the Tibetan tradition to be ordained as nuns in traditions that have such ordination.

In 1996, 11 selected Sri Lankan women were ordained fully as Theravada bhikkhunis by a team of Theravda monks in concert with a team of Korean nuns in India. There is disagreement among Theravda vinaya authorities as to whether such ordinations are valid. The Dambulla chapter of the Siam Nikaya in Sri Lanka also carried out a nun's ordination at this time, specifically stating their ordination process was a valid Theravadin process where the other ordination session was not. This chapter has carried out ordination ceremonies for hundreds of nuns since then.[citation needed] This has been criticized by leading figures in the Siam Nikaya and Amarapura Nikaya, and the governing council of Buddhism in Myanmar has declared that there can be no valid ordination of nuns in modern times, though some Burmese monks disagree with this.[43]

In 1997 Dhamma Cetiya Vihara in Boston was founded by Ven. Gotami of Thailand, then a 10 precept nun; when she received full ordination in 2000, her dwelling became America's first Theravada Buddhist bhikkhuni vihara.

A 55-year-old Thai Buddhist 8-precept white-robed maechee nun, Varanggana Vanavichayen, became the first woman to receive the going-forth ceremony of a Theravada novice (and the gold robe) in Thailand, in 2002.[44] On February 28, 2003, Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, formerly known as Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, became the first Thai woman to receive bhikkhuni ordination as a Theravada nun.[45] Dhammananda Bhikkhuni was ordained in Sri Lanka.[46] The Thai Senate has reviewed and revoked the secular law passed in 1928 banning women's full ordination in Buddhism as unconstitutional for being counter to laws protecting freedom of religion. However Thailand's two main Theravada Buddhist orders, the Mahanikaya and Dhammayutika Nikaya, have yet to officially accept fully ordained women into their ranks.

In 2009 in Australia four women received bhikkhuni ordination as Theravada nuns, the first time such ordination had occurred in Australia.[47] It was performed in Perth, Australia, on 22 October 2009 at Bodhinyana Monastery. Abbess Vayama together with Venerables Nirodha, Seri, and Hasapanna were ordained as Bhikkhunis by a dual Sangha act of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis in full accordance with the Pali Vinaya.[48]

In 2010, in the USA, four novice nuns were given the full bhikkhuni ordination in the Thai Theravada tradition, which included the double ordination ceremony. Henepola Gunaratana and other monks and nuns were in attendance. It was the first such ordination ever in the Western hemisphere.[49]

The first bhikkhuni ordination in Germany, the ordination of German woman Samaneri Dhira, occurred on June 21, 2015 at Anenja Vihara.[50]

In Indonesia, the first Theravada ordination of bhikkhunis in Indonesia after more than a thousand years occurred in 2015 at Wisma Kusalayani in Lembang, Bandung in West Java.[51] Those ordained included Vajiradevi Sadhika Bhikkhuni from Indonesia, Medha Bhikkhuni from Sri Lanka, Anula Bhikkhuni from Japan, Santasukha Santamana Bhikkhuni from Vietnam, Sukhi Bhikkhuni and Sumangala Bhikkhuni from Malaysia, and Jenti Bhikkhuni from Australia.[51]

According to the Mahavamsa, a Sri Lankan chronicle, after the conclusion of the Third Buddhist council, a mission was sent to Suvarnabhumi, led by two monks, Sona and Uttara.[52] Scholarly opinions differ as to where exactly this land of Suvarnabhumi was located, but it is generally believed to have been located somewhere in the area of Lower Burma, Thailand, the Malay Peninsula, or Sumatra.

Before the 12th century, the areas of Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia were dominated by Buddhist sects from India, and included the teachings of Mahyna Buddhism.[53][54] In the 7th century, Yijing noted in his travels that in these areas, all major sects of Indian Buddhism flourished.[53]

Though there are some early accounts that have been interpreted as Theravda in Myanmar, the surviving records show that most Burmese Buddhism incorporated Mahyna, and used Sanskrit rather than Pali.[54][55][56] After the decline of Buddhism in India, missions of monks from Sri Lanka gradually converted Burmese Buddhism to Theravda, and in the next two centuries also brought Theravda Buddhism to the areas of Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, where it supplanted previous forms of Buddhism.[57]

The Mon and Pyu were among the earliest people to inhabit Myanmar. The oldest surviving Buddhist texts in the Pali language come from Pyu city-state of Sri Ksetra, the text which is dated from the mid 5th to mid 6th century is written on twenty-leaf manuscript of solid gold.[58] According to Peter Skilling: "From the point of view of both language and contents, I conclude that the Pali inscriptions of Burma and Siam give firm evidence for a Theravadin presence in the Irrawaddy and Chao Phraya basins, from about the 5th century CE onwards. From the extent and richness of the evidence it seems that the Theravada was the predominant school, and that it enjoyed the patronage of ruling and economic elites. But I do not mean to suggest that religious society was monolithic: other schools may well have been present, or have come and gone, and there is ample evidence for the practice of Mahayana and Brahmanism in the region."[59]

The Burmese slowly became Theravdan as they came into contact and conquered the Pyu and Mon civilizations. This began in the 11th century during the reign of the Bamar king Anawrahta (1044-1077) of the Pagan Kingdom who acquired the Pali scriptures in a war against the Mon as well as from Sri Lanka and build stupas and monasteries at his capital of Bagan.[60] Various invasions of Burma by neighboring states and the Mongol invasions of Burma (13th century) damaged the Burmese sangha and Theravada had to be reintroduced several times into the country from Sri Lanka and Thailand.

The Khmer Empire (8021431) centered in Cambodia was initially dominated by Hinduism, Hindu ceremonies and rituals were performed by Brahmins, usually only held among ruling elites of the king's family, nobles, and the ruling class. Tantric Mahayana Buddhism was also a prominent faith, promoted by Buddhist emperors such as Jayavarman VII (11811215) who rejected the Hindu gods and presented himself as a Bodhisattva King.

King Jayavarman VII (reigned c.11811218) had sent his son Tamalinda to Sri Lanka to be ordained as a Buddhist monk and study Theravada Buddhism according to the Pali scriptural traditions in the Mahavihara monastery. Tamalinda then returned to Cambodia and promoted Buddhist traditions according to the Theravada training he had received, galvanizing and energizing the long-standing Theravada presence that had existed throughout the Angkor empire for centuries. During the 13th and 14th centuries, Theravada monks from Sri Lanka continued introducing orthodox Theravada Buddhism which eventually became the dominant faith among all classes.[61] The monasteries replaced the local priestly classes, becoming centers of religion, education, culture and social service for Cambodian villages. This led to high levels of literacy among Cambodians.[62]

In Thailand, Theravada existed alongside Mahayana and other religious sects before the rise of Sukhothai Kingdom.[63] During the reign of King Ram Khamhaeng (c. 1237/1247 1298) Theravada was made the main state religion and promoted by the king.

During the pre-modern era, Southeast Asian Buddhism included numerous elements which could be called tantric and esoteric (such as the use of mantras and yantras in elaborate rituals). The French scholar Franois Bizot has called this "Tantric Theravada", and his textual studies show that it was a major tradition in Cambodia and Thailand.[64] Some of these practices are still prevalent in Cambodia and Laos today.

Despite its success in Southeast Asia, Theravda Buddhism in China has generally been limited to areas bordering Theravda countries.

Later Theravada textual materials show new and somewhat unorthodox developments in theory and practice. These developments include what has been called the "Yogvacara tradition" associated with the Sinhalese Yogvacara's manual (c. 16th to 17th centuries) and also Esoteric Theravada also known as Born kammahna ('ancient practices'). These traditions include new practices and ideas which are not included in classical orthodox Theravada works like the Visuddhimagga, such as the use of mantras (such as Araham), the practice of magical formulas, complex rituals and complex visualization exercises.[65][66] These practices were particularly prominent in the Siam Nikaya before the modernist reforms of King Rama IV (18511868) as well as in Sri Lanka.

In the 19th century began a process of mutual influence of both Asian Theravadins and a Western audience interested in ancient wisdom. Especially Helena Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott, founders of the Theosophical Society had a profound role in this process. In Theravda countries a lay vipassana practice developed. From the 1970s on, Western interest gave way to the growth of the Vipassana movement in the West.

Buddhist revivalism has also reacted against changes in Buddhism caused by colonialist regimes. Western colonialists and Christian missionaries deliberately imposed a particular type of Christian monasticism on Buddhist clergy in Sri Lanka and colonies in Southeast Asia, restricting monks' activities to individual purification and temple ministries.[68] Prior to British colonial control, monks in both Sri Lanka and Burma had been responsible for the education of the children of lay people, and had produced large bodies of literature. After the British takeover, Buddhist temples were strictly administered and were only permitted to use their funds on strictly religious activities. Christian ministers were given control of the education system and their pay became state funding for missions.[69]

Foreign, especially British, rule had an enervating effect on the sangha.[70] According to Walpola Rahula, Christian missionaries displaced and appropriated the educational, social, and welfare activities of the monks, and inculcated a permanent shift in views regarding the proper position of monks in society through their institutional influence upon the elite.[70] Many monks in post-colonial times have dedicated themselves to undoing these changes.[71] Movements intending to restore Buddhism's place in society have developed in both Sri Lanka and Myanmar.[72]

One consequence of the reaction against Western colonialism has been a modernization of Theravda Buddhism: Western elements have been incorporated, and meditation practice has opened to a lay audience. Modernized forms of Theravdan practice have spread to the West.

In Sri Lanka Theravadins were looking at Western culture to find means to revitalize their own tradition. Christian missionaries were threatening the indigenous culture. As a reaction to this, Theravadins started to propagate Theravda Buddhism. They were aided by the Theosophical Society, who were dedicated to the search for wisdom within ancient sources, including Buddhism and the Pli Canon. Anagarika Dharmapala was one of the Theravda leaders with whom the Theosophists sided. Dharmapala tried to reinstate vipassan, using the Visuddhimagga and the Pali Canon as a foundation. Dharmapala reached out to the middle classes, offering them religious practice and a religious identity, which were used to withstand the British imperialists. As a result of Dharmapapla's efforts lay practitioners started to practise meditation, which had been reserved specifically for the monks.

The translation and publication of the Pli Canon by the Pali Text Society made the Pali Canon better available to a lay audience, not only in the West, but also in the East. Western lay interest in Theravda Buddhism was promoted by the Theosophical Society, and endured until the beginning of the 20th century. During the 1970s interest rose again, leading to a surge of Westerners searching for enlightenment, and the republishing of the Pli Canon, first in print, and later on the internet.

With the coming to power in 1851 of King Mongkut, who had been a monk himself for twenty-seven years, the sangha, like the kingdom, became steadily more centralized and hierarchical, and its links to the state more institutionalized. Mongkut was a distinguished scholar of Pali Buddhist scripture. Moreover, at that time the immigration of numbers of monks from Burma was introducing the more rigorous discipline characteristic of the Mon sangha. Influenced by the Mon and guided by his own understanding of the Tipitaka, Mongkut began a reform movement that later became the basis for the Dhammayuttika Nikaya.

In the early 1900s, Thailand's Ajahn Sao Kantaslo and his student, Mun Bhuridatta, led the Thai Forest Tradition revival movement. In the 20th century notable practitioners included Ajahn Thate, Ajahn Maha Bua and Ajahn Chah. It was later spread globally by Ajahn Mun's students including Ajahn Thate, Ajahn Maha Bua and Ajahn Chah and several Western disciples, among whom the most senior is Luang Por Ajahn Sumedho.

Burmese Theravda Buddhism has had a profound influence on modern vipassan practice, both for lay practitioners in Asia as in the West.

The "New Burmese method" was developed by U Nrada and popularized by his student Mahasi Sayadaw and Nyanaponika Thera. Another prominent teacher is Bhikkhu Bodhi, a student of Nyanaponika. The New Burmese Method strongly emphasizes vipassan over samatha. It is regarded as a simplification of traditional Buddhist meditation techniques, suitable not only for monks but also for lay practitioners. The method has been popularized in the West by teachers as Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, Gil Fronsdal and Sharon Salzberg.

The Ledi lineage begins with Ledi Sayadaw.S. N. Goenka is a well-known teacher in the Ledi-lineage. According to S. N. Goenka, vipassana techniques are essentially nonsectarian in character, and have universal application. Meditation centers teaching the vipassan popularized by S. N. Goenka exist now in India, Asia, North and South America, Europe, Australia, Middle East and Africa.[77][citation needed]

The following modern trends or movements have been identified.[78][web 4]

The Sthvirya, from which Theravda is derived, differed from other early Buddhist schools on a variety of teachings that are maintained by the Theravda school.[citation needed] The differences resulted from the systemization of the Buddhist teachings, which was preserved in the abhidharmas of the various schools.

The abhidhamma is "a restatement of the doctrine of the Buddha in strictly formalised language [...] assumed to constitute a consistent system of philosophy". Its aim is not the empirical verification of the Buddhist teachings, but "to set forth the correct interpretation of the Buddha's statements in the Sutra to restate his 'system' with perfect accuracy".

The Mahsghika believed arhats could regress, while Theravadins believe that the arhat has an "incorruptible nature".

According to the Theravda, "progress in understanding comes all at once, 'insight' (abhisamaya) does not come 'gradually' (successively - anapurva)", a belief known as subitism. This is reflected in the Theravda account on the four stages of enlightenment, in which the attainment of the four paths appears suddenly and the defilements are rooted out at once. The same stance is taken in the contemporary vipassana movement, especially the "New Burmese Method".[citation needed]

The commentaries gave a new definition of "a 'principle' or 'element' (dharma)":

[D]harmas are what have (or 'hold', 'maintain', dhr is the nearest equivalent in the language to the English 'have') their own own-being (svabhava). It is added that they naturally (yathasvabhavatas) have this through conditions (pratyaya). The idea is that they are distinct, definable, principles in the constitution of the universe."

Theravda promotes the concept of vibhajjavda "teaching of analysis". This doctrine says that insight must come from the aspirant's experience, application of knowledge, and critical reasoning. However, the scriptures of the Theravadin tradition also emphasize heeding the advice of the wise, considering such advice and evaluation of one's own experiences to be the two tests by which practices should be judged.

Theravda orthodoxy takes the seven stages of purification as its basic outline of the path to be followed.

The Theravda Path starts with learning, to be followed by practise, culminating in the realization of Nirvana.[c]

Throughout the Pali Canon, two characteristics of all sakhra (conditioned phenomena) and one characteristic of all dhammas are mentioned. The Theravda tradition has grouped them together. Insight into these three characteristics is the entry to the Buddhist path:

The Four Noble Truths are described as follows:

In Theravda, the cause of human existence and suffering (dukkha) is identified as tah (craving), which carries with it the kilesas (defilements). Those defilements that bind humans to the cycle of rebirth are classified into a set of ten fetters, while those defilements - sometimes referred to in English as "toxic mental states" - that impede samadhi (concentration) are presented in a fivefold set called the five hindrances.[web 5] The level of defilement can be coarse, medium, and subtle. It is a phenomenon that frequently arises, remains temporarily and then vanishes. Theravadins believe defilements are not only harmful to oneself, but also harmful to others. They are the driving force behind all inhumanities a human being can commit.

There are three stages of defilements. During the stage of passivity the defilements lie dormant at the base of the mental continuum as latent tendencies (anusaya), but through the impact of sensory stimulus, they will manifest (pariyutthana) themselves at the surface of consciousness in the form of unwholesome thoughts, emotions, and volitions. If they gather additional strength, the defilements will reach the dangerous stage of transgression (vitikkama), which will then involve physical or vocal actions.

Theravadins believe these defilements are habits born out of avijj (ignorance) that afflict the minds of all unenlightened beings, who cling to them and their influence in their ignorance of the truth. But in reality, those mental defilements are nothing more than taints that have afflicted the mind, creating suffering and stress. Unenlightened beings cling to the body, under the assumption that it represents a Self, whereas in reality the body is an impermanent phenomenon formed from the mahbhta. Often characterized by earth, water, fire and air, in the early Buddhist texts these are defined to be abstractions representing the sensorial qualities solidity, fluidity, temperature, and mobility, respectively.[d]

The mental defilements' frequent instigation and manipulation of the mind is believed to have prevented the mind from seeing the true nature of reality. Unskillful behavior in turn can strengthen the defilements, but following the Noble Eightfold Path can weaken or eradicate them. Avijj is destroyed by insight.

The concept of cause and effect, or causality, is a key concept in Theravda, and indeed, in Buddhism as a whole. This concept is expressed in several ways, including the Four Noble Truths, and most importantly, paticcasamuppda (dependent co-arising).

Abhidharma in the Pali Canon differentiates between a root cause (hetu) and facilitating cause (pacca). By the combined interaction of both these, an effect is brought about. On top of this view, a logic is built and elaborated whose most supple form can be seen in paticcasamuppda.

This concept is then used to question the nature of suffering and to elucidate the way out of it, as expressed in the Four Noble Truths. It is also employed in several suttas to refute several philosophies, or any belief system that takes a fixed mindset, or absolute beliefs about the nature of reality.

By taking away a cause, the result will also disappear. From this follows the Buddhist path to end suffering and existence in samsara.

Theravda orthodoxy takes the seven stages of purification as the basic outline of the path to be followed. This basic outline is based on the threefold discipline of sla (ethics or discipline), samdhi (meditative concentration) and pa (understanding or wisdom). The emphasis is on understanding the three marks of existence, which removes ignorance. Understanding destroys the ten fetters and leads to nibbana.

Theravadins believe that every individual is personally responsible for their own self-awakening and liberation, as they are the ones that were responsible for their own kamma (actions and consequences). Great emphasis is placed upon applying the knowledge through direct experience and personal realization, than believing about the known information about the nature of reality as said by the Buddha.

In the Sutta Pitaka, the path to liberation is described by the Noble Eightfold Path:

The Blessed One said, "Now what, monks, is the Noble Eightfold Path? Right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.[web 7]

The Noble Eightfold Path can also be summarized as the Three Noble Disciplines.[web 8][89] These are sla, pa, and samdhi.[web 9]

The Visuddhimagga, written in the fifth century by Buddhaghosa, has become the orthodox account of the Theravda path to liberation. It gives a sequence of seven purifications, based on the sequence of sla, samdhi and pa.

It is composed of three sections, which discuss sla, samdhi and paa.

The seven purifications are:

The "Purification by Knowledge and Vision" is the culmination of the practice, in four stages leading to liberation and Nirvana.

The emphasis in this system is on understanding the three marks of existence, dukkha, anatta and anicca. This emphasis is recognizable in the value that is given to vipassan over samatha, especially in the contemporary Vipassana movement.

Theravda Buddhist meditation practices fall into two broad categories: samatha and vipassan.[web 10] This distinction is not made in the sutras, but in the Visuddhimagga.[web 11]

Meditation (Pali: Bhavana) means the positive reinforcement of one's mind. Meditation is the key tool implemented in attaining jhna. Samatha means "to make skillful", and has other renderings, among which are "tranquilizing, calming", "visualizing", and "achieving". Vipassan means "insight" or "abstract understanding". In this context, Samatha Meditation makes a person skillful in concentration of mind. Once the mind is sufficiently concentrated, vipassan allows one to see through the veil of ignorance.

In order to be free from suffering and stress, Theravadins believe that the defilements need to be permanently uprooted. Initially the defilements are restrained through mindfulness to prevent them from taking over mental and bodily action. They are then uprooted through internal investigation, analysis, experience and understanding of their true nature by using jhna. This process needs to be repeated for each and every defilement. The practice will then lead the meditator to realize Nirvana.

Read more from the original source:
Theravada - Wikipedia

Written by grays

December 13th, 2017 at 7:44 am

Posted in Buddhist Concepts

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