Buddhism Philosophy & Teachings

Pure Lands of Buddhas

The English term Pure Land is used as a handy equivalent for the East Asian notion of a purified Buddha-field, a large extent of space made pure and beautiful by the presence of a Buddha or Bodhisattva. In its specific usage the phrase “the Pure Land” is one such purified world, the Buddha-field of the Buddha Amitābha. Called Buddha-fields (Buddhakṣetra), these worlds are made beautiful...

Buddhist Ethics

Ethics is a major part of the Buddhist Path that leads to the end of suffering: The path is sometimes conceived of as a 3-fold training in which Śīla provides the foundation for Samādhi and prajñā. In the Noble Eightfold Path, Śīla includes the practices of right action, right speech, and right livelihood. The practice of moral discipline is supportive of the other practices in...

Mahāyāna Precepts in Japan

The term Mahāyāna Precepts is usually used to differentiate lists of precepts or rules found in Mahāyāna texts from those found in the Vinaya, the traditional source upon which monastic discipline was based. A large number of Mahāyāna texts contain such lists, some detailed and others very simple. The history of Mahāyāna precepts in Japan was decisively influenced by the country’s geography: Japan is an...

Buddhist Saṅgha | Community

The Saṅgha (community) is the third of the 3 Buddhist Refuges, or Jewels (tri-rātna), of Buddha, Dharma, and Saṅgha. The word Saṅgha literally means “that which is well struck together”; it derives from a Sanskrit root, han (to strike), with the prefix sam conveying a sense of togetherness and completeness. The idea is that the true Buddhist community is well hammered together, impervious to schism,...

Precepts in Buddhism

Precepts within Buddhism are rules and guidelines intended to properly shape the mind and its manifestations in physical and verbal behaviour so as to facilitate progress on the path to Liberation. Although the precepts appear as external prescriptions and are often couched in negative terms, their goal and the proper thrust of Buddhist morality is the natural and positive embodiment of right action, speech, and...

Rebirth in Buddhism

Rebirth, also called transmigration and reincarnation, is the belief common to all Buddhist traditions that birth and death occur in successive cycles driven by: 1. Ignorance (avidya), 2. Desire (tṛṣṇā), and 3. Hatred (dveṣa). The cycle of rebirth, termed Saṁsāra, is beginningless and on-going, and it is determined by the moral quality of a person’s thoughts and Karma (Action). The effects of good moral actions...

Buddha Images in Art

Buddha images - whether they are Indian, Thai, Chinese, or Japanese - are usually readily recognizable: The date an image was created rarely confuses its identification as Buddhist because the iconography of the Buddha image has remained constant almost from the earliest invention of the image type, even though the style of the figure has varied depending on date and geographical location. The earliest images...

Buddhist Cosmology Overview

Although the earliest Buddhist texts of the Mainstream Buddhist schools - the Nikāyas or Āgamas (4th-3rd century B.C.E.) - do not set out a systematic cosmology, many of the ideas and details of the developed cosmology of the later traditions are, in fact, present in these texts. The early ideas and details are elaborated in the later texts of systematic Buddhist thought, the Abhidharma (3rd-2nd...

Disciples of the Buddha

The Disciples of the Buddha form a diverse category of human, non-human, and divine figures. This article will restrict its discussion to those presented by the Indian Buddhist tradition as personal disciples of the historical Buddha. Even so, the discussion will be selective. Key disciples of all kinds also appear as co-protagonists in stories of former lives of the Buddha (Jātaka), extending their relationship into...

Pratyekabuddha

In the early tradition of the Pāli Canon the Paccekabuddha (Sanskrit, Pratyekabuddha) refers to a male individual who has attained Enlightenment or insight (Bodhi; hence, Buddha) by himself. In contrast to a Sammāsambuddha (Sanskrit, Samyaksaṁbuddha), which is a completely Enlightened person, a Pratyekabuddha keeps Enlightenment for himself (pratyeka) and does not embark on a career of preaching it to others. Pratyekabuddha may be the result...