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Buddhism

Buddhism

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Buddhism (Pali
Pali language
Pāli is a Middle Indo-Aryan language of the Indian subcontinent. It is best known as the language of many of the earliest extant Buddhist scriptures, as collected in the Pāi Canon or Tipitaka, and as the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism.-Etymology of the name:The word Pali itself...

/ Bauddha Dharma) is a religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 and philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

, commonly known as the Buddha
Buddhahood
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

 (Pāli
Páli
- External links :* *...

/Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 "the awakened one"). The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 some time between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

 or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings
Sentient beings (Buddhism)
Sentient beings is a technical term in Buddhist discourse. Broadly speaking, it denotes beings with consciousness or sentience or, in some contexts, life itself. Specifically, it denotes the presence of the five aggregates, or skandhas...

 end ignorance (avidyā
Avidya (Buddhism)
Avidyā or avijjā means "ignorance" or "delusion" and is the opposite of 'vidyā' and 'rig pa'...

) of dependent origination, thus escaping what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth
Samsara (Buddhism)
or sangsara is a Sanskrit and Pāli term, which translates as "continuous movement" or "continuous flowing" and, in Buddhism, refers to the concept of a cycle of birth , and consequent decay and death , in which all beings in the universe participate, and which can only be escaped through...

.

Two major branches of Buddhism are recognized: Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 ("The School of the Elders") and Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 ("The Great Vehicle"). Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 and Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

. Mahayana is found throughout East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

 and includes the traditions of Pure Land
Pure land
A pure land, in Mahayana Buddhism, is the celestial realm or pure abode of a Buddha or Bodhisattva. The various traditions that focus on Pure Lands have been given the nomenclature Pure Land Buddhism. Pure lands are also evident in the literature and traditions of Taoism and Bön.The notion of 'pure...

, Zen
Zen
Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism founded by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chán , which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state."Zen...

, Nichiren Buddhism
Nichiren Buddhism
Nichiren Buddhism is a branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism based on the teachings of the 13th century Japanese monk Nichiren...

, Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, Shingon, Tiantai
Tiantai
Tiantai is an important school of Buddhism in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. In Japan the school is known as Tendai, and in Korea it is known as Cheontae. Tiantai is also called the "Lotus School", due to its emphasis on the Lotus Sūtra as its doctrinal basis...

 (Tendai
Tendai
is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism, a descendant of the Chinese Tiantai or Lotus Sutra school.Chappell frames the relevance of Tendai for a universal Buddhism:- History :...

) and Shinnyo-en. In some classifications Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

—as practiced mainly in Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 and Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

 —is recognized as a third branch, while others classify it as a part of Mahayana. There are other categorisations of these three Vehicles or Yana
Yana (Buddhism)
Yāna refers to a mode or method of spiritual practice in Buddhism, and in particular to divisions of various schools of Buddhism according to their type of practice.-Nomenclature, etymology and orthography:...

s.

While Buddhism remains most popular within Asia, both branches are now found throughout the world. Estimates of Buddhists worldwide vary significantly depending on the way Buddhist adherence is defined. Lower estimates are between 350–500 million.

Buddhist schools
Schools of Buddhism
Buddhism is an ancient, polyvalent ideological system that originated in the Iron Age Indian subcontinent, referred to variously throughout history by one or more of a myriad of concepts – including, but not limited to any of the following: a Dharmic religion, a philosophy or quasi-philosophical...

 vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures
Buddhist texts
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 authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized...

, and especially their respective practices. The cardinal doctrine of dependent origination is the only doctrine that is common to all Buddhist teachings from Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 to Dzogchen
Dzogchen
According to Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, Dzogchen is the natural, primordial state or natural condition of the mind, and a body of teachings and meditation practices aimed at realizing that condition. Dzogchen, or "Great Perfection", is a central teaching of the Nyingma school also practiced by...

 to the extinct schools. The foundations of Buddhist tradition and practice are the Three Jewels
Three Jewels
The Three Jewels, also called the Three Treasures, the Siemese Triples, Three Refuges, or the Triple Gem , are the three things that Buddhists take refuge in, and look toward for guidance, in the process known as taking refuge.The Three Jewels are:* BuddhaTaking refuge in the Three Jewels is...

: the Buddha, the Dharma
Dharma (Buddhism)
Dhamma or Dharma in Buddhism can have the following meanings:* The state of Nature as it is * The Laws of Nature considered collectively....

 (the teachings), and the Sangha
Sangha
Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...

 (the community). Taking "refuge
Refuge (Buddhism)
Buddhists "take refuge" in, or to "go for refuge" to, the Three Jewels . This can be done formally in lay and monastic ordination ceremonies.The Three Jewels general signification is: * the Buddha;* the Dharma, the teachings;...

 in the triple gem" has traditionally been a declaration and commitment to being on the Buddhist path and in general distinguishes a Buddhist from a non-Buddhist. Other practices may include following ethical precepts
Sila
Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

, support of the monastic community
Dana (Buddhism)
Dāna is generosity or giving. In Hinduism and Buddhism, it is the practice of cultivating generosity. Ultimately, the practice culminates in one of the perfections : the perfection of giving - dāna-pāramitā...

, renouncing
Nekkhamma
Nekkhamma is a Pali word generally translated as "renunciation" or "the pleasure of renunciation" while also conveying more specifically "giving up the world and leading a holy life" or "freedom from lust, craving and desires." In Buddhism's Noble Eightfold Path, nekkhamma is the first practice...

 conventional living and becoming a monastic
Buddhist monasticism
Monasticism is one of the most fundamental institutions of Buddhism. Monks and nuns are responsible for preserving and teaching Buddhist teachings and guiding Buddhist lay followers. Earlier Buddhist monks were enlightened...

, the development of mindfulness and practice of meditation
Buddhist meditation
Buddhist meditation refers to the meditative practices associated with the religion and philosophy of Buddhism.Core meditation techniques have been preserved in ancient Buddhist texts and have proliferated and diversified through teacher-student transmissions. Buddhists pursue meditation as part of...

, cultivation of higher wisdom and discernment, study of scriptures, devotional
Buddhist devotion
Buddhist devotion is an important part of the practice of most Buddhists. According to a spokesman of the Sasana Council of Burma, devotion to Buddhist spiritual practices inspires devotion to the Triple Gem...

 practices, ceremonies, and in the Mahayana tradition, invocation of buddhas and bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

s.

Life of the Buddha



The evidence of the early texts suggests that the Buddha was born in a community that was on the periphery, both geographically and culturally, of the northeastern Indian subcontinent in the 5th century BCE. It was either a small republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

, in which case his father was an elected chieftain, or an oligarchy
Oligarchy
Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, commercial, and/or military legitimacy...

, in which case his father was an oligarch.

According to the Theravada Tipitaka scriptures
Buddhist texts
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 authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized...

(from Pali, meaning "three baskets"), the Buddha was born in Lumbini
Lumbini
Lumbinī is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi district of Nepal. It is the place where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama, who as the Buddha Gautama founded the Buddhist tradition. The Buddha lived between roughly 563 and 483 BCE...

 in modern-day Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

, around the year 563 BCE, and raised in Kapilavastu
Kapilavastu
Kapilavastu is the name of a region of ancient Shakya kingdom that is considered a holy pilgrimage place for Buddhists. The search for the Buddha's birthplace following the accounts left by Xuanzang and Faxian involved various searches in the late 19th century...

.

According to this narrative, shortly after the birth of young prince Siddhartha Gautama, an astrologer
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

 visited the young prince's father—King Śuddhodana
Suddhodana
King Suddhodana was the father of Siddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha. He was a leader of the Shakya people, who lived in southern Nepal. Suddhodana's father was Sinahana...

—and prophesied that Siddhartha would either become a great king or renounce the material world to become a holy man, depending on whether he saw what life was like outside the palace walls.

Śuddhodana was determined to see his son become a king, so he prevented him from leaving the palace grounds. But at age 29, despite his father's efforts, Siddhartha ventured beyond the palace several times. In a series of encounters—known in Buddhist literature as the four sights
Four sights
The four sights were specific observations made by Prince Siddhārtha , which led to a realization. Before this, he had been confined to his palace by his father, who feared that he would become an ascetic if he came into contact with sufferings of life according to a prediction...

—he learned of the suffering of ordinary people, encountering an old man, a sick man, a corpse and, finally, an ascetic
Asceticism
Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals...

 holy man
Sadhu
In Hinduism, sādhu denotes an ascetic, wandering monk. Although the vast majority of sādhus are yogīs, not all yogīs are sādhus. The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa , the fourth and final aśrama , through meditation and contemplation of brahman...

, apparently content and at peace with the world. These experiences prompted Gautama to abandon royal life and take up a spiritual quest.

Gautama first went to study with famous religious teachers of the day, and mastered the meditative attainments they taught. But he found that they did not provide a permanent end to suffering, so he continued his quest. He next attempted an extreme asceticism, which was a religious pursuit common among the Shramana
Shramana
A shramana is a wandering monk in certain ascetic traditions of ancient India including Jainism, Buddhism, and Ājīvikism. Famous śramaṇas include Mahavira and Gautama Buddha....

s, a religious culture distinct from the Vedic one. Gautama underwent prolonged fasting, breath-holding, and exposure to pain. He almost starved himself to death in the process. He realized that he had taken this kind of practice to its limit, and had not put an end to suffering. So in a pivotal moment he accepted milk and rice from a village girl and changed his approach. He devoted himself to anapanasati
Anapanasati
Ānāpānasati , meaning 'mindfulness of breathing' , is a form of Buddhist meditation now common to the Tibetan, Zen, Tiantai, and Theravada schools of Buddhism, as well as western-based mindfulness programs.According to tradition, Anapanasati was...

 meditation, through which he discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way
Middle way
The Middle Way or Middle Path is the descriptive term that Siddhartha Gautama used to describe the character of the path he discovered that led to liberation. It was coined in the very first teaching that he delivered after his enlightenment...

 (Skt. madhyamā-pratipad): a path of moderation between the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification.
Gautama was now determined to complete his spiritual quest. At the age of 35, he famously sat in meditation
Meditation
Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit....

 under a sacred fig
Sacred Fig
The Sacred Fig, Ficus religiosa, or Bo-Tree , Peepal is a species of banyan fig native to India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, southwest China and Indochina...

 tree — known as the Bodhi tree
Bodhi tree
The Bodhi Tree, also known as Bo , was a large and very old Sacred Fig tree located in Bodh Gaya , under which Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism later known as Gautama Buddha, is said to have achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi...

 — in the town of Bodh Gaya, India, and vowed not to rise before achieving enlightenment
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

. After many days, he finally destroyed the fetters
Fetter (Buddhism)
In Buddhism, a mental fetter, chain or bond shackles a sentient being to sasāra, the cycle of lives with dukkha. By cutting through all fetters, one attains nibbāna ....

 of his mind, thereby liberating himself from the cycle of suffering and rebirth
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

, and arose as a fully enlightened being (Skt. ). Soon thereafter, he attracted a band of followers and instituted a monastic order
Sangha
Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...

. Now, as the Buddha, he spent the rest of his life teaching the path of awakening
Dharma (Buddhism)
Dhamma or Dharma in Buddhism can have the following meanings:* The state of Nature as it is * The Laws of Nature considered collectively....

 he had discovered, traveling throughout the northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent, and died at the age of 80 (483 BCE) in Kushinagar
Kushinagar
Kushinagar , Kusinagar or Kusinara is a town and a nagar panchayat in Kushinagar district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, where Gautama Buddha is believed to have attained Parinirvana after his death.-Demographics: India census, Kushinagar had a...

, India. The south branch of the original fig tree only available in Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura, , is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization.The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies 205 km north of the current capital Colombo in Sri Lanka's North Central Province, on the banks of the historic...

 Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 known as Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi.

The above narrative draws on the Nidānakathā biography of the Theravāda
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 sect in Sri Lanka, which is ascribed to Buddhaghoṣa
Buddhaghosa
Bhadantācariya Buddhaghoṣa(Chinese: 覺音)was a 5th-century Indian Theravadin Buddhist commentator and scholar. His best-known work is the Visuddhimagga, or Path of Purification, a comprehensive summary and analysis of the Theravada understanding of the Buddha's path to liberation...

 in the 5th century CE. Earlier biographies such as the Buddhacarita
Buddhacarita
Buddhacharita is an epic poem in the Sanskrit mahakavya style on the life of Gautama Buddha by , composed in the 2nd century AD...

, the Lokottaravādin Mahāvastu
Mahavastu
The Mahāvastu is a text of the Lokottaravāda school of Early Buddhism. It describes itself as being a historical preface to the Buddhist monastic codes...

, and the Mahāyāna
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 / Sarvāstivāda
Sarvastivada
The Sarvāstivāda were an early school of Buddhism that held to 'the existence of all dharmas in the past, present and future, the 'three times'. Vasubandhu's states:-Name:...

 Lalitavistara Sūtra
Lalitavistara Sutra
The Lalitavistara Sutra is a Mahayana Buddhist Vaipulya sutra that describes the sports of Gautama Buddha. It is a compilation of various works by no single author and includes some material from the Sarvastivada school. The scholar P. L...

, give different accounts.

Scholars are hesitant to make unqualified claims about the historical facts of the Buddha's life. Most accept that he lived, taught and founded a monastic order but do not consistently accept all of the details contained in his biographies. According to author Michael Carrithers, while there are good reasons to doubt the traditional account, "the outline of the life must be true: birth, maturity, renunciation, search, awakening and liberation, teaching, death."

In writing her biography of Buddha, Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong FRSL , is a British author and commentator who is the author of twelve books on comparative religion. A former Roman Catholic nun, she went from a conservative to a more liberal and mystical faith...

 noted, "It is obviously difficult, therefore, to write a biography of the Buddha that will meet modern criteria, because we have very little information that can be considered historically sound... [but] we can be reasonably confident Siddhatta Gotama did indeed exist and that his disciples preserved the memory of his life and teachings as well as they could."

Life and the world



Karma



Karma
Karma
Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

 (from Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

: "action, work") in Buddhism
Karma in Buddhism
Karma means "action" or "doing"; whatever one does, says, or thinks is a karma. In Buddhism, the term karma is used specifically for those actions which spring from the intention of an unenlightened being.These bring about a fruit or result Karma (Sanskrit, also karman, Pāli: Kamma) means...

 is the force that drives saṃsāra
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

—the cycle of suffering and rebirth for each being. Good, skillful deeds (Pāli
Páli
- External links :* *...

: "kusala") and bad, unskillful (Pāli: "akusala") actions produce "seeds" in the mind which come to fruition
Vipaka
Vipāka is a Buddhist technical term meaning the result of karma , or intentional actions.In Buddhist belief, the law of kamma-vipāka is of great importance. In a discourse the Buddha said “Intention, monks, is kamma I say...

 either in this life or in a subsequent rebirth
Rebirth (Buddhism)
Rebirth in Buddhism is the doctrine that the evolving consciousness or stream of consciousness upon death , becomes one of the contributing causes for the arising of a new aggregation...

. The avoidance of unwholesome actions and the cultivation of positive actions is called śīla
Sila
Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

 (from Sanskrit: "ethical conduct").

In Buddhism, karma specifically refers to those actions (of body, speech, and mind) that spring from mental intent ("cetana"), and which bring about a consequence (or fruit, "phala
Phala
Phala is a Sanskrit term that means “fruit” and refers to charisms in Hinduism and Buddhism. They are also known in Buddhism as Maha-phala, which are the Great fruit of the contemplative life....

") or result ("vipāka
Vipaka
Vipāka is a Buddhist technical term meaning the result of karma , or intentional actions.In Buddhist belief, the law of kamma-vipāka is of great importance. In a discourse the Buddha said “Intention, monks, is kamma I say...

").

In Theravada Buddhism there can be no divine salvation or forgiveness for one's karma, since it is a purely impersonal process that is a part of the makeup of the universe. Some Mahayana traditions hold different views. For example, the texts of certain Mahayana sutras (such as the Lotus Sutra
Lotus Sutra
The Lotus Sūtra is one of the most popular and influential Mahāyāna sūtras, and the basis on which the Tiantai and Nichiren sects of Buddhism were established.-Title:...

, the Angulimaliya Sutra
Angulimaliya Sutra
The Angulimaliya Sutra is a Buddhist scripture belonging to the Tathāgatagarbha class of sūtra, which teach that the Buddha is eternal, that the non-Self and emptiness teachings only apply to the worldly sphere , and that the tathagatagarbha is real and immanent within all beings and all phenomena...

 and the Nirvana Sutra) claim that reciting or merely hearing their texts can expunge great swathes of negative karma. Some forms of Buddhism (for example, Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

) regard the recitation of mantra
Mantra
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...

s as a means for cutting off previous negative karma. The Japanese Pure Land
Pure Land Buddhism
Pure Land Buddhism , also referred to as Amidism in English, is a broad branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism and currently one of the most popular traditions of Buddhism in East Asia. Pure Land is a branch of Buddhism focused on Amitābha Buddha...

 teacher Genshin
Genshin
Genshin , also known as Eshin Sozu, was the most influential of a number of Tendai scholars active during the tenth and eleventh centuries in Japan...

 taught that Amida Buddha has the power to destroy the karma that would otherwise bind one in saṃsāra.

Rebirth


Rebirth refers to a process whereby beings go through a succession of lifetimes as one of many possible forms of sentient
Sentience
Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive or be conscious, or to have subjective experiences. Eighteenth century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think from the ability to feel . In modern western philosophy, sentience is the ability to have sensations or experiences...

 life, each running from conception to death. Buddhism rejects the concepts of a permanent self
Self
The self is an individual person as the object of his or her own reflective consciousness. The self has been studied extensively by philosophers and psychologists and is central to many world religions.-Philosophy:...

 or an unchanging, eternal soul, as it is called in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 and Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. According to Buddhism there ultimately is no such thing as a self independent from the rest of the universe (the doctrine of anatta
Anatta
In Buddhism, anattā or anātman refers to the notion of "not-self." In the early texts, the Buddha commonly uses the word in the context of teaching that all things perceived by the senses are not really "I" or "mine," and for this reason one should not cling to them.In the same vein, the Pali...

). Rebirth in subsequent existences must be understood as the continuation of a dynamic, ever-changing process of "dependent arising" ("pratītyasamutpāda") determined by the laws of cause and effect (karma) rather than that of one being, transmigrating or incarnating
Incarnation
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

 from one existence to the next.

Each rebirth takes place within one of five realms according to Theravadins, or six
Six realms
The desire realm is one of three realms or three worlds in traditional Buddhist cosmology into which a being wandering in may be reborn. The other two are the form realm, and the formless realm The desire realm (Sanskrit kāma-dhātu) is one of three realms (Sanskrit: dhātu, Tibetan: khams) or...

 according to other schools. These are further subdivided into 31 planes of existence:
  1. Naraka beings
    Naraka (Buddhism)
    Naraka नरक or Niraya निरय is the name given to one of the worlds of greatest suffering in Buddhist cosmology.Naraka is usually translated into English as "hell", "hell realm", or "purgatory"...

    : those who live in one of many Narakas (Hells)
  2. Preta
    Preta
    Preta, प्रेत or Peta is the name for a type of being described in Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, and Jain texts that undergoes more than human suffering, particularly an extreme degree of hunger and thirst...

    : sometimes sharing some space with humans, but invisible to most people; an important variety is the hungry ghost
    Hungry ghost
    Hungry ghost is a Western translation of Chinese  , a concept in Chinese Buddhism and Chinese traditional religion representing beings who are driven by intense emotional needs in an animalistic way....

  3. Animals
    Animals in Buddhism
    The position and treatment of animals in Buddhism is important for the light it sheds on Buddhists' perception of their own relation to the natural world, on Buddhist humanitarian concerns in general, and on the relationship between Buddhist theory and Buddhist practice.-Animals in Buddhist...

    : sharing space with humans, but considered another type of life
  4. Human beings
    Human beings in Buddhism
    Humans in Buddhism are the subjects of an extensive commentarial literature that examines the nature and qualities of a human life from the point of view of humans' ability to achieve enlightenment...

    : one of the realms of rebirth in which attaining Nirvana is possible
  5. Asuras
    Asura (Buddhism)
    Asura in Buddhism is the name of the lowest ranks of the deities or demigods of the Kāmadhātu.-Origins and etymology:...

    : variously translated as lowly deities, demons, titans, antigods; not recognized by Theravāda (Mahavihara) tradition as a separate realm
  6. Devas
    Deva (Buddhism)
    A deva in Buddhism is one of many different types of non-human beings who share the characteristics of being more powerful, longer-lived, and, in general, living more contentedly than the average human being....

     including Brahmas
    Brahma (Buddhism)
    ' in Buddhism is the name for a type of exalted passionless deity , of which there are several in Buddhist cosmology.-Origins:The name originates in Vedic tradition, in which Brahmā appears as the creator of the universe...

    : variously translated as gods, deities, spirits, angels, or left untranslated


Rebirths in some of the higher heavens, known as the Śuddhāvāsa Worlds (Pure Abodes), can be attained only by skilled Buddhist practitioners known as anāgāmi
Anagami
In Buddhism, an anāgāmi is a partially enlightened person who has cut off the first five chains that bind the ordinary mind. Anagami-ship is the third of the four stages of enlightenment....

s (non-returners). Rebirths in the arupa-dhatu (formless realms) can be attained only by those who can meditate on the arūpajhāna
Arupajhana
In Buddhism, the arūpajhānas or "formless meditations" are four successive levels of meditation on non-material objects. These levels are higher than the rūpajhānas, and harder to attain...

s, the highest object of meditation.

According to East Asian and Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, there is an intermediate state
Bardo
The Tibetan word Bardo means literally "intermediate state" - also translated as "transitional state" or "in-between state" or "liminal state". In Sanskrit the concept has the name antarabhāva...

 (Tibetan
Tibetan language
The Tibetan languages are a cluster of mutually-unintelligible Tibeto-Burman languages spoken primarily by Tibetan peoples who live across a wide area of eastern Central Asia bordering the Indian subcontinent, including the Tibetan Plateau and the northern Indian subcontinent in Baltistan, Ladakh,...

 "Bardo") between one life and the next. The orthodox Theravada position rejects this; however there are passages in the Samyutta Nikaya
Samyutta Nikaya
The Samyutta Nikaya is a Buddhist scripture, the third of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka, which is one of the "three baskets" that compose the Pali Tipitaka of Theravada Buddhism. Because of the abbreviated way parts of the text are written, the total number of suttas is...

 of the Pali Canon
Pāli Canon
The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language. It is the only completely surviving early Buddhist canon, and one of the first to be written down...

 (the collection of texts on which the Theravada tradition is based), that seem to lend support to the idea that the Buddha taught of an intermediate stage between one life and the next.

Saṃsāra



Sentient beings crave pleasure and are averse to pain from birth to death. In being controlled by these attitudes, they perpetuate the cycle of conditioned existence and suffering (saṃsāra), and produce the causes and conditions of the next rebirth after death. Each rebirth repeats this process in an involuntary cycle, which Buddhists strive to end by eradicating these causes and conditions, applying the methods laid out by the Buddha and subsequent Buddhists.

The Four Noble Truths


According to the Pali Tipitaka and the Āgamas of other early Buddhist schools
Early Buddhist schools
The early Buddhist schools are those schools into which, according to most scholars, the Buddhist monastic saṅgha initially split, due originally to differences in vinaya, and later also due to doctrinal differences and geographical separation of groups of monks.The original saṅgha split into the...

, the Four Noble Truths were the first teaching of Gautama Buddha after attaining Nirvana. They are sometimes considered to contain the essence of the Buddha's teachings:
  1. Life as we know it ultimately is or leads to suffering/uneasiness (dukkha
    Dukkha
    Dukkha is a Pali term roughly corresponding to a number of terms in English including suffering, pain, discontent, unsatisfactoriness, unhappiness, sorrow, affliction, social alienation, anxiety,...

    ) in one way or another.
  2. Suffering is caused by craving
    Tanha
    ' or ' literally means "thirst," and is a synonym for "desire" or "craving," traditionally juxtaposed with upekkha .Synonyms:*愛 Cn: ài; Vi: ái...

    . This is often expressed as a deluded clinging to a certain sense of existence, to selfhood, or to the things or phenomena that we consider the cause of happiness or unhappiness. Craving also has its negative aspect, i.e. one craves that a certain state of affairs not exist.
  3. Suffering ends when craving ends. This is achieved by eliminating delusion, thereby reaching a liberated state of Enlightenment (bodhi
    Bodhi
    Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

    );
  4. Reaching this liberated state is achieved by following the path
    Noble Eightfold Path
    The Noble Eightfold Path , is one of the principal teachings of the Buddha, who described it as the way leading to the cessation of suffering and the achievement of self-awakening. It is used to develop insight into the true nature of phenomena and to eradicate greed, hatred, and delusion...

     laid out by the Buddha.


This method is described by early Western scholars, and taught as an introduction to Buddhism by some contemporary Mahayana teachers (for example, the Dalai Lama
14th Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama is the 14th and current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are the most influential figures in the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, although the 14th has consolidated control over the other lineages in recent years...

).

According to other interpretations by Buddhist teachers and scholars, lately recognized by some Western non-Buddhist scholars, the "truths" do not represent mere statements, but are categories or aspects that most worldly phenomena fall into, grouped in two:
  1. Suffering and causes of suffering
  2. Cessation and the paths towards liberation from suffering.


Thus, according to the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism they are
  1. "The noble truth that is suffering"
  2. "The noble truth that is the arising of suffering"
  3. "The noble truth that is the end of suffering"
  4. "The noble truth that is the way leading to the end of suffering"


The traditional Theravada understanding is that the Four Noble Truths are an advanced teaching for those who are ready for them. The East Asian Mahayana position is that they are a preliminary teaching for people not yet ready for the higher and more expansive Mahayana teachings.

The Noble Eightfold Path




The Noble Eightfold Path
Noble Eightfold Path
The Noble Eightfold Path , is one of the principal teachings of the Buddha, who described it as the way leading to the cessation of suffering and the achievement of self-awakening. It is used to develop insight into the true nature of phenomena and to eradicate greed, hatred, and delusion...

—the fourth of the Buddha's Noble Truths
Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths are an important principle in Buddhism, classically taught by the Buddha in the Dharmacakra Pravartana Sūtra....

—is the way to the cessation of suffering (dukkha). It has eight sections, each starting with the word "samyak" (Sanskrit, meaning "correctly", "properly", or "well", frequently translated into English as "right"), and presented in three groups known as the three higher trainings. (NB: Pāli transliterations appear in brackets after Sanskrit ones):
  • Prajñā
    Prajña
    Prajñā or paññā is wisdom, understanding, discernment or cognitive acuity. Such wisdom is understood to exist in the universal flux of being and can be intuitively experienced through meditation...

    is the wisdom that purifies the mind, allowing it to attain spiritual insight into the true nature of all things. It includes:
  1. (ditthi): viewing reality as it is, not just as it appears to be.
  2. (sankappa): intention of renunciation, freedom and harmlessness.
    • Śīla
      Sila
      Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

      is the ethics or morality, or abstention from unwholesome deeds. It includes:
  3. (vāca): speaking in a truthful and non-hurtful way
  4. (kammanta): acting in a non-harmful way
  5. (ājīva): a non-harmful livelihood
    • Samādhi
      Samadhi
      Samadhi in Hinduism, Buddhism,Jainism, Sikhism and yogic schools is a higher level of concentrated meditation, or dhyāna. In the yoga tradition, it is the eighth and final limb identified in the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali....

      is the mental discipline required to develop mastery over one's own mind. This is done through the practice of various contemplative and meditative practices, and includes:
  6. (vāyāma): making an effort to improve
  7. (sati): awareness to see things for what they are with clear consciousness, being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion
  8. (samādhi): correct meditation or concentration, explained as the first four jhānas


The practice of the Eightfold Path is understood in two ways, as requiring either simultaneous development (all eight items practiced in parallel), or as a progressive series of stages through which the practitioner moves, the culmination of one leading to the beginning of another.

The Middle Way



An important guiding principle of Buddhist practice is the Middle Way
Middle way
The Middle Way or Middle Path is the descriptive term that Siddhartha Gautama used to describe the character of the path he discovered that led to liberation. It was coined in the very first teaching that he delivered after his enlightenment...

 (or Middle Path), which is said to have been discovered by Gautama Buddha prior to his enlightenment. The Middle Way has several definitions:
  1. The practice of non-extremism: a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification
  2. The middle ground between certain metaphysical
    Metaphysics
    Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

     views
    View (Buddhism)
    View or position is a central idea in Buddhism. In Buddhist thought, in contrast with the commonsense understanding, a view is not a simple, abstract collection of propositions, but a charged interpretation of experience which intensely shapes and affects thought, sensation, and action...

     (for example, that things ultimately either do or do not exist)
  3. An explanation of Nirvana (perfect enlightenment), a state wherein it becomes clear that all dualities apparent in the world are delusory (see Seongcheol
    Seongcheol
    Seongcheol is the dharma name of a Korean Seon Master. He was a key figure in modern Korean Buddhism, being responsible for significant changes to it from the 1950s to 1990s....

    )
  4. Another term for emptiness, the ultimate nature of all phenomena (in the Mahayana
    Mahayana
    Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

     branch), a lack of inherent existence, which avoids the extremes of permanence and nihilism or inherent existence and nothingness

Nature of existence



Buddhist scholars have produced a remarkable quantity of intellectual theories, philosophies and world view concepts (see, for example, Abhidharma
Abhidharma
Abhidharma or Abhidhamma are ancient Buddhist texts which contain detailed scholastic and scientific reworkings of doctrinal material appearing in the Buddhist Sutras, according to schematic classifications...

, Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy deals extensively with problems in metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics, and epistemology.Some scholars assert that early Buddhist philosophy did not engage in ontological or metaphysical speculation, but was based instead on empirical evidence gained by the sense organs...

 and Reality in Buddhism
Reality in Buddhism
Buddhism evolved a variety of doctrinal/philosophical traditions, each with its distinct ideas of reality. The following are still regularly studied in some branches of the Buddhist tradition: Theravada, Vaibhashika, Sautrantika, Jojitsu, Madhyamika, Yogacara, tiantai, Huayan...

). Some schools of Buddhism discourage doctrinal study, and some regard it as essential, but most regard it as having a place, at least for some persons at some stages in Buddhist practice.

In the earliest Buddhist teachings, shared to some extent by all extant schools, the concept of liberation (Nirvana)—the goal of the Buddhist path—is closely related to the correct understanding of how the mind causes stress. In awakening to the true nature of clinging, one develops dispassion for the objects of clinging, and is liberated from suffering (dukkha) and the cycle of incessant rebirths (saṃsāra). To this end, the Buddha recommended viewing things as characterized by the three marks of existence
Three marks of existence
The Three marks of existence, within Buddhism, are three characteristics shared by all sentient beings, namely: impermanence ; suffering or unsatisfactoriness ; non-self .According to Buddhist tradition, a full understanding of these three can bring an end to suffering...

.

Three Marks of Existence



The Three Marks of Existence are impermanence, suffering, and not-self.

Impermanence (Pāli: anicca) expresses the Buddhist notion that all compounded or conditioned phenomena
Sankhara
' or ' is a term figuring prominently in the teaching of the Buddha. The word means "that which has been put together" and "that which puts together". In the first sense, refers to conditioned phenomena generally but specifically to all mental "dispositions"...

 (all things and experiences) are inconstant, unsteady, and impermanent. Everything we can experience through our senses is made up of parts, and its existence is dependent on external conditions. Everything is in constant flux, and so conditions and the thing itself are constantly changing. Things are constantly coming into being, and ceasing to be. Since nothing lasts, there is no inherent or fixed nature to any object or experience. According to the doctrine of impermanence, life embodies this flux in the aging process, the cycle of rebirth (saṃsāra), and in any experience of loss. The doctrine asserts that because things are impermanent, attachment to them is futile and leads to suffering (dukkha).

Suffering (Pāli: दुक्ख dukkha; Sanskrit दुःख ) is also a central concept in Buddhism. The word roughly corresponds to a number of terms in English including suffering
Suffering
Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, is an individual's basic affective experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with harm or threat of harm. Suffering may be qualified as physical or mental. It may come in all degrees of intensity, from mild to intolerable. Factors of duration and...

, pain
Pain
Pain is an unpleasant sensation often caused by intense or damaging stimuli such as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting iodine on a cut, and bumping the "funny bone."...

, unsatisfactoriness, sorrow, affliction, anxiety
Anxiety
Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness,...

, dissatisfaction, discomfort, anguish
Anguish
Anguish is a term used in philosophy, often as a translation from the German Angst. It is a paramount feature of existentialist philosophy, in which anguish is often understood as the experience of an utterly free being in a world with zero absolutes...

, stress
Stress (medicine)
Stress is a term in psychology and biology, borrowed from physics and engineering and first used in the biological context in the 1930s, which has in more recent decades become commonly used in popular parlance...

, misery, and frustration
Frustration
This article concerns the field of psychology. The term frustration does, however, also concern physics. In this context, the term is treated in a different article, geometric frustration....

. Although the term is often translated as "suffering", its philosophical meaning is more analogous to "disquietude" as in the condition of being disturbed. As such, "suffering" is too narrow a translation with "negative emotional connotations" which can give the impression that the Buddhist view is one of pessimism
Pessimism
Pessimism, from the Latin word pessimus , is a state of mind in which one perceives life negatively. Value judgments may vary dramatically between individuals, even when judgments of fact are undisputed. The most common example of this phenomenon is the "Is the glass half empty or half full?"...

, but Buddhism seeks to be neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but realistic. In English-language Buddhist literature translated from Pāli, "dukkha" is often left untranslated, so as to encompass its full range of meaning.

Not-self (Pāli: anatta
Anatta
In Buddhism, anattā or anātman refers to the notion of "not-self." In the early texts, the Buddha commonly uses the word in the context of teaching that all things perceived by the senses are not really "I" or "mine," and for this reason one should not cling to them.In the same vein, the Pali...

; Sanskrit: anātman) is the third mark of existence. Upon careful examination, one finds that no phenomenon is really "I" or "mine"; these concepts are in fact constructed by the mind. In the Nikayas anatta is not meant as a metaphysical assertion, but as an approach for gaining release from suffering. In fact, the Buddha rejected both of the metaphysical assertions "I have a Self
Atman (Hinduism)
Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means 'self'. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism it refers to one's true self beyond identification with phenomena...

" and "I have no Self" as ontological
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

 views
View (Buddhism)
View or position is a central idea in Buddhism. In Buddhist thought, in contrast with the commonsense understanding, a view is not a simple, abstract collection of propositions, but a charged interpretation of experience which intensely shapes and affects thought, sensation, and action...

 that bind one to suffering. When asked if the self was identical with the body, the Buddha refused to answer
Fourteen unanswerable questions
The phrase fourteen unanswerable questions , in Buddhism, refers to fourteen common philosophical questions that Buddha refused to answer, according to Buddhist Sanskrit texts...

. By analyzing the constantly changing physical and mental constituents (skandha
Skandha
In Buddhist phenomenology and soteriology, the skandhas or khandhas are any of five types of phenomena that serve as objects of clinging and bases for a sense of self...

s) of a person or object, the practitioner comes to the conclusion that neither the respective parts nor the person as a whole comprise a self.

Dependent arising



The doctrine of pratītyasamutpāda (Sanskrit; Pali: paticcasamuppāda; Tibetan: rten.cing.'brel.bar.'byung.ba; Chinese: 緣起) is an important part of Buddhist metaphysics. It states that phenomena arise together in a mutually interdependent web of cause and effect. It is variously rendered into English as "dependent origination", "conditioned genesis", "dependent co-arising", "interdependent arising", or "contingency".

The best-known application of the concept of pratītyasamutpāda is the scheme of Twelve Nidānas
Twelve Nidanas
The Twelve Nidānas are the best-known application of the Buddhist concept of pratītyasamutpāda , identifying the origins of dukkha to be in tanha and avijja...

 (from Pāli "nidāna" meaning "cause, foundation, source or origin"), which explain the continuation of the cycle of suffering and rebirth (saṃsāra) in detail.
The Twelve Nidānas describe a causal connection between the subsequent characteristics or conditions of cyclic existence, each one giving rise to the next:
  1. Avidyā: ignorance, specifically spiritual ignorance of the nature of reality
  2. Saṃskāras: literally formations, explained as referring to karma
    Karma
    Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

  3. Vijñāna: consciousness
    Consciousness
    Consciousness is a term that refers to the relationship between the mind and the world with which it interacts. It has been defined as: subjectivity, awareness, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind...

    , specifically discriminative
  4. Nāmarūpa: literally name and form, referring to mind and body
  5. Ṣaḍāyatana: the six sense bases: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind-organ
  6. Sparśa: variously translated contact, impression, stimulation (by a sense object)
  7. Vedanā: usually translated feeling: this is the "hedonic tone", i.e. whether something is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral
  8. Tṛṣṇā: literally thirst, but in Buddhism nearly always used to mean craving
  9. Upādāna: clinging or grasping; the word also means fuel, which feeds the continuing cycle of rebirth
  10. Bhava: literally being (existence) or becoming. (The Theravada explains this as having two meanings: karma, which produces a new existence, and the existence itself.)
  11. Jāti: literally birth, but life is understood as starting at conception
  12. Jarāmaraṇa: (old age and death) and also śokaparidevaduḥkhadaurmanasyopāyāsa (sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and misery)


Sentient beings always suffer throughout saṃsāra, until they free themselves from this suffering by attaining Nirvana. Then the absence of the first Nidāna—ignorance—leads to the absence of the others.

Emptiness



Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 Buddhism received significant theoretical grounding from Nagarjuna
Nagarjuna
Nāgārjuna was an important Buddhist teacher and philosopher. Along with his disciple Āryadeva, he is credited with founding the Mādhyamaka school of Mahāyāna Buddhism...

 (perhaps c. 150–250 CE), arguably the most influential scholar within the Mahayana tradition. Nagarjuna's primary contribution to Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy deals extensively with problems in metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics, and epistemology.Some scholars assert that early Buddhist philosophy did not engage in ontological or metaphysical speculation, but was based instead on empirical evidence gained by the sense organs...

 was the systematic exposition of the concept of śūnyatā, or "emptiness", widely attested in the Prajñāpāramitā
Prajnaparamita
Prajñāpāramitā in Buddhism, means "the Perfection of Wisdom." The word Prajñāpāramitā combines the Sanskrit words prajñā with pāramitā . Prajñāpāramitā is a central concept in Mahāyāna Buddhism and its practice and understanding are taken to be indispensable elements of the Bodhisattva Path...

 sutras which were emergent in his era. The concept of emptiness brings together other key Buddhist doctrines, particularly anatta and pratītyasamutpāda (dependent origination), to refute the metaphysics of Sarvastivada
Sarvastivada
The Sarvāstivāda were an early school of Buddhism that held to 'the existence of all dharmas in the past, present and future, the 'three times'. Vasubandhu's states:-Name:...

 and Sautrantika (extinct non-Mahayana schools). For Nagarjuna, it is not merely sentient beings that are empty of ātman
Atman (Buddhism)
The word Ātman or Atta refers to a self. Occasionally the terms "soul" or "ego" are also used. The words ātman and atta derive from the Indo-European root *ēt-men and are cognate with the Old English æthm and German Atem....

; all phenomena (dharmas) are without any svabhava
Svabhava
Svabhava Pāli: sabhāva; Chinese: 自性 zìxìng; ) is intrinsic nature, essential nature or essence.The concept and term svabhāva are frequently encountered in Dharmic traditions such as Advaita Vedānta , Mahāyāna Buddhism Svabhava (Sanskrit: स्वभाव; IAST: svabhāva) Pāli: sabhāva; Chinese: 自性 zìxìng; )...

 (literally "own-nature" or "self-nature"), and thus without any underlying essence; they are "empty" of being independent; thus the heterodox theories of svabhava circulating at the time were refuted on the basis of the doctrines of early Buddhism. Nagarjuna's school of thought is known as the Mādhyamaka
Madhyamaka
Madhyamaka refers primarily to a Mahāyāna Buddhist school of Buddhist philosophy systematized by Nāgārjuna. Nāgārjuna may have arrived at his positions from a desire to achieve a consistent exegesis of the Buddha's doctrine as recorded in the āgamas...

. Some of the writings attributed to Nagarjuna made explicit references to Mahayana texts, but his philosophy was argued within the parameters set out by the agamas. He may have arrived at his positions from a desire to achieve a consistent exegesis
Exegesis
Exegesis is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text, and the term "Biblical exegesis" is used...

 of the Buddha's doctrine as recorded in the Canon. In the eyes of Nagarjuna the Buddha was not merely a forerunner, but the very founder of the Mādhyamaka system.

Sarvastivada teachings—which were criticized by Nāgārjuna—were reformulated by scholars such as Vasubandhu
Vasubandhu
Vasubandhu was an Indian Buddhist monk, and along with his half-brother Asanga, one of the main founders of the Indian Yogācāra school. However, some scholars consider Vasubandhu to be two distinct people. Vasubandhu is one of the most influential figures in the entire history of Buddhism...

 and Asanga
Asanga
Asaṅga was a major exponent of the Yogācāra tradition in India, also called Vijñānavāda. Traditionally, he and his half-brother Vasubandhu are regarded as the founders of this school...

 and were adapted into the Yogacara
Yogacara
Yogācāra is an influential school of Buddhist philosophy and psychology emphasizing phenomenology and ontology through the interior lens of meditative and yogic practices. It developed within Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism in about the 4th century CE...

 (Sanskrit: yoga practice) school. While the Mādhyamaka school held that asserting the existence or non-existence of any ultimately real thing was inappropriate, some exponents of Yogacara asserted that the mind and only the mind is ultimately real (a doctrine known as cittamatra). Not all Yogacarins asserted that mind was truly existent; Vasubandhu and Asanga in particular did not. These two schools of thought, in opposition or synthesis, form the basis of subsequent Mahayana metaphysics in the Indo-Tibetan tradition.

Besides emptiness, Mahayana schools often place emphasis on the notions of perfected spiritual insight (prajñāpāramitā
Prajnaparamita
Prajñāpāramitā in Buddhism, means "the Perfection of Wisdom." The word Prajñāpāramitā combines the Sanskrit words prajñā with pāramitā . Prajñāpāramitā is a central concept in Mahāyāna Buddhism and its practice and understanding are taken to be indispensable elements of the Bodhisattva Path...

) and Buddha-nature (tathāgatagarbha). There are conflicting interpretations of the tathāgatagarbha in Mahāyāna thought. The idea may be traced to Abhidharma
Abhidharma
Abhidharma or Abhidhamma are ancient Buddhist texts which contain detailed scholastic and scientific reworkings of doctrinal material appearing in the Buddhist Sutras, according to schematic classifications...

, and ultimately to statements of the Buddha in the Nikāyas. In Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, according to the Sakya
Sakya
The Sakya school is one of four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the others being the Nyingma, Kagyu, and Gelug...

 school, tathāgatagarbha is the inseparability of the clarity and emptiness of one's mind. In Nyingma
Nyingma
The Nyingma tradition is the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism . "Nyingma" literally means "ancient," and is often referred to as Nga'gyur or the "old school" because it is founded on the first translations of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Tibetan, in the eighth century...

, tathāgatagarbha also generally refers to inseparability of the clarity and emptiness of one's mind. According to the Gelug
Gelug
The Gelug or Gelug-pa , also known as the Yellow Hat sect, is a school of Buddhism founded by Je Tsongkhapa , a philosopher and Tibetan religious leader...

 school, it is the potential for sentient beings to awaken since they are empty (i.e. dependently originated). According to the Jonang
Jonang
The Jonang is one of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Its origins in Tibet can be traced to early 12th century master Yumo Mikyo Dorje, but became much wider known with the help of Dolpopa Sherab Gyeltsen, a monk originally trained in the Sakya school...

 school, it refers to the innate qualities of the mind which expresses itself in terms of omniscience etc. when adventitious obscurations are removed. The "Tathāgatagarbha Sutras" are a collection of Mahayana sutras which present a unique model of Buddha-nature. Even though this collection was generally ignored in India, East Asian Buddhism provides some significance to these texts.

Liberation



Nirvana



Nirvana (Sanskrit; Pali: "Nibbana") means "cessation", "extinction" (of craving
Tanha
' or ' literally means "thirst," and is a synonym for "desire" or "craving," traditionally juxtaposed with upekkha .Synonyms:*愛 Cn: ài; Vi: ái...

 and ignorance and therefore suffering
Dukkha
Dukkha is a Pali term roughly corresponding to a number of terms in English including suffering, pain, discontent, unsatisfactoriness, unhappiness, sorrow, affliction, social alienation, anxiety,...

 and the cycle of involuntary rebirths (saṃsāra
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

)), "extinguished", "quieted", "calmed"; it is also known as "Awakening" or "Enlightenment" in the West. The term for anybody who has achieved nirvana, including the Buddha, is arahant.

Bodhi
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

 (Pāli and Sanskrit, in devanagari
Devanagari
Devanagari |deva]]" and "nāgarī" ), also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

: बॊधि) is a term applied to the experience of Awakening of arahants. Bodhi literally means "awakening", but it is more commonly translated into English as "enlightenment". In Early Buddhism
Early Buddhism
The term Early Buddhism can refer to:* Pre-sectarian Buddhism, which refers to the Teachings and monastic organization and structure, founded by Gautama Buddha....

, bodhi carried a meaning synonymous to nirvana, using only some different metaphors to describe the experience, which implies the extinction of raga (greed, craving), dosa (hate, aversion) and moha (delusion). In the later school of Mahayana Buddhism, the status of nirvana was downgraded in some scriptures, coming to refer only to the extinction of greed and hate, implying that delusion was still present in one who attained nirvana, and that one needed to attain bodhi to eradicate delusion:
Therefore, according to Mahayana Buddhism, the arahant has attained only nirvana, thus still being subject to delusion, while the bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

 not only achieves nirvana but full liberation from delusion as well. He thus attains bodhi and becomes a buddha. In Theravada Buddhism, bodhi and nirvana carry the same meaning as in the early texts, that of being freed from greed, hate and delusion.

The term parinirvana
Parinirvana
In Buddhism, parinirvana is the final nirvana, which occurs upon the death of the body of someone who has attained complete awakening...

 is also encountered in Buddhism, and this generally refers to the complete nirvana attained by the arhat at the moment of death, when the physical body expires.

Buddhas




Theravada

In Theravada doctrine, a person may awaken from the "sleep of ignorance" by directly realizing the true nature of reality
Reality in Buddhism
Buddhism evolved a variety of doctrinal/philosophical traditions, each with its distinct ideas of reality. The following are still regularly studied in some branches of the Buddhist tradition: Theravada, Vaibhashika, Sautrantika, Jojitsu, Madhyamika, Yogacara, tiantai, Huayan...

; such people are called arahants and occasionally buddhas. After numerous lifetimes of spiritual striving, they have reached the end of the cycle of rebirth, no longer reincarnating as human, animal, ghost, or other being. The commentaries to the Pali Canon classify these awakened beings into three types:
  • Sammasambuddha
    Buddhahood
    In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

    , usually just called Buddha, who discovers the truth by himself and teaches the path to awakening to others
  • Paccekabuddha
    Pratyekabuddha
    A Pratyekabuddha or Paccekabuddha , literally "a lone buddha" , "a buddha on their own" or "a private buddha", is one of three types of enlightened beings according to some schools of Buddhism. The other two types are the Śrāvakabuddhas and Samyaksambuddhas...

    , who discovers the truth by himself but lacks the skill to teach others
  • Savakabuddha
    Savakabuddha
    Sāvakabuddha is a term used rarely in Theravada Buddhism to refer to an enlightened disciple of a Buddha. Such disciples are enlightened individuals who gain by hearing the Dhamma as initially taught by a Sammasambuddha...

    , who receive the truth directly or indirectly from a Sammasambuddha


Bodhi and nirvana carry the same meaning, that of being freed from craving, hate, and delusion. In attaining bodhi, the arahant has overcome these obstacles. As a further distinction, the extinction of only hatred and greed (in the sensory context) with some residue of delusion, is called anagami
Anagami
In Buddhism, an anāgāmi is a partially enlightened person who has cut off the first five chains that bind the ordinary mind. Anagami-ship is the third of the four stages of enlightenment....

.
Mahayana

In the Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

, the Buddha tends not to be viewed as merely human, but as the earthly projection of a beginningless and endless, omnipresent being (see Dharmakaya
Dharmakaya
The Dharmakāya is a central idea in Mahayana Buddhism forming part of the Trikaya doctrine that was possibly first expounded in the Aṣṭasāhasrikā prajñā-pāramitā , composed in the 1st century BCE...

) beyond the range and reach of thought. Moreover, in certain Mahayana sutras, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are viewed essentially as One: all three are seen as the eternal Buddha
Eternal Buddha
The idea of an eternal Buddha is a notion popularly associated with the Mahayana scripture, the Lotus Sutra, and is also found in other Mahayana sutras.- The Eternal Buddha in the Lotus Sutra and Other Mahayana Sutras :...

 himself.

Celestial Buddhas are individuals who no longer exist on the material plane of existence, but who still aid in the enlightenment of all beings.

Nirvana came to refer only to the extinction of greed and hate, implying that delusion was still present in one who attained Nirvana. Bodhi became a higher attainment that eradicates delusion entirely. Thus, the Arahant attains Nirvana but not Bodhi, thus still being subject to delusion, while the Buddha
Buddhahood
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

 attains Bodhi.

Buddh redirects here, for the Race Circuit, see Buddh International Circuit



Buddhism (Pali
Pali language
Pāli is a Middle Indo-Aryan language of the Indian subcontinent. It is best known as the language of many of the earliest extant Buddhist scriptures, as collected in the Pāi Canon or Tipitaka, and as the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism.-Etymology of the name:The word Pali itself...

/ Bauddha Dharma) is a religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 and philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

, commonly known as the Buddha
Buddhahood
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

 (Pāli
Páli
- External links :* *...

/Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 "the awakened one"). The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 some time between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

 or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings
Sentient beings (Buddhism)
Sentient beings is a technical term in Buddhist discourse. Broadly speaking, it denotes beings with consciousness or sentience or, in some contexts, life itself. Specifically, it denotes the presence of the five aggregates, or skandhas...

 end ignorance (avidyā
Avidya (Buddhism)
Avidyā or avijjā means "ignorance" or "delusion" and is the opposite of 'vidyā' and 'rig pa'...

) of dependent origination, thus escaping what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth
Samsara (Buddhism)
or sangsara is a Sanskrit and Pāli term, which translates as "continuous movement" or "continuous flowing" and, in Buddhism, refers to the concept of a cycle of birth , and consequent decay and death , in which all beings in the universe participate, and which can only be escaped through...

.

Two major branches of Buddhism are recognized: Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 ("The School of the Elders") and Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 ("The Great Vehicle"). Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 and Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

. Mahayana is found throughout East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

 and includes the traditions of Pure Land
Pure land
A pure land, in Mahayana Buddhism, is the celestial realm or pure abode of a Buddha or Bodhisattva. The various traditions that focus on Pure Lands have been given the nomenclature Pure Land Buddhism. Pure lands are also evident in the literature and traditions of Taoism and Bön.The notion of 'pure...

, Zen
Zen
Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism founded by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chán , which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state."Zen...

, Nichiren Buddhism
Nichiren Buddhism
Nichiren Buddhism is a branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism based on the teachings of the 13th century Japanese monk Nichiren...

, Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, Shingon, Tiantai
Tiantai
Tiantai is an important school of Buddhism in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. In Japan the school is known as Tendai, and in Korea it is known as Cheontae. Tiantai is also called the "Lotus School", due to its emphasis on the Lotus Sūtra as its doctrinal basis...

 (Tendai
Tendai
is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism, a descendant of the Chinese Tiantai or Lotus Sutra school.Chappell frames the relevance of Tendai for a universal Buddhism:- History :...

) and Shinnyo-en. In some classifications Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

—as practiced mainly in Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 and Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

 —is recognized as a third branch, while others classify it as a part of Mahayana. There are other categorisations of these three Vehicles or Yana
Yana (Buddhism)
Yāna refers to a mode or method of spiritual practice in Buddhism, and in particular to divisions of various schools of Buddhism according to their type of practice.-Nomenclature, etymology and orthography:...

s.

While Buddhism remains most popular within Asia, both branches are now found throughout the world. Estimates of Buddhists worldwide vary significantly depending on the way Buddhist adherence is defined. Lower estimates are between 350–500 million.

Buddhist schools
Schools of Buddhism
Buddhism is an ancient, polyvalent ideological system that originated in the Iron Age Indian subcontinent, referred to variously throughout history by one or more of a myriad of concepts – including, but not limited to any of the following: a Dharmic religion, a philosophy or quasi-philosophical...

 vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures
Buddhist texts
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 authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized...

, and especially their respective practices. The cardinal doctrine of dependent origination is the only doctrine that is common to all Buddhist teachings from Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 to Dzogchen
Dzogchen
According to Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, Dzogchen is the natural, primordial state or natural condition of the mind, and a body of teachings and meditation practices aimed at realizing that condition. Dzogchen, or "Great Perfection", is a central teaching of the Nyingma school also practiced by...

 to the extinct schools. The foundations of Buddhist tradition and practice are the Three Jewels
Three Jewels
The Three Jewels, also called the Three Treasures, the Siemese Triples, Three Refuges, or the Triple Gem , are the three things that Buddhists take refuge in, and look toward for guidance, in the process known as taking refuge.The Three Jewels are:* BuddhaTaking refuge in the Three Jewels is...

: the Buddha, the Dharma
Dharma (Buddhism)
Dhamma or Dharma in Buddhism can have the following meanings:* The state of Nature as it is * The Laws of Nature considered collectively....

 (the teachings), and the Sangha
Sangha
Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...

 (the community). Taking "refuge
Refuge (Buddhism)
Buddhists "take refuge" in, or to "go for refuge" to, the Three Jewels . This can be done formally in lay and monastic ordination ceremonies.The Three Jewels general signification is: * the Buddha;* the Dharma, the teachings;...

 in the triple gem" has traditionally been a declaration and commitment to being on the Buddhist path and in general distinguishes a Buddhist from a non-Buddhist. Other practices may include following ethical precepts
Sila
Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

, support of the monastic community
Dana (Buddhism)
Dāna is generosity or giving. In Hinduism and Buddhism, it is the practice of cultivating generosity. Ultimately, the practice culminates in one of the perfections : the perfection of giving - dāna-pāramitā...

, renouncing
Nekkhamma
Nekkhamma is a Pali word generally translated as "renunciation" or "the pleasure of renunciation" while also conveying more specifically "giving up the world and leading a holy life" or "freedom from lust, craving and desires." In Buddhism's Noble Eightfold Path, nekkhamma is the first practice...

 conventional living and becoming a monastic
Buddhist monasticism
Monasticism is one of the most fundamental institutions of Buddhism. Monks and nuns are responsible for preserving and teaching Buddhist teachings and guiding Buddhist lay followers. Earlier Buddhist monks were enlightened...

, the development of mindfulness and practice of meditation
Buddhist meditation
Buddhist meditation refers to the meditative practices associated with the religion and philosophy of Buddhism.Core meditation techniques have been preserved in ancient Buddhist texts and have proliferated and diversified through teacher-student transmissions. Buddhists pursue meditation as part of...

, cultivation of higher wisdom and discernment, study of scriptures, devotional
Buddhist devotion
Buddhist devotion is an important part of the practice of most Buddhists. According to a spokesman of the Sasana Council of Burma, devotion to Buddhist spiritual practices inspires devotion to the Triple Gem...

 practices, ceremonies, and in the Mahayana tradition, invocation of buddhas and bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

s.

Life of the Buddha



The evidence of the early texts suggests that the Buddha was born in a community that was on the periphery, both geographically and culturally, of the northeastern Indian subcontinent in the 5th century BCE. It was either a small republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

, in which case his father was an elected chieftain, or an oligarchy
Oligarchy
Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, commercial, and/or military legitimacy...

, in which case his father was an oligarch.

According to the Theravada Tipitaka scriptures
Buddhist texts
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 authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized...

(from Pali, meaning "three baskets"), the Buddha was born in Lumbini
Lumbini
Lumbinī is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi district of Nepal. It is the place where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama, who as the Buddha Gautama founded the Buddhist tradition. The Buddha lived between roughly 563 and 483 BCE...

 in modern-day Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

, around the year 563 BCE, and raised in Kapilavastu
Kapilavastu
Kapilavastu is the name of a region of ancient Shakya kingdom that is considered a holy pilgrimage place for Buddhists. The search for the Buddha's birthplace following the accounts left by Xuanzang and Faxian involved various searches in the late 19th century...

.

According to this narrative, shortly after the birth of young prince Siddhartha Gautama, an astrologer
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

 visited the young prince's father—King Śuddhodana
Suddhodana
King Suddhodana was the father of Siddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha. He was a leader of the Shakya people, who lived in southern Nepal. Suddhodana's father was Sinahana...

—and prophesied that Siddhartha would either become a great king or renounce the material world to become a holy man, depending on whether he saw what life was like outside the palace walls.

Śuddhodana was determined to see his son become a king, so he prevented him from leaving the palace grounds. But at age 29, despite his father's efforts, Siddhartha ventured beyond the palace several times. In a series of encounters—known in Buddhist literature as the four sights
Four sights
The four sights were specific observations made by Prince Siddhārtha , which led to a realization. Before this, he had been confined to his palace by his father, who feared that he would become an ascetic if he came into contact with sufferings of life according to a prediction...

—he learned of the suffering of ordinary people, encountering an old man, a sick man, a corpse and, finally, an ascetic
Asceticism
Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals...

 holy man
Sadhu
In Hinduism, sādhu denotes an ascetic, wandering monk. Although the vast majority of sādhus are yogīs, not all yogīs are sādhus. The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa , the fourth and final aśrama , through meditation and contemplation of brahman...

, apparently content and at peace with the world. These experiences prompted Gautama to abandon royal life and take up a spiritual quest.

Gautama first went to study with famous religious teachers of the day, and mastered the meditative attainments they taught. But he found that they did not provide a permanent end to suffering, so he continued his quest. He next attempted an extreme asceticism, which was a religious pursuit common among the Shramana
Shramana
A shramana is a wandering monk in certain ascetic traditions of ancient India including Jainism, Buddhism, and Ājīvikism. Famous śramaṇas include Mahavira and Gautama Buddha....

s, a religious culture distinct from the Vedic one. Gautama underwent prolonged fasting, breath-holding, and exposure to pain. He almost starved himself to death in the process. He realized that he had taken this kind of practice to its limit, and had not put an end to suffering. So in a pivotal moment he accepted milk and rice from a village girl and changed his approach. He devoted himself to anapanasati
Anapanasati
Ānāpānasati , meaning 'mindfulness of breathing' , is a form of Buddhist meditation now common to the Tibetan, Zen, Tiantai, and Theravada schools of Buddhism, as well as western-based mindfulness programs.According to tradition, Anapanasati was...

 meditation, through which he discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way
Middle way
The Middle Way or Middle Path is the descriptive term that Siddhartha Gautama used to describe the character of the path he discovered that led to liberation. It was coined in the very first teaching that he delivered after his enlightenment...

 (Skt. madhyamā-pratipad): a path of moderation between the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification.
Gautama was now determined to complete his spiritual quest. At the age of 35, he famously sat in meditation
Meditation
Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit....

 under a sacred fig
Sacred Fig
The Sacred Fig, Ficus religiosa, or Bo-Tree , Peepal is a species of banyan fig native to India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, southwest China and Indochina...

 tree — known as the Bodhi tree
Bodhi tree
The Bodhi Tree, also known as Bo , was a large and very old Sacred Fig tree located in Bodh Gaya , under which Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism later known as Gautama Buddha, is said to have achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi...

 — in the town of Bodh Gaya, India, and vowed not to rise before achieving enlightenment
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

. After many days, he finally destroyed the fetters
Fetter (Buddhism)
In Buddhism, a mental fetter, chain or bond shackles a sentient being to sasāra, the cycle of lives with dukkha. By cutting through all fetters, one attains nibbāna ....

 of his mind, thereby liberating himself from the cycle of suffering and rebirth
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

, and arose as a fully enlightened being (Skt. ). Soon thereafter, he attracted a band of followers and instituted a monastic order
Sangha
Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...

. Now, as the Buddha, he spent the rest of his life teaching the path of awakening
Dharma (Buddhism)
Dhamma or Dharma in Buddhism can have the following meanings:* The state of Nature as it is * The Laws of Nature considered collectively....

 he had discovered, traveling throughout the northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent, and died at the age of 80 (483 BCE) in Kushinagar
Kushinagar
Kushinagar , Kusinagar or Kusinara is a town and a nagar panchayat in Kushinagar district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, where Gautama Buddha is believed to have attained Parinirvana after his death.-Demographics: India census, Kushinagar had a...

, India. The south branch of the original fig tree only available in Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura, , is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization.The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies 205 km north of the current capital Colombo in Sri Lanka's North Central Province, on the banks of the historic...

 Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 known as Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi.

The above narrative draws on the Nidānakathā biography of the Theravāda
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 sect in Sri Lanka, which is ascribed to Buddhaghoṣa
Buddhaghosa
Bhadantācariya Buddhaghoṣa(Chinese: 覺音)was a 5th-century Indian Theravadin Buddhist commentator and scholar. His best-known work is the Visuddhimagga, or Path of Purification, a comprehensive summary and analysis of the Theravada understanding of the Buddha's path to liberation...

 in the 5th century CE. Earlier biographies such as the Buddhacarita
Buddhacarita
Buddhacharita is an epic poem in the Sanskrit mahakavya style on the life of Gautama Buddha by , composed in the 2nd century AD...

, the Lokottaravādin Mahāvastu
Mahavastu
The Mahāvastu is a text of the Lokottaravāda school of Early Buddhism. It describes itself as being a historical preface to the Buddhist monastic codes...

, and the Mahāyāna
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 / Sarvāstivāda
Sarvastivada
The Sarvāstivāda were an early school of Buddhism that held to 'the existence of all dharmas in the past, present and future, the 'three times'. Vasubandhu's states:-Name:...

 Lalitavistara Sūtra
Lalitavistara Sutra
The Lalitavistara Sutra is a Mahayana Buddhist Vaipulya sutra that describes the sports of Gautama Buddha. It is a compilation of various works by no single author and includes some material from the Sarvastivada school. The scholar P. L...

, give different accounts.

Scholars are hesitant to make unqualified claims about the historical facts of the Buddha's life. Most accept that he lived, taught and founded a monastic order but do not consistently accept all of the details contained in his biographies. According to author Michael Carrithers, while there are good reasons to doubt the traditional account, "the outline of the life must be true: birth, maturity, renunciation, search, awakening and liberation, teaching, death."

In writing her biography of Buddha, Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong FRSL , is a British author and commentator who is the author of twelve books on comparative religion. A former Roman Catholic nun, she went from a conservative to a more liberal and mystical faith...

 noted, "It is obviously difficult, therefore, to write a biography of the Buddha that will meet modern criteria, because we have very little information that can be considered historically sound... [but] we can be reasonably confident Siddhatta Gotama did indeed exist and that his disciples preserved the memory of his life and teachings as well as they could."

Buddhist concepts




Life and the world



Karma



Karma
Karma
Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

 (from Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

: "action, work") in Buddhism
Karma in Buddhism
Karma means "action" or "doing"; whatever one does, says, or thinks is a karma. In Buddhism, the term karma is used specifically for those actions which spring from the intention of an unenlightened being.These bring about a fruit or result Karma (Sanskrit, also karman, Pāli: Kamma) means...

 is the force that drives saṃsāra
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

—the cycle of suffering and rebirth for each being. Good, skillful deeds (Pāli
Páli
- External links :* *...

: "kusala") and bad, unskillful (Pāli: "akusala") actions produce "seeds" in the mind which come to fruition
Vipaka
Vipāka is a Buddhist technical term meaning the result of karma , or intentional actions.In Buddhist belief, the law of kamma-vipāka is of great importance. In a discourse the Buddha said “Intention, monks, is kamma I say...

 either in this life or in a subsequent rebirth
Rebirth (Buddhism)
Rebirth in Buddhism is the doctrine that the evolving consciousness or stream of consciousness upon death , becomes one of the contributing causes for the arising of a new aggregation...

. The avoidance of unwholesome actions and the cultivation of positive actions is called śīla
Sila
Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

 (from Sanskrit: "ethical conduct").

In Buddhism, karma specifically refers to those actions (of body, speech, and mind) that spring from mental intent ("cetana"), and which bring about a consequence (or fruit, "phala
Phala
Phala is a Sanskrit term that means “fruit” and refers to charisms in Hinduism and Buddhism. They are also known in Buddhism as Maha-phala, which are the Great fruit of the contemplative life....

") or result ("vipāka
Vipaka
Vipāka is a Buddhist technical term meaning the result of karma , or intentional actions.In Buddhist belief, the law of kamma-vipāka is of great importance. In a discourse the Buddha said “Intention, monks, is kamma I say...

").

In Theravada Buddhism there can be no divine salvation or forgiveness for one's karma, since it is a purely impersonal process that is a part of the makeup of the universe. Some Mahayana traditions hold different views. For example, the texts of certain Mahayana sutras (such as the Lotus Sutra
Lotus Sutra
The Lotus Sūtra is one of the most popular and influential Mahāyāna sūtras, and the basis on which the Tiantai and Nichiren sects of Buddhism were established.-Title:...

, the Angulimaliya Sutra
Angulimaliya Sutra
The Angulimaliya Sutra is a Buddhist scripture belonging to the Tathāgatagarbha class of sūtra, which teach that the Buddha is eternal, that the non-Self and emptiness teachings only apply to the worldly sphere , and that the tathagatagarbha is real and immanent within all beings and all phenomena...

 and the Nirvana Sutra) claim that reciting or merely hearing their texts can expunge great swathes of negative karma. Some forms of Buddhism (for example, Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

) regard the recitation of mantra
Mantra
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...

s as a means for cutting off previous negative karma. The Japanese Pure Land
Pure Land Buddhism
Pure Land Buddhism , also referred to as Amidism in English, is a broad branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism and currently one of the most popular traditions of Buddhism in East Asia. Pure Land is a branch of Buddhism focused on Amitābha Buddha...

 teacher Genshin
Genshin
Genshin , also known as Eshin Sozu, was the most influential of a number of Tendai scholars active during the tenth and eleventh centuries in Japan...

 taught that Amida Buddha has the power to destroy the karma that would otherwise bind one in saṃsāra.

Rebirth


Rebirth refers to a process whereby beings go through a succession of lifetimes as one of many possible forms of sentient
Sentience
Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive or be conscious, or to have subjective experiences. Eighteenth century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think from the ability to feel . In modern western philosophy, sentience is the ability to have sensations or experiences...

 life, each running from conception to death. Buddhism rejects the concepts of a permanent self
Self
The self is an individual person as the object of his or her own reflective consciousness. The self has been studied extensively by philosophers and psychologists and is central to many world religions.-Philosophy:...

 or an unchanging, eternal soul, as it is called in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 and Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. According to Buddhism there ultimately is no such thing as a self independent from the rest of the universe (the doctrine of anatta
Anatta
In Buddhism, anattā or anātman refers to the notion of "not-self." In the early texts, the Buddha commonly uses the word in the context of teaching that all things perceived by the senses are not really "I" or "mine," and for this reason one should not cling to them.In the same vein, the Pali...

). Rebirth in subsequent existences must be understood as the continuation of a dynamic, ever-changing process of "dependent arising" ("pratītyasamutpāda") determined by the laws of cause and effect (karma) rather than that of one being, transmigrating or incarnating
Incarnation
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

 from one existence to the next.

Each rebirth takes place within one of five realms according to Theravadins, or six
Six realms
The desire realm is one of three realms or three worlds in traditional Buddhist cosmology into which a being wandering in may be reborn. The other two are the form realm, and the formless realm The desire realm (Sanskrit kāma-dhātu) is one of three realms (Sanskrit: dhātu, Tibetan: khams) or...

 according to other schools. These are further subdivided into 31 planes of existence:
  1. Naraka beings
    Naraka (Buddhism)
    Naraka नरक or Niraya निरय is the name given to one of the worlds of greatest suffering in Buddhist cosmology.Naraka is usually translated into English as "hell", "hell realm", or "purgatory"...

    : those who live in one of many Narakas (Hells)
  2. Preta
    Preta
    Preta, प्रेत or Peta is the name for a type of being described in Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, and Jain texts that undergoes more than human suffering, particularly an extreme degree of hunger and thirst...

    : sometimes sharing some space with humans, but invisible to most people; an important variety is the hungry ghost
    Hungry ghost
    Hungry ghost is a Western translation of Chinese  , a concept in Chinese Buddhism and Chinese traditional religion representing beings who are driven by intense emotional needs in an animalistic way....

  3. Animals
    Animals in Buddhism
    The position and treatment of animals in Buddhism is important for the light it sheds on Buddhists' perception of their own relation to the natural world, on Buddhist humanitarian concerns in general, and on the relationship between Buddhist theory and Buddhist practice.-Animals in Buddhist...

    : sharing space with humans, but considered another type of life
  4. Human beings
    Human beings in Buddhism
    Humans in Buddhism are the subjects of an extensive commentarial literature that examines the nature and qualities of a human life from the point of view of humans' ability to achieve enlightenment...

    : one of the realms of rebirth in which attaining Nirvana is possible
  5. Asuras
    Asura (Buddhism)
    Asura in Buddhism is the name of the lowest ranks of the deities or demigods of the Kāmadhātu.-Origins and etymology:...

    : variously translated as lowly deities, demons, titans, antigods; not recognized by Theravāda (Mahavihara) tradition as a separate realm
  6. Devas
    Deva (Buddhism)
    A deva in Buddhism is one of many different types of non-human beings who share the characteristics of being more powerful, longer-lived, and, in general, living more contentedly than the average human being....

     including Brahmas
    Brahma (Buddhism)
    ' in Buddhism is the name for a type of exalted passionless deity , of which there are several in Buddhist cosmology.-Origins:The name originates in Vedic tradition, in which Brahmā appears as the creator of the universe...

    : variously translated as gods, deities, spirits, angels, or left untranslated


Rebirths in some of the higher heavens, known as the Śuddhāvāsa Worlds (Pure Abodes), can be attained only by skilled Buddhist practitioners known as anāgāmi
Anagami
In Buddhism, an anāgāmi is a partially enlightened person who has cut off the first five chains that bind the ordinary mind. Anagami-ship is the third of the four stages of enlightenment....

s (non-returners). Rebirths in the arupa-dhatu (formless realms) can be attained only by those who can meditate on the arūpajhāna
Arupajhana
In Buddhism, the arūpajhānas or "formless meditations" are four successive levels of meditation on non-material objects. These levels are higher than the rūpajhānas, and harder to attain...

s, the highest object of meditation.

According to East Asian and Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, there is an intermediate state
Bardo
The Tibetan word Bardo means literally "intermediate state" - also translated as "transitional state" or "in-between state" or "liminal state". In Sanskrit the concept has the name antarabhāva...

 (Tibetan
Tibetan language
The Tibetan languages are a cluster of mutually-unintelligible Tibeto-Burman languages spoken primarily by Tibetan peoples who live across a wide area of eastern Central Asia bordering the Indian subcontinent, including the Tibetan Plateau and the northern Indian subcontinent in Baltistan, Ladakh,...

 "Bardo") between one life and the next. The orthodox Theravada position rejects this; however there are passages in the Samyutta Nikaya
Samyutta Nikaya
The Samyutta Nikaya is a Buddhist scripture, the third of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka, which is one of the "three baskets" that compose the Pali Tipitaka of Theravada Buddhism. Because of the abbreviated way parts of the text are written, the total number of suttas is...

 of the Pali Canon
Pāli Canon
The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language. It is the only completely surviving early Buddhist canon, and one of the first to be written down...

 (the collection of texts on which the Theravada tradition is based), that seem to lend support to the idea that the Buddha taught of an intermediate stage between one life and the next.

Saṃsāra



Sentient beings crave pleasure and are averse to pain from birth to death. In being controlled by these attitudes, they perpetuate the cycle of conditioned existence and suffering (saṃsāra), and produce the causes and conditions of the next rebirth after death. Each rebirth repeats this process in an involuntary cycle, which Buddhists strive to end by eradicating these causes and conditions, applying the methods laid out by the Buddha and subsequent Buddhists.

The Four Noble Truths


According to the Pali Tipitaka and the Āgamas of other early Buddhist schools
Early Buddhist schools
The early Buddhist schools are those schools into which, according to most scholars, the Buddhist monastic saṅgha initially split, due originally to differences in vinaya, and later also due to doctrinal differences and geographical separation of groups of monks.The original saṅgha split into the...

, the Four Noble Truths were the first teaching of Gautama Buddha after attaining Nirvana. They are sometimes considered to contain the essence of the Buddha's teachings:
  1. Life as we know it ultimately is or leads to suffering/uneasiness (dukkha
    Dukkha
    Dukkha is a Pali term roughly corresponding to a number of terms in English including suffering, pain, discontent, unsatisfactoriness, unhappiness, sorrow, affliction, social alienation, anxiety,...

    ) in one way or another.
  2. Suffering is caused by craving
    Tanha
    ' or ' literally means "thirst," and is a synonym for "desire" or "craving," traditionally juxtaposed with upekkha .Synonyms:*愛 Cn: ài; Vi: ái...

    . This is often expressed as a deluded clinging to a certain sense of existence, to selfhood, or to the things or phenomena that we consider the cause of happiness or unhappiness. Craving also has its negative aspect, i.e. one craves that a certain state of affairs not exist.
  3. Suffering ends when craving ends. This is achieved by eliminating delusion, thereby reaching a liberated state of Enlightenment (bodhi
    Bodhi
    Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

    );
  4. Reaching this liberated state is achieved by following the path
    Noble Eightfold Path
    The Noble Eightfold Path , is one of the principal teachings of the Buddha, who described it as the way leading to the cessation of suffering and the achievement of self-awakening. It is used to develop insight into the true nature of phenomena and to eradicate greed, hatred, and delusion...

     laid out by the Buddha.


This method is described by early Western scholars, and taught as an introduction to Buddhism by some contemporary Mahayana teachers (for example, the Dalai Lama
14th Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama is the 14th and current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are the most influential figures in the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, although the 14th has consolidated control over the other lineages in recent years...

).

According to other interpretations by Buddhist teachers and scholars, lately recognized by some Western non-Buddhist scholars, the "truths" do not represent mere statements, but are categories or aspects that most worldly phenomena fall into, grouped in two:
  1. Suffering and causes of suffering
  2. Cessation and the paths towards liberation from suffering.


Thus, according to the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism they are
  1. "The noble truth that is suffering"
  2. "The noble truth that is the arising of suffering"
  3. "The noble truth that is the end of suffering"
  4. "The noble truth that is the way leading to the end of suffering"


The traditional Theravada understanding is that the Four Noble Truths are an advanced teaching for those who are ready for them. The East Asian Mahayana position is that they are a preliminary teaching for people not yet ready for the higher and more expansive Mahayana teachings.

The Noble Eightfold Path




The Noble Eightfold Path
Noble Eightfold Path
The Noble Eightfold Path , is one of the principal teachings of the Buddha, who described it as the way leading to the cessation of suffering and the achievement of self-awakening. It is used to develop insight into the true nature of phenomena and to eradicate greed, hatred, and delusion...

—the fourth of the Buddha's Noble Truths
Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths are an important principle in Buddhism, classically taught by the Buddha in the Dharmacakra Pravartana Sūtra....

—is the way to the cessation of suffering (dukkha). It has eight sections, each starting with the word "samyak" (Sanskrit, meaning "correctly", "properly", or "well", frequently translated into English as "right"), and presented in three groups known as the three higher trainings. (NB: Pāli transliterations appear in brackets after Sanskrit ones):
  • Prajñā
    Prajña
    Prajñā or paññā is wisdom, understanding, discernment or cognitive acuity. Such wisdom is understood to exist in the universal flux of being and can be intuitively experienced through meditation...

    is the wisdom that purifies the mind, allowing it to attain spiritual insight into the true nature of all things. It includes:
  1. (ditthi): viewing reality as it is, not just as it appears to be.
  2. (sankappa): intention of renunciation, freedom and harmlessness.
    • Śīla
      Sila
      Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

      is the ethics or morality, or abstention from unwholesome deeds. It includes:
  3. (vāca): speaking in a truthful and non-hurtful way
  4. (kammanta): acting in a non-harmful way
  5. (ājīva): a non-harmful livelihood
    • Samādhi
      Samadhi
      Samadhi in Hinduism, Buddhism,Jainism, Sikhism and yogic schools is a higher level of concentrated meditation, or dhyāna. In the yoga tradition, it is the eighth and final limb identified in the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali....

      is the mental discipline required to develop mastery over one's own mind. This is done through the practice of various contemplative and meditative practices, and includes:
  6. (vāyāma): making an effort to improve
  7. (sati): awareness to see things for what they are with clear consciousness, being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion
  8. (samādhi): correct meditation or concentration, explained as the first four jhānas


The practice of the Eightfold Path is understood in two ways, as requiring either simultaneous development (all eight items practiced in parallel), or as a progressive series of stages through which the practitioner moves, the culmination of one leading to the beginning of another.

The Middle Way



An important guiding principle of Buddhist practice is the Middle Way
Middle way
The Middle Way or Middle Path is the descriptive term that Siddhartha Gautama used to describe the character of the path he discovered that led to liberation. It was coined in the very first teaching that he delivered after his enlightenment...

 (or Middle Path), which is said to have been discovered by Gautama Buddha prior to his enlightenment. The Middle Way has several definitions:
  1. The practice of non-extremism: a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification
  2. The middle ground between certain metaphysical
    Metaphysics
    Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

     views
    View (Buddhism)
    View or position is a central idea in Buddhism. In Buddhist thought, in contrast with the commonsense understanding, a view is not a simple, abstract collection of propositions, but a charged interpretation of experience which intensely shapes and affects thought, sensation, and action...

     (for example, that things ultimately either do or do not exist)
  3. An explanation of Nirvana (perfect enlightenment), a state wherein it becomes clear that all dualities apparent in the world are delusory (see Seongcheol
    Seongcheol
    Seongcheol is the dharma name of a Korean Seon Master. He was a key figure in modern Korean Buddhism, being responsible for significant changes to it from the 1950s to 1990s....

    )
  4. Another term for emptiness, the ultimate nature of all phenomena (in the Mahayana
    Mahayana
    Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

     branch), a lack of inherent existence, which avoids the extremes of permanence and nihilism or inherent existence and nothingness

Nature of existence



Buddhist scholars have produced a remarkable quantity of intellectual theories, philosophies and world view concepts (see, for example, Abhidharma
Abhidharma
Abhidharma or Abhidhamma are ancient Buddhist texts which contain detailed scholastic and scientific reworkings of doctrinal material appearing in the Buddhist Sutras, according to schematic classifications...

, Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy deals extensively with problems in metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics, and epistemology.Some scholars assert that early Buddhist philosophy did not engage in ontological or metaphysical speculation, but was based instead on empirical evidence gained by the sense organs...

 and Reality in Buddhism
Reality in Buddhism
Buddhism evolved a variety of doctrinal/philosophical traditions, each with its distinct ideas of reality. The following are still regularly studied in some branches of the Buddhist tradition: Theravada, Vaibhashika, Sautrantika, Jojitsu, Madhyamika, Yogacara, tiantai, Huayan...

). Some schools of Buddhism discourage doctrinal study, and some regard it as essential, but most regard it as having a place, at least for some persons at some stages in Buddhist practice.

In the earliest Buddhist teachings, shared to some extent by all extant schools, the concept of liberation (Nirvana)—the goal of the Buddhist path—is closely related to the correct understanding of how the mind causes stress. In awakening to the true nature of clinging, one develops dispassion for the objects of clinging, and is liberated from suffering (dukkha) and the cycle of incessant rebirths (saṃsāra). To this end, the Buddha recommended viewing things as characterized by the three marks of existence
Three marks of existence
The Three marks of existence, within Buddhism, are three characteristics shared by all sentient beings, namely: impermanence ; suffering or unsatisfactoriness ; non-self .According to Buddhist tradition, a full understanding of these three can bring an end to suffering...

.

Three Marks of Existence



The Three Marks of Existence are impermanence, suffering, and not-self.

Impermanence (Pāli: anicca) expresses the Buddhist notion that all compounded or conditioned phenomena
Sankhara
' or ' is a term figuring prominently in the teaching of the Buddha. The word means "that which has been put together" and "that which puts together". In the first sense, refers to conditioned phenomena generally but specifically to all mental "dispositions"...

 (all things and experiences) are inconstant, unsteady, and impermanent. Everything we can experience through our senses is made up of parts, and its existence is dependent on external conditions. Everything is in constant flux, and so conditions and the thing itself are constantly changing. Things are constantly coming into being, and ceasing to be. Since nothing lasts, there is no inherent or fixed nature to any object or experience. According to the doctrine of impermanence, life embodies this flux in the aging process, the cycle of rebirth (saṃsāra), and in any experience of loss. The doctrine asserts that because things are impermanent, attachment to them is futile and leads to suffering (dukkha).

Suffering (Pāli: दुक्ख dukkha; Sanskrit दुःख ) is also a central concept in Buddhism. The word roughly corresponds to a number of terms in English including suffering
Suffering
Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, is an individual's basic affective experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with harm or threat of harm. Suffering may be qualified as physical or mental. It may come in all degrees of intensity, from mild to intolerable. Factors of duration and...

, pain
Pain
Pain is an unpleasant sensation often caused by intense or damaging stimuli such as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting iodine on a cut, and bumping the "funny bone."...

, unsatisfactoriness, sorrow, affliction, anxiety
Anxiety
Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness,...

, dissatisfaction, discomfort, anguish
Anguish
Anguish is a term used in philosophy, often as a translation from the German Angst. It is a paramount feature of existentialist philosophy, in which anguish is often understood as the experience of an utterly free being in a world with zero absolutes...

, stress
Stress (medicine)
Stress is a term in psychology and biology, borrowed from physics and engineering and first used in the biological context in the 1930s, which has in more recent decades become commonly used in popular parlance...

, misery, and frustration
Frustration
This article concerns the field of psychology. The term frustration does, however, also concern physics. In this context, the term is treated in a different article, geometric frustration....

. Although the term is often translated as "suffering", its philosophical meaning is more analogous to "disquietude" as in the condition of being disturbed. As such, "suffering" is too narrow a translation with "negative emotional connotations" which can give the impression that the Buddhist view is one of pessimism
Pessimism
Pessimism, from the Latin word pessimus , is a state of mind in which one perceives life negatively. Value judgments may vary dramatically between individuals, even when judgments of fact are undisputed. The most common example of this phenomenon is the "Is the glass half empty or half full?"...

, but Buddhism seeks to be neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but realistic. In English-language Buddhist literature translated from Pāli, "dukkha" is often left untranslated, so as to encompass its full range of meaning.

Not-self (Pāli: anatta
Anatta
In Buddhism, anattā or anātman refers to the notion of "not-self." In the early texts, the Buddha commonly uses the word in the context of teaching that all things perceived by the senses are not really "I" or "mine," and for this reason one should not cling to them.In the same vein, the Pali...

; Sanskrit: anātman) is the third mark of existence. Upon careful examination, one finds that no phenomenon is really "I" or "mine"; these concepts are in fact constructed by the mind. In the Nikayas anatta is not meant as a metaphysical assertion, but as an approach for gaining release from suffering. In fact, the Buddha rejected both of the metaphysical assertions "I have a Self
Atman (Hinduism)
Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means 'self'. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism it refers to one's true self beyond identification with phenomena...

" and "I have no Self" as ontological
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

 views
View (Buddhism)
View or position is a central idea in Buddhism. In Buddhist thought, in contrast with the commonsense understanding, a view is not a simple, abstract collection of propositions, but a charged interpretation of experience which intensely shapes and affects thought, sensation, and action...

 that bind one to suffering. When asked if the self was identical with the body, the Buddha refused to answer
Fourteen unanswerable questions
The phrase fourteen unanswerable questions , in Buddhism, refers to fourteen common philosophical questions that Buddha refused to answer, according to Buddhist Sanskrit texts...

. By analyzing the constantly changing physical and mental constituents (skandha
Skandha
In Buddhist phenomenology and soteriology, the skandhas or khandhas are any of five types of phenomena that serve as objects of clinging and bases for a sense of self...

s) of a person or object, the practitioner comes to the conclusion that neither the respective parts nor the person as a whole comprise a self.

Dependent arising



The doctrine of pratītyasamutpāda (Sanskrit; Pali: paticcasamuppāda; Tibetan: rten.cing.'brel.bar.'byung.ba; Chinese: 緣起) is an important part of Buddhist metaphysics. It states that phenomena arise together in a mutually interdependent web of cause and effect. It is variously rendered into English as "dependent origination", "conditioned genesis", "dependent co-arising", "interdependent arising", or "contingency".

The best-known application of the concept of pratītyasamutpāda is the scheme of Twelve Nidānas
Twelve Nidanas
The Twelve Nidānas are the best-known application of the Buddhist concept of pratītyasamutpāda , identifying the origins of dukkha to be in tanha and avijja...

 (from Pāli "nidāna" meaning "cause, foundation, source or origin"), which explain the continuation of the cycle of suffering and rebirth (saṃsāra) in detail.
The Twelve Nidānas describe a causal connection between the subsequent characteristics or conditions of cyclic existence, each one giving rise to the next:
  1. Avidyā: ignorance, specifically spiritual ignorance of the nature of reality
  2. Saṃskāras: literally formations, explained as referring to karma
    Karma
    Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

  3. Vijñāna: consciousness
    Consciousness
    Consciousness is a term that refers to the relationship between the mind and the world with which it interacts. It has been defined as: subjectivity, awareness, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind...

    , specifically discriminative
  4. Nāmarūpa: literally name and form, referring to mind and body
  5. Ṣaḍāyatana: the six sense bases: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind-organ
  6. Sparśa: variously translated contact, impression, stimulation (by a sense object)
  7. Vedanā: usually translated feeling: this is the "hedonic tone", i.e. whether something is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral
  8. Tṛṣṇā: literally thirst, but in Buddhism nearly always used to mean craving
  9. Upādāna: clinging or grasping; the word also means fuel, which feeds the continuing cycle of rebirth
  10. Bhava: literally being (existence) or becoming. (The Theravada explains this as having two meanings: karma, which produces a new existence, and the existence itself.)
  11. Jāti: literally birth, but life is understood as starting at conception
  12. Jarāmaraṇa: (old age and death) and also śokaparidevaduḥkhadaurmanasyopāyāsa (sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and misery)


Sentient beings always suffer throughout saṃsāra, until they free themselves from this suffering by attaining Nirvana. Then the absence of the first Nidāna—ignorance—leads to the absence of the others.

Emptiness



Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 Buddhism received significant theoretical grounding from Nagarjuna
Nagarjuna
Nāgārjuna was an important Buddhist teacher and philosopher. Along with his disciple Āryadeva, he is credited with founding the Mādhyamaka school of Mahāyāna Buddhism...

 (perhaps c. 150–250 CE), arguably the most influential scholar within the Mahayana tradition. Nagarjuna's primary contribution to Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy deals extensively with problems in metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics, and epistemology.Some scholars assert that early Buddhist philosophy did not engage in ontological or metaphysical speculation, but was based instead on empirical evidence gained by the sense organs...

 was the systematic exposition of the concept of śūnyatā, or "emptiness", widely attested in the Prajñāpāramitā
Prajnaparamita
Prajñāpāramitā in Buddhism, means "the Perfection of Wisdom." The word Prajñāpāramitā combines the Sanskrit words prajñā with pāramitā . Prajñāpāramitā is a central concept in Mahāyāna Buddhism and its practice and understanding are taken to be indispensable elements of the Bodhisattva Path...

 sutras which were emergent in his era. The concept of emptiness brings together other key Buddhist doctrines, particularly anatta and pratītyasamutpāda (dependent origination), to refute the metaphysics of Sarvastivada
Sarvastivada
The Sarvāstivāda were an early school of Buddhism that held to 'the existence of all dharmas in the past, present and future, the 'three times'. Vasubandhu's states:-Name:...

 and Sautrantika (extinct non-Mahayana schools). For Nagarjuna, it is not merely sentient beings that are empty of ātman
Atman (Buddhism)
The word Ātman or Atta refers to a self. Occasionally the terms "soul" or "ego" are also used. The words ātman and atta derive from the Indo-European root *ēt-men and are cognate with the Old English æthm and German Atem....

; all phenomena (dharmas) are without any svabhava
Svabhava
Svabhava Pāli: sabhāva; Chinese: 自性 zìxìng; ) is intrinsic nature, essential nature or essence.The concept and term svabhāva are frequently encountered in Dharmic traditions such as Advaita Vedānta , Mahāyāna Buddhism Svabhava (Sanskrit: स्वभाव; IAST: svabhāva) Pāli: sabhāva; Chinese: 自性 zìxìng; )...

 (literally "own-nature" or "self-nature"), and thus without any underlying essence; they are "empty" of being independent; thus the heterodox theories of svabhava circulating at the time were refuted on the basis of the doctrines of early Buddhism. Nagarjuna's school of thought is known as the Mādhyamaka
Madhyamaka
Madhyamaka refers primarily to a Mahāyāna Buddhist school of Buddhist philosophy systematized by Nāgārjuna. Nāgārjuna may have arrived at his positions from a desire to achieve a consistent exegesis of the Buddha's doctrine as recorded in the āgamas...

. Some of the writings attributed to Nagarjuna made explicit references to Mahayana texts, but his philosophy was argued within the parameters set out by the agamas. He may have arrived at his positions from a desire to achieve a consistent exegesis
Exegesis
Exegesis is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text, and the term "Biblical exegesis" is used...

 of the Buddha's doctrine as recorded in the Canon. In the eyes of Nagarjuna the Buddha was not merely a forerunner, but the very founder of the Mādhyamaka system.

Sarvastivada teachings—which were criticized by Nāgārjuna—were reformulated by scholars such as Vasubandhu
Vasubandhu
Vasubandhu was an Indian Buddhist monk, and along with his half-brother Asanga, one of the main founders of the Indian Yogācāra school. However, some scholars consider Vasubandhu to be two distinct people. Vasubandhu is one of the most influential figures in the entire history of Buddhism...

 and Asanga
Asanga
Asaṅga was a major exponent of the Yogācāra tradition in India, also called Vijñānavāda. Traditionally, he and his half-brother Vasubandhu are regarded as the founders of this school...

 and were adapted into the Yogacara
Yogacara
Yogācāra is an influential school of Buddhist philosophy and psychology emphasizing phenomenology and ontology through the interior lens of meditative and yogic practices. It developed within Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism in about the 4th century CE...

 (Sanskrit: yoga practice) school. While the Mādhyamaka school held that asserting the existence or non-existence of any ultimately real thing was inappropriate, some exponents of Yogacara asserted that the mind and only the mind is ultimately real (a doctrine known as cittamatra). Not all Yogacarins asserted that mind was truly existent; Vasubandhu and Asanga in particular did not. These two schools of thought, in opposition or synthesis, form the basis of subsequent Mahayana metaphysics in the Indo-Tibetan tradition.

Besides emptiness, Mahayana schools often place emphasis on the notions of perfected spiritual insight (prajñāpāramitā
Prajnaparamita
Prajñāpāramitā in Buddhism, means "the Perfection of Wisdom." The word Prajñāpāramitā combines the Sanskrit words prajñā with pāramitā . Prajñāpāramitā is a central concept in Mahāyāna Buddhism and its practice and understanding are taken to be indispensable elements of the Bodhisattva Path...

) and Buddha-nature (tathāgatagarbha). There are conflicting interpretations of the tathāgatagarbha in Mahāyāna thought. The idea may be traced to Abhidharma
Abhidharma
Abhidharma or Abhidhamma are ancient Buddhist texts which contain detailed scholastic and scientific reworkings of doctrinal material appearing in the Buddhist Sutras, according to schematic classifications...

, and ultimately to statements of the Buddha in the Nikāyas. In Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, according to the Sakya
Sakya
The Sakya school is one of four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the others being the Nyingma, Kagyu, and Gelug...

 school, tathāgatagarbha is the inseparability of the clarity and emptiness of one's mind. In Nyingma
Nyingma
The Nyingma tradition is the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism . "Nyingma" literally means "ancient," and is often referred to as Nga'gyur or the "old school" because it is founded on the first translations of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Tibetan, in the eighth century...

, tathāgatagarbha also generally refers to inseparability of the clarity and emptiness of one's mind. According to the Gelug
Gelug
The Gelug or Gelug-pa , also known as the Yellow Hat sect, is a school of Buddhism founded by Je Tsongkhapa , a philosopher and Tibetan religious leader...

 school, it is the potential for sentient beings to awaken since they are empty (i.e. dependently originated). According to the Jonang
Jonang
The Jonang is one of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Its origins in Tibet can be traced to early 12th century master Yumo Mikyo Dorje, but became much wider known with the help of Dolpopa Sherab Gyeltsen, a monk originally trained in the Sakya school...

 school, it refers to the innate qualities of the mind which expresses itself in terms of omniscience etc. when adventitious obscurations are removed. The "Tathāgatagarbha Sutras" are a collection of Mahayana sutras which present a unique model of Buddha-nature. Even though this collection was generally ignored in India, East Asian Buddhism provides some significance to these texts.

Liberation



Nirvana



Nirvana (Sanskrit; Pali: "Nibbana") means "cessation", "extinction" (of craving
Tanha
' or ' literally means "thirst," and is a synonym for "desire" or "craving," traditionally juxtaposed with upekkha .Synonyms:*愛 Cn: ài; Vi: ái...

 and ignorance and therefore suffering
Dukkha
Dukkha is a Pali term roughly corresponding to a number of terms in English including suffering, pain, discontent, unsatisfactoriness, unhappiness, sorrow, affliction, social alienation, anxiety,...

 and the cycle of involuntary rebirths (saṃsāra
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

)), "extinguished", "quieted", "calmed"; it is also known as "Awakening" or "Enlightenment" in the West. The term for anybody who has achieved nirvana, including the Buddha, is arahant.

Bodhi
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

 (Pāli and Sanskrit, in devanagari
Devanagari
Devanagari |deva]]" and "nāgarī" ), also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

: बॊधि) is a term applied to the experience of Awakening of arahants. Bodhi literally means "awakening", but it is more commonly translated into English as "enlightenment". In Early Buddhism
Early Buddhism
The term Early Buddhism can refer to:* Pre-sectarian Buddhism, which refers to the Teachings and monastic organization and structure, founded by Gautama Buddha....

, bodhi carried a meaning synonymous to nirvana, using only some different metaphors to describe the experience, which implies the extinction of raga (greed, craving), dosa (hate, aversion) and moha (delusion). In the later school of Mahayana Buddhism, the status of nirvana was downgraded in some scriptures, coming to refer only to the extinction of greed and hate, implying that delusion was still present in one who attained nirvana, and that one needed to attain bodhi to eradicate delusion:
Therefore, according to Mahayana Buddhism, the arahant has attained only nirvana, thus still being subject to delusion, while the bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

 not only achieves nirvana but full liberation from delusion as well. He thus attains bodhi and becomes a buddha. In Theravada Buddhism, bodhi and nirvana carry the same meaning as in the early texts, that of being freed from greed, hate and delusion.

The term parinirvana
Parinirvana
In Buddhism, parinirvana is the final nirvana, which occurs upon the death of the body of someone who has attained complete awakening...

 is also encountered in Buddhism, and this generally refers to the complete nirvana attained by the arhat at the moment of death, when the physical body expires.

Buddhas




Theravada

In Theravada doctrine, a person may awaken from the "sleep of ignorance" by directly realizing the true nature of reality
Reality in Buddhism
Buddhism evolved a variety of doctrinal/philosophical traditions, each with its distinct ideas of reality. The following are still regularly studied in some branches of the Buddhist tradition: Theravada, Vaibhashika, Sautrantika, Jojitsu, Madhyamika, Yogacara, tiantai, Huayan...

; such people are called arahants and occasionally buddhas. After numerous lifetimes of spiritual striving, they have reached the end of the cycle of rebirth, no longer reincarnating as human, animal, ghost, or other being. The commentaries to the Pali Canon classify these awakened beings into three types:
  • Sammasambuddha
    Buddhahood
    In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

    , usually just called Buddha, who discovers the truth by himself and teaches the path to awakening to others
  • Paccekabuddha
    Pratyekabuddha
    A Pratyekabuddha or Paccekabuddha , literally "a lone buddha" , "a buddha on their own" or "a private buddha", is one of three types of enlightened beings according to some schools of Buddhism. The other two types are the Śrāvakabuddhas and Samyaksambuddhas...

    , who discovers the truth by himself but lacks the skill to teach others
  • Savakabuddha
    Savakabuddha
    Sāvakabuddha is a term used rarely in Theravada Buddhism to refer to an enlightened disciple of a Buddha. Such disciples are enlightened individuals who gain by hearing the Dhamma as initially taught by a Sammasambuddha...

    , who receive the truth directly or indirectly from a Sammasambuddha


Bodhi and nirvana carry the same meaning, that of being freed from craving, hate, and delusion. In attaining bodhi, the arahant has overcome these obstacles. As a further distinction, the extinction of only hatred and greed (in the sensory context) with some residue of delusion, is called anagami
Anagami
In Buddhism, an anāgāmi is a partially enlightened person who has cut off the first five chains that bind the ordinary mind. Anagami-ship is the third of the four stages of enlightenment....

.
Mahayana

In the Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

, the Buddha tends not to be viewed as merely human, but as the earthly projection of a beginningless and endless, omnipresent being (see Dharmakaya
Dharmakaya
The Dharmakāya is a central idea in Mahayana Buddhism forming part of the Trikaya doctrine that was possibly first expounded in the Aṣṭasāhasrikā prajñā-pāramitā , composed in the 1st century BCE...

) beyond the range and reach of thought. Moreover, in certain Mahayana sutras, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are viewed essentially as One: all three are seen as the eternal Buddha
Eternal Buddha
The idea of an eternal Buddha is a notion popularly associated with the Mahayana scripture, the Lotus Sutra, and is also found in other Mahayana sutras.- The Eternal Buddha in the Lotus Sutra and Other Mahayana Sutras :...

 himself.

Celestial Buddhas are individuals who no longer exist on the material plane of existence, but who still aid in the enlightenment of all beings.

Nirvana came to refer only to the extinction of greed and hate, implying that delusion was still present in one who attained Nirvana. Bodhi became a higher attainment that eradicates delusion entirely. Thus, the Arahant attains Nirvana but not Bodhi, thus still being subject to delusion, while the Buddha
Buddhahood
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

 attains Bodhi.

Buddh redirects here, for the Race Circuit, see Buddh International Circuit



Buddhism (Pali
Pali language
Pāli is a Middle Indo-Aryan language of the Indian subcontinent. It is best known as the language of many of the earliest extant Buddhist scriptures, as collected in the Pāi Canon or Tipitaka, and as the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism.-Etymology of the name:The word Pali itself...

/ Bauddha Dharma) is a religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 and philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

, commonly known as the Buddha
Buddhahood
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

 (Pāli
Páli
- External links :* *...

/Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 "the awakened one"). The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 some time between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

 or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings
Sentient beings (Buddhism)
Sentient beings is a technical term in Buddhist discourse. Broadly speaking, it denotes beings with consciousness or sentience or, in some contexts, life itself. Specifically, it denotes the presence of the five aggregates, or skandhas...

 end ignorance (avidyā
Avidya (Buddhism)
Avidyā or avijjā means "ignorance" or "delusion" and is the opposite of 'vidyā' and 'rig pa'...

) of dependent origination, thus escaping what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth
Samsara (Buddhism)
or sangsara is a Sanskrit and Pāli term, which translates as "continuous movement" or "continuous flowing" and, in Buddhism, refers to the concept of a cycle of birth , and consequent decay and death , in which all beings in the universe participate, and which can only be escaped through...

.

Two major branches of Buddhism are recognized: Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 ("The School of the Elders") and Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 ("The Great Vehicle"). Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 and Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

. Mahayana is found throughout East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

 and includes the traditions of Pure Land
Pure land
A pure land, in Mahayana Buddhism, is the celestial realm or pure abode of a Buddha or Bodhisattva. The various traditions that focus on Pure Lands have been given the nomenclature Pure Land Buddhism. Pure lands are also evident in the literature and traditions of Taoism and Bön.The notion of 'pure...

, Zen
Zen
Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism founded by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chán , which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state."Zen...

, Nichiren Buddhism
Nichiren Buddhism
Nichiren Buddhism is a branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism based on the teachings of the 13th century Japanese monk Nichiren...

, Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, Shingon, Tiantai
Tiantai
Tiantai is an important school of Buddhism in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. In Japan the school is known as Tendai, and in Korea it is known as Cheontae. Tiantai is also called the "Lotus School", due to its emphasis on the Lotus Sūtra as its doctrinal basis...

 (Tendai
Tendai
is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism, a descendant of the Chinese Tiantai or Lotus Sutra school.Chappell frames the relevance of Tendai for a universal Buddhism:- History :...

) and Shinnyo-en. In some classifications Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

—as practiced mainly in Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 and Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

 —is recognized as a third branch, while others classify it as a part of Mahayana. There are other categorisations of these three Vehicles or Yana
Yana (Buddhism)
Yāna refers to a mode or method of spiritual practice in Buddhism, and in particular to divisions of various schools of Buddhism according to their type of practice.-Nomenclature, etymology and orthography:...

s.

While Buddhism remains most popular within Asia, both branches are now found throughout the world. Estimates of Buddhists worldwide vary significantly depending on the way Buddhist adherence is defined. Lower estimates are between 350–500 million.

Buddhist schools
Schools of Buddhism
Buddhism is an ancient, polyvalent ideological system that originated in the Iron Age Indian subcontinent, referred to variously throughout history by one or more of a myriad of concepts – including, but not limited to any of the following: a Dharmic religion, a philosophy or quasi-philosophical...

 vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures
Buddhist texts
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 authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized...

, and especially their respective practices. The cardinal doctrine of dependent origination is the only doctrine that is common to all Buddhist teachings from Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 to Dzogchen
Dzogchen
According to Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, Dzogchen is the natural, primordial state or natural condition of the mind, and a body of teachings and meditation practices aimed at realizing that condition. Dzogchen, or "Great Perfection", is a central teaching of the Nyingma school also practiced by...

 to the extinct schools. The foundations of Buddhist tradition and practice are the Three Jewels
Three Jewels
The Three Jewels, also called the Three Treasures, the Siemese Triples, Three Refuges, or the Triple Gem , are the three things that Buddhists take refuge in, and look toward for guidance, in the process known as taking refuge.The Three Jewels are:* BuddhaTaking refuge in the Three Jewels is...

: the Buddha, the Dharma
Dharma (Buddhism)
Dhamma or Dharma in Buddhism can have the following meanings:* The state of Nature as it is * The Laws of Nature considered collectively....

 (the teachings), and the Sangha
Sangha
Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...

 (the community). Taking "refuge
Refuge (Buddhism)
Buddhists "take refuge" in, or to "go for refuge" to, the Three Jewels . This can be done formally in lay and monastic ordination ceremonies.The Three Jewels general signification is: * the Buddha;* the Dharma, the teachings;...

 in the triple gem" has traditionally been a declaration and commitment to being on the Buddhist path and in general distinguishes a Buddhist from a non-Buddhist. Other practices may include following ethical precepts
Sila
Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

, support of the monastic community
Dana (Buddhism)
Dāna is generosity or giving. In Hinduism and Buddhism, it is the practice of cultivating generosity. Ultimately, the practice culminates in one of the perfections : the perfection of giving - dāna-pāramitā...

, renouncing
Nekkhamma
Nekkhamma is a Pali word generally translated as "renunciation" or "the pleasure of renunciation" while also conveying more specifically "giving up the world and leading a holy life" or "freedom from lust, craving and desires." In Buddhism's Noble Eightfold Path, nekkhamma is the first practice...

 conventional living and becoming a monastic
Buddhist monasticism
Monasticism is one of the most fundamental institutions of Buddhism. Monks and nuns are responsible for preserving and teaching Buddhist teachings and guiding Buddhist lay followers. Earlier Buddhist monks were enlightened...

, the development of mindfulness and practice of meditation
Buddhist meditation
Buddhist meditation refers to the meditative practices associated with the religion and philosophy of Buddhism.Core meditation techniques have been preserved in ancient Buddhist texts and have proliferated and diversified through teacher-student transmissions. Buddhists pursue meditation as part of...

, cultivation of higher wisdom and discernment, study of scriptures, devotional
Buddhist devotion
Buddhist devotion is an important part of the practice of most Buddhists. According to a spokesman of the Sasana Council of Burma, devotion to Buddhist spiritual practices inspires devotion to the Triple Gem...

 practices, ceremonies, and in the Mahayana tradition, invocation of buddhas and bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

s.

Life of the Buddha



The evidence of the early texts suggests that the Buddha was born in a community that was on the periphery, both geographically and culturally, of the northeastern Indian subcontinent in the 5th century BCE. It was either a small republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

, in which case his father was an elected chieftain, or an oligarchy
Oligarchy
Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, commercial, and/or military legitimacy...

, in which case his father was an oligarch.

According to the Theravada Tipitaka scriptures
Buddhist texts
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 authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized...

(from Pali, meaning "three baskets"), the Buddha was born in Lumbini
Lumbini
Lumbinī is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi district of Nepal. It is the place where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama, who as the Buddha Gautama founded the Buddhist tradition. The Buddha lived between roughly 563 and 483 BCE...

 in modern-day Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

, around the year 563 BCE, and raised in Kapilavastu
Kapilavastu
Kapilavastu is the name of a region of ancient Shakya kingdom that is considered a holy pilgrimage place for Buddhists. The search for the Buddha's birthplace following the accounts left by Xuanzang and Faxian involved various searches in the late 19th century...

.

According to this narrative, shortly after the birth of young prince Siddhartha Gautama, an astrologer
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

 visited the young prince's father—King Śuddhodana
Suddhodana
King Suddhodana was the father of Siddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha. He was a leader of the Shakya people, who lived in southern Nepal. Suddhodana's father was Sinahana...

—and prophesied that Siddhartha would either become a great king or renounce the material world to become a holy man, depending on whether he saw what life was like outside the palace walls.

Śuddhodana was determined to see his son become a king, so he prevented him from leaving the palace grounds. But at age 29, despite his father's efforts, Siddhartha ventured beyond the palace several times. In a series of encounters—known in Buddhist literature as the four sights
Four sights
The four sights were specific observations made by Prince Siddhārtha , which led to a realization. Before this, he had been confined to his palace by his father, who feared that he would become an ascetic if he came into contact with sufferings of life according to a prediction...

—he learned of the suffering of ordinary people, encountering an old man, a sick man, a corpse and, finally, an ascetic
Asceticism
Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals...

 holy man
Sadhu
In Hinduism, sādhu denotes an ascetic, wandering monk. Although the vast majority of sādhus are yogīs, not all yogīs are sādhus. The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa , the fourth and final aśrama , through meditation and contemplation of brahman...

, apparently content and at peace with the world. These experiences prompted Gautama to abandon royal life and take up a spiritual quest.

Gautama first went to study with famous religious teachers of the day, and mastered the meditative attainments they taught. But he found that they did not provide a permanent end to suffering, so he continued his quest. He next attempted an extreme asceticism, which was a religious pursuit common among the Shramana
Shramana
A shramana is a wandering monk in certain ascetic traditions of ancient India including Jainism, Buddhism, and Ājīvikism. Famous śramaṇas include Mahavira and Gautama Buddha....

s, a religious culture distinct from the Vedic one. Gautama underwent prolonged fasting, breath-holding, and exposure to pain. He almost starved himself to death in the process. He realized that he had taken this kind of practice to its limit, and had not put an end to suffering. So in a pivotal moment he accepted milk and rice from a village girl and changed his approach. He devoted himself to anapanasati
Anapanasati
Ānāpānasati , meaning 'mindfulness of breathing' , is a form of Buddhist meditation now common to the Tibetan, Zen, Tiantai, and Theravada schools of Buddhism, as well as western-based mindfulness programs.According to tradition, Anapanasati was...

 meditation, through which he discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way
Middle way
The Middle Way or Middle Path is the descriptive term that Siddhartha Gautama used to describe the character of the path he discovered that led to liberation. It was coined in the very first teaching that he delivered after his enlightenment...

 (Skt. madhyamā-pratipad): a path of moderation between the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification.
Gautama was now determined to complete his spiritual quest. At the age of 35, he famously sat in meditation
Meditation
Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit....

 under a sacred fig
Sacred Fig
The Sacred Fig, Ficus religiosa, or Bo-Tree , Peepal is a species of banyan fig native to India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, southwest China and Indochina...

 tree — known as the Bodhi tree
Bodhi tree
The Bodhi Tree, also known as Bo , was a large and very old Sacred Fig tree located in Bodh Gaya , under which Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism later known as Gautama Buddha, is said to have achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi...

 — in the town of Bodh Gaya, India, and vowed not to rise before achieving enlightenment
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

. After many days, he finally destroyed the fetters
Fetter (Buddhism)
In Buddhism, a mental fetter, chain or bond shackles a sentient being to sasāra, the cycle of lives with dukkha. By cutting through all fetters, one attains nibbāna ....

 of his mind, thereby liberating himself from the cycle of suffering and rebirth
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

, and arose as a fully enlightened being (Skt. ). Soon thereafter, he attracted a band of followers and instituted a monastic order
Sangha
Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...

. Now, as the Buddha, he spent the rest of his life teaching the path of awakening
Dharma (Buddhism)
Dhamma or Dharma in Buddhism can have the following meanings:* The state of Nature as it is * The Laws of Nature considered collectively....

 he had discovered, traveling throughout the northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent, and died at the age of 80 (483 BCE) in Kushinagar
Kushinagar
Kushinagar , Kusinagar or Kusinara is a town and a nagar panchayat in Kushinagar district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, where Gautama Buddha is believed to have attained Parinirvana after his death.-Demographics: India census, Kushinagar had a...

, India. The south branch of the original fig tree only available in Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura, , is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization.The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies 205 km north of the current capital Colombo in Sri Lanka's North Central Province, on the banks of the historic...

 Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 known as Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi.

The above narrative draws on the Nidānakathā biography of the Theravāda
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 sect in Sri Lanka, which is ascribed to Buddhaghoṣa
Buddhaghosa
Bhadantācariya Buddhaghoṣa(Chinese: 覺音)was a 5th-century Indian Theravadin Buddhist commentator and scholar. His best-known work is the Visuddhimagga, or Path of Purification, a comprehensive summary and analysis of the Theravada understanding of the Buddha's path to liberation...

 in the 5th century CE. Earlier biographies such as the Buddhacarita
Buddhacarita
Buddhacharita is an epic poem in the Sanskrit mahakavya style on the life of Gautama Buddha by , composed in the 2nd century AD...

, the Lokottaravādin Mahāvastu
Mahavastu
The Mahāvastu is a text of the Lokottaravāda school of Early Buddhism. It describes itself as being a historical preface to the Buddhist monastic codes...

, and the Mahāyāna
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 / Sarvāstivāda
Sarvastivada
The Sarvāstivāda were an early school of Buddhism that held to 'the existence of all dharmas in the past, present and future, the 'three times'. Vasubandhu's states:-Name:...

 Lalitavistara Sūtra
Lalitavistara Sutra
The Lalitavistara Sutra is a Mahayana Buddhist Vaipulya sutra that describes the sports of Gautama Buddha. It is a compilation of various works by no single author and includes some material from the Sarvastivada school. The scholar P. L...

, give different accounts.

Scholars are hesitant to make unqualified claims about the historical facts of the Buddha's life. Most accept that he lived, taught and founded a monastic order but do not consistently accept all of the details contained in his biographies. According to author Michael Carrithers, while there are good reasons to doubt the traditional account, "the outline of the life must be true: birth, maturity, renunciation, search, awakening and liberation, teaching, death."

In writing her biography of Buddha, Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong FRSL , is a British author and commentator who is the author of twelve books on comparative religion. A former Roman Catholic nun, she went from a conservative to a more liberal and mystical faith...

 noted, "It is obviously difficult, therefore, to write a biography of the Buddha that will meet modern criteria, because we have very little information that can be considered historically sound... [but] we can be reasonably confident Siddhatta Gotama did indeed exist and that his disciples preserved the memory of his life and teachings as well as they could."

Buddhist concepts




Life and the world



Karma



Karma
Karma
Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

 (from Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

: "action, work") in Buddhism
Karma in Buddhism
Karma means "action" or "doing"; whatever one does, says, or thinks is a karma. In Buddhism, the term karma is used specifically for those actions which spring from the intention of an unenlightened being.These bring about a fruit or result Karma (Sanskrit, also karman, Pāli: Kamma) means...

 is the force that drives saṃsāra
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

—the cycle of suffering and rebirth for each being. Good, skillful deeds (Pāli
Páli
- External links :* *...

: "kusala") and bad, unskillful (Pāli: "akusala") actions produce "seeds" in the mind which come to fruition
Vipaka
Vipāka is a Buddhist technical term meaning the result of karma , or intentional actions.In Buddhist belief, the law of kamma-vipāka is of great importance. In a discourse the Buddha said “Intention, monks, is kamma I say...

 either in this life or in a subsequent rebirth
Rebirth (Buddhism)
Rebirth in Buddhism is the doctrine that the evolving consciousness or stream of consciousness upon death , becomes one of the contributing causes for the arising of a new aggregation...

. The avoidance of unwholesome actions and the cultivation of positive actions is called śīla
Sila
Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

 (from Sanskrit: "ethical conduct").

In Buddhism, karma specifically refers to those actions (of body, speech, and mind) that spring from mental intent ("cetana"), and which bring about a consequence (or fruit, "phala
Phala
Phala is a Sanskrit term that means “fruit” and refers to charisms in Hinduism and Buddhism. They are also known in Buddhism as Maha-phala, which are the Great fruit of the contemplative life....

") or result ("vipāka
Vipaka
Vipāka is a Buddhist technical term meaning the result of karma , or intentional actions.In Buddhist belief, the law of kamma-vipāka is of great importance. In a discourse the Buddha said “Intention, monks, is kamma I say...

").

In Theravada Buddhism there can be no divine salvation or forgiveness for one's karma, since it is a purely impersonal process that is a part of the makeup of the universe. Some Mahayana traditions hold different views. For example, the texts of certain Mahayana sutras (such as the Lotus Sutra
Lotus Sutra
The Lotus Sūtra is one of the most popular and influential Mahāyāna sūtras, and the basis on which the Tiantai and Nichiren sects of Buddhism were established.-Title:...

, the Angulimaliya Sutra
Angulimaliya Sutra
The Angulimaliya Sutra is a Buddhist scripture belonging to the Tathāgatagarbha class of sūtra, which teach that the Buddha is eternal, that the non-Self and emptiness teachings only apply to the worldly sphere , and that the tathagatagarbha is real and immanent within all beings and all phenomena...

 and the Nirvana Sutra) claim that reciting or merely hearing their texts can expunge great swathes of negative karma. Some forms of Buddhism (for example, Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

) regard the recitation of mantra
Mantra
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...

s as a means for cutting off previous negative karma. The Japanese Pure Land
Pure Land Buddhism
Pure Land Buddhism , also referred to as Amidism in English, is a broad branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism and currently one of the most popular traditions of Buddhism in East Asia. Pure Land is a branch of Buddhism focused on Amitābha Buddha...

 teacher Genshin
Genshin
Genshin , also known as Eshin Sozu, was the most influential of a number of Tendai scholars active during the tenth and eleventh centuries in Japan...

 taught that Amida Buddha has the power to destroy the karma that would otherwise bind one in saṃsāra.

Rebirth


Rebirth refers to a process whereby beings go through a succession of lifetimes as one of many possible forms of sentient
Sentience
Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive or be conscious, or to have subjective experiences. Eighteenth century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think from the ability to feel . In modern western philosophy, sentience is the ability to have sensations or experiences...

 life, each running from conception to death. Buddhism rejects the concepts of a permanent self
Self
The self is an individual person as the object of his or her own reflective consciousness. The self has been studied extensively by philosophers and psychologists and is central to many world religions.-Philosophy:...

 or an unchanging, eternal soul, as it is called in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 and Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. According to Buddhism there ultimately is no such thing as a self independent from the rest of the universe (the doctrine of anatta
Anatta
In Buddhism, anattā or anātman refers to the notion of "not-self." In the early texts, the Buddha commonly uses the word in the context of teaching that all things perceived by the senses are not really "I" or "mine," and for this reason one should not cling to them.In the same vein, the Pali...

). Rebirth in subsequent existences must be understood as the continuation of a dynamic, ever-changing process of "dependent arising" ("pratītyasamutpāda") determined by the laws of cause and effect (karma) rather than that of one being, transmigrating or incarnating
Incarnation
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

 from one existence to the next.

Each rebirth takes place within one of five realms according to Theravadins, or six
Six realms
The desire realm is one of three realms or three worlds in traditional Buddhist cosmology into which a being wandering in may be reborn. The other two are the form realm, and the formless realm The desire realm (Sanskrit kāma-dhātu) is one of three realms (Sanskrit: dhātu, Tibetan: khams) or...

 according to other schools. These are further subdivided into 31 planes of existence:
  1. Naraka beings
    Naraka (Buddhism)
    Naraka नरक or Niraya निरय is the name given to one of the worlds of greatest suffering in Buddhist cosmology.Naraka is usually translated into English as "hell", "hell realm", or "purgatory"...

    : those who live in one of many Narakas (Hells)
  2. Preta
    Preta
    Preta, प्रेत or Peta is the name for a type of being described in Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, and Jain texts that undergoes more than human suffering, particularly an extreme degree of hunger and thirst...

    : sometimes sharing some space with humans, but invisible to most people; an important variety is the hungry ghost
    Hungry ghost
    Hungry ghost is a Western translation of Chinese  , a concept in Chinese Buddhism and Chinese traditional religion representing beings who are driven by intense emotional needs in an animalistic way....

  3. Animals
    Animals in Buddhism
    The position and treatment of animals in Buddhism is important for the light it sheds on Buddhists' perception of their own relation to the natural world, on Buddhist humanitarian concerns in general, and on the relationship between Buddhist theory and Buddhist practice.-Animals in Buddhist...

    : sharing space with humans, but considered another type of life
  4. Human beings
    Human beings in Buddhism
    Humans in Buddhism are the subjects of an extensive commentarial literature that examines the nature and qualities of a human life from the point of view of humans' ability to achieve enlightenment...

    : one of the realms of rebirth in which attaining Nirvana is possible
  5. Asuras
    Asura (Buddhism)
    Asura in Buddhism is the name of the lowest ranks of the deities or demigods of the Kāmadhātu.-Origins and etymology:...

    : variously translated as lowly deities, demons, titans, antigods; not recognized by Theravāda (Mahavihara) tradition as a separate realm
  6. Devas
    Deva (Buddhism)
    A deva in Buddhism is one of many different types of non-human beings who share the characteristics of being more powerful, longer-lived, and, in general, living more contentedly than the average human being....

     including Brahmas
    Brahma (Buddhism)
    ' in Buddhism is the name for a type of exalted passionless deity , of which there are several in Buddhist cosmology.-Origins:The name originates in Vedic tradition, in which Brahmā appears as the creator of the universe...

    : variously translated as gods, deities, spirits, angels, or left untranslated


Rebirths in some of the higher heavens, known as the Śuddhāvāsa Worlds (Pure Abodes), can be attained only by skilled Buddhist practitioners known as anāgāmi
Anagami
In Buddhism, an anāgāmi is a partially enlightened person who has cut off the first five chains that bind the ordinary mind. Anagami-ship is the third of the four stages of enlightenment....

s (non-returners). Rebirths in the arupa-dhatu (formless realms) can be attained only by those who can meditate on the arūpajhāna
Arupajhana
In Buddhism, the arūpajhānas or "formless meditations" are four successive levels of meditation on non-material objects. These levels are higher than the rūpajhānas, and harder to attain...

s, the highest object of meditation.

According to East Asian and Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, there is an intermediate state
Bardo
The Tibetan word Bardo means literally "intermediate state" - also translated as "transitional state" or "in-between state" or "liminal state". In Sanskrit the concept has the name antarabhāva...

 (Tibetan
Tibetan language
The Tibetan languages are a cluster of mutually-unintelligible Tibeto-Burman languages spoken primarily by Tibetan peoples who live across a wide area of eastern Central Asia bordering the Indian subcontinent, including the Tibetan Plateau and the northern Indian subcontinent in Baltistan, Ladakh,...

 "Bardo") between one life and the next. The orthodox Theravada position rejects this; however there are passages in the Samyutta Nikaya
Samyutta Nikaya
The Samyutta Nikaya is a Buddhist scripture, the third of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka, which is one of the "three baskets" that compose the Pali Tipitaka of Theravada Buddhism. Because of the abbreviated way parts of the text are written, the total number of suttas is...

 of the Pali Canon
Pāli Canon
The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language. It is the only completely surviving early Buddhist canon, and one of the first to be written down...

 (the collection of texts on which the Theravada tradition is based), that seem to lend support to the idea that the Buddha taught of an intermediate stage between one life and the next.

Saṃsāra



Sentient beings crave pleasure and are averse to pain from birth to death. In being controlled by these attitudes, they perpetuate the cycle of conditioned existence and suffering (saṃsāra), and produce the causes and conditions of the next rebirth after death. Each rebirth repeats this process in an involuntary cycle, which Buddhists strive to end by eradicating these causes and conditions, applying the methods laid out by the Buddha and subsequent Buddhists.

The Four Noble Truths


According to the Pali Tipitaka and the Āgamas of other early Buddhist schools
Early Buddhist schools
The early Buddhist schools are those schools into which, according to most scholars, the Buddhist monastic saṅgha initially split, due originally to differences in vinaya, and later also due to doctrinal differences and geographical separation of groups of monks.The original saṅgha split into the...

, the Four Noble Truths were the first teaching of Gautama Buddha after attaining Nirvana. They are sometimes considered to contain the essence of the Buddha's teachings:
  1. Life as we know it ultimately is or leads to suffering/uneasiness (dukkha
    Dukkha
    Dukkha is a Pali term roughly corresponding to a number of terms in English including suffering, pain, discontent, unsatisfactoriness, unhappiness, sorrow, affliction, social alienation, anxiety,...

    ) in one way or another.
  2. Suffering is caused by craving
    Tanha
    ' or ' literally means "thirst," and is a synonym for "desire" or "craving," traditionally juxtaposed with upekkha .Synonyms:*愛 Cn: ài; Vi: ái...

    . This is often expressed as a deluded clinging to a certain sense of existence, to selfhood, or to the things or phenomena that we consider the cause of happiness or unhappiness. Craving also has its negative aspect, i.e. one craves that a certain state of affairs not exist.
  3. Suffering ends when craving ends. This is achieved by eliminating delusion, thereby reaching a liberated state of Enlightenment (bodhi
    Bodhi
    Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

    );
  4. Reaching this liberated state is achieved by following the path
    Noble Eightfold Path
    The Noble Eightfold Path , is one of the principal teachings of the Buddha, who described it as the way leading to the cessation of suffering and the achievement of self-awakening. It is used to develop insight into the true nature of phenomena and to eradicate greed, hatred, and delusion...

     laid out by the Buddha.


This method is described by early Western scholars, and taught as an introduction to Buddhism by some contemporary Mahayana teachers (for example, the Dalai Lama
14th Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama is the 14th and current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are the most influential figures in the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, although the 14th has consolidated control over the other lineages in recent years...

).

According to other interpretations by Buddhist teachers and scholars, lately recognized by some Western non-Buddhist scholars, the "truths" do not represent mere statements, but are categories or aspects that most worldly phenomena fall into, grouped in two:
  1. Suffering and causes of suffering
  2. Cessation and the paths towards liberation from suffering.


Thus, according to the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism they are
  1. "The noble truth that is suffering"
  2. "The noble truth that is the arising of suffering"
  3. "The noble truth that is the end of suffering"
  4. "The noble truth that is the way leading to the end of suffering"


The traditional Theravada understanding is that the Four Noble Truths are an advanced teaching for those who are ready for them. The East Asian Mahayana position is that they are a preliminary teaching for people not yet ready for the higher and more expansive Mahayana teachings.

The Noble Eightfold Path




The Noble Eightfold Path
Noble Eightfold Path
The Noble Eightfold Path , is one of the principal teachings of the Buddha, who described it as the way leading to the cessation of suffering and the achievement of self-awakening. It is used to develop insight into the true nature of phenomena and to eradicate greed, hatred, and delusion...

—the fourth of the Buddha's Noble Truths
Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths are an important principle in Buddhism, classically taught by the Buddha in the Dharmacakra Pravartana Sūtra....

—is the way to the cessation of suffering (dukkha). It has eight sections, each starting with the word "samyak" (Sanskrit, meaning "correctly", "properly", or "well", frequently translated into English as "right"), and presented in three groups known as the three higher trainings. (NB: Pāli transliterations appear in brackets after Sanskrit ones):
  • Prajñā
    Prajña
    Prajñā or paññā is wisdom, understanding, discernment or cognitive acuity. Such wisdom is understood to exist in the universal flux of being and can be intuitively experienced through meditation...

    is the wisdom that purifies the mind, allowing it to attain spiritual insight into the true nature of all things. It includes:
  1. (ditthi): viewing reality as it is, not just as it appears to be.
  2. (sankappa): intention of renunciation, freedom and harmlessness.
    • Śīla
      Sila
      Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

      is the ethics or morality, or abstention from unwholesome deeds. It includes:
  3. (vāca): speaking in a truthful and non-hurtful way
  4. (kammanta): acting in a non-harmful way
  5. (ājīva): a non-harmful livelihood
    • Samādhi
      Samadhi
      Samadhi in Hinduism, Buddhism,Jainism, Sikhism and yogic schools is a higher level of concentrated meditation, or dhyāna. In the yoga tradition, it is the eighth and final limb identified in the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali....

      is the mental discipline required to develop mastery over one's own mind. This is done through the practice of various contemplative and meditative practices, and includes:
  6. (vāyāma): making an effort to improve
  7. (sati): awareness to see things for what they are with clear consciousness, being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion
  8. (samādhi): correct meditation or concentration, explained as the first four jhānas


The practice of the Eightfold Path is understood in two ways, as requiring either simultaneous development (all eight items practiced in parallel), or as a progressive series of stages through which the practitioner moves, the culmination of one leading to the beginning of another.

The Middle Way



An important guiding principle of Buddhist practice is the Middle Way
Middle way
The Middle Way or Middle Path is the descriptive term that Siddhartha Gautama used to describe the character of the path he discovered that led to liberation. It was coined in the very first teaching that he delivered after his enlightenment...

 (or Middle Path), which is said to have been discovered by Gautama Buddha prior to his enlightenment. The Middle Way has several definitions:
  1. The practice of non-extremism: a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification
  2. The middle ground between certain metaphysical
    Metaphysics
    Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

     views
    View (Buddhism)
    View or position is a central idea in Buddhism. In Buddhist thought, in contrast with the commonsense understanding, a view is not a simple, abstract collection of propositions, but a charged interpretation of experience which intensely shapes and affects thought, sensation, and action...

     (for example, that things ultimately either do or do not exist)
  3. An explanation of Nirvana (perfect enlightenment), a state wherein it becomes clear that all dualities apparent in the world are delusory (see Seongcheol
    Seongcheol
    Seongcheol is the dharma name of a Korean Seon Master. He was a key figure in modern Korean Buddhism, being responsible for significant changes to it from the 1950s to 1990s....

    )
  4. Another term for emptiness, the ultimate nature of all phenomena (in the Mahayana
    Mahayana
    Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

     branch), a lack of inherent existence, which avoids the extremes of permanence and nihilism or inherent existence and nothingness

Nature of existence



Buddhist scholars have produced a remarkable quantity of intellectual theories, philosophies and world view concepts (see, for example, Abhidharma
Abhidharma
Abhidharma or Abhidhamma are ancient Buddhist texts which contain detailed scholastic and scientific reworkings of doctrinal material appearing in the Buddhist Sutras, according to schematic classifications...

, Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy deals extensively with problems in metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics, and epistemology.Some scholars assert that early Buddhist philosophy did not engage in ontological or metaphysical speculation, but was based instead on empirical evidence gained by the sense organs...

 and Reality in Buddhism
Reality in Buddhism
Buddhism evolved a variety of doctrinal/philosophical traditions, each with its distinct ideas of reality. The following are still regularly studied in some branches of the Buddhist tradition: Theravada, Vaibhashika, Sautrantika, Jojitsu, Madhyamika, Yogacara, tiantai, Huayan...

). Some schools of Buddhism discourage doctrinal study, and some regard it as essential, but most regard it as having a place, at least for some persons at some stages in Buddhist practice.

In the earliest Buddhist teachings, shared to some extent by all extant schools, the concept of liberation (Nirvana)—the goal of the Buddhist path—is closely related to the correct understanding of how the mind causes stress. In awakening to the true nature of clinging, one develops dispassion for the objects of clinging, and is liberated from suffering (dukkha) and the cycle of incessant rebirths (saṃsāra). To this end, the Buddha recommended viewing things as characterized by the three marks of existence
Three marks of existence
The Three marks of existence, within Buddhism, are three characteristics shared by all sentient beings, namely: impermanence ; suffering or unsatisfactoriness ; non-self .According to Buddhist tradition, a full understanding of these three can bring an end to suffering...

.

Three Marks of Existence



The Three Marks of Existence are impermanence, suffering, and not-self.

Impermanence (Pāli: anicca) expresses the Buddhist notion that all compounded or conditioned phenomena
Sankhara
' or ' is a term figuring prominently in the teaching of the Buddha. The word means "that which has been put together" and "that which puts together". In the first sense, refers to conditioned phenomena generally but specifically to all mental "dispositions"...

 (all things and experiences) are inconstant, unsteady, and impermanent. Everything we can experience through our senses is made up of parts, and its existence is dependent on external conditions. Everything is in constant flux, and so conditions and the thing itself are constantly changing. Things are constantly coming into being, and ceasing to be. Since nothing lasts, there is no inherent or fixed nature to any object or experience. According to the doctrine of impermanence, life embodies this flux in the aging process, the cycle of rebirth (saṃsāra), and in any experience of loss. The doctrine asserts that because things are impermanent, attachment to them is futile and leads to suffering (dukkha).

Suffering (Pāli: दुक्ख dukkha; Sanskrit दुःख ) is also a central concept in Buddhism. The word roughly corresponds to a number of terms in English including suffering
Suffering
Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, is an individual's basic affective experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with harm or threat of harm. Suffering may be qualified as physical or mental. It may come in all degrees of intensity, from mild to intolerable. Factors of duration and...

, pain
Pain
Pain is an unpleasant sensation often caused by intense or damaging stimuli such as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting iodine on a cut, and bumping the "funny bone."...

, unsatisfactoriness, sorrow, affliction, anxiety
Anxiety
Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness,...

, dissatisfaction, discomfort, anguish
Anguish
Anguish is a term used in philosophy, often as a translation from the German Angst. It is a paramount feature of existentialist philosophy, in which anguish is often understood as the experience of an utterly free being in a world with zero absolutes...

, stress
Stress (medicine)
Stress is a term in psychology and biology, borrowed from physics and engineering and first used in the biological context in the 1930s, which has in more recent decades become commonly used in popular parlance...

, misery, and frustration
Frustration
This article concerns the field of psychology. The term frustration does, however, also concern physics. In this context, the term is treated in a different article, geometric frustration....

. Although the term is often translated as "suffering", its philosophical meaning is more analogous to "disquietude" as in the condition of being disturbed. As such, "suffering" is too narrow a translation with "negative emotional connotations" which can give the impression that the Buddhist view is one of pessimism
Pessimism
Pessimism, from the Latin word pessimus , is a state of mind in which one perceives life negatively. Value judgments may vary dramatically between individuals, even when judgments of fact are undisputed. The most common example of this phenomenon is the "Is the glass half empty or half full?"...

, but Buddhism seeks to be neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but realistic. In English-language Buddhist literature translated from Pāli, "dukkha" is often left untranslated, so as to encompass its full range of meaning.

Not-self (Pāli: anatta
Anatta
In Buddhism, anattā or anātman refers to the notion of "not-self." In the early texts, the Buddha commonly uses the word in the context of teaching that all things perceived by the senses are not really "I" or "mine," and for this reason one should not cling to them.In the same vein, the Pali...

; Sanskrit: anātman) is the third mark of existence. Upon careful examination, one finds that no phenomenon is really "I" or "mine"; these concepts are in fact constructed by the mind. In the Nikayas anatta is not meant as a metaphysical assertion, but as an approach for gaining release from suffering. In fact, the Buddha rejected both of the metaphysical assertions "I have a Self
Atman (Hinduism)
Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means 'self'. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism it refers to one's true self beyond identification with phenomena...

" and "I have no Self" as ontological
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

 views
View (Buddhism)
View or position is a central idea in Buddhism. In Buddhist thought, in contrast with the commonsense understanding, a view is not a simple, abstract collection of propositions, but a charged interpretation of experience which intensely shapes and affects thought, sensation, and action...

 that bind one to suffering. When asked if the self was identical with the body, the Buddha refused to answer
Fourteen unanswerable questions
The phrase fourteen unanswerable questions , in Buddhism, refers to fourteen common philosophical questions that Buddha refused to answer, according to Buddhist Sanskrit texts...

. By analyzing the constantly changing physical and mental constituents (skandha
Skandha
In Buddhist phenomenology and soteriology, the skandhas or khandhas are any of five types of phenomena that serve as objects of clinging and bases for a sense of self...

s) of a person or object, the practitioner comes to the conclusion that neither the respective parts nor the person as a whole comprise a self.

Dependent arising



The doctrine of pratītyasamutpāda (Sanskrit; Pali: paticcasamuppāda; Tibetan: rten.cing.'brel.bar.'byung.ba; Chinese: 緣起) is an important part of Buddhist metaphysics. It states that phenomena arise together in a mutually interdependent web of cause and effect. It is variously rendered into English as "dependent origination", "conditioned genesis", "dependent co-arising", "interdependent arising", or "contingency".

The best-known application of the concept of pratītyasamutpāda is the scheme of Twelve Nidānas
Twelve Nidanas
The Twelve Nidānas are the best-known application of the Buddhist concept of pratītyasamutpāda , identifying the origins of dukkha to be in tanha and avijja...

 (from Pāli "nidāna" meaning "cause, foundation, source or origin"), which explain the continuation of the cycle of suffering and rebirth (saṃsāra) in detail.
The Twelve Nidānas describe a causal connection between the subsequent characteristics or conditions of cyclic existence, each one giving rise to the next:
  1. Avidyā: ignorance, specifically spiritual ignorance of the nature of reality
  2. Saṃskāras: literally formations, explained as referring to karma
    Karma
    Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

  3. Vijñāna: consciousness
    Consciousness
    Consciousness is a term that refers to the relationship between the mind and the world with which it interacts. It has been defined as: subjectivity, awareness, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind...

    , specifically discriminative
  4. Nāmarūpa: literally name and form, referring to mind and body
  5. Ṣaḍāyatana: the six sense bases: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind-organ
  6. Sparśa: variously translated contact, impression, stimulation (by a sense object)
  7. Vedanā: usually translated feeling: this is the "hedonic tone", i.e. whether something is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral
  8. Tṛṣṇā: literally thirst, but in Buddhism nearly always used to mean craving
  9. Upādāna: clinging or grasping; the word also means fuel, which feeds the continuing cycle of rebirth
  10. Bhava: literally being (existence) or becoming. (The Theravada explains this as having two meanings: karma, which produces a new existence, and the existence itself.)
  11. Jāti: literally birth, but life is understood as starting at conception
  12. Jarāmaraṇa: (old age and death) and also śokaparidevaduḥkhadaurmanasyopāyāsa (sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and misery)


Sentient beings always suffer throughout saṃsāra, until they free themselves from this suffering by attaining Nirvana. Then the absence of the first Nidāna—ignorance—leads to the absence of the others.

Emptiness



Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 Buddhism received significant theoretical grounding from Nagarjuna
Nagarjuna
Nāgārjuna was an important Buddhist teacher and philosopher. Along with his disciple Āryadeva, he is credited with founding the Mādhyamaka school of Mahāyāna Buddhism...

 (perhaps c. 150–250 CE), arguably the most influential scholar within the Mahayana tradition. Nagarjuna's primary contribution to Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy deals extensively with problems in metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics, and epistemology.Some scholars assert that early Buddhist philosophy did not engage in ontological or metaphysical speculation, but was based instead on empirical evidence gained by the sense organs...

 was the systematic exposition of the concept of śūnyatā, or "emptiness", widely attested in the Prajñāpāramitā
Prajnaparamita
Prajñāpāramitā in Buddhism, means "the Perfection of Wisdom." The word Prajñāpāramitā combines the Sanskrit words prajñā with pāramitā . Prajñāpāramitā is a central concept in Mahāyāna Buddhism and its practice and understanding are taken to be indispensable elements of the Bodhisattva Path...

 sutras which were emergent in his era. The concept of emptiness brings together other key Buddhist doctrines, particularly anatta and pratītyasamutpāda (dependent origination), to refute the metaphysics of Sarvastivada
Sarvastivada
The Sarvāstivāda were an early school of Buddhism that held to 'the existence of all dharmas in the past, present and future, the 'three times'. Vasubandhu's states:-Name:...

 and Sautrantika (extinct non-Mahayana schools). For Nagarjuna, it is not merely sentient beings that are empty of ātman
Atman (Buddhism)
The word Ātman or Atta refers to a self. Occasionally the terms "soul" or "ego" are also used. The words ātman and atta derive from the Indo-European root *ēt-men and are cognate with the Old English æthm and German Atem....

; all phenomena (dharmas) are without any svabhava
Svabhava
Svabhava Pāli: sabhāva; Chinese: 自性 zìxìng; ) is intrinsic nature, essential nature or essence.The concept and term svabhāva are frequently encountered in Dharmic traditions such as Advaita Vedānta , Mahāyāna Buddhism Svabhava (Sanskrit: स्वभाव; IAST: svabhāva) Pāli: sabhāva; Chinese: 自性 zìxìng; )...

 (literally "own-nature" or "self-nature"), and thus without any underlying essence; they are "empty" of being independent; thus the heterodox theories of svabhava circulating at the time were refuted on the basis of the doctrines of early Buddhism. Nagarjuna's school of thought is known as the Mādhyamaka
Madhyamaka
Madhyamaka refers primarily to a Mahāyāna Buddhist school of Buddhist philosophy systematized by Nāgārjuna. Nāgārjuna may have arrived at his positions from a desire to achieve a consistent exegesis of the Buddha's doctrine as recorded in the āgamas...

. Some of the writings attributed to Nagarjuna made explicit references to Mahayana texts, but his philosophy was argued within the parameters set out by the agamas. He may have arrived at his positions from a desire to achieve a consistent exegesis
Exegesis
Exegesis is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text, and the term "Biblical exegesis" is used...

 of the Buddha's doctrine as recorded in the Canon. In the eyes of Nagarjuna the Buddha was not merely a forerunner, but the very founder of the Mādhyamaka system.

Sarvastivada teachings—which were criticized by Nāgārjuna—were reformulated by scholars such as Vasubandhu
Vasubandhu
Vasubandhu was an Indian Buddhist monk, and along with his half-brother Asanga, one of the main founders of the Indian Yogācāra school. However, some scholars consider Vasubandhu to be two distinct people. Vasubandhu is one of the most influential figures in the entire history of Buddhism...

 and Asanga
Asanga
Asaṅga was a major exponent of the Yogācāra tradition in India, also called Vijñānavāda. Traditionally, he and his half-brother Vasubandhu are regarded as the founders of this school...

 and were adapted into the Yogacara
Yogacara
Yogācāra is an influential school of Buddhist philosophy and psychology emphasizing phenomenology and ontology through the interior lens of meditative and yogic practices. It developed within Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism in about the 4th century CE...

 (Sanskrit: yoga practice) school. While the Mādhyamaka school held that asserting the existence or non-existence of any ultimately real thing was inappropriate, some exponents of Yogacara asserted that the mind and only the mind is ultimately real (a doctrine known as cittamatra). Not all Yogacarins asserted that mind was truly existent; Vasubandhu and Asanga in particular did not. These two schools of thought, in opposition or synthesis, form the basis of subsequent Mahayana metaphysics in the Indo-Tibetan tradition.

Besides emptiness, Mahayana schools often place emphasis on the notions of perfected spiritual insight (prajñāpāramitā
Prajnaparamita
Prajñāpāramitā in Buddhism, means "the Perfection of Wisdom." The word Prajñāpāramitā combines the Sanskrit words prajñā with pāramitā . Prajñāpāramitā is a central concept in Mahāyāna Buddhism and its practice and understanding are taken to be indispensable elements of the Bodhisattva Path...

) and Buddha-nature (tathāgatagarbha). There are conflicting interpretations of the tathāgatagarbha in Mahāyāna thought. The idea may be traced to Abhidharma
Abhidharma
Abhidharma or Abhidhamma are ancient Buddhist texts which contain detailed scholastic and scientific reworkings of doctrinal material appearing in the Buddhist Sutras, according to schematic classifications...

, and ultimately to statements of the Buddha in the Nikāyas. In Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, according to the Sakya
Sakya
The Sakya school is one of four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the others being the Nyingma, Kagyu, and Gelug...

 school, tathāgatagarbha is the inseparability of the clarity and emptiness of one's mind. In Nyingma
Nyingma
The Nyingma tradition is the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism . "Nyingma" literally means "ancient," and is often referred to as Nga'gyur or the "old school" because it is founded on the first translations of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Tibetan, in the eighth century...

, tathāgatagarbha also generally refers to inseparability of the clarity and emptiness of one's mind. According to the Gelug
Gelug
The Gelug or Gelug-pa , also known as the Yellow Hat sect, is a school of Buddhism founded by Je Tsongkhapa , a philosopher and Tibetan religious leader...

 school, it is the potential for sentient beings to awaken since they are empty (i.e. dependently originated). According to the Jonang
Jonang
The Jonang is one of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Its origins in Tibet can be traced to early 12th century master Yumo Mikyo Dorje, but became much wider known with the help of Dolpopa Sherab Gyeltsen, a monk originally trained in the Sakya school...

 school, it refers to the innate qualities of the mind which expresses itself in terms of omniscience etc. when adventitious obscurations are removed. The "Tathāgatagarbha Sutras" are a collection of Mahayana sutras which present a unique model of Buddha-nature. Even though this collection was generally ignored in India, East Asian Buddhism provides some significance to these texts.

Liberation



Nirvana



Nirvana (Sanskrit; Pali: "Nibbana") means "cessation", "extinction" (of craving
Tanha
' or ' literally means "thirst," and is a synonym for "desire" or "craving," traditionally juxtaposed with upekkha .Synonyms:*愛 Cn: ài; Vi: ái...

 and ignorance and therefore suffering
Dukkha
Dukkha is a Pali term roughly corresponding to a number of terms in English including suffering, pain, discontent, unsatisfactoriness, unhappiness, sorrow, affliction, social alienation, anxiety,...

 and the cycle of involuntary rebirths (saṃsāra
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

)), "extinguished", "quieted", "calmed"; it is also known as "Awakening" or "Enlightenment" in the West. The term for anybody who has achieved nirvana, including the Buddha, is arahant.

Bodhi
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

 (Pāli and Sanskrit, in devanagari
Devanagari
Devanagari |deva]]" and "nāgarī" ), also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

: बॊधि) is a term applied to the experience of Awakening of arahants. Bodhi literally means "awakening", but it is more commonly translated into English as "enlightenment". In Early Buddhism
Early Buddhism
The term Early Buddhism can refer to:* Pre-sectarian Buddhism, which refers to the Teachings and monastic organization and structure, founded by Gautama Buddha....

, bodhi carried a meaning synonymous to nirvana, using only some different metaphors to describe the experience, which implies the extinction of raga (greed, craving), dosa (hate, aversion) and moha (delusion). In the later school of Mahayana Buddhism, the status of nirvana was downgraded in some scriptures, coming to refer only to the extinction of greed and hate, implying that delusion was still present in one who attained nirvana, and that one needed to attain bodhi to eradicate delusion:
Therefore, according to Mahayana Buddhism, the arahant has attained only nirvana, thus still being subject to delusion, while the bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

 not only achieves nirvana but full liberation from delusion as well. He thus attains bodhi and becomes a buddha. In Theravada Buddhism, bodhi and nirvana carry the same meaning as in the early texts, that of being freed from greed, hate and delusion.

The term parinirvana
Parinirvana
In Buddhism, parinirvana is the final nirvana, which occurs upon the death of the body of someone who has attained complete awakening...

 is also encountered in Buddhism, and this generally refers to the complete nirvana attained by the arhat at the moment of death, when the physical body expires.

Buddhas




Theravada

In Theravada doctrine, a person may awaken from the "sleep of ignorance" by directly realizing the true nature of reality
Reality in Buddhism
Buddhism evolved a variety of doctrinal/philosophical traditions, each with its distinct ideas of reality. The following are still regularly studied in some branches of the Buddhist tradition: Theravada, Vaibhashika, Sautrantika, Jojitsu, Madhyamika, Yogacara, tiantai, Huayan...

; such people are called arahants and occasionally buddhas. After numerous lifetimes of spiritual striving, they have reached the end of the cycle of rebirth, no longer reincarnating as human, animal, ghost, or other being. The commentaries to the Pali Canon classify these awakened beings into three types:
  • Sammasambuddha
    Buddhahood
    In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

    , usually just called Buddha, who discovers the truth by himself and teaches the path to awakening to others
  • Paccekabuddha
    Pratyekabuddha
    A Pratyekabuddha or Paccekabuddha , literally "a lone buddha" , "a buddha on their own" or "a private buddha", is one of three types of enlightened beings according to some schools of Buddhism. The other two types are the Śrāvakabuddhas and Samyaksambuddhas...

    , who discovers the truth by himself but lacks the skill to teach others
  • Savakabuddha
    Savakabuddha
    Sāvakabuddha is a term used rarely in Theravada Buddhism to refer to an enlightened disciple of a Buddha. Such disciples are enlightened individuals who gain by hearing the Dhamma as initially taught by a Sammasambuddha...

    , who receive the truth directly or indirectly from a Sammasambuddha


Bodhi and nirvana carry the same meaning, that of being freed from craving, hate, and delusion. In attaining bodhi, the arahant has overcome these obstacles. As a further distinction, the extinction of only hatred and greed (in the sensory context) with some residue of delusion, is called anagami
Anagami
In Buddhism, an anāgāmi is a partially enlightened person who has cut off the first five chains that bind the ordinary mind. Anagami-ship is the third of the four stages of enlightenment....

.
Mahayana

In the Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

, the Buddha tends not to be viewed as merely human, but as the earthly projection of a beginningless and endless, omnipresent being (see Dharmakaya
Dharmakaya
The Dharmakāya is a central idea in Mahayana Buddhism forming part of the Trikaya doctrine that was possibly first expounded in the Aṣṭasāhasrikā prajñā-pāramitā , composed in the 1st century BCE...

) beyond the range and reach of thought. Moreover, in certain Mahayana sutras, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are viewed essentially as One: all three are seen as the eternal Buddha
Eternal Buddha
The idea of an eternal Buddha is a notion popularly associated with the Mahayana scripture, the Lotus Sutra, and is also found in other Mahayana sutras.- The Eternal Buddha in the Lotus Sutra and Other Mahayana Sutras :...

 himself.

Celestial Buddhas are individuals who no longer exist on the material plane of existence, but who still aid in the enlightenment of all beings.

Nirvana came to refer only to the extinction of greed and hate, implying that delusion was still present in one who attained Nirvana. Bodhi became a higher attainment that eradicates delusion entirely. Thus, the Arahant attains Nirvana but not Bodhi, thus still being subject to delusion, while the Buddha
Buddhahood
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

 attains Bodhi.
Buddh redirects here, for the Race Circuit, see Buddh International Circuit


{{Buddhism}}
Buddhism (Pali
Pali language
Pāli is a Middle Indo-Aryan language of the Indian subcontinent. It is best known as the language of many of the earliest extant Buddhist scriptures, as collected in the Pāi Canon or Tipitaka, and as the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism.-Etymology of the name:The word Pali itself...

/{{lang-sa|बौद्ध धर्म}} Bauddha Dharma) is a religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 and philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

, commonly known as the Buddha
Buddhahood
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

 (Pāli
Páli
- External links :* *...

/Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 "the awakened one"). The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 some time between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

 or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings
Sentient beings (Buddhism)
Sentient beings is a technical term in Buddhist discourse. Broadly speaking, it denotes beings with consciousness or sentience or, in some contexts, life itself. Specifically, it denotes the presence of the five aggregates, or skandhas...

 end ignorance (avidyā
Avidya (Buddhism)
Avidyā or avijjā means "ignorance" or "delusion" and is the opposite of 'vidyā' and 'rig pa'...

) of dependent origination, thus escaping what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth
Samsara (Buddhism)
or sangsara is a Sanskrit and Pāli term, which translates as "continuous movement" or "continuous flowing" and, in Buddhism, refers to the concept of a cycle of birth , and consequent decay and death , in which all beings in the universe participate, and which can only be escaped through...

.

Two major branches of Buddhism are recognized: Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 ("The School of the Elders") and Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 ("The Great Vehicle"). Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 and Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

. Mahayana is found throughout East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

 and includes the traditions of Pure Land
Pure land
A pure land, in Mahayana Buddhism, is the celestial realm or pure abode of a Buddha or Bodhisattva. The various traditions that focus on Pure Lands have been given the nomenclature Pure Land Buddhism. Pure lands are also evident in the literature and traditions of Taoism and Bön.The notion of 'pure...

, Zen
Zen
Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism founded by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chán , which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state."Zen...

, Nichiren Buddhism
Nichiren Buddhism
Nichiren Buddhism is a branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism based on the teachings of the 13th century Japanese monk Nichiren...

, Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, Shingon, Tiantai
Tiantai
Tiantai is an important school of Buddhism in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. In Japan the school is known as Tendai, and in Korea it is known as Cheontae. Tiantai is also called the "Lotus School", due to its emphasis on the Lotus Sūtra as its doctrinal basis...

 (Tendai
Tendai
is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism, a descendant of the Chinese Tiantai or Lotus Sutra school.Chappell frames the relevance of Tendai for a universal Buddhism:- History :...

) and Shinnyo-en. In some classifications Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

—as practiced mainly in Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 and Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

 —is recognized as a third branch, while others classify it as a part of Mahayana. There are other categorisations of these three Vehicles or Yana
Yana (Buddhism)
Yāna refers to a mode or method of spiritual practice in Buddhism, and in particular to divisions of various schools of Buddhism according to their type of practice.-Nomenclature, etymology and orthography:...

s.

While Buddhism remains most popular within Asia, both branches are now found throughout the world. Estimates of Buddhists worldwide vary significantly depending on the way Buddhist adherence is defined. Lower estimates are between 350–500 million.

Buddhist schools
Schools of Buddhism
Buddhism is an ancient, polyvalent ideological system that originated in the Iron Age Indian subcontinent, referred to variously throughout history by one or more of a myriad of concepts – including, but not limited to any of the following: a Dharmic religion, a philosophy or quasi-philosophical...

 vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures
Buddhist texts
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 authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized...

, and especially their respective practices. The cardinal doctrine of dependent origination is the only doctrine that is common to all Buddhist teachings from Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 to Dzogchen
Dzogchen
According to Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, Dzogchen is the natural, primordial state or natural condition of the mind, and a body of teachings and meditation practices aimed at realizing that condition. Dzogchen, or "Great Perfection", is a central teaching of the Nyingma school also practiced by...

 to the extinct schools. The foundations of Buddhist tradition and practice are the Three Jewels
Three Jewels
The Three Jewels, also called the Three Treasures, the Siemese Triples, Three Refuges, or the Triple Gem , are the three things that Buddhists take refuge in, and look toward for guidance, in the process known as taking refuge.The Three Jewels are:* BuddhaTaking refuge in the Three Jewels is...

: the Buddha, the Dharma
Dharma (Buddhism)
Dhamma or Dharma in Buddhism can have the following meanings:* The state of Nature as it is * The Laws of Nature considered collectively....

 (the teachings), and the Sangha
Sangha
Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...

 (the community). Taking "refuge
Refuge (Buddhism)
Buddhists "take refuge" in, or to "go for refuge" to, the Three Jewels . This can be done formally in lay and monastic ordination ceremonies.The Three Jewels general signification is: * the Buddha;* the Dharma, the teachings;...

 in the triple gem" has traditionally been a declaration and commitment to being on the Buddhist path and in general distinguishes a Buddhist from a non-Buddhist. Other practices may include following ethical precepts
Sila
Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

, support of the monastic community
Dana (Buddhism)
Dāna is generosity or giving. In Hinduism and Buddhism, it is the practice of cultivating generosity. Ultimately, the practice culminates in one of the perfections : the perfection of giving - dāna-pāramitā...

, renouncing
Nekkhamma
Nekkhamma is a Pali word generally translated as "renunciation" or "the pleasure of renunciation" while also conveying more specifically "giving up the world and leading a holy life" or "freedom from lust, craving and desires." In Buddhism's Noble Eightfold Path, nekkhamma is the first practice...

 conventional living and becoming a monastic
Buddhist monasticism
Monasticism is one of the most fundamental institutions of Buddhism. Monks and nuns are responsible for preserving and teaching Buddhist teachings and guiding Buddhist lay followers. Earlier Buddhist monks were enlightened...

, the development of mindfulness and practice of meditation
Buddhist meditation
Buddhist meditation refers to the meditative practices associated with the religion and philosophy of Buddhism.Core meditation techniques have been preserved in ancient Buddhist texts and have proliferated and diversified through teacher-student transmissions. Buddhists pursue meditation as part of...

, cultivation of higher wisdom and discernment, study of scriptures, devotional
Buddhist devotion
Buddhist devotion is an important part of the practice of most Buddhists. According to a spokesman of the Sasana Council of Burma, devotion to Buddhist spiritual practices inspires devotion to the Triple Gem...

 practices, ceremonies, and in the Mahayana tradition, invocation of buddhas and bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

s.

Life of the Buddha



{{Main|Gautama Buddha}}

The evidence of the early texts{{Which?|date=May 2011}} suggests that the Buddha was born in a community that was on the periphery, both geographically and culturally, of the northeastern Indian subcontinent in the 5th century BCE. It was either a small republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

, in which case his father was an elected chieftain, or an oligarchy
Oligarchy
Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, commercial, and/or military legitimacy...

, in which case his father was an oligarch.

According to the Theravada Tipitaka scriptures
Buddhist texts
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 authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized...

{{Which?|date=November 2010}} (from Pali, meaning "three baskets"), the Buddha was born in Lumbini
Lumbini
Lumbinī is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi district of Nepal. It is the place where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama, who as the Buddha Gautama founded the Buddhist tradition. The Buddha lived between roughly 563 and 483 BCE...

 in modern-day Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

, around the year 563 BCE, and raised in Kapilavastu
Kapilavastu
Kapilavastu is the name of a region of ancient Shakya kingdom that is considered a holy pilgrimage place for Buddhists. The search for the Buddha's birthplace following the accounts left by Xuanzang and Faxian involved various searches in the late 19th century...

.

According to this narrative, shortly after the birth of young prince Siddhartha Gautama, an astrologer
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

 visited the young prince's father—King Śuddhodana
Suddhodana
King Suddhodana was the father of Siddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha. He was a leader of the Shakya people, who lived in southern Nepal. Suddhodana's father was Sinahana...

—and prophesied that Siddhartha would either become a great king or renounce the material world to become a holy man, depending on whether he saw what life was like outside the palace walls.

Śuddhodana was determined to see his son become a king, so he prevented him from leaving the palace grounds. But at age 29, despite his father's efforts, Siddhartha ventured beyond the palace several times. In a series of encounters—known in Buddhist literature as the four sights
Four sights
The four sights were specific observations made by Prince Siddhārtha , which led to a realization. Before this, he had been confined to his palace by his father, who feared that he would become an ascetic if he came into contact with sufferings of life according to a prediction...

—he learned of the suffering of ordinary people, encountering an old man, a sick man, a corpse and, finally, an ascetic
Asceticism
Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals...

 holy man
Sadhu
In Hinduism, sādhu denotes an ascetic, wandering monk. Although the vast majority of sādhus are yogīs, not all yogīs are sādhus. The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa , the fourth and final aśrama , through meditation and contemplation of brahman...

, apparently content and at peace with the world. These experiences prompted Gautama to abandon royal life and take up a spiritual quest.

Gautama first went to study with famous religious teachers of the day, and mastered the meditative attainments they taught. But he found that they did not provide a permanent end to suffering, so he continued his quest. He next attempted an extreme asceticism, which was a religious pursuit common among the Shramana
Shramana
A shramana is a wandering monk in certain ascetic traditions of ancient India including Jainism, Buddhism, and Ājīvikism. Famous śramaṇas include Mahavira and Gautama Buddha....

s, a religious culture distinct from the Vedic one. Gautama underwent prolonged fasting, breath-holding, and exposure to pain. He almost starved himself to death in the process. He realized that he had taken this kind of practice to its limit, and had not put an end to suffering. So in a pivotal moment he accepted milk and rice from a village girl and changed his approach. He devoted himself to anapanasati
Anapanasati
Ānāpānasati , meaning 'mindfulness of breathing' , is a form of Buddhist meditation now common to the Tibetan, Zen, Tiantai, and Theravada schools of Buddhism, as well as western-based mindfulness programs.According to tradition, Anapanasati was...

 meditation, through which he discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way
Middle way
The Middle Way or Middle Path is the descriptive term that Siddhartha Gautama used to describe the character of the path he discovered that led to liberation. It was coined in the very first teaching that he delivered after his enlightenment...

 (Skt. madhyamā-pratipad): a path of moderation between the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification.
Gautama was now determined to complete his spiritual quest. At the age of 35, he famously sat in meditation
Meditation
Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit....

 under a sacred fig
Sacred Fig
The Sacred Fig, Ficus religiosa, or Bo-Tree , Peepal is a species of banyan fig native to India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, southwest China and Indochina...

 tree — known as the Bodhi tree
Bodhi tree
The Bodhi Tree, also known as Bo , was a large and very old Sacred Fig tree located in Bodh Gaya , under which Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism later known as Gautama Buddha, is said to have achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi...

 — in the town of Bodh Gaya, India, and vowed not to rise before achieving enlightenment
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

. After many days, he finally destroyed the fetters
Fetter (Buddhism)
In Buddhism, a mental fetter, chain or bond shackles a sentient being to sasāra, the cycle of lives with dukkha. By cutting through all fetters, one attains nibbāna ....

 of his mind, thereby liberating himself from the cycle of suffering and rebirth
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

, and arose as a fully enlightened being (Skt. {{IAST|samyaksaṃbuddha}}). Soon thereafter, he attracted a band of followers and instituted a monastic order
Sangha
Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...

. Now, as the Buddha, he spent the rest of his life teaching the path of awakening
Dharma (Buddhism)
Dhamma or Dharma in Buddhism can have the following meanings:* The state of Nature as it is * The Laws of Nature considered collectively....

 he had discovered, traveling throughout the northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent, and died at the age of 80 (483 BCE) in Kushinagar
Kushinagar
Kushinagar , Kusinagar or Kusinara is a town and a nagar panchayat in Kushinagar district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, where Gautama Buddha is believed to have attained Parinirvana after his death.-Demographics: India census, Kushinagar had a...

, India. The south branch of the original fig tree only available in Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura, , is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization.The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies 205 km north of the current capital Colombo in Sri Lanka's North Central Province, on the banks of the historic...

 Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 known as Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi.

The above narrative draws on the Nidānakathā biography of the Theravāda
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 sect in Sri Lanka, which is ascribed to Buddhaghoṣa
Buddhaghosa
Bhadantācariya Buddhaghoṣa(Chinese: 覺音)was a 5th-century Indian Theravadin Buddhist commentator and scholar. His best-known work is the Visuddhimagga, or Path of Purification, a comprehensive summary and analysis of the Theravada understanding of the Buddha's path to liberation...

 in the 5th century CE. Earlier biographies such as the Buddhacarita
Buddhacarita
Buddhacharita is an epic poem in the Sanskrit mahakavya style on the life of Gautama Buddha by , composed in the 2nd century AD...

, the Lokottaravādin Mahāvastu
Mahavastu
The Mahāvastu is a text of the Lokottaravāda school of Early Buddhism. It describes itself as being a historical preface to the Buddhist monastic codes...

, and the Mahāyāna
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 / Sarvāstivāda
Sarvastivada
The Sarvāstivāda were an early school of Buddhism that held to 'the existence of all dharmas in the past, present and future, the 'three times'. Vasubandhu's states:-Name:...

 Lalitavistara Sūtra
Lalitavistara Sutra
The Lalitavistara Sutra is a Mahayana Buddhist Vaipulya sutra that describes the sports of Gautama Buddha. It is a compilation of various works by no single author and includes some material from the Sarvastivada school. The scholar P. L...

, give different accounts.

Scholars are hesitant to make unqualified claims about the historical facts of the Buddha's life. Most accept that he lived, taught and founded a monastic order but do not consistently accept all of the details contained in his biographies. According to author Michael Carrithers, while there are good reasons to doubt the traditional account, "the outline of the life must be true: birth, maturity, renunciation, search, awakening and liberation, teaching, death."

In writing her biography of Buddha, Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong FRSL , is a British author and commentator who is the author of twelve books on comparative religion. A former Roman Catholic nun, she went from a conservative to a more liberal and mystical faith...

 noted, "It is obviously difficult, therefore, to write a biography of the Buddha that will meet modern criteria, because we have very little information that can be considered historically sound... [but] we can be reasonably confident Siddhatta Gotama did indeed exist and that his disciples preserved the memory of his life and teachings as well as they could."

Buddhist concepts



{{Main|Buddhist terms and concepts}}

Life and the world



Karma


{{Main|Karma in Buddhism}}
Karma
Karma
Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

 (from Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

: "action, work") in Buddhism
Karma in Buddhism
Karma means "action" or "doing"; whatever one does, says, or thinks is a karma. In Buddhism, the term karma is used specifically for those actions which spring from the intention of an unenlightened being.These bring about a fruit or result Karma (Sanskrit, also karman, Pāli: Kamma) means...

 is the force that drives saṃsāra
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

—the cycle of suffering and rebirth for each being. Good, skillful deeds (Pāli
Páli
- External links :* *...

: "kusala") and bad, unskillful (Pāli: "akusala") actions produce "seeds" in the mind which come to fruition
Vipaka
Vipāka is a Buddhist technical term meaning the result of karma , or intentional actions.In Buddhist belief, the law of kamma-vipāka is of great importance. In a discourse the Buddha said “Intention, monks, is kamma I say...

 either in this life or in a subsequent rebirth
Rebirth (Buddhism)
Rebirth in Buddhism is the doctrine that the evolving consciousness or stream of consciousness upon death , becomes one of the contributing causes for the arising of a new aggregation...

. The avoidance of unwholesome actions and the cultivation of positive actions is called śīla
Sila
Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

 (from Sanskrit: "ethical conduct").

In Buddhism, karma specifically refers to those actions (of body, speech, and mind) that spring from mental intent ("cetana"), and which bring about a consequence (or fruit, "phala
Phala
Phala is a Sanskrit term that means “fruit” and refers to charisms in Hinduism and Buddhism. They are also known in Buddhism as Maha-phala, which are the Great fruit of the contemplative life....

") or result ("vipāka
Vipaka
Vipāka is a Buddhist technical term meaning the result of karma , or intentional actions.In Buddhist belief, the law of kamma-vipāka is of great importance. In a discourse the Buddha said “Intention, monks, is kamma I say...

").

In Theravada Buddhism there can be no divine salvation or forgiveness for one's karma, since it is a purely impersonal process that is a part of the makeup of the universe. Some Mahayana traditions hold different views. For example, the texts of certain Mahayana sutras (such as the Lotus Sutra
Lotus Sutra
The Lotus Sūtra is one of the most popular and influential Mahāyāna sūtras, and the basis on which the Tiantai and Nichiren sects of Buddhism were established.-Title:...

, the Angulimaliya Sutra
Angulimaliya Sutra
The Angulimaliya Sutra is a Buddhist scripture belonging to the Tathāgatagarbha class of sūtra, which teach that the Buddha is eternal, that the non-Self and emptiness teachings only apply to the worldly sphere , and that the tathagatagarbha is real and immanent within all beings and all phenomena...

 and the Nirvana Sutra) claim that reciting or merely hearing their texts can expunge great swathes of negative karma. Some forms of Buddhism (for example, Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

) regard the recitation of mantra
Mantra
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...

s as a means for cutting off previous negative karma. The Japanese Pure Land
Pure Land Buddhism
Pure Land Buddhism , also referred to as Amidism in English, is a broad branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism and currently one of the most popular traditions of Buddhism in East Asia. Pure Land is a branch of Buddhism focused on Amitābha Buddha...

 teacher Genshin
Genshin
Genshin , also known as Eshin Sozu, was the most influential of a number of Tendai scholars active during the tenth and eleventh centuries in Japan...

 taught that Amida Buddha has the power to destroy the karma that would otherwise bind one in saṃsāra.

Rebirth



{{Main|Rebirth (Buddhism)}}
Rebirth refers to a process whereby beings go through a succession of lifetimes as one of many possible forms of sentient
Sentience
Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive or be conscious, or to have subjective experiences. Eighteenth century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think from the ability to feel . In modern western philosophy, sentience is the ability to have sensations or experiences...

 life, each running from conception to death. Buddhism rejects the concepts of a permanent self
Self
The self is an individual person as the object of his or her own reflective consciousness. The self has been studied extensively by philosophers and psychologists and is central to many world religions.-Philosophy:...

 or an unchanging, eternal soul, as it is called in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 and Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. According to Buddhism there ultimately is no such thing as a self independent from the rest of the universe (the doctrine of anatta
Anatta
In Buddhism, anattā or anātman refers to the notion of "not-self." In the early texts, the Buddha commonly uses the word in the context of teaching that all things perceived by the senses are not really "I" or "mine," and for this reason one should not cling to them.In the same vein, the Pali...

). Rebirth in subsequent existences must be understood as the continuation of a dynamic, ever-changing process of "dependent arising" ("pratītyasamutpāda") determined by the laws of cause and effect (karma) rather than that of one being, transmigrating or incarnating
Incarnation
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

 from one existence to the next.

Each rebirth takes place within one of five realms according to Theravadins, or six
Six realms
The desire realm is one of three realms or three worlds in traditional Buddhist cosmology into which a being wandering in may be reborn. The other two are the form realm, and the formless realm The desire realm (Sanskrit kāma-dhātu) is one of three realms (Sanskrit: dhātu, Tibetan: khams) or...

 according to other schools. These are further subdivided into 31 planes of existence:
  1. Naraka beings
    Naraka (Buddhism)
    Naraka नरक or Niraya निरय is the name given to one of the worlds of greatest suffering in Buddhist cosmology.Naraka is usually translated into English as "hell", "hell realm", or "purgatory"...

    : those who live in one of many Narakas (Hells)
  2. Preta
    Preta
    Preta, प्रेत or Peta is the name for a type of being described in Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, and Jain texts that undergoes more than human suffering, particularly an extreme degree of hunger and thirst...

    : sometimes sharing some space with humans, but invisible to most people; an important variety is the hungry ghost
    Hungry ghost
    Hungry ghost is a Western translation of Chinese  , a concept in Chinese Buddhism and Chinese traditional religion representing beings who are driven by intense emotional needs in an animalistic way....

  3. Animals
    Animals in Buddhism
    The position and treatment of animals in Buddhism is important for the light it sheds on Buddhists' perception of their own relation to the natural world, on Buddhist humanitarian concerns in general, and on the relationship between Buddhist theory and Buddhist practice.-Animals in Buddhist...

    : sharing space with humans, but considered another type of life
  4. Human beings
    Human beings in Buddhism
    Humans in Buddhism are the subjects of an extensive commentarial literature that examines the nature and qualities of a human life from the point of view of humans' ability to achieve enlightenment...

    : one of the realms of rebirth in which attaining Nirvana is possible
  5. Asuras
    Asura (Buddhism)
    Asura in Buddhism is the name of the lowest ranks of the deities or demigods of the Kāmadhātu.-Origins and etymology:...

    : variously translated as lowly deities, demons, titans, antigods; not recognized by Theravāda (Mahavihara) tradition as a separate realm
  6. Devas
    Deva (Buddhism)
    A deva in Buddhism is one of many different types of non-human beings who share the characteristics of being more powerful, longer-lived, and, in general, living more contentedly than the average human being....

     including Brahmas
    Brahma (Buddhism)
    ' in Buddhism is the name for a type of exalted passionless deity , of which there are several in Buddhist cosmology.-Origins:The name originates in Vedic tradition, in which Brahmā appears as the creator of the universe...

    : variously translated as gods, deities, spirits, angels, or left untranslated


Rebirths in some of the higher heavens, known as the Śuddhāvāsa Worlds (Pure Abodes), can be attained only by skilled Buddhist practitioners known as anāgāmi
Anagami
In Buddhism, an anāgāmi is a partially enlightened person who has cut off the first five chains that bind the ordinary mind. Anagami-ship is the third of the four stages of enlightenment....

s (non-returners). Rebirths in the arupa-dhatu (formless realms) can be attained only by those who can meditate on the arūpajhāna
Arupajhana
In Buddhism, the arūpajhānas or "formless meditations" are four successive levels of meditation on non-material objects. These levels are higher than the rūpajhānas, and harder to attain...

s, the highest object of meditation.

According to East Asian and Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, there is an intermediate state
Bardo
The Tibetan word Bardo means literally "intermediate state" - also translated as "transitional state" or "in-between state" or "liminal state". In Sanskrit the concept has the name antarabhāva...

 (Tibetan
Tibetan language
The Tibetan languages are a cluster of mutually-unintelligible Tibeto-Burman languages spoken primarily by Tibetan peoples who live across a wide area of eastern Central Asia bordering the Indian subcontinent, including the Tibetan Plateau and the northern Indian subcontinent in Baltistan, Ladakh,...

 "Bardo") between one life and the next. The orthodox Theravada position rejects this; however there are passages in the Samyutta Nikaya
Samyutta Nikaya
The Samyutta Nikaya is a Buddhist scripture, the third of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka, which is one of the "three baskets" that compose the Pali Tipitaka of Theravada Buddhism. Because of the abbreviated way parts of the text are written, the total number of suttas is...

 of the Pali Canon
Pāli Canon
The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language. It is the only completely surviving early Buddhist canon, and one of the first to be written down...

 (the collection of texts on which the Theravada tradition is based), that seem to lend support to the idea that the Buddha taught of an intermediate stage between one life and the next.

Saṃsāra


{{Main|Saṃsāra (Buddhism)}}
Sentient beings crave pleasure and are averse to pain from birth to death. In being controlled by these attitudes, they perpetuate the cycle of conditioned existence and suffering (saṃsāra), and produce the causes and conditions of the next rebirth after death. Each rebirth repeats this process in an involuntary cycle, which Buddhists strive to end by eradicating these causes and conditions, applying the methods laid out by the Buddha and subsequent Buddhists.

The Four Noble Truths



{{Main|Four Noble Truths}}
According to the Pali Tipitaka and the Āgamas of other early Buddhist schools
Early Buddhist schools
The early Buddhist schools are those schools into which, according to most scholars, the Buddhist monastic saṅgha initially split, due originally to differences in vinaya, and later also due to doctrinal differences and geographical separation of groups of monks.The original saṅgha split into the...

, the Four Noble Truths were the first teaching of Gautama Buddha after attaining Nirvana. They are sometimes considered to contain the essence of the Buddha's teachings:
  1. Life as we know it ultimately is or leads to suffering/uneasiness (dukkha
    Dukkha
    Dukkha is a Pali term roughly corresponding to a number of terms in English including suffering, pain, discontent, unsatisfactoriness, unhappiness, sorrow, affliction, social alienation, anxiety,...

    ) in one way or another.
  2. Suffering is caused by craving
    Tanha
    ' or ' literally means "thirst," and is a synonym for "desire" or "craving," traditionally juxtaposed with upekkha .Synonyms:*愛 Cn: ài; Vi: ái...

    . This is often expressed as a deluded clinging to a certain sense of existence, to selfhood, or to the things or phenomena that we consider the cause of happiness or unhappiness. Craving also has its negative aspect, i.e. one craves that a certain state of affairs not exist.
  3. Suffering ends when craving ends. This is achieved by eliminating delusion, thereby reaching a liberated state of Enlightenment (bodhi
    Bodhi
    Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

    );
  4. Reaching this liberated state is achieved by following the path
    Noble Eightfold Path
    The Noble Eightfold Path , is one of the principal teachings of the Buddha, who described it as the way leading to the cessation of suffering and the achievement of self-awakening. It is used to develop insight into the true nature of phenomena and to eradicate greed, hatred, and delusion...

     laid out by the Buddha.


This method is described by early Western scholars, and taught as an introduction to Buddhism by some contemporary Mahayana teachers (for example, the Dalai Lama
14th Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama is the 14th and current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are the most influential figures in the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, although the 14th has consolidated control over the other lineages in recent years...

).

According to other interpretations by Buddhist teachers and scholars, lately recognized by some Western non-Buddhist scholars, the "truths" do not represent mere statements, but are categories or aspects that most worldly phenomena fall into, grouped in two:
  1. Suffering and causes of suffering
  2. Cessation and the paths towards liberation from suffering.


Thus, according to the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism they are
  1. "The noble truth that is suffering"
  2. "The noble truth that is the arising of suffering"
  3. "The noble truth that is the end of suffering"
  4. "The noble truth that is the way leading to the end of suffering"


The traditional Theravada understanding is that the Four Noble Truths are an advanced teaching for those who are ready for them. The East Asian Mahayana position is that they are a preliminary teaching for people not yet ready for the higher and more expansive Mahayana teachings.

The Noble Eightfold Path


{{Main|Noble Eightfold Path}}

The Noble Eightfold Path
Noble Eightfold Path
The Noble Eightfold Path , is one of the principal teachings of the Buddha, who described it as the way leading to the cessation of suffering and the achievement of self-awakening. It is used to develop insight into the true nature of phenomena and to eradicate greed, hatred, and delusion...

—the fourth of the Buddha's Noble Truths
Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths are an important principle in Buddhism, classically taught by the Buddha in the Dharmacakra Pravartana Sūtra....

—is the way to the cessation of suffering (dukkha). It has eight sections, each starting with the word "samyak" (Sanskrit, meaning "correctly", "properly", or "well", frequently translated into English as "right"), and presented in three groups known as the three higher trainings. (NB: Pāli transliterations appear in brackets after Sanskrit ones):
  • Prajñā
    Prajña
    Prajñā or paññā is wisdom, understanding, discernment or cognitive acuity. Such wisdom is understood to exist in the universal flux of being and can be intuitively experienced through meditation...

    is the wisdom that purifies the mind, allowing it to attain spiritual insight into the true nature of all things. It includes:
  1. {{unicode|dṛṣṭi}} (ditthi): viewing reality as it is, not just as it appears to be.
  2. {{unicode|saṃkalpa}} (sankappa): intention of renunciation, freedom and harmlessness.
    • Śīla
      Sila
      Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

      is the ethics or morality, or abstention from unwholesome deeds. It includes:
  3. {{unicode|vāc}} (vāca): speaking in a truthful and non-hurtful way
  4. {{unicode|karman}} (kammanta): acting in a non-harmful way
  5. {{unicode|ājīvana}} (ājīva): a non-harmful livelihood
    • Samādhi
      Samadhi
      Samadhi in Hinduism, Buddhism,Jainism, Sikhism and yogic schools is a higher level of concentrated meditation, or dhyāna. In the yoga tradition, it is the eighth and final limb identified in the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali....

      is the mental discipline required to develop mastery over one's own mind. This is done through the practice of various contemplative and meditative practices, and includes:
  6. {{unicode|vyāyāma}} (vāyāma): making an effort to improve
  7. {{unicode|smṛti}} (sati): awareness to see things for what they are with clear consciousness, being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion
  8. {{unicode|samādhi}} (samādhi): correct meditation or concentration, explained as the first four jhānas


The practice of the Eightfold Path is understood in two ways, as requiring either simultaneous development (all eight items practiced in parallel), or as a progressive series of stages through which the practitioner moves, the culmination of one leading to the beginning of another.

The Middle Way


{{Main|Middle Way}}
An important guiding principle of Buddhist practice is the Middle Way
Middle way
The Middle Way or Middle Path is the descriptive term that Siddhartha Gautama used to describe the character of the path he discovered that led to liberation. It was coined in the very first teaching that he delivered after his enlightenment...

 (or Middle Path), which is said to have been discovered by Gautama Buddha prior to his enlightenment. The Middle Way has several definitions:
  1. The practice of non-extremism: a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification
  2. The middle ground between certain metaphysical
    Metaphysics
    Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

     views
    View (Buddhism)
    View or position is a central idea in Buddhism. In Buddhist thought, in contrast with the commonsense understanding, a view is not a simple, abstract collection of propositions, but a charged interpretation of experience which intensely shapes and affects thought, sensation, and action...

     (for example, that things ultimately either do or do not exist)
  3. An explanation of Nirvana (perfect enlightenment), a state wherein it becomes clear that all dualities apparent in the world are delusory (see Seongcheol
    Seongcheol
    Seongcheol is the dharma name of a Korean Seon Master. He was a key figure in modern Korean Buddhism, being responsible for significant changes to it from the 1950s to 1990s....

    )
  4. Another term for emptiness, the ultimate nature of all phenomena (in the Mahayana
    Mahayana
    Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

     branch), a lack of inherent existence, which avoids the extremes of permanence and nihilism or inherent existence and nothingness

Nature of existence



Buddhist scholars have produced a remarkable quantity of intellectual theories, philosophies and world view concepts (see, for example, Abhidharma
Abhidharma
Abhidharma or Abhidhamma are ancient Buddhist texts which contain detailed scholastic and scientific reworkings of doctrinal material appearing in the Buddhist Sutras, according to schematic classifications...

, Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy deals extensively with problems in metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics, and epistemology.Some scholars assert that early Buddhist philosophy did not engage in ontological or metaphysical speculation, but was based instead on empirical evidence gained by the sense organs...

 and Reality in Buddhism
Reality in Buddhism
Buddhism evolved a variety of doctrinal/philosophical traditions, each with its distinct ideas of reality. The following are still regularly studied in some branches of the Buddhist tradition: Theravada, Vaibhashika, Sautrantika, Jojitsu, Madhyamika, Yogacara, tiantai, Huayan...

). Some schools of Buddhism discourage doctrinal study, and some regard it as essential, but most regard it as having a place, at least for some persons at some stages in Buddhist practice.

In the earliest Buddhist teachings, shared to some extent by all extant schools, the concept of liberation (Nirvana)—the goal of the Buddhist path—is closely related to the correct understanding of how the mind causes stress. In awakening to the true nature of clinging, one develops dispassion for the objects of clinging, and is liberated from suffering (dukkha) and the cycle of incessant rebirths (saṃsāra). To this end, the Buddha recommended viewing things as characterized by the three marks of existence
Three marks of existence
The Three marks of existence, within Buddhism, are three characteristics shared by all sentient beings, namely: impermanence ; suffering or unsatisfactoriness ; non-self .According to Buddhist tradition, a full understanding of these three can bring an end to suffering...

.

Three Marks of Existence


{{Main|Three marks of existence}}
The Three Marks of Existence are impermanence, suffering, and not-self.

Impermanence (Pāli: anicca) expresses the Buddhist notion that all compounded or conditioned phenomena
Sankhara
' or ' is a term figuring prominently in the teaching of the Buddha. The word means "that which has been put together" and "that which puts together". In the first sense, refers to conditioned phenomena generally but specifically to all mental "dispositions"...

 (all things and experiences) are inconstant, unsteady, and impermanent. Everything we can experience through our senses is made up of parts, and its existence is dependent on external conditions. Everything is in constant flux, and so conditions and the thing itself are constantly changing. Things are constantly coming into being, and ceasing to be. Since nothing lasts, there is no inherent or fixed nature to any object or experience. According to the doctrine of impermanence, life embodies this flux in the aging process, the cycle of rebirth (saṃsāra), and in any experience of loss. The doctrine asserts that because things are impermanent, attachment to them is futile and leads to suffering (dukkha).

Suffering (Pāli: दुक्ख dukkha; Sanskrit दुःख {{IAST|duḥkha}}) is also a central concept in Buddhism. The word roughly corresponds to a number of terms in English including suffering
Suffering
Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, is an individual's basic affective experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with harm or threat of harm. Suffering may be qualified as physical or mental. It may come in all degrees of intensity, from mild to intolerable. Factors of duration and...

, pain
Pain
Pain is an unpleasant sensation often caused by intense or damaging stimuli such as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting iodine on a cut, and bumping the "funny bone."...

, unsatisfactoriness, sorrow, affliction, anxiety
Anxiety
Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness,...

, dissatisfaction, discomfort, anguish
Anguish
Anguish is a term used in philosophy, often as a translation from the German Angst. It is a paramount feature of existentialist philosophy, in which anguish is often understood as the experience of an utterly free being in a world with zero absolutes...

, stress
Stress (medicine)
Stress is a term in psychology and biology, borrowed from physics and engineering and first used in the biological context in the 1930s, which has in more recent decades become commonly used in popular parlance...

, misery, and frustration
Frustration
This article concerns the field of psychology. The term frustration does, however, also concern physics. In this context, the term is treated in a different article, geometric frustration....

. Although the term is often translated as "suffering", its philosophical meaning is more analogous to "disquietude" as in the condition of being disturbed. As such, "suffering" is too narrow a translation with "negative emotional connotations" which can give the impression that the Buddhist view is one of pessimism
Pessimism
Pessimism, from the Latin word pessimus , is a state of mind in which one perceives life negatively. Value judgments may vary dramatically between individuals, even when judgments of fact are undisputed. The most common example of this phenomenon is the "Is the glass half empty or half full?"...

, but Buddhism seeks to be neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but realistic. In English-language Buddhist literature translated from Pāli, "dukkha" is often left untranslated, so as to encompass its full range of meaning.

Not-self (Pāli: anatta
Anatta
In Buddhism, anattā or anātman refers to the notion of "not-self." In the early texts, the Buddha commonly uses the word in the context of teaching that all things perceived by the senses are not really "I" or "mine," and for this reason one should not cling to them.In the same vein, the Pali...

; Sanskrit: anātman) is the third mark of existence. Upon careful examination, one finds that no phenomenon is really "I" or "mine"; these concepts are in fact constructed by the mind. In the Nikayas anatta is not meant as a metaphysical assertion, but as an approach for gaining release from suffering. In fact, the Buddha rejected both of the metaphysical assertions "I have a Self
Atman (Hinduism)
Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means 'self'. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism it refers to one's true self beyond identification with phenomena...

" and "I have no Self" as ontological
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

 views
View (Buddhism)
View or position is a central idea in Buddhism. In Buddhist thought, in contrast with the commonsense understanding, a view is not a simple, abstract collection of propositions, but a charged interpretation of experience which intensely shapes and affects thought, sensation, and action...

 that bind one to suffering. When asked if the self was identical with the body, the Buddha refused to answer
Fourteen unanswerable questions
The phrase fourteen unanswerable questions , in Buddhism, refers to fourteen common philosophical questions that Buddha refused to answer, according to Buddhist Sanskrit texts...

. By analyzing the constantly changing physical and mental constituents (skandha
Skandha
In Buddhist phenomenology and soteriology, the skandhas or khandhas are any of five types of phenomena that serve as objects of clinging and bases for a sense of self...

s) of a person or object, the practitioner comes to the conclusion that neither the respective parts nor the person as a whole comprise a self.

Dependent arising


{{Main|Pratītyasamutpāda}}
The doctrine of pratītyasamutpāda (Sanskrit; Pali: paticcasamuppāda; Tibetan: rten.cing.'brel.bar.'byung.ba; Chinese: 緣起) is an important part of Buddhist metaphysics. It states that phenomena arise together in a mutually interdependent web of cause and effect. It is variously rendered into English as "dependent origination", "conditioned genesis", "dependent co-arising", "interdependent arising", or "contingency".

The best-known application of the concept of pratītyasamutpāda is the scheme of Twelve Nidānas
Twelve Nidanas
The Twelve Nidānas are the best-known application of the Buddhist concept of pratītyasamutpāda , identifying the origins of dukkha to be in tanha and avijja...

 (from Pāli "nidāna" meaning "cause, foundation, source or origin"), which explain the continuation of the cycle of suffering and rebirth (saṃsāra) in detail.

{{Main|Twelve Nidānas}}
The Twelve Nidānas describe a causal connection between the subsequent characteristics or conditions of cyclic existence, each one giving rise to the next:
  1. Avidyā: ignorance, specifically spiritual ignorance of the nature of reality
  2. Saṃskāras: literally formations, explained as referring to karma
    Karma
    Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

  3. Vijñāna: consciousness
    Consciousness
    Consciousness is a term that refers to the relationship between the mind and the world with which it interacts. It has been defined as: subjectivity, awareness, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind...

    , specifically discriminative
  4. Nāmarūpa: literally name and form, referring to mind and body
  5. Ṣaḍāyatana: the six sense bases: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind-organ
  6. Sparśa: variously translated contact, impression, stimulation (by a sense object)
  7. Vedanā: usually translated feeling: this is the "hedonic tone", i.e. whether something is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral
  8. Tṛṣṇā: literally thirst, but in Buddhism nearly always used to mean craving
  9. Upādāna: clinging or grasping; the word also means fuel, which feeds the continuing cycle of rebirth
  10. Bhava: literally being (existence) or becoming. (The Theravada explains this as having two meanings: karma, which produces a new existence, and the existence itself.)
  11. Jāti: literally birth, but life is understood as starting at conception
  12. Jarāmaraṇa: (old age and death) and also śokaparidevaduḥkhadaurmanasyopāyāsa (sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and misery)


Sentient beings always suffer throughout saṃsāra, until they free themselves from this suffering by attaining Nirvana. Then the absence of the first Nidāna—ignorance—leads to the absence of the others.

Emptiness


{{Main|Śūnyatā}}
Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 Buddhism received significant theoretical grounding from Nagarjuna
Nagarjuna
Nāgārjuna was an important Buddhist teacher and philosopher. Along with his disciple Āryadeva, he is credited with founding the Mādhyamaka school of Mahāyāna Buddhism...

 (perhaps c. 150–250 CE), arguably the most influential scholar within the Mahayana tradition. Nagarjuna's primary contribution to Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy deals extensively with problems in metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics, and epistemology.Some scholars assert that early Buddhist philosophy did not engage in ontological or metaphysical speculation, but was based instead on empirical evidence gained by the sense organs...

 was the systematic exposition of the concept of śūnyatā, or "emptiness", widely attested in the Prajñāpāramitā
Prajnaparamita
Prajñāpāramitā in Buddhism, means "the Perfection of Wisdom." The word Prajñāpāramitā combines the Sanskrit words prajñā with pāramitā . Prajñāpāramitā is a central concept in Mahāyāna Buddhism and its practice and understanding are taken to be indispensable elements of the Bodhisattva Path...

 sutras which were emergent in his era. The concept of emptiness brings together other key Buddhist doctrines, particularly anatta and pratītyasamutpāda (dependent origination), to refute the metaphysics of Sarvastivada
Sarvastivada
The Sarvāstivāda were an early school of Buddhism that held to 'the existence of all dharmas in the past, present and future, the 'three times'. Vasubandhu's states:-Name:...

 and Sautrantika (extinct non-Mahayana schools). For Nagarjuna, it is not merely sentient beings that are empty of ātman
Atman (Buddhism)
The word Ātman or Atta refers to a self. Occasionally the terms "soul" or "ego" are also used. The words ātman and atta derive from the Indo-European root *ēt-men and are cognate with the Old English æthm and German Atem....

; all phenomena (dharmas) are without any svabhava
Svabhava
Svabhava Pāli: sabhāva; Chinese: 自性 zìxìng; ) is intrinsic nature, essential nature or essence.The concept and term svabhāva are frequently encountered in Dharmic traditions such as Advaita Vedānta , Mahāyāna Buddhism Svabhava (Sanskrit: स्वभाव; IAST: svabhāva) Pāli: sabhāva; Chinese: 自性 zìxìng; )...

 (literally "own-nature" or "self-nature"), and thus without any underlying essence; they are "empty" of being independent; thus the heterodox theories of svabhava circulating at the time were refuted on the basis of the doctrines of early Buddhism. Nagarjuna's school of thought is known as the Mādhyamaka
Madhyamaka
Madhyamaka refers primarily to a Mahāyāna Buddhist school of Buddhist philosophy systematized by Nāgārjuna. Nāgārjuna may have arrived at his positions from a desire to achieve a consistent exegesis of the Buddha's doctrine as recorded in the āgamas...

. Some of the writings attributed to Nagarjuna made explicit references to Mahayana texts, but his philosophy was argued within the parameters set out by the agamas. He may have arrived at his positions from a desire to achieve a consistent exegesis
Exegesis
Exegesis is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text, and the term "Biblical exegesis" is used...

 of the Buddha's doctrine as recorded in the Canon. In the eyes of Nagarjuna the Buddha was not merely a forerunner, but the very founder of the Mādhyamaka system.

Sarvastivada teachings—which were criticized by Nāgārjuna—were reformulated by scholars such as Vasubandhu
Vasubandhu
Vasubandhu was an Indian Buddhist monk, and along with his half-brother Asanga, one of the main founders of the Indian Yogācāra school. However, some scholars consider Vasubandhu to be two distinct people. Vasubandhu is one of the most influential figures in the entire history of Buddhism...

 and Asanga
Asanga
Asaṅga was a major exponent of the Yogācāra tradition in India, also called Vijñānavāda. Traditionally, he and his half-brother Vasubandhu are regarded as the founders of this school...

 and were adapted into the Yogacara
Yogacara
Yogācāra is an influential school of Buddhist philosophy and psychology emphasizing phenomenology and ontology through the interior lens of meditative and yogic practices. It developed within Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism in about the 4th century CE...

 (Sanskrit: yoga practice) school. While the Mādhyamaka school held that asserting the existence or non-existence of any ultimately real thing was inappropriate, some exponents of Yogacara asserted that the mind and only the mind is ultimately real (a doctrine known as cittamatra). Not all Yogacarins asserted that mind was truly existent; Vasubandhu and Asanga in particular did not. These two schools of thought, in opposition or synthesis, form the basis of subsequent Mahayana metaphysics in the Indo-Tibetan tradition.

Besides emptiness, Mahayana schools often place emphasis on the notions of perfected spiritual insight (prajñāpāramitā
Prajnaparamita
Prajñāpāramitā in Buddhism, means "the Perfection of Wisdom." The word Prajñāpāramitā combines the Sanskrit words prajñā with pāramitā . Prajñāpāramitā is a central concept in Mahāyāna Buddhism and its practice and understanding are taken to be indispensable elements of the Bodhisattva Path...

) and Buddha-nature (tathāgatagarbha). There are conflicting interpretations of the tathāgatagarbha in Mahāyāna thought. The idea may be traced to Abhidharma
Abhidharma
Abhidharma or Abhidhamma are ancient Buddhist texts which contain detailed scholastic and scientific reworkings of doctrinal material appearing in the Buddhist Sutras, according to schematic classifications...

, and ultimately to statements of the Buddha in the Nikāyas. In Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, according to the Sakya
Sakya
The Sakya school is one of four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the others being the Nyingma, Kagyu, and Gelug...

 school, tathāgatagarbha is the inseparability of the clarity and emptiness of one's mind. In Nyingma
Nyingma
The Nyingma tradition is the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism . "Nyingma" literally means "ancient," and is often referred to as Nga'gyur or the "old school" because it is founded on the first translations of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Tibetan, in the eighth century...

, tathāgatagarbha also generally refers to inseparability of the clarity and emptiness of one's mind. According to the Gelug
Gelug
The Gelug or Gelug-pa , also known as the Yellow Hat sect, is a school of Buddhism founded by Je Tsongkhapa , a philosopher and Tibetan religious leader...

 school, it is the potential for sentient beings to awaken since they are empty (i.e. dependently originated). According to the Jonang
Jonang
The Jonang is one of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Its origins in Tibet can be traced to early 12th century master Yumo Mikyo Dorje, but became much wider known with the help of Dolpopa Sherab Gyeltsen, a monk originally trained in the Sakya school...

 school, it refers to the innate qualities of the mind which expresses itself in terms of omniscience etc. when adventitious obscurations are removed. The "Tathāgatagarbha Sutras" are a collection of Mahayana sutras which present a unique model of Buddha-nature. Even though this collection was generally ignored in India, East Asian Buddhism provides some significance to these texts.

Liberation



Nirvana


{{Main|Nirvana (concept)}}
Nirvana (Sanskrit; Pali: "Nibbana") means "cessation", "extinction" (of craving
Tanha
' or ' literally means "thirst," and is a synonym for "desire" or "craving," traditionally juxtaposed with upekkha .Synonyms:*愛 Cn: ài; Vi: ái...

 and ignorance and therefore suffering
Dukkha
Dukkha is a Pali term roughly corresponding to a number of terms in English including suffering, pain, discontent, unsatisfactoriness, unhappiness, sorrow, affliction, social alienation, anxiety,...

 and the cycle of involuntary rebirths (saṃsāra
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

)), "extinguished", "quieted", "calmed"; it is also known as "Awakening" or "Enlightenment" in the West. The term for anybody who has achieved nirvana, including the Buddha, is arahant.

Bodhi
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

 (Pāli and Sanskrit, in devanagari
Devanagari
Devanagari |deva]]" and "nāgarī" ), also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

: बॊधि) is a term applied to the experience of Awakening of arahants. Bodhi literally means "awakening", but it is more commonly translated into English as "enlightenment". In Early Buddhism
Early Buddhism
The term Early Buddhism can refer to:* Pre-sectarian Buddhism, which refers to the Teachings and monastic organization and structure, founded by Gautama Buddha....

, bodhi carried a meaning synonymous to nirvana, using only some different metaphors to describe the experience, which implies the extinction of raga (greed, craving), dosa (hate, aversion) and moha (delusion). In the later school of Mahayana Buddhism, the status of nirvana was downgraded in some scriptures, coming to refer only to the extinction of greed and hate, implying that delusion was still present in one who attained nirvana, and that one needed to attain bodhi to eradicate delusion:

{{Quote|An important development in the Mahayana [was] that it came to separate nirvana from bodhi ('awakening' to the truth, Enlightenment), and to put a lower value on the former (Gombrich, 1992d). Originally nirvana and bodhi refer to the same thing; they merely use different metaphors for the experience. But the Mahayana tradition separated them and considered that nirvana referred only to the extinction of craving (passion and hatred), with the resultant escape from the cycle of rebirth. This interpretation ignores the third fire, delusion: the extinction of delusion is of course in the early texts identical with what can be positively expressed as gnosis
Gnosis
Gnosis is the common Greek noun for knowledge . In the context of the English language gnosis generally refers to the word's meaning within the spheres of Christian mysticism, Mystery religions and Gnosticism where it signifies 'spiritual knowledge' in the sense of mystical enlightenment.-Related...

, Enlightenment.|Richard F. Gombrich|How Buddhism Began}}

Therefore, according to Mahayana Buddhism, the arahant has attained only nirvana, thus still being subject to delusion, while the bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

 not only achieves nirvana but full liberation from delusion as well. He thus attains bodhi and becomes a buddha. In Theravada Buddhism, bodhi and nirvana carry the same meaning as in the early texts, that of being freed from greed, hate and delusion.

The term parinirvana
Parinirvana
In Buddhism, parinirvana is the final nirvana, which occurs upon the death of the body of someone who has attained complete awakening...

 is also encountered in Buddhism, and this generally refers to the complete nirvana attained by the arhat at the moment of death, when the physical body expires.

Buddhas



{{Main|Buddhahood}}
Theravada

In Theravada doctrine, a person may awaken from the "sleep of ignorance" by directly realizing the true nature of reality
Reality in Buddhism
Buddhism evolved a variety of doctrinal/philosophical traditions, each with its distinct ideas of reality. The following are still regularly studied in some branches of the Buddhist tradition: Theravada, Vaibhashika, Sautrantika, Jojitsu, Madhyamika, Yogacara, tiantai, Huayan...

; such people are called arahants and occasionally buddhas. After numerous lifetimes of spiritual striving, they have reached the end of the cycle of rebirth, no longer reincarnating as human, animal, ghost, or other being. The commentaries to the Pali Canon classify these awakened beings into three types:
  • Sammasambuddha
    Buddhahood
    In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

    , usually just called Buddha, who discovers the truth by himself and teaches the path to awakening to others
  • Paccekabuddha
    Pratyekabuddha
    A Pratyekabuddha or Paccekabuddha , literally "a lone buddha" , "a buddha on their own" or "a private buddha", is one of three types of enlightened beings according to some schools of Buddhism. The other two types are the Śrāvakabuddhas and Samyaksambuddhas...

    , who discovers the truth by himself but lacks the skill to teach others
  • Savakabuddha
    Savakabuddha
    Sāvakabuddha is a term used rarely in Theravada Buddhism to refer to an enlightened disciple of a Buddha. Such disciples are enlightened individuals who gain by hearing the Dhamma as initially taught by a Sammasambuddha...

    , who receive the truth directly or indirectly from a Sammasambuddha


Bodhi and nirvana carry the same meaning, that of being freed from craving, hate, and delusion. In attaining bodhi, the arahant has overcome these obstacles. As a further distinction, the extinction of only hatred and greed (in the sensory context) with some residue of delusion, is called anagami
Anagami
In Buddhism, an anāgāmi is a partially enlightened person who has cut off the first five chains that bind the ordinary mind. Anagami-ship is the third of the four stages of enlightenment....

.
Mahayana

In the Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

, the Buddha tends not to be viewed as merely human, but as the earthly projection of a beginningless and endless, omnipresent being (see Dharmakaya
Dharmakaya
The Dharmakāya is a central idea in Mahayana Buddhism forming part of the Trikaya doctrine that was possibly first expounded in the Aṣṭasāhasrikā prajñā-pāramitā , composed in the 1st century BCE...

) beyond the range and reach of thought. Moreover, in certain Mahayana sutras, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are viewed essentially as One: all three are seen as the eternal Buddha
Eternal Buddha
The idea of an eternal Buddha is a notion popularly associated with the Mahayana scripture, the Lotus Sutra, and is also found in other Mahayana sutras.- The Eternal Buddha in the Lotus Sutra and Other Mahayana Sutras :...

 himself.

Celestial Buddhas are individuals who no longer exist on the material plane of existence, but who still aid in the enlightenment of all beings.

Nirvana came to refer only to the extinction of greed and hate,{{Dubious|date=November 2009}} implying that delusion was still present in one who attained Nirvana. Bodhi became a higher attainment that eradicates delusion entirely. Thus, the Arahant attains Nirvana but not Bodhi, thus still being subject to delusion, while the Buddha
Buddhahood
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

 attains Bodhi.{{Dubious|date=November 2009}}

Buddh redirects here, for the Race Circuit, see Buddh International Circuit


{{Buddhism}}
Buddhism (Pali
Pali language
Pāli is a Middle Indo-Aryan language of the Indian subcontinent. It is best known as the language of many of the earliest extant Buddhist scriptures, as collected in the Pāi Canon or Tipitaka, and as the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism.-Etymology of the name:The word Pali itself...

/{{lang-sa|बौद्ध धर्म}} Bauddha Dharma) is a religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 and philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

, commonly known as the Buddha
Buddhahood
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

 (Pāli
Páli
- External links :* *...

/Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 "the awakened one"). The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 some time between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

 or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings
Sentient beings (Buddhism)
Sentient beings is a technical term in Buddhist discourse. Broadly speaking, it denotes beings with consciousness or sentience or, in some contexts, life itself. Specifically, it denotes the presence of the five aggregates, or skandhas...

 end ignorance (avidyā
Avidya (Buddhism)
Avidyā or avijjā means "ignorance" or "delusion" and is the opposite of 'vidyā' and 'rig pa'...

) of dependent origination, thus escaping what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth
Samsara (Buddhism)
or sangsara is a Sanskrit and Pāli term, which translates as "continuous movement" or "continuous flowing" and, in Buddhism, refers to the concept of a cycle of birth , and consequent decay and death , in which all beings in the universe participate, and which can only be escaped through...

.

Two major branches of Buddhism are recognized: Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 ("The School of the Elders") and Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 ("The Great Vehicle"). Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 and Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

. Mahayana is found throughout East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

 and includes the traditions of Pure Land
Pure land
A pure land, in Mahayana Buddhism, is the celestial realm or pure abode of a Buddha or Bodhisattva. The various traditions that focus on Pure Lands have been given the nomenclature Pure Land Buddhism. Pure lands are also evident in the literature and traditions of Taoism and Bön.The notion of 'pure...

, Zen
Zen
Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism founded by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chán , which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state."Zen...

, Nichiren Buddhism
Nichiren Buddhism
Nichiren Buddhism is a branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism based on the teachings of the 13th century Japanese monk Nichiren...

, Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, Shingon, Tiantai
Tiantai
Tiantai is an important school of Buddhism in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. In Japan the school is known as Tendai, and in Korea it is known as Cheontae. Tiantai is also called the "Lotus School", due to its emphasis on the Lotus Sūtra as its doctrinal basis...

 (Tendai
Tendai
is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism, a descendant of the Chinese Tiantai or Lotus Sutra school.Chappell frames the relevance of Tendai for a universal Buddhism:- History :...

) and Shinnyo-en. In some classifications Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

—as practiced mainly in Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 and Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

 —is recognized as a third branch, while others classify it as a part of Mahayana. There are other categorisations of these three Vehicles or Yana
Yana (Buddhism)
Yāna refers to a mode or method of spiritual practice in Buddhism, and in particular to divisions of various schools of Buddhism according to their type of practice.-Nomenclature, etymology and orthography:...

s.

While Buddhism remains most popular within Asia, both branches are now found throughout the world. Estimates of Buddhists worldwide vary significantly depending on the way Buddhist adherence is defined. Lower estimates are between 350–500 million.

Buddhist schools
Schools of Buddhism
Buddhism is an ancient, polyvalent ideological system that originated in the Iron Age Indian subcontinent, referred to variously throughout history by one or more of a myriad of concepts – including, but not limited to any of the following: a Dharmic religion, a philosophy or quasi-philosophical...

 vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures
Buddhist texts
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 authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized...

, and especially their respective practices. The cardinal doctrine of dependent origination is the only doctrine that is common to all Buddhist teachings from Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 to Dzogchen
Dzogchen
According to Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, Dzogchen is the natural, primordial state or natural condition of the mind, and a body of teachings and meditation practices aimed at realizing that condition. Dzogchen, or "Great Perfection", is a central teaching of the Nyingma school also practiced by...

 to the extinct schools. The foundations of Buddhist tradition and practice are the Three Jewels
Three Jewels
The Three Jewels, also called the Three Treasures, the Siemese Triples, Three Refuges, or the Triple Gem , are the three things that Buddhists take refuge in, and look toward for guidance, in the process known as taking refuge.The Three Jewels are:* BuddhaTaking refuge in the Three Jewels is...

: the Buddha, the Dharma
Dharma (Buddhism)
Dhamma or Dharma in Buddhism can have the following meanings:* The state of Nature as it is * The Laws of Nature considered collectively....

 (the teachings), and the Sangha
Sangha
Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...

 (the community). Taking "refuge
Refuge (Buddhism)
Buddhists "take refuge" in, or to "go for refuge" to, the Three Jewels . This can be done formally in lay and monastic ordination ceremonies.The Three Jewels general signification is: * the Buddha;* the Dharma, the teachings;...

 in the triple gem" has traditionally been a declaration and commitment to being on the Buddhist path and in general distinguishes a Buddhist from a non-Buddhist. Other practices may include following ethical precepts
Sila
Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

, support of the monastic community
Dana (Buddhism)
Dāna is generosity or giving. In Hinduism and Buddhism, it is the practice of cultivating generosity. Ultimately, the practice culminates in one of the perfections : the perfection of giving - dāna-pāramitā...

, renouncing
Nekkhamma
Nekkhamma is a Pali word generally translated as "renunciation" or "the pleasure of renunciation" while also conveying more specifically "giving up the world and leading a holy life" or "freedom from lust, craving and desires." In Buddhism's Noble Eightfold Path, nekkhamma is the first practice...

 conventional living and becoming a monastic
Buddhist monasticism
Monasticism is one of the most fundamental institutions of Buddhism. Monks and nuns are responsible for preserving and teaching Buddhist teachings and guiding Buddhist lay followers. Earlier Buddhist monks were enlightened...

, the development of mindfulness and practice of meditation
Buddhist meditation
Buddhist meditation refers to the meditative practices associated with the religion and philosophy of Buddhism.Core meditation techniques have been preserved in ancient Buddhist texts and have proliferated and diversified through teacher-student transmissions. Buddhists pursue meditation as part of...

, cultivation of higher wisdom and discernment, study of scriptures, devotional
Buddhist devotion
Buddhist devotion is an important part of the practice of most Buddhists. According to a spokesman of the Sasana Council of Burma, devotion to Buddhist spiritual practices inspires devotion to the Triple Gem...

 practices, ceremonies, and in the Mahayana tradition, invocation of buddhas and bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

s.

Life of the Buddha



{{Main|Gautama Buddha}}

The evidence of the early texts{{Which?|date=May 2011}} suggests that the Buddha was born in a community that was on the periphery, both geographically and culturally, of the northeastern Indian subcontinent in the 5th century BCE. It was either a small republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

, in which case his father was an elected chieftain, or an oligarchy
Oligarchy
Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, commercial, and/or military legitimacy...

, in which case his father was an oligarch.

According to the Theravada Tipitaka scriptures
Buddhist texts
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 authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized...

{{Which?|date=November 2010}} (from Pali, meaning "three baskets"), the Buddha was born in Lumbini
Lumbini
Lumbinī is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi district of Nepal. It is the place where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama, who as the Buddha Gautama founded the Buddhist tradition. The Buddha lived between roughly 563 and 483 BCE...

 in modern-day Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

, around the year 563 BCE, and raised in Kapilavastu
Kapilavastu
Kapilavastu is the name of a region of ancient Shakya kingdom that is considered a holy pilgrimage place for Buddhists. The search for the Buddha's birthplace following the accounts left by Xuanzang and Faxian involved various searches in the late 19th century...

.

According to this narrative, shortly after the birth of young prince Siddhartha Gautama, an astrologer
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

 visited the young prince's father—King Śuddhodana
Suddhodana
King Suddhodana was the father of Siddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha. He was a leader of the Shakya people, who lived in southern Nepal. Suddhodana's father was Sinahana...

—and prophesied that Siddhartha would either become a great king or renounce the material world to become a holy man, depending on whether he saw what life was like outside the palace walls.

Śuddhodana was determined to see his son become a king, so he prevented him from leaving the palace grounds. But at age 29, despite his father's efforts, Siddhartha ventured beyond the palace several times. In a series of encounters—known in Buddhist literature as the four sights
Four sights
The four sights were specific observations made by Prince Siddhārtha , which led to a realization. Before this, he had been confined to his palace by his father, who feared that he would become an ascetic if he came into contact with sufferings of life according to a prediction...

—he learned of the suffering of ordinary people, encountering an old man, a sick man, a corpse and, finally, an ascetic
Asceticism
Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals...

 holy man
Sadhu
In Hinduism, sādhu denotes an ascetic, wandering monk. Although the vast majority of sādhus are yogīs, not all yogīs are sādhus. The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa , the fourth and final aśrama , through meditation and contemplation of brahman...

, apparently content and at peace with the world. These experiences prompted Gautama to abandon royal life and take up a spiritual quest.

Gautama first went to study with famous religious teachers of the day, and mastered the meditative attainments they taught. But he found that they did not provide a permanent end to suffering, so he continued his quest. He next attempted an extreme asceticism, which was a religious pursuit common among the Shramana
Shramana
A shramana is a wandering monk in certain ascetic traditions of ancient India including Jainism, Buddhism, and Ājīvikism. Famous śramaṇas include Mahavira and Gautama Buddha....

s, a religious culture distinct from the Vedic one. Gautama underwent prolonged fasting, breath-holding, and exposure to pain. He almost starved himself to death in the process. He realized that he had taken this kind of practice to its limit, and had not put an end to suffering. So in a pivotal moment he accepted milk and rice from a village girl and changed his approach. He devoted himself to anapanasati
Anapanasati
Ānāpānasati , meaning 'mindfulness of breathing' , is a form of Buddhist meditation now common to the Tibetan, Zen, Tiantai, and Theravada schools of Buddhism, as well as western-based mindfulness programs.According to tradition, Anapanasati was...

 meditation, through which he discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way
Middle way
The Middle Way or Middle Path is the descriptive term that Siddhartha Gautama used to describe the character of the path he discovered that led to liberation. It was coined in the very first teaching that he delivered after his enlightenment...

 (Skt. madhyamā-pratipad): a path of moderation between the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification.
Gautama was now determined to complete his spiritual quest. At the age of 35, he famously sat in meditation
Meditation
Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit....

 under a sacred fig
Sacred Fig
The Sacred Fig, Ficus religiosa, or Bo-Tree , Peepal is a species of banyan fig native to India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, southwest China and Indochina...

 tree — known as the Bodhi tree
Bodhi tree
The Bodhi Tree, also known as Bo , was a large and very old Sacred Fig tree located in Bodh Gaya , under which Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism later known as Gautama Buddha, is said to have achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi...

 — in the town of Bodh Gaya, India, and vowed not to rise before achieving enlightenment
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

. After many days, he finally destroyed the fetters
Fetter (Buddhism)
In Buddhism, a mental fetter, chain or bond shackles a sentient being to sasāra, the cycle of lives with dukkha. By cutting through all fetters, one attains nibbāna ....

 of his mind, thereby liberating himself from the cycle of suffering and rebirth
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

, and arose as a fully enlightened being (Skt. {{IAST|samyaksaṃbuddha}}). Soon thereafter, he attracted a band of followers and instituted a monastic order
Sangha
Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...

. Now, as the Buddha, he spent the rest of his life teaching the path of awakening
Dharma (Buddhism)
Dhamma or Dharma in Buddhism can have the following meanings:* The state of Nature as it is * The Laws of Nature considered collectively....

 he had discovered, traveling throughout the northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent, and died at the age of 80 (483 BCE) in Kushinagar
Kushinagar
Kushinagar , Kusinagar or Kusinara is a town and a nagar panchayat in Kushinagar district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, where Gautama Buddha is believed to have attained Parinirvana after his death.-Demographics: India census, Kushinagar had a...

, India. The south branch of the original fig tree only available in Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura, , is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization.The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies 205 km north of the current capital Colombo in Sri Lanka's North Central Province, on the banks of the historic...

 Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 known as Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi.

The above narrative draws on the Nidānakathā biography of the Theravāda
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 sect in Sri Lanka, which is ascribed to Buddhaghoṣa
Buddhaghosa
Bhadantācariya Buddhaghoṣa(Chinese: 覺音)was a 5th-century Indian Theravadin Buddhist commentator and scholar. His best-known work is the Visuddhimagga, or Path of Purification, a comprehensive summary and analysis of the Theravada understanding of the Buddha's path to liberation...

 in the 5th century CE. Earlier biographies such as the Buddhacarita
Buddhacarita
Buddhacharita is an epic poem in the Sanskrit mahakavya style on the life of Gautama Buddha by , composed in the 2nd century AD...

, the Lokottaravādin Mahāvastu
Mahavastu
The Mahāvastu is a text of the Lokottaravāda school of Early Buddhism. It describes itself as being a historical preface to the Buddhist monastic codes...

, and the Mahāyāna
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 / Sarvāstivāda
Sarvastivada
The Sarvāstivāda were an early school of Buddhism that held to 'the existence of all dharmas in the past, present and future, the 'three times'. Vasubandhu's states:-Name:...

 Lalitavistara Sūtra
Lalitavistara Sutra
The Lalitavistara Sutra is a Mahayana Buddhist Vaipulya sutra that describes the sports of Gautama Buddha. It is a compilation of various works by no single author and includes some material from the Sarvastivada school. The scholar P. L...

, give different accounts.

Scholars are hesitant to make unqualified claims about the historical facts of the Buddha's life. Most accept that he lived, taught and founded a monastic order but do not consistently accept all of the details contained in his biographies. According to author Michael Carrithers, while there are good reasons to doubt the traditional account, "the outline of the life must be true: birth, maturity, renunciation, search, awakening and liberation, teaching, death."

In writing her biography of Buddha, Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong FRSL , is a British author and commentator who is the author of twelve books on comparative religion. A former Roman Catholic nun, she went from a conservative to a more liberal and mystical faith...

 noted, "It is obviously difficult, therefore, to write a biography of the Buddha that will meet modern criteria, because we have very little information that can be considered historically sound... [but] we can be reasonably confident Siddhatta Gotama did indeed exist and that his disciples preserved the memory of his life and teachings as well as they could."

Buddhist concepts



{{Main|Buddhist terms and concepts}}

Life and the world



Karma


{{Main|Karma in Buddhism}}
Karma
Karma
Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

 (from Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

: "action, work") in Buddhism
Karma in Buddhism
Karma means "action" or "doing"; whatever one does, says, or thinks is a karma. In Buddhism, the term karma is used specifically for those actions which spring from the intention of an unenlightened being.These bring about a fruit or result Karma (Sanskrit, also karman, Pāli: Kamma) means...

 is the force that drives saṃsāra
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

—the cycle of suffering and rebirth for each being. Good, skillful deeds (Pāli
Páli
- External links :* *...

: "kusala") and bad, unskillful (Pāli: "akusala") actions produce "seeds" in the mind which come to fruition
Vipaka
Vipāka is a Buddhist technical term meaning the result of karma , or intentional actions.In Buddhist belief, the law of kamma-vipāka is of great importance. In a discourse the Buddha said “Intention, monks, is kamma I say...

 either in this life or in a subsequent rebirth
Rebirth (Buddhism)
Rebirth in Buddhism is the doctrine that the evolving consciousness or stream of consciousness upon death , becomes one of the contributing causes for the arising of a new aggregation...

. The avoidance of unwholesome actions and the cultivation of positive actions is called śīla
Sila
Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

 (from Sanskrit: "ethical conduct").

In Buddhism, karma specifically refers to those actions (of body, speech, and mind) that spring from mental intent ("cetana"), and which bring about a consequence (or fruit, "phala
Phala
Phala is a Sanskrit term that means “fruit” and refers to charisms in Hinduism and Buddhism. They are also known in Buddhism as Maha-phala, which are the Great fruit of the contemplative life....

") or result ("vipāka
Vipaka
Vipāka is a Buddhist technical term meaning the result of karma , or intentional actions.In Buddhist belief, the law of kamma-vipāka is of great importance. In a discourse the Buddha said “Intention, monks, is kamma I say...

").

In Theravada Buddhism there can be no divine salvation or forgiveness for one's karma, since it is a purely impersonal process that is a part of the makeup of the universe. Some Mahayana traditions hold different views. For example, the texts of certain Mahayana sutras (such as the Lotus Sutra
Lotus Sutra
The Lotus Sūtra is one of the most popular and influential Mahāyāna sūtras, and the basis on which the Tiantai and Nichiren sects of Buddhism were established.-Title:...

, the Angulimaliya Sutra
Angulimaliya Sutra
The Angulimaliya Sutra is a Buddhist scripture belonging to the Tathāgatagarbha class of sūtra, which teach that the Buddha is eternal, that the non-Self and emptiness teachings only apply to the worldly sphere , and that the tathagatagarbha is real and immanent within all beings and all phenomena...

 and the Nirvana Sutra) claim that reciting or merely hearing their texts can expunge great swathes of negative karma. Some forms of Buddhism (for example, Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

) regard the recitation of mantra
Mantra
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...

s as a means for cutting off previous negative karma. The Japanese Pure Land
Pure Land Buddhism
Pure Land Buddhism , also referred to as Amidism in English, is a broad branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism and currently one of the most popular traditions of Buddhism in East Asia. Pure Land is a branch of Buddhism focused on Amitābha Buddha...

 teacher Genshin
Genshin
Genshin , also known as Eshin Sozu, was the most influential of a number of Tendai scholars active during the tenth and eleventh centuries in Japan...

 taught that Amida Buddha has the power to destroy the karma that would otherwise bind one in saṃsāra.

Rebirth



{{Main|Rebirth (Buddhism)}}
Rebirth refers to a process whereby beings go through a succession of lifetimes as one of many possible forms of sentient
Sentience
Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive or be conscious, or to have subjective experiences. Eighteenth century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think from the ability to feel . In modern western philosophy, sentience is the ability to have sensations or experiences...

 life, each running from conception to death. Buddhism rejects the concepts of a permanent self
Self
The self is an individual person as the object of his or her own reflective consciousness. The self has been studied extensively by philosophers and psychologists and is central to many world religions.-Philosophy:...

 or an unchanging, eternal soul, as it is called in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 and Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. According to Buddhism there ultimately is no such thing as a self independent from the rest of the universe (the doctrine of anatta
Anatta
In Buddhism, anattā or anātman refers to the notion of "not-self." In the early texts, the Buddha commonly uses the word in the context of teaching that all things perceived by the senses are not really "I" or "mine," and for this reason one should not cling to them.In the same vein, the Pali...

). Rebirth in subsequent existences must be understood as the continuation of a dynamic, ever-changing process of "dependent arising" ("pratītyasamutpāda") determined by the laws of cause and effect (karma) rather than that of one being, transmigrating or incarnating
Incarnation
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

 from one existence to the next.

Each rebirth takes place within one of five realms according to Theravadins, or six
Six realms
The desire realm is one of three realms or three worlds in traditional Buddhist cosmology into which a being wandering in may be reborn. The other two are the form realm, and the formless realm The desire realm (Sanskrit kāma-dhātu) is one of three realms (Sanskrit: dhātu, Tibetan: khams) or...

 according to other schools. These are further subdivided into 31 planes of existence:
  1. Naraka beings
    Naraka (Buddhism)
    Naraka नरक or Niraya निरय is the name given to one of the worlds of greatest suffering in Buddhist cosmology.Naraka is usually translated into English as "hell", "hell realm", or "purgatory"...

    : those who live in one of many Narakas (Hells)
  2. Preta
    Preta
    Preta, प्रेत or Peta is the name for a type of being described in Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, and Jain texts that undergoes more than human suffering, particularly an extreme degree of hunger and thirst...

    : sometimes sharing some space with humans, but invisible to most people; an important variety is the hungry ghost
    Hungry ghost
    Hungry ghost is a Western translation of Chinese  , a concept in Chinese Buddhism and Chinese traditional religion representing beings who are driven by intense emotional needs in an animalistic way....

  3. Animals
    Animals in Buddhism
    The position and treatment of animals in Buddhism is important for the light it sheds on Buddhists' perception of their own relation to the natural world, on Buddhist humanitarian concerns in general, and on the relationship between Buddhist theory and Buddhist practice.-Animals in Buddhist...

    : sharing space with humans, but considered another type of life
  4. Human beings
    Human beings in Buddhism
    Humans in Buddhism are the subjects of an extensive commentarial literature that examines the nature and qualities of a human life from the point of view of humans' ability to achieve enlightenment...

    : one of the realms of rebirth in which attaining Nirvana is possible
  5. Asuras
    Asura (Buddhism)
    Asura in Buddhism is the name of the lowest ranks of the deities or demigods of the Kāmadhātu.-Origins and etymology:...

    : variously translated as lowly deities, demons, titans, antigods; not recognized by Theravāda (Mahavihara) tradition as a separate realm
  6. Devas
    Deva (Buddhism)
    A deva in Buddhism is one of many different types of non-human beings who share the characteristics of being more powerful, longer-lived, and, in general, living more contentedly than the average human being....

     including Brahmas
    Brahma (Buddhism)
    ' in Buddhism is the name for a type of exalted passionless deity , of which there are several in Buddhist cosmology.-Origins:The name originates in Vedic tradition, in which Brahmā appears as the creator of the universe...

    : variously translated as gods, deities, spirits, angels, or left untranslated


Rebirths in some of the higher heavens, known as the Śuddhāvāsa Worlds (Pure Abodes), can be attained only by skilled Buddhist practitioners known as anāgāmi
Anagami
In Buddhism, an anāgāmi is a partially enlightened person who has cut off the first five chains that bind the ordinary mind. Anagami-ship is the third of the four stages of enlightenment....

s (non-returners). Rebirths in the arupa-dhatu (formless realms) can be attained only by those who can meditate on the arūpajhāna
Arupajhana
In Buddhism, the arūpajhānas or "formless meditations" are four successive levels of meditation on non-material objects. These levels are higher than the rūpajhānas, and harder to attain...

s, the highest object of meditation.

According to East Asian and Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, there is an intermediate state
Bardo
The Tibetan word Bardo means literally "intermediate state" - also translated as "transitional state" or "in-between state" or "liminal state". In Sanskrit the concept has the name antarabhāva...

 (Tibetan
Tibetan language
The Tibetan languages are a cluster of mutually-unintelligible Tibeto-Burman languages spoken primarily by Tibetan peoples who live across a wide area of eastern Central Asia bordering the Indian subcontinent, including the Tibetan Plateau and the northern Indian subcontinent in Baltistan, Ladakh,...

 "Bardo") between one life and the next. The orthodox Theravada position rejects this; however there are passages in the Samyutta Nikaya
Samyutta Nikaya
The Samyutta Nikaya is a Buddhist scripture, the third of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka, which is one of the "three baskets" that compose the Pali Tipitaka of Theravada Buddhism. Because of the abbreviated way parts of the text are written, the total number of suttas is...

 of the Pali Canon
Pāli Canon
The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language. It is the only completely surviving early Buddhist canon, and one of the first to be written down...

 (the collection of texts on which the Theravada tradition is based), that seem to lend support to the idea that the Buddha taught of an intermediate stage between one life and the next.

Saṃsāra


{{Main|Saṃsāra (Buddhism)}}
Sentient beings crave pleasure and are averse to pain from birth to death. In being controlled by these attitudes, they perpetuate the cycle of conditioned existence and suffering (saṃsāra), and produce the causes and conditions of the next rebirth after death. Each rebirth repeats this process in an involuntary cycle, which Buddhists strive to end by eradicating these causes and conditions, applying the methods laid out by the Buddha and subsequent Buddhists.

The Four Noble Truths



{{Main|Four Noble Truths}}
According to the Pali Tipitaka and the Āgamas of other early Buddhist schools
Early Buddhist schools
The early Buddhist schools are those schools into which, according to most scholars, the Buddhist monastic saṅgha initially split, due originally to differences in vinaya, and later also due to doctrinal differences and geographical separation of groups of monks.The original saṅgha split into the...

, the Four Noble Truths were the first teaching of Gautama Buddha after attaining Nirvana. They are sometimes considered to contain the essence of the Buddha's teachings:
  1. Life as we know it ultimately is or leads to suffering/uneasiness (dukkha
    Dukkha
    Dukkha is a Pali term roughly corresponding to a number of terms in English including suffering, pain, discontent, unsatisfactoriness, unhappiness, sorrow, affliction, social alienation, anxiety,...

    ) in one way or another.
  2. Suffering is caused by craving
    Tanha
    ' or ' literally means "thirst," and is a synonym for "desire" or "craving," traditionally juxtaposed with upekkha .Synonyms:*愛 Cn: ài; Vi: ái...

    . This is often expressed as a deluded clinging to a certain sense of existence, to selfhood, or to the things or phenomena that we consider the cause of happiness or unhappiness. Craving also has its negative aspect, i.e. one craves that a certain state of affairs not exist.
  3. Suffering ends when craving ends. This is achieved by eliminating delusion, thereby reaching a liberated state of Enlightenment (bodhi
    Bodhi
    Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

    );
  4. Reaching this liberated state is achieved by following the path
    Noble Eightfold Path
    The Noble Eightfold Path , is one of the principal teachings of the Buddha, who described it as the way leading to the cessation of suffering and the achievement of self-awakening. It is used to develop insight into the true nature of phenomena and to eradicate greed, hatred, and delusion...

     laid out by the Buddha.


This method is described by early Western scholars, and taught as an introduction to Buddhism by some contemporary Mahayana teachers (for example, the Dalai Lama
14th Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama is the 14th and current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are the most influential figures in the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, although the 14th has consolidated control over the other lineages in recent years...

).

According to other interpretations by Buddhist teachers and scholars, lately recognized by some Western non-Buddhist scholars, the "truths" do not represent mere statements, but are categories or aspects that most worldly phenomena fall into, grouped in two:
  1. Suffering and causes of suffering
  2. Cessation and the paths towards liberation from suffering.


Thus, according to the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism they are
  1. "The noble truth that is suffering"
  2. "The noble truth that is the arising of suffering"
  3. "The noble truth that is the end of suffering"
  4. "The noble truth that is the way leading to the end of suffering"


The traditional Theravada understanding is that the Four Noble Truths are an advanced teaching for those who are ready for them. The East Asian Mahayana position is that they are a preliminary teaching for people not yet ready for the higher and more expansive Mahayana teachings.

The Noble Eightfold Path


{{Main|Noble Eightfold Path}}

The Noble Eightfold Path
Noble Eightfold Path
The Noble Eightfold Path , is one of the principal teachings of the Buddha, who described it as the way leading to the cessation of suffering and the achievement of self-awakening. It is used to develop insight into the true nature of phenomena and to eradicate greed, hatred, and delusion...

—the fourth of the Buddha's Noble Truths
Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths are an important principle in Buddhism, classically taught by the Buddha in the Dharmacakra Pravartana Sūtra....

—is the way to the cessation of suffering (dukkha). It has eight sections, each starting with the word "samyak" (Sanskrit, meaning "correctly", "properly", or "well", frequently translated into English as "right"), and presented in three groups known as the three higher trainings. (NB: Pāli transliterations appear in brackets after Sanskrit ones):
  • Prajñā
    Prajña
    Prajñā or paññā is wisdom, understanding, discernment or cognitive acuity. Such wisdom is understood to exist in the universal flux of being and can be intuitively experienced through meditation...

    is the wisdom that purifies the mind, allowing it to attain spiritual insight into the true nature of all things. It includes:
  1. {{unicode|dṛṣṭi}} (ditthi): viewing reality as it is, not just as it appears to be.
  2. {{unicode|saṃkalpa}} (sankappa): intention of renunciation, freedom and harmlessness.
    • Śīla
      Sila
      Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

      is the ethics or morality, or abstention from unwholesome deeds. It includes:
  3. {{unicode|vāc}} (vāca): speaking in a truthful and non-hurtful way
  4. {{unicode|karman}} (kammanta): acting in a non-harmful way
  5. {{unicode|ājīvana}} (ājīva): a non-harmful livelihood
    • Samādhi
      Samadhi
      Samadhi in Hinduism, Buddhism,Jainism, Sikhism and yogic schools is a higher level of concentrated meditation, or dhyāna. In the yoga tradition, it is the eighth and final limb identified in the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali....

      is the mental discipline required to develop mastery over one's own mind. This is done through the practice of various contemplative and meditative practices, and includes:
  6. {{unicode|vyāyāma}} (vāyāma): making an effort to improve
  7. {{unicode|smṛti}} (sati): awareness to see things for what they are with clear consciousness, being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion
  8. {{unicode|samādhi}} (samādhi): correct meditation or concentration, explained as the first four jhānas


The practice of the Eightfold Path is understood in two ways, as requiring either simultaneous development (all eight items practiced in parallel), or as a progressive series of stages through which the practitioner moves, the culmination of one leading to the beginning of another.

The Middle Way


{{Main|Middle Way}}
An important guiding principle of Buddhist practice is the Middle Way
Middle way
The Middle Way or Middle Path is the descriptive term that Siddhartha Gautama used to describe the character of the path he discovered that led to liberation. It was coined in the very first teaching that he delivered after his enlightenment...

 (or Middle Path), which is said to have been discovered by Gautama Buddha prior to his enlightenment. The Middle Way has several definitions:
  1. The practice of non-extremism: a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification
  2. The middle ground between certain metaphysical
    Metaphysics
    Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

     views
    View (Buddhism)
    View or position is a central idea in Buddhism. In Buddhist thought, in contrast with the commonsense understanding, a view is not a simple, abstract collection of propositions, but a charged interpretation of experience which intensely shapes and affects thought, sensation, and action...

     (for example, that things ultimately either do or do not exist)
  3. An explanation of Nirvana (perfect enlightenment), a state wherein it becomes clear that all dualities apparent in the world are delusory (see Seongcheol
    Seongcheol
    Seongcheol is the dharma name of a Korean Seon Master. He was a key figure in modern Korean Buddhism, being responsible for significant changes to it from the 1950s to 1990s....

    )
  4. Another term for emptiness, the ultimate nature of all phenomena (in the Mahayana
    Mahayana
    Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

     branch), a lack of inherent existence, which avoids the extremes of permanence and nihilism or inherent existence and nothingness

Nature of existence



Buddhist scholars have produced a remarkable quantity of intellectual theories, philosophies and world view concepts (see, for example, Abhidharma
Abhidharma
Abhidharma or Abhidhamma are ancient Buddhist texts which contain detailed scholastic and scientific reworkings of doctrinal material appearing in the Buddhist Sutras, according to schematic classifications...

, Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy deals extensively with problems in metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics, and epistemology.Some scholars assert that early Buddhist philosophy did not engage in ontological or metaphysical speculation, but was based instead on empirical evidence gained by the sense organs...

 and Reality in Buddhism
Reality in Buddhism
Buddhism evolved a variety of doctrinal/philosophical traditions, each with its distinct ideas of reality. The following are still regularly studied in some branches of the Buddhist tradition: Theravada, Vaibhashika, Sautrantika, Jojitsu, Madhyamika, Yogacara, tiantai, Huayan...

). Some schools of Buddhism discourage doctrinal study, and some regard it as essential, but most regard it as having a place, at least for some persons at some stages in Buddhist practice.

In the earliest Buddhist teachings, shared to some extent by all extant schools, the concept of liberation (Nirvana)—the goal of the Buddhist path—is closely related to the correct understanding of how the mind causes stress. In awakening to the true nature of clinging, one develops dispassion for the objects of clinging, and is liberated from suffering (dukkha) and the cycle of incessant rebirths (saṃsāra). To this end, the Buddha recommended viewing things as characterized by the three marks of existence
Three marks of existence
The Three marks of existence, within Buddhism, are three characteristics shared by all sentient beings, namely: impermanence ; suffering or unsatisfactoriness ; non-self .According to Buddhist tradition, a full understanding of these three can bring an end to suffering...

.

Three Marks of Existence


{{Main|Three marks of existence}}
The Three Marks of Existence are impermanence, suffering, and not-self.

Impermanence (Pāli: anicca) expresses the Buddhist notion that all compounded or conditioned phenomena
Sankhara
' or ' is a term figuring prominently in the teaching of the Buddha. The word means "that which has been put together" and "that which puts together". In the first sense, refers to conditioned phenomena generally but specifically to all mental "dispositions"...

 (all things and experiences) are inconstant, unsteady, and impermanent. Everything we can experience through our senses is made up of parts, and its existence is dependent on external conditions. Everything is in constant flux, and so conditions and the thing itself are constantly changing. Things are constantly coming into being, and ceasing to be. Since nothing lasts, there is no inherent or fixed nature to any object or experience. According to the doctrine of impermanence, life embodies this flux in the aging process, the cycle of rebirth (saṃsāra), and in any experience of loss. The doctrine asserts that because things are impermanent, attachment to them is futile and leads to suffering (dukkha).

Suffering (Pāli: दुक्ख dukkha; Sanskrit दुःख {{IAST|duḥkha}}) is also a central concept in Buddhism. The word roughly corresponds to a number of terms in English including suffering
Suffering
Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, is an individual's basic affective experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with harm or threat of harm. Suffering may be qualified as physical or mental. It may come in all degrees of intensity, from mild to intolerable. Factors of duration and...

, pain
Pain
Pain is an unpleasant sensation often caused by intense or damaging stimuli such as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting iodine on a cut, and bumping the "funny bone."...

, unsatisfactoriness, sorrow, affliction, anxiety
Anxiety
Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness,...

, dissatisfaction, discomfort, anguish
Anguish
Anguish is a term used in philosophy, often as a translation from the German Angst. It is a paramount feature of existentialist philosophy, in which anguish is often understood as the experience of an utterly free being in a world with zero absolutes...

, stress
Stress (medicine)
Stress is a term in psychology and biology, borrowed from physics and engineering and first used in the biological context in the 1930s, which has in more recent decades become commonly used in popular parlance...

, misery, and frustration
Frustration
This article concerns the field of psychology. The term frustration does, however, also concern physics. In this context, the term is treated in a different article, geometric frustration....

. Although the term is often translated as "suffering", its philosophical meaning is more analogous to "disquietude" as in the condition of being disturbed. As such, "suffering" is too narrow a translation with "negative emotional connotations" which can give the impression that the Buddhist view is one of pessimism
Pessimism
Pessimism, from the Latin word pessimus , is a state of mind in which one perceives life negatively. Value judgments may vary dramatically between individuals, even when judgments of fact are undisputed. The most common example of this phenomenon is the "Is the glass half empty or half full?"...

, but Buddhism seeks to be neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but realistic. In English-language Buddhist literature translated from Pāli, "dukkha" is often left untranslated, so as to encompass its full range of meaning.

Not-self (Pāli: anatta
Anatta
In Buddhism, anattā or anātman refers to the notion of "not-self." In the early texts, the Buddha commonly uses the word in the context of teaching that all things perceived by the senses are not really "I" or "mine," and for this reason one should not cling to them.In the same vein, the Pali...

; Sanskrit: anātman) is the third mark of existence. Upon careful examination, one finds that no phenomenon is really "I" or "mine"; these concepts are in fact constructed by the mind. In the Nikayas anatta is not meant as a metaphysical assertion, but as an approach for gaining release from suffering. In fact, the Buddha rejected both of the metaphysical assertions "I have a Self
Atman (Hinduism)
Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means 'self'. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism it refers to one's true self beyond identification with phenomena...

" and "I have no Self" as ontological
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

 views
View (Buddhism)
View or position is a central idea in Buddhism. In Buddhist thought, in contrast with the commonsense understanding, a view is not a simple, abstract collection of propositions, but a charged interpretation of experience which intensely shapes and affects thought, sensation, and action...

 that bind one to suffering. When asked if the self was identical with the body, the Buddha refused to answer
Fourteen unanswerable questions
The phrase fourteen unanswerable questions , in Buddhism, refers to fourteen common philosophical questions that Buddha refused to answer, according to Buddhist Sanskrit texts...

. By analyzing the constantly changing physical and mental constituents (skandha
Skandha
In Buddhist phenomenology and soteriology, the skandhas or khandhas are any of five types of phenomena that serve as objects of clinging and bases for a sense of self...

s) of a person or object, the practitioner comes to the conclusion that neither the respective parts nor the person as a whole comprise a self.

Dependent arising


{{Main|Pratītyasamutpāda}}
The doctrine of pratītyasamutpāda (Sanskrit; Pali: paticcasamuppāda; Tibetan: rten.cing.'brel.bar.'byung.ba; Chinese: 緣起) is an important part of Buddhist metaphysics. It states that phenomena arise together in a mutually interdependent web of cause and effect. It is variously rendered into English as "dependent origination", "conditioned genesis", "dependent co-arising", "interdependent arising", or "contingency".

The best-known application of the concept of pratītyasamutpāda is the scheme of Twelve Nidānas
Twelve Nidanas
The Twelve Nidānas are the best-known application of the Buddhist concept of pratītyasamutpāda , identifying the origins of dukkha to be in tanha and avijja...

 (from Pāli "nidāna" meaning "cause, foundation, source or origin"), which explain the continuation of the cycle of suffering and rebirth (saṃsāra) in detail.

{{Main|Twelve Nidānas}}
The Twelve Nidānas describe a causal connection between the subsequent characteristics or conditions of cyclic existence, each one giving rise to the next:
  1. Avidyā: ignorance, specifically spiritual ignorance of the nature of reality
  2. Saṃskāras: literally formations, explained as referring to karma
    Karma
    Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

  3. Vijñāna: consciousness
    Consciousness
    Consciousness is a term that refers to the relationship between the mind and the world with which it interacts. It has been defined as: subjectivity, awareness, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind...

    , specifically discriminative
  4. Nāmarūpa: literally name and form, referring to mind and body
  5. Ṣaḍāyatana: the six sense bases: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind-organ
  6. Sparśa: variously translated contact, impression, stimulation (by a sense object)
  7. Vedanā: usually translated feeling: this is the "hedonic tone", i.e. whether something is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral
  8. Tṛṣṇā: literally thirst, but in Buddhism nearly always used to mean craving
  9. Upādāna: clinging or grasping; the word also means fuel, which feeds the continuing cycle of rebirth
  10. Bhava: literally being (existence) or becoming. (The Theravada explains this as having two meanings: karma, which produces a new existence, and the existence itself.)
  11. Jāti: literally birth, but life is understood as starting at conception
  12. Jarāmaraṇa: (old age and death) and also śokaparidevaduḥkhadaurmanasyopāyāsa (sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and misery)


Sentient beings always suffer throughout saṃsāra, until they free themselves from this suffering by attaining Nirvana. Then the absence of the first Nidāna—ignorance—leads to the absence of the others.

Emptiness


{{Main|Śūnyatā}}
Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 Buddhism received significant theoretical grounding from Nagarjuna
Nagarjuna
Nāgārjuna was an important Buddhist teacher and philosopher. Along with his disciple Āryadeva, he is credited with founding the Mādhyamaka school of Mahāyāna Buddhism...

 (perhaps c. 150–250 CE), arguably the most influential scholar within the Mahayana tradition. Nagarjuna's primary contribution to Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy deals extensively with problems in metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics, and epistemology.Some scholars assert that early Buddhist philosophy did not engage in ontological or metaphysical speculation, but was based instead on empirical evidence gained by the sense organs...

 was the systematic exposition of the concept of śūnyatā, or "emptiness", widely attested in the Prajñāpāramitā
Prajnaparamita
Prajñāpāramitā in Buddhism, means "the Perfection of Wisdom." The word Prajñāpāramitā combines the Sanskrit words prajñā with pāramitā . Prajñāpāramitā is a central concept in Mahāyāna Buddhism and its practice and understanding are taken to be indispensable elements of the Bodhisattva Path...

 sutras which were emergent in his era. The concept of emptiness brings together other key Buddhist doctrines, particularly anatta and pratītyasamutpāda (dependent origination), to refute the metaphysics of Sarvastivada
Sarvastivada
The Sarvāstivāda were an early school of Buddhism that held to 'the existence of all dharmas in the past, present and future, the 'three times'. Vasubandhu's states:-Name:...

 and Sautrantika (extinct non-Mahayana schools). For Nagarjuna, it is not merely sentient beings that are empty of ātman
Atman (Buddhism)
The word Ātman or Atta refers to a self. Occasionally the terms "soul" or "ego" are also used. The words ātman and atta derive from the Indo-European root *ēt-men and are cognate with the Old English æthm and German Atem....

; all phenomena (dharmas) are without any svabhava
Svabhava
Svabhava Pāli: sabhāva; Chinese: 自性 zìxìng; ) is intrinsic nature, essential nature or essence.The concept and term svabhāva are frequently encountered in Dharmic traditions such as Advaita Vedānta , Mahāyāna Buddhism Svabhava (Sanskrit: स्वभाव; IAST: svabhāva) Pāli: sabhāva; Chinese: 自性 zìxìng; )...

 (literally "own-nature" or "self-nature"), and thus without any underlying essence; they are "empty" of being independent; thus the heterodox theories of svabhava circulating at the time were refuted on the basis of the doctrines of early Buddhism. Nagarjuna's school of thought is known as the Mādhyamaka
Madhyamaka
Madhyamaka refers primarily to a Mahāyāna Buddhist school of Buddhist philosophy systematized by Nāgārjuna. Nāgārjuna may have arrived at his positions from a desire to achieve a consistent exegesis of the Buddha's doctrine as recorded in the āgamas...

. Some of the writings attributed to Nagarjuna made explicit references to Mahayana texts, but his philosophy was argued within the parameters set out by the agamas. He may have arrived at his positions from a desire to achieve a consistent exegesis
Exegesis
Exegesis is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text, and the term "Biblical exegesis" is used...

 of the Buddha's doctrine as recorded in the Canon. In the eyes of Nagarjuna the Buddha was not merely a forerunner, but the very founder of the Mādhyamaka system.

Sarvastivada teachings—which were criticized by Nāgārjuna—were reformulated by scholars such as Vasubandhu
Vasubandhu
Vasubandhu was an Indian Buddhist monk, and along with his half-brother Asanga, one of the main founders of the Indian Yogācāra school. However, some scholars consider Vasubandhu to be two distinct people. Vasubandhu is one of the most influential figures in the entire history of Buddhism...

 and Asanga
Asanga
Asaṅga was a major exponent of the Yogācāra tradition in India, also called Vijñānavāda. Traditionally, he and his half-brother Vasubandhu are regarded as the founders of this school...

 and were adapted into the Yogacara
Yogacara
Yogācāra is an influential school of Buddhist philosophy and psychology emphasizing phenomenology and ontology through the interior lens of meditative and yogic practices. It developed within Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism in about the 4th century CE...

 (Sanskrit: yoga practice) school. While the Mādhyamaka school held that asserting the existence or non-existence of any ultimately real thing was inappropriate, some exponents of Yogacara asserted that the mind and only the mind is ultimately real (a doctrine known as cittamatra). Not all Yogacarins asserted that mind was truly existent; Vasubandhu and Asanga in particular did not. These two schools of thought, in opposition or synthesis, form the basis of subsequent Mahayana metaphysics in the Indo-Tibetan tradition.

Besides emptiness, Mahayana schools often place emphasis on the notions of perfected spiritual insight (prajñāpāramitā
Prajnaparamita
Prajñāpāramitā in Buddhism, means "the Perfection of Wisdom." The word Prajñāpāramitā combines the Sanskrit words prajñā with pāramitā . Prajñāpāramitā is a central concept in Mahāyāna Buddhism and its practice and understanding are taken to be indispensable elements of the Bodhisattva Path...

) and Buddha-nature (tathāgatagarbha). There are conflicting interpretations of the tathāgatagarbha in Mahāyāna thought. The idea may be traced to Abhidharma
Abhidharma
Abhidharma or Abhidhamma are ancient Buddhist texts which contain detailed scholastic and scientific reworkings of doctrinal material appearing in the Buddhist Sutras, according to schematic classifications...

, and ultimately to statements of the Buddha in the Nikāyas. In Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, according to the Sakya
Sakya
The Sakya school is one of four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the others being the Nyingma, Kagyu, and Gelug...

 school, tathāgatagarbha is the inseparability of the clarity and emptiness of one's mind. In Nyingma
Nyingma
The Nyingma tradition is the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism . "Nyingma" literally means "ancient," and is often referred to as Nga'gyur or the "old school" because it is founded on the first translations of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Tibetan, in the eighth century...

, tathāgatagarbha also generally refers to inseparability of the clarity and emptiness of one's mind. According to the Gelug
Gelug
The Gelug or Gelug-pa , also known as the Yellow Hat sect, is a school of Buddhism founded by Je Tsongkhapa , a philosopher and Tibetan religious leader...

 school, it is the potential for sentient beings to awaken since they are empty (i.e. dependently originated). According to the Jonang
Jonang
The Jonang is one of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Its origins in Tibet can be traced to early 12th century master Yumo Mikyo Dorje, but became much wider known with the help of Dolpopa Sherab Gyeltsen, a monk originally trained in the Sakya school...

 school, it refers to the innate qualities of the mind which expresses itself in terms of omniscience etc. when adventitious obscurations are removed. The "Tathāgatagarbha Sutras" are a collection of Mahayana sutras which present a unique model of Buddha-nature. Even though this collection was generally ignored in India, East Asian Buddhism provides some significance to these texts.

Liberation



Nirvana


{{Main|Nirvana (concept)}}
Nirvana (Sanskrit; Pali: "Nibbana") means "cessation", "extinction" (of craving
Tanha
' or ' literally means "thirst," and is a synonym for "desire" or "craving," traditionally juxtaposed with upekkha .Synonyms:*愛 Cn: ài; Vi: ái...

 and ignorance and therefore suffering
Dukkha
Dukkha is a Pali term roughly corresponding to a number of terms in English including suffering, pain, discontent, unsatisfactoriness, unhappiness, sorrow, affliction, social alienation, anxiety,...

 and the cycle of involuntary rebirths (saṃsāra
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

)), "extinguished", "quieted", "calmed"; it is also known as "Awakening" or "Enlightenment" in the West. The term for anybody who has achieved nirvana, including the Buddha, is arahant.

Bodhi
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

 (Pāli and Sanskrit, in devanagari
Devanagari
Devanagari |deva]]" and "nāgarī" ), also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

: बॊधि) is a term applied to the experience of Awakening of arahants. Bodhi literally means "awakening", but it is more commonly translated into English as "enlightenment". In Early Buddhism
Early Buddhism
The term Early Buddhism can refer to:* Pre-sectarian Buddhism, which refers to the Teachings and monastic organization and structure, founded by Gautama Buddha....

, bodhi carried a meaning synonymous to nirvana, using only some different metaphors to describe the experience, which implies the extinction of raga (greed, craving), dosa (hate, aversion) and moha (delusion). In the later school of Mahayana Buddhism, the status of nirvana was downgraded in some scriptures, coming to refer only to the extinction of greed and hate, implying that delusion was still present in one who attained nirvana, and that one needed to attain bodhi to eradicate delusion:

{{Quote|An important development in the Mahayana [was] that it came to separate nirvana from bodhi ('awakening' to the truth, Enlightenment), and to put a lower value on the former (Gombrich, 1992d). Originally nirvana and bodhi refer to the same thing; they merely use different metaphors for the experience. But the Mahayana tradition separated them and considered that nirvana referred only to the extinction of craving (passion and hatred), with the resultant escape from the cycle of rebirth. This interpretation ignores the third fire, delusion: the extinction of delusion is of course in the early texts identical with what can be positively expressed as gnosis
Gnosis
Gnosis is the common Greek noun for knowledge . In the context of the English language gnosis generally refers to the word's meaning within the spheres of Christian mysticism, Mystery religions and Gnosticism where it signifies 'spiritual knowledge' in the sense of mystical enlightenment.-Related...

, Enlightenment.|Richard F. Gombrich|How Buddhism Began}}

Therefore, according to Mahayana Buddhism, the arahant has attained only nirvana, thus still being subject to delusion, while the bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

 not only achieves nirvana but full liberation from delusion as well. He thus attains bodhi and becomes a buddha. In Theravada Buddhism, bodhi and nirvana carry the same meaning as in the early texts, that of being freed from greed, hate and delusion.

The term parinirvana
Parinirvana
In Buddhism, parinirvana is the final nirvana, which occurs upon the death of the body of someone who has attained complete awakening...

 is also encountered in Buddhism, and this generally refers to the complete nirvana attained by the arhat at the moment of death, when the physical body expires.

Buddhas



{{Main|Buddhahood}}
Theravada

In Theravada doctrine, a person may awaken from the "sleep of ignorance" by directly realizing the true nature of reality
Reality in Buddhism
Buddhism evolved a variety of doctrinal/philosophical traditions, each with its distinct ideas of reality. The following are still regularly studied in some branches of the Buddhist tradition: Theravada, Vaibhashika, Sautrantika, Jojitsu, Madhyamika, Yogacara, tiantai, Huayan...

; such people are called arahants and occasionally buddhas. After numerous lifetimes of spiritual striving, they have reached the end of the cycle of rebirth, no longer reincarnating as human, animal, ghost, or other being. The commentaries to the Pali Canon classify these awakened beings into three types:
  • Sammasambuddha
    Buddhahood
    In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

    , usually just called Buddha, who discovers the truth by himself and teaches the path to awakening to others
  • Paccekabuddha
    Pratyekabuddha
    A Pratyekabuddha or Paccekabuddha , literally "a lone buddha" , "a buddha on their own" or "a private buddha", is one of three types of enlightened beings according to some schools of Buddhism. The other two types are the Śrāvakabuddhas and Samyaksambuddhas...

    , who discovers the truth by himself but lacks the skill to teach others
  • Savakabuddha
    Savakabuddha
    Sāvakabuddha is a term used rarely in Theravada Buddhism to refer to an enlightened disciple of a Buddha. Such disciples are enlightened individuals who gain by hearing the Dhamma as initially taught by a Sammasambuddha...

    , who receive the truth directly or indirectly from a Sammasambuddha


Bodhi and nirvana carry the same meaning, that of being freed from craving, hate, and delusion. In attaining bodhi, the arahant has overcome these obstacles. As a further distinction, the extinction of only hatred and greed (in the sensory context) with some residue of delusion, is called anagami
Anagami
In Buddhism, an anāgāmi is a partially enlightened person who has cut off the first five chains that bind the ordinary mind. Anagami-ship is the third of the four stages of enlightenment....

.
Mahayana

In the Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

, the Buddha tends not to be viewed as merely human, but as the earthly projection of a beginningless and endless, omnipresent being (see Dharmakaya
Dharmakaya
The Dharmakāya is a central idea in Mahayana Buddhism forming part of the Trikaya doctrine that was possibly first expounded in the Aṣṭasāhasrikā prajñā-pāramitā , composed in the 1st century BCE...

) beyond the range and reach of thought. Moreover, in certain Mahayana sutras, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are viewed essentially as One: all three are seen as the eternal Buddha
Eternal Buddha
The idea of an eternal Buddha is a notion popularly associated with the Mahayana scripture, the Lotus Sutra, and is also found in other Mahayana sutras.- The Eternal Buddha in the Lotus Sutra and Other Mahayana Sutras :...

 himself.

Celestial Buddhas are individuals who no longer exist on the material plane of existence, but who still aid in the enlightenment of all beings.

Nirvana came to refer only to the extinction of greed and hate,{{Dubious|date=November 2009}} implying that delusion was still present in one who attained Nirvana. Bodhi became a higher attainment that eradicates delusion entirely. Thus, the Arahant attains Nirvana but not Bodhi, thus still being subject to delusion, while the Buddha
Buddhahood
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

 attains Bodhi.{{Dubious|date=November 2009}}
Buddh redirects here, for the Race Circuit, see Buddh International Circuit


{{Buddhism}}
Buddhism (Pali
Pali language
Pāli is a Middle Indo-Aryan language of the Indian subcontinent. It is best known as the language of many of the earliest extant Buddhist scriptures, as collected in the Pāi Canon or Tipitaka, and as the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism.-Etymology of the name:The word Pali itself...

/{{lang-sa|बौद्ध धर्म}} Bauddha Dharma) is a religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 and philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

, commonly known as the Buddha
Buddhahood
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

 (Pāli
Páli
- External links :* *...

/Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 "the awakened one"). The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 some time between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

 or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings
Sentient beings (Buddhism)
Sentient beings is a technical term in Buddhist discourse. Broadly speaking, it denotes beings with consciousness or sentience or, in some contexts, life itself. Specifically, it denotes the presence of the five aggregates, or skandhas...

 end ignorance (avidyā
Avidya (Buddhism)
Avidyā or avijjā means "ignorance" or "delusion" and is the opposite of 'vidyā' and 'rig pa'...

) of dependent origination, thus escaping what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth
Samsara (Buddhism)
or sangsara is a Sanskrit and Pāli term, which translates as "continuous movement" or "continuous flowing" and, in Buddhism, refers to the concept of a cycle of birth , and consequent decay and death , in which all beings in the universe participate, and which can only be escaped through...

.

Two major branches of Buddhism are recognized: Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 ("The School of the Elders") and Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 ("The Great Vehicle"). Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 and Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

. Mahayana is found throughout East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

 and includes the traditions of Pure Land
Pure land
A pure land, in Mahayana Buddhism, is the celestial realm or pure abode of a Buddha or Bodhisattva. The various traditions that focus on Pure Lands have been given the nomenclature Pure Land Buddhism. Pure lands are also evident in the literature and traditions of Taoism and Bön.The notion of 'pure...

, Zen
Zen
Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism founded by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chán , which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state."Zen...

, Nichiren Buddhism
Nichiren Buddhism
Nichiren Buddhism is a branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism based on the teachings of the 13th century Japanese monk Nichiren...

, Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, Shingon, Tiantai
Tiantai
Tiantai is an important school of Buddhism in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. In Japan the school is known as Tendai, and in Korea it is known as Cheontae. Tiantai is also called the "Lotus School", due to its emphasis on the Lotus Sūtra as its doctrinal basis...

 (Tendai
Tendai
is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism, a descendant of the Chinese Tiantai or Lotus Sutra school.Chappell frames the relevance of Tendai for a universal Buddhism:- History :...

) and Shinnyo-en. In some classifications Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

—as practiced mainly in Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 and Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

 —is recognized as a third branch, while others classify it as a part of Mahayana. There are other categorisations of these three Vehicles or Yana
Yana (Buddhism)
Yāna refers to a mode or method of spiritual practice in Buddhism, and in particular to divisions of various schools of Buddhism according to their type of practice.-Nomenclature, etymology and orthography:...

s.

While Buddhism remains most popular within Asia, both branches are now found throughout the world. Estimates of Buddhists worldwide vary significantly depending on the way Buddhist adherence is defined. Lower estimates are between 350–500 million.

Buddhist schools
Schools of Buddhism
Buddhism is an ancient, polyvalent ideological system that originated in the Iron Age Indian subcontinent, referred to variously throughout history by one or more of a myriad of concepts – including, but not limited to any of the following: a Dharmic religion, a philosophy or quasi-philosophical...

 vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures
Buddhist texts
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 authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized...

, and especially their respective practices. The cardinal doctrine of dependent origination is the only doctrine that is common to all Buddhist teachings from Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 to Dzogchen
Dzogchen
According to Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, Dzogchen is the natural, primordial state or natural condition of the mind, and a body of teachings and meditation practices aimed at realizing that condition. Dzogchen, or "Great Perfection", is a central teaching of the Nyingma school also practiced by...

 to the extinct schools. The foundations of Buddhist tradition and practice are the Three Jewels
Three Jewels
The Three Jewels, also called the Three Treasures, the Siemese Triples, Three Refuges, or the Triple Gem , are the three things that Buddhists take refuge in, and look toward for guidance, in the process known as taking refuge.The Three Jewels are:* BuddhaTaking refuge in the Three Jewels is...

: the Buddha, the Dharma
Dharma (Buddhism)
Dhamma or Dharma in Buddhism can have the following meanings:* The state of Nature as it is * The Laws of Nature considered collectively....

 (the teachings), and the Sangha
Sangha
Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...

 (the community). Taking "refuge
Refuge (Buddhism)
Buddhists "take refuge" in, or to "go for refuge" to, the Three Jewels . This can be done formally in lay and monastic ordination ceremonies.The Three Jewels general signification is: * the Buddha;* the Dharma, the teachings;...

 in the triple gem" has traditionally been a declaration and commitment to being on the Buddhist path and in general distinguishes a Buddhist from a non-Buddhist. Other practices may include following ethical precepts
Sila
Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

, support of the monastic community
Dana (Buddhism)
Dāna is generosity or giving. In Hinduism and Buddhism, it is the practice of cultivating generosity. Ultimately, the practice culminates in one of the perfections : the perfection of giving - dāna-pāramitā...

, renouncing
Nekkhamma
Nekkhamma is a Pali word generally translated as "renunciation" or "the pleasure of renunciation" while also conveying more specifically "giving up the world and leading a holy life" or "freedom from lust, craving and desires." In Buddhism's Noble Eightfold Path, nekkhamma is the first practice...

 conventional living and becoming a monastic
Buddhist monasticism
Monasticism is one of the most fundamental institutions of Buddhism. Monks and nuns are responsible for preserving and teaching Buddhist teachings and guiding Buddhist lay followers. Earlier Buddhist monks were enlightened...

, the development of mindfulness and practice of meditation
Buddhist meditation
Buddhist meditation refers to the meditative practices associated with the religion and philosophy of Buddhism.Core meditation techniques have been preserved in ancient Buddhist texts and have proliferated and diversified through teacher-student transmissions. Buddhists pursue meditation as part of...

, cultivation of higher wisdom and discernment, study of scriptures, devotional
Buddhist devotion
Buddhist devotion is an important part of the practice of most Buddhists. According to a spokesman of the Sasana Council of Burma, devotion to Buddhist spiritual practices inspires devotion to the Triple Gem...

 practices, ceremonies, and in the Mahayana tradition, invocation of buddhas and bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

s.

Life of the Buddha



{{Main|Gautama Buddha}}

The evidence of the early texts{{Which?|date=May 2011}} suggests that the Buddha was born in a community that was on the periphery, both geographically and culturally, of the northeastern Indian subcontinent in the 5th century BCE. It was either a small republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

, in which case his father was an elected chieftain, or an oligarchy
Oligarchy
Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, commercial, and/or military legitimacy...

, in which case his father was an oligarch.

According to the Theravada Tipitaka scriptures
Buddhist texts
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 authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized...

{{Which?|date=November 2010}} (from Pali, meaning "three baskets"), the Buddha was born in Lumbini
Lumbini
Lumbinī is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi district of Nepal. It is the place where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama, who as the Buddha Gautama founded the Buddhist tradition. The Buddha lived between roughly 563 and 483 BCE...

 in modern-day Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

, around the year 563 BCE, and raised in Kapilavastu
Kapilavastu
Kapilavastu is the name of a region of ancient Shakya kingdom that is considered a holy pilgrimage place for Buddhists. The search for the Buddha's birthplace following the accounts left by Xuanzang and Faxian involved various searches in the late 19th century...

.

According to this narrative, shortly after the birth of young prince Siddhartha Gautama, an astrologer
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

 visited the young prince's father—King Śuddhodana
Suddhodana
King Suddhodana was the father of Siddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha. He was a leader of the Shakya people, who lived in southern Nepal. Suddhodana's father was Sinahana...

—and prophesied that Siddhartha would either become a great king or renounce the material world to become a holy man, depending on whether he saw what life was like outside the palace walls.

Śuddhodana was determined to see his son become a king, so he prevented him from leaving the palace grounds. But at age 29, despite his father's efforts, Siddhartha ventured beyond the palace several times. In a series of encounters—known in Buddhist literature as the four sights
Four sights
The four sights were specific observations made by Prince Siddhārtha , which led to a realization. Before this, he had been confined to his palace by his father, who feared that he would become an ascetic if he came into contact with sufferings of life according to a prediction...

—he learned of the suffering of ordinary people, encountering an old man, a sick man, a corpse and, finally, an ascetic
Asceticism
Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals...

 holy man
Sadhu
In Hinduism, sādhu denotes an ascetic, wandering monk. Although the vast majority of sādhus are yogīs, not all yogīs are sādhus. The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa , the fourth and final aśrama , through meditation and contemplation of brahman...

, apparently content and at peace with the world. These experiences prompted Gautama to abandon royal life and take up a spiritual quest.

Gautama first went to study with famous religious teachers of the day, and mastered the meditative attainments they taught. But he found that they did not provide a permanent end to suffering, so he continued his quest. He next attempted an extreme asceticism, which was a religious pursuit common among the Shramana
Shramana
A shramana is a wandering monk in certain ascetic traditions of ancient India including Jainism, Buddhism, and Ājīvikism. Famous śramaṇas include Mahavira and Gautama Buddha....

s, a religious culture distinct from the Vedic one. Gautama underwent prolonged fasting, breath-holding, and exposure to pain. He almost starved himself to death in the process. He realized that he had taken this kind of practice to its limit, and had not put an end to suffering. So in a pivotal moment he accepted milk and rice from a village girl and changed his approach. He devoted himself to anapanasati
Anapanasati
Ānāpānasati , meaning 'mindfulness of breathing' , is a form of Buddhist meditation now common to the Tibetan, Zen, Tiantai, and Theravada schools of Buddhism, as well as western-based mindfulness programs.According to tradition, Anapanasati was...

 meditation, through which he discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way
Middle way
The Middle Way or Middle Path is the descriptive term that Siddhartha Gautama used to describe the character of the path he discovered that led to liberation. It was coined in the very first teaching that he delivered after his enlightenment...

 (Skt. madhyamā-pratipad): a path of moderation between the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification.
Gautama was now determined to complete his spiritual quest. At the age of 35, he famously sat in meditation
Meditation
Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit....

 under a sacred fig
Sacred Fig
The Sacred Fig, Ficus religiosa, or Bo-Tree , Peepal is a species of banyan fig native to India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, southwest China and Indochina...

 tree — known as the Bodhi tree
Bodhi tree
The Bodhi Tree, also known as Bo , was a large and very old Sacred Fig tree located in Bodh Gaya , under which Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism later known as Gautama Buddha, is said to have achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi...

 — in the town of Bodh Gaya, India, and vowed not to rise before achieving enlightenment
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

. After many days, he finally destroyed the fetters
Fetter (Buddhism)
In Buddhism, a mental fetter, chain or bond shackles a sentient being to sasāra, the cycle of lives with dukkha. By cutting through all fetters, one attains nibbāna ....

 of his mind, thereby liberating himself from the cycle of suffering and rebirth
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

, and arose as a fully enlightened being (Skt. {{IAST|samyaksaṃbuddha}}). Soon thereafter, he attracted a band of followers and instituted a monastic order
Sangha
Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...

. Now, as the Buddha, he spent the rest of his life teaching the path of awakening
Dharma (Buddhism)
Dhamma or Dharma in Buddhism can have the following meanings:* The state of Nature as it is * The Laws of Nature considered collectively....

 he had discovered, traveling throughout the northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent, and died at the age of 80 (483 BCE) in Kushinagar
Kushinagar
Kushinagar , Kusinagar or Kusinara is a town and a nagar panchayat in Kushinagar district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, where Gautama Buddha is believed to have attained Parinirvana after his death.-Demographics: India census, Kushinagar had a...

, India. The south branch of the original fig tree only available in Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura, , is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization.The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies 205 km north of the current capital Colombo in Sri Lanka's North Central Province, on the banks of the historic...

 Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 known as Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi.

The above narrative draws on the Nidānakathā biography of the Theravāda
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 sect in Sri Lanka, which is ascribed to Buddhaghoṣa
Buddhaghosa
Bhadantācariya Buddhaghoṣa(Chinese: 覺音)was a 5th-century Indian Theravadin Buddhist commentator and scholar. His best-known work is the Visuddhimagga, or Path of Purification, a comprehensive summary and analysis of the Theravada understanding of the Buddha's path to liberation...

 in the 5th century CE. Earlier biographies such as the Buddhacarita
Buddhacarita
Buddhacharita is an epic poem in the Sanskrit mahakavya style on the life of Gautama Buddha by , composed in the 2nd century AD...

, the Lokottaravādin Mahāvastu
Mahavastu
The Mahāvastu is a text of the Lokottaravāda school of Early Buddhism. It describes itself as being a historical preface to the Buddhist monastic codes...

, and the Mahāyāna
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 / Sarvāstivāda
Sarvastivada
The Sarvāstivāda were an early school of Buddhism that held to 'the existence of all dharmas in the past, present and future, the 'three times'. Vasubandhu's states:-Name:...

 Lalitavistara Sūtra
Lalitavistara Sutra
The Lalitavistara Sutra is a Mahayana Buddhist Vaipulya sutra that describes the sports of Gautama Buddha. It is a compilation of various works by no single author and includes some material from the Sarvastivada school. The scholar P. L...

, give different accounts.

Scholars are hesitant to make unqualified claims about the historical facts of the Buddha's life. Most accept that he lived, taught and founded a monastic order but do not consistently accept all of the details contained in his biographies. According to author Michael Carrithers, while there are good reasons to doubt the traditional account, "the outline of the life must be true: birth, maturity, renunciation, search, awakening and liberation, teaching, death."

In writing her biography of Buddha, Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong FRSL , is a British author and commentator who is the author of twelve books on comparative religion. A former Roman Catholic nun, she went from a conservative to a more liberal and mystical faith...

 noted, "It is obviously difficult, therefore, to write a biography of the Buddha that will meet modern criteria, because we have very little information that can be considered historically sound... [but] we can be reasonably confident Siddhatta Gotama did indeed exist and that his disciples preserved the memory of his life and teachings as well as they could."

Buddhist concepts



{{Main|Buddhist terms and concepts}}

Life and the world



Karma


{{Main|Karma in Buddhism}}
Karma
Karma
Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

 (from Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

: "action, work") in Buddhism
Karma in Buddhism
Karma means "action" or "doing"; whatever one does, says, or thinks is a karma. In Buddhism, the term karma is used specifically for those actions which spring from the intention of an unenlightened being.These bring about a fruit or result Karma (Sanskrit, also karman, Pāli: Kamma) means...

 is the force that drives saṃsāra
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

—the cycle of suffering and rebirth for each being. Good, skillful deeds (Pāli
Páli
- External links :* *...

: "kusala") and bad, unskillful (Pāli: "akusala") actions produce "seeds" in the mind which come to fruition
Vipaka
Vipāka is a Buddhist technical term meaning the result of karma , or intentional actions.In Buddhist belief, the law of kamma-vipāka is of great importance. In a discourse the Buddha said “Intention, monks, is kamma I say...

 either in this life or in a subsequent rebirth
Rebirth (Buddhism)
Rebirth in Buddhism is the doctrine that the evolving consciousness or stream of consciousness upon death , becomes one of the contributing causes for the arising of a new aggregation...

. The avoidance of unwholesome actions and the cultivation of positive actions is called śīla
Sila
Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

 (from Sanskrit: "ethical conduct").

In Buddhism, karma specifically refers to those actions (of body, speech, and mind) that spring from mental intent ("cetana"), and which bring about a consequence (or fruit, "phala
Phala
Phala is a Sanskrit term that means “fruit” and refers to charisms in Hinduism and Buddhism. They are also known in Buddhism as Maha-phala, which are the Great fruit of the contemplative life....

") or result ("vipāka
Vipaka
Vipāka is a Buddhist technical term meaning the result of karma , or intentional actions.In Buddhist belief, the law of kamma-vipāka is of great importance. In a discourse the Buddha said “Intention, monks, is kamma I say...

").

In Theravada Buddhism there can be no divine salvation or forgiveness for one's karma, since it is a purely impersonal process that is a part of the makeup of the universe. Some Mahayana traditions hold different views. For example, the texts of certain Mahayana sutras (such as the Lotus Sutra
Lotus Sutra
The Lotus Sūtra is one of the most popular and influential Mahāyāna sūtras, and the basis on which the Tiantai and Nichiren sects of Buddhism were established.-Title:...

, the Angulimaliya Sutra
Angulimaliya Sutra
The Angulimaliya Sutra is a Buddhist scripture belonging to the Tathāgatagarbha class of sūtra, which teach that the Buddha is eternal, that the non-Self and emptiness teachings only apply to the worldly sphere , and that the tathagatagarbha is real and immanent within all beings and all phenomena...

 and the Nirvana Sutra) claim that reciting or merely hearing their texts can expunge great swathes of negative karma. Some forms of Buddhism (for example, Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

) regard the recitation of mantra
Mantra
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...

s as a means for cutting off previous negative karma. The Japanese Pure Land
Pure Land Buddhism
Pure Land Buddhism , also referred to as Amidism in English, is a broad branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism and currently one of the most popular traditions of Buddhism in East Asia. Pure Land is a branch of Buddhism focused on Amitābha Buddha...

 teacher Genshin
Genshin
Genshin , also known as Eshin Sozu, was the most influential of a number of Tendai scholars active during the tenth and eleventh centuries in Japan...

 taught that Amida Buddha has the power to destroy the karma that would otherwise bind one in saṃsāra.

Rebirth



{{Main|Rebirth (Buddhism)}}
Rebirth refers to a process whereby beings go through a succession of lifetimes as one of many possible forms of sentient
Sentience
Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive or be conscious, or to have subjective experiences. Eighteenth century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think from the ability to feel . In modern western philosophy, sentience is the ability to have sensations or experiences...

 life, each running from conception to death. Buddhism rejects the concepts of a permanent self
Self
The self is an individual person as the object of his or her own reflective consciousness. The self has been studied extensively by philosophers and psychologists and is central to many world religions.-Philosophy:...

 or an unchanging, eternal soul, as it is called in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 and Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. According to Buddhism there ultimately is no such thing as a self independent from the rest of the universe (the doctrine of anatta
Anatta
In Buddhism, anattā or anātman refers to the notion of "not-self." In the early texts, the Buddha commonly uses the word in the context of teaching that all things perceived by the senses are not really "I" or "mine," and for this reason one should not cling to them.In the same vein, the Pali...

). Rebirth in subsequent existences must be understood as the continuation of a dynamic, ever-changing process of "dependent arising" ("pratītyasamutpāda") determined by the laws of cause and effect (karma) rather than that of one being, transmigrating or incarnating
Incarnation
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

 from one existence to the next.

Each rebirth takes place within one of five realms according to Theravadins, or six
Six realms
The desire realm is one of three realms or three worlds in traditional Buddhist cosmology into which a being wandering in may be reborn. The other two are the form realm, and the formless realm The desire realm (Sanskrit kāma-dhātu) is one of three realms (Sanskrit: dhātu, Tibetan: khams) or...

 according to other schools. These are further subdivided into 31 planes of existence:
  1. Naraka beings
    Naraka (Buddhism)
    Naraka नरक or Niraya निरय is the name given to one of the worlds of greatest suffering in Buddhist cosmology.Naraka is usually translated into English as "hell", "hell realm", or "purgatory"...

    : those who live in one of many Narakas (Hells)
  2. Preta
    Preta
    Preta, प्रेत or Peta is the name for a type of being described in Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, and Jain texts that undergoes more than human suffering, particularly an extreme degree of hunger and thirst...

    : sometimes sharing some space with humans, but invisible to most people; an important variety is the hungry ghost
    Hungry ghost
    Hungry ghost is a Western translation of Chinese  , a concept in Chinese Buddhism and Chinese traditional religion representing beings who are driven by intense emotional needs in an animalistic way....

  3. Animals
    Animals in Buddhism
    The position and treatment of animals in Buddhism is important for the light it sheds on Buddhists' perception of their own relation to the natural world, on Buddhist humanitarian concerns in general, and on the relationship between Buddhist theory and Buddhist practice.-Animals in Buddhist...

    : sharing space with humans, but considered another type of life
  4. Human beings
    Human beings in Buddhism
    Humans in Buddhism are the subjects of an extensive commentarial literature that examines the nature and qualities of a human life from the point of view of humans' ability to achieve enlightenment...

    : one of the realms of rebirth in which attaining Nirvana is possible
  5. Asuras
    Asura (Buddhism)
    Asura in Buddhism is the name of the lowest ranks of the deities or demigods of the Kāmadhātu.-Origins and etymology:...

    : variously translated as lowly deities, demons, titans, antigods; not recognized by Theravāda (Mahavihara) tradition as a separate realm
  6. Devas
    Deva (Buddhism)
    A deva in Buddhism is one of many different types of non-human beings who share the characteristics of being more powerful, longer-lived, and, in general, living more contentedly than the average human being....

     including Brahmas
    Brahma (Buddhism)
    ' in Buddhism is the name for a type of exalted passionless deity , of which there are several in Buddhist cosmology.-Origins:The name originates in Vedic tradition, in which Brahmā appears as the creator of the universe...

    : variously translated as gods, deities, spirits, angels, or left untranslated


Rebirths in some of the higher heavens, known as the Śuddhāvāsa Worlds (Pure Abodes), can be attained only by skilled Buddhist practitioners known as anāgāmi
Anagami
In Buddhism, an anāgāmi is a partially enlightened person who has cut off the first five chains that bind the ordinary mind. Anagami-ship is the third of the four stages of enlightenment....

s (non-returners). Rebirths in the arupa-dhatu (formless realms) can be attained only by those who can meditate on the arūpajhāna
Arupajhana
In Buddhism, the arūpajhānas or "formless meditations" are four successive levels of meditation on non-material objects. These levels are higher than the rūpajhānas, and harder to attain...

s, the highest object of meditation.

According to East Asian and Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, there is an intermediate state
Bardo
The Tibetan word Bardo means literally "intermediate state" - also translated as "transitional state" or "in-between state" or "liminal state". In Sanskrit the concept has the name antarabhāva...

 (Tibetan
Tibetan language
The Tibetan languages are a cluster of mutually-unintelligible Tibeto-Burman languages spoken primarily by Tibetan peoples who live across a wide area of eastern Central Asia bordering the Indian subcontinent, including the Tibetan Plateau and the northern Indian subcontinent in Baltistan, Ladakh,...

 "Bardo") between one life and the next. The orthodox Theravada position rejects this; however there are passages in the Samyutta Nikaya
Samyutta Nikaya
The Samyutta Nikaya is a Buddhist scripture, the third of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka, which is one of the "three baskets" that compose the Pali Tipitaka of Theravada Buddhism. Because of the abbreviated way parts of the text are written, the total number of suttas is...

 of the Pali Canon
Pāli Canon
The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language. It is the only completely surviving early Buddhist canon, and one of the first to be written down...

 (the collection of texts on which the Theravada tradition is based), that seem to lend support to the idea that the Buddha taught of an intermediate stage between one life and the next.

Saṃsāra


{{Main|Saṃsāra (Buddhism)}}
Sentient beings crave pleasure and are averse to pain from birth to death. In being controlled by these attitudes, they perpetuate the cycle of conditioned existence and suffering (saṃsāra), and produce the causes and conditions of the next rebirth after death. Each rebirth repeats this process in an involuntary cycle, which Buddhists strive to end by eradicating these causes and conditions, applying the methods laid out by the Buddha and subsequent Buddhists.

The Four Noble Truths



{{Main|Four Noble Truths}}
According to the Pali Tipitaka and the Āgamas of other early Buddhist schools
Early Buddhist schools
The early Buddhist schools are those schools into which, according to most scholars, the Buddhist monastic saṅgha initially split, due originally to differences in vinaya, and later also due to doctrinal differences and geographical separation of groups of monks.The original saṅgha split into the...

, the Four Noble Truths were the first teaching of Gautama Buddha after attaining Nirvana. They are sometimes considered to contain the essence of the Buddha's teachings:
  1. Life as we know it ultimately is or leads to suffering/uneasiness (dukkha
    Dukkha
    Dukkha is a Pali term roughly corresponding to a number of terms in English including suffering, pain, discontent, unsatisfactoriness, unhappiness, sorrow, affliction, social alienation, anxiety,...

    ) in one way or another.
  2. Suffering is caused by craving
    Tanha
    ' or ' literally means "thirst," and is a synonym for "desire" or "craving," traditionally juxtaposed with upekkha .Synonyms:*愛 Cn: ài; Vi: ái...

    . This is often expressed as a deluded clinging to a certain sense of existence, to selfhood, or to the things or phenomena that we consider the cause of happiness or unhappiness. Craving also has its negative aspect, i.e. one craves that a certain state of affairs not exist.
  3. Suffering ends when craving ends. This is achieved by eliminating delusion, thereby reaching a liberated state of Enlightenment (bodhi
    Bodhi
    Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

    );
  4. Reaching this liberated state is achieved by following the path
    Noble Eightfold Path
    The Noble Eightfold Path , is one of the principal teachings of the Buddha, who described it as the way leading to the cessation of suffering and the achievement of self-awakening. It is used to develop insight into the true nature of phenomena and to eradicate greed, hatred, and delusion...

     laid out by the Buddha.


This method is described by early Western scholars, and taught as an introduction to Buddhism by some contemporary Mahayana teachers (for example, the Dalai Lama
14th Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama is the 14th and current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are the most influential figures in the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, although the 14th has consolidated control over the other lineages in recent years...

).

According to other interpretations by Buddhist teachers and scholars, lately recognized by some Western non-Buddhist scholars, the "truths" do not represent mere statements, but are categories or aspects that most worldly phenomena fall into, grouped in two:
  1. Suffering and causes of suffering
  2. Cessation and the paths towards liberation from suffering.


Thus, according to the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism they are
  1. "The noble truth that is suffering"
  2. "The noble truth that is the arising of suffering"
  3. "The noble truth that is the end of suffering"
  4. "The noble truth that is the way leading to the end of suffering"


The traditional Theravada understanding is that the Four Noble Truths are an advanced teaching for those who are ready for them. The East Asian Mahayana position is that they are a preliminary teaching for people not yet ready for the higher and more expansive Mahayana teachings.

The Noble Eightfold Path


{{Main|Noble Eightfold Path}}

The Noble Eightfold Path
Noble Eightfold Path
The Noble Eightfold Path , is one of the principal teachings of the Buddha, who described it as the way leading to the cessation of suffering and the achievement of self-awakening. It is used to develop insight into the true nature of phenomena and to eradicate greed, hatred, and delusion...

—the fourth of the Buddha's Noble Truths
Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths are an important principle in Buddhism, classically taught by the Buddha in the Dharmacakra Pravartana Sūtra....

—is the way to the cessation of suffering (dukkha). It has eight sections, each starting with the word "samyak" (Sanskrit, meaning "correctly", "properly", or "well", frequently translated into English as "right"), and presented in three groups known as the three higher trainings. (NB: Pāli transliterations appear in brackets after Sanskrit ones):
  • Prajñā
    Prajña
    Prajñā or paññā is wisdom, understanding, discernment or cognitive acuity. Such wisdom is understood to exist in the universal flux of being and can be intuitively experienced through meditation...

    is the wisdom that purifies the mind, allowing it to attain spiritual insight into the true nature of all things. It includes:
  1. {{unicode|dṛṣṭi}} (ditthi): viewing reality as it is, not just as it appears to be.
  2. {{unicode|saṃkalpa}} (sankappa): intention of renunciation, freedom and harmlessness.
    • Śīla
      Sila
      Śīla or sīla in Buddhism and its non-sectarian offshoots, is a code of conduct that embraces self-restraint with a value on non-harming. It has been variously described as virtue, good conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort...

      is the ethics or morality, or abstention from unwholesome deeds. It includes:
  3. {{unicode|vāc}} (vāca): speaking in a truthful and non-hurtful way
  4. {{unicode|karman}} (kammanta): acting in a non-harmful way
  5. {{unicode|ājīvana}} (ājīva): a non-harmful livelihood
    • Samādhi
      Samadhi
      Samadhi in Hinduism, Buddhism,Jainism, Sikhism and yogic schools is a higher level of concentrated meditation, or dhyāna. In the yoga tradition, it is the eighth and final limb identified in the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali....

      is the mental discipline required to develop mastery over one's own mind. This is done through the practice of various contemplative and meditative practices, and includes:
  6. {{unicode|vyāyāma}} (vāyāma): making an effort to improve
  7. {{unicode|smṛti}} (sati): awareness to see things for what they are with clear consciousness, being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion
  8. {{unicode|samādhi}} (samādhi): correct meditation or concentration, explained as the first four jhānas


The practice of the Eightfold Path is understood in two ways, as requiring either simultaneous development (all eight items practiced in parallel), or as a progressive series of stages through which the practitioner moves, the culmination of one leading to the beginning of another.

The Middle Way


{{Main|Middle Way}}
An important guiding principle of Buddhist practice is the Middle Way
Middle way
The Middle Way or Middle Path is the descriptive term that Siddhartha Gautama used to describe the character of the path he discovered that led to liberation. It was coined in the very first teaching that he delivered after his enlightenment...

 (or Middle Path), which is said to have been discovered by Gautama Buddha prior to his enlightenment. The Middle Way has several definitions:
  1. The practice of non-extremism: a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification
  2. The middle ground between certain metaphysical
    Metaphysics
    Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

     views
    View (Buddhism)
    View or position is a central idea in Buddhism. In Buddhist thought, in contrast with the commonsense understanding, a view is not a simple, abstract collection of propositions, but a charged interpretation of experience which intensely shapes and affects thought, sensation, and action...

     (for example, that things ultimately either do or do not exist)
  3. An explanation of Nirvana (perfect enlightenment), a state wherein it becomes clear that all dualities apparent in the world are delusory (see Seongcheol
    Seongcheol
    Seongcheol is the dharma name of a Korean Seon Master. He was a key figure in modern Korean Buddhism, being responsible for significant changes to it from the 1950s to 1990s....

    )
  4. Another term for emptiness, the ultimate nature of all phenomena (in the Mahayana
    Mahayana
    Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

     branch), a lack of inherent existence, which avoids the extremes of permanence and nihilism or inherent existence and nothingness

Nature of existence



Buddhist scholars have produced a remarkable quantity of intellectual theories, philosophies and world view concepts (see, for example, Abhidharma
Abhidharma
Abhidharma or Abhidhamma are ancient Buddhist texts which contain detailed scholastic and scientific reworkings of doctrinal material appearing in the Buddhist Sutras, according to schematic classifications...

, Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy deals extensively with problems in metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics, and epistemology.Some scholars assert that early Buddhist philosophy did not engage in ontological or metaphysical speculation, but was based instead on empirical evidence gained by the sense organs...

 and Reality in Buddhism
Reality in Buddhism
Buddhism evolved a variety of doctrinal/philosophical traditions, each with its distinct ideas of reality. The following are still regularly studied in some branches of the Buddhist tradition: Theravada, Vaibhashika, Sautrantika, Jojitsu, Madhyamika, Yogacara, tiantai, Huayan...

). Some schools of Buddhism discourage doctrinal study, and some regard it as essential, but most regard it as having a place, at least for some persons at some stages in Buddhist practice.

In the earliest Buddhist teachings, shared to some extent by all extant schools, the concept of liberation (Nirvana)—the goal of the Buddhist path—is closely related to the correct understanding of how the mind causes stress. In awakening to the true nature of clinging, one develops dispassion for the objects of clinging, and is liberated from suffering (dukkha) and the cycle of incessant rebirths (saṃsāra). To this end, the Buddha recommended viewing things as characterized by the three marks of existence
Three marks of existence
The Three marks of existence, within Buddhism, are three characteristics shared by all sentient beings, namely: impermanence ; suffering or unsatisfactoriness ; non-self .According to Buddhist tradition, a full understanding of these three can bring an end to suffering...

.

Three Marks of Existence


{{Main|Three marks of existence}}
The Three Marks of Existence are impermanence, suffering, and not-self.

Impermanence (Pāli: anicca) expresses the Buddhist notion that all compounded or conditioned phenomena
Sankhara
' or ' is a term figuring prominently in the teaching of the Buddha. The word means "that which has been put together" and "that which puts together". In the first sense, refers to conditioned phenomena generally but specifically to all mental "dispositions"...

 (all things and experiences) are inconstant, unsteady, and impermanent. Everything we can experience through our senses is made up of parts, and its existence is dependent on external conditions. Everything is in constant flux, and so conditions and the thing itself are constantly changing. Things are constantly coming into being, and ceasing to be. Since nothing lasts, there is no inherent or fixed nature to any object or experience. According to the doctrine of impermanence, life embodies this flux in the aging process, the cycle of rebirth (saṃsāra), and in any experience of loss. The doctrine asserts that because things are impermanent, attachment to them is futile and leads to suffering (dukkha).

Suffering (Pāli: दुक्ख dukkha; Sanskrit दुःख {{IAST|duḥkha}}) is also a central concept in Buddhism. The word roughly corresponds to a number of terms in English including suffering
Suffering
Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, is an individual's basic affective experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with harm or threat of harm. Suffering may be qualified as physical or mental. It may come in all degrees of intensity, from mild to intolerable. Factors of duration and...

, pain
Pain
Pain is an unpleasant sensation often caused by intense or damaging stimuli such as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting iodine on a cut, and bumping the "funny bone."...

, unsatisfactoriness, sorrow, affliction, anxiety
Anxiety
Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness,...

, dissatisfaction, discomfort, anguish
Anguish
Anguish is a term used in philosophy, often as a translation from the German Angst. It is a paramount feature of existentialist philosophy, in which anguish is often understood as the experience of an utterly free being in a world with zero absolutes...

, stress
Stress (medicine)
Stress is a term in psychology and biology, borrowed from physics and engineering and first used in the biological context in the 1930s, which has in more recent decades become commonly used in popular parlance...

, misery, and frustration
Frustration
This article concerns the field of psychology. The term frustration does, however, also concern physics. In this context, the term is treated in a different article, geometric frustration....

. Although the term is often translated as "suffering", its philosophical meaning is more analogous to "disquietude" as in the condition of being disturbed. As such, "suffering" is too narrow a translation with "negative emotional connotations" which can give the impression that the Buddhist view is one of pessimism
Pessimism
Pessimism, from the Latin word pessimus , is a state of mind in which one perceives life negatively. Value judgments may vary dramatically between individuals, even when judgments of fact are undisputed. The most common example of this phenomenon is the "Is the glass half empty or half full?"...

, but Buddhism seeks to be neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but realistic. In English-language Buddhist literature translated from Pāli, "dukkha" is often left untranslated, so as to encompass its full range of meaning.

Not-self (Pāli: anatta
Anatta
In Buddhism, anattā or anātman refers to the notion of "not-self." In the early texts, the Buddha commonly uses the word in the context of teaching that all things perceived by the senses are not really "I" or "mine," and for this reason one should not cling to them.In the same vein, the Pali...

; Sanskrit: anātman) is the third mark of existence. Upon careful examination, one finds that no phenomenon is really "I" or "mine"; these concepts are in fact constructed by the mind. In the Nikayas anatta is not meant as a metaphysical assertion, but as an approach for gaining release from suffering. In fact, the Buddha rejected both of the metaphysical assertions "I have a Self
Atman (Hinduism)
Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means 'self'. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism it refers to one's true self beyond identification with phenomena...

" and "I have no Self" as ontological
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

 views
View (Buddhism)
View or position is a central idea in Buddhism. In Buddhist thought, in contrast with the commonsense understanding, a view is not a simple, abstract collection of propositions, but a charged interpretation of experience which intensely shapes and affects thought, sensation, and action...

 that bind one to suffering. When asked if the self was identical with the body, the Buddha refused to answer
Fourteen unanswerable questions
The phrase fourteen unanswerable questions , in Buddhism, refers to fourteen common philosophical questions that Buddha refused to answer, according to Buddhist Sanskrit texts...

. By analyzing the constantly changing physical and mental constituents (skandha
Skandha
In Buddhist phenomenology and soteriology, the skandhas or khandhas are any of five types of phenomena that serve as objects of clinging and bases for a sense of self...

s) of a person or object, the practitioner comes to the conclusion that neither the respective parts nor the person as a whole comprise a self.

Dependent arising


{{Main|Pratītyasamutpāda}}
The doctrine of pratītyasamutpāda (Sanskrit; Pali: paticcasamuppāda; Tibetan: rten.cing.'brel.bar.'byung.ba; Chinese: 緣起) is an important part of Buddhist metaphysics. It states that phenomena arise together in a mutually interdependent web of cause and effect. It is variously rendered into English as "dependent origination", "conditioned genesis", "dependent co-arising", "interdependent arising", or "contingency".

The best-known application of the concept of pratītyasamutpāda is the scheme of Twelve Nidānas
Twelve Nidanas
The Twelve Nidānas are the best-known application of the Buddhist concept of pratītyasamutpāda , identifying the origins of dukkha to be in tanha and avijja...

 (from Pāli "nidāna" meaning "cause, foundation, source or origin"), which explain the continuation of the cycle of suffering and rebirth (saṃsāra) in detail.

{{Main|Twelve Nidānas}}
The Twelve Nidānas describe a causal connection between the subsequent characteristics or conditions of cyclic existence, each one giving rise to the next:
  1. Avidyā: ignorance, specifically spiritual ignorance of the nature of reality
  2. Saṃskāras: literally formations, explained as referring to karma
    Karma
    Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

  3. Vijñāna: consciousness
    Consciousness
    Consciousness is a term that refers to the relationship between the mind and the world with which it interacts. It has been defined as: subjectivity, awareness, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind...

    , specifically discriminative
  4. Nāmarūpa: literally name and form, referring to mind and body
  5. Ṣaḍāyatana: the six sense bases: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind-organ
  6. Sparśa: variously translated contact, impression, stimulation (by a sense object)
  7. Vedanā: usually translated feeling: this is the "hedonic tone", i.e. whether something is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral
  8. Tṛṣṇā: literally thirst, but in Buddhism nearly always used to mean craving
  9. Upādāna: clinging or grasping; the word also means fuel, which feeds the continuing cycle of rebirth
  10. Bhava: literally being (existence) or becoming. (The Theravada explains this as having two meanings: karma, which produces a new existence, and the existence itself.)
  11. Jāti: literally birth, but life is understood as starting at conception
  12. Jarāmaraṇa: (old age and death) and also śokaparidevaduḥkhadaurmanasyopāyāsa (sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and misery)


Sentient beings always suffer throughout saṃsāra, until they free themselves from this suffering by attaining Nirvana. Then the absence of the first Nidāna—ignorance—leads to the absence of the others.

Emptiness


{{Main|Śūnyatā}}
Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 Buddhism received significant theoretical grounding from Nagarjuna
Nagarjuna
Nāgārjuna was an important Buddhist teacher and philosopher. Along with his disciple Āryadeva, he is credited with founding the Mādhyamaka school of Mahāyāna Buddhism...

 (perhaps c. 150–250 CE), arguably the most influential scholar within the Mahayana tradition. Nagarjuna's primary contribution to Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy deals extensively with problems in metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics, and epistemology.Some scholars assert that early Buddhist philosophy did not engage in ontological or metaphysical speculation, but was based instead on empirical evidence gained by the sense organs...

 was the systematic exposition of the concept of śūnyatā, or "emptiness", widely attested in the Prajñāpāramitā
Prajnaparamita
Prajñāpāramitā in Buddhism, means "the Perfection of Wisdom." The word Prajñāpāramitā combines the Sanskrit words prajñā with pāramitā . Prajñāpāramitā is a central concept in Mahāyāna Buddhism and its practice and understanding are taken to be indispensable elements of the Bodhisattva Path...

 sutras which were emergent in his era. The concept of emptiness brings together other key Buddhist doctrines, particularly anatta and pratītyasamutpāda (dependent origination), to refute the metaphysics of Sarvastivada
Sarvastivada
The Sarvāstivāda were an early school of Buddhism that held to 'the existence of all dharmas in the past, present and future, the 'three times'. Vasubandhu's states:-Name:...

 and Sautrantika (extinct non-Mahayana schools). For Nagarjuna, it is not merely sentient beings that are empty of ātman
Atman (Buddhism)
The word Ātman or Atta refers to a self. Occasionally the terms "soul" or "ego" are also used. The words ātman and atta derive from the Indo-European root *ēt-men and are cognate with the Old English æthm and German Atem....

; all phenomena (dharmas) are without any svabhava
Svabhava
Svabhava Pāli: sabhāva; Chinese: 自性 zìxìng; ) is intrinsic nature, essential nature or essence.The concept and term svabhāva are frequently encountered in Dharmic traditions such as Advaita Vedānta , Mahāyāna Buddhism Svabhava (Sanskrit: स्वभाव; IAST: svabhāva) Pāli: sabhāva; Chinese: 自性 zìxìng; )...

 (literally "own-nature" or "self-nature"), and thus without any underlying essence; they are "empty" of being independent; thus the heterodox theories of svabhava circulating at the time were refuted on the basis of the doctrines of early Buddhism. Nagarjuna's school of thought is known as the Mādhyamaka
Madhyamaka
Madhyamaka refers primarily to a Mahāyāna Buddhist school of Buddhist philosophy systematized by Nāgārjuna. Nāgārjuna may have arrived at his positions from a desire to achieve a consistent exegesis of the Buddha's doctrine as recorded in the āgamas...

. Some of the writings attributed to Nagarjuna made explicit references to Mahayana texts, but his philosophy was argued within the parameters set out by the agamas. He may have arrived at his positions from a desire to achieve a consistent exegesis
Exegesis
Exegesis is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text, and the term "Biblical exegesis" is used...

 of the Buddha's doctrine as recorded in the Canon. In the eyes of Nagarjuna the Buddha was not merely a forerunner, but the very founder of the Mādhyamaka system.

Sarvastivada teachings—which were criticized by Nāgārjuna—were reformulated by scholars such as Vasubandhu
Vasubandhu
Vasubandhu was an Indian Buddhist monk, and along with his half-brother Asanga, one of the main founders of the Indian Yogācāra school. However, some scholars consider Vasubandhu to be two distinct people. Vasubandhu is one of the most influential figures in the entire history of Buddhism...

 and Asanga
Asanga
Asaṅga was a major exponent of the Yogācāra tradition in India, also called Vijñānavāda. Traditionally, he and his half-brother Vasubandhu are regarded as the founders of this school...

 and were adapted into the Yogacara
Yogacara
Yogācāra is an influential school of Buddhist philosophy and psychology emphasizing phenomenology and ontology through the interior lens of meditative and yogic practices. It developed within Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism in about the 4th century CE...

 (Sanskrit: yoga practice) school. While the Mādhyamaka school held that asserting the existence or non-existence of any ultimately real thing was inappropriate, some exponents of Yogacara asserted that the mind and only the mind is ultimately real (a doctrine known as cittamatra). Not all Yogacarins asserted that mind was truly existent; Vasubandhu and Asanga in particular did not. These two schools of thought, in opposition or synthesis, form the basis of subsequent Mahayana metaphysics in the Indo-Tibetan tradition.

Besides emptiness, Mahayana schools often place emphasis on the notions of perfected spiritual insight (prajñāpāramitā
Prajnaparamita
Prajñāpāramitā in Buddhism, means "the Perfection of Wisdom." The word Prajñāpāramitā combines the Sanskrit words prajñā with pāramitā . Prajñāpāramitā is a central concept in Mahāyāna Buddhism and its practice and understanding are taken to be indispensable elements of the Bodhisattva Path...

) and Buddha-nature (tathāgatagarbha). There are conflicting interpretations of the tathāgatagarbha in Mahāyāna thought. The idea may be traced to Abhidharma
Abhidharma
Abhidharma or Abhidhamma are ancient Buddhist texts which contain detailed scholastic and scientific reworkings of doctrinal material appearing in the Buddhist Sutras, according to schematic classifications...

, and ultimately to statements of the Buddha in the Nikāyas. In Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, according to the Sakya
Sakya
The Sakya school is one of four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the others being the Nyingma, Kagyu, and Gelug...

 school, tathāgatagarbha is the inseparability of the clarity and emptiness of one's mind. In Nyingma
Nyingma
The Nyingma tradition is the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism . "Nyingma" literally means "ancient," and is often referred to as Nga'gyur or the "old school" because it is founded on the first translations of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Tibetan, in the eighth century...

, tathāgatagarbha also generally refers to inseparability of the clarity and emptiness of one's mind. According to the Gelug
Gelug
The Gelug or Gelug-pa , also known as the Yellow Hat sect, is a school of Buddhism founded by Je Tsongkhapa , a philosopher and Tibetan religious leader...

 school, it is the potential for sentient beings to awaken since they are empty (i.e. dependently originated). According to the Jonang
Jonang
The Jonang is one of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Its origins in Tibet can be traced to early 12th century master Yumo Mikyo Dorje, but became much wider known with the help of Dolpopa Sherab Gyeltsen, a monk originally trained in the Sakya school...

 school, it refers to the innate qualities of the mind which expresses itself in terms of omniscience etc. when adventitious obscurations are removed. The "Tathāgatagarbha Sutras" are a collection of Mahayana sutras which present a unique model of Buddha-nature. Even though this collection was generally ignored in India, East Asian Buddhism provides some significance to these texts.

Liberation



Nirvana


{{Main|Nirvana (concept)}}
Nirvana (Sanskrit; Pali: "Nibbana") means "cessation", "extinction" (of craving
Tanha
' or ' literally means "thirst," and is a synonym for "desire" or "craving," traditionally juxtaposed with upekkha .Synonyms:*愛 Cn: ài; Vi: ái...

 and ignorance and therefore suffering
Dukkha
Dukkha is a Pali term roughly corresponding to a number of terms in English including suffering, pain, discontent, unsatisfactoriness, unhappiness, sorrow, affliction, social alienation, anxiety,...

 and the cycle of involuntary rebirths (saṃsāra
Samsara
thumb|right|200px|Traditional Tibetan painting or [[Thanka]] showing the [[wheel of life]] and realms of saṃsāraSaṅsāra or Saṃsāra , , literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other...

)), "extinguished", "quieted", "calmed"; it is also known as "Awakening" or "Enlightenment" in the West. The term for anybody who has achieved nirvana, including the Buddha, is arahant.

Bodhi
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

 (Pāli and Sanskrit, in devanagari
Devanagari
Devanagari |deva]]" and "nāgarī" ), also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

: बॊधि) is a term applied to the experience of Awakening of arahants. Bodhi literally means "awakening", but it is more commonly translated into English as "enlightenment". In Early Buddhism
Early Buddhism
The term Early Buddhism can refer to:* Pre-sectarian Buddhism, which refers to the Teachings and monastic organization and structure, founded by Gautama Buddha....

, bodhi carried a meaning synonymous to nirvana, using only some different metaphors to describe the experience, which implies the extinction of raga (greed, craving), dosa (hate, aversion) and moha (delusion). In the later school of Mahayana Buddhism, the status of nirvana was downgraded in some scriptures, coming to refer only to the extinction of greed and hate, implying that delusion was still present in one who attained nirvana, and that one needed to attain bodhi to eradicate delusion:

{{Quote|An important development in the Mahayana [was] that it came to separate nirvana from bodhi ('awakening' to the truth, Enlightenment), and to put a lower value on the former (Gombrich, 1992d). Originally nirvana and bodhi refer to the same thing; they merely use different metaphors for the experience. But the Mahayana tradition separated them and considered that nirvana referred only to the extinction of craving (passion and hatred), with the resultant escape from the cycle of rebirth. This interpretation ignores the third fire, delusion: the extinction of delusion is of course in the early texts identical with what can be positively expressed as gnosis
Gnosis
Gnosis is the common Greek noun for knowledge . In the context of the English language gnosis generally refers to the word's meaning within the spheres of Christian mysticism, Mystery religions and Gnosticism where it signifies 'spiritual knowledge' in the sense of mystical enlightenment.-Related...

, Enlightenment.|Richard F. Gombrich|How Buddhism Began}}

Therefore, according to Mahayana Buddhism, the arahant has attained only nirvana, thus still being subject to delusion, while the bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

 not only achieves nirvana but full liberation from delusion as well. He thus attains bodhi and becomes a buddha. In Theravada Buddhism, bodhi and nirvana carry the same meaning as in the early texts, that of being freed from greed, hate and delusion.

The term parinirvana
Parinirvana
In Buddhism, parinirvana is the final nirvana, which occurs upon the death of the body of someone who has attained complete awakening...

 is also encountered in Buddhism, and this generally refers to the complete nirvana attained by the arhat at the moment of death, when the physical body expires.

Buddhas



{{Main|Buddhahood}}
Theravada

In Theravada doctrine, a person may awaken from the "sleep of ignorance" by directly realizing the true nature of reality
Reality in Buddhism
Buddhism evolved a variety of doctrinal/philosophical traditions, each with its distinct ideas of reality. The following are still regularly studied in some branches of the Buddhist tradition: Theravada, Vaibhashika, Sautrantika, Jojitsu, Madhyamika, Yogacara, tiantai, Huayan...

; such people are called arahants and occasionally buddhas. After numerous lifetimes of spiritual striving, they have reached the end of the cycle of rebirth, no longer reincarnating as human, animal, ghost, or other being. The commentaries to the Pali Canon classify these awakened beings into three types:
  • Sammasambuddha
    Buddhahood
    In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

    , usually just called Buddha, who discovers the truth by himself and teaches the path to awakening to others
  • Paccekabuddha
    Pratyekabuddha
    A Pratyekabuddha or Paccekabuddha , literally "a lone buddha" , "a buddha on their own" or "a private buddha", is one of three types of enlightened beings according to some schools of Buddhism. The other two types are the Śrāvakabuddhas and Samyaksambuddhas...

    , who discovers the truth by himself but lacks the skill to teach others
  • Savakabuddha