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Hinduism. An Introduction to the Sanatana Dharma. Simple Background. “ Hinduism ” is a 19th-century word Persian: hindu  Sanskrit sindhu ( “ river ” ) Religions from the Indus Valley “ Indian Religion(s) ” Almost 900 million “ Hindus ” in India 30+ million “ Hindus ” abroad

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Hinduism

Hinduism

An Introduction

to the

Sanatana Dharma


Simple background
Simple Background

  • “Hinduism” is a 19th-century word

    • Persian: hindu

    • Sanskrit sindhu (“river”)

    • Religions from the Indus Valley

    • “Indian Religion(s)”

  • Almost 900 million “Hindus” in India

  • 30+ million “Hindus” abroad

  • Third largest religion in the world


Definition of hinduism indian supreme court 1966 reaffirmed 1995
Definition of HinduismIndian Supreme Court 1966 (reaffirmed 1995)

  • Acceptance and reverence for the Vedas

  • A spirit of tolerance

  • Belief in vast cosmic periods of creation and destruction

  • Belief in reincarnation

  • Recognition of multiple paths to salvation and truth,

  • Polytheism

  • Philosophical flexibility (no single dogma)


Partition of india
Partition of India

1947

Though relatively stable, there is still some conflict, such at the Ayodhya Temple.



Some scholars have hypothesized that the the world.“Aryan Invasion” is the key event in the founding of Indian civilization and Hinduism. (2000-1500 BCE)

Now other scholars have questioned the “invasion” theory in favor of more organic theories of cultural dispersion.


The earliest forms of Hinduism are often called the world.“Vedic.” (2500-800 BCE)

Dominated by a priestly class concerned with “fire sacrifices.”

The fire rituals communicated with the gods, influenced them, and restored the vital powers of the universe.

Dyaus Pitr (cf: Zeus & Jupiter)

Agni (god of fire)

Soma (a god & a drug?)


the world.If I were asked under what sky the human mind . . . has most deeply pondered over the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions to some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant--I should point to India. And if I were to ask myself from what literature we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of one Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw the corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human a life . . . again I would point to India.” -- Max Müller.

“"I should have been glad to acquire some sort of idea of Hindu theology, but the difficulties were too great.”--Mark Twain



What do people want1
What do people want? the world.

  • Pleasure


What do people want2
What do people want?* the world.

  • Pleasure

  • Success: wealth, fame, power

    • competitive (& precarious)

    • insatiable (potentially)

    • centers on the self (lower-case “s”)

    • achievements are ephemeral

*based on Huston Smith’s, World Religions


What do people want3
What do people want? the world.

  • Pleasure

  • Success: wealth, fame, power

    Together, we can think of these two as the “path of desire.”


What do people want4
What do people want? the world.

  • Pleasure

  • Success: wealth, fame, power

  • Duty

    What do people really want/desire?


What do people want5
What do people want? the world.

  • Pleasure

  • Success: wealth, fame, power

  • Duty

    What do people really want/desire?

  • “being”

  • “knowing”

  • joy


What do people want6
What do people want? the world.

  • Pleasure

  • Success: wealth, fame, power

  • Duty

    What do people really want/desire?

  • “being”infinite being

  • “knowing”infinite awareness

  • joyinfinite bliss


What do people want7
What do people want? the world.

  • Pleasure

  • Success: wealth, fame, power

  • Duty

  • Liberation (moksha)

    • “Liberation from the cycle of existence (samsara) often identified with a state of knowledge in which the phenomenal world and its concerns are shut out in favor of a mystical identification with the ultimate, changeless ground of all things.”--Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy

    • “release from the finitude that restricts us from the limitless being, consciousness, and bliss our hearts desire”--Huston Smith


Life s limitations
Life the world.’s Limitations

  • pain (physical and psychological)

  • ignorance

  • restricted being


Four paths
Four Paths the world.

yoga = “union”


Common preliminary commitments
Common Preliminary Commitments the world.

Cultivate habits of:

  • non-injury

  • truthfulness

  • non-stealing

  • self-control

  • cleanliness

  • contentment

  • self-discipline

  • compelling desire


Jnana Yoga/Path the world.

Path to moksha through knowledge and contemplation--a transforming intuitive discernment--turning the knower into that which she/he knows.

  • Reflecting on the nature of the Atman--The self which is eternal and (in Advaita) identical with Brahman (sacred Power/Divine Being)

  • Shifting self-identification to the “abiding part” of her nature

  • “I am Witness” approach to his own history/life

  • “Brahman is all, and the Self (Atman) is Brahman” (Mandukya Upanishad, 2)


Bhakti Yoga/path the world.

Directs towards (a) god love and adoration.

  • Probably the most popular and frequently practiced form

  • Tends to insist on God’s otherness: “Pray no more for utter oneness with God . . .”--Song of Tukaram

  • Strives to adore God with every fabric of one’s being (as opposed to acknowledging union)

  • Tends towards incarnational representations of the deity--an ishta (a cherished divinity).

  • But:

  • Lord, forgive three sins that are due to my human limitations,

  • Thou art everywhere, but I worship you here;

  • Thou art without form, but I worship you in these forms;

  • Thou needs no praise, yet I offer you these prayers and salutations.

  • Lord, forgive three sins that are due to my human limitations.


karma yoga/path the world.

By wise and proper involvement in the work of the world, one can also move towards God/moksha.

  • by identifying oneself with the transpersonal Absolute (a la jnana)

    • every action performed on the external world reacts on the doer

    • work performed in detachment from the empirical self

  • by shifting affection to external “person” (a la bhakti)

    • work for God’s sake instead of my own

    • work done selflessly

  • “He who does the task/Dictated by duty/Caring nothing/For the fruit of the action/ He is a yogi. (Bhagava-Gita, VI:1)

  • The Tale of the Yogi and the Scorpion


raja yoga/path the world.

Disciplined bodily and mental activity designed to explore the nature of the true self.

Layers of human being:

bodies

minds

subconscious

___________________________________

Being Itself


raja yoga/path (cont.) the world.

Eight Steps: (hatha yoga)

Five Abstentions: injury, lying, stealing,sensuality, greed

Five Observances: cleanliness, contentment, self-control, studiousness, contemplation of the divine

asanas (postures, e.g., “the lotus position”)

breathing

contemplation (turning inward)

concentration (leave the mind alone)

merging of subject/object; out of time;

samadhi: sam=together with, adhi=the Lord


Stages of life
Stages of Life the world.

  • The student

  • Householder (pleasure, success, duty)

  • “Retirement”

  • sannyasin (“the one who neither hates nor loves anything”)


Caste system
Caste System the world.

  • Beginning with Aryan intrusion (2nd m. BCE)?

  • Four (plus) castes:

    Brahmins (seers)

    Kshatriyas (administrators)

    Vaishyas (artisans, farmers, craftsmen)

    Shudras (unskilled laborers)

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------- “untouchables” (today: “dalit”)


Ultimate reality
Ultimate Reality the world.

  • Brahman (etymology: br=breath, brih=to be great)

    • sat: being

    • chit: awareness

    • ananda: bliss

  • “neti . . .neti” -- a kind of “negative theology” (Nirguna Brahman of the philosophers)

  • Saguna Brahman: the noblest reality encountered in the world.

  • Sri Ramakrishna claimed both were equally correct

  • God can be thought of as Creator (Brahma), Preserver (Vishnu), and Destroyer (Shiva)

  • But in many Hindu expressions God is transpersonal: beyond it all


Hindu pantheon
Hindu Pantheon the world.

Though affirming Brahman as “ultimate reality,” Hinduism is highly polytheistic.

The Hindu Pantheon is structured around “divine couples” (male-structure/form::female-energy/matter) who serve different functions in the universe; in a way, they point to the various forces in life/the cosmos.

Many deities are depicted with a “vehicle”—an animal with whom they are often portrayed.

The “Trimurti” is organized around Brahma (creation), Vishnu (maintenance), Shiva (destruction).


  • Brahma (creation) the world.

    • Consort/wife: Saraswati, goddess of knowledge and speech.

    • Vehicle: hamsa or swan (seven swans).



Vishnu appears in many avatars (traditionally ten, the last, who has not yet appeared, is Kalki, who will come when he is most needed).

The two most important avatars of Vishnu are Rama and Krishna.


  • Shiva (the destroyer) who has not yet appeared, is Kalki, who will come when he is most needed).

    • Consort(s): Kali (et al, Sati, Parvati, Lalita, Durga . . .)

    • Vehicle: Nandi, the Bull


Ganesha (son of Shiva and Parvati) who has not yet appeared, is Kalki, who will come when he is most needed).


Devi (the goddess) is sometimes worshipped as the supreme manifestation of Brahman. All other gods and goddesses would then be considered emanations of her.

Devi (Devanagari: देवी) is the Sanskrit word for Goddess.

Devi is synonymous with Shakti, the female aspect of the divine, as conceptualized by the Shakta tradition of Hinduism. She is the female counterpart without whom the male aspect, which represents consciousness or discrimination, remains impotent and void. Goddess worship is an integral part of Hinduism.Devi is, quintessentially, the core form of every Hindu Goddess. As the female manifestation of the supreme lord, she is also called Prakriti or Maya, as she balances out the male aspect of the divine addressed Purusha. [1]ManifestationsDevi or the divine feminine is an equal conterpart to the divine masculine, and hence manifests herself as the Trinity herself - the Creator (Durga or the Divine Mother), Preserver (Lakshmi, Parvati & Sarswati) and Destroyer (Mahishasura-Mardini, Kali & Smashanakali ).

Source: The Goddess Files


People
People manifestation of Brahman. All other gods and goddesses would then be considered emanations of her.

  • Individual souls (jivas) enter the world mysteriously

  • They begin as the souls of the simplest forms of life and reincarnate/transmigrate (samsara) into more complex bodies until they enter human bodies

  • Souls in human bodies are engaged in issues of freedom and responsibility (karma)

  • Is this fatalism?

    • there is choice

    • “natural” causes factor in

    • ultimately the soul gets what it wants

  • The Tale of the Magic Kalpataru Tree


The world
The World manifestation of Brahman. All other gods and goddesses would then be considered emanations of her.

  • A multiple world with innumerable galaxies (horizontally), innumerable tiers (vertically), and innumerable cycles (temporally)

  • Moral world in which karma is always operational

  • a “middle” place; will never replace paradise

  • maya (an element of illusion)

  • a place of human growth

  • lila (site of exuberant divine activity)


  • There are three major devotional traditions: manifestation of Brahman. All other gods and goddesses would then be considered emanations of her.

    • Vaishnava (Vishnu)

      • Generally vegetarian

      • Worship Vishnu, Rama, Krishna

      • Oriented towards duty and tradition

    • Shaiva (Shiva)

      • Worship focuses on union of opposites, especially creation and destruction

      • Tend to emphasize ascetic practices.

    • Shakta (Devi)

      • Worship “the goddess” as ultimate reality

      • (Bengali)

      • Not as likely to be vegetarian


Hindus worship principally through seeing (Darshan) an image of the divinity.

Shrines can be anywhere, in great temples, by the road, or in the home.

Puja is the act of worship, offering them fruit, flowers, incense, water, or cloth in order to symbolize an offering of the self to the god/goddess.

In some cases deities are processed through the streets (at festivals, etc.). See Diwali Video.

Sometimes the worshipper will take a pilgrimage to a sacred place, the most well-known being Benares, on the Ganges River.


Jainism
Jainism of the divinity.

  • There are about 4 million Jains today, most of them “lay people”

  • Historians consider Jainism to have been founded by Mahavira (599-527 BCE) as a reaction to the conservative Brahminism of the 6th-century BCE

  • In general, they do NOT accept the Hindu Scriptures or rituals, but they do share a belief in the transmigration of souls

  • The most obvious characteristic of them is their devotion to the principle of ahimsa, or non-injury

    • monks wear a veil

    • even lay people forbidden to drink after sunset


Jainism cont
Jainism (cont.) of the divinity.

  • Jains are followers of the Jinas, or “tirthankaras” (the ford-makers, who reveal the path to moksha)

  • They believe 24 tirthankaras appear in every half cycle

  • Mahavira is the 24th tirthankara in this cycle

  • A contemporary of Buddha, Mahavira renounced the world at the age of 30, and after 12 years as a wandering ascetic achieved enlightenment

  • He then converted 12 disciples who structure his teachings into the Jain Scriptures

  • He died in meditation and became a liberated soul


Jainism cont1
Jainism (cont.) of the divinity.

  • Jain monks commit to the Great Vows:

    • non-injury (ahisma)

    • truth-speaking (satya)

    • sexual abstinence (brahmacharya)

    • non-stealing (asteya)

    • detachment from persons, places, and things (aparigraha)

  • Lay people take the “lesser vows” which try to apply the great vows to more “normal” modes of living: e.g., strict vegetarianism, no work that involves the deliberate destruction of life (e.g., hunting no, farming okay).

  • In the fourth century CE a major split occurred:

    • Digambaras: all possessions, including clothing are hindrance to liberation

    • Shvetambaras: detachment is in the mind (and not wearing clothes can also cause injury; e.g., if you light a fire to stay warm)

The only objects a Digambara monk is allowed to carry are a water-pot and a fly-whisk of peacock feathers.


Sikhism
Sikhism of the divinity.

  • Some see them as rather different from Hinduism

  • Guru Nanak, ca. 1500, had encounter leaving him to seek a path to God that didn’t require strict identification with Islam or Hinduism.

  • In keeping with Hinduism, it affirms the ultimacy of a supreme and formless God beyond human conceiving

  • In keeping with Islam, it rejects the notion of avatars (divine incarnations), caste distinctions, images as aids to worship, and the sanctity of the Vedas

  • Follows Hinduism, but not Islam, in affirming reincarnation

  • Five k’s (in Punjabi):

    • uncut hair (conserves vitality, draws upward)

    • comb (cleanliness and order)

    • steel bracelet (shackles one to God)

    • undershorts (one always dressed for action)

    • dagger (originally needed for self-defense)

  • Seek salvation through union with God, by realizing, through love, the Person of God, who dwells in the depths of their own being.

  • World renunciation does not really figure in their faith.

  • About 13 million Sikhs in the world


Though not really a proselytizing religion, Hinduism, especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.

Swami Vivekananda (appeared at the first World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893)—philosophical Hinduism.

Transcendental Meditation (1960’s—Maharishi Mahesh Yogi)—ascetic Hinduism.

International Society for Krishna Consciousness— so called “Hare Krishnas” (1960’s Swami Prabhupada)—bhakti Hinduism.

Hatha Yoga.


Buddhism: A Brief Introduction especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.


Buddhism an introduction
Buddhism: An Introduction especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.

  • “The Buddha”

  • Buddha and 6th-Century Brahmanism

  • The Three Jewels

  • Four Noble Truths

  • Eightfold Path

  • Two (Main) Vehicles

  • The Bodhisattva

  • Zen

  • Tibetan Buddhism

  • Two Buddhist “Creeds”

  • Buddhism in America


The buddha
especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.The Buddha”

  • Siddhartha Gautama of the Sakyas

  • ca. 563-483 BCE

  • Wife: Yasodhara; Son: Rahula

  • “The Four Passing Sights”

  • Six years of asceticism and seeking

  • The Bodhi Tree

    • The Temptation (Mara)

      • Kama--the God of Desire

      • Hurricanes, torrential rain, etc.

      • What right do you have?

    • Enlightenment

    • One more question (from Mara)

      • How can anyone understand?

  • Dies from food poisoning?


The three jewels
especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.The Three Jewels”*

  • Buddha (The Awakened One)

  • Dharma (The Teachings)

  • Sangha (The Community)

    *also “The Three Refuges”


The four noble truths
The Four Noble Truths especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.

  • Life is Duhkha (Suffering, dissatisfaction, wobbly wheel [for grocery cart]): pain, change, being

  • Tanha/trishna (craving, desire) binds us to suffering

  • There is a way out of this (“nirvana”)

  • This way is the Eightfold Path


The eightfold path

Right View especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.

Right Thought

Right Speech

Right Action

Right Livelihood

Right Effort

Right Mindfulness

Right Concentration

The Eightfold Path

samma = right,


Annatta anatta anatman
Annatta/Anatta/Anatman especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.

  • Skandhas:

    • form/material composition

    • sensing/feeling

    • perception(s)

    • mental formations/thought processes

    • consciousness/Consciousness


Two main vehicles
Two Main especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.“Vehicles”


Shunyata emptiness
Shunyata/Emptiness especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.

Nothing is independent.

Everything is part of a web of relations.

What is a hammer on a nail-less island?

What are chopsticks in a fork world?

What do concepts like “man,”“father,”“professor” really say about me?

There is no “there” there.


The bodhisattva
The Bodhisattva especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.

  • In Theravada Buddhism, the bodhisattva is seen as seeking enlightenment so that, once awakened, he or she may efficiently aid other beings with the expertise of supreme wisdom.

  • Gautama Buddha’s previous life experience as a bodhisattva before Buddhahood are recorded in the texts of the jataka.

  • Lay Buddhists of Theravada seek inspiration in Gautama's skill as a good layman in these texts, which account not only his historical life, but many previous lives.

  • When Gautama Buddha referred to himself in his pre-Buddha existence, he spoke in terms of "when I was still a Bodhisattva".

  • The only currently active bodhisattva described in the Pali Canon is the future Buddha Maitreya. The Theravada tradition, i.e., the Pali Canon, speaks of no other bodhisattvas than these.


The bodhisattva cont
The Bodhisattva (cont.) especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.

  • In Mahayana Buddhism, a bodhisattva has the compassionate determination to aid all beings on their quest for the highest state of development, full enlightenment of a Buddha.

  • Remaining in this world of uncontrolled rebirth (samsara) this individual has taken the bodhisattva vows not to pass into nirvana until all other beings have likewise achieved enlightenment.

  • In brief, simply imagine the Bodhisattva as saying, "If I know how to swim, and even one other being cannot, then I will remain behind in this world to assist them until they know how to save themselves from drowning".

  • According to many traditions within Mahayana Buddhism, on his or her way to becoming a Buddha, the bodhisattva proceeds through ten, or sometimes fourteen, stages or bhumi.

  • Various traditions within Buddhism believe in certain specific bodhisattvas. Some bodhisattvas appear across traditions, but due to language barriers may be seen as separate entities. For example, Tibetan Buddhists believe in Chenrezig, who is Avalokitesvara in India, Kuan Yin (other spellings: Guan Yin, Kwan Yin, Quan Yin) in China, and Kannon in Japan.


Zen ch an buddhism
Zen (Ch especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.’an) Buddhism

  • Bodhidharma (ca. 500 C.E.)

  • Zen characteristics are non-dualism, completeness, immediacy, authenticity,

  • activeness, everydayness, selflessness, dedication, spontaneity

  • zazen, koans, satori


Satori example
satori (example?) especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.

“Ztt! I entered. I lost the boundary of my physical body. I had my skin, of course, but I felt I was standing in the center of the cosmos. I saw people coming toward me, but all were the same man. all were myself. I had never known this world before. I had believed that I was created, but now I must change my opinion; I was never created; I was the cosmos. No individual existed.” (Zen Notes 1.5, p. 1)


Zazen
zazen especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.


koan especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.

  • “What is the sound of one hand (clapping)?

  • “What’s true meditation? It’s to make it all--coughing, swallowing, gestures, motion, stillness, words, action, good and evil, success and shame, win and lose, right and wrong--into on single koan.” --Hakuin (1686-1769)


Koan: especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.

MUDDY ROAD: Tanzen and Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling.Coming around the bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.

"Come on girl", said Tanzen at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. "We monks don't go near females," he told Tanzen, "especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?”

"I left the girl there," said Tanzen. "Are you still carrying her?"


Koan: especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.

A monk told Joshu, "I have just entered the monastery. Please teach me.”

Joshu asked, "Have you eaten your rice porridge?The monk replied, "I have eaten.”

Joshu said, "Then you had better wash your bowl.”

At that moment the monk was enlightened.


Koan: especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.

One day Akbar drew a line with his royal hand on the floor of the open court and told his wise men that if they wanted to keep their jobs they must make the line shorter without touching any part of it.

Wise man after wise man approached and stood staring at the puzzle, but they were unable to solve the problem.

Finally Birbal stepped forward and drew a longer line next to the first one, without touching the first line.Everyone in the court look at it and agreed. The first line was definitely shorter.


Koan: especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.

A university student asked Gasan, "have you ever read the Christian Bible?”

"No, read it to me," said Gasan.The student opened the Bible and read from St. Matthew: "And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these... Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”

Gasan said: "Whoever uttered those words I consider an enlightened man.

"The student continued reading: "Ask and it shall be given to you, see and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened for you. For everyone that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.”

Gasan remarked: "That is excellent. Whoever said that is not far from Buddhahood."


especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.Asked what Zen training leads to, a Western student who had been practicing for seven years in Kyoto answered, ‘No paranormal experiences that I can detect. but you wake up in the morning and the world seems so beautiful you can hardly stand it.” (Quoted in Smith, World Religions, p. 93)


Tibetan vajrayana buddhism
Tibetan (Vajrayana) Buddhism especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.

  • Distinctive practices that enable one to reach nirvana in a single lifetime

  • Tantric

  • Mantras, Mudras (hand gestures), Mandalas

  • Dalai Lama


A sand mandala
A Sand Mandala especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.


Mudras
Mudras especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.


especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.The Dalai Lama is not accurately likened to the pope, for it is not his prerogative to define doctrine. Even more misleading is the designation god-King, for though temporal and spiritual authority do converge in him, neither of those powers define his essential function. The function is to incarnate on earth the celestial principle of which compassion or mercy is the defining feature. The Dalai Lama is the bodhisattva who in India was known as Avalokiteshvara, in China as the Goddess of Mercy, Kwan Yin, and in Japan as Kannon. As Chenrezig (his Tibetan name) he has for the last several centuries incarnated himself for the empowerment and regeneration of the Tibetan tradition. Through his person--a single person who has thus far assumed fourteen successive incarnations--there flows an uninterrupted current of spiritual influence, characteristically compassionate in its flavor. . . The Dalai Lama is a receiving station toward which the compassion-principle of Buddhism in all its cosmic amplitude is continuously channeled, to radiate thence to the Tibetan people most directly, but by extension to all sentient beings.” (Smith, World Religions, pp. 143-44)


Buddhism in the West: especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.“Fundamental Buddhistic Beliefs”Colonel H.S. Olcott, Founding President of the Theosophical Society, 1891

  • Buddhists are taught to show the same tolerance, forbearance, and brotherly love to all men, without distinction; and an unswerving kindness towards the members of the animal kingdom.


  • The Universe was evolved, not created; and it functions according to law, not according to the caprice of any God.


  • The truths upon which Buddhism is founded are natural. They have, we believe, been taught in successive kalpas, or world periods, by certain illuminated beings called Buddhas, the name Buddha meaning "enlightened.”

  • The fourth teacher in the present kalpa was Sakya Muni, or Gautama Buddha, who was born in a royal family in India about 2,500 years ago. He is an historical personage and his name was Siddhartha Gautama.


  • Sakya Muni taught that ignorance produces desire, unsatisfied desire is the cause of rebirth, and rebirth the cause of sorrow. To get rid of sorrow, therefore, it is necessary to escape rebirth; to escape rebirth, it is necessary to extinguish desire; and to extinguish desire, it is necessary to destroy ignorance.


  • Ignorance fosters the belief that rebirth is a necessary thing. When ignorance is destroyed the worthlessness of every such rebirth, considered as an end in itself, is perceived, as well as the paramount need of adopting a course of life by which the necessity for such repeated births can be abolished. Ignorance also begets the illusive and illogical idea that there is only one existence for man, and the other illusion that this one life is followed by states of unchangeable pleasure or torment.


Fundamental buddhistic beliefs cont
especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.Fundamental Buddhistic Beliefs”(cont.)

  • The dispersion of all this ignorance can be attained by the persevering practice of an all-embracing altruism in conduct, development of intelligence, wisdom in thought, and destruction of desire for the lower personal pleasures.


  • The desire to live being the cause of rebirth, when that is extinguished rebirths cease and the perfected individual attains by meditation that highest state of peace called nirvana.


  • Sakya Muni taught that ignorance can be dispelled and sorrow removed by the knowledge of the four Nobel Truths, viz:
1 . The miseries of existence;
2. The cause productive of misery which is the desire
ever renewed of satisfying oneself without being able ever to secure that end;
3.The destruction of that desire, or the estranging of 
oneself from it;
4. The means of obtaining this destruction of desire. 
The means which he pointed out is called the Noble Eightfold Path, viz: Right Belief; Right Thought; Right Speech; Right Action; Right Means of Livelihood; Right Exertion; Right Remembrance;Right Meditation.


  • Right Meditation leads to spiritual enlightenment, or the development of that Buddha-like faculty which is latent in every man.



Fundamental buddhistic beliefs cont1
especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.Fundamental Buddhistic Beliefs”(cont.)

  • The essence of Buddhism summed up by the Tathagata (Buddha) himself is:
To cease from all sin, 
To get virtue,
To purify the heart


  • The universe is subject to a natural causation known as "karma". The merits and demerits of a being in past existences determine his condition in the present one. Each man, therefore, has prepared the causes of the effects which he now experiences.


  • The obstacles to the attainment of good karma may be removed by the observance of the following precepts, which are embraced in the moral code of Buddhism, viz: (1) Kill not; (2) Steal not; (3) Indulge in no forbidden sexual pleasure; (4) Lie not; (5) Take no intoxicating or stupefying drug or liquor. Five other precepts, which need not here be enumerated, should be observed by those who would attain more quickly than the average layman the release from misery and rebirth,


  • Buddhism discourages superstitious credulity Gautama Buddha taught it to be the duty of a parent to have his child educated in science and literature. He also taught that no one should believe what is spoken by any sage, written in any book, or affirmed by a tradition, unless it accord with reason.



Buddhism in america
Buddhism in America especially in its most philosophical and meditative forms, has made a number of converts in the West.

  • An Architect and Zen

  • Nen in Maryland

  • Soka University

  • Tibetan New Year

  • Thich Nhat Hanh


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