An introduction to Buddhism

Key points and definitions with answers.

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A religion taught as a way to the welfare and happiness of all.

It is a seris of practices based on the teachings of the Buddha.

After gaiing englightenment taught that the true nature of the world is CONSTANT CHANGE, everything in the world in impermenent.

It is the failure to understand the true nature of the world that leads to much of our unhappiness, suffering and trouble.

Buddhism aims to correct our view of the world inorder to end suffering.

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The Budda's Life and the Dharma inspire Buddhists to develop qualities that can enrich happiness and make life more meaningful in today's world so that people can live in harmony.

Key teachings of Buddhism focues on the nature and causes of suffering.

Inorder to realise and develop happiness.

Buddhism aims to clear a student Buddhist's mind so that can see that it is pointless to try and change the world but it they are free to change themselves and their attitudes to develop wisdom and happiness.

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Birth of the Buddha

Mother had a dream in which a baby elephant blessed her with his trunk.

Birth was painless.

Baby delivered out of her side.

Baby born fully awake, able to speak and walk.

Baby told his mother that he had come to FREE ALL MANKIND FROM SUFFERING.

As he was born he took 7 steps to the four quarters of heaven a lotus flower appeared after each step.

Named SIDDHARTHA which means "he who has attained goals".

Mother dies seven days after birth so Siddhartha aunt raised him.

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Life of the Buddha

Asita predicted that Siddhartha would either be a King of a Holy Man (if exposed to suffering).

Father desperate for him to be a King prevented Siddhartha from seeing any form of suffering surrounding him by beauty and health.

Eventually Siddhartha became curious and demanded to see his people and land.

On his journey he saw an OLD MAN, a SICK MAN, a CORPSE and a HOLY MAN.

Siddhartha then decided that he wanted to discover how to overcome suffering so left his wife and child and rid himself of all luxuries in his quest.

He firstly studied with 2 famous Brahmins. Still dissatisfied.

Joined a group of 5 ascetics who he practiced with for 6 years. Extreme devotion which led him to a state of near death.

After 6 years Siddhartha decided that it would be better to find a middle way between the 2 extremes of life that he had experienced.

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The Buddha's Enlightenment.

In Bodh Gaya Siddhartha decided to sit under a Pipal tree until he found the answers to his questions.

Deep concentration which led to mindfulness meditation.

Mara the evil one tried is disuade Siddhartha from his quest.

1. Tried to tempt him with his beautiful daughters.

2. Sent storms and armies to frighten him.

3. Tried to ensnare Siddhartha in his own ego by appealing to his pride.


Siddhartha called upon the Earth Goddess to be his witness at which point he became ENGLIGHTENED.

THE BUDDHA- he who is awake.

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Death of the Buddha

The Buddha taught the Dharma for 45 years.

First sermon He taught the five ascetics who he had practiced with for 6 years. They became his first disciples starting the SHANGA. (community of monks and nuns).

At the age of 80 years old the Buddha told his friend that He would be leaving them soon.

After eating soom spoiled food, He became very ill.

Went into a deep concentration and died.

His last words were...

"Impermenent are all things; strive on with awareness."

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The Three Universal Truths

The Buddha taught that things only came into existence because of certain conditions and once these conditions change it can no longer exist.


The Dharma aims to create the conditions which enable people to develop and gain freedom and happiness through mental training, morality and insight.

1. Annica

Nothing is fixed, everything is constantly changing. Everything depends on conditions which can also change.

2. Anatta

"No permenent identity" or "No seperate self". Everything is INTERDEPENDENT.

3. Dukka

"Suffering" Nobody can escape suffering . The world is unsatisfactory

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The Three Refuges/ Jewels.

Buddhists find help in these.

1. Buddha (Siddhartha)

2. Sangha (Community of monks and nuns)

3. Dharma (Teachings of the Buddha)

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The Four Noble Truths

1. Dukka- Suffering exists in all life.

2. Tanha- the origin of suffering is craving and attachment.

3. Niroda- the end of suffering you must stop craving and let go of attachment.

4. Magga- the way to end suffering is to follow the MIDDLE WAY (the eightfold path).

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The Eightfold Path

The route to avoiding extremisim.

1.Right View- deepen understanding of life

2.Right Intention-the decision to follow the Buddhist path and the unselfish love of all beings.

3. Right Speech- avoid lieing, swearing, gossiping and time wasting chatter as it causes suffering to others.

4. Right Action- to follow the five precepts.

5. Right Livelihood- to have a lifestyle that does not go against any Buddhist teachings.

6. Right Effort- make the effort to set aside any negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones.

7. Right Mindfulness - to become more aware of themselves and everything around them.

8. Right Concentration- to look at meditation techniques with a ultimate goal of achieving nirvana.

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Key Buddhist Concepts

Samsara- the cycle of life. The world in a constant cyle of birth, growing old, dying and being born again. A world of suffering and death which it was hoped a person might escape. A CONSTANT PROCESS OF CHANGE.

Karma- Bad kama = bad effects. Good Karma = Good effects. Buddhsits believe in many lives in which karma is accumulated. Buddhists can escape the negative effects of karma by becoming englightened or by reaching Nirvana.

Dharma-the teachings of the Buddha.

Nirvana- a state of peacefulness and bliss.

Bodhisattvas- someone who is prior to enlightenment either in a previous life or in a current life.

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The Bodhisattva Concept

Bodhisattva is the term used to referenve the Buddha prior to his enlightenment, and to reference someone who is BOUND FOR ENLIGHTENMENT.

Their goal is to become fully enlightened. It is someone on the path to liberation.

They are still subject to birth, illness death, sorrow, defilement and delusion.


They regard Bodhisattvas as someone who already has a considerable amount of enlightenment.

They use their wisdom to help other human beings to break free of samsara.


They believe that everyone can become a Bodhisattva if they take the vows.

Promise to work for complete enlightenment.

One who has the determination to be free from samsara in a mind of awakening.

It is a SPIRITUAL PATH towards Buddhahood.

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Tipitaka: its nature and importance

Tipitaka is the teachings and the sermons from the Buddha.

Split into 3 sections (the three baskets)

1. Vinaya- the rules of the sangha

2. Sutta- the sermons from the Buddha. A collection of myths, stories, sayings and teachings relating to the Buddha's life.

3. Abhidhamma- for many years none of the rules or sermons were not written down out of respect to the Pali Canon. Eventually the teachings were being forgotton and the seroms were becoming too difficult to understand so they were written down using alphabets from other countries forming the third section of the Tipitaka.

Important as used for study and recitals during worship (chanting or reading).

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METTA- meditation on loving kindness.

One recites specific words and phrases to evoke "boundless warm hearted feeling"

Metta is caring for another independent from all self interest.

You must begin by offering metta to yourself.

You must aim to end by offering metta to all beings.

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Samatha Meditation- a calm and mind stilling meditation which encourages loving kindness (metta) towards others. Buddhists practising this type of meditation also concentrate on different breathing techniques.

Vipassana Meditation- an insight and wisdom meditation which is used to purify the mind. With years of practice, this develops such control and understanding of how the mind works that a person can become quite unattached to wordly things. All things are seen as they really are, which leads a person to peace and freedom from suffering and finally nirvava.

Kasina- this is a concentration meditation with colourful, visual objects.

Anapanasati- this means the mindfulness of breathing and is when a Buddhist focus on breathing techniques to clear the mind.

Zen- this means sitting meditation and is in the lotus position. Focus on breathing/ counting to focus and clear the mind.

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The Shanga

The Sangha is the Monastic Community of Monks and Nuns in the Buddhist Community.

Initiation- A lay person who wants to become part of the Sangha may spent a long period of time staying at a monastry and a initiation ceremony may take place but this is not necessary. In Mayhana Buddhism some people may aim to become Bodistavas.

Roles of the Monastic Sangha- Spiritual Mentor and Moral Conscience. An Inspiration to the laity. Aim to create a Wholesome Community.

FIRST GOAL- the charge to discover the reality of the world and then preach the Dharma to all.

Relationship Between Monks and the Lay Community- Dependent on eachother.

Lay Buddhist make offerings to the monks such as food and money. They must be aware of the rules the monks follow so that they can help the monks maintain their practice. They must maintain a respectful distance from the monks. Support the monastic community and strive to be like them

Monks help the lay comminity by guiding and helping them to live a better Buddhist life. Educating them and allowing them to experience the monastic lifestyle.

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Merit Making- through the use of images of the Buddha and Stupas one can create merit. This helps to gain good Karma which will enhance ones rebirth and help one in the attainment of nirvana.

Temples- designed to symoblise fire, water, air, earth and wisdom.Temples contains images of the Buddha, flowers, candles, prayer mats etc. Not overly important as one can worship as home. Helps a Buddhist community.

Stupas- a stone structure built over the relics of the Buddha or copies of the Buddha's teachings. Represent fire, earth, water, air and wisdom. Important as symbolic to the Buddha and can allow Buddhists to feel close to the Buddha. But Buddhist can worship as home.

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Bodh Gaya- This was where the Siddartha Guatoma became enlightened under a Pipal Tree. Very symbolic. Allows Buddhists to feel close to the Buddha. Allows them to strengthen and gain understanding of their faith. They mediate around the Pipal Tree and take leaves as treasue from the tree. They chant suttas and the precepts. They keep their feet and heads bare as a sign of respect. They hang Buddhist flags on the tree.

Deer Park at Sarnath- this was where the Buddha first taught the dharma and where the Sangha came into existance. Buddhists visit here for the same reasons as they go to Bodh Gaya.

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Wesak- This celebrates the Birth, Enlightenment and Death of the Buddha.

Buddhists make offerings of food, flowers and candles to the monastries.

Chant sciptures.

Lead a period of meditation.

Give teachings on the themes of the festival.

Homes decorated with Buddhist flags and flowers.

Gather around Buddhist Statues with candles.

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Rites of Passage


In front of a shrine (images of the Buddha, flowers, candles) the bridal couple gather and chant teachings.

They then make offerings to the shrine of candles and flowers.

They then recite the traditional teachings from the suttas and make vows.

The family and the parents may also recite some teachings from the suttas as a blessing.

Rings are also exchanged.

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Rites of Passage



Chanting suttas around the coffin to bring about the good of the person.

Surrounded by flowers and candles.

Family offer food and candles to the monks to create goodwill.

White is the colour of morning.

For 4 days the person is not know as dead and verses are said and they believe that they still reach the person.

The bodies of the wealthy or people of importance may be kept for a year in a temple.

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The 5 Precepts

1. To refrain from taking life.

2. To refrain from taking what is not freely given.

3. To refrain from misuse of the senses.

4. To refrain from wrong speech.

5. To refrain from clouding the mind with alcohol and drugs.

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Buddhist Views on Suffering

Buddhists base their views of suffering on the 4 Noble Truths.

Dhukka- there is suffering in all aspects of life.

Tanha- the origin of suffering is craving.

Niroda- to cease suffering one must stop craving.

Magga- to avoid suffering one should follow the middle path (The EightFold Path).

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cool helped me alot, thanks.

Miss KHP


GREAT revision cards to help you understand Buddhism with key words highlighted for you aloready.

You can print these out and you also have the chance to test yourself to check your prigress. Enjoy!

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