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Tenets Of Buddhism

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PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2006 6:34 pm    Post subject: Tenets Of Buddhism Reply with quote
The historical Buddha, Siddhartha, was born around 463 BCE in India. His philosophy spread eastwards and after several hundred years reached Japan through Korea around the sixth century. Although the native Japanese religion of Shinto at first was violently opposed to Buddhism, the religion came to take hold through the efforts of the Soga clan and the regent Prince Shotoku. Shinto and Buddhism formed a close bond in Japan that continues to this day (with a rift in relations in the late 19th/early 20th century). Most modern Japanese claim to practice both. In the following explanation, the Japanese terms are used rather than the original Indian/Sanskrit except where noted.

Buddhism is based upon the Four Noble Truths (Shitai):
1)The Truth Of Suffering-we live in a world of suffering
2)The Truth Of Cause-suffering has cause
3)The Truth Of Extinction-when cause becomes extinct, so does suffering
4)The Truth Of The Path-the right way to achieve this
Which brings us to:
The Eightfold Noble Path
1)Shohken:right view
2)Shohshui:right thinking
3)Shohgo:right speech
4)Shohgoh:right action
5)Shohmyoh:right living
6)Shoshojin:right endeavor
7)Shohnen:right memory
8)Shohjoh:right meditation

This basically calls for not having wicked thoughts (see:Shrine Maidens ^_^), allowing wicked thoughts, or using wicked language. The last two points are used to discipline the mind.
Following the Four Noble Truths eliminates ignorance of the the Twelve Causations and the Eight Sufferings (Hakku-birth, old age, illness, death, death of loved one, hating others, inability to meet desires, and adhering to the five sufferings of mind and body), and allows the adherent to achieve enlightenment (satori, or Bodai-Supreme Enlightenment), become a Buddha, be released from the cycle of rebirth, and enter Nehan (or Nirvana, as known in the West). The engine that drives Buddhism is the elimination of earthly desires.
There are two general groupings of Buddhism:
1)Hinyana-Lesser Vehicle:This places the onus on the individual to achieve enlightenment through meditation, contemplation, and ceremony. Esoteric sects and Zen fall under this category.
2)Mahayana-Greater Vehicle-everyone can become a Buddha and benefiting others is an integral part of enlightenment. These comprise the Jodo (Pure Land) sects, where you can enter the land of Amida Buddha simply by repeating his name over and over. The Jodo sects are by far the largest Buddhist groups in Japan today. They brought Buddhism, which before was largely for the rich and educated, to the masses.
The major sects in Japan today include:
1)Tendai Lotus Bukkyo:An esoteric sect, built around the Threefold Truth-all things are of the void, all things are temporary, and all things are in both states at once.
2)Shingon Esoteric Bukkyo:An esoteric sect and my sect of choice. This was founded by Kobo Daishi in the 9th century and is also known as Mikkyo in Japan. Its central belief is found in the Mahavairocan Sutra (Dainichi-kyo). The practice of Shingon involves doctrine, philosophy, deities such as Jizo and Fudo, ritual, and meditation. The Three Mysteries comprise Esoteric Mudra Of The Body, Esoteric Mantra Of Speech, and Internal Visualization of the mind.
3)Jodo-Shu and Jodo-Shinshu (Pure Land Bukkyo)-formed by Honen in the 12th century. Repeat ‘Nami Amida Butsu’ and enter the Western Paradise of Amida Buddha, from where it is a short jump to Nehan.
4)Nichiren-Shu-follows the Lotus Sutra, the Honzon Mandala, and is the only exclusionary Buddhist sect. The original sect split up and the current version is Soka-Gakkai.
5)Zen Bukkyo (Soto & Rinzai)-this puts the emphasis on sudden awareness of reality through meditation. Zen began to make inroads in the 12th century through the teachings of Eisai (Rinzai) and Dogen (Soto) after finding its way over from China in about 500 CE. Zen has been a heavy influence on Japanese art (Noh, poetry, Ikebana, tea ceremony, screen painting) and is likely the best known form of Buddhism in the Western World. One caveat is that the form of Zen taught in a lot of Western martial arts schools has little to do with the original.
There are many other sects and sub-sects, but these are the largest.
In my next post, we’ll look at some other Buddhist concepts and practices such as sutras, Inga (the infamous karma), the cycle of rebirth, and the Six Realms Of Desire.
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