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Old 07-08-2018, 07:32 AM   #1
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My Wilmette Institute course on Buddhism

This is what I have learned so far from my Wilmette Institute course on Buddhism, from my notes

Like in Baha'u'llah's case there was a dream that said that one day the Buddha would be a great man. We don't know in Buddha's case whether this actually happened or not.
I don't believe the part of him not knowing about suffering before age 29.
Like Christ, the Buddha was tempted by earthly glory by an evil being, but refused it.

The Buddha went to two gurus and didn't find satisfaction with them, then starved Himself. He got enlightenment from none of it. Was there really a period of searching for the Buddha? There probably was. It took 6 years to attain enlightenment.
Did the Buddha really say that His teachings were not cemented in stone, that each should do their own search for truth in His movement? Apparently so.

The Buddha asked His followers to go on pilgrimage at various important sites, according to the history.

The early Pali Canon was called the Tipitika (three baskets) and consisted of the Sutta Pitaka which consists of 5 collections of Sermons by the Buddha, the Vinaya Pitika the Book of Monastic discipline, and the Abhidamma Pitika which consists of philosophical and doctrinal analysis. These reflected the viewpoint of the Theravadin school and may have slanted them for their own purposes. Much of their material was probably lost, some was misunderstood, and the monks projected their own views on the text. This was orally transmitted from about 100 years after the Buddha's death, and later written down. Many of the stories in the scriptures have an allegorical or symbolic meaning. Modern scholars see the Mahayana scriptures as just as authentic as the Pali scriptures which represents the Theravada.

The Buddha called His newborn son Fetter when translated to English, and He left His family then. He thought the path of enlightenment involved leaving home. He was convinced that each person on his own could attain Nirvana on his own discipline. Did the Buddha really refer to gods in His teaching? I doubt it. In that time there was a stirring of dissent from the old Vedic order. The belief of reincarnation was new at that time. The Upansads developed at that time. Brahman is never mentioned in Buddhist texts. The Buddha may have never heard of him.

In the Rig Veda, man dies only once and goes to heaven. One strand of Indian thought was that passion was the root of all evil. The Buddha was not the son of a king, because kingship didn't exist where He was. More than two thirds of the early believers were from large towns. Nearly half came from wealthy or powerful houses. The towns were unhealthy from so many people living together. This may account for the Buddhas message being bought by people in the towns.


In the earliest Buddhist texts, the nikāyas and āgamas, the Buddha is not depicted as possessing omniscience (sabbaññu)[75] nor is he depicted as being an eternal transcendent (lokottara) being.The character of the Buddha in these traditional biographies is often that of a fully transcendent (Skt. lokottara) and perfected being who is unencumbered by the mundane world. The Buddha himself denied that he was either a man or a god. British author Karen Armstrong writes that although there is very little information that can be considered historically sound, we can be reasonably confident that Siddhārtha Gautama did exist as a historical figure.[82] Michael Carrithers goes a bit further by stating that the most general outline of "birth, maturity, renunciation, search, awakening and liberation, teaching, death" must be true.[27]

While later tradition and legend characterised Śuddhodana as a hereditary monarch, the descendant of the Suryavansha (Solar dynasty) of Ikṣvāku (Pāli: Okkāka), many scholars think that Śuddhodana (Buddha's father) was the elected chief of a tribal confederacy.
 
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Old 07-08-2018, 11:52 AM   #2
Tony Bristow-Stagg
 
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Thank you for your notes.

I have found on many other Forum Discussions that many choose to pursue Buddha because they have found a Spiritual Path that does not include God. That in itself shows how far man has clouded the meanings of the original teachings of Buddha.

It will be an interesting future as the meanings are made apparent.

Regards Tony
 
Old 07-08-2018, 12:55 PM   #3
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...a Spiritual Path that does not include God...
A quick search on Ocean's Buddhist texts turns up no mention of 'capital G' God and just one passing conjecture of something like "even if I were a god...".

Just the same this does not necessarily mean that they're atheists. imho it's not that hard to understand why the Buddha was listed w/ the other major Messengers as their commitment to the spiritual realm is undeniably profound. As one former Buddhist Baha'i said "we never mentioned submission to God because it was always understood as obvious."

My take is that the Sacred Texts make it clear that the Almighty is so far above our mention that anything we say becomes as base as blasphemy. In that tone I have to respect the Buddhist choice of simply not going there in the first place.
 
Old 07-08-2018, 02:05 PM   #4
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My take is that the Sacred Texts make it clear that the Almighty is so far above our mention that anything we say becomes as base as blasphemy. In that tone I have to respect the Buddhist choice of simply not going there in the first place.
It is reasonable and Scriptual to take that position.

Baha'u'llah has now explained what the Buddha had offered Humanity and never knowing of, or understanding of Gods Essence is a key point. Thus we direct our mind to what is of God and I see this as the aim of Buddha. We know that knowledge is to be found in each of us.

You can also see the complexity man has made of more ancient Scriptures, when you as the Question as to what is Hindu and who was the Founder.

Regards Tony
 
Old 07-08-2018, 05:28 PM   #5
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...Baha'u'llah has now explained what the Buddha had offered Humanity...
Pse share any new texts on that. With an 'Ocean search' all that came up to me for Baha'u'llah about Buddha was a mention of the "Fifth Buddha" but it didn't seem to be a direct quote. There was however an interesting passage from Abdu'l-Baha along the lines you discussing:
The teaching of Buddha was like a young and beautiful child, and now it has become as an old and decrepit man. Like the aged man it cannot see, it cannot hear, it cannot remember anything. Why go so far back?
(Abdu'l-Baha, Abdu'l-Baha in London, p. 63)
 
Old 07-08-2018, 05:49 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Pete in Panama View Post
Pse share any new texts on that. With an 'Ocean search' all that came up to me for Baha'u'llah about Buddha was a mention of the "Fifth Buddha" but it didn't seem to be a direct quote. There was however an interesting passage from Abdu'l-Baha along the lines you discussing:
The teaching of Buddha was like a young and beautiful child, and now it has become as an old and decrepit man. Like the aged man it cannot see, it cannot hear, it cannot remember anything. Why go so far back?
(Abdu'l-Baha, Abdu'l-Baha in London, p. 63)

The Passage you quoted is what I offered, given from another frame of reference.

We can explore more quotes about never knowing God Essence, but only through Messengers. We now know Buddha being of this Station.

Regards Tony
 
Old 07-09-2018, 02:08 AM   #7
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The Passage you quoted is what I offered, given from another frame of reference.

We can explore more quotes about never knowing God Essence, but only through Messengers. We now know Buddha being of this Station.

Regards Tony
Something significant to me about the Buddhist Dispensation is its origins w/ that of the Hindus. While most westerners consider Hindus to be more foreign than say, extraterrestrials, the fact remains that the roots are still visible.

European language is Indo-European and the religion of the Celts had far more in common w/ the Hindus than Greco-Roman beliefs. What strikes me as most salient is the fact that the Bible itself --the mother book of western theology-- begins in a Hindu tradition w/ Adam'n'Eve, Noah, Eber, etc. all living in a Hindu environment.

Given the fact that the word "Hebrew" means 'from the House of Eber" we come to the point that if Judaism is the parent of Christianity, then Hinduism is the grandparent and Buddhism is what, the "uncle"?
 
Old 07-09-2018, 06:16 AM   #8
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Given the fact that the word "Hebrew" means 'from the House of Eber" we come to the point that if Judaism is the parent of Christianity, then Hinduism is the grandparent and Buddhism is what, the "uncle"?
The problem becomes one of defining Hinduism. It may be a rather pointless task, especially in a historical standpoint as the religions practiced in the subcontinent at the time of the Buddha's teachings were Vedic for the most part but not what we'd think of as Hinduism of today.

The Upanishads had not been written, Chaitanya was not yet born. The law of Manu would not be laid down for centuries. If Jainism existed it was in very early days, and quite possibly DID affect the development of early Buddhism. I will go back to the Upanishads though. This is a time without them, without the Bhagavhad Gita and the entirety of what we'd now think of the Vedanta. If there were various schools discussing advaita, duality and limited duality, we don't know much about them. The Vedas themselves go back much earlier and there is reason to suspect prior to being written their oral tradition goes back thousands of years.

Compared to the Vedic rituals, Buddha's teachings, such as we have in their earliest available forms, were iconoclastic indeed. I think we get hung up on whether or not Buddha was teaching about God. I think that's rather beside the point, and frankly, it's a little negative to say people become Buddhists because of a lack of God. Admittedly, God hasn't gotten a lot of good press after centuries of people killing and torturing each other over who loves Him best.

Rather than deity placation, in Buddhism the focus was on the dharma, and still is, though obviously ritual and to some degree veneration of Buddha instead of practice, has become the norm. This came at a time when there was probably in that region a very real need for this faith to escape from priest classes and myriad deities including one's household deities. Buddha does not appear anyway in the writings to deny the existance of higher god-like beings but certainly is not fixated on them. The importance was on, again, the practice.

We know for example that early Buddhism does not involve itself in idolotry or heavy symbolism. At most Buddhism identieid itself with a symbol of a footprint or of the wheel of dharma, reminders of the way. It was not until Buddhism became popular with the post-Alexandrian Greek kingdoms of Asia that the visual simulation, espeially the statues, became important, and probably changed the faith radically. And there WERE many Greek Buddhists at this time. One record records over 30,000 Greek bhikkus (monks) attending one international gathering.

During this time at some point however their did appear a more, for lack of a better term, from of what we'd now call Hindu faith in india that would be recognizeable to us now, and much as Manicheans dissapeared from the world, Buddhism gradually dissipated from much of the subcontinent, though Theravada continued to thrive in Sri Lanka, and Mahayana in the extreme north. In some other places where Buddha was still revered, though now as an Avatar of Vishnu. In other places interestingly that station is taken by Krishna.

All religions have strayed, in time from their original focus, extreme examples like Samaritans notwithstanding. It must be rememberd that after many centuries Buddhism had modified to be a religion not just for monks with the time for study, but for common people unable to read who still wanted the Light they could receive from the one who brought the Four Noble Truths.


as for the uncle question.. there are similar deity names in many Indo-European religions, certainly they show up in Zoroastrianism, and it was in a geographically and political location to influence many of the religions around it.
 
Old 07-09-2018, 01:08 PM   #9
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...The problem becomes one of defining Hinduism...
We can define it anyway we want. Like, everyone else does.

In fairness we may as well start w/ the consensus of descriptions we get from today's adherents. You may be coming across something different but what I got so far is like what's here and here that say things like Hindu is not a religion (and then they go on to tell all about the 'Hindu Religion') and that they have have many gods (and then they say "Hinduism believes in only on God but allows its followers to worship the God in man forms...").

The fact that it's so contradictory and disorganized makes it very easy for me to consider virtually all major religions as having Hindu origins. That and the general agreement that Hindu origins appear to be around 3K BC within a few hundred miles of where Abraham came from a thousand years later.
 
Old 07-15-2018, 12:36 PM   #10
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This is the latest from my Wilmette course on Buddhism.

If you look at the Four Noble Truths you can see that they divide quite naturally into two groups. The first two, suffering and the cause of suffering belong to the realm of birth and death. Symbolically they can be represented as a circle, in the sense that they are circular. The causes of suffering lead to suffering, suffering produces the causes of suffering which again produce suffering. They are circular. They belong to samsara. The second two, the end of suffering and the path to the end of suffering can be symbolized in terms of a spiral. Movement is no longer circular. It is now directed upwards. In Buddhism, specifically the truth of suffering can be divided into two categories, broadly speaking, physical and mental. You may ask, "Is craving alone a sufficient cause of suffering? Is craving alone enough to explain suffering? Is the answer as simple as that?" The answer is no. There is something that goes deeper than craving. There is something which in a sense is the foundation of craving. And that something is ignorance (Avidya). Specifically in Buddhism, we are speaking about ignorance regarding the self, taking the self as real. This is the fundamental cause of suffering. We take our body or ideas or feelings as a self, as a real independent ego just as we take the tree stump for a potential assailant. Once we have this idea of self we have an idea of something that is apart from or different from ourselves. Once we have this idea of something that is apart or different from ourselves, then it is either helpful or hostile. It is either pleasant or unpleasant to ourselves. From this notion of self we have craving and ill-will.

The Buddha described Nirvana as supreme happiness, as peace, as immortal. Similarly, He has described Nirvana as uncreated, unformed, as beyond the earth, as beyond water, fire, air, beyond the sun and moon, unfathomable, unmeasurable. How does one remove these causes of suffering? What are the means through which one can remove the defilements that lead to suffering? This is the path taught by the Buddha. It is the Middle Path, the path of moderation. Here too when we look at the specific instructions with regard to following the path to the end of suffering, we can see that the instructions refer not only to one’s body - actions and words - but also to one’s thoughts. In other words, the Noble Eightfold Path, the path to the end of suffering is a comprehensive path, an integrated therapy. It is designed to cure the disease through eliminating the causes, through treatment that applies not only to the body but also to the mind. Right understanding is the first step of the Noble Eightfold Path and it is followed by Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. Why do we begin with Right Understanding? It is because in order to climb a mountain we have to have the summit clearly in view. In this sense, the first step depends on the last. We have to have our goal in view if we are to travel a path to reach that goal. In this sense, Right Understanding gives direction and an orientation to the other steps of the path. We see here that the first two steps of the path, Right Understanding and Right Thought refer to the mind. Through Right Understanding and Right Thought we eliminate ignorance, greed and anger. But it is not enough to say that through Right Understanding and Right Thought we eliminate ignorance, greed and anger because in order to achieve Right Understanding and Right Thought we also need to cultivate, to purify our mind and our body. The way that this is done is through the other six steps of the path. We purify our physical existence so that it will be easier to purify our mind, and we purify our mind so that it will be easier to attain Right Understanding.

Buddhist traditions have traditionally disagreed on what it is in a person that is reborn, as well as how quickly the rebirth occurs after each death. Some Buddhist traditions assert that "no self" doctrine means that there is no perduring self, but there is avacya (inexpressible) self which migrates from one life to another. The majority of TheBuddhist traditions, in contrast, assert that vijñāna (a person's consciousness) though evolving, exists as a continuum and is the mechanistic basis of what undergoes rebirth, rebecoming and redeath. The rebirth depends on the merit or demerit gained by one's karma, as well as that accrued on one's behalf by a family member. Nirvana literally means "blowing out, quenching, becoming extinguished". In early Buddhist texts, it is the state of restraint and self-control that leads to the "blowing out" and the ending of the cycles of sufferings associated with rebirths and redeaths. Many later Buddhist texts describe nirvana as identical with anatta with complete "emptiness, nothingness".

The five precepts (panca-sila) are moral behavioural and ritual guidelines for lay devotees in Buddhism, while those following a monastic life have rules of conduct (patimokkha). The five precepts apply to both male and female devotees, and these are:
1. Abstain from killing (Ahimsa);
2. Abstain from stealing;
3. Abstain from sensual (including sexual) misconduct;
4. Abstain from lying;
5. Abstain from intoxicants.
A wide range of meditation practices has developed in the Buddhist traditions, but "meditation" primarily refers to the practice of dhyana c.q. jhana. It is a practice in which the attention of the mind is first narrowed to the focus on one specific object, such as the breath, a concrete object, or a specific thought, mental image or mantra. After this initial focussing of the mind, the focus is coupled to mindfulness, maintaining a calm mind while being aware of one's surroundings. The practice of dhyana aids in maintaining a calm mind, and avoiding disturbance of this calm mind by mindfulness of disturbing thoughts and feelings.

The four immeasurables or four abodes, also called Brahma-viharas, are virtues or directions for meditation in Buddhist traditions, which helps a person be reborn in the heavenly (Brahma) realm. These are traditionally believed to be a characteristic of the deity Brahma and the heavenly abode he resides in.
The four Brahma-vihara are:
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.
Buddhism asserts that there is nothing independent, except the state of nirvana.

The following is from the Dhammapada, and I have those that especially agree with Baha'i.

11. They who imagine truth in untruth, and see untruth in truth, never arrive at truth, but follow vain desires.
12. They who know truth in truth, and untruth in untruth, arrive at truth, and follow true desires.
13. As rain breaks through an ill-thatched house, passion will break through an unreflecting mind.
14. As rain does not break through a well-thatched house, passion will not break through a well-reflecting mind.
15. The evil-doer mourns in this world, and he mourns in the next; he mourns in both. He mourns and suffers when he sees the evil of his own work
16. The virtuous man delights in this world, and he delights in the next; he delights in both. He delights and rejoices, when he sees the purity of his own work.
21. Earnestness is the path of immortality (Nirvâna), thoughtlessness the path of death. Those who are in earnest do not die, those who are thoughtless are as if dead already.
78. Do not have evil-doers for friends, do not have low people for friends: have virtuous people for friends, have for friends the best of men.
143. Is there in this world any man so restrained by humility that he does not mind reproof, as a well-trained horse the whip?
158. Let each man direct himself first to what is proper, then let him teach others; thus a wise man will not suffer.
160. Self is the lord of self, who else could be the lord? With self well subdued, a man finds a lord such as few can find.
163. Bad deeds, and deeds hurtful to ourselves, are easy to do; what is beneficial and good, that is very difficult to do.
179. He whose conquest is not conquered again, into whose conquest no one in this world enters, by what track can you lead him, the Awakened, the Omniscient, the trackless?
193. A supernatural person (a Buddha) is not easily found, he is not born everywhere. Wherever such a sage is born, that race prospers.
223. Let a man overcome anger by love, let him overcome evil by good; let him overcome the greedy by liberality, the liar by truth!
226. Those who are ever watchful, who study day and night, and who strive after Nirvâna, their passions will come to an end.
253. If a man looks after the faults of others, and is always inclined to be offended, his own passions will grow, and he is far from the destruction of passions.
365. Let him not despise what he has received, nor ever envy others: a mendicant who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.

The Buddhist concept that human beings are reborn into a series of heavens or hells depending on their actions in this life can therefore be seen, from a Bahá'í perspective, as an account of spiritual reality that has been pictured as a series of literal physical places and events. A Bahá'í interpretation of such scriptural passages as the one describing hell above would be to say that these are not intended to be taken literally but rather to create a vision of a spiritual reality. Similarly, the concept that one is reborn into this world and plays out the consequences of the deeds done in previous lives is a "concretisation", a physical picture, of what, according to the Bahá'í view, actually occurs spiritually. Our actions do have consequences for us in our future life but that is a spiritual life.

The Buddhas are in reality denizens of a higher plane who are temporarily in this world in order to guide us (DN 13:1:42-3; tr. Davids, Suttas 186). When asked about the way to attain a state of union with Brahma, Gautama Buddha replied: "Know, Vasettha, that (from time to time) a Tathagata is born into the world, a fully Enlightened One, blessed and worthy, abounding in wisdom and goodness, happy, with knowledge of the world, unsurpassed as a guide to erring mortals, a teacher of gods and men, a Blessed Buddha. He, by himself, thoroughly understands, and sees, as it were, face to face this universe--the world below with all its spirits, and the worlds above, of Mara and of Brahma--and all creatures, Samanas and Brahmins, gods and men, and he makes this knowledge known to others. The truth doth he proclaim both in its letter and in its spirit, lovely in its origin, lovely in its progress, lovely in its consummation: the higher life doth he make known, in all its purity and in all its perfectness" (DN 13:1:44; tr. Davids, Suttas 186-7). Bahá'u'lláh expresses these same ideas in his writings when he says that the Manifestations of God (Tathagatas) are the intermediaries between the highest reality and this world (see "Manifestation of God"). They are thoroughly familiar with the highest reality and can show us the path to that world.

Although the Buddha is one who has attained nirvana, it is not true that anyone who reaches nirvana is automatically a Buddha. Indeed, the Buddha specifically states that his station is one "which no worldling can attain" (Dhammapada 272) and is unknowable.The Buddha in the quotation cited above states that the Tathagata is one who brings into being a new dhamma, one which has not arisen before, and yet elsewhere the Buddha states that the dhamma that he brings is an ancient dhamma, preached by previous Buddhas (SN 2:104). This apparent contradiction is fully in accord with Bahá'u'lláh's teaching on progressive revelation.

The Soul or Self. The Buddhist teaching of Anatta (no self) is perhaps the most difficult to reconcile with Bahá'í teaching (see "Soul, Spirit and Mind"). There are clear differences but also some similarities. We have seen that the Buddha regarded the existence of the self or soul as one of the inexpressibles. Any statement about it--even to say either that it exists or it does not exist--would be to take a dogmatic position and this would not be in accordance with the reality of the situation. Reality is transcendent to thought and conceptualizations.
The soul or self is also regarded as a relative or contingent existence and not an absolute reality in the writings of Bahá'u'lláh (GWB 81:157; PM 58:91). The Bahá'í writings are full of statements about the nothingness of self. For example, in writing of one aspect of the station of the Manifestation (Buddhahood), Bahá'u'lláh states that they, the Manifestations (Buddhas) of every age, when comparing themselves to the Absolute "have considered themselves as utterly effaced and non-existent . . . they have regarded themselves as utter nothingness, and deemed their mention in that Court an act of blasphemy. For the slightest whisperings of self, within such a Court, is an evidence of self-assertion and independent existence. In the eyes of them who have attained unto that Court, such a suggestion is itself a grievous transgression" (KI 180). In considering the stages of the human being's journey to his ultimate goal, Bahá'u'lláh names the last of these stages "The Valley of True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness." Put into Buddhist terms, this passage states that in order for human beings to achieve their ultimate goal of the Absolute (Nirvana), they must die to their self and extinguish all attachments to this world of Samsara (SV 36).

Bahá'ís consider that Bahá'u'lláh is the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Buddha that in due time another Buddha would come to the world, the Mettaya (Maitreya) Buddha: "In due time, O monks, there will arise in the world an Exalted One named Mettaya, an arahat, fully awakened, full of wisdom and a perfect guide, himself having trodden the path to the very end, with knowledge of the worlds, unsurpassed as an educator, teacher of gods and men, an exalted Buddha, just as in the present period I am now . . . And he will proclaim the teaching that is lovely in its origin, lovely in its progress, and lovely in its consummation . . . He will be the head of an order of many thousand of monks, just as in the present period I am the head of an order of many hundreds" (DN, Mahaparinibbana-Suttana 3:76). Shoghi Effendi specifically identifies Bahá'u'lláh with the Maitreya Buddha (GPB 95) and as the fifth Buddha (GPB 94).

In Mahayana sources there are many more prophecies relating to the Maitreya Buddha. One of these is that found in the Mahasannipata sutra (Ta-tsi-king, see Cowell et al. 115-6n), in which it is prophesied that the Maitreya Buddha would come after five epochs of five hundred years each from the time of Gautama Buddha. This period of 2,500 years was completed in 1956 C.E. according to the traditional Buddhist calendar. Also of importance from the Bahá'í viewpoint is the name of the Mahayana savior figure Amitabha, who is considered to preside over a Pure Land (Sukhavati) to the west of India. Bahá'ís point out the similarity between this name (which may be translated as Light of the Infinite) and that of Bahá'u'lláh (which may be translated as Glory or Light of God), who came from a land to the west of India. There is also a parallel between the repetition of the name of Amitabha in many Buddhist Pure Land sects, and the repetition of the Greatest Name (q.v.) in Bahá'í prayer (see "Prayer.4.b").
 
Old 07-16-2018, 04:59 PM   #11
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I know of no school of Buddhism or Buddhist tradition that has anything like the Monotheism of Abrahamic dispensations (Bahai Faith, Islam, Christianity, Judaism). Buddhists do not see Gautama Shaktamuni Buddha as a manifestation of God but a great teacher that founded a style of meditation and ethics.
 
Old 07-17-2018, 06:38 AM   #12
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I know of no school of Buddhism or Buddhist tradition that has anything like the Monotheism of Abrahamic dispensations (Bahai Faith, Islam, Christianity, Judaism). Buddhists do not see Gautama Shaktamuni Buddha as a manifestation of God but a great teacher that founded a style of meditation and ethics.
It's weird how many in the west seem to think Theravada is all there is.
 
Old 07-17-2018, 08:30 AM   #13
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It's weird how many in the west seem to think Theravada is all there is.

Agreed. While maybe not using the same terminology, there are many concepts in Pure Land Buddhism, by far the largest branch of that faith, that would be recognizable to people of the Abrahamic faiths.

Namo Amida Butsu
 
Old 07-18-2018, 10:29 AM   #14
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The latest from my Buddhism course, from my notes.

Good conduct forms a foundation for further progress on the path, for further personal development. It is said that just as the earth is the base of all animate and inanimate things, so is morality the foundation of all qualities. The principles that lie behind that are the foundation of the rules of good conduct, are the principles of equality and reciprocity. What equality means is that all living beings are equal in their essential attitudes. In other words, all living beings want to be happy. They fear pain, death and suffering. Reciprocity means that just as we would not like to be killed, robbed, abused and so forth, so would all other living beings not like to have these things happen to them.

Speech is an extremely important part of our life. All the rules of good conduct involve respect that is founded upon the understanding of equality and reciprocity. In this context, right speech involves respect for truth and respect for the welfare of others. Right speech means to avoid lying, to avoid back biting or slander, to avoid harsh speech, and to avoid idle talk. Once we are confident that we can act in one way and speak in another, then we will not be afraid to act badly, because we will be confident that we can cover up our bad actions by lying. Lying therefore opens the door to all kinds of unwholesome actions. One ought not to abuse others with harsh words, but on the contrary should speak courteously to others as one would like to be spoken to oneself. Regarding idle talk, often you hear of people saying that we cannot even indulge in a bit of idle talk. It is not quite that bad. Here the kind of idle talk that is particularly indicated refers to malicious gossips, diverting oneself, entertaining oneself, recounting the faults and failings of others.

Right Action entails respect for life, respect for property, and respect for personal relationships. Keeping in mind the principles of equality and reciprocity, we ought not to kill living beings. Respect for property - not to steal from or cheat others. The employer who does not pay his employee an honest wage that is commensurate with his work is guilty of taking what is not given. Similarly, the employee who collects a salary and shirks his duties is guilty of lack of respect for property. Finally respect for personal relationships means to avoid adultery, to avoid sexual misconduct.

Right Livelihood is an extension of the rules of Right Action to one’s role as a breadwinner in a society. Specifically, there are five kinds of livelihood that are discouraged for Buddhists. These are trading in animals for slaughter, dealing in slaves, dealing in weapons, dealing in poisons, and dealing in intoxicants, those are drugs and alcoholic drinks. These five kinds of livelihood are discouraged because they contribute to the ills of society and because they violate the principles of respect for life and so forth.

We have said that, in regard to society, following the rules of good conduct creates a society characterized by harmony and peace. All social goals can be achieved through the principles and rules of good conduct based upon the fundamental recognition of equality and reciprocity. In addition, the individual also benefits through the practice of good conduct. The practice of good conduct creates within the individual an inner sense of peace, of stability, of security and of strength. Once he has created that inner peace, he can then fruitfully and successfully practice the other steps of the path. When we follow the rules of good conduct we do not pretend that we can observe them all the time. This is why for instance the five precepts are called the training precepts and that is why we take them again and again.

In order to achieve wisdom one has to purify the mind, develop the mind through meditation. Even for the practice of good conduct, for the observance of moral rules, mental development is necessary. When we find ourselves in circumstances of stress, of instability this is the point at which the observance of good conduct comes under attack. In this kind of circumstance, the only thing that can safeguard our practice of good conduct is mental development, strengthening of the mind, attaining control over the mind. The Buddha has said that the mind is the source of all mental states, that all mental states are fashioned by the mind. It is also said that the mind is the source of all virtues, of all qualities. In order to attain these virtues, one must discipline the mind. Mind is the key to changing the nature of our experience.

In its most general sense Right Effort means cultivating a positive attitude towards our undertakings. We can call Right Effort enthusiasm as well. Effort is also related to confidence. Effort should never become too tense, too extreme, and similarly, it should not become too slack, should not be abandoned. It is the effort to prevent unwholesome thoughts from arising. It is the effort to reject unwholesome thoughts once they have arisen. It is the effort to cultivate wholesome thoughts. It is the effort to maintain wholesome thoughts.
We may do well to look at the importance of mindfulness in our ordinary mundane activities. Mindfulness is awareness or attention, avoiding a distracted and clouded state of mind. The practice of mindfulness traditionally has played an important role in Buddhism. At one place, the Buddha has called the practice of mindfulness the one way to achieve the end of suffering. Specifically, the practice of mindfulness has been developed to include four particular applications. These are application of mindfulness with regard to body - awareness of the positions of one’s limbs and so forth; mindfulness with regard to feelings pleasant, unpleasant or neutral; mindfulness with regard to moments of consciousness; and lastly mindfulness with regard to objects. These four stations of mindfulness have continued to play an important role in the practice of Buddhist meditation.

Let us go on to consider the third step, and that is concentration, or it is sometimes called meditation, or tranquillity. Concentration is the practice of focussing the mind single-pointedly on a single object. The object may be physical or mental. When one practises concentration, one repeatedly focuses the mind on the object. This eventually, gradually leads to the ability to rest the mind upon the object without distraction. When this can be achieved for a protracted period, then one has achieved single-pointedness. It is important to note that this aspect of mental development has to be practised with the guidance of an experienced teacher. This is because there are a number of technical factors that condition success or failure and they include posture, attitude, duration and occasion of practice. One can begin with relatively short periods, as short as ten to fifteen minutes a day. When we achieve single-pointedness of the mind, we are then ready to conjoin tranquillity with penetrative under-standing, meditation with wisdom.

Wisdom is described as the understanding of the Four Noble Truths, or the understanding of dependent origination and so forth. What is meant by this is that when we speak of the attainment of wisdom, we are concerned with transforming these items of the doctrine from simple intellectual facts to real personal facts. We speak in terms of seeing the Truth, of seeing things as they really are. Because the attainment of wisdom is not an intellectual or academic exercise. It is seeing, understanding these truths directly. The real heart of Buddhism is wisdom.

The means of acquiring Right Understanding is as follows - on the first stage, one has to observe, study and read. On the second stage, one has to examine intellectually what one has observed, studied and read. On the third stage, one has to meditate upon what one has examined, considered and determined.

Right Thought means avoiding desire and ill-will. Right Understanding removes ignorance. Right Thought removes desire and ill-will. To remove desire and greed we need to cultivate renunciation or detachment. To remove ill-will, we need to cultivate loving-kindness and compassion. In order to cultivate detachment, one has to consider the undesirable consequences of pleasures of the senses. One can cultivate loving-kindness and compassion through recognizing the essential equality of all living beings. All fear death, all tremble at punishments. All want happiness just as I want happiness.

It is quite often the case that we find people misunderstanding the idea of karma. We find people saying that one cannot change one’s situation because of one’s karma. If karma is not fate or predestination, then what is it? Let us look at the term itself. Karma means action, means "to do". It is dynamic. Every action must have a reaction, an effect. One may ask how does one know whether an action that is wholesome or unwholesome will produce happiness or unhappiness. The answer is time will tell. Very simply, whole-some actions result in eventual happiness for oneself and others, while unwholesome actions have the opposite result, they result in suffering for oneself and others. The three unwholesome actions of mind that are to be avoided are greed, anger and delusion. There are five conditions that modify the weight of karma and they are persistent, repeated action; action done with great intention and determination; action done without regret; action done towards those who possess extraordinary qualities; and action done towards those who have benefited one in the past. If one does an unwholesome action again and again with great intention and without regret, the weight of the action will be enhanced. Karma can either manifest its effects in this very life or in the next life or only after several lives. Neutral karma is karma that has no moral consequence either because the very nature of the action is such as to have no moral consequence or because it is done involuntarily and unintentionally.

Let me briefly list the twelve components or links that make up dependent origination. They are ignorance, mental formation, consciousness, name and form, the six senses, contact, feeling, craving, clinging, becoming, birth, and old age and death. Ignorance, craving and clinging belong to the group of defilements. Mental formation and becoming belong to the group of actions. The remaining seven, that is, consciousness, name and form, the six senses, contact, feeling, birth, and old age and death belong to the group of sufferings. We have said that the Middle Way means avoiding the extreme of indulgence in pleasures of the senses and the extreme of self-mortification. Now in the context of dependent origination, the Middle Way has another meaning which is related to the earlier meaning but deeper. In this context the Middle Way means avoiding the extremes of eternalism and nihilism. Recognizing the conditioned nature of our personality, we avoid the extreme of eternalism, of affirming the existence of an independent, permanent self. Alternatively, recognizing that this personality, this life does not arise through accident, or mere chance, but is instead conditioned by corresponding causes, we avoid the extreme of nihilism, the extreme of denying the relation between action and consequence.

Last edited by Duane; 07-18-2018 at 10:33 AM.
 
Old 07-18-2018, 04:18 PM   #15
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Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReturnofZealSeeker View Post
I know of no school of Buddhism or Buddhist tradition that has anything like the Monotheism of Abrahamic dispensations (Bahai Faith, Islam, Christianity, Judaism). Buddhists do not see Gautama Shaktamuni Buddha as a manifestation of God but a great teacher that founded a style of meditation and ethics.
It's weird how many in the west seem to think Theravada is all there is.
Actually I was thinking of Mahayana Buddhism when I made that statement and know less about Theravada Buddhism. There's no ties to Abrahamic Monotheism Manifestation of God Successor ships.
 
Old 07-19-2018, 06:15 AM   #16
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Actually I was thinking of Mahayana Buddhism when I made that statement and know less about Theravada Buddhism.
Really?? I'd think Mahayana would be the most similar to the Baha'i Faith, given that it's goal is to attain śūnyatā (detachment) in order to gain a state of nearness to the Ultimate Reality / Buddha-Nature.

I suppose your assertion then is that the concept of Ultimate Reality / Buddha-Nature is different than the concept of God, but I think you're probably making the mistake of using a modern Christian anthropomorphized conception of God, which does not really apply to the Baha'i Faith.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ReturnofZealSeeker View Post
Buddhists do not see Gautama Shaktamuni Buddha as a manifestation of God but a great teacher that founded a style of meditation and ethics.
In the Mahayana tradition Gautama Buddha did not found the system of Buddhism but discovered it by giving up his Self. The Mahayana tradition is rather explicit in stating that Gautama was not the first Buddha (see the Pali Canon for reference).

That's why I assumed you were talking from a Therevada angle, as the only Buddhists I've talked to that have asserted Gautama Buddha was the one that came up with the ideas in Buddhism have been Westerners who adopted Therevada Buddhism alongside an atheistic worldview.

For the Mahayana, Buddhism has always been in existence as a truth present in every living creature. It's an intrinsic property of the universe, not merely some ethical system founded around 500 BCE.
 
Old 07-19-2018, 01:52 PM   #17
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Heart of Great Wisdom Sutra Mahayana Buddhism

Walrus:

I talk from the perspective of going to a Zen Buddhist temple or Zendo and practicing their basic ceremonies. Zazen.

Here's the basic of Mahayana Buddhism 's Heart of Great Wisdom Sutra. There's kind of a timeless cycle of composition and decomposition a lot like


Last edited by ReturnofZealSeeker; 07-19-2018 at 01:56 PM.
 
Old 07-23-2018, 12:45 PM   #18
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Here are some forms of Buddhist meditation, plus a description of the festival of Vesak

Instead of identifying these physical and mental phenomena with the false concept of "self," we are to see them as they really are: movements of a physical body, an aggregate of the four elements, (mahabhutas) subject to physical laws of causality on the one hand, and on the other, a flux of successive phases of consciousness arising and passing away in response to external stimuli. They are to be viewed objectively, as though they were processes not associated with ourselves but belonging to another order of phenomena. From what can selfishness and egotism proceed if not from the concept of "self" (sakkayaditthi)? If the practice of any form of meditation leaves selfishness or egotism unabated, it has not been successful. The only thing he fears is demeritorious action, because he knows that no thing or person in the world can harm him except himself, and as his detachment increases, he becomes less and less liable to demeritorious deeds.

Another gift it bestows is that of concentration - the ability to focus the mind and keep it steadily fixed on a single point (ekaggata, or one-pointedness), and this is the great secret of success in any undertaking. One of the most universally-applicable methods of cultivating mental concentration is anapanasati, attentiveness on the in-going and out-going breath. This, unlike the Yogic systems, does not call for any interference with the normal breathing, the breath being merely used as a point on which to fix the attention, at the tip of the nostrils. The attention must not wander, even to follow the breath, but must be kept rigidly on the selected spot. In the initial stages it is advisable to mark the respiration by counting, but as soon as it is possible to keep the mind fixed without this artificial aid, it should be discontinued and only used when it is necessary to recall the attention. As the state of mental quiescence (samatha) is approached, the breath appears to become fainter and fainter, until it is hardly discernible. A stage is reached when the actual bodily dukkha, the sensation of arising and passing away of the physical elements in the body, is felt. When that is passed there follows the sensation of piti, rapturous joy associated with the physical body.

The use of the rosary in Buddhism is often misunderstood. If it is used for the mechanical repetition of a set formula, the repeating of so many phrases as an act of piety, as in other religions, its value is negligible. When it is used as means of holding the attention and purifying the mind, however, it can be a great help. One of the best ways of employing it, because it calls for undivided attention, is to repeat the Pali formula of the qualities of Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, beginning "Iti'pi so Bhagava - " with the first bead, starting again with the second and continuing to the next quality: "Iti'pi so Bhagava, Arahan - " and so on until with the last bead the entire formula is repeated from beginning to end.

Samatha bhavana is the development of mental tranquillity with concentration. In samatha the mind becomes like a still, clear pool completely free from disturbance and agitation, and ready to mirror on its surface the nature of things as they really are, the aspect of them which is hidden from ordinary knowledge by the restlessness of craving.
Vipassana bhavana is realization of the three signs of being, impermanence, suffering and non-self by direct insight. The final objective lies on a higher level of awareness, the direct "intuitional" plane, where it is actually experienced as psychological fact.

Metta bhavana is the most universally beneficial form of discursive meditation, and can be practiced in any conditions. Thoughts of universal, undiscriminating benevolence, like radio waves reaching out in all directions, sublimate the creative energy of the mind. With steady perseverance in metta bhavana a point can be reached at which it becomes impossible even to harbor a thought of ill-will.

The classic formulation of metta as an attitude of mind to be developed by meditation is found in the Karaniya Metta Sutta. It is recommended that this sutta be recited before beginning meditation, and again at its close, a practice which is invariably followed in the Buddhist countries. It is taught in Buddhism that the cultivation of benevolence must begin with oneself. There is a profound psychological truth in this, for no one who hates or despises himself consciously or unconsciously can feel true loving-kindness for others. This does not mean that we should build up an idealized picture of ourselves as an object of admiration, but that, while being fully aware of our faults and deficiencies, we should not condemn but resolve to improve ourselves and cherish confidence in our ability to do so. This thought having been developed, the next stage is to apply it in exactly the same form and to the same degree, to someone for whom one has naturally a feeling of friendship. When the thought of metta has been developed towards a friend, the next object should be someone towards whom one has no marked feelings of like or dislike. Lastly, the though of metta is to be turned towards someone who is hostile. The meditator should reflect: "As he (or she) is, so am I. As I am, so is he. We are both bound to the inexorable Wheel of Life by ignorance and craving. Both of us are subject to the law of cause and effect, and whatever evil we do, for that we must suffer. Why then should I blame or call anyone my enemy? Rather should I purify my mind and wish that he may do the same, so that both of us may be freed from suffering." The next stage is to widen and extend it. "May all sentient beings be free from enmity, etc... May all things that have life be free from enmity, etc." This meditation embraces all without particular reference to locality, and so is called "suffusing without limitation." In suffusing metta with limitation (odhiso-pharana), there are seven groups which form the objects of the meditation. They are: all females; all males; all Noble Ones (those who have attained any one of the states of Sainthood); all imperfect ones; all Devas; all human beings; all beings in states of woe. Suffusing with metta all beings in the ten directions is carried out in the same way. Lastly, each of the twelve groups belonging to the unlimited and limited suffusions of metta can be dealt with separately for each of the ten directions, using the appropriate formulas.

At Vesak Buddhists commemorate the birth of the Buddha-to-be, Siddhattha Gotama, his Enlightenment at the age of 35 when he became the Buddha and his final 'passing' into Nirvana at the age of 80, no more to be reborn.

Devout Buddhists will try to attend their local temple for at least part of the day, while some remain there throughout the day and night of the full moon. The celebration will include the practices of Giving, Virtue and Cultivation and the doing of good and meritorious deeds.

Giving usually involves bringing food to offer and share, as well as supplies for the temple and symbolic offerings for the shrine. Virtue is observed by reaffirming commitment to the moral precepts. Cultivation can include chanting, meditation and listening to sermons.
 
Old 07-27-2018, 12:45 PM   #19
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The latest from my Buddhism course. This is the history of Buddhism up to Modern times.

During the reign of the Mauryan Emperor Aśoka (273–232 BCE), Buddhism gained royal support and began to spread more widely reaching most of the Indian subcontinent.[18] After his invasion of Kalinga, Aśoka seems to have experienced remorse and began working to improve the lives of his subjects. Aśoka also built wells, rest-houses and hospitals for humans and animals, he also abolished torture, royal hunting trips and perhaps even the death penalty. A feature of Mauryan Buddhism was the worship and veneration of stupas, large mounds which contained relics (Pali: sarīra) of the Buddha or other saints within. According to the plates and pillars left by Aśoka (the edicts of Aśoka), emissaries were sent to various countries in order to spread Buddhism, as far south as Sri Lanka and as far west as the Greek kingdoms, in particular the neighboring Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, and possibly even farther to the Mediterranean.It is not clear how much these interactions may have been influential, but authors like Robert Linssen have commented that Buddhism may have influenced Western thought and religion at that time. The presence of Buddhists in Alexandria has even drawn the conclusion that they influenced monastic Christianity. Sri Lankan chronicles like the Dipavamsa state that Aśoka's son Mahinda brought Buddhism to the island during the 2nd century BCE. The first architectural records of Buddha images however, actually come from the reign of king Vasabha (65-109 BCE). The Pāli canon was written down during the 1st century BCE to preserve the teaching in a time of war and famine.

The Buddhist movement that became known as Mahayana (Great Vehicle) and also the Bodhisattvayana, began sometime between 150 BCE and 100 CE. It emerged as a set of loose groups associated with new texts named the Mahayana sutras. Mahayana remained a minority among Indian Buddhists for some time, growing slowly until about half of all monks encountered by Xuanzang in 7th century India were Mahayanists. Mahayana is today the dominant form of Buddhism in East Asia and Tibet. A.K. Warder believes that "the Mahāyāna originated in the south of India and almost certainly in the Āndhra country."

The Greco-Bactrian king Demetrius I (reigned c. 200–180 BCE) invaded the Indian Subcontinent, establishing an Indo-Greek kingdom that was to last in parts of Northwest South Asia until the end of the 1st century CE. Buddhism flourished under the Indo-Greek and Greco-Bactrian kings. One of the most famous Indo-Greek kings is Menander (reigned c. 160–135 BCE). He may have converted to Buddhism and is presented in the Mahāyāna tradition as one of the great benefactors of the faith, on a par with king Aśoka or the later Kushan king Kaniśka. During the first century BCE the first anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha are found in the lands ruled by the Indo-Greeks, in a realistic style known as Greco-Buddhist.

Central Asia was home to the international trade route known as the Silk Road, which carried goods between China, India, the Middle east and the Mediterranean world. Buddhism was present in this region from about the second century BCE. The Kushan empire's unification of most of this area and their support of Buddhism allowed it to easily spread along the trade routes of the region throughout Central Asia. During the first century CE under the Kushans, the Sarvastivada school flourished in this region, some of the monks also bringing Mahayana teachings with them. Buddhism would eventually reach modern-day Pakistan, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. Central Asians played a key role in the transmission of Buddhism to China. The first translators of Buddhists scriptures into Chinese were Iranians, including the Parthian An Shigao (c. 148 CE), the Yuezhi Zhi Qian and Kang Sengkai (from Samarkand). The Zoroastrian Sassanian empire (226–651 CE) would eventually rule over many of these regions (such as Parthia and Sogdia), but they tolerated the Buddhist religion. During the mid-seventh century, the Islamic conquest of the Iranian Plateau followed by the Muslim conquests of Afghanistan and the later establishment of the Ghaznavid kingdom in Central Asia (ca. 977–1186) led to the decline and eventual disappearance of Buddhism from most of these regions.

Buddhism continued to flourish in India during the Gupta Empire (4th-6th centuries) which brought order to much of north India. Gupta rulers such as Kumaragupta I (c. 414 – 455 CE) supported and enlarged the Nālandā university, which became the largest and most influential Buddhist university in India for many centuries. A milestone in the decline of Indian Buddhism in the North occurred in 1193 when Turkic Islamic raiders under Muhammad Khilji burnt Nālandā. By the end of the 12th century, following the Islamic conquest of the Buddhist strongholds in Bihar and the loss of political support coupled with social pressures, the practice of Buddhism retreated to the Himalayan foothills in the North and Sri Lanka in the south. Additionally, the influence of Buddhism also waned due to Hinduism's revival movements such as Advaita, and the rise of the bhakti movement.

Under the Gupta and Pala empires, a Tantric Buddhist movement arose, variously named Vajrayāna, Mantrayāna, Tantric Buddhism and Esoteric Buddhism. It promoted new practices such as the use of mantras, dharanis, mudras, mandalas and the visualization of deities and Buddhas and developed a new class of literature, the Buddhist Tantras. The movement can be traced back to groups of wandering yogis called mahasiddhas.

Buddhism arrived late in Tibet, during the 7th century. The form that predominated, via the south of Tibet, was a blend of mahāyāna and vajrayāna from the universities of the Pāla empire of the Bengal region in eastern India. From the outset Buddhism was opposed by the native shamanistic Bon religion, which had the support of the aristocracy, but with royal patronage it thrived to a peak under King Rälpachän (817-836). Tibetan Buddhism was favored above other religions by the rulers of imperial Chinese and Mongol Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368).

Buddhism was introduced in China during the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 CE) and was present by around 50 CE. Although the archaeological record confirms that Buddhism was introduced sometime during the Han dynasty, it did not flourish in China until the Six Dynasties period (220-589 CE). Early translators faced the difficulty of communicating foreign Buddhist concepts to the Chinese, and often used Taoist terminology to explain them. This has been called "concept-matching". Buddhism continued to grow during the early Tang Dynasty (618–907). It was during this dynasty that the Chinese monk Xuanzang traveled to India, bringing back 657 Buddhist texts along with relics and statues. The Tang dynasty also saw the growth of Chan Buddhism (Zen), with the great Zen masters such as Mazu Daoyi and Linji Yixuan. In the later Tang, Chinese Buddhism suffered a setback during the Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution of 845. Buddhism recovered during the Song Dynasty (960–1279), which is known as the "golden age" of Chan. Pure Land Buddhism also became popular during this period and was often practiced together with Chan.

There is disagreement on when exactly Buddhism arrived in Vietnam. Buddhism may have arrived as early as the 3rd or 2nd century BCE via India, or alternatively during the 1st or 2nd century from China. Whatever the case, Mahayana Buddhism had been established by the second century CE in Vietnam. By the 9th century, both Pure Land and Thien (Zen) were major Vietnamese Buddhist schools. Vietnamese Buddhism also has a symbiotic relationship with Taoism, Chinese spirituality and the native Vietnamese religion.

Buddhism was introduced to the Three Kingdoms of Korea beginning around 372 CE.[131] During the 6th century, many Korean monks traveled to China and India to study Buddhism and various Korean Buddhist schools developed. Buddhism prospered in Korea during the Silla period (688-935) when it became a dominant force in society.[132] Buddhism continued to be popular in the Goryeo period (918-1392), in particular Seon (Zen) Buddhism.[133] However, during the Confucian Yi Dynasty of the Joseon period, Buddhism faced a reversal of fortunes beginning with the confiscation of monastery lands, the closing of monasteries and the ban on ordination by aristocrats in the 15th century.

Buddhism was introduced to Japan in the 6th century by Korean monks bearing sutras and an image of the Buddha. During the Nara Period (710–794), emperor Shōmu ordered the building of temples throughout his realm. Buddhism also influenced the Japanese religion of Shinto, which incorporated Buddhist elements.

Since around 500 BCE, the culture of India has exerted influence on Southeast Asian countries. Land and maritime trade routes linked India with the region and both Hindu and Buddhist beliefs became influential there during the period of the Indianization of Southeast Asia. From the 5th to the 13th centuries, South-East Asia saw a series of powerful states which were extremely active in the promotion of Buddhism and Buddhist art alongside of Hinduism. The main Buddhist influence now came directly by sea from the Indian subcontinent, so that these empires essentially followed the Mahāyāna faith. After the decline of Buddhism in the Indian mainland, Theravada Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka mounted missionary efforts in Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, and they were successful in converting all these regions to Theravada Buddhism.
 
Old 07-30-2018, 06:14 AM   #20
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TWO PRINCIPAL DIVISIONS OF BUDDHISM

THERAVADA (“the way of the elders”) MAHAYANA (“the greater vehicle”)

1. Also called Hinayana (“the lesser vehicle”), 1. Also called the Northern school; Majority of
or Southern Buddhism; approx. 38% of all Buddhists (approx. 62% -- incl. Vajrayana)
Buddhists

2. Emphasis on people as individuals; 2. Emphasis on people as involved with others;
emancipation by self-effort, without salvation by aid or grace of a Bodhisattva
need of supernatural aid

3. Key virtue: wisdom 3. Key virtue: compassion

4. Ideal: the Arhant (“worthy”); one who has 4. Ideal: the Bodhisattva (“enlightened one”)
extinguished all desires who assists others to overcome suffering

5. “Buddha Nature” attained by a person at a 5. “Buddha Nature” is in all things and is always
given time and place present

6. The Buddha is understood as a ‘saint’ 6. The Buddha is understood as a ‘saviour’

7. Emphasis on the historical Buddha 7. Emphasis on many Buddhas, Bodhisattvas
(i.e., Shakyamuni Buddha)

8. Minimizes metaphysics and ritual 8. Elaborate metaphysics and rituals

9. Confines prayer to meditation 9. Includes petitionary prayers

10. Single, unified tradition; conservative 10. Multiple traditions (e.g., Zen, Pure Land,
Nichiren, Tendai, Tibetan); liberal, adaptive

11. Chief goal: Nirvana; the extinction of all 11. Chief goal: nirvana; salvation; the
desires, of all that is base in human nature; Western Paradise, etc.; release from
Release from rebirth rebirth

12. Emphasis on action and deeds 12. Emphasis on faith, deeds may be secondary

13. Accepts the Tipitaka only as scripture 13. Accepts both the Tipitaka and the Mahayana
Sutras; or goes outside of them.

14. Fixed scriptures in the 1st cent. CE 14. Scriptures are fluid and (were) open

15. Monks cannot marry, wear street clothes, 15. Depending on tradition, sometimes monks
or engage in an occupation (for money); may marry, wear street clothes, and engage in an
order of nuns disappeared occupation; order of nuns unbroken continuity

In addition to this the Bodhisatta stopped short of Nirvana, in order to guide people in the next life. Also the Mahayanas visualized the Buddha.

Sorry, I can't make this come out right. The sides are running into each other.

Last edited by Duane; 07-30-2018 at 06:24 AM.
 
Old 07-30-2018, 07:49 AM   #21
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Duane,

Thanking for sharing your notes and learning, it seems to me the Wilmette Institute course you're on is quite rigorous and you are obviously a very meticulous and keen learner. It's very inspiring to see!

I have not studied Buddhism as yet, although I have read some scriptures such as Dhamapadda (which I truly love) so forgive me if I ask a question beneath the level of the discussion in this group.

When I was living in Malaysia, there were many Buddhists there with a bumper sticker on there cars: "Amitabha" which of course, seemed fascinating to me as a Baha'i. I have discovered that Amithabha is something like the The Buddha of infinite light or something to that effect. It is interesting that Abha is part of the greatest name, a reference to Baha'u'llah, and means the most glorious/splendorous which does seem similar in meaning to amitabha. Would you care to comment on this if you are able?

Thanks!
 
Old 07-30-2018, 08:33 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luqman View Post
Duane,

Thanking for sharing your notes and learning, it seems to me the Wilmette Institute course you're on is quite rigorous and you are obviously a very meticulous and keen learner. It's very inspiring to see!

I have not studied Buddhism as yet, although I have read some scriptures such as Dhamapadda (which I truly love) so forgive me if I ask a question beneath the level of the discussion in this group.

When I was living in Malaysia, there were many Buddhists there with a bumper sticker on there cars: "Amitabha" which of course, seemed fascinating to me as a Baha'i. I have discovered that Amithabha is something like the The Buddha of infinite light or something to that effect. It is interesting that Abha is part of the greatest name, a reference to Baha'u'llah, and means the most glorious/splendorous which does seem similar in meaning to amitabha. Would you care to comment on this if you are able?

Thanks!
You are quite right about Amitabha and Allah-u-Abha. In addition, Amitabha is supposed to be in the west of India and Persia is to the west of India.
 
Old 07-31-2018, 08:12 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duane View Post
You are quite right about Amitabha and Allah-u-Abha. In addition, Amitabha is supposed to be in the west of India and Persia is to the west of India.
It seems so amazing! Do you think there is a real connection there, or is it just another of those mind boggling coincidences of the Faith?


Cheers
 
Old 08-05-2018, 06:38 AM   #24
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This is the final installment of notes from my course. I am particularly impressed by how Baha'i engaged Buddhism is.

The 'come and see for yourself' attitude of Buddhism attracts many Westerners. They are not asked to believe in anything, but to follow the Buddha's advice of testing ideas first. The informality and emphasis on practice of Buddhism appeals to many Westerners. Buddhist attitudes of peace, mindfulness and care for all living creatures have come to be the concern of many groups in the West.

Over a century ago people from France, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and other European countries began to travel in the Far East. Many of them returned with Eastern ideas, and so Europeans began to hear about Buddhism. More recently, Buddhist people have moved to the West. Around the middle of the nineteenth century, a few Buddhist texts were translated into European languages. Thus Buddhist teaching came to be known to the European scholars.

As in Europe, scholars in America became acquainted with a number of Buddhist ideas in the nineteenth century. During the second half of the nineteenth century, Chinese immigrants settled in Hawaii and California. However, Buddhist activities remained largely confined to these immigrant communities. At the end of the nineteenth century, two outstanding Buddhist spokesmen, Dharmapala from Sri Lanka and Soyen Shaku, a Zen master from Japan, attended the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Their inspiring speeches on Buddhism impressed their audience and helped to establish a foothold for the Theravada and Zen Buddhist traditions in America. It was not until the second half of the twentieth century that Buddhist ideas reached a wider section of the American society. The basis of Buddhist practice in the West, as in the East, is meditation, and people may sit on cushions with their legs folded and hands in their laps. Some groups will also do some chanting, and make offerings to the Buddha image in its shrine.


The precepts of Engaged Buddhism

Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Do not think the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education. However, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrow-mindedness. Do not avoid suffering or close your eyes before suffering. Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not maintain anger or hatred. Learn to penetrate and transform them when they are still seeds in your consciousness. Do not lose yourself in dispersion and in your surroundings. Practice mindful breathing to come back to what is happening in the present moment. Be in touch with what is wondrous, refreshing, and healing both inside and around you. Do not utter words that can create discord and cause the community to break. Make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small. Do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people. Do not spread news that you do not know to be certain. Do not criticize or condemn things of which you are not sure. Do not use the Buddhist community for personal gain or profit, or transform your community into a political party. A religious community, however, should take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts. Do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. Do not invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to live. Select a vocation that helps realise your ideal of compassion. Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Possess nothing that should belong to others. Respect the property of others, but prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth. Do not mistreat your body. Learn to handle it with respect. Do not look on your body as only an instrument. Preserve vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realisation of the Way. Sexual expression should not take place without love and commitment. In sexual relations, be aware of future suffering that may be caused.
 
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