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BUDDHISM ( /ˈbʊdɪzəm/ or /ˈbuːdɪzəm/ ) is a religion and dharma that encompasses a variety of traditions , beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on teachings attributed to the Buddha
Buddha
. Buddhism
Buddhism
originated in Ancient India
Ancient India
sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, from where it spread through much of Asia
Asia
, whereafter it declined in India
India
during the Middle Ages. Two major extant branches of Buddhism
Buddhism
are generally recognized by scholars: Theravada
Theravada
( Pali
Pali
: "The School of the Elders") and Mahayana
Mahayana
( Sanskrit
Sanskrit
: "The Great Vehicle"). Buddhism
Buddhism
is the world\'s fourth-largest religion , with over 500 million followers or 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists.

Buddhist schools vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures , and especially their respective practices. Practices of Buddhism include taking refuge in the Buddha
Buddha
, the Dharma
Dharma
and the Sangha
Sangha
, study of scriptures , observance of moral precepts , renunciation of craving and attachment , the practice of meditation (including calm and insight ), the cultivation of wisdom , loving-kindness and compassion , the Mahayana
Mahayana
practice of bodhicitta and the Vajrayana practices of generation stage and completion stage .

In Theravada
Theravada
the ultimate goal is the cessation of the _kleshas _ and the attainment of the sublime state of Nirvana
Nirvana
, achieved by practicing the Noble Eightfold Path(also known as the Middle Way
Middle Way
), thus escaping what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth . Theravada
Theravada
has a widespread following in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
and Southeast Asia
Asia
.

Mahayana, which includes the traditions of Pure Land , Zen
Zen
, Nichiren Buddhism
Buddhism
, Shingonand Tiantai
Tiantai
( Tendai
Tendai
), is found throughout East Asia
Asia
. Rather than Nirvana, Mahayana
Mahayana
instead aspires to Buddhahood
Buddhahood
via the bodhisattva path, a state wherein one remains in the cycle of rebirth to help other beings reach awakening.

Vajrayana
Vajrayana
, a body of teachings attributed to Indian siddhas , may be viewed as a third branch or merely a part of Mahayana. Tibetan Buddhism
Buddhism
, which preserves the Vajrayana
Vajrayana
teachings of eighth century India, is practiced in regions surrounding the Himalayas
Himalayas
, Mongolia
Mongolia
and Kalmykia
Kalmykia
. Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
aspires to Buddhahood
Buddhahood
or rainbow body .

CONTENTS

* 1 Life of the Buddha
Buddha

* 2 The problem of life: endless rebirth

* 2.1 Four Noble Truths- _dukkha_ and its ending

* 2.2 The cycle of rebirth

* 2.2.1 Saṃsāra
Saṃsāra
* 2.2.2 Rebirth * 2.2.3 Karma
Karma

* 2.3 Liberation

* 3 The path to liberation: _Bhavana_ (practice, cultivation)

* 3.1 Refuge in the Three Jewels
Three Jewels

* 3.2 The Buddhist path

* 3.2.1 Theravada
Theravada
- Noble Eightfold Path * 3.2.2 Mahayana
Mahayana
- Bodhisattva-path and the six paramitas

* 3.3 _Śīla_ – Buddhist ethics
Buddhist ethics

* 3.3.1 Precepts * 3.3.2 Vinaya
Vinaya

* 3.4 _Samadhi_ (_dhyana_) – meditation

* 3.4.1 Origins * 3.4.2 Four _rupa-jhāna_ and four _arupa-jhāna_ * 3.4.3 Meditation
Meditation
and insight * 3.4.4 The _Brahma-vihara_ * 3.4.5 Visualizations: deities, mandalas * 3.4.6 Practice: monks, laity

* 3.5 _Prajñā_ – insight

* 3.5.1 Origins

* 3.5.2 Theravada
Theravada

* 3.5.2.1 Vipassanā
Vipassanā
* 3.5.2.2 Dependent arising

* 3.5.3 Mahayana
Mahayana

* 3.5.3.1 Emptiness * 3.5.3.2 Mind-only * 3.5.3.3 Buddha-nature
Buddha-nature

* 3.6 Devotion

* 4 Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts

* 4.1 Pāli Tipitaka * 4.2 Theravada
Theravada
texts * 4.3 Mahayana
Mahayana
sutras * 4.4 Tibetan texts: Śālistamba Sutra
Sutra

* 5 History

* 5.1 Historical roots

* 5.2 Indian Buddhism
Buddhism

* 5.2.1 Pre-sectarian Buddhism
Pre-sectarian Buddhism

* 5.2.1.1 Tracing the oldest teachings * 5.2.1.2 Core teachings

* 5.2.2 Early Buddhist schools * 5.2.3 Early Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism
Buddhism
* 5.2.4 Late Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism
Buddhism
* 5.2.5 Vajrayana
Vajrayana
(Esoteric Buddhism)

* 5.3 Spread of Buddhism
Buddhism

* 6 Schools and traditions

* 6.1 Timeline * 6.2 Theravada
Theravada
school

* 6.3 Mahayana
Mahayana
traditions

* 6.3.1 Vajrayana
Vajrayana
traditions * 6.3.2 Zen
Zen

* 7 Buddhism
Buddhism
today

* 7.1 Demographics

* 8 See also * 9 Notes * 10 References

* 11 Sources

* 11.1 Printed sources * 11.2 Online sources

* 12 External links

LIFE OF THE BUDDHA

"The Great Departure", relic depicting Gautama leaving home, first or second century (Musée Guimet ) Main articles: Gautama Buddha
Buddha
and Śramaṇa
Śramaṇa

Buddhism
Buddhism
is an Indian religion attributed to the teachings of the Buddha, supposedly born Siddhārtha Gautama, and also known as the _tatagatha_ ("thus-gone") and _Sakyamuni_ ("sage of the Sakyas"). The details of Buddha's life are mentioned in many early Buddhist texts but are inconsistent, and his social background and life details are difficult to prove, the precise dates uncertain.

The evidence of the early texts suggests that he was born as Siddhārtha Gautama in Lumbini
Lumbini
and grew up in Kapilavasthu, a town in the plains region of the modern Nepal- India
India
border, and that he spent his life in what is now modern Bihar
Bihar
and Uttar Pradesh
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 gardens. However, scholars such as Richard Gombrich
Richard Gombrich
consider this a dubious claim because a combination of evidence suggests he was born in the _Shakyas_ community – one that later gave him the title _Shakyamuni_, and the _Shakya_ community 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. Dhamek Stupa
Dhamek Stupa
in Sarnath
Sarnath
, India
India
, where the Buddha
Buddha
gave his first sermon. It was built by Ashoka
Ashoka
.

According to the Buddhist sutras, Gautama was moved by the innate suffering of humanity and its endless repetition due to rebirth. He set out on a quest to end this repeated suffering. Early Buddhist canonical texts and early biographies of Gautama state that Gautama first studied under Vedic teachers, namely Alara Kalama (Sanskrit: Arada Kalama) and Uddaka Ramaputta (Sanskrit: Udraka Ramaputra), learning meditation and ancient philosophies, particularly the concept of "nothingness, emptiness" from the former, and "what is neither seen nor unseen" from the latter. Buddha
Buddha
statue depicting Parinirvana
Parinirvana
(Mahaparinirvana Temple, Kushinagar
Kushinagar
, Uttar Pradesh, India )

Finding these teachings to be insufficient to attain his goal, he turned to the practice of asceticism . This too fell short of attaining his goal, and then he turned to the practice of _dhyana_, meditation, which he had already discovered in his youth. He famously sat in meditation under a _ Ficus religiosa_ tree now called the Bodhi Tree in the town of Bodh Gaya
Bodh Gaya
in the Gangetic plains region of South Asia. He gained insight into the workings of karma and his former lives, and attained enlightenment , certainty about the Middle Way (Skt. _madhyamā-pratipad_) as the right path of spiritual practice to end suffering (_dukkha _) from rebirths in Saṃsāra
Saṃsāra
. As a fully enlightened Buddha
Buddha
(Skt. _samyaksaṃbuddha_), he attracted followers and founded a _ Sangha
Sangha
_ (monastic order). Now, as the Buddha, he spent the rest of his life teaching the Dharma
Dharma
he had discovered, and passed away at the age of 80 in Kushinagar
Kushinagar
, India.

Buddha's teachings were propagated by his followers, which in the last centuries of the 1st millennium BCE became over 18 Buddhist sub-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
Theravada
, Mahayana
Mahayana
and Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Buddhism.

THE PROBLEM OF LIFE: ENDLESS REBIRTH

Main article: Glossary of Buddhism

FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS - _DUKKHA_ AND ITS ENDING

Main articles: Dukkhaand Four Noble Truths The Buddha
Buddha
teaching the Four Noble Truths. Sanskrit
Sanskrit
manuscript. Nalanda
Nalanda
, Bihar, India.

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 , the endless cycle of repeated rebirth , dukkha and dying again. But there is a way to liberation from this endless cycle to the state of nirvana , namely following the Noble Eightfold Path.

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," "the unsatisfactory nature and the general insecurity of all conditioned phenomena "; or "painful." _Dukkha_ is most commonly translated as "suffering," which is an incorrect translation, since it refers not to literal suffering, but to the ultimately 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 , along with impermanence and anattā (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_). 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: _tanha _) and cling to these changing phenomena. The clinging and craving produces karma , which ties us to samsara, the round of death and rebirth. Craving includes _kama-tanha_, craving for sense-pleasures; _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 _, "blowing out," and peace of mind.

By following the Buddhist path to _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 , but other versions of "the path" can also be found in the Nikayas. The Theravada
Theravada
tradition regards insight into the four truths as liberating in itself.

THE CYCLE OF REBIRTH

Traditional Tibetan Buddhist Thangka
Thangka
depicting the Wheel of Life with its six realms

Saṃsāra

Main article: Saṃsāra (Buddhism)
Saṃsāra (Buddhism)

_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
Samsara
in Buddhism is considered to be _dukkha _, unsatisfactory and painful, perpetuated by desire and _avidya _ (ignorance), and the resulting 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
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
Samsara
ends if a person attains nirvana , the "blowing out" of the desires and the gaining of true insight into impermanence and non-self reality.

Rebirth

Gautama's cremation site, Ramabhar Stupa
Stupa
in Kushinagar
Kushinagar
, Uttar Pradesh , India
India
Main article: Rebirth (Buddhism)

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 (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
and Christianity
Christianity
. According to Buddhism
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 (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 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
, rebirth is not instantaneous, and there is an intermediate state (Tibetan "bardo ") between one life and the next. The orthodox Theravada
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
Pali
Canon that seem to lend support to the idea that the Buddha
Buddha
taught about an intermediate stage between one life and the next.

Karma

Main article: Karma in Buddhism
Karma in Buddhism

In Buddhism
Buddhism
, Karma
Karma
(from Sanskrit
Sanskrit
: "action, work") drives saṃsāra —the endless cycle of suffering and rebirth for each being. Good, skilful deeds (Pali: "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 . The existence of Karma
Karma
is a core belief in Buddhism, as with all major Indian religions, 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 ) matters and is essential to bring about a consequence or _phala _ "fruit" or vipāka "result". However, good or bad karma accumulates even if there is no physical action, and just having ill or good thoughts create 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 six realms of existence including human beings and gods.

A notable aspect of the karma theory in Buddhism
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

Mahabodhi Temple
Mahabodhi Temple
in Bodh Gaya
Bodh Gaya
, India, where Gautama Buddha attained nirvana under the Bodhi Tree
Bodhi Tree
(left) Main articles: Moksha and Nirvana (Buddhism)
Nirvana (Buddhism)

The cessation of the _kleshas _ and the attainment of 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, but other versions 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
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
Buddhist texts
describe nirvana as identical with _ Anatta
Anatta
_ with complete "Emptiness, Nothingness". In some texts, the state is described with greater detail, such as passing through the gate of emptiness (_sunyata_) – realizing that there is no soul or self in any living being, then passing through the gate of signlessness (_animitta_) – realizing that nirvana cannot be perceived, and finally passing through the gate of wishlessness (_apranihita_) – realizing that nirvana is the state of not even wishing for nirvana.

The nirvana state has been described in Buddhist texts
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 realization of _non-Self _.

While Buddhism
Buddhism
considers the liberation from Saṃsāra
Saṃsāra
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.

THE PATH TO LIBERATION: _BHAVANA_ (PRACTICE, CULTIVATION)

While the Noble Eightfold Pathis best-known in the west, a wide variety of practices and stages have been used and described in the Buddhist traditions. Basic practices include _sila_ (ethics), _samadhi_ (meditation, _dhyana_) and _prajna_ (wisdom), as described in the Noble Eightfold Path. An important additional practice is a kind and compassionate attitude toward every living being and the world. Devotion is also important in some Buddhist traditions, and in the Tibetan traditions visualizations of deities and mandalas are important. The value of textual study is regarded differently in the various Buddhist traditions. It is central to Theravada
Theravada
and highly important to Tibetan Buddhism, while the Zen
Zen
tradition takes an ambiguous stance.

REFUGE IN THE THREE JEWELS

Relic depicting a footprint of the Buddha
Buddha
with Dharmachakra
Dharmachakra
and triratna , 1st century CE, Gandhāra Main articles: Refuge (Buddhism) and Three Jewels
Three Jewels

Traditionally, the first step in most Buddhist schools requires taking Three Refuges, also called the Three Jewels
Three Jewels
( Sanskrit
Sanskrit
: _triratna_, Pali
Pali
: _tiratana_) as the foundation of one's religious practice. Pali
Pali
texts employ the Brahmanical motif of the triple refuge, found in the _ Rigveda
Rigveda
_ 9.97.47, _Rigveda_ 6.46.9 and _ Chandogya Upanishad
Chandogya Upanishad
_ 2.22.3–4. Tibetan Buddhism
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 Three Jewels
Three Jewels
are:

* The Buddha
Buddha
, the Gotama, the Blessed One, the Awakened with true knowledge * The Dharma
Dharma
, the precepts, the practice, the Four Truths, the Eightfold Path * The Sangha
Sangha
, order of monks, the community of Buddha's disciples

Reciting the three refuges is considered in Buddhism
Buddhism
not as a place to hide, rather a thought that purifies, uplifts and strengthens.

THE BUDDHIST PATH

Theravada
Theravada
- Noble Eightfold Path

_ The Dharmachakra
Dharmachakra
_ represents the Noble Eightfold Path. Main articles: Noble Eightfold Pathand Buddhist Paths to liberation
Buddhist Paths to liberation

An important guiding principle of Buddhist practice is the Middle Way (_madhyamapratipad_). It was a part of Buddha's first sermon, where he presented the Noble Eightfold Paththat 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).

In the Theravada
Theravada
canon, the Pali-suttas, various often irreconcilable sequences can be found. According to Carol Anderson, the Theravada canon lacks "an overriding and comprehensive structure of the path to _nibbana_." Nevertheless, the Noble Eightfold Path, or "Eightfold Path of the Noble Ones", has become an imprortant description of the Buddhist path. It 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, 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 karmic accumulations, and thus ended their endless cycles of rebirth and suffering.

The Noble Eightfold Pathis grouped into three basic divisions , as follows:

DIVISION EIGHTFOLD FACTOR _SANSKRIT, PALI_ DESCRIPTION

Wisdom (Sanskrit: _prajñā _, Pāli: _paññā_) 1. Right view samyag dṛṣṭi, sammā ditthi the belief that there is an afterlife and not everything ends with death, that Buddha
Buddha
taught and followed a successful path to nirvana; according to Peter Harvey, the right view is held in Buddhism
Buddhism
as a belief in the Buddhist principles of karma and rebirth , and the importance of the Four Noble Truthsand the True Realities.

2. Right intention samyag saṃkalpa, sammā saṅkappa giving up home and adopting the life of a religious mendicant in order to follow the path; this concept, states Harvey, aims at peaceful renunciation, into an environment of non-sensuality, non-ill-will (to lovingkindness), away from cruelty (to compassion).

Moral virtues (Sanskrit: _śīla _, Pāli: _sīla_) 3. Right speech samyag vāc, sammā vāca no lying, no rude speech, no telling one person what another says about him, speaking that which leads to salvation;

4. Right action samyag karman, sammā kammanta no killing or injuring, no taking what is not given; no sexual acts in monastic pursuit, for lay Buddhists no sensual misconduct such as sexual involvement with someone married, or with an unmarried woman protected by her parents or relatives.

5. Right livelihood samyag ājīvana, sammā ājīva For monks, beg to feed, only possessing what is essential to sustain life. For lay Buddhists, the canonical texts state right livelihood as abstaining from wrong livelihood, explained as not becoming a source or means of suffering to sentient beings by cheating them, or harming or killing them in any way.

Meditation
Meditation
( Sanskrit
Sanskrit
and Pāli: _samādhi _) 6. Right effort samyag vyāyāma, sammā vāyāma guard against sensual thoughts; this concept, states Harvey, aims at preventing unwholesome states that disrupt meditation.

7. Right mindfulness samyag smṛti, sammā sati never be absent minded, conscious of what one is doing; this, states Harvey, encourages mindfulness about impermanence of the body, feelings and mind, as well as to experience the five skandhas , the five hindrances, the four True Realities and seven factors of awakening.

8. Right concentration samyag samādhi, sammā samādhi Correct meditation or concentration (_dhyana_), explained as the four jhānas.

Mahayana
Mahayana
- Bodhisattva-path And The Six Paramitas

Dāna
Dāna
or charitable giving to monks is a virtue in Buddhism, leading to merit accumulation and better rebirths.

Mahāyāna Buddhism
Buddhism
is based principally upon the path of a Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
. A _Bodhisattva_ refers to one who is on the path to buddhahood. The term _Mahāyāna_ was originally a synonym for _Bodhisattvayāna_ or " Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
Vehicle."

In the earliest texts of Mahayana
Mahayana
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
Buddhahood
in one (current) lifetime, and the best goal is not nirvana for oneself, but Buddhahood
Buddhahood
after climbing through the ten levels during multiple rebirths. Mahayana
Mahayana
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
Buddhahood
in a future rebirth. One part of this path are the _ Pāramitā
Pāramitā
_ (perfections, to cross over), derived from the _Jatakas_ tales of Buddha's numerous rebirths.

The Mahayana
Mahayana
texts are inconsistent in their discussion of the _Paramitas_, 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
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
Śīla
pāramitā_: perfection of morality; it outlines ethical behaviour for both the laity and the Mahayana
Mahayana
monastic community; this list is similar to Śīla
Śīla
in the Eightfold Path (i.e. Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood) * _Kṣānti pāramitā_: perfection of patience, willingness to endure hardship * _ Vīrya
Vīrya
pāramitā_: perfection of vigour; this is similar to Right Effort in the Eightfold Path * _Dhyāna pāramitā_: perfection of meditation; this is similar to Right Concentration in the Eightfold Path * _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
Buddha
teaching, then conviction, followed by ultimate realization that "dharmas are non-arising".

In Mahayana Sutras
Mahayana Sutras
that include ten _Paramitas_, the additional four perfections are "skillful means, vow, power and knowledge". The most discussed _Paramita_ and the highest rated perfection in Mahayana texts is the "Prajna-paramita", or the "perfection of insight". This insight in the Mahayana
Mahayana
tradition, states Shōhei Ichimura, has been the "insight of non-duality or the absence of reality in all things".

_ŚīLA_ – BUDDHIST ETHICS

Main article: Buddhist ethics
Buddhist ethics
Statue of Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha
, first century CE, Gandhara
Gandhara
, present-day Pakistan
Pakistan
( Guimet Museum)

_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 consists of right speech, right action and right livelihood.

_Śīla_ appear as ethical precepts for both lay and ordained Buddhist devotees. It includes the Five Preceptsfor laypeople, Eight or Ten Precepts for monastic life, as well as rules of Dhamma (_Vinaya_ or _Patimokkha_) adopted by a monastery.

Precepts

The five precepts (_panca-sila_) are moral behavioural and ritual guidelines for lay devotees in Buddhism, while those following a monastic life have rules of conduct (_patimokkha_). The five precepts apply to both male and female devotees, and these are:

* Abstain from killing (Ahimsa ); * Abstain from stealing; * Abstain from sensual (including sexual) misconduct; * Abstain from lying; * Abstain from intoxicants.

These precepts are not commandments and transgressions do not invite religious sanctions, but their power has been in the Buddhist belief in karmic consequences and their impact in afterlife during rebirth. Killing in Buddhist belief leads to rebirth in the hellish realm, 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. Saving animals from slaughter for meat, is believed to be a way to acquire merit for better rebirth. These moral precepts have been voluntarily self-enforced in lay Buddhist culture through the associated belief in karma and rebirth.

The monastic life in Buddhism
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 by the monastic fraternity (_nikaya_).

The precepts for monks in many Buddhist fraternities are eight (_asta shila_) or ten (_das shila_). 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 wrong time (e.g. only eat solid food before 12 noon); * Abstain from jewelry, perfume, adornment, entertainment; * Abstain from sleeping on high beds;

Some _sangha_ add two more precepts: abstain from dancing and singing, and abstain from accepting money. In addition to these precepts, Buddhist monasteries have hundreds of rules of dhamma conduct, which are a part of its _patimokkha_.

Vinaya

Monks performing a ceremony in Hangzhou
Hangzhou
, China
China

Vinaya
Vinaya
is the specific code of conduct for a _sangha_ of monks or nuns. It includes the Patimokkha
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
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 institutionalized 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.

_SAMADHI_ (_DHYANA_) – MEDITATION

Bhikkhus in Thailand
Thailand
Main articles: Buddhist meditation, Samadhi
Samadhi
, Samatha
Samatha
, and Rupajhana

A wide range of meditation practices has developed in the Buddhist traditions, but "meditation" primarily refers to the practice of _dhyana_ c.q. _jhana_. It is a practice in which the attention of the mind is first narrowed to the focus on one specific object, such as the breath, a concrete object, or a specific thought, mental image or mantra. After this initial focussing of the mind, the focus is coupled to mindfulness, maintaining a calm mind while being aware of one's surroundings. The practice of _dhyana_ 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 Keśinhymn 10.136 of the Rigveda
Rigveda
. While evidence suggests meditation was practiced in the centuries preceding the Buddha, the meditative methodologies described in the Buddhist texts
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
Buddha
as well as those first developed within Buddhism.

According to Bronkhorst, the _Four Dhyanas_ was a Buddhist invention. Bronkhorst notes that the Buddhist canon has a mass of contradictory statements, little is known about their relative chronology, and "there can be no doubt that the canon – including the older parts, the Sutra
Sutra
and Vinaya
Vinaya
Pitaka – was composed over a long period of time". Meditative practices were incorporated from other sramanic movements; the Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts
describe how Buddha
Buddha
learnt the practice of the formless dhyana from Brahmanical practices, in the Nikayas ascribed to Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta. The Buddhist canon also describes and criticizes alternative dhyana practices, which likely mean the pre-existing mainstream meditation practices of Jainism
Jainism
and Hinduism.

Buddha
Buddha
added a new focus and interpretation, particularly through the Four Dhyanas 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
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 criticizes both the ascetic meditation of Jainism
Jainism
and the "real self, soul" meditation of Hinduism.

Four _rupa-jhāna_ And Four _arupa-jhāna_

Buddhist monuments in the Horyu-ji Area

For Nirvana, Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts
teach various meditation methodologies, of which _rupa-jhana_ (four meditations in the realm of form) and _arupa-jhana_ (four meditations in the formless realm) have been the most studied. These are described in the Pali
Pali
Canon as trance-like states in the world of desirelessness. The four dhyanas under _rupa-jhanas_ are:

* First dhyana: detach from all sensory desires and sinful states that are a source of unwholesome karma. Success here is described in Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts
as leading to discursive thinking, deliberation, detachment, _sukha_ (pleasure) and _priti_ (rapture). * Second dhyana: cease deliberation and all discursive thoughts. Success leads to one-pointed thinking, serenity, pleasure and rapture.

* Third dhyana: lose feeling of rapture. Success leads to equanimity, mindfulness and pleasure, without rapture. * Fourth dhyana: cease all effects, lose all happiness and sadness. Success in the fourth meditation stage leads to pure equanimity and mindfulness, without any pleasure or pain.

The _arupa-jhanas_ (formless realm meditation) are also four, which are entered by those who have mastered the _rupa-jhanas_ (Arhats ). The first formless dhyana gets to infinite space without form or colour or shape, the second to infinity of perception base of the infinite space, the third formless dhyana transcends object-subject perception base, while the fourth is where he dwells in nothing-at-all where there are no feelings, no ideas, nor are there non-ideas, unto total cessation. The four _rupa-dhyanas_ in Buddhist practice lead to rebirth in successfully better _rupa_ Brahma heavenly realms, while _arupa-dhyanas_ lead into arupa heavens.

Richard Gombrich
Richard Gombrich
notes that the sequence of the four _rupa-jhanas_ describes two different cognitive states. The first two describe a narrowing of attention, while in the third and fourth jhana attention is expanded again. Alexander Wynne further explains that the _dhyana_-scheme is poorly understood. According to Wynne, words expressing the inculcation of awareness, such as _sati_, _sampajāno_, and _upekkhā_, are mistranslated or understood as particular factors of meditative states, whereas they refer to a particular way of perceiving the sense objects.

Meditation
Meditation
And Insight

Statue of the Buddha
Buddha
in meditation position, Haw Phra Kaew
Haw Phra Kaew
, Vientiane
Vientiane
, Laos
Laos
See also: Meditation
Meditation
and insight and Yoga
Yoga

The Buddhist tradition has incorporated two traditions regarding the use of dhyāna (meditation, Pali
Pali
_jhāna_). There is a tradition that stresses attaining prajñā (insight, bodhi , kenshō , vipassana ) as the means to awakening and liberation. But it has also incorporated the yogic tradition , as reflected in the use of jhana, which is rejected in other sutras as not resulting in the final result of liberation. Schmithausen discerns three possible roads to liberation as described in the suttas, to which Vetter adds the sole practice of _dhyana_ itself. According to Vetter and Bronkhorst, the earliest Buddhist path consisted of a set of practices which culminate in the practice of _dhyana_, leading to a calm of mind which according to Vetter _is_ the liberation which is being sought. Later on, "liberating insight" came to be regarded as equally liberating. This "liberating insight" came to be exemplified by _prajna_, or the insight in the "four truths," but also by other elements of the Buddhist teachings.

The _Brahma-vihara_

Statue of Buddha
Buddha
in Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat
Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat
, Phitsanulok
Phitsanulok
, Thailand
Thailand
Main article: Brahmavihara

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: _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: _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
Buddha
and post- Buddha
Buddha
Vedic and Sramanic literature. Aspects of the Brahmaviharapractice for rebirths into the heavenly realm have been an important part of Buddhist meditationtradition.

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
Buddha
taught that kindness – what Christians tend to call love – was a way to salvation."

Visualizations: Deities, Mandalas

Mandala
Mandala
are used in Buddhism
Buddhism
for initiation ceremonies and visualization.

Idols of deity and icons have been a part of the historic practice, and in Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts
such as the 11th-century _Sadanamala_, a devotee visualizes and identifies himself or herself with the imagined deity as part of meditation. This has been particularly popular in Vajrayana
Vajrayana
meditative traditions, but also found in Mahayana
Mahayana
and Theravada
Theravada
traditions, particularly in temples and with Buddha
Buddha
images.

In Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
tradition, mandala are mystical maps for the visualization process with cosmic symbolism. There are numerous deities, each with a mandala, and they are used during initiation ceremonies and meditation. The mandalas are concentric geometric shapes symbolizing layers of the external world, gates and sacred space. The meditation deity is in the centre, sometimes surrounded by protective gods and goddesses. Visualizations with deities and mandalas in Buddhism
Buddhism
is a tradition traceable to ancient times, and likely well established by the time the 5th-century text _Visuddhimagga_ was composed.

Practice: Monks, Laity

According to Peter Harvey, whenever Buddhism
Buddhism
has been healthy, not only ordained but also more committed lay people have practiced 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 practiced 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
Buddhism
as a meditation-based form of spirituality.

_PRAJñā_ – INSIGHT

Monks debating at Sera Monastery
Sera Monastery
, Tibet Main articles: Prajñā , Bodhi
Bodhi
, Kenshō, Satori
Satori
, Subitism, and Vipassana
Vipassana

_Prajñā_ (Sanskrit) or _paññā_ (Pāli) is insight or knowledge of the true nature of existence. The Buddhist tradition regards ignorance (avidyā ), a fundamental ignorance, misunderstanding or mis-perception of the nature of reality, as one of the basic causes of _dukkha_ and _samsara_. By overcoming ignorance or misunderstanding one is enlightened and liberated. This overcoming includes awakening to impermanence and the non-self nature of reality, and this develops dispassion for the objects of clinging , and liberates a being from _dukkha_ and _saṃsāra_. _Prajñā_ is important in all Buddhist traditions, and is the wisdom about the dharmas, functioning of karma and rebirths, realms of samsara, impermanence of everything, no-self in anyone or anything, and dependent origination.

Origins

The origins of "liberating insight" are unclear. Buddhist texts, states Bronkhorst, do not describe it explicitly, and the content of "liberating insight" is likely not original to Buddhism. According to Vetter and Bronkhorst, this growing importance of "liberating insight" was a response to other religious groups in India, which held that a liberating insight was indispensable for _moksha _, liberation from rebirth.

Bronkhorst suggests that the conception of what exactly constituted "liberating insight" for Buddhists developed over time. Whereas originally it may not have been specified as an insight, later on the Four Noble Truthsserved as such, to be superseded by _pratityasamutpada_, and still later, in the Hinayana
Hinayana
schools, by the doctrine of the non-existence of a substantial self or person.

Other descriptions of this "liberating insight" exist in the Buddhist canon: that the five Skandhas are impermanent, disagreeable, and neither the Self nor belonging to oneself"; "the contemplation of the arising and disappearance (_udayabbaya_) of the five Skandhas"; "the realisation of the Skandhas as empty (_rittaka_), vain (_tucchaka_) and without any pith or substance (_asaraka_). — Lambert Schmithausen,

In the Pali
Pali
Canon liberating insight is attained in the fourth dhyana. However, states Vetter, modern scholarship on the Pali
Pali
Canon has uncovered a "whole series of inconsistencies in the transmission of the Buddha's word", and there are many conflicting versions of what constitutes higher knowledge and samadhi that leads to the liberation from rebirth and suffering. Even within the Four Dhyana methodology of meditation, Vetter notes that "penetrating abstract truths and penetrating them successively does not seem possible in a state of mind which is without contemplation and reflection." According to Vetter, _dhyāna_ itself constituted the original "liberating practice".

Carol Anderson notes that insight is often depicted in the Vinaya
Vinaya
as the opening of the Dhamma eye, which sets one on the Buddhist path to liberation.

Theravada

Shwezigon Pagodanear Bagan
Bagan
, Myanmar
Myanmar

Vipassanā

Main article: Vipassanā
Vipassanā

In Theravada
Theravada
Buddhism, but also in Tibetan Buddhism, two types of meditation Buddhist practices are being followed, namely samatha (Pāli; Sanskrit: _śamatha_; "calm") and vipassana (insight). Samatha
Samatha
is also called "calming meditation", and was adopted into Buddhism
Buddhism
from pre- Buddha
Buddha
Indian traditions. _Vipassanā_ meditation was added by Buddha, and refers to "insight meditation". Vipassana does not aim at peace and tranquillity, states Damien Keown, but "the generation of penetrating and critical insight (panna)".

The focus of Vipassana
Vipassana
meditation is to continuously and thoroughly know impermanence of everything (_annica_), no-Self in anything (_anatta_) and the _dukkha_ teachings of Buddhism.

Contemporary Theravada
Theravada
orthodoxy regards samatha as a preparation for vipassanā, pacifying the mind and strengthening the concentration in order to allow the work of insight, which leads to liberation. In contrast, the Vipassana
Vipassana
Movement argues that insight levels can be discerned without the need for developing samatha further due to the risks of going out of the course when strong samatha is developed.

Dependent Arising

Main articles: Pratītyasamutpāda
Pratītyasamutpāda
and Twelve Nidānas

_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
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
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 (ignorance) exists 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
Bhava
(becoming), 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.

Mahayana

The Great Statue of Amitābhain Kamakura
Kamakura
, Japan
Japan

Emptiness

Main articles: Śūnyatā
Śūnyatā
and Madhyamaka
Madhyamaka

Śūnyatā
Śūnyatā
, or "emptiness", is a central concept in Nagarjuna
Nagarjuna
's Madhyamaka
Madhyamaka
school, and widely attested in the Prajñāpāramitā sutras. It brings together key Buddhist doctrines, particularly anatta and dependent origination , to refute the metaphysics of Sarvastivada and Sautrāntika(extinct non- Mahayana
Mahayana
schools). Not only sentient beings are empty of ātman ; all phenomena (dharmas ) are without any svabhava (literally "own-nature" or "self-nature"), and thus without any underlying essence, and "empty" of being independent; thus the heterodox theories of svabhava circulating at the time were refuted on the basis of the doctrines of early Buddhism.

Mind-only

Main articles: Yogachara
Yogachara
and Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra
Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra

Sarvastivadateachings, which were criticized by Nāgārjuna, were reformulated by scholars such as Vasubandhu
Vasubandhu
and Asanga
Asanga
and were adapted into the Yogachara
Yogachara
school. While the Mādhyamaka school held that asserting the existence or non-existence of any ultimately real thing was inappropriate, some exponents of Yogachara
Yogachara
asserted that the mind and only the mind is ultimately real (a doctrine known as _cittamatra_). Not all Yogacharins asserted that mind was truly existent; Vasubandhu
Vasubandhu
and Asanga
Asanga
in particular did not. These two schools of thought, in opposition or synthesis, form the basis of subsequent Mahayana
Mahayana
metaphysics in the Indo-Tibetan tradition.

Buddha-nature

Main article: Buddha-nature
Buddha-nature

Buddha-nature
Buddha-nature
is a concept found in some 1st-millennium CE Buddhist texts, such as the _ Tathāgatagarbha sūtras
Tathāgatagarbha sūtras
_. This concept has been controversial in Buddhism, but has a following in East Asian Buddhism. These Sutras suggest, states Paul Williams, that 'all sentient beings contain a Tathagata' as their 'essence, core inner nature, Self'. The _Tathagatagarbha_ doctrine, at its earliest probably appeared about the later part of the 3rd century CE, and it contradicts the Anatta
Anatta
doctrine (non-Self) in a vast majority of Buddhist texts, leading scholars to posit that the _Tathagatagarbha Sutras_ were written to promote Buddhism
Buddhism
to non-Buddhists. However, the Buddhist text _Ratnagotravibhāga_ states that the "Self" implied in _Tathagatagarbha_ doctrine is actually "not-Self".

DEVOTION

Main article: Buddhist devotion _ Bhatti_ (devotion) at a Buddhist temple, Tibet. Chanting during _Bhatti Puja _ (devotional worship) is often a part of the Theravada
Theravada
Buddhist tradition.

Devotion is an important part of the practice of most Buddhists. Devotional practices include ritual prayer, prostration, offerings, pilgrimage, and chanting. In Pure Land Buddhism, devotion to the Buddha
Buddha
Amitabha is the main practice. In Nichiren
Nichiren
Buddhism, devotion to the Lotus Sutra
Sutra
is the main practice. Bhakti (called _Bhatti_ in Pali) has been a common practice in Theravada
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 Buddhism, and deep devotion is part of Buddhist traditions starting from the earliest days.

Guru
Guru
devotion is a central practice of Tibetan Buddhism. The guru is considered essential and to the Buddhist devotee, the guru is the "enlightened teacher and ritual master" in Vajrayana
Vajrayana
spiritual pursuits.

For someone seeking Buddhahood, the guru is the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, wrote the 12th-century Buddhist scholar Sadhanamala. The veneration of and obedience to teachers is also important in Theravada
Theravada
and Zen
Zen
Buddhism.

BUDDHIST TEXTS

Buddhist monk
Buddhist monk
Geshe
Geshe
Konchog Wangdu reads Mahayana
Mahayana
sutras from an old woodblock copy of the Tibetan Kanjur. Main article: Buddhist texts

Buddhism, like all Indian religions, was an oral tradition in ancient times. The Buddha's words, the early doctrines and concepts, and the interpretations were transmitted from one generation to the next by the word of mouth in monasteries, and not through written texts. The first Buddhist canonical texts were likely written down in Sri Lanka, about 400 years after the Buddha
Buddha
died. The texts were part of the _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
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
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_ organized into _Nikayas_, 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
Pali
and Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts
of India. The Chinese Buddhist canon, for example, includes 2184 texts in 55 volumes, while the Tibetan canon comprises 1108 texts – all claimed to have been spoken by the Buddha
Buddha
– and another 3461 texts composed by Indian scholars revered in the Tibetan tradition. The Buddhist textual history has been vast; over 40,000 manuscripts mostly Buddhist, some non-Buddhist, were discovered in 1900 in the Dunhuang Chinese cave alone.

PāLI TIPITAKA

Main article: Pāli Canon
Pāli Canon

PāLI CANON

VINAYA PITAKA

* Suttavibhanga * Khandhaka
Khandhaka
* Parivara

SUTTA PITAKA

* Digha Nikaya * Majjhima Nikaya
Majjhima Nikaya
* Samyutta Nikaya * Anguttara Nikaya
Anguttara Nikaya
* Khuddaka Nikaya
Khuddaka Nikaya

ABHIDHAMMA PITAKA

* Dhammasangani * Vibhanga * Dhatukathaand Puggalapannatti * Kathavatthu * Yamaka * Patthana

* v * t * e

The Pāli Tipitaka (Sanskrit: _Tripiṭaka_, three pitakas), which means "three baskets", refers to the _ Vinaya
Vinaya
Pitaka_, the _Sutta Pitaka_, and the _ Abhidhamma
Abhidhamma
Pitaka_. These constitute the oldest known canonical works of Buddhism. The _ Vinaya
Vinaya
Pitaka _ contains disciplinary rules for the Buddhist monasteries. The _ Sutta Pitaka_ contains words attributed to the Buddha. The _ Abhidhamma Pitaka_ contain expositions and commentaries on the Sutta, and these vary significantly between Buddhist schools.

The Pāli Tipitaka is the only surviving early Tipitaka. According to some sources, some early schools of Buddhism
Buddhism
had five or seven pitakas. Much of the material in the 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."

THERAVADA TEXTS

In addition to the Pali
Pali
Canon, the important commentary texts of the Theravada
Theravada
tradition include the 5th-century _ Visuddhimagga_ by Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
of the Mahavihara school. It includes sections on shila (virtues), samadhi (concentration), panna (wisdom) as well as Theravada
Theravada
tradition's meditation methodology.

MAHAYANA SUTRAS

Main article: Mahayana
Mahayana
sutras The Tripiṭaka
Tripiṭaka
Koreana in South Korea, an edition of the Chinese Buddhist canon
Chinese Buddhist canon
carved and preserved in over 81,000 wood printing blocks

The Mahayana
Mahayana
sutras are a very broad genre of Buddhist scriptures that the Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhist tradition holds are original teachings of the Buddha
Buddha
. Some adherents of Mahayana
Mahayana
accept both the early teachings (including in this the SarvastivadaAbhidharma, which was criticized by Nagarjuna
Nagarjuna
and is in fact opposed to early Buddhist thought) and the Mahayana
Mahayana
sutras as authentic teachings of Gautama Buddha, and claim they were designed for different types of persons and different levels of spiritual understanding.

The Mahayana
Mahayana
sutras 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_). The Theravada
Theravada
school does not treat the Mahayana Sutras
Mahayana Sutras
as authoritative or authentic teachings of the Buddha.

Generally, scholars conclude that the Mahayana
Mahayana
scriptures were composed from the 1st century CE onwards: "Large numbers of Mahayana sutras were being composed in the period between the beginning of the common era and the fifth century".

TIBETAN TEXTS: ŚāLISTAMBA SUTRA

Many ancient Indian texts have not survived into the modern era, creating a challenge in establishing the historic commonalities between Theravada
Theravada
and Mahayana. The texts preserved in the Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, with parallel Chinese translations, have provided a breakthrough. Among these is the Mahayana
Mahayana
text _Śālistamba Sutra_ which no longer exists in a Sanskrit
Sanskrit
version, but does in Tibetan and Chinese versions. This Mahayana
Mahayana
text contains numerous sections which are remarkably the same as the Theravada
Theravada
Pali Canon and Nikaya Buddhism. The _Śālistamba Sutra_ was cited by Mahayana
Mahayana
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
Buddhist texts
in the early centuries of its history, until Mahayana
Mahayana
literature diverged about and after the 1st century CE.

HISTORY

Main article: History of Buddhism

HISTORICAL ROOTS

THERAVāDA

_ Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
_

NYINGMA

Kadam

Kagyu
Kagyu

Dagpo

Sakya
Sakya

Jonang
Jonang

_East Asia
Asia
_

Early Buddhist schools and Mahāyāna (via the silk road to China
China
, and ocean contact from India
India
to Vietnam
Vietnam
)

Tangmi

Nara (Rokushū)

SHINGON

CHAN

Thiền , Seon

Zen
Zen

TIANTAI / JìNGTǔ

Tendai
Tendai

NICHIREN

JōDO-SHū

_Central Asia
Asia
_ border:1px solid gray; text-align:center">

Greco-Buddhism
Greco-Buddhism

Silk Road Buddhism
Buddhism

450 BCE 250 BCE 100 CE 500 CE 700 CE 800 CE 1200 CE

LEGEND:

= THERAVADA

= MAHAYANA

= VAJRAYANA

= Various / syncretic

THERAVADA SCHOOL

A young bhikkhu in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Main article: Theravada
Theravada

The Theravada
Theravada
tradition traces its roots to the words of the Buddha preserved in the Pali
Pali
Canon, and considers itself to be the more orthodox form of Buddhism.

Theravada
Theravada
flourished in south India
India
and Sri Lanka
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, Theravada
Theravada
had spread widely into the rural areas of mainland southeast Asia, displacing Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism
Buddhism
and some traditions of Hinduism
Hinduism
which had arrived in places such as Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia
Indonesia
and Malaysia
Malaysia
around the mid-1st millennium CE. The later traditions were well established in south Thailand
Thailand
and Java by the 7th century, under the sponsorship of the Srivijaya dynasty. The political separation between Khmer and Sukhothai led the Sukhothai king to welcome Sri Lankan emissaries, helping them establish the first Theravada
Theravada
Buddhist _sangha_ in the 13th century, in contrast to the Mahayana
Mahayana
tradition of Khmer earlier.

Sinhalese Buddhist reformers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries portrayed the Pali
Pali
Canon as the original version of scripture. They also emphasized Theravada
Theravada
being rational and scientific.

Theravāda is primarily practiced today in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
, Burma , Laos
Laos
, Thailand
Thailand
, Cambodia
Cambodia
as well as small portions of China, Vietnam
Vietnam
, Malaysia
Malaysia
and Bangladesh . It has a growing presence in the west.

MAHAYANA TRADITIONS

Main article: Mahayana
Mahayana
The ideas of the 2nd century scholar Nagarjuna
Nagarjuna
helped shape the Mahayana
Mahayana
traditions.

Mahayana
Mahayana
schools consider the Mahayana Sutras
Mahayana Sutras
as authoritative scriptures and accurate rendering of Buddha's words. These traditions have been the more liberal form of Buddhism
Buddhism
allowing different and new interpretations that emerged over time.

Mahayana
Mahayana
flourished in India
India
from the time of Ashoka, through to the dynasty of the Guptas (4th to 6th-century). Mahāyāna monastic foundations and centres of learning were established by the Buddhist kings, and the Hindu kings of the Gupta dynasty as evidenced by records left by three Chinese visitors to India. The Gupta dynasty, for example, helped establish the famed Nālandā University in Bihar. These monasteries and foundations helped Buddhist scholarship, as well as studies into non-Buddhist traditions and secular subjects such as medicine, host visitors and spread Buddhism
Buddhism
into East and Central Asia.

Native Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism
Buddhism
is practiced today in China, Japan, Korea , Singapore
Singapore
, parts of Russia and most of Vietnam
Vietnam
(also commonly referred to as "Eastern Buddhism"). The Buddhism
Buddhism
practiced in Tibet, the Himalayan regions, and Mongolia
Mongolia
is also Mahayana
Mahayana
in origin, but is discussed below under the heading of Vajrayana
Vajrayana
(also commonly referred to as "Northern Buddhism"). There are a variety of strands in Eastern Buddhism, of which "the Pure Land school of Mahayana
Mahayana
is the most widely practised today.". In most of this area however, they are fused into a single unified form of Buddhism. In Japan
Japan
in particular , they form separate denominations with the five major ones being: Nichiren
Nichiren
, peculiar to Japan; Pure Land ; Shingon, a form of Vajrayana; Tendai
Tendai
, and Zen
Zen
. In Korea, nearly all Buddhists belong to the Chogye school , which is officially Son (Zen), but with substantial elements from other traditions.

Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Traditions

Main article: Vajrayana
Vajrayana
7th-century Potala Palacein Lhasa valley symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
and is a UNESCO world heritage site.

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
Buddhahood
in just one lifetime. The practice of using mantras was adopted from Hinduism
Hinduism
, where they were first used in the Vedas
Vedas
. Tantric Buddhism
Buddhism
is largely concerned with ritual and meditative practices.

Various classes of Vajrayana
Vajrayana
literature developed as a result of royal courts sponsoring both Buddhism
Buddhism
and Saivism . The Mañjusrimulakalpa , which later came to classified under Kriyatantra , states that mantras taught in the Saiva, Garuda and Vaisnava tantras will be effective if applied by Buddhists since they were all taught originally by Manjushri
Manjushri
. The Guhyasiddhi of Padmavajra, a work associated with the Guhyasamaja tradition , prescribes acting as a Saiva guru and initiating members into Saiva Siddhanta scriptures and mandalas. The Samvara tantra texts adopted the pitha list from the Saiva text _Tantrasadbhava_, introducing a copying error where a deity was mistaken for a place.

Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
preserves the Vajrayana
Vajrayana
teachings of eighth-century India. Tantric Buddhism
Buddhism
is largely concerned with ritual and meditative practices. A central feature of Buddhist Tantra
Tantra
is deity yoga which includes visualization and identification with an enlightened yidam or meditation deity and its associated mandala . Another element of Tantra
Tantra
is the need for ritual initiation or empowerment (abhiṣeka) by a Guru
Guru
or Lama
Lama
. Some Tantras like the Guhyasamāja Tantrafeatures new forms of antinomian ritual practice such as the use taboo substances like alcohol, sexual yoga , and charnel ground practices which evoke wrathful deities .

Zen

Main article: Zen
Zen
Ginkaku-ji
Ginkaku-ji
, a Zen
Zen
temple in Kyoto
Kyoto
, Japan
Japan

Zen
Zen
Buddhism
Buddhism
(禅), pronounced _Chán _ in Chinese, _seon_ in Korean or _zen_ in Japanese (derived from the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
term _dhyāna_, meaning "meditation") is a form of Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism
Buddhism
found in China, Korea and Japan. It lays special emphasis on meditation, and direct discovery of the Buddha-nature.

Zen
Zen
Buddhism
Buddhism
is divided into two main schools: Rinzai
Rinzai
(臨済宗) and Sōtō
Sōtō
(曹洞宗), the former greatly favouring the use in meditation on the koan (公案, a meditative riddle or puzzle) as a device for spiritual break-through, and the latter (while certainly employing koans) focusing more on _shikantaza _ or "just sitting".

Zen
Zen
Buddhism
Buddhism
is primarily found in Japan, with some presence in South Korea and Vietnam. The scholars of Japanese Soto Zen
Zen
tradition in recent times have critiqued the mainstream Japanese Buddhism
Buddhism
for _dhatu-vada_, that is assuming things have substantiality, a view they assert to be non-Buddhist and "out of tune with the teachings of non-Self and conditioned arising", states Peter Harvey.

BUDDHISM TODAY

Main article: Buddhism by country
Buddhism by country
Buryat Buddhist monk
Buddhist monk
in Siberia
Siberia

There is growing worldwide interest in Buddhism.

Buddhism
Buddhism
has spread across the world, and Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts
are increasingly translated into local languages. While in the West Buddhism
Buddhism
is often seen as exotic and progressive, in the East it is regarded as familiar and traditional. In countries such as Cambodia and Bhutan
Bhutan
, it is recognized as the state religion and receives government support. In certain regions such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, Buddhist monuments have been targets of violence and destruction. Buddhas of Bamiyan, Afghanistan in 1896 (top) and after destruction in 2001 by the Taliban
Taliban
Islamists

Modern influences increasingly lead to new forms of Buddhism
Buddhism
that are diverse and that significantly depart from traditional beliefs and practices. A number of modern movements or tendencies in Buddhism emerged during the second half of the 20th century, including the Dalit Buddhist movement, Engaged Buddhism, and the further development of various Western Buddhist traditions.

Modern Buddhist movements include Won Buddhismin Korea, the Dhammakaya movementin Thailand
Thailand
and several Japanese organizations, such as Shinnyo-en, Risshō Kōsei-kai or Soka Gakkai
Soka Gakkai
.

DEMOGRAPHICS

Buddhism
Buddhism
is practiced 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. Percentage of Buddhists by country, according to the Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center
, as of 2010

China
China
is the country with the largest population of Buddhists, approximately 244 million or 18.2% of its total population. They are mostly followers of Chinese schools of _ Mahayana
Mahayana
_, making this the largest body of Buddhist traditions. Mahayana, also practiced in broader East Asia
Asia
, is followed by over half of world Buddhists.

According to a demographic analysis reported by Peter Harvey (2013): _Mahayana_ has 360 million adherents; _ Theravada
Theravada
_ has 150 million adherents; and _ Vajrayana
Vajrayana
_ has 18.2 million adherents.

According to Johnson and Grim (2013), Buddhism
Buddhism
has grown from a total of 138 million adherents in 1910, of which 137 million were in Asia
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
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
Buddhism
is the dominant religion in Bhutan
Bhutan
, Burma , Cambodia
Cambodia
, Tibet , Laos
Laos
, Mongolia
Mongolia
, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
and Thailand
Thailand
. Large Buddhist populations live in China
China
(18.2%), Japan
Japan
(36.2%), Taiwan (35%), Macau (17%), North Korea (13.8%), Nepal (10.7%), Vietnam (10%), Singapore
Singapore
(33%), Hong Kong (15%) and South Korea (22.9%).

After China
China
where nearly half of the worldwide Buddhists live, the 10 countries with the largest Buddhist population densities are:

Buddhism
Buddhism
by percentage as of 2010 COUNTRY ESTIMATED BUDDHIST POPULATION BUDDHISTS AS % OF TOTAL POPULATION

Cambodia
Cambodia
13,701,660 96.90%

Thailand
Thailand
64,419,840 93.20%

Burma 38,415,960 80.10%

Bhutan
Bhutan
563,000 74.70%

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
14,455,980 69.30%

Laos
Laos
4,092,000 66.00%

Mongolia
Mongolia
1,520,760 55.10%

Japan
Japan
45,807,480 or 84,653,000 36.20% or 67%

Singapore
Singapore
1,725,510 33.90%

Taiwan
Taiwan
4,945,600 or 8,000,000 21.10% or 35%

China
China
185,000,000+ 15.87%

SEE ALSO

* Book: Buddhism
Buddhism

* Buddhism
Buddhism
portal

* Outline of Buddhism
Outline of Buddhism
* Buddhism by country
Buddhism by country
* Buddhism and science * Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion
* Easily confused Buddhist representations * Iconography of Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha
in Laos
Laos
and Thailand
Thailand
* Index of Buddhism-related articles * Indian religions
Indian religions
* List of books related to Buddhism * List of Buddhist temples * Nonviolence
Nonviolence
* Criticism of Buddhism

NOTES

* ^ "Buddhism". (2009). In _ Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
_. Retrieved November 26, 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
Online Library Edition

* ^ According to Peter Harvey, early Buddhist schools already had this concept, and they identified three types of practitioners:

* _Sammasambuddha _, a perfect and completely awakened Buddha
Buddha
such as Gotama, who also teaches; * _Paccekabuddha _, a solitary awakened one who learns by his own effort and teaches in a minimal way; these include sages who lived prior to Gotama; * _ Sāvakabuddha_, an awakened disciple or Arahat who learns from a perfect Buddha
Buddha
such as Gotama.

* ^ Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts
such as the Jataka talesof the Theravada Buddhist tradition, and early biographies such as the _ Buddhacarita_, the Lokottaravādin _ Mahāvastu_, the Sarvāstivādin _Lalitavistara Sūtra _, give different accounts about the life of the Buddha; many include stories of his many rebirths, and some add significant embellishments. Keown and Prebish state, "In the past, modern scholars have generally accepted 486 or 483 BCE for this , but the consensus is now that they rest on evidence which is too flimsy. Scholars are hesitant to make unqualified claims about the historical facts of the Buddha's life. Most accept that he lived, taught and founded a monastic order, but do not consistently accept all of the details contained in his biographies." * ^ The exact identity of this ancient place is unclear. Please see Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha
article for various sites identified. * ^ Bihar
Bihar
is derived from _Vihara_, which means monastery. * ^ Other details about Buddha'a background are contested in modern scholarship. For example, Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts
assert that Buddha
Buddha
described himself as a _kshatriya_ (warrior class), but states Gombrich, little is known about his father and there is no proof that his father even knew the term _kshatriya_. Mahavira, whose teachings helped establish another major ancient religion Jainism
Jainism
, is also claimed to be _ksatriya_ by his early followers. Further, early texts of both Jainism
Jainism
and Buddhism
Buddhism
suggest they emerged in a period of urbanization in ancient India, one with city nobles and prospering urban centers, states, agricultural surplus, trade and introduction of money. * ^ Doubts about the historicity of these claims in early Buddhist texts have emerged in modern scholarship because later Buddhist texts do not mention that Buddha
Buddha
learnt these concepts from more ancient teachers. According to Alexander Wynne, the evidence suggests that Buddha
Buddha
studied under various teachers and they "almost certainly" taught him, but the details of his education are unclear. * ^ The Theravada
Theravada
tradition traces its origins as the oldest tradition holding the Pali
Pali
Canon as the only authority, Mahayana tradition revers the Canon but also the derivative literature that developed in the 1st millennum CE and its roots are traceable to the 1st century BCE, while Vajrayana
Vajrayana
tradition is closer to the Mahayana, includes Tantra, is the younger of the three and traceable to the 1st millennium CE.

* ^ On samsara, rebirth and redeath: * Paul Williams: "All rebirth is due to karma and is impermanent. Short of attaining enlightenment, in each rebirth one is born and dies, to be reborn elsewhere in accordance with the completely impersonal causal nature of one's own karma. The endless cycle of birth, rebirth, and redeath, is samsara." * Buswell and Lopez on "rebirth": "An English term that does not have an exact correlate in Buddhist languages, rendered instead by a range of technical terms, such as the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
PUNARJANMAN (lit. "birth again") and PUNABHAVAN (lit. "re-becoming"), and, less commonly, the related PUNARMRTYU (lit. "redeath")."

See also Perry Schmidt-Leukel (2006) pages 32–34, John J. Makransky (1997) p.27. for the use of the term "redeath." The term _Agatigati_ or _Agati gati_ (plus a few other terms) is generally translated as 'rebirth, redeath'; see any Pali-English dictionary; e.g. pages 94–95 of Rhys Davids Ajahn
Ajahn
Sumedho (ebook); Rahula (1974); etc.

* ^ Ending rebirth: * Graham Harvey: "The Third Noble Truth is nirvana. The Buddha
Buddha
tells us that an end to suffering is possible, and it is nirvana. Nirvana
Nirvana
is a "blowing out," just as a candle flame is extinguished in the wind, from our lives in samsara. It connotes an end to rebirth" * Spiro: "The Buddhis message then, as I have said, is not simply a psychological message, i.e. that desire is the cause of suffering because unsatisfied desire produces frustration. It does contain such a message to be sure; but more importantly it is an eschatological message. Desire is the cause of suffering because desire is the cause of rebirth; and the extinction of desire leads to deliverance from suffering because it signals release from the Wheel of Rebirth." * John J. Makransky: "The third noble truth, cessation (_nirodha_) or nirvana, represented the ultimate aim of Buddhist practice in the Abhidharma
Abhidharma
traditions: the state free from the conditions that created samsara. Nirvana
Nirvana
was the ultimate and final state attained when the supramundane yogic path had been completed. It represented salvation from samsara precisely because it was understood to comprise a state of complete freedom from the chain of samsaric causes and conditions, i.e., precisely because it was unconditioned (_asamskrta_)." * Walpola Rahula: "Let us consider a few definitions and descriptions of Nirvana
Nirvana
as found in the original Pali
Pali
texts 'It is the complete cessation of that very thirst (tanha), giving it up, renouncing it, emancipation from it, detachment from it.' 'The abandoning and destruction of craving for these Five Aggregates of Attachment: that is the cessation of _dukkha_. 'The Cessation of Continuity and becoming (_Bhavanirodha_) is Nibbana.'" * ^ Earlier Buddhist texts refer to five realms rather than six realms; when described as five realms, the god realm and demi-god realm constitute a single realm. * ^ This merit gaining may be on the behalf of one's family members.

* ^ The realms in which a being is reborn are:

* Naraka : beings believed in Buddhism
Buddhism
to suffer in one of many Narakas (Hells); * Preta
Preta
: sometimes sharing some space with humans, but invisible; an important variety is the hungry ghost ; * Tiryag (animals): existence as an animal along with humans; this realm is traditionally thought in Buddhism
Buddhism
to be similar to a hellish realm because animals are believed to be driven by impulse; they prey on each other and suffer. * Manusya (human beings): one of the realms of rebirth in which attaining Nirvana
Nirvana
is possible; A rebirth in this realm is therefore considered as fortunate and an opportunity to end the endless Samsara and associated Dukkha. * Asuras : variously translated as lowly deities, demi-gods, demons, titans, or anti-gods; recognized in Theravada
Theravada
tradition as part of the heavenly realm; * Devas including Brahmās : variously translated as gods, deities, angels, or heavenly beings. The vast majority of Buddhist lay people have historically pursued Buddhist rituals and practices motivated by rebirth into the Deva realm.

* ^ Diseases and suffering induced by the disruptive actions of other people are examples of non-karma suffering. * ^ The emphasis on intent in Buddhism
Buddhism
marks its difference from the karma theory of Jainism
Jainism
where karma accumulates with or without intent. The emphasis on intent is also found in Hinduism, and Buddhism
Buddhism
may have influenced karma theories of Hinduism. * ^ This Buddhist idea may have roots in the _quid-pro-quo_ exchange beliefs of the Hindu Vedic rituals. The "karma merit transfer" concept has been controversial, not accepted in later Jainism
Jainism
and Hinduism
Hinduism
traditions, unlike Buddhism
Buddhism
where it was adopted in ancient times and remains a common practice. According to Bruce Reichenbach, the "merit transfer" idea was generally absent in early Buddhism
Buddhism
and may have emerged with the rise of Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism; he adds that while major Hindu schools such as Yoga, Advaita Vedanta and others do not believe in merit transfer, some bhakti Hindu traditions later adopted the idea just like Buddhism. * ^ Another variant, which may be condensed to the eightfold or tenfold path, starts with a Tathagatha entering this world. A layman hears his teachings, decides to leave the life of a householder, starts living according to the moral precepts, guards his sense-doors, practices mindfulness and the four jhanas, gains the three knowledges, understands the Four Noble Truthsand destroys the taints , and perceives that he's liberated. * ^ The early Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism
Buddhism
texts link their discussion of "emptiness" (_shunyata_) to _Anatta_ and _Nirvana_. They do so, states Mun-Keat Choong, in three ways: first, in the common sense of a monk's meditative state of emptiness; second, with the main sense of _Anatta_ or 'everything in the world is empty of self'; third, with the ultimate sense of _Nirvana_ or realization of emptiness and thus an end to rebirth cycles of suffering. * ^ Some scholars such as Cousins and Sangharakshita translate _apranaihita_ as "aimlessness or directionless-ness". * ^ These descriptions of nirvana in Buddhist texts, states Peter Harvey, are contested by scholars because nirvana in Buddhism
Buddhism
is ultimately described as a state of "stopped consciousness (blown out), but one that is not non-existent", and "it seems impossible to imagine what awareness devoid of any object would be like". * ^ Scholars note that better rebirth, not nirvana, has been the primary focus of a vast majority of lay Buddhists. This they attempt through merit accumulation and good _kamma_. * ^ All eight precepts are sometimes observed by lay people on _poya_ – full moon, new moon and half moon days on a lunar calendar believed to be holier. * ^ This, states Richard Gombrich, means sleep on a mat on the ground. * ^ The hundreds of rules vary by the _sangha_; 11th-century Chinese monastic texts include rules such as only reciting Buddha's Holy Words alone, not near commonplace people; not eating prohibited foods such as meat, fish, cheese, onions, garlic, animal fat; abstain from anything that can lead to sensual thoughts; think of all sentient beings as a newborn baby to develop feelings of compassion, etc. * ^ Williams refers to Frauwallner (1973) p.155 * ^ Many ancient Upanishads of Hinduism
Hinduism
describe yoga and meditation as a means to liberation. * ^ The state is described in a number of additional characteristics in different Buddhist texts. For example, success in the First Dhyana leads to a gem-like outer light emanating from the body, according to _Samahitabhumi_ by Asanga; the nature of emanating light from one's body changes as the meditation successfully progresses from the first to the fourth Dhyana. * ^ Gombrich: "I know this is controversial, but it seems to me that the third and fourth jhanas are thus quite unlike the second." * ^ Wynne: "Thus the expression _sato sampajāno_ in the third _jhāna_ must denote a state of awareness different from the meditative absorption of the second _jhāna_ (_cetaso ekodibhāva_). It suggests that the subject is doing something different from remaining in a meditative state, i.e., that he has come out of his absorption and is now once again aware of objects. The same is true of the word _upek(k)hā_: it does not denote an abstract 'equanimity', it means to be aware of something and indifferent to it The third and fourth _jhāna-s_, as it seems to me, describe the process of directing states of meditative absorption towards the mindful awareness of objects." * ^ According to Gombrich, "the later tradition has falsified the jhana by classifying them as the quintessence of the concentrated, calming kind of meditation, ignoring the other – and indeed higher – element." * ^ The problem was famously voiced in 1936 by Louis de La Vallee Poussin, in his text _Musila et Narada: Le Chemin de Nirvana_. See Louis de La Vallée Poussin, _Musial and Narad_. Translated from the French by Gelongma Migme Chödrön and Gelong Lodrö Sangpo.

* ^ Schmithausen:

* The four Rupa Jhanas themselves constituted the core liberating practice of early buddhism, c.q. the Buddha; * Mastering the four Rupa Jhanas, where-after "liberating insight" is attained; * Mastering the four Rupa Jhanas and the four Arupa Jhanas, where-after "liberating insight" is attained.

* ^ _A_ _B_ On Vetter and dhyana, see, for example, Vetter 1988:

* page xxvii: "Originally this that state of pure equanimity and awareness"] may have been the only ground of an experience of release." * page xxviii: "Incidentally, this state of pure equanimity and awareness may also have been the origin of the method of discriminating insight." * page xxviii–xxix: "In order to solve a very practical way." * page xxxiii: "an older stage of the same path to salvation ends in the right samadhi,"

* ^ The Buddha
Buddha
never claimed that the "four immeasurables" were his unique ideas, in a manner similar to "cessation, quieting, nirvana". The Buddhist scripture _ Digha Nikaya_ II.251 asserts the Buddha
Buddha
to be calling the Brahmaviharaas "that practice", and he then contrasts it with "my practice".

* ^ Tillmann Vetter: "Very likely the cause was the growing influence of a non-Buddhist spiritual environment·which claimed that one can be released only by some truth or higher knowledge. In addition the alternative (and perhaps sometimes competing) method of discriminating insight (fully established after the introduction of the four noble truths) seemed to conform so well to this claim."

According to Bronkhorst, this happened under influence of the "mainstream of meditation," that is, Vedic-Brahmanical oriented groups, which believed that the cessation of action could not be liberating, since action can never be fully stopped. Their solution was to postulate a fundamental difference between the inner soul or self and the body. The inner self is unchangeable, and unaffected by actions. By insight into this difference, one was liberated. To equal this emphasis on insight, Buddhists presented insight into their most essential teaching as equally liberating. What exactly was regarded as the central insight "varied along with what was considered most central to the teaching of the Buddha." * ^ Wayman and Wayman have disagreed with this view, and they state that the _Tathagatagarbha_ is neither self nor sentient being, nor soul, nor personality. * ^ While some scholars suggest that Buddhism
Buddhism
may have developed as a social reform to the Vedic religion, other scholars such as Gombrich suggest that Buddha
Buddha
"should not be seen as a social reformer", because his concern was "to reform individuals, help them to leave society forever, not to reform the world... he never preached against social inequality". The philosophical roots of Buddhism
Buddhism
and related ideologies in ancient India, states Gombrich, was the spiritual salvation of man. * ^ The surviving portions of the scriptures of Sarvastivada, Mulasarvastivada
Mulasarvastivada
, Mahīśāsaka, Dharmaguptaka
Dharmaguptaka
and other schools, and the Chinese Agamas and other surviving portions of other early canons. * ^ Exemplary studies are the study on descriptions of "liberating insight" by Lambert Schmithausen, the overview of early Buddhism
Buddhism
by Tilmann Vetter, the philological work on the four truths by K.R. Norman, the textual studies by Richard Gombrich, and the research on early meditation methods by Johannes Bronkhorst. * ^ Well-known proponents of the first position are A. K. Warder
A. K. Warder
and Richard Gombrich
Richard Gombrich
. * ^ A proponent of the second position is Ronald Davidson. * ^ Well-known proponents of the third position are J.W. de Jong, Johannes Bronkhorst and Donald Lopez. * ^ According to Schmithausen, "the karma doctrine may have been incidental to early Buddhist soteriology." * ^ Vetter: "I am especially thinking here of MN 26 (I p.163,32; 165,15;166,35) _kimkusalagavesi anuttaram santivarapadam pariyesamano_ (searching for that which is beneficial, seeking the unsurpassable, best place of peace) and again MN 26 (passim), _anuttaramyagakkhemam nibbiinam pariyesati_ (he seeks the unsurpassable safe place, the nirvana). _Anuppatta-sadattho_ (one who has reached the right goal) is also a vague positive expression in the Arhatformula in MN 35 (I p, 235), see chapter 2, footnote 3, Furthermore, _satthi_ (welfare) is important in e.g. SN 2.12 or 2.17 or Sn 269; and _sukha_ and _rati_ (happiness), in contrast to other places, as used in Sn 439 and 956. The oldest term was perhaps _amata_ (immortal, immortality) but one could say here that it is a negative term." * ^ " Abhidhamma
Abhidhamma
Pitaka." Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008 * ^ Anthony Barber and Sree Padma note that "historians of Buddhist thought have been aware for quite some time that such pivotally important Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhist thinkers as Nagarjuna
Nagarjuna
, Dignāga
Dignāga
, Chandrakirti, Aryadeva
Aryadeva
, and Bhāviveka, among many others, formulated their theories while living in Buddhist communities in Āndhra." They note that the ancient Buddhist sites in the lower Kṛṣṇa Valley, including Amaravati , Nāgārjunakoṇḍā and Jaggayyapeṭa "can be traced to at least the third century BCE, if not earlier." * ^ "The most important evidence — in fact the only evidence — for situating the emergence of the Mahayana
Mahayana
around the beginning of the common era was not Indian evidence at all, but came from China. Already by the last quarter of the 2nd century CE, there was a small, seemingly idiosyncratic collection of substantial Mahayana
Mahayana
sutras translated into what Erik Zürchercalls 'broken Chinese' by an Indoscythian, whose Indian name has been reconstructed as Lokaksema." * ^ "The south (of India) was then vigorously creative in producing Mahayana
Mahayana
Sutras" Warder * ^ See Hill (2009), p. 30, for the Chinese text from the _Hou Hanshu _, and p. 31 for a translation of it. * ^ (Harvey 1990),(Gombrich,1984); Gethin (1998), pp. 1–2, identifies "three broad traditions" as: (1) "The Theravāda tradition of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
and South-East Asia, also sometimes referred to as 'southern' Buddhism"; (2) "The East Asian tradition of China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, also sometimes referred to as 'eastern' Buddhism"; and, (3) "The Tibetan tradition, also sometimes referred to as 'northern' Buddhism."; Robinson and, Part Two is entitled "The Development of Buddhism
Buddhism
Outside of India" with chapters on "The Buddhism
Buddhism
of Southeast Asia", " Buddhism
Buddhism
in the Tibetan Culture Area", "East Asian Buddhism" and " Buddhism
Buddhism
Comes West"; _Penguin Handbook of Living Religions_, 1984, page 279; Prebish Buswell (2003), Vol. I, p. 82; and, Keown & Prebish (2004), p. 107. See also, Gombrich (1988/2002), p. 32: “…he best we can say is that was probably Enlightened between 550 and 450, more likely later rather than earlier." * ^ Williams (2000, pp. 6-7) writes: "As a matter of fact Buddhism in mainland India
India
itself had all but ceased to exist by the thirteenth century CE, although by that time it had spread to Tibet, China, Japan, and Southeast Asia." (Originally 1958), "Chronology," p. xxix: "c. 1000-1200: Buddhism
Buddhism
disappears as organized religious force in India." See also, Robinson and, Harvey (1990/2007), pp. 139-40. * ^ According to Charles S. Prebish: "Although a variety of Zen 'schools' developed in Japan, they all emphasize Zen
Zen
as a teaching that does not depend on sacred texts, that provides the potential for direct realization, that the realization attained is none other than the Buddha
Buddha
nature possessed by each sentient being ...". * ^ Prebish comments (op. cit., p. 244): "It presumes that _sitting in meditation itself_ (i.e. _zazen _) is an expression of Buddha nature." The method is to detach the mind from conceptual modes of thinking and perceive Reality directly. Speaking of Zen
Zen
in general, Buddhist scholar Stephen Hodge writes: "... practitioners of Zen believe that Enlightenment, the awakening of the Buddha-mind or Buddha-nature, is our natural state, but has been covered over by layers of negative emotions and distorted thoughts. According to this view, Enlightenment is not something that we must acquire a bit at a time, but a state that can occur instantly when we cut through the dense veil of mental and emotional obscurations." * ^ This is a contested number. Official numbers from the Chinese government are lower, while other surveys are higher. According to Katharina Wenzel-Teuber, in non-government surveys, "49 percent of self-claimed non-believers held some religious beliefs, such as believing in soul reincarnation, heaven, hell, or supernatural forces. Thus the 'pure atheists' make up only about 15 percent of the sample ."

_Subnotes_

* ^ The realms of rebirths in Buddhism
Buddhism
are further subdivided into 31 planes of existence. Rebirths in some of the higher heavens, known as the Śuddhāvāsa Worlds or Pure Abodes, can be attained only by skilled Buddhist practitioners known as anāgāmis (non-returners). Rebirths in the Ārūpyadhātu (formless realms) can be attained by only those who can meditate on the arūpajhānas , the highest object of meditation. * ^ According to A.K. Warder, in his 1970 publication "Indian Buddhism", from the oldest extant texts a common kernel can be drawn out. According to Warder, c.q. his publisher: "This kernel of doctrine is presumably common Buddhism
Buddhism
of the period before the great schisms of the fourth and third centuries BC. It may be substantially the Buddhism
Buddhism
of the Buddha
Buddha
himself, although this cannot be proved: at any rate it is a Buddhism
Buddhism
presupposed by the schools as existing about a hundred years after the parinirvana of the Buddha, and there is no evidence to suggest that it was formulated by anyone else than the Buddha
Buddha
and his immediate followers." * ^ Richard Gombrich: "I have the greatest difficulty in accepting that the main edifice is not the work of a single genius. By "the main edifice" I mean the collections of the main body of sermons, the four Nikāyas, and of the main body of monastic rules." * ^ Ronald Davidson: "While most scholars agree that there was a rough body of sacred literature (disputed)(sic) that a relatively early community (disputed)(sic) maintained and transmitted, we have little confidence that much, if any, of surviving Buddhist scripture is actually the word of the historic Buddha." * ^ J.W. De Jong: "It would be hypocritical to assert that nothing can be said about the doctrine of earliest Buddhism
Buddhism
the basic ideas of Buddhism
Buddhism
found in the canonical writings could very well have been proclaimed by him , transmitted and developed by his disciples and, finally, codified in fixed formulas." * ^ Bronkhorst: "This position is to be preferred to (ii) for purely methodological reasons: only those who seek nay find, even if no success is guaranteed." * ^ Lopez: "The original teachings of the historical Buddha
Buddha
are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to recover or reconstruct."

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* ^ Christmas Humphreys (2012). _Exploring Buddhism_. Routledge. pp. 42–43. ISBN 978-1-136-22877-3 . Gombrich (2006), page 47, QUOTE: "(...) Buddha's teaching that beings have no soul, no abiding essence. This 'no-soul doctrine' (anatta-vada) he expounded in his second sermon." * ^ Anatta, Encyclopædia Britannica
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Buddhism
shares with Hinduism
Hinduism
the doctrine of Samsara, whereby all beings pass through an unceasing cycle of birth, death and rebirth until they find a means of liberation from the cycle. However, Buddhism
Buddhism
differs from Hinduism
Hinduism
in rejecting the assertion that every human being possesses a changeless soul which constitutes his or her ultimate identity, and which transmigrates from one incarnation to the next.. * ^ _A_ _B_ Wilson 2010 . * ^ McClelland 2010 , pp. 172, 240. * ^ Williams, Tribe & Wynne 2012 , pp. 18–19, chapter 1. * ^ Conze 2013 , p. 71, QUOTE: " Nirvana
Nirvana
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* ^ Christmas Humphreys (2012). _Exploring Buddhism_. Routledge. pp. 42–43. ISBN 978-1-136-22877-3 . Brian Morris (2006). _ Religion
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and Anthropology: A Critical Introduction_. Cambridge University Press. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-521-85241-8 . , QUOTE: "(...) anatta is the doctrine of non-self, and is an exteme empiricist doctrine that holds that the notion of an unchanging permanent self is a fiction and has no reality. According to Buddhist doctrine, the individual person consists of five skandhas or heaps – the body, feelings, perceptions, impulses and consciousness. The belief in a self or soul, over these five skandhas, is illusory and the cause of suffering." Gombrich (2006), page 47, QUOTE: "(...) Buddha's teaching that beings have no soul, no abiding essence. This 'no-soul doctrine' (anatta-vada) he expounded in his second sermon." * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Buswell & Lopez 2003 , pp. 708–709. * ^ _A_ _B_ Ronald Wesley Neufeldt (1986). _ Karma
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that things originate in dependence upon causal conditioning, and this emphasis on causality describes the central feature of Buddhist ontology. All elements of samsara exist in some sense or another relative to their causes and conditions.. * ^ Robert Neville (2004). Jeremiah Hackett, ed. _Philosophy of Religion
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for a New Century: Essays in Honor of Eugene Thomas Long_. Jerald Wallulis. Springer. p. 257. ISBN 978-1-4020-2073-5 . , Quote: " that nothing in reality has its own-being and that all phenomena reduce to the relativities of pratitya samutpada. The Buddhist ontological hypothesese deny that there is any ontologically ultimate object such a God, Brahman, the Dao, or any transcendent creative source or principle." * ^ Gethin 1998 , pp. 153–155. * ^ Guy Debrock (2012). Paul B. Scheurer, ed. _Newton\'s Scientific and Philosophical Legacy_. G. Debrock. Springer. p. 376 with note 12. ISBN 978-94-009-2809-1 . * ^ David J. Kalupahana (1975). _Causality: The Central Philosophy of Buddhism_. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 54–60. ISBN 978-0-8248-0298-1 . * ^ Genjun Sasaki (1986). _Linguistic Approach to Buddhist Thought_. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 67–69. ISBN 978-81-208-0038-0 . * ^ Gethin 1998 , pp. 151–152. * ^ Harvey 2013 , pp. 65–72. * ^ Emmanuel 2015 , pp. 51–66. * ^ Harvey 1990 , p. 54, Quote: "The main concrete application of the abstract principle is in the form of a series of conditioned links (_nidanas_), culminating in the arising of dukkha." (...) "This states the principle of conditionality, that all things, mental and physical, arise and exist due to the presence of certain conditions, and cease once their conditions are removed: nothing (except _Nibbana_) is independent. The doctrine thus compliments the teaching that no permanent, independent self can be found.". * ^ Lindtner 1997 , p. 324. * ^ Paul Williams 2008 , pp. 103–109, 161. * ^ Hookham 1991 , pp. 100–104. * ^ Paul Williams 2008 , p. 104. * ^ Paul Williams 2008 , p. 107. * ^ Paul Williams 2008 , pp. 104–105, 108–109; QUOTE: "... refers to the Buddha
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on _anatta_. Indeed, the distinctions between the general Indian concept of _atman_ and the popular Buddhist concept of Buddha-nature
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are often blurred to the point that writers consider them to be synonymous." * ^ Paul Williams 2008 , p. 112. * ^ Hookham 1991 , p. 96. * ^ Harvey 1990 , p. 170. * ^ Trainor 2004 , pp. 84–85, 105, 108–109, 112–113, 116, 165, 185. * ^ Donald Swearer (2003), Buddhism
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Gautama Buddha
was a human being (...)".. * ^ _A_ _B_ Doris Wolter (2007). _Losing the Clouds, Gaining the Sky: Buddhism
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(2015) * ^ Kalupahana 1966 , pp. 94–105. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ Karl H. Potter (1996). _ Abhidharma
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* Worldwide Buddhist Information and Education Network, BuddhaNet * Early Buddhist texts, translations, and parallels, SuttaCetral * East Asian Buddhist Studies: A Reference Guide, Robert Buswell and William Bodiford, UCLA * Buddhist Bibliography ( China
China
and Tibet), East West Center * Ten Philosophical Questions: Buddhism, Richard Hayes, Leiden University * Readings in Theravada
Theravada
Buddhism, Access to Insight * Readings in Zen
Zen
Buddhism, Hakuin Ekaku (Ed: Monika Bincsik) * Readings in Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Buddhist Canon, Nagarjuna
Nagarjuna
Institute – UWest * Readings in Buddhism, Vipassana
Vipassana