Buddhism

From The SpiritWiki
Revision as of 03:01, 14 October 2021 by Michael (talk | contribs) (→‎Notes)


Caution. This article/definition is in draft form and at this time may constitute no more than rough notes, reminders for required content, or absolutely nothing at all. Content is subject to revision.


Related Terms

Buddhism > Bodhisattva, Kalpa, Mantra, Sangha, Sutta, Tathagata

Notes

"... the basic teachings of the Buddha consist of his forty-five-year-long effort to clarify to others what he considered to be the essential knowledge (buddhi) for human well-being."[1]

Wallis, Glenn. Basic Teachings of the Buddha. New York: The Modern Library, 2007.

Buddhism has been colonized. This occurred in Sri Lanka as western influences gradually penetrated and corrupted the ancient teachings.

By the early nineteenth century, under British rule, Buddhism in Sri Lanka was, Bechert writes, “exhibiting serious signs of decay.”10 Significantly, at the same time “the influence of Christian schools and missionaries on the country’s educated classes was rapidly increasing.”11 By mid-century, members of this new Anglophile elite feared that Buddhism would disappear altogether from the island by the end of the century. Precisely the opposite occurred: Buddhism underwent radical reforms, eventually strengthening its standing on the island and beyond. From a traditionalist’s perspective, however, this preservation of Buddhism must have seemed a deal with the devil. The Westernized Sri Lankan leaders of this Buddhist “renewal,” writes Bechert,

used, for the most part and without being fully aware of the fact, methods and arguments copied from their opponents. It benefited these reformers, moreover, that, at that time, there were several highly educated Buddhist monks who possessed the ability to formulate the reformers’ concerns in modern terms, and to bring these concerns closer to their contemporaries whose ways of thinking had been strongly influenced by the European mindset. They recognized the necessity of compromising with modern civilization in order to secure the survival of the Buddhist tradition.12

Following the designation for similar compromising tendencies unfolding within the Catholic Church at the same time, Bechert employed the term “Buddhist modernism” to capture the basic character of this emerging form of Buddhism.13 He adds that this modernizing tendency would “eventually gain a foothold in every Buddhist country,”14 from where, of course, it would eventually be exported to the West. Perhaps the most striking claim made by Bechert here is that the Westernized Sri Lankan instigators of the reform had so internalized their former opponents’ values that these values were introduced imperceptibly back into the reformed Buddhism as preeminently Buddhist.[2]

Theravada Buddhism, a conservative variety of Buddhism that became dominant in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, and Laos), linked to the "great Indian emperor Asoka (270-232 B.C.E), developed and solidified because of his patronage (elite roots of Theravada Buddhism). [3]

Mahayana Buddhism, the "Great vehicle" as opposed to the pejoratively named "older sects" or Hinayana (small vehicle), emerged in the first millennium and spread to regions in northern INdia, Tibet, China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.[4]

Vajrayana Buddhism (diamond vehicle)."The second great innovation flourished in India from the sixth to the twelfth centuries, after which Buddhism largely disappeared from the subcontinent. This revolutionary form of Buddhism is known as Vajrayna, “the diamond (vajra) vehicle (yna),” in reference to its claim to be in possession of practices that lead the practitioner to the indestructible (adamantine, or diamond-like) mind of a buddha. The popularity of the Vajrayna in India corresponds precisely to the period when Tibetans were scouring India in search of Buddhist teachings, texts, and teachers to bring back to Tibet. " [5]

"Both of these new forms of Buddhism were characterized by creative literary developments. In Mahyna stras and Vajrayna tantras, ingenious fashionings of ancient doctrines and practices were worked out and fresh, often startling, innovations developed. In contrast, the Theravda endeavored to preserve what it understood to be the ancient forms of the teachings as expressed in their most ancient formulation, namely, the suttas. So, the threefold grouping of Buddhism into Theravda, Mahyna, and Vajrayna as a means of arranging the many Buddhist sects and schools into basic family types can be used to organize the thousands of volumes that constitute Buddhist literature. Such a division is borne out in the three great collections of Buddhist literature, referred to by scholars as the Pli canon, the Chinese canon, and the Tibetan canon. (These collections are discussed further shortly.)"

Additional Reading

Wallis, Glenn. Basic Teachings of the Buddha. New York: The Modern Library, 2007.

Wallis, Glenn. A Critique of Western Buddhism. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018.

Footnotes

  1. Wallis, Glenn. Basic Teachings of the Buddha. New York: The Modern Library, 2007.
  2. Wallis, Glenn. A Critique of Western Buddhism. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018
  3. Wallis, Glenn. Basic Teachings of the Buddha. New York: The Modern Library, 2007.
  4. Wallis, Glenn. Basic Teachings of the Buddha. New York: The Modern Library, 2007.
  5. Wallis, Glenn. Basic Teachings of the Buddha. New York: The Modern Library, 2007.