Week 7 Notes
Common principles of Buddhism and Hinduism –
1. the cyclical concept of time and the idea that the personality is not bounded by this one birth
and death, but like the universe has been borning and dying from beginningless time –
samsara, the wheel or cycle of life and death.
2. karma and rebirth – the idea that the principle of order in the universe extends to the moral
sphere – that good actions bring about, are the basis, are the cause of good results and bad
actions the basis and cause of bad results – intentional action.
But Buddhism does not accept the idea of an eternal, unchanging soul/essence like the
Hindu atman, or a universal uncaused being or entity such as the Christian idea of a
creator God –or the Hindu idea of Brahman as the Ground of Existence
The Buddhist tradition teaches that all things come into existence dependent on causes
and conditions – if you want to say that God exists then what you are saying is that God
is dependent on causes and conditions. Buddhism accepts the idea of gods who come
into being and pass away. But does not accept the idea of a God who caused the universe
but who himself or herself is uncaused i.e. a causeless cause.
Gautama (family name) Buddha (title) 480 - 400 BCE; Siddharta (childhood name);
Tathagata (common name: thus come and this gone); hindu
Born as the son of a great chieftain of one of the tribal republics in the foothills of the
Himalayas, it was foretold of him as an infant that if he remained in the world, he would
be a great ruler, if he left the world he would be a great samana (renunciate).
The father chooses to raise his son to be a ruler – keeps him away from all the ugliness of
the world – he is raised in the lap of luxury – curiosity takes him out of the palace where
he sees the 4 sights – an old man (bent and blind), very sick man (disease), dead man
(corpse), and a clear eyed Semana, seeker of revelation, holy man, a renunciate (he says
that he is ok because he will be liberated from Samsara (continuous flow of life).
Siddhartha is determined to find the truth that will free him from the anxiety and the
suffering that is inherent in the human condition. He leaves the palace to search for truth
After attaining enlightenment, he teaches until he is 80 years old when he dies from food-
poisoning and dysentery after eating at the house of one of his followers.
The cessation (end) of suffering is called Nirvana. His death, and the death of any
enlightened one is called Parinirvana to indicate complete enlightenment without any
remainder. In Buddhism the recollection of death was and is one of the most common meditation
It is not considered gloomy and is not intended to create depression in you. It is intended
to create a profound realization of the context in which we live and the profound sense of
the uselessness of grasping onto things.
The meditation on death – is to impress on the practitioner
- death is born with life – from the very moment of conception
- impresses shortness of human life
- life is an inevitable and continuing path to death
- the brevity of human life
- our lifespan, the blink of an eye in the cosmic infinitude of time