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RELS 223: Buddhism Mid-Term Notes.docx

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Religious Studies
RELS 223
Ellen Goldberg

Buddha: the awakened one. Title given to enlightened individuals. Bodhisattva: Buddha-in-training or Buddha-to-be. Someone who will become a Buddha, stalls their enlightenment to help other beings liberate themselves from suffering. Samsara: the idea that we are born over and over and over again into this life of illusion and struggle and challenge and joy and happiness and all of these things. Karma: the law of cause and effect. Atman: the self. Sunyata: nothingness. Brahman: oneness, wholeness, totality of being. Dharma: the Buddha’s teachings. The eternal laws that transcend all conditionality of time and space. Orthopraxy = something you practice, do, experience (Buddhism) Orthodoxy = something you believe Pali Canon: Nirvana: Maya: illusion. Duhkha: suffering. Nirodha: cessation/stopping. Jhanas: stages of meditation. Chakra: means wheel, circle. Skankhas: aggregate. Avidya: ignorance. Trishna: craving. Sangha: community. Comparison between the West and Buddhism -In the West time is seen as linear, while in Buddhism time is seen as cyclical – a cycle of birth, death and re-birth fueled by karma. -In the Buddhist scheme no one is condemned to abide permanently in any given realm. Hell is not a place of permanent damnation, and Heaven is not a place of eternal bliss. The wheel revolves continuously and individuals may move repeatedly in and out of any of the six destinations. -The Buddhist hell is more varied – thought to have both cold and hot areas in which departed spirits suffer until their bad karma is purged. Karma -Law of action and reaction. We become attached because we build neuropathways around repetitive behaviors. Our karma becomes embedded in our neuropathology. Good deeds result in an upward movement and bad deeds in a downward movement. -Karma is concerned primarily with the moral dimension of the Dharma (teachings of the Buddha) and is primarily the consequences of moral behavior. For Buddhism, karma is thus neither random – like luck – nor a system of rewards and punishments meted out by God. Nor is it destiny or fate: instead it is best understood as a natural – if complex – sequence of causes and effects.  Motivations/roots: o Actions motivated by greed, hatred or and delusion are bad. o Actions motivated by non-attachment, benevolence and understanding are good. Key Points (according to end of Chapter 1)  The Indus Valley Civilization was the earliest civilization and flourished between 2,500 and 1200 B.C.E.  Buddhism emerged form a dissident social movement composed of wanderers who rejected orthodox beliefs of the later Vedic tradition known as Brahmanism.  Buddhists believe the universe is infinite in space and time and undergoes periodic cycles of evolution and destruction.  Time is cyclic rather than linear. Individuals live over and over in an endless cycle of re-birth known as Samsara.  There are 6 realms of rebirth: the gods, asuras, humans, animals, hungry ghosts and hell. None of these is permanent. Movement between the 6 realms is dictated by karma.  The only way to escape Samsara is by attaining nirvana. This is the ultimate goal of all Buddhists. The Life of the Historical Buddha  Preceded by the Indus Valley Civilization (first period of urbanization) and The Sramana Period (second period of urbanization). o Revolutionary ideas, development, social upheaval.  Central Gangetic Plain (area of Buddhism in early India). Sramana (wanderers) -Ascetic movement -Renounce their World life in order to liberate themselves from Samsara  (1) Renunciation  (2) Mendicancy (wander)  (3) Celibacy  (4) Cultivation of mind and body (through simple yoga/meditation)  (5) A semi-communal hermit life in the forest  (6) Associated with the cult of the dead HIS LIFE  Born in the foothills of present day Nepal, lived in a palace  Renunciation at the age of 29, followed by the Great Departure  Lived in the forest life and the practice of austerities  First sermon  40 years as teacher of dharma wandering the Central Gengetic Plain region  Death (had attained Nirvana so no rebirth). Four stages of meditation (jhanas) that coincide with 3 watches of the night:  First watch of the night: he obtained the ability to see his past lives (based on karma).  Second watch of the night: he saw the coming into begin and passing away of the karma of other beings and understood the universal law of karma.  Third watch of the night: he awakened to the dharma including the 4 noble truths, the 8-fold path, the 3 marks of existence, 5 skandhas, and the 12 links in the wheel of interdependent origination. Four Noble (arya) Truths 1. dukkha (the truth of suffering): there is suffering. 2. samudaya (the cause or origin of suffering – trishna or craving): suffering has a cause. There is a reason why we suffer, there is always a cause. We live in a World of karma. It is because of trishna. Because we thirst. We’re thirsty and we can never satisfy that thrist – we can quench it but we can never overcome it if we’re locked in the first and second noble truths. According to the Buddha the human condition is of constant craving, it cannot be satisfied. The source of suffering is human thirst. This craving causes rebirth. The Buddha wants to get us out of the wheel of Samsara. 3. nirodha (the cessation of suffering): suffering is not eternal. There is a way to overcome suffering. The way to do that is to follow the 8-fold path. 4. marga (the eight-fold path to the cessation of suffering) Eight-fold Path or Middle Way (the 4 noble truth) 1. Right view: you see the world from behind the eyes of a Buddha (all three of them). This is the enlightened mind seeing the World. If you see reality as it truly is according to the enlightened mind then you will overcome suffering. a. 4 noble truths, 3 marks, skandhas, wheel of interdependent origination b. Taking a vow of non-violence, non-injury (ahimsa). Not to hurt or harm any living thing. E.g. strict vegetarians. 2. Right thought (intention, resolve, aspiration): 3. Right speech: not to tell lies, not to gossip. 4. Right conduct/action 5. Right livelihood 6. Right effort 7. Right mindfulness 8. Right meditation (samadhi) Three Marks of Existence Everything in the universe, mental and physical, inside and outside, real and imaginary, that comes into being due to causes and conditions, has these three marks or traits. 1) Everything is subject to impermanence 2) Everything is subject to suffering (dukkha) 3) Not-self (anatman) Main Characters  Siddhartha Gautama o Father was a tribal chief. Likely had a privileged upbringing. o Member of the Ksatriya or warrior caste, the second of the four castes. o Also known as Sakyamuni o Born in Nepal  Asita  Suddhodana  Maya o The Buddha’s mother. o Died 7 days after his birth.  Prajapati: his step mother/aunt (because men could have multiple wives)  Yasodhara o The Buddha’s wife o They married at 16 o The mother of his son  Rahula o The Buddha’s son  Kanthanka o His horse, a ‘possession’  Channa  Arada Kalama & Uraka Kamaputra  5 mendicants  Sujata o Woman who feeds him after his emaciation  Anada: his cousin, the Buddha’s disciple – protects him, serves him, loves him The Wheel of Dependent Origination/The Wheel of Life -Picture known as thangkas (Tibetan/Buddhist painting or diagram). -Presents the six realms of re-birth -Human realm, animal realm, Hell realm, formless God realm, Hungry Ghost realm -Hungry Ghost realm depicted with swollen stomach and tiny mouth, showing how their hunger can never be satisfied. -As the wheel of Samsara moves around, beings migrate through the various realms of rebirth in accordance with their karma (good and evil deeds in each life). -The Wheel is constantly in motion. As long as you are informed by ignorance and living through blindness, the wheel of Samsara is eternal. The Wheel is constantly in motion, constantly turning. Eternal, neverend
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