Siddhartha Gautama was born as a prince to Sakya Kingdom in Lumbini, around 624 BC(According to Sir Cunningham; Parinirvana at 543; p433;AGI). He was happily married and had a son. He was the rightful heir to the throne. However, at age of twenty nine he left the comforts of the palace to seek the ultimate Truth.
He wandered the Gangetic plain of India testing and learning yoga, asceticism, meditation and thoughts from prevailing Hinduism and Zoroastrianism.
After six years, Gautama finally gained enlightenment. He devoted his remaining life in teaching his disciples what he had discovered. His teachings were very different from any prevailing Hinduism. For example, he preached that man is judged by his deeds not birth. He was, in fact, the first religious founder of the world- The Buddhism; historically speaking.
Most scholars now label Tibetan Buddhism as Indo-Tibetan Buddhism.
In 173 AD during the reign of 28th King of Tibet, Lha Thothori Nentsen, Buddhism was introduced in Tibet. However it did not make much impact as Bon and its culture was more ingrained in Tibetan society. Situation changed when Trisong Detsen, 34th King, in 767 AD invited Shanta Rakshita, abbot of Nalanda University, to Tibet to preach Buddhism. It was not without opposition from Bon followers and their bloody rituals (animal sacrifice as part of old Bon religion). ShantaRakshita had to retreat back to Nepal for a while. While he was in Nepal he learned about Padma Sambhawa who was in that general area. When Shata Rakshita made a second visit to Tibet, he asked for Padma Sambhawa and together they were successful in establishing Buddhism in Tibet. They ordained the first 7 Tibetan monks, built first temple-SamYe, and initiated translation work of Buddhist canons from Sanskrit to Tibetan script- 300 volumes. He composed Madhyamaka Lankara (Tib: Uma Gyen). He passed away in Tibet but before that he sent for his best disciple Kamalashila to come to Tibet and continue his work. Kamala Shila won the famous "debate" among fellow Buddhist (Philosophical thinking in China vs India) and settled the philosophical dispute. He also composed Middling Stages of Meditation (Tib: GomRimBarPa) in Tibet.
Shanta Rakshita was abbot and scholar of Nalanda University (NU). NU was established around 66 BC according to Hiuen Tsang. NU becomes Tibet’s treasure trove for Buddhism. There were other Indian scholars from NU who came and blessed Tibet like Dharmakirti, Vimalamitra, Shantigarbha and Vibuddha Siddha.
NagarJuna’s magnum opus the "Madhyamika Sastra" and other treatises on logic, emptiness etc. are prescribed text for Tibetan monks beside other four tenets.
ShantiDeva (8 century, Shiwa Lha in Tibetan) was another intellectual from NU who wrote the famous "compassion way of life" or "BoddhiSatva way of life".
Therefore, it is safe to say that Tibetan Buddhism is what NU used to be in 1st century India.
Other Buddhist universities in India were Odantapuri, Vikramashila, Valabhi, Somapuri, Jagaddala, Rangamrittika and Ratnagiri in Magadha; Udayagiri, Bangal, Odivisha from other parts of India.
Killing, Stealing, Sexual misconduct, Lying, Slander, Harsh speech, Idle Gossip, Covetousness, Malicious, Wrong View.
5 Cardinal Sins
Killing Father, Killing Mother, Killing Arhat, Blood Buddha, Destruction of Sangha.
Note: Wrong View
Wrong view, in this context, refers to someone who subscribe to view that killing, cheating, deceitful etc. are acceptable as long as law of the land permits or someone is NOT watching you. Examples are fishing, hunting, and animal fights-dog, bull and insects.
Profound Wrong View is dualistic nature of all phenomena and the mask(MaRigPa) that obscures the true nature of all phenomena- Emptiness.
Some scholar, however, thinks that not believing in Buddha is the "Wrong View". That is incorrect. Ten sins and five cardinal sins are for all, including non Buddhist, to refrain from. How is it possible for non Buddhist to refrain from above 15 sins if one of them is a "Wrong View". Not believing in Buddha or His teachings make them non-Buddhist but they are not committing any sin!
On the contrary, anyone including non-Buddhist who abstains from 15 sins with kindness at heart and compassion to all sentient being can achieve higher beings after death….H.H. the Dalai Lama.
All the phenomena and this universe we know today and beyond are subject to Cause and Effect (sGu-Drs). All phenomena including sentient beings are function of Dependent-Origination (TenDral). All are transitory including time and space. Change is part of all phenomena. Everything is in state of flux from astronomical or atomic scale. Nothing is in permanent state. Buddha discovered this, he did not invent it. Such is the law of nature. The subset of Cause and Effect is Karma (Tib:Lea or Action) and Delusion (Tib:NyoeMong).
Sentient beings are subject to both sets of law. Law of Cause and Effect, the natural law of all phenomena, on one hand and law of Karma and Delusion on the other. Trees, flowers etc. sprout, propagate and die due to law of Cause of Effect. Sentient beings are born with or into Karma and Delusion therefore we can bring about change by introducing change in Action and Delusion.
For example, birth and death is a natural phenomenon ie Cause and Effect law. But as a human being, with the help of our brain, we can intervene it by our Action (Kill, Revive, and Attain Nirvana) and Delusion (avoids Delusion by learning life science; live a righteous life; understand Dependent-Origination and Emptiness). At very coarse level if you murder someone, law of the land will punish you. At subtle level, you will have earned a bad Karma and therefore eventually face its consequence whether caught by law or not.
Isolating Real(tib:Nae Tsul) from Perceived(tib:Nang Tsul) phenomena is the first task of eliminating Delusion. At coarser level, we educate ourselves to understand reality through physics, chemistry etc. For instance, white light or sun ray is perceived as white but in reality it is made up of seven colors-spectrums. Is Photon a wave or a particle? At subtle level, hatred, desire, greed are manifestation or projection of our own mind set.
Nothing is permanent and therefore all phenomena lack it’s own (self) identity at any moment in space. US dollar bill is an example. It lack inherent value beside a piece of paper but has relative value. If you give a hundred dollar bill to a man living in Amazon Jungle who is a simple native hunter and gatherer, it will have no value except for firewood.
However, emptiness does not mean things vanish in thin air. Things do exist. Emptiness is not talking about empty of things but empty of "its" inherent existence.
All Buddhist believes in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Word God and religion are synonym with Christ and his teachings. Therefore it is confusing for lay people (sometimes a tool to exploit innocent) when Christians refer “Buddhist as Godless”. Yes, here God refers to Christ and Religion refers to teachings of the Christ.
Question: Does Buddhist believe in God?
Answer: Buddhist believes in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, Period.
As far as universe is concerned, for a Buddhist, big Bang is most plausible theory but question is how many of it had occurred so far.
Soul: No Soul
As a Buddhist we do not believe in existence of permanent Soul or Atma(Hindu, Jain and Christ believes in Soul) or Self that migrates into the next life or heaven. Dharma has no such thing as “permanent”.
Choe in Tibetan means "Change" not "ritual". Knowing the problem at hand is the first step towards finding a meaningful solution.
As mentioned above, word “Religion” is synonym to “teachings of the Christ”.
Therefore, Buddhists have Dharma and not religion (teaching of Christ).
Four noble truths are:
1 Suffering------------- Recognizing problems, issues and stakes.
2 Origin of suffering--What are the causes? Perceived and Real.
3 Cessation of suffering-------What are the remedies?
4 Solution or Path that lead to the cessation of suffering----- Solutions and answers?
Note: Some writers tend to believe that Buddha was teaching "suffering" as a goal. Such conclusion is hasty to say the least. Buddhists are not pessimist either.
Suffering or Pain: all living beings avoid pain-simple and clear.
Subjective Suffering: For a thirsty fellow, water brings pleasure, but continuous drinking of the same water will bring him pain,
thus a suffering. A true pleasure-giving-object (water) should not cease to give pleasure for all time.
Pervasive(permeate) Suffering: All six realms are subject to birth, age, sickness and death, therefore, by default, they are subject to sufferings- however gratifying some of realms may seem for a while.
Buddhist goal is to attain Buddhahood(Skt:Moksha;tib:Tharpa). Tharpa means free from the loop of birth-death cycle or Samsara (འཁོར་བ). Some scholars argue that Buddhahood or Nirvana (མྱང་འདས) is a state of Revelation of the true nature of all phenomena- fully Awakened.
Path: Method and Wisdom
Method: Application of Meditation and Compassion
Meditation can calm the fleeting mind, strengthen focus and sharpen it. It can also relief stress, pain and induce behavioral change. Mindful Training, Vipasana and Walking Meditation are few examples. However, years of single-pointed meditation is quintessential part of Buddhist training.
The seed of compassion is " Buddha Nature " is present in all sentient being. It is upto the individual to nurture and grow it. The reservoir of compassion is sentient beings at large. Therefore, all living beings must be respected, loved, and cared for including your, so called, enemies. Do no evil and keep your heart and mind pure by application of " mindful-training ".
Wisdom: Application of wisdom i.e. Emptiness
Sidhartha Gautama discovered law of causality (Cause-Effect) which governs the universe. No one created it.
Since everything in this universe is " Dependent-Origination" (DO) or loosely understood as relativity, so are you and I. Therefore, me, my, mine and ours on one side and his, her and theirs, on the other, sheds its divisive edge- Wall tends to vanish.
Sakya Muni Buddha explained his discovery of DO in the form of Heart Sutra at Vulture-Peak, Rajgir. When Hearth Sutra was given for the first time very few understood it. Many followers misunderstood it and many were frightened by such profound impact.
Here is a link to Sanskrit and Tibetan language recitation(Audio) of PrajaParaMitaHirDya(प्रज्ञापारमिताहृदयसूत्रं ཤེས་རབ་སྙིང་པོ།) Youtube
PrajaParaMitaHirDya(प्रज्ञापारमिताहृदयसूत्रं ཤེས་རབ་སྙིང་པོ།) in Tibetan. Voices are H.H. the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan monks Youtube
We live in a world full of mirrors where objects and their reflections are perceived as one. Dependent-Origination is a wisdom, like a flash light, that help us discriminate or distinguish real from its mirror image. A classical example in given in Buddhist text is seeing a “colorful coiled rope” under a dim light is misunderstood for a Snake.
Mirror Image Analysis: A Glimpse of Emptiness
Question: How a human and a bird will react to a huge mirror that reflects, from certain angle, a big tree with its branches vividly?
Human, through his eye-senses will see the tree but his “acquired” knowledge and brain will dismiss the tree as not real but reflection.
A bird, on the other hand, will see the tree and try to perch on it and crash. Thousands of birds die each year, this way. It lacks “acquired” knowledge on law of reflection.
Words also play a role. For instance mountain goats can understand chasm and avoid it without knowing word for it. Definition of things also works the same way for humans. If you ask someone what Jug is, without prior knowledge, he is confused. However, if you show him a Jug, he will understand that it can hold water. However, East, West, December, Good, Bad, Beautiful, Love, Dirty, Clean, Hateful, Ugly, Time etc. cannot be understood without learning word and its definition first.
But it does not mean, nothing exist. They do. We can hate, love, touch, visualize and make war and peace.
Who is a Buddhist/What is Buddhism in a nut-shell ?
Someone who practice compassion and nonviolence.
1. ShanKara Acharya (788 AD)
About 8th century AD Shankara Acharya, a poet and Hindu devotee, claimed that Buddha was the ninth Avatar of Vishnu. Since then many Hindus still believe it. They are wrong, period.
Buddhist does not believe in existence of Soul (Atma) where as Hindus does. This is the fundamental difference between Buddhism and Hinduism. There are, of course, other differences such as "Dependent-Origination and Emptiness".
Buddha was born about 624 BC(Before Christ). Since then there were countless Buddhist and Hindu masters in India who did not see any evidence of such scripture until Shakara came along and discovered it.
Shankara must have seen the word "Buddha" written somewhere in those thousands of pages of Vedas before historical Sakya Muni Buddha was born. So many centuries passed (22 centuries ) and so many Hindu intellectuals were born before Shankara but, somehow, they all missed such a fantastic discovery which was there all the time staring at them in their face according to Shankara.
Shankara Acharya came into this world 13 centuries(566BC -788AD) later but Vedas and other Hindu intellectuals were there for the past 22 or 17 centuries-baseline is 788 AD.
Other Hindu intellectuals knew that how ONE Brahman theory can fit two different ideologies- one with Atma and other without Atma. If it does then why not more like Christians and Muslims. In fact all major religions in the world believe in Atma or soul theory except Jain and Buddhist.
Shankara composed many devotional Hindu songs for his short life. His brief life did not allow him to study Buddhism and jumped to a conclusion hastily. Had he known Buddhist don’t believe in Atma, he might have different thought.
2. Mahavira and Jainism
Many believe that Jainism was earlier than Buddhism which is not correct according to historians and scholars. Mahavira was born no earlier than 599 bc (599 bc is a traditional date but some modern scholars prefer 540 bc, or even later) in Vaishali, India.
Note: BC and AD Era are numbered opposite. From above historical data it is clear that Sakya Muni Buddha was the first religious founder on this earth. Of course Zoroastrianism and Hinduism were there before Sakya Muni Buddha but both these religions lack a founder and historical date.
3. Christianity and Jesus: Nativity
Jesus was born in 1 ad, Christmas day in Bathlehem, Jerusalem.
4. Islam and Prophet Muhammad
Prophet Mohamad was born in 570 ad, Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
5. Sikhism and Guru Nanak
Guru Nanak was born in 1469 ad in Lahore, Pakistan.
Note: Guru Nanak or Sikhism has no connection what so ever with Guru Rinpoche who was born in about 700AD. Guru Rinpoche was in Tibet in 760 ad.