BBC - Religions - Buddhism: Tibetan Buddhism
Buddhism is a spiritual tradition that focuses on personal spiritual development Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Burma (Myanmar), and Mahayana Buddhism, It is not centred on the relationship between humanity and God. Although Tibetan Buddhism is often thought to be identical with or "Lama"; preoccupation with the relationship between life and death. RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER RELIGIONS: What is the prescribed manner in which Mahayana Buddhist believe that the right path of a follower will lead to the .. Since earliest times a common expression of faith for laity and members of the.
Presided over by a monk named Mahakasyapa, its purpose was to recite and agree on the Buddha's actual teachings and on proper monastic discipline. About a century later, a second great council is said to have met at Vaishali.
Its purpose was to deal with ten questionable monastic practices—the use of money, the drinking of palm wine, and other irregularities—of monks from the Vajjian Confederacy; the council declared these practices unlawful. Some scholars trace the origins of the first major split in Buddhism to this event, holding that the accounts of the council refer to the schism between the Mahasanghikas, or Great Assembly, and the stricter Sthaviras, or Elders.
More likely, however, the split between these two groups became formalized at another meeting held some 37 years later as a result of the continued growth of tensions within the sangha over disciplinary issues, the role of the laity, and the nature of the arhat. In time, further subdivisions within these groups resulted in 18 schools that differed on philosophical matters, religious questions, and points of discipline.
Of these 18 traditional sects, only Theravada survives. Convened by the monk Moggaliputta Tissa, it was held in order to purify the sangha of the large number of false monks and heretics who had joined the order because of its royal patronage. This council refuted the offending viewpoints and expelled those who held them.
In the process, the compilation of the Buddhist scriptures Tipitaka was supposedly completed, with the addition of a body of subtle philosophy abhidharma to the doctrine dharma and monastic discipline vinaya that had been recited at the first council.
Another result of the third council was the dispatch of missionaries to various countries. Both branches of Buddhism may have participated in this council, which aimed at creating peace among the various sects, but Theravada Buddhists refuse to recognize its authenticity.
Formation of Buddhist Literature For several centuries after the death of the Buddha, the scriptural traditions recited at the councils were transmitted orally. These were finally committed to writing about the 1st century BC. Some early schools used Sanskrit for their scriptural language.
Although individual texts are extant, no complete canon has survived in Sanskrit. In contrast, the full canon of the Theravadins survives in Pali, which was apparently a popular dialect derived from Sanskrit. The Buddhist canon is known in Pali as the Tipitaka Tripitaka in Sanskritmeaning "Three Baskets," because it consists of three collections of writings: The Sutta Pitaka is primarily composed of dialogues between the Buddha and other people.
It consists of five groups of texts: In the fifth group, the Jatakas, comprising stories of former lives of the Buddha, and the Dhammapada Religious Sentencesa summary of the Buddha's teachings on mental discipline and morality, are especially popular.
The Vinaya Pitaka consists of more than rules governing the conduct of Buddhist monks and nuns. Each is accompanied by a story explaining the original reason for the rule.
The rules are arranged according to the seriousness of the offense resulting from their violation. The Abhidharma Pitaka consists of seven separate works. They include detailed classifications of psychological phenomena, metaphysical analysis, and a thesaurus of technical vocabulary. Although technically authoritative, the texts in this collection have little influence on the lay Buddhist. The complete canon, much expanded, also exists in Tibetan and Chinese versions.
The Milindapanha dates from about the 2nd century AD. It is in the form of a dialogue dealing with a series of fundamental problems in Buddhist thought. The Visuddhimagga is the masterpiece of the most famous of Buddhist commentators, Buddhaghosa flourished early 5th century AD. It is a large compendium summarizing Buddhist thought and meditative practice.
Theravada Buddhists have traditionally considered the Tipitaka to be the remembered words of Siddhartha Gautama. Mahayana Buddhists have not limited their scriptures to the teachings of this historical figure, however, nor has Mahayana ever bound itself to a closed canon of sacred writings. Various scriptures have thus been authoritative for different branches of Mahayana at various periods of history. Among the more important Mahayana scriptures are the following: Conflict and New Groupings As Buddhism developed in its early years, conflicting interpretations of the master's teachings appeared, resulting in the traditional 18 schools of Buddhist thought.
As a group, these schools eventually came to be considered too conservative and literal minded in their attachment to the master's message. Among them, Theravada was charged with being too individualistic and insufficiently concerned with the needs of the laity.
Such dissatisfaction led a liberal wing of the sangha to begin to break away from the rest of the monks at the second council in BC. While the more conservative monks continued to honor the Buddha as a perfectly enlightened human teacher, the liberal Mahasanghikas developed a new concept.
They considered the Buddha an eternal, omnipresent, transcendental being. They speculated that the human Buddha was but an apparition of the transcendental Buddha that was created for the benefit of humankind. In this understanding of the Buddha nature, Mahasanghika thought is something of a prototype of Mahayana.
Mahayana The origins of Mahayana are particularly obscure. Even the names of its founders are unknown, and scholars disagree about whether it originated in southern or in northwestern India. Its formative years were between the 2nd century BC AD. Speculation about the eternal Buddha continued well after the beginning of the Christian era and culminated in the Mahayana doctrine of his threefold nature, or triple "body" trikaya. These aspects are the body of essence, the body of communal bliss, and the body of transformation.
Mahayana - Wikipedia
The body of essence represents the ultimate nature of the Buddha. Beyond form, it is the unchanging absolute and is spoken of as consciousness or the void.
This essential Buddha nature manifests itself, taking on heavenly form as the body of communal bliss. In this form the Buddha sits in godlike splendor, preaching in the heavens. Lastly, the Buddha nature appears on earth in human form to convert humankind. Such an appearance is known as a body of transformation. The Buddha has taken on such an appearance countless times.
Mahayana considers the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, only one example of the body of transformation. The new Mahayana concept of the Buddha made possible concepts of divine grace and ongoing revelation that are lacking in Theravada. Belief in the Buddha's heavenly manifestations led to the development of a significant devotional strand in Mahayana. Some scholars have therefore described the early development of Mahayana in terms of the "Hinduization" of Buddhism.
Another important new concept in Mahayana is that of the bodhisattva or enlightenment being, as the ideal toward which the good Buddhist should aspire. A bodhisattva is an individual who has attained perfect enlightenment but delays entry into final nirvana in order to make possible the salvation of all other sentient beings. The bodhisattva transfers merit built up over many lifetimes to less fortunate creatures.
The key attributes of this social saint are compassion and loving-kindness. For this reason Mahayana considers the bodhisattva superior to the arhats who represent the ideal of Theravada. Certain bodhisattvas, such as Maitreya, who represents the Buddha's loving-kindness, and Avalokitesvara or Guanyin, who represents his compassion, have become the focus of popular devotional worship in Mahayana.
Similar to Hindu Tantrism, which arose about the same time, Buddhist Tantrism differs from Mahayana in its strong emphasis on sacramental action. Also known as Vajrayana, the Diamond Vehicle, Tantrism is an esoteric tradition. Its initiation ceremonies involve entry into a mandala, a mystic circle or symbolic map of the spiritual universe.
Also important in Tantrism is the use of mudras, or ritual gestures, and mantras, or sacred syllables, which are repeatedly chanted and used as a focus for meditation. Vajrayana became the dominant form of Buddhism in Tibet and was also transmitted through China to Japan, where it continues to be practiced by the Shingon sect.
From India Outward Buddhism spread rapidly throughout the land of its birth. Missionaries dispatched by King Ashoka introduced the religion to southern India and to the northwest part of the subcontinent. According to inscriptions from the Ashokan period, missionaries were sent to countries along the Mediterranean, although without success.
From the beginning of its history there, Theravada was the state religion of Sri Lanka. According to tradition, Theravada was carried to Myanmar from Sri Lanka during the reign of Ashoka, but no firm evidence of its presence there appears until the 5th century AD.
From Myanmar, Theravada spread to the area of modern Thailand in the 6th century. It was adopted by the Thai people when they finally entered the region from southwestern China between the 12th and 14th centuries. With the rise of the Thai Kingdom, it was adopted as the state religion. Theravada was adopted by the royal house in Laos during the 14th century. After the 14th century, however, under Thai influence, Theravada gradually replaced the older establishment as the primary religion in Cambodia.
About the beginning of the Christian era, Buddhism was carried to Central Asia. From there it entered China along the trade routes by the early 1st century AD.
Although opposed by the Confucian orthodoxy and subject to periods of persecution in, andBuddhism was able to take root, influencing Chinese culture and, in turn, adapting itself to Chinese ways.
The major influence of Chinese Buddhism ended with the great persecution ofalthough the meditative Zen, or Ch'an from Sanskrit dhyana,"meditation"sect and the devotional Pure Land sect continued to be important. From China, Buddhism continued its spread. Confucian authorities discouraged its expansion into Vietnam, but Mahayana's influence there was beginning to be felt as early as AD From this date Korea was gradually converted through Chinese influence over a period of centuries. Buddhism was carried into Japan from Korea.
It was known to the Japanese earlier, but the official date for its introduction is usually given as AD It was proclaimed the state religion of Japan in by Prince Shotoku. Buddhism was first introduced into Tibet through the influence of foreign wives of the king, beginning in the 7th century AD. By the middle of the next century, it had become a significant force in Tibetan culture.
BBC - Religions - Buddhism: Buddhism at a glance
A key figure in the development of Tibetan Buddhism was the Indian monk Padmasambhava, who arrived in Tibet in His main interest was the spread of Tantric Buddhism, which became the primary form of Buddhism in Tibet.
Indian and Chinese Buddhists vied for influence, and the Chinese were finally defeated and expelled from Tibet near the end of the 8th century. Some seven centuries later Tibetan Buddhists had adopted the idea that the abbots of its great monasteries were reincarnations of famous bodhisattvas.
The Buddhist view of love and compassion is based on the common ground shared by all sentient beings. Others are just like us, they experience pleasure and pain, they want to avoid suffering and be happy, and this is the fundamental reason which motivates us to develop love and compassion.
When we know how to practice correctly, no one is excluded from our love and compassion. Though there may be people we feel particularly close to, such as our parents or teachers, our love and compassion will also include those we perceive to be our enemies. Ultimately, we need to practice equanimity for all sentient beings, while recognising that special karmic connections exist too, and that these two aspects are not exclusive. Shakyamuni Buddha had a special connection with his wife Yasodhara, which extended over many lifetimes.
We pray that we will never be separated from our guru. In the same way, the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara maintained his special relationship with his teacher, Buddha Amitabha, who is the lord of his Buddha family. The more we feel protective of our friends, the more we automatically feel hatred towards our enemies.
If we train our minds and are able to practice loving kindness, it will turn out well. If not, that love tinged with attachment will lead to suffering. When a person has compassion, there is no sense of separation from the object of that compassion, but rather a direct experience of the problems and suffering of that other sentient being.
As the power of our compassion increases to the point that there is no difference between self and other, we are able to experience the sufferings of others physically as well as mentally. In Tibetan history, there were many stories of bodhisattvas and people who had trained in tong-len the practice of exchanging self with others and who were able to do this.
The existence of these buddhas erases the separation between samsara and nirvana inherent in the idea that buddhas cease to exist upon attaining nirvana. As depicted in many Mahayana and Vajrayana texts, this cosmology confirms that all aspirants can become buddhas.
A prominent example of this idea is the bodhisattva Dharmakarawhose vows set the conditions under which he would attain awakening and become the Buddha Amitabha Japanese: Amitabha assured his devotees entry into Sukhavati by transferring to them some of the infinite merit he acquired during eons of practice as a bodhisattva. The generation of merit has always been important in Buddhism, but the application of merit toward the acquisition of wisdom and ultimate awakening, instead of toward better future rebirths within samsara, is a Mahayana innovation.
The development of this cosmology marked a shift away from the idea that the Buddha Shakyamuni is the sole refuge or source of liberation to the view that there are multiple sources. This in turn entailed a multiplicity of objects of veneration, ranging from other buddhas, such as Amitabha and Vairocanato bodhisattvas, such as Avalokiteshvaraand eventually even to symbolic representations, such as scrolls reproducing the title of the Lotus Sutraan early Mahayana scripture, in the calligraphy of the Japanese monk Nichiren — This devotion has generated a vibrant array of visual art, with sculptures and paintings often seen as themselves empowered to aid believers.
Crucial to the Mahayana salvific vision is the doctrine of skillful means upaya. Motivated by compassion and guided by wisdom and insight, buddhas and bodhisattvas wish to lead ordinary beings to liberation. Their individually appropriate methods are beyond ordinary comprehension and may even seem deceptive, but they are justified by the superior insight of these saviours.