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==History==
 
==History==
  
There is now a more or less established, <ref>Gethin, ''Sayings of the Buddha'', Oxford World Classics, 2008, page xv</ref> though not final,<ref>Routledge ''Encyclopedia of Buddhism'', 2007, page 107</ref> consensus among specialist historians that the Buddha died some time around 400 BC. Certain teachings are found with such frequency throughout the early texts that most historians conclude that he must have taught at least something of the sort.<ref>Mitchell, ''Buddhism'', Oxford University Press, 1st ed, 2002, page 34</ref>
+
The founder of Buddhism is known as the Buddha, a title literally meaning "awakened" and often translated "enlightened". He was born in what is now Nepal and taught there and in nearby areas now in India. There is now a more or less established, <ref>Gethin, ''Sayings of the Buddha'', Oxford World Classics, 2008, page xv</ref> though not final,<ref>Routledge ''Encyclopedia of Buddhism'', 2007, page 107</ref> consensus among specialist historians that the Buddha died some time around 400 BC. Certain teachings are found with such frequency throughout the early texts that most historians conclude that he must have taught at least something of the sort.<ref>Mitchell, ''Buddhism'', Oxford University Press, 1st ed, 2002, page 34</ref> Over the first few centuries of its existence Buddhism evolved into a number of schools, of which Theravada is the only survivor. Little or nothing is known of the origins of Mahayana.<ref>[http://www.iop.or.jp/0111/silk.pdf], page 91</ref> Buddhism eventually virtually died out in India.
  
Little or nothing is known of the origins of Mahayana.<ref>[http://www.iop.or.jp/0111/silk.pdf], page 91</ref>
+
Theravada Budhism was introduced into Ceylon around 250 BC. It spread from there to Burma in the 11th century, and from there to what are now Thailand, Cambodia and Laos over the next two centuries or so.
  
The Buddhism that has made significant numbers of converts in the West is almost entirely of a style that emphasizes modernist elements.<ref>Keown & Prebish, Routledge ''Encyclopedia of Buddhism'', 2007, page 286</ref>
+
Buddhism spread through Central Asia to China, where it is first recorded in AD 65. It spread from there to Korea in the late 4th century, and was officially introduced from there to Japan in 538.
 +
 
 +
Buddhism was introduced to Tibet in the 7th or 8th century. The Mongols were converted to the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism in the 16th century. A migrating Mongol tribe settled Buddhism in Europe in the 17th century.
 +
 
 +
Buddhism has made significant numbers of converts in the West in the last couple of centuries, almost entirely of a style that emphasizes modernist elements.<ref>Keown & Prebish, Routledge ''Encyclopedia of Buddhism'', 2007, page 286</ref>
  
 
==References==
 
==References==
  
 
<references/>
 
<references/>

Revision as of 12:04, 31 March 2012

Disclaimer

Buddhism is such a vast and varied field that professional scholars who have studied it admit that it is impossible,[1] or virtually so,[2] for a single scholar to keep track of the whole field. As a result, all accounts of Buddhism, including this one, are unreliable.

A further difficulty is that recent scholarship tends to avoid generalization,[3] so the general statements making up most of this article may be unrepresentative.

Yet a further problem is that scholars have mostly tended to study scriptures and other classical literature rather than real live Buddhism (Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, volume 30, page 282). (But Buddhist sources are even worse. Would you trust the Pope or Billy Graham for a reliable unbiased account of Christianity?)

Introduction

Buddhism is usually considered a religion,[4] though most scholars agree that there is not a clear-cut distinction between religion and philosophy in Buddhism.[5] It is the oldest of the three religions that have transcended ethnicity and spread round the world on a large scale.[6] It is the official religion in Bhutan, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.[7] There are significantly large communities of Buddhists in 126 countries.[8] More than half the world population is located in areas where Buddhism has been dominant at some point in history.[9] Most estimates of world Buddhist population are between 200 million and 300 million.[10]

Teachings

The received wisdom among American and European scholars, though contested, is that the central teachings of all or most traditions of Buddhism are the Four Noble Truths:[11]

  1. life is suffering
  2. the cause of suffering is craving
  3. cessation of suffering can be brought about by cessation of craving
  4. this can be achieved by the Noble Eightfold Path:
    1. Right View
    2. Right Resolve
    3. Right Speech
    4. Right Action
    5. Right Livelihood
    6. Right Effort
    7. Right Mindfulness
    8. Right Meditation

Institutions

Buddhism is dominated by the monastic Order,[12] though in Japan nearly all male clergy are married.[13]

Schools

Buddhists identify themselves as either Theravada or Mahayana.[14] These are different vehicles for going along the same path.[15]

Most scholars agree with Theravada's claim to be extremely conservative.[16] It can be regarded as a single denomination.[17]

There is a growing consensus among scholars that Mahayana is not characterized by a collection of beliefs or practices.[18] It emphasizes adapting the teachings to suit different people, and is thus very diverse.[19] The most popular form of Buddhism is Pure Land.[20] It offers a way of salvation based on faith alone.[21] It believes the Buddha Amitabha has the power to take his devotees to his Pure Land.[22] The other main forms of Mahayana are Nichiren, Zen and Tibetan Buddhism.[23]

Religious practices

Nearly all Buddhists use ritual for spiritual ends.[24]

Devotion is a major part of the lives of most Buddhists.[25]

For most of Buddhist history, meditation has been mainly monastic, and by no means universal even in that context.[26]

Morality

The most basic code of Buddhist morality is the Five Precepts (Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (Volume Two), page 673): to refrain from

  1. taking life
  2. stealing
  3. sexual misconduct
  4. lying
  5. intoxicants

Texts

Different branches of Buddhism use different collections, though with some overlap.[27]

History

The founder of Buddhism is known as the Buddha, a title literally meaning "awakened" and often translated "enlightened". He was born in what is now Nepal and taught there and in nearby areas now in India. There is now a more or less established, [28] though not final,[29] consensus among specialist historians that the Buddha died some time around 400 BC. Certain teachings are found with such frequency throughout the early texts that most historians conclude that he must have taught at least something of the sort.[30] Over the first few centuries of its existence Buddhism evolved into a number of schools, of which Theravada is the only survivor. Little or nothing is known of the origins of Mahayana.[31] Buddhism eventually virtually died out in India.

Theravada Budhism was introduced into Ceylon around 250 BC. It spread from there to Burma in the 11th century, and from there to what are now Thailand, Cambodia and Laos over the next two centuries or so.

Buddhism spread through Central Asia to China, where it is first recorded in AD 65. It spread from there to Korea in the late 4th century, and was officially introduced from there to Japan in 538.

Buddhism was introduced to Tibet in the 7th or 8th century. The Mongols were converted to the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism in the 16th century. A migrating Mongol tribe settled Buddhism in Europe in the 17th century.

Buddhism has made significant numbers of converts in the West in the last couple of centuries, almost entirely of a style that emphasizes modernist elements.[32]

References

  1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2007, page ix
  2. Lopez, (Story of) Buddhism, Harper/Penguin, 2001, Acknowledgements
  3. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 30, page 289
  4. Numen, volume 49, page 388/Williams, Buddhism, Routledge, Volume III, 2005, page 403
  5. Schroeder, Skillful Means, University of Hawai'i Press, 2001, page 5
  6. Bechert and Gombrich, World of Buddhism, Thames & Hudson, 1984, page 7; Sopher, Geography of Religion, Prentice-Hall, 1967, page 7; the other two are Christianity and islam; others have done so on a much smaller scale
  7. Fox, World Survey of Religion and the State, Cambridge University Press, 2008, Table 7.1 [page 182]
  8. World Christian Encyclopedia, 2nd ed, Oxford University Press, 2001, volume 1, page 3
  9. Penguin Handbook of the World's Living Religions, 2010, page 371
  10. Oxtoby & Amore, World Religions: Eastern Traditions, Oxford University Press, 2010, page 181/Oxtoby & Segal, Concise Introduction to World Religions, Oxford University Press, 2nd ed, 2012, page 376
  11. History of Religions, volume 42, page 389; following explanation summarized from Keown, Buddhism, Oxford University Press, 1996, chapter 4
  12. Bechert & Gombrich, World of Buddhism, Thames & Hudson, 1984, page 9
  13. History of Religions, volume 43, page 167
  14. Keown, Buddhism, Oxford University Press, 1996, page 11
  15. Oxtoby & Amore, World Religions: Eastern Tradtions, Oxford University Press, 2010, page 205/Oxtoby & Segal, Concise Introduction to the World Religions, Oxford University Press, 1st ed, 2007, page 398/2nd ed, 2012, page 394
  16. Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism, Routledge: 1st ed, 1988, page 21/2nd ed, 2006, page 22
  17. Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism, Routledge, 1st ed, 1988/2nd ed, 2006, page 3
  18. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, volume 30, page 219
  19. Williams, Mahayana Buddhism, 2nd ed, 2006, Routledge, pages 1f
  20. Flesher, Exploring Religions, University of Wyoming
  21. Oxtoby & Amore, World Religions: Eastern Tradtions, Oxford University Press, 2010, page 211/Oxtoby & Segal, Concise Introduction to World Religions, 2nd ed, 2012, page 398
  22. Mitchell, Buddhism, Oxford University Press, ist ed, 2002, page 206/2nd ed, 2008, page 226
  23. Fowler, Buddhism, Sussex Academic Press, 1999
  24. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2004 (Volume One), page 139
  25. Harvey, Introduction to Buddhism, Cambridge University Press, 1990, page 170
  26. Lopez, Buddhist Scriptures, Penguin Classics, 2004, page xxxii; Routledge Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2007, pages 502f
  27. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2004 (Volume Two), page 756
  28. Gethin, Sayings of the Buddha, Oxford World Classics, 2008, page xv
  29. Routledge Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2007, page 107
  30. Mitchell, Buddhism, Oxford University Press, 1st ed, 2002, page 34
  31. [1], page 91
  32. Keown & Prebish, Routledge Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2007, page 286