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Buddhism. Historical Background Began in India Began with one man – Siddhartha Gautama Has now developed into a religious tradition that includes various.

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Presentation on theme: "Buddhism. Historical Background Began in India Began with one man – Siddhartha Gautama Has now developed into a religious tradition that includes various."— Presentation transcript:

1 Buddhism

2 Historical Background Began in India Began with one man – Siddhartha Gautama Has now developed into a religious tradition that includes various interpretations of Gautama’s teachings Transcendence = A state of being that has overcome the normal limitations imposed by the human condition of physical existence

3 Siddhartha Gautama Full accounts of his life were not written until hundreds of years after his death Born into a kshatriya (warrior) caste in India – Said to have had a miraculous birth out of his mother’s side – Said to be able to speak and walk at birth – When he was born, he declared he would reach enlightenment in this life and free humans of suffering


5 Prophecy A prophecy was made by a soothsayer that Gautama would become either a: – 1. great king/emperor – 2. sage/savior of humanity

6 Results of the Prophecy Guatama was not allowed to see: – 1. Old Age – 2. Illness – 3. Death – 4. Spiritual asceticism Surrounded by luxury and “beautiful dancing girls” in his family’s 3 palaces – Shielded from the outside world Married at 16 and had a son

7 “The Four Passing Sights” At the age of 29, Gautama saw suffering for the first time in the form of: – An old man – A diseased man – A corpse – A religious ascetic (someone who chooses to live a life of solitude and self-denial to attain religious/spiritual transcendence)

8 Result of the Sights Gautama gave up his life of wealth as a prince in order to become a spiritual ascetic – Wanted to put an end to old age, death, and suffering Known as “The Great Going Forth” – Celebrated by Buddhists as the triumph of the spiritual over the worldly life

9 Life of Asceticism Joined a group of 5 ascetics who practiced this way of life to attain salvation Fasted for the next few years on the brink of starvation – Meals = 1 piece of fruit, 1 sesame seed, 1 grain of rice After 6 years, Gautama accepted a simple meal of rice and milk from a peasant girl…

10 The Middle Way Discovered the Buddhist doctrine of “The Middle Way” Abandoned by his 5 ascetic companions Healthy spiritual life = healthy physical life Spiritual happiness = complete happiness – Body, mind, & spirit

11 Journey to Enlightenment Sat in lotus position underneath a fig tree for days in order to gain enlightenment Tempted by the human shortcomings of fear and passionate desire The god of death, Maru, sent his 3 daughters to tempt him, but Gautama was unmoved – Discontent, Delight, and Desire

12 Meditative Trance Ascended through levels of deepening awareness until he understood the true nature of the human condition The tree is known as: the bodhi (wisdom) tree Tempted to leave his body and enter nirvana = the state of eternal bliss that is ultimate salvation – Stayed in this world due to compassion for others; wanted to share his discoveries

13 1 st Watch (evening): Perceived his own previous lifetimes – Saw that suffering was continuous 2 nd Watch (middle of the night): Acquired the “divine eye” – ability to see the deaths and rebirths of all living beings – Nowhere in this world is safe from death 3 rd Watch (late night): Discovered the Four Noble Truths – Perfect summation of the human condition and means for escaping it

14 First Followers First followers = the 5 ascetics who originally abandoned Gautama – Became arhats = saints – Buddhism as a religious tradition was born Taught them his famous First Sermon – Shared the Middle Way and Four Noble Truths with them

15 4 Noble Truths 1. To live is to suffer. 2. The origin of suffering is caused by attachment. 3. The cessation of suffering is attainable. 4. The solution to suffering is the path to its cessation (Noble Eightfold Path).

16 Diagnosis of the Disease: Dukkha Name of the 1 st noble truth = dukkha – “suffering”, “frustration,” “dislocation,” “discomfort” “Life is dukkha” = things are not quite as they should be, but somehow out of joint and in need of repair

17 Problem of Dukkha We experience dukkha when we have physical and emotional pain We also experience it when we are happy because of impermanence (anicca) – Happiness will not continue – Our attachment to pleasant things sets us up to suffer when we are separated from them

18 Dukkha = Unavoidable All of life’s experiences = finite Yet we are constantly bombarded by opportunities to become attached

19 Determination of the Cause: Tanha Name of the 2 nd Noble Truth = tanha – “desire,” “thirst,” “craving” Distinguishing characteristic = a selfish orientation – The desire for personal attachment or private fulfillment

20 Tanha = Unavoidable Also unavoidable because individuals are destined to be selfish Tanha = an unavoidable aspect of being an individual

21 Anatta = “No-self” Our self = not part of any ultimate reality We change from moment to moment We imagine we exist as individuals This is a falsehood and another form of attachment We care for ourselves individually, adding to tanha and tightening the grip of dukkha

22 Why are you unhappy? Because 99.9 per cent Of everything you think, And of everything you do, Is for yourself – And there isn’t one – By Wei Wu Wei (Ask the Awakened, page 1)

23 3 Marks of Existence Anicca (impermanence) Dukkha (suffering) Anatta (“no-self”) – All 3 are tied to tanha (personal attachment)

24 Prescription for the Cure: The Noble Eightfold Path Suffering is pervasive, so the path encompasses all aspects of life Because of the Middle Way, the path sets forth a life of moderation These are ongoing practices (not to be mastered and left behind)! – Not independent steps but are in relation with one another!

25 1. Right views 2. Right intentions 3. Right speech 4. Right conduct 5. Right livelihood 6. Right effort 7. Right mindfulness 8. Right meditation The Noble Eightfold Path

26 Steps 1-2 = Wisdom Steps 3, 4, 5 = Morality Steps 6, 7, 8 = Concentration All 3 focal points are essential, but the heart of Buddhist practice = concentration (meditation) – Primary Buddhist teachings are derived from the Buddha’s own meditative experience – Others must reach the same level of meditative insight to truly comprehend the teachings

27 Nirvana Following the steps in the Eightfold Path to its end = reaching nirvana The “arhat” becomes enlightened and is therefore fully aware of the truth in the Buddha’s teachings Impossible to describe precisely (even for the Buddha) Close description = total cessation of suffering, and thus absolute peace – indescribably joyful Buddha refused to say whether a person exists or not in nirvana

28 “Crossing the River” The quest for achieving nirvana = crossing a river On this side is the realm of samsara = the ordinary world of suffering On the far shore = nirvana Religion’s task = the process of crossing the river – Religion = a “raft” 3 great rafts, or “vehicles” = Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana

29 Theravada “The way of the elders” Teachings of Buddhism and the figure of the Buddha = most important Follows the earliest texts and original teachings of the Buddha Emphasis on meditation and monastic life

30 Mahayana Largest division of Buddhism (over half of the world’s Buddhists) Focuses on Buddha as a “divine savior” – nirvana is attainable due to his compassion Revere bodhisattvas (“Buddhists in the making”) – Those who can enter nirvana but stay behind to help others out of compassion

31 Vajrayana (Tibetan Buddhism) Small minority of Buddhists, but is of special interest Believe that nirvana can be reached in this lifetime Use sensual energies as a way of achieving nirvana, including sexual desire Includes an institution of “lamas” – a hierarchy of clergy – Led by the Dalai Lama

32 Video: How do they choose the next Dalai Lama? arts/culture/religious-studies/how-do-they- choose-the-dalai-lama

33 Video: Om Mani Padme Hum CBU CBU

34 Video: China-Tibet Relations/Controversy QE Video: Dalai Lama’s Response to Tibetans self- immolating as a form of protest against religious persecution hU

35 1. What do you think of Tibetans’ use of self- immolation as a tool of resistance to protest the religious, cultural, and political persecution they are experiencing at the hands of the Chinese government? 2. What do you think of the Dalai Lama’s response to Tibetans’ practice of self immolating as a means of protest?

36 Video: Tibetan monks make a sand mandala dPc dPc

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