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Portal:Buddhism

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Buddhism Portal


Buddhism (/ˈbʊdɪzəm, ˈb-/) is a religion and dharma that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on original teachings attributed to the Buddha and resulting interpreted philosophies. Buddhism originated in Ancient India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, from where it spread through much of Asia, whereafter it declined in India during the Middle Ages. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognized by scholars: Theravada (Pali: "The School of the Elders") and Mahayana (Sanskrit: "The Great Vehicle"). Buddhism is the world's fourth-largest religion, with over 520 million followers or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists.

Buddhist schools vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures, and especially their respective practices. Practices of Buddhism include taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, study of scriptures, observance of moral precepts, renunciation of craving and attachment, the practice of meditation (including calm and insight), the cultivation of wisdom, loving-kindness and compassion, the Mahayana practice of bodhicitta and the Vajrayana practices of generation stage and completion stage.

In Theravada, the ultimate goal is the cessation of kleshas (destructive mental states including ignorance, attachment, and aversion) and the attainment of the sublime state of Nirvana, achieved by practising the Noble Eightfold Path (also known as the Middle Way), thus escaping what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth. Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.

Mahayana, which includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Shingon and Tiantai (Tendai), is found throughout East Asia. Rather than Nirvana, Mahayana instead aspires to Buddhahood via the bodhisattva path, a state wherein one remains in the cycle of rebirth to help other beings reach awakening. Read more...

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A Song Dynasty painting of an outdoor banquet
Chinese society during the Song Dynasty was marked by political and legal reforms, a philosophical revival of Confucianism, and the development of cities beyond administrative purposes into centers of trade, industry, and maritime commerce. The inhabitants of rural areas were mostly farmers, although some were also hunters, fishers, or government employees working in mines or the salt marshes. Contrarily, shopkeepers, artisans, city guards, entertainers, laborers, and wealthy merchants lived in the county and provincial centers along with the Chinese gentry—a small, elite community of educated scholars and scholar-officials. The military also provided a means for advancement in Song society for those who became officers, even though soldiers were not highly-respected members of society. Although certain domestic and familial duties were expected of women in Song society, they nonetheless enjoyed a wide range of social and legal rights in an otherwise patriarchal society. Women's improved rights to property came gradually with the increasing value of dowries offered by brides' families. Daoism and Buddhism were the dominant religions of China in the Song era, the latter deeply impacting many beliefs and principles of Neo-Confucianism throughout the dynasty. The Song justice system was maintained by policing sheriffs, investigators, official coroners, and exam-drafted officials who acted as magistrates.

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The Dalai Lama receiving a Congressional Gold Medal in 2007. From left: Nancy Pelosi, Robert Byrd and George W. Bush
Credit: Chris Greenberg, White House employee

The Dalai Lama receiving a Congressional Gold Medal in 2007. From left: Nancy Pelosi, Robert Byrd and George W. Bush

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Today, the car in which Thích Quảng Đức traveled to his self-immolation is parked at Huế's Thien Mu Pagoda
Thích Quảng Đức (born Lâm Văn Tức in 1897 – died June 11, 1963) was a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who burned himself to death at a busy Saigon road intersection on June 11, 1963. Thích Quảng Đức was protesting the persecution of Buddhists by South Vietnam's Ngô Đình Diệm administration. Photos of his self-immolation were circulated widely across the world and brought attention to the policies of the Diệm regime. Malcolm Browne won a Pulitzer Prize for his iconic photo of the monk's death, as did David Halberstam for his written account. After his death, his body was re-cremated, but his heart remained intact. This was interpreted as a symbol of compassion and led Buddhists to revere him as a bodhisattva, heightening the impact of his death on the public psyche. Thích Quảng Đức's act increased international pressure on Diệm and led him to announce reforms with the intention of mollifying the Buddhists. However, the promised reforms were implemented either slowly or not at all, leading to a deterioration in the dispute. With protests continuing, the Special Forces loyal to Diệm's brother, Ngô Đình Nhu, launched nationwide raids on Buddhist pagodas, seizing the holy heart and causing deaths and widespread damage. Several Buddhist monks followed Thích Quảng Đức's example and burned themselves to death. Eventually, an Army coup toppled and killed Diệm in November. The self-immolation is widely seen as the turning point of the Vietnamese Buddhist crisis which led to the change in regime.

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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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