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RLG100 Buddhism.docx

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Andre Maintenay

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Vedic context: belief in cyclical time, rebirth, karma, samsara, moksha
o Importance of impermanence (anitya)
everything in samsara (in cosmological existence) is subject to change
exception in Hinduism are the gods, teachings, and especially one’s soul (also true in Jainism) In
Buddhist teachings, the concept of impermanence does not exclude the soul
o Two primary languages in Buddhism: Sanskrit and Pali
Historical Buddha
The Buddha “Awakened One”
o Born Siddartha Gautama (also called Shakyamuni)
o Originally a shramana
o born c. 563 BCE to ksatriya class
o Myth: believed to have been the son of a ruler, he himself a prince in the warrior/ruler class. He abandoned
his caste and became a shramana
Life story:
o Four sights saw (1) sickness, (2) old age, (3) death, and (4) a monk
He becomes troubled and is unable to live his palace life any longer, to be truly content he must
follow the way of the monk he saw
o Great renunciation (or Departure)
o Practiced extreme asceticism before realizing the Middle Way rejected the idea of extreme asceticism as
the way to enlightenment; you have to be healthy, you have to be in a middle position/way to reach
enlightenment. He still advocated the minimizing of the need for material things
o Achieved enlightenment under Bodhi Tree: three watches of the night
o Takes Tathagata (“thus –gone one”) title
Great importance in the emphasis on understanding and wisdom as the way to enlightenment (i.e.
understanding the nature of samsara and the cycle of rebirth)
Was reluctant to pass on his teachings because in Buddhism and also in Jainism, the path to
enlightenment is a personal and individual experience that one must make alone went on to
teach five other disciples who were with him before he took on the Middle Way (The First Sermon)
First audience five ascetics
o First turning of the ‘Wheel of Dharma’
o Dharma “teaching”
o the five ascetics successfully take on his teachings and advance into the first level of enlightenment as
partially enlightened beings, this proved that he was successful as a teacher and that his teachings must be
passed on hence, Buddhism is a missionary religion unlike Hinduism and Jainism
o first level of enlightenment once in it, you cannot fall out (sometimes translated as the stream of
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