fjosif - Meetup
Brief History of Early Buddhism From The Buddha’s enlightenment to the great schism. Outline This is an attempt to get everyone on the ‘same page’. I would like to provide an outline of what happened to the Buddhist religion from the time of Buddha’s enlightenment to the great schism. I will also introduce several terms and concepts that will be important for our broader discussion. From Siddhartha to Buddha Scholars and believers disagree about the actual dates that Siddhartha Gautama lived. Some say he was born in 563 BCE (Before Common Era), while others say 624 BCE. Recent scholarship places his birth in 490 BCE What is known is that he was born a prince and lived in his father’s palace during his younger years. On a trip outside the palace he saw what are known as the four sights of an old man, an ill man, a dead man, and a monk. After, he leaves his wife and son and the palace to seek spiritual enlightenment. Siddhartha attains enlightenment… After years of asceticism, Siddartha achieves enlightenment after meditating under a Ficus tree. From this point forward he is known as Buddha, or “awakened one”. After his enlightenment, Gautama Buddha wandered for a short while before he encountered five of his former spiritual friends he had during his ascetic days at Deer Park in Sarnath, near Varnasi. He decides to teach them the path to enlightenment. The Buddha teaches… During this first discourse, the Buddha teaches the Middle Way, the Four Noble Truths, and the Eightfold Path. The Buddha continued to teach until his death at the age of eighty years old. Upon his death he said to have entered parinirvana. What Now? Three months after the Buddha died the First Buddhist Council was convened. The meeting was called by Elder Mahakassapa in response to his fear that Dhamma and the Vinaya would be corrupted and not survive in tact if monks were free to interpret them in any way they choose. Ananda, close disciple to the Buddha, was not allowed to participate if he did not reach Arahanthood before the council convened; luckily for us all he did…the night before. First Buddhist Council During the First Buddhist Council, the group of 500 Arahants formalized the Vinaya. This is the regulatory framework for the Buddhist Monastic community. After, Mahakassipa turned his attention to Ven. Ananda and the Dhamma, or teachings of the Buddha. Ven. Ananada had memorized all of the discourses, or teachings, of the Buddha. Thus, the Dhamma was codified and approved. *It should be noted that some scholars deny that the 1st council actually took place. Ven. Ananda reciting the Sutta Pitaka at the First Buddhist Council Second Buddhist Council This council was convened about 100 years after Buddha’s death. It was called in response to schisms that arose within the monastic community. The dispute arose over the violation of Ten Points, or rules within the Vinaya. The main issue was the use of ‘gold and silver’. Some monks began wandering for alms with the main intention of collecting money. Second Buddhist Council Before the Buddha's Parinirvana he told Ven. Ananda that the community may (unanimously) relinquish the minor rules of the Vinaya but at the First Buddhist Council there was uncertainty about which rules he was referring to and it was unanimously decided to keep the Vinaya as it was during the Buddha's lifetime. However, 100 years later some monks felt that certain rules could be relaxed. The Second Buddhist Council made the unanimous decision not to relax any of the rules, and censured the behavior of the monks who were accused of violating the ten points. First Great Schism Many scholars assert that the schism, or split, occurred between the 2nd and 3rd Buddhist Councils. Most likely the split was over monastic discipline. It is believed that the split was between the Sthaviravada and the Mahasanghika. First Sangha Mahasamghika Sarvastivada Sthaviravada Vibhajjavada Theravada Dharmaguptaka Third Buddhist Council The Third Buddhist Council was convened in about 250 BCE under the patronage of Emperor Asoka. It was presided over by Elder Moggaliputta Tisa, and was convened to put an end to corruption in the Sangha and to rid it of heretical views. Third Buddhist Council Large numbers of faithless, greedy men espousing wrong views tried to join the order but were deemed unfit for ordination. Despite this they seized the chance to exploit the Emperor's generosity for their own ends and donned robes and joined the order without having been ordained properly. Consequently, respect for the Sangha diminished. Third Buddhist Council According to the Pali and Chinese accounts, the Elder Moggaliputta Tissa, in order to refute a number of heresies and ensure the Dhamma was kept pure, compiled a book during the council called the Kathavatthu. This book consists of twenty-three chapters, and is a collection of discussions on the points of controversy. It gives refutations of the 'heretical' views held by various Buddhist sects on matters philosophical. The Kathavatthu is the fifth of the seven books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka. Buddhist Missionaries One of the most significant achievements ascribed by Theravada tradition to this Dhamma assembly and one which was to bear fruit for centuries to come, was the Emperor's sending forth of monks, well versed in the Buddha's Dhamma and Vinaya who could recite all of it by heart, to teach it in nine different countries. Another Consequence of the 3rd CouncilTheravada Buddhism The Theravāda school is ultimately derived from the Vibhajjavāda (or "doctrine of analysis") grouping which was a continuation of the older Sthavira (or "teaching of the Elders") group at the time of the Third Buddhist Council around 250 BC, during the reign of Emperor Asoka in India. Origin of Theravada Buddhism Vibhajjavadins saw themselves as the continuation of orthodox Sthaviras and after the Third Council continued to refer to their school as the Sthaviras/Theras ('The Elders'), their doctrines were probably similar to the older Sthaviras but were not completely identical. All of these early schools are known as the Eighteen Schools of Nikayan Buddhism. Unfortunately, only the Theravada tradition survives today. Theravada Region Between the 3rd and 4th Buddhist Councils The Pudgalavāda or "Personalist" school of Buddhism broke off from the orthodox Sthaviravāda (elders) school around 280 BCE. The Sthaviravādins interpreted the doctrine of anatta to mean that, since there is no true "self", all that we think of as a self (i.e., the subject of sentences, the being that transmigrates) is merely the aggregated skandhas. Sammitiya School This group later became known as the Sammitīya school, after one of its subdivisions, though it died out around the 9th or 10th century CE. Nevertheless, during most of the early medieval period, the Sammitīya school was numerically the largest Buddhist group in India, with more followers than all the other schools combined. Some of this schools doctrines will later be adopted by the Mahayana tradition. Sautrantika School 50 BCE to 100 CE Another group linked to Sarvāstivāda was the Sautrāntika school, which only recognized the authority of the sutras and rejected the Abhidharma transmitted and taught by the Vaibhāsika wing of Sarvāstivāda. Heading into the Common Era Between the 1st century BCE and the 1st Century CE, the terms Mahayana and Hinayana were first used in writing, in, for example, the Lotus Sutra. By this time Buddhism has reached all of India, Sri Lanka, China, and is encroaching upon S.E. Asia. To be continued…in the meeting We will take off from this point, and start from the most significant schism in Buddhism that resulted in the Theravada, or Nikaya, Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism.