Tripiṭaka By Wiki

Tripiṭaka

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tripiṭaka is a traditional term used by various Buddhist sects to describe their various canons of scriptures.[1] As the name suggests, a Tripiṭaka traditionally contains three “baskets” of teachings: a Sūtra Piṭaka (Sanskrit; Pali: Sutta Pitaka), a Vinaya Piṭaka (Sanskrit & Pali) and an Abhidharma Piṭaka (Sanskrit; Pali: Abhidhamma Piṭaka).

The three categories

Tripitaka is the three main categories of texts that make up the Buddhist canon.

Sutras

These are mainly teachings and sermons of Buddha originally transcribed in Sanskrit or Pali. It may contain description of Buddha and parables which may lead to enlightenment to the reader.

Abhidharma

Philosophical and psychological discourse and interpretation of Buddhist doctrine.

Vinaya

Rules and regulation of monastic life that range from dress code and dietary rules to prohibition in personal conduct.

In Indian Buddhist schools

Each of the Early Buddhist Schools likely had their own recensions of the Tripiṭaka. According to some sources, there were some Indian schools of Buddhism that had five or seven piṭakas.[2]

Mahāsāṃghika

The Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya was translated by Buddhabhadra and Faxian in 416 CE, and is preserved in Chinese translation (Taishō Tripiṭaka 1425).

The 6th century CE Indian monk Paramārtha wrote that 200 years after the parinirvāṇa of the Buddha, much of the Mahāsāṃghika school moved north of Rājagṛha, and were divided over whether the Mahāyāna teachings should be incorporated formally into their Tripiṭaka. According to this account, they split into three groups based upon the relative manner and degree to which they accepted the authority of these Mahāyāna texts.[3] Paramārtha states that the Gokulika sect did not accept the Mahāyāna sūtras as buddhavacana (“words of the Buddha”), while the Lokottaravāda sect and the Ekavyāvahārika sect did accept the Mahāyāna sūtras as buddhavacana.[4] Also in the 6th century CE, Avalokitavrata writes of the Mahāsāṃghikas using a “Great Āgama Piṭaka,” which is then associated with Mahāyāna sūtras such as the Prajñāparamitā and the Daśabhūmika Sūtra.[5]

Caitika

The Caitikas included a number of sub-sects including the Pūrvaśailas, Aparaśailas, Siddhārthikas, and Rājagirikas. In the 6th century CE, Avalokitavrata writes that Mahāyāna sūtras such as the Prajñāparamitā and others are chanted by the Aparaśailas and the Pūrvaśailas.[6] Also in the 6th century CE, Bhāvaviveka speaks of the Siddhārthikas using a Vidyādhāra Piṭaka, and the Pūrvaśailas and Aparaśailas both using a Bodhisattva Piṭaka, implying collections of Mahāyāna texts within these Caitika schools.[7]

Bahuśrutīya

The Bahuśrutīya school is said to have included a Bodhisattva Piṭaka in their canon. The Satyasiddhi Śāstra, also called the Tattvasiddhi Śāstra, is an extant abhidharma from the Bahuśrutīya school. This abhidharma was translated into Chinese in sixteen fascicles (Taishō Tripiṭaka 1646).[8] Its authorship is attributed to Harivarman, a third-century monk from central India. Paramārtha cites this Bahuśrutīya abhidharma as containing a combination of Hīnayāna and Mahāyāna doctrines, and Joseph Walser agrees that this assessment is correct.[9]

Sārvāstivāda

Scholars at present have “a nearly complete collection of sūtras from the Sarvāstivāda school”[10] thanks to a recent discovery in Afghanistan of roughly two-thirds of Dīrgha Āgama in Sanskrit. The Madhyama Āgama (Taishō Tripiṭaka 26) was translated by Gautama Saṃghadeva, and is available in Chinese. The Saṃyukta Āgama (Taishō Tripiṭaka 99) was translated by Guṇabhadra, also available in Chinese translation. The Sarvāstivāda is therefore the only early school besides the Theravada for which we have a roughly complete Sūtra Piṭaka. The Sārvāstivāda Vinaya Piṭaka is also extant in Chinese translation, as are the seven books of the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma Piṭaka. There is also the encyclopedic Abhidharma Mahāvibhāṣa Śāstra (Taishō Tripiṭaka 1545), which was held as canonical by the Vaibhāṣika Sarvāstivādins of northwest India.

Mūlasārvāstivāda

Portions of the Mūlasārvāstivāda Tripiṭaka survive in Tibetan translation and Nepalese manuscripts.[11] The relationship of the Mūlasārvāstivāda school to Sarvāstivāda school is indeterminate; their vinayas certainly differed but it is not clear that their Sūtra Piṭaka did. The Gilgit manuscripts may contain Āgamas from the Mūlasārvāstivāda school in Sanskrit.[12] The Mūlasārvāstivāda Vinaya Piṭaka survives in Tibetan translation. The Gilgit manuscripts also contain vinaya texts from the Mūlasārvāstivāda school in Sanskrit.[13]

Dharmaguptaka

A complete version of the Dīrgha Āgama (Taishō Tripiṭaka 1) of the Dharmaguptaka school was translated into Chinese by Buddhayaśas and Zhu Fonian (竺佛念) in the Later Qin dynasty, dated to 413 CE. It contains 30 sūtras in contrast to the 34 suttas of the Theravadin Dīgha Nikāya. A.K. Warder also associates the extant Ekottara Āgama (Taishō Tripiṭaka 125) with the Dharmaguptaka school, due to the number of rules for monks and nuns, which corresponds to the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya.[14] The Dharmaguptaka Vinaya is also extant in Chinese translation (Taishō Tripiṭaka 1428), and Buddhist monks and nuns in East Asia adhere to the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya.

The Dharmaguptaka Tripiṭaka is said to have contained a total of five piṭakas.[15] These included a Bodhisattva Piṭaka and a Mantra Piṭaka (Ch. 咒藏), also sometimes called a Dhāraṇī Piṭaka.[16] According to the 5th century Dharmaguptaka monk Buddhayaśas, the translator of the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya into Chinese, the Dharmaguptaka school had assimilated the Mahāyāna Tripiṭaka (Ch. 大乘三藏).[17]

Mahīśāsaka

The Mahīśāsaka Vinaya is preserved in Chinese translation (Taishō Tripiṭaka 1421), translated by Buddhajīva and Zhu Daosheng in 424 CE.

Kāśyapīya

Small portions of the Tipiṭaka of the Kāśyapīya school survive in Chinese translation. An incomplete Chinese translation of the Saṃyukta Āgama of the Kāśyapīya school by an unknown translator circa the Three Qin (三秦) period (352-431 CE) survives.[18]

In the Theravada school

The complete Tripiṭaka set of the Theravāda school is written and preserved in Pali in the Pali Canon. Buddhists of the Theravāda school use the Pali variant Tipitaka to refer what is commonly known in English as the Pali Canon.

Use of the term in Indo-Tibetan and East Asian Mahāyāna

The term Tripiṭaka had tended to become synonymous with Buddhist scriptures, and thus continued to be used for the Chinese and Tibetan collections, although their general divisions do not match a strict division into three piṭakas.[19] In the Chinese tradition, the texts are classified in a variety of ways,[20] most of which have in fact four or even more piṭakas or other divisions.

The Chinese form of Tripiṭaka, “sānzàng” (三藏), was sometimes used as an honorary title for a Buddhist monk who has mastered the teachings of the Tripiṭaka. In Chinese culture this is notable in the case of the Tang Dynasty monk Xuanzang, whose pilgrimage to India to study and bring Buddhist text back to China was portrayed in the novel Journey to the West as “Tang Sanzang” (Tang Dynasty Tripiṭaka Master). Due to the popularity of the novel, the term “sānzàng” is often erroneously understood as a name of the monk Xuanzang. One such screen version of this is the popular 1979 Monkey (TV series).

The modern Indian scholar Rahul Sankrityayan is sometimes referred to as Tripitakacharya in reflection of his familiarity with the Tripiṭaka.

Notes

  1. ^ “Buddhist Books and Texts: Canon and Canonization.” Lewis Lancaster, Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd edition, pg 1252
  2. ^ Journal of the Pali Text Society, volume XVI, page 114
  3. ^ Walser, Joseph. Nāgārjuna in Context: Mahāyāna Buddhism and Early Indian Culture. 2005. p. 51
  4. ^ Sree Padma. Barber, Anthony W. Buddhism in the Krishna River Valley of Andhra. 2008. p. 68.
  5. ^ Walser, Joseph. Nāgārjuna in Context: Mahāyāna Buddhism and Early Indian Culture. 2005. p. 53
  6. ^ Walser, Joseph. Nāgārjuna in Context: Mahāyāna Buddhism and Early Indian Culture. 2005. p. 53
  7. ^ Walser, Joseph. Nāgārjuna in Context: Mahāyāna Buddhism and Early Indian Culture. 2005. p. 53
  8. ^ The Korean Buddhist Canon: A Descriptive Catalog (K 966), http://www.acmuller.net/descriptive_catalogue/files/k0966.html
  9. ^ Walser, Joseph. Nāgārjuna in Context: Mahāyāna Buddhism and Early Indian Culture. 2005. p. 52
  10. ^ Bhikkhu Sujato: The Pali Nikāyas and Chinese Āgamas
  11. ^ Preservation of Sanskrit Buddhist Manuscripts In the Kathmandu
  12. ^ MEMORY OF THE WORLD REGISTER Gilgit manuscripts
  13. ^ MEMORY OF THE WORLD REGISTER Gilgit manuscripts
  14. ^ Warder, A.K. Indian Buddhism. 2000. p. 6
  15. ^ Walser, Joseph. Nāgārjuna in Context: Mahāyāna Buddhism and Early Indian Culture. 2005. p. 52
  16. ^ Baruah, Bibhuti. Buddhist Sects and Sectarianism. 2008. p. 52
  17. ^ Walser, Joseph. Nāgārjuna in Context: Mahāyāna Buddhism and Early Indian Culture. 2005. pp. 52-53
  18. ^ A Dictionary of Buddhism, by Damien Keown, Oxford University Press: 2004
  19. ^ Mizuno, Essentials of Buddhism, 1972, English version pub Kosei, Tokyo, 1996
  20. ^ Nanjio, Catalogue of the Chinese Translations of the Buddhist Tripitaka, Clarendon, Oxford, 1883

Vinaya By Wiki

Vinaya

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Vinaya (a word in Pāli as well as in Sanskrit, with literal meaning ‘leading out’, ‘education’, ‘discipline’) is the regulatory framework for the Buddhist monastic community, or sangha, based in the canonical texts called Vinaya Pitaka. The teachings of the Buddha, or Buddhadharma can be divided into two broad categories: ‘Dharma‘ or doctrine, and ‘Vinaya’, or discipline. Another term for Buddhism is dharmavinaya.

At the heart of the Vinaya is a set of rules known as Patimokkha (Pāli), or Pratimoksha (Sanskrit). The Vinaya was orally passed down from the Buddha to his disciples. Eventually, numerous different Vinayas arose in Buddhism, based upon geographical or cultural differences and the different Buddhist schools that developed. Three of these are still in use. The Vinayas are the same in substance and have only minor differences. Buddhists in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, and Thailand follow the Theravadin Vinaya, which has 227 rules[1] for the bhikkhus and 311[2] for the bhikkhunis. Buddhists in China, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam follow the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya (四分律),[3][4] which has 250 rules[5] for the bhikkhus and 348 rules[6] for the bhikkhunis. Some schools in Japan technically follows this, but many monks there are married, which can be considered a violation of the rules. Other Japanese monks follow the Bodhisattva Precepts only. Buddhists in Tibet and Mongolia follow the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya, which has 253 rules for the bhikshus and 364 rules for bhikshunis. (While the Dalai Lama has authorized followers of the Tibetan tradition to be ordained as nuns the issue remains theoretical as the female order was never been introduced in Tibet.) In addition to these patimokkha rules there are many supplementary rules.

The Buddha constantly reminds his hearers that it is the spirit of the rules that counts. On the other hand, the rules themselves are designed to assure a satisfying life, and provide a perfect springboard for the higher attainments. Monastics are instructed by the Buddha to live as “islands unto themselves”. In this sense, living life as the vinaya prescribes it is, as one scholar puts it: “more than merely a means to an end: it is very nearly the end in itself.”[7]

Surrounding the rules is a range of texts. Some of these explain the origins of the rules – it is possible to trace the development of the rules from responses to specific situations or actions to a general codification. There are also a number of sutta-like texts that are more general statements about Buddhist doctrine, or that give biographical details of some of the great disciples and their enlightenment. Other sections detail how the rules are to be applied, how breaches are to be dealt with, and how disputes amongst the monks are handled.

It is thought that originally there were no rules and the Buddha and his disciples just lived in harmony when they were together. Most of the time they would have been wandering alone, but every year, during the monsoon season when travelling became impossible, the bhikkhus would come together for a few months. As the sangha became bigger and started accepting people of lesser ability who remained unenlightened, it became necessary to begin having rules.

It seems that initially these were quite flexible and were adapted to the situation. By the time of the Buddha’s death there would have been a body of rules bhikkhus were expected to follow. In the Mahaparinibbana Sutta the Buddha, as part of his last teaching, tells the bhikkhus that they can abandon some minor rules, but that they should stick to the major ones, but there appears to have been some confusion over which was which. It was therefore decided that they would keep all of the rules. Immediately after the Buddha’s death there was a council, at which all of the teachings were recited, collected, and sorted. Legend has it that the huge volume of teachings was recited from memory, with Ananda reciting the dhamma and Upali reciting the Vinaya.

References

1.       ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/vin/sv/bhikkhu-pati.html

2.       ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/vin/sv/bhikkhuni-pati.html

3.       ^ 四分律 http://www.cbeta.org/result/T22/T22n1428.htm

4.       ^ 解脫戒經 http://www.cbeta.org/result/normal/T24/1460_001.htm

5.       ^ 《四分律比丘戒本》 http://www.cbeta.org/result/normal/T22/1429_001.htm

6.       ^ 《摩訶僧祇比丘尼戒本》 http://www.cbeta.org/result/normal/T22/1427_001.htm

7.       ^ Richard Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988, page 89. He is quoting Carrithers.

Vimalakirti Sutra By Wiki

Vimalakirti Sutra

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f8/Vimalakirti_debating_Manjusri%2C_Tang_Dynasty.jpg/170px-Vimalakirti_debating_Manjusri%2C_Tang_Dynasty.jpg

 

Vimalakīrti debating Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī. Chinese painting from the Dunhuang Caves, Tang Dynasty.

The Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra (Sanskrit: विमलकीर्ति निर्देश सूत्र), or Vimalakīrti Sūtra, is a Mahāyāna Buddhist sūtra. The sutra teaches, among other subjects, the meaning of nonduality. It contains a report of a teaching addressed to both arhats and bodhisattvas by the layman Vimalakīrti (“Undefiled Reputation”[1]), who expounds the doctrine of śūnyatā, or emptiness, to them. This culminates with the wordless teaching of silence.

The sutra has been influential in East Asian Buddhism for it’s “brash humor” and flexibility. It has also been influential in Mahāyāna for its inclusiveness and respect of non-clergy, as well as stating the equal role of Buddhist women, who are considered to have as much spiritual potentials as ordained male monks.[2]

Origins

According to Burton Watson, the Vimalakīrti Sūtra probably originated in India in approximately 100 CE.[3] Its central figure is Vimalakīrti, who is presented as the ideal Mahayana lay bodhisattva.

The first translation of the Vimalakīrti Sūtra into Chinese was made in 188 CE, but was lost over time. This translation was made by the Kuṣāṇa monk Lokakṣema, who came to China from the kingdom of Gandhāra. The sūtra was translated six more times at later dates, with the most popular edition being Kumārajīva‘s translation from 406 CE.[3] Sometimes used in the title, the word nirdeśa means “instruction/advice”.[4]

Contents

The sūtra consists of fourteen chapters in Kumārajīva’s Chinese translation.

Summary

The opening scene features Śākyamuni Buddha teaching the Dharma to a vast assembly of ordained saṃgha, celestial bodhisattvas, laity, and various devas and other nonhuman beings in the Amra Gardens in the city of Vaiśālī in northeastern India.

In chapter two Vimalakīrti, a wealthy Buddhist lay bodhisattva who is considered a paragon of Buddhist virtue, is feigning illness. When the ruler of the region and various officials and others visit him, he takes the opportunity to expound Dharma teachings.[3]

When Śākyamuni Buddha learns of the situation he asks each of his ten major monk disciples to visit Vimalakīrti during his illness, but each in turn declines to do so, each citing a past incident during which he was reproved by Vimalakīrti for some deficiency in his understanding of the Dharma. The same is repeated with various great celestial bodhisattvas, until Mañjuśrī, the bodhisattva of wisdom, finally agrees.

Vimalakīrti and Mañjuśrī subsequently discuss points of doctrine in Vimalakīrti’s room, which miraculously accommodates the multitudes of people who have come to watch.[3] Finally, in the Amra Gardens, Vimalakīrti and Mañjuśrī join Śākyamuni Buddha for further expositions of the Dharma and the performance of demonstrations of their supernatural powers.

The Vimalikirti Sutra “concludes with conventional praises of the sūtra itself and an “entrustment” scene in which Śākyamuni calls on the bodhisattva Maitreya, who is destined to be the next Buddha to appear in this world, to guard the sūtra and ensure that it is widely propagated.”[3]

Use of silence

The Vimalakīrti-nirdeśa “offers us two dramatic and contrasting moments of silence. The first of these [is] the silence of Śāriputra“, who is rendered silent during an exchange with a goddess:

Śāriputra abandons speech too quickly, after all. He has been asked a question in a particular context […] to refuse to speak at such a point is neither an indication of wisdom, nor a means of imparting wisdom, but at best a refusal to make progress […] Śāriputra’s failed silence is but a contrastive prelude to Vimalakīrti’s far more articulate silence.[5]

Vimalikirti remains silent while discussing the subject of emptiness with an assembly of bodhisattvas. The bodhisattvas give a variety of answers on the question what non-duality is. Manjusri is the last bodhisattva to answer, and says that “by giving an explanation they have already fallen into dualism”. Vimalakirti, in his turn, answers with silence. [6][a]

With this emphasis on silence the Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra served as a forerunner of the approach of the Ch’an/Zen tradition, with its avoidance of positive statements on ‘ultimate reality’:

The Zen tradition is avowedly the Buddhism of Vimalakirti’s silence—a claim that is explicitly reinforced by the practice of silent meditation.[8]

But it does not mean that language is to be discredited completely:

Language is not, according to any Mahāyāna school, to be abandoned at the outset; it is not, whatever its limitations, a useless or a wholly misleading cognitive vehicle. To adopt an aphasia or cognitive quietism from the start would be pointless, and, as the Goddess notes, contrary to the practice of the Buddha himself, who uttered an enormous number of words during his career. But of course the episode gets its point precisely from the fact that Buddhist literature is replete with a rhetoric of silence—with episodes of especially significant silence—and indeed, as we discover a mere two chapters later in this very sutra.[5]

Influence in East Asia

John McRae notes that in contrast to India and Tibet where the Vimalakīrti Sūtra left little discernable impact, the sūtra became one of the favorites in East Asian Buddhism.[9] However, he also states that the sūtra was not used as an object of devotion, and that no school was ever formed around it, so that it does not seem to have enjoyed the degree of popularity of some other sūtras.[9]

Richard B. Mather describes the popularity of the Vimalakīrti Sūtra in China as having multiple causes. Among those noted are its “brash” humor, its criticism of śrāvakas and Abhidharma, and the universality and flexibility of its outlook.[10] Mather states that despite its disparagement of śrāvakas, the sūtra is strongly supportive of the Saṃgha, and the text intends to sanction the pursuit of the bodhisattva path by both monastics and laity without opposition to one another.[10]

Hu Shi, an important figure in Chinese language reform in the early 20th century, wrote that the Vimalakīrti Sūtra was among Kumārajīva’s three most influential translations (the other two being the Diamond Sūtra and Lotus Sūtra).[11] As a literary work, he praised this version of the sūtra as “half novel and half drama, with the greatest impact on literature and fine arts.”[12] Nan Huaijin also regards this translation of the Vimalakīrti Sūtra as unique in Chinese literature, and forming “virtually its own literary realm.”[13]

According to Nan Huaijin’s description of the Ch’an/Zen monastic system, the abbot of the monastery customarily lived in a small room patterned after that of Vimalakīrti’s room.[14] This room, as well as the abbot himself, were colloquially referred to as the fāngzhàng (Ch. 方丈), or “ten-foot square,” as Vimalakīrti’s room is described in the Vimalakīrti Sūtra.[15]

Texts and translations

Sanskrit editions

In 1981, the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies published a Sanskrit edition of the Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra, entitled Āryavimalakīrtinirdeśo Nāma Mahāyānasūtram (आर्यविमलकीर्तिनिर्देशो नाम महायानसूत्रम्).[16]

In 1999, Prof. Hisao Takahashi of Taisho University discovered a Sanskrit original among the Chinese Government’s Potala collection in Tibet.[17]

Chinese editions

The Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra was translated into Chinese several times, first in approximately 180 CE.

Two especially influential translations are the Kumārajīva version, which is the most widely used, and the Xuanzang version.

There are three ancient Chinese translations extant:

Fóshuō Wéimójié Jīng (佛說維摩詰經) – 2 fascicles, translated by Zhi Qian in 223-228 CE (Taishō Tripiṭaka 474) Wéimójié Suǒshuō Jīng (維摩詰所說經) – 3 fascicles, translated by Kumārajīva in 406 CE (Taishō Tripiṭaka 475) Shuō Wúgòuchēng Jīng (說無垢稱經) – 6 fascicles, translated by Xuanzang in 650 CE (Taishō Tripiṭaka 476)

In addition to these, earlier translations had been done by Lokakṣema (188 CE), Dharmarakṣa (308 CE), Upaśūnya (545 CE), and Jñānagupta (591 CE). Of the three extant renditions, Kumārajīva’s has traditionally been the most popular.

Japanese editions

Most versions used in Japan are based on the Chinese Kumārajīva version. The Yuimagyō Gisho (維摩経義疏), or Commentary on the Vimalakīrti Sūtra, is an early work of Japanese Buddhism, and is an annotated edition of the text based on the commentary of the Liang Dynasty Chinese monk Zhizang (458-522 CE).

Tibetan editions

There are two translations of the Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra from the original Sanskrit into the Tibetan language.[citation needed]Chos-nyid-tshul-khrims translated it into Tibetan in the ninth century.

English translations

The Teaching of Vimalakirti: Vimalakirtinirdesa (Chinese & Tibetan / French / English) Pali Text Society, 1976. ISBN 0-86013-077-0. An exhaustive scholarly treatment. Luk, Charles. (1972) The Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra, Berkeley and London: Shambhala, 1975. ISBN 0-394-73065-8. From Kumārajīva’s Chinese. McRae, John R. (2004) The Sutra of Queen Śrīmālā of the Lion’s Roar and the Vimalakīrti Sutra. Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, 2004. ISBN 1-886439-31-1. From Kumārajīva’s Chinese. Features a short introduction, glossary, and minor notes. Thurman, Robert A. F. (2000) The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti: A Mahayana Scripture. Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-271-01209-9. From Tibetan. Features a short introduction, extensive notes and glossary entries. Watson, Burton (1997) The Vimalakirti Sutra, New York: Columbia University Press. From Kumārajīva’s Chinese. Features a short introduction.

Notes

1.       ^ This dialogue is being treated in case 84 of the Hekiganroku[7]

References

1.       ^ From Sanskrit vimala “dirtless” (vi-, intensifier/negator + mala “dirt”) and kīrti “prestige” [1]. Also translated as: “Spotless Fame” [2], “Stainless Glory”, “Immaculate Fame”, “Pure Repute” [3], and “Clear Name” [4]

2.       ^ College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences, Central Michigan University, Key features of Mahayana

3.       ^ a b c d e Watson, Burton (1997) The Vimalakirti Sutra, New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 1–5.

4.       ^ [5]

5.       ^ a b “Sounds of Silence: Ineffability and the Limits of Language in Madhyamaka and Yogācāra”, by Jay L. Garfield, in Empty Words: Buddhist Philosophy and Cross-Cultural Interpretation. Oxford Univ. Press: 2002 ISBN 0-19-514672-7 pg 170-71

6.       ^ Low 2000, p. 109-112.

7.       ^ Low 2000, p. 110.

8.       ^ “Language: Buddhist Views on Language.” by Luis O. Gomez. Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd ed. pg 5310

9.       ^ a b McRae, John R. (2004) The Sutra of Queen Śrīmālā of the Lion’s Roar and the Vimalakīrti Sutra. Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, 2004. ISBN 1-886439-31-1 pg 60–61

10.    ^ a b Mather, Richard B. “Vimalakīrti and Gentry Buddhism,” History of Religions, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Aug., 1968), pp. 60-73

11.    ^ Sheng Yen. Orthodox Chinese Buddhism. North Atlantic Books. 2007. p. 57

12.    ^ Sheng Yen. Orthodox Chinese Buddhism. North Atlantic Books. 2007. p. 57

13.    ^ Nan Huai-Chin. Diamond Sutra Explained. 2004. p. 6

14.    ^ Nan, Huai-Chin. Basic Buddhism: Exploring Buddhism and Zen. 1997. pp. 173-174, 211

15.    ^ Nan, Huai-Chin. Basic Buddhism: Exploring Buddhism and Zen. 1997. pp. 173-174, 211

16.    ^ “Digital Sanskrit Buddhist Canon: Āryavimalakīrtinirdeśo Nāma Mahāyānasūtram”. http://dsbc.uwest.edu/node/6496.

17.    ^ “A Tale of Leaves: On Sanskrit Manuscripts in Tibet, their Past and their Future” Eleventh Gonda lecture. Steinkellner, E.[6]

 

Theravada By Wiki

Theravada

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Asokanpillar-crop.jpgTheravada, Sanskrit: स्थविरवाद sthaviravāda, ; literally, “the Teaching of the Elders” or “the Ancient Teaching,” is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India. It is relatively conservative, and generally closer to early Buddhism,[1] and for many centuries has been the predominant religion of Sri Lanka (now about 70% of the population)[2] and most of continental Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand). Theravada is also practiced by minorities in parts of southwest China (by the Shan and Tai ethnic groups), Vietnam (by the Khmer Krom), Bangladesh (by the ethnic groups of Baruas, Chakma, Magh, and Tanchangya), Malaysia and Indonesia, while recently gaining popularity in Singapore and the Western world. Today, Theravada Buddhists, otherwise known as Theravadins, number over 100 million worldwide, and in recent decades Theravada has begun to take root in the West[3] and in the Buddhist revival in India.[4]

History

Origin of the school

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Ashokan pillar in Lumbini, the birthplace of the Gautama Buddha. One of the most important places of Buddhist pilgrimage.

According to its own accounts, the Theravāda school is fundamentally derived from the Vibhajjavāda (or “doctrine of analysis”) grouping[5] which was a division of the Sthavira (“Elders”) sect. (The Sthavira were in turn a breakaway group from the majority Mahāsāṃghika during the Second Buddhist council.[6]) Theravadin accounts of its own origins mention that it received the teachings that were agreed upon during the Third Buddhist Council, around 250 BCE, and these teachings were known as the Vibhajjavada.[7] The Vibhajjavādins in turn split into four groups: the Mahīśāsaka, Kāśyapīya, Dharmaguptaka, and the Tāmraparnīya.

The Theravada is descended from the Tāmraparnīya, which means “the Sri Lankan lineage.” In the 7th century CE, Chinese pilgrims Xuanzang and Yijing refer to the Buddhist schools in Sri Lanka as Shàngzuòbù (Ch. 上座部), corresponding to the Sanskrit “Sthavira” and the Pali “Thera.”[8][9] The school has been using the name Theravada for itself in a written form since at least the 4th century, when the term appears in the Dipavamsa.[10]

According to Buddhist scholar A.K. Warder, the Theravada “spread rapidly south from Avanti into Maharastra and Andhra and down to the Chola country (Kanchi), as well as Ceylon. For some time they maintained themselves in Avanti as well as in their new territories, but gradually they tended to regroup themselves in the south, the Great Vihara (Mahavihara) in Anuradhapura, the capital of Ceylon, becoming the main centre of their tradition, Kanchi a secondary center and the northern regions apparently relinquished to other schools.”[11]

According to the Pāli chronicles of the Sinhalese tradition, Buddhism was first brought to Sri Lanka by Arahant Mahinda, who is believed to have been the son of the Mauryan emperor Asoka, in the third century BCE, as a part of the dhammaduta (missionary) activities of the Asokan era. In Sri Lanka, Arahant Mahinda established the Mahāvihāra Monastery of Anuradhapura.

Over much of the early history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, three subdivisions of Theravāda existed in Sri Lanka, consisting of the monks of the Mahāvihāra, Abhayagiri Vihāra, and the Jetavana Vihāra.[12] According to A.K. Warder, the Indian Mahīśāsaka sect also established itself in Sri Lanka alongside the Theravāda, into which they were later absorbed.[12] Northern regions of Sri Lanka also seem to have been ceded to sects from India at certain times.[12]

Later history in Sri Lanka

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Buddha painting in Dambulla cave temple in Sri Lanka. Buddhist cave-temple complex was established as a Buddhist Monastery in the 3rd century BC. Caves were converted into a temple in the 1st century BC.[13]

When the Chinese monk Faxian visited the island in the early 5th century CE, he noted 5000 monks at Abhayagiri, 3000 monks at the Mahāvihāra, and 2000 monks at the Cetiyapabbatavihāra.[14] Over the centuries, the Abhayagiri Theravādins maintained close relations with Indian Buddhists and adopted many new teachings from India.[15] These included many elements from Mahāyāna teachings, while the Jetavana Theravādins adopted Mahāyāna to a lesser extent.[14][16] Xuanzang wrote of two major divisions of Theravāda in Sri Lanka, referring to the Abhayagiri tradition as the “Mahāyāna Sthaviras,” and the Mahāvihāra tradition as the “Hīnayāna Sthaviras.”[17] Akira Hirakawa notes that the surviving Pāli commentaries (Aṭṭhakathā) of the Mahāvihāra school, when examined closely, also include a number of positions that agree with Mahāyāna teachings.[18] In the 8th century CE, it is known that both Mahāyāna and the esoteric Vajrayāna form of Buddhism were being practiced in Sri Lanka, and two Indian monks responsible for propagating Esoteric Buddhism in China, Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra, visited the island during this time.[19] Abhayagiri Vihāra appears to have been a center for Theravadin Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna teachings.[20]

Some scholars have held that the rulers of Sri Lanka ensured that Theravāda remained traditional, and that this characteristic contrasts with Indian Buddhism.[21] However, before the 12th century CE, more rulers of Sri Lanka gave support and patronage to the Abhayagiri Theravādins, and travelers such as Faxian saw the Abhayagiri Theravādins as the main Buddhist tradition in Sri Lanka.[22][23] This changed in the 12th century CE, when the Mahāvihāra gained the support of King Parakkamabāhu I (1153-1186 CE), and the Abhayagiri and Jetavana Theravāda traditions were completely abolished.[24][25] The Theravāda monks of these two traditions were then defrocked and given the choice of returning to the laity permanently, or attempting re-ordination under the Mahāvihāra tradition as “novices” (sāmaṇera).[25][26] Regarding the differences between the Theravāda traditions, the Cūḷavaṁsa laments, “Despite the vast efforts made in every way by former kings down to the present day, the [bhikkhus] turned away in their demeanor from one another and took delight in all kinds of strife.”[27]

Lineage of nuns

A few years after the arrival of Sthavira Mahinda, Bhikkhuni Sanghamitta, who is also believed to be the daughter of Emperor Asoka, came to Sri Lanka. She started the first nun’s order in Sri Lanka, but this order of nuns died out in Sri Lanka in the 11th century and in Burma in the 13th. In 429 CE, by request of China’s emperor, nuns from Anuradhapura were sent to China to establish the Nun’s Order. The order was then spread to Korea. In 1996, 11 selected Sri Lankan nuns were ordained fully as Bhikkhunis by a team of Theravāda monks in concert with a team of Korean Nuns in India. There is disagreement among Theravada vinaya authorities as to whether such ordinations are valid. In the last few years the head of the Dambulla chapter of the Siyam Nikaya in Sri Lanka has carried out ordination ceremonies for hundreds of nuns. This has been criticized by other leading figures in the Siyam Nikaya and Amarapura Nikaya, and the governing council of Burmese Buddhism has declared that there can be no valid ordination of nuns in modern times, though some Burmese monks disagree with this.[28]

In Southeast Asia

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Ruins of Bagan, an ancient capital of Burma. There are more than 2,000 Buddhist temples. During the height of Bagan’s power there were some 13,000 temples.[29]

According to Mahavamsa the Sri Lanka chronicle, after the conclusion of the Third Buddhist Council, a missionary was also sent to Suvannabhumi where two monks Sona and Uttara, are said to have proceeded.[30] Scholar opinions differ as to where exactly this land of Suvannabhumi is located, but Suvannabhumi is believed to be located somewhere in the area which now includes lower Burma, Thailand, Malay Peninsula and Sumatra Island.

Before the 12th century, the areas of Thailand, Burma, Laos, and Cambodia were dominated by various Buddhist sects from India, and included the teachings of Mahāyāna Buddhism.[31][32] In the 7th century, Yijing noted in his travels that in these areas, all major sects of Indian Buddhism flourished.[31] Though there are some early accounts that have been interpreted as Theravāda in Burma, the surviving records show that most Burmese Buddhism incorporated Mahāyāna, and used Sanskrit rather than Pali.[32][33][34] After the decline of Buddhism in India, missions of monks from Sri Lanka gradually converted Burmese Buddhism to Theravāda, and in the next two centuries also brought Theravāda Buddhism to the areas of Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, where it supplanted previous forms of Buddhism.[35]

The Mon and Pyu were among the earliest people to inhabit Burma. Recent archaeological research at a Pyu settlement in the Samon Valley (around 100 km south-east of Bagan) has shown that they had trade links with India from 500-400 BC and with China around 200 BC.[36] Chinese sources which have been dated to around 240 A.D. mention a Buddhist kingdom by the name of Lin-Yang, which some scholars have identified as the ancient Pyu kingdom of Beikthano[37][38] 300 km north of Yangon. The oldest surviving Buddhist texts in the Pali language come from Pyu city of Sri Ksetra, the text which is dated from the mid 5th A.D. to mid 6th A.D. is writen on twenty-leaf manuscript of solid gold.[39] The Burmese slowly became Theravadan when they came into contact with the Pyu and Mon civilization. The Thais also slowly became Theravadan as they came into contact with the Mon civilization.

Despite its success in Southeast Asia, Theravada Buddhism in China has generally been limited to areas bordering Theravada countries.

Modern developments

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Laykyun Setkyar in the village of Khatakan Taung, near Monywa in Burma. The second tallest statue in the world.[40]

The following modern trends or movements have been identified.[41][42]

  • Syncretism with other Buddhist traditions Universal inclusivity

Reformism: attempts to restore a supposed earlier, ideal state of Buddhism; includes in particular the adoption of Western scholars’ theories of original Buddhism (in recent times the “Western scholarly interpretation of Buddhism” is the official Buddhism prevailing in Sri Lanka and Thailand.[43]) Ultimatism: tendency to concentrate on advanced teachings such as the Four Noble Truths at the expense of more elementary ones Neotraditionalism; includes among other things Insight meditation Social action Devotional religiosity Reaction to Buddhist nationalism Renewal of forest monks Revival of samatha meditation Revival of the Theravada bhikkhuni lineage (not recognized in Thailand)

Buddhist revivalism has also reacted against changes in Buddhism caused by colonialist regimes. Western colonialists and Christian missionaries deliberately imposed a particular type of Christian monasticism on Buddhist clergy in Sri Lanka and colonies in Southeast Asia, restricting monks’ activities to individual purification and temple ministries.[44] Prior to British colonial control, monks in both Sri Lanka and Burma had been responsible for the education of the children of lay people, and had produced large bodies of literature. After the British takeover, Buddhist temples were strictly administered and were only permitted to use their funds on strictly religious activities. Christian ministers were given control of the education system and their pay became state funding for missions.[45] Foreign, especially British, rule had an enervating effect on the sangha.[46] According to Walpola Rahula, Christian missionaries displaced and appropriated the educational, social, and welfare activities of the monks, and inculcated a permanent shift in views regarding the proper position of monks in society through their institutional influence upon the elite.[46] Many monks in post-colonial times have been dedicated to undoing this paradigm shift.[47] Movements intending to restore Buddhism’s place in society have developed in both Sri Lanka and Burma.[48]

Overview of Philosophy

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Painting of Buddha’s first sermon depicted at Wat Chedi Liem in Thailand

Theravada promotes the concept of Vibhajjavada (Pali), literally “Teaching of Analysis.” This doctrine says that insight must come from the aspirant’s experience, critical investigation, and reasoning instead of by blind faith; however, the scriptures of the Theravadin tradition also emphasize heeding the advice of the wise, considering such advice and evaluation of one’s own experiences to be the two tests by which practices should be judged.

In Theravada, the cause of human existence and suffering (dukkha) is identified as craving (tanha), which carries with it the defilements (kilesas). Those defilements that bind humans to the cycle of rebirth are classified into a set of ten “Fetters,” while those defilements that impede concentration (samadhi) are presented in a fivefold set called the “Five Hindrances.”[49] The level of defilement can be coarse, medium, and subtle. It is a phenomenon that frequently arises, remains temporarily and then vanishes. Theravadins believe defilements are not only harmful to oneself, but also harmful to others. They are the driving force behind all inhumanities a human being can commit.

Theravadins believe these defilements are habits born of ignorance (avijja) that afflict the minds of all unenlightened beings, who cling to them and their influence in their ignorance of the truth. But in reality, those mental defilements are nothing more than taints that have afflicted the mind, creating suffering and stress. Unenlightened beings cling to the body, under the assumption that it represents a Self, whereas in reality the body is an impermanent phenomenon formed from the four basic elements. Often characterized by earth, water, fire and air, in the early Buddhist texts these are defined to be abstractions representing the sensorial qualities solidity, fluidity, temperature, and mobility, respectively.[50] The mental defilements’ frequent instigation and manipulation of the mind is believed to have prevented the mind from seeing the true nature of reality. Unskillful behavior in turn can strengthen the defilements, but following the Noble Eightfold Path can weaken or eradicate them.

Unenlightened beings are also believed to experience the world through their imperfect six sense doors (eye, ear, nose, tongue, tactile sense, and mind) and use the mind, clouded by defilements, to form their own interpretation, perception and conclusion.[51] In such a condition the perception or conclusion made will be based on that being’s own illusion of reality.[52] In the state of jhana (deep concentration), the five physical sense doors will fade, the mental defilements will be suppressed, and wholesome mental traits will become strengthened. The mind can then be used to investigate and gain insight into the true nature of reality.

There are three stages of defilements. During the stage of passivity the defilements lie dormant at the base of the mental continuum as latent tendencies (anusaya), but through the impact of sensory stimulus, they will manifest (pariyutthana) themselves at the surface of consciousness in the form of unwholesome thoughts, emotions, and volitions. If they gather additional strength, the defilements will reach the dangerous stage of transgression (vitikkama), which will then involve physical or vocal actions.

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Laotian painting depicts Ananda at the First Buddhist Council

In order to be free from suffering and stress, Theravadins believe that the defilements need to be permanently uprooted. Initially they are restrained through mindfulness to prevent them from taking over mental and bodily action. They are then uprooted through internal investigation, analysis, experience and understanding of their true nature by using jhana. This process needs to be repeated for each and every defilement. The practice will then lead the meditator to realize the Four Noble Truths, Enlightenment, and Nirvana (Sanskrit: निर्वाण, Nirvāṇa; Pali: निब्बान, Nibbāna; Thai: นิพพาน, Nípphaan). Nirvana is the ultimate goal of Theravadins, and is said to be a state of perfect bliss wherein the person is liberated from the repeated cycle of birth, illness, aging and death.

Theravadins believe that every individual is personally responsible for their own self-awakening and liberation, as they are the ones that were responsible for their own actions and consequences (Sanskrit: karma; Pali: kamma). Simply learning or believing in the true nature of reality as expounded by the Buddha is not enough, the awakening can only be achieved through direct experience and personal realization. An individual will have to follow and practice the Noble Eightfold Path as taught by the Buddha to discover the reality for themselves. In Theravada belief, Buddhas, gods or deities are incapable of giving a human being the awakening or lifting them from the state of repeated cycle of birth, illness, aging and death (samsara). For Theravadins, Buddha is only a Teacher of the Noble Eightfold Path, while gods or deities are still subject to anger, jealousy, hatred, vengeance, craving, greed, delusion, and death.

It is believed that some people who practice with earnestness and zeal can attain Nirvana within a single lifetime, as did many of the first few generations of Buddha’s disciples. For others, the process may take multiple lifetimes, with the individual reaching higher and higher states of realization. One who has attained Nirvana is called an Arahant. Since Lord Buddha is believed to have possessed the ultimate knowledge on guiding a person through the process of enlightenment, Theravadins believe that disciples of a Buddha attain enlightenment the most quickly.

According to the early scriptures, the Nirvana attained by Arahants is identical to that attained by the Buddha himself, as there is only one type of Nirvana.[53] Buddha was superior to Arahants because the Buddha had discovered the path all by himself, and has taught it to others (i,e., metaphorically turning the wheel of Dhamma). Arahants, on the other hand, attained Nirvana due in part to the Buddha’s teachings. Theravadins revere the Buddha as a single supremely gifted person but do recognize the existence of other such Buddhas in the distant past and future. Maitreya (Pali: Metteyya), for example, is mentioned very briefly in the Pali Canon as a Buddha who will come in the distant future.

Traditionally Theravadins can either have the conviction (or “faith”) in the Buddha’s teaching and practice the minor precepts in the hope of gaining some minor benefits or they can investigate and verify by direct experience the truth of the Buddha’s teaching by practicing the jhana which is part of the Noble Eightfold Path for their own Enlightenment.

Fundamentals of Theravada

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The Great Buddha of Thailand in the Wat Muang Monastery in Ang Thong province. The tallest statue in Thailand, and the ninth tallest in the world.

First and foremost, the Theravada philosophy is a continuous analytical process of life, not a mere set of ethics and rituals.

The ultimate theory of Theravada uses the Four Noble Truths, also known as the Four Sublime Truths. In the simplest form these can be described as the problem, the cause, the solution and the pathway to solution (implementation).

Cause and Effect

The Concept of Cause and Effect, or Causality, is a key concept in Theravada, and indeed, in Buddhism as a whole. This concept is expressed in several ways, including the Four Noble Truths, and most importantly, the Paticca-Samuppāda (dependent co-arising).

Abhidhamma in Theravada canon differentiate between a root cause (Hetu) and facilitating cause (pacca). By the combined interaction of both these, an effect is brought about. On top of this view, a logic is built and elaborated whose most supple form can be seen in the Paticca Samuppāda.

This concept is then used to question the nature of suffering and to elucidate the way out of suffering, as expressed in the Four Noble Truths. It is also employed in several suttas to refute several philosophies including creationism.

The Four Noble Truths

A formal description of the Four Noble Truths follows:

Dukkha (suffering): This can be somewhat broadly classified into three categories. Inherent suffering, or the suffering one undergoes in all the worldly activities, what one suffers in day-to-day life: birth, aging, diseases, death, sadness, etc. In short, all that one feels from separating from “loving” attachments and/or associating with “hating” attachments is encompassed into the term. The second class of suffering, called Suffering due to Change, implies that things suffer due to attaching themselves to a momentary state which is held to be “good”; when that state is changed, things are subjected to suffering. The third, termed Sankhara Dukkha, is the most subtle. Beings suffer simply by not realizing that they are mere aggregates with no definite, unchanging identity. Dukkha Samudaya (cause of suffering): Craving, which leads to Attachment and Bondage, is the cause of suffering. Formally, this is termed Tanha. It can be classified into three instinctive drives. Kama Tanha is the Craving for any pleasurable sense object (which involves sight, sound, touch, taste, smell and mental perceptives). Bhava Tanha is the Craving for attachment to an ongoing process, which appears in various forms, including the longing for existence. Vibhava Tanha is the Craving for detachment from a process, which includes non-existence and causes the longing for self-annihilation. Dukkha Nirodha (cessation of suffering): One cannot possibly adjust the whole world to one’s taste in order to eliminate suffering and hope that it will remain so forever. This would violate the chief principle of Change. Instead, one adjusts one’s own mind through detachment so that the Change, of whatever nature, has no effect on one’s peace of mind. Briefly stated, the third Noble Truth implies that elimination of the cause (craving) eliminates the result (suffering). This is inferred in the scriptural quote by The Buddha, ‘Whatever may result from a cause, shall be eliminated by the elimination of the cause’. Dukkha Nirodha Gamini Patipada (pathway to freedom from suffering): This is the Noble Eightfold Pathway towards freedom or Nirvana. The path can roughly be rendered into English as right view, right intention, right speech, right actions, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.

The Three Characteristics

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Wat Chaiwatthanaram temple in the old city of Ayutthaya in Thailand.

These are the three characteristics of all conditioned phenomena in Theravada thought.

Anicca (impermanence): All conditioned phenomena are subject to change, including physical characteristics, qualities, assumptions, theories, knowledge, etc. Nothing is permanent, because, for something to be permanent, there has to be an unchanging cause behind it. Since all causes are recursively bound together, there can be no ultimate unchanging cause. Dukkha (suffering): Craving causes suffering, since what is craved is transitory, changing, and perishing. The craving for impermanent things causes disappointment and sorrow. There is a tendency to label practically everything in the world, as either “good,” “comfortable” or “satisfying;” or “bad”, “uncomfortable,” and “unsatisfying.” Labeling things in terms of like and dislike creates suffering. If one succeeds in giving up the tendency to label things and free himself from the instincts that drive him towards attaining what he himself labels collectively as “liking,” he attains the ultimate freedom. The problem, the cause, the solution and the implementation, all of these are within oneself, not outside. Anatta (not-self): The concept of Anatta can be explained as the lack of a fixed, unchanging identity; there is no permanent, essential Self. A living being is a composite of the five aggregates (khandhas), which is the physical forms (rupa), feelings or sensations (vedana), perception (sanna), mental formations (sankhara), and consciousness (vinnana), none of which can be identified as one’s Self. From the moment of conception, all entities (including all living beings) are subject to a process of continuous change. A practitioner should, on the other hand, develop and refine his or her mind to a state so as to see through this phenomenon.

Direct realization of these three characteristics leads to freedom from worldly bonds and attachments, thus leading to the state where one is completely, ultimately free, the state which is termed Nirvana, which literally means “to blow” (as in a lamp).[54]

The Three Noble Disciplines

The pathway towards Nirvana, or the Noble Eightfold Pathway is sometimes stated in a more concise manner, known as the Three Noble Disciplines.,[55][56] These are known as discipline (sīla), training of mind (samādhi)[57] and wisdom (paññā).

Meditation

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Thai monk in meditation

Theravada Buddhist meditation practices fall into two broad categories: samatha, and vipassanā.[58] Some common terms encountered in the Theravada practice of meditation are:

Anapanasati Metta Kammaṭṭhāna Samatha Vipassana

Meditation (Pali: Bhavana) means the positive reinforcement of one’s mind. Broadly categorized into Samatha and Vipassana, Meditation is the key tool implemented in attaining jhana. Samatha literally means “to make skillful,” and has other renderings also, among which are “tranquilizing, calming,” “visualizing,” and “achieving.” Vipassana means “insight” or “abstract understanding.” In this context, Samatha Meditation makes a person skillful in concentration of mind. Once the mind is sufficiently concentrated, Vipassana allows one to see through the veil of ignorance.

Samatha meditation

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Thai Forest Tradition meditation master, the Venerable Ajahn Chah with his resident Sangha in the year 1980 at Wat Nong Pah Pong monastery in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand

The samatha meditation in Theravada is usually involved with the concepts of Kammaṭṭhāna which literally stands for “place of work”; in this context, it is the “place” or object of concentration (Pāli: Ārammana) where the mind is at work. In samatha meditation, the mind is set at work concentrated on one particular entity. There are forty (40) such classic objects (entities) used in samatha meditation, which are termed Kammaṭṭhāna. By acquiring a Kammaṭṭhāna and practising samatha meditation, one would be able to attain certain elevated states of awareness and skill of the mind called Jhana. Practising samatha has samadhi (concentration) as its ultimate goal.

It should be noted that samatha is not a method that is unique to Buddhism. In the suttas it is said to be implemented in other contemporary religions in India at the time of Buddha. In fact, the first teachers of Siddhartha, before they attained the state of awakening (Pāli: Bodhi), are said to have been quite skillful in samatha (although the term had not been coined yet). In the Pali Canon discourses, the Buddha frequently instructs his disciples to practice samadhi (concentration) in order to establish and develop jhana (full concentration). Jhana is the instrument used by the Buddha himself to penetrate the true nature of phenomena (through investigation and direct experience) and to reach Enlightenment.[59] Right Concentration (samma-samadhi) is one of the elements in the Noble Eightfold Path. Samadhi can be developed from mindfulness developed with kammaṭṭhāna such as concentration on breathing (anapanasati), from visual objects (kasina), and repetition of phrases. The traditional list contains 40 objects of meditation (kammaṭṭhāna) to be used for Samatha Meditation. Every object has a specific goal; for example, meditation on the parts of the body (kayanupassana or kayagathasathi) will result in a lessening of attachment to our own bodies and those of others, resulting in a reduction of sensual desires. Mettā (loving kindness) generates the feelings of goodwill and happiness toward ourselves and other beings; metta practice serves as an antidote to ill-will, wrath and fear.

Vipassanā meditation

Vipassanā on the other hand, is concerned with seeing through the veil of ignorance (Pāli: Avijjā) and so, is unique to Buddhism. It can be aided by a practised mind (with samatha) but samatha is not necessary to practice vipassanā. Chiefly, vipassanā is involved in breaking the ten Fetters that bind one to the ever-iterating cycle of birth and death i.e. samsara. Some teachers do not distinguish between the two methods, rather prescribing meditation methods that develop both concentration and insight.

Levels of attainment

Through practice, (Theravadan) practitioners can achieve four stages of enlightenment:[60]

Stream-Enterers: Those who have destroyed the first three fetters (false view of Self, doubt, and clinging to rites and rituals); Once-Returners: Those who have destroyed the first three fetters and have lessened the fetters of lust and hatred; Non-Returners: Those who have destroyed the five lower fetters, which bind beings to the world of the senses;[61] Arahants: Those who have reached Enlightenment—realized Nirvana, and have reached the quality of deathlessness—are free from all the fermentations of defilement. Their ignorance, craving and attachments have ended.[61]

Scriptures

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One of the stone inscriptions of the World’s largest book, consisting of 729 large marble tablets with the Pali Canon inscribed on them, at Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay, Burma

The Theravada school upholds the Pali Canon or Tipitaka as the most authoritative collection of texts on the teachings of Gautama Buddha. The Sutta and Vinaya portion of the Tipitaka shows considerable overlap in content to the Agamas, the parallel collections used by non-Theravada schools in India which are preserved in Chinese and partially in Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Tibetan, and the various non-Theravada Vinayas. On this basis, both these sets of texts are generally believed to be the oldest and most authoritative texts on Buddhism by scholars. It is also believed that much of the Pali Canon, which is still used by Theravāda communities, was transmitted to Sri Lanka during the reign of Asoka. After being orally transmitted (as was the custom in those days for religious texts) for some centuries, were finally committed to writing in the last century BC, at what the Theravada usually reckons as the fourth council, in Sri Lanka. Theravada is one of the first Buddhist schools to commit the whole complete set of its Buddhist canon into writing.[62]

Much of the material in the Canon is not specifically “Theravadan,” but is instead the collection of teachings that this school preserved from the early, non-sectarian body of teachings. According to Peter Harvey:

The Theravadans, then, may have added texts to the Canon for some time, but they do not appear to have tampered with what they already had from an earlier period.[63]

The Pali Tipitaka consists of three parts: the Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka and Abhidhamma Pitaka. Of these, the Abhidhamma Pitaka is believed to be a later addition to the first two pitakas, which, in the opinion of many scholars, were the only two pitakas at the time of the First Buddhist Council. The Pali Abhidhamma was not recognized outside the Theravada school.

In the 4th or 5th century Buddhaghosa Thera wrote the first Pali commentaries to much of the Tipitaka (which were based on much older manuscripts, mostly in old Sinhalese), and after him many other monks wrote various commentaries, which have become part of the Theravada heritage. These texts, however, do not enjoy the same authority as the Tipitaka does. The Tipitaka is composed of 45 volumes in the Thai edition, 40 in the Burmese and 58 in the Sinhalese, and a full set of the Tipitaka is usually kept in its own (medium-sized) cupboard.

The commentaries, together with the Abhidhamma, define the specific Theravada heritage. Related versions of the Sutta Pitaka and Vinaya Pitaka were common to all the early Buddhist schools, and therefore do not define only Theravada, but also the other early Buddhist schools, and perhaps the teaching of Gautama Buddha himself.

Theravada Buddhists consider much of what is found in the Chinese and Tibetan scriptural collections to be apocryphal, meaning that they are not authentic words of the Buddha.[64]

Lay and monastic life

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Young Burmese monk

Traditionally, Theravada Buddhism has observed a distinction between the practices suitable for a lay person and the practices undertaken by ordained monks (in ancient times, there was a separate body of practices for nuns). While the possibility of significant attainment by laymen is not entirely disregarded by the Theravada, it generally occupies a position of less prominence than in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions, with monastic life being hailed as a superior method of achieving Nirvana.[65] The view that Theravada, unlike other Buddhist schools, is primarily a monastic tradition has, however, been disputed.[66]

This distinction between ordained monks and laypeople — as well as the distinction between those practices advocated by the Pali Canon, and the folk religious elements embraced by many monks — have motivated some scholars to consider Theravada Buddhism to be composed of multiple separate traditions, overlapping though still distinct. Most prominently, the anthropologist Melford Spiro in his work Buddhism and Society separated Burmese Theravada into three groups: Apotropaic Buddhism (concerned with providing protection from evil spirits), Kammatic Buddhism (concerned with making merit for a future birth), and Nibbanic Buddhism (concerned with attaining the liberation of Nirvana, as described in the Tipitaka). He stresses that all three are firmly rooted in the Pali Canon. These categories are not accepted by all scholars, and are usually considered non-exclusive by those who employ them.

The role of lay people has traditionally been primarily occupied with activities that are commonly termed merit making (falling under Spiro’s category of kammatic Buddhism). Merit making activities include offering food and other basic necessities to monks, making donations to temples and monasteries, burning incense or lighting candles before images of the Buddha, and chanting protective or merit-making verses from the Pali Canon. Some lay practitioners have always chosen to take a more active role in religious affairs, while still maintaining their lay status. Dedicated lay men and women sometimes act as trustees or custodians for their temples, taking part in the financial planning and management of the temple. Others may volunteer significant time in tending to the mundane needs of local monks (by cooking, cleaning, maintaining temple facilities, etc.). Lay activities have traditionally not extended to study of the Pali scriptures, nor the practice of meditation, though in the 20th Century these areas have become more accessible to the lay community, especially in Thailand.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/37/Monk_on_pilgrimage.jpg/220px-Monk_on_pilgrimage.jpg

 

Thai monks on pilgrimage in their orange robes.

A number of senior monastics in the Thai Forest Tradition, including Ajahn Buddhadasa, Luang Ta Maha Bua, Ajahn Plien Panyapatipo, Ajahn Pasanno, and Ajahn Jayasaro, have begun teaching meditation retreats outside of the monastery for lay disciples.

Ajahn Chah, a disciple of Ajahn Mun, set up a monastic lineage called Cittaviveka with his disciple Ajahn Sumedho, at Chithurst in West Sussex, England. Ajahn Sumedho later founded the Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in Hertfordshire, which has a retreat center specifically for lay retreats. Sumedho extended this to Harnham in Northumberland as Aruna Ratanagiri under the present guidance of Ajahn Munindo, another disciple of Ajahn Chah.

Nirvana, the highest goal of Theravada Buddhism, is attained through study and the practice of morality, meditation and wisdom (sila, samadhi, panna). The goal of Nirvana (and its associated techniques) have traditionally been seen as the domain of the fully ordained monastic, whereas many of the same techniques can be used by laypeople to generate happiness in their lives, without focusing on Nirvana. Monastic roles in the Theravada can be broadly described as being split between the role of the (often urban) scholar monk and the (often rural or forest) meditation monk. Both types of monks serve their communities as spiritual teachers and officiants by presiding over spiritual ceremonies and providing instruction in basic Buddhist morality and teachings.

Scholar monks undertake the path of studying and preserving the Pali literature of the Theravada. They may devote little time to the practice of meditation, but may attain great respect and renown by becoming masters of a particular section of the Pali Canon or its commentaries. Masters of the Abhidhamma, called Abhidhammika, are particularly respected in the scholastic tradition.

Meditation monks, often called forest monks because of their association with certain wilderness-dwelling traditions, are considered to be specialists in meditation. While some forest monks may undertake significant study of the Pali Canon, in general meditation monks are expected to learn primarily from their meditation experiences and personal teachers, and may not know more of the Tipitaka than is necessary to participate in liturgical life and to provide a foundation for fundamental Buddhist teachings. More so than the scholastic tradition, the meditation tradition is associated with the attainment of certain supernatural powers described in both Pali sources and folk tradition. These powers include the attainment of Nirvana, mind-reading, supernatural power over material objects and their own material bodies, seeing and conversing with gods and beings living in hell, and remembering their past lives. These powers are called abhiñña. Sometimes the remain of the cremated bone fragment of an accomplished forest monk is believed able to transform itself into crystal-like relics (sārira-dhātu).

Ordination

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0c/Candidate_for_the_Buddhist_priesthood_is_ordaining_to_is_a_monk_in_a_church.jpg/250px-Candidate_for_the_Buddhist_priesthood_is_ordaining_to_is_a_monk_in_a_church.jpg

 

Candidate for the Buddhist priesthood is ordaining as a monk in Thailand

The minimum age for ordaining as a Buddhist monk is 20 years, reckoned from conception. However, boys under that age are allowed to ordain as novices (samanera), performing a ceremony such as Shinbyu in Burma. Novices shave their heads, wear the yellow robes, and observe ten basic precepts. Although no specific minimum age for novices is mentioned in the scriptures, traditionally boys as young as seven are accepted. This tradition follows the story of the Lord Buddha’s son, Rahula, who was allowed to become a novice at the age of seven. Monks follow 227 rules of discipline, while nuns follow 311 rules.

In most Theravada countries, it is a common practice for young men to ordain as monks for a fixed period of time. In Thailand and Burma, young men typically ordain for the 3 month Rain Retreat (vassa), though shorter or longer periods of ordination are not rare. Traditionally, temporary ordination was even more flexible among Laotians. Once they had undergone their initial ordination as young men, Laotian men were permitted to temporarily ordain again at any time, though married men were expected to seek their wife’s permission. Throughout Southeast Asia, there is little stigma attached to leaving the monastic life. Monks regularly leave the robes after acquiring an education, or when compelled by family obligations or ill health.

Ordaining as a monk, even for a short period, is seen as having many virtues. In many Southeast Asian cultures, it is seen as a means for a young man to “repay” his parents for their work and effort in raising him, because the merit from his ordination accrues to them as well. Thai men who have ordained as a monk may be seen as more fit husbands by Thai women, who refer to men who have served as monks with a colloquial term meaning “ripe” to indicate that they are more mature and ready for marriage. Particularly in rural areas, temporary ordination of boys and young men traditionally gave peasant boys an opportunity to gain an education in temple schools without committing to a permanent monastic life.

In Sri Lanka, temporary ordination is not practiced, and a monk leaving the order is frowned upon. The continuing influence of the caste system in Sri Lanka may play a role in the taboo against temporary ordination and leaving the monkhood. Though Sri Lankan monastic nikayas are often organized along caste lines, men who ordain as monks temporarily pass outside of the conventional caste system, and as such during their time as monks may act (or be treated) in a way that would not be in line with the expected duties and privileges of their caste.

Men and women born in western countries, who become Buddhists as adults, wish to become monks or nuns. It is possible, and one can live as a monk or nun in the country they were born in, seek monks or nuns which has gathered in a different western country or move to a monastery in countries like Sri Lanka or Thailand. It is seen as being easier to live a life as a monk or nun in countries where people generally live by the culture of Buddhism, since it is difficult to live by the rules of a monk or a nun in a western country. For instance; a Theravada monk or nun is not allowed to work, handle money, listen to music, cook and so on, which are extremely difficult rules to live by in cultures which do not embrace Buddhism. The recommendation is usually that to be able to live fully as a monk or nun you should move to a monastery in a country with a culture that embraces Theravada Buddhism.

Some of the more well-known Theravadan monks are: Ajahn Mun Bhuridatta, Ajahn Chah, Ledi Sayadaw, Ajahn Plien Panyapatipo, Ajahn Sumedho, Ajahn Brahm, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Buddhadasa, Mahasi Sayadaw, Nyanaponika Thera, Preah Maha Ghosananda, Sayadaw U Pandita, Ajahn Amaro, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Walpola Rahula, Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, and Bhante Yogavacara Rahula.

Monastic practices

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a6/EveningPrayers01a.jpg/210px-EveningPrayers01a.jpg

 

A Buddhist Monk chants evening prayers inside a monastery located near the town of Kantharalak, Thailand.

The practices usually vary in different sub-schools and monasteries within Theravada. But in the most orthodox forest monastery, the monk usually models his practice and lifestyle on that of the Buddha and his first generation of disciples by living close to nature in forest, mountains and caves. Forest monasteries still keep alive the ancient traditions through following the Buddhist monastic code of discipline in all its detail and developing meditation in secluded forests.

In a typical daily routine at the monastery during the 3 month vassa period, the monk will wake up before dawn and will begin the day with group chanting and meditation. At dawn the monks will go out to surrounding villages bare-footed on alms-round and will have the only meal of the day before noon by eating from the bowl by hand. Most of the time is spent on Dhamma study and meditation. Sometimes the abbot or a senior monk will give a Dhamma talk to the visitors. Laity who stay at the monastery will have to abide by the traditional eight Buddhist precepts.

The life of the monk or nun in a community is much more complex than the life of the forest monk. In the Buddhist society of Sri Lanka, most monks spend hours every day in taking care of the needs of lay people such as preaching bana,[67] accepting alms, officiating funerals, teaching dhamma to adults and children in addition to providing social services to the community.

After the end of the Vassa period, many of the monks will go out far away from the monastery to find a remote place (usually in the forest) where they can hang their umbrella tents and where it is suitable for the work of self-development. When they go wandering, they walk barefoot, and go wherever they feel inclined. Only those requisites which are necessary will be carried along. These generally consist of the bowl, the three robes, a bathing cloth, an umbrella tent, a mosquito net, a kettle of water, a water filter, razor, sandals, some small candles, and a candle lantern.

The monks do not fix their times for walking and sitting meditation, for as soon as they are free they just start doing it; nor do they determine for how long they will go on to meditate. Some of them sometimes walk from dusk to dawn whereas at other times they may walk from between two to seven hours. Some may decide to fast for days or stay at dangerous places where ferocious animals live in order to aid their meditation.

Those monks who have been able to achieve a high level of attainment will be able to guide the junior monks and lay Buddhists toward the four degrees of spiritual attainment.

Lay devotee

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5a/Vesak_in_Uttaradit_%28Thailand%29_1.jpg/220px-Vesak_in_Uttaradit_%28Thailand%29_1.jpg

 

The ceremony walks with lighted candles in hand around a temple on Vesakha Puja in Uttaradit, Thailand.

In Pali the word for a male lay devotee is Upasaka. Upasika is its female equivalent. One of the duties of the lay followers, as taught by the Buddha, is to look after the needs of the monk/nuns. They are to see that the monk/nuns do not suffer from lack of the four requisites: food, clothing, shelter and medicine. As neither monks nor nuns are allowed to have an occupation, they depend entirely on the laity for their sustenance. In return for this charity, they are expected to lead exemplary lives.

In Burma and Thailand, the monastery was and is still regarded as a seat of learning. In fact today about half of the primary schools in Thailand are located in monasteries. Religious rituals and ceremonies held in a monastery are always accompanied by social activities. In times of crisis, it is to the monks that people bring their problems for counsel.

Traditionally, a ranking monk will deliver a sermon four times a month: when the moon waxes and wanes and the day before the new and full moons. The laity also have a chance to learn meditation from the monks during these times.

It is also possible for a lay disciple to become enlightened. As Bhikkhu Bodhi notes, “The Suttas and commentaries do record a few cases of lay disciples attaining the final goal of Nirvana. However, such disciples either attain Arahantship on the brink of death or enter the monastic order soon after their attainment. They do not continue to dwell at home as Arahant householders, for dwelling at home is incompatible with the state of one who has severed all craving.”[68]

Influences

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The Dharmacakra flag, symbol of Theravada Buddhism in Thailand.

According to the linguist Zacharias P. Thundy the word “Theravada” may have been Hellenized into “Therapeutae,” to name a coenobitic order near Alexandria described around the 1st century CE. The similarities between the Therapeutae and Buddhist monasticism, combined with Indian evidence of Buddhist missionary activity to the Mediterranean around 250 BC (the Edicts of Asoka), have been pointed out. The Therapeutae would have been the descendants of Asoka’s emissaries to the West, and would have influenced the early formation of Christianity.[69] However, the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism[70] states that theories of influences of Buddhism on early Christianity are without historical foundation.

Thundy’s speculation about the origin of “Therapeutae” seems improbable, as cognates of this term (i.e. “Therapeuo” and “Therapon”) are used by Thucydides[71] and Homer.[72] One must question how much Buddhist influence there might have been in the sect which Philo notes,(looked)” upon the seventh day as one of perfect holiness and a most complete festival, have thought it worthy of a most especial honour,”(“De Vita Contemplativa,” IV, 36). Nor did these keepers of the seventh-day Sabbath neglect Passover, “(84) Then they sing hymns which have been composed in honour of God in many metres and tunes, at one time all singing together, and at another moving their hands and dancing in corresponding harmony, and uttering in an inspired manner songs of thanksgiving, and at another time regular odes, and performing all necessary strophes and antistrophes. (85) Then, when each chorus of the men and each chorus of the women has feasted separately by itself, like persons in the bacchanalian revels, drinking the pure wine of the love of God, they join together, and the two become one chorus, an imitation of that one which, in old time, was established by the Red Sea, on account of the wondrous works which were displayed there; (86) for, by the commandment of God, the sea became to one party the cause of safety, and to the other that of utter destruction; for it being burst asunder, and dragged back by a violent reflux, and being built up on each side as if there were a solid wall, the space in the midst was widened, and cut into a level and dry road, along which the people passed over to the opposite land, being conducted onwards to higher ground; then, when the sea returned and ran back to its former channel, and was poured out from both sides, on what had just before been dry ground, those of the enemy who pursued were overwhelmed and perished. (87) When the Israelites saw and experienced this great miracle, which was an event beyond all description, beyond all imagination, and beyond all hope, both men and women together, under the influence of divine inspiration, becoming all one chorus, sang hymns of thanksgiving to God the Saviour, Moses the prophet leading the men, and Miriam the prophetess leading the women.” (Vita, XI 84-87).

Monastic orders within Theravada

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Thai monks blessing the King of Thailand in Wat Nong Wong, Amphoe Sawankhalok, Sukhothai, Thailand.

Theravada monks typically belong to a particular nikaya, variously referred to as monastic orders or fraternities. These different orders do not typically develop separate doctrines, but may differ in the manner in which they observe monastic rules. These monastic orders represent lineages of ordination, typically tracing their origin to a particular group of monks that established a new ordination tradition within a particular country or geographic area.

In Sri Lanka caste plays a major role in the division into nikayas. Some Theravada Buddhist countries appoint or elect a sangharaja, or Supreme Patriarch of the Sangha, as the highest ranking or seniormost monk in a particular area, or from a particular nikaya. The demise of monarchies has resulted in the suspension of these posts in some countries, but patriarchs have continued to be appointed in Thailand. Burma and Cambodia ended the practice of appointing a sangharaja for some time, but the position was later restored, though in Cambodia it lapsed again.

·         Bangladesh:

o    Sangharaj Nikaya

o    Mahasthabir Nikaya

·         Burma (Myanmar):

o    Thudhamma Nikaya

o    Shwekyin Nikaya

o    Dvara Nikaya

·         Sri Lanka:

o    Siam Nikaya

§  Rohana

§  Malwaththa

§  Asgiriya

§  Waturawila (or Mahavihara Vamshika Shyamopali Vanavasa Nikaya)

o    Amarapura Nikaya has many Sub orders including

§  Dharmarakshitha

§  Kanduboda (or Swejin Nikaya)

§  Tapovana (or Kalyanavamsa)

o    Ramañña Nikaya

§  Sri Kalyani Yogasrama Samstha (or ‘Galduwa Tradition’)

§  Delduwa

·         Thailand and Cambodia

o    Maha Nikaya

o    Dhammayuttika Nikaya

Festivals and customs

Magha Puja Vesakha Puja Asalha Puja Uposatha Vassa (Rain Retreat)

List of Theravada majority countries

Rank

Country

Population

Buddhist %

Buddhist total

Importance of religion

123

123

123

123

1

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a9/Flag_of_Thailand.svg/22px-Flag_of_Thailand.svg.pngThailand

66,720,153[73]

94.6%[74]

63,117,265

98%[75]

2

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8c/Flag_of_Myanmar.svg/22px-Flag_of_Myanmar.svg.pngBurma

60,280,000[76]

89%[77]

53,649,200

96%[78]

3

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/11/Flag_of_Sri_Lanka.svg/22px-Flag_of_Sri_Lanka.svg.pngSri Lanka

21,283,913[79]

69.1%[80]

14,707,184

98%[81]

4

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/83/Flag_of_Cambodia.svg/22px-Flag_of_Cambodia.svg.pngCambodia

14,701,717[82]

96.4%[83]

14,172,455

95%[84]

5

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/56/Flag_of_Laos.svg/22px-Flag_of_Laos.svg.pngLaos

6,477,211[85]

67%[86]

4,339,731

96%[87]

References

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2.       ^ “The World Factbook: Sri Lanka”. CIA World Factbook. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ce.html. Retrieved 2006-08-12. .

3.       ^ Bullitt, John. “What is Theravada Buddhism?”. BuddhaNet. http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhistworld/whats-thera.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-15. “In the last century, however, the West has begun to take notice of Theravada’s unique spiritual legacy and teachings of Awakening. In recent decades, this interest has swelled, with the monastic Sangha from the various schools within Theravada establishing dozens of monasteries across Europe and North America.”

4.       ^ Adherants.com – See the citations under ‘Theravada Buddhism — World’

5.       ^ See “On the Vibhajjavādins”, Lance Cousins, Buddhist Studies Review 18, 2 (2001)

6.       ^ Skilton, Andrew. A Concise History of Buddhism. 2004. p. 48, 64

7.       ^ Hirakawa Akira (translated and edited by Paul Groner), A History Of India Buddhism, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 1993, page 109.

8.       ^ Samuel Beal, “Si-Yu-Ki — Buddhist Records of the Western World — Translated from the Chinese of Hiuen Tsiang AD 629”, published by Tuebner and Co, London (1884), reprint by the Oriental Book Reprint Corporation, New Delhi, (1983), Digital version: Chung-hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies, Taipei. In this book, Hiuen Tsiang refer to the Buddhist in Sri Lanka “They principally follow the teaching of Buddha, according to the dharma of the Sthavira (Shang-tso-pu) school”

9.       ^ Samuel Beal, “The Life of Hiuen-Tsiang: By the Shaman Hwui Li. With an introduction containing an account of the works of I-tsing”, published by Tuebner and Co, London (1911), Digital version: University of Michigan. In this book, I-tsing refer to situation in Sri Lanka as “In Ceylon the Sthavira school alone flourishes; the Mahasanghikas are expelled”

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37.    ^ Bob Hudson, The Origins of Bagan, Thesis for University of Sydney,2004, page 36.

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43.    ^ Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, volume 28 (part 2), page 302 (2005)

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50.    ^ Dan Lusthaus, “What is and isn’t Yogacara.” He specifically discusses early Buddhism as well as Yogacara. [4].

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64.    ^ Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2004 (Volume Two), page 756

65.    ^ “Glossary of Buddhism”. Buddhist Art and the Trade Routes. Asia Society. 2003. http://www.asiasocietymuseum.org/buddhist_trade/glossary.html#theravada. Retrieved 2010-09-17.

66.    ^ Epstein, Ron (1999-02). “Clearing Up Some Misconceptions about Buddhism”. Vajra Bodhi Sea: A Monthly Journal of Orthodox Buddhism (Dharma Realm Buddhist Association): 41–43. http://online.sfsu.edu/~rone/Buddhism/Misconceptions%20about%20Buddhism.htm. “Some Western scholars have erroneously tried to claim that Mahayana is primarily a religion for laymen and Theravada is a priamarily monastic religion. Both Mahayana and Theravada have as their foundation strong monastic communities, which are almost identical in their regulations. Schools of Mahayana Buddhism without monastic communities of fully ordained monks and nuns are relatively recent and atypical developments, usually based on cultural and historical considerations rather than differences in fundamental doctrine. Both Mahayana and Theravada also provided a clear and important place for lay followers.”

67.    ^ PUBLICATIONSMahinda Deegalle, Popularizing Buddhism: Preaching as Performance in Sri Lanka, State University of New York Press, Albany, NY, 2006.

68.    ^ Bhikkhu Bodhi,In the Buddha’s Words, Wisdom Publications 2005; page 376

69.    ^ “The Original Jesus” (Element Books, Shaftesbury, 1995), Elmar R Gruber, Holger Kersten

70.    ^ (Volume One), page 159

71.    ^ “The Greek language of Healing From Homer to New Testament Times” “, (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter,

72.    ^ Greenhalgh, P.A.L.Bulletin of the Institute of Classical StudiesVolume 29, Issue 1, pages 81–90, December 1982

73.    ^ http://203.113.86.149/stat/pk/pk53/pk_53.pdf

74.    ^ https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/th.html

75.    ^ GALLUP WorldView – data accessed on 15 October 2011‎

76.    ^ http://www.adb.org/Documents/Fact_Sheets/MYA.pdf. Retrieved 8 July 2010.

77.    ^ https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bm.html

78.    ^ GALLUP WorldView – data accessed on 15 October 2011‎

79.    ^ https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ce.html

80.    ^ https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ce.html

81.    ^ GALLUP WorldView – data accessed on 15 October 2011

82.    ^ https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cb.html

83.    ^ https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cb.html

84.    ^ GALLUP WorldView – data accessed on 15 October 2011

85.    ^ https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/la.html

86.    ^ https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/la.html

87.    ^ GALLUP WorldView – data accessed on 15 October 2011

Tengyur By Wiki

Tengyur

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Tengyur or Tanjur is the Tibetan collection of commentaries to the Buddhist teachings, or “Translated Treatises”. The Beijing version covers 3,626 texts in 224 volumes, but numbers vary depending on the version.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c6/Woodblock_printing%2C_Sera%2C_1993.JPG/300px-Woodblock_printing%2C_Sera%2C_1993.JPG

 

Printing the scriptures. Sera Monastery.

 

The Buddhist Canon

To the Tengyur were assigned commentaries to both Sutras and Tantras, treatises and abhidharma works (both Mahayana and non-Mahayana).[1]

Together with the 108-volume Kangyur (the Collection of the Words of the Buddha), these form the basis of the Tibetan Buddhist canon. “The Kangyur usually takes up a hundred or a hundred and eight volumes, the Tengyur two hundred and twenty-five, and the two together contain 4,569 works.”[2][3]

As example, the content of the Beijing Tengyur:[4]

The Bon Tengyur

The Tibetan Bön religion, under the influence of Buddhism, also has its canon literature divided into two sections called the Kangyur and Tengyur but the number and contents of the collection are not yet fully known. Apparently, Bon began to take on a literary form about the time Buddhism began to enter Tibet.[5][6]

Footnotes

1.       ^ Tucci, Giuseppe (1970) p. 259, n. 10

2.       ^ Stein, R. A. (1962) p.251

3.       ^ Schlagintweit (2006) pp.78-81

4.       ^ The Tibetan Canon by Buddhanet.org

5.       ^ Tucci, Giuseppe (1970) p. 213

6.       ^ Stein, R. A. (1962) pp. 241, 251.

 

Tantras By Wiki

Tantras

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tantras (“Looms” or “Weavings“) refers to numerous and varied scriptures pertaining to any of several esoteric traditions rooted in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy. Although Buddhist and Hindu Tantra have many similarities from the outside, they do have some clear distinctions. The rest of this article deals with Hindu Tantra. Buddhist Tantra is described in the article on Vajrayana.

Classes of Hindu Tantra

The word Tantra is made up by the joining (sandhi in Sanskrit) of two Sanskrit words tanoti (expansion) & trayati (liberation) which means liberation of energy and expansion of consciousness from its gross form. It is a method to expand the mind & liberate the dormant potential energy, and its principles form the basis of all YOGIC practices. Hence, the Hindu Tantra scriptures refer to techniques for achieving a result.

The Hindu Tantras total ninety-two scriptures, where sixty four are purely Abheda (literally “without differentiation”, or monistic), known as the Bhairava Tantras or Kashmir Śaivite Tantras, eighteen are Bhedābheda (literally “with differentiation and without differentiation” or monistic cum dualistic), known as the Rudra Tantras), and ten are completely Bheda (literally “differentiated” or dualistic), known as the Śiva Tantras. The latter two (Rudra Tantras and Śiva Tantras) are used by the Śaiva Siddhāntins, and thus are sometimes referred to as Shaiva Siddhanta Tantras, or Śaiva Siddhānta Āgamas.

Revelation

Hindus consider the tantras to be divine revelations, or Śruti, imparted by Śiva (Śiva) in the form of Svacchandanath, who created each tantra as a combination of his five universal energies, or shakti: cit śakti (energy of all-consciousness), ānanda śakti (energy of all-bliss), īccha śakti (energy of all-will), jñāna śakti (energy of all-knowledge), kriya śakti (energy of all-action). The Tantrika Parampara, or ‘Tantric tradition‘ may be considered parallel or intertwined with the Vaidika Parampara or ‘Vedic tradition’. It is said that Svacchandanath illuminated the universe, beginning the Sat Yuga, or ‘golden age’, by revealing these tantras. Through the ages, as the mahasiddha or ‘great masters’ of the tantras hid themselves to escape the touch of the increasingly worldly people, these teachings were lost during the Kali Yuga or ‘degenerate age’. As a part of Śiva’s grace, Śiva took the form Śrikanthanatha at Mount Kailaṣ and revealed the ninety-two Hindu tantras to Durvasa and then disappeared into the Ākaśa or ether.

Origin

In the Nāth Tradition, legend ascribes the origin of Tantra to Dattatreya, a semi-mythological yogi and the assumed author of the Jivanmukta Gita (“Song of the liberated soul”). Matsyendranath is credited with authorship of the Kaulajñāna-nirnāya, a voluminous ninth-century tantra dealing with a host of mystical and magical subjects. This work occupies an important position in the Hindu tantric lineage, as well as in Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism.

Function

In contradistinction to the Vaidik ritual, which is traditionally performed out-of-doors without any idols nor emblems, the Tantrik ritual is largely a matter of temples and idols. The Tantras are largely descriptions and specifications for the construction and maintenance of temple-structures together with their enclosed idols and lingas—an example of type of text is the Ajita Māhātantra.[1] Another function was the conservation as state-secrets of texts for use by royalty to maintain their authority through rituals directed to deities controlling the political affairs-of-state—an example of this is the Śārada-tilaka Tantra.[2]

Notes

1.       ^ Ajita_Mahatantra 1–18 Ajita_Mahatantra,_19-35 Ajita_Mahatantra,_36-66 Ajita_Mahatantra,_67-89

2.       ^ S%60arada-tilaka_Tantra,_1 S%60arada-tilaka_Tantra,_2 S%60arada-tilaka_Tantra,_3-5

 

Pāli Canon By Wiki

Pāli Canon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2c/Tipitaka1.jpg/300px-Tipitaka1.jpg

 

Standard edition of the Thai Pali Canon

The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language.[1] It is the most complete extant early Buddhist canon.[2] It was composed in North India, and preserved orally until it was committed to writing during the Fourth Buddhist Council in Sri Lanka in 29 BCE, approximately four hundred and fifty four years after the death of Shākyamuni.[3][4][5]

First printing of the whole Chinese Buddhist Canon was done by imperial order in China in CE 868.[6]

The Pāli Canon falls into three general categories, called pitaka (from Pali piṭaka, meaning “basket”). Because of this, the canon is traditionally known as the Tipiṭaka (Sanskrit: Tripiṭaka; “three baskets”). The three pitakas are as follows:[7]

  1. Vinaya Pitaka (“Discipline Basket”), dealing with rules for monks and nuns
  2. Sutta Pitaka (Sutra/Sayings Basket), discourses, mostly ascribed to the Buddha, but some to disciples
  3. Abhidhamma Pitaka, variously described as philosophy, psychology, metaphysics, etc.

The Vinaya Pitaka and the Sutta Pitaka are remarkably similar to the works of other early Buddhist schools. The Abhidhamma Pitaka however is a strictly Theravada collection, and has little in common with the Abhidhamma works recognized by other Buddhist schools.[8]

The Canon in the tradition

The Canon is traditionally described by the Theravada as the Word of the Buddha (Buddhavacana), though this is obviously not intended in a literal sense, since it includes teachings by disciples.[9]

Asokanpillar-crop.jpgThe traditional Theravādin (Mahavihārin) interpretation of the Pali Canon is given in a series of commentaries covering nearly the whole Canon, compiled by Buddhaghosa (fl. 4th–5th century CE) and later monks, mainly on the basis of earlier materials now lost. Subcommentaries have been written afterward, commenting further on the Canon and its commentaries. The traditional Theravādin interpretation is summarized in Buddhaghosa’s Visuddhimagga.[10]

An official view is given by a spokesman for the Buddha Sasana Council of Burma:[11] the Canon contains everything needed to show the path to nirvāna; the commentaries and subcommentaries sometimes include much speculative matter, but are faithful to its teachings and often give very illuminating illustrations. In Sri Lanka and Thailand, “official” Buddhism has in large part adopted the interpretations of Western scholars.[12]

Although the Canon has existed in written form for two millennia, its earlier oral nature has not been forgotten in actual Buddhist practice within the tradition: memorization and recitation remain common. Among frequently recited texts are the Paritta. Even lay people usually know at least a few short texts by heart and recite them regularly; this is considered a form of meditation, at least if one understands the meaning. Monks are of course expected to know quite a bit more (see Dhammapada below for an example). A Burmese monk named Vicittasara even learned the entire Canon by heart for the Sixth Council (again according to the usual Theravada numbering).[13] Recitation is in Pali as the ritual language.[14]

The relation of the scriptures to Buddhism as it actually exists among ordinary monks and lay people is, as with other major religious traditions, problematical: the evidence suggests that only parts of the Canon ever enjoyed wide currency, and that non-canonical works were sometimes very much more widely used; the details varied from place to place.[15] Dr. Rupert Gethin suggests that the whole of Buddhist history may be regarded as a working out of the implications of the early scriptures.[16]

Origins

According to a late part of the Pali Canon, the Buddha taught the three pitakas.[17] It is traditionally believed by Theravadins that most of the Pali Canon originated from the Buddha and his immediate disciples. According to the scriptures, a council was held shortly after the Buddha’s passing to collect and preserve his teachings. It was recited orally from the 5th century BCE to the first century BCE, when it was written down. The tradition holds that only a few later additions were made.

Much of the material in the Canon is not specifically Theravādin, but is instead the collection of teachings that this school preserved from the early, non-sectarian body of teachings. According to Peter Harvey, it contains material which is at odds with later Theravādin orthodoxy. He states that “the Theravādins, then, may have added texts to the Canon for some time, but they do not appear to have tampered with what they already had from an earlier period.”[18] A variety of factors suggest that the early Sri Lankan Buddhists regarded canonical literature as such and transmitted it conservatively.[19]

Attribution according to scholars

The views of scholars concerning the attribution of the Pali Canon can be grouped into three categories:

  1. Attribution to the Buddha himself.
  2. Attribution to the period of pre-sectarian Buddhism.
  3. Agnosticism.

Scholars have both supported and opposed the various existing views.

Views concerning attribution to the Buddha himself

Various scholars have voiced that some of the contents of the Pali Canon (and its main teachings) can be attributed to Gautama Buddha. Richard Gombrich argues that the main preachings of the Buddha (as in the Vinaya and Sutta Pitaka) probably go back to the Buddha individually.[20] Some scholars argue that the teachings are coherent and cogent, and must be the work of a single genius: the Buddha himself, not a committee of followers after his death.[21][22]

J.W. de Jong has stated that parts of the Pali Canon could very well have been proclaimed by the Buddha, and subsequently transmitted and developed by his disciples and, finally, codified in fixed formulas.[23] A. Wynne has said that the Pali Canon includes texts which go back to the very beginning of Buddhism, which perhaps include the substance of the Buddha’s teaching, and in some cases, maybe even his words.[24]

A.K. Warder has stated that there is no evidence to suggest that the shared teaching of the early schools was formulated by anyone else than the Buddha and his immediate followers.[25]

Some scholars say that little or nothing goes back to the Buddha.[26] Prof. Ronald Davidson has little confidence that much, if any, of surviving Buddhist scripture is actually the word of the historical Buddha[27] Some of these scholars argue that[28] some passages contradict the main teachings, and that the Buddha must have been consistent. Some believe[who?] only one of the variant teachings can have been the teaching of the Buddha, and that if the Buddha had taught the main teachings, contradictory teachings would never have got in[citation needed]. Some believe[who?] that because of this, the Buddha must have taught the divergent teachings, and that the main teachings were elaborated by his followers after his death[citation needed].

Views concerning attribution to the period of pre-sectarian Buddhism

Most scholars do agree that there was a rough body of sacred literature that a relatively early community maintained and transmitted[29] Much of the Pali Canon is found also in the scriptures of other early schools of Buddhism, parts of whose versions are preserved, mainly in Chinese. Many scholars have argued that this shared material can be attributed to the period of Pre-sectarian Buddhism. This is the period before the early schools separated in about the fourth or third century BCE.

Views concerning agnosticism

Some scholars see the Pali Canon as expanding and changing from an unknown nucleus.[30] Arguments given for an agnostic attitude include that the evidence for the Buddha’s teachings dates from (long) after his death.

Some scholars have said that the application of text-critical methods derived from Biblical criticism is invalidated by the fact that the Bible was a written text while the Pali Canon was oral.[31]

Some scholars have stated that it would be hypocritical to assert that nothing can be said about the doctrine of earliest Buddhism.[32]

Dr Gregory Schopen, Professor of Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Buddhist Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, argues[33] that it is not until the 5th to 6th centuries CE that we can know anything definite about the contents of the Canon. This position did not attract much support, and was criticized by A. Wynne.[34]

The earliest books of the Pali Canon

Different positions have been taken on what are the earliest books of the Canon. The majority of Western scholars consider the earliest identifiable stratum to be mainly prose works,[35] the Vinaya (excluding the Parivara[36]) and the first four nikāyas of the Sutta Pitaka,[37] and perhaps also some short verse works[38] such as the Suttanipata.[36] However, some scholars, particularly in Japan, maintain that the Suttanipata is the earliest of all Buddhist scriptures, followed by the Itivuttaka and Udana.[39] However, some of the developments in teachings may only reflect changes in teaching that the Buddha himself adopted, during the 45 years that the Buddha was teaching.[40]

Most of the above scholars would probably agree that their early books include some later additions.[41] On the other hand, some scholars have claimed[42] that central aspects of late works are or may be much earlier.

According to the Sri Lankan Mahavamsa, the Pali Canon was written down in the reign of King Vattagāmini (Vaṭṭagāmiṇi) (1st century BCE) in Sri Lanka, at the Fourth Buddhist council. Most scholars hold that little if anything was added to the Canon after this,[43] though Schopen questions this.

Texts and translations

The climate of Theravāda countries is not conducive to the survival of manuscripts. Apart from brief quotations in inscriptions and a two-page fragment from the eighth or ninth century found in Nepal, the oldest manuscripts known are from late in the fifteenth century,[44] and there is not very much from before the eighteenth.[45]

The first complete printed edition of the Canon was published in Burma in 1900, in 38 volumes.[46] The following editions of the Pali text of the Canon are readily available in the West:

  • Pali Text Society edition, 1877–1927 (a few volumes subsequently replaced by new editions), 57 volumes including indexes, individual volumes also (for sale) separately.
    • The Pali scriptures and some Pali commentaries were digitized as an MS-DOS/extended ASCII compatible database through cooperation between the Dhammakaya Foundation and the Pali Text Society in 1996 as PALITEXT version 1.0: CD-ROM Database of the Entire Buddhist Pali Canon ISBN 978-9748235875.[47] The Dhammakāya Foundation are currently negotiating with the Pali Text Society to make available an updated database which adds the English translations and Windows/Unicode compatibility.
  • Thai edition, 1925–28, 45 volumes; more accurate than the PTS edition, but with fewer variant readings;[48]
  • Sixth Council edition, Rangoon, 1954–56, 40 volumes; more accurate than the Thai edition, but with fewer variant readings;[49]
    • electronic transcript by Vipāssana Research Institute available online in searchable database free of charge, or on CD-ROM (p&p only) from the Institute
    • Another transcript of this edition, produced under the patronage of the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, World Tipitaka Edition, 2005, 40 volumes, published by the Dhamma Society Fund, claims to include the full extent of changes made at the Sixth Council, and therefore reflect the results of the council more accurately than some existing Sixth Council editions. Available for viewing online (registration required) at e-Tipiṭaka Quotation WebService.
  • Sinhalese (Buddha Jayanti) edition, 1957–?1993, 58 volumes including parallel Sinhalese translations, searchable, free of charge (not yet fully proofread.) Available at Journal of Buddhist Ethics
    • Transcript in BudhgayaNews Pali Canon. In this version it is easy to search for individual words across all 16,000+ pages at once and view the contexts in which they appear.

No one edition has all the best readings, and scholars must compare different editions.[50]

Translation: Pali Canon in English Translation, 1895-, in progress, 43 volumes so far, Pali Text Society, Bristol; for details of these and other translations of individual books see the separate articles. In 1994, the then President of the Pali Text Society stated that most of these translations were unsatisfactory.[51] Another former President said in 2003 that most of the translations were done very badly.[52] The style of many translations from the Canon has been criticized[53] as “Buddhist Hybrid English”, a term invented by Paul Griffiths for translations from Sanskrit. He describes it as “deplorable”, “comprehensible only to the initiate, written by and for Buddhologists”.[54]

Contents of the Canon

As noted above, the Canon consists of three pitakas.

Details are given below. For more complete information, see standard references on Pali literature.[55]

Vinaya Pitaka

The first category, the Vinaya Pitaka, is mostly concerned with the rules of the sangha, both monks and nuns. The rules are preceded by stories telling how the Buddha came to lay them down, and followed by explanations and analysis. According to the stories, the rules were devised on an ad hoc basis as the Buddha encountered various behavioral problems or disputes among his followers. This pitaka can be divided into three parts:

  • Suttavibhanga (-vibhaṅga) Commentary on the Patimokkha, a basic code of rules for monks and nuns that is not as such included in the Canon. The monks’ rules are dealt with first, followed by those of the nuns’ rules not already covered.
  • Khandhaka Other rules grouped by topic in 22 chapters.
  • Parivara (parivāra) Analysis of the rules from various points of view.

Sutta Pitaka

The second category is the Sutta Pitaka (literally “basket of threads”, or of “the well spoken”; Sanskrit: Sutra Pitaka, following the former meaning) which consists primarily of accounts of the Buddha’s teachings. The Sutta Pitaka has five subdivisions, or nikayas:

  • Digha Nikaya (dīghanikāya) 34 long discourses.[56] Joy Manné argues[57] that this book was particularly intended to make converts, with its high proportion of debates and devotional material.
  • Majjhima Nikaya 152 medium-length discourses.[58] Manné argues[57] that this book was particularly intended to give a solid grounding in the teaching to converts, with a high proportion of sermons and consultations.
  • Samyutta Nikaya (saṃyutta-) Thousands of short discourses in fifty-odd groups by subject, person etc. Bhikkhu Bodhi, in his translation, says this nikaya has the most detailed explanations of doctrine.
  • Anguttara Nikaya (aṅguttara-) Thousands of short discourses arranged numerically from ones to elevens. It contains more elementary teaching for ordinary people than the preceding three.
  • Khuddaka Nikaya A miscellaneous collection of works in prose or verse.

Abhidhamma Pitaka

The third category, the Abhidhamma Pitaka (literally “beyond the dhamma”, “higher dhamma” or “special dhamma”, Sanskrit: Abhidharma Pitaka), is a collection of texts which give a systematic philosophical description of the nature of mind, matter and time. There are seven books in the Abhidhamma Pitaka:

  • Dhammasangani (-saṅgaṇi or -saṅgaṇī) Enumeration, definition and classification of dhammas
  • Vibhanga (vibhaṅga) Analysis of 18 topics by various methods, including those of the Dhammasangani
  • Dhatukatha (dhātukathā) Deals with interrelations between ideas from the previous two books
  • Puggalapannatti (-paññatti) Explanations of types of person, arranged numerically in lists from ones to tens
  • Kathavatthu (kathā-) Over 200 debates on points of doctrine
  • Yamaka Applies to 10 topics a procedure involving converse questions (e.g. Is X Y? Is Y X?)
  • Patthana (paṭṭhāna) Analysis of 24 types of condition[59]

The traditional position is that abhidhamma refers to the absolute teaching, while the suttas are adapted to the hearer. Most scholars describe the abhidhamma as an attempt to systematize the teachings of the suttas: Harvey,[60] Gethin.[61] Cousins says that where the suttas think in terms of sequences or processes the abhidhamma thinks in terms of specific events or occasions.[62] By Anney tesloyn

Comparison with other Buddhist canons

The other two main Buddhist canons in use in the present day are the Chinese Buddhist Canon and the Tibetan Kangyur.

The standard modern edition of the Chinese Buddhist Canon is the Taishō Revised Tripiṭaka, with a hundred major divisions, totaling over 80,000 pages. This includes Vinayas for the Dharmaguptaka, Sarvāstivāda, Mahīśāsaka, and Mahāsaṃghika schools. It also includes the four major Āgamas, which are analogous to the Nikayas of the Pali Canon. Namely, they are the Saṃyukta Āgama, Madhyama Āgama, Dīrgha Āgama, and Ekottara Āgama. Also included are the Dhammapada, the Itivuttaka, and Milindapanha. There are also additional texts, including early histories, that are preserved from the early Buddhist schools but not found in Pali. The canon contains voluminous works of Abhidharma, especially from the Sarvāstivāda school. The Indian works preserved in the Chinese Canon were translated from Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, Classical Sanskrit, or from regional Prakrits. The Chinese generally referred to these simply as “Sanskrit” (Ch. 梵語, Fànyǔ).

The Tibetan Kangyur comprises about a hundred volumes and includes versions of the Vinaya Pitaka, the Dhammapada (under the title Udanavarga) and parts of some other books. Due to the later compilation, it contains comparatively fewer early Buddhist texts than the Pali and Chinese canons.

The Chinese and Tibetan canons are not translations of the Pali and differ from it to varying extents, but contain some recognizably similar early works. However, the Abhidharma books are fundamentally different works from the Pali Abhidhamma Pitaka. The Chinese and Tibetan canons also consist of Mahāyāna sūtras and Vajrayāna tantras, which, apart from a few tantras, have no equivalent in the Pali Canon.[63]

Notes

1.       ^ Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism, 2nd edn, Routledge, London, 2006, page 3

2.       ^ Harvey, Introduction to Buddhism, Cambridge University Press, 1990, page 3.

3.       ^ If the language of the Pāli canon is north Indian in origin, and without substantial Sinhalese additions, it is likely that the canon was composed somewhere in north India before its introduction to Sri Lanka. (How old is the Sutta Pitaka?, Alexander Wynne, St. Johns’ College, 2003)

4.       ^ Encyclopedia of Religion, Macmillan, New York, sv Councils, Buddhist

5.       ^ A.K. Warder, Indian Buddhism, 3rd edn, page 307. American Asiatic Association, Asia Society, Asia: Journal of the American Asiatic Association, p724.

6.       ^ Bechert & Gombrich, The World of Buddhism, Thames & Hudson, 1984, page 204

7.       ^ Gombrich, page 4

8.       ^ “Buddhism.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.

9.       ^ Gombrich, page 20

10.   ^ Gombrich, pages 153-4

11.   ^ Morgan, Path of the Buddha, Ronald Press, New York, 1956, pages v, 71

12.   ^ Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, volume 28 (part 2), page 302

13.   ^ Mendelson, Sangha and State in Burma, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, 1975, page 266

14.   ^ Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd edn, volume 9, Elsevier, Amsterdam/Oxford, 2006

15.   ^ Journal of the Pali Text Society, volume XV, pages 103f

16.   ^ Gethin, Foundations of Buddhism, Oxford University Press, 1998, page 43

17.   ^ Book of the Discipline, volume VI, page 123

18.   ^ Peter Harvey, The Selfless Mind. Curzon Press, 1995, page 9.

19.   ^ Alexander Wynne, The origin of Buddhist meditation. Routledge, 2007, page 4.

20.   ^ “I am saying that there was a person called the Buddha, that the preachings probably go back to him individually… that we can learn more about what he meant, and that he was saying some very precise things.” source: http://www.ordinarymind.net/Interviews/interview_jan2003.htm

21.   ^ Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism, 2nd edn, Routledge, London, 2006, pages 20f

22.   ^ “While parts of the Pali Canon clearly originated after the time of the Buddha, much must derive from his teaching.” —An introduction to Buddhism, Peter Harvey, 1990, p.3

23.   ^ “the basic ideas of Buddhism found in the canonical writings could very well have been proclaimed by him [the Buddha], transmitted and developed by his disciples and, finally, codified in fixed formulas.” J.W. De Jong, 1993: The Beginnings of Buddhism, in The Eastern Buddhist, vol. 26, no. 2, p. 25

24.   ^ “If some of the material is so old, it might be possible to establish what texts go back to the very beginning of Buddhism, texts which perhaps include the substance of the Buddha’s teaching, and in some cases, maybe even his words”, How old is the Suttapitaka (‘basket of sayings’)? Alexander Wynne, St John’s College, 2003. [www.ocbs.org/research/Wynne.pdf]

25.   ^ there is no evidence to suggest that it was formulated by anyone else than the Buddha and his immediate followers. AK Warder, Indian Buddhism, 1999, 3rd edition, inside flap.

26.   ^ Skorupski, Buddhist Forum, volume I, Heritage, Delhi/SOAS, London,1990, page 5

27.   ^ Prof. Ronald Davidson states, “we have little confidence that much, if any, of surviving Buddhist scripture is actually the word of the historical Buddha'” Davidson, Ronald M. Indian Esoteric Buddhism. pg 147. Columbia University Press, 2003. ISBN 0231126182.

28.   ^ see Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, vol 21, part 1, page 11 for some of this

29.   ^ Prof. Ronald Davidson states, “most scholars agree that there was a rough body of sacred literature (disputed) that a relatively early community (disputed) maintained and transmitted.” Davidson, Ronald M. Indian Esoteric Buddhism. pg 147. Columbia University Press, 2003. ISBN 0231126182.

30.   ^ an article in the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004), page 10

31.   ^ Buddhist Studies in Honour of Hammalawa Saddhatissa ed Dhammapāla, Gombrich & Norman, University of Jayawardenepura, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka, 1984, pages 56, 67

32.   ^ “It would be hypocritical to assert that nothing can be said about the doctrine of earliest Buddhism … the basic ideas of Buddhism found in the canonical writings could very well have been proclaimed by him [the Buddha], transmitted and developed by his disciples and, finally, codified in fixed formulas.” J.W. De Jong, 1993: The Beginnings of Buddhism, in The Eastern Buddhist, vol. 26, no. 2, p. 25

33.   ^ Bones, Stones, and Buddhist Monks, University of Hawai’i Press, 1997, page 24 (reprinted from Studien zur Indologie und Iranistik, volume 10 (1985))

34.   ^ How old is the Suttapiṭaka? The relative value of textual and epigraphical sources for the study of early Indian Buddhism – Alexander Wynne, St John’s College, 2003. [1](pdf)

35.   ^ A. K. Warder, Introduction to Pali, 1963, Pali Text Society, page viii

36.   ^ a b L. S. Cousins in Buddhist Studies in Honour of Hammalava Saddhatissa, ed Dhammapāla, Gombrich and Norman, University of Jayewardenepura, 1984, page 56

37.   ^ The World of Buddhism, ed Bechert and Gombrich, Thames and Hudson, London, 1984, page 78; Gethin, pages 42f

38.   ^ Gethin, The Buddha’s Path to Awakening, E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1992

39.   ^ Nakamura, Indian Buddhism, Japan, 1980, reissued by Motilāl Banārsidass, Delhi, 1987, 1989, page 27

40.   ^ “as the Buddha taught for 45 years, some signs of development in teachings may only reflect changes during this period.” – An introduction to Buddhism, Peter Harvey, 1990, p.3

41.   ^ Bechert and Gombrich; Warder, Introduction to Path of Discrimination, 1982, Pali Text Society, page xxix

42.   ^ Cousins, “Pali oral literature”, in Buddhist Studies, ed Denwood and Piatigorski, Curzon Press, London, 1982/3; Harvey, page 83; Gethin, page 48; The Guide, Pali Text Society, page xxvii

43.   ^ Harvey, page 3; Warder, Path of Discrimination, Pali Text Society, pages xxxixf; Gethin, Path, page 8

44.   ^ Hinüber, Handbook of Pali Literature, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, 1996, page 5.

45.   ^ Pali Text Society Home Page

46.   ^ Günter Grönbold, Der buddhistische Kanon: eine Bibliographie, Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden, 1984, page 12; as noted there and elsewhere, the 1893 Siamese edition was incomplete

47.   ^ Mark Allon (1997) “An Assessment of the Dhammakaya CD-ROM: Palitext Version 1.0.” Buddhist Studies (Bukkyō Kenkyū) 26: 109–29.

48.   ^ Warder, Introduction to Pali, 1963, PTS, page 382

49.   ^ Hamm in German Scholars on India, volume I, ed Cultural Department of the German Embassy in India, pub Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, Varanasi, 1973, translated from Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 1962

50.   ^ Cone, Dictionary of Pali, volume I, PTS, 2001

51.   ^ Memoirs of the Chuo Academic Research Institute, No. 23, Dec. 1994, page 12, reprinted in Norman, Collected Papers, volume VI, 1996, Pali Text Society, Bristol, page 80

52.   ^ Interview with professor Richard Gombrich for Ordinary Mind – An Australian Buddhist Review issue No 21

53.   ^ Journal of the Pali Text Society, Volume XXIX, page 102

54.   ^ Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 4.2 (1981)

55.   ^ Norman, Pali Literature, Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden, 1983; Hinüber, pages 24-26

56.   ^ Harvey, Introduction to Buddhism, appendix

57.   ^ a b Journal of the Pali Text Society, volume XV

58.   ^ Harvey, appendix

59.   ^ Harvey, page 83

60.   ^ Harvey, Introduction to Buddhism, Cambridge University Press, 1990, p 83

61.   ^ Foundations, page 44

62.   ^ “Pali oral literature”, page 7

63.   ^ Most notably, a version of the Atanatiya Sutta (from the Digha Nikaya) is included in the tantra (Mikkyo, rgyud) divisions of the Taisho and of the Cone, Derge, Lhasa, Lithang, Narthang and Peking (Qianlong) editions of the Kangyur: Skilling, Mahasutras, volume I, Parts I & II, 1997, Pali Text Society, Bristol, pages 84n, 553ff, 617ff.

Mahayana Sutras By Wiki

Mahayana Sutras

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mahāyāna sutras are a broad genre of Buddhist scriptures that are accepted as canonical by the various traditions of Mahāyāna Buddhism. These are largely preserved in the Chinese Buddhist canon, the Tibetan Buddhist canon, and in extant Sanskrit manuscripts. Some six hundred Mahāyāna sutras have survived in Sanskrit or in Chinese and Tibetan translations.[1]

History and background

Origins and early history

The origins of Mahāyāna are still not completely understood.[2] The earliest views of Mahāyāna Buddhism in the West assumed that it existed as a separate school in competition with the so-called “Hīnayāna” schools. Due to the veneration of buddhas and bodhisattvas, Mahāyāna was often interpreted as a more devotional, lay-inspired form of Buddhism, with supposed origins in stūpa veneration,[3] or by making parallels with the history of the European Protestant Reformation. These views have been largely dismissed in modern times in light of a much broader range of early texts that are now available.[4] These earliest Mahāyāna texts often depict strict adherence to the path of a bodhisattva, and engagement in the ascetic ideal of a monastic life in the wilderness, akin to the ideas expressed in the Rhinoceros Sūtra.[5] The old views of Mahāyāna as a separate lay-inspired and devotional sect are now largely dismissed as misguided and wrong on all counts.[6]

The earliest textual evidence of “Mahāyāna” comes from sūtras originating around the beginning of the common era. Jan Nattier has noted that in some of the earliest Mahāyāna texts such as the Ugraparipṛccha Sūtra use the term “Mahāyāna”, yet there is no doctrinal difference between Mahāyāna in this context and the early schools, and that “Mahāyāna” referred rather to the rigorous emulation of Gautama Buddha in the path of a bodhisattva seeking to become a fully enlightened buddha.[7]

There is also no evidence that Mahāyāna ever referred to a separate formal school or sect of Buddhism, but rather that it existed as a certain set of ideals, and later doctrines, for bodhisattvas.[7] Paul Williams has also noted that the Mahāyāna never had nor ever attempted to have a separate Vinaya or ordination lineage from the early schools of Buddhism, and therefore each bhikṣu or bhikṣuṇī adhering to the Mahāyāna formally belonged to an early school. This continues today with the Dharmaguptaka ordination lineage in East Asia, and the Mūlasarvāstivāda ordination lineage in Tibetan Buddhism. Therefore Mahāyāna was never a separate rival sect of the early schools.[8]

The Chinese monk Yijing who visited India in the 7th century CE, distinguishes Mahāyāna from Hīnayāna as follows:[9]

Both adopt one and the same Vinaya, and they have in common the prohibitions of the five offences, and also the practice of the Four Noble Truths. Those who venerate the bodhisattvas and read the Mahayana sūtras are called the Mahāyānists, while those who do not perform these are called the Hīnayānists.

Much of the early extant evidence for the origins of Mahāyāna comes from early Chinese translations of Mahāyāna texts. These Mahāyāna teachings were first propagated into China by Lokakṣema, the first translator of Mahāyāna sūtras into Chinese during the 2nd century CE.[10]

Scholarly views on historicity

Some scholars take an agnostic view and consider the Mahāyāna sutras as an anonymous literature, since it can not be determined by whom they were written, and only can be dated firmly to the date when they were translated into another language.[11] Others such as A. K. Warder have argued that the Mahāyāna sutras are not historical.[12] Andrew Skilton summarizes a common prevailing view of the Mahāyāna sutras:[13]

These texts are considered by Mahāyāna tradition to be buddhavacana, and therefore the legitimate word of the historical Buddha. The śrāvaka tradition, according to some Mahāyāna sutras themselves, rejected these texts as authentic buddhavacana, saying that they were merely inventions, the product of the religious imagination of the Mahāyānist monks who were their fellows. Western scholarship does not go so far as to impugn the religious authority of Mahāyāna sutras, but it tends to assume that they are not the literal word of the historical Śākyamuni Buddha. Unlike the śrāvaka critics just cited, we have no possibility of knowing just who composed and compiled these texts, and for us, removed from the time of their authors by up to two millenia, they are effectively an anonymous literature. It is widely accepted that Mahāyāna sutras constitute a body of literature that began to appear from as early as the 1st century BCE, although the evidence for this date is circumstantial. The concrete evidence for dating any part of this literature is to be found in dated Chinese translations, amongst which we find a body of ten Mahāyāna sutras translated by Lokaksema before 186 C.E. – and these constitute our earliest objectively dated Mahāyāna texts. This picture may be qualified by the analysis of very early manuscripts recently coming out of Afghanistan, but for the meantime this is speculation. In effect we have a vast body of anonymous but relatively coherent literature, of which individual items can only be dated firmly when they were translated into another language at a known date.

John W. Pettit, while stating, “Mahayana has not got a strong historical claim for representing the explicit teachings of the historical Buddha”, also argues that the basic concepts of Mahāyāna do occur in the Pāli canon and that this suggests that Mahāyāna is “not simply an accretion of fabricated doctrines” but “has a strong connection with the teachings of Buddha himself”.[14]

It should be noted that however weak claim to historicity that the Mahāyāna sutras hold, this does not mean that all scholars believe that the Pāli Canon is historical; some scholars believe that it is not.[15][16][17]

Still others such as D.T. Suzuki have stated that it doesn’t matter if the Mahāyāna sutras can be historically linked to the Buddha or not, since Mahāyāna is a living tradition and its teachings are followed by millions of people.[18]

Beliefs of Mahāyāna Buddhists

Some traditional accounts of the transmission of the Mahāyāna sutras claims that many parts were actually written down at the time of the Buddha and stored for five hundred years in the realm of the nāgas (serpent-like supernatural beings who dwell in another plane of being). The reason given for the late disclosure of the Mahāyāna teachings is that most people were initially unable to understand the Mahāyāna sutras at the time of the Buddha (500 BCE) and suitable recipients for these teachings had still to arise amongst humankind.[19]

According to Venerable Hsuan Hua from the tradition of Chinese Buddhism, there are five types of beings who may speak the sutras of Buddhism: a buddha, a disciple of a buddha, a deva, a ṛṣi, or an emanation of one of these beings; however, they must first receive certification from a buddha that its contents are true Dharma. Then these sutras may be properly regarded as the words of the Buddha (Skt. buddhavacana).[20]

Some teachers take the view that all teachings that stem from the fundamental insights of Buddha constitute the Buddha’s speech, whether they are explicitly the historical words of the Buddha or not. There are scriptural supports for this perspective even in the Pāli Canon. There the Buddha is asked how the disciples should verify, after his death, which of the teachings circulating are his. In the Mahaparinibbana Sutta (DN 16) the Buddha is quoted as saying:

There is the case where a bhikkhu says this: ‘In the Blessed One’s presence have I heard this, in the Blessed One’s presence have I received this: This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher’s instruction.’ His statement is neither to be approved nor scorned. Without approval or scorn, take careful note of his words and make them stand against the Suttas (discourses) and tally them against the Vinaya (monastic rules). If, on making them stand against the Suttas and tallying them against the Vinaya, you find that they don’t stand with the Suttas or tally with the Vinaya, you may conclude: ‘This is not the word of the Blessed One; this bhikkhu has misunderstood it’ — and you should reject it. But if… they stand with the Suttas and tally with the Vinaya, you may conclude: ‘This is the word of the Blessed One; this bhikkhu has understood it rightly.'”

Earliest extant Mahāyāna sūtras

Some scholars have traditionally considered the earliest Mahāyāna sūtras to include the very first versions of the Prajñāpāramitā series, along with texts concerning Akṣobhya Buddha, which were probably composed in the 1st century BCE in the south of India.[21][22][23] Some early Mahāyāna sūtras were translated by the Kuṣāṇa monk Lokakṣema, who came to China from the kingdom of Gandhāra. His first translations to Chinese were made in the Chinese capital of Luoyang between 178 and 189 CE.[10] Some Mahāyāna sūtras translated during the 2nd century CE include the following:[24]

Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra Larger Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra Akṣobhyatathāgatasyavyūha Sūtra Ugraparipṛccha Sūtra Mañjuśrīparipṛcchā Sūtra Drumakinnararājaparipṛcchā Sūtra Śūraṅgama Samādhi Sūtra Bhadrapāla Sūtra Ajātaśatrukaukṛtyavinodana Sūtra Kāśyapaparivarta Sūtra Lokānuvartana Sūtra An early sūtra connected to the Avataṃsaka Sūtra

Some of these were probably composed in the north of India in the 1st century CE.[25] Thus scholars generally think that the earliest Mahāyāna sūtras were mainly composed in the south of India, and later the activity of writing additional scriptures was continued in the north.[26] However, the assumption that the presence of an evolving body of Mahāyāna scriptures implies the contemporaneous existence of distinct religious movement called “Mahāyāna”, which may be a serious misstep.[27]

Nature of the Mahāyāna sutras

The teachings as contained in the Mahāyāna sutras as a whole have been described as a loosely bound bundle of many teachings, which was able to contain the various contradictions between the varying teachings it comprises.[28] Because of these contradictory elements, there are “very few things that can be said with certainty about Mahayana Buddhism”.[29][30]

Collections of Mahāyāna sutras

The Mahāyāna sutras survive predominantly in primary translations in Chinese and Tibetan from original texts in Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit or various prakrits.

Mahāyāna canon

Although there is no definitive Mahāyāna canon as such, the printed or manuscript collections in Chinese and Tibetan, published through the ages, have preserved the majority of known Mahāyāna sutras. Many parallel translations of certain sutras exist. A handful of them, such as the Prajñāpāramitā sutras like the Heart Sutra and the Diamond Sutra, are considered fundamental by most Mahāyāna traditions.

The standard modern edition of the Buddhist Chinese canon is the Taisho Tripitaka, redacted during the 1920s in Japan, consisting of eighty-five volumes of writings which, in addition to numerous Mahāyāna texts, both canonical and not, also include Āgama collections, several versions of the vinaya, abhidharma and tantric writings. The first thirty-two volumes contain works of Indic origin, volumes thirty-three to fifty-five contain works of native Chinese origin and volumes fifty-six to eighty-four contain works of Japanese composition. The eighty-fifth volume contains miscellaneous items including works found at Dunhuang. A number of apocryphal sutras composed in China are also included in the Chinese Buddhist canon, although the spurious nature of many more was recognized, thus preventing their inclusion in the canon. The Sanskrit originals of many Mahāyāna texts have not survived to this day, although Sanskrit versions of the majority of the major Mahāyāna sutras have survived.

Brief descriptions of some sutras

Proto-Mahāyāna sutras

Early in the 20th century, a cache of texts was found in a mound near Gilgit in Pakistan. Amongst them was the Ajitasena Sūtra. This sutra appears to be a mixture of Mahāyāna and pre-Mahāyāna ideas. The text is set in a world where monasticism is the norm, typical of the Pāli Suttas; there is none of the usual antagonism towards the śravakas (i.e., the early Buddhists) or the notion of Arahantship, as is typical of Mahāyāna sutras such as the Vimalakīrti-nirdeśa Sūtra. However, the Ajitasena Sūtra also depicts an Arahant seeing all the Buddha fields, and it is saidthat reciting the name of the sutra saves beings from suffering and from the hell realms, and a meditative practice is described as allowing one to see with the eyes of a Buddha and receive teachings from Buddhas. These qualities are more typical of Mahāyāna sutras.

Samādhi sutras

Amongst the very earliest Mahāyāna texts, the samādhi sutras are a collection of sutras which focus on the attainment of profound states of consciousness reached in meditation, perhaps suggesting that meditation played an important role in early Mahāyāna. These include the Pratyutpanna-sūtra, Samādhirāja-sūtra and Śūraṅgama-samādhi-sūtra.

Perfection of Wisdom texts

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Sanskrit manuscript of the Heart Sūtra in the Siddhaṃ script. Bibliothèque nationale de France

These deal with Buddhist wisdom (prajñā). “Wisdom” in this context means the ability to see reality as it truly is. They do not contain an elaborate philosophical argument, but simply try to point to the true nature of reality, especially through the use of paradox. The basic premise is a radical non-dualism, in which every and any dichotomist way of seeing things is denied: so phenomena are neither existent, nor non-existent, but are marked by emptiness (śūnyatā), an absence of any essential, unchanging nature. The Perfection of Wisdom in One Letter illustrates this approach by choosing to represent the perfection of wisdom with the Sanskrit and Pāli short a or “schwa” vowel (“अ”, [ə]). As a prefix, this negates a word’s meaning, e.g., changing “svabhāva“, “with essence” to “asvabhāva“, “without essence”.[31] It is the first letter of Indic alphabets and, as a sound on its own, can be seen as the most neutral and basic of speech sounds.[32]

Many sutras are known by the number of lines, or ślokas, that they contain.

Edward Conze, who translated all of the Perfection of Wisdom sutras into English, identified four periods of development in this literature:

Ratnaguṇasamcayagatha and the Aṣṭasāhasrikā (8,000 lines) 100–300 CE: a period of elaboration in which versions in 18,000, 25,000 and 100,000 lines are produced. Possibly the Diamond Sutra too stems from this period. 300–500 CE: a period of condensation, producing the well known Heart Sutra and the Perfection of Wisdom in One Letter. 500–1000 CE: Texts from this period begin to show a tantric influence.

The Perfection of Wisdom texts have influenced every Mahāyāna school of Buddhism.

Saddharma Puṇḍarīka

This sutra is called the Lotus Sutra, White Lotus Sutra, Sutra of the White Lotus or Sutra on the White Lotus of the Sublime Dharma; Sanskrit: Saddharma-pundarīka-sūtra; 妙法蓮華經 Cn: Miàofǎ Liánhuā Jīng; Jp: Myōhō Renge Kyō. Probably written down in the period 100 BCE – 100 CE, the White Lotus Sutra proposes that the three yānas (śravakayāna, pratyekabuddhayāna and bodhisattvayāna) are not in fact three different paths leading to three goals, but one path, with one goal. The earlier teachings are said to be skilful means in order to help beings of limited capacities. The sutra is notable for the (re)appearance of the Buddha Prabhutaratna, who had died several aeons earlier, because it suggests that a Buddha is not inaccessible after his parinirvāṇa and also that his life-span is said to be inconceivably long because of the accumulation of merit in past lives. This idea, though not necessarily from this source, forms the basis of the later doctrine of the three bodies (trikāya). Later it became associated particularly with the Tien Tai school in China (Tendai in Japan) and the Nichiren schools in Japan.

The Ananta-nirdesa Sutra belongs to the Lotus Sutra category as well, and is also known as the Innumerable Meanings Sutra. This text was translated from Sanskrit into Chinese by Dharmajātayaśas, an Indian monk of the 4th to 5th century. It belongs to the so-called Threefold Lotus Sutra that is also composed of the Lotus Sutra and the Sutra of Meditation on the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue. It was and is considered to be the prologue to the Lotus Sutra itself, and is therefore included into the canon of some Nichiren Buddhist sects, and also Risshō Kōsei Kai.

Also in the Lotus Sutra category is the Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra, which is also called the Sutra of Meditation on the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue. This Mahayana Buddhist text teaches meditation and repentance practices. It is considered by many Mahayana sects to be a continuation (an epilogue) of the Buddha’s teachings found within the Lotus Sutra and is therefore included into the canon of some Nichiren Buddhist sects, and also Risshō Kōsei Kai. The Bodhisattva Samantabhadra (Universal Virtue) is portrayed in the 28th chapter of the Lotus Sutra as the protector of the Dharma teachings from every kind of persecution.

Pure Land sutras

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Book open to the Shorter Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra

The Pure Land teachings were first developed in India, and were very popular in Kashmir and Central Asia, where they may have originated.[33] Pure Land sūtras were brought from the Gandhāra region to China as early as 147 CE, when the Kushan monk Lokakṣema began translating the first Buddhist sūtras into Chinese.[34] The earliest of these translations show evidence of having been translated from the Gāndhārī language, a prakrit descended from Vedic Sanskrit, which was used in Northwest India.[35]

The Pure Land sūtras are principally the Shorter Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra, Longer Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra, and the Amitāyurdhyāna Sūtra. The shorter sūtra is also known as the Amitābha Sūtra, and the longer sūtra is also known as the Infinite Life Sūtra. These sutras describe Amitābha and his Pure Land of Bliss, called Sukhāvatī. Also related to the Pure Land tradition is the Pratyutpanna Samādhi Sūtra, which describes the practice of reciting the name of Amitābha Buddha as a meditation method. In addition to these, many other Mahāyāna texts also feature Amitābha Buddha, and a total of 290 such works have been identified in the Taishō Tripiṭaka.[36]

Pure Land texts describe the origins and nature of the Western Pure Land in which the Buddha Amitabha resides. They list the forty-eight vows made by Amitabha as a bodhisattva by which he undertook to build a Pure Land where beings are able to practise the Dharma without difficulty or distraction. The sutras state that beings can be reborn there by pure conduct and by practices such as thinking continuously of Amitabha, praising him, recounting his virtues, and chanting his name. These Pure Land sutras and the practices they recommend became the foundations of Pure Land Buddhism, which focus on the salvific power of faith in the vows of Amitabha.

The Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra

In this sutra, composed some time before 150 CE, the bodhisattva Vimalakīrti appears as a layman in order to teach the Dharma. This is seen by some as a strong assertion of the value of lay practice. Doctrinally similar to the Perfection of Wisdom texts, another major theme is the Buddhafield (Buddha-kṣetra), which was influential on Pure Land schools. This sutra has been very popular in China and Japan where it has been seen as being compatible with Confucian values.

Confession Sutras

The Triskandha Sūtra and the Golden Light Sutra (Suvarṇaprabhāsa-sūtra) focus on the practice of confession of faults. The Golden Light Sutra became especially influential in Japan, where its chapter on the universal sovereign was used by Japanese emperors to legitimise their rule and it provided a model for a well-run state.

The Avataṃsaka Sutra

This is large composite text consisting of several parts, most notably the Daśabhūmika Sutra and the Gandavyuha Sutra. It probably reached its current form by about the 4th century CE, although parts of it, such as those mentioned above, are thought to date from the 1st or 2nd century CE. The Gandavyuha Sutra is thought to be the source of a cult of Vairocana that later gave rise to the Mahāvairocana-abhisaṃbodhi tantra, which in turn became one of two central texts in Shingon Buddhism and is included in the Tibetan canon as a carya class tantra. The Avataṃsaka Sutra became the central text for the Hua-yen (Jp. Kegon) school of Buddhism, the most important doctrine of which is the interpenetration of all phenomena.

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Page from the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra in Sanskrit

Third turning sutras

These sutras primarily teach the doctrine of Representation Only (vijñapti-mātra), associated with the Yogācāra school. The Sandhinirmocana Sutra (c 2nd century CE) is the earliest surviving sutra in this class. It divides the teachings of the Buddha into three types, which it calls the “three turnings of the wheel of the Dharma.” To the first turning, it ascribes the Āgamas of the śravakas, to the second turning the lower Mahāyāna sutras including the Prajñā-pāramitā sutras, and finally sutras like itself are deemed to comprise the third turning. Moreover, the first two turnings are considered to be provisional in this system of classification, while the third group is said to present the final truth without a need for further explication (nītārtha). The well-known Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra, composed sometime around the 4th century CE, is sometimes included in this group, although it is somewhat syncretic in nature, combining pure Yogācāra doctrines with those of the tathāgatagarbha system and was unknown or ignored by the progenitors of the Yogācāra system. The Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra was influential in the Chan or Zen schools.

Tathāgatagarbha class sutras

These are especially the Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra, the Śrīmālā Sūtra (Śrīmālādevi-simhanāda Sūtra) and the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra (which is very different in character from the Pāli Mahaparinibbana Sutta). These texts teach that every being has a “Buddha nature” (tathāgatagarbha: variously translated as “Buddha nature”, “Buddha seed”, “Buddha matrix”, “Buddha essence” or “Buddha principle”).[citation needed] This aspect of every being is an indwelling potency or element that enables beings to be liberated. It constitutes one of the most important responses of Buddhism to the problem of immanence and transcendence. The Tathāgatagarbha doctrine has been very influential in east Asian Buddhism and the idea in one form or another can be found in most of its schools. The Buddha in these sutras insists that the doctrine of the Tathāgatagarbha is ultimate and definitive (nītārtha)—not in need of “interpretation”—and that it takes the Dharma to the next and final, clarifying step of the teachings on emptiness (śūnyatā).

Collected Sutras

These are two very large sutras which are again actually collections of other sutras. The Mahāratnakūṭa Sūtra contains 49 individual works, and the Mahāsamnipāta-sūtra is a collection of 17 shorter works. Both seem to have been finalised by about the 5th century, although some parts of them are considerably older.

Esoteric Sūtras

One important category of sūtras is those which are esoteric in nature, often devoted to a particular mantra or dhāraṇī. Well-known dhāraṇī texts include the Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī Sūtra and the Cundī Dhāraṇī Sūtra.

Transmigration Sutras

These are a number of sutras which focus on the actions that lead to existence in the various spheres of existence, or which expound the doctrine of the twelve links of dependent-origination (pratītyasamutpāda).

Discipline Sutras

These are sutras which focus on the principles that guide the behaviour of bodhisattvas and include the Kāshyapa-parivarta, the Bodhisattva-prātimokṣa Sutra and the Brahmajāla Sutra. For left home persons, the The Bequeathed Teachings Sutra is a necessary manual that guides them through the life of cultivation.

Sutras devoted to individual figures

There are a large number of sutras which describe the nature and virtues of a particular Buddha or bodhisattva and their pure land, including Mañjusri, Kṣitigarbha, the Buddha Akṣobhya, and Bhaiṣajyaguru, also known as the Medicine Buddha.

Vaipūlya Sūtras devoted to all Tathāgatas

The most widely used (in liturgy) of these is the Bhadra-kalpika Sutra, available in various languages (Chinese, Tibetan, Mongolian, etc.) in variants which differ very slightly as to the number of Tathāgatas enumerated. For example, the Khotanese version is the proponent of a 1005-Tathāgata system. There is in use in the Shingon school a sutra naming some 10,000 Tathāgatas, distinguishing the ones longer-lived after enlightenment (the same as in the approximately 1,000 in the Bhadra-kalpika) as “Sun-Buddhas”, and the shorter-lived ones as “Moon-Buddhas”.

Notes

1.       ^ Skilton, Andrew (1997). A Concise History of Buddhism. Windhorse Publications. ISBN 0-904766-92-6. pg 101

2.       ^ Akira, Hirakawa (translated and edited by Paul Groner) (1993. A History of Indian Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass: p. 260

3.       ^ Akira, Hirakawa (1993), A History of Indian Buddhism: From Sakyamuni to Early Mahayana: p. 271

4.       ^ e.g. Williams, Mahayana Buddhism

5.       ^ “As scholars have moved away from this limited corpus, and have begun to explore a wider range of Mahayana sūtras, they have stumbled on, and have started to open up, a literature that is often stridently ascetic and heavily engaged in reinventing the forest ideal, an individualistic, antisocial, ascetic ideal that is encapsulated in the apparently resurrected image of “wandering alone like a rhinoceros.” Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): p. 494

6.       ^ “One of the most frequent assertions about the Mahayana … is that it was a lay-influenced, or even lay-inspired and dominated, movement that arose in response to the increasingly closed, cold, and scholastic character of monastic Buddhism. This, however, now appears to be wrong on all counts.” Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): p. 494

7.       ^ a b Nattier, Jan (2003), A few good men: the Bodhisattva path according to the Inquiry of Ugra: p. 193-194

8.       ^ Williams, Paul (2008) Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations: p. 4-5

9.       ^ Williams, Paul (2008) Mahāyāna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations: p. 5

10.   ^ a b “The most important evidence — in fact the only evidence — for situating the emergence of the Mahayana around the beginning of the common era was not Indian evidence at all, but came from China. Already by the last quarter of the 2nd century CE, there was a small, seemingly idiosyncratic collection of substantial Mahayana sutras translated into what Erik Zürcher calls ‘broken Chinese’ by an Indoscythian, whose Indian name has been reconstructed as Lokaksema.” Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): p. 492

11.   ^ “Unlike the śrāvaka critics just cited, we have no possibility of knowing just who composed and compiled these texts, and for us, removed from the time of their authors by up to two millenia, they are effectively an anonymous literature … In effect we have a vast body of anonymous but relatively coherent literature, of which individual items can only be dated firmly when they were translated into another language at a known date.” – Skilton, Andrew T. (1999). Dating the Samadhiraja Sutra. Journal of Indian Philosophy. Vol. 27, Number 6, December 1999, pg 635

12.   ^ Indian Buddhism, A.K. Warder, 3rd edition, page 4-5

13.   ^ Skilton, Andrew T. (1999). Dating the Samadhiraja Sutra. Journal of Indian Philosophy. Vol. 27, Number 6, December 1999, pg 635

14.   ^ “Mahayana has not got a strong historical claim for representing the explicit teachings of the historical Buddha; its scriptures evince a gradual development of doctrines over several hundred years. However, the basic concepts of Mahayana, such as the bodhisattva ethic, emptiness (sunyata), and the recognition of a distinction between buddhahood and arhatship as spiritual ideals, are known from the earliest sources available in the Pali canon. This suggests that Mahayana was not simply an accretion of fabricated doctrines, as it is sometimes accused of being, but has a strong connection with the teachings of Buddha himself.” Mipham’s Beacon of Certainty: Illuminating the View of Dzogchen, the Great Perfection Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, by John W. Pettit. pg 44

15.   ^ Bareau, André, Les récits canoniques des funérailles du Buddha et leurs anomalies : nouvel essai d’interprétation, BEFEO, t. LXII, Paris, 1975, pp.151-189.

16.   ^ Bareau, André, La composition et les étapes de la formation progressive du Mahaparinirvanasutra ancien, BEFEO, t. LXVI, Paris, 1979, pp. 45-103.

17.   ^ Shimoda, Masahiro, How has the Lotus Sutra Created Social Movements: The Relationship of the Lotus Sutra to the Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra, in A Buddhist Kaleidoscope, (pp320-22) Ed Gene Reves, Kosei 2002

18.   ^ D. T. Suzuki, Outline of Mahayana Buddhism, (London, 1907), page 15

19.   ^ “Though the Buddha had taught [the Mahāyāna sutras] they were not in circulation in the world of men at all for many centuries, there being no competent teachers and no intelligent enough students: the sutras were however preserved in the Dragon World and other non-human circles, and when in the 2nd century AD adequate teachers suddenly appeared in India in large numbers the texts were fetched and circulated. … However, it is clear that the historical tradition here recorded belongs to North India and for the most part to Nalanda (in Magadha).” AK Warder, Indian Buddhism, 3rd edition, 1999

20.   ^ Hsuan Hua. The Buddha speaks of Amitabha Sutra: A General Explanation. 2003. p. 2

21.   ^ Akira, Hirakawa (translated and edited by Paul Groner) (1993. A History of Indian Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass: p. 263, 268

22.   ^ “The south (of India) was then vigorously creative in producing Mahayana Sutras” – Warder, A.K. (3rd edn. 1999). Indian Buddhism: p. 335.

23.   ^ Akira, Hirakawa (translated and edited by Paul Groner) (1993. A History of Indian Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass: p. 253

24.   ^ Akira, Hirakawa (translated and edited by Paul Groner) (1993. A History of Indian Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass: p. 248-251

25.   ^ Akira, Hirakawa (translated and edited by Paul Groner) (1993. A History of Indian Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass: p. 252, 253

26.   ^ “The sudden appearance of large numbers of (Mahayana) teachers and texts (in North India in the second century AD) would seem to require some previous preparation and development, and this we can look for in the South.” – Warder, A.K. (3rd edn. 1999). Indian Buddhism: p. 335.

27.   ^ “But even apart from the obvious weaknesses inherent in arguments of this kind there is here the tacit equation of a body of literature with a religious movement, an assumption that evidence for the presence of one proves the existence of the other, and this may be a serious misstep.” – Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): p. 493

28.   ^ “It has become increasingly clear that Mahayana Buddhism was never one thing, but rather, it seems, a loosely bound bundle of many, and — like Walt Whitman — was large and could contain, in both senses of the term, contradictions, or at least antipodal elements.”, Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): 492

29.   ^ Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): 492

30.   ^ “But apart from the fact that it can be said with some certainty that the Buddhism embedded in China, Korea, Tibet, and Japan is Mahayana Buddhism, it is no longer clear what else can be said with certainty about Mahayana Buddhism itself, and especially about its earlier, and presumably formative, period in India.”, Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): 492

31.   ^ Cf. mu

32.   ^ Cf. aum and bīja.

33.   ^ Skilton, Andrew. A Concise History of Buddhism. 2004. p. 104

34.   ^ “The Korean Buddhist Canon: A Descriptive Catalog (T. 361)”. http://www.acmuller.net/descriptive_catalogue/files/k0024.html.

35.   ^ Mukherjee, Bratindra Nath. India in Early Central Asia. 1996. p. 15

36.   ^ Inagaki, Hisao. The Three Pure Land Sutras. 2003. p. xiii

Buddhist Texts By Wiki

BUDDHIST TEXTS

by wikipedia

 

Buddhist texts can be categorized in a number of ways. The Western terms “scripture” and “canonical” are applied to Buddhism in inconsistent ways by Western scholars: for example, one authorityrefers to “scriptures and other canonical texts”, while another says that scriptures can be categorized into canonical, commentarial and pseudo-canonical. A rather more definite division is that between Buddhavacana (the Word of the Buddha) and other texts.

Buddhavacana

Traditional criteria

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2d/Chinese_printed_sutra_page%2C_dated_to_the_Song_dynasty.jpg/220px-Chinese_printed_sutra_page%2C_dated_to_the_Song_dynasty.jpgAccording to Donald Lopez, criteria for determining what should be considered buddhavacana was developed at an early stage, and that the early formulations do not suggest that the Dharma is limited to what was spoken by the historical Buddha. The Mahāsāṃghika and the Mūlasarvāstivāda considered both the Buddha’s discourses, as well those of the Buddha’s disciples, to be buddhavacana. A number of different beings such as buddhas, disciples of the buddha, ṛṣis, and devas were considered capable to transmitting buddhavacana. The content of such a discourse was then to be collated with the sūtras, compared with the Vinaya, and evaluated against the nature of the Dharma. These texts may then be certified as true buddhavacana by a buddha, a saṃgha, a small group of elders, or one knowledgeable elder.

In Theravada Buddhism

In Theravada Buddhism, the standard collection of buddhavacana is the Pali Canon.

Some scholars believe that some portions of the Pali Canon and Agamas could contain the actual substance of the historical teachings (and possibly even the words) of the Buddha.

In East Asian Buddhism

In East Asian Buddhism, what is considered buddhavacana is collected in the Chinese Buddhist canon. The most common edition of this is the Taishō Tripiṭaka.

According to Venerable Hsuan Hua from the tradition of Chinese Buddhism, there are five types of beings who may speak the sutras of Buddhism: a buddha, a disciple of a buddha, a deva, a ṛṣi, or an emanation of one of these beings; however, they must first receive certification from a buddha that its contents are true Dharma. Then these sutras may be properly regarded as buddhavacana.

Sometimes texts that are considered commentaries by some are regarded by others as Buddhavacana.

Shingon Buddhism developed a system that assigned authorship of the early sutras to Gautama Buddha in his physical manifestation, of the Ekayana sutras to the Buddhas as Sambhoghakaya, and the Vajrayana texts to the Buddha as Dharmakaya.

In Tibetan Buddhism

In Tibetan Buddhism, what is considered buddhavacana is collected in the Kangyur. The East Asian and Tibetan Buddhist canons always combined Buddhavacana with other literature in their standard collected editions. However, the general view of what is and is not buddhavacana is broadly similar between East Asian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism. The Tibetan Kangyur, which belongs to the various schools of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism, in addition to containing sutras and vinaya, also contains tantras.

Textual traditions

Mahayana sutras are traditionally considered by Mahayanists to be the word of the Buddha, but transmitted either in secret, via lineages of supernatural beings (such as the nagas), or revealed directly from other Buddhas or bodhisattvas. Some 600 Mahayana Sutras have survived in Sanskrit, or in Chinese and/or Tibetan translation.

The division of texts into the traditional three yanas may obscure the process of development that went on, and there is some overlap in the traditional classifications. For instance, there are so-called proto-Mahayana texts, such as the Ajitasena Sutra, which are missing key features that are associated with Mahayana texts. Some Pali texts also contain ideas that later became synonymous with the Mahayana. The Garbhāvakrānti Sūtra is included in both the Vinaya Pitaka of the Mulasarvastivada, one of the early schools, and the Ratnakuta, a standard collection of Mahayana sutras. Some Mahayana texts are also thought to display a distinctly tantric character, particularly some of the shorter Perfection of Wisdom Sutras. An early tantra, the Mahavairocana Abhisambodhi Tantra, is also known as the Mahavairocana Sutra. At least some editions of the Kangyur include the Heart Sutra in the tantra division. Such overlap is not confined to “neighbouring” yanas: at least nine “Sravakayana” (“Hinayana”) texts can be found in the tantra divisions of some editions of the Kangyur.  One of them, the Atanatiya Sutra, is also included in the Mikkyo (esoteric) division of the standard modern collected edition of Sino-Japanese Buddhist literature. (A variant of it is also found in the Digha Nikaya of the Pali Canon.)

Some Buddhist texts evolved to become a virtual canon in themselves, and are referred to as vaipulya or extensive sutras. Scholars think, for instance, that the Golden Light Sutra constellated around the celebrated third chapter. The Avatamsaka Sutra is another example of a single Sutra made up of many other sutras, many of which, particularly the Gandavyuha Sutra still circulate as separate texts. The Avatamsaka Sutra and the White Lotus Sutra are associated with the idea of the Ekayana or One Vehicle. The texts claim to unify all the teachings that have come before into a greater whole.

Recently an important archaeological discovery was made, consisting of the earliest known Buddhist manuscripts, recovered from the ancient civilization of Gandhara in north central Pakistan (near Taxila just south west of the capital Islamabad). These fragments, written on birch bark, are dated to the 1st century and have been compared to the Dead Sea scrolls in importance. Donated to the British Library in 1994, they are now being studied in a joint project at the University of Washington.

Other texts have been important from very early in Buddhism. Extensive commentaries exist in Pali for the Pali Canon and in Tibetan, Chinese, Korean and other East Asian languages.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/1/1d/IMG_0277Korea2.JPG/220px-IMG_0277Korea2.JPGImportant examples of non-canonical texts are the Visuddhimagga, or Path of Purification, by Buddhaghosa, which is a compendium of Theravada teachings that include quotes from the Pali Canon. The Milinda Pañha or Questions of Milinda, sometimes included in the Pali Canon and perhaps regarded by some as Buddhavacana, is a popular condensation of the Dharma in the form of a dialogue between the Buddhist sage Nāgasena and the Indo-Greek King Menander.

The treatise Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana (attributed by the faithful to Aśvaghoşa) strongly influenced east Asian Mahayana doctrine and inspired numerous commentaries authored by early Korean and Chinese Buddhist teachers. Shantideva‘s Bodhicaryavatara has been influential in both Mahayana and Vajrayana, and his Shikshasamucaya contains references to texts that no longer exist in other forms.

The Platform Sutra attributed to Huineng is on the borders of Buddhavacana; it is one of a very few texts not thought to be spoken by the Buddha that has the label “sutra.” One should note, however, that this distinction may be an artifact of translation; in the original Chinese, the Platform Sutra is a jīng (經), a term that may be translated as “sutra”, but is also applied to a variety of other classic texts, such as the Daodejing and the Shi Jing. In the Platform Sutra, Hui Neng gives an autobiographical account of his succession as Zen Patriarch, as well as teachings about Zen theory and practice. The Zen and Ch’an school in particular rely on non-canonical accounts of Zen masters lives and teachings, for example the Blue Cliff Record.

Tibetan Buddhism has a unique and special class of texts called terma (Tibetan gTer-ma). These are texts (or ritual objects, etc.) believed either composed or hidden by tantric masters and/or elementally secreted or encoded in the elements and retrieved, accessed or rediscovered by other tantric masters when appropriate. Termas are discovered by a tertön (Tibetan gTer-stons), whose special function is to discover these texts. Some termas are hidden in caves or similar places, but a few are said to be ‘mind termas,’ which are ‘discovered’ in the mind of the tertön. The Nyingma school (and Bön tradition) has a large terma literature. Many of the terma texts are said to have been written by Padmasambhava, who is particularly important to the Nyingmas. Probably the best known terma text is the so-called “Tibetan book of the dead“, the Bardo thodol.

Other types of texts that have been important are the histories of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, the Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa.

Texts of the early schools

Although many versions of the texts of the early Buddhist schools exist, the most complete canon to survive is the Pali Canon of the Theravadin school, which preserved the texts in the Pali language. Also large parts of the Sarvastivada and Dharmaguptaka texts are extant.

The Pali literature has been divided by one scholar into roughly three periods. The early, or classical, period begins with the Pali Canon itself and ends with the Milindha-pañha about the turn of the Christian era. After a period of being in comparative disuse or decline, Pali underwent a renaissance in the 4th or 5th century with the help of Buddhaghosa, and this period lasted until the 12th Century. The third period coincides with major political changes in Burma and lasted for some time in Sri Lanka, and much longer in Burma. See also Pali literature.

The other (parts of) extant versions of the Tipitakas of early schools include the agamas, which includes texts of the Sarvastivada and the Dharmaguptaka. Parts of the what is likely to be the canon of the Dharmaguptaka can be found amongst the Gandharan Buddhist Texts. Several early Vinaya Pitakas (from various schools) are also kept in the Chinese (Mahayana) Canon.

Vinaya

The vinaya literature is primarily concerned with aspects of the monastic discipline. However, vinaya as a term is also contrasted with Dharma, where the pair (Dhamma-Vinaya) mean something like ‘doctrine and discipline’. The vinaya literature in fact contains a considerable range of texts. There are, of course, those that discuss the monastic rules, how they came about, how they developed, and how they were applied. But the vinaya also contains some doctrinal expositions, ritual and liturgical texts, biographical stories, and some elements of the “Jatakas“, or birth stories.

Paradoxically, the text most closely associated with the vinaya, and the most frequently used portion of it, the Pratimoksha, is in itself not a canonical text in Theravada, even though almost all of it can be found in the canon.

Six complete vinayas survive:

·         Theravada, written in Pali

·         Mula-Sarvāstivāda, written in Sanskrit, but surviving complete only in Tibetan translation

·         Mahāsānghika, Sarvāstivāda, Mahīshāsika, and Dharmagupta, originally in Indian languages, but only surviving in Chinese translation.

In addition, portions survive of a number of vinayas in various languages.

The Mahāvastu compiled by the Lokottaravadin sub-school of the Mahāsānghika was perhaps originally the preamble to their vinaya that became detached; hence, rather than dealing with the rules themselves, it takes the form of an extended biography of the Buddha, which it describes in terms of his progression through ten bhumis, or stages. This doctrine was later taken up by the Mahayana in a modified form as Vasubandhu‘s Ten Stages Sutra.

Sutra

The Sutras (Sanskrit; Pali Sutta) are mostly discourses attributed to the Buddha or one of his close disciples. They are all, even those not actually spoken by him, considered to be ‘Buddhavacana’ or the word of the Buddha, just as in the case of all canonical literature. The Buddha’s discourses were perhaps originally organised according to the style in which they were delivered. There were originally nine, but later twelve, of these. The Sanskrit forms are:

The first nine are listed in all surviving agamas, with the other three added in some later sources. In Theravada, at least, they are regarded as a classification of the whole of the scriptures, not just suttas. The scheme is also found in Mahayana texts. However, some time later a new organizational scheme was imposed on the canon, which is now the most familiar. The scheme organises the suttas into:

Long discourses

These range in length up to 95 pages. The Pali Digha Nikaya contains 34 texts, including the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta and the Brahmajāla Sutta. The Dīrghāgama of the Dharmagupta also survives, in Chinese translation, and contains 30 sutras.

Medium-length discourses

These are the rest of the sutras of any length, and the Pali Majjhima Nikaya has 152 suttas. The Madhyamāgama of the Sarvāstivada containing 222 sutras survives in Chinese translation.

Connected discourses

This grouping consists of many short texts connected by theme, setting, or interlocutor. The Pali Samyutta Nikaya contains more than 2,800 suttas. The Samyuktāgama of the Sarvāstivada containing only 1,300 sutras survives in Chinese translation.

Numbered discourses

Sutras with the same number of doctrinal items, comprise over 2,300 suttas in the Pali Anguttara Nikaya. The Chinese canon contains an Ekottarāgama that some scholars think belongs to the Mahāsanghika school.

Miscellaneous texts

Not all schools had this category, but the Pali Khuddaka Nikaya has several well-known and loved texts, including:

Dhammapada: a collection of sayings and aphorisms. The Udana : a collection of inspired sayings in verse usually with a prose introduction that sets a context of sorts for the saying. The Sutta Nipata: parts of the Sutta Nipata, such as the Aṭṭhakavagga and the Pārāyanavagga, are thought by some scholarsto represent the earliest strata of the written canon. Many of the features of later texts, such as numbered lists of teachings, or complex doctrinal categories, are not present. Theragāthā and Therīgāthā two collections of biographical verse related to the disciples of the Buddha (male and female respectively.) Jataka: poems related to the so-called ‘birth stories,’ which recount former lives of the Buddha. These remain popular in many forms of Buddhism.

Many of these texts are available in translation as well as in the original language. The Dhammapada, for instance, has a Pali version, three Chinese versions, a Tibetan version, and a Khotanese version.

Abhidharma

Abhidharma (in Pali, Abhidhamma) means ‘further Dharma’ and is concerned with the analysis of phenomena. It grew initially out of various lists of teachings such as the 37 Bodhipaksika-dharmas or the 37 Factors leading to Awakening. The Abhidharma literature is chiefly concerned with the analysis of phenomena and the relationships between them.

The Theravāda Abhidhamma survives in the Pali Canon. Outside of the Theravada monasteries the Pali Abhidharma texts are not well known.

A Sarvastivada Abhidharma, composed in Sanskrit, survives in Chinese and Tibetan traditions. Though the Theravādin Abhidhamma is well preserved and best known, it should be noted that a number of the early Eighteen Schools each had their own distinct Abhidharma collection with not very much common textual material, though sharing methodology.

Not all schools accepted the Abhidharma as canonical. The Sautrāntika, for instance, held that the canon stopped with the vinaya and sutras. The rejection by some schools that dharmas (i.e. phenomena) are ultimately real, which the Theravada Abhidhamma, for instance, insists, is thought to be an important factor in the origin of the Mahayana.

Other texts

One early text not usually regarded as Buddhavacana is probably the Milinda pañha (literally The Questions of Milinda). This text is in the form of a dialogue between Nagasena, and the Indo-Greek King Menander (Pali: Milinda). It is a compendium of doctrine, and covers a range of subjects. It is included in some editions of the Pali Canon.

The Pali texts have an extensive commentarial literature much of which is still untranslated. These are largely attributed to Buddhaghosa. There are also sub-commentaries or commentaries on the commentaries.

Buddhaghosa was also the author of the Visuddhimagga, or Path of Purification, which is a manual of doctrine and practice according to the Theravada school.

Mahayana texts

Perfection of Wisdom Texts

These deal with prajñā (wisdom or insight). Wisdom in this context means the ability to see reality as it truly is. They do not contain an elaborate philosophical argument, but simply try to point to the true nature of reality, especially through the use of paradox. The basic premise is a radical non-dualism, in which every and any dichotomist way of seeing things is denied: so phenomena are neither existent, nor non-existent, but are marked by sunyata, emptiness, an absence of any essential unchanging nature. The Perfection of Wisdom in One Letter illustrates this approach by choosing to represent the perfection of prajñā with the Sanskrit/Pali short a vowel (“अ”, pronounced [ə])—which, as a prefix, negates a word’s meaning (e.g., changing svabhava to asvabhava, “with essence” to “without essence”; cf. mu), which is the first letter of Indic alphabets; and that, as a sound on its own, is the most neutral/basic of speech sounds (cf Aum and bija).

Many sutras are known by the number of lines, or slokas, that they contained.

Edward Conze, who translated nearly all of the Perfection of Wisdom sutras into English, identified four periods of development in this literature:

Diamond Sutra 300-500CE : a period of condensation, producing the well known Heart Sutra, and the Perfection of Wisdom in one letter 500-1000CE : texts from this period begin to show a tantric influence

The Perfection of Wisdom texts have influenced every Mahayana school of Buddhism.

Saddharma-pundarika

Also called the Lotus Sutra, White Lotus Sutra, Sutra of the White Lotus, or Sutra on the White Lotus of the Sublime Dharma; (Sanskrit: सद्धर्मपुण्डरीकसूत्र Saddharmapundarīka-sūtra; 妙法蓮華經 Cn: Miàofǎ Liánhuā Jīng; Jp: Myōhō Renge Kyō. Probably composed in its earliest form in the period 100 bce–100 ce, the White Lotus proposes that the three yanas (Shravakayana, Pratyekabuddhayana, and Bodhisattvayana) are not in fact three different paths leading to three goals, but one path, with one goal. The earlier teachings are said to be of ‘skillful means’ in order to help beings of limited capacities. Notable for the (re)appearance of the Buddha Prabhutaratna, who had died several aeons earlier, because it suggests that a Buddha is not inaccessible after his parinirvana, and also that his life-span is said to be inconceivably long because of the accumulation of merit in past lives. This idea, though not necessarily from this source, forms the basis of the later Trikaya doctrine. Later associated particularly with the Tien Tai in China (Tendai in Japan) school and the Nichiren schools in Japan.

Pure Land Sutras

There are three major sutras that fall into this category: the Infinite Life Sutra, also known as the Larger Pure Land Sutra; the Amitabha Sutra, also known as the Smaller Pure Land Sutra; and the Contemplation Sutra, or Visualization, Sutra. These texts describe the origins and nature of the Western Pure Land in which the Buddha Amitabha resides. They list the forty-eight vows made by Amitabha as a bodhisattva by which he undertook to build a Pure Land where beings are able to practise the Dharma without difficulty or distraction. The sutras state that beings can be reborn there by pure conduct and by practices such as thinking continuously of Amitabha, praising him, recounting his virtues, and chanting his name. These Pure Land sutras and the practices they recommend became the foundations of Pure Land Buddhism, which focus on the salvific power of faith in the vows of Amitabha.

The Vimalakirti Nirdesha Sutra

Composed in its earliest form some time before 150 CE, the Bodhisattva Vimalakirti appears in the guise of a layman in order to teach the Dharma. Seen by some as a strong assertion of the value of lay practice. Doctrinally similar to the Perfection of Wisdom texts, a major theme is the Buddhafield (Buddha-kshetra), which was influential on Pure Land schools. Very popular in China, Korea and Japan where it was seen as being compatible with Confucian values.

Samadhi Sutras

Amongst the very earliest Mahayana texts, the Samadhi Sutras are a collection of sutras focused on the attainment of profound states of consciousness reached in meditation, perhaps suggesting that meditation played an important role in early Mahayana. Includes the Pratyutpanna Sutra and the Shurangama Samadhi Sutra.

Confession Sutras

The Triskandha Sutra, and the Suvarnaprabhasa Sutra (or Golden Light Sutra), which focus on the practice of confession of faults. The Golden Light Sutra became especially influential in Japan, where one of its chapters on the ‘Universal Sovereign’ (Sanskrit: Chakravartin) was used by the Japanese emperors to legitimise their rule, and it provided a model for a well-run state.

The Avatamsaka Sutra

A large composite text consisting of several parts, most notably the Dasabhumika Sutra and the Gandavyuha Sutra. It exists in three successive versions, two in Chinese and one in Tibetan. New sutras were added to the collection in both the intervals between these. The Gandavyuha sutra is thought to be the source of a sect that was dedicated specifically to Vairocana, and that later gave rise to the Mahavairocana-abhisambodhi tantra. The Mahavairocana-abhisambodhi tantra became one of the two central texts in Shingon Buddhism and was included in the Tibetan canon as a tantra of the carya class. The Avatamsaka Sutra became the central text for the Hua-yen (Jp. Kegon) school of Buddhism, the most important doctrine of which is the interpenetration of all phenomena.

Third Turning Sutras

These sutras primarily teach the doctrine of vijnapti-matra or ‘representation-only’, associated with the Yogacara school. The Sandhinirmocana Sutra (c 2nd Century CE) is the earliest surviving sutra in this class (and according to some Gelugpa authorities the only one). This sutra divides the teachings of the Buddha into three classes, which it calls the “Three Turnings of the Wheel of the Dharma.” To the first turning, it ascribes the Agamas of the Shravakas, to the second turning the lower Mahayana sutras including the Prajna-paramita Sutras, and finally sutras like itself are deemed to comprise the third turning. Moreover, the first two turnings are considered, in this system of classification, to be provisional while the third group is said to present the final truth without a need for further explication (nitartha).

Tathagatagarbha Class Sutras

Especially the Tathagatagarbha Sutra, the Shrīmālādevi-simhanāda Sūtra (Srimala Sutra), the Angulimaliya Sutra, the Anunatva-Apurnatva-Nirdesa Sutra, and the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra (which differs in character from the Pali Mahaparinibbana Sutta). These texts teach that every being has a Tathagatagarbha: variously translated as Buddha nature, Buddha seed, Buddha matrix. It is this Buddha nature, Buddha Essence or Buddha Principle, this aspect of every being that is itself already enlightened, that enables beings to be liberated. One of the most important responses of Buddhism to the problem of immanence and transcendence. The Tathagatagarbha doctrine was very influential in East Asian Buddhism, and the idea in one form or another can be found in most of its schools. The well-known Lankavatara Sutra, composed sometime around the 4th century CE, is sometimes included in thevijnapti-matra group associated with the Yogacara teachings, however D.T. Suzuki sees the Lankavatara as clearly pre-dating and distinguished from Yogacara. The Lankavatara teaches cittamatra (mind only) not that of vijnaptimatra of the Yogacara. Also, central to the Lankavatara is the identity of the alayavjnana with the tathagata-garbha and the Lankavatara’s central message that the tathagata-garbha is what makes possible the turning inward (paravritti or paravrtti) of awareness to realize the Buddha’s psychological transformation in practical life, while the tathagata-garbha” system was unknown or ignored by the progenitors of the Yogacara system. The Lankavatara Sutra was influential in the Chan or Zen schools.

Collected Sutras

These are two large sutras, which are actually collections of other sutras. The Mahāratnakūta Sūtra contains 49 individual works, and the Mahāsamnipāta Sūtra is a collection of 17 shorter works. Both seem to have been finalised by about the 5th century, although some parts of them are considerably older.

Transmigration Sutras

These include a number of sutras that focus on actions that lead to existence in the various spheres of existence, or that expound the doctrine of the twelve links of pratitya-samutpada or dependent-origination.

Discipline Sutras

These focus on the principles that guide the behaviour of Bodhisattvas. They include the Kāshyapa-parivarta, the Bodhisattva-prātimoksa Sūtra, and the Brahmajala Sutra.

Sutras devoted to individual figures

This is a large number of sutras that describe the nature and virtues of a particular Buddha or Bodhisattva and/or their Pure Land, including Mañjusri, Ksitigarbha, the Buddha Akshobhya, and Bhaishajyaguru also known as the Medicine Buddha.

Proto-Mahayana Sutras

Early in the 20th Century, a cache of texts was found in a mound near Gilgit, Afghanistan. Among them was the Ajitasena Sutra. The Ajitasena Sutra appears to be a mixture of Mahayana and pre-Mahayana ideas. It occurs in a world where monasticism is the norm, which is typical of the Pali Suttas; there is none of the usual antagonism towards the Shravakas (also called the Hinayana) or the notion of Arahantship, which is typical of Mahayana Sutras such as the White Lotus, or Vimalakirti Nirdesha. However, the sutra also has an Arahant seeing all the Buddha fields, it is said that reciting the name of the sutra will save beings from suffering and the hell realms, and a meditative practice is described that allows the practitioner to see with the eyes of a Buddha, and to receive teachings from them that are very much typical of Mahayana Sutras.

Non-Buddhavacana texts

The Mahayana commentarial and exegetical literature is vast. Many commentarial texts are called Shastras, a by-word used when referring to a scripture. Extending this meaning, the shastra is commonly used to mean a treatise or text written in explanation of some idea, especially in matters involving religion. In Buddhism, a shastra is often a commentary written at a later date to explain an earlier scripture or sutra

The Mūlamadhyamika-karikā, or Root Verses on the Middle Way, by Nagarjuna is a seminal text on the Madhyamika philosophy, shares much of the same subject matter as the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, although it is not strict a commentary on them.

The 9th Century Indian Buddhist Shantideva produced two texts: the Bodhicaryāvatāra has been a strong influence in many schools of the Mahayana. It is notably a favourite text of the fourteenth Dalai Lama. The text begins with an elaborate ritual worship section, but goes on to expound the six perfections. The 9th chapter is a critique of various views on perfect wisdom from the madhyamika point of view. Shantideva also produced the Shikshasamuccaya, which is a compendium of doctrines from a huge range of Mahayana Sutras—some of which no longer extist and therefore are known only through Shantideva’s quotes.

Asanga, associated with the Yogacara school of Mahayana thought, is said to have received many texts directly from the Bodhisattva Maitreya in the Tushita god realm, including Madhyāntavibhāga, the Mahāyāna-sūtrālamāra, and the Abhisamayālamkara. He is also said to have personally written the Mahāyāna-samgraha, the Abhidharma-samuccaya (a compendium of Abhidharma thought that became the standard text for many Mahayana schools especially in Tibet), and the Yogācāra-bhūmi (although the latter text appears to have had several authors.)

Asanga’s brother Vasubandhu wrote a large number of texts associated with the Yogacara including: Trivabhāva-nirdesha, Vimshatika, Trimshika, and the Abhidharmakośa-bhāsya although this work predates his conversion to the Mahayana and a minority[citation needed] of scholars speculate that there may have been two different Vasubandhus who composed these works. Most influential in the East Asian Buddhist tradition was probably his Thirty Verses on Consciousness-only.

Dignāga is associated with a school of Buddhist logic that tried to establish which texts were valid sources of knowledge (see also Epistemology). He produced the Pramāna-samuccaya, and later Dharmakirti wrote the Pramāna-vārttikā, which was a commentary and reworking of the Dignaga text.

The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana attributed to Ashvaghosha was influential in East Asian Buddhism, especially the Hua-yen school of China, and its Japanese equivalent, Kegon. Ashvaghosha is also celebrated for his plays.

 Vajrayana texts

Buddhist tantras

The Tibetan Kangyur includes a number of Nikaya-related texts from the Mula-Sarvastivada school, as well as Mahayana sutras. However, it is the specifically Vajrayana texts that most strongly characterise it. They are considered to be the word of the Buddha, Buddhavacana, and the Tibetan Kangyur contains translations of almost 500 tantras. The texts are typically concerned with elaborate rituals and meditations.

A late Tibetan tradition has made a fourfold classification into:

Kriyā tantras. These form a large subgroup that appeared between the 2nd and 6th centuries CE. The Kriya tantras focus on ritual actions. Each centres around a particular Buddha or Bodhisattva, and many are based around dharanis. Examples include the Mahāmegha Sutra, the Ārya-mañjushrī-mūla-kalpa, the Subhāhu-pariprcchā Sutra, and the Aparimitāyur-jñāna-hrdaya-dhāranī. Also included in this category are some Mahayana texts such as the Heart Sutra and, in some editions, versions of some texts found in the Pali Canon.

Charya Tantras

Carya tantras. This is a small class of texts that probably emerged after the 6th century and are entirely centred on the worship of the Buddha Vairocana. The best known example is the Mahā-vairocanābhisambodhi Tantra, also known as the Mahavairocana Sutra, which became a foundational text for the Shingon School of Japan.

Yoga Tantras

Yoga tantras likewise focus on Vairocana, and include the Sarva-tathāgata-tattva-samgraha Tantra and the Sarva-durgati-parishodhana Tantra. The Shurangama Sutra and the Shurangama Mantra from which it (called the Shitatapatra Ushnisha Dharani) comes can be included in this category. According to Venerable Tripitaka Master Bhikshu Shramana Hsuan Hua‘s “Shurangama Mantra Commentary” (Buddhist Text Translation Society of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, 1981, Volume 1), the Shurangama Mantra mystically and literally includes all of the Buddha Dharma in its entirety, and its focus is on the Five Dhyana Buddhas (Vairochana, Amitabha), Akshobhya, Ratnasambhava, and Amoghasiddhi, with stress on Vairochana and Ashobhya Buddhas) and their retinues of Dharmapalas and wrathful deities in male and female forms, such as Vajrapani, wrathful Manjushri, Mahakala, Tara, Pandaravasini, Prakruti, Uchushma Fire Head Vajra, Brahma, Indra, Shiva as Rudra, RaudriUmapati form of Vajrayogini, Narayana, Ganapati, various Dhakinis, Naga kings, Yaksha kings, Rakshasha kings, and many other Dharma Protectors of the Buddhist Pantheon and Vedic pantheon. The primary wrathful Goddess of the Shurangamma Mantra tantric practice is the Great White Umbrella Deity form of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, an important practice in Tibetan Buddhism.

Anuttara Tantras

Anuttara tantras. The most advanced class of tantra is the Anuttarayoga tantra, which focus on mental transformation and less on ritual actions. These are sometimes further divided into the so-called Father Tantras and Mother Tantras.

yogottara, or higher union, tantras, also known as father tantras, or skilful means, (Sanskrit: upāya) tantras. They focus on the Buddha Akshobhya and his consort Māmaki. The Guhya-samāja Tantra comes from this class of tantras, dating probably from the 8th century. Secondly prajña or mother tantras, also known as yogini tantras, dating from the late 8th century. Akshobhya is still the central figure, but he now appears in his wrathful form as Heruka. Female figures take on a much greater significance, becoming as important as male figures, if not more so. The Samvara Tantra was translated into Tibetan in the 8th century. Other members of this class, such as the Hevajra Tantra, appeared in the 10th century. Kalachakra tantra is sometimes said to be an advaya or non-dual tantra. It appeared very late in the development of tantric Buddhism – in the mid 11th century – and is written in classical Sanskrit, rather than the usual mixture of Prakrit and the characteristic “allusive speech” of The Twilight Language, (Sanskrit:samdhyābhāshā). For the first time the teachings refer to the ādhibuddha, or primordial Buddha.

Anuttaratantra is known in the Nyingma school as Mahayoga. This school also has a collection of tantras of its own, not found in the other Tibetan schools.

Textual evidence suggests that some of these texts are in fact Shaivite Tantras adopted and adapted to Buddhist purposes, and many similarities in iconography and ritual can be seen in them.[citation needed]

Other products of the Vajrayana literature

A sadhana is a tantric spiritual practices text used by practitioners, primarily to practice the mandala or a particular yidam, or meditation deity. The Sādhanamālā is a collection of sadhanas.

Vajrayana adepts, known as mahasiddha, often expounded their teachings in the form of songs of realization. Collections of these songs such as the Caryāgīti, or the Charyapada are still in existence. The Dohakosha is a collection of doha songs by the yogi Saraha from the 9th century. A collection known in English as The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa was composed by Tibetan Buddhist yogi Milarepa and is especially popular amongst members of the Kagyu school.

Terma are Tibetan Buddhist texts, hidden to be rediscovered at a later date. Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal wrote and hid most termas, although texts have also been hidden by figures such as Machig Labdron. The best known terma text is probably the Bardo thodol, or ‘Awakening in the Bardo State’, also known as the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The person who finds a terma text is known as a terton.

The Blue Annals (Tibetan: deb ther sngon po) completed in 1476CE, authored by Gölo Zhönnupel (Tibetan: gos lo gzhon nu dpal, 1392–1481), is a historical survey of Tibetan Buddhism with a marked ecumenical view, focusing upon the dissemination of various sectarian traditions throughout Tibet.[24]

Namtar, or spiritual biographies, are another popular form of Tibetan Buddhist texts, whereby the teachings and spiritual path of a practitioner are explained through a review of their lifestory.

Kūkai wrote a number of treatises on Vajrayana Buddhism that are distinct from his Shingon Buddhism.

Notes

1.       ^ Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (Volume One), page 142

2.       ^ Bechert & Gombrich, World of Buddhism, Thames & Hudson, London, 1984, page 79

3.       ^ Lopez, Donald. Elaborations on Emptiness: Uses of the Heart Sutra. 1998. p. 28

4.       ^ Lopez, Donald. Elaborations on Emptiness: Uses of the Heart Sutra. 1998. p. 28

5.       ^ Lopez, Donald. Elaborations on Emptiness: Uses of the Heart Sutra. 1998. p. 28

6.       ^ Lopez, Donald. Elaborations on Emptiness: Uses of the Heart Sutra. 1998. p. 29

7.       ^ Skilton, Andrew. A Concise History of Buddhism. 2004. p. 83

8.       ^ Lopez, Donald. Elaborations on Emptiness: Uses of the Heart Sutra. 1998. p. 29

9.       ^ Skilton, Andrew. A Concise History of Buddhism. 2004. p. 83

10.   ^ It is therefore possible that much of what is found in the Suttapitaka is earlier than c.250 B.C., perhaps even more than 100 years older than this. If some of the material is so old, it might be possible to establish what texts go back to the beginning of Buddhism and may include the substance of the Buddha’s teaching, and in some cases, maybe even his words. How old is the Suttapitaka? Alexander Wynne, St John’s College, 2003, p.22 (this article is available on the website of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies: [1]

11.   ^ It would be hypocritical to assert that nothing can be said about the doctrine of earliest Buddhism … the basic ideas of Buddhism found in the canonical writings could very well have been proclaimed by him [the Buddha], transmitted and developed by his disciples and, finally, codified in fixed formulas. J.W. De Jong, 1993: The Beginnings of Buddhism, in The Eastern Buddhist, vol. 26, no. 2, p. 25

12.   ^ Hsuan Hua. The Buddha speaks of Amitabha Sutra: A General Explanation. 2003. p. 2

13.   ^ Hsuan Hua. The Buddha speaks of Amitabha Sutra: A General Explanation. 2003. p. 2

14.   ^ For example, Honen, the founder of Japanese Puree Land, says that the writings of Shan-tao come from Amitabha Buddha and are of the same value as sutras. in: Eliot, Japanese Buddhism, Edward Arnold, London, 1935, page 6

15.   ^ Skilling, Mahasutras, volume II, Parts I & II, Pali Text Society[2], Lancaster, 1997, pages 93f

16.   ^ Conze, The Prajnaparamita Literature, Mouton, the Hague, 1960, page 72; Rgyud is Tibetan for tantra

17.   ^ Journal of the Pali Text Society, volume XVI, pages 161f

18.   ^ Skilling, Mahasutras, Volume II, Parts I & II, 1997, Pali Text Society, Lancaster

19.   ^ “The University of Washington Early Buddhist Manuscripts Project”. www.ebmp.org. http://depts.washington.edu/ebmp/. Retrieved 13 April 2008.

20.   ^ Edward Craig. “Routledge encyclopedia of philosophy”. Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana Korean. http://books.google.com/books?id=VQ-GhVWTH84C&pg=PA603&lpg=PA603&dq=Awakening+of+Faith+in+the+Mahayana+Korean#v=onepage&q=Awakening%20of%20Faith%20in%20the%20Mahayana%20Korean&f=false. Retrieved 6 July 2011.

21.   ^ Studies in the Langavatara Sutra, by D.T. Suzuki, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., London, 1930, p. 170

22.   ^ “The difference is this: According to the Vijnaptimatra, the world is nothing but ideas, there are no realities behind them; but the Cittamatra states that there is nothing but Citta, Mind, in the wrold and that the world is the objectification of Mind. The one is pure idealism and the other idealistic realism.” The Lankavatara Sutra, A Mahayana Text, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., London, 1932, introduction p. xi.

23.   ^ The Lankavatara Sutra, A Mahayana Text”, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., London, 1932, introduction p. xvii.

24.   ^ Source: [3] (accessed: November 5, 2007)

 

Mahayana By Wiki

Mahayana

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lotus Nelumbo nucifera Flower Large 3264px.jpgMahāyāna (Sanskrit: महायान mahāyāna, literally the “Great Vehicle”) is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice. Mahāyāna Buddhism originated in India,[1] and is associated with the oldest historical sect of Buddhism, the Mahāsāṃghika.[2][3][4][5][6]

The Mahāyāna tradition is the larger of the two major traditions of Buddhism existing today, the other being that of the Theravāda school. According to the teachings of Mahāyāna traditions, “Mahāyāna” also refers to the path of seeking complete enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, also called “Bodhisattvayāna”, or the “Bodhisattva Vehicle.[1][7]

In the course of its history, Mahāyāna Buddhism spread from India to various other Asian countries such as China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, and Mongolia. Major traditions of Mahāyāna Buddhism today include Zen/Chán, Pure Land, Tiantai, and Nichiren, as well as the Esoteric Buddhist traditions of Shingon, Tendai and Tibetan Buddhism.

Etymology

Dharma Wheel.svgAccording to Jan Nattier, the term Mahāyāna (“Great Vehicle”) was originally an honorary synonym for Bodhisattvayāna (“Bodhisattva Vehicle”)[8] — the vehicle of a bodhisattva seeking buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.[1] The term Mahāyāna was therefore formed independently at an early date as a synonym for the path and the teachings of the bodhisattvas. Since it was simply an honorary term for Bodhisattvayāna, the creation of the term Mahāyāna and its application to Bodhisattvayāna did not represent a significant turning point in the development of a Mahāyāna tradition.[8]

The earliest Mahāyāna texts often use the term Mahāyāna as a synonym for Bodhisattvayāna, but the term Hīnayāna is comparatively rare in the earliest sources. The presumed dichotomy between Mahāyāna and Hīnayāna can be deceptive, as the two terms were not actually formed in relation to one another in the same era.[9]

Among the earliest and most important references to the term Mahāyāna are those that occur in the Lotus Sūtra (Skt. Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra) dating between the 1st century BCE and the 1st century CE.[10] Seishi Karashima has suggested that the term first used in an earlier Gandhāri Prakrit version of the Lotus Sūtra was not the term mahāyāna but the Prakrit word mahājāna in the sense of mahājñāna (great knowing).[11] At a later stage when the early Prakrit word was converted into Sanskrit, this mahājāna, being phonetically ambivalent, was mistakenly converted into mahāyāna, possibly due to what may have been a double meaning in the famous Parable of the Burning House, which talks of three vehicles or carts (Skt: yāna).[12][13]

History

Early Mahāyāna Buddhism

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Ancient Buddhist stūpas in Borobodur, Indonesia.

 

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Early statue of the Buddha from Gandhāra, 1st–2nd century CE.

Origins of Mahāyāna

The origins of Mahāyāna are still not completely understood.[14] The earliest views of Mahāyāna Buddhism in the West assumed that it existed as a separate school in competition with the so-called “Hīnayāna” schools. Due to the veneration of buddhas and bodhisattvas, Mahāyāna was often interpreted as a more devotional, lay-inspired form of Buddhism, with supposed origins in stūpa veneration,[15] or by making parallels with the history of the European Protestant Reformation. These views have been largely dismissed in modern times in light of a much broader range of early texts that are now available.[16] These earliest Mahāyāna texts often depict strict adherence to the path of a bodhisattva, and engagement in the ascetic ideal of a monastic life in the wilderness, akin to the ideas expressed in the Rhinoceros Sūtra.[17] The old views of Mahāyāna as a separate lay-inspired and devotional sect are now largely dismissed as misguided and wrong on all counts.[18]

The earliest textual evidence of “Mahāyāna” comes from sūtras originating around the beginning of the common era. Jan Nattier has noted that in some of the earliest Mahāyāna texts such as the Ugraparipṛccha Sūtra use the term “Mahāyāna”, yet there is no doctrinal difference between Mahāyāna in this context and the early schools, and that “Mahāyāna” referred rather to the rigorous emulation of Gautama Buddha in the path of a bodhisattva seeking to become a fully enlightened buddha.[19]

There is also no evidence that Mahāyāna ever referred to a separate formal school or sect of Buddhism, but rather that it existed as a certain set of ideals, and later doctrines, for bodhisattvas.[19] Paul Williams has also noted that the Mahāyāna never had nor ever attempted to have a separate Vinaya or ordination lineage from the early schools of Buddhism, and therefore each bhikṣu or bhikṣuṇī adhering to the Mahāyāna formally belonged to an early school. This continues today with the Dharmaguptaka ordination lineage in East Asia, and the Mūlasarvāstivāda ordination lineage in Tibetan Buddhism. Therefore Mahāyāna was never a separate rival sect of the early schools.[20]

The Chinese monk Yijing who visited India in the 7th century CE, distinguishes Mahāyāna from Hīnayāna as follows:[21]

Both adopt one and the same Vinaya, and they have in common the prohibitions of the five offences, and also the practice of the Four Noble Truths. Those who venerate the bodhisattvas and read the Mahayana sūtras are called the Mahāyānists, while those who do not perform these are called the Hīnayānists.

Much of the early extant evidence for the origins of Mahāyāna comes from early Chinese translations of Mahāyāna texts. These Mahāyāna teachings were first propagated into China by Lokakṣema, the first translator of Mahāyāna sūtras into Chinese during the 2nd century CE.[22]

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A statue of Prajñāpāramitā personified, from Singhasari, East Java, Indonesia.

Earliest Mahāyāna sūtras

Some scholars[who?] have traditionally considered the earliest Mahāyāna sūtras to include the very first versions of the Prajñāpāramitā series, along with texts concerning Akṣobhya Buddha, which were probably written down in the 1st century BCE in the south of India.[23][24][25] Some early Mahāyāna sūtras were translated by the Kuṣāṇa monk Lokakṣema, who came to China from the kingdom of Gandhāra. His first translations to Chinese were made in the Chinese capital of Luoyang between 178 and 189 CE.[22] Some Mahāyāna sūtras translated during the 2nd century CE include the following:[26]

Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra Larger Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra Akṣobhyatathāgatasyavyūha Sūtra Ugraparipṛccha Sūtra Mañjuśrīparipṛcchā Sūtra Drumakinnararājaparipṛcchā Sūtra Śūraṅgama Samādhi Sūtra Bhadrapāla Sūtra Ajātaśatrukaukṛtyavinodana Sūtra Kāśyapaparivarta Sūtra Lokānuvartana Sūtra An early sūtra connected to the Avataṃsaka Sūtra

Some of these were probably composed in the north of India in the 1st century CE.[27] Thus scholars generally think that the earliest Mahāyāna sūtras were mainly composed in the south of India, and later the activity of writing additional scriptures was continued in the north.[28] However, the assumption that the presence of an evolving body of Mahāyāna scriptures implies the contemporaneous existence of distinct religious movement called “Mahāyāna”, may be a serious misstep.[29]

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Mahāyāna Buddhist triad, including Bodhisattva Maitreya, the Buddha, and Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara. 2nd–3rd century CE, Gandhāra.

Earliest inscriptions

The earliest stone inscription containing a recognizably Mahāyāna formulation and a mention of the Buddha Amitabha was found in the Indian subcontinent in Mathura, and dated to around 180 CE. Remains of a statue of a Buddha bear the Brahmi inscription: “Made in the year 28 of the reign of king Huvishka, … for the Buddha Amitabha” (Mathura Museum).

However, this image was in itself extremely marginal and isolated in the overall context of Buddhism in India at the time, and had no lasting or long-term consequences.[30] Evidence of the name “Mahāyāna” in Indian inscriptions in the period before the 5th century is very limited in comparison to the multiplicity of Mahāyāna writings transmitted from Central Asia to China at that time.[31][32]

These views of a discrepancy between translated texts and epigraphical evidence assume the presence of Mahāyāna as distinct from the “Hīnayāna” schools. This view has been largely disproved in more recent scholarship, as Mahāyāna is now recognized as a tradition working within the context of the early Buddhist schools rather than as a separate movement.

Early Mahāyāna Buddhism

During the period of early Mahāyāna Buddhism, four major types of thought developed: Mādhyamaka, Yogācāra, Buddha Nature (Tathāgatagarbha), and Buddhist Logic as the last and most recent.[33] In India, the two main philosophical schools of the Mahāyāna were the Mādhyamaka and the later Yogācāra.[34]

Legacy of Early Mahāyāna Buddhism

Earlier stage forms of Mahāyāna such as the doctrines of Prajñāpāramitā, Yogācāra, Buddha Nature, and the Pure Land teachings are still popular in East Asia. In some cases these have spawned new developments, while in others they are treated in the more traditional syncretic manner. Paul Williams has noted that in this tradition in the Far East, primacy has always been given to study of the sūtras.[35]

Late Mahāyāna Buddhism

Late stage forms of Mahāyāna Buddhism in India are found largely in the schools of Esoteric Buddhism. These were replaced in India and Central Asia after the early millennium by Islam (Sufism etc.) and Hinduism, and in south-east Asia by Theravāda Buddhism from Sri Lanka and Islam. They continue to exist in certain regions of the Himalayas. In contrast to the East Asian traditions, there has been a strong tendency in Tibetan Buddhism and the Himalayan traditions to approach the sūtras indirectly through the medium of exegetical treatises if at all.[35]

Doctrine

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Amitābha Buddha statue from Borobodur, Indonesia.

Few things can be said with certainty about Mahāyāna Buddhism,[36] especially its early Indian form, other than that the Buddhism practiced in China, Vietnam, Korea, Tibet, and Japan is Mahāyāna Buddhism.[37] Mahāyāna can be described as a loosely bound collection of many teachings with large and expansive doctrines that are able to coexist simultaneously.[38]

Mahāyāna constitutes an inclusive tradition characterized by plurality and the adoption of new Mahāyāna sūtras in addition to the earlier Āgama texts. Mahāyāna sees itself as penetrating further and more profoundly into the Buddha’s Dharma. There is a tendency in Mahāyāna sūtras to regard adherence to these sūtras as generating spiritual benefits greater than those that arise from being a follower of the non-Mahāyāna approaches to Dharma. Thus the Śrīmālādevī Sūtra claims that the Buddha said that devotion to Mahāyāna is inherently superior in its virtues to the following the śravaka or pratyekabuddha paths.[39]

The fundamental principles of Mahāyāna doctrine were based on the possibility of universal liberation from suffering for all beings (hence the “Great Vehicle”) and the existence of buddhas and bodhisattvas embodying Buddha Nature. The Pure Land school of Mahāyāna simplify the expression of faith by allowing salvation to be alternatively obtained through the grace of the Amitābha Buddha by having faith and devoting oneself to mindfulness of the Buddha. This devotional lifestyle of Buddhism has greatly contributed to the success of Mahāyāna in East Asia, where spiritual elements traditionally relied upon mindfulness of the Buddha, mantras and dhāraṇīs, and reading of Mahāyāna sūtras. In Chinese Buddhism, most monks, let alone lay people, practice Pure Land, some combining it with Chán (Zen).[40]

Most Mahāyāna schools believe in supernatural bodhisattvas who devote themselves to the perfections (Skt. pāramitā), ultimate knowledge (Skt. sarvajñāna), and the liberation of all sentient beings. In Mahāyāna, the Buddha is seen as the ultimate, highest being, present in all times, in all beings, and in all places, and the bodhisattvas come to represent the universal ideal of altruistic excellence.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/80/Maitreya_Buddha_the_next_Buddha.jpg/170px-Maitreya_Buddha_the_next_Buddha.jpg

 

Bodhisattva Maitreya, the future successor of Gautama Buddha. Thikse monastery, Ladakh.

Universalism

Mahāyāna traditions generally consider that attainment of the level of arhat is not final. This is based on a subtle doctrinal distinction between the Mahāyāna and some views contained in the early Buddhist schools concerning the issues of Nirvāṇa With Remainder and Nirvāṇa Without Remainder. The Mahāyāna position here is similar to that of the early school of the Mahāsāṃghika.

Some of the early schools considered that Nirvāṇa Without Remainder always follows Nirvāṇa With Remainder (Buddhas first achieve enlightenment and then, at “death”, Mahāparinirvāṇa) and that Nirvāṇa Without Remainder is final; whereas the Mahāyāna traditions consider that Nirvāṇa Without Remainder is always followed by Nirvāṇa With Remainder— the state of attainment of arhat is not considered final, and should be succeeded by Bodhisattvahood.

This distinction is most evident regarding doctrinal concerns about the capability of a Buddha after Nirvāṇa, which is identified by the early schools as being Nirvāṇa Without Remainder. Amongst the early schools, a completely enlightened Buddha (Skt. samyaksaṃbuddha) is not able to directly point the way to Nirvāṇa after death. SomeMahayana schools however, hold that once a completely enlightened Buddha (Skt. samyaksaṃbuddha) arises, he or she continues to directly and actively point the way to Nirvāṇa until there are no beings left in saṃsāra. Consequently, some Mahāyāna schools talk of a bodhisattva deliberately refraining from Buddhahood.[41] The Lotus Sutra states that Shakyamuni Buddha’s parinirvana is an expedient, and that he actually remains in the world to teach and guide living beings.[42] This is why Nichiren Buddhism regards Shakyamuni as the Eternal Buddha.[43]

The early schools held that Maitreya will be the next Buddha to rediscover the path to Nirvana, when teachings of Gautam Buddha are forgotten[citation needed]. In contrast, some Mahāyāna schools[who?] hold that Maitreya will be the next buddha manifest in this world and will introduce the Dharma when it no longer exists, but when he dies (or enters Mahāparinirvāṇa), he will likewise continue to teach the Dharma for all time[citation needed]. Moreover, some Mahāyāna schoolsargue that although it is true that, for this world-system, Maitreya will be the next buddha to manifest, there are an infinite number of world-systems, many of which have currently active buddhas or bodhisattvas manifesting.

Because the Mahāyāna traditions assert that eventually everyone will achieve complete enlightenment (Skt. Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi), the Mahāyāna is labeled universalist, whereas the stance of the early scriptures is that attaining Nirvāṇa depends on effort and is not pre-determined.[44]

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Avalokiteśvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. Ajaṇṭā Caves, Mahārāṣtra, India.

Bodhisattva

The Mahāyāna tradition holds that pursuing only the release from suffering and attainment of Nirvāṇa is too narrow an aspiration, because it lacks the motivation of actively resolving to liberate all other sentient beings from Saṃsāra. One who engages in this path is called a bodhisattva.

The defining characteristic of a bodhisattva is bodhicitta, the intention to achieve omniscient Buddhahood (Trikaya) as fast as possible, so that one may benefit infinite sentient beings. Sometimes the term bodhisattva is used more restrictively to refer to those sentient beings on the grounds. As Ananda Coomaraswamy notes, “The most essential part of the Mahayana is its emphasis on the Bodhisattva ideal, which replaces that of the arhat, or ranks before it.”[45] According to Mahāyāna teachings, being a high-level bodhisattva involves possessing a mind of great compassion and transcendent wisdom (Skt. prajñā) to realize the reality of inherent emptiness and dependent origination. Mahāyāna teaches that the practitioner will finally realize the attainment of Buddhahood.

Six perfections (Skt. pāramitā) are traditionally required for bodhisattvas:

dāna-pāramitā: the perfection of giving śīla-pāramitā: the perfection on behavior and discipline kṣānti-pāramitā: the perfection of forbearance vīrya-pāramitā: the perfection of vigor and diligence dhyāna-pāramitā: the perfection of meditation prajñā-pāramitā: the perfection of transcendent wisdom

Expedient means

Expedient means (Skt. upāya) is found in the Lotus Sutra, one of the earliest dated Mahāyāna sūtras, and is accepted in all Mahāyāna schools of thought. It is any effective method that aids awakening. It does not necessarily mean that some particular method is “untrue” but is simply any means or stratagem that is conducive to spiritual growth and leads beings to awakening and nirvana. Expedient means could thus be certain motivational words for a particular listener or even the noble eightfold path itself. Basic Buddhism (what Mahāyāna would term śravakayāna or pratyekabuddhayāna) is an expedient method for helping people begin the noble Buddhist path and advance quite far. But the path is not wholly traversed, according to some Mahāyāna schools, until the practitioner has striven for and attained Buddhahood for the liberation of all other sentient beings from suffering.

Some scholars have stated that the exercise of expedient means, “the ability to adapt one’s message to the audience, is also of enormous importance in the Pāli canon.”[46] In fact the Pāli term upāya-kosalla does occur in the Pāli Canon, in the Sangiti Sutta of the Digha Nikāya.[47]

Liberation

“Devotional” Mahāyāna developed a rich cosmography, with various Buddhas and bodhisattvas residing in paradise realms. The concept of the three bodies (trikāya) supports these constructions, making the Buddha himself a transcendental figure. Dr. Guang Xing describes the Mahāyāna Buddha as “an omnipotent divinity endowed with numerous supernatural attributes and qualities …[He] is described almost as an omnipotent and almighty godhead.”[48]

Under various conditions, the realms Buddha presides over could be attained by devotees after their death so, when reborn, they could strive towards buddhahood in the best possible conditions. Depending on the sect, this salvation to “paradise” can be obtained by faith, imaging, or sometimes even by the simple invocation of the Buddha’s name. This approach to salvation is at the origin of the mass appeal of devotional Buddhism, especially represented by the Pure Land (浄土宗).

This rich cosmography also allowed Mahāyāna to be quite syncretic and accommodating of other faiths or deities. Various origins have been suggested to explain its emergence, such as “popular Hindu devotional cults (bhakti), and Persian and Greco-Roman theologies, which filtered into India from the northwest”.[49]

Buddha nature

The teaching of a “Buddha nature” (Skt. tathāgatagarbha) may be based on the “luminous mind” concept found in the Āgamas. The essential idea, articulated in the Buddha nature sūtras, but not accepted by all Mahāyānists, is that no being is without a concealed but indestructible interior link to the awakening of bodhi and that this link is an uncreated element (dhātu) or principle deep inside each being, which constitutes the deathless, diamond-like “essence of the self”.[50] The Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra states: “The essence of the Self (ātman) is the subtle Buddha nature…” while the later Lankāvatāra Sūtra states that the Buddha nature might be taken to be self (ātman), but it is not. In the Buddha nature class of sūtras, the word “self” (ātman) is used in a way defined by and specific to these sūtras. (See Atman (Buddhism).)

According to some scholars, the Buddha nature discussed in some Mahāyāna sūtras does not represent a substantial self (ātman); rather, it is a positive language and expression of emptiness (śūnyatā) and represents the potentiality to realize Buddhahood through Buddhist practices.[51] It is the “true self” in representing the innate aspect of the individual that makes actualizing the ultimate personality possible.

The actual “seeing and knowing” of this Buddha essence (Buddha-dhātu, co-terminous with the Dharmakāya or selfof Buddha) is said to usher in nirvanic liberation. This Buddha essence or “Buddha nature” is stated to be found in every single person, ghost, god and sentient being. In the Buddha nature sūtras, the Buddha is portrayed as describing the Buddha essence as uncreated, deathless and ultimately beyond rational grasping or conceptualisation. Yet, it is this already real and present, hidden internal element of awakeness (bodhi) that, according to the Buddha nature sūtras, prompts beings to seek liberation from worldly suffering, and lets them attain the spotless bliss that lies at the heart of their being. Once the veils of negative thoughts, feelings, and unwholesome behaviour (the kleśas) are eliminated from the mind and character, the indwelling Buddha principle (Buddha-dhātu: Buddha nature) can shine forth unimpededly and transform the seer into a Buddha.

Prior to the period of these sūtras, Mahāyāna metaphysics was dominated by teachings on emptiness, in the form of Madhyamaka philosophy. The language used by this approach is primarily negative, and the Buddha nature genre of sūtras can be seen as an attempt to state orthodox Buddhist teachings of dependent origination and on the mysterious reality of nirvana using positive language instead, to prevent people from being turned away from Buddhism by a false impression of nihilism. In these sūtras the perfection of the wisdom of not-self is stated to be the true self; the ultimate goal of the path is then characterized using a range of positive language that had been used in Indian philosophy previously by essentialist philosophers, but was now transmuted into a new Buddhist vocabulary that described a being who has successfully completed the Buddhist path.[52]

The Uttaratantra (an exegetical treatise on Buddha nature) sees Buddha nature not as caused and conditioned (saṃskṛta), but as eternal, uncaused, unconditioned, and incapable of being destroyed, although temporarily concealed within worldly beings by adventitious defilements.[53] According to Buddhist scholar Dr. C. D. Sebastian, the Uttaratantra’s reference to a transcendental self (ātmapāramitā) should be understood as “the unique essence of the universe,”[54] thus the universal and immanent essence of Buddha nature is the same throughout time and space.[55]

Mahāyāna scriptures

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/ff/Buddha_in_Sarnath_Museum_%28Dhammajak_Mutra%29.jpg/170px-Buddha_in_Sarnath_Museum_%28Dhammajak_Mutra%29.jpg

 

Statue of the Buddha with Dharmacakra Mudra, symbolizing his teaching of the Dharma. Sarnath, Vārāṇasī.

Mahāyāna and the Āgamas

Mahāyāna Buddhism takes the basic teachings of the Buddha as recorded in early scriptures as the starting point of its teachings, such as those concerning karma and rebirth, anātman, emptiness, dependent origination, and the Four Noble Truths. Mahāyāna Buddhists in East Asia have traditionally studied these teachings in the Āgamas preserved in the Chinese Buddhist canon. “Āgama” is the term used by those traditional Buddhist schools in India who employed Sanskrit for their basic canon. These correspond to the Nikāyas used by the Theravāda school. The surviving Āgamas in Chinese translation belong to at least two schools, while most of the Āgamas teachings were never translated into Tibetan.

In addition to accepting the essential scriptures of the various early Buddhist schools as valid, Mahāyāna Buddhism also maintains large additional collections of sūtras that are not used or recognized by the Theravāda school. In the past, these were also not recognized by some individuals within the early Buddhist schools. In other cases, Buddhist communities were divided along these doctrinal lines. In Mahāyāna Buddhism, the Mahāyāna sūtras are often given greater authority than the Āgamas. The first of these Mahāyāna-specific writings were written probably around the 1st century BCE[56] or 1st century CE.[57]

Turnings of the Dharma Wheel

Dating back at least to the Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra is a classification of the corpus of Buddhism into three categories, based on ways of understanding the nature of reality, known as the “Three Turnings of the Dharma Wheel“. According to this view, there were three such “turnings”:[58]

Four Noble Truths at Vārāṇasī for those in the śravaka vehicle. It is described as marvelous and wonderful, but requiring interpretation and occasioning controversy.[59] The doctrines of the first turning are exemplified in the Dharmacakra Pravartana Sūtra. This turning represents the earliest phase of the Buddhist teachings and the earliest period in the history of Buddhism. In the second turning, the Buddha taught the Mahāyāna teachings to the bodhisattvas, teaching that all phenomena have no-essence, no arising, no passing away, are originally quiescent, and essentially in cessation. This turning is also described as marvelous and wonderful, but requiring interpretation and occasioning controversy.[59] Doctrine of the second turning is established in the Prajñāpāramitā teachings, first put into writing around 100 BCE. In Indian philosophical schools, it is exemplified by the Mādhyamaka school of Nāgārjuna. In the third turning, the Buddha taught similar teachings to the second turning, but for everyone in the three vehicles, including all the śravakas, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas. These were meant to be completely explicit teachings in their entire detail, for which interpretations would not be necessary, and controversy would not occur.[59] These teachings were established by the Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra as early as the 1st or 2nd century CE.[60] In the Indian philosophical schools, the third turning is exemplified by the Yogācāra school of Asaṅga and Vasubandhu.

Some traditions of Tibetan Buddhism consider the teachings of Esoteric Buddhism and Vajrayāna to be the third turning of the Dharma Wheel. Tibetan teachers, particularly of the Gelugpa school, regard the second turning as the highest teaching, due to their particular interpretation of Yogācāra doctrine. The Buddha Nature teachings are normally included in the third turning of the wheel. The Chinese tradition has a different scheme.

The Chinese scholar T’ien-T’ai believed the Buddha taught over Five Periods[61]. These are:

[62]. The Agama Period[63]. The Correct and Equal Period (provisional Mahayana Sutras, including the Amida, Mahavairochana and Vimalakirti Sutras)[64]. The Wisdom Period (Perfection of Wisdom Sutras)[65]. The Lotus and Nirvana Period (when Shakyamuni taught from the standpoint of his Enlightenment)[66].

Mahāyāna and early canon

Scholars have noted that many key Mahāyāna ideas are closely connected to the earliest texts of Buddhism. The seminal work of Mahāyāna philosophy, Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, mentions the canon’s Katyāyana Sūtra (SA 301) by name, and may be an extended commentary on that work.[67] Nāgārjuna systematized the Mādhyamaka school of Mahāyāna philosophy. He may have arrived at his positions from a desire to achieve a consistent exegesis of the Buddha’s doctrine as recorded in the canon. In his eyes the Buddha was not merely a forerunner, but the very founder of the Mādhyamaka system.[68] Nāgārjuna also referred to a passage in the canon regarding “nirvanic consciousness” in two different works.[69]

Yogācāra, the other prominent Mahāyāna school in dialectic with the Mādhyamaka school, gave a special significance to the canon’s Lesser Discourse on Emptiness (MA 190).[70] A passage there (which the discourse itself emphasizes) is often quoted in later Yogācāra texts as a true definition of emptiness.[71] According to Walpola Rahula, the thought presented in the Yogācāra school’s Abhidharma-samuccaya is undeniably closer to that of the Pali Nikayas than is that of the Theravadin Abhidhamma.[72]

Both the Mādhyamikas and the Yogācārins saw themselves as preserving the Buddhist Middle Way between the extremes of nihilism (everything as unreal) and substantialism (substantial entities existing). The Yogācārins criticized the Mādhyamikas for tending towards nihilism, while the Mādhyamikas criticized the Yogācārins for tending towards substantialism.[73]

Key Mahāyāna texts introducing the concepts of bodhicitta and Buddha nature also use language parallel to passages in the canon containing the Buddha’s description of “luminous mind” and may have been based on this idea.[74]

Mahāyāna and the Theravāda school

Role of the Bodhisattva

In the early Buddhist texts, and as taught by the modern Theravada school, the goal of becoming a teaching Buddha in a future life is viewed as the aim of a small group of individuals striving to benefit future generations after the current Buddha’s teachings have been lost, but in the current age there is no need for most practitioners to aspire to this goal. Theravada texts do, however, hold that this is a more perfectly virtuous goal.[75]

Theravāda and Hīnayāna

Although the Theravāda school is usually described as belonging to Hīnayāna,[76][77][78][79][80] some authors have argued that it should not be considered such from the Mahāyāna perspective. Their view is based on a different understanding of the concept of Hīnayāna. Rather than regarding the term as referring to any school of Buddhism that hasn’t accepted the Mahāyāna canon and doctrines, such as those pertaining to the role of the boddhisatva,[77][79] these authors argue that the classification of a school as “Hīnayāna” should be crucially dependent on the adherence to a specific phenomenological position. They point out that unlike the now-extinct Sarvāstivāda school, which was the primary object of Mahāyāna criticism, the Theravāda does not claim the existence of independent entities (dharmas); in this it maintains the attitude of early Buddhism.[81][82][83] Adherents of Mahāyāna Buddhism disagreed with the substantialist thought of the Sarvāstivādins and Sautrāntikas, and in emphasizing the doctrine of emptiness, Kalupahana holds that they endeavored to preserve the early teaching.[84] The Theravādins too refuted the Sarvāstivādins and Sautrāntikas (and other schools) on the grounds that their theories were in conflict with the non-substantialism of the canon. The Theravāda arguments are preserved in the Kathāvatthu.[85] Thus, according to this view, no form of real Hīnayāna Buddhism survives today.

Some contemporary Theravādin figures have indicated a sympathetic stance toward the Mahāyāna philosophy found in texts such as the Heart Sūtra (Skt. Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya) and Nāgārjuna’s Fundamental Stanzas on the Middle Way (Skt. Mūlamadhyamakakārikā).[86][87]

References

1.       ^ a b c Keown, Damien (2003), A Dictionary of Buddhism: p. 38

2.       ^ Warder, A.K. Indian Buddhism. 2000. p. 11

3.       ^ Ray, Reginald. Buddhist Saints in India: A Study in Buddhist Values and Orientations. 1999. p. 426

4.       ^ Guang Xing. The Concept of the Buddha: Its Evolution from Early Buddhism to the Trikaya Theory. 2004. p. 65-6

5.       ^ Skilton, Andrew. A Concise History of Buddhism. 2004. p. 48

6.       ^ Williams, Jane, and Williams, Paul. Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies, Volume 2. 2005. p. 189

7.       ^ “The Mahayana, ‘Great Vehicle’ or ‘Great Carriage’ (for carrying all beings to nirvana), is also, and perhaps more correctly and accurately, known as the Bodhisattvayana, the bodhisattva’s vehicle.” – Warder, A.K. (3rd edn. 1999). Indian Buddhism: p. 338

8.       ^ a b Nattier, Jan (2003), A few good men: the Bodhisattva path according to the Inquiry of Ugra: p. 174

9.       ^ Nattier, Jan (2003), A few good men: the Bodhisattva path according to the Inquiry of Ugra: p. 172

10.    ^ Ven. Dr. W. Rahula, Theravada – Mahayana Buddhism

11.    ^ Williams, Paul. Buddhism. Vol. 3. The origins and nature of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Routledge. 2004. p. 50.

12.    ^ I have assumed that, in the earliest stage of the transmission of the Lotus Sūtra, the Middle Indic forn jāṇa or *jāna (= Pkt < Skt jñāna, yāna) had stood in these places … I have assumed, further, that the Mahāyānist terms buddha-yānā (“the Buddha-vehicle”), mahāyāna (“the great vehicle”), hīnayāna (“the inferior vehicle”) meant originally buddha-jñāna (“buddha-knowledge”), mahājñāna (“great knowledge”) and hīnajñāna (“inferior knowledge”). Karashima, Seishi (2001). Some Features of the Language of the Saddharma-puṇḍarīka-sūtra, Indo-Iranian Journal 44: 207-230

13.    ^ Williams, Paul. Buddhism. Vol. 3. The origins and nature of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Routledge. 2004. p. 50

14.    ^ Akira, Hirakawa (translated and edited by Paul Groner) (1993. A History of Indian Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass: p. 260

15.    ^ Akira, Hirakawa (1993), A History of Indian Buddhism: From Sakyamuni to Early Mahayana: p. 271

16.    ^ e.g. Williams, Mahayana Buddhism

17.    ^ “As scholars have moved away from this limited corpus, and have begun to explore a wider range of Mahayana sūtras, they have stumbled on, and have started to open up, a literature that is often stridently ascetic and heavily engaged in reinventing the forest ideal, an individualistic, antisocial, ascetic ideal that is encapsulated in the apparently resurrected image of “wandering alone like a rhinoceros.” Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): p. 494

18.    ^ “One of the most frequent assertions about the Mahayana … is that it was a lay-influenced, or even lay-inspired and dominated, movement that arose in response to the increasingly closed, cold, and scholastic character of monastic Buddhism. This, however, now appears to be wrong on all counts.” Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): p. 494

19.    ^ a b Nattier, Jan (2003), A few good men: the Bodhisattva path according to the Inquiry of Ugra: p. 193-194

20.    ^ Williams, Paul (2008) Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations: p. 4-5

21.    ^ Williams, Paul (2008) Mahāyāna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations: p. 5

22.    ^ a b “The most important evidence — in fact the only evidence — for situating the emergence of the Mahayana around the beginning of the common era was not Indian evidence at all, but came from China. Already by the last quarter of the 2nd century CE, there was a small, seemingly idiosyncratic collection of substantial Mahayana sutras translated into what Erik Zürcher calls ‘broken Chinese’ by an Indoscythian, whose Indian name has been reconstructed as Lokaksema.” Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): p. 492

23.    ^ Akira, Hirakawa (translated and edited by Paul Groner) (1993. A History of Indian Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass: p. 263, 268

24.    ^ “The south (of India) was then vigorously creative in producing Mahayana Sutras” – Warder, A.K. (3rd edn. 1999). Indian Buddhism: p. 335.

25.    ^ Akira, Hirakawa (translated and edited by Paul Groner) (1993. A History of Indian Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass: p. 253

26.    ^ Akira, Hirakawa (translated and edited by Paul Groner) (1993. A History of Indian Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass: p. 248-251

27.    ^ Akira, Hirakawa (translated and edited by Paul Groner) (1993. A History of Indian Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass: p. 252, 253

28.    ^ “The sudden appearance of large numbers of (Mahayana) teachers and texts (in North India in the second century AD) would seem to require some previous preparation and development, and this we can look for in the South.” – Warder, A.K. (3rd edn. 1999). Indian Buddhism: p. 335.

29.    ^ “But even apart from the obvious weaknesses inherent in arguments of this kind there is here the tacit equation of a body of literature with a religious movement, an assumption that evidence for the presence of one proves the existence of the other, and this may be a serious misstep.” – Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): p. 493

30.    ^ “In other words, once nontextual evidence is taken into account the picture changes dramatically. Rather than being datable to the beginning of the common era, this strand of Mahayana Buddhism, at least, appeared to have no visible impact on Indian Buddhist cult practice until the 2nd century, and even then what impact it had was extremely isolated and marginal, and had no lasting or long-term consequences — there were no further references to Amitabha in Indian image inscriptions. Almost exactly the same pattern occurs (concerning Mahayana) on an even broader scale when nontextual evidence is considered.” – Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): p. 493

31.    ^ “Certainly, we have for this period an extensive body of inscriptions from virtually all parts of India. … But nowhere in this extensive body of material is there any reference, prior to the fifth century, to a named Mahāyāna.”, Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): p. 493

32.    ^ “What is particularly disconcerting here is the disconnect between expectation and reality: We know from Chinese translations that large numbers of Mahāyāna sutras were being composed in the period between the beginning of the common era and the fifth century. But outside of texts, at least in India, at exactly the same period, very different — in fact seemingly older — ideas and aspirations appear to be motivating actual behavior, and old and established Hinayana groups appear to be the only ones that are patronized and supported., Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): p. 494

33.    ^ Akira, Hirakawa (translated and edited by Paul Groner) (1993. A History of Indian Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass: p. 8,9

34.    ^ Harvey, Peter (1993). An Introduction to Buddhism. Cambridge University Press: p. 95.

35.    ^ a b Williams, Paul (1989). Mahayana Buddhism: p.103

36.    ^ “There are, it seems, very few things that can be said with certainty about Mahayana Buddhism”, Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): p. 492

37.    ^ “But apart from the fact that it can be said with some certainty that the Buddhism embedded in China, Korea, Tibet, and Japan is Mahayana Buddhism, it is no longer clear what else can be said with certainty about Mahayana Buddhism itself, and especially about its earlier, and presumably formative, period in India.”, Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): p. 492

38.    ^ “It has become increasingly clear that Mahayana Buddhism was never one thing, but rather, it seems, a loosely bound bundle of many, and — like Walt Whitman — was large and could contain, in both senses of the term, contradictions, or at least antipodal elements.” – Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): p. 492

39.    ^ Hookham, Dr. Shenpen, trans. (1998). The Shrimaladevi Sutra. Oxford: Longchen Foundation: p.27

40.    ^ Welch (1967). Practice of Chinese Buddhism. Harvard: p. 396

41.    ^ Cook (1977). Hua-Yen Buddhism. Pennsylvania State University Press

42.    ^ Lotus Sutra, Ch. 16, Lifespan of the Thus Come One

43.    ^ Nichiren the Buddhist Prophet, MASAHARU ANESAKI, p. 27, CAMBRIDGE HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS (1916)

44.    ^ Harvey, Peter (1995). The Selfless Mind. Curzon Press: p. 87.

45.    ^ Coomaraswamy, Ananda (1975). Buddha and the Gospel of Buddhism. Boston: University Books, Inc.. p. 229. LCCN 64056434.

46.    ^ “It is true that the term translated ‘expounding in means’, upaya-kausalya, is post-canonical, but the exercise of expounding to which it refers, the ability to adapt one’s message to the audience, is of enormous importance in the Pali Canon.” Gombrich, Richard F. (1997). How Buddhism Began. Munshiram Manoharlal: p. 17

47.    ^ Walshe, M. trans. (1987). Thus Have I Heard: the Long Discourses of the Buddha. Wisdom: p. 486

48.    ^ Guang Xing (2005). The Three Bodies of the Buddha: The Origin and Development of the Trikaya Theory. Oxford: Routledge Curzon: pp.1 and 85

49.    ^ Lowenstein, Tom. The Vision of the Buddha

50.    ^ Nirvāṇa Sūtra

51.    ^ Heng-Ching Shih, The Significance Of “Tathagatagarbha”—A Positive Expression Of “Sunyata”.

52.    ^ King, Sallie B. The Doctrine of Buddha-Nature is impeccably Buddhist: pp. 174-179.

53.    ^ Sebastian, Professor C. D. (2005), Metaphysics and Mysticism in Mahayana Buddhism. Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications: p. 268

54.    ^ Sebastian, Professor C. D. (2005), Metaphysics and Mysticism in Mahayana Buddhism. Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications: p. 151; cf. also p. 110

55.    ^ Sebastian, Professor C. D. (2005), Metaphysics and Mysticism in Mahayana Buddhism. Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications: p. 278

56.    ^ Akira, Hirakawa (translated and edited by Paul Groner) (1993). A History of Indian Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass: p. 252

57.    ^ Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): p. 293

58.    ^ Kitagawa, Joseph Mitsuo (2002). The Religious Traditions of Asia: Religion, History, and Culture. Routledge. ISBN 0-7007-1762-5: p. 80

59.    ^ a b c Keenan, John (2000). The Scripture on the Explication of the Underlying Meaning. Numata Center. ISBN 1-886439-10-9: p. 49

60.    ^ Powers, John (1993), Hermeneutics and tradition in the Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra, Brill Academic Publishers, pp. 4–11, ISBN 9004098267

61.    ^ Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism, ‘Five Periods’

62.    ^ Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism, ‘Five Periods’

63.    ^ Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism, ‘Five Periods’

64.    ^ Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism, ‘Five Periods’

65.    ^ Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism, ‘Five Periods’

66.    ^ Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism, ‘Five Periods’

67.    ^ Kalupahana, David (2006). Mulamadhyamakakarika of Nagarjuna. Motilal Banarsidass: p. 5.

68.    ^ Lindtner, Christian (1997). Master of Wisdom. Dharma Publishing: p. 324.

69.    ^ Lindtner, Christian (1997). Master of Wisdom. Dharma Publishing: p. 322. Lindtner says that Nāgārjuna is referencing the DN.

70.    ^ Nagao, Gadjin M.; Kawamura, Leslie S., trans. (1991). Madhyamika and Yogachara. Albany: SUNY Press: p. 53.

71.    ^ Nagao, Gadjin M.; Kawamura, Leslie S., trans. (1991). Madhyamika and Yogachara. Albany: SUNY Press: p. 200.

72.    ^ Dan Lusthaus, Buddhist Phenomenology. Routledge, 2002, page 44, note 5. Lusthaus draws attention to Rahula’s Zen and the Taming of the Bull.

73.    ^ Harvey, Peter (1993). An Introduction to Buddhism. Cambridge University Press: p. 106.

74.    ^ Harvey, Peter (1989). Consciousness Mysticism in the Discourses of the Buddha. In Werner, Karel ed., The Yogi and the Mystic. Curzon Press: p. 97.

75.    ^ Harvey, Peter (2000). An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics. Cambridge University Press: p. 123.

76.    ^ Google Books

77.    ^ a b Gombrich, Richard Francis (1988). Theravāda Buddhism: P.83

78.    ^ Collins, Steven. 1990. Selfless Persons: Imagery and Thought in Theravāda Buddhism. P.21

79.    ^ a b Gellner, David N. (2005). Rebuilding Buddhism: P.14

80.    ^ Swearer, Donald (2006). Theravada Buddhist Societies. In: Juergensmeyer, Mark (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions: P.83

81.    ^ Hoffman, Frank J. and Mahinda, Deegalle (1996). Pali Buddhism. Routledge Press: p. 192.

82.    ^ King, Richard (1999). Indian Philosophy: An Introduction to Hindu and Buddhist Thought. Edinburgh University Press: p. 86.

83.    ^ Nyanaponika, Nyaponika Thera, Nyanaponika, Bhikkhu Bodhi (1998). Abhidhamma Studies: Buddhist Explorations of Consciousness and Time. Wisdom Publications: p. 42.

84.    ^ Kalupahana, David (2006). Mulamadhyamakakarika of Nagarjuna. Motilal Banarsidass: p. 6.

85.    ^ Kalupahana, David (2006). Mulamadhyamakakarika of Nagarjuna. Motilal Banarsidass: p. 24.

86.    ^ Lopez, Donald S. and Dge-ʼdun-chos-ʼphel (2006). The Madman’s Middle Way: Reflections on Reality of the Tibetan Monk Gendun Chopel. University of Chicago Press: p. 24.

87.    ^ Gil Fronsdal, in Tricycle, posted online on November 8, 2007