Developments in Buddhist Thought - The Buddha

When was the Buddha born?
6th century BCE.
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Who was the Buddha?
A spiritual leader and teacher whose life serves as the foundation of the Buddhist religion.
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What was the Buddha's name beforehand?
Siddhartha Gautama/Shakyamuni (son of the Shakyas)
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What is the significance of the name Siddhartha?
It means ''the one who achieves his name''.
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Which caste was the Buddha part of?
The Shakyas.
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Who was his father?
A wealthy king who ruled the tribe.
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What did his mother dream?
A white elephant holding a lotus flower entering her side on the night of Siddhartha's conception.
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What was the birth like?
Beautiful and virtually painless.
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What happened when the Buddha was born?
He stood, walked seven steps and spoke ''I alone, am the World-Honoured One"
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What does the white elephant symbolise?
Fertility and wisdom.
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What does the lotus represent?
Common symbol for enlightenment in Buddhist art.
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What does WHITE lotus represent?
Represents mental and spiritual purity.
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What do the baby's seven steps evoke?
Seven directions - up, down, north, east, south, west and ''here''
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Why do newcomers to Buddhism tend to dismiss the Buddha's birth myth?
Because it sounds like the story of a God and the Buddha was not a God but an ordinary man.
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The declaration ''I alone am the World Honoured One'' is a bit hard to reconcile with...?
Buddhist teachings on non-theism and anatta.
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How is this interpreted in Mahayana Buddhism?
Interpreted as the baby Buddha speaking of the Buddha-nature that is the immutable and eternal nature of all beings.
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Why do some Mahayana Buddhists wish each other happy birthday on the Buddha's birthday?
The Buddha's birthday is everyone's birthday (because we all have an inherent Buddha nature).
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The Buddha was predicted by a holy man to be...?
Either a spiritual leader or a great king.
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What did Siddhartha's father do to keep him from witnessing the miseries and sufferings of the world?
His father raised him in opulence and sheltered him from the knowledge of religion and human hardship.
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Which particular sufferings was he sheltered from?
Sickness, old age and death.
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What was interesting about Siddhartha?
He was kind e.g he rescued an injured swan and set it free.
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What are the four sights?
Old age, sickness, death and the middle way/holy man.
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What represented old age?
An old, wrinkly man.
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What represented sickness?
A sick man.
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What is death represented by?
The funeral of a dead man.
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What was the fourth sight?
A holy man - represents the middle way.
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At what age did the Buddha decide he wanted to embark on a new chapter?
Age 29
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How many ascetics did Siddhartha practice with?
Five
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What did these ascetics do once they realised Siddhartha's dedication?
They became his followers.
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What did he do when the answers to his questions did not appear?
He redoubled his efforts, enduring pain, fasting nearly to starvation and refusing water.
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What did Siddhartha realise when he was offered a bowl of rice?
He suddenly realised that corporeal austerity was not the means to achieve inner liberation. Living under harsh physical constraints was not helping him achieve spiritual release.
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What did the Buddha decide to do after realising that his lifestyle wasn't achieving anything?
He encouraged people to follow a life of balance rather than one characterised by extremism.
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What was this way of life called?
The middle way.
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What was his next step away from suffering?
To meditate - in order to cleanse himself mentally.
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Who did Siddhartha have to banish in order to become enlightened?
Mara - the psychological devil.
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What did Siddhartha do when Mara attempted to claim the enlightened state as his own?
Touched his hand to the ground and asked the world to bear witness to his enlightenment.
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What was Hinduism originally a term for?
The peoples, cultures and religions of the Indus Valley (as a collective term).
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What did it NOT originally describe?
A set of beliefs or practices
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What does Gavin Flood say about Hinduism?
Any definition of Hinduism has ''fuzzy edges".
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What does Article 25 of the Indian Constitution say about Hinduism?
The definition of Hinduism or Hindu, is taken to include the Jains along with the Sikhs and Buddhists.
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What does Julius Lipner say about Hinduism?
''Hinduism is a way of life, a collection of religions and cultures''
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What is also relevant when talking about the development of Buddhism?
Brahmanism.
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What was Brahmanism based on?
Holy books and complex rituals (which the Buddha rejected).
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What were these holy books called?
Vedas
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What were these books used for?
As a sort of instruction manual for animal sacrifice.
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Whose role was essential at an animal sacrifice?
The priest.
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What was another key aspect of Brahmanism?
Meditation
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What was meditation originally for?
In preparation for sacrifice.
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What did meditation become?
A substitute for sacrifice - used as a means of mental focus/internalisation.
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What other two things did Brahmins believe in?
Brahma (a god/universal spirit) and the atman (soul).
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What are the final things that Brahmins believed in?
Samsara (the cycle of birth, death and rebirth) and karma (affected the reincarnation of a soul).
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What does the word ''Sramana'' mean?
Wanderer, or truth seeker.
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What is Sramana an umbrella term for?
Jains, Ajivikas, Materialists and Sceptics.
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Why did the Sramanas reject Brahmanism?
They disliked the caste system and the social elitism of the Brahmins and the idea of ritual sacrifice.
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Were Sramanas usually ascetic?
Yes, practising advanced forms of meditation and having little to eat or much sleep.
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What is said about Buddhism and the Sramana movement?
That Buddhism was a originally a Sramana movement because the Buddha was a wandering holy man.
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What did the Jains accept?
Reincarnation and the idea of samsara.
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What did they reject?
The TRADITIONAL view on escaping the cycle of samsara - in relation to karma/karmic merit.
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What did the Jains believe in instead of an atman/soul?
A life essence called jiva.
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What is jiva?
Like an internal spark, energy or essence running through all living and non-livim matter.
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What is jiva encased by?
Karma, which accumulates promoting further reincarnation.
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What is the aim of the jain practitioner?
To free the jiva from the cycle of samsara.
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How do they achieve this aim?
By following a rigorous lifestyle e.g practising yoga and ahimsa (non-violence). By getting rid of any new karma through a policy of non-action.
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What did the Ajivikas reject?
The notion of karma
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What did they replace karma with?
Niyati or destiny.
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Why did they reject karma?
Because every soul has its own prescribed path so the idea of karma becomes redundant.
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What were the Ajivikas like in practice?
Similar to the Jains - lived a strict life of discipline e.g self harming and starvation.
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How does Peter Harvey describe the Sceptics?
As ''eel-wrigglers''
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What's important to know about the Sceptics?
They did not have any particular teaching or practice. Constantly weighing things up and seemed reluctant to reach conclusions.
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What were the Materialists?
Empiricists.
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What did they reject?
Any ideas that were based on non-empirical evidence that they believed could not be tested.
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Which specific ideas did they reject?
Karma, reincarnation and the existence of a soul.
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What was the main practice of a Materialist?
To celebrate life and to follow a noble and moral path.
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What did the Buddha accept?
Samsara (endless existence), meditation (to help internalise mental states), Gods/goddesses (still subject to samsara).
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What is the word for escaping samsara?
Moksha.
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What did the Buddha modify?
Reincarnation, karma, nirvana.
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What did the Buddha reject?
Belief in the atman, Brahma, jiva and niyati.
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A spiritual leader and teacher whose life serves as the foundation of the Buddhist religion.

Card 3

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Card 4

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What is the significance of the name Siddhartha?

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Card 5

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