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Portal:Buddhism

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Introduction

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

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

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

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

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Buddha, known for his philosophy of ahimsa
Ahimsa is a Sanskrit term meaning to do no harm (literally: the avoidance of violence - himsa). It is an important tenet of the religions that originated in ancient India (Hinduism, Buddhism and especially Jainism). Ahimsa is a rule of conduct that bars the killing or injuring of living beings. It is closely connected with the notion that all kinds of violence entail negative karmic consequences. The extent to which the principle of non-violence can or should be applied to different life forms is controversial between various authorities, movements and currents within the three religions and has been a matter of debate for thousands of years. Though the origins of the concept of ahimsa are unknown, the earliest references to ahimsa are found in the texts of historical Vedic religion, dated to 8th century BCE. Here, ahimsa initially relates to "non-injury" without a moral connotation, but later to non-violence to animals and then, to all beings. The idea emerges again in the Hindu texts Mahabharata and Manu Smriti, where ahimsa is said to be merited by good Karma. Though meat-eating and slaughter of animals are criticized by some Hindu texts, other texts present counter-arguments in support of hunting and ritual sacrifice. In the 19th and 20th centuries, prominent figures of Indian spirituality such as Swami Vivekananda, Ramana Maharishi, Swami Sivananda and A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami emphasized the importance of ahimsa.

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Xá Lợi Pagoda
Colonel Lê Quang Tung (1923 – November 1, 1963) was the commander of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam Special Forces under the command of Ngô Đình Nhu, the brother of South Vietnam's president, Ngô Đình Diệm. A former servant of the Ngô family, Tung's military background was in security and counterespionage. During the 1950s, Tung was a high-ranking official in Nhu's Cần Lao Party, the secret Roman Catholic organisation which maintained the Ngô family's grip on power, extorting money from wealthy businessmen. In 1960, Tung was promoted directly to the rank of colonel and became the commander of the special forces. Tung's period at the helm of South Vietnam's elite troops was noted mostly for his work in repressing dissidents, especially attacking Buddhists, rather than fighting the Việt Cộng insurgents. His most well-known attack was the raid on Xá Lợi Pagoda (pictured) on August 21, 1963 in which hundreds, including monks, were believed to have died. Across the country, his men heavily vandalised Buddhist property. In another incident, his men killed a giant fish because Buddhists regarded it as a reincarnation of one of Buddha's disciples. Tung's main military program was a scheme in which Army of the Republic of Vietnam personnel attempted to infiltrate North Vietnam in order to engage in intelligence gathering and sabotage. The program was ineffective, with the vast majority of infiltrators being killed or captured. Following the pagoda raids, the US terminated funding to Tung's men because they were used as a political tool rather than against the communists. Along with Diệm and Nhu, Tung was assassinated during the November 1963 coup.

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Gautama Buddha

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When other sects speak well of Zen, the first thing that they praise is its poverty.
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