HSC Buddhism Revision notes

Preparing for the HSC
Always remember the aspects of religion,
and the adherents!
What is the ultimate purpose? Religions
seek to connect adherents to the
transcendent (i.e. God, enlightenment, etc)
Religions are ‘living’ and ‘dynamic’
because the adherents follow them and
shape them. Remember the diagram…
Contributions to:
• 3rd Buddhist Council – unified the Theravada text into a canon
• Cleansed the Sangha – forumulating the vinaya
• Propogation of the faith – edicts spread throughout his empire, on which were the
• All the infrastructure, including hospitals, roads, education (significant!)
• His own model of compassion for living things
• Expression
• Increase in number of Buddhists
• More people were educated, and could read the edicts. This resulted in people using
the dharma in their lives
• All the infrastructure – including roads, hospitals, etc as a reflection of his Buddhist
• His entire empire was governed with the Dharma
• Short Term: entire empire was exposed to Buddhism. Many people converted
• Short Term: purification of the Sangha & the Theravada texts
• Short Term: propagation of the faith
• Long Term: Buddhism moved from a sect within Hinduism to its own religion
• Long Term: Buddhism is one of the five major religious traditions in the world
The Five Precepts
• To abstain from:
• Harming living beings
• Taking things not freely given
• Sexual misconduct
• False speech
• Intoxicating drinks/drgs
The Vinaya Pitaka
• Rules for monastic life
• 227 for monks, 311 for nuns
How do Buddhists view the environment?
• We are one with all existence, from our immediate environment to the entire universe
• Therefore, when people work on their inner-selves, they are affecting the
environment around them
Principal beliefs
• Annica – impermanence – all physical things will end (including our bodies, the wider
environment, the universe)
• Karma – our actions towards all things have consequences. Damage to the
environment will have a causal effect on us.
The Four Noble Truths…
The Eightfold Path
• Right Action
• Includes precept: “to abstain from harming sentient beings”
• Includes hunting for sport, indirect (and direct) killing of animals in
destructive/damaging actions – e.g. deforestation, pollution
The Eightfold Path (continued)
Right Intention
Can be described as a commitment to ethical self-improvement.
Commitment to: nonviolence (ahimsa) which results in actions that are not destructive or
harmful, loving-kindness (metta) and compassion
Includes recycling, reducing waste & pollution, reducing carbon footprint, advocating for
animal rights, etc
Consider - global warming, as a result of burning fossil fuels—an activity which, in itself,
seems fairly mild, though evidence indicates that if this is not reduced in the next few
decades, it may reach an uncontrollable, self-sustaining level, that will be a great threat to
much life on earth.
To ensure the right intention was used, a person would need to become educated in the
correct application of right mindfulness of the situation. This would presumably instil a greater
awareness of the unintentional consequences of their actions in the minds of potential polluters.
The Eightfold Path
Right Livelihood
• One should earn one’s living in a righteous way, peacefully and legally
• Buddha mentioned four specific activities that harm other beings and, so, should be
• Dealing with weapons
• Dealing with living animals (e.g. raising animals for slaughter, engaging in slave
trade or prostitution)
• Working in meat production and butchery
• Selling intoxicants and poisons (e.g. alcohol)
Link the teachings back to the Five Precepts (especially “to abstain from harming living beings”)
Link the teachings to the core ideals of Buddhism:
Metta (loving kindness)
Ahimsa (non-violence)
Link the teachings to the principal beliefs of Buddhism:
Discuss issues such as:
Karma, Samsara, Nirvana – what is the ultimate purpose for Buddhists?
Pollution, deforestation, logging, overpopulation, hunting for sport – basically, anything at
all to do with the environment.
Remember: humans are very much part of the environment, as all things are connected
(interdependent origination) – from nature (plants and animals) to humans. SO when you are
effecting nature, you are also affecting humans, and vice versa.
Some quotes
Destruction of nature and natural resources results from ignorance, greed, and lack of respect
for the earth's living things. This lack of respect extends even to the earth's human
descendants, the future generations who will inherit a vastly degraded planet if world peace
does not become a reality and if destruction of the natural environment continues at the present
rate. (Dalai Lama)
He who has understanding and great wisdom does not will for the harm of himself, of others, or
of both. So willing, he wills for the welfare of himself, of others, of both, and of the whole world.
Thus, monk, one has understanding and great wisdom. (Aguttara Nikāya .II.179)
Monks, you have not a mother or a father who might tend you. If you, monks, do not tend one
another, then who is there who will tend you? Whoever, monks, would tend me, he should tend
the sick (Buddha) (Vin.I.302) – Can this be applied to the environement?
Progress of men comes from the exhortation in favor of non-injury to life and abstention from
killing living beings. (King Asoka)
Describe the practice & beliefs expressed:
• Wesak is – a celebration of the Birth, Enlightenment, Death of Buddha
• Typical symbols include:
• Lighting of Candles (a symbol of enlightenment – the light of wisdom replaces
the darkness of ignorance)
• Releasing of caged animals (a symbol of the escape from Samsara)
• Bathing of the Buddha statue (a symbol of cleansing oneself of bad karma)
• Etc.
• Consider VARIANTS – make the connection between geographical/cultural
differences in celebration and link to variants of Buddhism (Theravada, Mahayana,
Significance to Individuals
• An annual reminder that we are all part of the Wheel of Life
• Hope for our own enlightenment
• A remembrance of Buddha as an ordinary man who was able to escape Samsara
and enter into Nirvana
Significance to Communities
• Community gathers to celebrate a common belief
• Community gathers to hear the Sangha teach its wisdom (through sermons)
• Sangha are celebrated and the community are reminded of the Three Jewels
• Refuge in: Buddha, Dharma, Sangha