Monday, March 6, 2017
Religion: Buddhist Perspectives
- Reminder of what the Atman is in Hinduism: Unchanging eternal aspect of the soul.
Transmigrates from life to life, taking on a different form on each life according to
karma until liberation is attained and there is not further rebirth.
Common Principles of Buddhism and Hinduism
- The cyclical concept of time.
- The cyclical concept of the personality i.e. Samsara - the beginning-less cycle of birth
and death. Personality not bounded by that one birth and death. Personality births
and dies from the beginning of time.
- Karma and rebirth — the idea that positive actions in on life bring about rebirth in
good conditions for the next life and harmful actions lead to rebirth under negative
conditions. Principle of order in the universe extends to the moral sphere.
- However. Buddhism does not accept:
• The idea of an eternal unchanging soul or essence to the personality. Idea of
rebirth, continuation of the person, but does not accept that there is any
unchanging part of the human personality.
• The idea of a universal uncaused being or entity such as the idea of God or the
Hindu idea of Brahman as the unchanging eternal basis of existence.
• The idea of a particular deity who created the universe, but who himself is
uncreated. Idea of a causeless cause.
- In Buddhism,
• the concept of existence means dependent on causes and conditions. All things
come into existence dependent on causes and conditions.
- If you ant to say god exists, then God is dependent on causes and conditions.
- Nothing can come into being unless it is based on its own causes and conditions.
Accepts the idea that there are many types of being populating the universe. All
come into being and pass away dependent on causes and conditions, all are
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Gautama Buddha 480 — 400 BCE
- Gautama = Family name
- Siddhartha = Boyhood name (He who has accomplished his goal)
- Buddha = Title meaning “Awakened One” (Awakened from the sleep of ignorance)
- Shakyamuni = Sage of the Shakyas (Clan that he belonged to)
- Tathagata = “He who comes and goes in accordance with Reality’
The Buddha’s destiny — to become
- Buddha was told as an infant that if he was to remain in the world, he would be a
great ruler. If he left the world he would become a great renunciate (Samanah: A
movement of people who rejected the household life, rejected the brahmanical
religion of time/household life)
Buddha’s father, the chief or raja, raised his son to be a ruler. Wants to keep him
away from all ugliness in the world, raised in lap of luxury. Eventually, gets depressed
and he goes out of the palace and on his journey he sees the four sights (old man,
sick man, corpse-death, renunciate-liberation)
The Four Sights
- An old man, sick man, corpse, renunciate (samana) — representing old age,
sickness, death, liberation.
- Encounter of someone who has never really encountered these elements.
Sights that are said to turn mind into spiritual light.
Determined to ﬁnd the truth to free him from suffering and anxiety.
- Goes into period of extreme fasting almost to the point of death
- Still no enlightenment
- On the night of a full moon while he sits meditating, knowledge and insight arose in
him and understood the nature of suffering.
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- Insight captured in the four noble truths
1. All beings experience dukkha suffering/distress/dissatisfaction/dis-ease.
2. Suffering has a cause
3. Suffering can cease — if the cause is eliminated.
4. There is a method, a path by which one can attain the cessation of suffering.
Death (Parinirvana) of the Buddha
- Nirvana: Liberation
- Pari: Further
- To indicate complete enlightenment without any remainder.
Nirvana - means ‘blown out’ or extinguished.
Translated as “awakening’ or ‘enlightenment”.
Can be attained in life.
- Parinirvana — means “further” Nirvana.
• Refers to the death of the Awakened One
• That one who which will not be reborn.
Last Words of the Buddha (Reading on Death of the Buddha)
“Decay is inherent in all component things! Work out your salvation with diligence!”
- Whatever is compounded has in its nature has its own destruction. What is put
together must eventually taken apart.
- Instructions on how to treat remains of a Buddha
• Body of an awakened one should be treated the same way as the body of a great
being or ruler.
Stupa — Buddhist reliquary and funerary monument for great persons - 2nd century
- Circumambulate the Stupa in a clockwise direction. Remembering Buddha’s life and
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- Represents the enlightened mind of the Buddha.
- Stupas became Buddhist monument, constructed anywhere Buddhist spread.
- Different countries developed different styles of Stupa.
- In Buddhism, the recollection of death was and is the most common mediation of
- Reason is because, it is thought that one of our biggest problems is that we are too
optimistic about our life span, have all the time in the world.
- According to Buddhist theory, difference between life and death is breath.
Buddhist Mediation on Death
“Seeing with wisdom the end of life in others
And comparing this life to a lamp kept in a windy place,
One should meditate on death.”
- How the meditator would meditate on death, by generating these kinds of thoughts.
“Just as the world beings
Who once enjoyed great prosperity will die,