Siddhartha Gautama-Buddha

" Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow, come and go like the wind. To be happy, rest like a giant tree in the midst of them all"
~ Buddha

Dr. David R. Hawkins, M.D., PhD wrote, 'Truth vs. Falsehood'
"The great avatars set the ultimate paradigm of reality and standard of conduct for all of humanity for thousands of years. Of those, the Lords Krishna-{Vyasadeva author of Rig-Veda}, Buddha, Zoroaster-{Zarathushtra}, and Jesus Christ all calibrate at 1,000. All the names for Divinity calibrate as Infinity. The revered great sages and their teachings calibrate in the 700's (extremely rare) such as Huang Po and Ramana Maharishi.” -Hawkins.

I am working my way through the Teachings and History of each of the Avatars. Buddha the Enlightened One is next! He lived over 2,500 years ago and his teachings are still spreading wildly across the West through Yoga and meditation. Today I heard that San Francisco has Doggie Yoga Classes (Doga)! I'm sure Buddha is laughing!
That’s me in a Buddhist Temple in Bangkok, Thailand. I invite you on my journey around the world to stand in holy sites.... From Hollywood to God is my memoir on Amazon and Kindle, below is a tiny piece of this great adventure!

Siddhartha Gautama-Buddha 563 BCE to 483 BCE
"Streams of Tradition: Buddhism, East to West"

by Rev. Dr. Al Bloom ("any statements in bold print are not necessarily Bloom’s."}

Buddhism rose on the background of the Upanishadic tradition in Indian religion. Upanishadic philosophy was itself a reaction to the Vedic- Brahmanic religious system of ancient India which revolved around priestly, sacrificial beliefs and practices. The Upanishadic sages, while holding to the authority of the Vedas, embarked on independent spiritual quests in an effort to experience union with ultimate reality called Brahman within their own psyches, termed atman. It was what we might generally called a mystical teaching.

The independence which the sages of the Upanishads had shown toward the Vedic ritual and religion was not without its influence on the development of other emerging schools of thought. These schools, which included Buddhism and its contemporary movement Jainism, were distinguished by the fact that they totally rejected the Vedic tradition and produced their own teachings and literature.
In this discussion the focus our attention is on Buddhism which became an influential source of' spiritual inspiration throughout all Asia.

Jainism is distinguished for its extreme ascetic teaching, its peculiar view of karma and its way to salvation. Although the patterns of the two religions are quite similar, Buddhism has been by far the most widespread and enduring in its influence beyond India.

In each case a member of the warrior-noble class rejected a life of pleasure and social prestige in order to seek a way of salvation. Salvation meant liberation from the sufferings inherent in human involvement in the stream of births and deaths. This stream, known as samsara, is the realm of finitude where one experiences the effects of one's past karmic deeds.

Karma refers to the good or bad deeds a person has committed in past lives.
Present life is the fruit of such past karma, while the actions we perform in this life creates karma for the future and succeeding lives.
The form and character of one’s future life depends on the quality of one’s karma. The teaching presupposes a belief in transmigration, repeated births and deaths, through many lives until salvation is won. There is perfect justice since the punishment always fits the crime and retribution will always be achieved.

In Buddhism, however, the concept of karma not only took into account the past, but all the causes and conditions that entwine themselves in our lives. It is not a fatalistic attitude, since each new existence and the choices we make are believed offer an opportunity to establish a positive future. Karma is experienced as an awareness of our personal responsibility to life and is not to be regarded as a metaphysical system for judging the lives and actions other beings.
It is clear that Buddhism and Jainism very largely accepted the Indian analysis of human existence as one of suffering brought about through ignorance, delusion and passion.

However, the means, which were employed to gain release, took varying forms in the respective teachings so that they soon came to be marked off clearly from Hinduism and from each other. It should be noted that the concept of karma is one of the most widely accepted beliefs throughout Asia and to some extent in Western tradition.
While Jainism continues in India as a sub-caste and the
Buddha has been accepted in Hinduism as the tenth incarnation of Vishnu,
Buddhism essentially died out there for various reasons such as the invasions of Islam and resurgent Hinduism. Nevertheless, Buddhism eventually became the major religion of' the Southeast and North Asian lands.

We will begin our exploration with a summary of the life of Gautama Buddha-and the major points of his teaching as an illustration of a creative movement within ancient Indian religion.
The life of the Buddha (536 B.C. - 483 B.C.) is shrouded in age-old myths and legends, of the sort that generally attach themselves to the great religious founders and heroes of history. However, the study of Buddha's life in a scientific way has rapidly gained ground in the modern period. Western interest began largely in the nineteenth century when increased communications and relations with Buddhist countries brought it to the attention of scholars.

While we cannot go into detail sifting fact from fancy, it is generally safe to say that even though it is possible to reach a firm historical understanding of the Buddha's life, there is no continuous life given in the scriptures. The biographies that do exist were put together by later writers who wove historical and legendary events together. For our present purposes, we shall summarize the basic outline of Gautama's career and the teachings he set forth. Buddha's given name was Siddhartha (which means "desire accomplished") and his family or clan name was Gautama. The frequent title Sakyamuni, means sage of the “Sakyas,” because he is believed to have descended from a noble family of the Sakya tribe of northeast India. The Sakyas were more likely local tribes who were included in the greater kingdom of Magadha which had recently formed. The term "rajah" used of Buddha's father may mean only a tribal chief. In an early dialogue attributed to the Buddha he simply said: The ascetic Gotama has gone forth from a rich family. Of great wealth, of great possessions.

In this passage there is no mention of royal lineage such as appears in later accounts.
The birth of Buddha, under whatever conditions it may have occurred, is generally placed by scholars in 563 B.C. at a town called Lumbini which is located in the region of Nepal.

The traditional story relates a mythic tale that his mother Maya miraculously gave birth from her right side as the result of a dream of being impregnated by a great white elephant. The new-born child was capable of walking seven steps in all directions and declaring that he was the most honored one in the world. Soon thereafter his mother died. However, nothing certain is known of Gautama’s childhood.

In order for the traditions to lay the basis for his later renunciation of ordinary social life and search for enlightenment, they contain frequent descriptions of his luxurious life in the palace and his father's determined attempts to shield him from the miseries of life. According to the legend, Suddhodana, his father, had been told by a seer that his son would be either be a universal ruler or a Buddha (a holy man). In order to prevent him from becoming a Buddha, the father tried to isolate him from the world. At the age of sixteen his father reputedly presented him with a host of dancing girls; he also married at this time. From this marriage he had a son Rahula (a name that means “impediment”) who later became a disciple. From the age of sixteen to age twenty-nine, the tradition depicts the young Gautama as living a life of utter luxury and ease.

At the age of twenty-nine, Gautama was suddenly shaken out of his worldly complacency by the sight of people suffering from old age, sickness and death. This aroused within him a desire to renounce and abandon the world. On seeing a serene mendicant, he resolved to become a monk.

While the tradition gives an extended story of his experience, there are indications that Gautama arrived at his decision through reflection on the nature of life without the exceptional story of his dramatic encounters with individuals suffering these ills. It is clear that he was a reflective person; that he had given thought to the problem of sickness and death. He knew within himself instinctively that he would experience these conditions. Contemplating human destiny, his youthful joy departed. One need not be a future king to arrive at this conclusion. There arose in him a profound desire to transcend such conditions and find a state of spiritual peace and contentment. Once having made this resolve he never turned back. When he eventually discovered the path, he compassionately taught it to others.
According to tradition, after Gautama left home to begin the search for emancipation, he studied for a period of six years under several teachers. He was unable, however, to attain an assurance of the truth, under any of them, though he mastered the doctrines and methods of each teacher.

Joining together with a group of five companions in a common search, he engaged in rigorous ascetic discipline. However, even under these austerities, he failed to attain liberation. Finally, he struck out on his own, rejecting extreme practices and leaving his companions behind. They condemned Gautama and swore to shun him, because he appeared to give up serious striving. Nevertheless, through deep determination and meditation under a 7 Banyan tree for a period of forty-nine days, Gautama attained Enlightenment. He awoke from his delusions and experienced freedom from ego bondage. His experience was captured in a poem which purported to be his first words after Enlightenment:

Through worldly round of many births
Ran my course, but did not find, Seeking the builder of the house;
Painful is birth again and again. House-builder! I behold thee now,
Again a house thou shalt not build; All thy rafters are broken now
The ridge-pole also is destroyed;
My mind, its elements dissolved
The end of cravings has been attained.

Though gaining insight into the true nature of existence, he at first hesitated to declare this message to others because it was too subtle.
Through the urgings of the gods, he finally devoted himself to teaching others to reach the same goal.
He first sought out his former companions who had vowed never to associate with him again. He found them at the city of Benares. Struck by his winsomeness (winsomeness - childlike charm or appeal) and spiritual bearing they immediately became his disciples. On this occasion he outlined for them the distinctive features of Buddhist teaching, which represent the essence of what he had gained by his enlightenment. These initial teachings are contained in text The First Turning of the Wheel (of Dharma) or the first sermon of the Buddha. The principles set forth in this text form the core of what is presently known as Theravada Buddhism and have been recognized and accepted by all traditions. The winning over of the five disciples and the proclamation of his teaching marked the inauguration of Buddha’s mission to share the teachings with others.

The process of gaining Enlightenment took Gautama six years. At the age of thirty-five, Siddhartha Gautama, now the Buddha or Awakened One, began his lengthy teaching career of forty-five years. During this time he traversed Northern India with his band of disciples, discussing his teachings and practices freely with laypeople, religious leaders and officials of all kinds. He passed away at the age of eighty in 483 BCE.

Chapter Two
The Teaching of the Buddha: Two Streams of Tradition
A. The Theravada Tradition: The Way of the Elders
The teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha were passed down through oral tradition and only centuries later committed to writing. Initially there were various groups, making up what are known as the thirteen sects of early Buddhism. From these groups the Theravada tradition or Way of the Elders and the Mahayana tradition or the Greater Vehicle carried forward Gautama’s teaching and developed it further. The Theravada tradition is primarily the mode of Buddhism of South Asia in the countries of Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. The Mahayana tradition moved to the Northwest of India and eventually to China and East Asia, Korea and Japan, and into Tibet.
According to Buddhist tradition the content of Buddha's Enlightenment experience is enshrined in the First Teaching entitled: “The Turning of the Wheel of the Law (Dharma” delivered to his five companions in the Deer Park near Benares (presently at Sarnath).
It is titled Here Buddha outlined the principles of the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Noble Path and the Middle Path between the extremes of hedonism and asceticism, as the essential way to emancipation and attainment of Nirvana.

These teachings give in capsule form the Buddha’s diagnosis of the human problem and the means of its cure. Briefly stated the Four Noble Truths are: a) b) c) d)
The cause of suffering is craving (lust, greed, thirst, desire). Suffering can be removed through the cessation of craving. The cessation of craving is attained through the practice of
the-Eightfold Noble Path which involves:
Right Views
Right Intent
Right Speech
Right Conduct
Right Means of Livelihood
Right Endeavor
Right Mindfulness
Right Meditation

The Four Noble Truths find differing responses among Western peoples nurtured in the Judaeo-Christian perspectives on life. Many Western people view the Buddhist outlook on life and its solution to problems as pessimistic and negative. However, the assertion of suffering, as life’s fundamental reality,9 may be more realistic than it is negative. The Buddha tried to "tell it like it is." And show us life as it really is. He, therefore, pointed clearly to the root of all human dilemmas.

The notion that all life is suffering, when viewed from a broad perspective, refers to the physical, mental and spiritual limitations and obstacles that frustrate people in their struggles for personal fulfillment. Everything good, worthwhile or pleasurable involves a degree of pain or dissatisfaction.
Buddha expressed an important truth about the experience of living; the fact of suffering is indisputable, though our response to it may vary according to our understanding.

Buddha's view that craving is the source of suffering can be seen as a realistic rather than negative appraisal of human life. Egoistic desires, lust, greed and grasping, as well as the attachment, involvements and actions they produce, are the causes of much human misery to which history and personal experience can attest.

In a succinct way the optimism of Buddhism appears in the belief that we can solve the problems of existence through the abolition of craving and its concomitants.
We should note that translators have often used the term desire to translate the word for craving in the original language. Consequently, Western people have discounted Buddhism arguing that desire is indispensable for life and that a life totally without desire would be undesirable. We should observe that the principle of no desire, taken in absolute form, refers to the highest state of spiritual development--the ultimate state known as Nirvana—a term which means the total cessation of desire. This state is inconceivable. In the context of ordinary living, the craving to which the Buddha refers is more on the order of lust or thirst. It is these desires or drives that reflect an addiction, which is also sometimes referred to in Buddhism as “blind passion,” that may drive a person to act even against his/her own best interests.

The method for gaining control of one’s cravings is the practice of the Eightfold Noble Path.

The various facets of this path are guidelines. It is not a case that one size fits all. Rather, in the course of Buddhist history it has been widely recognized that individuals vary in their levels of attainment.
The ideal urges people to achieve greater control over their cravings at whatever level of life or spiritual development they may find themselves.
It is not a perfectionist teaching.
We cannot go into an analysis of each facet of the Eightfold Noble Path, but it should be noted that it embraces the whole scope of religious or contemplative life. Some interpreters emphasize mainly the ethical aspect although this is only a part of the path.

However, ethical action forms a secondary element leading to the achievement of the experience of Nirvana and full liberation from the state of finitude. It can be seen that the Buddha aimed at more than ethics, but ethics is the cornerstone of all true spiritual endeavor.
Like the teachers of the Upanishads, the Buddha presented a complete system of moral and mental discipline. It was a total way of life. The path to enlightenment, based on the Eightfold Noble Path has traditionally been divided into three parts:
Sila, precepts; Samadhi, concentration-meditation; and Prajna, wisdom. The aspect of Sila refers to the specifically moral, ethical and social requirements of Buddhism.
For lay people five precepts were demanded. A lay person must refrain from killing, stealing, unchastity, lying and drunkenness. For the monk, the precepts increased to ten. In addition to the five for lay people, the novice monk had to avoid eating at improper times, engaging in frivolous activities such as dancing and music, the use of perfumes and adornments, sleeping on high beds and handling money.

Also there were a collection of some 250 rules for men and 348 for women that formed the basis of monastic life. The code was recited every two weeks. The whole system of regulations covering all aspects of monastic life is called Vinaya or discipline and includes many hundreds of regulations, legislated, as required during the course of the development of the Order even after Buddha's death.

Samadhi or concentration is the heart of the Buddhist discipline and the gateway to Enlightenment. As the Buddha pioneered the way to Nirvana in the cross-legged Lotus posture, this position became central for Buddhist meditation. Samadhi has two major aspects. On the one hand, there is the practice of calming and on the other, insight. The former is a process of withdrawal of the senses and the mind from their attachment to worldly objects and involvement with the phenomenal world. This is the precondition to developing the mental alertness required for insight.

The process of concentration is subdivided into various stages of dhyana or meditation. In early Buddhism there were four stages of
dhyana which had various spiritual characteristics involving deep joy and pleasure. In the fourth dhyana the monk, transcending both pain and pleasure, possesses complete mindfulness and tranquility. These levels were further elaborated in later times, reaching as many as eight or nine levels.
The achievement of the final aspect of Wisdom or Prajna in Buddhist discipline signifies that the devotee has totally transcended every finite attachment and form of bondage. In this life he/she manifests a freedom of the spirit and an ability to move through the world without defilement.
In the ultimate sense, it is the realization of indescribable Nirvana when all passions and karmic causes have been dissipated, and one is totally free from the stream of births and deaths.

It is interesting to note that the Buddha's awareness of transiency and inevitability in life and that life, in and of itself, appears to be empty of all meaning, shows some correlation with what is commonly called the philosophy of existentialism. On the inexorability of death and transiency the Dhammapada states:
Not in the sky, not in the midst of the Sea, not if we enter into the cleft of the mountains, is..there known a spot in the whole world where death could not overcome (the mortal).

This point is brought home graphically in the Buddhist parable of the mustard seed.
In this story a woman, in deep despair at the death of her young son, asked the Buddha what she could do to bring him back. He advised her to acquire a mustard seed from the home in which no one had ever died. This task would furnish medicine for her to restore her son. She began her search but soon realized the truth: There is no house that has not known death, that death comes inevitably to all. Realizing that such loss is an inevitable part of life, she was able to accept her child's death.
For the Buddha, death signified that all things are impermanent and subject to decay. Flux and change are at the heart of reality.

His last word was: Decay is inherent in all component things! Work out your salvation with diligence.
The awareness of change in all things brings at first a sense of despair as is reflected in the initial experience of Gautama himself. If all is change and flux, then life is meaningless. The idea of transmigration intensifies this meaninglessness, because it implies a continual process of repeating life within the sphere of change. The anxiety created by meaninglessness is aggravated by blind passion (craving) as beings try to grasp things and hold on to them in order to have some sense of permanence, while ignoring that everything we desire passes away. In this act of clinging to things, the Buddha perceived that the root of suffering was the attribution of importance to things which are ultimately unimportant. The spirit of acquisition is the root of misery.

Thus he said: Let no man ever look for what is pleasant or what is unpleasant. Not to see what is pleasant is pain, and it is pain to see what is unpleasant.
Let, therefore, no man love anything; loss of the beloved is, evil.
Those who love nothing, and hate nothing, have no fetters.
As a buttress for the argument for non-attachment to the things of the world, Buddha employed the argument of cause and effect to show that everything is fundamentally non-substantial, having no abiding or permanent essence. This argument corresponds to some extent to the modern existentialist viewpoint that existence precedes essence.
For the Buddha, as with existentialists, there is no ideal world of essences with which one must identify or experience to have pleasure and meaning. Rather, existence is conditioned by the insight of a dynamic reality in which only the law of change is without change.
Philosophically, the Buddha realized that everything exists interdependently and nothing exists in its own right or in isolation from everything else.

While the initial impact of the awareness of transience is the despair and anxiety resulting from a sense of meaninglessness, there is hope in the very fact of change and the operation of the law of cause and effect as interpreted by Buddha. He sought to turn the law of cause and effect to the service of transcendence from the stream of finitude. He observed that if a cause is reduced, its effect will be reduced; when the cause is annihilated, its effect will be eliminated.

The spiritual experience of Gautama led him from the awareness of the emptiness and meaninglessness of existence, resulting from his confrontation with transiency, suffering and perception of the non-substantiality of all things, to the realization that this emptiness could be transcended. As with the existentialists, it is through the perception of change, death and transiency, that the truth is mediated. Transiency, like death, throws new light on existence; revealing its true nature. Hence, the revelation of meaninglessness also becomes the basis of hope.

In the realization of hope, Buddha perceived that a person must make a strong resolve and undergo a specific discipline leading to the attainment of Nirvana. This became the foundation of a monastic system. The modern existentialist philosophers did not set forth such a specific discipline,
but stresses the decisiveness of the present moment for the achievement of genuine or authentic existence.

There are differences which appear in the attainment of the goal of liberation or transcendence, but the attitude which created Buddhist thought and modern existentialism share some similarities. This, in part, may help to explain the attraction which Buddhism has for our present age. The insight which has significance for all ages is that meaning is found, not in the exterior world apart from the self. Rather,
it is found through the cultivation of the highest potentiality of the self when the self is seen in its truest light, as finite being wholly responsible for one's own destiny.

As an independent spiritual tradition in India, Buddhism diverged from Hinduism (traditional Indian thought) in several major areas, though both aim at the common goal of emancipation. Consonant with Indian tradition, Buddha accepted the general world view and interpretation of existence current in the Upanishadic tradition. He looked upon existence as a series of transmigrations or in Buddhist terms rebirths. Life is suffering within the confines of samsara. The law of cause and effect in the moral realm -- karma -- is the arbiter of destiny, and the ultimate goal is that of release into an ineffable and indefinable experience called Nirvana.

Buddha accepted, with qualification, the Indian principle of meditation and concentration as the central means for breaking through the veil of delusion and gaining liberation. It is also clear that the development of Buddhism as a religious system depended on Indian reverence for the sage. This also led to the attempt to preserve his words, and the creation of a distinctive and independent religious tradition.

Although Buddhism is characteristically Indian, several important differences mark the new spiritual path which Gautama set forth. He made changes or gave new emphasis to several basic concepts in the Indian analysis of existence. While Indian sages recognize the suffering inherent in existence, they did not place primary emphasis on it as Buddha did in making it the first of the Four Noble Truths. Further, in exploring the source of suffering in ignorance and delusion, a distinctive difference in philosophical perspective appeared.

For the Hindu, suffering results from the failure of people to see their fundamental identity with the ultimate Brahman, their true Selves. The Buddha claimed that the problem arises because men fail to recognize that no object or being is substantial in itself; it is all flux and change. Both points of view speak of maya, or delusion, but they give a different sense to it.

The Buddha rejected the Indian idea of the soul as a fixed, permanent entity traveling through cycles of births. Rather, he declared that beings have no souls. This is perhaps the most subtle and difficult aspect of the Buddha's teaching. He viewed an individual as a temporary configuration of elements (skandhas), five in number, which are brought together through the force of previous karma to constitute the person as he now is. This belief was an outcome of the Buddha's general theory of the world in which change is the essence. There was no room for an immutable, unchangeable substance.

The concept non-soul (Pali, anatta; Skt. anatman) in Buddhism may not appear so strange until you contemplate the process of transmigration. The riddle becomes sharper. How can there be transmigration when there is no permanent soul/self or essence to migrate?
This problem has never been completely solved in Buddhist tradition. Buddhist thinkers generally have maintained that while there is no soul passed along from birth to birth, karma itself is continually manifested in the form of new beings, who bear the burden of that karma, good and bad. One may consider that the second person has no essential relation to the first and, hence, is not responsible for his misdeeds. This, however, is looking at the question backwards and is influenced by the idea of a soul as identified with a person.

In Buddhist thought there is no person or being until karma (causes and conditions) creates it. Consequently, there is no one suffering without justification from another's karma. The person is merely the working out of the karma itself with the prior person or being as the precondition for the subsequent being.

There is temporal sequence, but not metaphysical identity.

Although there are differences of opinion on such metaphysical issues as the nature of the soul and transmigration, we must observe clearly that, unlike Hindu philosophers, the Buddha refused to speculate on ultimate questions. This is sometimes referred to as "The Silence of the Buddha". The Buddha's point of view is related in a famous parable where he pointed out that a man shot by a poisoned arrow would die before he could answer all questions about the origin and nature of the arrow and the poison. The important thing is not discussing the case but pulling out the arrow.

Consequently, the Buddha would not define Nirvana, discuss the question of the soul, the question as to whether the Universe is eternal or not, created or uncreated, or a myriad other issues which he described as questions "tending not to edification".
In the sphere of religious practice the Buddha maintained the principle of "the Middle Path" because he saw that neither extreme asceticism nor extreme hedonism or pursuit of pleasure would bring the necessary enlightenment. Here, the Buddha showed himself to be an astute psychologist.
He realized that too stringent deprivation of the normal needs for living would give rise to the very desires it was aimed to root out.

Further, he realized that if enlightenment and true insight was the goal, the mind must be adequately nourished to pursue its object. Therefore, he attempted to work out regulations based on actual need and not merely to create artificial standards of piety and rigor.

The development of the Buddha's monastic order also had implications for society. Since he stressed the characteristics of impermanence and suffering in life, religious discipline acquired a sense of urgency. It should not be delayed. You should begin immediately to seek a way out as soon as you are aware of the problem.
By leaving home, giving up social obligations and devoting his effort to attaining enlightenment, the Buddha was not unique. He was only following the accepted pattern of his time reflected in the Upanishads.
In the course of time the evolution of the Buddhism led to greater emphasis on monastic life and the necessity to leave home in order to attain complete enlightenment whenever a persona became aware of the transiency and vanity of life. Thus the Buddha's leaving home was portrayed in high relief to dramatize the resolve required. It drew a sharp contrast was drawn between family and social obligations and the requirements for true emancipation.

Hindus, however, placed more stress on the fulfillment of social obligations as a prelude and basis for the search for emancipation. There were four stages of life through an individual passed: youth-student, householder, retired person and renunciant.
The renunciation of the world came after fulfilling one’s social obligations, unlike Buddhism where a person could leave home whenever he felt it necessary.

Some scholars suggest that this feature of Buddhism contributed to its eventual disappearance in India because the monasteries were shut off from society and never extended deep roots into the Indian family except through the acceptance of offerings and general support from lay Buddhists.

As Buddhism became more exclusively monastic, Hinduism developed a more comprehensive integration of social and religious ideals in the four stages of life and the caste system.
It is also interesting to note that although the Buddha did not outwardly reject the system of caste, it was not recognized within the order. For Buddha, character and moral achievement would bring a person to enlightenment, not 15 merely one’s birth and social status.
According to his teaching, a true Brahmin was one who did the things that built moral character, regardless of his birth. Thus, the Buddhist community had elements of democracy and equality within it which may have been an attraction to many peoples.
There have been movements in India in modern times which attempted to revive Buddhism on the basis of its rejection of the caste system.

In the area of popular religion the Buddha followed the lead suggested in the Upanishads that emancipation depended on one's own efforts and not on the beneficence of the gods. While the Buddha did not reject the existence of the gods nor their relation to ordinary life, they had no relevance to the quest for enlightenment. The Buddha's outlook was important for reducing superstition since he held that essentially the gods were essentially no better off than human beings. They were now experiencing the fruits of their good karma which would eventually be exhausted. Human beings, in their turn, might be born in the heaven of a deity and achieve that status themselves. Thus there was an implicit equality between gods and men. Gods also need salvation. Devotion to the Buddha would naturally take precedence over worship of deities in achievement of enlightenment.

The spiritual impetus provided by Gautama's personality continued after his death. There appeared factions and groupings of different viewpoints that were to continue developing over the years. One of the interesting developments which comes to play an increasingly important part in the formation of Buddhism is the role of the Buddha's personality in the evolution of the teaching.
There are now two major divisions of Buddhism the Theravada or Hinayana and the Mahayana.

The term Hinayana is a pejorative term used in ancient Mahayana literature. It means small, narrow vehicle, while Mahayana means larger, spacious vehicle. The terms are polemical and Hinayana is not used in modern parlance when describing Southern or Theravada Buddhism.
It is generally said that the Theravada Buddhism of Southeast Asia has followed the Buddha's words literally. They appear to represent the conservative element. The Mahayana, on the other hand, is said to have-taken its lead from the Buddha's personality, particularly for his activity in reaching out to share the teaching. In both traditions the Buddha is characterized as having the qualities of wisdom and compassion. These qualities are among the infinite virtues which the practitioner strives to acquire.

Because of the divergent perspectives between these two segments of Buddhists, wide differences appear in areas where they are dominant. What is important to remember is that in both streams of tradition there is a strong desire to remain faithful to the Buddha as he is remembered in the minds of the disciples. On the basis of what we can discern in the development of these two modes of teaching, we are justified in saying that the Buddha was a great human being who inspired hope and resolve in those who met him. He had unusual wisdom and compassion which made an indelible impression that has remained in the tradition. We can recognize in him a beacon light of humanity
16 from whom we may all learn something for the betterment of our own lives and the world.

The Mahayana Tradition;The Greater Vehicle
Theravada Buddhism which dominates South Asia maintains that it transmits the original teachings of Gautama Buddha which we have outlined above. During the earliest period, the divisions in the Buddhist Order exhibit little doctrinal differentiation. Later there were several councils which focused primarily on differences in monastic discipline.

However, as time went on, it is clear that doctrinal differences became very important. Between the time of King Asoka (ca. 304 BCE- 260 BCE) in Magadha, and King Kanishka of the Kushana, (in recent studies 78 CE-128 CE). Mahayana (Larger Vehicle) Buddhism developed in the region of northwest India. Whatever the doctrinal differences were in the earlier period, here we find a fundamental shift in philosophical and religious orientation.
Although the roots of Mahayana Buddhism are found in the pre-Christian era, it does not become fully visible historically until the second century CE Mahayana thought combines religious elements and philosophical reflection.
Some scholars suggest that devotion to Buddha’s relics in stupas may have inspired such developments.
From the religious-mythological standpoint, the concept of Buddha evolved from an ordinary human being to a quasi-divine being. Perhaps inspired by Hindu mythology, the principle of Buddha was conceived as a cosmic reality, manifesting itself in a succession of Buddhas before Gautama and in the infinity of cosmic worlds. Together with the Buddha Sakyamuni, there appears a host of great bodhisattvas such as the

Bodhisattva of Compassion
(Skt. Avalokitesvara; Ch. Kuan-yin, J. Kannon) who are active in helping beings gain salvation. There are depictions of the glorious lands of the Buddhas such as the Western Pure Land of Amitabha ( Ch. O’mi-to-fo, J. Amida). An infinity of Buddhas and Buddha-lands penetrate every region of the cosmos in all the ten directions in the macro world, as well in the infinitesimal micro world. All reality is seen pervaded and embraced by the compassion of cosmic Buddhahood.
Mahayana interpretation of the nature of Buddha also contrasted with that of the Theravada tradition. Though mythic and legendary elements appear in the Theravada tradition, the

Buddha is described as the pioneer, simply the example for others to follow.
Scriptural accounts of his activities and relations with his disciples are soberly realistic. The contrast in the conception of the Buddha here is similar to that found in the difference between the Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) who is a human being inspired by God,
and the Jesus of the Gospel of John who is God incarnate.
(This is really saying the same thing, as we are the sonship of God, but also one with consciousness which is incarnate.)-Added by Kelly Granite Enck (author of the blog)

While scholars are uncertain of the circumstances, there were objections to this new development and we can find evidences of conflict within the Mahayana Sutras. These sutras generally consider the Theravadins, which the Mahayanist refers to disparagingly as “Hinayana” or smaller, lesser vehicle, as followers of the elementary teaching teaching of the Buddha.7 The concept of the Buddha is discussed in the Mahayana tradition in a doctrine called the three bodies of the Buddha (Trikaya). According to this comprehensive theology, the Buddha is viewed from three aspects. First, there is the Buddha as he appeared in history in the person of Gautama Buddha, Sakyamuni (the sage of the Sakya clan). This is called the Manifested or Transformed Buddha. Secondly, there is the Recompensed Buddha, which represents the Buddhas appearing in the Mahayana texts such as the Pure Land Sutras which depict Amitabha who resides in his Buddha land, enjoying the fruits of his enlightenment. The foundation of these concepts is given in the third aspect which is the Truth Body of the Buddha. The Truth Body is undefinable, inconceivable absolute reality. It is the Absolute out of which the Buddha assumes many forms to bring beings to salvation. The Absolute is characterized by the qualities of compassion and wisdom.

In line with the transformation of the concept of the Buddha in the Mahayana tradition, the religious ideals of the Theravada and the Mahayana diverged. While we cannot go into the fine details of these concepts, we may note that the ideal of the Theravada tradition, is called arhat, the Worthy One or “One who has done all that has to be done” to gain enlightenment. He has followed faithfully the model of Sakyamuni. Essentially salvation is individualistic.
At this stage of development it was understood that your karma is yours alone, and you can only strive for your enlightenment by your own efforts as the Buddha did.
The Dhammapada, a famous early Buddhist text states: By one's self the evil is done, by one's self one suffers; by one's self evil is left undone; by one's self one is purified. The pure and the impure stand and fall by themselves; no one can purify another.

Theravada is a way, then, of self cultivation and individualistic salvation. In contrast the Mahayana tradition stresses the religious ideal of the bodhisattva. The bodhisattva is an individual much like the arhat. He begins his study and practice of Buddhism for the same reason -- to attain his own liberation from the wheel of births and deaths. As he progresses through the stages of discipline and deepens his spiritual insight, he develops a compassionate concern for all beings. When he finally reaches the stage of perfection which enables him to enter Nirvana, he refuses out of compassion for all beings, and returns to lead them to salvation. He vows not to leave samsara himself until all beings enter Nirvana with him.

This perspective opened up an understanding of religion where all beings are interdependent.
In relation to the do-it-yourself for yourself emphasis of the Theravada, the Mahayana realized that beings need the aid of the buddhas and bodhisattvas as well as good friends and teachers. It has a broader social ideal implicit in it whereby we all work together for our mutual benefit. Because of the interdependence of beings, each needing the other to gain salvation, the older individualism was regarded as narrow and set aside.

It is the recognition of a power through and with others. The concept of the Buddha’s Other-Power in Pure Land teaching reflects this understanding in the belief that Bodhisattva Dharmakara has vowed to save all beings through sharing the merit he has generated over aeons in becoming Amitabha, or Amida Buddha. Amitabha means Infinite Light; an alternative name Amitayus which appears in tradition means Eternal or Infinite Life. In China and Japan the names were shortened to O’mi-to and Amida, embracing both aspects of his nature.

An important aspect of the expression of compassion in Mahayana Buddhism is that wisdom is always motivated by compassion. This takes form in an educational theory which recognizes individual differences in encountering and understanding the teaching. Accordingly, the Buddha and the bodhisattvas always teach on a level that the hearer can understand. Through compassionate means (Skt. upaya; J. hoben) the Buddha leads people to deeper and deeper understanding until they become enlightened. From the Mahayana standpoint, the Theravada teaching is an elementary teaching for people initially concerned for their own spiritual destinies and believing that they can attain Nirvana for themselves by their own efforts. As a missionary faith, Mahayana Buddhism has been very practical in adapting to the various cultures in which it spread and integrating with the daily life of the people.

On the philosophic side, Mahayana Buddhism diverged from the Theravada in developing an absolute idealistic metaphysics. It passed through perhaps three stages, assisted by numerous teachers, though the history is difficult to trace. The first stage is represented by the great philosopher Nagarjuna (100 CE - 200 CE). He advocated the method of logical negation to attain truth. Through logical analysis he showed that nothing has its own independent substance or self-existence. Rather, everything depends on something else for its provisional existence. Consequently, it is Void or Empty (sunyata). Nagarjuna divided truth into two aspects, the relative truth of empirical experience and the highest truth, which is experienced after one is purified of belief in, and attachments to, the self-existence of things and has realized their relativity.

His approach to elucidating the Void began with analysis of logic and language through which he showed that the human mind and its thought do not encompass reality, but are actually self-contradictory. He analyzed the concepts of causation and motion to show that they are really inconceivable and contradictory. He pointed out the fact that we define things by their opposites, and are trapped in duality. When it is shown that one side is involved in contradiction, the opposite side is also in contradiction. Philosophically, the problem is to solve what is meant by identity and difference.

When the mind is aware of the distortion of reason and logic, it is open to becoming aware of the highest truth that transcends reason and logic. This analysis of reality also developed a theory of relativity. Nagarjuna’s teaching is called the Middle Path school in metaphysics in contrast to the emphasis on rejecting extremes of discipline in the earlier Theravada Middle Path idea. Nagarjuna propounded the four possibilities of existence and the eight negations in philosophy which are patterned after the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path of Buddha.

This negative approach was counteracted in the second stage, found in the fourth C.E. teachings of Asanga and Vasubandhu. Their school came to be called the “Mind Only” school, and is more psychological in its analysis of experience. Their viewpoint was that everything exists as an activity of mind, and that the universe as we perceive it, due to our karma, is the expression of a Repository Consciousness (Alaya Vijnana), something on the order of a sub- consciousness. This underlying consciousness is the basis of other forms of consciousness involved in human experience.
The character of this substrate of reality was later interpreted as the “Buddha Nature.” In contrast to the teaching of Nagarjuna which uses a logical approach through analyzing the process of reasoning, the Mind Only school had a subjective or psychological approach through the analysis of consciousness
The third stage is that found in Asvaghosha’s Awakening of Faith and the the Garland Sutra (Avatamsaka Sutra). This approach compares to the understanding of Brahman and Atman in the Indian Hindu Advaita-Vedanta tradition where all aspects of reality are a manifestation of the all-embracing Buddha-mind. Asvaghosha’s principle is the One is all and the All is One; that everything has Buddha-nature.

As result of its religious and philosophic development, Mahayana Buddhism created elaborate systems of symbolism, mythologies, mind- expanding views of the cosmos and myriads of texts depicting the supernal realities and truth of Mahayana. Whereas Theravada has a somber, sober view of reality, Mahayana sees the glory shining through all aspects of nature and human experience. It is a visionary tradition where meditations produce wondrous insights into other worlds of spiritual reality and liberation. Though it attributes its thought to Gautama Buddha and his enlightenment, it is really motivated and energized through the devotion of countless nameless monks whose compassion for the masses inspired them to offer a grand hope for the enlightenment of even the lowliest creature.
The religious and philosophical aspects of Mahayana tradition were further elaborated in China. Fundamentally, all three strands of Mahayana philosophy had great influence in China, Tibet and the Far East. In general the religious ideal of self-cultivation appears most strongly in Zen and Tibetan estoreric tradition, while the Pure Land teaching stresses reliance on Other-Power, particularly that of Amitabha or Amida Buddha.

The following chapters will focus on the spread of Buddhism in China, Korea, Japan and Tibet. In every area where Buddhism has gone it has developed characteristics resulting from its adaptation to the native temperament of the people. The process has usually involved several stages of introduction, assimilation and the manifestation of a native Buddhism expressing more fully the character-of that people.

Chapter Three
Chinese Buddhist Tradition: Harmony with Reality
Buddhism entered China perhaps as early as the first century BCE through the first century CE. It was carried by monks and merchants who made their way along trade routes from India through Central Asia to China. There is a legend of the Han Emperor Ming (58-75 CE) who, inspired by a dream, sent envoys to seek out Buddhism. The earliest historical evidence is a rescript of one Hsiang-k’ai to Emperor Huan (147-167 CE) admonishing the Emperor for his hypocrisy of worshipping Huang-lao and Buddha without reforming his life.

After Buddhism entered China, for over several centuries many Buddhist texts were translated and commentaries written. Though at first confused with Taoism, Buddhist teaching gradually became more accurately understood and absorbed into Chinese culture.
Buddhism brought to China an Indian view of reality and life which both contradicted the Chinese understanding but also amplified it. The Chinese were more realistic and empirical in their approach to life. However, Buddhism contradicted Chinese interpretations of the world by viewing the common world of experience as a product of minds deluded by the passions. It was a delusory world. Truth was to be found in a world of transcendent experience beyond this world. Enlightenment would reveal the emptiness of things, devoid of substantiality and intrinsic value. Everything was contingent, based on the principle of the interdependence of things and lack of a self- existing nature.

The monastic life required to achieve enlightenment also went against Chinese values based in family life and participation in society. The individualism of Buddhism contradicted the fulfillment of filial piety and communal obligations, highly prized in China.

Buddhism, however, augmented the Chinese view of life with the teachings of karma, transmigration and a wealth of symbols and myths. The morality supported by karma, adding the dimension of retribution through transmigration and various hells, harmonized with Confucian ethic, though Confucianism had little concern with religious beliefs and needs of ordinary people for healing, prosperity, success or assurance about the afterlife. Taoist religion and philosophy also native to China, mainly focused on this-worldly concerns. Where Chinese traditions focused on this life, Buddhism claimed to fulfill life here and give hope to people concerning their future life after death.

In the course of several centuries Buddhism gradually integrated itself into Chinese life. The different views of life, Indian and Chinese interacted at various levels in Chinese society and gave rise to several significant traditions or schools such as the Ch’an (J. Zen from Skt. Dhyana, meditation) and Pure Land (Ch. Ching-t’u; J. Jodo). While the Pure Land was more otherworldly in focus, the Ch’an advocated acceptance of this world and achieving enlightenment now, rather than in a distant Pure Land.
While Buddhism was in some ways at odds with Chinese society, it had a great attraction for people, high and low, educated and uneducated. Its philosophy drew more intellectuals and scholars, while its mythology, magical elements and brilliant metaphors stirred the imaginations of ordinary people. Along with religious Taoism, Buddhism offered means to gain health, wealth and spiritual security in this world or to overcome misfortune. Buddhist philosophy and monasticism reinforced interest in Taoist philosophy for those who suffered in the downfall of kingdoms or social upheavals and sought for personal spiritual freedom and emancipation from worldly burdens.

Although Buddhism was gradually absorbed into Chinese culture, there were criticisms of its beliefs and practices by Taoist and Confucian exponents. Buddhist teachers maintained that there was no essential conflict between the three traditions of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. They argued that the Chinese teachings focused on life in this world, while Buddhism offered hope for the hereafter. Buddhism’s stress on the principle of interdependence lessened egoism and supported social life. It emphasized the similarities between the Chinese teachings and Buddhism, viewing the Buddhist concept of the Absolute as comparable to the Taoist teachings of non-being and being; the distinction of samsara (the world of births and deaths) and nirvana paralleled the world of action and non-action in Taoism. The arhat, a Buddhist sage figure resembled the Taoist immortals, while the five precepts of Buddhism matched the five virtues of Confucianism. Though monastic life contradicted the Chinese ideal of family, Buddhists argued that the monks fulfilled filial piety by caring for the destinies of departed loved ones. Despite opposition and occasional persecutions, Buddhism spread among the masses encouraging the people with a profound vision of compassion and spiritual emancipation.

Buddhists responded to the criticisms by engaging in social welfare work, establishing pawn shops known as "inexhaustible" treasuries. Monks provided medicine for the poor and aided the sick and starving. They constructed hostels, roads, wells, bridges, and planted trees. In cities the temples provided open spaces for recreation.
From the start, in addition to Indian monks who came to China, Buddhism attracted some of China’s best minds. We should note just a few of the earliest. Tao-an studied metaphysics and meditation. His interests extended to problems of translation, cataloguing sutras and rules of discipline. Hui-yuan was noted for his discussions on karma and the indestructibility of the soul. He argued for the independence of the Buddhist Order, maintaining that monks should not bow before kings. The monk Tao-sheng  advanced theories which eventually became hallmarks of Chinese Buddhism, such as the doctrines of instantaneous enlightenment and universal Buddha nature. Seng-chao was an outstanding interpreter of the philosophy of Nagarjuna which he had learned as a disciple of the famous Indian missionary Kumarajiva. Hsuan-tsang achieved eminence as a pilgrim to India, translator and commentator. Chi-tsang systematized the philosophical Middle Path (Madhyamika) teaching of Nagarjuna and earned the reputation of being one of the most virtuous monks.

Buddhist teachings flowed unsystematically into China from India. As a result, their diverse tendencies gave rise to a variety of schools and interpretations. The history of the formation of Buddhist schools divides into two periods. The initial period was known as the age of the "Six Schools and Seven Branches." During the second stage, the encouragement and support of Buddhist scholarship by the Sui and T'ang emperors led to the formation of more distinct and well-defined systems of Buddhist teaching which had enduring significance. This age marks the zenith of Buddhist intellectual leadership, influencing Chinese culture deeply and reflecting the gradual assimilation of Buddhism to the Chinese mind. We cannot go into great detail on these trends, but the first scholarly movement in the "Six Schools and Seven Branches" exhibited the two basic interests of early Chinese Buddhism in meditation and prajna, or wisdom. Influenced by the contemporary ascendancy of Neo-Taoism, there was a concern for the nature of ultimate reality and its relation to things.

The later major schools of Chinese Buddhism developed during the T'ang age in an endeavor to interpret Buddhism on its own terms. Ten schools emerged of which five had distinct Indian character and were limited in their overall influence on the Chinese mentality. More consonant with Chinese spirit were the T'ien-t'ai, Hua-yen, Ch'an, and Ching t'u schools, which have had wide influence in Japan as well as China. The Mantra or Cheng-yen (Shingon) school, which developed more fully in Tibet, did not become fully systematized in China but was absorbed into the traditions of other schools.

The transformation of Indian Buddhism into Chinese Buddhism appeared as early as Seng-chao, the famous Madhyamika teacher and Fa-tsang who expounded a complex philosophical system based on the Wreath or Garland Sutra (Avatamsaka [Hua-yen] Sutra). Seng-chao asserted: "Reality is wherever there is contact with things." In Fa-tsang’s famous parable of the golden lion presented before Empress Wu we have a striking illustration of the ability of Buddhist teachers to render abstruse doctrines intelligible through analogies from the everyday world.

Their views contrasted with the Indian emphasis on the delusive character of the world motivating withdrawal. Chinese Buddhists were critical of the Indian tradition for attempting to abolish the spiritual domination of the world over man by doing away with the world. For the Chinese, wisdom was not divorced from the things of the world but rather wisdom revealed their true nature. Chinese Buddhism became world-affirming.

According to Fa-tsang, the ultimate teaching of Buddhism was the principle of the mutual interpenetration (identity) of all things as a result of their being manifestations of the one, all-embracing Buddha-mind. Things in the world had a degree of reality as expressions of the absolute Buddha-mind within things. The teaching combined logical and psychological insight, making it one of the most influential philosophies in Chinese and Japanese Buddhism. It not only synthesized major philosophical currents in Mahayana thought, but its universal vision and ideal of mutuality within the whole inspired mystical endeavor and contained socio-political implications.

The face of Chinese Buddhism began to show itself in the formation of the T'ien-t'ai school, whose name was taken from the mountain in South China where the founder Chih-i resided. His character, depth of learning, and intellectual power have been unparalleled in Chinese Buddhist history. The central texts for this school was the Lotus Sutra (Fa-hua-ching). Its teaching combined the central Mahayana doctrines of universal Buddha nature, mutual interpenetration of all things, and the theory of instantaneous enlightenment into a unified system.

Chih-i created a system of teaching which gave a place to each of the many teachings that had flowed into China, claiming to be the direct teaching of the Buddha. He developed a comprehensive historical-doctrinal organization of Buddhist texts and teachings which came to be known as the theory of "Five Periods and Eight Doctrines." Within the framework of Buddha’s lifetime Chih-I determined the order of Buddhist texts and teachings, ranging from the most elementary in Hinayana Buddhism to the final Mahayana teaching in the Lotus and the Nirvana Sutras.

Chih-i’s theory represented growth in the depth and breadth of Buddhist insight on the nature of Enlightenment. The criteria for evaluating doctrines reflected pedagogical and mystical insight, implying a theory of religious development. In its systematic and scholarly approach, it sought for unity and coherence in Buddhism. Its wholistic philosophy, expressed in the teaching of the realization of "three thousand things in one moment (or instant) of thought," proclaimed, like the Hua-yen philosophy, that everything is the essence of every other thing from the standpoint of ultimate reality. Consequently, this philosophy also asserted the importance and reality of the things of this world as embodiments of the universal Buddha-nature.

Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism appeared as the culmination of several trends within Chinese Buddhism. Combining Buddhism and Taoist iconoclasm, it opposed the scholasticism and lifeless formalism of T'ang Buddhism. Through the discipline of meditation, it strove to realize personally the principles of universal Buddha-nature and instantaneous enlightenment within oneself. It fused the Taoist love of Nature with the Buddhist attainment of egolessness and non-duality. Seeking the qualities of naturalness and spontaneity it achieved the complete assimilation of Buddhism within the Chinese spirit.

The term Ch'an, or Zen in Japanese, is the word Dhyana, meaning "meditation" in Sanskrit. Because meditation was from the beginning the heart of Buddhism, Ch'an claimed to be the most essential aspect of Buddhist life. Originally meditation involved the practices of regulated sitting, breathing exercises and mental exercises designed to still the passions and bring discursive thought to a halt. Under the influence of Taoism, meditation aimed at instantaneous enlightenment. Going beyond the negative effort to abolish passions and stop thought, Chinese Ch’an Buddhists aspired to realize their identity with the absolute reality expressed through the world of Nature. The experience of oneness both revealed the uniqueness of things and also the oneness of all things in Buddha-nature.
As a specific tradition in Chinese Buddhism, Ch'an had a long history. Though shrouded in conflicting legends there appeared numerous schools claiming to transmit the true doctrine and practice of Ch'an. The main divisions were the Northern school, derived from the monk Shen-hsiu who is described as maintaining a gradualist approach to enlightenment, while the Southern school, stemming from Hui-neng, who emphasized instantaneous enlightenment. In the contest between these two factions the Southern school became the main stream of tradition for present schools. The basic text for this tradition was the Platform Sutra attributed to Hui-neng.

The spiritual revolution urged by Ch’an rejected emphasis on external religious activities such as building temples, giving alms and offerings, or mechanically reciting sutras. True merit in Ch'an meant "inwardly [to] see the Buddha nature; outwardly, practice reverence.” The rejection of externality and formality was carried further by the monk I-hsuan, founder of the Lin-chi (J. Rinzai school). He declared that the essence of Buddhism was simply the natural way of life, stating: "Seekers of the Way!. In Buddhism no effort is necessary. All one has to do is to do nothing except to move his bowels, urinate, put on his clothing, eat his meals, and lie down if he is tired. I- hsuan's radical rejection of externalities inspired his famous demand: Kill the Buddha if you happen to meet him. Kill a patriarch or arhat if you happen to meet him. Kill your parents or relatives if you happen to meet them. Only then can you be free, not bound by material things, and absolutely free and at ease.

An alternative school of Ch’an is the Ts'ao-tung (J. Soto), formed by the monk Liang-chieh. The major difference between these two schools, united in aim and philosophy, was the method undertaken to attain enlightenment. The Lin-chi employed a method whereby the disciple was catapulted into enlightenment through pondering a riddle (kung-an, koan) and subjection to physical shock by means of a shout or blow causing the individual to release his grip on reason. The Ts'ao-tung school was more tranquil and emphasized quiet meditation under the direction of master which would lead to the realization of one's Buddha-nature. Several principles characterize the Ch’an spiritual perspective:
The first principle, that "the highest truth or first principle is inexpressible," indicates that Ch'an strives for an experience of reality beyond words and is not satisfied with merely conceptual knowledge.
The second principle, is "spiritual cultivation cannot be cultivated." This a paradoxical assertion emphasizing the fact that religious endeavors which may begin on the conscious level must eventually be made second nature and part of the instinctive, spontaneous reactions of our personalities.

The third principle, is that "in the last resort nothing is gained." This refers to the fact that the world is not abolished, nor are we transferred to another realm by the fact of enlightenment. The true existence of this world is affirmed in all its depth. However, our understanding is transformed.
The fourth principle states: "There is not much in Buddhist teaching." This is not to be taken as an expression of doubt or unbelief. Rather, it is a declaration that concepts, doctrines, and words are inferior to the experience of enlightenment itself. The whole attempt of Buddhist discipline, generally, is to actualize in experience what is learned in concept. Related to these principle also is the claim that Ch'an Buddhism is a transmission beyond scriptures. There are, of course, scriptures and important texts, but the experience to which Ch'an aspires is not gained from books but through persons.

The fifth principle declares that "in carrying water and chopping wood: therein lies the wonderful Tao."
It is a vivid comment on the texture of religious existence. Ch'annists have developed their specific forms of education and monastic life. Nevertheless, the sentiment exists that enlightenment is not itself confined to definite practices but may come instantly in the course of carrying out the most menial tasks. As the world is the world, and Buddha-nature is universal, one may realize it anywhere.

Ch'an stresses one's inner and ultimate identity in deep interpersonal relation with others. Artificialities are to be swept away. The emphasis on the validity of daily life as the sphere of ultimate reality and meaning also supports the individual in his quest for self-understanding.

The final major tradition of Chinese Buddhism which we must consider is the Pure Land tradition (ch. Ching-t'u; jpn. Jodo). This teaching attracted the masses of ordinary people through its offer of a simple way to salvation through reciting the name of Amitabha (Skt.) Buddha (ch. 0-mi-to-fo; jpn. Amida). The practice of reciting the name is termed nembutsu (jpn.). The merit of the practice of recitation with sincere faith in its efficacy enables the individual to be born in the Pure Land, where he is assured of his/her eventual achievement of Nirvana or realization of Buddhahood.

The Pure Land, according to Buddhist, mythology was created by Amitabha Buddha as the result of his Vows to save all beings and the infinite merit he acquired through aeons of practice. In the Chinese mind it represented a glorious heaven beyond the travail of this world and easily accessible by the recitation of the Buddha's name in faith. The more proficient monks meditated on vivid pictures of the Pure Land and experienced visions of their reality.

In order to stimulate faith in the Pure Land, there also were texts depicting the alternative destiny of birth in one of many hells for those who ignored or despised that faith. These teachings coincided with belief in heavens and the quest of immortality which had developed in religious Taoist tradition.

Pure Land teachers believed Buddha Sakyamuni taught the doctrine in three central texts, the Larger Pure Land Sutra (Wu-liang-shou-ching), the Shorter Pure Land Sutra (0-mi-t'o-ching), and the Contemplation Sutra (Kuan-wu- liang-shou-ching). These texts eventually reached China, where they gave rise to monastic forms of meditation, as well as the popular practice of reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha, though the Contemplation Sutra is thought to have been created in Central Asia or China.

The popular line of development offering the practice of recitation came through T'an-luan and a series of successors, the most famous and influential being Shan-tao who systematized the doctrine. In addition, the teaching became a subsidiary aspect to the more philosophical schools such as Ch'an or T'ien-t'ai.

The first major figure in the popular Chinese tradition was T'an-luan from the area of Wu-t'ai-shan in North China. Living in an environment infiltrated with magical religion, T'an-luan engaged upon a search for the elixir of immortality following a long illness. Having obtained texts containing formulas from a Taoist master in the south of China, he returned home. On the way, legend relates, he met the Indian monk Bodhiruci who convinced him that true everlasting life was attained through Pure Land teaching. Casting aside his Taoist texts, he became a teacher of Pure Land doctrine.

T'an-luan promoted Pure Land teaching by joining it to the theory of the decline of Buddhism (mappo, last age in the disappearance of the dharma). According to this theory, which became basic to Pure Land doctrine in China and Japan, the purity of the Buddhist Order, doctrine, and discipline and the ability to achieve enlightenment decreased as the inspiration of Buddha receded into the historical past. Finally, the last age of the decline and disappearance of Buddhism arrived when no Buddha was present and extremes of egoism, passion, stupidity, anger, pride, and doubt dominated human life. During this age, men did not practice or attain Buddhist ideals, though the doctrine was taught.
Consequently, T'an-luan held that ordinary mortals could achieve salvation in the degenerate last age through the recitation of Amitabha's Name. Rather than depending on one's own power (self-power), mortals had to rely on the saving power of Amitabha deposited in his name. This method of salvation was designated the "easy" way in contrast to the "difficult" ways of meditation and austerities of earlier Buddhism.

The teaching was later systematically organized by Shan-tao, who made the practice of recitation of Buddha's name the central Buddhist discipline. Analyzing the doctrine into the method of meditation, attitudes, and conditions of practice, he developed a comprehensive interpretation of religious life. Through his writings he defended Pure Land doctrine against proponents of the more traditional modes of Buddhist discipline and set the stage for its later flourishing in Japan.

The evolution of Pure Land teaching coincided with the Chinese tendency to affirm life in this world, despite its other-worldly emphasis. It opened the doors of salvation to the lowliest common man and reduced the path to salvation to its simplest method. Through vocal recitation, and without arduous or strict regimentation, individuals could achieve salvation, while fulfilling their family and social obligations.

Chen-yen (jpn. Shingon), esoteric Buddhism, known also as Vajrayana, Mantrayana, or Tantric Buddhism, was introduced to China from India during the T’ang dynasty by several monks: Subhakarasimha, Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra. It is based on several Sutras such as the Great Sun Buddha Sutra (Skt. Vairocana Sutra), Diamond Peak Sutra and the Susiddhi Sutra, a text on symbolic hand gestures (mudras). From China it was transmitted to Tibet as the major form of Buddhism there and also to Japan through the monks Kukai, founder of the Shingon Sect in Japan and Saicho, founder of the Tendai (T’ien-t’ai) sect.

Its basic teaching is to enable the practitioner though practices of body, mouth and mind to attain union with the great cosmic Buddha, Mahavairocana (jpn. Dainichi nyorai), The Great Sun Buddha, who is manifest as the universe, the grand totality of reality. Through meditation on mandalas, sacred diagrams of the universe, into which one enters through a dramatic ritual with anointing like coronation. There are also mudras, symbolic hand gestures, and recitation of mantras, sacred, powerful words. Employing these practices, one achieves union in this very body and life with Buddha (J. sokushinjobutsu, becoming Buddha in this very body). Through this comprehensive and complex mystical path the devotee receives the vajra, a symbolic implement which represents spiritual empowerment and the aspiration to become enlightened in order to save all beings.

Buddhism reached the peak of its influence in the Sui and T'ang periods, where it blossomed with great intellectual and spiritual creativity witnessed in these various schools. After the T'ang period, Buddhism experienced several persecutions, the most severe and damaging being the persecution of 845. Also Confucianism had begun to revive and spread during the T'ang age, eventually displacing Buddhist intellectual leadership. A synthesis of Buddhism and Confucianism gave rise to Neo-Confucianism as the leading philosophical influence. In contrast to the other-worldly and mystical tendencies of Buddhism, the Confucianists stressed practical efforts in the world. Ch'an emphasis on practice and discipline with its anti-intellectualism limited efforts to educate monks, thereby contributing to the waning intellectual influence of Buddhism. In modern times reformist monks such as T'ai Hsu (1889-1947) advocated the education of monks and endeavored to revive scholarly traditions.
Despite the difficulties Buddhism encountered in its 2500 long history, its influence in Chinese society and culture has been extensive. It can be discerned in language, arts, literature, and philosophy, beliefs about afterlife, and festivals. Buddhism remained popular because it became largely associated with the performance of funerals and memorial services as a consequence of the promise of a glorious destiny promoted by the Pure Land cult. It provided a means to fulfill the demands of filial piety. Many Buddhist deities could be implored for aid in avoiding disaster and recovery from disease or misfortune.

With the confrontation of China and the West, Confucians and Buddhists alike have had to struggle to discover ways to cope with the cultural crisis. In addition, Buddhists also have had to deal with skeptical and reform-minded officials who wished to seize their institutions and transform them to schools or museums. The crisis, however, served to awaken interest in Buddhism among laypeople as well as clerics who sponsored publications, lectures, and societies for the study of Buddhism. They were also moved by a desire to unite Chinese society based on Buddhist ideals as a means of meeting the modern challenge. In recent years various movements of Chinese Buddhists have worked to demonstrate the relevance of Buddhism, religiously and socially, and performed a positive role among the people in caring for their spiritual needs.

Chapter Four
Korean Buddhism: The Way of Synthesis
The Korean Peninsula connects China to Japan. Though it has been the bridge over which migration, religion and culture have crossed from the Asian mainland to Japan, it has not been adequately studied until recent years. Korea comes into clear historical view in the first century C. E. with the establishment of the Koguryo kingdom, followed by Paekche (3rd century) and Silla (4th century). Along with the political developments, Buddhism was introduced together with Chinese culture, including Confucianism and Taoism. According to ancient record, a Buddhist monk, Shun-tao brought scriptures and images from China to Koguryo in 372. It was believed that Buddhism could protect the nation from various dangers and promote the unification of the people through moral guidance. Buddhism also accommodated native shamanism.

Another monk, Malananda, came to Paekche in 384. However, it was not until 527 that Buddhism became the state religion in Silla after some resistance. Silla conquered the other kingdoms, thereby creating a unified nation. During the Silla period the major strands of tradition from China were established. These included the San-lun, Three Treatise school, Fa-Hsiang, Dharma Trait school or Yogacara, Pure Land, Ch’an (k. Son, j. Zen), Hua-yen (k. Hwa-om, j. Kegon), and Esoteric. These schools provided the basic content of early Korean Buddhist teaching. However, Korean teachers strove to meld them together unto a unity in accord with the trend of national unification. The emerging Korean Buddhism supported the aspiration to unity through the Mahayana synthetic-syncretic philosophy of oneness based in Hwa-om teaching (skt. Avatamsaka, ch. Hua-yen, jpn.. Kegon), and receiving government patronage.
Hwang-nyong-sa was a major temple during the Silla period. Among its participants were the famous monks Won-gwang (531- 630 A.D.), Cha- jang (608- 686 A.D.), Won-hyo (617- 686 A.D.), and Ui- sang (620- 660 A.D.). The Avatamsaka and Lotus Sutras were major texts studied, while Pure Land teaching spread among the people. Son (c. ch’an j. zen) Buddhism was introduced from China, dividing into nine schools called the Nine Mountains of Son.)
The unified Silla kingdom governed from 668-935, when it was replaced by the Koryo dynasty (935-1392). While Buddhism remained the national religion and retained its intellectual dominance, there were efforts at reform.
During the Koryo period, a notable event took place in Buddhism inspired by the invasion of Korean by the Khitans, a nomadic tartar people settled in the region of Manchuria. King Hyonjong (1009-1031) had the entire Buddhist canon carved in wood blocks as a magical talisman to protect Korea from the invaders. It appeared successful when the Khitans voluntarily departed. On completion of the project there were over 80,000 blocks. It should be noted that later when the Mongols invaded in 1231, they destroyed the blocks. Eventually a new set was carved from 1236-1251. The second version also contained some 80,000 blocks and 1512 texts. It is presently preserved in the Haein monastery. This canon was the basis for the Japanese Taisho Daizokyo canon, published from 1922-1934.
In time the Koryo kingdom gave way to the Choson-Yi dynasty (1392- 1910) which was dominated by Neo-Confucian teaching, then the major intellectual influence of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Confucianists were traditionally opposed to Buddhism since early times in China. With their rise to power many restrictions were placed on Buddhism, resulting in the destruction of temples and the exclusion of monks from the capital. Nevertheless, the common people retained their faith in Buddhism which gained greater respect when monks defended the country during the invasion by Hideyoshi from Japan in the 16th century.

The Japanese gained control of Korea in 1910 and annexed it as part of Japan. Buddhism was supported by the Japanese authorities in line with the prominence of Buddhism in Japan, but the marriage of hitherto celibate clergy was encouraged, following the Japanese pattern. Korean Buddhism was divided over this issue. When Korea attained its independence in 1945, the son-zen Chogye celibate order gained in prestige and revived Korean Buddhism. As a result of renewed interest in Buddhism numerous temples have opened and there are many active programs for people to study and meditate, even drawing seekers from the West.

Buddhism permeates the society and culture, providing a view of life and human destiny. Out of a population of some 48 million people, Buddhists comprise about 11 million, though as many as half the total population may be Buddhist without formal association.

As this brief survey indicates, Mahayana Buddhism achieved a firm footing in Korea, contributing not only spiritual teaching and practice, but also various aspects of arts and culture. Buddhism also spread from Korea to Japan early in the 6th century, though the official date is 552. Its promise of national spiritual protection and prosperity greatly attracted Japanese leaders.
In the course of Buddhist history in Korea there were a number of eminent monks who shaped the tradition. Among these are Cha-jang of Silla (636-675), Ui-sang (625-702), Won-hyo (617-686). In the Koryo period there was Ui-ch’on (1055- 1101 A.D.) and Chinul (1158-1210). In the Choson era there was Hyu-jong (1520-1604), Song-ch’ong (1631-1700) and under modern Japanese rule there was Han-yongun (1879-1944).
Cha-jang was noted for establishing a strong monastic order after studying in China. He emphasized the study of Sutras, examinations for monks, a centralized ordination system and a government office to oversee the Buddhist order. He helped to make Buddhism the national religion. Ui-sang also traveled to China studying the Avatamsaka philosophy which he introduced to Korea and aided in establishing the intellectual foundation of Korean Buddhism. He also founded numerous temples.
The fundamental principle of the Avatamsaka teaching is that all is one and one is all. Everything exists within the Buddha-mind or the One-Mind and, therefore, mutually interpenetrate each other in their essence. This essence is void-empty or inconceivable, revealing the ultimate identity of all things. The Avatamsaka-Hwa-om totalistic philosophy of mutual interpenetration and oneness undergirded the efforts to resolve differences between the varying traditions within Buddhism and to establish the overall unity of Korean Buddhism.
Won-hyo is perhaps the most famous of all Korean monks. He wrote over 240 books, aiming to overcome sectarian rivalry, particularly between son- meditation and kyo- intellectual, scholarly approaches, through his method of harmonizing differences. He also employed the important Chinese distinction of ti, essence, and yung, function. Everything is the expression of the One-Mind, while each thing manifests the function of the One-Mind. Hence, all differences of thought are simply complementary as expressions of the One-Mind. Won- hyo’s interpretation of Buddhism was given the name tong bulgyo or “interpenetrated Buddhism,” and it had extensive influence on Korean Buddhism thereafter.

Won-hyo is also famous as a proponent of Pure Land teaching which he harmonized with meditation practice. The devotional practice of reciting the Buddha’s name by the masses complemented meditation practice by monks. While Won-hyo became a great scholar, he eventually abandoned the religious life and is said to have married a princess who gave birth to a son. He maintained that by living in society as a lay person he could better serve the people. Teachers such as Won-hyo made Buddhism a religion of the people. Particularly he promoted Pure Land teaching which attracted many people. Because Won-hyo had extensive influence on Korean Buddhism, he is regarded historically as Korea‘s pre-eminent Buddhist teacher.

Ui-chon in the 11th century introduced the Chinese T’ien-t’ai (k. chon- tae) teaching to Korea. He brought back 4000 volumes collected during his study in China. However, he also stressed the unity behind the diversity of Buddhism. He also focused on the unity of meditation and teaching or scholarly textual studies. Chinul is noted as a Son-meditation teacher who established a major temple which became the base for the Chogye sect. The many schools of son- meditation were united by the monk Tae-go (1301-1382). It has remained the center of Son Buddhism. In the struggle between the meditation and textual- teaching approach to enlightenment, Chinul attempted to overcome the exclusiveness of the Son-Zen proponents, while giving priority to Son practice. His argument was based on the ti-yung distinction. Like Won-hyo earlier, he maintained that the ti-essence is manifested in the world through the various spiritual activities (yung) such as meditation and teaching. Accordingly, he advocated study of texts and teaching as necessary and useful for the practice of meditation. He promoted the method of hwadu discipline. Hwadu means “head of speech” and focuses on the key term in a kongans (jpn. Koan). Through the observation ro study of hwadu the practitioner is led beyond the word to realize his/her own Enlightenment which is beyond words. However, inevitably that realization must be manifest in teaching and words. While words are secondary to the fundamental essence of enlightenment, they are nevertheless necessary. He stated: “The mind and mouth of the Buddha and patriarchs should not be at odds...” Hyu-jong applied the principles of interpenetrated Buddhism (tong bulgyo) to reconcile differences between Confucianism and Buddhism, as well as the meditation and teaching distinction in Buddhism. He also advocated reciting esoteric Buddhist mantras and Pure Land practice of reciting Amitabha’s name as aspects of gradual cultivation and a necessary accompaniment with son discipline leading to sudden enlightenment. All teachings were viewed as complementary and essentially harmonious in both philosophical expression and in social relations. Hyu-jong employed this theory to argue against the suppression of Buddhism in the Choson period.
Song-ch’ong followed Hyu-jong in combining Pure Land and meditation practice. However, he also stressed Pure Land practice as a way for people with deep karmic bondage that keeps them in the world of births and death. Son practice was considered too difficult for the ordinary person to be assured of gaining salvation. Therefore, the Pure Land path was more practical than Son for the pursuit of enlightenment.

Han-Yongun, was a reformist, modernizing priest under Japanese rule. As a result of contact with Japanese scholars and study in Japan, Han sought a complete transformation of Korean Buddhism, including, education and marriage of clergy. He also maintained that Buddhism must be socially aware to contribute to the modern world. He declared:
“...While people of old kept their minds unmoving, those of today only keep their bodies so. If one cares only for a tranquil dwelling-place, this merely amounts to a rejection of the world; and if one only keeps one’s body still, one is merely self- complacent. Buddhism is a teaching meant for the world, a religion devoted to the liberation of sentient beings!....”
While Han-Yongun’s efforts bore little fruit because of its perceived conformity with Japanese goals, his thought later influenced the reform movement of Won Buddhism of Pak-Chongbin (So-Tae’san) which focused on the family, lay people, equality of women, social service and harmonization of the religious and the secular.

The Japanese favored married clergy and eventually ordered the abolition of the rules of celibacy, creating a conflict within Korean Buddhism. A new Chogye order combined both the meditation and textual approaches to Buddhism until the end of Japanese rule. Later the South Korean authorities favored the celibate monks. However, ensuing conflict led to the recognition of two orders, Chogye and Tae’go. In recent years the Chogye has grown, while the Tae’go has declined. Chogye is the dominant stream, combining meditation and teaching, Pure Land practice, and Vinaya-dicipline.
Through the lengthy succession of capable and dedicated monks Korean Buddhism has remained a vital element in Korean culture. In the contemporary period it is vigorous through the propagation of meditation practice which is attracting western participants. It is also evident in the development of new movements such as Won Buddhism which promotes reform in Korean Buddhism and a universal Buddhist practice rooted in the feature of syncretism and synthesis in Korean Buddhism. This perspective harmonizes all difference and conflicts as manifestations of the Buddha’s Body of Truth (Dharmakaya).

We would conclude our survey of Korean Buddhism by noting that son- zen form of Buddhism is the major tradition, but it is also appealing more to lay people and in a sense coming down out of the mountains into the life of the lay people. There are more opportunities and organizations for lay people to practice or study Buddhism. Old antagonisms between Confucianists and Buddhists have been transcended, though Confucian morality is dominant in society. Modernization is proceeding throughout the whole country and Buddhism has not escaped. Buddhism has become more internationalized with participation of western Buddhists and Korean Zen Buddhism has gained influence, comparable to the Japanese Zen, through the efforts of such teachers as Seung-sahn. Consequently, modernization will continue in response to the issues and needs of followers on a worldwide basis.

Chapter Five
The Flowering of Buddhism in Japan
In the postwar period Japanese Buddhism emerged as a focus of attention for scholars of religion and the general public, because many youth have come to appreciate the culture and its spirituality as a result of their participation in the military or in educational programs. Despite defeat in World War II, western people have been fascinated by Japanese culture and its religious underpinnings which motivated the Japanese to maintain their political and cultural independence throughout their history and to offer a stunning challenge to modern Western colonialism in Asia.
Buddhism has a long and distinguished history in Japan, because it was an important culture-bearer, introducing the highly developed civilization of China to Japan by way of Korea or directly from China. Early on Buddhist monks from Korea brought religion, architecture, ceramics and metal arts, writing, knowledge of political organization and the socio-political teachings of Confucianism in addition to specific Buddhist teachings and practices. Adopting and assimilating elements of Chinese religion and culture enabled Japan to fashion its own distinctive culture which has attracted the admiration of the world since its opening to the West in the 19th century. Japan’s aesthetic, industrial and spiritual contributions to modern life worldwide are inestimable. One of the major foundations for these developments is Buddhism.

Initially simply being a foreign religion introduced to Japan, Buddhism gradually transformed its foreignness to become a pervasive element of the Japanese way of life. Japanese attitudes toward Buddhism differed markedly from the Chinese who already possessed a highly developed cultural system when Buddhism arrived. The advanced culture of China and the established teachings of Confucianism and Taoism made the acceptance of Buddhism in China more difficult. In Japan Buddhism was generally viewed as part of

Chinese civilization and its acceptance was seen as the mark of a progressive nation. Buddhism was thereby able to take deep root in Japan and evolve into a major cultural influence, despite some initial opposition by conservative native leaders. It later became highly organized and divided into sects which were frequently involved in competition for political and social power.
Important for understanding Buddhist history in Japan is the Japanese self-understanding that they are a sacred people in a sacred land, having been created by the kami or “gods”. This perception is expressed in the native religion which, under the influence of Buddhism, came to be known as Shinto, the Way of the Gods in contrast to the Way of the Buddha (Butsudo). The more internationalist faction among ancient Japanese leadership overcame native opposition by recommending it as useful for enhancing the nation’s spiritual position in the cosmos and resolving internecine struggles for dominance among the many tribes which weakened Japan in the face of encroaching continental Chinese influence. After its establishment, Buddhism became intimately entwined in the political affairs of the country, blending with indigenous folk religious beliefs and magical practices.

Japanese Buddhism has many facets which are interdependent and interrelated. Buddhism was supported by the government on the clan and national levels. It provided a context for individual spiritual development in the search for enlightenment in the many monasteries that came to dot the country. Monks often in quest of their own enlightenment practiced the rigorous Buddhist discipline and studied doctrine, while often functioning as teachers and leaders in religious rituals for the welfare of the country in national Buddhist institutions. Buddhism virtually became the state religion. Further, through the activities of political leaders and monks Buddhism gradually spread among the people who supported its development with offerings and labor often forced. Popular Buddhism provided consolation to the masses which became a source of support for the Order and the basis for the formation of distinct Buddhist sects in later times. Buddhist rituals and chanting of sacred texts added to the resource for dealing with disasters and tragedies.

As we have seen in previous chapters, the basic teachings of Buddhism had been established in India and China. There have, however, been distinctive Japanese developments in Buddhist social-cultural relations as well as in spiritual and doctrinal spheres. Buddhist monasteries became repositories for the arts and learning, while the exploitation and political manipulation of the religion by the ruling classes, as well as the collaboration of monks, throughout its history encouraged a passivity and otherworldly outlook among rank and file Buddhists, centering on the ancestor cult.
According to the account recorded in the Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan), an early historical record, Buddhism officially entered Japan during the reign of Emperor Kimmei in 552 C.E., though it may actually have been as early as 538. On this occasion the King of Kudara (Paekche) in Korea presented the court with Buddhist images and texts, declaring that Buddhism had been accepted by such leading countries such as China and would benefit the Japanese people. Though Buddhism had earlier infiltrated Japan, carried by Chinese and Korean immigrants, its spread was greatly facilitated by the recognition of its political utility for promoting national interests.

Prince Shotoku (573-621) was the first major figure to appear in the formation of national Buddhism. He implemented the aims of the internationalists by establishing a strong central authority under Empress Suiko (592-628). Because the Prince was deeply devoted to the teachings of Buddhism and recognized its spiritual role in the development of a unified nation, he is credited in history with the promulgation of a Seventeen-Point Constitution which had harmony as its ideal. This document advocated reverence for the three treasures of Buddhism by all the people as the basis of social concord. In addition, the Prince was thought to have composed commentaries on three major Mahayana Sutras which reflected his critical and independent thought as he transformed Buddhism from an other-worldly religion to one promoting social harmony in this world. His emphasis on Buddhism as a religion of laypeople greatly influenced later generations. The Prince also encouraged Buddhism by inviting visiting priests to lecture, cultivating Buddhist scholarship and commissioning the construction of numerous temples and works of art. He also organized the government in a system of ranks.

After Prince Shotoku, the trend to political centralization, including greater control over Buddhism continued with the Taika reform in 645 which aimed to strengthen the monarchy by centralizing political power, modeling on the T’ang dynasty in China. This was followed by the promulgation of the Taiho code in 701 which instituted a set of administrative and penal statutes based on Chinese Confucianism along with the Chinese civil service examination system. However reforms were circumvented since the path to political preferment remained through aristocratic and clan connections.
Private temples were prohibited, and monks had to be licensed. In addition, they could not work among the people. A more positive approach to the Buddhist Order appeared, however, in the provincial temple system set up during the Nara period (710-794) in 741 by Emperor Shomu who devoted himself to the prosperity of Buddhism.

Symbolic of his efforts was the construction of the great Buddha of Todaiji (consecrated in 752). The Buddha selected for representation was the great Sun Buddha (skt, Mahavairocana Buddha; jpn, Dainichi Nyorai). This Buddha symbolized the philosophy of the Garland Sutra (Japanese, Kegon) which taught that the essence of each thing contained the essence of every other thing. All reality was one, interdependent and mutually permeating. Hence, the universe manifested the Buddha mind combined in a grand harmony.

The symbolism of the image and its many surrounding Buddhas carried a political message of the interdependence and oneness of the Japanese people and the Imperial house. Emperor Shomu believed that the proper recitation of various nation-protecting Sutras would bring prosperity and security to the nation. While knowledge of the principles of Buddhist teaching and symbolism by the leadership contributed to the unity of the nation, the use of Buddhist texts and institutions as a means for ritual and magical pacification promised spiritual security to the society. According to the "nation-protecting" Sutras, the divine heavenly kings protected any country that supported and propagated Buddhism, by sponsoring efforts to teach, copy or recite Buddhist texts. Eventually a whole system of provincial temples equipped with Sutras, monks, and nuns was constructed with Todaiji in the city of Nara as the head temple for the purpose of benefiting the nation through spiritual protection.

For the ordinary person, Buddhism offered a panoply of beliefs and practices to secure health, wealth, and spiritual security or good future rebirth. Among the most well-known Buddhist divinities are Jizo and Kannon. Jizo (skt. Kshitigarbha, ch. Ti-tsang) assisted people in the afterlife and helped them to avoid going to hell. Merging with beliefs of folk religion, he was also regarded as a savior of those in trouble, particularly women in childbirth and children. Images of him are frequent along roads, as well as in temple compounds. Kannon Bodhisattva (skt. Avalokitesvara, ch. Kuan-yin), commonly known as the Goddess of Mercy, was also widely revered. Tradition held that even Prince Shotoku was an ardent devotee. Emperors sponsored lectures and ceremonies on the Kannon Sutra and promoted the popularity of the cult. According to this text, Kannon symbolized the depth of Buddha’s compassion. She promised to save people from all forms of calamities and to grant them all kinds of blessings in life. Both Bodhisattvas remain popular even to this day.

Initially Miroku Bodhisattva (skt. Maitreya, ch. Mi-lo), believed to be the future Buddha in Buddhist eschatology, was a very popular object of worship introduced from Korea. Belief in Miroku brought birth into Tusita heaven, a paradise within the Realm of Desire in Buddhist Cosmology. Miroku resides here awaiting his birth into this world as the next Buddha. Gradually this cult was replaced with that of Amida Buddha who resides in his Western Pure Land and comes to welcome believers upon their death. As we shall see, the teaching of Amida became a major influence, spreading among all classes of people in Japan during the later Heian period (794-1185), spurred by the belief in the onset of the last age in the decline and disappearance of the teaching (mappo) in 1052.

Together with the beliefs in great Buddhist divinities there were numerous practices designed to gain desired benefits or ward off evils. Most popular and easiest was the recitation of magical phrases such as Namu Amida-Butsu (Hail Amida Buddha) or Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo (Hail Lotus of the Wonderful Law). Shingon teaching became very influential because of potent magical dharani spells and incantations of Indian origin which it offered for every possible contingency. Kukai-Kobo Daishi became the object of devotion in a popular, independent healing cult, referred to as O-Daishi-san, alongside the Shingon Sect. There were also mystic ceremonies such as the goma fire ritual, which is believed to burn away impurity and remove curses of enemies and demons. The ceremony was much used in the Heian period. Omamoris or amulets were, and are, also used widely today for a variety of purposes.

During the period when the manifold Chinese and practices spread into Japan with Buddhism, religious Taoism also came, though not in an institutional form. Whereas the teachings of Confucianism were first regarded as the required learning for rulers and politicians, religious Taoism offered various methods for advancing one's life in this world and attaining longevity or good fortune. In addition to religious Taoism, yin-yang magic and divination, astrology, geomancy, and calendrical computations were combined with Buddhism. Taoist belief in sage-hermits contributed also to the formation of the Shugendo movement of Buddho-Shinto mountain ascetics. The practitioners of Shugendo functioned among the people as exorcists and shamans.

Ceremonies for the dead were also a prominent aspect of Japanese Buddhism. Not only was there the fear of dead spirits which emerged in the Heian period, but there was also reverencing of the dead in filial piety. Masses for the dead helped to assure the good destiny of the departed. A calendar of memorials provided the dead with periodic assistance until they faded from living memory to become part of the general host of ancestors.

An important annual festival was the Urabon-e or commonly Obon festival (skt. Avalambana, Ullambana), based on the story of Buddha's disciple Mokuren (Sanskrit Maudgalyayana) who saw that his mother had become a hungry ghost. Thereupon began the rite of offering food for one’s parents and ancestors. Related to the Urabon-e but of different origin was the Segaki ceremony of feeding the hungry ghosts. This ceremony is still regularly performed. Other ceremonies connected with the dead occurred at the spring and autumn equinox and were called Higan-e.

Ancestors are venerated through Buddhist memorial services and entertainments. Most important are visits to the grave which, despite the decline in religious adherence among modern people, are still commonly carried out even by those of no specific religious commitment.

Elements of popular religion have penetrated all sects to secure support from the masses. The Shugendo movement of mountain ascetics was very instrumental in carrying these beliefs and ceremonies to the people, particularly in the Tokugawa period when the traditional sects had largely been deprived of their spiritual influence among the people. Considerable criticism has been directed to Buddhism in modern times because of its predominant association with magic and death.

Buddhism became powerful in Japan because it met the needs of people on all levels of life. It transmitted major symbols of spiritual power in Indian tradition, while also teaching Chinese Confucian morality and aspects of religious Taoism, focusing on its utility in this life. It also stressed its importance for concerns of the afterlife, claiming that it cared for both affairs this world and the other world.

Though the beliefs and practices that affect everyday life and benefit the otherworld were the most widespread and popular aspects of Buddhism, there was a tradition of Buddhist teaching and philosophy which made Buddhism an enduring spiritual and cultural force, inspiring the arts, literature and significant creative religious thought.

During the ancient Nara period (710-794) Buddhist quasi-academic schools introduced basic Chinese Buddhist scholarship. They included the Kosha, a school representing the early Buddhism with its analysis of consciousness; the Kegon with its holistic metaphysical perspective; Hosso which was a form of psychological idealism that developed out of the Kosha school; and the Ritsu, school of precepts and ordination. In addition there were the Sanron or Three Treatise School based on texts representing the philosophy of the teacher Nagarjuna and the Jojitsu school an early form of Mahayana Buddhism and associated with Sanron. These schools, as opposed to strict sectarian distinctions, held little concern for the ordinary person. They were academic subjects which monks could study for their own development. While some individual monks such as Dosho (629-700) and Gyogi Bosatsu (670-749) engaged in social welfare and religious work among the people, the various official schools were more concerned with promoting their influence through the manipulation of spiritual powers and catering to the demands of the aristocracy who supported them.

The Buddhist institutions of Nara began to degenerate through increasing involvement in political affairs. In an effort to free the imperial court from intrigues and domination by the clergy, Emperor Kammu (737-806) planned to relocate the capital. He eventually transferred the capital to what is now Kyoto and opened the Heian period of “peace and tranquility” in 794.
The monks, Saicho (767-822), founder of the Tendai (c. T’ien-t’ai) sect in Japan, and Kukai (774-835), founder of the Shingon sect (skt. mantra, ch. chen-yen), assisted in this process by going to China to study Buddhism and bring back the most up to date teaching and resources available there. Kukai went to the capital Chang-an where he studied with the famous Chen-yen monk Hui-kuo (746-805), becoming his successor. Saicho proceeded to Mount T’ien-t’ai where the teaching of Chih-I was undergoing a revival and while awaiting to return to Japan, he met a Chen yen teacher who instructed him and initiated him into that teaching.

The establishment of the Tendai and Shingon sects was in some measure an attempt to reform and reestablish the true principles of Buddhism in Japan. The reforming aspect was particularly strong in Saicho (later given the imperial title Dengyo Daishi or Great-teacher who transmitted Dharma) who asked the court for permission to set up his own Tendai ordination platform on Mount Hiei away from Nara. He maintained that Tendai Buddhism would provide monks who would be true national treasures and would protect the nation spiritually. The court granted approval soon after his death in 822.

However, with the transfer of the capital from Nara to Kyoto, Mount Hiei, where Saicho had established his monastery, became the center of spiritual learning, combining all forms of current religious studies, Tendai, focused on the Lotus Sutra; meditation practice (Tendai style Zen [meditation)); Pure Land teaching and practice; Shingon esoterism. Saicho’s religious view was more assimilative and syncretic. The importance and evolution of the monastery led to its continual involvement with national politics, especially through the institution of retired Emperors who became monks and exerted power from the monastery. As its own economic and political power grew, warrior monks fought in the interests of their Order.

Kukai, (later given the imperial title Kobo Daishi or Great Teacher who Disseminates Dharma) did not strongly oppose the temples of Nara, as did Saicho, and soon attained high rank in the official organization, becoming the Abbot of the Toji temple in Kyoto. Here he performed the rite of kanjo (a form of ordination), as well as ceremonies for the pacification of the nation. Supported by the court, Kukai and his Order attained wide influence. Even Emperors received instruction in Buddhism under the tutelage of Shingon monks. Shingon rites were widely used by the court as a means of averting or overcoming disasters. Its elegant pageantry and elaborate ritualism appealed to the religious and aesthetic sensibilities of the court nobles.

Though Heian Buddhism began auspiciously with a freshness and the ideal of creating national treasures to serve the country’s spiritual welfare, eventually it too competed for privilege and power. The fortunes of the nobility in the capital of Kyoto also declined along with political and economic changes in the distant provinces. The warrior clans whose task was to defend the interests of the absentee nobility in the provinces began their own quest for power. The turbulence of the ensuing Kamakura period (1185-1332) stimulated a flowering of Buddhist movements, critical of the established system of Buddhism and appealing to all levels of Japanese society.

Against the background of the emerging political struggles and religious turmoil which engulfed the traditional spiritual institutions of Mount Hiei and Mount Koya, as well as the earlier Nara temples, a number of sects emerged during the Kamakura age which differed in their views of the relation of Buddhism and society and its function in providing spiritual protection for the state. They also directed their teaching more to the individual who sought spiritual emancipation in the midst of the social turmoil of the time.

A major thread of Buddhist teaching in the Kamakura age was the Pure Land teaching which had permeated all classes of ancient and medieval society. Prior to the appearance of the independent Pure Land sect, there were a number of compassionate teachers who laid the foundation for the popular spread of this teaching. Among these were such people as Kuya (903-972), known as the “Saint of the Marketplace”. He traveled the countryside, proclaiming the recitation of Amida Buddha’s name and engaging in social uplift projects. Ryogen (912-985) advocated Pure Land devotion on Mount Hiei
and inspired his famous disciple Genshin (942-1017). Genshin taught Pure Land meditation and authored the famous Treatise on the Essentials of Rebirth (in the Pure Land) [Ojoyoshu]. This manual gained wide influence throughout Japanese Buddhism, through its depiction of the terrors of hell and the bliss of the Pure Land. Ryonin (1072-1132) initiated the Nembutsu of Mutuality (Yuzu Nembutsushu) which taught that each person’s Nembutsu contributes to the salvation of all other people in reciprocal mutuality. It was based in Tendai philosophy.

Honen (1133-1212) is considered the founder of the independent Pure Land sect (Jodoshu), and a pioneer of the movements characterizing the Kamakura era. For Honen the simple recitation of the name of the Buddha with sincere faith provided the merit for birth in the Pure Land. Honen had six or seven major disciples who all promoted Pure Land teaching. It was the only certain practice for the last age in the decline of the Dharma (mappo) for monks, nuns and the laity alike. Honen expounded his view in his famous Treatise on the Nembutsu of the Select Primal Vow (Senchakuhongannembutsushu, abbreviated Senchakushu).

The most famous of Honen’s disciples was Shinran (1173-1262) who is credited as the founder of The True Sect (Teaching) of the Pure Land (Jodo Shinshu).15 Shinran became famous for his teaching of “faith alone” in Amida as the basis for birth in the Pure Land. His teaching is spelled out in the Kyogyoshinsho (Anthology on Teaching, Practice, Faith and Realization). For him, the moment of trust in Amida or faith and the act of reciting the name were both given by Amida Buddha as a result of his Vow to save all beings. Religion becomes the way of gratitude rather than seeking benefits or salvation merely for oneself. Shinran is also noted for providing a religious basis for the marriage of monks and setting aside the monastic precepts and discipline. Since Amida saves one as he/she is, there is no need in faith to negate ordinary life in society.

Finally there was Ippen (1239-1289), the wandering monk, a second generation disciple of Honen who is the founder of the Time sect (Ji-shu-shu; shu here is not sect, but group). This sect at one time was a very popular movement in medieval Japan, characterized by its joyous nembutsu dance. Ippen advocated reciting the nembutsu at six specific times during the day and emphasized that one should regard each moment of life as his last while reciting the sacred name. He is famous for his itinerant life style, requiring poverty, celibacy and chastity. Relying on the absolute Other Power of Amida, he did not require faith as the basis for birth in the Pure Land. He had everyone sign a register and receive a plaque, whether a conscious believer or not; It is Amida who assures the person’s entry into paradise.
Each of these Pure Land sects, though differing in points of doctrine and later organization, were generally other-worldly in character and offered the bliss of the Pure Land to individuals through sincere faith and recitation of the name Namu Amida Butsu (also known as nembutsu which means to think on or call the name of the Buddha). By this means the ordinary person could escape from the suffering of this world and the endless cycles of births and deaths to enjoy bliss in the Pure Land.

On the other hand, the Zen tradition which had developed from the teaching of Bodhidharma in China was brought to Japan through Eisai (1146- 1215). Eisai introduced the Rinzai (Lin-chi) Zen (Ch'an) ko-an tradition from China. This method of Zen aimed at achieving enlightenment by employing paradoxical, riddle-like stories to break through the human addiction and attachment to logical thought and words. He maintained in his treatise Kozengokokuron (Treatise on Spiritually Protecting the Nation through Prospering Zen) that the nation could be spiritually protected only through promoting the true practice of Zen.

Dogen (1200-1253), Eisai's disciple, after a period of study in China, introduced the Chinese Soto (Tsao-tung) Zen sect into Japan. Dogen did not use the ko-an method because all life was a ko-an. He was the most philosophical among the Kamakura teachers as can be seen in his Treasury Eye of the True Dharma (Shobogenzo). In his view simply sitting is itself the enlightenment of the Buddha when done with faith. His motto was shikan-taza or “Zazen Only”. He asserted also that Buddhism was superior to the state. According to his view, human laws were merely based on precedents and ancient laws whose origins were uncertain. However, Buddhism had a clear transmission from the beginning. Thus the state was not absolute. Claiming extraterritoriality for the monk who did his duty by performing his discipline, Dogen refused to associate with the government and established his temple in a distant province.

Perhaps the most important expression of the relation between the nation and Buddhism in the Kamakura era was the teaching of the Buddhist prophet Nichiren (1222-1282). According to his basic work Risshoankokuron (Treatise on the Attainment of Peace in the Country through the Establishment of the True (Buddhist) Teaching), the security of the nation depended on strict adherence to the Lotus Sutra as interpreted by Nichiren.

Insisting on the supremacy of the Lotus Sutra over all other teachings of Buddhism in accord with Tendai teaching, Nichiren demanded that the government establish it as the national religion to the exclusion of all other forms of Buddhism. His apparent intolerance was the result of his conviction that the many natural disasters and political upheavals which Japan had experienced at that time had been prophesied by the Buddha as punishment for not adhering to the truth. Very soon, he taught, the final punishment would come with the invasion of the Mongols. He pointed to the prosperity of Pure Land teaching, Zen Buddhism, the use of Shingon practices, and the fame of Ritsu (Vinaya discipline) priests as evidence that the people had ignored and were blind to the truth in the Lotus Sutra originally declared by Chih-I in China and Saicho in Japan. According to Nichiren, even later traditional Tendai teachers had strayed from the truth by adopting Pure Land and Shingon practices into their own system.

Although Nichiren employed traditional concepts of the relation of state and Buddhism, he held strongly to the primacy of Buddhism over the state in contrast to the traditional political subservience of Buddhism. He claimed that he was the pillar of Japan, the ship of Japan. His outspokenness and uncompromising attitude brought him persecution and banishment.

A facet of Kamakura Buddhism was also the effort by some monks to purify Buddhism and reestablish the system of monastic discipline. Representative of this trend is Koben (Myoe Shonin 1173-1232) in Nara. Myoe aspired to the ideal of Sakyamuni Buddha and planned to make a pilgrimage to India which he was never able to fulfill. His object of devotion was Miroku, the future Buddha, while in his studies he combined esoteric Buddhism, the Kegon philosophy and strict maintenance of discipline. Becoming a highly respected scholar, Myoe was also very devout and noted for his many spiritual dreams. Concerned for the spiritual welfare of the ordinary person, perhaps influenced by Honen, Myoe advocated a form of devotion for ordinary people, focusing on a mandala (sacred diagram) of the three treasures, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The invocation of the three treasures aimed at arousing the aspiration to become Buddha (bodhi-mind). Later he developed the Komyo Shingon, a mantra of light to be recited, together with spiritual purification, for the sake of the afterlife as well as benefits in this world.

Myoe was acquainted with Honen and at first respected him highly. When he read Honen’s treatise Senchakushu, he was enraged and wrote a text Treatise on Destroying Error (Zaijarin) to refute Honen’s teaching. A major criticism was that Honen denied the essential Buddhist teaching of the necessity of the aspiration to become Buddha as the basis of enlightenment.

It is to be noted that the founders and movements were generally little known in their own time. Under the leadership of gifted successors they developed into mass movements, becoming the major denominations we see today.

The period of civil wars and strife following the fall of the Kamakura Shogunate in 1334 until the establishment of the Tokugawa regime in 1615 frequently involved Buddhist Orders as they carried on sectarian rivalries or attempted to protect their own interests. As Sansom points out: "Although most of the numerous sects of Buddhism in Japan were tolerant to the point of indifference in matters of doctrine, they were very jealous of their rights, and would fight hard on a point of privilege."

The various dictators engaged in armed struggles to reduce the political and military threats of the powerful Buddhist institutions. While Ashikaga Takauji (Shogun, 1338-1358) had to retrench before the militant reaction of the forces of Mount Hiei, Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) was eventually able to subdue them and the hosts of the Ikko (Single-minded sect of Pure Land devotees). He even encouraged the propagation of Christianity to counter the influence of the Buddhists. Hideyoshi (1536-1598) pursued the monks of Kumano and Mount Koya. As the monks turned from warlike activities to works of piety, Hideyoshi began to restrain the Christians, ordering missionaries to leave the country in 1587. Oppression of Christians mounted under Hideyoshi and reached its peak with the martyrdom of twenty-six persons at Nagasaki in 1597. The persecutions and martyrdoms of Christians increased under the Tokugawas, and reached a climax in the Shimabara revolt which precipitated the policy of total isolation from foreign relations for the next 250 years.

The importance of the Christian persecutions lies in their relationship to the political control of the Buddhist Orders during the Tokugawa era. As a measure in the abolition of Christianity, Buddhist clergy began to function as police. In 1640 an investigating agency was formed in Edo and extended throughout the country. In order to seek out Christians, citizens were made to trample the cross, and local Buddhist temples were required to register all persons in their district on such matters as their personal history and activities. The Buddhist religion declined in spirit because of the earlier attacks on its institutions and its reduction to a mere political tool in the Tokugawa effort to achieve total social stability and harmony.

The dominant ideologies of the Tokugawa age were Neo-Confucianism and a renascent Shintoism, both of which were critical and negative to Buddhism. Buddhist institutions continued to function, and members of the government associated with it through their families as a matter of custom. However, it exerted little control or influence over the intellectual outlook or personal conduct of the national leaders. Buddhist scholars regard the change brought about in Buddhism, resulting from the activities of Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and the later Tokugawas, as a turning point in Buddhist history. During this period Buddhism completely capitulated to secular authority. The establishment of the parish system (danka seido), irrespective of doctrinal convictions, as well as the imposed clerical control, effectively cut Buddhism off spiritually from the people.

Despite the fact that Buddhism had permeated daily life or that scholarship had developed within the monastic communities, the real vitality of Buddhism was lost when compared with its impact in the Heian and Kamakura periods. The position of Buddhism in the feudal period resembled only externally its role in the earlier period when the state was institutionalized. The important difference was that rulers in the earlier ages believed in Buddhist spiritual experience, and, revering the three treasures (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha), prayed for the welfare of the nation. In the later period the Edo warriors, dominated by Neo-Confucianism, regarded Buddhism simply as a useful instrument of social control.

When the Tokugawa regime ended with the restoration of Imperial rule under Emperor Meiji (reigning 1868-1912), Buddhism was rudely awakened by the shout of "Expel Buddha, cut down Sakyamuni." The renascent Shinto sentiment held by some leaders of government quickly overthrew the trappings of state support of Buddhism, and some proponents of the new nationalism claimed it was merely a foreign religion. The attack failed because of the deep faith of the ordinary people in Buddhism which had given them hope for their meager existences. However many temples and work of art of Japan’s Buddhist heritage were lost as a result of the plundering of temples.

Buddhist leaders initially joined with Shintoists in assisting the government to promote the new nationalism. They linked themselves to the political absolutism of the Meiji regime as a way to demonstrate the importance of Buddhism in the new Japan. Government officials welcomed the assistance of Buddhist clergy, since they had traditionally the closest relation to the people. Later the Buddhists withdrew from actively promoting nationalism and advocated religious freedom in order to gain its own autonomy. Nevertheless, Buddhism supported modern nationalism, stressing its Japanese character and utility to the nation as it became a world power. Confronting the many challenges to Buddhism that came with the opening of Japan to the West, there were a number of reform and social movements such as the New Buddhist Movement (Shin [neo] Bukkyo Undo) which sought the revitalization of Buddhism through social reform. Such teachers as Kiyozawa Manshi (1863-1903) reinterpreted doctrines in a modern way. In addition, Western methods in the study of religion were introduced, giving rise to critical scholarship and higher standards of education for clergy.
However, Buddhism was faced with threats of a spreading Christianity and relentless modernization. These issues culminated and intensified with the defeat of Japan’s war effort in World War II which Buddhists supported as loyal Japanese.

In the post-World War II period with complete religious freedom the Buddhist sects have had to deal with a host of so-called New Religions, such as the neo-Buddhist Soka Gakkai and Risshokoseikai, which challenged the dominance of the older traditional sects in addition to renewed Christian propagation. Also in recent years there arose a second wave of New New religions which includes the notorious Buddhist Aum Shinri Kyo, famous for its destructive violence and murders. The name means ‘The Supreme Truth of Creation and Destruction,” and raises the specter that religion may be used as a cover for nihilism and violence. These developments have raised the question of the meaning of religious faith and the relevance of the traditional sects in a rapidly changing, religiously competitive and more highly sophisticated, complex, industrial society.

In the modern era a gap has frequently existed between more educated and critical intellectual priests and ordinary persons in relation to the magical and pragmatic features of Buddhism. Despite calls for reformation and modernization within Buddhism, the great source of support and strength in the Orders still derives from the magical and pragmatic faith which, for lack of a better alternative, supports individuals in dealing with the problems and anxieties of modern life. The traditional sects have, however, been able to hold their own because of their deep roots in the life of the people through the family and highly developed scholarly traditions, modern educational institutions and efforts in propagation and publication. There is hope for the future as Buddhist teachers and leaders become active in interfaith and intercultural movements which strengthen the internationalization and universalism of Buddhism.

Chapter Six Vajrayana: Esoteric Buddhism of Tibet
Tibet has always fascinated Western people. Imaginations have been stimulated by the vision of the mythical land of Shambala in Tibetan tradition, perhaps located at the North Pole, where everyone is enlightened and happy. When it becomes visible, unenlightened people try to conquer it. After a great conflict, the world will become like Shambala. It was popularized in the West as Shangri-La in the 1936 novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton and then in a musical in 1973. Portrayed as an exotic mystical realm of spiritual endeavor in contemplation and a search for wisdom, Shangri-La represents the aspiration for paradise or utopia.17 However, in more recent times our attention has been drawn to the plight of the Tibetan people by Communist China’s invasion of Tibet in 1959. Since that time the Chinese government has been trying to suppress and supplant Tibetan culture and religion which they consider superstitious, medieval, and oppressive. They have undertaken to replace the Tibetan population with Han Chinese and thereby change the demographics and culture of the region. However, the Dalai Lama, as spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people, has worked for decades in a non- violent manner to gather support for their independence and self- determination.
We cannot go into detail on the history of Tibet or Tibetan Buddhism. However, the history of Tibetan Buddhism can be viewed on two levels. There is the level of recorded history, the outer history of the society and religion. There is also a spiritual or inner history in the evolution of the spiritual ideals expressed in its teachings and practices. Externally Tibet developed into a theocratic state, rule by elite Orders of monks, replete with its intrigues and struggles. Spiritually Tibetan Buddhism evolved into a highly complex synthesis of scholarship, piety and mysticism.

Robert Thurman, a leading scholarly exponent of Tibetan Buddhism in the West, has written eloquently about the Inner Revolution, depicting the development of Tibetan Buddhism in the light of our professed ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of real happiness. Although his presentation may appear to conflict with the observable course of Tibetan history, he traces the formation of the Tibetan spiritual ideal and its relevance for our contemporary world. He writes: "The tradition of nonviolence, optimism, concern for the individual and unconditional compassion that developed in Tibet is the culmination of a slow inner revolution, a cool one, hard to see, that began 2,500 years ago with the Buddha's insight about the end of suffering." In this perspective, merely tracing external history does not do justice to the real history of Tibet.

What Thurman sees in the formation of Tibet is an effort to establish an ideal environment where every person has the opportunity to become a fully enlightened being. That is, that all people can become Buddhas. This is a fantastic claim in view of the way we think of nations existing today. He sees in the history of Tibet an attempt to replace ruling elites based on military power with the nurture of the individual who becomes free from negative emotion and obsessive self concern.19 Although the history of Tibet is marked by an uneasy tension between militaristic social organization and society based on meditative realization and monasteries, the military versus monastics, he traces a process of unilateral disarmament which made it politically weaker in the face of external enemies but spiritually strong in the belief that when a person becomes enlightened the whole society benefits. He indicates that by the 17th century Tibet had developed its “modern” form which he calls inner or spiritual modernity.

The West, at relatively the same period, had merged the sacred within the secular, while in Tibet, the secular was transformed into the sacred. Thus, there is a contrast of outer, secular modernity and inner, spiritual modernity. Tibet's inner modernity prospered for almost 300 years, while other nations undertook the conquest of the external world, eventually encroaching on Tibet. According to Thurman, the idea of inner modernity traces back to Gautama Buddha himself in the establishment of the Buddhist Order as a context for spiritual education, with social and cultural implications. It was an alternative society where Gautama accepted all kinds of people within his Order. Through spiritual education people could gain selflessness and freedom from alienated ego-addiction.
The attainment of Enlightenment required strong efforts to overcome habitual ways of thinking and ignorance. This monastic movement spread over Asia and may even have influenced the West in ancient times. Ancient kings supported Buddhism and became more humane leaders, even if they did not give up worldly power completely. Asoka (262 B.C.E.) is a prime example.

We modern people, in Thurman’s view, have a constricted view of fundamental principles. For instance, we constantly hear that we are interdependent in the global economy. This is very true, but we only limit that understanding to global economic matters and sometimes ecological issues. Rather, we should see that all society and life is interdependent and as long as we ignore the plight of the poor and suffering in society, our own lives are endangered. Our present social policies aim at preserving the wealth of the wealthy, while begrudging those ground under by our competitive, materialist, technological economic system. The gap between the rich and the poor is growing worldwide.
Consequently, according to Thurman, Tibet is worthy of closer study because it was a grand laboratory for the development of a way of life based on spiritual principles. Its isolation in the high altitudes of the Himalayas certainly favored such developments. The spread of Tibetan Buddhism beyond its borders now offers a challenge in our contemporary period to modern people to revise their understanding of life and the primary values we should pursue.

This is not an argument to idealize the Tibetans as a naturally superior spiritual people. Rather, in the limited context of their history, it demonstrates the power of spiritual values to transform society, moving the Tibetans from warlike tribes to a peaceful and peace-loving nation, combining spiritual and political leadership in the Dalai Lama.

Tibetan Buddhism itself represents a synthesis of the major streams of Buddhism to that time. The Theravada tradition is represented in Monastic Buddhism and the effort to attain egolessness. It supplied the basis of discipline. The second stream is the Mahayana which Thurman calls “Messianic” or Bodhisattva Buddhism where one attains Buddhahood and a realm where that Buddha resides. Here Buddhas and Bodhisattvas together strive to inspire all beings to attain Buddhahood. It offered the spiritual ideal of self-giving. Finally there is “Millenial” or “Apocalyptic” Buddhism which is represented in the esoteric Tantric Buddhism called Vajrayana. According to its followers, it is the highest product of Buddhist teaching. The idea of “Apocalyptic” suggests a breakthrough of our "habitual self-centeredness.” In the sexual imagery associated with this tradition it is experienced like an orgasm where one loses oneself completely in union with the other. It is described as "people absorbed in activity--runners racing, musicians performing, artists creating, mothers giving milk--all of them have a taste of millenial consciousness, a momentary blissful freedom from dissatisfaction, self concern and pain."

Historically Buddhism entered Tibet by way of India and China where it merged with the native Bon religion to form a complex religion strongly linked to the political organization. Establishing itself as a military power, Tibet became a force to be reckoned with in the region. In 642 C.E. King Songtsen Gampo (618-650) furthered national interests through marriage alliances. He married a daughter of the King of Nepal who was a Buddhist. As a result of military prowess he later took a Chinese princess, Wen–ch’eng as his wife. She was also a Buddhist and brought her faith and images with her. The King thereby became a supporter of Buddhism through the influence of his wives.
As an effort in cultural development Songtsen Gampo is noted for sending students to India such as Thonmi Sambhota, who learned Sanskrit and contributed to the introduction of Buddhism. He assisted the development of an alphabet and grammar for the Tibetan language based on Indian Brahmi and Gupta scripts, thereby enabling the translation of Sanskrit texts to Tibetan.24
While there were conflicts occasionally with the native religion, Buddhism continued to prosper under later Kings. In order to establish Buddhism firmly, King Trisong Detsen (740-798) invited the scholars Santaraksita (arrived @ 760) and Padmasambhava (arrived in Tibet late 8th C.) from India.
Santarakshita was considered one of the greatest Buddhist scholars of his time, teaching at Vikramasila monastery in India. Met by opposition in Tibet from government ministers and natural disasters, he suggested that the King invite Padmasambhava who could resolve the conflict with the native religion and left Tibet. Padmasambhava is credited with defeating the demons of the native religion who opposed Buddhism through powerful prayers and exorcism, thereby effectively converting Tibet to Buddhism. He urged the return of Santaraksita. Together they built the first monastery in Tibet, known as Samye (completed 791) and ordained the first Tibetan monks. The King also sponsored the translation of texts.

Padmasambhava is particularly revered in Tibet for his achievements as the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. He is also regarded as the founder of the Nyingma sect or School of the Ancients. According to Nyingma tradition, Padmasambhava transmitted a synthesis of all major forms of Buddhism, namely: Hinayana or Theravada type monastic rules, Mahayana Sutras and philosophies, and Tantric methods of meditation. These then became the basis of Tibetan Buddhism.25 This transmission is known as the textual (Kama) transmission. In addition, in Nyingma tradition Padmasambhava transmitted the Terma or hidden forms of teaching which would be revealed in times of crisis and need by Tertons who are Bodhisattvas reborn for the purpose of revealing the required dharma. The significance of the latter form of teaching is the openness to the future it implies.26
During Trisong Detsen’s reign there was a debate over which he presided. This debate determined the direction and character of Tibetan Buddhism. For a period of two years (792-794) the Indian monk Kamalasila and the Chinese Zen monk Ho-shang debated the nature of enlightenment. It was a contest between the gradual path to enlightenment and the sudden. Kamalasila advocated the gradual path of India, while Ho-shang the sudden, instantaneous path of Chinese Ch’an (Zen). At the conclusion the king supported Kamalasila and established the gradualist interpretation of Buddhism as the state religion.

The third King who is noted for his lavish support of Buddhism was Tri Rapalchen (reign 815-836). He invited teachers from India and sponsored numerous translations, while revising earlier ones. Tri Rapalchen’s disproportionate donations to the Order and devotion to religion aroused opposition leading to his assassination by Lang Darma, his elder brother and a follower of the Bon native religion.
The tyranny of Lang Darma’s effort to expunge Buddhism from Tibet brought about his own assassination. As a consequence, the nation entered a period of political chaos with the end of the Tibetan Empire and its fragmentation into many competing principalities and resultant loss of support for Buddhism. Many Buddhist temples and works of art were destroyed, but Buddhism remained alive in western Tibet.

In the later 10th century a Buddhist King who received ordination by the name of Yeshe O attempted to revive Buddhism and inaugurated the second major period in the development of Tibetan Buddhism. Students were once again sent to India and the translation of Sanskrit Sutras, Tantras and commentaries resumed.
In the course of history a literary and philosophical language was developed and texts scrutinized for accuracy in translation. By the 13th century a canon of scriptures was published in two divisions,comprising hundreds of texts. The Kangyur includes some 100 Sutra texts, while the Tangyur contains some 200 texts including commentaries and a variety of traditional texts on many subjects. In all there are 317 volumes and 4,567 works. 28 A dictionary was also produced. Of major importance was the arrival in Tibet of the great teacher Atisha (982-1054) of Nalanda University in India. He founded the Kadampa (“bound by the ordinances”, later Gelukpa) sect, the first school in Tibet, uniting both scholarly Mahayana Sutra teaching and Tantra practice. He also instituted major reforms by enforcing celibacy and prohibiting intoxicants and sex as a means of mystical experience. His contribution to making Buddhism the dominant religion of Tibet, which it remains to today, is very significant.

Another major figure in the development of Tibetan Buddhism is Marpa (1012-1097), the first Tibetan in the lineage of Naropa. He is noted as the first in the Kagyu sect lineage in Tibet, a translator and most significantly as the teacher of Milarepa (1040-1123). Though he lived as a layperson with a wife and children, he is regarded as a Buddha, viewing the world as a Pure Land.30
Milarepa is regarded as a towering figure in Tibetan Buddhism. His biography dramatizes his transformation from a person seeking vengeance to an enlightened teacher. According to Reginald Ray, it “shows how any ordinary person can aspire to the highest goal. It is perhaps for this reason that the life of Milarepa, told in the first person, is one of the best-loved and best-known of all sacred biographies of Tibet.”

Milarepa sought revenge against his uncle and aunt who had cheated his family out of their wealth and reduced them to slavery. Learning black magic, he was able to kill 35 people at a wedding feast for the uncle’s son. Though his mother rejoiced at the victory, Milarepa reflected on his karma and sought the Dharma to purify himself. He was directed to Marpa who put him through many tests before giving the teaching. Observing Milarepa’s desperate persistence despite the extreme challenges, Marpa gave him the teaching, which eventually led him to become one of Tibet’s greatest spiritual teachers and cultural figures. While a master in the Kagyu lineage, his influence extends to the whole culture through his biography and his songs.

Another important figure who influenced the course of Tibetan Buddhism is Sakya Pandita (1182-1251) and a leader in the Sakya sect. His role consisted in converting the Mongol Khan (ruler) Godan and establishing a patron-priest relationship with the Mongols, thereby avoiding the invasion of Tibet. Sakya sect leaders became teachers of the Mongols, while Sakya lamas became the political overseers of Tibet. Eventually, the religion of Tibet was adopted by Kublai Khan in 1247 and as a result, there were close relations between Tibet and Mongolia which continued until the Mongol power declined and they lost interest in Tibet.

An outcome of this development was the establishment of the political and spiritual authority of the office of Dalai Lama and its peculiar form of succession. The name Dalai Lama is Mongolian and means “Ocean of Wisdom.” He is believed to be the incarnation of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (t. Chenrezig), the Bodhisattva of Compassion. In the 15th century the Gelukpa sect succeeded the Sakyas as rulers of Tibet and the Altan Khan (Golden Ruler) bestowed the title Dalai Lama in 1578 when he met Sonam Gyatso. This title was applied to his successors and predecessors, while the Lama gave the title King of Dharma, Divine Purity” to the Khan.32 The relation of the Khans and the Gelukpa sect grew, resulting in the assumption of political power in Tibet by the fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682) as the first ruler of a unified Tibet. His center was at the Potala in Lhasa.

The institution of the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama began with the death of Sonam Gyatso who converted the Mongols to the Gelukpa sect.33 It was believed that Sonam Gyatso made a promise to return after his death. After the death of a Dalai Lama leading lamas hold a search for the rebirth of the preceding Lama. The determination of the successor often depended on a prediction given by the current Dalai Lama where he might be reborn and recognition of objects belonging to the prior Lama by the candidate. Since the candidate would be small child, perhaps about 2 years old, his education would be in the hands of a regency belonging to the Gelukpa school. The character, abilities and political situation of the later Dalai Lamas varied and reveal problems in the method of selection. The 5th, 7th, 13th and the present 14th Dalai Lama are among the most competent and effective.
In the 18th century the Manchu rulers in China created the office of Pan-chen Lama as the embodiment of Amitabha Buddha and a competitor to the Dalai Lama. Panchen Lama’s title is a combination of pan-dita or scholar and chen-po meaning great. He is believed to be the incarnation of Amitabha Buddha and ranks second in authority to the Dalai Lama with his center at Tashilumpo monastery which also belongs to the Gelukpa school.

This rivalry was cultivated by the Chinese and the British. With the Communists, as the Nationalists before them, the Pan-chen Lama was exiled to China and regarded as the head of all Tibet. The last Pan-chen Lama died several years ago. Among the lamas generally there are two types: the carnate and the incarnate. The incarnate lamas are those believed to be incarnations of previous teachers, sharing the sufferings of beings in the world and working to bring them salvation. They may be known as Tulkus or Rinpoche (as many as 300). Under these lamas are monks who have taken the religious life voluntarily.

The reincarnation of spiritual figures is based on the principle of karma and rebirth common to all traditions of Buddhism. Here the concept is made very concrete in determining leadership, though everyone in a broad sense is a reincarnation of previous beings. In the case of spiritually developed lamas and teachers, they are believed, as Bodhisattvas, to have the ability to see past lives and choose their next life.

The principle of re-incarnation of great Bodhisattvas and Buddhas or sainted masters of the past has removed the aristocratic domination of Tibetan Buddhism. The search for the successor can lead to a peasant hut, though perhaps some politics may also be involved. Still any lowly child, with the right karma and memory of past life, can qualify. Sometimes there has been more than one candidate. In any case, it is a concrete expression of the continuous presence of enlightenment within the world.
A major feature of Tibetan Buddhism is the development of four major sects or divisions, the Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Geluk. In more recent times a non-sectarian movement developed termed Ri-me which means no side or non-partisan. While each has some points of distinction and differences in
method and terminology, they are generally bound together in a basic unity. According to John Powers’ study, they maintain a lineage from the Buddha and masters in India. They all stress the attitude of renunciation, a common rule of discipline drawn from the Sarvastivadin Buddhist tradition of India, a common canon of sacred texts and pursuit of enlightenment combining Sutras ascribed to the Buddha and varying texts and traditions of Tantra which is regarded as the highest or ultimate path to enlightenment. Philosophically they draw on the Middle Path (Madhyamika) Prasangika tradition teaching of logical negation of Nagarjuna (2nd c. C.E.) of India. They all hold in common the centrality of mind and its nature as clear light and emptiness as the basis of practice and realization. Essentially Buddhism is the training of the mind.

Tibetan teachers generally view the development of Buddha’s as three turnings of the wheel of dharma going from Hinayana or lesser vehicle, the Mahayana, greater vehicle, and Vajrayana, Tibetan Buddhism itself. These differing forms of teaching are viewed as upaya or tactful devices of the Buddha in accord with the varying spiritual capacities of people. Each aspect of teaching has a particular focus or emphasis, namely, the Hinayana is a path of personal salvation from suffering; the Mahayana encourages compassion for others, while seeking their salvation. The Vajrayana seeks speedy enlightenment or Buddhahood in order to save all beings.

In brief the Nyingma sect, also known as “the Ancient School or Old Translation School, claims to be the oldest school based on a mythic lineage from Samanthabhadra, a primordial Buddha. Historically it claims Vajrasattva (55 C.E.) in India and Vimalamitra and Padmasambhava in Tibet as the sources of its teaching. Padmasambhava is regarded as the actual founder and the most influential in converting Tibet. It is based on the early translations made under King Songtsen Gampo during the initial spread of Buddhism. The lamas are married and not monks.

Nyingma is noted for the idea of hidden teaching (terma) or treasures which can be revealed in times of need and the tertons or Bodhisattvas who are able to discover them when they are needed. This has enabled the tradition to be flexible and innovative in the maintenance of tradition. Another distinctive feature is the practice of dzogchen (“great perfection”) on the highest level of Tantra which transcends the gradualist path and ordinary knowing. With dzogchen after a period of preparation, the adept spontaneously and effortlessly realizes the unity of appearances and emptiness. It is the awareness of immediacy of the pure mind of emptiness or enlightenment that pervades all reality beyond visualizations or discursive thought. The practice of dzogchen enables the practitioner to achieve Buddhahood and help all others through perceiving the nature of mind in all experiences.
The Kagyu sect means “teaching lineage” denoting teachings that have been transmitted through a line of masters from Tilopa (988-1069) in India and then to Naropa (1016-1100), the abbot of Nalanda. His disciple Marpa mentioned above brought the teaching to Tibet. Milarepa was the most famous representative of this sect.

Among its various teachings, the Kagyu stress the Mahamudra or “great seal.” They regard this teaching as the direct experience of the essence of Buddhism in a fashion similar to dzogchen in the Nyingma sect. Through its own methods of discipline, it aims at awareness of the true nature of mind by following a process described as: basis, path and fruit. In this process the mind becomes focused and stabilized, making possible the realization of the nature of mind. It is the recognition that all perceptions are of the nature of dreams, illusory and empty, going beyond conceptuality.

Another meditation practice is called Cho or “cutting off” and aims at the conquest of one’s attachment to ego. The practice includes visualizations, rituals and prayers, while overcoming demons which hinder one’s liberation. The goal is the realization of the emptiness of phenomena, while cultivating mental purity and an attitude of self-sacrifice for the sake of others.

The Sakyas, though tracing their lineage back to a monk Virupa in India, the first Sakya monastery was established 1073 in Tibet. It is particularly known for its traditions of scholarship, holding that Tantra practice must be based on a deep knowledge of the texts. There have been many centers of scholarship among its monasteries.

Sakya Pandita, whom we noted above in connection with the conversion of the Mongols, is considered one of the most important persons in Sakya history with many legends surrounding his birth and life. His name Sakya Pandita means “scholar of the Sakyas” and he reputedly has authored numerous works dealing with “philosophy, music, grammar poetics and epistemology." However, he gained notoriety through his political activity, linking the status of the Sakya sect to that of the Mongols, as well as the formation of the Tibetan theocracy.

Sakya is noted also for the meditative practice of Lamdre which means “path and fruit ” or “path including its fruit,” said to be developed by Virupa in India as the basis of the tradition. The path and fruit are simultaneous realizations. The exact nature of this practice is little understood because it is regarded as very secret and profound, being passed on only in oral tradition. As in other schools the practices aim at the realization of the illusory character of all distinctions in ordinary perception and that everything is a manifestation of mind. The realization of this awareness is Buddhahood.
The Gelukpa sect originated with the famous reformer and teacher Tsong Khapa (1357-1419). He became a scholar at an early age, studying in various traditions such as the Kadampa, Kagyu and Naropa, while engaging in various methods of meditation. He wrote numerous treatises, being inspired by the teaching of Atisha, mentioned above, and also a reformer.
The name of the sect means “system of virtue” and stresses the maintenance of strict Vinaya or monastic discipline, as well as scholarship and tantric practice. Intellectual development, analytical reasoning and debate are encouraged. The tradition of monasticism and scholarship has continued to the present time.

The association of the Gelukpa sect and the third Dalai Lama, who was also the grandson of Altan Khan, the leader of the Mongols, led to its involvement in Tibetan politics. The fifth Dalai Lama, considered one of the greatest Tibetan rulers, was also of the Gelukpa school which thereafter took charge of training future Dalai Lamas.

The Rime movement is considered not as a sect but a perspective or orientation with its roots in the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions. There are numerous teachers who contributed to the formation of this approach which never became a highly organized, independent sect. Essentially, the movement emerged as a counter to the isolation of the various sects from each other, each believing in the total sufficiency of their particular teaching. While observing the differences between the respective sects, it advocates understanding other sects and attempts to focus their underlying unity in aiming at the same realization and goal. A leading contemporary exponent of this point of view is Ringu Tulku who maintains that while it was historically possible in earlier ages to remain isolated in one’s own tradition, modern times require that Buddhists, and perhaps all people, appreciate traditions other than their own, even though they have their roots in their own tradition.

A highly distinctive feature of the various Tibetan sects is tantric practice. Tantra itself means “loom” or “to weave.” It suggests the interweaving and interdependence of all aspects of reality and experience. An esoteric teaching its practice developed within Hindu religious tradition, as well as in Buddhism. Tantric practices are reserved for adepts who have undergone rigorous training prescribed and monitored by one’s guru-lama.

The practices include the use of complex rituals, comprised of spells, chants, gestures, symbols of various kinds and cosmic representations. Prominent among these elements are mudra, hand symbols or gestures, mantra, spells or invocations, together with mandalas, sacred cosmic diagrams often in the form of a circle.

Tantra employs mantras for transforming the universe. A mantra is a magical, sacred word or phrase, possessing great spiritual power. The term Mantrayana (Mantra vehicle) is often used to highlight the use of spells and chants in the ritual and yogic meditations. Mantras assist the experience of uniting with or becoming a deity and then reducing the visualization to emptiness. This effort reveals that all reality is mind-produced and empty. The most famous mantra is the Om Mani Padme Hum. The two middle terms means jewel and lotus and suggest that the truth is in the heart of the teaching.
There are hand-symbols and actions that represent aspects of spiritual reality. These are mudras. The position of the hands in Buddha images display various mudra and define the meaning of the respective image. The vajra implement which is often held in the hand of an icon is a symbol for the state of enlightened conscious. The term vajra means “diamond” and suggests the firmness and determination with which one approaches the discipline, as well as signifying the nature of the wisdom attained. This symbol has also given its name to the teaching, Vajrayana.

Mandalas are sacred diagrams of spiritual reality and may be temporary constructions, ritually produced, using many types of materials such as sand in various colors. They may also be given artistic representation as wall hangings. The mandalas are important for initiation and meditation, appearing in the form of a palace. Each element bears spiritual meaning. One of the most prominent is the Kalachakra mandala which includes 722 deities, beneficent or wrathful, representing aspects of reality and consciousness.

As we have noted, there are hosts of deities, buddhas and bodhisattvas making up the Tibetan pantheon in the mandalas. However, the most important for the tradition is the Bodhisattva of Compassion (S. Avalokiteshvara), known in East Asia as Kuan-yin in China and Kannon in Japan, and in Tibet as Chenrezig. His mantra is Om Mani Padme Hum, the Jewel in the Lotus which is believed to contain the essence of Buddhism and is written on prayer wheels or carved in stone. As the representation of the quality of compassion he become the archetypal model for human emulation and is said to be embodied in the lives of significant people who have benefited Tibet such as King Songtsen Gampo and above all the Dalai Lama himself.

The counterpart of Chenrezig (Avalokitesvara) as the expression of female compassion is the beloved savior-goddess Tara. As the Kings are seen as embodiments of Chenrezig, so their wives are incarnations of Tara.41 Each Bodhisattva responds to the prayers of believers. Tara appears in various colors and forms, green, white and red and she has qualities of generosity, and bountifulness. Other important figures are the Bodhisattvas Manjusri who embodies wisdom and Vajrapani who symbolizes enlightenment.

Tantric practice aims at the overcoming all inhibitions and mental discriminations predicated on discriminating good and evil, pleasant and distasteful. In effect, it tries to realize in experience the non-duality taught intellectually in Mahayana Buddhism and Madhyamika philosophy. It is most notorious for advocating use of sexuality as a basis for the experience of the bliss of enlightenment. It should be understood that the intention of this practice and imagery is not simply to engage in sexual activity for the purpose of sexual activity. It is to place sex in the service of spiritual realization.
The power of human desire is directed to the experience of spiritual bliss, based on the principle of non-duality. Highest yogic Tantra aims at employing the power hidden within human desire to realize Buddhahood as the path to save all beings. Images often portray the copulation of a Bodhisattva and his consort in the position known as yab-yum. Yab represents the male principle of compassion, while yum is the female aspect of wisdom. However, it is a question whether this practice is literally enacted in meditation or is employed as a metaphor.

Because if its sexual imagery and practices, it was viewed as corrupt, immoral and unBuddhist when it was first encountered by western people. However, the goal is the visualization of an alternative spiritual reality to one's egoistic self through concentrated meditation practice and guidance of the teacher. Assimilating to that reality, one may develop the qualities of compassion and wisdom that are the ideals of Buddhism.

An important outcome of this belief system is the exaltation of the guru or teacher (lama) who is believed to embody the wisdom and compassion of the Buddhas. It encourages guru-worship or adulation. As example we read:
Mentor like a gem embodied, diamond bolt,
Live compassion from the great bliss element
You bestow in the fraction of a second The supreme exaltation of the three
bodies- I bow to the lotus of your foot!

Another important aspect of Tibetan Buddhism is the Tibetan Book of the Dead which is famous for its detailed narrative of what happens on the death of an individual and giving instruction on how to make a positive transition into the next life. Tibetan Buddhism holds in common with other Buddhist traditions the emphasis on impermanence signified in human life by illness and death. However, Tibetan Buddhism offers more detail on the process of dying and its ensuing results. Not a pessimistic volume, it outlines the way a person, even after death in the “Between” period before being reborn can achieve enlightenment and ultimate liberation. Hence, its full title as translated by Dr. Robert Thurman is the “Great Book of Natural Liberation through Understanding in the Between.” (Bardo Thodol).44
The text is believed to have been composed by the great teacher Padmasambhava (late 8th C.), the founder of the Nyingma school. They believe he wrote it as a hidden text (terma, see above p. 8) to be revealed when needed at a later time and revealed by the terton Karma Lingpa in the 14th century. Though a text originating in the Nyingma school, it is a religious classic employed by all schools and influential beyond Tibet.

Essentially the book offers instruction to the departed from this life to assist them on reaching enlightenment as they process through the Between which covers a period of 49 days after the death of the person. If one employs the text before dying to prepare for one’s death, as well as following its prescriptions after death, one can reach ultimate enlightenment and avoid unfortunate rebirths in the traditional Buddhist six paths of gods, humans, angry spirits, beasts, hungry ghosts, and hells. It is based on the assumptions of karma and transmigration in Buddhism.

The Between involves experiences of encounters with Yama the king of the dead, a series of judgments, and depending on one’s karma, encounters with fearsome deities. What is distinctive in the Tibetan teaching is the possibility that a well-prepared individual can determine her destiny in the Between by influencing the process through being conscious of the alternatives as a result of training in this life under the guidance of a master who is himself an adept in the tantric teaching. It presents the hopeful assumption that through spiritual discipline one may control one’s own destiny every step of the way, even beyond physical death in this world.

Further the teaching is based on the belief in the power of the mind to shape reality. It is our minds that direct our actions and shape our world. We are always trying to conform our world in our own interests and desires. Tibetan Buddhism, as well as Esoteric Buddhism-Shingon Buddhism in Japan, places special emphasis in knowing one’s own mind, one’s true nature. As the mind becomes enlightened in this life and beyond, the goal of Buddhahood can be achieved more speedily together with saving all beings.

The teaching is subtle, since it views all the world, here and now and in the future, as a projection of mind. However, because of our fundamental ignorance of our true nature, the world appears objective to us, inspiring our passions, fear and suffering. The terrors of afterlife, as well as its joys, are also viewed as objective realities until we grasp that they are really projections of our mental predispositions, influenced by our passions and actions. It is the purpose of the teaching to arouse this awareness and recognize that the “objective” terrors are simply produced by our own ignorant mind. It is like a dream situation in which the dream seems real until we wake up, realizing it was only a dream.

The text also presupposes freedom over against the determinism seemingly implied in the notion of karma. Also, if there were no impermanence and change there could be no freedom. A fixed reality rules out freedom. Hence, Buddhism stresses the freedom of the will within a context of contingencies and conditions that permit awareness of alternatives and choice. The Book of the Dead focuses attention on these possibilities, despite the confusion and terrors that the individual faces in the afterlife without having adequate preparation.

Not only does the individual struggle on her own, but she can be aided by loved ones and friends through their offerings, prayers and services. It is natural also that the more preparation she has before the event of death, the more successful she may be in the process.
In death, unbelieving people are terrified by the delusions their karma give rise to, eventually fleeing to a womb and taking rebirth. The devotee, on the other hand, on death goes into samadhi trance, retains his consciousness and is liberated from rebirth so that he can choose a rebirth suitable to his Bodhisattva progress.

The Wheel of Life and Death is a graphic representation of the process of death and birth based on the 12 link chain of dependent co-origination (dependent origination, see above section on early Buddhism). In the form of a wheel various states of life and after-life are held in the mouth of a great dragon-like figure representing Time. At the center are the forces of ignorance, desire and hatred that drive the wheel.

Tibetan Buddhism as perhaps the latest development in the history of Buddhism, has gathered up into itself many of the methods and teachings of Buddhist tradition. It also has features that are distinctive, though elements may be found in other Buddhist traditions. It has attracted many western people, particularly among the intellectual community, because it encourages scholarly study, as well as religious cultivation. Numerous Tibetan-sponsored publishers produce a wide variety of literatures. The major national Buddhist magazine in the U.S. is Tricycle, a quarterly which offers a diversity of articles on Buddhism in America, though it is based in Tibetan tradition. More recently the Buddha Dharma magazine has appeared, very similar to the Tricycle. The movies, Seven Years in Tibet and Kundun, as well as such actors as Richard Gere and Uma Thurman whose name refers to Shakti, the female consort of Shiva, an Indian God, illustrate the gradual penetration of Western Culture by Buddhism. Uma Thurman’s father, Robert Thurman, is the leading western teacher of Tibetan tradition and a close friend of the Dalai Lama. As the future unfolds, undoubtedly Tibetan Buddhism may lose its original geographical designation and become a part of the growing American or Western Buddhism, transmitting its important insights to our culture and religious environment.

My memoir  "From Hollywood to God"  is now on Amazon and Kindle books!

Sneak-A-Peek Below!
My first stop was to The World Sound Healing Conference in San Francisco. I wanted to understand the science of frequencies, especially if everything in the universe was vibrating to their own unique song! I waited in the large conference room to hear Dr. Susan Yale's lecture on the Harmonic Oscillator. The room went dark and three pyramids projected on a large movie screen.

"You can hear the sound of "nature" between the Pyramids of Giza," Dr. Yale said, pausing, "it's a perfect F Sharp." No one moved. She spoke slowly, "If you knew there was a place in the world where you could hear God, would you go?" I always wanted to swim in the Nile! ~ from my Memoir, (click link—"From Hollywood to God"  Kelly Granite Enck on Amazon books and Kindle.
Giza, Egypt
Hiking through Bhutan

Tiger's Temple, Thailand
River Kwai, Thailand

Tiger's Nest Bhutan

Click link— "From Hollywood to God"  to join my adventure!

The Kingdom of Bhutan!
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