Buddhism Philosophy & Teachings

No-Self & Self | Anātman & Ātman

Etymologically, Anātman (Pāli, anattā) consists of the negative prefix an- plus Ātman (i.e., without Ātman) and is translated as no-self, no-soul, or no-ego. Buddhism maintains that since everything is conditioned, and thus subject to Anitya (Impermanence), the question of Ātman as a self-subsisting entity does not arise, that anything that is impermanent is inevitably Duḥkha (Suffering) and out of our control (Anātman), and thus cannot...

Abhidharma texts

Traditional accounts of early Indian Buddhist schools suggest that while certain schools may have shared some textual collections, many transmitted their own independent Abhidharma treatises. However, only 2 complete canonical collections, representing the Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda schools and several texts of undetermined sectarian affiliation are preserved. It is assumed that Abhidharma texts of the earliest period bear the closest similarities to the sūtras and are...

Abhidharma, its meaning and origins

Traditional sources offer 2 explanations for the term Abhidharma: a) “with regard to (abhi) the teaching (dharma)” or b) the “highest or further (abhi) teaching (dharma).” The subject of Abhidharma analysis was, of course, the teaching (dharma) as embodied in the dialogues of the Buddha and his disciples. Abhidharma did not merely recapitulate the teaching of the Sūtras, but reorganized them and explicated their implicit...

Dharma and Dharmas | Definition

Sanskrit uses the term dharma in a variety of contexts requiring a variety of translations. Dharma derives from the root dhṛ (to hold, to maintain). From its root meaning as “that which is established” comes such translations as law, duty, justice, religion, nature, and essential quality. The Dharma, which was rediscovered by the Buddha, was the subject matter of his teaching; hence, dharma also means...

Bodhisattvas Mahā-sattvas

The term Bodhisattva refers to a sattva (person) on a Buddhist mārga (path) in pursuit of Bodhi (awakening) or one whose nature is awakening. In the Mahāyāna tradition, a Bodhisattva is a practitioner who, by habituating himself in the practice of the Pāramitā (perfection), aspires to become a Buddha in the future by seeking complete, perfect awakening through Prajñā (wisdom) and by benefiting all sentient...

Compassion (Karuṇā) | Definition

Karuṇā (Compassion), along with Prajñā (Wisdom), are the two virtues universally affirmed by Buddhists: Basically, Karuṇā is defined as the wish that others be free of suffering, in contradistinction to maitrī (love; Pāli, mettā), which is the wish that others be happy. Compassion is a quality that a Buddha is believed to possess to the greatest possible degree, and that Buddhists still on the path...

Buddhist Doctrine of Karma (Action)

The term Karma, which literally means “action,” is frequently used in the context of what can be called the doctrine of Karma: This belief is nowadays shared by many Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and others, but the details can vary considerably between different believers. Early Buddhism does not identify bodily and mental motion, but Desire (or thirst, tṛṣṇā), as the cause of karmic consequences.

Merit and Merit-Making in Buddhism

Merit (puṇya) is karmic virtue acquired through moral and ritual actions; it is widely regarded as the foundation of Buddhist ethics and salvation. the vast majority of Buddhist communities affirm the soteriological effects of good actions. As indicated by the term merit- making, virtue is the deliberate result of human consideration and conduct. As a moral commodity, merit is quantifiable. Merit can also be transferred...

Mainstream Buddhist Schools

Mainstream Buddhist Schools By several centuries after the death of the Buddha, the itinerant mendicants following his way had formed settled communities and had changed irrevocably their received methods of both teaching and praxis: Most sources agree that the first schism in early Buddhist community occurred with the separation of the Mahāsaṁghika School, or “those of the great community,” from those referred to as Sthāviras,...

Monasticism in Buddhism

The majority of Buddhist monastics are not hermits or solitary wanderers. Monastics, even those who may choose to take up a solitary life from time to time, belong to the Buddhist Saṅgha or community. Buddhist monastic communities include everything from extremely large and wealthy urban monasteries, to mid-size and small village monasteries, to forest, cave, and mountain monasteries. Buddhist monasticism dates back to the Śākyamuni...