Who was the founder of Buddhism?
Siddhartha Gautama, a prince born in the 6th Century B.C.E., in what is now Nepal
- Regarded as the Supreme Buddha
- "Buddha" signifies "enlightened one" or "awakened one"
Around when and where was Buddhism founded?
500 B.C.E., in India
In what countries is Buddhism most prevalent today?
NOT in India, the birthplace of Buddhism
How many Buddhists are there in the world today?
Estimates range from 300 million to over 1 billion
- Accurate estimates are particularly difficult to obtain due to religious suppression in certain countries
- In any event, Buddhism is most likely the fourth largest religion in the world, after Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity
What four sights did the Buddha see that caused him to follow a spiritual path?
An old man
A sick man
An ascetic holy man
Where did the Buddha achieve enlightenment?
Under the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India, still a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists today
According to the teachings of the Buddha, what are the three marks of existence?
Three qualities shared by all things that exist in the world:
Dukkha (suffering, dissatisfaction)
What is anicca?
Impermanence, one of the three Buddhist marks of existence
Anicca does not mean that all things cease to exist; rather, it means that all things must eventually change forms.
What is dukkha?
Generally translated to "suffering," one of the three Buddhist marks of existence
- Originally, dukkha had a broader meaning: anxiety, disturbance, disquietude, turbulence
- Has been likened to a potter's wheel that does not turn smoothly, or a cart with a broken wheel
What is anatta?
Non-selfhood, one of the three Buddhist marks of existence: there is no "I" or permanent self
What are Buddhism's Four Noble Truths?
Life is dukkha
The cause of dukkha is desire
One can be freed from dukkha by liberating oneself from desire
The Noble Eightfold Path is the way to end dukkha
What is the Noble Eightfold Path?
The Buddhist way to achieve nirvana and enlightenment:
- Right understanding (of the Four Noble Truths and recognition of right and wrong)
- Right thinking (following good intentions)
- Right speech (honesty; no gossiping or cruel language)
- Right conduct (acting justly and no killing, stealing, or licentiousness)
- Right livelihood (supporting oneself without corruption)
- Right effort (promoting good thoughts and behavior)
- Right mindfulness (becoming aware of one's body and mind)
- Right concentration (meditation)
What alternate name is often used to refer to Gautama Buddha?
Sakyamuni, "Sage of the Sakya clan"
What are the three main Buddhist schools?
What are some important qualities of Theravada Buddhism?
The oldest, most conservative school
Primarily practiced in Sri Lanka and continental Southeast Asia
More of a philosophy, less deity-focused than other schools
Wisdom is emphasized as the highest goal
Enlightenment requires great effort and sacrifice
What are some important qualities of Mahayana Buddhism?
The largest school
Followed primarily in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam
Compassion is considered the most important goal
Enlightenment can come from leading a normal life
What are some important qualities of Vajrayana Buddhism?
Related to Mahayana Buddhism
Followed in Bhutan, Japan, Southwest China, Nepal, Mongolia, India, Russia, and Tibet
Emphasizes ritual as an alternative to meditation
What are some of the major texts of Buddhism?
The Tripitaka (a.k.a. Tipitaka, or Pali Canon)
The Mahayana Sutras
The Tibetan Book of the Dead
What is nirvana?
Buddhist notion of freedom
State of being free from suffering (caused by desire), or from the cycle of birth and rebirth (samsara)
What is karma?
In Buddhism, the total of one's good and bad deeds, which determines into which kind of life a person will be reincarnated
What is the Buddhist view on reincarnation?
A consciousness is reborn after death, but no permanent "soul" persists
The Buddha likened rebirth to using a candle flame to light another candle; the second flame arises from the initial flame, but the two are not the same
What is the significance of the Middle Way in Buddhism?
The Buddha used this term in his very first sermon to describe the path to enlightenment, which lies between the extremes of sensual gratification and self-mortification
In what ways is Buddhism unique among major world religions?
Its founder encouraged his disciples to question his authority and follow their own intuitions
It worships no central deity
Some deities are worshipped by Buddhists, but they arose from older folk traditions, not the teachings of the Buddha (these figures are often understood by worshippers to be purely metaphorical)
It does not regard worldly things as permanent
It rejects the notion of a permanent soul that exists before birth and persists after death
What is Zen Buddhism?
A school of Mahayana Buddhism
- Most famous Buddhist school in the West
- Focuses on meditation and experiential wisdom
- Rejects scripture
What is a bodhisattva?
In Buddhism, a living person who is on the path to enlightenment but has not yet achieved it
- Or, a celestial bodhisattva: a being that could achieve enlightenment, but has postponed nirvana in order to help others
- Similar to the Western concept of "god" or "goddess"
Who is Avalokitesvara/Kuan-Yin?
A Buddhist bodhisattva, something like a deity
- Avalokitesvara is the Sanskrit name and male form, while Kuan-Yin is the Chinese name and is usually depicted as a female
- Kuan-Yin is the embodiment of mercy and compassion and is associated with pregnancy and childbirth
What is the role of the Dalai Lama?
The Dalai Lama is the head of state and spiritual leader of Tibet
He is considered to be the current incarnation of a series of Buddhist tulkus, or high-ranking spiritual teachers, who are manifestations of Avalokitesvara
Who is Maitreya Buddha?
A future Buddha who will appear on Earth when the teachings of Gautama Buddha are no longer effectively communicated
Maitreya Buddha is currently in the form of a bodhisattva residing in the Tusita heaven, which can be reached through meditation