2500 year ago in India
Gautama Siddhartha or Buddha, who was the most recent in a long
series of Buddhas.
Tripitaka for Theravada, Sutras for Mahayana. The major Sutras are
Anguttara-Nikaya, Dhammapada, Sutta-Nipatta, Samyutta-Nikaya.
There are two main sects, Theravada (Hinayana) and Mahayana. The
Theravada, or “Way of the Elders,” is the more conservative of the
two. It is dominant in Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand. The Mahayana,
or “Great Vehicle,” is more diverse and liberal. It is found mainly
in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan, and among Tibetan peoples, where it is
distinguished by its emphasis on the Buddhist Tantras. Zen Buddhism
is a major sect of Mahayana.
Over 300 million through out China, Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma,
Indochina, Korea, and Tibet.
The primary goal of Buddhism is Nirvana, defined as the end of change,
and literally meaning “to blow out” as one blows out a candle. The
Theravada tradition describes the indescribable as peace and
tranquility. While the Mahayana tradition views it as emptiness and
the unchanging essence of the Buddha, and ultimate reality. It is
synonymous with release from the bonds of desire, ego, suffering, and
rebirth. Buddha never defined the term except to say, “It is unborn,
unoriginated, unmade, and uncompounded”. Nirvana is not a state of
annihilation, but of peace and reality. Buddhism has no creator and thus
no union with God.
Path of Attainment:
Buddhism takes its followers through progressive stages of spiritual
progress, namely Dhyana, Samapatti, and Samadhi.
* Dhyana is meditation, which leads to moral and intellectual
purification, and to detachment, which leads to pure consciousness.
* Samapatti, or further Dhyana, leads to a state which is perfect
solitude. This leads further to Samadhi.
* Samadhi is the attainment of supernatural consciousness and finally
to nirvana (salvation).
The goal of life is nirvana. The Buddha’s essential teachings are
contained in the four Noble Truths:
* Suffering: Life is suffering. Being born, growing old, sickness,
and death all are suffering. Union with what we dislike is suffering,
separation from what we desire is suffering. This is the essential
nature of life.
* Cause of Suffering: Desire is the cause of suffering. It is the
force of desire that leads to rebirth and further suffering,
accompanied by delight and passion.
* Cessation of Suffering: The complete cessation of desires will end
the suffering. Forsaking, relinquishing, and detaching of ourselves
from desire and craving will automatically end the pain, pleasure,
birth and rebirth.
* The Path to end the Suffering: By practicing the noble eight-fold
path, one can end the suffering.
* right belief
* right thought or aim
* right speech
* right action
* right livelihood or occupation
* right effort or endeavor
* right mindfulness
* right meditation
The Supreme is completely transcendent and can be described as Sunya, a
void, an emptiness, or state of non-being.
The Four Noble Truths are:
* suffering exists
* desire is the cause of suffering
* suffering may be ended by the annihilation of desire
* to end desire one must follow the Eight Fold path
Life’s aim is to end suffering through the annihilation of individual
existence and absorption into Nirvana.
The Middle Path consists of living moderately and avoiding extremes of
luxury and asceticism.
The greatness of self giving love and compassion towards all creatures
that live contains merit exceeding the giving of offering to
In the sanctity of the Buddha and in the sacred scriptures of
Buddhism; the Tripitaka (three Baskets of Wisdom) and the Mahayana
Man’s true nature is divine and eternal, yet his individuality is
subject to the change that affects all forms and is therefore
transient, dissolving at liberation into Nirvana.
Dharma (the path), Karma (cause and effect), reincarnation, Sangh
(brotherhood of seekers), and the passage on earth as an opportunity
to end the cycle of birth and death.