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Confucianism

BIOGRAPHY

Confucius (K'ung-fu-tzu), "Master Kong,” (September 28, 551 BC – 479 BC)


was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher, whose teachings and philosophy
have deeply influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese and Vietnamese
thought and life.

Confucius was born in 551 BC at the beginning of the Hundred Schools of


Thought philosophical movement. Confucius was born in or near the city of Qufu,
in the Chinese State of Lu (now part of Shandong Province).

After his resignation, he began a long journey around the small kingdoms of
northeast and central China, including the states of Wei, Song, Chen and Cai. At
the courts of these states, he expounded his political beliefs but did not see them
implemented.

He returned home at age 68. The Analects pictures him spending his last years
teaching disciples and transmitting the old wisdom via a set of texts called the
Five Classics.

Burdened by the loss of both his son and his favorite disciples, he died at the age
of 72 or 73.

PHILOSOPHY

Arguments continue over whether it is a religion


because Confucianism lacks an afterlife, its texts
express complex and ambivalent views concerning
deities, and it is relatively unconcerned with some
spiritual matters often considered essential to
religious thought, such as the nature of the soul.

Confucius' principles gained wide acceptance


primarily because of their basis in common
Chinese tradition and belief. He championed strong
familial loyalty, ancestor worship, respect of elders
by their children (and, according to later
interpreters, of husbands by their wives), and the
family as a basis for an ideal government. He
expressed the well-known principle, "Do not do to
others what you do not want done to
yourself" (similar to the Golden Rule).
In this regard, Confucius articulated an early version of the Golden Rule:

• "What one does not wish for oneself, one ought not to do to anyone else;
what one recognises as desirable for oneself, one ought to be willing to
grant to others." (Confucius and Confucianism, Richard Wilhelm)

Some well known Confucian quotes:

"When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them."

"What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others"

"With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my crooked arm for a pillow - is
not joy to be found therein? Riches and honors acquired through
unrighteousness are to me as the floating clouds"

HINDUISM

BIOGRAPHY

Hinduism is the predominant religion of the Indian subcontinent. Hinduism is


often referred to as Sanātana Dharma, meaning "the eternal law". Hindu beliefs
vary widely, with concepts of God and/or gods ranging from Panentheism,
pantheism, monotheism, polytheism, and atheism with Vishnu and Shiva being
the most popular deities. Other notable characteristics include a belief in
reincarnation and karma, as well as personal duty, or dharma.

Hinduism is often stated to be the "oldest religious tradition" and is the world's
third largest religion after Christianity and Islam, with approximately a billion
adherents, of whom about 905 million live in India. It is formed of diverse
traditions and types and has no single founder.

Hinduism's vast body of scriptures are divided into Śruti ("revealed") and Smriti
("remembered"). These scriptures discuss theology, philosophy and mythology,
and provide information on the practice of dharma (religious living). Among these
texts, the Vedas and the Upanishads are the foremost in authority, importance
and antiquity.

PHILOSOPHY

Hindu philosophy is divided into six Sanskrit āstika ("orthodox") schools of


thought, or darshanas (literally, "views"):
1. Sankhya, a strongly dualist theoretical exposition of mind and matter.
2. Yoga, a school emphasizing meditation closely based on Sankhya
3. Nyaya or logics
4. Vaisheshika, an empiricist school of atomism
5. Mimamsa, an anti-ascetic and anti-mysticist school of orthopraxy
6. Vedanta, opposing Vedic ritualism in favour of mysticism. Vedanta came
to be the dominant current of Hinduism in the post-medieval period.

BUDDHISM

BIOGRAPHY
Siddhārtha Gautama (Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher in the
northern region of the Indian subcontinent who founded Buddhism. He is
generally seen by Buddhists as the Supreme Buddha of our age. The time of his
birth and death are uncertain: most early 20th-century historians date his lifetime
from 563 BCE to 483 BCE.

Gautama, is the key figure in Buddhism, and accounts of his life, discourses, and
monastic rules are believed by Buddhists to have been summarized after his
death and memorized by his followers.

PHILOSOPHY

Karma: Cause and Effect

Karma (action) is the energy which drives


Saṃsāra, the cycle of suffering and rebirth for
each being. Good, skillful and bad, unskillful
actions produce "seeds" in the mind which come
to fruition either in this life or in a subsequent
rebirth. The avoidance of unwholesome actions
and the cultivation of positive actions is called
Śīla (ethical conduct).

Rebirth

Rebirth refers to a process whereby beings go


through a succession of lifetimes as one of
many possible forms of sentient life, each
running from conception to death. Each rebirth
takes place within one of six. These are further
subdivided into 31 planes of existence:

1. Naraka beings: those who live in one of many Narakas (Hells)


2. Animals: sharing some space with humans, but considered another type
of life
3. Preta: Sometimes sharing some space with humans, but invisible to most
people; an important variety is the hungry ghost
4. Human beings: one of the realms of rebirth in which attaining Nirvana is
possible
5. Asuras: variously translated as lowly deities, demons, titans, antigods; not
recognized by Theravada (Mahavihara) tradition as a separate realm.
6. Devas including Brahmas: variously translated as gods, deities, spirits,
angels, or left untranslated
The Cycle of Samsara

Sentient beings crave pleasure and are averse to pain from birth to death. In
being controlled by these attitudes, they perpetuate the cycle of conditioned
existence and suffering (Samsara), and produce the causes and conditions of the
next rebirth after death.

The Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths were the first teaching of Gautama Buddha after attaining
Nirvana. They are sometimes considered as containing the essence of the
Buddha's teachings and are presented in the manner of a medical diagnosis and
remedial prescription – a style common at that time:

1. Life as we know it ultimately is or leads to suffering (dukkha) in one way or


another.
2. Suffering is caused by craving or attachments to worldly pleasures of all
kinds. This is often expressed as a deluded clinging to a certain sense of
existence, to selfhood, or to the things or people that we consider the
cause of happiness or unhappiness.
3. Suffering ends when craving ends, when one is freed from desire. This is
achieved by eliminating all delusion, thereby reaching a liberated state of
Enlightenment (bodhi);
4. Reaching this liberated state is achieved by following the path laid out by
the Buddha.

These "truths" do not represent mere statements, but are categories or aspects
that most worldly phenomena fall into, grouped in two:

1. Suffering and causes of suffering


2. Cessation and the paths towards liberation from suffering.

Thus they are:

1. "The noble truth that is suffering"


2. "The noble truth that is the arising of suffering"
3. "The noble truth that is the end of suffering"
4. "The noble truth that is the way leading to the end of suffering"

The Noble Eightfold Path

The Noble Eightfold Path, the fourth of the Buddha's Noble Truths, is the way to
the cessation of suffering (dukkha). It has eight sections, each starting with the
word samyak (Sanskrit, meaning correctly, properly, or well, frequently translated
into English as right), and presented in three groups:
• Prajñā is the wisdom that purifies the mind, allowing it to attain spiritual
insight into the true nature of all things. It includes:

1. dṛṣṭi (ditthi): viewing reality as it is, not just as it appears to be.


2. saṃkalpa (sankappa): intention of renunciation, freedom and
harmlessness.

• Śīla is the ethics or morality, or abstention from unwholesome deeds. It


includes:

3. vāc (vāca): speaking in a truthful and non hurtful way


4. karman (kammanta): acting in a non harmful way
5. ājīvana (ājīva): a non harmful livelihood

• Samādhi is the mental discipline required to develop mastery over one’s


own mind. This is done through the practice of various contemplative and
meditative practices, and includes:

6. vyāyāma (vāyāma): making an effort to improve


7. smṛti (sati): awareness to see things for what they are with clear
consciousness, being aware of the present reality within oneself, without
any craving or aversion
8. samādhi (samādhi): correct meditation or concentration, explained as the
first 4 dhyānas

Middle Way

An important guiding principle of Buddhist practice is the Middle Way, which is


said to have been discovered by Gautama Buddha prior to his enlightenment
(bodhi). The Middle Way or Middle Path has several definitions:

1. The practice of non-extremism: a path of moderation away from the


extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification
2. The middle ground between certain metaphysical views (e.g., that things
ultimately either do or do not exist)
3. An explanation of Nirvana (perfect enlightenment), a state wherein it
becomes clear that all dualities apparent in the world are delusory (see
Seongcheol)
4. Another term for emptiness, the ultimate nature of all phenomena, lack of
inherent existence, which avoids the extremes of permanence and nihilism
or inherent existence and nothingness
Impermanence, Dukkha and Non-Self

Impermanence expresses the Buddhist notion that all compounded or


conditioned phenomena (things and experiences) are inconstant, unsteady, and
impermanent. Nothing lasts.

Dukkha is a central concept in Buddhism, the word roughly corresponding to a


number of terms in English including suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness, sorrow,
affliction, anxiety, dissatisfaction, discomfort, anguish, stress, misery, and
frustration.

Anatta refers to the notion of "not-self".

Dependent Arising

The doctrine of pratītyasamutpāda, often translated as "Dependent Arising," is an


important part of Buddhist metaphysics. It states that phenomena arise together
in a mutually interdependent web of cause and effect.

The best-known application of the concept of Pratītyasamutpāda is the scheme


of Twelve Nidānas, which explain the continuation of the cycle of suffering and
rebirth (Samsara) in detail.

The Twelve Nidānas describe a causal connection between the subsequent


characteristics/conditions of cyclic existence, each giving rise to the next:

1. Avidyā: ignorance, specifically spiritual


2. Saṃskāras: literally formations, explained as referring to Karma.
3. Vijñāna: consciousness, specifically discriminative
4. Nāmarūpa: literally name and form, referring to mind and body
5. Ṣaḍāyatana: the six sense bases: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind-
organ
6. Sparśa: variously translated contact, impression, stimulation (by a sense
object)
7. Vedanā: usually translated feeling: this is the "hedonic tone", i.e. whether
something is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral
8. Tṛṣṇā: literally thirst, but in Buddhism nearly always used to mean craving
9. Upādāna: clinging or grasping; the word also means fuel, which feeds the
continuing cycle of rebirth
10. Bhava: literally being (existence) or becoming. (The Theravada explains
this as having two meanings: karma, which produces a new existence,
and the existence itself.)
11. Jāti: literally birth, but life is understood as starting at conception
12. Jarāmaraṇa (old age and death) and also
śokaparidevaduḥkhadaurmanasyopāyāsa (sorrow, lamentation, pain,
sadness, and misery)
Speculation versus Direct Experience: Buddhist Epistemology

Decisive in distinguishing Buddhism from what is commonly called Hinduism (the


main philosophical tradition of the Buddha's time) is the issue of epistemological
justification (theory of knowledge).

Accordingly, most Buddhists agree that, to a greater or lesser extent, words are
inadequate to describe the goal of the Buddhist path, but concerning the
usefulness of words in the path itself, schools differ radically.