Buddhism Philosophy & Teachings

Faith in Buddhism

The most common English theological meanings of the word Faith are the ones that have the most questionable similarity to historical Buddhist belief and practice. Buddhist notions tend to occupy a different centre in the semantic field: serene trust, confident belief that the practice of the dharma will bear the promised fruit, and joyful surrender to the presence or vision of one or many “ideal...

Dāna | Giving

It is difficult to overstate the centrality of generosity and gift giving (Dāna) in Buddhism. Dāna is a supreme virtue perfected by Bodhisattvas, a key practice of providing economic support to monks and nuns and the Buddhist establishment, and a means of generating religious merit. Dāna is first in the lists of the Pāramitā (Perfection) that a Bodhisattva cultivates through the many eons of lives...

Desire - the root of Suffering

Desire is the “thirst that leads to repeated birth, is tied to delight and passion, desires now this now that. This is the thirst of sense desire, the thirst for existence, the thirst for cessation”. The central concept is not “desire” in its normal, restricted sense, but “desire” in the broad sense of the drive or impulse that makes us want to achieve or possess,...

Bodhi | Awakening

The Sanskrit and Pāli word Bodhi derives from the Indic root budh- (to awaken, to know). Those who are attentive to the more literal meaning of the Indic original tend to translate Bodhi into English as “Awakening,” and this is to be recommended. In the most general terms, Bodhi designates the attainment of that ultimate knowledge by virtue of which a being achieves full Liberation...

Bodhicitta | Thought Of Awakening

Bodhicitta | Thought Of Awakening: In its most common denotation the term Bodhicitta refers to the resolution to attain Bodhi (Awakening) in order to Liberate all living beings, which defines and motivates the Bodhisattva’s Vow. The English phrase “thought of awakening” is a mechanical rendering of the Indic term Bodhicitta. The original term is signifying “thought directed at or focused on awakening,” “a resolution to...

Ascetic Practices and Buddhism

Ascetic Practices and Buddhism: Buddhism arose in India at a time when a number of non-Vedic ascetic movements were gaining adherents: Śramaṇa traditions offered a variety of psychosomatic disciplines to attain and experience states transcending those of conditioned existence. Accounts of the Buddha’s quest for awakening depict him engaging in ascetic disciplines common to many Śramaṇa groups of his time for a period of 6...

Maitreya – the Future Buddha

Maitreya is the Bodhisattva anticipated by all Buddhists traditions to become the Next Buddha of this world, Jambudvīpa. Currently dwelling in the Tuṣita heaven, Maitreya awaits rebirth at that time in the distant future when Śākyamuni Buddha’s dispensation will have been completely forgotten. Depicted as both - Bodhisattva and Future Buddha, Maitreya is frequently portrayed sitting Western-style with legs pendant, sometimes with ankles crossed.

Lama & Lamaism | Definition

A Lama is a Tibetan Buddhist teacher: In the most narrow sense, the term bla ma (pronounced “lama”) refers to a lay or ordained religious instructor. It is also commonly used by Tibetans as a title for Tulku, a reincarnated Teacher. The prominent position of the Lama in Tibetan Buddhism gave rise, first in China and then in the West, to the misnomer Lamaism to...

Recollection of Buddha | Buddhānusmṛiti

Buddhānusmṛiti (recollection of the Buddha) is the first of a set of up to 10 anusmṛtis (acts of recollection or calling to mind) that are used for both meditative and liturgical purposes. Buddhist practitioners focus their minds on these subjects by reciting a set text or formula listing their salient qualities. The recollection of the Buddha was the most important anusmṛti, eventually becoming an independent...

Buddhist Councils

Whether the early Councils were truly historical events has long been a matter of contention in Buddhist communities: While most Asian Buddhists believe that the first Council was a historical event, its historicity is questioned by virtually all Buddhist scholars: They argue that while it was not unlikely that a small group of Buddha’s intimate disciples gathered after his death, a Council in the grand...