Buddhism: The Basics

Cathy Cantwell

Language: English

Pages: 204

ISBN: 0415408806

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Buddhism: The Basics provides a thorough and accessible introduction to a fascinating religion. Examining the historical development of Buddhism and its presence today, this guide covers:

  • principal traditions
  • practices and beliefs
  • ethical guidelines and philosophy
  • religious texts
  • community

With helpful features including a detailed map of the Buddhist world, glossary of terms and tips for further study, this is an ideal text for students and interested readers wanting to familiarise themselves with the Buddhist faith.


Cathy Cantwell is an academic researcher at the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford. She specialises in Tibetan Buddhism, and has worked on eleventh century manuscripts, an eighteenth century scriptural collection, and contemporary Buddhist ritual manuals and practice. She has taught widely in UK Higher Education and is joint author of Early Tibetan Documents on Phur pa from Dunhuang.

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respect and devotion. On the one hand, there is the idea that the image can support one’s religious practice, so in making prostrations, offerings, or contemplating the Buddha’s qualities, this will have a direct impact on the mind and will help to generate virtue which will bring good karmic results. But there is also a sense in which consecrated images are often considered to take on a power of their own, and to radiate blessings upon their environment. This is especially the case if they

student receives teaching on their meaning. The training of the memory in this manner can have impressive results: it may be possible for the student to recall the content of the text after many years. An older-generation Tibetan monk with whom I worked for some months was able to remember extensive passages of texts when needed, after perhaps forty years since his monastic college education. When he realised that a text he had studied was of relevance, he would start reciting from the beginning

monastic or vinaya code quite possibly derive from the Buddha himself and the first generations of Buddhists. Later, as the early Buddhist schools separated from each other, they maintained their own sets of monastic precepts, but it is remarkable how similar the different versions remained. It therefore seems likely that the core of the discipline goes back to the ancient period before the Buddhist movement split into discrete orders. An alternative interpretation is that agreement across the

been Buddhist revival in Post-War South Korea. In North Korea, religion is severely restricted. VIETNAMIn the early centuries CE, Vietnam was on the route of Buddhist missions from South Asia to China, and Buddhist centres were established there. As an outpost of China, North Vietnam was exposed to Buddhist influences in the first millennium CE, but Buddhism was often linked with unpopular Chinese rule. It became more central after Vietnamese independence in the tenth century, receiving State

individual and the world, and encourages individual inner questioning and experimentation to find the truth. Existential suffering is directly addressed in the first Truth (see Chapter 2), and blissful release which it is possible for the individual to realise is at the heart of Buddhist doctrine. Moreover, the investment over centuries in support for contemplative practices has meant that there are a wide range of meditative techniques, of practical manuals for spiritual development and of

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