Talk:Buddhism/Archive 4

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Archive 3 Archive 4 Archive 5


GA on hold

Altough the text complies almost to all of the GA criteria, minor adjustments are needed in order to have GA (the article will stay on hold for 7 days). Please address these elements to pass GA :

  • The inline external links should adopt the inline citation format already in use.
  • Loan words should be in accordance with the MoS... as they should be italicized unless they have common use in the English.
  • It also lacks in citations.
  • The section Buddhist Culture and Art should at least show a paragraph (like a lead for the main article).
  • I agree with the trimming down of the external links section ... it could be spamming. Lincher 19:47, 14 July 2006 (UTC)
Hi Lincher! Could you please remind the acronymically challenged (e.g., me) what "GA" is? Thanks. --Andkaha(talk) 22:30, 14 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Hallo Andkaha: I think "GA" means "good article"! Best wishes, from Tony. TonyMPNS 22:53, 14 July 2006 (UTC)
Yes it meant good article, you can see that the article was nominated on July 2 on the Nomination page of the Good article project which has the following criteria. Lincher 01:34, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
GA failed ... the minor adjustments were addressed. Also please consider dividing or archiving the discussion page. Lincher 03:52, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Is this a good article? I found (and corrected) two mistakes in just the first paragraph. That's not a good omen for the rest of the article. Peter jackson 17:27, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Buddhist doctrines

There has been too little emphasis on buddhist doctrines. The language is terse and difficult to understand. we need to present the doctrines in a clear and concise manner that even a child can understand. Metaphysical aspects can be dealt with seperately. This is the opening page of Buddhism. lets not loose the practical- social spirit of buddhism and indulge in other worldly persuits and metaphysical concepts. I intend to simply the meaning of each and every term given in the doctrines. and add a few more doctrines like the law of kamma.--Yeditor 13:21, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

Oh dear, here we go again !--Stephen Hodge 19:42, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
  • I share Stephen's sense of despair! While Buddhism of course has important social implications and reverberations, the "metaphysical"/ "other-worldly" elements of the Dharma are also very much present there and should not be minimised or bolted on as an after-thought. After all, the whole idea of escaping from death and suffering into the uncreated, deathless and blissful realm of Nirvana is pretty much metaphysical and "other-worldly". Mahayana Buddhism, specifically, is even more "metaphysical" and mystical (constantly stressing that Reality is "beyond thought and conceptualisation") than Pali Buddhism. Best wishes. From Tony. TonyMPNS 21:13, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
This is a small section of the discussion that took place between Nagasena and King Milinda (King Menandor of Bactria) recorded in Milinda Panha. Milinda asked this question: "Why does religion languish?" Nagasena gave three reasons in his answer.

(1) The first reason is that the religion is immature. In that religion, the basic principles have no depth. That makes for a temporal religion, and the religion will hold fast only if it suits the times. (2) The second reason is that there may be no learned men to spread the religion. If there are none, the religion languishes. Learned men should preach religious wisdom. If the propagandists of a religion are not ready to hold discussion with opponents, the religion will die. (3) The third reason is this: If religion and religious philosophy are only for the learned, the religion will not survive. For common ordinary people, there are temples and shrines. They go there and worship supernatural power. If this is the case, the religion languishes. Please refer to the 3rd reason. Removing Buddhism from the realm of day today practice and casting it into Metaphysics can cause it to languish.

Many western scholars are attracted to Buddhism because of the seemingly esoteric nature of Buddhism. But nothing can be further from truth. I have copy pasted below, for easy reference, the Basic path of the Buddha as enumerated in his ‘First Sermon’ in which he laid his religion open for examination. One look at it will reveal a startling fact that there is nothing metaphysical or a speculative theory in it. Buddhism is practical. Buddhism’s beauty is that all its doctrines are stated to regulate and improve a man’s relations to another man. The Buddha’s core teachings operate and over the whole scale of one's attitudes; emotions; feelings and actions towards other beings. There is hardly anything in the path of the Buddha that is not social. The idea of Nibbaba (nirvana) also remains greatly misunderstood and many critics make nonsense of this doctrine. There is nothing metaphysical about Nibbana - It just means happiness

Regarding Metaphysical and ‘other worldly’ speculations- To Anathapidika, the Blessed Buddha said “Let us, then, surrender the heresies of worshipping Ishavara and praying to him; let us not lose ourselves in vain speculations of profitless subtleties; let us surrender self and all selfishness, and as all things are fixed by causation, let us practise good so that good may result from our actions."

The path of the Buddha

  • (1) The Path of Purity (Pancasila)

a.Not to kill b.Not to steal c.Not to lie d.Not to indulge in lust e.Not to indulge in intoxicating drinks.),

  • (2) Path of Righteousness (Ashtanga Marga; 8 fold path)

a. Samma Ditti (Right Views) giving up of belief in the efficacy of rites and ceremonies, to sanctity of the Shasras, superstition and supernaturalism, speculations; requires free mind and free thought. b. Samma Sankappo: teaches aims, aspirations and ambitions shall be noble and praiseworthy and not ignoble and unworthy c. Samma Vacca (Right Speech) teaches: that one should not speak evil; slander; not use angry and abusive language; that one should speak kindly and courteously to all d. Samma Kamanto: teaches right behavior. It teaches that every action should be founded on respect for the feelings and rights of others e. Samma Ajivo. Every individual has to earn his livelihood by good means without causing injury or injustice to others f. "Samma Vyayamo: (Right Endeavour) is primary endeavour to remove Avijja g. Samma Satti calls for thoughtfulness h. Samma Samadhi The five hindrances are covetousness, ill-will, sloth and torpor, doubt and indecision. Samma Samadhi is to cultivate a habit of good and always to think of good.

  • (3) Path of Virtue (Parimita)

a. Sila: The disposition not to do evil and the disposition to do good b. Dana; means the giving of one's possessions, blood and limbs and even one's life, for the good of others without expecting anything in return c. Uppekha; is detachment as distinguished from indifference. Remaining unmoved by the result and yet engaged in the pursuit of it d. Nekkhama; is renunciation of the pleasures of the world. e. Virya; is right endeavour. It is doing with all your might whatever you have undertaken to do with never a thought of turning back f. Khanti; forbearance. Not to meet hatred by hatred is the essence of it. For hatred is not appeased by hatred. It is appeased only by forbearance g. Succa; is truth. A person must never tell a lie. His speech must be truth and nothing but truth. h. Adhithana ; is resolute determination to reach the goal. i. Karuna ; is loving kindness to human beings. j. Maitri is extending fellow feeling to all beings, not only to one who is a friend but also to one who is a foe : not only to man but to all living beings.

The way to Nibbana (happiness) is to follow the 8 fold path and to reduce 1. Lobha: all degrees of craving or attachment—such as lust, infatuation and greed 2. Dosa: all degrees of antipathy—hatred, anger, vexation or repugnance 3. Moha or avidya: all degrees of ignorance—delusion, dullness and stupidity

with metta to all 12:11, 1 August 2006 (UTC)--Yeditor 08:28, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

  • Thanks for the lengthy posting above. I agree that Buddhism is a practical religion - it is not just about believing, but crucially about doing and cultivating; but that practical outlook is underpinned by a vision of the world and the beings within it which is rooted in metaphysics and religious understanding. The Buddha's first sermon is just that: his FIRST sermon. He gave many, many more, which elaborated in greater detail on what he wished to communicate (especially if one includes in that the Mahayana). As for a totally "this-worldly" approach to Dharma: well, the whole purpose of Prince Siddhartha's search was to find lasting peace (not just pleasure during this lifetime) and "immortality"/ "the deathless" - how to cross beyond the clutches of repeated deaths and rebirths. That - and the deathless Nirvana itself, said to be beyond worldly comprehension, not just ordinary sensory happiness - all sounds pretty "metaphysical" to me. But that does not, as you say, exclude the need for practical action and practice, as well as having a positive impact upon one's society. The two - practicality within a metaphysical/mystical framework - are not mutually exclusive, but mutually supportive. Best wishes to you. From Tony. TonyMPNS 18:19, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Thanks Tony. I agree with you. I have no intention of reducing Buddhism to pure psychology and psychotherapy. I was just concerned about the 'Focus'of the article. with metta --Yeditor 08:33, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Hallo Yeditor. Thanks for your thanks! I see that you are very interested in Dr. Ambedkar's work. I think it is so important that all hatred and discrimination against any oppressed social group should be vigorously opposed (using peaceful means, of course!) - and Buddhism is the perfect religion to employ for doing this. In much of the Mahayana, the key teaching is Kindness and Compassion (this is supported by the doctrine that all beings have the essence of the Buddha within them - the "Buddha Principle" or Buddha-dhatu). So although I know you are not keen on "metaphysical" talk, this particular teaching of Buddhism actually strengthens the case to treat all human beings with benevolence and respect. Each person is a Buddha-to-be! Best wishes. From Tony. TonyMPNS 22:41, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

On the law of Kamma

I have added a section on the law of Kamma. I prefer to call it Kamma (pali) instead of Karma ( sanskrit) as there is a negative meaning associated with Karma. Karma in the Hindu context means that ones deeds performed in previous lives are responsible for ones present conditions. This is a very pernicious Hindu doctrine and has been advanced by Hindu priests to escape from the social responsibility of alleaviting a man's condition. As per this doctrine all the poverty stricken, destitute people in this world must have been criminals in their previous lives. This cannot be true

The Buddhist law of kamma differs from the Hindu theory of Karma in this aspect. The buddhist law of kamma states that all actions are irreversable. That one cannot get rid of ones sins by asking for forgiveness or taking a bath in the holy river. An act once performed will leave its effect permanently on the society. It is the law of kamma that explains the maintainance of moral order in the world. It has nothing to do with the fortunes or misfortunes of people due to their actions in the previous birth.--Yeditor 13:52, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

I haven't had a chance yet to read through the new section, but I would argue for using the term "karma" instead of "kamma". "Karma" is a very well-known word in english, and is the word used in most Buddhist works in english. Even if there is a distinction to be made between the Hindu and Buddhist concepts, I don't think that gives us license to change the terminology -- that smacks of original research to me. thanks! bikeable (talk) 19:10, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
Yeditor presents above a very unusual view: this understanding of the workings of kamma/karma is at odds with very many Buddhist scriptures. It seems like a reworking of Buddhist views on kamma/karma with a socio-political agenda -- maybe no harm in that, but it should not be presented as orthodox Buddhist teaching.--Stephen Hodge 19:41, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
  • I tend to think Bikeable has got a good and valid point: "karma" is much more familiar to most readers than "kamma". If one is speaking specifically of the terminology of the Pali suttas/vinaya, then it would be justified to use the term "kamma" (but even there, I would put "karma" in brackets after its first mention, so that the reader knows what is being spoken of). The general Buddhist understanding of karma/kamma can then be explained. I do also share Stephen's view that Yeditor's interpretation of karma is very unusual (not that that in itself is necessarily wrong or undesirable -the "unusual" can on occasion be very accurate and insightful); but Yeditor's take on karma does conflict with many statements by the Buddha himself which indicate quite clearly that acts performed with good or bad volition will generate an effect which will bring pleasant or unpleasant consequences to the doer. The emphasis is nearly always on the individual (especially in the Pali scriptures) as regards the fruits of a person's actions. In the Mahayana, serious negative consequences for the perpetrator of unwholesome deeds (especially those involving disparagement of True Dharma) are taught to visit that person in a future life - and similarly, doers of what is dharmically good are said to experience favourable physical and mental modes of rebirth as a consequence of such spiritual wholesomeness. So I think that the main Buddhism article should focus mostly on the prevailing teachings on karma/kamma as enunciated by the Buddha. If there is scriptural support for a broader social dimension to karma (which could perhaps be found in some Mahayana sutras), then that could perhaps receive a separate paragraph of its own. I'd be interested to hear what Bikeable and Stephen (and of course Yeditor, as well as other editors) further think about this. Regards. Tony. TonyMPNS 20:54, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

Mmm, seems that most of you have already pointed out the main problems with the section. However, from my POV, maybe the section should be more about what it actually is about. That is to develop right living standards. And not focus on the rebirth thing. It can be said that Kamma(pali)/karma(later sutras) can be without the whole rebirth process. And that the main goal of kamma is to develop a right paths, in this life and not the next rebirth. So it should be more about the morals rather than there not being gods or some rebirth. Gods and Rebirth are metaphysicals.. So Trimming? Monkey Brain(untalk) 21:27, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

Nice edits, now the section is more simple and easy to understand. :) Monkey Brain(untalk) 22:56, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree, although it seems a little too concise now. But I suggest that user Yeditor should go to the main Karma in Buddhism entry and add a short paragraph on Socio-political Problems -- describing the way the teachings on Karma in general can be abused (still today) to legitimize blatant injustices of the caste system, such as the all too real oppression that still happens to the Dalits in many parts of India. There are possible problems with a simplistic application or interpretation of karma. Applied literally, we might say that all those who died on 11/09 in the WTC deserved to die because of their karma or that the Lebanese civilians currently being murdered deserved their fate because of their past karma, etc etc. So, I think there are some dificulties with a literal interpretation of past karma = present experience. I personally think that past karma plays some part, but that also the "shit happens" model is also involved.--Stephen Hodge 23:35, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Monkeykiss, Stephen I agree with you. I will ad the socio-political implications in the main section. In my opinion, the deeds (kamma)and its effect of an individual, being completely irreversible, are stored in the collective memories of others. They pass on to others and future generations through social and biological mechanisms ( books, heridity, stories, fables etc). For e.g. Hindus and Muslims are still warring because of bad deeds of Muslims committed 1000 years ago. Thus there is no need for any etheral means for transfer of kamma from one generation to another. the rebirth concept is not necessary for the transfer of kamma. Anyways atleast one thing is certain that the same person never takes re-birth again. Kamma may recoil on the doer ( if i kill, i may get killed through revenge) or it may have an impact on others ( if i take a bribe, my children will have to suffer social stigma) or it can have effect on the future generations ( if i harm the environment mindlessly, future generations will not get clean water/air). It is not necessary that in all cases the deed kamma bounces back to the doer. Still the Law of Kamma is sufficient for maintaining the moral order as the key learning is that all actions will leave an impact which is irreversible. Thus its imperative to "THINK" before acting. There is no gain in regretting/praying later. Your opinion pls? with metta--Yeditor 09:18, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Just some small thought I had, related to the preceeding two comments by Stephen and Yeditor, which I agree with. All we have to work with is the way we perform our current actions, and karma is therefore, I think, a good incentive for following the Five Precepts. Looking for the actions of kammic results is somewhat futile and only possible to do correctly if you're a Buddha. --Andkaha(talk) 10:53, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
  • I agree with Stephen that the karma section is too concise now and not sufficiently informative. More to the present discussion: the Buddha's teaching on karma does not exclude the social impacts which Yeditor speaks about. That is also why we should have kindliness and compassion guide our actions (including those of speech), since our deeds affect others for good or ill. The idea that it is OK to harbour hatred in our hearts, or in our actions, towards those who are socially deprived, poor, despised (e.g. "outcastes", etc.) is anathema to Buddhism. The Law is one of kindness and compassion - not hatred and mean-spirited nastiness towards others. But those deeds which we perform do also return back to ourselves in some like-natured way - whether in this lifetime or in another. There are numerous passages in the Pali and Mahayana sutras (even in the prajnaparamita sutras) which indicate that what we intentionally think, say and do unleashes positive or negative forces upon us at a later time. We may not like this doctrine, we may find it unpalatable. But whether we like it or not is as irrelevant as whether we like the law of gravity. It is there (according to the Buddha). And if we wish to do justice to the Buddha's teachings, we have to report accurately what his doctrine of karma actually states. This is not to say that people who are suffering unpleasant circumstances should be looked down upon or scorned or rejected: absolutely not. Quite the reverse. We all have a backlog of karma waiting to ripen, for good or ill; none of us unawakened beings is perfect. So the foul-tasting fruits of our less wise actions from the past can enter our mouths, as it were, at any time, when conditions are right. Again, this should be a cause for compassion and kindliness towards all persons and creatures. The doctrine of karma, as taught by the Buddha, does not insist that we should treat those currently going through bad karma (and in a sense we all are, otherwise we would not be in samsara!) as scum or scoundrels. Kindness and the desire to help, and seeing all beings as "one's only child", should be the activating force within us. So, in sum: any societal distortions of the karma teachings to mean that people "deserve what they get and so should be left to rot in hell" (so to speak) are an outrage and not endorsed by the Buddha. On the other hand, however, we have to acknowledge that according to the Buddha our negative deeds can have negative consequences (which, however, can be thinned-down or even eliminated by the production of strong, wholesome, counter-active karma). So: we should not misrepresent the Buddha's karma doctrines, just because they might be a bitter pill for us to swallow. On the other hand, accepting that our deeds have consequences for ourselves and, yes, others too -this will, as Yeditor says, cause us to "think" before we act, and to act with kindness, wisdom and compassion. Best wishes to everyone. From Tony. TonyMPNS 10:49, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

Supposed "spam" links

Perhaps it would be a good idea if MonkeyKiss consulted first before arbitrarily deleting external links -- some of these are obviously not spam. There is a hint of censorship at work here.--Stephen Hodge 23:23, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

Ah sorry, I forgot about that. But I had not said that they, the two that has been restored, are spam. However, they are about sutras, the Nirvana Sutra and Tathagatagarbha Sutras. Each belonging in their rightful article. Not the main article. Monkey Brain(untalk) 23:36, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
The other ones are Either not notable and seems like promotion ( or promoting a single sect(pure land link). Monkey Brain(untalk) 23:44, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

Removed Sentence

I have removed "this doctrine advanced by the Buddha is beyond doubt fatal to belief in God and creation" mostly because a citation would be appropriate, but also because it probably should be reworded slightly. Addhoc 11:55, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

I have modified this sentence "Neo-Buddhism has seen a revival of Buddhism in India but is also tinged with the politics of caste and conversion. This movement was initiated by B. R. Ambedkar in 1956 with a mass conversion ceremony of Dalits." The meaning of this sentence is negative. Buddhist revival in India is a social change for self respect. There are no material/political benifits of conversion to Buddhism. --Yeditor 10:43, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Misconception that needs to be fixed

it is a common misconception that the noble eightfold and the middle way are differnt things, but the truth is they are two differnt names for the same thing. thats why the beginnig paragraph should be changed from noble eightfold and the middle way to the noble eightfold also know as the middle way and the middle way article and the noble eightfold article should be merged together. thank you - User: Farzon Lotfi

It isn't a misconception, it's the orthodox teaching. If you want to include fuller details on the identity of the two then please do so in an appropriate place, not in the first few paragraphs of Buddhism, or with no supporting comments on either Eightfold Path or Middle Way. The Buddha said many things, and he chose what he said according to who he was speaking to. Identifying the two doctrines is based, as far as I can tell, on one sutta (since the editors who keep making the changes do not bother to provide links or any kind of encyclopaedic comment) and too advanced to feature so prominently and without explanation. If you feel that this identity needs to be asserted please do so appropriately. Rentwa 11:17, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

Aloof from these two extreme approaches is the Noble Eightfold Path, called the middle way, not in the sense that it effects a compromise between the extremes, but in the sense that it transcends them both by avoiding the errors that each involves. The path avoids the extreme of sense indulgence by its recognition of the futility of desire and its stress on renunciation. Desire and sensuality, far from being means to happiness, are springs of suffering to be abandoned as the requisite of deliverance. But the practice of renunciation does not entail the tormenting of the body. It consists in mental training, and for this the body must be fit, a sturdy support for the inward work. Thus the body is to be looked after well, kept in good health, while the mental faculties are trained to generate the liberating wisdom. That is the middle way, the Noble Eightfold Path, which "gives rise to vision, gives rise to knowledge, and leads to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana."3 here is some evidence FL

Fine. Can we have it integrated into WP appropriately, for instance in the article on the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta? (I presume it's a commentary on this sutta.) You can then put 'See also' links to the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta on the Middle Way and Eightfold Path articles. Rentwa 16:57, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

Yah that would be the best thing to do. I think you should eventually merge the two articles and explain how the Eightfold pass is the middle way or just note they are the same thing and merge the two articles. What ever works as long as the misconception is fixed. --FL

Nirvana is not knowledge or enlightenment. Bodhi is enlightenment. It may or may not lead to Nirvana, which is the extinction of attachment or desire.Lestrade 02:09, 20 September 2006 (UTC)Lestrade


Have a look at the Vibhajjavada article. Somebody keeps reverting to an older version to suppress NPOV info they don't like. This guy won't discuss his problems on the Talk Page.--Stephen Hodge 02:59, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

I have added it to my watch list.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 03:16, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. As you know, this same guy keeps deleting valid material from the Theravada page.--Stephen Hodge 03:25, 8 August 2006 (UTC)


jorge luis borges writes in 'the sect of the phoenix' (ficciones) that "the name which (budism) is known throughout the world, is not the one (budists) pronounce." does anybody know something about that?

It's essentially true- 'Buddhism' is a neo-logism coined by European observers. In Buddhist countries I'm familiar with the terms Buddha dhamma-vinaya (teaching and discipline of the Buddha) and Buddhasasana (or just sasana, meaning message or teaching) being used. --Clay Collier 01:17, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Although Clay is, of course, right that "Buddhism" is a neo-logism, I can't quite tell what Borges is getting at. If he's talking about Buddhism in Asia, where people don't speak English, then, naturally, they wouldn't call it Buddhism. On other other hand, almost all of the English-speaking Buddhists that I'e met do call it Buddhism.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 00:31, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

New external link - Buddhism for Humanists?

Could someone kindly have a look at my article Buddhism for Humanists to see if it should be included as an external link?

Acampbell70 11:08, 3 September 2006 (UTC)


It is a common mistake to think that parinirvana only occurs at death. See this definition from the PED:

Parinibbāna (nt.) [pari+nibbāna] "complete Nibbāna" in two meanings: 1. complete extinction of khandha-life; i. e. all possibility of such life & its rebirth, final release from (the misery of) rebirth and transmigration, death (after the last life-span of an Arahant). This is the so-called "an-upādi-sesa Parinibbāna," or "extinction with no rebirth-substratum left." - 2. release from cravings & attachment to life, emancipation (in this life) with the assurance of final death; freedom of spirit, calm, perfect well-being or peace of soul. This is the so-called "sa-upādisesa-P.," or "extinction (of passion) with some substratum left." - The two kinds are distinguished by Bdhgh at DhA II.163 as follows: "arahatta-pattito paṭṭhāya kilesa-vaṭṭassa khepitattā sa - upādi - sesena, carima - citta - nirodhena khandhavaṭṭassa khepitattā an-upādi-sesena cā ti dvīhi pi parinibbānehi parinibbutā, an-upādāno viya padīpo apaṇṇattika-bhāvaŋ gatā." - 1. D II.72 sq. (the famous Mahā-parinibbāna-suttanta or "Book of the Great Decease"); M III.127, 128; A II.79 (°samaye); III.409 (°dhamma, contrasted with āpāyika nerayika, cp. DhA IV.42); Mhvs 7, 1 (°mañcamhi nipanna); VvA 158; PvA 244. -- 2. D III.55; A V.64; Sn 514 (°gata+ vitiṇṇa-kankho); Vv 5324 (°gata+sītibhūta). This state of final emancipation (during life) has also received the determination of anupādā-parinibbāna, i. e. emancipation without ground. for further clinging (lit. without fuel), which corresponds to Bdhgh's term "kilesavaṭṭassa khepitattā sa-upādi-sesa p." (see above); thus at M I.148; S IV.48; V.29; A I.44; V.65 (nicchāto nibbuto sītibhūto etc).; A V.233=253=Dh 89 (+khīṇāsava). --Stephen Hodge 13:33, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Hi Stephen. I am pasting relevant text on the subject. For complete explanation refer The Buddha And His Dhamma

““There are certain misunderstandings about the Buddha's doctrine of Nibbana. 40. The word Nibbana etymologically means outblowing, extinguishing. 41. Taking hold of this root meaning of the word, critics have tried to make nonsense of the doctrine of Nibbana. 42. They hold that Nibbana means extinction of all human passions which is equivalent to death. 43. They have by this means tried to throw ridicule over the doctrine of Nibbana. 44. That such is not the meaning of Nibbana is quite clear if one examines the language of the fire sermon. 45. The fire sermon does not say that life is burning and death is extinction. It says passions are on fire. 46. The fire sermon does not say that the passions must be extinguished completely. It says do not add fuel to the flame. 47. Secondly, critics have failed to make a distinction between Nibbana and Parinibbana. 48. As the Udana says: "Parinibbana occurs when the body becomes disintegrated, all perceptions become stopped, all sensations die away, the activities cease and consciousness goes away. Thus Parinibbana means complete extinction." 49. Nibbana can never have this meaning. Nibbana means enough control over passion so as to enable one to walk on the path of righteousness. It was not intended to mean. anything more. 50. That Nibbana is another name for righteous life is made clear by the Buddha himself to Radha. 51. Once the venerable Radha came to the Exalted One. Having done so he saluted the Exalted One and sat down at one side. So seated the venerable Radha thus addressed the Exalted One: " Pray Lord, what for is Nibbana?" 52. " Nibbana means release from passion " replied the Lord. 53. " But Nibbana, Lord,—what is the aim of it?" 54. " Rooted in Nibbana, Radha, the righteous life is lived. Nibbana is its goal. Nibbana is its end." 55. That Nibbana does not mean extinction is also made clear by Sariputta in the following sermon: 56. " Once the Blessed Lord was staying at Shravasti in Anathpindika's Arama where Sariputta was also staying. 57. "The Lord, addressing the brethren, said : ' Almsmen, be ye partakers not of the world's goods but of my doctrine; in my compassion for you all I am anxious to ensure this.' 58. " Thus spoke the Lord, who thereupon rose and passed to his own cell. 59. " Sariputta remained behind and the brethren asked him to explain what is Nibbana.

60. " Then Sariputta in reply to the brethren said : ' Brethren, know ye that greed is vile, and vile is resentment. 61. "'To shed this greed and this resentment, there is the Middle Way which gives us eyes to see and makes us know, leading us on to peace, insight, enlightenment and Nibbana. 62. " ' What is this Middle Way ? It is naught but the Noble Eightfold Path of right outlook, right aims, right speech, right action, right means of livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration; this, almsmen is the Middle Way. 63. " ' Yes, sirs: anger is vile and malevolence is vile, envy and jealousy are vile, niggardliness and avarice are vile, hypocrisy and deceit and arrogance are vile, inflation is vile, and indolence is vile. 64. " ' For the shedding of inflation and indolence there is the Middle Way—giving us eyes to see, making us know, and leading us on to peace, insight, enlightenment. 65. " 'Nibbana which is naught but that Noble Eightfold Path.' " 66. Thus spoke the revered Sariputta—Glad at heart, the almsmen rejoiced at what he had said. 67. That the idea underlying Nibbana is that it is the path of righteousness. No one will mistake Nibbana for anything else. 68. Complete annihilation is one extreme and Parinibbana is another extreme. Nibbana is the Middle Way.””Yeditor 10:15, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

According to KRNorman, the distinction between nibban and parinibbana is that the former is a state, the latter an event, i.e. attaining that state. This applies to both senses. Peter jackson 10:27, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Nirvana problems

The section on Nirvana erroneously mixes that concept with "Truth" and "Karma." Nirvana is simply the absence of attachment (desire) and, as a result, the absence of suffering. I deleted the sentence: "It is just the truth." Truth is the agreement between a cognition or judgment and something other than a cognition or judgment, such as an experience or a state of affairs. Nirvana is the absence of suffering, not the presence of joy or bliss. Therefore, I deleted "The happiness of Nirvana is the joy of having realized the ultimate truth; the bliss of escaping the endless chain of cause-and-effect." Nirvana is not related to the myth of Karma with its series of reincarnations. The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism clearly and distinctly show how suffering and attachment are characteristics of life. Nirvana is the mere absence of suffering and attachment. It is not truth or joy.Lestrade 15:28, 5 September 2006 (UTC)Lestrade

Lestrade, I have noticed that you sometimes make very direct statements about the nature of nirvana. Have you done any sort of serious scriptural study to arrive at these opinions? If not, why do you choose to edit on this topic?—Nat Krause(Talk!) 03:43, 13 September 2006 (UTC)

Ancient doctrine

Theravada does not mean ancient doctrine, although one could say that Theravada is an ancient doctrine now, after so many years. Ancient doctrine is a highly unusal translation,

Thera means 'senior monk', not 'old monk' or 'old person'. It's not about age but about seniority in the Sangha, based on how long someone has been a monk, a member of the monastic Sangha. It reflects one's experience with the Buddhist teachings while being a monk. The Theras have been the leaders of the Sangha, that's why it's monastic lineage is called the 'Doctrine of the Elders' (as in elder experienced monk). Greetings, Sacca 07:34, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

Also, the 'old' aspect is but one aspect of the meaning of Thera. The term ancient doctrine does not take into account the 'monk' aspect. 'Ancient monk doctrine' would be a better translation ;-), or else 'the doctrine of the ancient monks'. Greetings, Sacca 07:45, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

Time to Archive?

Just a note to those who participate on this page more than I. Looks like it's reached 34.4 kB as of today, and is thus automatically tagged as a "Too Long" Page. I'd suggest archiving soon. Deebki 19:35, 13 September 2006 (UTC)

Practicing Buddhism after Buddha's passing away

A few days ago, Sacca added the section Practing Buddhism after Buddha's passing away. Most of this material is unobjectionable, although it's questionable whether it is significant enough to be included in an article which is already way too long. However, it also contains this contentious statement: "The leadership positions of the Dalai Lamas and Sangharajas are a more recent development, going against the spirit of this instruction of Buddha." Sacca, did you really think this was an appropriate comment for you to have Wikipedia say? You know, a lot of people don't believe that the institution of the Papacy was sanctioned by Jesus or God, but our article on Christianity, for obvious reasons, doesn't say, "The leadership position of the Pope is a more recent development which goes against the will of Jesus." Also, I think that the issue of translation into Sanskrit is more complicated than Sacca's description makes it sound, although I'd appreciate explanation from other people, since I don't know the details.

In view of these concerns, and the fact that this article had reached 93kB in length, I have removed this passage to talk.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 22:09, 13 September 2006 (UTC)

Helo Nat, if you really think it's unobjectionable and valid information, why not put it in a seperate article instead of moving it to the talk-page? Seems to me to be standard procedure.
Your question can be put to anybody who makes any addition to Wikipedia: "did you really think this was an appropriate comment for you to have Wikipedia say?" Of course, for anybody who is not a Wiki-vandal, the answer is "yes, I did". And I still do. I believe both the Dalai Lama and the Sangharajas know that their position is not sanctified by Buddha himself, they know too much to be able to hold such a belief. Buddha made a specific comment about not having a successor to himself. Jezus did not make such a comment, and neither did the apostles. Anyway, may you be happy, Greetings, Sacca 03:23, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
Also I will move parts of it back, and make a new article. Your criticism is not about the validity of the material, just about the curent state of the article as too long. If you want to make the article shorter, there are some sections of history which are way too long, try removing something there, it's all double anyway. I just now notice that also the Mahayana section is really too long compared to Theravada and Vajrayana; I'll have to do this one myself I think. Greetings, Sacca 03:36, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
I must admit that "did you really think this was an appropriate comment for you to have Wikipedia say?" was essentially a rhetorical question. My actual meaning was, "How can you justify the implication that this was an appropriate comment?", i.e. something other than your personal opinion. Clearly, most Theravadins and Tibetan Buddhists don't agree that their leaders' positions violate the spirit of the Buddha's instructions; who are you to question them?
As for the removed text, I don't know what to do with it. Most of the interesting points, I strongly suspect, are already mentioned elsewhere on Wikipedia, so there is no need to add them. I didn't think the text—minus objectionable portions and that which is covered elsewhere—would make a very meaningful article on its own.
By the way, I've noticed you removing references to "Hinayana" from the section on Theravada. This seems to clash with your stated preference for "early Buddhist schools" over the more academic "Nikaya schools"—"Hinayana" is certainly the vulgar term for this sort of Buddhism.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 04:44, 16 September 2006 (UTC)
How does it clash? Is this a joke maybe? Greetings, Sacca 07:20, 16 September 2006 (UTC)
A joke? No. One of your arguments against the term "Nikaya Buddhism" is that it's too obscure, and is—you say—only by academics. By this logic, then, "Hinayana" is the ideal choice, because this is the most common way of referring to schools of Buddhism that aren't Mahayana or Vajrayana.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 18:53, 16 September 2006 (UTC)
funny :-) Greetings, Sacca 15:09, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

What was removed

Gautama Buddha made a few statements which refer to practicing his teachings (Dhamma-Vinaya) after the Buddha has passed away:

1). Buddha refused to appoint a succesor to himself, saying that the Dhamma-Vinaya that he taught is the ultimate authority. The leadership positions of the Dalai Lamas and Sangharajas are a more recent development, going against the spirit of this instruction of Buddha.

2). Buddha diverged from ancient Brahmin tradition by allowing monks and nuns to preach in the language of the area they happened to be in, and to recite the Dharma in the local language as well. He forbade translating his teachings into the specific official religious language of the time: Sanskrit.

3). On one occasion, the Buddha, without giving specific elaboration, stated that the lesser and minor Vinaya rules can be abolished, if the Saṅgha unanimously agrees to do so.

4). Buddha also taught the Four Great Standards (Pali: mahapadesa), concerning future developments and new situations concerning the monks' discipline (Vinaya), which did not arise during the Buddha's time. He said that:

  • Whatever, monks, has not been objected to by me, saying: 'This is not allowable', if it fits in with what is not allowable, if it goes against what is allowable, that is not allowable to you.
  • Whatever, monks, has not been objected to by me, saying: 'This is not allowable', if it fits in with what is allowable, if it goes against what is not allowable, that is allowable to you.
  • And whatever, monks, has not been permitted by me, saying: 'This is allowable', if it fits in with what is not allowable, if it goes against what is allowable, that is not allowable to you.
  • Whatever, monks, has not been permitted by me, saying: 'This is allowable', if it fits in with what is allowable, if it goes against what is not allowable, that is allowable to you. (Vin. i. 250-1; trans. I.B. Horner)

5). Buddha also gave another four standards in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta. Here he gives advice on how to validate teachings subscribed to Buddha, that one receives through a third person. The follow statement is repeated four times, applied to different kinds of monks who had contact with either Buddha, his disciples, or other elders:

"Monks, the speech of that monk should neither be welcomed nor reviled. Non-welcoming, non-reviling, every word and syllable should be well studied, placed beside the Sutta and compared with the Vinaya. When placed beside the Sutta and compared with the Vinaya, should they not fit in with the Sutta, nor accord with the Vinaya, you should come to the conclusion: 'Truly this is not the word of the Blessed One, and has been wrongly grasped by that monk.' Thus, monks, you should reject it. If they fit in with the Sutta and accord with the Vinaya, then you should come to the conclusion: 'Truly this is the word of the Blessed One and has been rightly grasped by that monk."

During his lifetime, Buddha specifically refused to answer certain questions known as avyākṛta (Pāli: avyākata, "unexplained"). These are (1) Whether the world is eternal or not; (2) Whether the world is infinite or not; (3) Whether the body and the self are one and the same or not; (4) Whether the tathāgata exists after death, or not, or both does and does not, or neither does nor does not. In the Culla-Māluṅkyovāda-sutta, the Buddha, using an analogy of being shot by a poisoned arrow and asking about its origin and construction instead of removing the arrow and treating the wound. Gautama Buddha indicated to Māluṅkyāputta that such speculative questions are ultimately unprofitable [1]. Some later controversies in Buddhism deal with these very questions.

Tingeroo revert

User Tingeroo reverted the edits I did before, giving as reason 'Major modifications without discussion'. I would think that if he agreed with those 'major modifications' he would not revert them, so I suppose he disagrees (if this is not going too far).

I made edits in four areas of the article:

  1. I put back a shortened version of the section on 'Buddha's instructions for practice after his death'.
  2. I shortened the Mahayana section to bring it into line with Theravada and Vajrayana (It was really long, going into a lot of detail on several doctrinal issues).
  3. I shortened the section on decline of Buddhism in India and Central Asia (which actually needs to be rewritten).
  4. I refrased and removed some ploemical statements from the Therevada section.
  5. I corrected the section on Early Buddhism which had wrong info on the second and third buddhist councils, and the schisms of that time.

Mostly the edits just concerned pruning of overly long paragrahs in the article, plus balancing the Theravada section and correcting issues on the early schisms. So Tingeroo, what are your objectons? And would you mind reverting those sections to which you do not object? Greetings, Sacca 14:32, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
P.S. I generally do not appreciate these general reverts at all, many very valid edits you reverted just because of 'no discussion'. I prefer to just look at content, so I invite you to revert the whole thing, and work from there. Just change what you do not think is correct, good or POV.

Your pruning was removing a lot of information that came into the article via lots of other discussions and input from editors. This article is not up for cleanup to accomodate such large scale changes without discussions. As a previously featured article and currently A-class article you need ask for input from other editiors if such large scale changes are first warranted. As you can see from the history even small changes undergo a lot discussion, and with such large scale changes that are undiscussed, its taking on too much.--Tigeroo 18:45, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
Well, you have a point, we can ask ourselves why is this article apparently not good enough to be a good article, and why was it removed from the featured articles list? I looked at the article and was actually quite surprised. I think people right now maybe focus too much on the small articles, and the big one (his one) is forgotten, or maybe it's just become too bureaucratized. Or people just look at the small edits and don't look at the big picture of the whole article because it's become just too big.
The number 1 issue should be whether the articles is improved by an edit. Someone takes the effort to look at it and correct it, and makes it better? OK. So I'm going to put back some of the edits, and please Tingeroo look at the edit please and maybe also check with others whether they are correct if you're in doubt. Greetings, Sacca 03:52, 16 September 2006 (UTC)
If you doubt the early buddhism edit, you can ask user Stephen Hodge to check it (he's a scholar on the old buddhist texts). The current articles on second buddhist council and third buddhist council still need work. Greetings, Sacca 04:14, 16 September 2006 (UTC)


I disagree with the current page where it staes that "budhism is not a religion." Anything that charts a path to or dictates the end of my being is a religion. Buddhism qualifies on both counts. (Someone put this right after my (Saccas) edit, but it does not belong to me) Greetings, Sacca 03:54, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

Main Traditions - Theravāda

Article states that the texts of the Pali Canon "are generally considered by modern scholars to be the earliest written Buddhist literature, and they are accepted as authentic in every branch of Buddhism." The linked article on Theravada goes somewhat further, stating that these texts and the parallel texts of the Agamas "are generally believed to be the oldest and most authoritative texts on Buddhism by scholars." Certainly this had been my understanding, but I have just read Donald S. Lopez Jr's introduction to his 2004 book Buddhist Scriptures (Penguin), in which he describes the 1894 Sacred Books of the East series as "[r]eflecting the opinion of the day that Pali texts of the Theravada tradition of Southesast Asia represented the most accurate record of what the Buddha taught (an opinion since rejected)...." (p. xv). Later he declares: "Scholars no longer regard Pali Buddhism as 'original Buddhism'...." (p. xxii). He does not footnote these assertions. Is anyone aware of to what scholarship Lopez is referring? Should such scholarship be referenced here, or do the assertions in this article and the Theravada article require modification in light of such scholarship? David Watson 19:09, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

The various statements don't seem contradictory to me. The Pali Canon is considered by scholars to be the earliest extant written Buddhist literature; and similar texts are considered authentic in every branch of Buddhism; and, for that reason, they are considered to be relatively authoritative compared to other Buddhist literature; but, this doesn't mean that scholars regard Theravada as the original Buddhism. I only see a problem if there is an article drawing that last conclusion from these facts; perhaps the phrasing at Theravada is a bit too strong and has a chance of being misleading, but it looks acceptable to me.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 19:25, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Nat here, I also believe the term original Buddhism is maybe not the best term to use, because Therevada and Mahayana are both original 'forms of Buddhism'. I like the term pre-sectarian Buddhism, which keeps it in the historical framework. Greetings, Sacca 03:41, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
Thanks Nat and Sacca for the comments. I agree there is not an outright contradiction, but I am interested in the issue raised and whether it should be reflected on Wikipedia (if not in this article or the Theravada article, perhaps in the Pali Canon article, the Buddhaghosa article, or the Mahavihara article). I have an email from Dr. Lopez about this research, with which I will not clutter this talk page, but I would be grateful if both of you (and anyone else interested) could take a look at it on my user talk page and comment. Thanks. David Watson 21:56, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

Suggestions for the Doctrines and the Middle Way

Seeing as how this article is very deserving of feature status (namely being a major world religion), the reduction of the article's length should be considered a priority.

I believe the doctrines of Buddhism should be moved to a sister page, and replace them with a short, but detailed summary of the group as a whole. Likewise, I feel that the Middle Way can also be summarized more concisely for this main page. User:Akuyume/signature

schools in the article

I have shortened the Mahayana paragraph on Mahayana, it really was too long and going into a lot of detail on specific doctrines, which would be better done on the connected articles. Now it is of a comparable length to the Theravada and Vajayana. This appears to me to be very proper.

Also I will remove the polemical statements is the theravada paragraph, in particular to remove the Mahayanist opinions on Theravada which really do not deserve a place there.Greetings, Sacca 05:43, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

Template Problem

This tag cause the talk page to appear in Category:Candidates for speedy deletion.

  • {{V0.5|class=A|category=Philrelig}}

Formatting Changes

Sorry, I don't know how to get this in the proper place, so please so one move it for me.

I moved the category bar so it was not overlapping the exteranl links. You're welcome.

H-BOMB 19:14, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

I also moved the eight-spoked wheel picture next to The Eight-Fold Path section. I moved the Series Box to the top of the article so it is easier to find. And finally in order to due the last change I had to move the picture of the statue of Gautama lower thus creating less empty space next to the table of contents.

H-BOMB 16:00, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

I don't agree with the formatting change which swaps the series box for the lead image. It uglifies the article and doesn't seem necessary.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 01:43, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

Pali Proper names dictionary

It seems to be ok to use the entires of the Pali Proper Names dictionary (see User_talk:Samahita). I wonder: maybe it would be good to have a template to indicate this, as is done with the 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Brittannica? But before this happens, we need to be sure it is definitively all right to do so. Greetings, Sacca 06:08, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Interview with Chan Khong

This interesting interview with her is -beside other- about women and buddhism, in times of Buddha Shakyamuni as well as nowadays. Is there a wikipedia site about women and or women in buddhism, maybe named differently? Austerlitz 08:36, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

Insult Of Dalai Lama

Dear Buddhist friends on the article Indian Buddhist Movement discussion page the anit-Buddhist active Hindu users are insulting His Holiness Dalai Lama as Hindutva wadi. These Hindutvawadis laid riots in Gujarat riots as well as Hindu Castiesm and Hindu Untouchability has destroyed the peace in whole India. Need explanation from the Buddhist world as the Hindu especially caste Brahmins are destorting the Buddhist History as well as now they are also insulting Dalai Lama. Dalai Lama has participated in INEB Buddhist Conference in Nagpur in 2005. Nagpur The users primarily involved are vandalism on the article Indian Buddhist Movement are Bakatalk and Hkelkar. These are branding Dalai Lama as Hindutva supporter and anti Indian Buddhist. Dhammafriend 14:23, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

Indian Buddhist Movement

I am trying to give present status of Buddhist Movement in India but the anti-Buddhist users especially caste Brahmins are reverting and distorting the article. Need to concentrate on the important article regarding Indian Buddhist Movement. On 2nd October 2006 thousands of people from various castes converted to Buddhism at Nagpur in India. Laxman Mane a tribal leader also converted to Buddhism. But my updates are always reverted without any discussions or proper explanation Dhammafriend 14:23, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

Concerning repeated removal of critical links

I have posted a link, which is very relevant and scholarly, several times and it has been removed every time. Is this a propaganda page of Buddhism, or a serious page that shows all views and sides of the issue? The articles on Christianity and Islam are actually more fair and balanced than this article on Buddhism, which is quite surprising.

The article which I have linked "Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth", is critical, but fair and factual, about Buddhism in Tibet. Indeed, the article actually quotes the Dalai Lama of Tibet!

This link is: #1 scholarly, #2 a unique perspective compared to the other links #3 informative #4 balanced.

Please see to it that this link, which is much needed to offer a balanced view, is not removed.

Thank you 19:40, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

This article isn't about the Dalai Lama or Tibet. So, this link really isn't relevant to this article, to say nothing of the fact that, in my opinion, it isn't very scholarly or balanced, either.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 22:19, 17 October 2006 (UTC)
Totally agree with Nat here rudy 11:07, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

Translation problem

This sentence doesn't make sense in English, but I can't correct it because I don't know what it was supposed to mean. "It is essential sprit of when th passions of life is true of death." Art LaPella 23:02, 17 October 2006 (UTC)


I took the "up to 708 million" reference from this page. It derives from the numbers at Buddhism_by_country, which in turn were edited a year ago to reflect estimates of the Chinese Buddhist population which are dramatically at odds with other sources and which were clear violations of WP:OR. The number at Buddhism_by_country is now about 416 million, much closer to, and I would guess that estimates for other countries on that page were also changed. I fixed only China and North Korea and don't have time to look at the rest. Anyway, with those numbers, the 708 million is pretty far out of line. bikeable (talk) 21:51, 20 October 2006 (UTC)

For consistency, should you also change the sentence "Estimates of the number of Buddhists vary but the most common figure today is 708 million" under the "present state of buddhism" section? --Llygadebrill 01:16, 7 November 2006 (UTC)
Good call. I fixed it. bikeable (talk) 01:03, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

External Links

Hello. As a new user, I cannot add new links to the page. is a Buddhist Centre in Cape Town, South Africa. It would be great to have this as a link on the Buddhist page, as it is a terrific organisation for Buddhists and people interested in Buddhism in this city.

Briefly: Hout Bay Theravada Buddhist Centre is a voluntary association of people interested in the practice of Theravada Buddhism and meditation. The association promotes well being, equanimity, non-harmful behaviour and tolerance amongst people and respect for all sentient beings. HBTBC is committed to interfaith dialogue and understanding.

Could this be added to the list of external links? Is it a candidate?

Thank you.

Is there any restriction for this article?

Why do all the sections of this article can not be edited in a normal way? Is it because the article falls into the category of Semi-protected? Can anyone tell me why? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

The page is semi-protected because of recent vandalism. New accounts and IPs can't edit. --Karafias TalkContributions 02:46, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
Greetings, and welcome to Wikipedia. Yes, if an article is "semiprotected," it can only be edited by established users (those with a login account and a certain amount of edits, I believe). Articles are usually not protected or semi-protected except to prevent vandalism by anonymous users, and then (usually) it is only a temporary measure. The optimum solution is to make a login account--if you are not able to do so or do not wish to do so, article protection is usually temporary. Justin Eiler 02:49, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

WOW, I have noticed that the following articles also have lockers. Are these coincident or something going on?

These articles are popular, and because of that they are frequent victims of vandalism.
Could you do me a favor? Any time you post--not on the articles themselves, but every time on a talk page--could you sign your posts by adding four tildes to your post? Like this: ~~~~. That helps us know who we're talking to. Thanks. :) Justin Eiler 04:57, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

This article contradicts itself! (on the estimated number of buddhists worldwide)

In the introduction, the article asserts that there are estimated to be between "200 and 500 million buddhists worldwide", with most estimates around 350 million. Yet, in the "Present state of Buddhism" section, it states there are estimated to be "708 million" buddhists worldwide.

That's because the number was recently changed. If you look up I think you can still see the discussion. Zazaban 00:25, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

I fixed it to say "between 350 and 400 million". Given the sorry state of Buddhism by country, I don't think we can do better than that. gives 376 million. bikeable (talk) 01:03, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

What does this mean?

I have cut out this sentence: "It is essential spirit of when the passions of life is true of death" because it is poor English -- it is not clear what the contributor means.--Stephen Hodge 18:06, 11 November 2006 (UTC)

This Buddhism article too Indian-centric

It seems like this article would be quite a challenge for the uninitiated reader trying to navigate through all these multisyllabic Sanskrit/Pali words. You just don't see Christianity explained all in Hebrew and Aramaic. Christian terms predominantly derive from Latin and Western vernacular instead. My point is, Mahayana Buddhism was Sinicized by the Chinese during 1st century AD and nearly all surviving scriptures of Mahayana come directly from Chinese sources, which use the Chinese language to express Mahayana Buddhism, and rarely full transliterations of Sanskrit. It was the Sinicized version of Mahayana that then spread to the rest of East Asia, not the Sanskrit version. The Chinese, Japanese and Koreans all use the same set of Chinese terminology for Mahayana which often differs greatly from the original Sanskrit. Many new sutras and commentaries were written indigenously in Chinese. Yet this English Wikipedia article uses the Sanskrit terms exclusively (even putting cute but unnecessary little accents on the Sanskrit words). The reality is that Mahayana Buddhism is practically extinct outside of Sinosphere East Asia, but from reading this article, you would have the impression that it is still fluorishing in the subcontinent, and that there is somehow an Indian Mahayana and a Chinese Mahayana, and their only difference is one of translation. This is simply not the case. Even though Christianity might have started its humble roots in Aramaic, it doesn't mean that Aramaic should be the primary language used to introduce the concepts of Christianity, which for all purposes was compiled and developed by the West, and not in the Middle East. The same applies for Mahayana Buddhism vis-a-vis China. This article on Buddhism is entirely too Indian-centric. As an East Asian Buddhist, I feel that my reading this article on Buddhism and particularly parts of Mahayana Buddhism is the equivalent of a Christian reading an article on Christianity but finding that the article is mostly about the early Jewish origins and practices of Christianity. While it may be factual, the balance is clearly off. I have tried to slightly correct the balance a little bit, but much more work needs to be done on this article. --Naus 06:49, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

'The reality is that Mahayana Buddhism is practically extinct outside of Sinosphere East Asia'. That doesn't seem to be correct. For example, Tibetan Buddhism combines Hinayana sutra teachings, Mahayana sutra teachings, Vajrayana tantric teachings and, sometimes, Dzogchen. As far as I know, Mahayana sutra teachings could be described as pretty prominent presence in Tibetan Buddhism.
'...English Wikipedia article uses the Sanskrit terms exclusively...' Some Tibetan teachers use a lot of Sanskrit terminology. I suspect that Sanskrit terms are easier for Westerners (including speakers of Russian) compared to Tibetan terminology.--Klimov 12:17, 22 November 2006 (UTC)
This is kind of beating around the bush. The vast majority of Mahayana Buddhism (in the magnitude of 180 million) is taught and expressed in Sinitic (Sino-XXX) forms, not in Sanskrit. Thus Sanskrit is alien to 99%+ of the world's practictioners of Mahayana Buddhism, so it's really strange indeed that Wikipedia previously used only Sanskrit in sections about Mahayana and spent maybe about two sentences introducing East Asian Buddhism, which is essentially what Mahayana is all about today. Very disingenious IMO. The Chinese development and propagation of Mahayana Buddhism is incredibly significant. East Asian civilization would be greatly different had the Chinese not embraced Mahayana, and Mahayana would have just became an obscure apocryphal form of Buddhism, and not the dominant tradition it is today. --Mamin27 17:53, 22 November 2006 (UTC)
In English, we tend to use Sanskrit terms for Buddhist jargon. I think our goal here should be to use the terms that are most likely to be useful to our readers. It's true that Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese use the same terms in characters, but these are not of much use to the vast majority of English readers; when you write them out phonetically, they are no longer the same words.
In a lot of cases, for the terms we are discussing here, the reader can simply click on a blue link to see a full article about that subject. In those cases, it seems quite extraneous to include Chinese characters after the word. However, I don't think this is intended at all to imply something about where modern Mahayana Buddhism is practiced. I fail to see what is disingenuous about it.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 18:23, 22 November 2006 (UTC)
Parenthesis can be used to insert Chinese characters. You have Pali/Sanskrit here, how many people read Sanskrit in its Indic script? I would wager a lot less than the number of people who can read Chinese characters (which would include most East Asians). Indic scripts like Sanskrit can't even be displayed on most Western PCs, while most PCs can display East Asian scripts. I am not saying every single Sanskrit term should be accompanied with Chinese characters, but the terms relevant to Mahayana Buddhism should be. The person who continues to delete my insertions is not being sincere with himself. Mahayana can claim 180 million followers only because of its Sinicized form. You take the Sinicized form away from Mahayana, you would be lucky to have 500,000 followers.
The Sanskrit/Pali terms in this article are also transcribed with accent marks. There is nothing "English" about them; English avoids accents like the plague. These accent marks should be removed from this article except when first introduced as pronunciation guides in parenthesis. This is why this article is disingenious. This article spends so much effort in making Buddhism appear Indic, which is quite ironic considering that Buddhism is overwhelmingly practiced outside of the Indian subcontinent and outside of Indic languages today. This article isn't just about the History or Origins of Buddhism. It's supposed to be a general article about Buddhism as a major religion in the world. The international aspect of Buddhism was added to this article as if an afterthought. --Naus 07:52, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

The Indic characters exist because the names/terms are Indic in origin. If Buddha, dhamma, sangha etc are Indic words, they have to be written as they are, regardless of Mahayana Buddhism now being practised elsewhere. Tomorrow, China might become non-Buddhist and Portugal may become Buddhist, we can't change all these terms to portugese and give them representation in this general article on Buddhism. Probably you are looking at an article like Buddhism in China to place Chinese terms and characters in. Wikipedia is not a democracy to count people who practise concepts described here, and take a majority vote. ­ Kris (☎ talk | contribs) 21:55, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

The marks applied to the letters are not "accents" as User Naus seems to think. They are called "diacritics" -- quite different to accents. But as I have mentioned elsewhere, this is a matter od Wiki style. Look at the manual of Style (Indic naming Conventions) in the box at the top of this page ! If you don't like accents, please remove all the tone marks from the Pinyin transcriptions throughout the various Buddhist related articles -- these "stupid marks" are meaningless to anybody who doesn't speak Chinese.--Stephen Hodge 03:56, 25 November 2006 (UTC)
  • I never said diacritical marks can't be used. BUT THEY DO NOT NEED TO BE USED EVERY SINGLE TIME THE WORD APPEARS IN THE TEXT. Maybe you should review Chinese articles, as the tone marks of Pinyin transcriptions ARE NOT written on every single occurrence of said Pinyin word, merely on the FIRST occurrence. Before making irrelevant remarks, perhaps you should read my comments more carefully. And your quib about accent marks vs. diacritical marks is non sequitur to the discussion. --Naus 18:40, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

Alteration (GMT 2006-11-22 23:47)

I removed ", with the name Siddhārtha Gautama (Pāli: सिद्धर्थ गौतम)" because the Buddha was not born with that name, as the article stated, but received it after birth, or so I assume. I did not replace the text with anything because I decided that the name could be discussed in full under the article devoted to the Buddha. Kipholbeck 23:52, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

"Born with" or "born as" one's given name is a figure of speech, meaning that the person was given that name at approximately the time of her or his birth. That is, I think, the case with Siddhārtha Gautama. I also think that name is widely-known and significant enough to merit inclusion in this article.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 00:23, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
Hi, Nat. I enjoy being as precise as possible; I admit it :). In this case, I would like to cite the following example: to a doctor, there is a very clear difference between a baby who is born with an illness and one who acquires it, say, one day after birth. To me, that difference is also very clear and applies in the case of naming as well. — Kipholbeck 00:57, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
In that case, we would have to change the part of WP:MOSBIO#Names that mandates this style: "(from Bill Clinton): William Jefferson Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III on August 19, 1946)" and all the articles that have followed it.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 01:43, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
I would suggest using the same format as the Encyclopedia Britannica, where the article on Bill Clinton contains the following: "born August 19, 1946, Hope, Arkansas, U.S."; "byname of William Jefferson Clinton"; "original name William Jefferson Blythe III". To me, it is simply incorrect to say that someone is born with a name, unless they have in fact been named before birth (which of course is possible now that the sex of a baby can be determined before birth). It would not matter if there was no room for misunderstanding. But there is. For example, babies are not always named immediately after birth. The vagueness of an expression such as "born John Smith" becomes more apparent, I think, in cases where a child is not named until a week, a month, a year after birth. I have read of such cases. The Britannica usage remains clear under this circumstance, but the current Wikipedia usage does not. — Kipholbeck 02:53, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
Well, I agree that "born John Smith" is completely incorrect if taken literally, but I thought it was an accepted figure of speech. It also can be vague in some cases. I'm not a diehard on this issue by any lights, but I would prefer it if you take the matter up at WP:MOSBIO rather than on this specific article.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 03:50, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
I think you are right to say that it is an accepted figure of speech. It is the potential for vagueness that made me want to change it. Since, as you have pointed out, it is part of current recommended Wikipedia usage, I will do as you prefer and make my suggestion at WP:MOSBIO. Regards, Andrew. — Kipholbeck 20:17, 23 November 2006 (UTC)

The discussion can now be found on the WP:MOSBIO Talk page. --MCB 21:25, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

In fact the name Siddhattha/Siddhartha occurs only in comparatively late texts like the Apadana, so it can't be considered as historical fact. Peter jackson 17:20, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Use of one title for the Buddha

Some views:

1.) Gautama was not a Buddha. Gautama was the person before the enlightment. After enlightenment, he became, Buddha. He no longer referred to himself as Siddartha or Gautama. In the northern tradition he is referred to as Sakyamuni. (Muni - sage or wise one. Sakya - the clan from whence he came.) Therefore, Sakyamuni - The sage of the Sakya Clan. This is how he was traditionally referred to. It is important to note the distinction between the person he was - Gautama - suffering in this world and what he became, the Buddha - freed from suffering. This distinction is clarified by the name applied to him. One could say along broad similar lines a single woman drops her maiden name and adopts her married name to clarify the distinction between her previous status and her present.

This removes any ambiguity about who she was then and who she is now.

2.) This religion (Buddhism) was not founded by Amitabha Buddha, Tibetan Bodhisattvas, or any other divine beings. It was founded by Sakyamuni Buddha. From his enlightenment, his insights, his expounding the living Dharma, the Buddha Dharma, this great religion came into existence. He was the founder of this religion, and spent over 40 years of his life spreading the teaching, sharing what he had discovered, and helping others. Some of these teachings included revelations on other Buddhas existing in spiritual realms. These further teachings, make up parts of the Mahayana. Therefore it is important that all general or generic references to "The Buddha" refer to "Sakyamuni Buddha", the Buddha of this age, and not any other Buddha. Straycode 19:15, 30 March 2007 (UTC) Straycode

I intend to change most occurrences of "Gautama Buddha" to "the Buddha", because I think this will make the article easier to read and understand for people unfamiliar with Buddhism. At present, both the above terms are used where just the latter would do. The first occurrence of "the Buddha" will link to the article on Gautama Buddha. Kipholbeck 00:16, 23 November 2006 (UTC)

Well, that's fine, although we should be mindful of the pitfalls, which are that a not-terribly-overlong treatment of Buddhism will mention some other buddhas, such as Amitabha, who eclipses Shakyamuni in some strands of Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhism, as I recall, believes that some of the major bodhisattvas (who are quite prominently the subjects of devotion) are also buddhas.
It might be somewhat confusing to link "the Buddha" to Gautama Buddha, since there is a separate article on Buddha. I'm not sure.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 04:05, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
I support the mention of the Buddha for Gautama Buddha. In common language, people also say the Buddha, referring to Gauatama Buddha, while they frequently have not heard of Gautama. From the context in which it is used, it will be clear whether the person of the title is meant. Greetings, Sacca 10:56, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for your vote, Sacca :). - Kipholbeck 20:29, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
I will try to stay alert to the pitfalls you mention, Nat, and react appropriately. In the case of the first instance of "the Buddha", I rephrased it as follows: "Gautama Buddha (hereinafter referred to as "the Buddha")". Regards from Andrew. — Kipholbeck 20:29, 23 November 2006 (UTC)

Oppose. Gautama Buddha isn't the only Buddha. If you want to make this article easier to read, first remove all those stupid macron accents on every one of these Sanskrit/Pali Buddhist terms. Others have said in their argument against my Chinese characters in parenthesis for the Mahayana section that "this is an English Wikipedia"; well newsflash for these people, full Sanskrit transcriptions with accents used in in-body text isn't English either. It's like writing Tokyo as Tōkyō throughout the Tokyo article. Which would be ridiculous. If these accents are not removed, this article is Indic-centric and POV, not to mention a visual eyesore for uninitated readers. --Naus 08:03, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

At the top of this page, there is a box which directs one to the Wiki style manual. Look under the Indic tab. Using the diacritics which you find so irksome is the preferred Wiki style -- after all, Wiki does have pretensions to be an encyclopedia.--Stephen Hodge 11:15, 24 November 2006 (UTC)
Indeed. As style manual referred to by Mr. Hodge implies, whether or not we add diacritics Indic words mentioned in this article is entirely a stylistic matter, and has nothing to do with POV or NPOV.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 20:26, 24 November 2006 (UTC)


I just cut down the links. Most of them were pretty off-topic or POV. Zazaban 23:40, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

Unless there are severe objections, I think I'll restore the link for Access to Insight. While it contains some content specific to the Thai Forest Tradition, it is also the best and longest-lived source on the web for free English translations from the Pali Canon. It also has very good overviews of Buddhism in general, with a great deal of textual references. --Clay Collier 01:16, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

That appears to be about only Theravada. It should be there and not here. Zazaban 01:31, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

That's a bit strange consistency, in an article on American politics, would you delete a link to the Democrats? rudy 01:37, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

If you want to have a site about Theravada you also need one on Mahayana and Vajrayana. If somebody wants to go to a Theravada website they would look at the Theravada article. Zazaban 02:22, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

The texts of the Pali Canon are present (sometimes incompletely, and sometimes in modified forms) in the Canons of the Mahayana schools as well. As such, ATI is a commonly cited source of information about basic Buddhist teachings (the Four Noble Truths, Eightfold Path, Paticca Samipada, The Fire Sermon, etc.) that are common to several traditions. Besides this fact, if there were comperably comprehensive sites for other specific Buddhist traditions, I don't see any reason why they ought not be linked off of the Buddhism article. If we're going to give people an overview of Buddhism, linkage to comprehensive intros and translations for the major traditions would be nice to have. --Clay Collier 09:42, 26 November 2006 (UTC)
Unless there's some response here, I'd like to add the ATI link back in. --Clay Collier 21:32, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

Link vendetta?

Why is this external link continually removed? American Buddhist Net: Buddhist News & Forums. It seems to be an active site chock full of interesting information. I sympathize with the (anon IP) editor who keeps getting reverted on it. The reversions are particularly annoying because they give no reasoning. I think the link should stay. Hu 00:57, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

Because it is geared to americans and this is an international website. Zazaban 01:37, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

Oh, come off it. Of course this is an international website. But the linked site gives a lot of international news about Buddhism and information resources. If Wikipedia were purged of every link that was tainted by being "geared" to a less than perfectly international group then Wikipedia would be considerably impoverished. The fact that the links were deleted without explanation makes me wonder if the editors think that Americans are incapable of being good buddhists or have nothing to contribute to international buddhism. A site like Wikipedia becomes international not by limiting itself to perfectly international sites, but by including enough diversity to become international. Hu 02:40, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

Your previous post violated rules about assuming good faith and no attacking.

Ok then, but I don't see people complaining whne all the sites geared only to canada or england or such are deleted. I am not saying anywhere that it should not be on Wikipedia, but certianly not on the summary article. perhaps in Buddhism in America?

And by the way, Wikipedia has been trying to keep links at a minimum, so I hardly think that a small amount of links would be considered a problem. I never said that a group needs to be "international," but simply not geared only to a specific country. Zazaban 04:47, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

I suggest you cool off before you accuse me of violating rules. Your anger over this issue made you so hasty that you didn't sign your criticism on the user's talk page. Your language there was intemperate when you said "no place on an international site", in complete contradiction to your statement here "I am not saying anywhere that it should not be on Wikipedia" in this slightly more public discussion. You have been rebuked on your talk page for over-zealous deletion of other external links. Besides, if you are so concerned about minimizing links, why are you adding junk links like this one: [2]? Have you even looked at the link in question? Only about 3 percent of the links on the main page there are North American. The rest are general or international. Stop claiming that it is "geared to a specific country". Let it stand. Hu 05:22, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

So you're now trying to discredit me? I deleted one bad link in a huge bunch of horrible ones. When I wrote that on that guy's userpage, I hadn't thought of putting it in another area. Dord actually is something people meditate on sometimes. Oh yea, I hardly see putting a warning on somebody's userpage as "critizism". I am not angry over this at all. And you're the one who needs to cool off. most of your last comments were nothing more that personal attacks; in violation of WP:NPA Zazaban 15:38, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

A Question

Can someone tell what is the reference for the quotation "I teach one thing and one thing only: suffering and the end of suffering"?Robert Daoust 17:12, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

It could be a paraphrase or alternate translation of the end of the Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta (MN 63): --Clay Collier 21:23, 28 November 2006 (UTC)
The end of that Sutta goes like this: "And what is declared by me? 'This is stress,' is declared by me. 'This is the origination of stress,' is declared by me. 'This is the cessation of stress,' is declared by me. 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress,' is declared by me. And why are they declared by me? Because they are connected with the goal, are fundamental to the holy life. They lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, calming, direct knowledge, self-awakening, Unbinding. That's why they are declared by me. So, Malunkyaputta, remember what is undeclared by me as undeclared, and what is declared by me as declared."
The paragraph with the quotation in our article goes like this : "The aim of Buddhist practice is to put an end to the sorrow (dukkha, Sanskrit/Pali: दुक्ख) of existence. In the words of the Buddha: 'I teach one thing and one thing only: suffering and the end of suffering'. To achieve this state of the end of suffering (Nirvana or Nirodha), adherents train and purify the mind by following the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, eventually arriving at an understanding of the true nature of all things. In this way all ignorance and unhappiness ends, and liberation is attained."
First, I object to the use of quotation marks for such a paraphrasal quotation. Second, it seems that there is a misinterpretation : the paragraph in our article states that the Buddha teaches nothing else than the four noble truths, and especially that there is no other aim in Buddhist practice than the aim of the noble eightfold path to end dukkha, while in fact Buddha's teaching concerns many other things, and the main goal beyond the end of dukkha, he says, is the holy life, enlightenment, nirvana etc.
In other words, though suffering is an important concern in Buddhism, it is a secondary, subordinated, concern and it is misleading to represent it as if it was a very first, supreme or even exclusive concern (as it tends to be represented, especially in some Westerners' perception). Therefore, I propose to change the paragraph somewhat, yet I don't know how exactly. -- Robert Daoust 18:43, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
I suggest just removing it. I think the quotation is not intended to be a paraphrase, but, instead, it's just an apocryphal quotation.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 20:56, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
That was the sutra I assumed the quote came from, too, although it could be from another source. If so, I think it's a fairly rough paraphrasing of the sutra text, but not too far off. In any case, the quote ("I teach...") is used so commonly to represent Buddhism, notably by Thich Nhat Hanh, that I would prefer to retain it. If necessary, we could change that sentence to say,
This is illustrated by a phrase commonly attributed to the Buddha, "I teach one thing and one thing only: suffering and the end of suffering".
After all, it certainly is both common and attributed to the Buddha. bikeable (talk) 22:10, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
In fact, the quotation in question is from the Samyutta Nikaya (volume iii, page 119 in the PTS edition). Peter jackson 10:25, 21 December 2006 (UTC)


(1) The tripartite division of Buddhism is imposed by outsiders. Chinese and Tibetan Buddhists would identify more with each other than with Theravada. (2) Having a section called Buddhism after the Buddha immediately after the section on Buddhist doctrines suggests that the Buddha taught those doctrines, which is not unquestioned historical fact. Peter jackson 17:25, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Further to (1), presumably the Tibetans would regard Shingon as Vajrayana, albeit of a lower grade than themselves, which would rather mess up this classification. Peter jackson 18:39, 7 December 2006 (UTC)


I'm not going to touch it, but the intro sounds a little POVy.

In what way? GizzaChat © 09:07, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

In the Introduction, it would be good to have some words on the variety of beliefs and rituals in order to glimpse readily what is Buddhism... Robert Daoust 20:17, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

But ... there is such a profusion of them.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 21:29, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Let's say it so then! There is this paragraph (a bit modified by me) which was removed from older versions of the Article, and with which something could be done perhaps: "While Buddhism does not deny the existence of supernatural beings (see for instance here), it does not ascribe to them power for creation, salvation or judgment. Like humans, they are regarded as able to affect worldly events, and so some Buddhist schools associate with them via rituals (see for instance [citation needed])." (but rituals are addressed to the Buddha also...). Strangely there is not a word on rituals in the whole Article!

And then, a short sentence would be necessary also about meditation...

Also, Buddhism is said to be a psychology, but the Article doesn't show it at all either. Robert Daoust 17:34, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

INDIA should be in the first paragraph

U know it still amazes me....Buddha lived in India....became enlightened in India....taught in India...died in India....and was born on TECHNICALLY what is NOW called Nepal (in those days it was all one land)....and the first paragraph there is no mention that Buddhism originated from India....ive seen this before and i think its a joke ARYAN818 03:50, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

Well, it was historical India, and in those days India was not the country it is today. You will see that Siddhartha was from a Sakya kingdom and that at that time Lumbini was in the kingdom although it is now in Nepal. It is also documented that the Buddha went to the kingdom ruled by Bimbisara, another at the time and also Kosala as well. If you read the Gautama Buddha article I'm sure it points out the relevant that Bodh Gaya is in modern Bihar and Varanasi, the place of the first sermon and the parinibbana occurred at Kusinagar, both of which are in Uttar Pradesh. Blnguyen (bananabucket) 04:12, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
India as a nation exist only bcoz of the British. Before the british came there are only some petty Kingdom in India sub-continent & the biggest kingdom was the Mongul. Before the british come there was no such thing as "India Kingdom". India is a nation created by the British, it consist of some petty kingdom put together in a Union & was named by the British as "India". 06:46, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
There have been times when almost all of India was under the control of one ruler such as the Maurya Empire. Still, the subcontinent may not have been united politically but for the last 3000 years have been united culturally. This "civilisation" (not Kingdom/Empire) that has existed in the subcontinent for the past 3000 years is known as Ancient India, so one may argue that Buddha indeed did live in "Ancient India." GizzaChat © 08:38, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
India united culturally for 3000 years? Don't be ridiculous. --Naus 18:47, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

Missing section on Buddhism during the the lifetime of the Buddha

At the moment there is a section on Buddhism after the passing of the Buddha, but nothing during the lifetime of the Buddha. Thus, I feel this is a problem, as it doesn't explain at all how the religion arose or anything. Blnguyen (bananabucket) 04:12, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

Every tradition would argue something different about that i'm afriad. Zazaban 05:47, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

Well, we present them all as per NPOV - is there any specific issue - we have sections on the teachings of each tradidtion. Blnguyen (bananabucket) 06:48, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

Misrepresentation of Nirvana

I protest against the false definition of Nirvana in the Wikipedia article. Nirvana is the extinction or extinguishment of craving, attachment, willing, or desire. It is not the gaining of wisdom, knowledge, or enlightenment. The latter concept has its own designation, Bodhi. As a result of Bodhi, Nirvana can occur. As a result of Nirvana, suffering and pain can be alleviated. User:Nat Krause seems to think that this is all my idea. However, it is available to anyone who studies Buddhist literature without preconceptions, Western or otherwise.Lestrade 22:08, 2 December 2006 (UTC)Lestrade

Cite sources.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 23:08, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

See [3] Look under "Nibbāna": absolute extinction of that life-affirming will. This is synonymous with Schopenhauer's description of the denial of the will-to-live as the extreme of ascetic holiness.Lestrade 23:44, 3 December 2006 (UTC)Lestrade

The source you have given itself says that Nirvana is the "absolute extinction of that life-affirming will manifested as greed, hate and delusion, and convulsively clinging to existence; and therewith also the ultimate and absolute deliverance from all future rebirth, old age, disease and death". Isn't that precisely what you removed from the article in this edit?—Nat Krause(Talk!) 00:03, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

Nibbāna, according to the definition, is 'freedom from desire' "Nibbāna constitutes the highest and ultimate goal of all Buddhist aspirations, i.e. absolute extinction of that life-affirming will manifested as greed, hate and delusion, and convulsively clinging to existence; and therewith also the ultimate and absolute deliverance from all future rebirth, old age, disease and death, from all suffering and misery." The deliverance that is mentioned in the definition is not absolute, as stated, with its inferential "therewith." Rather, it is relative and depends on a change of attitude or perspective, resulting from the extinction of attachment, grasping, craving, desiring, and willing.

We freely acknowledge that what remains after the complete abolition of the will is, for all who are still full of will, assuredly nothing. But also conversely, to those in whom the will has turned and denied itself, this very real world of ours with all its suns and milky ways, is — nothing.

" ' Master, tell us about Nirvana,' Mahatmi asked the Blessed One. The Buddha replied: ' The word "Nirvana" has many different meanings for different people —' " (The Diamond Sutra, "Nirvana", Concord Grove Press ISBN 0-88695-004-X) It appears that the word Nirvana quickly became ambiguous after it was first spoken and began to stand for multiple concepts. After 2500 years of translation, by many writers in many countries, it is almost empty of meaning. This very fact is celebrated in Mahayana Buddhism and in Nagarjuna's psychology.

Siddhartha Gautama Sakyamuni, one of many "Buddhas" or enlightened people, did not write. His words were later recorded by different people and were further communicated and translated by many more throughout the millennia. This is like a sentence that is passed around a room through a dozen people and ends very differently from what it was at the start. The importance of preserving original written texts becomes evident. Religions and philosophies start with an individual's spoken or written words and from there the thoughts deteriorate when they are sifted through the minds of lesser persons. Thus endless textual criticisms and commentaries come into existence.

As a result, I despair of reaching an agreement as to the meaning of Nirvana. If Siddhartha had clearly and distinctly written his thoughts and if those writings had been preserved intact, then there could be no arguments about meaning. The Dhammapada is as close as we can come to a record of his words. But, even that does not have precise clarity in its definitions. Therefore, I withdraw my protest and I submit to the reality that Nirvana can mean extinction of desire, extinction of existence, immortality, deathlessness, joyous pleasure, liberation, emancipation, enlightenment, wisdom, purity, the uncreated, the opposite of Samsara, the untrodden realm, perfect contemplation, infinite being, selflessness, insight, truth, deliverance, salvation, oneness with reality, illumination, love for all creatures, a Seattle grunge band, etc., etc., ad infinitum. Sal si puedes and let the Devil take the hindmost. Lestrade 15:00, 4 December 2006 (UTC)Lestrade

No need for BOTH Sanskrit and Pali transcriptions, especially for words like "sutra" and "nirvana"

Some comments.

  • In this article, sometimes half a line is spent on Sanskrit AND Pali transcriptions for existing English terms such as Four Noble Truths and sutras. This to me is a serious problem of clutter.
  • Many of theravada's Pali transcriptions are unnecessary. For example, Pali's transcription of sutta for "sutra" (Sanskrit: sūtra); and nibbāna for "nirvana" (Sanskrit: Nirvāṇa). If people feel that the Pali transcriptions are necessary to this article, then I demand Chinese transcriptions as well. Obviously people had a problem with having Chinese transcriptions for Sanskrit words, then why do they not have a problem with using Pali transcriptions for a Sanskrit word like Nirvana? It doesn't really matter that Classical Sanskrit is younger than Pali, the word English word Nirvana came from Sanskrit.
  • There is a lot of linkage redundancies in this article as well. Not every occurrence of the word "Sanskrit" needs to be linked. Links should be used for the first occurrence only.
  • Over-zealous Indic transcriptions and word linkage makes this article appear very messy and dense. Yes, it's a style issue. But style issues are important too.

--Naus 19:09, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

"If people feel that the Pali transcriptions are necessary to this article, then I demand Chinese transcriptions as well." What are you, six years old? If the Pali transcriptions are resulting in clutter, how does adding Chinese transcriptions improve the situation?—Nat Krause(Talk!) 21:27, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Personal attacks, eh? Did I say adding Chinese transcriptions would improve clutter? No. The argument is that Pali is unnecessary already, and if you feel that Pali transcriptions should be used for this article, then you have no argument against Chinese transcriptions. Do you deny that clutter is not a problem for this article? Instead of making personal attacks and beating around the bush, perhaps you could directly address some of the issues I presented above. That would be an indication of maturity. --Naus 03:50, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
Reading between the lines of any personal attacks that may have occurred, you will notice a relevant point, to wit that the inclusion of Pāli names for words has no relevance to the inclusion of Chinese names, except insofar as having both increases clutter, so if we are going to include one, that militates against including the other. I shall address some other issues below.
I demand that we have Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan, Japanese, Mongolian, Manchu, Korean, Thai, Khmer, Lao, Burmese, Vietnamese, Tangut, Sogdian, Khotanese, Tokharian A & B transcriptions for every technical term possible. Only then will everybody be satisfied. I can supply many of these, so let's get started soon.--Stephen Hodge 03:06, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
I think that there is a good reason to have both Pali and Sanskrit transcriptions for the most common terms and limiting it to that. If you are reading an article written in English about Buddhism, you are likely going to be seeing the technical terms put in either Sanskrit or Pali unless it is a very technical piece of writing. The similarity of the two languages is often confusing for newcomers- is 'dhamma' really a different word from 'dharma', is it different language, a different transliteration, etc.? I wouldn't favor expanding the number of translations- we have some clutter issues already with this article, and terms in specific languages are more likely to be of interest primarily to people who are particularly interested in a specific tradition- thus better kept with the 'Buddhism in XX' articles, or maybe even a language-specific vocab list- 'Buddhist Terms in XX' or something. --Clay Collier 08:02, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
I think the sensible thing to do is to say in the article itself what practice we are following and why. Specifically, if we are talking about general Buddhist technical terms that we feel need to be given in a foreign language, then that ought to be Sanskrit, purely and simply because that's the general practice of western scholars, even though actual Buddhists don't do that, except in nepal. Peter jackson 15:54, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Naus that style issues are important. The article has various stylistic defects, amongst its various other shortcomings. Clutter is one problem, and redundant overlinking and redundant cross-translation of terms is another. I would suggest that we can't make a single one-size-fits all rule for which languages to include in the article, but we can establish overall principles for which to include, and then apply them on a case-by-case basis.
I agree with Clay that Sanskrit and Pāli terms of jargon are the ones our readers are most likely to be familiar with. Theravada writers tend to avoid using Sanskrit terms, because they think that the Buddha specifically prohibited teaching dhamma in Sanskrit. Other writers are quite likely to use Sanskrit (if not an English translation) in English, regardless of their regional backgrounds. If we were to include a third language, we might be better off with Tibetan, which might occur in English writings more commonly than any of one reading of the equivalent Chinese characters. On the other hand, Tibetan is problematic because non-specialists are likely to recognise some phonetic spelling instead of the Wylie romanisation, but there is no consensus system for Tibetan phonetic spelling.
I'm inclined to say that we should include Pāli equivalents for some of the more important terms used here, particularly those that are not conventionally translated into English. For instance, it barely seems necessary to give the Sanskrit for "Four Noble Truths" and "Eightfold Path", let alone the Pāli, because this concept is almost always expressed in English; specialists will already know what "Four Noble Truths" is in Sanskrit and non-specialists won't care. On the other hand, we do need to mention that sutra is sutta in Pāli, because we are going to use the term sutta every time we mention the name of a sutra from the Pāli Canon—on the other hand, we're never going to refer to a Mahayana sutra as a jīng or a gīng or a kyō.
Another thing we should keep in mind is that many of the terms we are using are the subjects of their own articles, so readers can easily find more information about them just by clicking the blue link. When this is the case, it reduces the importance of providing alternate versions here.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 22:09, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
I think that's an excellent point- I'd be in favor of cutting down the number of foreign transliterations to a minimum in the main Buddhism article, and including them instead on the individual pages. The few terms that are typically referenced in Sanskrit and Pali (karma, dharma, sangha, bodhi, bodhisattva, arhat) can be put in Sanskrit with the Pali version (where it differs and is relevant) as a parenthetical. --Clay Collier 08:43, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

The use of nagari in this article is very haphazard. In a number of cases it is used for the Pali but not the Sanskrit, which is ridiculous: scholars always use latin script for Pali, but often nagari for Sanskrit; Indians use nagari or other local script for Sanskrit (and Pali); Theravadins use local script for Pali (and Sanskrit). I've deleted these cases, and also those where the nagari is actually wrong. Peter jackson 18:36, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Good. Personally, I would remove all devanagari script glosses. Anybody who can read devanagari probably doesn't need them anyway.--Stephen Hodge 18:40, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Can anyone attain nirvana?

I don't think the statement in the article is correct for Buddhism as a whole. The Yamaka mentions those who will not attain the path, though I suppose that might be interpreted as implying that they could but don't. Yogacara sources speak of icchantikas, who are incapable of enlightenment. Peter jackson 18:49, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Incapable of Nirvana (extinction of grasping) or incapable of Bodhi (enlightenment)?Lestrade 19:00, 7 December 2006 (UTC)Lestrade
Incapable of both -- although the standard Yogacara term is for such people is agotraka rather than icchantika which used in tathagata-garbha literature.--Stephen Hodge 01:11, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
Can an agotraka be capable of one and not the other? For example, can a person be enlightened (possess knowledge and wisdom) but not be able to extinguish craving? And vice versa, can a person be ascetic (extinguish attachments), but not have enlightenment and wisdom?Lestrade 01:43, 8 December 2006 (UTC)Lestrade
Thanks to Stephen for correcting my memory. If we remember that there are 3 grades of bodhi, its attainment is always combined with nirvana (& vice versa), at least according to Theravada. On the actual text here, the wording is in fact a statement about what the Buddha said, and should therefore be deleted or reworded, like all such, since there are no "facts" of this sort in the wiki sense; that is, there are sceptical scholars who doubt all such statements (see Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism, 2nd edn, Routledge, London, 2006, pp20f), so they cannot represent a scholarly consensus. Peter jackson 11:42, 8 December 2006 (UTC)


The section on this seems rather unclear on whether it is talking about all 3 senses or just the highest. Taken literally it seems to be all 3. In that case I'm not sure whether the statement about enlightened people being free from the round of rebirth is correct. The orthodox Mahayana view is that arahants remain in samsara; but perhaps they do that voluntarily, so could be said to be free. Perhaps someone with a knowledge of Mahayana can clarify this. Peter jackson 12:09, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Establishment of Theravāda Buddhism

Unless somebody is working on it right now, something has gone wrong with this section of the article.--Stephen Hodge 16:18, 9 December 2006 (UTC)

The problem appears to be curly brackets with unicode. Seems fixed now.--Klimov 19:11, 9 December 2006 (UTC)

Spelling: English versus American-English

"Corrections" to this article from English to American-English are unecessary and should be discussed beforehand. I think we need to concentrate on real spelling mistakes.--Read-write-services 22:54, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

Completely agree. It is better to leave the English in the way it was if the topic does not pertain to Britain of the U.S. GizzaChat © 23:15, 10 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Hallo everyone. I totally agree with the above. I think it is disrespectful (and mildly offensive) unnecessarily to change contributors' English from British English to American English, or vice versa - the main thing is surely to correct bad grammar and truly inaccurate spellings (whether they appear in American or English!!), as you so rightly say. Best wishes to you. From Tony. TonyMPNS 23:35, 10 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Now to convince everyone else! here is the policy..

--Read-write-services 23:57, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

You are all, of course, right that it is asinine for editors to label the change from "recognise" to "recognize" as a correction of spelling. One notes that the editor in question here is a complete newbie who probably doesn't know much about how we do things here.
The rule on Wikipedia for most articles, including this one, is that spelling should be consistent throughout the page; i.e., it should either use all British spelling or all American spelling. If an editor introduces words which are written in the other spelling convention, then other editors should correct the style to make it consistent with the rest of the article. In practice, this means that the spelling used in the earliest fleshed-out form of the article is the official standard for that article permanently.
So, which spelling should this article? At present, it seems to be split. Looking back at earlier versions, it appears to me that, on January 1, 2004, this article used mostly British spellings. A year earlier, on January 1, 2003, it was quite short and doesn't provide much of a sample to look at. I would be fine with switching the whole article to British spelling. We can do that, but we should discuss it first, and it should apply to the whole article.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 00:07, 11 December 2006 (UTC)
Regarding the -ize / -ise forms, my Oxford Dictionary lists words like "recognize" under that spelling and just notes the -ise alternative. In other words, -ize is not flagged as US usage. Thus, some -ize forms are typical of US English, but not all. Personally, I always use -ize forms because I happen to like the letter zed. But I agree with Tony above: correct well-written English should be the desideratum, although I naturally prefer British English spellings when a choice arises.--Stephen Hodge 00:26, 11 December 2006 (UTC)


The introduction to this section is true, indeed understated, but very misleading. In fact every school of Buddhism would accept most of these doctrines, but I don't think any form of Mahayana treats them as central, and some forms treat them as very peripheral indeed. If we want a genuinely shared (by most of Buddhism) core of teaching, I think it would be something like this: karma and rebirth in the five or six realms; faith and devotion; the five precepts; the monastic order; some form(s) of liberation and/or enlightenment reached usually by some form(s) of meditation. Peter jackson 12:06, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

Classification and organization

The article seems very confused about classification, using different schemes in different places. It seems from the sources I've consulted that most scholars classify present-day Buddhiosm into three main traditions: Southern, Eastern and Northern (terminology varies). If this is so then presumably, by the rules of the game, we should do likewise. As regards the overall organization of the article, I would suggest that most readers looking up Buddhism will be mainly interested in what Buddhism is now, rather than its history. Therefore i think the large Indian section that currently dominates the article should be drastically curtailed, while the very brief sections on the living traditions should be greatly expanded. Peter jackson 12:06, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

Yes, most of the article does seem to read either as if buddhism is still active in India, or it is extinct. Zazaban 06:09, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
I've never heard the terminology "Southern, Eastern and Northern" before. I assume you are referring to the "Sri Lanka, etc.", "China, etc.", and "Tibet, etc." groups? Also, I don't think any sections in this arcticle should be greatly expanded. Perhaps some should be greatly reduced (and the text thereof moved to other articles, of course).—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 06:20, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
Yes, indeed, that's what the terminology refers to. The sections on these traditions are very brief at present, presumably because the author supposed an account of Indian Buddhism sufficient. It isn't of course. I don't think there's even a mention of Nichiren, for example, one of the major Japanese schools. Apart from such specific points, though, do you really think the largely historical approach of the article is appropriate? Peter jackson 11:58, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
In fact, there's only a passing reference to Zen & Pure Land, with no explanation of what they are, and no mention at all of Nichiren or Tendai. It seems quite ridiculous to me that the article spends most of its space on extinct Indian buddhism while saying little or nothing about major living japanese traditions.Peter jackson 18:48, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

History section.

We need to add something about the life of Shakyamuni Buddha. It currently begins at his death. Zazaban 06:07, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

What's this?

Buddhism is a retarded traditions: I don't know a lot about Buddhism, but is retarded the right word here??

Is this unsigned comment for real or vandalism ? I suspect the latter.--Stephen Hodge 02:20, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

I was the guy who put up this comment and I assure you it was not vandalism. I found the above "retarted tradition" in the main article and wanted to report it, but could not find the comment page, so I put here. It seems to have been corrected since last I visited. Sorry for the confusion.

"not a religion but a philosophy"

there's a rumour circulating that says buddhism isn't a religion. why do some say that? i think that "movement" needs some mentioning.

  • Hallo my friend. Thanks for the question. There are a lot of people who prefer to strip away the "supernatural" and religious elements from the Buddha's teaching and then say that "Buddhism" is not a religion at all but a rationalistic philsophy. The fact is that Buddhism contains both religion and philosophy. But to say that Buddhism as a whole (including the Mahayana expression of it) is not a religion is simply inaccurate and wrong. Hope that helps! Best wishes from Tony. TonyMPNS 18:00, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
    • thanks! it was helpful. -- 20:02, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Glad to be of help, my friend (although other people will not agree with me!). Best wishes, from Tony. TonyMPNS 23:45, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
  • In general the word religion means something that tries to know what God wants and tries to do that. In this sense Buddhism is not a religion. It is only about the individual helping themselves to salvation / liberation, and there is no need to ask for any divine help. This does not mean that Buddha denied the existence of Gods and Angels (Brahmas and Devas) as he did not. But he did state that they too roll in samsara and so are also subject to suffering. Ray Tomes 09:46, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
  • I would really like to see something of general feeling the preceding text to my own included in the article, which it does not so much do at this point. Buddhism's status as a religion is contested even among forefront scholars (Patrick Bresnan comes to mind in this case. I'd be glad to provide quotes from his books on Eastern thought if necessary in this case, as he is an authority on the issue.) It should be definitely noted in this case that Buddhism is to religion as tofu is to meat. It exists in companionship in its nascent state and then gleans parts of the religions which it coexists as a philosophy with to create something different. 13:19, 24 February 2007 (UTC)
Although I'm certainly not a scholar on this, I think that if you drop Buddhism as a religion for some reasons, I would think that also Hinduism, Sikkhism and Jainism suddenly would not classify as a religion anymore. Interestingly, that leaves only the Judea/Christian/Muslim traditions a major world religions - and guess what the cultural background is of over 90% of what we call 'scholars' are. I am quite convinced that for practical reasons, it is quite safe to call Buddhism a religion, but of course, it depends on the scholarly definition of 'religion'that is used. rudy 21:55, 24 February 2007 (UTC)
You're correct- the real problem here is that there are a blue million ways of defining 'religion', and the definition that you chose often stems from the point that you are trying to make. Someone who wants to cast Buddhism as an entirely rational philosophy will choose a definition of religion that says something about gods or the initial cause of existence. Someone who is looking at religion as a social phenomena will likely not be interested in such metaphysics. There has been, in my own opinion, a great deal of ink spent on definitional questions about whether Buddhism is a this or a that without much in the way of results to show for it. In truth, there is no general solution to the question 'is Buddhism a religion' or 'is Buddhism a philosophy', or even for that matter 'is Buddhism a psychology'; all of those depend entirely on 1) what you consider to be Buddhism (is it just what's in the sutras? Is it popular religion? Is it the Sangha? Is it meditation? Is it all of the above?) and 2) how you define what you are attempting to categorize it with. The best we can hope for, I think, is to provide in the introduction a description of Buddhism that corresponds to the popular understanding of the concept of religion, and I would tend to say that if you took someone who had never seen or heard anything about Buddhism and dropped them into a temple or monastery, they would say that what was going on was clearly religion of some sort- though there could be plenty more going on as well. --Clay Collier 00:33, 25 February 2007 (UTC)

the first paragraph says he lived around the two billionth century bce, which makes little sense to me.

Tom 02:35, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

It does? I can't see that. TonyMNPS, well answered above! Best response to that question I've heard.--Read-write-services 21:20, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

  • Thanks so much, Richard! It is really kind of you to say so. I appreciate that. Also, I agree with you: I cannot see anything in the beginning of the Buddhism article about the Buddha's having lived around the "billionth century" (unles it has since been changed)! Anyway, thank you again for your very kind words. All best wishes to you. From Tony. TonyMPNS 21:34, 17 December 2006 (UTC)
It must have been Vandalism, which isn't tolerated on Wikipedia. GizzaChat © 21:59, 17 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Thanks, Gizza. I suspect you are right. Cheers. From Tony. TonyMPNS 23:00, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

"Eastern Buddhism": Not Best Subheading?

I see that the section of the entry which deals with Mahayana, Vajrayana Buddhism, etc., has been headed "Eastern Buddhism". I feel a little uneasy about this - as Mahayana Buddhism in its early scriptures (and important ones, like the Prajna-paramita sutras and the Lotus Sutra and Mahaparinirvana Sutra) is no more "eastern" than Theravada Buddhism. Could we come up with a better heading, do you think? How about "Expanded Buddhism"? After all, the Mahayana often speaks of itself as being "vaipulya" (extensive, extended)? Or "Expansive Buddhism"? Or "Non-Theravada Buddhism"? Maybe none of these is particularly good. I'd be interested to hear what other people might be able to come up with. Best wishes. From Tony. TonyMPNS 12:40, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

Terminology is very confusing. Mahayana sometimes includes Vajrayana, sometimes not. What I'm trying to do with the article at the moment is rearrange it in accordance with the way most scholars seem to classify present-day Buddhism, for which the terminology also varies. I leave to later to deal with the problem that it at present largely concerns itself with extinct Indian Buddhism. Peter jackson 10:32, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
I salute Peter jackson's efforts to make this article more relevant to modern Buddhism. However, I'm not sure that changing the terminology illuminates more than it confuses. Readers who are familiar with a few paragraphs worth of information before coming to Wikipedia will be expecting to see terms like "Mahayana". The basic problem is that we have three phyla, so to speak, looking at Buddhism historically (Vajrayana, non-tantric Mahayana, and Nikayan or so-called Hinayana Buddhism), and we have three clusters of types of on-the-ground Buddhism, looking at Buddhism as it is exists within society today (Tibetan Buddhism, East Asian Buddhism, and Theravada). These three phyla and three clusters correspond closely to each other at present, but they are not identical. I'm not sure what the best way of arranging information about them is. Perhaps we can arrange the paragraphs so that the modern types are subsections of the historical phyla? Like so (in no particular order):
  • Mahayana
    • East Asian Buddhism
  • Vajrayana
    • Tibetan Buddhism
  • Nikaya Buddhism
    • Theravada
Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 22:29, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
There are two problems with this. First is that the term Mahayana is commonly used in a sense inclusive of Vajrayana. The other is Shingon. Does Tibetan Buddhism identify with Shingon? Does Shingon identify with Tibetan Buddhism? Even if we try to classify by self-identification, I'm not sure what would be the result. But in any case if I understand the rules correctly we're supposed to follow what scholars say. Peter jackson 10:31, 21 December 2006 (UTC)
I would like to suggest that we rename the headings of the primary tradition categories from “Southern” “Eastern” and “Northern”, to “Theravada”, “Mahayana”, and “Vajrayana”. As is pointed out in the article, those are the names the traditions give to themselves. They are also the most common names given to traditions by informed outsiders. Peter Jackson says that this is the classification used by scholars, that my be so but this well-read non-scholar has never heard of this classification scheme.
Also, the line “Eastern and Northern Buddhism both call themselves Mahayana” is a little misleading. As Peter Jackson says above, “Northern” Buddhists also call their tradition Vajrayana. I think it is most accurate to say that Vajrayana is a form of Mahayana. As to the problem of Shingon, according to the Vajrayana page Shingon is a form of Vajrayana. It then fits under the Vajrayana section if we do it that way or the Eastern section if we organize it that way.
As a Buddhist practitioner, I was surprised that classification on this page accorded so little with the commonly used “yana” classification. It’s a little like calling Protestants “Northern Christianity”, Catholics “Southern Christianity” and Eastern Orthodox “Eastern Christianity” rather then what they call themselves. A little bit offensive. Seth.josephson 07:17, 6 January 2007 (UTC)
This could get quite complicated. The first point is that, as I understand wiki guidelines, we are supposed to follow what scholars say. I've cited in the article four scholarly authorities who follow this classification, though with varying terminology, which i've listed in the article, along with some others I remember. There are probably other scholars who use this classification. There are also others who use different ones, such as Encyclopedia of Religion (Macmillan, New York). I think the one I've given is the one most scholars use, but anyone who can find an alternative one used by a number of scholars, not just an individual one, can cite their authorities here and we can try to sort it out.
Now to the question of self-identification. The first point to be made here is that this too would have to be mediated by scholars. That is, if it is a fact, in the wiki sense, that Buddhists identify themselves in certain ways, that means that reputable scholarly publications must say that. It's not enough to say that this, that and the other Buddhist factional propaganda source say so. All that can be taken as proving is the self-identification of that faction.
Next, how do Buddhists in fact identify themselves? It seems to me that the first division is Theravada and Mahayana. I think Tibetans would be quite happy to be called Mahayana and lumped in with Chinese etc. So, in so far as there is a usable category Vajrayana, it would have to be a subdivision of Mahayana. The question is, how would Mahayanists group themselves within that heading? Would the Tibetans group themselves with Shingon? And would Shingon group themselves with the Tibetans? Or would they group themselves with other Japanese Buddhists? And what do we do about the presence of apparently Vajrayana practices in Tendai, in Chinese Buddhism, and possibly even in Theravada?
The analogy of Christianity is interesting. The standard practice (I haven't checked to see whether it's followed here) is to lump together all non-Catholic eastern churches as "Orthodox". I don't think they would group themselves that way. Peter jackson 10:40, 6 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Hallo. I have a lot of sympathy for what Seth says - basically I share Seth's experience: as a long-standing practitioner and researcher/ writer on Buddhism myself, I am not familiar with the various labels that Peter has used. I don't doubt for one second that Peter is right in saying that some scholars do use this terminology these days - so from a technical point of view and as regards Wiki policy, Peter may well be correct. I suspect that you are better informed on this than I am, Peter. I may just be displaying my ignorance here. But I have to be honest and say that I very much baulk at this rather new (?) and, I think, Western-contrived labelling system (although in the 1950s it was common to refer to "Northern Buddhism" and "Southern Buddhism", but that was later largely dropped) - it seems pointless and confusing to me. I also think it is not terribly helpful and practical in the real world, since if someone who knows nothing (or little) about Buddhism reads this "Buddhism" article and starts talking to Buddhists whom they encounter about "Northern Buddhism" and "Eastern Buddhism", most Buddhists will probably not have heard of these designations and will not be sure what the person is talking about! It is much more sensible in my view to stick with long-since tried and tested terminology, which "everyone" will recognise. So, I totally agree with Seth that it is more practical to use terms such as Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana, which (while perhaps not perfect in their scope) are widely known and respected and which are what the traditions themselves call themselves. After all, those traditions also contain scholars! So I have to conclude that my head is with Peter (re. the minutiae of Wiki guidelines) on this one - but my heart is with Seth! Let's see what other people think. Best wishes. From Tony. TonyMPNS 11:33, 6 January 2007 (UTC)
I think there are problems of ambiguity here. Mahayana can mean inclusive or exclusive of Vajrayana. Vajrayana can mean inclusive or exclusive of Shingon. I think the normal use of Mahayana, even in Tibet, is the inclusive one, with Paramitayana in the exclusive sense. The Nyingmas have a ninefold scheme: Shravaka, Pratyekabuddha, Paramita and 6 grades of tantra. Shingon has a tenfold scheme (or 2 of them, as I've seen 2 different versions), though this includes non-Buddhists. The point is this (or a point anyway). Can we establish, by using reputable authorities as defined by WP, exactly how the different Buddhist traditions identify and group themselves? I suspect the true, but not necessarily provable, answer is that Buddhists divide themselves into Theravada and Mahayana, and that Mahayanists divide themselves into Tibetans, Chinese, Vietnamese, Koreans, Zen, Pure Land, Nichiren, Tendai, Shingon etc. Peter jackson 12:02, 8 January 2007 (UTC)
I agree that there's a lot of complexity to this. If we're talking about how Buddhists identify themselves, do we mean the average man or woman who believes in some form of Buddhism, or do we some kind of religious authorities? I suspect the man-on-the-street answer to self-classification would be "I'm a Buddhist, and I'm from China", "I'm a Buddhist and I'm from Thailand", etc. Educated religious authorities presumably have some sense of context, i.e they would know whether their group is part of Theravada, Vajrayana, non-tantric Mahayana, what have you. On the other hand, they surely also know whether their group is tied to East Asia, Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, or Tibet. And I don't know whether they would have had much sense of Mahayana, Theravada, etc. in the era before modern scholarship on Buddhism; perhaps they would just have called themselves "Orthodox Buddhist". However, "modern scholarship" is not something which is mutually exclusive to Buddhists or Buddhist sectarian leaders. And, furthermore, the idea of self-identification in a state of isolation from others is sort of contradictory (because, insofar as I am isolated from others, I have reason to identify myself at all).
As far as I can tell, the threeway Mahayana/Vajrayana/Theravada distinction is pretty much the default in general-readership non-fiction. How scholars typical classify things right now, I don't know. Mahayana/Vajrayana/Theravada is also a very meaningful and important way of looking at Buddhist doctrine and philosophy, and, for that purpose, it doesn't matter that the boundaries might be sometimes blurry. But, how we should describe things on Wikipedia is a more difficult question. A threeway Sri-Lankan-and-Southeast-Asian Buddhism/East Asian Buddhism/Tibetan Buddhism has a lot of explanatory power as well (assuming that we can count Vietnam as part of East Asia rather than Southeast), although it seems to ignore modern developments, such as the Buddhist revival in India and Buddhists outside of Asia.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 00:39, 10 January 2007 (UTC)
I think we have to remember that the scholars' 3-way classification is only of the main traditions. In addition, the majority of Nepali Buddhism is not Tibetan, but a relic of Indian Buddhism, and there are modern Indian Buddhism and independent forms of Western Buddhism. I think the article as it is at present mentions these briefly. Peter jackson 18:17, 10 January 2007 (UTC)
My opinion on this issue at this point is that the best thing for this intro part of the article is to say something like: “Buddhist schools can be divided into two major traditions: Therivada and Mahayana.” And then describe how the two schools differ very briefly, what geographical they are associated with and give a short list of the major schools of Mahayana, including Tibetan Vajrayana, Zen, Pureland, etc. each with their own link (does Therivada divide into different schools also?). In that way we can use only the most accepted classification distinction (Therivada/Mahayana) in the beginning of this article and later on, or in other pages, we can go more into detail about the Vajrayana label and whether it applies outside Tibetan Buddhism. What do people think about that?--Seth.josephson 19:57, 10 January 2007 (UTC)
That would certainly be my personal preference. But is it in accordance with WP guidelines? Peter jackson 18:41, 11 January 2007 (UTC)
Just to address Seth's question, "does Theravada divide into different schools also?" "Yes" or "no," depending on how one defines "school." For instance, there are at least three country-specific Theravada traditions dominant in the U.S.:
Pard my Johnny-come-lately ignorance but might it help to first articulate what all is meant by "school" (or whatever overriding construct will be used to distinguish between whatever's being distinguished)? Might it help to explicitly do so in the article, if not already done so? Just a half-thought, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 18:39, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
I think that what we're looking for here is a way to get started introducing the variety of forms of Buddhism throughout the traditional Buddhist world. So, we will say something to the effect that: "There are different varying traditions of Buddhism, including X", and we're looking for what to put in place of the X.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 18:58, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
If I may attempt to clarify my always questionable thinking with an example, might it be worthwhile to use an opening statement such as: "Buddhism's diverse manifestations can be viewed in terms of source texts, praxis, historical affiliations and regional cohesion. This article's analysis will primarily use [fill in the blank] to guide its discussion." So, if the "[fill in the blank]" is "source texts," then one might identify two schools: Theravada and Mahayana. If it's "praxis," then three: Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana. If "by region": Southern, Northern, Eastern. Maybe? Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 19:34, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
The Encyclopedia of Religion gives a multi-dimensional classification in its article Buddhism, Schools of. The introductory section distinguishes three main classifications.
  • movements (3 yanas)
  • monastic nikayas
  • doctrinal schools

In later sections of the article we also come across teaching lineages and Tibetan monastic orders, which I don't think are the same thing as nikayas. If you want to classify by praxis, then 3 yanas sounds like a procrustean Tibetan imposition of their ideas on everybody else, rather like their 4 schools of philosophy. What sense does it make to say that Zen, Pure Land and Nichiren are all one thing in practice but Vajrayana is something different? In terms of source texts, you can't treat all Mahayana as one: some of what the Tibetans regard as the highest scriptures were never translated into Chinese, others were expurgated and most are often regarded with suspicion in East Asia.

On Theravada schools, there are of course different schools of thought and traditions of practice, of which those fashionable in the West are only a small proportion. There are also different monastic nikayas. However, I don't think the nikayas divide lay people, and I think Theravadins generally would regard themselves as a single "denomination" (not in the formal Western sense [4] of having a central organization). In particular, most nikayas took part together in the Sixth Council.

Another parallel from Christianity might help clarify ideas (or confuse them even more). Eastern rite Catholics are part of the Catholic Church organizationally (their Patriarchs sit in the College of Cardinals) and doctrinally, but their traditions are Eastern: married priests etc. Peter jackson 16:32, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

Dazzling and informative as always Peter. And FWIW I do like the notion of a multi-dimensional classification, or at least explicit recognition of other classifications (if known) before proceeding along with just one. But, obviously, I don't share your all's knowledge or smarts on this issue. (I just happened along this thread while looking for discussion pertinent to Template:Buddhism. [Hope I didn't fart up the pool too bad.]) Thanks again for the interesting education. Best wishes, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 22:54, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

Further to the multi-dimensional classification.

As has already been noted, the 3 yanas correspond very roughly to the scholars' classification, the main anomaly being Shingon.

The classification by monastic nikaya cooresponds exactly to the scholars' classification insofar as there is a monastic order at all: Theravada is itself, the Tibetans are Mulasarvastivada and China, Korea and Vietnam (and the very small Ritsu school in Japan) are Dharmaguptaka. Lay Buddhism in Japan, Nepal and the West is obviously excluded from this classification.

Doctrinal schools also fit the scholars' classification. Theravada is itself again. Tibetans all call themselves Madhyamika, though they have different interpretations. In the East Asian tradition there are two main doctrinal schools, Tien-tai and Hua-yen, which both distinguish themselves from Madhamika. In fact they use the same introductory textbook, which suggests they regard themselves as really subschools of a single school (Tathagatagarbha), which again is clearly regarded as distinct from Madhyamika. There is a small Yogacara school in Japan, which would not fit into this grouping.

Conclusion: the scholars' classification is a more or less good approximation to all three dimensional classifications listed above, and therefore probably a good overall classification of Buddhism; the scholars know what they're doing. Peter jackson 16:03, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

I tend to be visual. Might the following tabular summary be appropriate for this article (after you correct my ignorant errors and we tweak the style and add some more wiki-links ;-) )?

Classification table

Theravada Theravada Pali Canon Pali Southern
(Sri Lanka,
SE Asia)
Theravada Vibhajjavada
China, Korea, Vietnam Mahayana1 Agamas,2
Chinese Eastern
(E Asia)
Tendai none
Pure Land
Shingon Vajrayana4 Agamas,
Tibetan Tibetan Northern
(Tibet, Mongolia,

1. The word "Mahayana" often includes what is here designated as both "Mahayana" and "Vajrayana."

2. The Agamas correspond to the first four Nikayas of the Sutta-Pitaka of the Pali Canon.

3. Some schools have clearly defined main scriptures:

4. Synonyms for "Vajrayana" are "Mantrayana" and "Tantrayana."

5. Compared to Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon has only a few tantric practices.

Overkill? Redundant? (Feel free to edit or copy.) Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 05:02, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
That looks good. One correction: delete all mention of Sanskrit, as it's used even less in the Sino-Japanese tradition than in the Tibetan. I assume you had no intention of including all minor traditions; that would probably turn out to be impossibly complicated. Peter jackson 17:37, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
Done. Thanks! FWIW, main reason for my not including the minor traditions is my ignorance -- if you think it useful, just let me know where to stick what :-). (Out of boredom, during my lunch break, I did some worksmithing and wikifying, partly to condense the table for lower-pixelated display settings -- let me know if I broke anything.) If I may ask, if you have the time and inclination to respond, when the word "Theravada" is used for "monastic order" could this be replaced with something more specifically reflecting the Vinaya or Patimokkha? (I guess I am simply unsure to what exactly "monastic order" refers -- e.g., is it the rules governing the order?) Similarly, under "doctrinal school," could "Theravada" be replaced with something more specifically reflecting the Tipitaka? Thanks again for sharing your vast, authoritative knowledge and intellect! Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 20:16, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
Interesting table, Larry. Instead of "monastic order", perhaps you should make it "vinaya lineage", since "monastic order" seems to imply a nikaya, of which Theravada has various. As far as I know, there is no better term to describe the Theravada patimokkha rather than simply "Theravada". You might want to change the "traditional movement" for Theravada to something like "Nikayan (so-called Hinayana)" to would give more context. The "doctrinal school" field is a bit of a sticky widget: Madhyamika is certainly influential in East Asia (certainly in Zen), and Tathagatagarbha is perhaps more influential in Tibetan Buddhism than in East Asian schools.
I have taken the liberty of adding a "canonincal genres" column, which I think is an important part of understanding the schools. I'm not too sure about Shingon's attitude toward the tantric literature, but I have assumed it is about the same as the Tibetans', so I have lumped them together. Please correct me if I'm wrong.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 07:10, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
My remarks above were my immediate reaction. I now have some more considered thoughts. First let me repeat that it looks good: the tabular display is a lot clearer to the reader than saying the same thing in words longhand. However, I think certain changes are necessary. Most important, we need another line for mainland East Asian Buddhism, i.e. China, Korea & Vietnam, which are not divided into schools. Then Dharmagupta must be deleted from all the 5 Japanese schools; we could leave a blank, or say "none" or "bodhisattva ordination" or something.

The use of the word nikaya for monastic orders is common among scholars in referring to the early ones, including the 3 here. It works at various levels, so one can talk about the Mahasanghika & Sthaviravada nikayas being subdivided into further nikayas; all 3 of ours are in the latter. Likewise, the different Theravada nikayas are subdivisions of the Theravada nikaya. Confusing, but there you are. (The same applies to schools of course.) To answer the above query, there are (minor) differences in vinaya rules between the 3 nikayas, and differences of interpretation between subnikayas.

Doctrinal schools. The standard term for Theravada here is Vibhajjavada, of which Theravada is the only surviving subschool. This level of generality fits with the use of Tathagatagarbha. certainly Madhyamika is influential in East Asia, but so is Sarvastivada ... The classification here is based on what the tradition generally seems to regard as the highest doctrine. In Tibet, there is a Tathagatagarbha school of thought, but it claims to be following the "true" interpretation of Madhyamika. On the other hand, both Hua-yen & T'ien-t'ai clearly distinguish their form of tathagatagarbha from (their understanding of) Madhyamika. There may or may not be a real distinction, but they think (using the ethnographic present) there is.

Movements. I agree that Theravada is not the appropriate term here. One could use "HInayana" in quotes, with a note underneath the table to say it's derogatory. We could just say Early Buddhism or Conservative Buddhism. The problem with nikaya Buddhism is that nikaya has 2 meanings: in addition to the monastic branches we've been discussing, it is also the name of some literature. The name is commonly, though illogically, used to refer to the first 4 nikayas of the Pali Canon. As a result, some writers use the term to refer to pre-abhidhamma Buddhism, while others use it to refer to pre-Mahayana Buddhism, including abhidhamma.

Literature. The Pali Canon is not approximately equal to the agamas. They correspond to the 4 nikayas just mentioned, which are roughly 1/3 of the Canon. Shingon's attitude to the tantras is not the same as the Tibetan. It follows 2 tantras that are classified by the Tibetans as lower tantras. This raises again the question of whether Shingon is actually Vajrayana. Is there general agreement that it is? If not, we could base our table on the other position, which would make it a lot simpler, and add a note about Shingon. Snellgrove, in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, says that the lower tantras have nothing much that was not already part of Mahayana. I don't know what scholarly opinion on this is.

If there's space, I suggest the region column be more specific: Southern (Ceylon & SE Asia); Eastern (E Asia); Northern (Tibet & Mongolia). Or something along those lines. Peter jackson 11:11, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

Excellent additions & I greatly appreciate the additional clarifications & edification. Comments/Questions:
  1. Split "Chan / Zen"? I removed Dharmaguptaka from Pure Land, Nichiren, Tendai & Shingon. Should I leave it with Chan and remove it from Zen? If so, I'm inferring that it would be best that I then separate Chan and Zen onto two different rows -- please let me know if you envision a different solution.
  2. End notes? FWIW I'd be happy to add end notes (e.g., using <ref> and </ref>) to this table so that the many interesting textual clarifications you all have discussed could be incorporated. (If you want to include this table in multiple articles, we can make it a template and then make the use of end notes conditional, for instance, with a "notes=1" parameter, depending on the style of the template-transcluding article.) Let me know if you'd like me to do such.
  3. Ceylon / Sri Lanka? If I may ask, Peter, I see you've used the word "Ceylon" (also in the article Pali literature) for what I'm used to referring to nowadays as "Sri Lanka." Would it be incorrect for me to use "Sri Lanka" here. Can you help me understand my confusion? (I'll add these phrases presently, perhaps over lunch time :-) )
  4. Shrink font? Tangentially, if we feel the table is getting too big, one quick and easy way to shrink it is to change the over all font size (for instance, to 90%) -- as it is, I'm already having to use a horizontal scrollbar ;-) I'll give this a try soon -- let me know if the font becomes too small for comfort or, alternately, if you'd like other solutions or simply would encourage me to keep using the horizontal scroll :-)
  5. Consensus? Regarding Tathagatagharba & Madhyamika, Agamas, Nikaya, Hinayana -- I'd be way out of my league to pretend that I could contribute in a meaningful way regarding these terms. Whatever you all -- both of you whom I admire greatly -- decide is fine with me. (If I may make one suggestion: Nat, I was wondering if we could simplify "Pali Canon (≈ Agamas)" to just "Pali Canon," mostly for visual simplicity [in addition to Peter's strong reservations], but also since the Agamas are listed below this term in the table and I think anyone who clicks on or knows about the Agamas could understand the basic relationship. Just a thought.)
Best, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 13:11, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
  1. What we need is an extra line (school) for China, Korea & Vietnam, which would come before Zen; I forgot to say earlier that Chan should be deleted from the Zen entry. Dharmaguptaka would apply only to the China etc. line.
  2. I think a few notes are important enough to go with the table rather than at the foot of the page. In particular, it's important to point out that Mahayana is often used to include Vajrayana. Perhaps also here note the synonyms Mantrayana & Tantrayana for Vajrayana. Probably some others, but those are the ones that occur to me right now. On the other hand, as you say, a lot of the technical stuff can be relegated.
  3. I tend to use normal English names for other countries rather than take orders from foreign governments on how to speak my own language. We quite happily call Germany, Finland, Hungary, Greece, Egypt & India by names that bear no resemblance whatever to their own names for themselves. However, I'm certainly not going to go to the bother of changing back anything someone else bothers to change. I don't know whether WP has a policy on this; in particular does such a change apply retroactively to times before it was made?
  4. I personally find it extremely irritating having to scroll horizontally. The whole point of this table is to make it easier for the reader. They should be able to see it all at once. Would it help doing the table the other way round?
Another point that occurs to me. If we're going to have a scriptures column, then it would make sense for it to mention when particular schools have clearly defined main scriptures: Lotus Sutra for Soto Zen, Tendai, Nichiren, China & Vietnam; Pure Land Sutras for Pure Land; various particular tantras for Shingon & various Tibetan schools. I'm not sure about Rinzai Zen & Korea. This would involve splitting lines more. I don't think the different Tibetan schools are really separate "denominations", but I'm not sure.
Another possibility would be to ignore the Shingon problem in the table & relegate it to a note. We could then simplify the table to have only 3 rows (or columns): 3 yanas, 3 nikayas, 3 doctrinal schools, 3 languages ... Then we could add a note to say that Shingon doesn't quite fit. Strictly speaking, nothing will ever quite fit anyway: we're talking generalizations here, & they'll always turn out false under a sufficiently precise analysis (including this one?). further details can be given in the relevant sections of the article. Peter jackson 16:22, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
PS I forgot to mention that this simplification would make the first column of the table redundant, thus saving more space. Peter jackson 16:24, 19 January 2007 (UTC) The stub "column", I mean. Peter jackson 16:25, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
Nice ideas! For now, given limited time I have (lunch time!), I'll just try to enhance the current table we've started but I'll try to find time soon to turn it on its side as you suggested Peter. The recent changes I've made include: deleted Ch'an; added China, Korea, Vietnam; added some cursory notes (including school-specific main scriptures); added country names to regions; and, drastically simplified the lefthand column's title. Questions/Comments:
  1. left-column title? I played with the font size (found a size of 89% worked on my current display) but was ultimately unhappy with its readability. (Maybe the simplier solution is I get glasses?) So, I changed the cellpadding from "10" (which I arbitrarily chose at the beginning) to "8" and then, taking a cue from one of Peter's ideas, changed the left-hand column's title from "major extant Buddhist traditions" to "SCHOOLS." Does this work (especially in regards to terminology!) ?
  2. Ceylon/Sri Lanka? Peter, I can appreciate what you write about. I think this type of issue has many facets: For example, I've been told that most of the world calls Myanmar "Myanmar" but the U.S. government still calls it "Burma" (see, e.g., CIA World Factbook entry); so what should an English-language encyclopedia do? I bet there is WP policy but I don't know it. [Nat - you're usually terrific with this kind of stuff :-) ] Regardless, since the WP article is called "Sri Lanka," the Sinhalese whose works I have read seem to refer to their country in English as "Sri Lanka," etc., and to me (with my admittedly ignorant mind) "Ceylon" still stings of British colonial times (seriously not meant to convey any personal resentment here), I'm strongly inclined to use "Sri Lanka" here. Please revert if you're so inclined. (One side note: "Ceylon" would fit in the table much better!)
  3. Main scriptures in notes: It might be interesting to place school-specific "main scriptures" into the table; for now, due to the limited time I have, I put some of the identified scriptures in a table note. Anyone, of course, should feel free to change this (or anything else about this table).
  4. Shingon gone? I'm still digesting this. I'm not opposed to anyone deleting it. I'm just not there yet.
Thanks again! GTG. Take care, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 18:11, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
Peter is, of course, right that I was mistaken in saying that "Pali Canon≈Agamas"; however, I still maintain that the Pali Canon's Sutta Pitaka≈the Agamas, as a genre of literature. I was tacitly ignoring vinayas and abhidhamma/commentaries in that column (this goes back to the question which Peter posed on Talk:Chinese Buddhist canon about which writings are described as "canonical" and why). The reason I think it is important to point out the connection between the Nikayas and the Agamas is to give the viewer straightforward information on how the literatures of the different branches of Buddhism relate to each other. I'm not sure what the best way to phrase it is.
I agree with Peter's suggestion to make a separate line for mainland East Asian Buddhism. If we are talking about extant traditions, then individual sects like Chan and Pure Land no longer exist.
Regarding the term "Nikaya Buddhism", I could very well be wrong, but I am not aware of any writers using that term to mean pre-Abidhamma Buddhism, other than User:Attasarana/Ken Wheeler. The term appears to be something of a neologism popularised by Robert Thurman, so it wouldn't be surprising for it to maintain a general uniformity of meaning. In any event, if "Nikaya Buddhism" is unacceptably vague, then I don't think that "Early Buddhism" or "Conservative Buddhism" would be an improvement.
Although this is only a fairly minor point, concerning as it does a footnote, but I'm not sure how to best describe the main scriptures of the Zen sects. It's certainly true that they take the Lotus very seriously, but it sounds a bit odd to my ear that that is Soto's main scripture. I would be inclined at first blush to say instead that it is the Heart Sutra and/or other Prajñāpāramitā texts such as the Diamond Sutra. On the other hand, Bodhidharma is said to have recommended the Lankavatara most highly. On a related point, I wonder if we should list koans under canonical genres for Zen; the koan corpus represents an interesting and important body of literature developed within Zen. However, perhaps this would imply too fine a focus and necessitate our mentioning similar literature from other schools (if any—I know nothing of this).
PS - I quite agree with Peter's sentiment, "I tend to use normal English names for other countries rather than take orders from foreign governments on how to speak my own language." I prefer to say "Saigon" or "Burma" rather than "Ho Chi Minh City" or "Myanmar". Furthermore, it is ostensibly Wikipedia policy to use common English names, although this tends to get chipped away at by nationalists in a lot of individual cases. However, in the case of Sri Lanka, in my experience the newer name has become so common at present that the name change is a fait accompli and it seems artificial insist on "Ceylon". Perhaps there is some regional variation in the English-speaking world on this, so you might have a different experience.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 18:34, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

Great stuff this! We may finally be able to get this clear for everyone. A few notes if I may:

- Perhaps a suggestion for a minor note in the Tibetan/doctrinal school - cell; the Tibetan Jonang tradition is an exception to the rule as they follow the Tathagatagarbha school.

- Another comment is that I think to mention the specific sutras that some traditions emphasize is really a bit too detailed for this page, that should be mentioned in the tradition's own page perhaps?

- What do you mean with "If we are talking about extant traditions, then individual sects like Chan and Pure Land no longer exist."? These traditions are still very much alive as far as I know?

- My position on new terms like "Nikaya" and "Eastern Buddhism" is simple: why use terms that are NOT commonly used. In my view, language only functions when many people are familiar with terminology, especially in an encyclopedic description, I don't like to be confronted with terms that only a few scholars on this planet use, and, as you noted, who knows what these new terms exactly refer to? To me it just leads to more confusion?

- The entry "China, Korea, Vietnam" is not a school - this looks confusing to me... rudy 23:27, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

It's quite true that Chan and Pure Land are still very much alive ... but, outside of Japan, they are no longer distinct schools. Basically, the Buddhist tradition of China (and, I believe, Korea and Vietnam in different iterations) is an amorphous mixture of primarily Zen and Pure Land, with lesser but quite significant influences from tantric Buddhism, Tiantai, the Vinaya School, Huayan, etc. So, I think it's okay to have "China, Korea, Vietnam" listed, because it has no sub-branches, above the level of individual monastic orders (and I'm not sure those even exist in China).
As for "why use terms that are NOT commonly used?", I generally agree. However, in this instance, that implies that the term we should be using is "Hinayana". I think we should make an exception for terms that are considered to be derisive or demeaning, which is the case with Hinayana. Our alternatives, then, are to use a term that is not very commonly used, or not to use any term at all. The latter is sometimes an advisable option, but it's not clear saying nothing will be more informative here than using a relatively obscure term would be.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 00:16, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
Beginning to need a score card :-) Some quick edits (feel to revert one & all) & 2 Q:
  • Pali~Agama take 3: As an alternate configuration, I moved the "Pali Canon (≈Agamas)" matter to a table-note attached to the first instance of Agamas -- Nat, please revert if annoyed!
  • Lotus sutra cut back: Given Nat's reservation and based on what's written at Buddhist_texts#Saddharma-pundarika, I restricted the reference to the Lotus Sutra's seminality to just the Tendai and Nichiren schools
  • Mainland school? I'm sympathetic to Rudy's concern re: "China, Korea, Vietnam" not being a "school" (my bad?); do they qualify as a "tradition" (simple word change), or is a more sophisticated accommodation available? [FWIW, wrote this before Nat's above edit!]
  • #-ordering? I'd like to order the table's "Notes" using "#" instead of hand-numbering (1, 2, 3...) -- if nothing else, so the associated text would be appropriately formatted (where the first line is left-justified and subsequent lines are indented) but the #-defined numbers get reset due to the two "*" (asterisks) in one of the end notes; any suggestions on how to prevent post-* #'s from resetting?
Hi Nat, regarding the Chan and Pure Land traditions, I may be wrong, but think that at least in Taiwan these traditions are very much alive still, and probably also in Hongkong. See for example the second paragraph in
Re the problems of the word Hinanyana, you are right; we can usually come around that as the Theravada is the only remaining living school of the non-Mahayana schools. We only get into a theoretical problem when talking about history and the various philosophical schools within Buddhism; there used to be more "Hinayana" traditions before Buddhism became extinct in India. At least for this intro to Buddhism, we should be able to avoid Hinayana or Nikaya I would think? rudy 11:42, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
One last question: Is there a basis for the current ordering of Japanese schools? Frankly, I stuck Shingon at the end of the list to allow easy inclusion of it with Tibet in the Vajrayana category; otherwise, I think I just used Peter's earlier ordering. Is there a chronology to the current ordering (as is done overall with Theravada-Mahayana-Vajrayana?) or could we base it the number of existing practitioners?
Regarding "Hinayana" -- as a Theravada practitioner (who obviously needs to work more on upekkha), ouch! (which I think essentially concurs with Rudy's view). Though, of course, I defer to whatever a more considered acedemic perspective would dictate. (Feeling a little like Job before the whirlwind here ;-) )
Also, following up on prior ideas about changing the table's axes (making the rows "classifications" and the columns "traditions"), after seeing that this could become equally wide as the current table unless we list each of the school names vertically, I've decided to hold off on this indefinitely. However, if anyone wants to still see what such looks like, please let me know and I'll try to find the time to do so.
Lastly, I just got around to inserting "Vibhajjavada" under the Theravada doctrinal school -- thanks again for the education Peter!
Thanks too to Nat & Rudy for your on-going analysis & discussion as well.
Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 13:29, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
Rudy: I'm not saying that there is no Chinese Pure Land Buddhism, but only that there is no Chinese Pure Land Sect. The article you've linked to actually says as much in the conclusion: "... there never existed a Pure Land 'school' as such in China, at least not in the achievement of institutional independence that the various Pure Land Schools enjoy in Japan. Ven. Dr. Shengyan (聖嚴) points out that during the Song dynasty, most of the developments in Pure Land took place within the Tiantai school, and stressed a combination of meditation, Pure Land, and vinaya (chan 禪, jing 淨, lü 律). By the end of the Ming dynasty, he says, there was no one Pure Land "school" that had exclusive propriety over a set of practices identified as "Pure Land practice"; Pure Land became the common property of all schools ... What we call 'Pure Land thought and practice' in Chinese Buddhism could more accurately be called the 'Pure Land component' of the thought and practice of other schools, or of Chinese Buddhism as an organic whole."
As for whether to use "Nikaya Buddhism" on this table, I think that the main alternative is simply to say "Theravada" (the way it is now), which would be entirely redundant. "First do no harm" is a reasonable thought, but, in this context, I think we'd be better off giving a little information with a relatively obscure term along with a wikilink (especially since the astute reader will quickly note that Sacca's current version of Nikaya Buddhism veritably shouts that it is a euphemism for one sense of "Hinayana").
Larry, establishing a chronology for these different Mahayana sects would be difficult, except for the fact that we are discussing only the Japanese sects, the introduction of which was relatively late and, therefore, well-documented. That being the case, I suppose we would make it: Tendai, Shingon, Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren. However, it might still be desireable to have Shingon next to Tibetan Buddhism; I'm not sure.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 17:59, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
Excellent! Thanks for the tutorial, Nat!
  • I made the change (keeping, as you allowed, Shingon adjacent to Tibetan).
  • I also tried to track Peter's concerns about Shingon having only a subset of Tibetan subset -- someone please feel free to wordsmith.
  • Question about Kalmykia -- should we change it to "Russian Republics" with a footnote to Kalmykia, Amur Oblast, Buryatia, Chita Oblast, Tuva Republic, and Khabarovsk Krai -- per the Vajrayana article? Or do any of these actually fall within the scholarly notion of "region"/"Eastern"?
Baby up again -- Quickly, I vote for keeping "Theravada"! Secondarily, maybe (????), "Hinayana" with a table note! GTG Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 22:16, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
We could certainly say "so-called Hinayana". However, on the down side, I'm not sure that Hinayana is an article we would want to link to here. Also, if we have the word "Theravada" and the word "Hinayana" in the same cell, people might get the impression that they are synonyms, which is a common misapprehension (even in the most neutral and innocuous sense of the term "Hinayana", Theravada is a subset of it).—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 22:33, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
(Mommy's home!) In truth, the content of this table shouldn't be based on democratic principles and thus I revoke my own right to vote here. Whatever Nat & Peter and anyone else with an education regarding (or who has truly studied up on) this wide-ranging topic decides is more than fine with me. I do appreciate the education you all have been giving me. If I can be with help with the table formatting, etc., just let me know. With metta, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 22:51, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

Lotus in Soto: Dogen (Dumoulin, Zen Buddhism, vol 2, p 98).

Remember the 1st col is movement. Theravada is not the correct name for this, being only part of it. Checking back, I see I remembered the wrong way round on nikaya Buddhism: Hirakawa uses it to refer to abhidhamma Buddhism as distinct from early Buddhism (there can't have been nikaya Buddhism before there were any nikayas). Hence this also can't be the correct name of the movement, since it can't be assumed that early Buddhism was not part of that. Another possibility would be to leave the cell blank on the grounds that the movement has no self-identification: it would say it's just Buddhism. Explain in note.

I suggest here we put a simplified table with only 3 rows (or cols), with surrounding text making clear it's only rough & mentioning major exceptions. Move fuller table to article on Buddhist schools. Peter jackson 11:20, 22 January 2007 (UTC)

Kalmykia looks odd. I suppose we mihgt justify it on the grounds that the other Buddhist parts of Russia are contiguous with Mongolia & could be considered a part of Greater Mongolia, while Kalmykia is detached. By that criterion Singapore should be added to the Eastern entry.

Does dzogchen really distinguish itself from Madhyamika? I don't think so. Frankly, I think this is all getting far too complicated. We can't possibly include all the exceptions in the table. Peter jackson 10:18, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

Based on Peter's citation, I've re-included "Soto Zen" in the pertinent note. Peter, I appreciate what you write about Kalmykia being an exception. As for the other content-related items, way over my head so I'm gonna keep my mouth shut. (Unusual, no?) As for a new, simpler three-row table, if no one else does it, I'll try to get to it before the end of this forthcoming weekend. (Reality's been demanding more & more of my attention lately :-( ) As a WP consumer, I think Peter's suggestion to include the above table in the Schools of Buddhism (and/or a similar) article has definite merit. Tangentially, I'll leave it to others in this thread to decide when it's time to cut-and-paste this (or the forthcoming) table into an actual article. Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 12:56, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
Let the revision begin:

Simpler classification table

Sri Lanka,
Theravada Pali Canon Pali Southern Theravada Vibhajjavada
Korea, Japan
Mahayana1 Agamas,2
Chinese Eastern Dharma-
Vajrayana5 Agamas,
sutras, tantras
Tibetan Northern Mulasar-


  1. The word "Mahayana" often includes what is here designated as both "Mahayana" and "Vajrayana." The Japanese school of Shingon is often classified under Vajrayana.
  2. The Agamas correspond to the first four Nikayas of the Sutta-Pitaka of the Pali Canon.
  3. There is no monastic order for Japanese schools (Tendai, Shingon, Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren).
  4. Russian states like Kalmykia and Buriat traditionally follow Tibetan (Mongolian) Buddhism.
  5. Synonyms for "Vajrayana" are "Mantrayana" and "Tantrayana."

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by Larry Rosenfeld (talkcontribs) 18:19, 23 January 2007 (UTC).

The column heading Asiatic region is inconsistent with the entry Kalmykia, which is in Europe.

The 3 yanas should not be used as the stub column. That is, the other entries in the table are not characterizations of the 3 yanas. Rather, the 3 yanas etc. are rough characterizations of the 3 traditions S, E, N identified by scholars.

I repeat my comment on Dzogchen, with some additions: its theory is tathagatagarbha (Harvey, Intro to Buddhism); the Jonangpas called their tathagatagarbha doctrine Great Madhyamika (Williams, Mahayana Buddhism, p 108). This suggests dzogchen would also call itself Madhyamika. Peter jackson 10:22, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

Don't think I agree with your description of the 3 yanas as if they are descriptions of the S E N traditions. The doctrinal differences between the 3 yanas are quite clear, whereas the three regions are very rough indications indeed.
I will try to confirm from our Tibetan teacher here if both Dzogchen and Mahamudra can also be called Madhyamika. Again many thanks for trying to get to the bottom of all of this!rudy 23:32, 26 January 2007 (UTC)
Attempting to address Peter's concerns:
  • Changed left-hand-most column to "Countries" and re-inserted the "traditional movements" column (first introduced by Nat in the original table)
  • Deleted Dzogchen
Warmer? What next? Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 23:42, 26 January 2007 (UTC)
It seems to me, that Dzogchen should be mentioned in the table. Seems to be addressing a very different issue compared to Madhyamaka.--Klimov 19:36, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
Well, there are a lot of things which could be mentioned. I'm not at all comfortable with the analysis which places all East Asian Mahayana philosophy under the rubric of "Tathagatagarba". The whole "doctrinal school" column seems problematic to me.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 21:24, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
Yowzer -- Rudy, didn't mean to ignore your ideas -- we had an "edit conflict" during my last save. Certainly, whatever you all decide regarding Dzogchen is fine with no-vote me. Also, I hope by changing the left-most column to a grouping of countries, some ideological conflicts can be sidestepped. (Yes?) With metta, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 23:45, 26 January 2007 (UTC)
We're getting there - I think:-) Only thing that I notice now is the Kalmykia in the list - Buriat is another region similar to Kalmykia in Russia.
Strictly spoken, tathagatagarbha may actually be part of Madhyamika - need to check this. The Jonang certainly call their Tathagatagarbha doctrine 'Great Madhyamika' - just to get us confused....rudy 23:55, 26 January 2007 (UTC)
I guess we can change Kalmykia to Russia6 and then add table-note#6 mentioning Buriat, Kalmykia, etc.? Also, needless to say, at least as far as I'm concerned: Rudy, Peter, Nat, &tc, please feel free to change the table's HTML directly if you feel comfortable doing so :-) Best wishes, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 00:04, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

Footnote 5 should be incorporated in footnote 1.

Let's try to remember this is a simplified table, not trying to cover everything, which is impossible anyway. Is Kalmykia (or Russia) important enough? Is Singapore? Peter jackson 10:19, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

  • Per Peter, moved content of note 5 into note 1; deleted references to note 5
  • Simplified notes section HTML and shrunk note's font size (too much?)
  • Per Peter's (and Rudy's ?) on-going call for true simplification (e.g., previously moved Shingon to a table-note), removed Kalmykia for now.
Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 17:14, 27 January 2007 (UTC)
What about entering Kalmykia/Buriat and Shingon as notes, like I did in the table now? I think all three had at least hundreds of thousands of followers. rudy 17:54, 27 January 2007 (UTC)
My completely non-binding opinion is: Looks good to me! (I'd like to simply request that, before we cut and paste this table to an article, we re-order the table notes in row order [left-to-right then top-to-bottom] or something similar :-) ) Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 18:50, 27 January 2007 (UTC)
It seems, Kalmykiya should be considered important enough, because it is the sole traditionally Buddhist region in Europe, even it is Eastern Europe.--Klimov 19:36, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps the wording should be "Mongolia and related areas"? The Kalmyks are Tibetan Buddhists essentially because they are descended from Mongolians.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 21:24, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

Canonical genres seems an odd sort of heading. I wouldn't call the Pali Canon a genre. The East Asian tradition would tend to regard as canonical, in addition to what's mentioned, vinaya & some tantras. The Tibetan tradition, while it theoretically regards the agamas as canonical, never bothered to translate them, except for a few dozen sutras, so it seems very artificial to mention them. I would suggest the heading should be (principal) scriptures, with the 3 entries here being Pali Canon, Mahayana Sutras & tantras. In the fuller table we can have Lotus etc. where appropriate.

This simplified table is particularly amenable to tipping over the other way, with only 3 rows to become 3 columns. This would allow more rows, e.g. date of establishment: 3rd century BCE, 1st century CE, 7th century CE. Peter jackson 10:00, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

Nice idea, Peter. If no one else gets to it before, I'll reverse the simplified table's axis (and add "date of establishment" and change "canonical genres" to "principal scriptures") sometime in the next couple of days.
Sounds like open issues include:
  • Kalmykia - include or not? in table note with Russia? in table note with Mongolia? other "states" (e.g., Buriat)?
  • doctrinal schools - do we include under Northern schools Dzogchen? Mahamudra? do we include Madhyamika with Eastern schools?
  • other - I feel like I'm forgetting something(s) ....
If people's views don't converge soon then perhaps I'll try to also organize a scorecard to try to figure out who's where on what and what basis for consensus (e.g., external texts) could we identify. GTG, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 17:27, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
I think (well, I guess this is about the same what I said before) that Kalmykia and Buriatia and such should be handled in a note under Mongolia.
"Date of establishment" gets into some very tricky historiography and can be quite contentious. Obviously, from a religious perspective, each group thinks that it was established when the Buddha lived (e.g., for Tibetan Buddhists, that would mean that 1000 BC or so). In terms of modern historical scholarship, the early history of these movements is poorly documented; we could talk about the dates when available historical evidence first attests them. It would still be unclear to me, though, what date to put for Theravada. It seems odd to speak of a Theravada in the modern sense before Buddhaghosa, but clearly it has roots that go back before the 5th century. Anyway, if we are interested in talking about existing groups only, what difference does it make when they were established?—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 17:48, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Agree with Nat on the establishment date; one can only reliably give this to (some) specific smaller traditions/schools, but not to the general traditions.
I changed the table slightly again re. note 5, and 'principal scriptures' instead of 'canonical genres' just to see what it looks then. rudy 20:17, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
I guess when I make that scorecard, I'll add on Date of establishment as well :-)
If I can ask a really basic question that's been kind of nagging me: Is Kalmykia a "country" (like the United States) or a "state" (like Idaho) or (I'm guessing) something in-between? Like I'm guessing 99.98% of English speakers, I never heard of it until it was mentioned on this talk page and all my knowledge regarding it is based on a quick gloss of the WP Kalmykia page. If it's not a "country," why are we considering it? Regardless, from an English speaker's (and I truly don't mean to be derisive -- after all, I assume most non-Americans don't know of the "state" in which I currently live -- nor do I think I represent the stereotypical "ugly American") perspective, for me, its relative obscurity would suggest that, at best, it be an end note (and I'm leaning towards Nat's solution of a note off "Mongolia") or perhaps left off the simplified table and included only on the original table (which might be used in the Schools of Buddhism article?). (Feel free to spit at me now.) Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 20:13, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Kalmykia's status is comparable to that of Tibet, except that it is much smaller and less historically significant. It is not an independent state, but it is an autonomous and historically distinct region of a larger state that describes itself as multinational; in this case, Russia (in practice, Kalmykia probably has considerably more autonomy than Tibet does). The Kalmyks speak their own language, which is closely related to Mongolian. That's why I think it should be a note under "Mongolia".—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 21:04, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the good info Nat! If no one raises a counter argument soon, I'll change "Mongolia, Russia" to "Mongolia6" shortly (unless you beat me to it.) Thanks again, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 23:25, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

The 3 traditions here are being thought of here as geographical/cultural, with various dimensions. When I mentioned date of establishment, I meant it in that context: Buddhism was established in Ceylon in the 3rd century BCE, in China in the 1st century CE, in Tibet in the 7th century CE. Think of some simple way of making this clear.

I don't know why Nat seems to think Buddhaghosa invented Theravada. It's generally accepted (except by Schopen) that he was simply editing material centuries older. See e.g. Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism, 2nd edn, 2006, about pp 153-5 I think.

On the doctrinal schools point, I would remind people this is a simplified table. In fact even the previous version is, and this one more so. We can't mention everything, and we should make clear in the surrounding text that this is the case, as well as mentioning some specific exceptions in notes. Peter jackson 15:52, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

It's not that I think Buddhaghosa invented Theravada. It's just that Theravada has roots which I wouldn't normally describe as being Theravada all the way back, so it's hard to say at which point it develops into Theravada. However, I'm not an expert on Theravada history, so I will leave this to Peter's ministrations. Another point I'm not clear on is whether some sort of evidence, or simply tradition, supports a 3rd century BCE data for introduction of Buddhism into Ceylon.
Anyway, this proposed addition seems better now that I understand what you mean by the date of establishment.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 17:26, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

3-column classification table

  T R A D I T I O N S
  Southern Buddhism1 Eastern Buddhism2 Northern Buddhism3
  C L A S S I F I C A T I O N S
Theravada Mahayana4 Vajrayana5
Theravada Dharmaguptaka6 Mulasarvastivada
Vibhajjavada Tathagatagarbha Madhyamika
3rd C. BCE (Sri Lanka) 1st C. CE (China) 7th C. CE (Tibet)
Pali Canon Agamas,7
Mahayana sutras
Pali Chinese Tibetan
Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia China, Vietnam, Korea, Japan8 Tibet, Mongolia9


  1. Alternate names for Southern Buddhism include Southeast Asian Buddhism and Pali Buddhism.
  2. Alternate names for Eastern Buddhism include East Asian Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism and Sino-Japanese Buddhism.
  3. Alternate names for Northern Buddhism include Tibetan Buddhism and Tibeto-Mongolian Buddhism.
  4. The word "Mahayana" often includes what is here designated as both "Mahayana" and "Vajrayana." The Japanese school of Shingon is often classified under Vajrayana.
  5. Synonyms for "Vajrayana" are "Mantrayana" and "Tantrayana."
  6. There is no monastic order for Japanese schools.
  7. The Agamas correspond to the first four nikayas of the Sutta-Pitaka of the Pali Canon.
  8. Extant Japanese schools include Tendai, Shingon, Pure Land, Zen and Nichiren.
  9. Tibetan Buddhism is also extant in Bhutan, the Indian states of Ladakh and Sikkim, and the Russian states of Kalmykia and Buryatia.

Above's a first stab of the 3-column table. (I held off on introducing the "Date of establishment" due to on-going discussion.) Lunch whistle's a-blowing! GTG, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 18:06, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

After seeing Nat's most recent comment, following up on Peter's idea, I added the row "institutional establishment" -- feel free to edit, revert, etc. Thanks! Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 23:12, 30 January 2007 (UTC)
With the (tentative?) addition of the "institutional establishment" row, I think we've crossed over from "classification" to something like "attributes." (In truth, when we added "canonical genres" I thought we made have begun this step.) Perhaps a word other than "classification" is warranted?
With such in mind, I've a wild hair (now there's a mid-West expression) to add something like "pre-Buddhist culture" where the first column's value might be "Hinduism," the second might be "Taoism, Confucianism," and the third would perhaps be "Bon." After you all tell me in ten ways how these factoids are wrong, what do you all think about adding such a row in general? Thanks! Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 23:22, 30 January 2007 (UTC)
Just like to na=ote again that tis institutional establishment is so vague that it seems misleading to me; for example, Buddhism may have been first introduced in Tibet in the 7th century, it was really established (with the first monastery) later. It also reached Mongolia much later than that. Similar problem with eg. Japan, it came there much later then in China. rudy 00:00, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
I'm not attached to this row's wording or dates, but I do like the introduction of dates to give a sense of historicity and evolution. Rudy (or anyone else), could you suggest an alternate wording and additional or alternate dates? Thanks, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 12:17, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

We haven't really discussed the ordering of what is now labeled "Classifications." For instance, I tend to like to move from concrete to abstract, thus, e.g., start with countries, dates, texts and languages, and then move to the more abstract labels like "traditional movements." On the other hand, I can see the value with starting with the two broadest classification schemes (traditional movements, and regions) and then filling out the details. Any recommendations. (Or should we just leave it as is?) Also, just another thought, we can introduce subheaders across the rows to better separate "attributes" (e.g., languages, scriptures) from "classifications" (movements, regions), eh? Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 03:59, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

Let's not forget the starting point here. Most scholars seem to classify present-day Buddhism into these 3 branches. However, if you look e.g. at Bechert & Gombrich, you find they classify the whole of Buddhism into 5, the others being Indian & modern. So date of establishment refers to the branch as a whole, not to each country in it. The Encyclopedia of Religion gives a 3D classification (yanas, nikayas & doctrinal schools) to which this classification is a more or less good approximation. So the headings should be S, E, N. The 3 dimensions should be grouped together, with other data such as language separate.

The scriptures line is confused at present. If we have the heading simply as scriptures, then the entries should be something like this: Pali Canon (vinaya, sutta, abhidhamma); vinaya, agamas, Mahayana sutras, some tantras; Kanjur (vinaya, Mahayana sutras, tantras). Principal scriptures won't work as an overall heading, as I don't think you can identify them for the Theravada at least. That's why I suggested bracketing principal, so we could be inconsistent to avoid too much complication.

The complication point also applies to geography. We could give a quite detailed listing: Ceylon, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, parts of Malaysia, Bangladesh, Vietnam; China, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Singapore; Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan, parts of India, China, Russia. This is supposed to be a simple table, so I suggest my original rough summary: Ceylon & SEAsia; EAsia; Tibet & Mongolia. Peter jackson 16:56, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

PS Remember again that things not in the table can go in notes. Peter jackson 16:57, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

I've made the following changes:
  • moved Kalmykia-related note to "Mongolia" and deleted "Russia": Per Nat and Peter and I'm guessing Rudy you won't mind too much. Klimov, is this okay with you? (If not, feel free to revert or modify with an explanation.)
  • moved Peter's "3D classifications" rows to the top and made "classification" a sub-heading row: Peter, I know you'd like to see the so-called "region" row to be the columnar headers, but I'm not there yet; I hope you see this transition as progress. Others' thoughts?
  • created "historical transmission" in-row subheader: Do you hate this title as much as me? I was just trying to find something to separate the "3D classifications" from the other rows. Too much? Any modifications welcome!
  • per Peter, changed Tibetan doctrinal sources to "Kangyur": The current Kangyur article was majorly re-written by Rudy (FYI). [Actually, upon closer inspection, Rudy, it looks like you did a bang up job here[5] but then it was reverted. Should the reversion be reversed?] Beyond "Kangyur"'s pithiness, I made this change because I'm inferring that it's more accurate. (Let me know if wrong.)
  • changed "institutional establishment" to "movement established": warmer? Feel free to try something else.
Peter, you gave us much more to digest. No doubt, more changes a-coming. Thanks again! Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 19:12, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
Am I the only one who thinks the newly inserted "subheading" rows ("Classifications," "Historical Transmission") make the table too long? If someone else agrees, please let me know and I'll try to reinsert these subheaders as the first column of the table. Thanks! Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 10:06, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

The suggested previous culture/religion entries could get quite complicated. Ceylon: I don't know whether this was Hinduism; perhaps it was, since Sinhalese is an Aryan language. SEAsia: pre-Theravada religion was a Hindu/Vajrayana syncretism. China: Confucian/Taoist. Korea: I don't think Confucianism preceded Buddhism, so just shamanism. Vietnam: the whole of Chinese culture was imported together, including Buddhism. Japan: Shinto. Tibet: Snellgrove (Indo-Tibetan Buddhism) argues that Bon is a form of Buddhism. Mongolia: freedom of religion – shamanists, Buddhists, Taoists, Christians, Muslims, Manichaeans. Peter jackson 11:24, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

Let's try to clarify scriptures. First, Theravada. Scriptures: Pali Canon, comprising vinaya, sutta & abhidhamma. Principal scriptures: none in general, but some subtraditions have.

EAsia. No organized canon of scripture. Collected editions combine scriptures & other literature, suggesting they don't consider the distinction too important. Nevertheless, there is a theoretical distinction between ching & lun (sutra & sastra). Scriptures: vinaya, agamas, Mahayana sutras, some tantras. However, I don't know whether they actually have a separate category for tantras or just count them as sutras. Is there a Chinese word for tantra? Stephen points out in his translation of one of the Shingon tantras that it doesn't actually call itself that. The Tibetans classify it under tantra, as they also do the Heart Sutra. Principal scriptures: various Mahayana scriptures for different schools.

Tibet. Scriptures: Kanjur (more than 6 times as many refs in Yahoo search as Kanjur, so the article should probably be titled Kanjur; Tibetan spelling is bKa'-'gyur), comprising vinaya, sutras (mainly Mahayana, plus a few dozen from the agamas) & tantras. Principal scriptures: various tantras for different schools. Peter jackson 17:55, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

  • Thanks Larry for noticing that the Kangyur article was reverted to two miserable lines...; I reverted the revert. Not knowing any Tibetan, would not know how to spell it best... By the way, the 'Kanjur' search also gives a lot of links that are to totally diffent subjects? In Wikipedia only one text refers to the Tibetan 'Kanjur', and some 20 to 'Kangyur'.
  • I think that introducing preceding culture is not only complicated, but totally superfluous for a general article. You can only do it justice in an article on Tibet or China, not in this coarse scheme. Also, what is 'Hinduism'? Bon was quite different from Buddhism before Buddhism was introduced into Tibet, but these days, it is in 90% Buddhism... It's a too complicated subject to introduce here.
  • The Heart Sutra is certainly not regarded a tantra in Tibet: the distinction between 'the tantras' and 'the sutras' is pretty absolute! rudy 21:39, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
The Lhasa Tibetan pronunciation of Kangyur is [kan.ɟur] or [kan.ɟuː] (something along those lines). Since [ɟ] is not a sound that exists in English (or most other European languages) there's no obvious way to spell it (it's written "gy" in Hungarian and "Ď" in Czech). However, it has historically been written "gy" (གྱ) in Tibetan script, so that's the more standard way to spell it phonetically. It does sound a bit like an English "j", so that's not unreasonable, either.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 22:15, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
I think I've learned more from this Talk-page discussion than I have from the main WP articles. Very interesting points. (And, Rudy, excellent re-reversion of Ka*ur; perhaps +cat Buddhism?)
While some other things might be up in the air, let me officially withdraw my idea for a "Buddhism precursor" row: too complicated, too debateable, questionable value.
New question: would anyone object to my changing the columns' title from "COUNTRIES" to "BUDDHIST COUNTRIES"? (Seems to underline the point of the table to me but I worry about objections regarding what's not included....) Thanks as always! Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 23:01, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
Silly problem: I can't manage to categorise the Kangyur page, can you help? Not sure which category it should be in; 'Buddhism' is not a category? Previously it was listed as stub, I hope not anymore...rudy 23:47, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
I added the categories Category:Tripitaka and Category:Tibetan Buddhism.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 00:16, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

If you look in the table of contents of the Kanjur you'll find the Heart Sutra in the tantra section, not one of the sutra sections. Is China a Buddhist country? Even if we count everyone who's Buddhist & ... I suspect not. South Korea, according to recent sources, is half Buddhist & half Christian (including fringe groups like the Moonies). North Korea is probably not a Buddhist country either. In Japan most people give Buddhism as their main family religion, but only a minority as a personal religion. Is Mongolia a Buddhist country after a lifetime of Communism. Even in Tibet, a large proportion of the population are Chinese settlers. Vietnam has also had a long period of Communist government, and the figures some time ago gave not much over half Buddhist. Peter jackson 09:57, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Re: "Buddhist Countries" idea: Excellent objection, Peter. Another tentative idea readily withdrawn. Thanks! (Also, Rudy, sorry if I led you astray with the +cat Buddhism idea. Nat, thanks for the remedy!) Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 15:59, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
If I could continue this thread about the identified "Countries" for a tad, what are the criteria for a country being identified here? For instance, is it that the identified countries:
  • have more Buddhists than other countries? (Though, if that is the criterion, shouldn't the U.S. be included before Mongolia is?)
  • have a higher percentage of Buddhists than other countries? (If so, should we include Bhutan and Brunei in notes?)
  • are/were populated by Buddhists as part of historical movements?
If the latter then I'm ready to move the country row down the list and insert something else as a header because it would then seem that listing the countries above the movements is putting the proverbial cart before the Dhammapadic ox. Any ideas? For instance, should I self-revert back to the header of "Traditions" and move "countries" and "regions" below the classification rows? Thanks, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 10:21, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
Is this a relevant discussion at all, as i supose this will be a table for the Buddhism page? rudy 23:20, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
Hey Rudy! At the moment, for me, this seems relevant because in a sense I think I messed up the table and Peter's been ten steps ahead of me and I've been nothing but a decomposing albatross around his neck for the last two weeks.
To put it another way, is the basic unit of this table a "Buddhist country" (however we might define that) or a "Buddhist tradition" (or "Buddhist movement")? In retrospect, I realize now that it's the latter: when we were working on the initial table, I believe it was Peter who had identified the countries as extant embodiments of the traditions. However, when I decided to identify individual countries on top, I think I shifted the focus (at least for myself) and the notion of "traditions/movements" became secondary, as if convenient means for grouping "Buddhist countries." For me at least, if we think of this table as representing the organic evolution of Buddhist traditions/movements, then it has a different feel than if we were to simply identify existing "Buddhist countries" and then group them in different ways.
I'm gonna take a stab at addressing this wrong now: I'm gonna shift back to listing "traditions" on top and sticking the countries and regions rows below the "Classification" rows.
If anyone disagrees with this partial self-reversion, feel free to revert & discuss, of course. Thanks! Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 03:42, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
Hi Larry, basically good idea, but the row under Traditions is now a mix of countries and traditions. I would suggest under 'Traditions' to have it read Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana, then 'Traditions' could read 'Buddhist traditions' instead, and the 'traditional movement row' is superfluous. The note for Japan would go down.
Also, I completely overlooked that Tibetan Buddhism is also practiced in Bhutan, and in the Indian states Ladakh and Sikkhim, so the Indian states may be good to add to the note, but Bhutan can be added as Vajrayana country. rudy 16:29, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
Hey Rudy - your and my instincts overlap 100% on this — from the get-go, I've wanted to put Theravada/Mahayana/Vajrayana at the top of the columns (or, before, on the left-side of the rows), but I remember Peter had an objection to this (stated somewhere above). While I may quibble with some of Peter's word choices (and his preference for PTS editions of the nikayas ;-) ), I've learned again and again that he has 50 times my knowledge; so, unless I fully understand his point and have sources for a counterpoint, I'm relunctant to manipulate any of his material. Time's kind of limited for me now, so I'll try to dig out his argument from above presently (unless, Peter, you could recreate it for us here?).
And, Rudy, thanks for the additional material on Indian states and Bhutan! Excellent! Catch y'all! Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 18:25, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
I don't prefer the PTS editions. I simply cite them in accordance with the usual practice of Western scholars. I'll get back on the rest later. Peter jackson 16:42, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
Indeed, if you look in the Pali Canon article you'll see I'd already mentionedc there that the Thai & Burmese editions are more accurate. No doubt the Sinhalese is too but I haven't come across a citation. Peter jackson 09:56, 10 February 2007 (UTC)
In all sincerity, my parenthetical winking-emoticon-ending comment was ill conceived. I regret that it has caused you to feel that you need to respond in any manner. It was a completely tangential thought based on when I last checked out the Pali Canon article and saw what I deduced was your refrain of "the PTS also issues a private edition of this for members only, which is its preferred translation." When I saw this statement, I incorrectly assumed that you referring to PTS English-language translation done by Rhys Davids and crowd (for instance, where the word sangha is translated as "the Church" -- though, don't get me wrong, I feel personal gratitude for the Rhys Davids et al. editions, some of which I know have yet to be fully retranslated [such as the Missus' Dhammasangani, etc.]) and thought you were stating that such was superior to the Bodhi-edited Wisdom Pubs editions. Upon closer scanning, I see that perhaps you're indicating that PTS has private editions of the Bodhi (et al.) editions? Regardless, while I appreciate your continued thoughtful and scholarly elaborations, I regret that my thoughtless remark caused you any negative sensations. Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 20:02, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
After reviewing the above discussion prior to and just after the introduction of the initial table, it appears that there was consensus (that is, two people for and no objections) using the two-fold designations of "Theravada" and "Mahayana" with a subsequent discussion of schools. Seeing the current three-fold framework in the current table, I'm reluctant (e.g., tired, lazy, confused) to make such a change at this time. Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, I've decided to do the cowardly thing and simply adopt the nomenclature of the article itself — Southern, Eastern, Northern — and let the alternate naming conventions reside in subordinate rows (e.g., Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana) or table notes. (Aside: Should notes 3 and 5 be combined?)
Revert? Modify? Shrug? Whatever you decide to do is fine with me. I pretty much feel I'm just the HTML hack in this crowd :-) . With sincere metta, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 03:04, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
OK, recap. The Macmillan Encyclopedia of Religion gives 3 senses of Buddhist "schools": yanas, nikayas & vadas. The scheme (S, E, N) used by most scholars to classify present-day Buddhism seems to correspond more or less roughly to all 3 of these. Thus these 3 should be the headings of the table, with everything else being more or less rough descriptions of those. Peter jackson 09:56, 10 February 2007 (UTC)
So, Peter, are you suggesting that the table look like this (obligatory signing: Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 19:45, 11 February 2007 (UTC)):
  T R A D I T I O N S

Southern Buddhism,1 Theravada, Vibhajjavada

Eastern Buddhism,2 Mahayana,4 Dharmaguptaka,6 Tathagatagarbha

Northern Buddhism,3 Vajrayana,5 Mulasarvastivada, Madhyamika

3rd C. BCE (Sri Lanka) 1st C. CE (China) 7th C. CE (Tibet)
Pali Canon Agamas,7
Mahayana sutras
Pali Chinese Tibetan
Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia China, Vietnam, Korea, Japan8 Tibet, Mongolia9


  1. Alternate names for Southern Buddhism include Southeast Asian Buddhism and Pali Buddhism.
  2. Alternate names for Eastern Buddhism include East Asian Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism and Sino-Japanese Buddhism.
  3. Alternate names for Northern Buddhism include Tibetan Buddhism and Tibeto-Mongolian Buddhism.
  4. The word "Mahayana" often includes what is here designated as both "Mahayana" and "Vajrayana." The Japanese school of Shingon is often classified under Vajrayana.
  5. Synonyms for "Vajrayana" are "Mantrayana" and "Tantrayana."
  6. There is no monastic order for Japanese schools.
  7. The Agamas correspond to the first four nikayas of the Sutta-Pitaka of the Pali Canon.
  8. Extant Japanese schools include Tendai, Shingon, Pure Land, Zen and Nichiren.
  9. Tibetan Buddhism is also extant in Bhutan, the Indian states of Ladakh and Sikkim, and the Russian states of Kalmykia and Buryatia.

No, something much more like the previous version (as it currently appears at the head of this edit section). We still need to sort out some things, such as a name for the 1st yana, & the scriptures line (which should perhaps just be deleted). Peter jackson 09:39, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

Sorry for the delayed response. Frankly, as I've indicated above, I'm really out of my league when it comes to the content on this table. So, to try to better understand what the "scholars" are saying, I referenced one of the books mentioned in this article's end note regarding "scholars": Robinson & Johnson (1982). (It's the only one of the listed books that I have in my home.) To my chagrin, Robinson & Johnson seem to support the classification as: South Asia (that is, India), Southeast Asia, "Tibetan Culture Area," and East Asian Buddhism. Not South, North, East. So, it at least appears that there might be disunity even among the cited "scholars."
Regardless, honestly, I seem to have a brain freeze when trying to grabble with anything other than the widely understood Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana. Why change it? It's known. And it seems to make as much sense as any other scheme.
Given my ignorance, my failed attempt to understand better and the limited free time I have, at this point I'm going to withdraw from this dialog and unwatch this page. If someone needs help with HTML, etc., just leave me a note on my talk page. Thanks so much for taking time to educate me & others. I hope the creation of the tables — however you chose to use them — is seen as a benefit. With metta, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 05:08, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

More generally on the distinction between sutra & tantra, this is not at all absolute, again as Stephen points out in the foreword to his translation of the Mahavairocana. That is a tantra in Tibet, but Shingon calls it Dainichikyo where kyo=ching=sutra. Perhaps all tantras are sutras in EAsia. The large grey area is also mentioned by Sangharakshita in The Eternal Legacy. Peter jackson 09:38, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Well, I'm talking about Tibetan Buddhism, and I'm far from convinced that the Prajnaparamita sutras are categorized as tantra, because they simply have nothing to do with tantra and they are called sutra; tantric texts are called tantras...
Not to be denigrating to Shingon, but as far as I know, that tradition (as far as I know) is a mix of many different things, predominantly a Japanese shamanistic(?) tradition, Taoism, possibly Confucianism and (a bit of) tantric Buddhism. rudy 23:20, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Correction to what I said above. The Heart Sutra is listed twice in the Tohoku catalogue of the Derge edition of the Kanjur: no. 21, in the Perfection of Wisdom division; & no. 531 in the tantra division. Similarly in the Lhasa edition (26 & 499) & the Narthang edition. The Peking (160) & Cone (165) editions have it only in the tantra division. The reason can be given in 1 word: dharani. So even the Tibetan tradition doesn't make a rigid division between sutra & tantra. Peter jackson 16:23, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

OK, I was apparently all wrong there, thanks for the teaching!rudy 22:18, 5 February 2007 (UTC)