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Who is my Neighbor?. A study of world religions. October 24, 2012. First Baptist Church of Pittsburgh. Week 2: What is a Cult? OCT. 10 - Megan Scholarly vs. Popular Definition Common Traits Examples

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Who is my Neighbor?

A study of

world religions

October 24,


First Baptist Church of Pittsburgh


Week 2: What is a Cult? OCT. 10 - Megan

  • Scholarly vs. Popular Definition
  • Common Traits
  • Examples
  • Week 3: Hinduism Brief History OCT. 17 – Megan (Kittie will contribute TM materials)
  • Vedas
  • Shaivas, Vaishnavas, Goddess followers
  • Beliefs & Practice
  • Week 4: Buddhism OCT 24 – Megan
  • Brief History
  • Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana
  • 4 Truths, Eight-fold Path
  • Mahayana Sects (Zen/Chan, Pure Land, etc.)
  • Beliefs & Practice
  • Week 5: "Minor" Religions OCT. 31 - Megan
  • Zoroastrianism
  • Sikhism
  • Jainism
  • Taoism
  • Shinto

Week 6: Judaism NOV. 7 – Kittie

  • Brief history
  • Ancient vs. Modern
  • Orthodox vs. Reformed
  • Beliefs and Practices
  • Week 7: Christianity NOV. 14 - Kittie
  • Brief History
  • Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Other
  • Beliefs & Practice
  • Week 8: Islam NOV. 28 - Kittie
  • Brief History
  • Four pillars
  • Shiite vs. Sunni
  • Sufism
  • Week 9: New Religions (post 1800) DEC. 5 - Kittie
  • Mormonism
  • Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Scientology
  • Neo-Paganism/Wicca
  • Various New Asian Religions
  • Week 10: Overview/Summary: What Does All This Mean for Christians?
  • Buddhism is the 4th largest religion in the world.
  • Estimated number of Buddhists range from 250-500 million members.
  • There are three main branches of Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana.
    • There are a number of different sects in each of the three branches.
  • There are approximately 1.2 million Buddhists in the United States.
buddhists in pittsburgh
Buddhists in Pittsburgh
  • There are about a dozen different Buddhist groups in Pittsburgh.
    • Most are Tibetan Buddhist (Vajrayana) or Soto Zen (a Japanese Mahayana sect).
    • There is also one Theravada temple, the Pittsburgh Buddhist Center (below).
a brief history of buddhism

A Brief History of Buddhism

From the Buddha to the present

the life of the buddha
The Life of the Buddha
  • Born as Siddhartha Gautama c. 563 BCE in what is now Nepal
  • Various legends about his birth
  • Prophecy by a sage that he would either become a great king or a holy man, so his father kept him in the palace to ensure he would become a king. Eventually he got out of the palace and saw four things: an old man, a sick man, a dead man, and a holy man.
the life of the buddha1
The Life of the Buddha
  • At first, Siddhartha followed stringent asceticism, but did not get anything out of it.
  • After this, he dedicated himself to meditation, sat beneath a fig tree and vowed not to get up until he reached enlightenment.
  • After reaching enlightenment, he began teaching others. His first sermon was given at a deer park.
the death of the buddha
The Death of the Buddha
  • Died/reached parinirvana at the age of 80, after eating some mushrooms prepared for him by a lay devotee
preservation of buddhism
Preservation of Buddhism
  • After the death of the Buddha, his followers gathered to preserve his teachings.
  • These teachings were passed down orally until they were written down during the Fourth Buddhist Council in 29 BCE.
    • Sri Lanka had been hit with famine, and they had realized the need to write down the dharma in case the monks who knew it died.
    • The writings became the Tripitaka (lit. ‘three baskets’, aka the Pali Canon).
transmission of buddhism
Transmission of Buddhism
  • King Ashoka (273-232 BCE) experienced terrible regret over his bloody conquest of the kingdom of Kalinga, and converted to Buddhism.
  • He erected pillars expounding the dharma all over his kingdom and built stupas containing relics of the Buddha all over India.
  • He sent the first missionaries outside India to Sri Lanka and possibly the Mediterranean.
transmission of buddhism1
Transmission of Buddhism
  • From Sri Lanka, Buddhism spread to Burma and Thailand.
  • By the first century CE, Mahayana Buddhism had been developed and spread from India to Southeast Asia, and to China, Korea, and Japan.
  • In the modern day, Buddhism has spread from East Asia throughout the world, both by emigration and proselytization.
buddhist terms and concepts

Buddhist terms and concepts

Bodhi, dharma, and nirvana

buddhist conception of the universe
Buddhist Conception of the Universe
  • Buddhists believe in an eternal universe
  • Buddhism is non-theistic: it does not have a creator god
    • For these reasons, Buddhism often identifies itself as science-friendly, because it has no theological qualms with evolution
  • Conceive of time as cyclical – following the emergence of a buddha, there is a time of great time of the dharma flourishing, followed by a time of the dharma in decline, followed by a long period of time when the dharma is lost, at which point a new buddha emerges.
buddhist t erms
Buddhist Terms
  • Anatman – lit. ‘no soul’, contrary to Hinduism, Buddhists do not believe in a soul which is reborn.
  • Arhat – a living person who has achieved enlightenment.
  • Bodhi – enlightenment
  • Dharma – right doctrine
  • Lama – a Tibetan teacher/master equivalent to ‘guru’
  • Mantra – a chant used to help one attain enlightenment
    • i.e. Om mani padme hum
buddhist terms
Buddhist Terms
  • Mudra – a hand gesture held in meditation; the Buddha is often depicted with different mudras which have specific meanings
  • Nirvana – lit. ‘to extinguish’, achieving final enlightenment and exiting samsara
  • Prajna – wisdom
  • Sangha – a community of Buddhist monks and practitioners
  • Sutra – a Buddhist scripture
major types of buddhism

Major Types of Buddhism

Theravada, Vajrayana, and Mahayana

  • Holds the Tripitaka as authoritative
  • Emphasizes monasticism for reaching nirvana
  • Predominant in Sri Lanka and southeast Asia
  • Monastic practice includes meditation
  • Lay practice focuses on ‘merit making’: preparing food for the monks, donating to temples, burning incense to the Buddha, and chanting verses from the Pali Canon
  • Means ‘Lightning Vehicle’
  • Scriptures are called ‘tantras’
  • Dates to the 7th or 8th century CE
  • Dominant in Tibet and Mongolia
  • Goal is to become a Bodhisattva, akin to a Christian saint, one who is moved by compassion for all sentient beings to attain Buddhahood.
  • Esoteric teachings are passed down from teacher to student
tulkus and lamas
Tulkus and Lamas
  • A ‘tulku’ is a high-raking lama who can determine the manner of his next rebirth
    • There are perhaps as many as 500 in Tibet
    • The two most well-known are the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama
  • The current Dalai Lama is the 14th
    • After escaping Tibet, he has lived in exile in India
  • There has been controversy over the succession of the Panchen Lama
  • Means ‘Great Vehicle’
  • Largest school of Buddhism
  • Dates to the beginning of the Common Era
  • Claims to be superior to other schools; accepts parts of the earlier Canon as well as later texts
  • Does not accept the arhat as the final enlightenment
    • Leads to Bodhisattva status instead
    • Considers seeking attainment as an arhat to be selfish; one should seek enlightenment for the sake of all sentient being
  • Known as ‘Chan’ in China, introduced to Japan in the 12th century
  • Two main sects: Soto and Rinzai
  • Soto emphasizes zazen (seated meditation) only
  • Rinzai embraces zazen as well as koans and other aids to achieve enlightenment
    • A koan is a statement which forces one to think and has no definite answer, i.e.: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”
pure land jodoshinshu
Pure Land (Jodoshinshu)
  • Founded by Shinran in the early 13th century.
  • Is the largest religious sect in Japan (20% of the population)
  • Emphasizes faith over works
    • ‘Cat faith’ versus ‘monkey faith’
  • Shinran focused on the ability of lay people to be reborn in Amida’s paradise
    • Married and had children