Buddhist Spirituality

Buddhist Spirituality
James A. Van Slyke
4th Largest Religion in the World
350 million practice the religion
Regional forms of Buddhism
Thailand; Burma; Cambodia
Mahayana (East Asian)
China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam
Tibet, Mongolia, Nepal
History of Buddhism
Founder of Buddhism
• (560-480 BC)
• Grew up as a prince with a life of
• Later saw that life was really about
suffering and pain
• Left his family and possessions to
search for enlightenment
• Looked to philosophy and an
ascetic lifestyle
Siddhartha Gautama
History of Buddhism
Experience of Enlightenment
• Realized that ascetic lifestyle was
not the answer
• Sought enlightenment through
• Desire or Craving (Tanha) leads to
– Must release our attachment to
– Must follow the middle way between
extreme indulgence and extreme
Siddhartha Gautama
History of Buddhism
• Began in India during the 6th
century BCE
• Outgrowth of the Hindu religion
• Some forms of Buddhism are nontheistic; other elements still include
spiritual beings
• Foundation of Buddhism; Three
– Buddha
– Dharma (Teachings)
– Sangha (Community)
Dharma: The Four Noble Truths
• Truth #1 Life is Difficult
– Our lives are flawed and imperfect
– Not pessimistic, but honest; realistic view of life
• Truth #2 Cravings make life difficult
– Our cravings can never be fully satisfied
– Control cravings rather than let cravings control
Dharma: The Four Noble Truths
• Truth #3 Detachment from Craving (Nirvana)
– Inner Peace; internal freedom
– Transformation of Desire
• Truth #4 Eight-fold Path to Enlightenment
– How to purify one’s heart and mind
– Following the Dharma day by day
Eight-Fold Path:
Wisdom Training
•Right View
•Challenging our distortions of reality
•Every moment is a chance for transformation
•Right Intentions
•Purify thoughts and attitudes
•Develop compassion towards others
Eight-fold path:
Ethics Training
• Right Speech
– Speak gently and clearly
– Words have power; use them wisely
• Right Action
– Karma – what we do to others comes back to us
– Compassion to others brings compassion to us
• Right Livelihood
– Avoid vocations that harm others
– Our work should be an extension of our dharma
Eight-fold path:
Meditation Training
• Right Effort
– Sincere Spiritual Effort
– Directing our energies toward enlightenment
• Right Mindfulness
– Conscious presence in the here and now
– Cultivating awareness to action and thought
• Right Concentration
– Unification of spiritual intentionality
– Integrating spiritual disciplines and focusing
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