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Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest
religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology ...

religion
with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of
tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of conscious ...

tradition
s,
belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconsci ...

belief
s and
spiritual practice A spiritual practice or spiritual discipline (often including spiritual exercises) is the regular or full-time performance of actions and activities undertaken for the purpose of inducing spiritual experiences A religious experience (sometimes ...
s largely based on original teachings attributed to
the Buddha Gautama Buddha, popularly known as the Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shakyamuni), was an Śramaṇa, ascetic, a religious leader and teacher who lived in History of India#Iron Age (1500 – 200 BC ...

the Buddha
(born Siddhārtha Gautama in the 5th or 4th century BCE) and resulting interpreted philosophies. It originated in
ancient India According to consensus in modern genetics, anatomically modern humans first arrived on the Indian subcontinent from Africa between 73,000 and 55,000 years ago. Quote: "Y-Chromosome and Mt-DNA data support the colonization of South Asia by mod ...

ancient India
as a Sramana tradition sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, spreading through much of
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the cont ...

Asia
. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognized by scholars:
Theravāda Theravāda (; Pāli Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invas ...
(
Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invasion theory (disambiguat ...
: "The School of the Elders") and
Mahāyāna Mahāyāna (; "Great Vehicle") is a term for a broad group of Buddhist traditions, texts, philosophies Philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, ...
(
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
: "The Great Vehicle"). As expressed in the Buddha's
Four Noble Truths In Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditi ...
, the goal of Buddhism is to overcome
suffering Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, may be an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm in an individual. Suffering is the basic element that makes up the negative valence of affective ...
(''
duḥkha ''Duḥkha'' (; Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European lang ...
'') caused by
desire Desires are states of mind that are expressed by terms like "wanting", "wishing", "longing" or "craving". A great variety of features is commonly associated with desires. They are seen as propositional attitude A propositional attitude is a menta ...
and
ignorance Ignorance is a lack of knowledge and information. The word "ignorant" is an adjective that describes a person in the state of being Awareness, unaware, or even cognitive dissonance and other cognitive relation, and can describe individuals who are ...
of
reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent within a system, as opposed to that which is only imaginary Imaginary may refer to: * Imaginary (sociology), a concept in sociology * The Imaginary (psychoanalysis), a concept by ...

reality
's true nature, including
impermanence Impermanence, also known as the philosophical problem of change, is a philosophical concept addressed in a variety of religions and philosophies. In Eastern philosophy it is notable for its role in the Buddhism, Buddhist three marks of existence ...

impermanence
(''anicca'') and the non-existence of the self (''anattā''). Most Buddhist traditions emphasize transcending the individual self through the attainment of
Nirvana ' ( , , ; sa, निर्वाण} ''nirvāṇa'' ; Pali: ''nibbāna''; Prakrit: ''ṇivvāṇa'', literally "blown out", as in an oil lamp Richard Gombrich, ''Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benāres to Modern Colombo ...
or by following the
path of Buddhahood
path of Buddhahood
, ending the cycle of death and rebirth.
Buddhist schools The schools of Buddhism are the various institutional and doctrinal divisions of Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the globa ...
vary in their interpretation of the path to liberation, the relative importance and canonicity assigned to the various
Buddhist texts Buddhist texts are those religious text Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred Sacred describes something that is dedicated ...
, and their specific teachings and practices. Widely observed practices include taking
refuge Refuge is a place or state of safety. It may also refer to a more specific meaning: Safety * Area of refuge, a location in a building that may be used by occupants in the event of a fire * Mountain hut, a shelter for travelers in mountainous area ...
in the
Buddha Gautama Buddha, popularly known as the Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shakyamuni), was an ascetic Asceticism (; from the el, ἄσκησις ''áskesis'', "exercise, training") is a lifestyle ...

Buddha
, the
Dharma Dharma (; sa, धर्म, dharma, ; pi, dhamma, italic=yes; ta, aṟam, italic=yes) is a key concept with multiple meanings in Indian religions Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the s ...

Dharma
and the
Sangha Sangha is a Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European langua ...

Sangha
, observance of moral precepts,
Buddhist monasticism Buddhist monasticism is one of the earliest surviving forms of organized monasticism and one of the fundamental institutions of Buddhism. Monks and nuns, called bhikkhu (Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native ...
,
Buddhist meditation Buddhist meditation is the practice of meditation in Buddhism. The closest words for meditation in the classical languages of Buddhism are ''bhavana, bhāvanā'' ("mental development") and ''Dhyāna in Buddhism, jhāna/dhyāna'' (mental trainin ...
, and the cultivation of the Paramitas (perfections, or virtues). Theravada Buddhism has a widespread following in
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...
and
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...
such as
Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is in area, bordered by Thailand to Cambodia–T ...

Cambodia
,
Laos , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao "Pheng Sat Lāo" () is the national anthem A national anthem is a song that officially symbolizes a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often r ...

Laos
,
Myanmar Myanmar, ); UK pronunciations: US pronunciations incl. . Note: Wikipedia's IPA conventions require indicating /r/ even in British English although only some British English speakers pronounce r at the end of syllables. As John C. Wells, John ...

Myanmar
and
Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia. It is located at the centre of the Mainland Southeast Asia, Indochinese Peninsula, spanning , wi ...

Thailand
. Mahayana, which includes the traditions of
Pure Land A pure land is the celestial realm of a buddha Gautama Buddha, popularly known as the Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shakyamuni), was an Śramaṇa, ascetic, a religious leader and teacher who ...
,
Zen Zen ( zh, t=禪, p=Chán; ja, text= 禅, translit=zen; ko, text=선, translit=Seon; vi, text=Thiền) is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country i ...

Zen
,
Nichiren Buddhism An illustrated image of the Lotus Sūtra, which is highly revered in Nichiren Buddhism. From the Kamakura period, circa 1257. Ink, color, and gold leaf on paper. Nichiren Buddhism ( ja, 日蓮仏教) is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism based on ...
,
Shingon of the Womb Realm In Vajrayana Buddhism, the Womb Realm ( sa, garbhakoṣadhātu, ja, 胎蔵界 ''taizōkai'') is the metaphysical space inhabited by the Five Tathagatas, Five Compassion Buddhas. The Womb Realm is based on the ''Mahavairocana ...
and
Tiantai Tiantai or T'ien-t'ai () is an East Asian Buddhist East Asian Buddhism or East Asian Mahayana is a collective term for the schools of Mahāyāna Buddhism Mahāyāna (; "Great Vehicle") is a term for a broad group of Buddhist traditions, ...
(
Tendai is a Mahayana Buddhist school established in Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of Japan.s ...

Tendai
), is found throughout
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...
such as
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...
,
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...
,
Korea Korea is a region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (environmental ...
,
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...
,
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...
and
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign state, sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, bor ...
.
Vajrayana Vajrayāna (Sanskrit: "thunderbolt vehicle" or "diamond vehicle") along with Mantrayāna, Guhyamantrayāna, Tantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Tantric Buddhism, and Esoteric Buddhism are names referring to Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world ...
, a body of teachings attributed to Indian adepts, may be viewed as a separate branch or as an aspect of Mahayana Buddhism.
Tibetan Buddhism Tibetan Buddhism (also referred to as Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, Himalayan Buddhism, and Northern Buddhism) is the form of Buddhism practiced in Tibet and Bhutan, where it is the dominant religion. It also has adherents in the regions surrounding ...
, which preserves the Vajrayana teachings of eighth-century India, is practised in the countries of the
Himalayan region The Himalayas, or Himalaya (); Sanskrit: ( 'snow') and ( 'abode, temple, dwelling'), is a mountain range in South Asia, South and East Asia separating the plains of the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau. The range has many of Eart ...

Himalayan region
,
Mongolia Mongolia (, mn, Монгол Улс, Mongol Uls, Mongolian script, Traditional Mongolian: '; literal translation, lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia") is a landlocked country in East Asia. It is bordered by Russia Mongolia–Russia ...
, and
Kalmykia Kalmykia (russian: Калмыкия, r=Kalmykiya, p=kɐlˈmɨkʲɪjə; xal-RU, Хальмг, ''Haľmg'' ), officially the Republic of Kalmykia,; xal-RU, Хальмг Таңһч, ''Haľmg Tañğç'' is a republic A republic () is a form o ...

Kalmykia
.


Life of the Buddha

Buddhism is an
Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religions, which include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism,Adams, C. J.Classification of ...
founded on the teachings of a mendicant and spiritual teacher called "the Buddha" ("the Awakened One", c. 5th to 4th century BCE). Early texts have the Buddha's family name as "Gautama" (Pali: Gotama). The details of Buddha's life are mentioned in many Early Buddhist Texts but are inconsistent. His social background and life details are difficult to prove, and the precise dates are uncertain. The evidence of the early texts suggests that
Siddharta Gautama The Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shakyamuni) was a philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit= ...
was born in
Lumbini Lumbinī ( ne, लुम्बिनी, IPA=ˈlumbini , "the lovely") is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi District of Lumbini Province in Nepal. It is the place where, according to Buddhism, Buddhist tradition, Maya Devi, Queen Maham ...

Lumbini
and grew up in Kapilavastu, a town in the
Ganges Plain
Ganges Plain
, near the modern Nepal–India border, and that he spent his life in what is now modern
Bihar Bihar (; ) is a states and union territories of India, state in eastern India. It is the list of states and union territories of India by population, third-largest state by population and list of states and union territories of India by area ...

Bihar
and
Uttar Pradesh Uttar Pradesh (; , 'Northern Province') is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (new ...

Uttar Pradesh
. Some hagiographic legends state that his father was a king named Suddhodana, his mother was Queen Maya, and he was born in
Lumbini Lumbinī ( ne, लुम्बिनी, IPA=ˈlumbini , "the lovely") is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi District of Lumbini Province in Nepal. It is the place where, according to Buddhism, Buddhist tradition, Maya Devi, Queen Maham ...

Lumbini
. However, scholars such as
Richard Gombrich Richard Francis Gombrich (; born 17 July 1937) is a British Indologist Indology or Indian studies is the academic study of the history History (from Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study ...
consider this a dubious claim because a combination of evidence suggests he was born in the
Shakya The Shakya ( in the : 𑀲𑀓𑁆𑀬 , , or , : , : शाक्य) were a clan of (1st millennium BCE), inhabiting an area in , situated at present-day southern and northern , near the Himalaya. The Shakyas formed an independent oligarc ...
community, which was governed by a small oligarchy or republic-like council where there were no ranks but where seniority mattered instead. Some of the stories about Buddha, his life, his teachings, and claims about the society he grew up in may have been invented and interpolated at a later time into the Buddhist texts. According to early texts such as the Pali ''Ariyapariyesanā-sutta'' ("The discourse on the noble quest," MN 26) and its Chinese parallel at 204, Gautama was moved by the suffering ('' dukkha'') of life and death, and its
endless repetition
endless repetition
due to
rebirth Rebirth may refer to: Religion * Reincarnation, the migration of a deceased person's spirit or consciousness to a newborn body ** Rebirth (Buddhism), Rebirth in Buddhism ** Reincarnation#Hinduism, Rebirth in Hinduism * Regeneration (theology), a ...
. He thus set out on a quest to find liberation from suffering (also known as "
nirvana ' ( , , ; sa, निर्वाण} ''nirvāṇa'' ; Pali: ''nibbāna''; Prakrit: ''ṇivvāṇa'', literally "blown out", as in an oil lamp Richard Gombrich, ''Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benāres to Modern Colombo ...
"). Early texts and biographies state that Gautama first studied under two teachers of meditation, namely Alara Kalama (Sanskrit: Arada Kalama) and Uddaka Ramaputta (Sanskrit: Udraka Ramaputra), learning meditation and philosophy, particularly the meditative attainment of "the sphere of nothingness" from the former, and "the sphere of neither perception nor non-perception" from the latter. Finding these teachings to be insufficient to attain his goal, he turned to the practice of severe
asceticism Asceticism (; from the el, ἄσκησις, áskesis, exercise', 'training) is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from sensual pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals. Ascetics may withdraw from the world for their pr ...
, which included a strict
fasting Fasting is the willful refrainment from eating and sometimes drinking (see Water fasting and Juice fasting). From a purely physiology, physiological context, "fasting" may refer to the metabolism, metabolic status of a person who has not eaten o ...

fasting
regime and various forms of
breath control
breath control
.Analayo (2011). ''"A Comparative Study of the Majjhima-nikāya Volume 1 (Introduction, Studies of Discourses 1 to 90),"'' p. 236. This too fell short of attaining his goal, and then he turned to the meditative practice of '' dhyana''. He famously sat in
meditation Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness Mindfulness is the practice of purposely bringing one's attention in the present moment without evaluation,Mindfulness Training as a Clinical Interventio ...

meditation
under a ''
Ficus religiosa ''Ficus religiosa'' or sacred fig is a species of fig native to the Indian subcontinent and Indochina that belongs to Moraceae, the fig or mulberry family. It is also known as the bodhi tree, pippala tree, peepul tree, peepal tree or ashwattha ...

Ficus religiosa
'' tree now called the
Bodhi Tree
Bodhi Tree
in the town of
Bodh Gaya Bodh Gaya is a religious site and place of pilgrimage associated with the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya district in the Indian States and union territories of India, state of Bihar. It is famous as it is the place where Gautama Buddha is said t ...

Bodh Gaya
and attained "Awakening" (
Bodhi The English term enlightenment is the Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a loca ...
). According to various early texts like the ''Mahāsaccaka-sutta,'' and the '' Samaññaphala Sutta,'' on awakening, the Buddha gained insight into the workings of karma and his former lives, as well as achieving the ending of the mental defilements (''
asava Āsava is a Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invasio ...
s''), the ending of suffering, and the end of rebirth in
saṃsāra ''Saṃsāra'' is a Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European ...

saṃsāra
. This event also brought certainty about the
Middle Way#REDIRECT Middle Way The Middle Way ( pi, ; sa, ) as well as "teaching the Dhamma by the middle" (''majjhena dhammaṃ deseti'') are common Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social system ...
as the right path of spiritual practice to end suffering. As a fully enlightened Buddha, he attracted followers and founded a ''
Sangha Sangha is a Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European langua ...
'' (monastic order). He spent the rest of his life teaching the
Dharma Dharma (; sa, धर्म, dharma, ; pi, dhamma, italic=yes; ta, aṟam, italic=yes) is a key concept with multiple meanings in Indian religions Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the s ...
he had discovered, and then died, achieving "," at the age of 80 in
Kushinagar ''Kushinagar'' is a town in the Kushinagar district Kushinagar is a Districts of Uttar Pradesh, district of the state of Uttar Pradesh in India situated in the easternmost part of the state. It has the administrative headquarters at Ravin ...

Kushinagar
, India. Buddha's teachings were propagated by his followers, which in the last centuries of the 1st millennium BCE became various Buddhist schools of thought, each with its own basket of texts containing different interpretations and authentic teachings of the Buddha; these over time evolved into many traditions of which the more well known and widespread in the modern era are
Theravada Theravāda (; , lit. "School of the ", borrowed from Sanskrit स्थविरवाद (sthaviravāda, literally “doctrine of the elders”) is the most commonly accepted name of 's oldest existing school. The school's adherents, termed Th ...
,
Mahayana Mahāyāna (; "Great Vehicle") is a term for a broad group of Buddhism, Buddhist traditions, Buddhist texts#Mahāyāna texts, texts, Buddhist philosophy, philosophies, and practices. Mahāyāna Buddhism developed in India (c. 1st century BCE on ...
and
Vajrayana Vajrayāna (Sanskrit: "thunderbolt vehicle" or "diamond vehicle") along with Mantrayāna, Guhyamantrayāna, Tantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Tantric Buddhism, and Esoteric Buddhism are names referring to Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world ...
Buddhism.


Worldview

The term "Buddhism" is an occidental neologism, commonly (and "rather roughly" according to Donald S. Lopez Jr.) used as a translation for the
Dharma Dharma (; sa, धर्म, dharma, ; pi, dhamma, italic=yes; ta, aṟam, italic=yes) is a key concept with multiple meanings in Indian religions Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the s ...
of the
Buddha Gautama Buddha, popularly known as the Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shakyamuni), was an ascetic Asceticism (; from the el, ἄσκησις ''áskesis'', "exercise, training") is a lifestyle ...

Buddha
, ''fójiào'' in Chinese, ''bukkyō'' in Japanese, ''nang pa sangs rgyas pa'i chos'' in Tibetan, ''buddhadharma'' in Sanskrit, ''buddhaśāsana'' in Pali.


Four Noble Truths – ''dukkha'' and its ending

The Four Truths express the basic orientation of Buddhism: we crave and cling to impermanent states and things, which is ''dukkha'', "incapable of satisfying" and painful. This keeps us caught in
saṃsāra ''Saṃsāra'' is a Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European ...
, the endless cycle of repeated
rebirth Rebirth may refer to: Religion * Reincarnation, the migration of a deceased person's spirit or consciousness to a newborn body ** Rebirth (Buddhism), Rebirth in Buddhism ** Reincarnation#Hinduism, Rebirth in Hinduism * Regeneration (theology), a ...
, dukkha and dying again. But there is a way to
liberation Liberation or liberate may refer to: Concepts *Enlightenment (spiritual) **''Moksha'', the concept of salvation within Indian religions **''Nirvana'', a closely related term *Emancipation *Sexual liberation *Women's liberation or feminism *Libera ...

liberation
from this endless cycle to the state of
nirvana ' ( , , ; sa, निर्वाण} ''nirvāṇa'' ; Pali: ''nibbāna''; Prakrit: ''ṇivvāṇa'', literally "blown out", as in an oil lamp Richard Gombrich, ''Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benāres to Modern Colombo ...

nirvana
, namely following the
Noble Eightfold Path The Noble Eightfold Path ( Pali: ; Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It ...
. The truth of '' dukkha'' is the basic insight that life in this mundane world, with its clinging and craving to impermanent states and things is ''dukkha'', and unsatisfactory. ''Dukkha'' can be translated as "incapable of satisfying,"Ajahn Sumedho, ''The First Noble Truth''
(nb: links to index-page; click "The First Noble Truth" for correct page.
"the unsatisfactory nature and the general insecurity of all conditioned phenomena"; or "painful." ''Dukkha'' is most commonly translated as "suffering," but this is inaccurate, since it refers not to episodic suffering, but to the intrinsically unsatisfactory nature of temporary states and things, including pleasant but temporary experiences. We expect happiness from states and things which are impermanent, and therefore cannot attain real happiness. In Buddhism, dukkha is one of the
three marks of existence In Buddhism, the three marks of existence are three characteristics ( Pali: ''tilakkhaa''; Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging t ...
, along with
impermanence Impermanence, also known as the philosophical problem of change, is a philosophical concept addressed in a variety of religions and philosophies. In Eastern philosophy it is notable for its role in the Buddhism, Buddhist three marks of existence ...

impermanence
and
anattā In Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of tradition ...
(non-self). Buddhism, like other major Indian religions, asserts that everything is impermanent (anicca), but, unlike them, also asserts that there is no permanent self or soul in living beings (''anattā'').Anatta Buddhism
Encyclopædia Britannica (2013)
''
Anatta
Encyclopædia Britannica (2013), Quote: "Anatta in Buddhism, the doctrine that there is in humans no permanent, underlying soul. The concept of anatta, or anatman, is a departure from the Hindu belief in atman ("the self").";
'' ' Steven Collins (1994), Religion and Practical Reason (Editors: Frank Reynolds, David Tracy), State Univ of New York Press, , p. 64; "Central to Buddhist soteriology is the doctrine of not-self (Pali: anattā, Sanskrit: anātman, the opposed doctrine of ātman is central to Brahmanical thought). Put very briefly, this is the uddhistdoctrine that human beings have no soul, no self, no unchanging essence.";
'' ' John C. Plott et al. (2000), ''Global History of Philosophy: The Axial Age'', Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, , p. 63, Quote: "The Buddhist schools reject any Ātman concept. As we have already observed, this is the basic and ineradicable distinction between Hinduism and Buddhism";
'' ' Katie Javanaud (2013)
Is The Buddhist 'No-Self' Doctrine Compatible With Pursuing Nirvana?
Philosophy Now;
'' ' David Loy (1982), "Enlightenment in Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta: Are Nirvana and Moksha the Same?", ''International Philosophical Quarterly'', Volume 23, Issue 1, pp. 65–74
The ignorance or misperception ('' avijjā'') that anything is permanent or that there is self in any being is considered a wrong understanding, and the primary source of clinging and dukkha. ''Dukkha'' arises when we crave (Pali: ''
taṇhā (Pāli; Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. I ...
'') and cling to these changing phenomena. The clinging and craving produces
karma Karma (; sa, कर्म}, ; pi, kamma, italic=yes) means action, work, or deed. For the believers in spirituality the term also refers to the Spirituality, spiritual principle of cause and effect, often descriptively called the principl ...
, which ties us to samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth. Craving includes ''kama-tanha'', craving for sense-pleasures; ''
bhava The Sanskrit word bhava (भव) means being, worldly existence, becoming, birth, be, production, origin,Monier Monier-Williams (1899), Sanskrit English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Archiveभव bhava but also habitual or emotional te ...

bhava
-tanha'', craving to continue the cycle of life and death, including rebirth; and ''vibhava-tanha'', craving to not experience the world and painful feelings. ''Dukkha'' ceases, or can be confined, when craving and clinging cease or are confined. This also means that no more karma is being produced, and rebirth ends. Cessation is ''
nirvana ' ( , , ; sa, निर्वाण} ''nirvāṇa'' ; Pali: ''nibbāna''; Prakrit: ''ṇivvāṇa'', literally "blown out", as in an oil lamp Richard Gombrich, ''Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benāres to Modern Colombo ...
'', "blowing out," and peace of mind. By following the Buddhist path to ''
moksha ''Moksha'' (; sa, मोक्ष, '; Tamil Tamil may refer to: * Tamils, an ethnic group native to India, Sri Lanka and some other parts of Asia **Sri Lankan Tamils, Tamil people native to Sri Lanka **Tamil Malaysians, Tamil people native ...

moksha
'', liberation, one starts to disengage from craving and clinging to impermanent states and things. The term "path" is usually taken to mean the
Noble Eightfold Path The Noble Eightfold Path ( Pali: ; Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It ...
, but
other versions Other most often refers to: * Other (philosophy), a concept in psychology and philosophy Other or The Other may also refer to: Books * The Other (Tryon novel), ''The Other'' (Tryon novel), a 1971 horror novel by Tom Tryon * The Other (short story ...
of "the path" can also be found in the Nikayas. The Theravada tradition regards insight into the four truths as liberating in itself.


The cycle of rebirth


Saṃsāra

''Saṃsāra'' means "wandering" or "world", with the connotation of cyclic, circuitous change. It refers to the theory of rebirth and "cyclicality of all life, matter, existence", a fundamental assumption of Buddhism, as with all major Indian religions. Samsara in Buddhism is considered to be '' dukkha'', unsatisfactory and painful, perpetuated by desire and '' avidya'' (ignorance), and the resulting
karma Karma (; sa, कर्म}, ; pi, kamma, italic=yes) means action, work, or deed. For the believers in spirituality the term also refers to the Spirituality, spiritual principle of cause and effect, often descriptively called the principl ...

karma
. The theory of rebirths, and realms in which these rebirths can occur, is extensively developed in Buddhism, in particular Tibetan Buddhism with its wheel of existence (''Bhavacakra'') doctrine. Liberation from this cycle of existence, ''nirvana'', has been the foundation and the most important historical justification of Buddhism. The later Buddhist texts assert that rebirth can occur in six realms of existence, namely three good realms (heavenly, demi-god, human) and three evil realms (animal, hungry ghosts, hellish). Samsara ends if a person attains
nirvana ' ( , , ; sa, निर्वाण} ''nirvāṇa'' ; Pali: ''nibbāna''; Prakrit: ''ṇivvāṇa'', literally "blown out", as in an oil lamp Richard Gombrich, ''Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benāres to Modern Colombo ...

nirvana
, the "blowing out" of the desires and the gaining of true insight into
impermanence Impermanence, also known as the philosophical problem of change, is a philosophical concept addressed in a variety of religions and philosophies. In Eastern philosophy it is notable for its role in the Buddhism, Buddhist three marks of existence ...

impermanence
and non-self reality.


Rebirth

Rebirth refers to a process whereby beings go through a succession of lifetimes as one of many possible forms of sentient life, each running from conception to death. In Buddhist thought, this rebirth does not involve any soul, because of its doctrine of
anattā In Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of tradition ...
(Sanskrit: ''anātman'', no-self doctrine) which rejects the concepts of a permanent self or an unchanging, eternal soul, as it is called in
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religions, which include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, ...

Hinduism
and
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of ...

Christianity
. According to Buddhism there ultimately is no such thing as a self in any being or any essence in any thing. The Buddhist traditions have traditionally disagreed on what it is in a person that is reborn, as well as how quickly the rebirth occurs after each death. Some Buddhist traditions assert that "no self" doctrine means that there is no perduring self, but there is ''avacya'' (inexpressible) self which migrates from one life to another. The majority of Buddhist traditions, in contrast, assert that
vijñāna ''Vijñāna'' (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languag ...
(a person's consciousness) though evolving, exists as a continuum and is the mechanistic basis of what undergoes rebirth, rebecoming and redeath. The rebirth depends on the
merit Merit may refer to: Religion * Merit (Catholicism) * Merit (Buddhism) * Punya (Hinduism) Punya (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia b ...
or demerit gained by one's karma, as well as that accrued on one's behalf by a family member. Each rebirth takes place within one of five realms according to Theravadins, or six according to other schools – heavenly, demi-gods, humans, animals, hungry ghosts and hellish. In East Asian and
Tibetan Buddhism Tibetan Buddhism (also referred to as Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, Himalayan Buddhism, and Northern Buddhism) is the form of Buddhism practiced in Tibet and Bhutan, where it is the dominant religion. It also has adherents in the regions surrounding ...
, rebirth is not instantaneous, and there is an intermediate state (Tibetan "
bardo In some schools of Buddhism, ''bardo'' ( xct, བར་དོ་ Wylie: ''bar do'') or ''antarābhava'' (Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese: 中有, romanized in Chinese as ''zhōng yǒu'' and in Japanese as ''chūu'') is an intermediate, transitiona ...

bardo
") between one life and the next. The orthodox Theravada position rejects the wait, and asserts that rebirth of a being is immediate. However there are passages in the '' Samyutta Nikaya'' of the Pali Canon that seem to lend support to the idea that the Buddha taught about an intermediate stage between one life and the next.


Karma

In Buddhism,
karma Karma (; sa, कर्म}, ; pi, kamma, italic=yes) means action, work, or deed. For the believers in spirituality the term also refers to the Spirituality, spiritual principle of cause and effect, often descriptively called the principl ...

karma
(from
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
: "action, work") drives ''
saṃsāra ''Saṃsāra'' is a Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European ...

saṃsāra
'' – the endless cycle of suffering and rebirth for each being. Good, skilful deeds (Pāli: ''kusala'') and bad, unskilful deeds (Pāli: ''akusala'') produce "seeds" in the unconscious receptacle (''ālaya'') that mature later either in this life or in a subsequent
rebirth Rebirth may refer to: Religion * Reincarnation, the migration of a deceased person's spirit or consciousness to a newborn body ** Rebirth (Buddhism), Rebirth in Buddhism ** Reincarnation#Hinduism, Rebirth in Hinduism * Regeneration (theology), a ...
. The existence of karma is a core belief in Buddhism, as with all major Indian religions, and it implies neither fatalism nor that everything that happens to a person is caused by karma. A central aspect of Buddhist theory of karma is that intent (''
cetanā Cetanā (Sanskrit, Pali; Tibetan Wylie: sems pa) is a Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, moralit ...
'') matters and is essential to bring about a consequence or ''
phala Phala is a Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after i ...
'' "fruit" or vipāka "result". However, good or bad karma accumulates even if there is no physical action, and just having ill or good thoughts creates karmic seeds; thus, actions of body, speech or mind all lead to karmic seeds. In the Buddhist traditions, life aspects affected by the law of karma in past and current births of a being include the form of rebirth, realm of rebirth, social class, character and major circumstances of a lifetime. It operates like the laws of physics, without external intervention, on every being in all Samsara (Buddhism), six realms of existence including human beings and gods. A notable aspect of the karma theory in Buddhism is merit transfer. A person accumulates merit not only through intentions and ethical living, but also is able to gain merit from others by exchanging goods and services, such as through ''dāna'' (charity to monks or nuns). Further, a person can transfer one's own good karma to living family members and ancestors.


Liberation

The cessation of the ''Kleshas (Buddhism), kleshas'' and the attainment of
nirvana ' ( , , ; sa, निर्वाण} ''nirvāṇa'' ; Pali: ''nibbāna''; Prakrit: ''ṇivvāṇa'', literally "blown out", as in an oil lamp Richard Gombrich, ''Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benāres to Modern Colombo ...

nirvana
(''nibbāna''), with which the cycle of rebirth ends, has been the primary and the soteriological goal of the Buddhist path for monastic life since the time of the Buddha. The term "path" is usually taken to mean the
Noble Eightfold Path The Noble Eightfold Path ( Pali: ; Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It ...
, but
other versions Other most often refers to: * Other (philosophy), a concept in psychology and philosophy Other or The Other may also refer to: Books * The Other (Tryon novel), ''The Other'' (Tryon novel), a 1971 horror novel by Tom Tryon * The Other (short story ...
of "the path" can also be found in the Nikayas. In some passages in the Pali Canon, a distinction is being made between right knowledge or insight (''sammā-ñāṇa''), and right liberation or release (''sammā-vimutti''), as the means to attain cessation and liberation. Nirvana literally means "blowing out, quenching, becoming extinguished". In early Buddhist texts, it is the state of restraint and self-control that leads to the "blowing out" and the ending of the cycles of sufferings associated with rebirths and redeaths. Many later Buddhist texts describe nirvana as identical with ''anatta'' with complete "emptiness, nothingness". In some texts, the state is described with greater detail, such as passing through the gate of emptiness (''sunyata'') – realising that there is no soul or self in any living being, then passing through the gate of signlessness (''animitta'') – realising that nirvana cannot be perceived, and finally passing through the gate of wishlessness (''apranihita'') – realising that nirvana is the state of not even wishing for nirvana. The nirvana state has been described in Buddhist texts partly in a manner similar to other Indian religions, as the state of complete liberation, enlightenment, highest happiness, bliss, fearlessness, freedom, permanence, non-dependent origination, unfathomable, and indescribable. It has also been described in part differently, as a state of spiritual release marked by "emptiness" and realisation of '' non-self''. While Buddhism considers the liberation from
saṃsāra ''Saṃsāra'' is a Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European ...
as the ultimate spiritual goal, in traditional practice, the primary focus of a vast majority of lay Buddhists has been to seek and accumulate merit through good deeds, donations to monks and various Buddhist rituals in order to gain better rebirths rather than nirvana.


Dependent arising

''Pratityasamutpada'', also called "dependent arising, or dependent origination", is the Buddhist theory to explain the nature and relations of being, becoming, existence and ultimate reality. Buddhism asserts that there is nothing independent, except the state of nirvana. All physical and mental states depend on and arise from other pre-existing states, and in turn from them arise other dependent states while they cease. The 'dependent arisings' have a causal conditioning, and thus ''Pratityasamutpada'' is the Buddhist belief that causality is the basis of ontology, not a creator God nor the ontological Vedic concept called universal Self (Brahman) nor any other 'transcendent creative principle'. However, the Buddhist thought does not understand causality in terms of Newtonian mechanics, rather it understands it as conditioned arising. In Buddhism, dependent arising is referring to conditions created by a plurality of causes that necessarily co-originate a phenomenon within and across lifetimes, such as karma in one life creating conditions that lead to rebirth in one of the realms of existence for another lifetime. Buddhism applies the dependent arising theory to explain origination of endless cycles of ''dukkha'' and rebirth, through its Twelve Nidānas or "twelve links" doctrine. It states that because Avidyā (Buddhism), Avidyā (ignorance) exists Saṅkhāra, Saṃskāras (karmic formations) exists, because Saṃskāras exists therefore Vijñāna (consciousness) exists, and in a similar manner it links Nāmarūpa (sentient body), Ṣaḍāyatana (six senses), Sparśa (sensory stimulation), Vedanā (feeling), Taṇhā (craving), Upādāna (grasping), Bhava (becoming), Jāti (Buddhism), Jāti (birth), and Jarāmaraṇa (old age, death, sorrow, pain). By breaking the circuitous links of the Twelve Nidanas, Buddhism asserts that liberation from these endless cycles of rebirth and dukkha can be attained.


Not-Self and Emptiness

A related doctrine in Buddhism is that of ''anattā'' (Pali) or ''anātman'' (Sanskrit). It is the view that there is no unchanging, permanent self, soul or essence in phenomena. The Buddha and Buddhist philosophers who follow him such as Vasubandhu and Buddhaghosa, generally argue for this view by analyzing the person through the schema of the five aggregates, and then attempting to show that none of these five components of personality can be permanent or absolute. This can be seen in Buddhist discourses such as the ''Anattalakkhana Sutta.'' "Emptiness" or "voidness" (Skt'': Śūnyatā'', Pali: ''Suññatā)'', is a related concept with many different interpretations throughout the various Buddhisms. In early Buddhism, it was commonly stated that all five aggregates are void (''rittaka''), hollow (''tucchaka''), coreless (''asāraka''), for example as in the ''Pheṇapiṇḍūpama Sutta'' (SN 22:95). Similarly, in Theravada Buddhism, it often simply means that the five aggregates are empty of a Self. Emptiness is a central concept in Mahāyāna Buddhism, especially in Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka school, and in the ''Prajnaparamita, Prajñāpāramitā sutras''. In Madhyamaka philosophy, emptiness is the view which holds that all phenomena (dharma#Dharmas in Buddhist phenomenology, ''dharmas'') are without any ''svabhava'' (literally "own-nature" or "self-nature"), and are thus without any underlying essence, and so are "empty" of being independent. This doctrine sought to refute the heterodox theories of ''svabhava'' circulating at the time.


The Three Jewels

All forms of Buddhism revere and take spiritual refuge in the "three jewels" (''triratna''): Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.


Buddha

While all varieties of Buddhism revere "Buddha" and "buddhahood", they have different views on what these are. Whatever that may be, "Buddha" is still central to all forms of Buddhism. In Theravada Buddhism, a Buddha is someone who has become awake through their own efforts and insight. They have put an end to their cycle of rebirths and have ended all unwholesome mental states which lead to bad action and thus are morally perfected.Crosby, Kate (2013). ''"Theravada Buddhism: Continuity, Diversity, and Identity,"'' p. 16. John Wiley & Sons. While subject to the limitations of the human body in certain ways (for example, in the early texts, the Buddha suffers from backaches), a Buddha is said to be "deep, immeasurable, hard-to-fathom as is the great ocean," and also has immense psychic powers (abhijñā). Theravada generally sees Gautama Buddha (the historical Buddha Sakyamuni) as the only Buddha of the current era. While he is no longer in this world, he has left us the Dharma (Teaching), the Vinaya (Discipline) and the Sangha (Community). There are also said to be two types of Buddhas, a ''sammasambuddha ''is also said to teach the Dharma to others, while a ''paccekabuddha'' (solitary buddha) does not teach. Mahāyāna Buddhism meanwhile, has a vastly expanded Buddhist cosmology, cosmology, with various Buddhahood, Buddhas and other holy beings (''aryas'') residing in different realms. Mahāyāna texts not only revere numerous Buddhist deities#Buddhas, Buddhas besides Gautama Buddha, Sakyamuni, such as Amitābha, Amitabha and Vairochana, Vairocana, but also see them as transcendental or supramundane (''lokuttara'') beings. Mahāyāna Buddhism holds that these other Buddhas in other realms can be contacted and are able to benefit beings in this world. In Mahāyāna, a Buddha is a kind of "spiritual king", a "protector of all creatures" with a lifetime that is countless of eons long, rather than just a human teacher who has transcended the world after death. Gautama Buddha, Buddha Sakyamuni's life and death on earth is then usually understood as a "mere appearance" or "a manifestation skilfully projected into earthly life by a long-enlightened transcendent being, who is still available to teach the faithful through visionary experiences."


Dharma

"Dharma" (Pali: Dhamma) in Buddhism refers to the Buddha's teaching, which includes all of the main ideas outlined above. While this teaching reflects the true nature of reality, it is not a belief to be clung to, but a pragmatic teaching to be put into practice. It is likened to a raft which is "for crossing over" (to nirvana) not for holding on to. It also refers to the universal law and cosmic order which that teaching both reveals and relies upon. It is an everlasting principle which applies to all beings and worlds. In that sense it is also the ultimate truth and reality about the universe, it is thus "the way that things really are." The Dharma is the second of the three jewels which all Buddhists take refuge in. All Buddhas in all worlds, in the past, present and in the future, are believed by Buddhists to understand and teach the Dharma. Indeed, it is part of what makes them a Buddha that they do so.


Sangha

The third "jewel" which Buddhists take refuge in is the "Sangha", which refers to the monastic community of monks and nuns who follow Gautama Buddha's monastic discipline which was "designed to shape the Sangha as an ideal community, with the optimum conditions for spiritual growth." The Sangha consists of those who have chosen to follow the Buddha's ideal way of life, which is one of celibate monastic renunciation with minimal material possessions (such as an alms bowl and robes). The Sangha is seen as important because they preserve and pass down Buddha Dharma. As Gethin states "the Sangha lives the teaching, preserves the teaching as Scriptures and teaches the wider community. Without the Sangha there is no Buddhism." The Sangha also acts as a "field of merit" for laypersons, allowing them to make spiritual merit or goodness by donating to the Sangha and supporting them. In return, they keep their duty to preserve and spread the Dharma everywhere for the good of the world. The Sangha is also supposed to follow the Vinaya (monastic rule) of the Buddha, thereby serving as an spiritual example for the world and future generations. The Vinaya rules also force the Sangha to live in dependence on the rest of the lay community (they must beg for food etc) and thus draw the Sangha into a relationship with the lay community. There is also a separate definition of Sangha, referring to those who have attained any Four stages of enlightenment, stage of awakening, whether or not they are monastics. This sangha is called the Śrāvaka#The community of disciples, ''āryasaṅgha'' "noble Sangha". All forms of Buddhism generally reveres these ''Arya (Buddhism), āryas'' (Pali: ''ariya'', "noble ones" or "holy ones") who are spiritually attained beings. Aryas have attained the fruits of the Buddhist path. Becoming an arya is a goal in most forms of Buddhism. The ''āryasaṅgha'' includes holy beings such as bodhisattvas, arhats and stream-enterers. In early Buddhism and in Theravada Buddhism, an arhat (literally meaning "worthy") is someone who reached the same awakening (''bodhi'') of a Buddha by following the teaching of a Buddha. They are seen as having ended rebirth and all the mental defilements. A bodhisattva ("a being bound for awakening") meanwhile, is simply a name for someone who is working towards awakening (''bodhi'') as a Buddha. According to all the early buddhist schools as well as Theravada, to be considered a bodhisattva one has to have made a vow in front of a living Buddha and also has to have received a confirmation of one's future Buddhahood.Drewes, David, ''Mahāyāna Sūtras and Opening of the Bodhisattva Path'', Paper presented at the XVIII the IABS Congress, Toronto 2017, Updated 2019. In Theravada, the future Buddha is called Metteyya (Maitreya) and he is revered as a bodhisatta currently working for future Buddhahood. Mahāyāna Buddhism generally sees the attainment of the arhat as an inferior one, since it is seen as being done only for the sake of individual liberation. It thus promotes the bodhisattva path as the highest and most worthwhile. While in Mahāyāna, anyone who has given rise to bodhicitta (the wish to become a Buddha that arises from a sense of compassion for all beings) is considered a bodhisattva, some of these holy beings (such as Maitreya and Avalokiteshvara) have reached very high levels of spiritual attainment and are seen as being very powerful supramundane beings who provide aid to countless beings through their advanced powers.


Other key Mahāyāna views

Mahāyāna Buddhism also differs from Theravada and the other schools of early Buddhism in promoting several unique doctrines which are contained in Mahāyāna sutras and philosophical treatises. One of these is the unique interpretation of emptiness and dependent origination found in the Madhyamaka school. Another very influential doctrine for Mahāyāna is the main philosophical view of the Yogachara, Yogācāra school variously, termed ''Vijñaptimātratā-vāda'' ("the doctrine that there are only ideas" or "mental impressions") or ''Vijñānavāda'' ("the doctrine of consciousness"). According to Mark Siderits, what classical Yogācāra thinkers like Vasubandhu had in mind is that we are only ever aware of mental images or impressions, which may appear as external objects, but "there is actually no such thing outside the mind." There are several interpretations of this main theory, many scholars see it as a type of Idealism, others as a kind of phenomenology. Another very influential concept unique to Mahāyāna is that of "Buddha-nature" (''buddhadhātu'') or "Tathagata-womb" (''tathāgatagarbha''). Buddha-nature is a concept found in some 1st-millennium CE Buddhist texts, such as the ''Tathāgatagarbha sūtras''. According to Paul Williams these Sutras suggest that 'all sentient beings contain a Tathagata' as their 'essence, core inner nature, Self'. According to Karl Brunnholzl "the earliest mahayana sutras that are based on and discuss the notion of tathāgatagarbha as the buddha potential that is innate in all sentient beings began to appear in written form in the late second and early third century." For some, the doctrine seems to conflict with the Buddhist anatta doctrine (non-Self), leading scholars to posit that the ''Tathāgatagarbha Sutras'' were written to promote Buddhism to non-Buddhists. This can be seen in texts like the ''Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra'', which state that Buddha-nature is taught to help those who have fear when they listen to the teaching of anatta. Buddhist texts like the ''Ratnagotravibhāga'' clarify that the "Self" implied in ''Tathagatagarbha'' doctrine is actually "not-Self". Various interpretations of the concept have been advanced by Buddhist thinkers throughout the history of Buddhist thought and most attempt to avoid anything like the Ātman (Hinduism), Hindu Atman doctrine. These Indian Buddhist ideas, in various synthetic ways, form the basis of subsequent Mahāyāna philosophy in Tibetan Buddhism and East Asian Buddhism.


Paths to liberation

While the Noble Eightfold Path is best-known in the West, a wide variety of paths and models of progress have been used and described in the different Buddhist traditions. However, they generally share basic practices such as ''sila'' (ethics), ''samadhi'' (meditation, ''dhyana'') and ''prajña'' (wisdom), which are known as the three trainings. An important additional practice is a kind and compassionate attitude toward every living being and the world. Buddhist devotion, Devotion is also important in some Buddhist traditions, and in the Tibetan traditions visualisations of deities and mandalas are important. The value of textual study is regarded differently in the various Buddhist traditions. It is central to Theravada and highly important to Tibetan Buddhism, while the Zen tradition takes an ambiguous stance. An important guiding principle of Buddhist practice is the
Middle Way#REDIRECT Middle Way The Middle Way ( pi, ; sa, ) as well as "teaching the Dhamma by the middle" (''majjhena dhammaṃ deseti'') are common Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social system ...
(''madhyamapratipad''). It was a part of Buddha's first sermon, where he presented the
Noble Eightfold Path The Noble Eightfold Path ( Pali: ; Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It ...
that was a 'middle way' between the extremes of asceticism and hedonistic sense pleasures. In Buddhism, states Harvey, the doctrine of "dependent arising" (conditioned arising, ''pratītyasamutpāda'') to explain rebirth is viewed as the 'middle way' between the doctrines that a being has a "permanent soul" involved in rebirth (eternalism) and "death is final and there is no rebirth" (annihilationism).


Paths to liberation in the early texts

A common presentation style of the path (''mārga'') to liberation in the Early Buddhist Texts is the "graduated talk", in which the Buddha lays out a step by step training. In the early texts, numerous different sequences of the gradual path can be found.Bucknell, Rod, "The Buddhist Path to Liberation: An Analysis of the Listing of Stages", ''The Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies'' Volume 7, Number 2, 1984 One of the most important and widely used presentations among the various Buddhist schools is The
Noble Eightfold Path The Noble Eightfold Path ( Pali: ; Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It ...
, or "Eightfold Path of the Noble Ones" (Skt. '''āryāṣṭāṅgamārga). This can be found in various discourses, most famously in the ''Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta'' (The discourse on the turning of the Dharma Wheel, Dharma wheel). Other suttas such as the ''Tevijja Sutta'', and the ''Cula-Hatthipadopama-sutta'' give a different outline of the path, though with many similar elements such as ethics and meditation. According to Rupert Gethin, the path to awakening is also frequently summarized by another a short formula: "abandoning the hindrances, practice of the four establishings of mindfulness, and development of the awakening factors."


Noble Eightfold Path

The Eightfold Path consists of a set of eight interconnected factors or conditions, that when developed together, lead to the cessation of dukkha. These eight factors are: Right View (or Right Understanding), Right Intention (or Right Thought), Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. This Eightfold Path is the fourth of the
Four Noble Truths In Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditi ...
, and asserts the path to the cessation of ''dukkha'' (suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness). The path teaches that the way of the enlightened ones stopped their craving, clinging and karma, karmic accumulations, and thus ended their endless cycles of rebirth and suffering. The Noble Eightfold Path is grouped into Three disciplines of Buddhism, three basic divisions, as follows:


Theravada presentations of the path

Theravada Buddhism is a diverse tradition and thus includes different explanations of the path to awakening. However, the teachings of the Buddha are often encapsulated by Theravadins in the basic framework of the Four Noble Truths and the Eighthfold Path. Some Theravada Buddhists also follow the presentation of the path laid out in Buddhaghosa, Buddhaghosa's Visuddhimagga. This presentation is known as the "Seven Purifications" (''satta-visuddhi''). This schema and its accompanying outline of "insight knowledges" (''vipassanā-ñāṇa'') is used by modern influential Theravadin scholars, such Mahasi Sayadaw (in his "The Progress of Insight") and Nyanatiloka, Nyanatiloka Thera (in "The Buddha's Path to Deliverance").


Mahayana presentations of the path

Mahāyāna Mahāyāna (; "Great Vehicle") is a term for a broad group of Buddhist traditions, texts, philosophies Philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, ...
Buddhism is based principally upon the path of a Bodhisattva. A ''Bodhisattva'' refers to one who is on the path to buddhahood. The term ''Mahāyāna'' was originally a synonym for ''Bodhisattvayāna'' or "Bodhisattva Vehicle." In the earliest texts of Mahāyāna Buddhism, the path of a bodhisattva was to awaken the ''bodhicitta''. Between the 1st and 3rd century CE, this tradition introduced the ''Ten Bhumi'' doctrine, which means ten levels or stages of awakening. This development was followed by the acceptance that it is impossible to achieve Buddhahood in one (current) lifetime, and the best goal is not nirvana for oneself, but Buddhahood after climbing through the ten levels during multiple rebirths. Mahāyāna scholars then outlined an elaborate path, for monks and laypeople, and the path includes the vow to help teach Buddhist knowledge to other beings, so as to help them cross samsara and liberate themselves, once one reaches the Buddhahood in a future rebirth. One part of this path are the ''pāramitā'' (perfections, to cross over), derived from the ''Jatakas'' tales of Buddha's numerous rebirths. The doctrine of the bodhisattva bhūmis was also eventually merged with the Vaibhāṣika, Sarvāstivāda Vaibhāṣika schema of the "five paths" by the Yogachara, Yogacara school''.Watanabe, Chikafumi (2000), ''A Study of Mahayanasamgraha III: The Relation of Practical Theories and Philosophical Theories." Ph.D. dissertation, The University of Calgary, pp. 38-40.'''' This Mahāyāna "five paths" presentation can be seen in Asanga, Asanga's ''Mahāyānasaṃgraha''. The Mahāyāna texts are inconsistent in their discussion of the ''pāramitās'', and some texts include lists of two, others four, six, ten and fifty-two. The six paramitas have been most studied, and these are: #''Dāna pāramitā'': perfection of giving; primarily to monks, nuns and the Buddhist monastic establishment dependent on the alms and gifts of the lay householders, in return for generating religious merit; some texts recommend ritually transferring the merit so accumulated for better rebirth to someone else #''Śīla pāramitā'': perfection of morality; it outlines ethical behaviour for both the laity and the Mahayana monastic community; this list is similar to Śīla in the Eightfold Path (i.e. Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood) #''Kshanti, pāramitā'': perfection of patience, willingness to endure hardship #''Vīrya pāramitā'': perfection of vigour; this is similar to Right Effort in the Eightfold Path #''Dhyāna in Buddhism, Dhyāna pāramitā'': perfection of meditation; this is similar to Right Concentration in the Eightfold Path #''Prajñā (Buddhism), Prajñā pāramitā'': perfection of insight (wisdom), awakening to the characteristics of existence such as karma, rebirths, impermanence, no-self, dependent origination and emptiness; this is complete acceptance of the Buddha teaching, then conviction, followed by ultimate realisation that "dharmas are non-arising". In Mahāyāna Sutras that include ten ''pāramitā'', the additional four perfections are "skillful means, vow, power and knowledge". The most discussed ''pāramitā'' and the highest rated perfection in Mahayana texts is the "Prajna-paramita", or the "perfection of insight". This insight in the Mahāyāna tradition, states Shōhei Ichimura, has been the "insight of non-duality or the absence of reality in all things".


East Asian Buddhism

East Asian Buddhism in influenced by both the classic Indian Buddhist presentations of the path such as the eighth-fold path as well as classic Indian Mahāyāna presentations such as that found in the Da zhidu lun. There many different presentations of soteriology, including numerous paths and vehicles (''yanas'') in the different traditions of East Asian Buddhism. There is no single dominant presentation. In Zen Buddhism for example, one can find outlines of the path such as the Long Scroll of the Treatise on the Two Entrances and Four Practices, Two Entrances and Four Practices'','' The Five Ranks, Five ranks, The Ten Bulls, Ten Ox-Herding Pictures and Linji Yixuan#Expressing the inexpressible, The Three mysterious Gates of Linji.


Indo-Tibetan Buddhism

In Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, the path to liberation is outlined in the genre known as Lamrim ("Stages of the Path"). All the various Tibetan schools have their own Lamrim presentations. This genre can be traced to Atisha, Atiśa's 11th-century ''Bodhipathapradīpa, A Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment'' (''Bodhipathapradīpa'').Lamrim: the Gradual Path to Enlightenment
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Common Buddhist practices


Hearing and learning the Dharma

In various suttas which present the graduated path taught by the Buddha, such as the '' Samaññaphala Sutta'' and the ''Cula-Hatthipadopama Sutta,'' the first step on the path is hearing the Buddha teach the Dharma. This then said to lead to the acquiring of confidence or faith in the Buddha's teachings. Mahayana Buddhist teachers such as Yin Shun also state that hearing the Dharma and study of the Buddhist discourses is necessary "if one wants to learn and practice the Buddha Dharma." Likewise, in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, the "Stages of the Path" (''Lamrim'') texts generally place the activity of listening to the Buddhist teachings as an important early practice.


Refuge

Traditionally, the first step in most Buddhist schools requires taking of the "Three Refuges", also called the Three Jewels (
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
: ''triratna'',
Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invasion theory (disambiguat ...
: ''tiratana'') as the foundation of one's religious practice. This practice may have been influenced by the Hinduism, Brahmanical motif of the triple refuge, found in the ''Rigveda'' 9.97.47, ''Rigveda'' 6.46.9 and ''Chandogya Upanishad'' 2.22.3–4. Tibetan Buddhism sometimes adds a fourth refuge, in the ''lama''. The three refuges are believed by Buddhists to be protective and a form of reverence. The ancient formula which is repeated for taking refuge affirms that "I go to the Buddha as refuge, I go to the Dhamma as refuge, I go to the Sangha as refuge." Reciting the three refuges, according to Harvey, is considered not as a place to hide, rather a thought that "purifies, uplifts and strengthens the heart".


''Śīla'' – Buddhist ethics

''Śīla'' (Sanskrit) or ''sīla'' (Pāli) is the concept of "moral virtues", that is the second group and an integral part of the Noble Eightfold Path. It generally consists of right speech, right action and right livelihood. One of the most basic forms of ethics in Buddhism is the taking of "precepts". This includes the Five Precepts for laypeople, Eight or Ten Precepts for monastic life, as well as rules of Dhamma (''Vinaya'' or ''Patimokkha'') adopted by a monastery. Other important elements of Buddhist ethics include Dāna, giving or charity (''dāna''), Mettā (Good-Will), Heedfulness (Appamada), ‘self-respect’ (Hri (Buddhism), Hri) and 'regard for consequences' (Apatrapya).


Precepts

Buddhist scriptures explain the five precepts ( pi, italic=yes, pañcasīla; sa, italic=yes, pañcaśīla) as the minimal standard of Buddhist morality. It is the most important system of morality in Buddhism, together with the Patimokkha, monastic rules. The five precepts are seen as a basic training applicable to all Buddhists. They are: # "I undertake the training-precept (''sikkha-padam'') to abstain from onslaught on breathing beings." This includes ordering or causing someone else to kill. The Pali suttas also say one should not "approve of others killing" and that one should be "scrupulous, compassionate, trembling for the welfare of all living beings." # "I undertake the training-precept to abstain from taking what is not given." According to Harvey, this also covers fraud, cheating, forgery as well as "falsely denying that one is in debt to someone." # "I undertake the training-precept to abstain from misconduct concerning sense-pleasures." This generally refers to adultery, as well as rape and incest. It also applies to sex with those who are legally under the protection of a guardian. It is also interpreted in different ways in the varying Buddhist cultures. # "I undertake the training-precept to abstain from false speech." According to Harvey this includes "any form of lying, deception or exaggeration...even non-verbal deception by gesture or other indication...or misleading statements." The precept is often also seen as including other forms of wrong speech such as "divisive speech, harsh, abusive, angry words, and even idle chatter." # "I undertake the training-precept to abstain from alcoholic drink or drugs that are an opportunity for heedlessness." According to Harvey, intoxication is seen as a way to mask rather than face the sufferings of life. It is seen as damaging to one's mental clarity, mindfulness and ability to keep the other four precepts. Undertaking and upholding the five precepts is based on the principle of ahimsa, non-harming (Pāli and sa, ahiṃsa, italic=yes). The Pali Canon recommends one to compare oneself with others, and on the basis of that, not to hurt others. Compassion and a belief in karma (Buddhism), karmic retribution form the foundation of the precepts. Undertaking the five precepts is part of regular lay devotional practice, both at home and at the local temple. However, the extent to which people keep them differs per region and time. They are sometimes referred to as the ''śrāvakayāna precepts'' in the Mahāyāna tradition, contrasting them with the bodhisattva Precepts, ''bodhisattva'' precepts. The five precepts are not commandments and transgressions do not invite religious sanctions, but their power has been based on the Buddhist belief in karmic consequences and their impact in the afterlife. Killing in Buddhist belief leads to rebirth in the hell realms, and for a longer time in more severe conditions if the murder victim was a monk. Adultery, similarly, invites a rebirth as prostitute or in hell, depending on whether the partner was unmarried or married. These moral precepts have been voluntarily self-enforced in lay Buddhist culture through the associated belief in karma and rebirth. Within the Buddhist doctrine, the precepts are meant to develop mind and character to make progress on the path to enlightenment (Buddhism), enlightenment. The monastic life in Buddhism has additional precepts as part of ''patimokkha'', and unlike lay people, transgressions by monks do invite sanctions. Full expulsion from ''sangha'' follows any instance of killing, engaging in sexual intercourse, theft or false claims about one's knowledge. Temporary expulsion follows a lesser offence. The sanctions vary per monastic fraternity (''nikaya''). Lay people and novices in many Buddhist fraternities also uphold eight precepts, eight (''asta shila'') or ten (''das shila'') from time to time. Four of these are same as for the lay devotee: no killing, no stealing, no lying, and no intoxicants. The other four precepts are: # No sexual activity; # Abstain from eating at the wrong time (e.g. only eat solid food before noon); # Abstain from jewellery, perfume, adornment, entertainment; # Abstain from sleeping on high bed i.e. to sleep on a mat on the ground. All eight precepts are sometimes observed by lay people on ''uposatha'' days: full moon, new moon, the first and last quarter following the lunar calendar. The ten precepts also include to abstain from accepting money. In addition to these precepts, Buddhist monasteries have hundreds of rules of conduct, which are a part of its ''patimokkha''.


Vinaya

Vinaya is the specific code of conduct for a ''sangha'' of monks or nuns. It includes the Patimokkha, a set of 227 offences including 75 rules of decorum for monks, along with penalties for transgression, in the Theravadin tradition. The precise content of the ''Vinaya Pitaka'' (scriptures on the Vinaya) differs in different schools and tradition, and different monasteries set their own standards on its implementation. The list of ''pattimokkha'' is recited every fortnight in a ritual gathering of all monks. Buddhist text with vinaya rules for monasteries have been traced in all Buddhist traditions, with the oldest surviving being the ancient Chinese translations. Monastic communities in the Buddhist tradition cut normal social ties to family and community, and live as "islands unto themselves". Within a monastic fraternity, a ''sangha'' has its own rules. A monk abides by these institutionalised rules, and living life as the vinaya prescribes it is not merely a means, but very nearly the end in itself. Transgressions by a monk on ''Sangha'' vinaya rules invites enforcement, which can include temporary or permanent expulsion.


Restraint and renunciation

Another important practice taught by the Buddha is the restraint of the senses (''indriyasamvara''). In the various graduated paths, this is usually presented as a practice which is taught prior to formal sitting meditation, and which supports meditation by weakening sense desires that are a Five hindrances, hindrance to meditation.Anālayo (2003). "Satipaṭṭhāna: The Direct Path to Realization," p. 71. Windhorse Publications. According to Bhikkhu Analayo, Anālayo, sense restraint is when one "guards the sense doors in order to prevent sense impressions from leading to desires and discontent." This is not an avoidance of sense impression, but a kind of mindful attention towards the sense impressions which does not dwell on their main features or signs (''nimitta''). This is said to prevent harmful influences from entering the mind.Anālayo (2003). "Satipaṭṭhāna: The Direct Path to Realization," p. 225. Windhorse Publications. This practice is said to give rise to an inner peace and happiness which forms a basis for concentration and insight. A related Buddhist virtue and practice is renunciation, or the intent for desirelessness (''nekkhamma''). Generally, renunciation is the giving up of actions and desires that are seen as unwholesome on the path, such as lust for sensuality and worldly things. Renunciation can be cultivated in different ways. The practice of giving for example, is one form of cultivating renunciation. Another one is the giving up of lay life and becoming a monastic (''bhiksu'' o ''bhiksuni''). Practicing celibacy (whether for life as a monk, or temporarily) is also a form of renunciation. Many Jataka tales, Jataka stories such as the focus on how the Buddha practiced renunciation in past lives. One way of cultivating renunciation taught by the Buddha is the contemplation (''anupassana'') of the "dangers" (or "negative consequences") of sensual pleasure (''kāmānaṃ ādīnava''). As part of the graduated discourse, this contemplation is taught after the practice of giving and morality. Another related practice to renunciation and sense restraint taught by the Buddha is "restraint in eating" or moderation with food, which for monks generally means not eating after noon. Devout laypersons also follow this rule during special days of religious observance (''uposatha''). Observing the Uposatha also includes other practices dealing with renunciation, mainly the eight precepts. For Buddhist monastics, renunciation can also be trained through several optional ascetic practices called ''Dhutanga, dhutaṅga''. In different Buddhist traditions, other related Fasting in Buddhism, practices which focus on fasting are followed.


Mindfulness and clear comprehension

The training of the faculty called Sati (Buddhism), "mindfulness" (Pali: ''sati'', Sanskrit: ''smṛti,'' literally meaning "recollection, remembering") is central in Buddhism. According to Analayo, mindfulness is a full awareness of the present moment which enhances and strengthens memory. The Indian Buddhist philosopher Asanga defined mindfulness thus: "It is non-forgetting by the mind with regard to the object experienced. Its function is non-distraction."Boin-Webb, Sara. (English trans. from Walpola Rāhula’s French trans. of the Sanskrit; 2001) ''"Abhidharmasamuccaya: The Compendium of the Higher Teaching (Philosophy) by Asaṅga"'', p. 9, Asian Humanities Press. According to Rupert Gethin, ''sati'' is also "an awareness of things in relation to things, and hence an awareness of their relative value." There are different practices and exercises for training mindfulness in the early discourses, such as the four ''Satipatthana, Satipaṭṭhānas'' (Sanskrit: ''smṛtyupasthāna,'' "establishments of mindfulness") and ''Anapanasati, Ānāpānasati'' (Sanskrit: ''ānāpānasmṛti,'' "mindfulness of breathing"'').'' A closely related mental faculty, which is often mentioned side by side with mindfulness, is ''sampajañña'' ("clear comprehension"). This faculty is the ability to comprehend what one is doing and is happening in the mind, and whether it is being influenced by unwholesome states or wholesome ones.


Meditation – ''Samādhi'' and ''Dhyāna''

A wide range of meditation practices has developed in the Buddhist traditions, but "meditation" primarily refers to the attainment of ''Samādhi (Buddhism), samādhi'' and the practice of ''Dhyāna in Buddhism, dhyāna'' (Pali: ''jhāna''). ''Samādhi'' is a calm, undistracted, unified and concentrated state of consciousness. It is defined by Asanga as "one-pointedness of mind on the object to be investigated. Its function consists of giving a basis to knowledge (''jñāna'')." ''Dhyāna'' is "state of perfect equanimity and awareness (''upekkhā-sati-parisuddhi'')," reached through focused mental training. The practice of ''dhyāna'' aids in maintaining a calm mind, and avoiding disturbance of this calm mind by mindfulness of disturbing thoughts and feelings.


Origins

The earliest evidence of yogis and their meditative tradition, states Karel Werner, is found in the Keśin hymn 10.136 of the Rigveda. While evidence suggests
meditation Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness Mindfulness is the practice of purposely bringing one's attention in the present moment without evaluation,Mindfulness Training as a Clinical Interventio ...

meditation
was practised in the centuries preceding the Buddha, the meditative methodologies described in the Buddhist texts are some of the earliest among texts that have survived into the modern era. These methodologies likely incorporate what existed before the Buddha as well as those first developed within Buddhism. There is no scholarly agreement on the origin and source of the practice of ''dhyāna.'' Some scholars, like Bronkhorst, see the ''four dhyānas'' as a Buddhist invention. Alexander Wynne argues that the Buddha learned ''dhyāna'' from brahmanical teachers. Whatever the case, the Buddha taught meditation with a new focus and interpretation, particularly through the ''four dhyānas'' methodology, in which mindfulness is maintained. Further, the focus of meditation and the underlying theory of liberation guiding the meditation has been different in Buddhism. For example, states Bronkhorst, the verse 4.4.23 of the ''Brihadaranyaka Upanishad'' with its "become calm, subdued, quiet, patiently enduring, concentrated, one sees soul in oneself" is most probably a meditative state. The Buddhist discussion of meditation is without the concept of soul and the discussion criticises both the ascetic meditation of Jainism and the "real self, soul" meditation of Hinduism.


Four ''rupa-jhāna''

Buddhist texts teach various meditation schemas. One of the most prominent is that of the four ''rupa-jhānas'' (four meditations in the realm of form), which are "stages of progressively deepening concentration".Bucknell, Robert S. (1993), "Reinterpreting the Jhanas", Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 16 (2) According to Gethin, they are states of "perfect mindfulness, stillness and lucidity." They are described in the Pali Canon as trance-like states without desire. In the early texts, the Buddha is depicted as entering jhāna both before his awakening under the bodhi tree and also before his final nirvana (see: the ''Mahāsaccaka-sutta'' and the ''Mahāparinibbāṇa Sutta''). The four ''rupa-jhānas'' are: # First ''jhāna'': the first ''dhyana'' can be entered when one is secluded from sensuality and unskillful qualities, due to withdrawal and right effort. There is ''pīti'' ("rapture") and non-sensual ''sukha'' ("pleasure") as the result of seclusion, while ''Vitarka-vicāra, vitarka-vicara'' (thought and examination) continues. # Second ''jhāna'': there is ''pīti'' ("rapture") and non-sensual ''sukha'' ("pleasure") as the result of concentration (''samadhi-ji'', "born of samadhi"); ''ekaggata'' (unification of awareness) free from ''vitarka-vicara'' ("discursive thought"); ''sampasadana'' ("inner tranquility"). # Third ''jhāna'': ''pīti'' drops away, there is ''Upekṣā, upekkhā'' (equanimous; "affective detachment"), and one is mindful, alert, and senses pleasure (''sukha'') with the body; # Fourth ''jhāna'': a stage of "pure equanimity and mindfulness" (''upekkhāsatipārisuddhi''), without any pleasure or pain, happiness or sadness. There is a Dhyāna in Buddhism#Interpretation of the four dhyanas, wide variety of scholarly opinions (both from modern scholars and from traditional Buddhists) on the interpretation of these meditative states as well as varying opinions on how to practice them.


The formless attaiments

Often grouped into the ''jhāna''-scheme are four other meditative states, referred to in the early texts as ''arupa samāpattis'' (formless attainments). These are also referred to in commentarial literature as immaterial/formless ''jhānas'' (''arūpajhānas''). The first formless attainment is a place or realm of infinite space (''ākāsānañcāyatana'') without form or colour or shape. The second is termed the realm of infinite consciousness (''viññāṇañcāyatana''); the third is the realm of nothingness (''ākiñcaññāyatana''), while the fourth is the realm of "neither perception nor non-perception". The four ''rupa-jhānas'' in Buddhist practice lead to rebirth in successfully better ''rupa'' Brahma heavenly realms, while ''arupa-jhānas'' lead into arupa heavens.


Meditation and insight

In the Pali canon, the Buddha outlines two meditative qualities which are mutually supportive: ''samatha'' (Pāli; Sanskrit: ''śamatha''; "calm") and ''vipassanā'' (Sanskrit: ''vipaśyanā'', insight). The Buddha compares these mental qualities to a "swift pair of messengers" who together help deliver the message of ''nibbana'' (SN 35.245). The various Buddhist traditions generally see Buddhist meditation as being divided into those two main types. Samatha is also called "calming meditation", and focuses on stilling and concentrating the mind i.e. developing samadhi and the four ''dhyānas''. According to Damien Keown, ''vipassanā'' meanwhile, focuses on "the generation of penetrating and critical insight (''paññā'')". There are numerous doctrinal positions and disagreements within the different Buddhist traditions regarding these qualities or forms of meditation. For example, in the Pali ''Four Ways to Arahantship Sutta'' (AN 4.170), it is said that one can develop calm and then insight, or insight and then calm, or both at the same time. Meanwhile, in Vasubandhu's ''Abhidharmakośakārikā'', vipaśyanā is said to be practiced once one has reached samadhi by cultivating the four foundations of mindfulness (''smṛtyupasthāna''s). Beginning with comments by Louis de La Vallée-Poussin, La Vallee Poussin, a series of scholars have argued that these two meditation types reflect a tension between two different ancient Buddhist traditions regarding the use of ''dhyāna,'' one which focused on insight based practice and the other which focused purely on ''dhyāna''.Anālayo
"A Brief Criticism of the ‘Two Paths to Liberation’ Theory"
JOCBS. 2016 (11): 38-51.
However, other scholars such as Analayo and Rupert Gethin have disagreed with this "two paths" thesis, instead seeing both of these practices as complementary.


The ''Brahma-vihara''

The four immeasurables or four abodes, also called ''Brahma-viharas'', are virtues or directions for meditation in Buddhist traditions, which helps a person be reborn in the heavenly (Brahma) realm. These are traditionally believed to be a characteristic of the deity Brahma and the heavenly abode he resides in. The four ''Brahma-vihara'' are: # Loving-kindness (Pāli: ''mettā'', Sanskrit: ''maitrī'') is active good will towards all; # Compassion (Pāli and Sanskrit: ''karuṇā'') results from ''metta''; it is identifying the suffering of others as one's own; # Empathetic joy (Pāli and Sanskrit: ''mudita, muditā''): is the feeling of joy because others are happy, even if one did not contribute to it; it is a form of sympathetic joy; # Equanimity (Pāli: ''upekkha, upekkhā'', Sanskrit: ''upekṣā''): is even-mindedness and serenity, treating everyone impartially. According to Peter Harvey, the Buddhist scriptures acknowledge that the four ''Brahmavihara'' meditation practices "did not originate within the Buddhist tradition". The Brahmavihara (sometimes as Brahmaloka), along with the tradition of meditation and the above four immeasurables are found in pre-Buddha and post-Buddha Vedic and Sramanic literature. Aspects of the Brahmavihara practice for rebirths into the heavenly realm have been an important part of Buddhist meditation tradition. According to Gombrich, the Buddhist usage of the ''brahma-vihāra'' originally referred to an awakened state of mind, and a concrete attitude toward other beings which was equal to "living with Brahman" here and now. The later tradition took those descriptions too literally, linking them to cosmology and understanding them as "living with Brahman" by rebirth in the Brahma-world. According to Gombrich, "the Buddha taught that kindness – what Christians tend to call love – was a way to salvation."


Tantra, visualization and the subtle body

Some Buddhist traditions, especially those associated with Tantric Buddhism (also known as Vajrayana and Secret Mantra) use images and symbols of deities and Buddhas in meditation. This is generally done by mentally visualizing a Buddha image (or some other mental image, like a symbol, a mandala, a syllable, etc.), and using that image to cultivate calm and insight. One may also visualize and identify oneself with the imagined deity. While visualization practices have been particularly popular in Vajrayana, they may also found in Mahayana and Theravada traditions. In Tibetan Buddhism, unique tantric techniques which include visualization (but also mantra recitation, Mandala, mandalas, and other elements) are considered to be much more effective than non-tantric meditations and they are one of the most popular meditation methods. The methods of ''Anuttarayoga Tantra, Unsurpassable Yoga Tantra'', (''anuttarayogatantra'') are in turn seen as the highest and most advanced. Anuttarayoga practice is divided into two stages, the ''Generation Stage'' and the ''Completion Stage.'' In the Generation Stage, one meditates on emptiness and visualizes oneself as a deity as well as visualizing its mandala. The focus is on developing clear appearance and divine pride (the understanding that oneself and the deity are one). This method is also known as deity yoga (''devata yoga''). There are numerous meditation deities (''yidam'') used, each with a mandala, a circular symbolic map used in meditation. In the Completion Stage, one meditates on ultimate reality based on the image that has been generated. Completion Stage practices also include techniques such as ''tummo'' and ''phowa''. These are said to work with subtle body elements, like the energy channels (''nadi''), vital essences (''bindu''), "vital winds" (''vayu''), and Chakra, chakras. The subtle body energies are seen as influencing consciousness in powerful ways, and are thus used in order to generate the 'great bliss' (''maha-sukha'') which is used to attain Luminous mind, the luminous nature of the mind and realization of the empty and illusory nature of all phenomena ("the illusory body"), which leads to enlightenment. Completion practices are often grouped into different systems, such as the Six Dharmas of Naropa, six dharmas of Naropa, and the six yogas of Kalachakra. In Tibetan Buddhism, there are also practices and methods which are sometimes seen as being outside of the two tantric stages, mainly Mahamudra and Dzogchen (''Atiyoga'').


Practice: monks, laity

According to Peter Harvey, whenever Buddhism has been healthy, not only ordained but also more committed lay people have practised formal meditation. Loud devotional chanting however, adds Harvey, has been the most prevalent Buddhist practice and considered a form of meditation that produces "energy, joy, lovingkindness and calm", purifies mind and benefits the chanter. Throughout most of Buddhist history, meditation has been primarily practised in Buddhist monastic tradition, and historical evidence suggests that serious meditation by lay people has been an exception. In recent history, sustained meditation has been pursued by a minority of monks in Buddhist monasteries. Western interest in meditation has led to a revival where ancient Buddhist ideas and precepts are adapted to Western mores and interpreted liberally, presenting Buddhism as a meditation-based form of spirituality.


Insight and knowledge

''Prajñā'' (Sanskrit) or ''paññā'' (Pāli) is wisdom, or knowledge of the true nature of existence. Another term which is associated with ''prajñā'' and sometimes is equivalent to it is ''vipassanā'' (Pāli) or ''vipaśyanā'' (Sanskrit), which is often translated as "insight". In Buddhist texts, the faculty of insight is often said to be cultivated through the four establishments of mindfulness. In the early texts, ''Paññā'' is included as one of the "five faculties" (''indriya'') which are commonly listed as important spiritual elements to be cultivated (see for example: AN I 16). ''Paññā'' along with samadhi, is also listed as one of the "trainings in the higher states of mind" (''adhicittasikkha''). The Buddhist tradition regards ignorance (Avidyā (Buddhism), ''avidyā''), a fundamental ignorance, misunderstanding or mis-perception of the nature of reality, as one of the basic causes of ''dukkha'' and ''samsara''. Overcoming this ignorance is part of the path to awakening. This overcoming includes the contemplation of impermanence and the non-self nature of reality, and this develops dispassion for the objects of upādāna, clinging, and liberates a being from ''dukkha'' and ''saṃsāra''. ''Prajñā'' is important in all Buddhist traditions. It is variously described as wisdom regarding the impermanent and not-self nature of dharmas (phenomena), the functioning of karma and rebirth, and knowledge of dependent origination. Likewise, ''vipaśyanā'' is described in a similar way, such as in the ''Paṭisambhidāmagga,'' where it is said to be the contemplation of things as impermanent, unsatisfactory and not-self. Some scholars such as Bronkhorst and Vetter have argued that the idea that insight leads to liberation was a later development in Buddhism and that there are inconsistencies with the early Buddhist presentation of samadhi and insight. However, others such as Collett Cox and Damien Keown have argued that insight is a key aspect of the early Buddhist process of liberation, which cooperates with samadhi to remove the obstacles to enlightenment (i.e., the Asava, āsavas). In Theravāda Buddhism, the focus of vipassanā meditation is to continuously and thoroughly know how phenomena (''dhammas'') are impermanence, impermanent (''annica''), anatta, not-Self (''anatta'') and ''dukkha''. The most widely used method in modern Theravāda for the practice of ''vipassanā'' is that found in the ''Satipatthana Sutta''. There is some disagreement in contemporary Theravāda regarding samatha and vipassanā. Some in the Vipassana Movement strongly emphasize the practice of insight over samatha, and other Theravadins disagree with this. In Mahāyāna Buddhism, the development of insight (''vipaśyanā'') and tranquility (''śamatha'') are also taught and practiced. The many different schools of Mahāyāna Buddhism have a large repertoire of meditation techniques to cultivate these qualities. These include visualization of various Buddhas, recitation of a Buddha's name, the use of tantric Buddhist mantras and dharanis. Insight in Mahāyāna Buddhism also includes gaining a direct understanding of certain Mahāyāna philosophical views, such as the emptiness view and the consciousness-only view. This can be seen in meditation texts such as Kamalaśīla's ''Bhāvanākrama'' ( "Stages of Meditation", 9th century), which teaches insight (''vipaśyanā'') from the Yogācāra-Madhyamaka perspective.


Devotion

According to Harvey, most forms of Buddhism "consider ''faith in Buddhism, saddhā'' (Skt ''śraddhā''), ‘trustful confidence’ or ‘faith’, as a quality which must be balanced by wisdom, and as a preparation for, or accompaniment of, meditation." Because of this devotion (Skt. bhakti; Pali: bhatti) is an important part of the practice of most Buddhists. Buddhist devotion, Devotional practices include ritual prayer, prostration, offerings, pilgrimage, and chanting. Buddhist devotion is usually focused on some object, image or location that is seen as holy or spiritually influential. Examples of objects of devotion include paintings or statues of Buddhas and bodhisattvas, stupas, and bodhi trees. Public group chanting for devotional and ceremonial is common to all Buddhist traditions and goes back to ancient India where chanting aided in the memorization of the orally transmitted teachings. Rosaries called malas are used in all Buddhist traditions to count repeated chanting of common formulas or mantras. Chanting is thus a type of devotional group meditation which leads to tranquility and communicates the Buddhist teachings. In East Asian Pure Land Buddhism, devotion to the Buddha Amitabha is the main practice. In Nichiren Buddhism, devotion to the Lotus Sutra is the main practice. Devotional practices such as pujas have been a common practice in Theravada Buddhism, where offerings and group prayers are made to deities and particularly images of Buddha. According to Karel Werner and other scholars, devotional worship has been a significant practice in
Theravada Theravāda (; , lit. "School of the ", borrowed from Sanskrit स्थविरवाद (sthaviravāda, literally “doctrine of the elders”) is the most commonly accepted name of 's oldest existing school. The school's adherents, termed Th ...
Buddhism, and deep devotion is part of Buddhist traditions starting from the earliest days. Guru devotion is a central practice of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. The guru is considered essential and to the Buddhist devotee, the guru is the "enlightened teacher and ritual master" in Vajrayana spiritual pursuits. For someone seeking Buddhahood, the guru is the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, wrote the 12th-century Buddhist scholar Sadhanamala. The veneration of and obedience to teachers is also important in Theravada and Zen Buddhism.


Vegetarianism and animal ethics

Based on the Indian principle of Ahiṃsā, ahimsa (non-harming), the Buddha's ethics strongly condemn the harming of all sentient beings, including all animals. He thus condemned the animal sacrifice of the brahmins as well hunting, and killing animals for food. This led to various policies by Buddhist kings such as Asoka meant to protect animals, such as the establishing of 'no slaughter days' and the banning of hunting on certain circumstances. However, early Buddhist texts depict the Buddha as allowing monastics to eat meat. This seems to be because monastics begged for their food and thus were supposed to accept whatever food was offered to them. This was tempered by the rule that meat had to be "three times clean" which meant that "they had not seen, had not heard, and had no reason to suspect that the animal had been killed so that the meat could be given to them".Phelps, Norm (2004). ''The Great Compassion: Buddhism & Animal Rights.'' New York: Lantern Books. p. 76. . Also, while the Buddha did not explicitly promote vegetarianism in his discourses, he did state that gaining one's livelihood from the meat trade was unethical. However, this rule was not a promotion of a specific diet, but a rule against the actual killing of animals for food. There was also a famed schism which occurred in the Buddhist community when Devadatta attempted to make vegetarianism compulsory and the Buddha disagreed. In contrast to this, various Mahayana sutras and texts like the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, Mahaparinirvana sutra, Śūraṅgama Sūtra, Surangama sutra and the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra, Lankavatara sutra state that the Buddha promoted vegetarianism out of compassion. Indian Mahayana thinkers like Shantideva promoted the avoidance of meat. Throughout history, the issue of whether Buddhists should be vegetarian has remained a much debated topic and there is a variety of opinions on this issue among modern Buddhists. In the East Asian Buddhism, most monastics are expected to be vegetarian, and the practice is seen as very virtuous and it is taken up by some devout laypersons. Most Theravadins in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia do not practice vegetarianism and eat whatever is offered by the lay community, who are mostly also not vegetarians. But there are exceptions, some monks choose to be vegetarian and some abbots like Ajahn Sumedho have encouraged the lay community to donate vegetarian food to the monks. Mahasi Sayadaw meanwhile, has recommended vegetarianism as the best way to make sure one's meal is pure in three ways. Also, the new religious movement Santi Asoke, promotes vegetarianism. According to Peter Harvey, in the Theravada world, vegetarianism is "universally admired, but little practiced." Because of the rule against killing, in many Buddhist countries, most butchers and others who work in the meat trade are non-Buddhists. Likewise, most Tibetan Buddhists have historically tended not to be vegetarian, however, there have been some strong debates and pro-vegetarian arguments by some pro-vegetarian Tibetans. Some influential figures have spoken and written in favor of vegetarianism throughout history, including well known figures like Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol, Shabkar and the Ogyen Trinley Dorje, 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who has mandated vegetarianism in all his monasteries.


Buddhist texts

Buddhism, like all Indian religions, was initially an oral tradition in ancient times. The Buddha's words, the early doctrines, concepts, and their traditional interpretations were orally transmitted from one generation to the next. The earliest oral texts were transmitted in Middle Indo-Aryan languages called Prakrits, such as
Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invasion theory (disambiguat ...
, through the use of communal recitation and other mnemonic techniques. The first Buddhist canonical texts were likely written down in Sri Lanka, about 400 years after the Buddha died. The texts were part of the ''Tripiṭaka, Tripitakas'', and many versions appeared thereafter claiming to be the words of the Buddha. Scholarly Buddhist commentary texts, with named authors, appeared in India, around the 2nd century CE. These texts were written in Pali or Sanskrit, sometimes regional languages, as palm-leaf manuscripts, birch bark, painted scrolls, carved into temple walls, and later on paper. Unlike what the Bible is to
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of ...

Christianity
and the Quran is to Islam, but like all major ancient Indian religions, there is no consensus among the different Buddhist traditions as to what constitutes the scriptures or a common canon in Buddhism. The general belief among Buddhists is that the canonical corpus is vast. This corpus includes the ancient ''Sutras'' organised into ''Nikāya, Nikayas'' or ''Āgama (Buddhism), Agamas'', itself the part of three basket of texts called the ''Tripitakas''. Each Buddhist tradition has its own collection of texts, much of which is translation of ancient Pali and Sanskrit Buddhist texts of India. The Chinese Buddhist canon, for example, includes 2184 texts in 55 volumes, while the Tibetan Buddhist canon, Tibetan canon comprises 1108 textsall claimed to have been spoken by the Buddhaand another 3461 texts composed by Indian scholars revered in the Tibetan tradition. The Buddhist textual history is vast; over 40,000 manuscriptsmostly Buddhist, some non-Buddhistwere discovered in 1900 in the Dunhuang Chinese cave alone.


Early Buddhist texts

The Early Buddhist Texts refers to the literature which is considered by modern scholars to be the earliest Buddhist material. The first four
Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invasion theory (disambiguat ...
Nikayas, and the corresponding Chinese Āgama (Buddhism), Āgamas are generally considered to be among the earliest material. Apart from these, there are also fragmentary collections of EBT materials in other languages such as
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
, Saka language, Khotanese, Classical Tibetan, Tibetan and Gāndhārī language, Gāndhārī. The modern study of pre-sectarian Buddhism, early Buddhism often relies on comparative scholarship using these various early Buddhist sources to identify parallel texts and common doctrinal content. One feature of these early texts are literary structures which reflect oral transmission, such as widespread repetition.


The Tripitakas

After the development of the different early Buddhist schools, these schools began to develop their own textual collections, which were termed ''Tripiṭakas'' (Triple Baskets). Many early ''Tripiṭakas'', like the Pāli ''Tipitaka'', were divided into three sections: ''Vinaya, Vinaya Pitaka'' (focuses on Monasticism, monastic rule), ''Sutta Pitaka'' (Buddhist discourses) and ''Abhidhamma, Abhidhamma Pitaka,'' which contain expositions and commentaries on the doctrine. The Pāli Canon, Pāli ''Tipitaka'' (also known as the Pali Canon) of the Theravada School constitutes the only complete collection of Buddhist texts in an Indo-Aryan languages, Indic language which has survived until today. However, many ''Sutras'', ''Vinayas'' and ''Abhidharma'' works from other schools survive in Chinese translation, as part of the Chinese Buddhist Canon. According to some sources, some early schools of Buddhism had five or seven ''pitakas''. Much of the material in the Pali Canon is not specifically "Theravadin", but is instead the collection of teachings that this school preserved from the early, non-sectarian body of teachings. According to Peter Harvey, it contains material at odds with later Theravadin orthodoxy. He states: "The Theravadins, then, may have ''added'' texts to the Canon for some time, but they do not appear to have tampered with what they already had from an earlier period."


Abhidharma and the commentaries

A distinctive feature of many Tripitaka collections is the inclusion of a genre called Abhidharma, which dates from the 3rd century BCE and later. According to Collett Cox, the genre began as explanations and elaborations of the teachings in the suttas but over time evolved into an independent system of doctrinal exposition. Over time, the various Abhidharma traditions developed various disagreements which each other on points of doctrine, which were discussed in the different Abhidharma texts of these schools. The major Abhidharma collections which modern scholars have the most information about are those of the
Theravāda Theravāda (; Pāli Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invas ...
and Sarvastivada, Sarvāstivāda schools. In Sri Lanka and South India, the Theravāda Abhidhamma system was the most influential. In addition to the Abhidharma project, some of the schools also began accumulating a literary tradition of scriptural commentary on their respective Tripitakas. These commentaries were particularly important in the
Theravāda Theravāda (; Pāli Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invas ...
school, and the Pali commentaries (''Atthakatha, Aṭṭhakathā'') remain influential today. Both Abhidhamma and the Pali commentaries influenced the ''Visuddhimagga,'' an important 5th-century text by the Theravada scholar Buddhaghosa, who also translated and compiled many of the ''Aṭṭhakathās'' from older Sinhalese sources. The Sarvastivada, Sarvāstivāda school was one of the most influential Abhidharma traditions in North India. The magnum opus of this tradition was the massive Abhidharma commentary called the Mahavibhasa, ''Mahāvibhaṣa'' ('Great Commentary'), compiled at a great synod in Kashmir during the reign of Kanishka II (c. 158–176). The ''Abhidharmakośakārikā, Abhidharmakosha'' of Vasubandhu is another very influential Abhidharma work from the northern tradition, which continues to be studied in East Asian Buddhism and in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism.


Mahāyāna texts

The Mahayana sutras, Mahāyāna sūtras are a very broad genre of Buddhist scriptures that the
Mahāyāna Mahāyāna (; "Great Vehicle") is a term for a broad group of Buddhist traditions, texts, philosophies Philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, ...
Buddhist tradition holds are original teachings of
the Buddha Gautama Buddha, popularly known as the Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shakyamuni), was an Śramaṇa, ascetic, a religious leader and teacher who lived in History of India#Iron Age (1500 – 200 BC ...

the Buddha
. Modern historians generally hold that the first of these texts were composed probably around the 1st century BCE or 1st century CE.''Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism'' (2004): p. 293 In Mahāyāna, these texts are generally given greater authority than the early Āgamas and Abhidharma literature, which are called "Śrāvakayāna" or "Hinayana" to distinguish them from Mahāyāna sūtras. Mahāyāna traditions mainly see these different classes of texts as being designed for different types of persons, with different levels of spiritual understanding. The Mahāyāna sūtras are mainly seen as being for those of "greater" capacity. The Mahāyāna sūtras often claim to articulate the Buddha's deeper, more advanced doctrines, reserved for those who follow the bodhisattva path. That path is explained as being built upon the motivation to liberate all living beings from unhappiness. Hence the name ''Mahāyāna'' (lit., ''the Great Vehicle''). Besides the teaching of the bodhisattva, Mahāyāna texts also contain expanded cosmologies and mythologies, with many more Buddhas and powerful bodhisattvas, as well as new spiritual practices and ideas. The modern Theravada school does not treat the Mahāyāna sūtras as authoritative or authentic teachings of the Buddha. Likewise, these texts were not recognized as authoritative by many early Buddhist schools and in some cases, communities such as the Mahāsāṃghika school split up due to this disagreement. Recent scholarship has discovered many early Mahāyāna texts which shed light into the development of Mahāyāna. Among these is the ''Salistamba Sutra, Śālistamba Sutra'' which survives in Tibetan and Chinese translation. This text contains numerous sections which are remarkably similar to Pali suttas. The ''Śālistamba Sutra'' was cited by Mahāyāna scholars such as the 8th-century Yasomitra to be authoritative. This suggests that Buddhist literature of different traditions shared a common core of Buddhist texts in the early centuries of its history, until Mahāyāna literature diverged about and after the 1st century CE. Mahāyāna also has a very large literature of philosophical and exegetical texts. These are often called Shastras, ''śāstra'' (treatises) or ''vrittis'' (commentaries). Some of this literature was also written in verse form (''karikās''), the most famous of which is the ''Mulamadhyamakakarika, Mūlamadhyamika-karikā'' (Root Verses on the Middle Way) by Nagarjuna, the foundational text of the Madhyamika school.


Tantric texts

During the Gupta Empire, a new class of Buddhist sacred literature began to develop, which are called the Tantras (Buddhism), Tantras. By the 8th century, the tantric tradition was very influential in India and beyond. Besides drawing on a Mahāyāna Buddhist framework, these texts also borrowed deities and material from other Indian religious traditions, such as the Śaiva and Pancharatra traditions, local god/goddess cults, and local spirit worship (such as yaksha or nāga spirits). Some features of these texts include the widespread use of mantras, meditation on the Lung (Tibetan Buddhism)#Subtle Body, subtle body, worship of fierce deities, and antinomian and wikt:transgressive, transgressive practices such as ingesting Alcohol (drug), alcohol and performing sexual rituals.


History


Historical roots

Historically, the roots of Buddhism lie in the religious thought of Iron Age India around the middle of the first millennium BCE. This was a period of great intellectual ferment and socio-cultural change known as the History of India#"Second urbanisation" (c. 600 – c. 200 BCE), "Second urbanisation", marked by the growth of towns and trade, the composition of the Upanishads and the historical emergence of the Śramaṇa traditions. New ideas developed both in the Historical Vedic religion, Vedic tradition in the form of the Upanishads, and outside of the Vedic tradition through the Śramaṇa movements.;
; Quote: "But he [Bronkhorst] talks about the simultaneous emergence of a Vedic and a non-Vedic asceticism. (...) [On Olivelle] Thus, the challenge for old Vedic views consisted of a new theology, written down in the early Upanishads like the Brhadaranyaka and the Mundaka Upanishad. The new set of ideas contained the...."
The term Śramaṇa refers to several Indian religious movements parallel to but separate from the historical Vedic religion, including Buddhism, Jainism and others such as Ājīvika. Several Śramaṇa movements are known to have existed in India before the 6th century BCE (pre-Buddha, pre-Mahavira), and these influenced both the āstika and nāstika traditions of Indian philosophy.Reginald Ray (1999), Buddhist Saints in India, Oxford University Press, , pp. 237–240, 247–249 According to Martin Wilshire, the Śramaṇa tradition evolved in India over two phases, namely Pratyekabuddha, Paccekabuddha and Śrāvaka, Savaka phases, the former being the tradition of individual ascetic and the latter of disciples, and that Buddhism and Jainism ultimately emerged from these.Martin Wiltshire (1990), Ascetic Figures Before and in Early Buddhism, De Gruyter, , p. 293 Historical Vedic religion, Brahmanical and non-Brahmanical ascetic groups shared and used several similar ideas, but the Śramaṇa traditions also drew upon already established Brahmanical concepts and philosophical roots, states Wiltshire, to formulate their own doctrines.Martin Wiltshire (1990), Ascetic Figures Before and in Early Buddhism, De Gruyter, , pp. 226–227 Brahmanical motifs can be found in the oldest Buddhist texts, using them to introduce and explain Buddhist ideas. For example, prior to Buddhist developments, the Brahmanical tradition internalised and variously reinterpreted the Srauta, three Vedic sacrificial fires as concepts such as Truth, Rite, Tranquility or Restraint. Buddhist texts also refer to the three Vedic sacrificial fires, reinterpreting and explaining them as ethical conduct. The Śramaṇa religions challenged and broke with the Brahmanic tradition on core assumptions such as Atman (Hinduism), Atman (soul, self), Brahman, the nature of afterlife, and they rejected the authority of the Vedas and Upanishads. Buddhism was one among several Indian religions that did so.


Indian Buddhism

The history of Indian Buddhism may be divided into five periods: Early Buddhism (occasionally called pre-sectarian Buddhism), Nikaya Buddhism or Sectarian Buddhism: The period of the early Buddhist schools, Early Mahayana, Mahayana Buddhism, Late Mahayana, and the era of
Vajrayana Vajrayāna (Sanskrit: "thunderbolt vehicle" or "diamond vehicle") along with Mantrayāna, Guhyamantrayāna, Tantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Tantric Buddhism, and Esoteric Buddhism are names referring to Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world ...
or the "Tantric Age".


Pre-sectarian Buddhism

According to Lambert Schmithausen Pre-sectarian Buddhism is "the canonical period prior to the development of different schools with their different positions." The early Buddhist Texts include the four principal Pali Nikāyas (and their parallel Āgama (Buddhism), Agamas found in the Chinese canon) together with the main body of monastic rules, which survive in the various versions of the patimokkha. However, these texts were revised over time, and it is unclear what constitutes the earliest layer of Buddhist teachings. One method to obtain information on the oldest core of Buddhism is to compare the oldest extant versions of the Theravadin Pāli Canon and other texts. The reliability of the early sources, and the possibility to draw out a core of oldest teachings, is a matter of dispute. According to Vetter, inconsistencies remain, and other methods must be applied to resolve those inconsistencies. According to Schmithausen, three positions held by scholars of Buddhism can be distinguished: # "Stress on the fundamental homogeneity and substantial authenticity of at least a considerable part of the Nikayic materials;" # "Scepticism with regard to the possibility of retrieving the doctrine of earliest Buddhism;" # "Cautious optimism in this respect."


=The Core teachings

= According to Mitchell, certain basic teachings appear in many places throughout the early texts, which has led most scholars to conclude that Gautama Buddha must have taught something similar to the
Four Noble Truths In Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditi ...
, the
Noble Eightfold Path The Noble Eightfold Path ( Pali: ; Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It ...
,
Nirvana ' ( , , ; sa, निर्वाण} ''nirvāṇa'' ; Pali: ''nibbāna''; Prakrit: ''ṇivvāṇa'', literally "blown out", as in an oil lamp Richard Gombrich, ''Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benāres to Modern Colombo ...
, the
three marks of existence In Buddhism, the three marks of existence are three characteristics ( Pali: ''tilakkhaa''; Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging t ...
, the Skandha, five aggregates, pratītyasamutpāda, dependent origination,
karma Karma (; sa, कर्म}, ; pi, kamma, italic=yes) means action, work, or deed. For the believers in spirituality the term also refers to the Spirituality, spiritual principle of cause and effect, often descriptively called the principl ...
and
rebirth Rebirth may refer to: Religion * Reincarnation, the migration of a deceased person's spirit or consciousness to a newborn body ** Rebirth (Buddhism), Rebirth in Buddhism ** Reincarnation#Hinduism, Rebirth in Hinduism * Regeneration (theology), a ...
. According to N. Ross Reat, all of these doctrines are shared by the Theravada Pali texts and the Mahasamghika school's ''Salistamba Sutra, Śālistamba Sūtra''. A recent study by Bhikkhu Analayo concludes that the Theravada ''Majjhima Nikāya, Majjhima Nikaya'' and Sarvastivada ''Madhyama Agama'' contain mostly the same major doctrines. Richard G. Salomon (academic), Richard Salomon, in his study of the Gandharan texts (which are the earliest manuscripts containing early discourses), has confirmed that their teachings are "consistent with non-Mahayana Buddhism, which survives today in the Theravada school of Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, but which in ancient times was represented by eighteen separate schools." However, some scholars argue that critical analysis reveals discrepancies among the various doctrines found in these early texts, which point to alternative possibilities for early Buddhism. The authenticity of certain teachings and doctrines have been questioned. For example, some scholars think that karma was not central to the teaching of the historical Buddha, while other disagree with this position. Likewise, there is scholarly disagreement on whether insight was seen as liberating in early Buddhism or whether it was a later addition to the practice of the four ''jhānas''. Scholars such as Bronkhorst also think that the four noble truths may not have been formulated in earliest Buddhism, and did not serve in earliest Buddhism as a description of "liberating insight". According to Vetter, the description of the Buddhist path may initially have been as simple as the term "the middle way". In time, this short description was elaborated, resulting in the description of the eightfold path.


Ashokan Era and the early schools

According to numerous Buddhist scriptures, soon after the Parinirvana, (from Sanskrit: "highest extinguishment") of Gautama Buddha, the first Buddhist council was held to collectively recite the teachings to ensure that no errors occurred in oral transmission. Many modern scholars question the historicity of this event. However,
Richard Gombrich Richard Francis Gombrich (; born 17 July 1937) is a British Indologist Indology or Indian studies is the academic study of the history History (from Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study ...
states that the monastic assembly recitations of the Buddha's teaching likely began during Buddha's lifetime, and they served a similar role of codifying the teachings. The so called Second Buddhist council resulted in the first schism in the
Sangha Sangha is a Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European langua ...
. Modern scholars believe that this was probably caused when a group of reformists called Sthavira nikāya, Sthaviras ("elders") sought to modify the Vinaya (monastic rule), and this caused a split with the conservatives who rejected this change, they were called Mahāsāṃghikas. While most scholars accept that this happened at some point, there is no agreement on the dating, especially if it dates to before or after the reign of Ashoka. Buddhism may have spread only slowly throughout India until the time of the Maurya Empire, Mauryan emperor Ashoka (304–232 BCE), who was a public supporter of the religion. The support of Aśoka and his descendants led to the construction of more Stupa, stūpas (such as at Sanchi and Bharhut), temples (such as the Mahabodhi Temple) and to its spread throughout the Maurya Empire and into neighbouring lands such as Central Asia and to the island of Sri Lanka. During and after the Mauryan period (322–180 BCE), the Sthavira community gave rise to several schools, one of which was the
Theravada Theravāda (; , lit. "School of the ", borrowed from Sanskrit स्थविरवाद (sthaviravāda, literally “doctrine of the elders”) is the most commonly accepted name of 's oldest existing school. The school's adherents, termed Th ...
school which tended to congregate in the south and another which was the Sarvāstivāda school, which was mainly in north India. Likewise, the Mahāsāṃghika groups also eventually split into different Sanghas. Originally, these schisms were caused by disputes over monastic disciplinary codes of various fraternities, but eventually, by about 100 CE if not earlier, schisms were being caused by doctrinal disagreements too. Following (or leading up to) the schisms, each Saṅgha started to accumulate their own version of Tripiṭaka (triple basket of texts).Tipitaka
Encyclopædia Britannica (2015)
In their Tripiṭaka, each school included the Suttas of the Buddha, a Vinaya basket (disciplinary code) and some schools also added an Abhidharma basket which were texts on detailed scholastic classification, summary and interpretation of the Suttas. The doctrine details in the Abhidharmas of various Buddhist schools differ significantly, and these were composed starting about the third century BCE and through the 1st millennium CE.


Post-Ashokan expansion

According to the Edicts of Ashoka, edicts of Aśoka, the Mauryan emperor sent emissaries to various countries west of India to spread "Dharma", particularly in eastern provinces of the neighbouring Seleucid Empire, and even farther to Hellenistic civilization, Hellenistic kingdoms of the Mediterranean. It is a matter of disagreement among scholars whether or not these emissaries were accompanied by Buddhist missionaries. In central and west Asia, Buddhist influence grew, through Greek-speaking Buddhist monarchs and ancient Asian trade routes, a phenomenon known as Greco-Buddhism. An example of this is evidenced in Chinese and Pali Buddhist records, such as ''Milinda Panha, Milindapanha'' and the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, Gandhāra. The ''Milindapanha'' describes a conversation between a Buddhist monk and the 2nd-century BCE Greek king Menander I, Menander, after which Menander abdicates and himself goes into monastic life in the pursuit of nirvana. Some scholars have questioned the ''Milindapanha'' version, expressing doubts whether Menander was Buddhist or just favourably disposed to Buddhist monks. The Kushan empire (30–375 CE) came to control the Silk Road trade through Central and South Asia, which brought them to interact with Gandharan Buddhism and the Buddhist institutions of these regions. The Kushans patronised Buddhism throughout their lands, and many Buddhist centers were built or renovated (the Sarvastivada school was particularly favored), especially by Emperor Kanishka (128–151 CE).Heirman, Ann; Bumbacher, Stephan Peter (editors). The Spread of Buddhism, Brill, p. 57 Kushan support helped Buddhism to expand into a world religion through their trade routes. Buddhism spread to Kingdom of Khotan, Khotan, the Tarim Basin, and China, eventually to other parts of the far east. Some of the earliest written documents of the Buddhist faith are the Gandharan Buddhist texts, dating from about the 1st century CE, and connected to the Dharmaguptaka school. The Muslim conquest of Persia, Islamic conquest of the Iranian Plateau in the 7th-century, followed by the Muslim conquests of Afghanistan and the later establishment of the Ghaznavids, Ghaznavid kingdom with Islam as the state religion in Central Asia between the 10th- and 12th-century led to the decline and disappearance of Buddhism from most of these regions.


Mahāyāna Buddhism

The origins of Mahāyāna ("Great Vehicle") Buddhism are not well understood and there are various competing theories about how and where this movement arose. Theories include the idea that it began as various groups venerating certain texts or that it arose as a strict forest ascetic movement.Drewes, David, ''Early Indian Mahayana Buddhism I: Recent Scholarship'', Religion Compass 4/2 (2010): 55–65, doi:10.1111/j.1749-8171.2009.00195.x The first Mahāyāna works were written sometime between the 1st century BCE and the 2nd century CE. Much of the early extant evidence for the origins of Mahāyāna comes from early Chinese translations of Mahāyāna texts, mainly those of Lokaksema (Buddhist monk), Lokakṣema. (2nd century CE). Some scholars have traditionally considered the earliest Mahayana sutras, Mahāyāna sūtras to include the first versions of the Prajnaparamita series, along with texts concerning Akshobhya, Akṣobhya, which were probably composed in the 1st century BCE in the south of India. There is no evidence that Mahāyāna ever referred to a separate formal school or sect of Buddhism, with a separate monastic code (Vinaya), but rather that it existed as a certain set of ideals, and later doctrines, for bodhisattvas. Records written by Chinese monks visiting India indicate that both Mahāyāna and non-Mahāyāna monks could be found in the same monasteries, with the difference that Mahāyāna monks worshipped figures of Bodhisattvas, while non-Mahayana monks did not. Mahāyāna initially seems to have remained a small minority movement that was in tension with other Buddhist groups, struggling for wider acceptance. However, during the fifth and sixth centuries CE, there seems to have been a rapid growth of Mahāyāna Buddhism, which is shown by a large increase in epigraphic and manuscript evidence in this period. However, it still remained a minority in comparison to other Buddhist schools. Mahāyāna Buddhist institutions continued to grow in influence during the following centuries, with large monastic university complexes such as Nalanda (established by the 5th-century CE Gupta emperor, Kumaragupta I) and Vikramashila (established under Dharmapala (emperor), Dharmapala c. 783 to 820) becoming quite powerful and influential. During this period of Late Mahāyāna, four major types of thought developed: Mādhyamaka, Yogācāra, Buddha-nature (''Tathāgatagarbha''), and the Buddhist logico-epistemology#The Dignāga-Dharmakīrti tradition, epistemological tradition of Dignaga and Dharmakirti. According to Dan Lusthaus, Mādhyamaka and Yogācāra have a great deal in common, and the commonality stems from early Buddhism.


Late Indian Buddhism and Tantra

During the Gupta Empire, Gupta period (4th–6th centuries) and the empire of Harsha, Harṣavardana (c. 590–647 CE), Buddhism continued to be influential in India, and large Buddhist learning institutions such as Nalanda and Valabhi University, Valabahi Universities were at their peak. Buddhism also flourished under the support of the Pala Empire, Pāla Empire (8th–12th centuries). Under the Guptas and Palas, Tantric Buddhism or Vajrayana developed and rose to prominence. It promoted new practices such as the use of mantras, dharanis, mudras, mandalas and the visualization of deities and Buddhas and developed a new class of literature, the Tantras (Buddhism), Buddhist Tantras. This new esoteric form of Buddhism can be traced back to groups of wandering yogi magicians called mahasiddhas. The question of the origins of early Vajrayana has been taken up by various scholars. David Seyfort Ruegg has suggested that Buddhist tantra employed various elements of a "pan-Indian religious substrate" which is not specifically Buddhist, Shaiva or Vaishnava. According to Indologist Alexis Sanderson, various classes of Vajrayana literature developed as a result of royal courts sponsoring both Buddhism and Shaivism, Saivism. Sanderson has argued that Buddhist tantras can be shown to have borrowed practices, terms, rituals and more form Shaiva tantras. He argues that Buddhist texts even directly copied various Shaiva tantras, especially the Bhairava Vidyapitha tantras. Ronald M. Davidson meanwhile, argues that Sanderson's claims for direct influence from Shaiva ''Vidyapitha'' texts are problematic because "the chronology of the ''Vidyapitha'' tantras is by no means so well established" and that the Shaiva tradition also appropriated non-Hindu deities, texts and traditions. Thus while "there can be no question that the Buddhist tantras were heavily influenced by Kapalika and other Saiva movements" argues Davidson, "the influence was apparently mutual." Already during this later era, Buddhism was losing state support in other regions of India, including the lands of the Karkota Empire, Karkotas, the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty, Pratiharas, the Rashtrakuta dynasty, Rashtrakutas, the Pandya dynasty, Pandyas and the Pallava dynasty, Pallavas. This loss of support in favor of Hindu faiths like Vaishnavism and Shaivism, is the beginning of the long and complex period of the Decline of Buddhism in the Indian subcontinent. The Muslim conquests in the Indian subcontinent, Islamic invasions and conquest of India (10th to 12th century), further damaged and destroyed many Buddhist institutions, leading to its eventual near disappearance from India by the 1200s.


Spread to East and Southeast Asia

The Silk Road transmission of Buddhism to China is most commonly thought to have started in the late 2nd or the 1st century CE, though the literary sources are all open to question. The first documented translation efforts by foreign Buddhist monks in China were in the 2nd century CE, probably as a consequence of the expansion of the Kushan Empire into the Chinese territory of the Tarim Basin. The first documented Buddhist texts translated into Chinese are those of the Parthian An Shigao (148–180 CE). The first known
Mahāyāna Mahāyāna (; "Great Vehicle") is a term for a broad group of Buddhist traditions, texts, philosophies Philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, ...
scriptural texts are translations into Chinese by the Kushan monk Lokaksema (Buddhist monk), Lokakṣema in Luoyang, between 178 and 189 CE. From China, Buddhism was introduced into its neighbours Korea (4th century), Japan (6th–7th centuries), and Vietnam (c. 1st–2nd centuries).Dykstra, Yoshiko Kurata; De Bary, William Theodore (2001). ''Sources of Japanese tradition''. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 100. . During the Chinese Tang dynasty (618–907), Chinese Esoteric Buddhism was introduced from India and Chan Buddhism (Zen) became a major religion. Chan continued to grow in the Song dynasty (960–1279) and it was during this era that it strongly influenced Korean Buddhism and Japanese Buddhism. Pure Land Buddhism also became popular during this period and was often practised together with Chan. It was also during the Song that the entire Chinese Buddhist canon, Chinese canon was printed using over 130,000 wooden printing blocks. During the Indian period of Esoteric Buddhism (from the 8th century onwards), Buddhism spread from India to Tibet and Mongolia. Johannes Bronkhorst states that the esoteric form was attractive because it allowed both a secluded monastic community as well as the social rites and rituals important to laypersons and to kings for the maintenance of a political state during succession and wars to resist invasion. During the Middle Ages, Buddhism slowly declined in India, while it vanished from Persia and Central Asia as Islam became the state religion. The
Theravada Theravāda (; , lit. "School of the ", borrowed from Sanskrit स्थविरवाद (sthaviravāda, literally “doctrine of the elders”) is the most commonly accepted name of 's oldest existing school. The school's adherents, termed Th ...
school arrived in Sri Lanka sometime in the 3rd century BCE. Sri Lanka became a base for its later spread to southeast Asia after the 5th century CE (
Myanmar Myanmar, ); UK pronunciations: US pronunciations incl. . Note: Wikipedia's IPA conventions require indicating /r/ even in British English although only some British English speakers pronounce r at the end of syllables. As John C. Wells, John ...

Myanmar
, Malaysia, Indonesia,
Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia. It is located at the centre of the Mainland Southeast Asia, Indochinese Peninsula, spanning , wi ...

Thailand
,
Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is in area, bordered by Thailand to Cambodia–T ...

Cambodia
and coastal Vietnam). Theravada, Theravada Buddhism was the dominant religion in Myanmar, Burma during the Mon Hanthawaddy Kingdom (1287–1552). It also became dominant in the Khmer Empire during the 13th and 14th centuries and in the Thai Sukhothai Kingdom during the reign of Ram Khamhaeng (1237/1247–1298).


Schools and traditions

Buddhists generally classify themselves as either
Theravāda Theravāda (; Pāli Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invas ...
or
Mahāyāna Mahāyāna (; "Great Vehicle") is a term for a broad group of Buddhist traditions, texts, philosophies Philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, ...
. This classification is also used by some scholars and is the one ordinarily used in the English language. An alternative scheme used by some scholars divides Buddhism into the following three traditions or geographical or cultural areas: Theravāda (or "Southern Buddhism", "South Asian Buddhism"), East Asian Buddhism (or just "Eastern Buddhism") and Tibetan Buddhism, Indo-Tibetan Buddhism (or "Northern Buddhism"). Some scholars use other schemes. Buddhists themselves have a variety of other schemes. Hinayana (literally "lesser or inferior vehicle") is sometimes used by Mahāyāna followers to name the family of early philosophical schools and traditions from which contemporary Theravāda emerged, but as the Hinayana term is considered derogatory, a variety of other terms are used instead, including: Shravakayana, Śrāvakayāna, Nikaya Buddhism, early Buddhist schools, sectarian Buddhism and conservative Buddhism. Not all traditions of Buddhism share the same philosophical outlook, or treat the same concepts as central. Each tradition, however, does have its own core concepts, and some comparisons can be drawn between them: * Both Theravāda and Mahāyāna accept and revere Gautama Buddha, the Buddha Sakyamuni as the founder, Mahāyāna also reveres numerous other Buddhas, such as Amitābha, Amitabha or Vairochana, Vairocana as well as many other bodhisattvas not revered in Theravāda. * Both accept the
Middle Way#REDIRECT Middle Way The Middle Way ( pi, ; sa, ) as well as "teaching the Dhamma by the middle" (''majjhena dhammaṃ deseti'') are common Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social system ...
, pratītyasamutpāda, Dependent origination, the
Four Noble Truths In Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditi ...
, the
Noble Eightfold Path The Noble Eightfold Path ( Pali: ; Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It ...
, the Refuge (Buddhism), Three Jewels, the Three marks of existence and the ''Bodhipakkhiyādhammā, Bodhipakṣadharmas'' (aids to awakening). * Mahāyāna focuses mainly on the Bodhisattva, bodhisattva path to Buddhahood which it sees as universal and to be practiced by all persons, while Theravāda does not focus on teaching this path and teaches the attainment of arhatship as a worthy goal to strive towards. The bodhisattva path is not denied in Theravāda, it is generally seen as a long and difficult path suitable for only a few. Thus the Bodhisattva path is normative in Mahāyāna, while it is an optional path for a heroic few in Theravāda. * Mahāyāna sees the arhat's nirvana as being imperfect and inferior or preliminary to full Buddhahood. It sees arhatship as selfish, since bodhisattvas vow to save all beings while arhats save only themselves. Theravāda meanwhile does not accept that the arhat's nirvana is an inferior or preliminary attainment, nor that it is a selfish deed to attain arhatship since not only are arhats described as compassionate but they have destroyed the root of greed, the sense of "I am". * Mahāyāna accepts the authority of the many Mahāyāna sutras along with the other Nikaya texts like the Agamas and the Pali canon (though it sees Mahāyāna texts as primary), while Theravāda does not accept that the Mahāyāna sutras are ''buddhavacana'' (word of the Buddha) at all.


Theravāda school

The Theravāda tradition bases itself on the Pāli Canon, considers itself to be the more orthodox form of Buddhism and tends to be more conservative in doctrine and monastic discipline. The Pāli Canon is the only complete Buddhist canon surviving in an ancient Indian language. This language, Pāli, serves as the school's sacred language and lingua franca. Besides the Pāli Canon, Theravāda scholastics also often rely on a Pali literature, post-canonical Pāli literature which comments on and interprets the Pāli Canon. These later works such as the ''Visuddhimagga'', a doctrinal ''summa'' written in the fifth century by the exegete Buddhaghosa also remain influential today. Theravāda derives from the Mahaviharavasin, Mahāvihāra (Tāmraparṇīya) sect, a Sri Lankan branch of the Vibhajyavāda Sthavira nikāya, Sthaviras, which began to establish itself on the island from the 3rd century BCE onwards. Theravāda flourished in south India and Sri Lanka in ancient times; from there it spread for the first time into mainland southeast Asia about the 11th century into its elite urban centres. By the 13th century, Theravāda had spread widely into the rural areas of mainland southeast Asia, displacing Mahayana Buddhism and some traditions of Hinduism. In the modern era, Buddhist figures such as Anagarika Dharmapala, Anagarika Dhammapala and Mongkut, King Mongkut sought to re-focus the tradition on the Pāli Canon, as well as emphasize the rational and "scientific" nature of Theravāda while also opposing "superstition". This movement, often termed Buddhist modernism, has influenced most forms of modern Theravāda. Another influential modern turn in Theravāda is the Vipassana movement, Vipassana Movement, which led to the widespread adoption of meditation by laypersons. Theravāda is primarily practised today in
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...
, Buddhism in Burma, Burma, Buddhism in Laos, Laos, Buddhism in Thailand, Thailand, Buddhism in Cambodia, Cambodia as well as small portions of China,
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...
, Buddhism in Malaysia, Malaysia and Buddhism in Bangladesh, Bangladesh. It has a growing presence in the west, especially as part of the Vipassana Movement.


Mahāyāna traditions

Mahāyāna ("Great Vehicle") refers to all forms of Buddhism which consider the Mahayana Sutras, Mahāyāna Sutras as authoritative scriptures and accurate rendering of Buddha's words. These traditions have been the more liberal form of Buddhism allowing different and new interpretations that emerged over time. The focus of Mahāyāna is the path of the bodhisattva (''bodhisattvayāna''), though what this path means is interpreted in many different ways. The first Mahāyāna texts date to sometime between the 1st century BCE and the 2st century CE. It remained a minority movement until the time of the Guptas and Palas, when great Mahāyāna monastic centres of learning such as Nalanda University, Nālandā University were established as evidenced by records left by three Chinese visitors to India. These universities supported Buddhist scholarship, as well as studies into non-Buddhist traditions and secular subjects such as medicine. They hosted visiting students who then spread Buddhism to East and Central Asia. Native Mahāyāna Buddhism is practised today in China, Japan, Buddhism in Korea, Korea,
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign state, sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, bor ...
, parts of Russia and most of Vietnam (also commonly referred to as "Eastern Buddhism"). The Buddhism practised in Tibet, the Himalayan regions, and Mongolia is also a form of Mahāyāna, but is also different in many ways due to its adoption of tantric practices and is discussed below under the heading of "Vajrayāna" (also commonly referred to as "Northern Buddhism"). There are a variety of strands in Eastern Buddhism, of which "the Pure Land school of Mahāyāna is the most widely practised today." In most of China, these different strands and traditions are generally fused together. Vietnamese Mahāyāna is similarly very eclectic. Buddhism in Japan, In Japan in particular, they form separate denominations with the five major ones being: Nichiren Buddhism, Nichiren, peculiar to Japan;
Pure Land A pure land is the celestial realm of a buddha Gautama Buddha, popularly known as the Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shakyamuni), was an Śramaṇa, ascetic, a religious leader and teacher who ...
; Shingon, a form of Vajrayana;
Tendai is a Mahayana Buddhist school established in Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of Japan.s ...

Tendai
, and
Zen Zen ( zh, t=禪, p=Chán; ja, text= 禅, translit=zen; ko, text=선, translit=Seon; vi, text=Thiền) is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country i ...

Zen
. In Korea, nearly all Buddhists belong to the Jogye Order, Chogye school, which is officially Son (Zen), but with substantial elements from other traditions.


Vajrayāna traditions

The goal and philosophy of the Vajrayāna remains Mahāyānist, but its methods are seen by its followers as far more powerful, so as to lead to Buddhahood in just one lifetime. The practice of using mantras was adopted from
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religions, which include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, ...

Hinduism
, where they were first used in the Vedas.
Tibetan Buddhism Tibetan Buddhism (also referred to as Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, Himalayan Buddhism, and Northern Buddhism) is the form of Buddhism practiced in Tibet and Bhutan, where it is the dominant religion. It also has adherents in the regions surrounding ...
preserves the Vajrayana teachings of eighth-century India. Tantric Buddhism is largely concerned with ritual and meditative practices. A central feature of Buddhist Tantra is deity yoga which includes visualisation and identification with an enlightened yidam or meditation deity and its associated mandala. Another element of Tantra is the need for ritual initiation or empowerment (abhiṣeka) by a Guru or Lama. Some Tantras like the Guhyasamāja Tantra features new forms of antinomian ritual practice such as the use taboo substances like alcohol, karmamudra, sexual yoga, and charnel ground practices which evoke wrathful deities.


Monasteries and temples

Buddhist institutions are often housed and centered around monasteries (Sanskrit:''Vihāra, viharas'') and temples. Buddhist monastics originally followed a life of wandering, never staying in one place for long. During the three month rainy season (''vassa'') they would gather together in one place for a period of intense practice and then depart again. Some of the earliest Buddhist monasteries were at groves (''vanas'') or woods (''araññas''), such as Jetavana and Sarnath, Sarnath's Deer Park. There originally seems to have been two main types of monasteries, monastic settlements (''sangharamas'') were built and supported by donors, and woodland camps (''avasas'') were set up by monks. Whatever structures were built in these locales were made out of wood and were sometimes temporary structures built for the rainy season. Over time, the wandering community slowly adopted more settled Cenobitic monasticism, cenobitic forms of monasticism. Also, these monasteries slowly evolved from the simpler collections of rustic dwellings of early Buddhism into larger more permanent structures meant to house the entire community, who now lived in a more collective fashion. During the Gupta era, even larger monastic university complexes (like Nalanda) arose, with larger and more artistically ornate structures, as well as large land grants and accumulated wealth. There are many different forms of Buddhist structures. Classic Indian Buddhist institutions mainly made use of the following structures: monasteries, rock-hewn cave complexes (such as the Ajanta Caves), stupas (funerary mounds which contained relics), and temples such as the Mahabodhi Temple. In Southeast Asia, the most widespread institutions are centered on wats, which refers to an establishment with various buildings such as an ordination hall, a library, monks' quarters and stupas. East Asian Buddhist institutions also use various structures including monastic halls, temples, lecture halls, bell towers and pagodas. In Buddhist temples in Japan, Japanese Buddhist temples, these different structures are usually grouped together in an area termed the Shichidō garan, garan. In Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhist institutions are generally housed in gompas. They include monastic quarters, stupas and prayer halls with Buddha images. The complexity of Buddhist institutions varies, ranging from minimalist and rustic forest monasteries to large monastic centers like Tawang Monastery. The core of traditional Buddhist institutions is the monastic community (''Sangha)'' who manage and lead religious services. They are supported by the lay community who visit temples and monasteries for religious services and holidays. In the modern era, the Buddhist "meditation centre", which is mostly used by laypersons and often also staffed by them, has also become widespread.


Buddhism in the modern era


Colonial era

Buddhism has faced various challenges and changes during the colonisation of Buddhist states by Christian countries and its persecution under modern states. Like other religions, the findings of modern science has challenged its basic premises. One response to some of these challenges has come to be called Buddhist modernism. Early Buddhist modernist figures such as the American convert Henry Steel Olcott, Henry Olcott (1832–1907) and Anagarika Dharmapala (1864–1933) reinterpreted and promoted Buddhism as a scientific and rational religion which they saw as compatible with modern science. East Asian Buddhism meanwhile suffered under various wars which ravaged China during the modern era, such as the Taiping Rebellion, Taiping rebellion and World War II (which also affected Korean Buddhism). During the Republic of China (1912–1949), Republican period (1912–49), a new movement called Humanistic Buddhism was developed by figures such as Taixu (1899–1947), and though Buddhist institutions were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), there has been a revival of the religion in China after 1977. Buddhism in Japan, Japanese Buddhism also went through a period of modernisation during the Meiji period. In Central Asia meanwhile, the arrival of Communism, Communist repression to Tibet (1966–1980) and Mongolia (between 1924–1990) had a strong negative impact on Buddhist institutions, though the situation has improved somewhat since the 80s and 90s.


Buddhism in the West

While there were some encounters of Western travellers or missionaries such as St. Francis Xavier and Ippolito Desideri with Buddhist cultures, it was not until the 19th century that Buddhism began to be studied by Western scholars. It was the work of pioneering scholars such as Eugène Burnouf, Max Müller, Hermann Oldenberg and Thomas William Rhys Davids that paved the way for modern Buddhist studies in the West. The English words such as Buddhism, "Boudhist", "Bauddhist" and Buddhist were coined in the early 19th-century in the West, while in 1881, Rhys Davids founded the Pali Text Society – an influential Western resource of Buddhist literature in the Pali language and one of the earliest publisher of a journal on Buddhist studies. It was also during the 19th century that Asian Buddhist immigrants (mainly from China and Japan) began to arrive in Western countries such as the United States and Canada, bringing with them their Buddhist religion. This period also saw the first Westerners to formally convert to Buddhism, such as Helena Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott.Prothero, ''The White Buddhist,'' 175. Olcott’s approach to Buddhism and the terminology of Protestant Buddhism and "creolization" (Prothero) is extensively discussed in K.A. McMahan," ‘Creolization’ in American Religious History. The Metaphysical Nature of Henry Steel Olcott, PhD dissertation, unpublished manuscript (Ann Arbor 2008). An important event in the introduction of Buddhism to the West was the 1893 World Parliament of Religions, which for the first time saw well-publicized speeches by major Buddhist leaders alongside other religious leaders. The 20th century saw a prolific growth of new Buddhist institutions in Western countries, including the Buddhist Society, London (1924), Das Buddhistische Haus (1924) and Datsan Gunzechoinei in Saint Petersburg, St Petersburg. The publication and translations of Buddhist literature in Western languages thereafter accelerated. After the World War II, second world war, further immigration from Asia, globalisation, the secularisation on Western culture as well a renewed interest in Buddhism among the 60s counterculture led to further growth in Buddhist institutions. Influential figures on post-war Buddhism in the West, Western Buddhism include Shunryu Suzuki, Jack Kerouac, Alan Watts, Thích Nhất Hạnh, and the 14th Dalai Lama. While Buddhist institutions have grown, some of the central premises of Buddhism such as the cycles of rebirth and
Four Noble Truths In Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditi ...
have been problematic in the West. In contrast, states Christopher Gowans, for "most ordinary [Asian] Buddhists, today as well as in the past, their basic moral orientation is governed by belief in karma and rebirth". Most Asian Buddhist laypersons, states Kevin Trainor, have historically pursued Buddhist rituals and practices seeking better rebirth, not nirvana or freedom from rebirth. Buddhism has spread across the world, and Buddhist texts are increasingly translated into local languages. While Buddhism in the West is often seen as exotic and progressive, in the East it is regarded as familiar and traditional. In countries such as
Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is in area, bordered by Thailand to Cambodia–T ...

Cambodia
and Bhutan, it is recognised as the state religion and receives government support. In certain regions such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, militants have targeted violence and destruction of historic Buddhist monuments.


Neo-Buddhism movements

A number of modern movements in Buddhism emerged during the second half of the 20th century. These Buddhist modernism, new forms of Buddhism are diverse and significantly depart from traditional beliefs and practices. In India, B.R. Ambedkar launched the Navayana tradition – literally, "new vehicle". Ambedkar's Buddhism rejects the foundational doctrines and historic practices of traditional Theravada and Mahayana traditions, such as monk lifestyle after renunciation, karma, rebirth, samsara, meditation, nirvana, Four Noble Truths and others. Ambedkar's Navayana Buddhism considers these as superstitions and re-interprets the original Buddha as someone who taught about Class conflict, class struggle and social equality. Ambedkar urged low caste Indian Dalits to convert to his Marxism-inspired reinterpretation called the Navayana Buddhism, also known as Bhimayana Buddhism. Ambedkar's effort led to the expansion of Navayana Buddhism in India. The Thai Mongkut, King Mongkut (r. 1851–68), and his son Chulalongkorn, King Chulalongkorn (r. 1868–1910), were responsible for modern reforms of Buddhism in Thailand, Thai Buddhism. Modern Buddhist movements include Secular Buddhism in many countries, Won Buddhism in Korea, the Dhammakaya movement in Thailand and several Japanese organisations, such as Shinnyo-en, Risshō Kōsei Kai or Soka Gakkai. Some of these movements have brought internal disputes and strife within regional Buddhist communities. For example, the Dhammakaya movement in Thailand teaches a "true self" doctrine, which traditional Theravada monks consider as heretically denying the fundamental ''anatta'' (not-self) doctrine of Buddhism.


Sexual abuse and misconduct

Buddhism has not been immune from sexual abuse and misconduct scandals, with victims coming forward in various buddhist schools such as
Zen Zen ( zh, t=禪, p=Chán; ja, text= 禅, translit=zen; ko, text=선, translit=Seon; vi, text=Thiền) is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country i ...

Zen
and Tibetan Buddhism, Tibetan. “There are huge cover ups in the Catholic church, but what has happened within Tibetan Buddhism is totally along the same lines,” says Mary Finnigan, an author and journalist who has been chronicling such alleged abuses since the mid-80s. One notably covered Sogyal Rinpoche#Abuse allegations, case in media of various Western country was that of Sogyal Rinpoche which began in 1994, and end up by his retirement from his position as Rigpa (organization), Rigpa's spiritual director in 2017.


Cultural influence

Buddhism has had a profound influence on various cultures, especially in Asia. Buddhist philosophy, Buddhist art, Buddhist architecture, Buddhist cuisine and Buddhist festivals continue to be influential elements of the modern Culture of Asia, especially in East Asia and the East Asian cultural sphere, Sinosphere as well as in Southeast Asia and the Indosphere. According to Litian Fang, Buddhism has "permeated a wide range of fields, such as politics, ethics, philosophy, literature, art and customs," in these Asian regions. Buddhist teachings influenced the development of modern
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religions, which include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, ...

Hinduism
as well as other Religion in Asia, Asian religions like Taoism and Confucianism. For example, various scholars have argued that key Hindu thinkers such as Adi Shankara and Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Yoga sutras, were influenced by Buddhist ideas. Likewise, Buddhist practices were influential in the early development of Indian Yoga. Buddhist philosophers like Dignāga, Dignaga were very influential in the development of Indian logic and Pramana, epistemology. Buddhist educational institutions like Nalanda and Vikramashila preserved various disciplines of classical Indian knowledge such as Grammar and Medicine and taught foreign students from China. In an effort to preserve their sacred scriptures, Buddhist institutions such as temples and monasteries housed schools which educated the populace and promoted writing and literacy. This led to high levels of literacy among some traditional Buddhist societies such as Burma. According to David Steinberg, "Early British observers claimed that Burma was the most literate state between Suez and Japan, and one British traveler in the early nineteenth century believed that Burmese women had a higher percentage of literacy than British women." Buddhist institutions were also at the forefront of the adoption of Chinese technologies related to bookmaking, including paper, and Woodblock printing, block printing which Buddhists sometimes deployed on a large scale. The first surviving example of a printed text is a Buddhist charm, the first full printed book is the Buddhist Diamond Sutra (c. 868) and the first hand colored print is an illustration of Guanyin dated to 947. Buddhists were also influential in the study and practice of traditional forms of Ayurveda, Indian medicine. Buddhists spread these traditional approaches to health, sometimes called "Buddhist medicine", throughout East and Southeast Asia, where they remain influential today in regions like Sri Lanka, Burma, Tibet and Thailand. In the Western world, Buddhism has had a strong influence on modern New Age spirituality and other alternative spiritualities. This began with its influence on 20th century Theosophists such as Helena Blavatsky, which were some of the first Westerners to take Buddhism seriously as a spiritual tradition. More recently, Buddhist meditation practices have influenced the development of modern psychology, particularly the practice of Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and other similar mindfulness based modalities. The influence of Buddhism and psychology, Buddhism on psychology can also be seen in certain forms of modern psychoanalysis. Buddhism also influenced the modern avant-garde movements during the 1950s and 60s through people like D. T. Suzuki and his influence on figures like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.


Relationships with other religious traditions


Shamanism

Shamanism is a widespread practice in Buddhist societies. Buddhist monasteries have long existed alongside local shamanic traditions. Lacking an institutional orthodoxy, Buddhists adapted to the local cultures, blending their own traditions with pre-existing shamanic culture. There was very little conflict between the sects, mostly limited to the shamanic practice of animal sacrifice, which Buddhists see as equivalent to killing one's parents. However, Buddhism requires acceptance of Buddha as the greatest being in the cosmos, and local shamanic traditions were bestowed an inferior status. Research into Himalayan religion has shown that Buddhist and shamanic traditions overlap in many respects: the worship of localized deities, healing rituals and exorcisms. The shamanic Gurung people have adopted some of the Buddhist beliefs such and rebirth but maintain the shamanic rites of "guiding the soul" after death. Geoffrey Samuel describes Shamanic Buddhism: "Vajrayana Buddhism as practiced in Tibet may be described as shamanic, in that it is centered around communication with an alternative mode of reality via the alternative states of consciousness of Tantric Yoga".


Demographics

Buddhism is practised by an estimated 488 million, 495 million, or 535 million people as of the 2010s, representing 7% to 8% of the world's total population. China is the country with the largest population of Buddhists, approximately 244 million or 18% of its total population. They are mostly followers of Chinese Buddhism, Chinese schools of ''
Mahayana Mahāyāna (; "Great Vehicle") is a term for a broad group of Buddhism, Buddhist traditions, Buddhist texts#Mahāyāna texts, texts, Buddhist philosophy, philosophies, and practices. Mahāyāna Buddhism developed in India (c. 1st century BCE on ...
'', making this the largest body of Buddhist traditions. Mahayana, also practised in broader East Asia, is followed by over half of world Buddhists. According to a demographic analysis reported by Peter Harvey: ''Mahayana'' has 360 million adherents; ''
Theravada Theravāda (; , lit. "School of the ", borrowed from Sanskrit स्थविरवाद (sthaviravāda, literally “doctrine of the elders”) is the most commonly accepted name of 's oldest existing school. The school's adherents, termed Th ...
'' has 150 million adherents; and ''
Vajrayana Vajrayāna (Sanskrit: "thunderbolt vehicle" or "diamond vehicle") along with Mantrayāna, Guhyamantrayāna, Tantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Tantric Buddhism, and Esoteric Buddhism are names referring to Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world ...
'' has 18 million adherents. According to , Buddhism has grown from a total of 138 million adherents in 1910, of which 137 million were in
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the cont ...

Asia
, to 495 million in 2010, of which 487 million are in Asia. Over 98% of all Buddhists live in the Asia-Pacific and South Asia region. North America had about 3.9 million Buddhists, Europe 1.3 million, while South America, Africa and the Middle East had an estimated combined total of about 1 million Buddhists in 2010. Buddhism is the dominant religion in Buddhism in Bhutan, Bhutan, Buddhism in Myanmar, Myanmar, Buddhism in Cambodia, Cambodia, Hong Kong,
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...
, Buddhism in Tibet, Tibet, Buddhism in Laos, Laos, Macau,
Mongolia Mongolia (, mn, Монгол Улс, Mongol Uls, Mongolian script, Traditional Mongolian: '; literal translation, lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia") is a landlocked country in East Asia. It is bordered by Russia Mongolia–Russia ...
,
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign state, sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, bor ...
,
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...
, Buddhism in Thailand, Thailand and
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...
. Large Buddhist populations live in Chinese Buddhism, Mainland China,
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...
, Buddhism in Korea, North Korea, Buddhism in Nepal, Nepal and Buddhism in Korea, South Korea. In Russia, Buddhists form majority in Tuva (52%) and
Kalmykia Kalmykia (russian: Калмыкия, r=Kalmykiya, p=kɐlˈmɨkʲɪjə; xal-RU, Хальмг, ''Haľmg'' ), officially the Republic of Kalmykia,; xal-RU, Хальмг Таңһч, ''Haľmg Tañğç'' is a republic A republic () is a form o ...

Kalmykia
(53%). Buryatia (20%) and Zabaykalsky Krai (15%) also have significant Buddhist populations. Buddhism is also growing by conversion. In United States, only about a third (32%) of Buddhists in the United States are Asian; a majority (53%) are white. Buddhism in the America is primarily made up of native-born adherents, whites and converts. In New Zealand, about 25–35% of the total Buddhists are converts to Buddhism. Buddhism has also spread to the Nordic countries; for example, the Burmese Buddhists founded in the city of Kuopio in North Savonia the first Buddhist monastery of Finland, named the Buddha Dhamma Ramsi monastery. The 10 countries with the largest Buddhist population densities are:


See also

* Outline of Buddhism * Buddhist philosophy * Buddhism by country * Buddhism and Eastern religions * Buddhism and Hinduism * Buddhism and science * Jewish Buddhist * Chinese folk religion * Easily confused Buddhist representations * Iconography of Gautama Buddha in Laos and Thailand * Index of Buddhism-related articles * Tengrism#Tengrism and Buddhism, Tengrism and Buddhism * Indian religions * Gautama Buddha in Hinduism * Bhakti Movement#Buddhism, Jainism and Bhakti movement, Buddhism, Jainism and Bhakti movement * List of books related to Buddhism * List of Buddhist temples * Nonviolence * Criticism of Buddhism * Persecution of Buddhists * Vaishnavism * Akriyavada


Notes

''Subnotes''


References


Sources


Printed sources

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ; reprinted in Williams, ''Buddhism'', volume I; NB in the online transcript a little text has been accidentally omitted: in section 4, between "... none of the other contributions in this section envisage a date before 420 B.C." and "to 350 B.C." insert "Akira Hirakawa defends the short chronology and Heinz Bechert himself sets a range from 400 B.C." * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Daniel Goleman, Goleman, Daniel (2008). ''Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama''. Bantam. Kindle Edition. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Online sources

* **


External links


Worldwide Buddhist Information and Education Network
BuddhaNet
Early Buddhist texts, translations, and parallels
SuttaCentral

Robert Buswell and William Bodiford, UCLA
Buddhist Bibliography (China and Tibet)
East West Center

Richard Hayes, Leiden University
Readings in Theravada Buddhism
Access to Insight

Hakuin Ekaku (Ed: Monika Bincsik)
Readings in Sanskrit Buddhist Canon
Nagarjuna Institute – UWest
Readings in Buddhism
Vipassana Research Institute (English, Southeast Asian and Indian Languages) * :dmoz:Society/Religion and Spirituality/Buddhism, Religion and Spirituality: Buddhism at Open Directory Project
The Future of Buddhism series
from ''Patheos''
Buddhist Art
Smithsonian

V&A Museum
Buddhism for Beginners
Tricycle {{Authority control Buddhism, Transtheism Gautama Buddha Indian religions Moksha-believing religions