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01:840:211- Final Exam Guide - Comprehensive Notes for the exam ( 32 pages long!)


Department
Religion
Course Code
01:840:211
Professor
Lammerts
Study Guide
Final

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Rutgers
01:840:211
Final EXAM
STUDY GUIDE

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Religion in Asia 02/23/17
<Sumedha, Dipankara Buddha, and Gotama Buddha in Theravada Buddhism>
Buddhist Religion
- “Nirvana” - not able to reach in current world; due to the time frame - closed
→ Need to wait for the next generation
Buddhism: begins in Northeastern India around the 5th century B.C.E.
: an Era marked by the emergence of several new religious orientations in India:
Upanisadic Hinduism, Jainism, and also Buddhism.
: These different traditions are, during this historical phase, similar in their preoccupation
with the problem of redeath. All forms of Buddhism presuppose the workings of karma
(Pali Karma): begins exist within samsara (the unhappy cycle of re-death) and their
status and position within the cosmos is due to their prior accumulation of merit.
The solution to this problem - being stuck in Samsara was given as the cultivation of
liberating wisdom (jnana) of the essential unity of the soul (Atman) and brahman in
Upanisadic Hinduism, the Buddhists offered a radically different answer, one which
denied the existence of the soul altogether.
: In early Buddhism, the development of wisdom (Pali nibbana, Skt nirvana), although
the content of this wisdom is fundamentally different from that in Hindu contexts.
Buddhism (like Hinduism) is a very complex historical phenomenon. From its beginnings
in India, the religion eventually spread throughout Southern, Southeast, and East Asia -
where it was the predominant religion for much of recorded history - and it remains the
majority religion today in countries like Thailand, Burma, Tibet, Japan, etc.
- China, Korea, etc. - tons of Asian countries - majority: Buddhists → Buddhism that
happened in one country didn’t happen in other countries.
Major shifts in Buddhist orientation - led to the Development of quite different traditions,
ideas, and practices. For ease of presentation these will be grouped under the following
Three Rubrics: Theravada Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, and Mantranaya (or
Vajrayana, “Esoteric”, or “Tantric’) Buddhism.
Theravada: the earliest form of Buddhism - original/earlier form: written in Pali - oldest
Buddhist scripture/ written language (Mahayana): predicted origin “Original”
Classical Theravada literature written in Pali - closely related to Sanskrit - they sound
very similar and depends on translations, spelled differently
E.g. (Sanskrit - Pali) Dharma - Dhamma, Karma - Kamma, Jnana - nana,
Nirvana - Nibbana, Samsara - Samsara, Tripitaka - Tipitaka, Bodhisattva - Bodhisatta,
Gautama - Gotama
→ For class, We’ll use Pali terms
find more resources at oneclass.com
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<What is Buddha?>
Buddhism - the types of superhuman being that discover and teach liberating
knowledge are called “Buddhas”. The term can be translated as “[self-] enlightened one”.
The “truth” orlawthat is discovered and taught by a Buddha is called the Dhamma
(Skt: dharma)
Innumerable/Infinite Buddhas - the most recent Buddha appeared in the human realm is
Gotama Buddha, (according to Theravada traditional accounts) died 2559 years ago, in
543 B.C.E. Modern scholarship places his dates closer to 400 B.C.E. However, there is
zero firm evidence that such an individual ever actually existed.
Buddha - superhuman being who possesses supernatural powers and has attained
Enlightenment” i.e. liberation from Samsara, (Nibbana), By Themselves.
Not all Enlightened beings are Buddhas. Most individuals who become enlightened are
known as Arahants.
Arahant (Skt: arhat): is someone who has learned the doctrine of liberation from a
Buddha. An Arahant has realized the dhamma discovered by a Buddha, and attains
enlightenment by relying on the teachings of a Buddha, not by themselves.
Both Buddhas and Arahants achieve Nibbana - only Buddhas are able to teach the
Dhamma to others and lead them to liberation. For this reason, the Nibbana of a Buddha
is often spoken of as a “Higher” or “More Perfect” Nibbana than that of an Arahant.
It is difficult to become an Arahant, it is FAR MORE difficult to become a Buddha -
becoming a Buddha requires a specific “Path” and a great deal of effort over countless
lifetimes in Samsara. This path is called the Bodhisatta path.
<Sumedha and Gotama’s Bodhisatta path>
**Complete misunderstanding: that he just became a Buddha in one life**
The most recent Buddha - appeared in the world is Gotama, who (may have) lived
around 500 BCE. But according to Buddhist teachings - this individual did not simply
become a Buddha in this life → Rather, his path to Buddhahood began hundreds of
millions of prior lifetimes beforehand, when he was born as a man named Sumedha.
Sumedha was a (non-Buddhist) ascetic - sought liberation from Samsara.During his
lifetime - a Buddha: Dipankara appeared in the world.
: Sumedha heard about Dipankara - he knew that this Buddha had realized the Dhamma
that leads to Nibbana.
: Sumedha - seeks out Dipankara, and the Buddha invites him to join his monastic
community (Sangha) as his disciple.
: Sumedha realizes that if he joins Dipankara’s Sangha, he will surely become an
Arahant, but desires a higher goal: he wants to become a Buddha himself so that he can
realize the Dhamma for himself and teach it to others to lead them to true happiness.
find more resources at oneclass.com
find more resources at oneclass.com
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