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Portal:Buddhism

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Introduction

standing Buddha statue with draped garmet and halo
Standing Buddha statue at the Tokyo National Museum. One of the earliest known representations of the Buddha, 1st–2nd century CE.

Buddhism (/ˈbʊdɪzəm/, US also /ˈbd-/) is the world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on original teachings attributed to the Buddha and resulting interpreted philosophies. Buddhism originated in ancient India as a Sramana tradition sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, spreading through much of Asia. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognized by scholars: Theravada (Pali: "The School of the Elders") and Mahayana (Sanskrit: "The Great Vehicle").

Most Buddhist traditions share the goal of overcoming suffering and the cycle of death and rebirth, either by the attainment of Nirvana or through the path of Buddhahood. Buddhist schools vary in their interpretation of the path to liberation, the relative importance and canonicity assigned to the various Buddhist texts, and their specific teachings and practices. Widely observed practices include taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, observance of moral precepts, monasticism, meditation, and the cultivation of the Paramitas (virtues).

Theravada Buddhism has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. Mahayana, which includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Shingon and Tiantai (Tendai), is found throughout East Asia.

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Xa Loi Pagoda, the focal point of the attacks
The Xá Lợi Pagoda raids were a series of synchronized attacks on various Buddhist pagodas in the major cities of South Vietnam shortly after midnight on August 21, 1963. The raids were executed by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam Special Forces under Colonel Lê Quang Tung, and combat police, who took their orders directly from Ngô Đình Nhu, the younger brother of the Roman Catholic President Ngô Đình Diệm. The most prominent of the pagodas raided was the Xá Lợi Pagoda, the largest in the capital Saigon. Over 1,400 Buddhists were arrested, and estimates of the death toll and missing ranged up to the hundreds. In response to the Huế Phật Đản shootings and the banning of the Buddhist flag in early May, South Vietnam's Buddhist majority arose in widespread civil unrest and protests against religious bias and discrimination by the Catholic-dominated government of Diem. The Buddhists demanded religious equality and a lifting of restrictions against Buddhist activity. Buddhist temples in major cities became the focal point for organizing protests, the most prominent of these being Xá Lợi Pagoda, with Buddhist monks converging from rural areas. In August, several Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) generals proposed the imposition of martial law, ostensibly for the purpose of breaking up the demonstrations, but in reality to prepare for a military coup. However, Nhu—who was already looking to arrest Buddhist leaders and crush the protest movement—used the opportunity to pre-empt the generals and embarrass them. He disguised Tung's Special Forces in army uniforms and used them to attack the Buddhists, thereby causing the general public and South Vietnam's American allies to blame the army, diminishing their reputations and ability to act as future national leaders. Soon after midnight on August 21, Nhu's men attacked the pagodas using automatic firearms, grenades, battering rams and explosives, causing widespread damage. Some religious objects were destroyed, including a statue of Gautama Buddha in Từ Đàm Pagoda in Huế, which was partially levelled by explosives. The temples were looted and vandalized, with the remains of self-immolated Buddhist monks confiscated, and in Hue, violent street battles erupted between government forces and rioting pro-Buddhist civilians.

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Nhat Hanh
Nhat Hanh (born October 11, 1926 in central Vietnam) is an expatriate Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist. He joined a Zen monastery at the age of 16, studied Buddhism as a novice, and was fully ordained as a monk in 1949. Commonly referred to as Thich Nhat Hanh (Vietnamese: Thích Nhất Hạnh), the title Thích is used by all Vietnamese monks and nuns, meaning that they are part of the Shakya (Shakyamuni Buddha) clan. In the early 1960s, he founded the School of Youth for Social Services (SYSS) in Saigon, a grassroots relief organization that rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, and resettled families left homeless during the Vietnam War. He traveled to the U.S. a number of times to study at Princeton University, and later to lecture at Cornell University and teach at Columbia University. His main goal of those travels, however, was to urge the U.S. government to withdraw from Vietnam. He urged Martin Luther King, Jr., to oppose the Vietnam War publicly, and spoke with many people and groups about peace. In a January 25, 1967, letter to the Nobel Institute in Norway, King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Nhat Hanh led the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks.

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Goldie Hawn
Buddhism is really, one of its main practices is understanding and experiencing compassion, and how that ultimately is a road to happiness.

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