RLG206 Lecture Notes
Lecture 1 – July, 9th:
Why do we see the Dalai Lama everywhere and no other Buddhist leaders? Political reasons
-Buddha was born into “Hinduism”. Called Hinduism out of convenience.
-2000-1500 BCE Northwest India was invaded by the Aryans. – Aryan race.
-Some Aryans went on to European areas
-Aryans brought down certain traditions with them.
-Aryans brought the ‘Vedas’ (knowledge and wisdom).
- Sacred text of the Hindu traditions
- contain hymns to the gods along with religious materials and rituals.
-Had a caste system social hierarchy
- can be found in the rg veda
Varna ‘Colour’ System = Caste system
- Brahmins – priests
- Kshatriyas – warriors
- Vaishyas – merchants and artisans
- Shudras – farmers, workers, servants
Untouchables – so low they’re not even part of the caste system.
-Born into a caste system, can’t move out of it.
-Good actions will turn into something good. Bad actions will turn into something bad. Reincarnation
– higher and lower life forms.
-Karma – action
- Intentional action; the effect of such actions leave that influence the future of the actor.
-Atman – the soul or essence of one’s self.
What is wrong with continuous rebirth (samsara)?
4 goals in life:
1. Kama – satisfying the desire for sense pleasure.
Warmth, comfort, food lowest of goals
Animals want this too
Wants of little children
2. Artha – acquisition of worldly possessions or money, political power, commercial competition.
3. Dharma – observance of religious duties.
Once you’ve achieved a lot you still feel empty
Kama and artha are rooted in selfishness, dharma is superior to them.
All Hindu’s are expected to reach this goal
4. Moksa/Moksha – liberation from the cycle of rebirth and death
Liberation achieved through God – realization.
All without exception will eventually accomplish this life, or after their death.
Those not so evolved may need several more incarnations.
Two types of knowledge: -Lower knowledge is stuff we learn in this world, rituals, and material texts
-Higher knowledge we learn from connecting with the ultimate.
-When we learn moksha we are one with God
-Brahman – the universal being; God, the source and essence of all existence
- ‘Ultimate reality in theism’
Lecture 2 – July, 11th:
-Historical Buddha was born in the 5 -6 century BCE
-No written text during the time of the Buddha’s lifetime
-No historical written documents
-There are oral stories
Names of the Buddha
-Sakyamuni – sage of the sakya clan; sakyas were the ancestors of buddha
-Gautama – family name – “most excellent cow”
-Siddhartha – given name – “he who has achieved”
-Buddha was born into the Kashatriya caste privileged class. Born in Lubini
-Buddha’s mom says she had a dream when Buddha was conceived: an elephant blessed her with his
trunk. Shown in iconography
-When she gave birth a tree bent down to support her
-When he was born he could speak and walk, lotus flowers grew where he walked.
-A fortune teller came to give a prophecy
Gave 32 primary marks and 80 secondary marks of a great man
Said he would become a great secular leader or a spiritual leader
Father didn’t want him to be a spiritual leader
-Surrounded the Buddha with great physical luxuries so he wouldn’t speak spirituality.
-The Buddha goes out four times in his chariot and sees four signs.
1. An old man
2. A sick man
3. A corpse
4. An ascetic monk.
- He’d never seen any of these before.
-The Great Renunciation as age 29, leaving behind his wife and son.
-Cuts off his hair as a symbol of renunciation of the secular world
-Joined the monks became their master
-Tried mastering suffering to forget their bodies and master their minds
-He was at the point of death and still hadn’t achieved enlightenment
His life at his father’s palace didn’t bring achievement.
This brought about the middle path between two opposite extremes.
-At age 35 achieved enlightenment – “the awakening
-Buddha meditated for four or more weeks under the Bodhi tree
-People came to learn, Buddha didn’t want to teach, didn’t think people could leave life’s luxuries.
-god’s came to plead, he started to teach
-The ascetics were his first disciples -Dharma – the teachings of the Buddha
-Died at age 80
3 Characteristics of Existence
1. Impermanence (anitya/anicca) – nothing is permanent, even the Buddha
Even the teachings of the Buddha and Buddhism are impermanent
2. No self-Identity (anatman) – no soul. no continuous personal identity
3. Suffering (duhkha)
5 Skandhas/Aggregates of Life
1. Rupa – form; the material substances of the body
2. Vedana – sensation; pain, pleasure, lack of pain or pleasure
3. Samjna – perception; senses and the mind, the mental act of labelling things
4. Samskaras – volitional processes; producing impulses to do actions, thought formations
5. Vijnana – processes of consciousness which makes us aware of various objects
-All composite existence has a cause and condition
-Dependent on things coming together in a certain way
12 Conditioning Links that produce Duhkha (suffering, dissatisfaction)
4 Noble Truths
1. Life is suffering
2. Cause of suffering is craving/greed
3. There is a way to end suffering
4. The path to cessation of suffering is the Noble Eight Fold path
The Noble Eight Fold Path
-Practical things we can do in our everyday life to remove karma
1. Right view
2. Right thought
3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration/meditation. mental discipline
Goal of Buddhism
- To reach Nirvana like blowing out a flame
- The extinguishing of this world. Lecture 3 – July 16, 2013
Sangha – community of Buddhist believers
-anyone can be part of the Buddhist community
Rejects the caste system
Shudras & untouchables didn’t have access to Hindu sacred texts
In Buddhism anyone can have access to Buddhism text
-Buddhism was a societal change it rejects societal norms.
-taking refuge in Buddhist religion
4 Paths/Stages of awakening
1. Stream entry
Never do bad, can’t be lapsed and can’t be born lower.
Can be born maximum 7 times
2. Once returning
Returns once before reaching nirvana
Can go lower WHAT? This seems wrong…..check again
Last time being born
Next is arhat
Never subject to rebirth our goal
-Letting women become nuns will make the lifespan of Buddhism half.
-Buddha only agreed to this to make sure his best disciple doesn’t get confused.
Lecture 4 – July 18, 2013
-Theraveda – the way of the elders
-ultimate goal of the therevada tradition: to go through the 4 stages and become a arhat.
-therevada canon –
-therevada practiced in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia Southeast Asia
-jatakas – 574 popular stories about the Buddha’s previous lives
-All schools of Buddhism believe that anyone can become the Buddha.
-This is a heroic path and only very few make it to become the Buddha.
-are told to aim for arhatship.
Bodhisattva – a person who is willingly give up his or her life to help someone else.
-Goal for the mahayanas – to become a bodhisattva, they feel the essence of Buddhism because it’s
important to help other beings. Somewhere in the middle of samsara and nirvana
- Beings who are on the brink on going into nirvana but rejected nirvana and decided to stay in samsara
to help other beings
-in Mahayana tradition almost makes is compulsory to follow this bodhisattva path, thereveda says
people can choose and should settle for being an arhat.
-everyone should strive to be bodhisattva, but there are already people who are bodhisattva on this
Still in sams