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{{redirect|Buddhadharma|the magazine|Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly}}{{pp|small=yes}}{{short description|World religion, founded by the Buddha}}{{EngvarB|date=August 2019}}{{Use dmy dates|date=August 2019}}File:Gandhara Buddha (tnm).jpeg|thumb|alt=standing Buddha statue with draped garmet and halo|Standing Buddha statue at the Tokyo National Museum. One of the earliest known representations of the Buddha, 1st–2nd century CE.]]{{Buddhism}}Buddhism ({{IPAc-en|ˈ|b|ʊ|d|ɪ|z|əm}}, {{IPAc-en|US|ˈ|b|uː|d|-}}){{sfn|Wells|2008|p=}}{{sfn|Roach|2011|p=}} is the world's fourth-largest religion"Buddhism". (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 26 November 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online Library Edition.{{sfn|Lopez|2001|p=239}} with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists.WEB, Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, Global Religious Landscape: Buddhists, Pew Research Center,weblink WEB,weblink Christianity 2015: Religious Diversity and Personal Contact,, January 2015, 2015-05-29,weblink" title="">weblink 25 May 2017, dead, Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on original teachings attributed to the Buddha and resulting interpreted philosophies. It originated in ancient India as a Sramana tradition sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, spreading through much of Asia. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognized by scholars: Theravada (Pali: "The School of the Elders") and Mahayana (Sanskrit: "The Great Vehicle").Most Buddhist traditions share the goal of overcoming suffering and the cycle of death and rebirth, either by the attainment of Nirvana or through the path of Buddhahood.{{sfn|Gethin |1998|pp=27–28, 73–74}}{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|p=99}}BOOK, Powers, John, Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism,weblink 2007, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, NY, 978-1-55939-282-2, 392–393, 415, Rev., Buddhist schools vary in their interpretation of the path to liberation, the relative importance and canonicity assigned to the various Buddhist texts, and their specific teachings and practices.{{sfn|Williams|1989|pp=275ff}}{{sfn|Robinson |1997|p=xx}} Widely observed practices include taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, observance of moral precepts, monasticism, meditation, and the cultivation of the Paramitas (perfections, or virtues).Theravada Buddhism has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. Mahayana, which includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Shingon and Tiantai (Tendai), is found throughout East Asia.Vajrayana, a body of teachings attributed to Indian adepts, may be viewed as a separate branch or as an aspect of Mahayana Buddhism.BOOK, White, David Gordon, 2000, 21, Tantra in Practice, Princeton University Press,weblink 978-0-691-05779-8, Tibetan Buddhism, which preserves the Vajrayana teachings of eighth-century India, is practised in the countries of the Himalayan region, Mongolia,BOOK, Powers, John, Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism,weblink 2007, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, NY, 978-1-55939-282-2, 26–27, Rev., and Kalmykia."Candles in the Dark: A New Spirit for a Plural World" by Barbara Sundberg Baudot, p. 305{{TOC limit|3}}

Life of the Buddha

(File:Buddha in Sarnath Museum (Dhammajak Mutra).jpg|left|thumb|Buddha in Sarnath Museum (Dhammajak Mutra)|alt=Buddha in Sarnath Museum (Dhammajak Mutra).jpg)Buddhism is an Indian religionBOOK, Jonathan H. X. Lee, Kathleen M. Nadeau, Encyclopedia of Asian American Folklore and Folklife,weblink 2011, ABC-CLIO, 978-0-313-35066-5, 504, , Quote: "The three other major Indian religions – Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism – originated in India as an alternative to Brahmanic/Hindu philosophy";Jan Gonda (1987), Indian Religions: An Overview – Buddhism and Jainism, Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd Edition, Volume 7, Editor: Lindsay Jones, Macmillan Reference, {{ISBN|0-02-865740-3}}, p. 4428;BOOK, K.T.S. Sarao, Jefferey Long, Encyclopedia of Indian Religions: Buddhism and Jainism,weblink 2017, Springer Netherlands, 978-94-024-0851-5, , Quote: "Buddhism and Jainism, two religions which, together with Hinduism, constitute the three pillars of Indic religious tradition in its classical formulation." attributed to the teachings of the Buddha,{{Sfn|Gethin|1998|pp=7–8}}{{Sfn|Bronkhorst|2013|pp=ix–xi}} supposedly born Siddhārtha Gautama, and also known as the Tathāgata ("thus-gone") and Sakyamuni ("sage of the Sakyas"). Early texts have his personal name as "Gautama" or "Gotama" (Pali) without any mention of "Siddhārtha," ("Achieved the Goal") which appears to have been a kind of honorific title when it does appear. 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.{{Sfn|Gethin|1998|pp=13–14}}{{Refn|group=note|Buddhist texts such as the Jataka tales of 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.{{sfn|Swearer|2004|p=177}}{{Sfn|Gethin|1998|pp=15–24}} Keown and Prebish state, "In the past, modern scholars have generally accepted 486 or 483 BCE for this [Buddha's death], but the consensus is now that they rest on evidence which is too flimsy.{{Sfn|Keown|Prebish|2010|pp=105–106}} 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."{{sfn|Buswell|2004|p=352}}{{sfn|Lopez|1995|p=16}}{{sfn|Carrithers|1986|p=10}}{{sfn|Armstrong|2004|p=xii}}}}The evidence of the early texts suggests that he was born as Siddhārtha Gautama in Lumbini and grew up in Kapilavasthu,{{refn|group=note|The exact identity of this ancient place is unclear. Please see Gautama Buddha article for various sites identified.}} a town in the plains region of the modern Nepal–India border, and that he spent his life in what is now modern Bihar{{Refn|group=note|Bihar is derived from Vihara, which means monastery.{{sfn|Gombrich|1988|p=49}}}} and Uttar Pradesh.{{sfn|Gombrich|1988|p=49}}{{Sfn|Gethin|1998|pp=13–14}} Some hagiographic legends state that his father was a king named Suddhodana, his mother was Queen Maya, and he was born in Lumbini gardens.BOOK, Edward J. Thomas, The Life of Buddha,weblink 2013, Routledge, 978-1-136-20121-9, 16–29, However, scholars such as 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.{{sfn|Gombrich|1988|pp=49–50}}{{Refn|group=note|Other details about Buddha'a background are contested in modern scholarship. For example, Buddhist texts assert that 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.{{sfn|Gombrich|1988|p=50}} Mahavira, whose teachings helped establish another major ancient religion Jainism, is also claimed to be ksatriya by his early followers. Further, early texts of both Jainism and Buddhism suggest they emerged in a period of urbanisation in ancient India, one with city nobles and prospering urban centres, states, agricultural surplus, trade and introduction of money.{{sfn|Gombrich|1988|pp=50–51}}}} 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.{{sfn|Gombrich|1988|pp=18–19, 50–51}}BOOK, Kurt Tropper, Tibetan Inscriptions,weblink 2013, Brill Academic, 978-90-04-25241-7, 60–61 with footnotes 134–136, File:Le grand départ.jpg|thumb|right|alt=stone relief sculpture of horse and men |"The Great Departure", relic depicting Gautama leaving home, first or second century (Musée Guimet)]]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.BOOK, Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation,weblink 2007, Routledge, 978-1-134-09740-1, 8–23, BOOK, Hajime Nakamura, Gotama Buddha: A Biography Based on the Most Reliable Texts,weblink 2000, Kosei, 978-4-333-01893-2, 127–129, {{Refn|group=note|The earliest Buddhist biographies of the Buddha mention these Vedic-era teachers. However, outside of these early Buddhist texts, these names do not appear which has led some scholars to raise doubts about the historicity of these claims.BOOK, Johannes Bronkhorst, Buddhist Teaching in India,weblink 2013, Wisdom Publications, 978-0-86171-811-5, 19–32, According to Alexander Wynne, the evidence suggests that Buddha studied under these Vedic-era teachers and they "almost certainly" taught him, but the details of his education are unclear.{{Sfn|Hirakawa|1993|pp=22–26}}}}File:ปางบำเพ็ญทุกรกิริยา ประเทศไทย.png|thumb|The gilded "Emaciated Buddha statue" in an Ubosoth in Bangkok representing the stage of his asceticismasceticismFinding 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. He famously sat in meditation under a Ficus religiosa tree now called the Bodhi Tree in the town of 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){{sfn|Kohn|1991|p=143}} as the right path of spiritual practice to end suffering (dukkha) from rebirths in Saṃsāra.BOOK, Johannes Bronkhorst, Buddhism in the Shadow of Brahmanism,weblink 2011, Brill Academic, 978-90-04-20140-8, 233–237, As a fully enlightened Buddha (Skt. {{IAST|samyaksaṃbuddha}}), he attracted followers and founded a Sangha (monastic order).{{sfn|Gombrich|1988|pp=49–51}} Now, as the Buddha, he spent the rest of his life teaching the Dharma he had discovered, and died at the age of 80 in Kushinagar, India.{{sfn|Keown|2003|p=267}}{{Sfn|Keown|Prebish|2010|pp=105–106}}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;{{Sfn|Gethin|1998|pp=54–55}}BOOK, Barbara Crandall, Gender and Religion, 2nd Edition,weblink 2012, Bloomsbury Academic, 978-1-4411-4871-1, 56–58, these over time evolved into many traditions of which the more well known and widespread in the modern era are Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism.BOOK, Sarah LeVine, David N Gellner, Rebuilding Buddhism,weblink 2009, Harvard University Press, 978-0-674-04012-0, 1–19, {{Sfn|Gethin|1998|pp=1–5}}{{Refn|group=note|The Theravada tradition traces its origins as the oldest tradition holding the Pali Canon as the only authority, Mahayana tradition revers the Canon but also the derivative literature that developed in the 1st millennium CE and its roots are traceable to the 1st century BCE, while Vajrayana tradition is closer to the Mahayana, includes Tantra, is the younger of the three and traceable to the 1st millennium CE.{{Sfn|Gethin|1998|pp=1–2, 49–58, 253–271}}BOOK, Paul Williams, Mahāyāna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations,weblink 1989, Routledge, 978-0-415-02537-9, 1–25, }}

The problems of life: dukkha and saṃsāra

Four Noble Truths – dukkha and its ending

File:Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Dharmacakra Discourse.jpeg|thumb|alt=color manuscript illustration of Buddha teaching the Four Noble Truths, Nalanda, Bihar, India|The Buddha teaching the Four Noble Truths. Sanskrit manuscript. NalandaNalandaThe 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.{{sfn|Nyanatiloka|1980|p=65}}{{sfn|Emmanuel|2015|p=30}} This keeps us caught in saṃsāra, the endless cycle of repeated rebirth, dukkha and dying again.{{refn|group=note|name="Samsara"|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."{{sfn|Williams|2002|pp=74–75}}* 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 Punarjanman (lit. "birth again") and Punabhavan (lit. "re-becoming"), and, less commonly, the related PUNARMRTYU (lit. "redeath")."{{sfn|Buswell|Lopez|2003|p=708}}See also Perry Schmidt-Leukel (2006) pp. 32–34, {{sfn|Schmidt-Leukel|2006|pp=32–34}} John J. Makransky (1997) p. 27.{{sfn|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. pp. 94–95 of Rhys Davids & William Stede, where they list five Sutta examples with rebirth and re-death sense.Rhys Davids & William Stede}}But there is a way to liberation from this endless cycle{{sfn|Warder|2000|pp=45–46}} to the state of nirvana, namely following the Noble Eightfold Path.{{refn|group=note|name="Moksha"|Graham Harvey: "Siddhartha Gautama found an end to rebirth in this world of suffering. His teachings, known as the dharma in Buddhism, can be summarized in the Four Noble truths."{{sfn|Harvey|2016}} Geoffrey Samuel (2008): "The Four Noble Truths [...] describe the knowledge needed to set out on the path to liberation from rebirth."{{sfn|Samuel|2008|p=136}} See also {{sfn|Spiro|1982|p=42}}{{sfn|Vetter|1988|pp=xxi, xxxi–xxxii}}{{sfn|Makransky|1997|pp=27–28}}{{sfn|Williams|2002|pp=74–75}}{{sfn|Lopez|2009|p=147}}{{sfn|Harvey|2016}}{{sfn|Kingsland|2016|p=286}}Thanissaro Bhikkhu, The Truth of Rebirth And Why it Matters for Buddhist PracticeThe Theravada tradition holds that insight into these four truths is liberating in itself.{{sfn|Carter|1987|p=3179}} This is reflected in the Pali canon.{{sfn|Anderson|2013}} According to Donald Lopez, "The Buddha stated in his first sermon that when he gained absolute and intuitive knowledge of the four truths, he achieved complete enlightenment and freedom from future rebirth."Donald Lopez, Four Noble Truths, Encyclopædia Britannica.The Maha-parinibbana Sutta also refers to this liberation.Maha-parinibbana Sutta: Last Days of the Buddha, translated by Sister Vajira & Francis Story Carol Anderson: "The second passage where the four truths appear in the Vinaya-pitaka is also found in the Mahaparinibbana-sutta (D II 90–91). Here, the Buddha explains that it is by not understanding the four truths that rebirth continues."{{sfn|Anderson|2013|p=162 with note 38, for context see pp. 1–3}}On the meaning of moksha as liberation from rebirth, see Patrick Olivelle in the Encyclopædia Britannica.Patrick Olivelle (2012), Encyclopædia Britannica, "Moksha (Indian religions)"}}The truth of dukkha is the basic insight that life in this mundane world, with its clinging and craving to impermanent states and things{{sfn|Nyanatiloka|1980|p=65}} is dukkha, and unsatisfactory.{{sfn|Williams|2002|pp=74–75}}{{sfn|Lopez|2009|p=147}} Dukkha can be translated as "incapable of satisfying,"Ajahn Sumedho, The First Noble Truth (nb: links to index-page; click "The First Noble Truth" for correct page. "the unsatisfactory nature and the general insecurity of all conditioned phenomena"; or "painful."{{sfn|Nyanatiloka|1980|p=65}}{{sfn|Emmanuel|2015|p=30}} Dukkha is most commonly translated as "suffering," but this is inaccurate, since it refers not to episodic suffering, but to the intrinsically unsatisfactory nature of temporary states and things, including pleasant but temporary experiences.{{Refn|group=note|As opposite to sukha, "pleasure," it is better translated as "pain."{{sfn|Emmanuel|2015|pp=26–31}}}} 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).{{Sfn| Gombrich|2006|p=47, Quote: "All phenomenal existence [in Buddhism] is said to have three interlocking characteristics: impermanence, suffering and lack of soul or essence."}} Buddhism, like other major Indian religions, asserts that everything is impermanent (anicca), but, unlike them, also asserts that there is no permanent self or soul in living beings (anattā).Anatta Buddhism, Encyclopædia Britannica (2013)[a] BOOK, Christmas Humphreys, Exploring Buddhism,weblink 2012, Routledge, 978-1-136-22877-3, 42–43, [b] Gombrich (2006), p. 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] Anatta, Encyclopædia Britannica (2013), Quote: "Anatta in Buddhism, the doctrine that there is in humans no permanent, underlying soul. The concept of anatta, or anatman, is a departure from the Hindu belief in atman ("the self").";[b] Steven Collins (1994), Religion and Practical Reason (Editors: Frank Reynolds, David Tracy), State Univ of New York Press, {{ISBN|978-0791422175}}, p. 64; "Central to Buddhist soteriology is the doctrine of not-self (Pali: anattā, Sanskrit: anātman, the opposed doctrine of ātman is central to Brahmanical thought). Put very briefly, this is the [Buddhist] doctrine that human beings have no soul, no self, no unchanging essence.";[c] John C. Plott et al. (2000), Global History of Philosophy: The Axial Age, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120801585}}, p. 63, Quote: "The Buddhist schools reject any Ātman concept. As we have already observed, this is the basic and ineradicable distinction between Hinduism and Buddhism";[d] Katie Javanaud (2013), Is The Buddhist 'No-Self' Doctrine Compatible With Pursuing Nirvana?, Philosophy Now;[e] David Loy (1982), "Enlightenment in Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta: Are Nirvana and Moksha the Same?", International Philosophical Quarterly, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp. 65–74 The ignorance or misperception (avijjā) that anything is permanent or that there is self in any being is considered a wrong understanding, and the primary source of clinging and dukkha.BOOK, Brian Morris, Religion and Anthropology: A Critical Introduction,weblink 2006, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-85241-8, 51, , Quote: "(...) anatta is the doctrine of non-self, and is an extreme 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."BOOK, Richard Francis Gombrich, Cristina Anna Scherrer-Schaub, Buddhist Studies,weblink 2008, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-3248-0, 209–210, BOOK, Frank Hoffman, Deegalle Mahinda, Pali Buddhism,weblink 2013, Routledge, 978-1-136-78553-5, 162–165, 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.{{sfn|Rahula|2014|loc=loc. 791–809}}The Four Noble Truths – By Bhikkhu Bodhi{{refn|group=note|This explanation is more common in commentaries on the Four Noble Truths within the Theravada tradition: e.g. Ajahn Sucitta (2010); Ajahn Sumedho (ebook); Rahula (1974); etc.}} 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.{{sfn|Rahula|2014|loc=loc. 791–809}}{{sfn|Gethin|1998|p=70}}{{sfn|Ajahn Sucitto|2010|loc=Kindle loc. 943–946}}Dukkha ceases, or can be confined,{{sfn|Brazier|2001}} when craving and clinging cease or are confined. This also means that no more karma is being produced, and rebirth ends.{{refn|group=note|name="Nirodha"|Ending rebirth:* Graham Harvey: "The Third Noble Truth is nirvana. The Buddha tells us that an end to suffering is possible, and it is 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"{{sfn|Harvey|2016}}* 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."{{sfn|Spiro|1982|p=42}}* John J. Makransky: "The third noble truth, cessation (nirodha) or nirvana, represented the ultimate aim of Buddhist practice in the Abhidharma traditions: the state free from the conditions that created samsara. 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)."{{sfn|Makransky|1997|pp=27–28}}* Walpola Rahula: "Let us consider a few definitions and descriptions of Nirvana as found in the original 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.'"{{sfn|Rahula|2014}}}} Cessation is nirvana, "blowing out," and peace of mind.{{sfn|Rahula|2014|loc=loc. 904–923}}{{sfn|Gethin|1998|p=75}}By following the Buddhist path to moksha, liberation,{{sfn|Samuel|2008|p=136}} 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.{{sfn|Bucknell|1984}} The Theravada tradition regards insight into the four truths as liberating in itself.{{sfn|Carter|1987|p=3179}}

The cycle of rebirth

File:Wheel_of_Existence.jpg|thumb|Traditional Tibetan Buddhist Thangka depicting the Wheel of Life with its six realms]]


Saṃsāra means "wandering" or "world", with the connotation of cyclic, circuitous change.{{Sfn|Klaus Klostermaier|2010|p=604}}{{Sfn|Juergensmeyer|Roof|2011|pp=271–272}} 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.{{Sfn|Juergensmeyer|Roof|2011|pp=271–272}}{{sfn|Trainor|2004|p=58, Quote: "Buddhism shares with 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 differs from 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.}} Samsara in Buddhism is considered to be dukkha, unsatisfactory and painful,{{sfn|Wilson|2010}} perpetuated by desire and avidya (ignorance), and the resulting karma.{{sfn|Juergensmeyer|Roof|2011|pp=271–272}}{{sfn|McClelland|2010|pp=172, 240}}{{sfn|Williams|Tribe|Wynne|2012|pp=18–19, chapter 1}}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.{{Sfn|Wilson|2010}} Liberation from this cycle of existence, nirvana, has been the foundation and the most important historical justification of Buddhism.{{Sfn|Conze|2013|p=71, Quote: "Nirvana is the raison d'être of Buddhism, and its ultimate justification."}}{{sfn|Gethin|1998|p=119}}The later Buddhist texts assert that rebirth can occur in six realms of existence, namely three good realms (heavenly, demi-god, human) and three evil realms (animal, hungry ghosts, hellish).{{refn|group=note|name=realms2|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.{{sfn|Buswell|2004|pp=711–712}}}} 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.{{sfn|Buswell|Gimello|1992|pp=7–8, 83–84}}{{sfn|Choong|1999|pp=28–29, Quote: "Seeing (passati) the nature of things as impermanent leads to the removal of the view of self, and so to the realisation of nirvana."}}{{sfn|Rahula|2014|pp=51-58}}


File:Kushinara1.jpg|thumb|alt=A very large hill behind two palm trees and a boulevard, where the Buddha is believed to have been cremated|Ramabhar Stupa in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, IndiaIndiaRebirth 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.{{sfn|Keown|1996|p=107}} 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 and Christianity.BOOK, Oliver Leaman, Eastern Philosophy: Key Readings,weblink 2002, Routledge, 978-1-134-68919-4, 23–27, According to Buddhism there ultimately is no such thing as a self in any being or any essence in any thing.[a] BOOK, Christmas Humphreys, Exploring Buddhism,weblink 2012, Routledge, 978-1-136-22877-3, 42–43, [b] BOOK, Brian Morris, Religion and Anthropology: A Critical Introduction,weblink 2006, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-85241-8, 51, , Quote: "(...) anatta is the doctrine of non-self, and is an extreme 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."[c] Gombrich (2006), p. 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."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.{{Sfn|Buswell|Lopez|2003|pp=708–709}}BOOK, Ronald Wesley Neufeldt, Karma and Rebirth: Post Classical Developments,weblink 1986, State University of New York Press, 978-0-87395-990-2, 123–131, 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.{{Sfn|Buswell|Lopez|2003|pp=708–709}} 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.{{Sfn|Williams|2002|pp=74–75}}{{Sfn|Buswell|Lopez|2003|pp=708–709}} 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.{{Refn|group=note|This merit gaining may be on the behalf of one's family members.{{Sfn|Buswell|Lopez|2003|pp=708–709}}BOOK, William H. Swatos, Peter Kivisto, Encyclopedia of Religion and Society,weblink 1998, Rowman Altamira, 978-0-7619-8956-1, 66, }}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.{{sfn|Harvey|1990|p=34}}{{sfn|Buswell|2004|p=711}}{{Refn|group=note|The realms in which a being is reborn are:{{Sfn|Trainor|2004|pp=60–63}}{{Sfn|Keown|Prebish|2013|pp=36–38}}{{Refn|group=subnote|The realms of rebirths in Buddhism are further subdivided into 31 planes of existence.WEB, Mahathera, Ven. Suvanno, The 31 Planes of Existence,,weblink dead,weblink" title="">weblink 7 August 2013, 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.}}
  1. Naraka: beings believed in Buddhism to suffer in one of many Narakas (Hells);
  2. Preta: sometimes sharing some space with humans, but invisible; an important variety is the hungry ghost;{{sfn|Harvey|1990|p=33}}
  3. Tiryag (animals): existence as an animal along with humans; this realm is traditionally thought in Buddhism to be similar to a hellish realm because animals are believed to be driven by impulse; they prey on each other and suffer.{{Sfn|Keown| Prebish |2013|p=36}}
  4. Manusya (human beings): one of the realms of rebirth in which attaining Nirvana is possible; A rebirth in this realm is therefore considered as fortunate and an opportunity to end the endless Samsara and associated Dukkha.{{sfn|Trainor|2004|p=62}}{{Sfn|Keown| Prebish |2013|pp=36–37}}
  5. Asuras: variously translated as lowly deities, demi-gods, demons, titans, or anti-gods; recognised in Theravada tradition as part of the heavenly realm;{{sfn|Bareau|1955|pp=212–223}}
  6. 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.{{sfn|Trainor|2004|p=62}}BOOK, Merv Fowler, Buddhism: Beliefs and Practices,weblink 1999, Sussex Academic Press, 978-1-898723-66-0, 65, , Quote: "For a vast majority of Buddhists in Theravadin countries, however, the order of monks is seen by lay Buddhists as a means of gaining the most merit in the hope of accumulating good karma for a better rebirth."BOOK, Christopher Gowans, Philosophy of the Buddha: An Introduction,weblink 2004, Routledge, 978-1-134-46973-4, 169, }}
In East Asian and Tibetan Buddhism, rebirth is not instantaneous, and there is an intermediate state (Tibetan "bardo") between one life and the next.{{sfn|Buswell|Lopez|2003|pp=49–50, 708–709}}BOOK, Karma-gliṅ-pa, Chogyam Trungpa, Francesca Fremantle, The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation Through Hearing in the Bardo,weblink 2000, Shambhala Publications, 978-1-57062-747-7, xi, xvii–xxiii, The orthodox Theravada position rejects the wait, and asserts that rebirth of a being is immediate.{{sfn|Buswell|Lopez|2003|pp=49–50, 708–709}} However there are passages in the Samyutta Nikaya of the Pali Canon that seem to lend support to the idea that the Buddha taught about an intermediate stage between one life and the next.{{sfn|Buswell|2004|p=377}}{{sfn|Bodhi|2000|p=}}{{Page needed|date=March 2015}}


In Buddhism, karma (from Sanskrit: "action, work") drives saṃsāra – the endless cycle of suffering and rebirth for each being. Good, skilful deeds (Pāli: kusala) and bad, unskilful deeds (Pāli: akusala) produce "seeds" in the unconscious receptacle (ālaya) that mature later either in this life or in a subsequent rebirth.{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|pp=131, 32–34}}{{sfn|Kasulis |2006|pp=1–12}} The existence of 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.{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|pp=40–41}}{{Refn|group=note|Diseases and suffering induced by the disruptive actions of other people are examples of non-karma suffering.{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|pp=40–41}}}}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".{{sfn|Krishan|1997|pages=59–78 }}{{Refn|group=note|The emphasis on intent in Buddhism marks its difference from the karma theory of Jainism where karma accumulates with or without intent.{{sfn|Harvey|2013|p=40}}{{sfn|Krishan|1997|pp=47, 55 }} The emphasis on intent is also found in Hinduism, and Buddhism may have influenced karma theories of Hinduism.BOOK, Norman C. McClelland, Encyclopedia of Reincarnation and Karma,weblink 2010, McFarland, 978-0-7864-5675-8, 141, }} However, good or bad karma accumulates even if there is no physical action, and just having ill or good thoughts creates karmic seeds; thus, actions of body, speech or mind all lead to karmic seeds.{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|pp=40–41}} 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.{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|pp=40–41}}{{Sfn|Spiro|1982|p=430 with footnote 1}}BOOK, Karl Potter, Ronald Wesley Neufeldt, Karma and Rebirth: Post Classical Developments,weblink 1986, State University of New York Press, 978-0-87395-990-2, 109, It operates like the laws of physics, without external intervention, on every being in all six realms of existence including human beings and gods.{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|pp=40–41}}{{sfn|Lopez|2001|pp=239–248}}A notable aspect of the karma theory in Buddhism is merit transfer.BOOK, Naomi Appleton, Narrating Karma and Rebirth: Buddhist and Jain Multi-Life Stories,weblink 2014, Cambridge University Press, 978-1-139-91640-0, 129–131, {{Sfn|Spiro|1982|pp=124–128}} 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).{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|pp=45–46}} Further, a person can transfer one's own good karma to living family members and ancestors.{{Sfn|Spiro|1982|pp=124–128}}{{Refn|group=note|This Buddhist idea may have roots in the quid-pro-quo exchange beliefs of the Hindu Vedic rituals.BOOK, James Egge, Religious Giving and the Invention of Karma in Theravada Buddhism,weblink 2013, Routledge, 978-1-136-85922-9, 31–34, The "karma merit transfer" concept has been controversial, not accepted in later Jainism and Hinduism traditions, unlike 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 and may have emerged with the rise of 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.BOOK, Bruce Reichenbach, The Law of Karma: A Philosophical Study,weblink 1990, Palgrave Macmillan, 978-1-349-11899-1, 152–155, }}


File:Mahabodhitemple.jpg|thumb|right|alt=stone Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, India, where Gautama Buddha attained Nirvana under the Bodhi Tree|Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, India, where Gautama Buddha attained nirvana under the Bodhi TreeBodhi TreeThe 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.{{sfn|Samuel|2008|p=136}}{{Sfn|Buswell|Lopez|2003|pp=589–590}}BOOK, Steven Collins, Nirvana and Other Buddhist Felicities,weblink 1998, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-57054-1, 135–177, 188, 443, 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.{{refn|group=note|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, practises mindfulness and the four jhanas, gains the three knowledges, understands the Four Noble Truths and destroys the taints, and perceives that he is liberated.{{sfn|Bucknell|1984}}}} 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.{{Sfn|Choong|2000|p=141}}{{Sfn|Fuller|2005|pp=55–56}}Nirvana literally means "blowing out, quenching, becoming extinguished".BOOK, Steven Collins, Nirvana: Concept, Imagery, Narrative,weblink 2010, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-88198-2, 33–34, 47–50, 63–64, 74–75, 106, {{sfn|Cousins|1996|p=9}} 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.{{sfn|Vetter|1988}}{{sfn|Gombrich|1997|p=66}}BOOK, Steven Collins, Nirvana: Concept, Imagery, Narrative,weblink 2010, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-88198-2, 31, , Quote: "This general scheme remained basic to later Hinduism, to Jainism, and to Buddhism. Eternal salvation, to use the Christian term, is not conceived of as world without end; we have already got that, called samsara, the world of rebirth and redeath: that is the problem, not the solution. The ultimate aim is the timeless state of moksha, or as the Buddhists seem to have been the first to call it, nirvana." Many later Buddhist texts describe nirvana as identical with anatta with complete "emptiness, nothingness".BOOK, Steven Collins, Selfless Persons: Imagery and Thought in Theravada Buddhism,weblink 1990, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-39726-1, 82–84, BOOK, Ray Billington, Understanding Eastern Philosophy,weblink 2002, Routledge, 978-1-134-79348-8, 58–60, BOOK, David Loy, Awareness Bound and Unbound: Buddhist Essays,weblink 2009, State University of New York Press, 978-1-4384-2680-8, 35–39, {{Refn|group=note|The early Mahayana 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 realisation of emptiness and thus an end to rebirth cycles of suffering.BOOK, Mun-Keat Choong, The Notion of Emptiness in Early Buddhism,weblink 1999, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-1649-7, 1–4, 85–88, }} In some texts, the state is described with greater detail, such as passing through the gate of emptiness (sunyata) – realising that there is no soul or self in any living being, then passing through the gate of signlessness (animitta) – realising that nirvana cannot be perceived, and finally passing through the gate of wishlessness (apranihita) – realising that nirvana is the state of not even wishing for nirvana.{{Sfn|Buswell|Lopez|2003|pp=589–590}}BOOK, Dan Lusthaus, Buddhist Phenomenology,weblink 2014, Routledge, 978-1-317-97343-0, 124 with footnotes 2–3 on pp. 266–267, {{Refn|group=note|Some scholars such as Cousins and Sangharakshita translate apranaihita as "aimlessness or directionless-ness".BOOK, Paul Williams, Buddhism: The origins and nature of Mahāyāna Buddhism; Some Mahāyāna religious topics,weblink 2005, Routledge, 978-0-415-33229-3, 56 with note 23, }}The nirvana state has been described in Buddhist texts partly in a manner similar to other Indian religions, as the state of complete liberation, enlightenment, highest happiness, bliss, fearlessness, freedom, permanence, non-dependent origination, unfathomable, and indescribable.BOOK, Steven Collins, Nirvana and Other Buddhist Felicities,weblink 1998, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-57054-1, 191–233, BOOK, Peter Harvey, The Selfless Mind: Personality, Consciousness and Nirvana in Early Buddhism,weblink 2013, Routledge, 978-1-136-78336-4, 198–226, It has also been described in part differently, as a state of spiritual release marked by "emptiness" and realisation of non-self.BOOK, Mun-Keat Choong, The Notion of Emptiness in Early Buddhism,weblink 1999, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-1649-7, 21–22, BOOK, Gananath Obeyesekere, The Awakened Ones: Phenomenology of Visionary Experience,weblink 2012, Columbia University Press, 978-0-231-15362-1, 145–146, BOOK, Edward Conze, Buddhism: Its Essence and Development,weblink 2012, Courier, 978-0-486-17023-7, 125–137, {{Refn|group=note|These descriptions of nirvana in Buddhist texts, states Peter Harvey, are contested by scholars because nirvana in 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".{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|pp=75–76}}{{sfn|Gethin|1998|pp=74-84}}}}While Buddhism considers the liberation from 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.BOOK, Michael D. Coogan, The Illustrated Guide to World Religions,weblink 2003, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-521997-5, 192, {{sfn|Trainor|2004|p=62}}{{Refn|group=note|ScholarsBOOK, Merv Fowler, Buddhism: Beliefs and Practices,weblink 1999, Sussex Academic Press, 978-1-898723-66-0, 65, , Quote: "For a vast majority of Buddhists in Theravadin countries, however, the order of monks is seen by lay Buddhists as a means of gaining the most merit in the hope of accumulating good karma for a better rebirth."BOOK, Christopher Gowans, Philosophy of the Buddha: An Introduction,weblink 2004, Routledge, 978-1-134-46973-4, 169, 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.}}

The path to liberation: Bhavana (practice, cultivation)

While the Noble Eightfold Path is 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 visualisations of deities and mandalas are important. The value of textual study is regarded differently in the various Buddhist traditions. It is central to Theravada and highly important to Tibetan Buddhism, while the Zen tradition takes an ambiguous stance.

Refuge in the Three Jewels

(File:Triratna_Symbol.svg|thumb|Triratna symbol)Traditionally, the first step in most Buddhist schools requires taking Three Refuges, also called the Three Jewels (Sanskrit: triratna, Pali: tiratana) as the foundation of one's religious practice.{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|p=249}} Pali texts employ the Brahmanical motif of the triple refuge, found in the Rigveda 9.97.47, Rigveda 6.46.9 and Chandogya Upanishad 2.22.3–4.{{sfn|Shults|2014|p=108}} 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.{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|p=249}}The Three Jewels are:{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|pp=244–245}}
  • The Gautama Buddha, the historical Buddha, the Blessed One, the Awakened with true knowledge
  • The Dharma, the precepts, the practice, the Four Truths, the Eightfold Path
  • The Sangha, order of monks, the community of Buddha's disciples
Reciting the three refuges is considered in Buddhism not as a place to hide, rather a thought that purifies, uplifts and strengthens.{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|pp=244–245}}

The Buddhist path

Theravada – Noble Eightfold Path

File:Dharma Wheel.svg|thumb|upright|alt=ship's wheel with eight spokes represents the Noble Eightfold Path|The Dharmachakra represents the Noble Eightfold PathNoble Eightfold PathAn 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 Path that was a 'middle way' between the extremes of asceticism and hedonistic sense pleasures.{{sfn|Harvey|2013|pp=23, 81}}{{Sfn|Keown|1996|pp=24, 59}} 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).{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|p=72}}{{Sfn|Buswell|Lopez|2003|p=49, antagrahadrsti}}In the 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."{{sfn|Anderson|1999|p=131}} Nevertheless, the Noble Eightfold Path, or "Eightfold Path of the Noble Ones", has become an important 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.{{sfn|Ajahn Sucitto|2010|pp=87–88}} 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).{{Sfn|Gethin|1998|pp=81–83}}{{sfn|Anderson|2013|pp=64–65}} 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.{{Sfn|Harvey|2016|pp=253–255 }}{{Sfn|Bhikkhu Bodhi|2010|pp=1–13}}{{Sfn|Williams|Tribe|Wynne|2012|p=52}}The Noble Eightfold Path is grouped into three basic divisions, as follows:{{Sfn|Vetter|1988|pp=12–13}}{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|pp=83–85}}{{Sfn|Bhikkhu Bodhi|2010|pp=47–48}}{|class="wikitable"! Division! Eightfold factor! Sanskrit, Pali! Description
Wisdom(Sanskrit: prajñā,Pāli: paññā)|1. Right view|samyag dṛṣṭi,sammā ditthiVetterpp=12–13}} according to Peter Harvey, the right view is held in Buddhism as a belief in the Buddhist principles of karma and Rebirth (Buddhism), and the importance of the Four Noble Truths and the True Realities.{{Sfn>Harveypp=83–84}}
style="background:#cff;"|2. Right intention|samyag saṃkalpa,sammā saṅkappa
Vetterpp=12–13}} this concept, states Harvey, aims at peaceful renunciation, into an environment of non-sensuality, non-ill-will (to lovingkindness), away from cruelty (to compassion).{{Sfn2013|pp=83–84}}
Moral virtues{{Sfn2013|pp=83–85}}(Sanskrit: śīla,Pāli: sīla)|3. Right speech|samyag vāc,sammā vācaVetterpp=12–13}}
style="background:#cfc;"|4. Right action|samyag karman,sammā kammanta
Vetterpp=12–13}} for lay Buddhists no sensual misconduct such as sexual involvement with someone married, or with an unmarried woman protected by her parents or relatives.CHRISTOPHER GOWANS >EDITOR=STEVEN M. EMMANUELURL=HTTPS://BOOKS.GOOGLE.COM/BOOKS?ID=P_LMCGAAQBAJ PUBLISHER=JOHN WILEY & SONS PAGE=440, ANDREW POWELL >TITLE=LIVING BUDDHISM YEAR=1989 ISBN=978-0-520-20410-2 24, DAVID L. WEDDLE URL=HTTPS://BOOKS.GOOGLE.COM/BOOKS?ID=LS8TCX-VE40C PUBLISHER=NEW YORK UNIVERSITY PRESS PAGE=118,
style="background:#cfc;"|5. Right livelihood|samyag ājīvana,sammā ājīva
Vetterp=12}} 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.{{Sfn2013URL=HTTPS://BOOKS.GOOGLE.COM/BOOKS?ID=FL3MYKQLOJCC&PG=PT59 PUBLISHER=YALE UNIVERSITY PRESSPAGE=59, ; Quote: These five trades, O monks, should not be taken up by a lay follower: trading with weapons, trading in living beings, trading in meat, trading in intoxicants, trading in poison."
Meditation{{Sfn2013|pp=83–85}}(Sanskrit and Pāli: samādhi)|6. Right effort|samyag vyāyāma,sammā vāyāmaHarveyp=83}}
style="background:#9fff80;"|7. Right mindfulness|samyag smṛti,sammā sati
skandhas, the five hindrances, the four True Realities and seven factors of awakening.{{Sfn>Harveyp=83}}
style="background:#9fff80;"|8. Right concentration|samyag samādhi,sammā samādhi

Mahayana – Bodhisattva-path and the six paramitas

File:Novices alms bowls 2.jpg|thumb|DānaDānaMahāyāna Buddhism is based principally upon the path of a Bodhisattva.{{Sfn|Nattier |2003|pp=137–138, 142–146}} A Bodhisattva refers to one who is on the path to buddhahood.{{sfn|Gyatso|1995|p=1}} The term Mahāyāna was originally a synonym for Bodhisattvayāna or "Bodhisattva Vehicle."{{sfn|Nattier|2003|p=174}}{{sfn|Hirakawa|1993|p=297}}{{sfn|Conze|2001|p=2001}}In the earliest texts of Mahayana Buddhism, the path of a bodhisattva was to awaken the bodhicitta.{{Sfn|Robinson|Johnson|1997|p=99}} Between the 1st and 3rd century CE, this tradition introduced the Ten Bhumi doctrine, which means ten levels or stages of awakening.{{Sfn|Robinson|Johnson|1997|p=99}} This development was followed by the acceptance that it is impossible to achieve Buddhahood in one (current) lifetime, and the best goal is not nirvana for oneself, but Buddhahood after climbing through the ten levels during multiple rebirths.{{Sfn|Nattier |2003|pp= 142–152}} 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 in a future rebirth.{{Sfn|Nattier |2003|pp=137–138, 142–146}} One part of this path are the Pāramitā (perfections, to cross over), derived from the Jatakas tales of Buddha's numerous rebirths.{{Sfn|Robinson|Johnson|1997|pp=101–102}}{{Sfn|Buswell|2004|pp=631–632}}The Mahayana texts are inconsistent in their discussion of the Paramitas, and some texts include lists of two, others four, six, ten and fifty-two.{{Sfn|Nattier |2003|pp= 151–154}}{{Sfn|Keown|2003|p=212}} The six paramitas have been most studied, and these are:{{Sfn|Robinson|Johnson|1997|pp=101–102}}BOOK, Shōhei Ichimura, Buddhist Critical Spirituality: Prajñā and Śūnyatā,weblink 2001, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-1798-2, 28–29 with footnotes 56, 57, {{sfn|Gyatso|1995|pp=4–12}}
  1. 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;{{Sfn|Buswell|2004|p=196}} some texts recommend ritually transferring the merit so accumulated for better rebirth to someone else
  2. Śīla pāramitā: perfection of morality; it outlines ethical behaviour for both the laity and the Mahayana monastic community; this list is similar to Śīla in the Eightfold Path (i.e. Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood)
  3. {{IAST|Kṣānti}} pāramitā: perfection of patience, willingness to endure hardship
  4. Vīrya pāramitā: perfection of vigour; this is similar to Right Effort in the Eightfold PathBOOK, Kōgen Mizuno, Gaynor Sekimori, Essentials of Buddhism: basic terminology and concepts of Buddhist philosophy and practice,weblink 1996, Kōsei, 978-4-333-01683-9, 28–29,
  5. Dhyāna pāramitā: perfection of meditation; this is similar to Right Concentration in the Eightfold Path
  6. Prajñā pāramitā: perfection of insight (wisdom), awakening to the characteristics of existence such as karma, rebirths, impermanence, no-self, dependent origination and emptiness;{{Sfn|Buswell|2004|pp=631–632, 664–665, 809}} this is complete acceptance of the Buddha teaching, then conviction, followed by ultimate realisation that "dharmas are non-arising".{{Sfn|Robinson|Johnson|1997|pp=101–102}}
In Mahayana Sutras that include ten Paramitas, the additional four perfections are "skillful means, vow, power and knowledge".{{Sfn|Keown|2003|p=212}} The most discussed Paramita and the highest rated perfection in Mahayana texts is the "Prajna-paramita", or the "perfection of insight".{{Sfn|Keown|2003|p=212}} This insight in the Mahayana tradition, states Shōhei Ichimura, has been the "insight of non-duality or the absence of reality in all things".BOOK, Shōhei Ichimura, Buddhist Critical Spirituality: Prajñā and Śūnyatā,weblink 2001, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-1798-2, 114, BOOK, Carl Olson, The Different Paths of Buddhism: A Narrative-Historical Introduction,weblink 2005, Rutgers University Press, 978-0-8135-3778-8, 154–155,

Śīla – Buddhist ethics

File:Buda_Pakistán_Seattle_02.JPG|thumb|Head of a Buddha statue from GandharaGandharaŚīla (Sanskrit) or sīla (Pāli) is the concept of "moral virtues", that is the second group and an integral part of the Noble Eightfold Path.{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|pp=83–84}} It consists of right speech, right action and right livelihood.{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|pp=83–84}}Śīla appear as ethical precepts for both lay and ordained Buddhist devotees. It includes the Five Precepts for laypeople, Eight or Ten Precepts for monastic life, as well as rules of Dhamma (Vinaya or Patimokkha) adopted by a monastery.{{sfn|McFarlane |2001|pp=187–193}}


Buddhist scriptures explain the five precepts (; ) as the minimal standard of Buddhist morality.{{sfn |Gowans |2013 |page=440}} It is the most important system of morality in Buddhism, together with the monastic rules.WEB, Goodman, Charles, Ethics in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink 8 July 2010, live, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, 2017, The five precepts apply to both male and female devotees, and these are:BOOK, Paul Williams, Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies,weblink 2005, Routledge, 978-0-415-33226-2, 398, BOOK, Bodhi Bhikkhu, Great Disciples of the Buddha: Their Lives, Their Works, Their Legacy,weblink 1997, Wisdom Publications, 978-0-86171-128-4, 387 with footnote 12,
  1. Abstain from killing (Ahimsa);
  2. Abstain from stealing;
  3. Abstain from sensual (including sexual) misconduct;
  4. Abstain from lying;
  5. Abstain from intoxicants.
Undertaking and upholding the five precepts is based on the principle of non-harming (Pāli and ).{{sfn|Keown|2013 |page=616}} The Pali Canon recommends one to compare oneself with others, and on the basis of that, not to hurt others.{{sfn |Harvey |2000 |pages=33, 71 }} Compassion and a belief in karmic retribution form the foundation of the precepts.{{sfn |Ratanakul |2007 |page=241 }}{{sfn |Horigan |1996 |page=276}} Undertaking the five precepts is part of regular lay devotional practice, both at home and at the local temple.{{sfn |Terwiel |2012 |pp=178–179}}{{sfn |Harvey |2000 |p=80}} However, the extent to which people keep them differs per region and time.{{sfn|Ledgerwood|2008|page=152}}{{sfn |Harvey |2000 |p=80}} They are sometimes referred to as the śrāvakayāna precepts in the Mahāyāna tradition, contrasting them with the bodhisattva precepts.{{sfn |Funayama|2004 |page=105}}The five precepts are not commandments and transgressions do not invite religious sanctions, but their power has been based on the Buddhist belief in karmic consequences and their impact in the afterlife. Killing in Buddhist belief leads to rebirth in the hell realms, and for a longer time in more severe conditions if the murder victim was a monk. Adultery, similarly, invites a rebirth as prostitute or in hell, depending on whether the partner was unmarried or married.{{sfn|McFarlane |2001|p=187}} These moral precepts have been voluntarily self-enforced in lay Buddhist culture through the associated belief in karma and rebirth.{{sfn|McFarlane |2001|pp=187–191}} Within the Buddhist doctrine, the precepts are meant to develop mind and character to make progress on the path to enlightenment.{{sfn |Getz |2004 |page=673}}The monastic life in Buddhism has additional precepts as part of patimokkha, and unlike lay people, transgressions by monks do invite sanctions. Full expulsion from sangha follows any instance of killing, engaging in sexual intercourse, theft or false claims about one's knowledge. Temporary expulsion follows a lesser offence.{{sfn|McFarlane |2001|p=192}} The sanctions vary per monastic fraternity (nikaya).{{sfn|McFarlane |2001|pp=192–193}}Lay people and novices in many Buddhist fraternities also uphold eight (asta shila) or ten (das shila) from time to time. Four of these are same as for the lay devotee: no killing, no stealing, no lying, and no intoxicants. The other four precepts are:{{sfn|Morgan|2007|pp=62–63}}BOOK, Richard Gombrich, Buddhist Precept & Practice,weblink 2012, Routledge, 978-1-136-15623-6, 76–94,
  1. No sexual activity;
  2. Abstain from eating at the wrong time (e.g. only eat solid food before noon);
  3. Abstain from jewellery, perfume, adornment, entertainment;
  4. Abstain from sleeping on high bed i.e. to sleep on a mat on the ground.
All eight precepts are sometimes observed by lay people on uposatha days: full moon, new moon, the first and last quarter following the lunar calendar. The ten precepts also include to abstain from accepting money.In addition to these precepts, Buddhist monasteries have hundreds of rules of conduct, which are a part of its patimokkha.BOOK, Charles Orzech, Henrik Sørensen, Richard Payne, Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia,weblink 2011, Brill Academic, 978-90-04-18491-6, 1013–1014, 1019–1020, The Ten Precepts, Dasa Sila, The Buddhist Monastic Code, Volume I, Thanissaro Bhikkhu{{Refn|group=note|The hundreds of rules vary by the sangha; 11th-century Chinese monastic texts include rules such as only reciting the Buddha's Word 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; etc.BOOK, Yifa (Translator), Zongze Chanyuan Qinggui, The Origins of Buddhist Monastic Codes in China,weblink 2002, University of Hawaii Press, 978-0-8248-2494-5, 114–132, }}


File:Chinese Buddhist Monks Ceremony Hangzhou.jpeg|thumb|alt=Buddhist monks in saffron robes standing performing a ceremony in Hangzhou, China|Monks performing a ceremony in HangzhouHangzhouVinaya is the specific code of conduct for a sangha of monks or nuns. It includes the Patimokkha, a set of 227 offences including 75 rules of decorum for monks, along with penalties for transgression, in the Theravadin tradition.{{sfn|Gombrich|1988|p=109}} The precise content of the Vinaya Pitaka (scriptures on the Vinaya) differs in different schools and tradition, and different monasteries set their own standards on its implementation. The list of pattimokkha is recited every fortnight in a ritual gathering of all monks.{{sfn|Gombrich|1988|p=109}} Buddhist text with vinaya rules for monasteries have been traced in all Buddhist traditions, with the oldest surviving being the ancient Chinese translations.{{sfn|Gombrich|1988|p=93}}Monastic communities in the Buddhist tradition cut normal social ties to family and community, and live as "islands unto themselves".{{sfn|Gombrich|1988|pp=89–92}} Within a monastic fraternity, a sangha has its own rules.{{sfn|Gombrich|1988|pp=89–92}} A monk abides by these institutionalised rules, and living life as the vinaya prescribes it is not merely a means, but very nearly the end in itself.{{sfn|Gombrich|1988|pp=89–92}} Transgressions by a monk on Sangha vinaya rules invites enforcement, which can include temporary or permanent expulsion.{{sfn|Gombrich|1988|pp=101–107}}

Samadhi (dhyana) – meditation

File:Rank celebration of Thai Buddhist monk 1.jpg|left|thumb|alt=Bhikkhus in saffron robes kneeling in Thailand|BhikkhuBhikkhuA 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 focusing of the mind, the focus is coupled to mindfulness, maintaining a calm mind while being aware of one's surroundings.{{sfn|Gombrich|2007}} The practice of dhyana aids in maintaining a calm mind, and avoiding disturbance of this calm mind by mindfulness of disturbing thoughts and feelings.{{sfn|Williams|2000|pp=45–46}}{{refn|group=note|Williams refers to Frauwallner (1973) p. 155}}


The earliest evidence of yogis and their meditative tradition, states Karel Werner, is found in the Keśin hymn 10.136 of the Rigveda.JOURNAL, Karel, Werner, 1977, Yoga and the Ṛg Veda: An Interpretation of the Keśin Hymn (RV 10, 136), Religious Studies, 13, 3, 289–302, 10.1017/S0034412500010076, While evidence suggests meditation was practised in the centuries preceding the Buddha,{{sfn|Carrithers|1986|p=30}} the meditative methodologies described in the Buddhist texts are some of the earliest among texts that have survived into the modern era.{{sfn|Gombrich|1988|p=44}}{{sfn|Miller|1996|p=8}} These methodologies likely incorporate what existed before the Buddha as well as those first developed within Buddhism.{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|pp=1–17}}{{Refn|group=note|Many ancient Upanishads of Hinduism describe yoga and meditation as a means to liberation.{{sfn|Collins|2000|p=199}}Mark Singleton (2010), Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0-19-539534-1}}, pp. 25–34BOOK, White, David Gordon, Yoga, Brief History of an Idea, 2011, Princeton University Press, 3–5, }}According to Bronkhorst, the Four Dhyanas was a Buddhist invention.{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|p=99}} 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 and Vinaya Pitaka – was composed over a long period of time".{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|p=xvii}} Meditative practices were incorporated from other sramanic movements;{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993}} the Buddhist texts describe how Buddha learnt the practice of the formless dhyana from Brahmanical practices, in the Nikayas ascribed to Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta.{{sfn|Wynne|2007|pp=50–56}}{{sfn|Kalupahana|1994|p=24}} The Buddhist canon also describes and criticises alternative dhyana practices, which likely mean the pre-existing mainstream meditation practices of Jainism and Hinduism.{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|pp=xvii, Part I: 1–3, 10–11, 24, Part II: 20–28}}Buddha added a new focus and interpretation, particularly through the Four Dhyanas methodology,{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|p=Part I: page 5}} in which mindfulness is maintained.{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|p=88}}{{sfn|Gombrich|2007}} Further, the focus of meditation and the underlying theory of liberation guiding the meditation has been different in Buddhism.{{sfn|Carrithers|1986|p=30}}{{sfn|Norman|1997|p=29}}{{sfn|Gombrich|1997|p=131}} For example, states Bronkhorst, the verse 4.4.23 of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad with its "become calm, subdued, quiet, patiently enduring, concentrated, one sees soul in oneself" is most probably a meditative state.{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|p=Chapter 9, page 86}} The Buddhist discussion of meditation is without the concept of soul and the discussion criticises both the ascetic meditation of Jainism and the "real self, soul" meditation of Hinduism.{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|pp=74 (Chapter 8); 102 (Conclusion)}}

Four rupa-jhāna and four arupa-jhāna

File:Horyu-ji,_November_2016.jpg|thumb|Buddhist monuments in the Horyu-ji Area ]]For Nirvana, 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.BOOK, Alex Wayman, Buddhist Insight: Essays,weblink 1984, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-0675-7, 81–85, These are described in the Pali Canon as trance-like states in the world of desirelessness.BOOK, Kevin Trainor, Buddhism: The Illustrated Guide,weblink 2004, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-517398-7, 80–81, The four dhyanas under rupa-jhanas are:
  1. First dhyana: detach from all sensory desires and sinful states that are a source of unwholesome karma. Success here is described in Buddhist texts as leading to discursive thinking, deliberation, detachment, sukha (pleasure) and priti (rapture).{{Refn|group=note|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.}}
  2. Second dhyana: cease deliberation and all discursive thoughts. Success leads to one-pointed thinking, serenity, pleasure and rapture.
  3. Third dhyana: lose feeling of rapture. Success leads to equanimity, mindfulness and pleasure, without rapture.
  4. 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).BOOK, Alex Wayman, Buddhist Insight: Essays,weblink 1984, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-0675-7, 86–89, 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.BOOK, Bruno Petzold, The Classification of Buddhism,weblink 1995, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 978-3-447-03373-2, 502–503, BOOK, Lewis Hodous, William E. Soothill, A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms: With Sanskrit and English Equivalents and a Sanskrit-Pali Index,weblink 2003, Routledge, 978-1-135-79123-0, 179, 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.{{sfn|Wynne|2007|p=140, note 58}}{{refn|group=note|Gombrich: "I know this is controversial, but it seems to me that the third and fourth jhanas are thus quite unlike the second."{{sfn|Wynne|2007|p=140, note 58}}}}Original publication: {{Citation | last =Gombrich | first =Richard | year =2007 | title =Religious Experience in Early Buddhism | publisher =OCHS Library | url =}} Alexander Wynne further explains that the dhyana-scheme is poorly understood.{{sfn|Wynne|2007|p=106}} 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,{{sfn|Wynne|2007|p=106}} whereas they refer to a particular way of perceiving the sense objects.{{sfn|Wynne|2007|p=106}}{{refn|group=note|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', [but] 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."{{sfn|Wynne|2007|pp=106–107}}}}{{refn|group=note|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."{{sfn|Wynne|2007|p=140, note 58}}}}

Meditation and insight

File:Buddha in Haw Phra Kaew.jpg|thumb|right|alt=bronze Statue of the Buddha in meditation position, Haw Phra Kaew, Vientiane Laos|Statue of the Buddha in meditation position, Haw Phra Kaew, Vientiane, Laos ]]{{See also|Four Noble Truths#Substituting "liberating insight"|l1=Meditation and insight|Yoga|l2=Yoga|}}The Buddhist tradition has incorporated two traditions regarding the use of dhyāna (meditation, Pali jhāna).{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993}} 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.{{sfn|Vetter|1988}}{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993}}{{sfn|Gombrich|1997}}{{refn|group=note|The problem was famously voiced in 1936 by Louis de La Vallee Poussin, in his text Musila et Narada: Le Chemin de Nirvana.{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|pp=133–134}} See Louis de La Vallée Poussin, Musial and Narad. Translated from the French by Gelongma Migme Chödrön and Gelong Lodrö Sangpo.}} Lambert Schmithausen, a professor of Buddhist Studies, discerns three possible roads to liberation as described in the suttas,{{refn|group=note|Schmithausen:{{sfn|Schmithausen|1981}}
  1. The four Rupa Jhanas themselves constituted the core liberating practice of early buddhism, c.q. the Buddha;{{sfn|Vetter|1988|pp=xxi–xxxvii}}
  2. Mastering the four Rupa Jhanas, where-after "liberating insight" is attained;
  3. Mastering the four Rupa Jhanas and the four Arupa Jhanas, where-after "liberating insight" is attained.}} to which Vetter adds the sole practice of dhyana itself.{{sfn|Vetter|1988|pp=xxi–xxxvii}}{{refn|group=note|name="Vetter-dhyana"|On Vetter and dhyana, see, for example, Vetter 1988:

* page xxvii: "Originally this ["the fourth stage [...] 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,"}} 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.{{sfn|Vetter|1988|pp=xxi–xxxvii}}{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|pp=93–111}} Frauwallner notes that the Buddha regarded tanha, "thirst," craving, to be the cause of suffering, not ignorance. But this was in contradiction to the Indian traditions of the time, and posed a problem, which was then also incorporated into the Buddhis teachings.{{sfn|Frauwallner|1973|p=156}} Later on, "liberating insight" came to be regarded as equally liberating.{{sfn|Gombrich|1997|pp=99–102}}{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|pp=93–111}} This "liberating insight" came to be exemplified by prajna, or the insight in the "four truths,"{{sfn|Gombrich|1997|pp=99–102}}{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|pp=93–111}} but also by other elements of the Buddhist teachings.{{sfn|Vetter|1988|pp=xxi–xxxvii}}{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|p=chapter 7}}

The Brahma-vihara

File:Phra Buddha Jinaraj - Phitsanulok.jpg|thumb|alt=gilded statue of Buddha in Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, Thailand|Statue of Buddha in Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, PhitsanulokPhitsanulokThe 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.{{sfn|Hirakawa |1993|pp=172–174}}BOOK, Peter Harvey, An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices,weblink 2012, Cambridge University Press, 978-1-139-85126-8, 154, 326, BOOK, Carl Olson, The A to Z of Buddhism,weblink 2009, Scarecrow, 978-0-8108-7073-4, 73, These are traditionally believed to be a characteristic of the deity Brahma and the heavenly abode he resides in.BOOK, Diane Morgan, Essential Buddhism: A Comprehensive Guide to Belief and Practice,weblink 2010, ABC-CLIO, 978-0-313-38452-3, 125, The four Brahma-vihara are:
  1. Loving-kindness (Pāli: mettā, Sanskrit: maitrī) is active good will towards all;
  2. Compassion (Pāli and Sanskrit: karuṇā) results from metta; it is identifying the suffering of others as one's own;
  3. 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;
  4. Equanimity (Pāli: upekkhā, Sanskrit: upekṣā): is even-mindedness and serenity, treating everyone impartially.BOOK, Merv Fowler, Buddhism: Beliefs and Practices,weblink 1999, Sussex Academic Press, 978-1-898723-66-0, 60–62,
According to Peter Harvey, the Buddhist scriptures acknowledge that the four Brahmavihara meditation practices "did not originate within the Buddhist tradition".BOOK, Peter Harvey, Buddhism,weblink 2001, Bloomsbury Academic, 978-1-4411-4726-4, 247, {{Refn|group=note|The 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 to be calling the Brahmavihara as "that practice", and he then contrasts it with "my practice".BOOK, Harvey B. Aronson, Love and Sympathy in Theravāda Buddhism,weblink 1980, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-1403-5, 71, }} The Brahmavihara (sometimes as Brahmaloka), along with the tradition of meditation and the above four immeasurables are found in pre-Buddha and post-Buddha Vedic and Sramanic literature.BOOK, Martin G. Wiltshire, Ascetic Figures Before and in Early Buddhism: The Emergence of Gautama as the Buddha,weblink 1990, Walter de Gruyter, 978-3-11-009896-9, 241–264, BOOK, K N Jayatilleke, Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge,weblink 2013, Routledge, 978-1-134-54287-1, 477–479, Aspects of the Brahmavihara practice for rebirths into the heavenly realm have been an important part of Buddhist meditation tradition.BOOK, Harvey B. Aronson, Love and Sympathy in Theravāda Buddhism,weblink 1980, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-1403-5, 60–83, BOOK, Steven Collins, Nirvana and Other Buddhist Felicities,weblink 1998, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-57054-1, 304–305 with footnote 13, 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.{{sfn|Gombrich|1997|pp=84–85}} According to Gombrich, "the Buddha taught that kindness – what Christians tend to call love – was a way to salvation."{{sfn|Gombrich|1997|p=62}}

Visualizations: deities, mandalas

{{See also|Generation stage|Mandala}}(File:Mandala zel-tary.jpg|thumb|Mandala are used in Buddhism for initiation ceremonies and visualisation.{{Sfn|Trainor|2004|pp=88–89}})Idols of deity and icons have been a part of the historic practice, and in Buddhist texts such as the 11th-century Sadanamala, a devotee visualises and identifies himself or herself with the imagined deity as part of meditation.{{Sfn|Trainor|2004|p=87}}BOOK, Luis Gomez, Donald S. Lopez Jr., Buddhism in Practice,weblink 2015, Princeton University Press, 978-1-4008-8007-2, 236–243, This has been particularly popular in Vajrayana meditative traditions, but also found in Mahayana and Theravada traditions, particularly in temples and with Buddha images.{{Sfn|Trainor|2004|pp=86–87}}In Tibetan Buddhism tradition, mandala are mystical maps for the visualisation process with cosmic symbolism.{{Sfn|Trainor|2004|pp=88–89}} There are numerous deities, each with a mandala, and they are used during initiation ceremonies and meditation.{{Sfn|Trainor|2004|pp=88–89}} The mandalas are concentric geometric shapes symbolising layers of the external world, gates and sacred space. The meditation deity is in the centre, sometimes surrounded by protective gods and goddesses.{{Sfn|Trainor|2004|pp=88–89}} Visualizations with deities and mandalas in Buddhism is a tradition traceable to ancient times, and likely well established by the time the 5th-century text Visuddhimagga was composed.{{Sfn|Trainor|2004|pp=88–89}}BOOK, Stuart Ray Sarbacker, Samadhi: The Numinous and Cessative in Indo-Tibetan Yoga,weblink 2012, State University of New York Press, 978-0-7914-8281-0, 117–124,

Practice: monks, laity

According to Peter Harvey, whenever Buddhism has been healthy, not only ordained but also more committed lay people have practised formal meditation.{{sfn|Harvey|2013|p=319}} 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.{{sfn|Harvey|2013|pp= 243–244, 257–258, 318–319}}Throughout most of Buddhist history, meditation has been primarily practised in Buddhist monastic tradition, and historical evidence suggests that serious meditation by lay people has been an exception.{{sfn|Keown|Prebish|2013|p=502}}BOOK, Jeff Wilson, Mindful America: The Mutual Transformation of Buddhist Meditation and American Culture,weblink 2014, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-938357-3, 48–49, BOOK, John Powers, The Buddhist World,weblink 2015, Routledge, 978-1-317-42016-3, 787, In recent history, sustained meditation has been pursued by a minority of monks in Buddhist monasteries.{{sfn|Keown|Prebish|2013|pp=502–504}} Western interest in meditation has led to a revival where ancient Buddhist ideas and precepts are adapted to Western mores and interpreted liberally, presenting Buddhism as a meditation-based form of spirituality.{{sfn|Keown|Prebish|2013|pp=502–504}}

Prajñā – insight

File:Monks_Debating_Practice_At_Sera_Monastery.JPG|thumb|Monks debating at Sera MonasterySera MonasteryPrajñā (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,{{Sfn|Trainor|2004|p=74}}{{Sfn|Conze|2013|pp=39–40}} and this develops dispassion for the objects of clinging, and liberates a being from dukkha and saṃsāra.BOOK, Merv Fowler, Buddhism: Beliefs and Practices,weblink 1999, Sussex Academic Press, 978-1-898723-66-0, 49–52, BOOK, Joseph Mitsuo Kitagawa, Frank E. Reynolds, Theodore M. Ludwig, Transitions and Transformations in the History of Religions: Essays in Honor of Joseph M. Kitagawa,weblink 1980, Brill Academic, 978-90-04-06112-5, 56–58, , Quote: Suffering describes the condition of samsaric (this worldly) existence that arises from actions generated by ignorance of anatta and anicca. The doctrines of no-self and impermanence are thus the keystones of dhammic order."{{Sfn|Gethin|1998|pp=73–75, 146–159, 243}} 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.{{Sfn|Buswell|2004|pp=664–665}}


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.{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|pp=74–75, section 8.4, Quote: These three points go a long way to show that the explicit descriptions of the content of liberating insight are not original to Buddhism, and were added under the influence of mainstream [Jainism, Hinduism] meditation.}} 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.{{sfn|Vetter|1988|pp=xxxii, xxxiii}}{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|pp=54–55, 96, 99}}{{refn|group=note|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."{{sfn|Vetter|1988|p=xxxiii}}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."{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|pp=54–55, 96, 99}}}}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 Truths served as such, to be superseded by pratityasamutpada, and still later, in the Hinayana schools, by the doctrine of the non-existence of a substantial self or person.{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|pp=100–101}}}}In the Pali Canon liberating insight is attained in the fourth dhyana.{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|p=102 section 8.4.3}} However, states Vetter, modern scholarship on the 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.{{sfn|Vetter|1988|pp=xxi–xxv}} 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."{{sfn|Vetter|1988|p=xxvii}} According to Vetter, dhyāna itself constituted the original "liberating practice".{{sfn|Vetter|1988|pp=xxi–xxxvii}}{{refn|group=note|name="Vetter-dhyana"}}Carol Anderson notes that insight is often depicted in the Vinaya as the opening of the Dhamma eye, which sets one on the Buddhist path to liberation.{{sfn|Anderson|2001|pp=131–167}}


File:Wider perspective on the Shwe Zi Gon (4463515829).jpg|alt=color monument of Buddha in lotus position, Shwezigon Paya near Bagan, Myanmar|thumb|Shwezigon Pagoda near Bagan, MyanmarMyanmarFile:Zahntempel Kandy.jpg|thumb|Temple of the Tooth, Kandy, Sri LankaSri Lanka


In 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).{{sfn|Welch|1967|p=396}}WEB, What is Theravada Buddhism?,weblink Access to Insight, Access to Insight, 17 August 2013, Samatha is also called "calming meditation", and was adopted into Buddhism from pre-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)".{{Sfn|Keown|1996|pp=106–107, context: Chapter 7}}The focus of Vipassana meditation is to continuously and thoroughly know impermanence of everything (annica), no-Self in anything (anatta) and the dukkha teachings of Buddhism.BOOK, Ba Khin, Pierluigi Confalonieri, The Clock of Vipassana Has Struck,weblink 1999, Pariyatti, 978-0-9649484-6-4, 113–114, BOOK, George D. Chryssides, Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements,weblink 2012, Rowman & Littlefield, 978-0-8108-6194-7, 363, Contemporary 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 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.{{sfn|Bond|1992|p=167}}

Dependent arising

Pratityasamutpada, also called "dependent arising, or dependent origination", is the Buddhist theory to explain the nature and relations of being, becoming, existence and ultimate reality. Buddhism asserts that there is nothing independent, except the state of nirvana.{{sfn|Harvey|1990|p=54}} 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.John Bowker, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions (1997), Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|0-19-213965-7}}The 'dependent arisings' have a causal conditioning, and thus Pratityasamutpada is the Buddhist belief that causality is the basis of ontology, not a creator God nor the ontological Vedic concept called universal Self (Brahman) nor any other 'transcendent creative principle'.{{sfn|Williams|2002|p=64, Quote: In the Mahatanhasankhaya Sutta the Buddha [stresses] 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.}}BOOK, Robert Neville, Jeremiah Hackett, Jerald Wallulis, Philosophy of Religion for a New Century: Essays in Honor of Eugene Thomas Long,weblink 2004, Springer, 978-1-4020-2073-5, 257, , Quote: "[Buddhism's ontological hypotheses] 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." However, the Buddhist thought does not understand causality in terms of Newtonian mechanics, rather it understands it as conditioned arising.{{sfn|Gethin|1998|pp=153–155}}BOOK, Guy Debrock, Paul B. Scheurer, G. Debrock, Newton's Scientific and Philosophical Legacy,weblink 2012, Springer, 978-94-009-2809-1, 376 with note 12, 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.BOOK, David J. Kalupahana, Causality: The Central Philosophy of Buddhism,weblink 1975, University of Hawaii Press, 978-0-8248-0298-1, 54–60, BOOK, Genjun Sasaki, Linguistic Approach to Buddhist Thought,weblink 1986, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-0038-0, 67–69, {{sfn|Gethin|1998|pp=151–152}}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 (becoming), Jāti (birth), and Jarāmaraṇa (old age, death, sorrow, pain).{{sfn|Harvey|2013|pp=65–72}}{{Sfn| Emmanuel|2015|pp=51–66}}By breaking the circuitous links of the Twelve Nidanas, Buddhism asserts that liberation from these endless cycles of rebirth and dukkha can be attained.{{sfn|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 [doctrine] 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."}}


File:Kamakura_Budda_Daibutsu_front_1885.jpg|thumb|The Great Statue of Amitābha in KamakuraKamakura


Śūnyatā, or "emptiness", is a central concept in Nagarjuna's 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 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.{{sfn|Lindtner|1997|p=324}}

Representation-ony c.q. mind-only

Sarvastivada teachings, which were criticised by Nāgārjuna, were reformulated by scholars such as Vasubandhu and Asanga and were adapted into the Yogachara school. One of the main features of Yogācāra philosophy is the concept of vijñapti-mātra. It is often used interchangeably with the term citta-mātra, but they have different meanings. The standard translation of both terms is "consciousness-only" or "mind-only." Several modern researchers object to this translation, and the accompanying label of "absolute idealism" or "idealistic monism".{{sfn|Kochumuttom|1999|p=1}} A better translation for vijñapti-mātra is representation-only,{{sfn|Kochumuttom|1999|p=5}} while an alternative translation for citta (mind, thought) mātra (only, exclusively) has not been proposed.While the Mādhyamaka school held that asserting the existence or non-existence of any ultimately real thing was inappropriate, some later exponents of Yogachara asserted that the mind and only the mind is ultimately real (a doctrine known as cittamatra). Vasubandhu and Asanga however did not assert that mind was truly existent, or the basis of all reality.WEB, Lusthaus, Dan, What is and isn't Yogacara,weblink dead,weblink" title="">weblink 31 March 2010, These two schools of thought, in opposition or synthesis, form the basis of subsequent Mahayana metaphysics in the Indo-Tibetan tradition.


Buddha-nature is a concept found in some 1st-millennium CE Buddhist texts, such as the Tathāgatagarbha sÅ«tras. This concept has been controversial in Buddhism, but has a following in East Asian Buddhism.{{Sfn|Paul Williams|2008|pp=103–109, 161}}{{Sfn|Hookham|1991|pp=100–104}} These Sutras suggest, states Paul Williams, that 'all sentient beings contain a Tathagata' as their 'essence, core inner nature, Self'.{{Sfn|Paul Williams|2008|p=104}}{{refn|group=note|Wayman and Wayman have disagreed with this view, and they state that the Tathagatagarbha is neither self nor sentient being, nor soul, nor personality.{{Sfn|Paul Williams|2008|p=107}}}} The Tathagatagarbha doctrine, at its earliest probably appeared about the later part of the 3rd century CE, and it contradicts the Anatta doctrine (non-Self) in a vast majority of Buddhist texts, leading scholars to posit that the Tathagatagarbha Sutras were written to promote Buddhism to non-Buddhists.{{Sfn|Paul Williams|2008|pp=104–105, 108–109; Quote: "... [The Mahaparinirvana Sutra] refers to the Buddha using the term "Self" in order to win over non-Buddhist ascetics."}}BOOK, Merv Fowler, Buddhism: Beliefs and Practices,weblink 1999, Sussex Academic Press, 978-1-898723-66-0, 101–102, , Quote: "Some texts of the tathagatagarbha literature, such as the Mahaparinirvana Sutra actually refer to an atman, though other texts are careful to avoid the term. This would be in direct opposition to the general teachings of Buddhism on anatta. Indeed, the distinctions between the general Indian concept of atman and the popular Buddhist concept of Buddha-nature are often blurred to the point that writers consider them to be synonymous." However, the Buddhist text Ratnagotravibhāga states that the "Self" implied in Tathagatagarbha doctrine is actually "not-Self".{{Sfn|Paul Williams|2008|p=112}}{{Sfn|Hookham|1991|p=96}}


File:IMG_1016_Lhasa_Barkhor.jpg|thumb|Bhatti (devotion) at Jokhang, Tibet. Chanting during Bhatti Puja is part of the Theravada Buddhist tradition.]]Devotion is an important part of the practice of most Buddhists.{{sfn|Harvey|1990|p=170}} Devotional practices include ritual prayer, prostration, offerings, pilgrimage, and chanting.{{Sfn|Trainor|2004|pp=84–85, 105, 108–109, 112–113, 116, 165, 185}} In Pure Land Buddhism, devotion to the Buddha Amitabha is the main practice. In Nichiren Buddhism, devotion to the Lotus Sutra is the main practice. Bhakti (called Bhatti in Pali) has been a common practice in Theravada Buddhism, where offerings and group prayers are made to deities and particularly images of Buddha.Donald Swearer (2003), Buddhism in the Modern World: Adaptations of an Ancient Tradition (Editors: Heine and Prebish), Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0195146981}}, pp. 9–25 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.Karel Werner (1995). Love Divine: Studies in Bhakti and Devotional Mysticism, Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0700702350}}, pp. 45–46{{Sfn|Trainor|2004|pp=108–109, Quote: "(...) both textual and archaeological evidence shows that devotion has long been a part of Buddhism. The practice of venerating relics and images has long played a central role even in Buddhist traditions that strongly emphasize that Gautama Buddha was a human being (...)".}}Guru devotion is a central practice of Tibetan Buddhism.BOOK, Doris Wolter, Losing the Clouds, Gaining the Sky: Buddhism and the Natural Mind,weblink 2007, Simon & Schuster, 978-0-86171-359-2, 59–62, 72–76, BOOK, Rita M. Gross, Buddhism After Patriarchy: A Feminist History, Analysis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism,weblink 1993, State University of New York Press, 978-0-7914-1403-3, 253, The guru is considered essential and to the Buddhist devotee, the guru is the "enlightened teacher and ritual master" in Vajrayana spiritual pursuits.BOOK, Stephen C. Berkwitz, South Asian Buddhism: A Survey,weblink 2010, Routledge, 978-0-415-45249-6, 130–133, 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 and Zen Buddhism.BOOK, Donald Mitchell, Gethsemani Encounter: A Dialogue on the Spiritual Life by Buddhist and Christian Monastics,weblink 1999, Bloomsbury Academic, 978-0-8264-1165-5, 199–200,

Buddhist texts

missing image!
- Nava Jetavana Temple - Shravasti - 013 First Council at Rajagaha (9241729223).jpg -
upright=1.2|A depiction of the supposed First Buddhist council at Rajgir. Communal recitation was one of the original ways of transmitting and preserving Early Buddhist texts.
Buddhism, like all Indian religions, was initially 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 earliest texts were transmitted in Middle Indo-Aryan languages called Prakrits, such as Pali, through the use of communal recitation and other mnemonic techniques.{{Sfn|Gethin|1998|pp=39–41}}The first Buddhist canonical texts were likely written down in Sri Lanka, about 400 years after the Buddha died. The texts were part of the Tripitakas, and many versions appeared thereafter claiming to be the words of the Buddha. Scholarly Buddhist commentary texts, with named authors, appeared in India, around the 2nd century CE. These texts were written in Pali or Sanskrit, sometimes regional languages, as palm-leaf manuscripts, birch bark, painted scrolls, carved into temple walls, and later on paper.BOOK, Donald Lopez, Buddhist Scriptures,weblink 2004, Penguin Books, 978-0-14-190937-0, xi–xv, Unlike what the Bible is to 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.BOOK, Donald Lopez, Buddhist Scriptures,weblink 2004, Penguin Books, 978-0-14-190937-0, xii–xiii, {{sfn|Gethin|2008|p=xiv}}{{sfn|Eliot|1935|p=16}} This corpus includes the ancient Sutras organised into Nikayas or Agamas, itself the part of three basket of texts called the Tripitakas.BOOK, Donald Lopez, Buddhist Scriptures,weblink 2004, Penguin Books, 978-0-14-190937-0, xiii–xvii, Each Buddhist tradition has its own collection of texts, much of which is translation of ancient Pali and Sanskrit Buddhist texts of India. The Chinese Buddhist canon, for example, includes 2184 texts in 55 volumes, while the Tibetan canon comprises 1108 texts{{snd}}all claimed to have been spoken by the Buddha{{snd}}and another 3461 texts composed by Indian scholars revered in the Tibetan tradition.BOOK, Donald Lopez, Buddhist Scriptures,weblink 2004, Penguin Books, 978-0-14-190937-0, xi–xxv, The Buddhist textual history is vast; over 40,000 manuscripts{{snd}}mostly Buddhist, some non-Buddhist{{snd}}were discovered in 1900 in the Dunhuang Chinese cave alone.

Early Buddhist texts

(File:Fragmentary Buddhist text - Gandhara birchbark scrolls (1st C), part 31 - BL Or. 14915.jpg|thumb|Gandhara birchbark scroll fragments (c. 1st century) from British Library Collection)The Early Buddhist Texts refers to the literature which is considered by modern scholars to be the earliest Buddhist material. The first four Pali Nikayas, and the corresponding Chinese Āgamas are generally considered to be among the earliest material.{{Sfn|Gethin|1998|pp=42–43}}{{sfn|Sujato|Brahmali|2015|pp=9–10}}Mun-Keat Choong (1999). The Notion of Emptiness in Early Buddhism, Motilal Banarsidass, p. 3. {{ISBN|978-8120816497}}. Apart from these, there are also fragmentary collections of EBT materials in other languages such as Sanskrit, Khotanese, Tibetan and Gāndhārī. The modern study of early Buddhism often relies on comparative scholarship using these various early Buddhist sources to identify parallel texts and common doctrinal content.e.g. "Mun-keat, Choong (2000), The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism" and "Analayo. Early Buddhist Meditation Studies (Volume 1)" One feature of these early texts are literary structures which reflect oral transmission, such as widespread repetition.JOURNAL, Anālayo, Bhikkhu Analayo, 2008, Reflections on Comparative Āgama Studies,weblink Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal, Taipei: Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies, 21, 3–21, 1017-7132, {{PaliCanon|abbrev=1}}

The Tripitakas

After the development of the different early Buddhist schools, these schools began to develop their own textual collections, which were termed Tripiṭakas (Triple Baskets).A. K. Warder (2000). Indian Buddhism. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 282–283. {{ISBN|978-81-208-1741-8}}.Many early Tripiṭakas, like the Pāli Tipitaka, were divided into three sections: Vinaya Pitaka (focuses on monastic rule), Sutta Pitaka (Buddhist discourses) and Abhidhamma Pitaka, which contain expositions and commentaries on the doctrine.The Pāli Tipitaka (also known as the Pali Canon) of the Theravada School constitutes the only complete collection of Buddhist texts in an Indic language which has survived until today.Crosby, Kate (2013). Theravada Buddhism: Continuity, Diversity, and Identity. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 2. {{ISBN|978-1405189064}} However, many Sutras, Vinayas and Abhidharma works from other schools survive in Chinese translation, as part of the Chinese Buddhist Canon. According to some sources, some early schools of Buddhism had five or seven pitakas.{{sfn|Skilling|1992|p=114}}Much of the material in the Pali Canon is not specifically "Theravadin", but is instead the collection of teachings that this school preserved from the early, non-sectarian body of teachings. According to Peter Harvey, it contains material at odds with later Theravadin orthodoxy. He states: "The Theravadins, then, may have added texts to the Canon for some time, but they do not appear to have tampered with what they already had from an earlier period."{{sfn|Harvey|1995|p=9}}

Abhidharma and the Commentaries

A distinctive feature of many Tripitaka collections is the inclusion of a genre called Abhidharma, which dates from the 3rd century BCE and later. According to Collett Cox, the genre began as explanations and elaborations of the teachings in the suttas but over time evolved into an independent system of doctrinal exposition.Cox, Collett (2003). "Abidharma", in: Buswell, Robert E. ed. Encyclopedia of Buddhism, New York: Macmillan Reference Lib. pp. 1–7. {{ISBN|0028657187}}.Over time, the various Abhidharma traditions developed various disagreements which each other on points of doctrine, which were discussed in the different Abhidharma texts of these schools.{{Sfn|Gethin|1998|pp=54–55}} The major Abhidharma collections which modern scholars have the most information about are those of the Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda schools.{{Sfn|Gethin|1998|p=48}}In Sri Lanka and South India, the Theravāda Abhidhamma system was the most influential. In addition to the Abhidharma project, some of the schools also began accumulating a literary tradition of scriptural commentary on their respective Tripitakas. These commentaries were particularly important in the Theravāda school, and the Pali commentaries (Aṭṭhakathā) remain influential today. Both Abhidhamma and the Pali Commentaries influenced the Visuddhimagga, an important 5th-century text by the Theravada scholar Buddhaghosa, who also translated and compiled many of the Aṭṭhakathās from older Sinhalese sources.Visuddhimagga, Encyclopædia Britannica (2015){{Sfn|Gethin|1998|p=55}}The Sarvāstivāda school was one of the most influential Abhidharma traditions in North India.Wataru S. Ryose (1987). A Study of the Abhidharmahṛdaya: The Historical Development of the Concept of Karma in the Sarvāstivāda Thought. PhD thesis. University of Wisconsin-Madison. p. 3. The magnum opus of this tradition was the massive Abhidharma commentary called the Mahāvibhaṣa ('Great Commentary'), compiled at a great synod in Kashmir during the reign of Kanishka II (c. 158–176).Westerhoff, Jan (2018) The Golden Age of Indian Buddhist Philosophy in the First Millennium CE. Oxford University Press. p. 61. {{ISBN|978-0198732662}}. The Abhidharmakosha of Vasubandhu is another very influential Abhidharma work from the northern tradition, which continues to be studied in East Asian Buddhism and in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism.{{Sfn|Gethin|1998|p=56}}

Mahāyāna texts

File:Korea-Haeinsa-Tripitaka Koreana-01.jpg|thumb|alt=Tripiṭaka Koreana in South Korea, over 81,000 wood printing blocks stored in racks|The Tripiṭaka Koreana in South Korea, an edition of the Chinese Buddhist canonChinese Buddhist canonThe Mahāyāna sūtras are a very broad genre of Buddhist scriptures that the Mahāyāna Buddhist tradition holds are original teachings of the Buddha. Modern historians generally hold that the first of these texts were composed probably around the 1st century BCE or 1st century CE.Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): p. 293Akira, Hirakawa (translated and edited by Paul Groner) (1993). A History of Indian Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass: p. 252{{sfn|Buswell|2004|p=494}}In Mahāyāna, these texts are generally given greater authority than the early Āgamas and Abhidharma literature, which are called "Śrāvakayāna" or "Hinayana" to distinguish them from Mahāyāna sūtras.Nattier, Jan (2003), A Few Good Men: The Bodhisattva Path according to The Inquiry of Ugra (Ugraparipṛcchā), University of Hawaii Press, pp. 172–174, {{ISBN|978-0824830038}} Mahāyāna traditions mainly see these different classes of texts as being designed for different types of persons, with different levels of spiritual understanding. The Mahāyāna sūtras are mainly seen as being for those of "greater" capacity.Rinpoche, Kalu (1995), Profound Buddhism From Hinayana To Vajrayana, Clearpoint Press. p. 15. {{ISBN|978-0963037152}}{{Better source|reason=this claim needs a non-sectarian source|date=September 2019}}The Mahāyāna sūtras often claim to articulate the Buddha's deeper, more advanced doctrines, reserved for those who follow the bodhisattva path. That path is explained as being built upon the motivation to liberate all living beings from unhappiness. Hence the name Mahāyāna (lit., the Great Vehicle). Besides the teaching of the bodhisattva, Mahāyāna texts also contain expanded cosmologies and mythologies, with many more Buddhas and powerful bodhisattvas, as well as new spiritual practices and ideas.Drewes, David, Early Indian Mahayana Buddhism II: New Perspectives, Religion Compass 4/2 (2010): 66–74, {{doi|10.1111/j.1749-8171.2009.00193.x}}The modern Theravada school does not treat the Mahāyāna sūtras as authoritative or authentic teachings of the Buddha.BOOK,weblink Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, John Powers, Snow Lion, 2007, 978-1-55939-835-0, 111, Likewise, these texts were not recognized as authoritative by many early Buddhist schools and in some cases, communities such as the Mahāsāṃghika school split up due to this disagreement.Sree Padma. Barber, Anthony W. Buddhism in the Krishna River Valley of Andhra. 2008. p. 68.(File:Konchog-wangdu.jpeg|thumb|alt=Buddhist monk Geshe Konchog Wangdu in red robe reads Mahayana sutras on stand|Buddhist monk Geshe Konchog Wangdu reads Mahayana sutras from an old woodblock copy of the Tibetan Kanjur.)Recent scholarship has discovered many early Mahāyāna texts which shed light into the development of Mahāyāna. Among these is the Śālistamba Sutra which survives in Tibetan and Chinese translation. This text contains numerous sections which are remarkably similar to Pali suttas.BOOK, N. Ross Reat, Buddhism: A History,weblink 1994, Asian Humanities Press, 978-0-87573-001-1, 30, for context: 25–33, The Śālistamba Sutra was cited by Mahāyāna scholars such as the 8th-century Yasomitra to be authoritative.BOOK, Alan Sponberg, Maitreya, the Future Buddha,weblink 1988, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-34344-2, 68–69, This suggests that Buddhist literature of different traditions shared a common core of Buddhist texts in the early centuries of its history, until Mahāyāna literature diverged about and after the 1st century CE.Mahāyāna also has a very large literature of philosophical and exegetical texts. These are often called śāstra (treatises) or vrittis (commentaries). Some of this literature was also written in verse form (karikās), the most famous of which is the Mūlamadhyamika-karikā (Root Verses on the Middle Way) by Nagarjuna, the foundational text of the Madhyamika school.

Tantric texts

During the Gupta Empire, a new class of Buddhist sacred literature began to develop, which are called the Tantras.Wayman, Alex (2008). The Buddhist Tantras: Light on Indo-Tibetan Esotericism. Routledge. p. 23. By the 8th century, the tantric tradition was very influential in India and beyond. Besides drawing on a Mahāyāna Buddhist framework, these texts also borrowed deities and material from other Indian religious traditions, such as the Śaiva and Pancharatra traditions, local god/goddess cults, and local spirit worship (such as yaksha or nāga spirits).Sørensen, Henrik H; Payne, Richard K; Orzech, Charles D. (ed.) (2010). Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras, in East Asia. Handbook of Oriental Studies. p. 20.Grey, David B.; Tantra and the Tantric Traditions of Hinduism and BuddhismSome features of these texts include the widespread use of mantras, meditation on the subtle body, worship of fierce deities, and antinomian and (wikt:transgressive|transgressive) practices such as ingesting alcohol and performing sexual rituals.Williams, Tribe and Wynne (2000). Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition, chapter 7.Wallis, Christopher (2016). The Tantric Age: A Comparison Of Shaiva And Buddhist Tantra.Dalton, J. “A Crisis of Doxography: How Tibetans Organized Tantra During the 8th–12th Centuries,” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 28.1 (2005): 115–181.


Historical roots

File:Lascar_Ellora_caves_-_Cave_10_(Vishwakarma_cave)_(4558324543).jpg|thumb|The Buddhist "Carpenter's Cave" at Ellora in MaharashtraMaharashtraHistorically, the roots of Buddhism lie in the religious thought of Iron Age India around the middle of the first millennium BCE.{{sfn|Gethin|2008|p=xv}} This was a period of great intellectual ferment and socio-cultural change known as the "Second urbanisation", marked by the composition of the Upanishads and the historical emergence of the Sramanic traditions.BOOK, Abraham Eraly, The First Spring: The Golden Age of India,weblink 2011, Penguin Books, 978-0-670-08478-4, 538, 571, {{Sfn|Gombrich|1988|pp=26–41}}{{Refn|group=note|While some interpretations state that Buddhism may have originated as a social reform, other scholars state that it is incorrect and anachronistic to regard the Buddha as a social reformer. Buddha's concern was "to reform individuals, help them to leave society forever, not to reform the world... he never preached against social inequality". Richard Gombrich, quoted by Christopher Queen.BOOK, Christopher S. Queen, Sallie B. King, Engaged Buddhism: Buddhist Liberation Movements in Asia,weblink 1996, State University of New York Press, 978-0-7914-2844-3, 17–18, {{Sfn|Gombrich|1988|pp=30–31}}}}New ideas developed both in the Vedic tradition in the form of the Upanishads, and outside of the Vedic tradition through the Śramaṇa movements.BOOK, Hajime Nakamura, A History of Early Vedānta Philosophy,weblink 1983, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-0651-1, 102–104, 264–269, 294–295, ; Quote: "But the Upanishadic ultimate meaning of the Vedas, was, from the viewpoint of the Vedic canon in general, clearly a new idea.."; p. 95: The [oldest] Upanishads in particular were part of the Vedic corpus (...) When these various new ideas were brought together and edited, they were added on to the already existing Vedic..."; p. 294: "When early Jainism came into existence, various ideas mentioned in the extant older Upanishads were current,....".BOOK, Klaus G. Witz, The Supreme Wisdom of the Upaniṣads: An Introduction,weblink 1998, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-1573-5, 1–2, 23, ; Quote: "In the Aranyakas therefore, thought and inner spiritual awareness started to separate subtler, deeper aspects from the context of ritual performance and myth with which they had been united up to then. This process was then carried further and brought to completion in the Upanishads. (...) The knowledge and attainment of the Highest Goal had been there from the Vedic times. But in the Upanishads inner awareness, aided by major intellectual breakthroughs, arrived at a language in which Highest Goal could be dealt with directly, independent of ritual and sacred lore".BOOK, Edward Fitzpatrick Crangle, The Origin and Development of Early Indian Contemplative Practices,weblink 1994, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 978-3-447-03479-1, 58 with footnote 148, 22–29, 87–103, for Upanishads–Buddhist Sutta discussion see 65–72, BOOK, Patrick Olivelle, The Samnyasa Upanisads: Hindu Scriptures on Asceticism and Renunciation,weblink 1992, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-536137-7, 3–5, 68–71, ;BOOK, Christoph Wulf, Exploring Alterity in a Globalized World,weblink 2016, Routledge, 978-1-317-33113-1, 125–126, ; Quote: "But he [Bronkhorst] talks about the simultaneous emergence of a Vedic and a non-Vedic asceticism. (...) [On Olivelle] Thus, the challenge for old Vedic views consisted of a new theology, written down in the early Upanishads like the Brhadaranyaka and the Mundaka Upanishad. The new set of ideas contained the...." The term Śramaṇa refers to several Indian religious movements parallel to but separate from the historical Vedic religion, including Buddhism, Jainism and others such as Ājīvika.AL Basham (1951), History and Doctrines of the Ajivikas – a Vanished Indian Religion, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120812048}}, pp. 94–103Several Śramaṇa movements are known to have existed in India before the 6th century BCE (pre-Buddha, pre-Mahavira), and these influenced both the āstika and nāstika traditions of Indian philosophy.Reginald Ray (1999), Buddhist Saints in India, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0195134834}}, pp. 237–240, 247–249 According to Martin Wilshire, the Śramaṇa tradition evolved in India over two phases, namely Paccekabuddha and Savaka phases, the former being the tradition of individual ascetic and the latter of disciples, and that Buddhism and Jainism ultimately emerged from these.Martin Wiltshire (1990), Ascetic Figures Before and in Early Buddhism, De Gruyter, {{ISBN|978-3110098969}}, p. 293 Brahmanical and non-Brahmanical ascetic groups shared and used several similar ideas,{{sfn|Samuel|2010|pp=123–125}} but the Śramaṇa traditions also drew upon already established Brahmanical concepts and philosophical roots, states Wiltshire, to formulate their own doctrines.Martin Wiltshire (1990), Ascetic Figures Before and in Early Buddhism, De Gruyter, {{ISBN|978-3110098969}}, pp. 226–227 Brahmanical motifs can be found in the oldest Buddhist texts, using them to introduce and explain Buddhist ideas.{{sfn|Shults|2014|p=126}} For example, prior to Buddhist developments, the Brahmanical tradition internalised and variously reinterpreted the three Vedic sacrificial fires as concepts such as Truth, Rite, Tranquility or Restraint.{{sfn|Shults|2014|p=127}} Buddhist texts also refer to the three Vedic sacrificial fires, reinterpreting and explaining them as ethical conduct.{{sfn|Shults|2014|pp=125–129}}The Śramaṇa religions challenged and broke with the Brahmanic tradition on core assumptions such as Atman (soul, self), Brahman, the nature of afterlife, and they rejected the authority of the Vedas and Upanishads.P. Billimoria (1988), Śabdapramāṇa: Word and Knowledge, Studies of Classical India Volume 10, Springer, {{ISBN|978-94-010-7810-8}}, pp. 1–30{{Sfn| Jaini|2001|pp=47–48}} Buddhism was one among several Indian religions that did so.BOOK, Mark Siderits, Buddhism as Philosophy: An Introduction,weblink 2007, Ashgate, 978-0-7546-5369-1, 16 with footnote 3,

Indian Buddhism

File:Sankaram_caves.JPG|thumb|Rock-cut Lord Buddha statue at Bojjanakonda near Anakapalle in the Visakhapatnam district of Andhra PradeshAndhra PradeshThe history of Indian Buddhism may be divided into five periods:{{sfn|Hirakawa|1993|p=7}} Early Buddhism (occasionally called pre-sectarian Buddhism), Nikaya Buddhism or Sectarian Buddhism: The period of the early Buddhist schools, Early Mahayana Buddhism, later Mahayana Buddhism, and Vajrayana Buddhism.File:Sanchi Stupa No 2.jpg|thumb|Sanchi Stupa near Vidisha , Madhya PradeshMadhya Pradesh

Pre-sectarian Buddhism

According to Lambert Schmithausen Pre-sectarian Buddhism is "the canonical period prior to the development of different schools with their different positions."Schmithausen (1987) “Part I: Earliest Buddhism,” Panels of the VIIth World Sanskrit Conference Vol. II: Earliest Buddhism and Madhyamaka, ed. David Seyfort Ruegg and Lambert Schmithausen, Leiden: Kern Institute, pp. 1–4.The early Buddhist Texts include the four principal Nikāyas {{refn|The Digha Nikaya, Majjhima Nikaya, Samyutta Nikaya and Anguttara Nikaya|group=note}} (and their parallel Agamas) together with the main body of monastic rules, which survive in the various versions of the patimokkha.{{sfn|Sujato|Brahmali|2015|p=39–41}}{{sfn|Gethin|2008|p=xviii}}Harvey, Peter. An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices. Introduction to Religion. Cambridge University Press, 1990, p. 3. However, these texts were revised over time, and it is unclear what constitutes the earliest layer of Buddhist teachings. One method to obtain information on the oldest core of Buddhism is to compare the oldest extant versions of the Theravadin Pāli Canon and other texts.{{refn|group=note|The surviving portions of the scriptures of Sarvastivada, Mulasarvastivada, Mahīśāsaka, Dharmaguptaka and other schools.{{sfn|Vetter|1988|p=ix}}{{sfn|Warder|1999}}}} The reliability of the early sources, and the possibility to draw out a core of oldest teachings, is a matter of dispute.{{sfn|Vetter|1988|pp=xxi–xxxvii}} According to Vetter, inconsistencies remain, and other methods must be applied to resolve those inconsistencies.{{sfn|Vetter|1988|p=ix}}{{refn|group=note|Exemplary studies are the study on descriptions of "liberating insight" by Lambert Schmithausen,{{sfn|Schmithausen|1981}} the overview of early Buddhism by Tilmann Vetter,{{sfn|Vetter|1988}} the philological work on the four truths by K.R. Norman,{{sfn|Norman|1992}} the textual studies by Richard Gombrich,{{sfn|Gombrich|1997}} and the research on early meditation methods by Johannes Bronkhorst.{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1997}}}}According to Schmithausen, three positions held by scholars of Buddhism can be distinguished:{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|p=vii}}
  1. "Stress on the fundamental homogeneity and substantial authenticity of at least a considerable part of the Nikayic materials;"{{refn|group=note|Well-known proponents of the first position are A. K. Warder{{refn|group=subnote|According to A.K. Warder, in his 1970 publication "Indian Buddhism", from the oldest extant texts a common kernel can be drawn out.{{sfn|Warder|1999}} According to Warder, c.q. his publisher: "This kernel of doctrine is presumably common Buddhism of the period before the great schisms of the fourth and third centuries BC. It may be substantially the Buddhism of the Buddha himself, although this cannot be proved: at any rate it is a 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 and his immediate followers."{{sfn|Warder||1999|inside flap}}}} and Richard Gombrich.{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1997|p=viii}}{{refn|group=subnote|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."{{sfn|Gombrich|1997}}}}}}
  2. "Scepticism with regard to the possibility of retrieving the doctrine of earliest Buddhism;"{{refn|group=note|A proponent of the second position is Ronald Davidson.{{refn|group=subnote|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."{{sfn|Davidson|2003|p=147}}}}}}
  3. "Cautious optimism in this respect."{{refn|group=note|Well-known proponents of the third position are J.W. de Jong,{{sfn|Jong|1993|p=25}}{{refn|group=subnote|name="Jong"|J.W. De Jong: "It would be hypocritical to assert that nothing can be said about the doctrine of earliest Buddhism [...] the basic ideas of Buddhism found in the canonical writings could very well have been proclaimed by him [the Buddha], transmitted and developed by his disciples and, finally, codified in fixed formulas."{{sfn|Jong|1993|p=25}}}} Johannes Bronkhorst{{refn|group=subnote|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."{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1997|p=vii}}}} and Donald Lopez.{{refn|group=subnote|Lopez: "The original teachings of the historical Buddha are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to recover or reconstruct."{{sfn|Lopez|1995|p=4}}}}}}

Core teachings

(File:Buddhist Chakras at ASI Museum, Amaravathi.jpg|thumb|Buddhist Chakras at ASI Museum, Amaravathi)According to Mitchell, certain basic teachings appear in many places throughout the early texts, which has led most scholars to conclude that Gautama Buddha must have taught something similar to the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, Nirvana, the three marks of existence, the five aggregates, dependent origination, karma and rebirth.{{sfn|Mitchell|2002|p=34}} Yet critical analysis reveals discrepancies, which point to alternative possibilities.{{sfn|Skorupski|1990|p=5}}{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1998|pp=4, 11}}{{sfn|Schopen|2002|pp=}}Bruce Matthews notes that there is no cohesive presentation of karma in the Sutta Pitaka,{{sfn|Matthews|1986|p=124}} which may mean that the doctrine was incidental to the main perspective of early Buddhist soteriology.{{sfn|Matthews|1986|p=124}} Schmithausen has questioned whether karma already played a role in the theory of rebirth of earliest Buddhism.{{sfn|Schmithausen|1986}}{{Page needed|date=March 2015}}{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1998|p=13}}{{refn|group=note|According to Schmithausen, "the karma doctrine may have been incidental to early Buddhist soteriology."{{sfn|Schmithausen|1986|pp=206–207}}}} According to Vetter, "the Buddha at first sought "the deathless" (amata/amrta), which is concerned with the here and now. Only later did he become acquainted with the doctrine of rebirth."{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1998|p=3}} Bronkhorst disagrees, and concludes that the Buddha "introduced a concept of karma that differed considerably from the commonly held views of his time."{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1998|p=16}} According to Bronkhorst, not physical and mental activities as such were seen as responsible for rebirth, but intentions and desire.{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1998|p=14}}Another core problem in the study of early Buddhism is the relation between dhyana and insight.{{sfn|Vetter|1988}}{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993}}{{sfn|Gombrich|1997}} Schmithausen states that the four noble truths as "liberating insight", may be a later addition to texts such as Majjhima Nikaya 36.{{sfn|Schmithausen|1981}}{{Page needed|date=March 2015}}{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|pp=77–78, Section 8.4.3}}{{sfn|Vetter|1988|p=5, Quote: [T]hey do not teach that one is released by knowing the four noble truths, but by practising the fourth noble truth, the eightfold path, which culminates in right samadhi}}According to both Bronkhorst and Anderson, the Four Noble Truths became a substitution for prajna, or "liberating insight", in the suttas{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|pp=99–100, 102–111}}{{sfn|Anderson|1999}} in those texts where "liberating insight" was preceded by the four jhānas.{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|p=108}} The four truths may not have been formulated in earliest Buddhism, and did not serve in earliest Buddhism as a description of "liberating insight".{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|p=107}} Gotama's teachings may have been personal, "adjusted to the need of each person."{{sfn|Bronkhorst|1993|p=108}}The three marks of existence – Dukkha, Annica, Anatta – may reflect Upanishadic or other influences. K.R. Norman supposes that these terms were already in use at the Buddha's time, and were familiar to his hearers.{{sfn|Norman|1997|p=26}} According to Vetter, the description of the Buddhist path may initially have been as simple as the term "the middle way".{{sfn|Vetter|1988}} In time, this short description was elaborated, resulting in the description of the eightfold path.{{sfn|Vetter|1988}} Similarly nibbāna is the common term for the desired goal of this practice, yet many other terms can be found throughout the Nikāyas, which are not specified.{{sfn|Vetter|1988|p=xv}}{{refn|group=note|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."{{sfn|Vetter|1988|p=xv}}}}

Early Buddhist schools

File:固原须弥山石窟第5窟大佛楼.JPG|thumb|Buddha at (Xumishan Grottoes]], c. 6th century CENancy Steinhardt (2011), The Sixth Century in East Asian Architecture, Ars Orientalis, Vol. 41, pp. 27–71)According to the scriptures, soon after the {{IAST|parinirvāṇa}} (from Sanskrit: "highest extinguishment") of Gautama Buddha, the first Buddhist council was held. As with any ancient Indian tradition, transmission of teaching was done orally. The primary purpose of the assembly was to collectively recite the teachings to ensure that no errors occurred in oral transmission. Richard Gombrich states that the monastic assembly recitations of the Buddha's teaching likely began during Buddha's lifetime, similar to the First Council, that helped compose Buddhist scriptures.{{sfn|Williams|2005|pp=175–176}}The Second Buddhist council resulted in the first schism in the Sangha, probably caused by a group of reformists called Sthaviras who split from the conservative majority Mahāsāṃghikas.{{sfn|Harvey|2013|pp=89–90}} After unsuccessfully trying to modify the Vinaya, a small group of "elderly members", i.e. sthaviras, broke away from the majority Mahāsāṃghika during the Second Buddhist council, giving rise to the Sthavira Nikaya.Skilton, Andrew. A Concise History of Buddhism. 2004. pp. 49, 64The Sthaviras gave rise to several schools, one of which was the Theravada school. Originally, these schisms were caused by disputes over monastic disciplinary codes of various fraternities, but eventually, by about 100 CE if not earlier, schisms were being caused by doctrinal disagreements too.{{sfn|Harvey|1990|pp=74–75}} Buddhist monks of different fraternities became distinct schools and stopped doing official Sangha business together, but continued to study each other's doctrines.{{sfn|Harvey|1990|pp=74–75}}Following (or leading up to) the schisms, each Saṅgha started to accumulate their own version of Tripiṭaka (Pali Canons, triple basket of texts).Tipitaka Encyclopædia Britannica (2015)BOOK, Barbara Crandall, Gender and Religion, 2nd Edition: The Dark Side of Scripture,weblink 2012, Bloomsbury Academic, 978-1-4411-4871-1, 56–58, In their Tripiṭaka, each school included the Suttas of the Buddha, a Vinaya basket (disciplinary code) and added an Abhidharma basket which were texts on detailed scholastic classification, summary and interpretation of the Suttas.{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|pp=90–91}} The doctrine details in the Abhidharmas of various Buddhist schools differ significantly, and these were composed starting about the third century BCE and through the 1st millennium CE.{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|pp=90–93}}"Abhidhamma Pitaka". Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.{{sfn|Keown|Prebish|2004|p=485}} Eighteen early Buddhist schools are known, each with its own Tripitaka, but only one collection from Sri Lanka has survived, in a nearly complete state, into the modern era.BOOK, Stephen C. Berkwitz, Juliane Schober, Claudia Brown, Buddhist Manuscript Cultures: Knowledge, Ritual, and Art,weblink 2009, Routledge, 978-1-134-00242-9, 60–74 with footnote 18,

Early Mahayana Buddhism

File:BuddhistTriad.JPG|thumb|alt=stone statue group, a Buddhist triad depicting, left to right, a Kushan, the future buddha Maitreya, Gautama Buddha, the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, and a Buddhist monk. 2nd–3rd century. Guimet Museum|A Buddhist triad depicting, left to right, a Kushan, the future buddha Maitreya, Gautama Buddha, the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, and a monk. Second–third century. Guimet MuseumGuimet MuseumSeveral scholars have suggested that the Mahayana Buddhist tradition started in south India (modern Andhra Pradesh), and it is there that Prajnaparamita sutras, among the earliest Mahayana sutras,Williams, Paul. Buddhist Thought. Routledge, 2000, p. 131.Williams, Paul. Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations 2nd edition. Routledge, 2009, p. 47. developed among the Mahāsāṃghika along the Kṛṣṇa River region about the 1st century BCE.Guang Xing. The Concept of the Buddha: Its Evolution from Early Buddhism to the Trikaya Theory. 2004. pp. 65–66 "Several scholars have suggested that the Prajñāpāramitā probably developed among the Mahasamghikas in Southern India, in the Andhra country, on the Krsna River."{{sfn|Hirakawa|1993|pp=252–253, 263, 268}}Warder, A.K. Indian Buddhism. 2000. p. 313{{Refn|group=note|Anthony Barber and Sree Padma note that "historians of Buddhist thought have been aware for quite some time that such pivotally important Mahayana Buddhist thinkers as Nagarjuna, Dignāga, Chandrakirti, Aryadeva, and Bhāviveka, among many others, formulated their theories while living in Buddhist communities in Āndhra."Padma, Sree. Barber, Anthony W. Buddhism in the Krishna River Valley of Andhra. SUNY Press 2008, p. 1. 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."Padma, Sree. Barber, Anthony W. Buddhism in the Krishna River Valley of Andhra. SUNY Press 2008, p. 2.}}There is no evidence that Mahayana ever referred to a separate formal school or sect of Buddhism, but rather that it existed as a certain set of ideals, and later doctrines, for bodhisattvas.{{sfn|Nattier|2003|pp=193–194}} Initially it was known as Bodhisattvayāna (the "Vehicle of the Bodhisattvas").{{sfn|Keown|1996|pp=58, 61}} Paul Williams states that the Mahāyāna never had nor ever attempted to have a separate Vinaya or ordination codes from the early schools of Buddhism.{{sfn|Williams|2008|pp=4–5}} Records written by Chinese monks visiting India indicate that both Mahāyāna and non-Mahāyāna monks could be found in the same monasteries, with the difference that Mahayana monks worshipped figures of Bodhisattvas, while non-Mahayana monks did not.{{sfn|Williams|2000|p=97}}Much of the early extant evidence for the origins of Mahāyāna comes from early Chinese translations of Mahāyāna texts. These Mahayana teachings were first propagated into China by Lokakṣema, the first translator of Mahayana sutras into Chinese during the 2nd century CE.{{refn|group=note|name=China Buswell 2004|"The most important evidence – in fact the only evidence – for situating the emergence of the 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 sutras translated into what Erik Zürcher calls 'broken Chinese' by an Indoscythian, whose Indian name has been reconstructed as Lokaksema."{{sfn|Buswell|2004|p=492}}}} Some scholars have traditionally considered the earliest Mahāyāna sūtras to include the very first versions of the Prajnaparamita series, along with texts concerning Akṣobhya, which were probably composed in the 1st century BCE in the south of India.{{sfn|Hirakawa|1993|pp=252–253, 263, 268}}{{refn|group=note|name=South|"The south (of India) was then vigorously creative in producing Mahayana Sutras" Warder{{sfn|Warder|2000|p=335}}}}

Late Mahayana Buddhism

During the period of Late Mahāyāna, four major types of thought developed: Madhyamaka, Yogachara, Tathagatagarbha, and Buddhist logic as the last and most recent.{{sfn|Hirakawa|1993|pp=8–9}} In India, the two main philosophical schools of the Mahayana were the Madhyamaka and the later Yogachara.{{sfn|Harvey|1990|p=95}} According to Dan Lusthaus, Madhyamaka and Yogachara have a great deal in common, and the commonality stems from early Buddhism.{{sfn|Lusthaus|2002|pp=236–237}} There were no great Indian teachers associated with tathagatagarbha thought.{{sfn|Harvey|1990|p=113}}

Vajrayana (Esoteric Buddhism)

Scholarly research concerning Esoteric Buddhism is still in its early stages and has a number of problems that make research difficult:{{sfn|Hirakawa|1993|p=9}}
  1. Vajrayana Buddhism was influenced by Hinduism, and therefore research must include exploring Hinduism as well.
  2. The scriptures of Vajrayana have not yet been put in any kind of order.
  3. Ritual must be examined as well, not just doctrine.

Spread of Buddhism

{{multiple image| align = right| image1 = Asoka̠ Buddhist Missions.png| width1 = 153| alt1 =| caption1 =| image2 = Buddhism Growth in Hellenic World.png| width2 = 270| alt2 =| caption2 =| footer = The spread of Buddhism within South Asia and beyond.}}Buddhism may have spread only slowly in India until the time of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka, who was a public supporter of the religion. The support of Aśoka and his descendants led to the construction of more stūpas (Buddhist religious memorials) and to its spread throughout the Maurya empire and into neighbouring lands such as Central Asia and to the island of Sri Lanka. These two missions, in opposite directions, would ultimately lead, in the first case to the spread of Buddhism into China, Korea and Japan, and in the second case, to the emergence of Sinhalese Theravāda Buddhism and its spread from Sri Lanka to much of Southeast Asia.File:Coin_of_Menander_I_LACMA_M.84.110.6_(1_of_2).jpg|alt=|left|thumb|Coin depicting Indo-Greek king Menander, who, according to Buddhist tradition records in the Milinda Panha, converted to the Buddhist faith and became an arhatarhatThis period marks the first known spread of Buddhism beyond India. According to the edicts of Aśoka, emissaries were sent to various countries west of India to spread Buddhism (Dharma), particularly in eastern provinces of the neighbouring Seleucid Empire, and even farther to Hellenistic kingdoms of the Mediterranean. It is a matter of disagreement among scholars whether or not these emissaries were accompanied by Buddhist missionaries.{{Sfn| Gombrich|2006|p=135}}In central and west Asia, Buddhist influence grew, through Greek-speaking Buddhist monarchs and ancient Asian trade routes. An example of this is evidenced in Chinese and Pali Buddhist records, such as Milindapanha and the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhāra. The Milindapanha describes a conversation between a Buddhist monk and the 2nd-century BCE Greek king Menander, after which Menander abdicates and himself goes into monastic life in the pursuit of nirvana.{{Sfn|Trainor|2004|pp=103, 119}}BOOK, Jason Neelis, Early Buddhist Transmission and Trade Networks: Mobility and Exchange Within and Beyond the Northwestern Borderlands of South Asia,weblink 2010, Brill Academic, 978-90-04-18159-5, 102–106, Some scholars have questioned the Milindapanha version, expressing doubts whether Menander was Buddhist or just favourably disposed to Buddhist monks.BOOK, Ann Heirman, Stephan Peter Bumbacher, The Spread of Buddhism,weblink 2007, Brill Academic, 978-90-04-15830-6, 139–142, The Kushans (mid 1st–3rd century CE) came to control the Silk Road trade through Central and South Asia, which brought them to interact with ancient Buddhist monasteries and societies involved in trade in these regions. They patronised Buddhist institutions, and Buddhist monastery influence, in turn, expanded into a world religion, according to Xinru Liu.BOOK, Xinru Liu, The Silk Road in World History,weblink 2010, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-533810-2, 42, Buddhism spread to Khotan and China, eventually to other parts of the far east.Heirman, Ann; Bumbacher, Stephan Peter (editors). The Spread of Buddhism, Brill, p. 57Some of the earliest written documents of the Buddhist faith are the Gandharan Buddhist texts, dating from about the 1st century CE, and connected to the Dharmaguptaka school. These texts are written in the Kharosthi script, a script that was predominantly used in the Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek kingdoms of northern India and that played a prominent role in the coinage and inscriptions of their kings.Warder, A.K. Indian Buddhism. 2000. p. 278"The Discovery of 'the Oldest Buddhist Manuscripts'" Review article by Enomoto Fumio. The Eastern Buddhist, Vol NS32 Issue I, 2000, p. 161WEB, Abstract: Sects & Sectarianism. The Origin of the three existing Vinaya lineages: Theravada, Dharmaguptaka, and Mulasarvastivada, Bhikkhu Sujato, Bhante Sujato,weblink The Islamic conquest of the Iranian Plateau in the 7th-century, followed by the Muslim conquests of Afghanistan and the later establishment of the Ghaznavid kingdom with Islam as the state religion in Central Asia between the 10th- and 12th-century led to the decline and disappearance of Buddhism from most of these regions.JOURNAL, Kudara, Kogi, 2002, A Rough Sketch of Central Asian Buddhism,weblink dead, Pacific World: Journal of the Institute of Buddhist Studies, 3, 4, 93–107,weblink" title="">weblink 6 April 2018, 28 November 2018,

To East and Southeast Asia

File:White_Horse_Temple_-_September_2011_(6152824694).jpg|thumb|White Horse TempleWhite Horse TempleFile:Prasat Bayon 2014.JPG|thumb|Angkor Thom build by Khmer King Jayavarman VIIJayavarman VIIThe Silk Road transmission of Buddhism to China is most commonly thought to have started in the late 2nd or the 1st century CE, though the literary sources are all open to question.{{sfn|Zürcher |1972|pp=22–27}}{{refn|group=note|name=Hill |See Hill (2009), p. 30, for the Chinese text from the Hou Hanshu, and p. 31 for a translation of it.{{sfn|Hill |2009|pp=30–31}}}} The first documented translation efforts by foreign Buddhist monks in China were in the 2nd century CE, probably as a consequence of the expansion of the Kushan Empire into the Chinese territory of the Tarim Basin.{{sfn|Zürcher |1972|p=23}}The first documented Buddhist texts translated into Chinese are those of the Parthian An Shigao (148–180 CE).Zürcher, Erik. 2007 (1959). The Buddhist Conquest of China: The Spread and Adaptation of Buddhism in Early Medieval China. 3rd ed. Leiden: Brill. pp. 32–34 The first known Mahāyāna scriptural texts are translations into Chinese by the Kushan monk Lokakṣema in Luoyang, between 178 and 189 CE.Williams, Paul. Mahāyāna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations.2008. p. 30 From China, Buddhism was introduced into its neighbours Korea (4th century), Japan (6th–7th centuries), and Vietnam (c. 1st–2nd centuries).Dykstra, Yoshiko Kurata; De Bary, William Theodore (2001). Sources of Japanese tradition. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 100. {{ISBN|0-231-12138-5}}.Nguyen Tai Thu. The History of Buddhism in Vietnam. 2008.During the Chinese Tang dynasty (618–907), Chinese Esoteric Buddhism was introduced from India and Chan Buddhism (Zen) became a major religion.McRae, John (2003), Seeing Through Zen, The University Press Group Ltd, pp. 13, 18Orzech, Charles D. (general editor) (2011). Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia. Brill. p. 4 Chan continued to grow in the Song dynasty (960–1279) and it was during this era that it strongly influenced Korean Buddhism and Japanese Buddhism.McRae, John (2003), Seeing Through Zen, The University Press Group Ltd, pp. 13, 19–21 Pure Land Buddhism also became popular during this period and was often practised together with Chan.Heng-Ching Shih (1987). Yung-Ming's Syncretism of Pure Land and Chan, The Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 10 (1), p. 117 It was also during the Song that the entire Chinese canon was printed using over 130,000 wooden printing blocks.Harvey, 2012, p. 223During the Indian period of Esoteric Buddhism (from the 8th century onwards), Buddhism spread from India to Tibet and Mongolia. Johannes Bronkhorst states that the esoteric form was attractive because it allowed both a secluded monastic community as well as the social rites and rituals important to laypersons and to kings for the maintenance of a political state during succession and wars to resist invasion.BOOK, Johannes Bronkhorst, Buddhism in the Shadow of Brahmanism,weblink 2011, Brill Academic, 978-90-04-20140-8, 242–246, During the Middle Ages, Buddhism slowly declined in India,BOOK, Andrew Powell, Living Buddhism,weblink 1989, University of California Press, 978-0-520-20410-2, 38–39, while it vanished from Persia and Central Asia as Islam became the state religion.BOOK, Lars Fogelin, An Archaeological History of Indian Buddhism,weblink 2015, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-994823-9, 6–11, 218, 229–230, JOURNAL, Sheila Canby, Depictions of Buddha Sakyamuni in the Jami al-Tavarikh and the Majma al-Tavarikh, Muqarnas, 10, 1993, 299–310, 10.2307/1523195, 1523195, The Theravada school arrived in Sri Lanka sometime in the 3rd century BCE. Sri Lanka became a base for its later spread to southeast Asia after the 5th century CE (Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and coastal Vietnam).BOOK,weblink Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia, John Guy, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014, 978-1-58839-524-5, 9–11, 14–15, 19–20, Skilling, Peter, The Advent of Theravada Buddhism to Mainland South-east Asia Theravada Buddhism was the dominant religion in Burma during the Mon Hanthawaddy Kingdom (1287–1552).Myint-U, Thant (2006). The River of Lost Footsteps – Histories of Burma. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. {{ISBN|978-0-374-16342-6}}. pp. 64–65 It also became dominant in the Khmer Empire during the 13th and 14th centuries and in the Thai Sukhothai Kingdom during the reign of Ram Khamhaeng (1237/1247–1298).Cœdès, George (1968). Walter F. Vella, ed. The Indianized States of Southeast Asia. trans. Susan Brown Cowing. University of Hawaii Press. {{ISBN|978-0-8248-0368-1}}.Gyallay-Pap, Peter. "Notes of the Rebirth of Khmer Buddhism," Radical Conservativism.

Schools and traditions

(File:Buddhist sects.png|thumb|alt=color map showing Buddhism is a major religion worldwide|upright=1.25|Distribution of major Buddhist traditions)Buddhists generally classify themselves as either Theravada or Mahayana.{{sfn|Keown|1996|p=12}} This classification is also used by some scholars{{sfn|Smith|2006|pp=}} and is the one ordinarily used in the English language.WEB, Tibetan Buddhism, American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004,weblink 2007-07-07, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 9 June 2008, An alternative scheme used by some scholars{{refn|group=note|name=alternative scheme|(Harvey 1990),(Gombrich,1984); Gethin (1998), pp. 1–2, identifies "three broad traditions" as: (1) "The Theravāda tradition of 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 & Johnson (1982) divide their book into two parts: Part One is entitled "The Buddhism of South Asia" (which pertains to Early Buddhism in India); and, Part Two is entitled "The Development of Buddhism Outside of India" with chapters on "The Buddhism of Southeast Asia", "Buddhism in the Tibetan Culture Area", "East Asian Buddhism" and "Buddhism Comes West"; Penguin Handbook of Living Religions, 1984, p. 279; Prebish & Keown, Introducing Buddhism, ebook, Journal of Buddhist Ethics, 2005, printed ed, Harper, 2006}} divides Buddhism into the following three traditions or geographical or cultural areas: Theravada, East Asian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism.File:Preah Pithu T Monks - Siem Reap.jpg|thumb|alt=monks in orange robes on stone steps in Cambodia|Young monks in CambodiaCambodiaSome scholars{{refn|group=note|name=other schemes|See e.g. the multi-dimensional classification in Encyclopedia of Religion{{sfn|Eliade|1987|pp=440ff}}}} use other schemes. Buddhists themselves have a variety of other schemes. Hinayana (literally "lesser or inferior vehicle") is used by Mahayana followers to name the family of early philosophical schools and traditions from which contemporary Theravada emerged, but as the Hinayana term is considered derogatory, a variety of other terms are used instead, including Śrāvakayāna, Nikaya Buddhism, early Buddhist schools, sectarian Buddhism and conservative Buddhism.BOOK, Kenneth W. Morgan, The Path of the Buddha: Buddhism Interpreted by Buddhists,weblink 1986, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-0030-4, 410, BOOK, N. Ross Reat, Buddhism: A History,weblink 1994, Asian Humanities Press, 978-0-87573-001-1, 19–20, Not all traditions of Buddhism share the same philosophical outlook, or treat the same concepts as central. Each tradition, however, does have its own core concepts, and some comparisons can be drawn between them:BOOK, Erika Wilson, Emotions and Spirituality in Religions and Spiritual Movements,weblink 2012, University Press of America, 978-0-7618-5950-5, 137–138, BOOK, John M Koller, The Indian Way: An Introduction to the Philosophies & Religions of India,weblink 2016, Routledge, 978-1-315-50740-8, 157–160,
  • Both Theravada and Mahayana traditions accept the Buddha as the founder, Theravada considers him unique, but Mahayana considers him one of many Buddhas
  • Both accept the Middle Way, dependent origination, the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path and the three marks of existence
  • Nirvana is attainable by the monks in Theravada tradition, while Mahayana considers it broadly attainable; Arhat state is aimed for in the Theravada, while Buddhahood is aimed for in the Mahayana
  • Religious practice consists of meditation for monks and prayer for laypersons in Theravada, while Mahayana includes prayer, chanting and meditation for both
  • Theravada has been a more rationalist, historical form of Buddhism; while Mahayana has included more rituals, mysticism and worldly flexibility in its scope.BOOK, Sarah LeVine, David N Gellner, Rebuilding Buddhism,weblink 2009, Harvard University Press, 978-0-674-04012-0, 12,


This is a rough timeline of the development of the different schools/traditions:{{Buddhist traditions timeline|notes=1}}

Theravada school

File:A young monk against the background of Big Buddha statue in Weherahena Temple. Matara, Southern Province, Sri Lanka.jpg|thumb|alt=A young monk in saffron robes standing in Sri Lanka temple|A young bhikkhu in Sri LankaSri LankaThe Theravada tradition traces its roots to the words of the Buddha preserved in the Pali Canon, and considers itself to be the more orthodox form of Buddhism.BOOK, Ann R. Kinney, Marijke J. Klokke, Lydia Kieven, Worshiping Siva and Buddha,weblink 2003, University of Hawaii Press, 978-0-8248-2779-3, 20, ; Quote: "Orthodox forms of Buddhism are collectively called Hinayana (...). Present-day practitioners of orthodox Buddhism prefer to use the name Theravada (Buddhism of the Elders)."BOOK, Richard Gombrich, Buddhist Precept & Practice,weblink 1995, Routledge, 978-1-136-15623-6, 47–48, ; Quote: "Theravadins claim that they alone represent true Buddhist orthodoxy, and that other sects are heretics".Theravada flourished in south India and Sri Lanka in ancient times; from there it spread for the first time into mainland southeast Asia about the 11th century into its elite urban centres.{{Sfn|Collins|1998|p=18}} By the 13th century, Theravada had spread widely into the rural areas of mainland southeast Asia,{{Sfn|Collins|1998|p=18}} displacing Mahayana Buddhism and some traditions of Hinduism which had arrived in places such as Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia around the mid-1st millennium CE. The later traditions were well established in south Thailand and Java by the 7th century, under the sponsorship of the Srivijaya dynasty.BOOK, Promsak Jermsawatdi, Thai Art with Indian Influences,weblink 1979, Abhinav Publications, 978-81-7017-090-7, 26–27, BOOK, Sigfried J. de Laet, Joachim Herrmann, History of Humanity: From the seventh century B.C. to the seventh century A.D.,weblink 1996, UNESCO, 978-92-3-102812-0, 422–426, The political separation between Khmer and Sukhothai led the Sukhothai king to welcome Sri Lankan emissaries, helping them establish the first Theravada Buddhist sangha in the 13th century, in contrast to the Mahayana tradition of Khmer earlier.BOOK, Mark Juergensmeyer, Wade Clark Roof, Encyclopedia of Global Religion,weblink 2011, Sage Publications, 978-1-4522-6656-5, 1275, Sinhalese Buddhist reformers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries portrayed the Pali Canon as the original version of scripture. They also emphasised Theravada being rational and scientific.{{sfn|Samuel|2008|pp=16–17}}Theravāda is primarily practised today in Sri Lanka, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia as well as small portions of China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bangladesh. It has a growing presence in the west.

Mahayana traditions

(File:Tsapa Namgyal - The Teacher and Philosopher Nagarjuna - Walters 543008.jpg|thumb|left|alt=Nagarjuna, a Mahayana scholar|The ideas of the 2nd century scholar Nagarjuna helped shape the Mahayana traditions.)Mahayana schools consider the Mahayana Sutras as authoritative scriptures and accurate rendering of Buddha's words.BOOK, Karl H. Potter, Abhidharma Buddhism to 150 A.D.,weblink 1996, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-0895-9, 26–30, These traditions have been the more liberal form of Buddhism allowing different and new interpretations that emerged over time.BOOK, Hsueh-li Cheng, J.J. Chambliss, Philosophy of Education: An Encyclopedia,weblink 2013, Routledge, 978-1-136-51168-4, 60–61, Mahayana flourished in 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.BOOK, Hartmut Scharfe, Handbook of Oriental Studies,weblink 2002, Brill Academic, 978-90-04-12556-8, 144–153, BOOK, Craig Lockard, Societies, Networks, and Transitions: Volume I: A Global History,weblink 2007, Houghton Mifflin, 978-0618386123, 188, The Gupta dynasty, for example, helped establish the famed Nālandā University in Bihar.BOOK, Le Phuoc, Buddhist Architecture,weblink 2010, Grafikol, 978-0-9844043-0-8, 58–59, 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 into East and Central Asia.BOOK, Charles Higham, Encyclopedia of Ancient Asian Civilizations,weblink 2014, Infobase, 978-1-4381-0996-1, 121, 236, Native Mahayana Buddhism is practised today in China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, parts of Russia and most of Vietnam (also commonly referred to as "Eastern Buddhism"). The Buddhism practised in Tibet, the Himalayan regions, and Mongolia is also Mahayana in origin, but is discussed below under the heading of 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 is the most widely practised today.".{{sfn|Clarke |Beyer|2009|p=86}} In most of this area however, they are fused into a single unified form of Buddhism. In Japan in particular, they form separate denominations with the five major ones being: Nichiren, peculiar to Japan; Pure Land; Shingon, a form of Vajrayana; Tendai, and Zen. In Korea, nearly all Buddhists belong to the Chogye school, which is officially Son (Zen), but with substantial elements from other traditions.{{sfn|Buswell|2004|pp=430, 435}}

Vajrayana traditions

File:Potala palace21.jpg|thumb|alt=7th century Buddhist monastery|7th-century Potala PalacePotala PalaceThe goal and philosophy of the Vajrayāna remains Mahāyānist, but its methods are seen by its followers as far more powerful, so as to lead to Buddhahood in just one lifetime.{{sfn|Harvey|2013|p=189}} The practice of using mantras was adopted from Hinduism, where they were first used in the Vedas.{{sfn|Harvey|2013|p=180}}Various classes of Vajrayana literature developed as a result of royal courts sponsoring both Buddhism and Saivism.Sanderson, Alexis. "The Śaiva Age: The Rise and Dominance of Śaivism during the Early Medieval Period." In: Genesis and Development of Tantrism, edited by Shingo Einoo. Tokyo: Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo, 2009. Institute of Oriental Culture Special Series, 23, p. 124. 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.Sanderson, Alexis. "The Śaiva Age: The Rise and Dominance of Śaivism during the Early Medieval Period." In: Genesis and Development of Tantrism, edited by Shingo Einoo. Tokyo: Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo, 2009. Institute of Oriental Culture Special Series, 23, pp. 129–131. 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.Sanderson, Alexis. "The Śaiva Age: The Rise and Dominance of Śaivism during the Early Medieval Period." In: Genesis and Development of Tantrism, edited by Shingo Einoo. Tokyo: Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo, 2009. Institute of Oriental Culture Special Series, 23, pp. 144–145. 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.BOOK, Huber, Toni, The holy land reborn: pilgrimage & the Tibetan reinvention of Buddhist India, 2008, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 978-0-226-35648-8, 94–95, Tibetan Buddhism preserves the Vajrayana teachings of eighth-century India. Tantric Buddhism is largely concerned with ritual and meditative practices.{{sfn|Williams|1989|p=185}} A central feature of Buddhist Tantra is deity yoga which includes visualisation and identification with an enlightened yidam or meditation deity and its associated mandala. Another element of Tantra is the need for ritual initiation or empowerment (abhiṣeka) by a Guru or Lama.Williams, Wynne, Tribe; Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition, pp. 198, 231. Some Tantras like the Guhyasamāja Tantra features new forms of antinomian ritual practice such as the use taboo substances like alcohol, sexual yoga, and charnel ground practices which evoke wrathful deities.Williams, Wynne, Tribe; Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition, p. 212.{{sfn|Keown|Prebish|2004|p=781}}


File:Ginkakuji Temple Togudo 2009 059.jpg|thumb|alt=Ginkaku-ji, a Zen temple in Kyoto, Japan with stone slab bridge over stream|Ginkaku-ji, a Zen temple in KyotoKyotoZen Buddhism (禅), pronounced Chán in Chinese, seon in Korean or zen in Japanese (derived from the Sanskrit term dhyāna, meaning "meditation") is a form of Mahayana Buddhism found in China, Korea and Japan. It lays special emphasis on meditation, and direct discovery of the Buddha-nature.{{refn|group=note|name=Prebish|According to Charles S. Prebish:{{sfn|Prebish|1993|pp=244, 287}} "Although a variety of Zen 'schools' developed in Japan, they all emphasize 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 nature possessed by each sentient being ..."}}Zen Buddhism is divided into two main schools: Rinzai (臨済宗) and 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".{{refn|group=note|name=Prebish B|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 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."{{sfn|Hodge |2002|pp=12–13}}}}Zen Buddhism is primarily found in Japan, with some presence in South Korea and Vietnam. The scholars of Japanese Soto Zen tradition in recent times have critiqued the mainstream Japanese 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.{{Sfn|Harvey|2013|pp=145, 407–408}}

Buddhism in the modern era

File:Хуварак.JPG|thumb|alt=Buddhist monk in Siberia in robes leaning on railing looking at temple|left|Buryat Buddhist monk in SiberiaSiberia

Colonial era

Buddhism has faced various challenges and changes during the colonisation of Buddhist states by Christian countries and its persecution under modern states. Like other religions, the findings of modern science has challenged its basic premises. One response to some of these challenges has come to be called Buddhist modernism. Early Buddhist modernist figures such as the American convert Henry Olcott (1832– 1907) and Anagarika Dharmapala (1864–1933) reinterpreted and promoted Buddhism as a scientific and rational religion which they saw as compatible with modern science.Harvey, Peter, An Introduction to Buddhism, Teachings, History and Practices, 3rd ed, Cambridge University Press, 2012, p. 378.East Asian Buddhism meanwhile suffered under various wars which ravaged China during the modern era, such as the Taiping rebellion and the World War II (which also affected Korean Buddhism). During the Republican period (1912–49), a new movement called Humanistic Buddhism was developed by figures such as Taixu (1899–1947), and though Buddhist institutions were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), there has been a revival of the religion in China after 1977.Harvey, Peter, An Introduction to Buddhism, Teachings, History and Practices, 3rd ed, Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp. 409–410 Japanese Buddhism also went through a period of modernisation during the Meiji period.Harvey, Peter, An Introduction to Buddhism, Teachings, History and Practices, 3rd ed, Cambridge University Press, 2012, p. 403. In Central Asia meanwhile, the arrival of Communist repression to Tibet (1966–1980) and Mongolia (between 1924–1990) had a strong negative impact on Buddhist institutions, though the situation has improved somewhat since the 80s and 90s.Harvey, Peter, An Introduction to Buddhism, Teachings, History and Practices, 3rd ed, Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp. 414–417.

Buddhism in the West

File:1893parliament.jpg|right|thumb|1893 World Parliament of Religions in ChicagoChicagoWhile there were some encounters of Western travellers or missionaries such as St. Francis Xavier and Ippolito Desideri with Buddhist cultures, it was not until the 19th century that Buddhism began to be studied by Western scholars. It was the work of pioneering scholars such as Eugène Burnouf, Max Müller, Hermann Oldenberg and Thomas William Rhys Davids that paved the way for modern Buddhist studies in the West. The English words such as Buddhism, "Boudhist", "Bauddhist" and Buddhist were coined in the early 19th-century in the West,Buddhism, Buddhist, Etymology, Douglas Harper while in 1881, Rhys Davids founded the Pali Text Society – an influential Western resource of Buddhist literature in the Pali language and one of the earliest publisher of a journal on Buddhist studies.Pali Text Society, Encyclopaedia Britannica It was also during the 19th century that Asian Buddhist immigrants (mainly from China and Japan) began to arrive in Western countries such as the United States and Canada, bringing with them their Buddhist religion. This period also saw the first Westerners to formally convert to Buddhism, such as Helena Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott.Prothero, The White Buddhist, 175. Olcott’s approach to Buddhism and the terminology of Protestant Buddhism and “creolization” (Prothero) is extensively discussed in K.A. McMahan,“ ‘Creolization’ in American Religious History. The Metaphysical Nature of Henry Steel Olcott, PhD dissertation, unpublished manuscript (Ann Arbor 2008). An important event in the introduction of Buddhism to the West was the 1893 World Parliament of Religions, which for the first time saw well-publicized speeches by major Buddhist leaders alongside other religious leaders.The 20th century saw a prolific growth of new Buddhist institutions in Western countries, including the Buddhist Society, London (1924), Das Buddhistische Haus (1924) and Datsan Gunzechoinei in St Petersburg. The publication and translations of Buddhist literature in Western languages thereafter accelerated. After the second world war, further immigration from Asia, globalisation, the secularisation on Western culture as well a renewed interest in Buddhism among the 60s counterculture led to further growth in Buddhist institutions.Coleman, James William, The New Buddhism: The Western Transformation of an Ancient Tradition, Oxford University Press, pp. 203–204. Influential figures on post-war Western Buddhism include Shunryu Suzuki, Jack Kerouac, Alan Watts, Thích Nhất Hạnh, and the 14th Dalai Lama. While Buddhist institutions have grown, some of the central premises of Buddhism such as the cycles of rebirth and Four Noble Truths have been problematic in the West.{{sfn|Konik|2009|p=ix}}{{sfn|Hayes|2013|p=172}}{{sfn|Lamb|2001|p=258}} In contrast, states Christopher Gowans, for "most ordinary [Asian] Buddhists, today as well as in the past, their basic moral orientation is governed by belief in karma and rebirth".{{sfn|Gowans|2014|pp=18–23, 76–88}} Most Asian Buddhist laypersons, states Kevin Trainor, have historically pursued Buddhist rituals and practices seeking better rebirth,{{sfn|Keown|2009|pp=60–63, 74–85, 185–187}} not nirvana or freedom from rebirth.{{sfn|Fowler|1999|p=65}}{{multiple image
| direction = vertical
| footer = Buddhas of Bamiyan, Afghanistan in 1896 (top) and after destruction in 2001 by the Taliban Islamists.BOOK, Jan Goldman, The War on Terror Encyclopedia,weblink 2014, ABC-CLIO, 978-1-61069-511-4, 360–362,
| image1 = Nouvelle géographie universelle - la terre et les hommes (1876) (14592652167).jpg
| alt1 = Buddha statue in 1896, Bamiyan
| image2 = Destroyed Statue, July 17, 2005 at 15-53.jpg
| alt2 = After statue destroyed by Islamist Taliban in 2001
Buddhism has spread across the world,{{sfn|Henderson|2002|p=42}}{{sfn|Tamney |1998|p=68}} and Buddhist texts are increasingly translated into local languages. While Buddhism in the West is often seen as exotic and progressive, in the East it is regarded as familiar and traditional. In countries such as Cambodia and Bhutan, it is recognised as the state religion and receives government support.In certain regions such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, militants have targeted violence and destruction of historic Buddhist monuments.JOURNAL, Francioni, F., 2003, The Destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan and International Law, European Journal of International Law, 14, 4, 619–651, 10.1093/ejil/14.4.619, WEB, Attack on giant Pakistan Buddha, BBC News, 2007-09-12,weblink 2016-06-04,

Neo-Buddhism movements

A number of modern movements in Buddhism emerged during the second half of the 20th century.{{sfn|Paranjpe|1998|p=351}}{{sfn|Pavāra|2009|pp=xv–xviii}} These new forms of Buddhism are diverse and significantly depart from traditional beliefs and practices.JOURNAL, McMahan, David L., Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience (review), Philosophy East and West, 54, 2, 2004, 268–270, 10.1353/pew.2004.0006, In India, B.R. Ambedkar launched the Navayana tradition – literally, "new vehicle". Ambedkar's Buddhism rejects the foundational doctrines and historic practices of traditional Theravada and Mahayana traditions, such as monk lifestyle after renunciation, karma, rebirth, samsara, meditation, nirvana, Four Noble Truths and others.BOOK, Damien Keown, Charles S. Prebish, Encyclopedia of Buddhism,weblink 2013, Routledge, 978-1-136-98588-1, 25, BOOK, Christopher Queen, Steven M. Emmanuel, A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy,weblink 2015, John Wiley & Sons, 978-1-119-14466-3, 524–529, JOURNAL, Skaria, A, Ambedkar, Marx and the Buddhist Question, Journal of South Asian Studies, 38, 3, 2015, 10.1080/00856401.2015.1049726, 450–452, Ambedkar's Navayana Buddhism considers these as superstitions and re-interprets the original Buddha as someone who taught about class struggle and social equality.BOOK, Eleanor Zelliot, Knut A. Jacobsen, Routledge Handbook of Contemporary India,weblink 2015, Taylor & Francis, 978-1-317-40357-9, 13, 361–370, BOOK, Damien Keown, Charles S. Prebish, Encyclopedia of Buddhism,weblink 2013, Routledge, 978-1-136-98588-1, 24–26, Ambedkar urged low caste Indian Dalits to convert to his Marxism-inspired reinterpretation called the Navayana Buddhism, also known as Bhimayana Buddhism. Ambedkar's effort led to the expansion of Navayana Buddhism in India.BOOK, Gary Tartakov, Rowena Robinson, Religious Conversion in India: Modes, Motivations, and Meanings,weblink 2003, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-566329-7, 192–213, BOOK, Eleanor Zelliot, Knut A. Jacobsen, Routledge Handbook of Contemporary India,weblink 2015, Taylor & Francis, 978-1-317-40357-9, 13, 361–370, The Thai King Mongkut (r. 1851–68), and his son King Chulalongkorn (r. 1868–1910), were responsible for modern reforms of Thai Buddhism.Harvey, Peter, An Introduction to Buddhism, Teachings, History and Practices, 3rd ed, Cambridge University Press, 2012, p. 385. Modern Buddhist movements include Secular Buddhism in many countries, Won Buddhism in Korea, the Dhammakaya movement in Thailand and several Japanese organisations, such as Shinnyo-en, Risshō Kōsei Kai or Soka Gakkai.Some of these movements have brought internal disputes and strife within regional Buddhist communities. For example, the Dhammakaya movement in Thailand teaches a "true self" doctrine, which traditional Theravada monks consider as heretically denying the fundamental anatta (not-self) doctrine of Buddhism.BOOK, Paul Williams, Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations,weblink 2008, Routledge, 978-1-134-25057-8, 125–128, BOOK, Rory Mackenzie, New Buddhist Movements in Thailand: Towards an Understanding of Wat Phra Dhammakaya and Santi Asoke,weblink 2007, Routledge, 978-1-134-13262-1, 175–179, BOOK, Martin Marty, R Scott Appleby, Fundamentalisms Observed,weblink 1994, University of Chicago Press, 978-0-226-50878-8, 660–667,


{{See also|Buddhism by country}}Buddhism is practised by an estimated 488 million, 495 million,{{sfn|Johnson |2013|pp=34–37}} or 535 million{{sfn|Harvey |2013|p=5}} people as of the 2010s, representing 7% to 8% of the world's total population.File:Buddhism percent population in each nation World Map Buddhist data by Pew Research.svg|thumb|upright=1.5|alt=purple Percentage of Buddhists by country, showing high in Burma to low in United States|Percentage of Buddhists by country, according to the Pew Research CenterPew Research CenterChina is the country with the largest population of Buddhists, approximately 244 million or 18% of its total population.{{Refn|group=note|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 [in China] 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 [surveyed]."People's Republic of China: Religions and Churches Statistical Overview 2011 {{webarchive|url= |date=3 March 2016 }}, Katharina Wenzel-Teuber (2011), China Zentrum, Germany}} They are mostly followers of Chinese schools of Mahayana, making this the largest body of Buddhist traditions. Mahayana, also practised in broader East Asia, is followed by over half of world Buddhists.According to a demographic analysis reported by Peter Harvey (2013):{{sfn|Harvey |2013|p=5}} Mahayana has 360 million adherents; Theravada has 150 million adherents; and Vajrayana has 18.2 million adherents.According to Johnson and Grim (2013), Buddhism has grown from a total of 138 million adherents in 1910, of which 137 million were in Asia, to 495 million in 2010, of which 487 million are in Asia.{{sfn|Johnson |2013|pp=34–37}} Over 98% of all Buddhists live in the Asia-Pacific and South Asia region.{{sfn|Pew Research Center|2012}} 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.{{sfn|Pew Research Center|2012}}Buddhism is the dominant religion in Bhutan,WEB,weblink Global Religious Landscape – Religious Composition by Country, The Pew Forum, 28 July 2013, Myanmar, Cambodia, Tibet, Laos, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.WEB,weblink Buddhists, 18 December 2012, Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project, 13 March 2015, Large Buddhist populations live in China (18%), Japan (36%), Taiwan (35%), Macau (17%), North Korea (14%), Nepal (11%), Vietnam (10%), Singapore (33%), Hong Kong (15%) and South Korea (23%).In Russia, Buddhists form majority in the Tuva (62%). The Kalmykia (38%) and Buryatia (20%) also have significant Buddhist population.WEB, Арена: Атлас религий и национальностей, Arena: Atlas of Religions and Nationalities, 2012, Среда (Sreda),weblink PDF, See also the results' main interactive mapping and the static mappings: MAP, Religions in Russia by federal subject, Ogonek, 34, 5243, 27 August 2012,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink 21 April 2017, The Sreda Arena Atlas was realised in cooperation with the All-Russia Population Census 2010 (Всероссийской переписи населения 2010) and the Russian Ministry of Justice (Минюста РФ).Buddhism is also growing by conversion. In United States, only about a third (32%) of Buddhists in the United States are Asian; a majority (53%) are white. Buddhism in the America is primarily made up of native-born adherents, whites and convertsweblink In New Zealand, about 25–35% of the total Buddhists are converts to Buddhismweblink China, where nearly half of the worldwide Buddhists live, the 10 countries with the largest Buddhist population densities are:{{sfn|Pew Research Center|2012}}{| class="wikitable sortable"2010|lc=y}}{{sfn|Pew Research Center|2012}}! Country! Estimated Buddhist population! Buddhists as % of total population
Cambodia}}| 13,701,660| 97%
Thailand}}| 64,419,840| 93%
Burma}}| 38,415,960| 80%
Bhutan}}| 563,000| 75%
Sri Lanka}}| 14,455,980| 69%
Laos}}| 4,092,000| 66%
Mongolia}}| 1,520,760| 55%
Japan}}| 45,807,480or 84,653,000| 36% or 67%weblink" title="https:/-/">weblink
Singapore}}| 1,725,510| 34%
Taiwan}}| 4,945,600or 8,000,000| 21% or 35%Taiwan, US State Department
China}}| 185,000,000+| 16%

See also

{{Wikipedia books|Buddhism}}{{col div|colwidth=30em}} {{colend}}






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