Turning the Wheel of Truth: Commentary on the Buddhas First Teaching

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Individuals or small groups of monks — a teacher and his students, or several monks who were friends — traveled together, living on the outskirts of local communities and practicing meditation in the forests. Monks and nuns were expected to live with a minimum of possessions, which were to be voluntarily provided by the lay community.

Lay followers provided the daily food that monks required, provided shelter for monks when they were needed; some Buddhist schools assert that during the Buddha's time, many retreats and gardens were donated by wealthy citizens for monks and nuns to stay in during the rainy season. More than one monk stayed in each house with each monk in his own cell, called a parivena.

This property was donated and maintained by a wealthy citizen; this was more lavish. It consisted of residences within orchards or parks. One of the more famous Arama is Anathapindika's, known as Anathapindikassa arame , built on Prince Jeta's grove. It had buildings worth 1.

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After the parinirvana of the Buddha, the Buddhist monastic order developed into a cenobitic movement; the practice of living communally during the rainy vassa season, prescribed by the Buddha grew to encompass a settled monastic life centered on life in a community of practitioners.

Most of the modern disciplinary rules followed by monks and nuns—the Patimokkha—relate to such an existing, prescribing in great detail proper methods for living and relating in a community of monks or nuns; the number of rules observed. There are a larger number of rules specified for bhikkhunis.

Buddhism has no central authority, therefore many different varieties of practice and philosophy have developed over its history, including among monastic communities, sometimes leading to schisms in the sangha; the information presented here, unless otherwise noted, characterises only certain Buddhist monks who follow the most strict regulations of the'Southern Schools' tradition.

In some schools of Buddhism, notably those lineages in South East Asia that compose Theravada , the Buddhist monastic community is theoretically divided into two assemblies, the male bhikkhu assembly, the female bhikkhuni assembly. According to some stories, although his followers consisted only of men, the Buddha recognized women as followers after his stepmother, asked for and received permission to live as an ordained practitioner; the Buddha's disciple Ananda insisted on including female order.

Female monastic communities in the bhikkhuni lineage were never established in the Vajrayana communities of Tibet and Nepal. Ordination in the bhikkhuni lineage continues to exist among East Asian communities, attempts have been made at a revival in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka. Such divisions are more made in the Northern schools, or in the West.

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Monks and nuns are expected to fulfill a variety of roles in the Buddhist community. First and foremost, they are expected to preserve the discipline now known as Buddhism, they are expected to provide a living example for the laity , to serve as a "field of merit" for lay followers, providing laymen and women with the opportunity to earn merit by giving gifts and support to the monks. In return for the support of the laity and nuns are expected to live an austere life focused on the study of Buddhist doctrine, the practice of meditation , the observance of good moral character; the relative degree of emphasis on meditation or study has been debated in the Buddhist community.

Many continued to keep a relationship with their original families. A Bhikkhu or Bhikkhuni first ordains as a Samanera for a year or more. Male novices ordain at a young age, but no younger than 8. Women choose to orda. The first documented translation efforts by Buddhist monks in China were in the 2nd century CE under the influence of the expansion of the Kushan Empire into the Chinese territory of the Tarim Basin under Kanishka ; these contacts brought Gandharan Buddhist culture into territories adjacent to China proper. Direct contact between Central Asian and Chinese Buddhism continued throughout the 3rd to 7th century, well into the Tang period.

From the 4th century onward, with Faxian's pilgrimage to India , Xuanzang , Chinese pilgrims started to travel by themselves to northern India, their source of Buddhism, in order to get improved access to original scriptures. Much of the land route connecting northern India with China at that time was ruled by the Kushan Empire, the Hephthalite Empire ; the Indian form of Buddhist tantra reached China in the 7th century. Tibetan Buddhism was established as a branch of Vajrayana , in the 8th century. But from about this time, the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism began to decline with the Muslim conquest of Transoxiana , resulting in the Uyghur Khaganate by the s.

By this time, Indian Buddhism itself was in decline, due to the resurgence of Hinduism on one hand and due to the Muslim expansion on the other, while Tang-era Chinese Buddhism was repressed in the 9th century, but not before in its turn giving rise to Korean and Japanese traditions.

Buddhism was brought to China via the Silk Road. Buddhist monks travelled with merchant caravans on the Silk Road; the lucrative Chinese silk trade along this trade route began during the Han Dynasty with the establishment by Alexander the Great of a system of Hellenistic kingdoms and trade networks extending from the Mediterranean to modern Afghanistan and Tajikistan on the borders of China. See Dayuan. The transmission of Buddhism to China via the Silk Road started in the 1st century CE with a semi-legendary account of an embassy sent to the West by the Chinese Emperor Ming: It may be assumed that travelers or pilgrims brought Buddhism along the Silk Roads , but whether this first occurred from the earliest period when those roads were open, ca.

The earliest direct references to Buddhism concern the 1st century AD, but they include hagiographical elements and are not reliable or accurate. Extensive contacts however started in the 2nd century CE as a consequence of the expansion of the Greco-Buddhist Kushan Empire into the Chinese territory of the Tarim Basin, with the missionary efforts of a great number of Central Asian Buddhist monks to Chinese lands; the first missionaries and translators of Buddhists scriptures into Chinese were either Parthian , Sogdian or Kuchean.

As a consequence, cultural exchanges increased, Central Asian Buddhist missionaries became active shortly after in the Chinese capital cities of Loyang and sometimes Nanjing , where they distinguished themselves by their translation work. Thirty-seven of these early translators of Buddhist texts are known. According to the earliest reference to him, by Yang Xuanzhi , he was a monk of Central Asian origin whom Yang Xuanshi met around at Loyang.

Throughout Buddhist art, Bodhidharma is depicted as a rather ill-tempered, profusely bearded and wide-eyed barbarian, he is referred to as "The Blue-Eyed Barbarian" in Chinese Chan texts. The word Pali is used as a name for the language of the Theravada canon. Childers translates the word as "series" and states that the language "bears the epithet in consequence of the perfection of its grammatical structure". However, modern scholarship has regarded Pali as a mix of several Prakrit languages from around the 3rd century BCE, combined together and Sanskritized ; the closest artifacts to Pali that have been found in India are Edicts of Ashoka found at Gujarat , in the west of India, leading some scholars to associate Pali with this region of western India.

Pali, as a Middle Indo-Aryan language, is different from Sanskrit more with regard to its dialectal base than the time of its origin. However, this view is not shared by all scholars. Some, like A. Many Theravada sources refer to the Pali language as "Magadhan" or the "language of Magadha"; this identification first appears in the commentaries, may have been an attempt by Buddhists to associate themselves more with the Maurya Empire.

But the four most important places in Buddha's life are all outside of it, it is that he taught in several related dialects of Middle Indo-Aryan , which had a high degree of mutual intelligibility. There is no attested dialect of Middle Indo-Aryan with all the features of Pali.

The Great Discourse on the Wheel of Dhamma - Part 1

Pali has some commonalities with both the western Ashokan Edicts at Girnar in Saurashtra , the Central-Western Prakrit found in the eastern Hathigumpha inscription; the similarities of the Saurashtran inscriptions to the Hathigumpha inscription may be misleading because the latter suggests the Ashokan scribe may not have translated the material he received from Magadha into the vernacular. Whatever the relationship of the Buddha's speech to Pali, the Canon was transcribed and preserved in it, while the commentarial tradition that accompanied it was translated into Sinhala and preserved in local languages for several generations.

In Sri Lanka , Pali is thought to have entered into a period of decline ending around the 4th or 5th century, but survived. The work of Buddhaghosa was responsible for its reemergence as an important scholarly language in Buddhist thought; the Visuddhimagga , the other commentaries that Buddhaghosa compiled and condensed the Sinhala commentarial tradition, preserved and expanded in Sri Lanka since the 3rd century BCE.

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Decline of Buddhism in the Indian subcontinent The decline of Buddhism in the Indian subcontinent refers to a gradual process of dwindling and replacement of Buddhism in India , which ended around the 12th century. According to Lars Fogelin, this was "with a singular cause. Another factor were invasions of north India by various groups such as Huns , Turco-mongols and Persians and subsequent destruction of Buddhist institutions such as Nalanda and religious persecutions.

Religious competition with Hinduism and Islam were important factors; the total Buddhist population in in the Indian subcontinent — excluding that of Sri Lanka and Bhutan — was about 10 million, of which about 7. Buddhism expanded in the Indian subcontinent in the centuries after the death of the Buddha after receiving the endorsement and royal support of the Maurya Empire under Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE, it spread beyond the Indian subcontinent to Central Asia and China.

The Buddha's period saw not only urbanisation , but the beginnings of centralised states. The successful expansion of Buddhism depended on the growing economy of the time, together with increased centralised political organisation capable of change. Buddhism spread across ancient India and state support by various regional regimes continued through the 1st-millennium BCE; the consolidation of monastic organisation made Buddhism the centre of religious and intellectual life in India.

During the Gupta dynasty, Mahayana Buddhism turned more ritualistic, while Buddhist ideas were adopted into Hindu schools; the differences between Buddhism and Hinduism blurred, Vaishnavism and other Hindu traditions became popular, while Brahmins developed a new relationship with the state. As the system grew, Buddhist monasteries lost control of land revenue. In parallel, the Gupta kings built Buddhist temples such as the one at Kushinagara , monastic universities such as those at Nalanda, as evidenced by records left by three Chinese visitors to India.

Chinese scholars traveling through the region between the 5th and 8th centuries, such as Faxian , Yijing , Hui-sheng, Sung-Yun, began to speak of a decline of the Buddhist Sangha in the Northwestern parts of Indian subcontinent in the wake of the Hun invasion from central Asia in the 6th century CE. Xuanzang wrote that numerous monasteries in north-western India had been reduced to ruins by the Huns; the Hun ruler Mihirakula , who ruled from CE in north-western region, suppressed Buddhism as well.

He did this by destroying monasteries as far away as modern-day Allahabad. Yashodharman and Gupta Empire rulers, in and after about CE, reversed Mihirakula's campaign and ended the Mihirakula era. According to Peter Harvey , the religion recovered from these invasions during the 7th century, with the "Buddhism of southern Pakistan remaining strong.

By the eleventh century, Pala rule had weakened however. The regionalisation of India after the end of the Gupta Empire led to the loss of patronage and donations; the prevailing view of decline of Buddhism in India is summed by A. Basham's classic study which argues that the main cause was the rise of a reformed religion, " Hinduism ", which focused on the worship of deities like Shiva and Vishnu and became more popular among the common people while Buddhism, being focused on monastery life, had become disconnected from public life and its life rituals, which were all left to Hindu Brahmins; the growth of new forms of Hinduism was a key element in the decline in Buddhism in India in terms of diminishing financial support to Buddhist monasteries from laity and royalty.

According to Hazra, Buddhism declined in part because of the rise of the Brahmins and their influence in socio-political process; the disintegration of central power led to regionalisation of religiosity, religious rivalry. Rural and devotional movements arose within Hinduism, along with Shaivism , Vaishnavism and Tantra , that competed with each other, as well as with numerous sects of Buddhism and Jainism.

This fragmentation of power into feudal kingdoms was detrimental for Buddhism, as royal support shifted towards other communities and Brahmins developed a strong relationship with Indian states. Over time the new Indian dynasties which arose after the 7th and 8th centuries tended to support the Brahmanical ideology and Hinduism, this conversion proved decisive; these new dynasties, all of which supported Brahmanical Hinduism, include "the Karkotas and Pratiharas of the north, the Rashtrakutas of the Deccan, the Pandyas and Pallavas of the south".

One of the reasons of this conversion was that the brahmins were willing and able to aid in local administration, they provided councillors and clerical staff. Moreover, brahmins had clear ideas about society and statecraft and could be more pragmatic than the Buddhists , whose religion was based on monastic renunci.

The truths are: dukkha is an innate characteristic of existence with each rebirth, they are traditionally identified as the first teaching given by the Buddha , considered one of the most important teachings in Buddhism. The four truths appear in many grammatical forms in the ancient Buddhist texts, they have both a symbolic and a propositional function. Symbolically, they represent the awakening and liberation of the Buddha, of the potential for his followers to reach the same religious experience as him; as propositions, the Four Truths are a conceptual framework that appear in the Pali canon and early Hybrid Sanskrit Buddhist scriptures.

They are a part of the broader "network of teachings", they provide a conceptual framework for introducing and explaining Buddhist thought, which has to be understood or "experienced". As a proposition, the four truths defy an exact definition, but refer to and express the basic orientation of Buddhism: unguarded sensory contact gives rise to craving and clinging to impermanent states and things , which are dukkha, "incapable of satisfying" and painful. This craving keeps us caught in samsara , the endless cycle of repeated rebirth, the continued dukkha that comes with it.

There is a way to end this cycle, namely by attaining nirvana , cessation of craving, whereafter rebirth and the accompanying dukkha will no longer arise again; this can be accomplished by following the eightfold path, confining our automatic responses to sensory contact by restraining oneself, cultivating discipline and wholesome states, practicing mindfulness and dhyana. The function of the four truths, their importance, developed over time and the Buddhist tradition recognized them as the Buddha's first teaching; this tradition was established when prajna , or "liberating insight", came to be regarded as liberating in itself, instead of or in addition to the practice of dhyana.

This "liberating insight" gained a prominent place in the sutras, the four truths came to represent this liberating insight, as a part of the enlightenment story of the Buddha; the four truths grew to be of central importance in the Theravada tradition of Buddhism by about the 5th-century CE, which holds that the insight into the four truths is liberating in itself. They are less prominent in the Mahayana tradition, which sees the higher aims of insight into sunyata and following the Bodhisattva path as central elements in their teachings and practice. The Mahayana tradition reinterpreted the four truths to explain how a liberated being can still be "pervasively operative in this world".

Beginning with the exploration of Buddhism by western colonialists in the 19th century and the development of Buddhist modernism , they came to be presented in the west as the central teaching of Buddhism, sometimes with novel modernistic reinterpretations different from the historic Buddhist traditions in Asia; the four truths are best known from their presentation in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta text, which contains two sets of the four truths, while various other sets can be found in the Pali Canon , a collection of scriptures in the Theravadan Buddhist tradition.

The full set, most used in modern expositions, contains grammatical errors, pointing to multiple sources for this set and translation problems within the ancient Buddhist community. They were considered correct by the Pali tradition, which didn't correct them. According to the Buddhist tradition, the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, "Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion", contains the first teachings that the Buddha gave after attaining full awakening, liberation from rebirth. According to L.

Cousins , many scholars are of the view that "this discourse was identified as the first sermon of the Buddha only at a date," and according to professor of religion Carol S. Anderson the four truths may not have been part of this sutta, but were added in some versions. Within this discourse, the four noble truths are given as follows: Now this, bhikkhus , is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering.

Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving which leads to re-becoming, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there. Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering: it is the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, non-reliance on it. Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: it is this noble eightfold path.

According to this sutra, with the complete comprehension of these four truths release from samsara, the cycle of rebirth, was attain. Dharma Dharma is a key concept with multiple meanings in Indian religions like Hinduism , Jainism and others. There is no single-word translation for dharma in Western languages. In Buddhism , dharma means "cosmic law and order", is applied to the teachings of Buddha. Dharma in Jainism refers to the teachings of tirthankara and the body of doctrine pertaining to the purification and moral transformation of human beings.

For Sikhs , the word dharm means the path of proper religious practice; the word dharma was in use in the historical Vedic religion, its meaning and conceptual scope has evolved over several millennia. It is derived from an older Vedic Sanskrit n-stem dharman-, with a literal meaning of "bearer, supporter", in a religious sense conceived as an aspect of Rta. Figuratively, it means "sustainer" and "supporter", it is semantically similar to the Greek Themis. In some contemporary Indian languages and dialects it alternatively occurs as dharm. Dharma is a concept of central importance in Indian religion, it has multiple meanings in Hinduism and Jainism.

It is difficult to provide a single concise definition for dharma, as the word has a long and varied history and straddles a complex set of meanings and interpretations. There is no equivalent single-word synonym for dharma in western languages. There have been numerous, conflicting attempts to translate ancient Sanskrit literature with the word dharma into German and French; the concept, claims Paul Horsch, has caused exceptional difficulties for modern commentators and translators. For example, while Grassmann's translation of Rig-veda identifies seven different meanings of dharma, Karl Friedrich Geldner in his translation of the Rig-veda employs 20 different translations for dharma, including meanings such as "law", "order", "duty", "custom", "quality", "model", among others.

However, the word dharma has become a accepted loanword in English, is included in all modern unabridged English dictionaries. The root of the word dharma is "dhri", which means "to support, hold, or bear", it is the thing that regulates the course of change by not participating in change, but that principle which remains constant. Monier-Williams , the cited resource for definitions and explanation of Sanskrit words and concepts of Hinduism, offers numerous definitions of the word dharma , such as that, established or firm, steadfast decree, law, custom, right, virtue, ethics, religious merit, good works, character, property.

Yet, each of these definitions is incomplete, while the combination of these translations does not convey the total sense of the word. In common parlance, dharma means "right way of living" and "path of rightness"; the meaning of the word dharma depends on the context, its meaning has evolved as ideas of Hinduism have developed through history.

In the earliest texts and ancient myths of Hinduism, dharma meant cosmic law, the rules that created the universe from chaos, as well as rituals.


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In certain contexts, dharma designates human behaviours considered necessary for order of things in the universe, principles that prevent chaos and action necessary to all life in nature, family as well as at the individual level. Dharma encompasses ideas such as duty, character, religion and all behaviour considered appropriate, correct or morally upright; the antonym of dharma is adharma , meaning that, "not dharma". From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Dharma Concepts. Buddhist texts.

Three Turnings of the Dharma Wheel

Buddhism by country. Buddhism portal. Gombrich []. We contend that this drastically understates the evidence. A sympathetic assessment of relevant evidence shows that it is very likely that the bulk of the sayings in the EBTS that are attributed to the Buddha were actually spoken by him, it is very unlikely that most of these sayings are inauthentic. See also Anderson , Pain and its Ending , p. Even if these arguments do not prove that the four truths are definitely a later insertion in the Dhammacakkapavattana-sutta, it is certainly possible to take the position that the sutta itself is relatively late.

That is, we are not dealing here with propositional truths with which we must either agree or disagree, but with four 'true things' or 'realities' whose nature, we are told, the Buddha finally understood on the night of his awakening. According to A. According to Warder, c.

It may be substantially the Buddhism of the Buddha himself, although this cannot be proved: at any rate it is a Buddhism presupposed by the schools as existing about a hundred years after the parinirvana of the Buddha, and there is no evidence to suggest that it was formulated by anyone else than the Buddha and his immediate followers. Anandajoti Bhikkhu trans. Kuala Lumpur: Sukhi Hotu. Also available on-line. Cohen, Robert S. London: Routledge. Gombrich, Richard F. Hercus et al. Canberra, pp.

Norman, K. Topics in Buddhism.

Prajnaparamita Sutra

Likened to an embryo or a womb, this essence garbha provides the potentiality for living beings to be reborn into completely awakened Buddhas. The Jonang emphasize the view of the Buddha's 3rd turning sutra discourses as definitive, and the meditation practice of the Kalachakra Tantra. Based upon a zhentong view, the Jonang consider one's enlightened essence or "buddha-nature" as the foundation upon which all spiritual transformation occurs.

In general, Buddhist tantric practice has two stages of actualizing oneself as a sublime form or deity. These two stages of tantric meditation are: 1 "generation stage"; 2 "completion stage. The entire Kalachakra Tantra including its generation and completion stage practices were sustained in India before being transmitted into Tibet. From the 11th century onwards, there are said to be 17 distinct Tibetan lineages of the Kalachakra Tantra. Among these transmissions of the Kalachakra that spread throughout Tibet, two main lineages have survived: the Rwa lineage and the Dro lineage.

Though there are minor branches to these two main transmission lineages, the Dro lineage is upheld primarily by the Jonang tradition while the other traditions of Tibetan Buddhism have generally upheld the Rwa lineage. As the Rwa lineage continues to transmit the empowerments and sustain the generation stage practices of the Kalachakra, the completion stage practices known as the 6-fold vajrayoga "six yogas," sbyor drug of the Kalachakra have only been preserved within the Dro lineage of the Jonang tradition.

Jonang Foundation is a c 3 non-profit organization. The purposes of Jonang Foundation are to serve as an online educational resource, support the living Jonang tradition through educational and cultural preservation initiatives, and promote research and scholarship about this distinct tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

Jonang Foundation Cambridge Street P. Box : Cambridge, MA U. Jonang Foundation. Masters Sites Timeline Map. The Jonangpa Blog. Dolpopa's Song of Auspiciousness in Translation. Shangpa Sites on Tibet Map.


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