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Portal:Buddhism

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Buddhism Portal

Monks at Sera Monastery, Tibet

Monks at Sera Monastery, Tibet

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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Ngo Dinh Diem
The Double Seven Day scuffle was a physical altercation on July 7, 1963 in Saigon, South Vietnam. The secret police of Ngo Dinh Nhu—the brother of President Ngo Dinh Diem—attacked a group of journalists from the United States who were covering Buddhist protests on the ninth anniversary of Diem's rise to power. Peter Arnett of the Associated Press (AP) was punched on the nose, but the quarrel quickly ended after David Halberstam of The New York Times, being much taller than Nhu's men, counterattacked and caused the secret police to retreat. Arnett and Browne were later accosted by police at their office and taken away for questioning on suspicion of attacking police officers. After their release, the journalists stormed the US embassy in Saigon to complain about their treatment at the hands of Diem's officials and asked for US government protection. Their appeals were dismissed, as was a direct appeal to the White House. Through the efforts of US Ambassador Frederick Nolting, the assault charges laid against the journalists were subsequently dropped. Vietnamese Buddhists reacted to the incident by contending that Diem's men were planning to assassinate monks, while Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu repeated earlier claims that the American government had been trying to overthrow her brother-in-law. Arnett's colleague, the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Malcolm Browne, took photographs of Arnett's bloodied face, which were published in newspapers worldwide. This drew further negative attention to the behaviour of the Diem regime amidst the backdrop of the Buddhist crisis.

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Vatadage Temple, in Polonnaruwa
Credit: Lankapic

The second most ancient of Sri Lanka's kingdoms, Polonnaruwa was first declared the capital city by King Vijayabahu I, who defeated the Chola invaders in 1070 CE to reunite the country once more under a local leader.

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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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Ajahn Sumedho
Suttas are not meant to be 'sacred scriptures' that tell us what to believe. One should read them, listen to them, think about them, contemplate them, and investigate the present reality, the present experience with them. Then, and only then, can one insightfully know the truth beyond words.
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