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Buddhism Review Project. By: Patra, Quinn, Kyle, Andrea and Ken . Essential Questions. What is the human condition?

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buddhism review project

Buddhism Review Project

By: Patra, Quinn, Kyle, Andrea and Ken

essential questions
Essential Questions
  • What is the human condition?

-Humans are caught in Samsara: the endless cycle of existence, characterized by maya (illusion), tanha (craving), and hatred/aversion leading to dukkha (suffering or unsatisfactoriness)

  • Where are we going ?

- To a favorable or unfavorable birth after death

- To enlightenment through entering Nirvana/nibbana

-To Bodhisattvahood (Mahayana Buddhism)

  • How do we get there?

-acknowledging the Three Jewels: Buddha, dharma, and sangha

- accepting the Four Noble truths

- following the Middle Way/ the Noble Eightfold Path

- following the precepts consistent with a lay or monastic way of life

-developing wisdom and compassion

- following the path of the Bodhisattva


Lifetime Rituals and Rites of Passage

  • Theravada Buddhism: rituals and ceremonies of Theravada Buddhism is based on the veneration of Buddha's relics
    • Has death, funeral, and illness ceremonies but do not have birth or marriage ceremonies
    • Has initiation ceremonies for males entering the sangha and ceremonies for becoming bhikkhu
  • Mahayana Buddhism: beliefs and rituals based off of expansive interpretations of secret Buddhist teachings
    • lay-oriented sangha and more elaborate funeral ceremonies
  • Both:
    • Recite Three Jewels (Buddha, dharma, and sangha), follow Eightfold Path (right views,intentions,speech, action, livelihood, effort, and mindfulness), and living the Five Precepts (puja-daily devotion, meditation, pilgrimmage,funeral rites,and punya-transfer of merit ceremonies)
rituals cont
Rituals (cont.)


  • Theravada:
    • Must achieve enlightenment through meditation and reliance on one's self
    • Detached, begging monk is ideal and Lay Biddhists support monks to be reincarnated as a monk in their next life
    • Worship in thr wat, bot, and stupas
    • Types of meditation: Sammatta (intense concentration) and Vipassana (effort to gain sudden realization of Budddhist truths)
  • Mahayana:
    • believe in bodhisattvas (future Buddhas)
    • Pure Land: worship amitabha and pure land
    • Intuitive: meditation and asceticism
      • Zen Buddhists hit each other or themselves to achieve sudden enlightenment
    • Rationalists: study and reason of Buddhist scriptures
    • Sociopolitical: study Lotus Sutra
  • Tibetan: Dalai Lama (Yello Hat school) and pratices to help dying move to Nirvana (Red Hat school)
  • Vajrayan: mudras,thangkas, and mandalas
rituals cont1
Rituals (cont.)


  • Theravada:
    • Wesak (commemorating Buddha's birth, Enlightenment, and death)
    • Asala (celebrates Buddha's conception, renunciation, and first sermon)
  • Mahayana:
    • Vassa (rain retreat)
    • Obon Matsuri (homage to the dead in Japan)
  • Both:
    • Wesak, Asala, New Year (carnivals), Buddha's birthday (children dress up like little Buddhas), Festival of Souls (offerings to wandering spirits), Robe Offering (monks recieve new yellow robes)
rituals cont2
Rituals (cont.)


  • Theravada:
    • bhikkhus (male monks) are superior to bhikkhunis (nuns)
    • women have to be reborn as a male monk to reach enlightenment
  • Mahayana:
    • females can be bodhisattvas
    • give identical meditation exercises


  • Individual meditation and worship at home andin temples
  • Festivals involve puja at home and in temples
sacred texts
Sacred Texts
  • Pali Canon

- It is called the Tipitaka/Tripitaka or "Three Baskets" because it includes the Vinaya Pitaka or "Basket of Discipline," the Sutta Pitaka or "Basket of Discourses," and the Abhidhamma Pitaka or "Basket of Higher Teachings"

- Compiled at the First Buddhist council following the Buddha's death

-Used by both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhists, though Theravada believes that it was passed down orally from the Buddha to the five arhats while Mahayana argues that the Pali Canon was recited by the arhats but other scriptures are attributed to the bodhisattvas and all are the words of the Buddha.

theravada texts
Theravada Texts
  • Rely mainly on the Pali Canon, which was passed on through the monastic order.

-Scriptural knowledge and wisdom (panna/prajna) are important pursuits

-Read in Pali, closely related to the language which the Buddha spoke

  • The Dhammapada is part of the Suttana Pitaka

-Collection of sayings of the Buddha in verse form

-Regarded as one of the most widely spread and best known Buddhist scriptures, most translated Buddhist text

mahayana texts
Mahayana Texts
  • Focus on Scriptures about the many Buddhas

-Prajnaparamita literature "The Perfection of Wisdom"

-Diamond Sutra sets forth the doctrines of Sunyata (emptiness) and Prajna (wisdom), emphasizes the practice of non attachment.

-Heart Sutra emphasizes emptiness, and is one of the most popular Buddhist scriptures.

-Sukhavati literature describes the "Pure Land" in which the Buddhas reside

-Lotus Sutra teaches the identification of the historical Buddha with the Transcendental Buddha, and is the basis for Zen and Sociopolitical sects of Buddhism.

-Texts often in Sanskrit, which was used India as Buddhism developed

  • Shastras and Agamas are texts not given by Buddha but follow the sutras
other texts
Other Texts

-Vajrayana Buddhists read sacred texts in Tibetan and developed and extended body of texts, though much has been lost

- Tibetan Buddhist canon includes Mahayana texts in Tibetan along with other tantric texts

-Divide into "translated words", which are works directly from the Buddha, and "translated treatises", which includes commentary on the translated words

-In Thailand, local texts written in the Thai language have been composed to summarize the teachings of the Pali Canon

doctrines and beliefs
Doctrines and Beliefs

Origin of Doctrines

Theravada Buddhism: Believes that the doctrines came from Siddharth Gautama himself.

Mahayana Buddhism: Also believe in the influence of Buddha, but also take into account the teachings of prominent Boddhisattvas

(i.e. Avalokitesvara who embodies the compassion of all buddhas).

  • Pure Land: Mahayanist development of Dhyani Buddhas
  • Intuitive: Buddhs's time of under bo Tree, teaching of monk Bodhidharma
  • Rationalist: Chih-I, use of not only Mahayana or Thereavada scriptures/doctrines, but both
  • Sociopolitical- Nichiren, Lotus Sutra the only important scripture
  • Tibetan- "The Diamond Vehicle"
doctrines and beliefs cont
Doctrines and Beliefs cont.

Basic Beliefs

The Three Jewels: Also known as the Three Treasures, are what Buddhists seek to look toward for guidance which are the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha

The Four Noble Truths: Said to be the very first teachings that Buddha explained after he reached enlightenment, which are dukkha(suffering), Tanha(craving) and avijja(ignorance), understanding how to avoid and remove dukkha from ones life, and the path to the ceasing of dukkha aka the Noble Eightfold Path(right view, intention,speech, action,livelihood, effort, mindfulness, concentration)

The Five Precepts: the commitment (moral ethics) of Buddhists to abstain from harming liviing beings, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and intoxication.

The Three Marks of Existence: anicca(impermanence), dukkha(suffering), anatta(non-self).

doctrines and beliefs cont1
Doctrines and Beliefs cont.

Basic Beliefs cont.

Skandhas: the five functions or aspects that constitute human being, consisting of form or matter, sensation, perception, mental formations, and conciousness

The Three poisons: ignorance, desire, and aversion


Theravada Buddhism: Since they hold to the belief that one must reach enlightenment for themselves w/out the reliance of gods or higher powers, monks are seen to be held at highest esteem and aim to reach nirvana, whereas those who are not monks seek their paths to nirvana by becoming a layperson and hoping to achive merit and progress to become a monk.

Mahayana Buddhism: Also has great esteem for monks, but also claims that anyone can reach nirvana regardless of direct participation in the Sangha aswell as aim for Buddhahood.

Tibetan Buddhism: believe in a system of lamas who are reborn(system mainly in yellow hat school).

doctrines and beliefs cont2
Doctrines and Beliefs cont.

Schools of Thought

Thereavada Buddhism: "Way of the Elders", reflects the belief that ther most closely follow the original beliefs and practices of the Buddha and the early monastic elders.

Mahayana: "The Great Vehicle" refering to the path of seeking enlightenment for the benefit of all sentinet beings.

  • Pure Land Buddhism: Believe in Dhyani Buddhas who preside over heaven-like lands, worship of these Buddhas will lead to reincarnation in their lands
  • Intuitve Sect:Zen Masters koans(case studies/riddles) to help students reach a flash of enlightenment(satori)
  • Rationalist: Tiendai, all Buddhist scriptures
  • Sociopolitical- Nichiren, Lotus Sutra
  • Tibetan- Monks
doctrines and beliefs cont3
Doctrines and Beliefs cont.


Theravada: The original teachings of the Buddha state that there is only birth, death, an rebirth into samsara(the cycle of life). Tanha (Desires) causes suffering(Dukkha) therefore karma and rebirth. Enlightenment releases one from samsara and defeats maya(illusion). The body is made up of Five Skandhas.

Mahayana: Also believe in the cycle, but also include bodhisattvas, those who attain Nirvana not for oneself but Buddhahood fro the sake of others.

Cosmogony and Cosmology

Theravada Buddhism: cycle of existence

Mahayana Buddhism: Not are there only Buddhas here on earth, but also other realms have Buddhas as well. Lokas (31 planes within 3 realms)

religious experience
Religious Experience

Deer Park Monastery

religious experience1
Religious Experience

Buddhism is a religion that can be practiced independently, but is more common to be worshiped and engaged in as a group or sangha.

In a sangha (school of monks, nuns or other group of followers) different forms of meditation are practiced:

Breathing Meditation: concentration on slowing and pacing breathing, focusing on every motion and sensation each inhale and exhale brings while being able to stay mindful of being in the moment and maintaining awareness of the sounds around you.

Walking Meditation: Walking slowly with another friend, follower or your sangha so as to be moving as one being instead of many separate, individual people. Involves breathing meditation and also a more heightened awareness of your environment and exactly how you are connected to the earth- the way your foot arches as you step, point of connection between your feet and the ground as well as how it seems to support you and keep you balanced.

Eating Meditation: Eating meditation involves being mindful of where your food came from, appreciating it and noticing how you break it down as you chew it slowly. During a meal at a sangha (or home of any Buddhist who utilizes this practice) there is a period of silence to recall the day's events and eat (slowly chewing food at least 30 times) while considering mindful/engaging thoughts(smiles may be exchanged between people), followed by a time to converse with others quietly and discuss new thoughts or ideas before having another short moment of silence.

religious experience cont
Religious Experience cont.


Theravada (traditional): males are required to join a sangha and live in a monastery for a duration of their lives, though they are welcome to leave the sangha whenever their stay is finished (monastic life is not permanent if wished). Though women are allowed to live in a monastery with the males, they are sent to pray separately and the nuns are sometimes seen as lower than the monks because of some connections of women leading to temptation and 'suffering'. This is mainly in Asia, whereas in the West female Buddhists are more likely to be treated equally (though the sect of Buddhism still depends on how much equality and leniency they are shown). They are also thought to be more superior because of the Buddha's past lives were all men.

Mahayana (more lenient and accepting): Both men and women attend daily prayer and perform rituals together- there is no segregation or division amongst them. Women are seen as very significant (much like in the Tibetan sect) and even have female Bodhisattvas (taras).-comp. West to Southeast Asia coping w/ modernization

prosecution of the khmer rouge

Prosecution of the Khmer Rouge

The quest for justice in a land of pacification


•Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge ran nation of Democratic Kampuchea murdered nearly 2 million innocent political rivals, non-Cambodians, Muslim Chams, and Buddhists for the sake of ensuring a secure “socialist” society.

•This occurred from 1975-1979 in Cambodia and small parts of Vietnam.

the trial for khmer rouge leaders
The trial for Khmer Rouge leaders

•Some top officials of the Khmer Rouge were prosecuted by a UN ran trial in 2009.

•Many are suspected to still be living or hiding in Cambodia and surrounding Indochinese nations.

•Numerous collaborators of the regime, such as complacent civilians, are also untouched by the Cambodian justice system.

buddhism in cambodia
Buddhism in Cambodia

•Cambodia’s population is 95% Buddhist and the majority of those Buddhists practice Theravada Buddhism.

•Cambodia is also a center for Buddhists culture as a whole, not just Cambodian Buddhists.

•Hundreds of Buddhist temples reminiscent of Buddhism’s antiquity lie in the jungles and fields of Cambodia.

a buddhists perspective of justice
A Buddhists’ perspective of justice

•One of the Buddha’s main titles was “He who can forebear”. This alludes to the common practice of suppression of redemption amongst Buddhists across Asia.

•Thus, it would be against Buddhist behavior to prosecute the Khmer Rouge leadership, even in the face of the latter’s atrocities.

•Theravada Buddhism is also far more “orthodox” in terms of mirroring the behavior of the Buddha, in comparison to other Buddhist sects of the world.

30 years of injustice
30 years of injustice

•The Cambodian Genocide occurred more than 30 years ago, yet only a few Khmer Rouge leaders have been tried and jailed.

•The lack of speed on behalf of the prosecution can lie in the fact that many Cambodians do not revolve around a set justice system, due to the Cambodian ideals of pacification and forbearance (both Buddhist in source).

the future of the prosecution
The future of the prosecution

•The question lies in whether the Cambodian Buddhists should set aside their cherished religious values for the purpose of justice.

•It is hard for a Westerner to envision the difficulty in this idea of justice, yet it is ever present in the Cambodian Buddhists who survived the onslaught of the Khmer Rouge.