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Essentials of Buddhism

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Essentials of Buddhism

Main Figure
Buddha's Last Words
The Major Sects of Buddhism
Mahayana & Vajrayana Sect Figures
Four Noble Truths
Noble Eight-fold Path
Five Precepts
The Three Jewels


Founder: Buddha
Location: India
Date: ~500 BCE
Primary Scripture: Tipitaka (Tripitaka)
Main Goal: Achieve Nirvana

Main Figure

  • Buddha
    • Other names
      • Sakyamuni (Sakya clan sage), (Shakyamuni)
      • Siddhartha Gautama (Birth Name)
      • Historical Buddha
    • Contribution: Founder Buddhism
    • Occupation: Prince (Indian)

Buddha's Last Words

"Everything that has been created is subject to decay and death. Everything is transitory. Work out your own salvation with diligence."


The Major Sects of Buddhism

  • Theravada (Hinayana) Buddhism
    • Literal: School of the Elders (Small Vehicle)
    • Main Focus
      • Four Noble Truths
      • Meditation
      • Sage Buddha
    • Main adherents: Southeast Asia
  • Mahayana Buddhism
    • Literal: Large Vehicle
    • Main Focus
      • Four Noble Truths
      • Meditation
      • Divine Buddha
      • Bodhisattvas
    • Main adherents: China, Japan, and Korea
    • Subdivisions
      • Pure Land School
      • Tian Dai (China) or Tendai (Japan) Buddhism
        • Confucianism Influence
      • Ch'an (China) or Zen (Japan) Buddhism
        • Daoism Influence
        • Main Focus
          • Meditation
          • Chanting
          • Teacher-Student dialog
  • Vajrayana Buddhism
    • Literal: Diamond Vehicle
    • Main Focus
      • Meditation
      • Chanting
      • Enlightenment in one lifetime
      • Tibetan gods and demons
      • Religious visualizations
      • Philosophical debate
      • Ritual
      • Yoga
      • Tantric Practices
    • Main adherents: Tibet  & Nepal


Mahayana and Vajrayana Sect Figures

  • Amitabha Buddha
    • Contribution: Established Pure Land sect (Mahayana)
  • Manjushri
    • Contribution: Bodhisattva of Wisdom
  • Avalokiteshvara
    • Other names/manifestations
      • Pure Land (Mahayana): A manifestation of Amidha Buddha (sits at his right hand)
      • China (Mahayana): Kuan Yin - Goddess of Compassion
      • Tibet (Vajrayana)
        • Chenrezig (Main form)- Male of couple that gave birth to Tibetan people
        • Tara (manifestation)- Female form of Chenrezig
        • King Songtsen Gampo (manifestation)- Brought Buddhism to Tibet
        • Dalai Lama (manifestation)- Chief spiritual and political leader of Tibet.
    • Contribution: Bodhisattva of Compassion

Four Noble Truths

  1. Life is suffering - dukkha
    • Birth trauma
    • Illness
    • Old age
    • Fear of approaching death
    • Separation from what one loves
    • Stuck with what one hates
  2. The cause of suffering is desire - tanha
  3. The cure for suffering is to remove desire
  4. To remove desire, follow the Eight-fold path


Noble Eight-fold Path

  1. Right Knowledge
    • Understand the Four Noble Truths
  2. Right Thinking
    • Decide to set a life on the correct path
  3. Right Speech
    • Don't lie
    • Don't criticize others unjustly
    • Don't use harsh language
    • Don't gossip
  4. Right Conduct
    • Follow the Five Precepts
  5. Right Livelihood
    • Earn a living that does not harm living things
  6. Right Effort
    • Conquer all evil thoughts
    • Strive to maintain good thoughts
  7. Right Mindfulness
    • Become intensely aware of all the states in body, feeling, and mind.
  8. Right Concentration
    • Deep meditation to lead to a higher state of consciousness (enlightenment)

Five Precepts

  1. Do not kill
  2. Do not steal
  3. Do not lie
  4. Do not be unchaste
  5. Do not take drugs or drink intoxicants


The Three Jewels

  1. Buddham saranam gachami
    • To the Buddha I go for refuge.
    • Buddha is truth and example of path.
  2. Dharmam saranam gachami
    • To the Dharma (Dhamma) I go for refuge.
    • Dharma is teachings.
  3. Sangham saranam gachami
    • To my Sangha I go for refuge.
    • Sangha is spiritual community.



Continue to: The Four Noble Truths & The Noble Eight-Fold Path
Return to:
Buddhism Introduction

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