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Portal:Buddhism

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Statue of Gautama Buddha

Gautama Buddha

Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha (Pāli/Sanskrit "the awakened one"). Buddha who was born as a prince in Kapilvastu, in modern day Nepal, lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. He is recognized by adherents as an awakened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end suffering, achieve nirvana, and escape what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth. Two major branches of Buddhism are recognized: Theravada ("The School of the Elders") and Mahayana ("The Great Vehicle"). Theravada—the oldest surviving branch—has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, and Mahayana is found throughout East Asia and includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, Tendai and Shinnyo-en. In some classifications Vajrayana, a subcategory of Mahayana, is recognized as a third branch. While Buddhism remains most popular within Asia, both branches are now found throughout the world. Various sources put the number of Buddhists in the world at between 230 million and 500 million, making it the world's fourth-largest religion.

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A 17th century Tibetan thangka of Guhyasamaja Akshobhyavajra
The exact nature of Sino-Tibetan relations during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) of China is unclear. Some modern scholars living and working in the People's Republic of China assert that the Ming Dynasty had unquestioned sovereignty over Tibet, pointing to the Ming court's issuing of various titles to Tibetan leaders, Tibetans' full acceptance of these titles, and a renewal process for successors of these titles that involved traveling to the Ming capital. Scholars within the PRC also argue that Tibet has been an integral part of China since the 13th century, thus a part of the Ming Empire. But most scholars outside the PRC say that the relationship was one of suzerainty, that Ming titles were only nominal, that Tibet remained an independent region outside Ming control, and that it simply paid tribute until the reign of Jiajing (1521–1566), who ceased relations with Tibet. Some scholars note that Tibetan leaders during the Ming frequently engaged in civil war and conducted their own foreign diplomacy with neighboring states such as Nepal. Some scholars underscore the commercial aspect of the Ming-Tibetan relationship, noting the Ming Dynasty's shortage of horses for warfare and thus the importance of the horse trade with Tibet. Others argue that the significant religious nature of the relationship of the Ming court with Tibetan lamas is underrepresented in modern scholarship.

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An early Mahayana Buddhist triad. From left to right, a Kushan devotee, the Bodhisattva Maitreya, the Buddha, the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, and a Buddhist monk. 2nd-3rd century CE, Gandhara.
Credit: PHGCOM

Mahayana is one of the two main existing schools of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice. It was founded in India.

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Shen Kuo
Shen Kuo was a polymath Chinese scientist and statesman of the Song Dynasty (9601279). Excelling in many fields of study and statecraft, he was a mathematician, astronomer, meteorologist, geologist, zoologist, botanist, pharmacologist, agronomist, ethnographer, encyclopedist, and poet. He was the head official for the Bureau of Astronomy in the Song court, as well as an Assistant Minister of Imperial Hospitality. In his Dream Pool Essays of 1088, Shen was the first to describe the magnetic needle compass, which would be used for navigation (first described in Europe by Alexander Neckam in 1187). Shen Kuo devised a geological theory of land formation, or geomorphology, based upon findings of inland marine fossils, knowledge of soil erosion, and the deposition of silt. He also advocated a theory for gradual climate change, after observing ancient petrified bamboos that were preserved underground in a dry northern habitat that did not support their growth in his time. Shen Kuo wrote extensively about movable type printing invented by Bi Sheng, and because of his written works the legacy of Bi Sheng and the modern understanding of the earliest movable type has been handed down to later generations.

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Penélope Cruz
I was raised as a Catholic, but I believe in God in my own way and I pray in my own way and I respect all kinds of philosophies. The one philosophy or religion that I find I am most close to is the Buddhist one. I think it is the one that respects the others and the one that doesn't say that this is the only way. I think happiness is the moment when-if you've forgotten those little things-they suddenly come back into focus for you.
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