northern India from 560 to 480 B.C. The time of the Buddha was one of social and religious change, marked by the further advance of Aryan civilization into the Ganges Plain, the development of trade and cities, the breakdown of old tribal structures, and the rise of a whole spectrum of new religious movements that responded to the demands of the times (Conze 10). These movements were derived from the Brahmanic tradition of Hinduism but were also reactions against it. Of the new sects, Buddhism was the most successful and eventually spread throughout India and most of Asia. Today it is common to divide Buddhism into two main branches. The Theravada, or “Way of the Elders,” is the more conservative of the two; it is dominant in Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand (Berry 23). The Mahayana, or “Great Vehicle,” is more diverse and liberal; it is found mainly in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan, and among Tibetan peoples, where it is distinguished by its emphasis on the Buddhist Tantras (Berry 24). In recent times both branches, as well as Tibetan Buddhism, have gained followers in the West. It is virtually impossible to tell what the Buddhist population of the world is today; statistics are difficult to obtain because persons might have Buddhist beliefs and engage in Buddhist rites while maintaining folk or other religions such as Shinto, Confucian, Taoist, and Hindu (Corless 41). Such persons might or might not call themselves or be counted as Buddhists. Nevertheless, the number of Buddhists worldwide is frequently estimated at more than 300 million (Berry 32). Just what the original teaching of the Buddha was is a matter of some debate. Nonetheless, it may be said to have centered on certain basic doctrines. The first of the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha held, is suffering, or duhkha. By this, he meant not only that human existence is occasionally painful but that all beings; humans, animals, ghosts, hell- beings, even the gods in the heavens; are caught up in samsara, a cycle of rebirth, a maze of suffering in which their actions, or karma, keep them wandering (Coomaraswamy 53). Samsara and karma are not doctrines specific to Buddhism. The Buddha, however, specified that samsara is characterized by three marks: suffering, impermanence, and no- self, or anatman. Individuals not only suffer in a constantly changing world, but what appears to be the self, the soul, has no independent reality apart from its many separable elements (Davids 17). The second Noble Truth is that suffering itself has a cause. At the simplest level, this may be said to be desire; but the theory was fully worked out in the complex doctrine of “dependent origination,” or pratityasamutpada, which explains the interrelationship of all reality in terms of an unbroken chain of causation (Conze 48). The third Noble Truth, however, is that this chain can be broken, that suffering can cease. The Buddhists called this end of suffering nirvana and conceived of it as a cessation of rebirth, an escape from samsara. Finally, the fourth Noble Truth is that a way exists through which this cessation can be brought about: the practice of the noble Eightfold Path. This combines ethical and disciplinary practices, training in concentration and meditation, and the development of enlightened wisdom, all thought to be necessary. For the monks, the notion of offering extends also to the giving of the dharma in the form of sermons, to the chanting of scriptures in rituals (which may also be thought of as magically protective and salutary), and to the recitation of sutras for the dead (Corless 57). All of these acts of offering are intimately involved in the concept of merit-making. By performing them, individuals, through the working of karma, can seek to assure themselves rebirth in one of the heavens or a better station in life, from which they may be able to attain the goal of enlightenment.
Zen Buddhism Zen or Chan Buddhism represents a movement within the Buddhist religion that stresses the practice of meditation as the means to enlightenment. Zen and Chan are, respectively, Japanese and Chinese attempts to render the Sanskrit word for meditation, dhyana (Coomaraswamy 94). Zen’s roots may be traced to India, but it was in East Asia that the movement became distinct and flourished. Like other Chinese Buddhist sects, Chan first established itself as a lineage of masters emphasizing the teachings of a particular text, in this case the Lankavatara Sutra (Coomaraswamy 96). Bodhidharma, the first Chan patriarch in China, who is said to have arrived there from India in 470 A.D., was a master of this text. He also emphasized the practice of contemplative sitting, and legend has it that he himself spent nine years in meditation facing a wall (Davids 101). With the importance of lineages, Chan stressed the master-disciple relationship, and Bodhidharma was followed by a series of patriarchs each of whom received the dharma, or religious truth, directly from his predecessor and teacher. By the 7th century, however, splits in the line of transmission began to develop, the most important of which was between Shenxiu (606-706) and Huineng (638-713), disciples of the 5th patriarch, Hung-jen. According to a later and clearly biased legend, Huineng defeated Hung-jen in a stanza-composing contest, thereby demonstrating his superior enlightenment (Davids 104). He was then secretly named 6th patriarch but had to flee south for fear of his rival’s jealousy. The split between Shenxiu and Huineng accounts for the southern and northern branches of Chan, which competed vigorously for prestige and state support. Huineng’s branch dominated in the long run, and by 796 an imperial decree settled the matter in his favor posthumously (Berry 122). By then, however, Huineng’s branch was itself beginning to subdivide into several different schools. The subsequent history of Chan in China was mixed. The sect suffered from the great persecution of Buddhism in 845. It recovered better than many Buddhist schools, however, partly because, in contrast to other monastic communities, Chan monks engaged in physical labor, which made them less dependent on state and lay support (Davids 109). During the Song dynasty (960-1279), Chan again prospered and was a leading influence on the development of Chinese art and neo-Confucian culture (Conze 105). It was during this period that Chan was first established in Japan. Within 30 years of each other, two Japanese monks, Eisai (1141-1215) and Dogen (1200-53), went to China, where they trained respectively in the Linji and Zaodong schools of Chan (Davids 112). These they then introduced into Japan. Rinzai emphasizes the use of the koan, a mental stumbling block or riddle that the meditator must solve to the satisfaction of his master. Soto lays more stress on seated meditation without conscious striving for a goal, or zazen. Both schools fostered good relations with the shoguns and became closely associated with the Japanese military class (Berry 127). Rinzai in particular was highly influential during the Ashikaga period (1338-1573), when Zen played an important role in propagating neo-Confucianism and infusing its own unique spirit into Japanese art and culture. The heart of Zen monasticism is the practice of meditation; it is this feature that has been most popular in Zen’s spread to the West. Zen meditation highlights the experience of enlightenment, or satori, and the possibility of attaining it in this life. The strict training of Zen monks, the daily physical chores, the constant wrestling with koans, the long hours of sitting in meditation, and the special intensive periods of practice, or sesshin, are all directed toward this end. At the same time, enlightenment is generally thought of as being sudden. The meditator needs to be jolted awake, and the only one who can do this is his Zen master (Davids 113). The master-disciple relationship often involves private interviews in which the Zen trait of unconventionality sometimes comes to the fore; the master will allow no refuge in the Buddha or the sutras but demands from his disciple a direct answer to his assigned koan (Davids 114). Conversely, the master may goad the disciple by remaining silent or compassionately help him out, but with the constant aim of trying to cause a breakthrough from conventional to absolute truth (Corless 131).
Buddha taught that in order to live a life that is free from
pain and suffering people must eliminate any attachments to worldly
goods. Only then will they gain a kind of peace and happiness. They
must rid themselves of greed, hatred, and ignorance. They strive to
cultivate four attitudes, loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic
joy, and equanimity. The basic moral code prohibits killing,
stealing, harmful language, sexual misbehavior, and the use of
intoxicants. Morality, wisdom, and samadhi, or concentration form the
cornerstone of Buddhist faith. By observing these, lust, hatred, and
delusion may be overcome. This is known as Nirvana. It is a
realistic goal only for members of the monastic community.


The most devoted followers of the Buddha were organized into
the monastic sangha. They were identified by their shaved heads and
robes made of unsewn orange cloth. Many early monks wandered from
place to place, settling down only during the rainy season when
traveling was difficult. The Buddhist have lasted because they have
the ability to adapt to changing conditions and to a variety of
cultures.

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Monks are expected to live a life of poverty, meditation, and
study. They must avoid all sexual activity. They devote themselves
to work, study, and prayer. They all dress in special robes. Monks
play an important part in preserving and spreading Buddhism.
KARMA The doctrine of Karma is a spiritual doctrine based on the theory of cause and effect. Although Karma does not exactly fit the definition of supernatural phenomenon it is a spiritual doctrine based on the philosophy that God is not responsible for the happiness or failure of an individual, rather, we as individuals are solely responsible for the consequences of our own behavior. The concept of Karma has two major interpretations; the most common approaches are to the idea of reincarnation, particularly in the West where the idea has almost no existence. In the East, people believe in reincarnation and hold a fatalistic idea of Karma. I favor neither westerner nor easterner extremist approaches to Karma Doctrine. I on the other hand favor only the basic concept of the Karma, since it has gradually inspired me to become a better person. It has motivated me to neglect the satisfaction of my enlarging ego and instead it has encouraged me to take responsibility for my actions; hoping that with this attitude, I might one day achieve peace of body and mind. The West shows almost no interest in the law of Karma. This is due to its strong links to reincarnation. Most westerners refuse to believe in the transmigration of souls. Believing that you could be a human being in one life and an animal in the succeeding life, is a basic idea of reincarnation that some of us refuse to accept. For example, the act of swatting a fly could be perceived as killing a person, perhaps your mother in a past life. I myself have a hard time believing in such occurrence. If in fact westerners show interest in reincarnation, it is only with a skeptical curiosity of knowing who they were in previous lives. In the west, no serious research is done on the subject. As stated in the short story The Politics of Being Mortal, “the arrogance of Western science seeking to master rather to work with nature.”(Making Contact, pg. 618). Western society refuses to attempt a true understanding of the spiritual and mystical forces in the soul and in nature. The influence of Christianity in the Western Hemisphere has left us with the belief that God chooses to punish or reward your actions in life and perhaps in heaven or hell. “Christianity which holds the soul works out its rewards or punishments in a single lifetime. The closest mentioning of Karma is in the biblical scripture: ‘for whatever a man sowest, that shall he reap.’ (Gal. 6:7)” www.sconline.com. The non-religious western believe that we are in full control of our own destiny, which we are to some extent, but that there is no greater law governing our life is not, in my opinion, entirely true. Good and bad Karma must not be regarded as a reward or punishment, but just simply as a consequence of your actions. The East is a devoted believer in reincarnation and consequently in the Law of Karma. In the east as well as in the west, Karma is viewed with extreme viewpoints. They believe that their status in this life is a consequence of their actions in a previous life. Drastically differing from the west, easterners humbly accept their destiny and believe it cannot be changed. Unlike westerners, fatalistic eastern people are not really curious to find out what they were in the past life. The eastern society believes that the reason for having an unhappy and miserable life is due to The Law of Karma. That is, they have no doubt that they deserve the misery they are in now because of the terrible person they once were in their preceding existence. It is within their beliefs that if they accept their punishment calmly and try to be good in this lifetime that they will be rewarded with higher status next time around. In my opinion, the acceptance of the Law of Karma on that basis is too extreme and even pathetic. The Orient’s extremist viewpoint of Karma is clearly reflected in their failure of democracy and social happiness. Both the western and eastern perspective on the principle of Karma is too extreme. The western society is too unconcerned in respect to reincarnation. Westerners also approach the doctrine of Karma in a cynic manner. Contradictory to western opinion, eastern society holds a fatalistic attitude and no positive outlook on life. A balance has to be reached. People think that believing in the Law of Karma is believing in reincarnation. This is not necessarily true. Karma as a spiritual law, is not adjusted according to our various and conflicting definitions of success and failure. Good Karma comes about good actions that usually bring happiness to the soul at the expense of your ego. Bad Karma usually results in happiness of ego and pain to the soul. Karma is the concept that every thought, every action that we create sets a consequence. Everything we do will produce effects, which will rebound on us for good or for ill. This is the way we experience what good and bad Karma is. Every instant we are creating Karma, we are creating our fortune right now. Good Karma is created through rendering service or good actions. You serve and you draw yourself to good energy. By giving positive energy, you set in motion a cause, the effect is love in return; that is the Law of Karma. It is basically the Law of Love. Love strengthens the individual in a way in which he can deal with his own Karma. It is not until we find the right relationship with each other, with ourselves, nature and with whole of which we are a part, we will go on making bad Karma. Learning about the Karma doctrine has brought nothing but positive effects in my life, it has slowly enhanced my desire to become more spiritual and at peace with everyone and everything around me. “My belief is correct for me-you have to find the belief that is correct for you and it will not necessarily be the same as my belief.” www.etext.org. Works Cited Ajayi, J.F ADE. “On the politics of Being Mortal” in Verdug, Carol (ed.) Making Contact: Reading from Home and Abroad. Boston: Bedford Books, 1997 Chakravarti, Siddhanta.Karma. Netscape Navigator. http://www.sconline.com. Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Reincarnation. Netscape Navigator. http://www.etext.org/ KARMA The doctrine of Karma is a spiritual doctrine based on the theory of cause and effect. Although Karma does not exactly fit the definition of supernatural phenomenon it is a spiritual doctrine based on the philosophy that God is not responsible for the happiness or failure of an individual, rather, we as individuals are solely responsible for the consequences of our own behavior. The concept of Karma has two major interpretations; the most common approaches are to the idea of reincarnation, particularly in the West where the idea has almost no existence. In the East, people believe in reincarnation and hold a fatalistic idea of Karma. I favor neither westerner nor easterner extremist approaches to Karma Doctrine. I on the other hand favor only the basic concept of the Karma, since it has gradually inspired me to become a better person. It has motivated me to neglect the satisfaction of my enlarging ego and instead it has encouraged me to take responsibility for my actions; hoping that with this attitude, I might one day achieve peace of body and mind. The West shows almost no interest in the law of Karma. This is due to its strong links to reincarnation. Most westerners refuse to believe in the transmigration of souls. Believing that you could be a human being in one life and an animal in the succeeding life, is a basic idea of reincarnation that some of us refuse to accept. For example, the act of swatting a fly could be perceived as killing a person, perhaps your mother in a past life. I myself have a hard time believing in such occurrence. If in fact westerners show interest in reincarnation, it is only with a skeptical curiosity of knowing who they were in previous lives. In the west, no serious research is done on the subject. As stated in the short story The Politics of Being Mortal, “the arrogance of Western science seeking to master rather to work with nature.”(Making Contact, pg. 618). Western society refuses to attempt a true understanding of the spiritual and mystical forces in the soul and in nature. The influence of Christianity in the Western Hemisphere has left us with the belief that God chooses to punish or reward your actions in life and perhaps in heaven or hell. “Christianity which holds the soul works out its rewards or punishments in a single lifetime. The closest mentioning of Karma is in the biblical scripture: ‘for whatever a man sowest, that shall he reap.’ (Gal. 6:7)” www.sconline.com. The non-religious western believe that we are in full control of our own destiny, which we are to some extent, but that there is no greater law governing our life is not, in my opinion, entirely true. Good and bad Karma must not be regarded as a reward or punishment, but just simply as a consequence of your actions. The East is a devoted believer in reincarnation and consequently in the Law of Karma. In the east as well as in the west, Karma is viewed with extreme viewpoints. They believe that their status in this life is a consequence of their actions in a previous life. Drastically differing from the west, easterners humbly accept their destiny and believe it cannot be changed. Unlike westerners, fatalistic eastern people are not really curious to find out what they were in the past life. The eastern society believes that the reason for having an unhappy and miserable life is due to The Law of Karma. That is, they have no doubt that they deserve the misery they are in now because of the terrible person they once were in their preceding existence. It is within their beliefs that if they accept their punishment calmly and try to be good in this lifetime that they will be rewarded with higher status next time around. In my opinion, the acceptance of the Law of Karma on that basis is too extreme and even pathetic. The Orient’s extremist viewpoint of Karma is clearly reflected in their failure of democracy and social happiness. Both the western and eastern perspective on the principle of Karma is too extreme. The western society is too unconcerned in respect to reincarnation. Westerners also approach the doctrine of Karma in a cynic manner. Contradictory to western opinion, eastern society holds a fatalistic attitude and no positive outlook on life. A balance has to be reached. People think that believing in the Law of Karma is believing in reincarnation. This is not necessarily true. Karma as a spiritual law, is not adjusted according to our various and conflicting definitions of success and failure. Good Karma comes about good actions that usually bring happiness to the soul at the expense of your ego. Bad Karma usually results in happiness of ego and pain to the soul. Karma is the concept that every thought, every action that we create sets a consequence. Everything we do will produce effects, which will rebound on us for good or for ill. This is the way we experience what good and bad Karma is. Every instant we are creating Karma, we are creating our fortune right now. Good Karma is created through rendering service or good actions. You serve and you draw yourself to good energy. By giving positive energy, you set in motion a cause, the effect is love in return; that is the Law of Karma. It is basically the Law of Love. Love strengthens the individual in a way in which he can deal with his own Karma. It is not until we find the right relationship with each other, with ourselves, nature and with whole of which we are a part, we will go on making bad Karma. Learning about the Karma doctrine has brought nothing but positive effects in my life, it has slowly enhanced my desire to become more spiritual and at peace with everyone and everything around me. “My belief is correct for me-you have to find the belief that is correct for you and it will not necessarily be the same as my belief.” www.etext.org. Works Cited Ajayi, J.F ADE. “On the politics of Being Mortal” in Verdug, Carol (ed.) Making Contact: Reading from Home and Abroad. Boston: Bedford Books, 1997 Chakravarti, Siddhanta.Karma. Netscape Navigator. http://www.sconline.com. Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Reincarnation. Netscape Navigator. http://www.etext.org/
Bibliography Berry, Thomas Mary. Buddhism. New York, Hawthorn Books. c1967 Conze, Edward. Buddhism. New York, Philosophical Library. c1951 Coomaraswamy, Ananda Kentish. Buddha and the Gospel of Buddhism. New Hyde Park, N. Y., University Books. c1964 Corless, Roger. The Vision of Buddhism. New York: Paragon House. c1989 Davids, T. W. Rhys. The History and Literature of Buddhism. Calcutta, Susil Gupta.