Outline of Buddhism

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Dharmacakra, symbol of the Dharma, the Buddha's teaching of the path to enlightenment

The following outline is provided as an overview of key topics in Buddhism. It is not a comprehensive outline.

The Buddha

Gautama Buddha

  • Physical characteristics of the Buddha
  • Family of Gautama Buddha
  • Disciples of Gautama Buddha
  • Teachers of the Bodhisatta Gotama
  • Epithets of the Buddha
    • Tathāgata — meaning "Thus Come One" and "Thus Gone One" simultaneously, the epithet the Buddha uses most often to refer to himself; occasionally it is used as a general designation for a person who has reached the highest attainment
  • Qualities of the Buddha
    • Abandonment of all defilements (kilesa — principally greed, hatred and delusion) together with their residual impressions (vasana)
      • All defilements have been abandoned totally — all defilements have been destroyed with none remaining
      • All defilements have been abandoned completely — each defilement has been destroyed at the root, without residue
      • All defilements have been abandoned finally — no defilement can ever arise again in the future
    • Acquisition of all virtues
      • Great Wisdom (Mahapaññā)
        • Extensiveness of range — understanding the totality of existent phenomena
        • Profundity of view — understanding the precise mode of existence of each phenomenon
      • Great Compassion (Maha-karuṇā)

Branches of Buddhism

Textual traditions

Two main textual traditions:

Living traditions

Three main living traditions:

Schools of Buddhism

Within the major textual and living traditions, there are many different schools and/or sub-divisions.

Schools of Buddhism

Buddhist texts

The Tripitaka Koreana in storage at Haeinsa.


The teachings of the Buddha, in oral or written form, are referred to as:

The main collections of texts are:

History of Buddhism

History of Buddhism

Major figures

Buddhist cosmology

The bhavachakra, a symbolic depiction of the six realms.

Buddhist cosmology

Basic concepts

Abhidharma topics

Five Aggregates (Pañca khandhaPañca-skandha)

Five skandhas

Āyatana and dhatus

Faculties (Indriya)

Indriya

Mind and mental factors

Kleshas (unwholesome mental factors)

37 Factors of Enlightenment

Four Foundations of Mindfulness (Cattāro satipaṭṭhānāSmṛtyupasthāna)

Satipatthana

Four Right Exertions (Cattārimāni sammappadhānāniSamyak-pradhāna)

Four Right Exertions

  • Exertion for the non-arising (anuppādāya) of unskillful states
  • Exertion for the abandoning (pahānāya) of unskillful states
  • Exertion for the arising (uppādāya) of skillful states
  • Exertion for the sustaining (ṭhitiyā) of skillful states

Four Bases for Spiritual Power (IddhipādaṚddhipāda)

Four bases of miraculous power

  • Concentration due to desire (chanda)
  • Concentration due to energy (viriyavīrya)
  • Concentration due to mind (citta)
  • Concentration due to investigation (vīmaṃsā)

Five Spiritual Faculties (Pañca indriya)

Five spiritual faculties

Five Strengths (Pañca bala)

Five Strengths

  • Faith (saddhāśraddhā) — controls doubt
  • Energy (viriyavīrya) — controls laziness
  • Mindfulness (satismṛti) — controls heedlessness
  • Concentration (samādhi) — controls distraction
  • Wisdom (paññāprajñā) — controls ignorance

Seven Factors of Enlightenment (Satta sambojjhaṅgāSapta bodhyanga)

Seven Factors of Enlightenment

Noble Eightfold Path (Ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggoĀrya 'ṣṭāṅga mārgaḥ)

Noble Eightfold Path

Mahayana concepts

Vajrayana concepts

Buddhist practices

Threefold Training

Threefold Training

  • The training in the higher moral discipline (adhisīla-sikkhā) — morality (sīlaśīla)
  • The training in the higher mind (adhicitta-sikkhā) — concentration (samādhi)
  • The training in the higher wisdom (adhipaññā-sikkhā) — wisdom (paññāprajñā)

Three Jewels (TiratanaTriratna)

The triratna, a symbol of the Three Jewels

Three Jewels

  • Buddha — Gautama Buddha, the Blessed One, the Awakened One, the Teacher
    • Accomplished (arahaṃarhat)
    • Fully enlightened (sammā-sambuddhosamyak-saṃbuddha)
    • Perfect in true knowledge and conduct (vijjā-caraṇa sampannovidyā-caraṇa-saṃpanna)
    • Sublime (sugatosugata)
    • Knower of the world (lokavidūloka-vid)
    • Incomparable leader of persons to be tamed (anuttaro purisa-damma-sārathipuruṣa-damya-sārathi)
    • Teacher of gods and humans (satthā deva-manussānaṃśāsta deva-manuṣyāṇaṃ)
    • The Enlightened One (buddho)
    • The Blessed One (bhagavābhagavat)
  • Dhamma (Dharma) — the cosmic principle of truth, lawfulness, and virtue discovered, fathomed, and taught by the Buddha; the Buddha's teaching as an expression of that principle; the teaching that leads to enlightenment and liberation
    • Well expounded by the Blessed One (svākkhāto bhagavatā dhammosvākhyāta)
    • Directly visible (sandiṭṭhikosāṃdṛṣṭika)
    • Immediate (akālikoakālika)
    • Inviting one to come and see (ehi-passikoehipaśyika)
    • Worthy of application (opanayikoavapraṇayika)
    • To be personally experienced by the wise (paccattaṃ veditabbo viññūhipratyātmaṃ veditavyo vijñaiḥ)
  • Saṅgha (Saṃgha) — the spiritual community, which is twofold (1) the monastic Saṅgha, the order of monks and nuns; and (2) the noble Saṅgha, the spiritual community of noble disciples who have reached the stages of world-transcending realization
    • Practicing the good way (supaṭipanno bhagavato sāvaka-saṅgho)
    • Practicing the straight way (ujupaṭipanno bhagavato sāvaka-saṅgho)
    • Practicing the true way (ñāyapaṭipanno bhagavato sāvaka-saṅgho)
    • Practicing the proper way (sāmīcipaṭipanno bhagavato sāvaka-saṅgho)
    • Worthy of gifts (āhuṇeyyo)
    • Worthy of hospitality (pāhuṇeyyo)
    • Worthy of offerings (dakkhiṇeyyo)
    • Worthy of reverential salutation (añjalikaraṇīyo)
    • The unsurpassed field of merit for the world (anuttaraṃ puññākkhettaṃ lokassā)

Buddhist devotion

Buddhists making offerings at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep

Buddhist devotion

Precepts and vows

Pilgrimage

See: Pilgrimage sites

Gradual training (Anupubbikathā)

Seven Good Qualities (Satta saddhammā)

Perfections (PāramīPāramitā)

Ten Theravada Pāramīs (Dasa pāramiyo)

Six Mahayana Pāramitās

Buddhist meditation

Theravada meditation practices

Tranquillity/Serenity/Calm (SamathaŚamatha)

Samatha

A Buddhist monk meditating
  • Place of work (kammaṭṭhāna)
    • Ten Kasinas
      • Earth kasina (pathavikasinam)
      • Water kasina (apokasinam)
      • Fire kasina (tejokasinam)
      • Wind kasina (vayokasinam)
      • Brownish or deep purplish blue kasina (nilakasinam)
      • Yellow kasina (pitakasinam)
      • Red kasina (lohitakasinam)
      • White kasina (odatakasinam)
      • Light kasina (alokakasinam)
      • Open air-space, sky kasina (akasakasinam)
    • Ten reflections on repulsiveness (asubas)
      • A swollen or bloated corpse (uddhumatakam)
      • A corpse brownish black or purplish blue with decay (vinilakam)
      • A festering or suppurated corpse (vipubbakam)
      • A corpse splattered half or fissured from decay (vicchiddakam)
      • A corpse gnawed by animals such as wild dogs and foxes (vikkhayittakam)
      • A corpse scattered in parts, hands, legs, head and body being dispersed (vikkhitakam)
      • A corpse cut and thrown away in parts after killing (hatavikkhittakam)
      • A bleeding corpse, i.e. with red blood oozing out (lohitakam)
      • A corpse infested with and eaten by worms (puluvakam)
      • Remains of a corpse in a heap of bones, i.e. skeleton (atthikam)
    • Ten Recollections (anussatianusmriti)
      • Buddhānussati (Buddhanusmrti) — Recollection of the Buddha — fixing the mind with attentiveness and reflecting repeatedly on the glorious virtues and attributes of Buddha
      • Dhammānussati (Dharmanusmrti) — Recollection of the Dhamma — reflecting with serious attentiveness repeatedly on the virtues and qualities of Buddha's teachings and his doctrine
      • Saṅghānussati (Sanghanusmrti) — Recollection of the Saṅgha — fixing the mind strongly and repeatedly upon the rare attributes and sanctity of the Sangha
      • Sīlānussati — Recollection of virtue — reflecting seriously and repeatedly on the purification of one's own morality or sīla
      • Cāgānussati — Recollection of generosity — reflecting repeatedly on the mind's purity in the noble act of one's own dāna, charitableness and liberality
      • Devatānussati — Recollection of deities — reflecting with serious and repeated attention on one's own complete possession of the qualities of absolute faith (saddhā), morality (sīla), learning (suta), liberality (cāga) and wisdom (paññā) just as the devas have, to enable one to be reborn in the world of devas
      • Maraṇānussati — Mindfulness of death — reflecting repeatedly on the inevitability of death
      • Kāyagatāsati — Mindfulness of the body — reflecting earnestly and repeatedly on the impurity of the body which is composed of the detestable 32 constituents such as hair, body hair, nails, teeth, skin, etc.
      • Ānāpānasati — Mindfulness of breathing — repeated reflection on the inhaled and exhaled breath
      • Upasamānussati — Recollection of peace — reflecting repeatedly with serious attentiveness on the supreme spiritual blissful state of Nirvana
    • Four Divine Abidings (brahmavihāra)
    • Four formless jhānas (arūpajhāna)
    • Perception of disgust of food (aharepatikulasanna)
    • Four Great Elements (mahābhūta)
Concentration (Samādhi)
Insight meditation (VipassanāVipaśyanā)

Zen meditation practices

  • Zazen
    • Concentration
    • Kōan — a story, dialogue, question, or statement in Zen, containing aspects that are inaccessible to rational understanding, yet may be accessible to intuition
    • Shikantaza — just sitting

Vajrayana meditation practices

Other practices

Attainment of Enlightenment

Enlightenment in Buddhism

General

  • Nirvana (NibbānaNirvāṇa) — the final goal of the Buddha's teaching; the unconditioned state beyond the round of rebirths, to be attained by the destruction of the defilements; Full Enlightenment or Awakening, the complete cessation of suffering
    • Parinirvana (ParinibbānaParinirvāṇa) — final passing away of an enlightened person
  • Bodhi — the awakening attained by the Buddha and his accomplished disciples, referring to insight into the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path
  • Types of Buddha
    • Sammāsambuddha (Samyak-saṃbuddha) — one who, by his own efforts, attains Nirvana, having rediscovered the Noble Eightfold Path after it has been lost to humanity, and makes this Path known to others
    • Paccekabuddha (Pratyekabuddha) — "a lone Buddha", a self-awakened Buddha, but one who lacks the ability to spread the Dhamma to others
    • Sāvakabuddha (Śrāvakabuddha) — enlightened 'disciple of a Buddha'. Usual being named Arhat

Theravada

  • Four stages of enlightenment (see also: Ariya-puggala — Noble Ones)
    • Sotāpanna — Stream-enterer (first stage of enlightenment) — one who has "opened the eye of the Dhamma", and is guaranteed enlightenment after no more than seven successive rebirths, having eradicated the first three fetters
      • The four factors leading to stream-entry
        • Association with superior persons
        • Hearing the true Dhamma
        • Careful attention
        • Practice in accordance with the Dhamma
      • The four factors of a stream-enterer
        • Possessing confirmed confidence in the Buddha
        • Possessing confirmed confidence in the Dhamma
        • Possessing confirmed confidence in the Sangha
        • Possessing moral virtues dear to the noble ones
    • Sakadagami — Once-returner (second stage of enlightenment) — will be reborn into the human world once more, before attaining enlightenment, having eradicated the first three fetters and attenuated greed, hatred, and delusion
    • Anāgāmi — Non-returner (third stage of enlightenment) — does not come back into human existence, or any lower world, after death, but is reborn in the "Pure Abodes", where he will attain Nirvāṇa, having eradicated the first five fetters
    • Arahant — "Worthy One", (see also: Arhat), a fully enlightened human being who has abandoned all ten fetters, and who upon decease (Parinibbāna) will not be reborn in any world, having wholly abandoned saṃsāra

Mahayana

  • Bodhisattva — one who has generated bodhicitta, the spontaneous wish to attain Buddhahood

Zen

  • Satori — a Japanese Buddhist term for "enlightenment", which translates as a flash of sudden awareness, or individual enlightenment
  • Kensho — "Seeing one's nature"

Other concepts

Two Kinds of Happiness (Sukha)

  • Bodily happiness (kayasukha)
  • Mental happiness (cittasukha)

Two Kinds of Bhava

Two Guardians of the World (Sukka lokapala)

Three Conceits

  • "I am better"
  • "I am equal"
  • "I am worse"

Three Standpoints

Three Primary Aims

  • Welfare and happiness directly visible in this present life, attained by fulfilling one's moral commitments and social responsibilities (diṭṭha-dhamma-hitasukha)
  • Welfare and happiness pertaining to the next life, attained by engaging in meritorious deeds (samparāyika-hitasukha)
  • The ultimate good or supreme goal, Nibbāna, final release from the cycle of rebirths, attained by developing the Noble Eightfold Path (paramattha)

Three Divisions of the Dharma

Four Kinds of Nutriment

Four Kinds of Acquisitions (Upadhi)

Great fruits of the contemplative life (Maha-Phala)

Phala

  • Equanimity (upekkhā, upekṣhā)
  • Fearlessness (nibbhaya)
  • Freedom from unhappiness & suffering (asukhacaadukkha)
  • Meditative Absorption (samādhi)
  • Out-of-body experience (manomaya)
  • Clairaudience (dibba-sota)
  • Intuition and mental telepathy (ceto-pariya-ñána)
  • Recollection of past lives (patisandhi)
  • Clairvoyance (dibba-cakkhu)
  • The Ending of Mental Fermentations (samatha)