Buddhism For Dummies, 2nd Edition
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Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world; it encompasses several branches (or schools), including Theravada and Mahayana. In addition to fundamental teachings on the nature of reality, Buddhism offers a systematic approach involving techniques and practices that enable its followers to experience a deeper level of reality directly for themselves.

Timeline of Buddhist history

Buddhism has a long and rich history. From the time of Shakyamuni Buddha, based on whose teachings Buddhism developed, to the present day, this religion has changed how millions of people view the world.

The teachings of Buddhism evolved over a long period of time, spreading from the Indian subcontinent into other parts of Asia and across the globe.

Date(s) Historical Event(s)
5th Century BCE Life of Shakyamuni Buddha, based on whose teachings Buddhism developed.
269-231 BCE Reign of King Ashoka, patron of Buddhism; sends first Buddhists to Sri Lanka in the third century.
100 BCE to 100 CE Rise of Mahayana Buddhism.
First half of 2nd century CE Reign of King Kanishka; Mahayana Buddhism spreads to Central Asia.
1st century CE Buddhism first enters China.
520 First Zen patriarch Bodhidharma arrives in China.
538 Buddhism enters Japan from Korea.
7th to 8th century Vajrayana Buddhism established in Tibet.
11th to 14th century Theravada Buddhism established in Southeast Asia.
1199 Nalanda University destroyed; demise of Buddhism in India.
13th century Zen, Pure Land, and Nichiren Buddhism established in Japan.
1881 Pali Text Society founded.
1893 World’s Parliament of Religions (Chicago).
1956 Celebration of 2,500 years of Buddhism.

Buddhism by the numbers

Numbers have always played an important role in Buddhism. They help give structure to the teachings and practices of Buddhism.

3 Jewels of Refuge

  • Buddha

  • Dharma (the teachings)

  • Sangha (the Buddhist community)

3 higher trainings

  • Morality

  • Concentration

  • Wisdom

4 noble truths

  • Suffering

  • Cause of suffering

  • Cessation of suffering

  • Eight-fold path to the cessation of suffering

4 marks of Buddha’s teachings

  • Compound phenomena are impermanent

  • Ordinary phenomena are unsatisfactory

  • All phenomena are insubstantial (selfless)

  • Nirvana is peace

5 aggregates (skandhas)

  • Form

  • Feeling

  • Recognition

  • (Mental) formations

  • Consciousness

6 Mahayana perfections

  • Generosity (giving)

  • Moral discipline (ethics)

  • Patience

  • Effort, energy

  • Meditative concentration

  • Wisdom

10 Theravada perfections

  • Generosity

  • Moral discipline

  • Patience

  • Effort

  • Meditative concentration

  • Wisdom

  • Renunciation

  • Truthfulness

  • Loving-kindness

  • Equanimity

8-fold path

  • Right view

  • Right intention

  • Right speech

  • Right action

  • Right livelihood

  • Right effort

  • Right mindfulness

  • Right concentration

10 non-virtuous actions

  • Body:

    • Killing

    • Stealing

    • Sexual misconduct

  • Speech:

    • Lying

    • Divisive speech

    • Harsh speech

    • Idle gossip

  • Mind:

    • Craving

    • Aversion

    • Delusion

12 links of dependent arising

  • Ignorance

  • (Mental) formations

  • Consciousness

  • Name and form

  • Six Senses

  • Contact

  • Feeling

  • Craving

  • Grasping

  • Becoming

  • Birth

  • Aging and death

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Jonathan Landaw is the former English translation editor, Translation Bureau, of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Stephan Bodian has studied and practices several schools of Buddhism. Bodian was editor-in-chief of Yoga Journal and has written articles for Fitness, Cooking Light, and Natural Solutions magazines. Gudrun Bühnemann is a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she teaches the Sanskrit Language and its literature, along with courses on the religions of South Asia.

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