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{{About||the Linux distribution|Bodhi Linux|the tree|Bodhi Tree|the Star Wars character|Bodhi Rook}}{{See also|Enlightenment in Buddhism}}File:Buddha Meditating Under the Bodhi Tree, 800 C.E.jpg|thumb|Sculpture of the buddha meditating under the mahabodhi tree ]]File:Bodhi inscription.jpg|thumb|upright|The word Bodhi ("Awakening") first appears in Ashoka's Major Rock Edict No.8, in the , in the (Brahmi script]], circa 250 BCE.BOOK, Beckwith, Christopher I., Greek Buddha: Pyrrho's Encounter with Early Buddhism in Central Asia, 2015, Princeton University Press, 9781400866328, 10,weblink en, ){{Buddhism}}Bodhi ({{IPAc-en|ˈ|b|oʊ|d|i}}; Sanskrit: (wikt:बोधि#Sanskrit|बोधि); Pali: bodhi) in Buddhism traditionally is translated as enlightenment, although its literal meaning is closer to "awakening". The verbal root budh- means "to awaken."Bodhi is presented in the Nikayas as knowledge of the causal mechanism by which beings incarnate into material form and experience suffering. Although its most common usage is in the context of Buddhism, the term buddhi is also used in other Indian philosophies and traditions.


Bodhi is an abstract noun formed from the verbal root *budh- (Sanskrit: बुद्धः ("to awake, become aware, notice, know or understand") corresponding to the verbs bujjhati (Pāli) and bodhati or budhyate (Sanskrit).The feminine Sanskrit noun of *budh- is buddhi.

Soteriological meaning

The soteriological goal of Indian religions is liberation or moksha (also called mukti). Liberation is simultaneously freedom from suffering and the endless round of existences. Within the Sramanic traditions one who has attained liberation is called an arhat (Sanskrit; Pali: arahant), an honorific term meaning "worthy" acknowledging the skill and effort required to overcome the obstacles to the goal of nirvana.According to the Buddha{{Citation needed|reason=Which?|date=March 2014}} the path to liberation is one of progressively coming out of delusion (Pali: Moha). This path is therefore regarded as a path of awakening. Progressing along the path towards Nirvana one gains insight into the true nature of things. A Buddha is one who has attained liberation and an understanding of the causal mechanism by means of which sentient beings come into existence. This mechanism is called pratitya samutpada or dependent origination. The knowledge or understanding of this is called bodhi.

Buddha's awakening

In the suttapitaka, the Buddhist canon as preserved in the Theravada-tradition, a number of texts can be found in which Gautama Buddha tells about his own awakening.{{sfn|Warder|2000|p=45-50}}{{sfn|Faure|1991}}In the Vanapattha Sutta (Majjhima, chapter 17){{sfn|Bhikkhu Nanamoli|1995}} the Buddha describes life in the jungle, and the attainment of awakening. After destroying the disturbances of the mind, and perfecting concentration of mind, he attained three knowledges (vidhya):{{sfn|Warder|2000|pp=47–48}}{{sfn|Snelling|1987|p=27}}
  1. Insight into his past lives
  2. Insight into the workings of Karma and Reincarnation
  3. Insight into the Four Noble Truths
Insight into the Four Noble Truths is here called awakening.{{sfn|Warder|2000|p=47-48}} The monk (bhikkhu) has }}Awakening is also described as synonymous with Nirvana, the extinction of the passions whereby suffering is ended and no more rebirths take place.{{sfn|Warder|2000|p=49}} The insight arises that this liberation is certain:}}So awakening is insight into karma and rebirth, insight into the Four Noble Truths, the extinction of the passions whereby Nirvana is reached, and the certainty that liberation has been reached.{{sfn|Warder|2000|p=49}}

The Buddhist path

The Buddhist tradition gives a wide variety of descriptions of the Buddhist path (magga) to liberation.{{sfn|Buswell|1994|p=1-36}} Tradition describes the Buddha's awakening,{{sfn|Harvey|1995|p=21-25}} and the descriptions of the path given in the Sutta Pitaka.Samyutta Nikaya 56.11 Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta: Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in MotionDigha Nikaya 2 Samaññaphala Sutta: The Fruits of the Contemplative Life By following this path Buddhahood can be attained. Following this path dissolves the ten fetters{{sfn|Walsh (translator)|1995|p=25-27}} and terminates volitional actions that bind a human being to the wheel of samsara.The Theravada-tradition follows the Path to purification described by Buddhaghosa in his Visuddhimagga. It features four progressive stages culminating in full enlightenment. The four stages are Sotapanna, Sakadagami, Anagami and Arahat.{{sfn|Walsh (translator)|1995|p=25-27}}{{sfn|Harvey|1995|p=71-72}}Thanissaro Bhikkhu: Stream Entry Part 1: The Way to Stream-entryThree types of buddha are recognized:{{sfn|Snelling|1987|p=81}}
  • Arhat (Pali: arahant), those who reach Nirvana by following the teachings of the Buddha.{{sfn|Snelling|1987|p=81}} Sometimes the term Åšrāvakabuddha (Pali: sāvakabuddha) is used to designate this kind of awakened person{{citation needed|date=December 2011}};
  • Pratyekabuddhas (Pali: paccekabuddha), those who reach Nirvana through self-realisation, without the aid of spiritual guides and teachers, but don't teach the Dharma;{{sfn|Snelling|1987|p=81}}
  • Samyaksambuddha (Pali: samma sambuddha), often simply referred to as Buddha, one who has reached Nirvana by his own efforts and wisdom and teaches it skillfully to others.{{sfn|Snelling|1987|p=81}}

Development of the concept

The term bodhi acquired a variety of meanings and connotations during the development of Buddhist thoughts in the various schools.

Early Buddhism

In early Buddhism, bodhi carried a meaning synonymous to nirvana, using only some different metaphors to describe the insight, which implied the extinction of lobha (greed), dosa (hate) and moha (delusion). In Theravada Buddhism, bodhi and nirvana carry the same meaning, that of being freed from greed, hate and delusion.


In Mahayana-thought, bodhi is the realisation of the inseparability of samsara and nirvana,{{sfn|Fischer-Schreiber|2008|p=51}} and the unity of subject and object.{{sfn|Fischer-Schreiber|2008|p=51}} It is similar to prajna, to realizing the Buddha-nature, realizing sunyata and realizing suchness.{{sfn|Fischer-Schreiber|2008|p=51}}Mahayana discerns three forms of bodhi:{{sfn|Schreiber|2008|p=51}}
  1. Arahat – Liberation for oneself;{{refn|group=lower-alpha|This also includes Pratyekabuddha, but is not being mentioned by Fischer-Schreiber et al.}}
  2. Bodhisattva – Liberation for living beings;
  3. Full Buddhahood.
Within the various Mahayana-schools exist various further explanations and interpretations.{{sfn|Fischer-Schreiber|2008|p=51}}


In the Tathagatagarbha and Buddha-nature doctrines bodhi becomes equivalent to the universal, natural and pure state of the mind:}}According to these doctrines bodhi is always there within one's mind, but requires the defilements to be removed. This vision is expounded in texts such as the Shurangama Sutra and the Uttaratantra.In Shingon Buddhism, the state of Bodhi is also seen as naturally inherent in the mind. It is the mind's natural and pure state, where no distinction is being made between a perceiving subject and perceived objects. This is also the understanding of Bodhi found in Yogacara Buddhism.To achieve this vision of non-duality, it is necessary to recognise one's own mind:}}

Harmonisation of the various terms and meanings

During the development of Mahayana Buddhism the various strands of thought on Bodhi were continuously being elaborated. Attempts were made to harmonize the various terms. The Buddhist commentator Buddhaguhya treats various terms as synonyms:}}

See also





Web references



  • {{Citation | last1 =Bhikkhu Nanamoli | last2 =Bhikkhu Bodhi | year =1995 | title =The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha. A New Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya| place =Boston| publisher =Wisdom Publ.}}
  • {{Citation | last1 =Buswell | first1 =Robert E. JR | last2 =Gimello | first2 =Robert M. (editors) | year =1994 | title =Paths to Liberation. The Marga and its Transformations in Buddhist Thought | place =Delhi | publisher =Motilal Banarsidass Publishers}}
  • {{Citation | last =Faure | first =Bernard | year =1991 | title =The Rhetoric of Immediacy. A Cultural Critique of Chan/Zen Buddhism | place =Princeton, New Jersey | publisher =Princeton University Press | isbn = 0-691-02963-6}}
  • {{Citation | last =Gombrich | first=Richard F. | year =1997 | title =How Buddhism Began | publisher =Munshiram Manoharlal}}
  • Peter N. Gregory (1991), Sudden and Gradual (Approaches to Enlightenment in Chinese Thought), Motilal Banarsidass. {{ISBN|8120808193}}
  • {{Citation | last =Harvey | first =Peter | year =1995 | title =An introduction to Buddhism. Teachings, history and practices | publisher =Cambridge University Press}}
  • {{Citation | last =Hodge | first =Stephen | year =2003 | title =The Maha-Vairocana-Abhisambodhi Tantra, With Buddhaguya's Commentary | location =London | publisher =RoutledgeCurzon}}
  • {{Citation | last1 =Fischer-Schreiber | first1 =Ingrid | last2 =Ehrhard | first2 =Franz-Karl | last3 =diener | first3 =Michael S. | year =2008 | title =Lexicon Boeddhisme. Wijsbegeerte, religie, psychologie, mystiek, cultuur an literatuur | publisher =Asoka}}
  • {{Citation | last =Sebastian | first =C.D. | year =2005 | title =Metaphysics and Mysticism in Mahayana Buddhism | place =Delhi | publisher =Sri Satguru Publications}}
  • {{Citation | last =Snelling | first =John | year =1987 | title =The Buddhist handbook. A Complete Guide to Buddhist Teaching and Practice | place =London | publisher =Century Paperbacks}}
  • {{Citation | last =Walsh (translator)| first =Maurice | year =1995 | title =The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A translation of the Digha Nikaya | place =Boston | publisher =Wisdom publications}}
  • {{Citation | last =Warder | first =Anthony Kennedy | year =2000 | title =Indian Buddhism | place =Delhi | publisher =Motilal Banarsidass Publishers}}

Further reading

  • A. Charles Muller (translator) (1999), The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment. State University Press of New York
  • Lu K'uan Yu (translator) (1978), The Surangama Sutra. Bombay: B.I. Publications
  • Kenneth R. White (editor) (2005), The Role of Bodhicitta in Buddhist Enlightenment Including a Translation into English of the Bodhicitta-Sastra, Benkenmitsu-nikyoron, and Sammaya-kaijo. New York: The Edwin Mellen Press.
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