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St john s ap religion study guide buddhism

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St. John’s AP Religion Study Guide
Buddhism
• Buddhism began with one man. Gautama “woke up”—hence acquiring the name Buddha which
is derived from budh, “to awaken.” He awoke to full awareness of the nature of the human
condition, and to the means of transcending it.
• Buddhism teaches the discoveries attained by this man, through this experience of
awakening.
• We are in a state of disease, and we need treatment.
Life of Gautama
• His family’s name was Gautama, and so his full name is Siddhartha Gautama (though he is
most commonly referred to simply as Gautama).
• In spite of his father’s attempts to shield him from the harsh realities of the world, Gautama
encountered them firsthand in an episode known as the Four Passing Sights.
• Soon he would leave the palace forever, to embark on the life of a mendicant (a religious person
who owned nothing and begged for necessities like food and clothing).
• Salvation lay beyond the meditative accomplishments of those teachings. Gautama excelled in
the practice of fasting, spending the next several years on the brink of starvation.
• Middle Way: a basic Buddha teaching that rejects both the pleasures of sensual indulgence and
the self-denial of asceticism, focusing instead on a practical approach to spiritual attainment.
• Nirvana: Sanskrit word meaning "blowing out" - ultimate goal of all Buddhists, the extinction of
desire and any sense of individual selfhood, resulting in liberation from samsara
• Sangha: the Buddhist community of monks and nuns; one of the Three Jewels of Buddhism
• To this day, being a Buddhist means taking refuge in the tradition’s Three Jewels, or three focal
elements: the Buddha, the Dharma (the Buddha’s teachings), and the Sangha (the Buddhist
monastic community). The act of taking refuge traditionally involves repeating a ritual formula
three times.
The Dharma: Buddhist Teachings
• Dharma: teachings of Buddha, and one of the Three Jewels of Buddhism
• Buddhist truths were discovered through the inward reflections of a man and are therefore
potentially understandable by anyone. Rather than relying heavily on faith, Buddhism emphasizes
the development of wisdom, or insight into the human condition. Buddhism is thus the most
psychologically oriented of all the great religions.
People can escape the cycle of rebirth only through liberation from samsara. That liberation is
usually called moksha in Hinduism and nirvana in Buddhism. For both traditions liberation is the
final goal, the end result of spiritual fulfillment.
• The Buddha, himself born into the powerful warrior class, explicitly rejected the Hindu caste
system. -> Pali, a local dialect spoken by the common people, was made widely available
• Three Marks of Existence: characteristics that summarize the changing nature of reality
• Anatta (no-self): denying a permanent self
• Anicca (impermanence): all existing things are constantly changing

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St. John’s AP Religion Study Guide Buddhism • Buddhism began with one man. Gautama “woke up”—hence acquiring the name Buddha which is derived from budh, “to awaken.” He awoke to full awareness of the nature of the human condition, and to the means of transcending it. • Buddhism teaches the discoveries attained by this man, through this experience of awakening. • We are in a state of disease, and we need treatment. Life of Gautama • His family’s name was Gautama, and so his full name is Siddhartha Gautama (though he is most commonly referred to simply as Gautama). • In s ...
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