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11
votes
8answers
2k views

What does Buddhism literature and tradition say about transgender folks?

This may seem like a question that is far too modern for an ancient tradition, but when I traveled in Thailand I learned that katoeys (male-to-female) are a legal gender in Thailand. What does ...
5
votes
4answers
249 views

Vajrayana Buddhism relies on a teacher-pupil relationship. What in tradition or the literature explains how to find the appropriate teacher?

Vajrayana Buddhism is esoteric, in the sense that the transmission of certain teachings only occurs directly from teacher to student during an initiation or empowerment and cannot be simply learned ...
7
votes
1answer
198 views

Can a military career be ethical?

There are military generals as lay people and stream enterers in the suttas. And there is no clear prohibition to a military career. There are some suttas that criticize the karma of soldiers on the ...
9
votes
8answers
3k views

What is the difference between Vijñāna, Manas and Citta?

Together they refer to one's mental processes as a whole. Separately, what are they and how are they different?
6
votes
5answers
2k views

How important are incense and candles to a meditation practice?

What is the function of incense and candles to a meditation practice? Are they used in all types of meditation or only some types?
7
votes
3answers
514 views

What is known about the years of oral tradition of the Pali Canon?

With the Buddha teaching for 45 years before he passed into parinibbana, what is known about the methods and practices used to keep his teachings alive until they were written down? Do we know how ...
6
votes
6answers
1k views

Can lay people be involved in the weapons business?

There is a short sentence in the suttas where the Buddha said lay people should not involve themselves in the weapons business, but it seems this is not as serious as the five precepts. The question ...
6
votes
4answers
5k views

What is the difference between a Bodhisatta and a Bodhisattva?

Lots of Buddhist words have two different spellings (kamma/karma) because one is the Pali version and the other is the Sanskrit version; but the meaning is the same. My understanding of Bodhisatta and ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

Are Buddhists against abortion?

While other religions seem to have a definition position on abortion I've never come across the Buddhist view on this. From a naive perspective I would imagine that Buddhists would be prolife rather ...
11
votes
1answer
302 views

How is semchen (sentient being) defined?

Semchen is typically defined as a sentient being. What does this mean? What is sentience? This question about killing bacteria indicates bacteria are not sentient, but I distinctly remember a guru ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Who is the laughing Buddha?

Given that Gautama Buddha was an ascetic until shortly before his enlightenment and several Dhammapada verses reflect a moderate attitude toward food, such as: Verse 7: He who keeps his mind on ...
6
votes
4answers
260 views

Buddhism and past lives?

The idea of having more than one life in Buddhism is regarded not just as a theory but a truth that can be experienced and verified If this is so, what was the technique used by the Buddha to ...
5
votes
1answer
749 views

Buddhism and bacteria

Buddhist teachings tell that all intentional killing is negative karma. So, what about bacteria? Are bacteria considered to be sentient beings? Is using antibiotics negative karma? Is it possible to ...
5
votes
1answer
147 views

How is a Theravada Buddhist monastery established?

There is no Theravada monastery in the country I live in. I just read a short brief about lay people going together and forming a forest monastery in Norway, and was wondering about how a monastery is ...
8
votes
1answer
252 views

Is what is taught under the term “Radical Buddhism” consistent with Buddhist values?

Recently, so-called "radical Buddhists" like the monk Wirathu from the 969 Buddhist Nationalist movement in Burma, incited unrest and preached violence against minorities like Muslims. (See, for ...
7
votes
3answers
416 views

What is the Pure Land?

The Three Pure Land sutras contain descriptions of a beautiful and serene place with trees, ponds, and palaces all made of jewels and surrounded with heavenly music and fragrance. How is this Pure ...
7
votes
4answers
299 views

Is there a historical connection between Buddhism and martial arts?

Are kung fu monks and all related Hollywood stereotypes based on any actual historical connection between Buddhism and martial arts? Or is it just a fun movie concept? :)
7
votes
2answers
18k views

What would one encounter at a Buddhist temple service?

With the understanding that there are many different traditions and cultures within Buddhism, I wonder if it is possible to describe what a newcomer might encounter if they went to a temple service ...
4
votes
3answers
830 views

What are Buddha-fields and Dharma-fields in Buddhism? What roles do they play in various lineages?

Recently, I heard the terms Buddha-fields and Dharma-fields. It was explained as a place to do good deeds for gaining good karma. However, I'm not sure about the explanation or what it means. What ...
17
votes
4answers
10k views

How is sexual misconduct explained in regards to the five precepts?

The 3rd precept is: I undertake the training rule to avoid sexual misconduct. How is this precept explained? Marriage is defined differently in different cultures, so are the commonly accepted ...
29
votes
14answers
9k views

Are all Buddhists vegetarian?

Most if not all Buddhists I know are vegetarian or vegan. Thinking about the precepts this is not surprising - one should abstain from killing. However is this universally true in all Buddhist ...
9
votes
4answers
19k views

Significance of touching forheads in Tibetan Buddhism (Karma Kagyu)?

I have visited a local group of Karma Kagyu practitioners once, hearing a Dharma talk and participating in the mantra, rituals, and meditation. At this occasion, the members of the Sangha greeted ...
3
votes
1answer
194 views

Would a world full of good Buddhists seeking enlightenment would never have developed technology? [closed]

If realizing the true nature of mind is the ultimate goal that drives us to enlightenment, constant blizz and the end of suffering, what would be the interest of developing technology? Technology ...
8
votes
5answers
175 views

Is action a form of discontent?

I know Buddhism stresses the importance of being a content person, but I can't help thinking that any action such as walking or even shifting my foot is a form of dissatisfaction for current moment. ...
4
votes
5answers
957 views

Does not keeping a promise violate the precept on lying? What if I promised myself?

In my opinion, if you promise something to someone and don't keep it, it is equivalent to lying. But what if the promise is to myself and I don't keep it; is it violating the precept on lying? Does ...
12
votes
9answers
3k views

Do all Buddhists abstain from alcohol?

I've been to a nice restaurant (pictured below) where the bar was decorated with statues of the Buddha. Given the 5th precept and all; this seemed a bit odd. Would it be correct to surmise that the ...
5
votes
4answers
147 views

Scheduling Formal Meditation

Is it considered better practice to stick to a strict schedule of walking/sitting meditation even if doing so will involve trying to settle into meditation while being plagued with hindrances (pañca ...
6
votes
7answers
1k views

What is gained by learning Vipassana meditation in long retreats?

My understanding of S.N. Goenka's method for learning Vipassana meditation is that the student is introduced to meditation in a 10 day retreat in which he or she sits in silent meditation for almost ...
9
votes
7answers
12k views

What was the historical Buddha's ethnicity?

Gautama Buddha is traditionally regarded as having a noble body with 32 signs of a Great Man and one of those signs are deep blue eyes. I came across many online discussions about Buddha's ethnicity ...
5
votes
2answers
283 views

What is the overall Buddhist taxonomy?

Building from this question, I'd be really interested in seeing an overall view of the Buddhist taxonomical system. I don't mean the actual names "Therevada", "Mahayana" and so on, or "Soto", "Rinzai" ...
7
votes
2answers
790 views

Buddhist Holidays & Gifts

Are any Buddhist holidays associated with gift giving? If so, which holidays and what types of gifts are customarily given?
2
votes
2answers
604 views

What is the reason for attributing Lord Buddha's statues to days the of week?

Image courtesy of ThaiSmile.jp Visiting Buddhist temples, I often notice several statues of Lord Buddha. As far as I understand, they represent different Boddhisattvas. However, these statues are ...
10
votes
5answers
500 views

Is it useful (and polite) to ask a potential meditation teacher about their attainments?

In another question, it was discussed whether it's possible to recognize if someone is an arahat. I'm interested in something slightly less formidable, namely the "attainments" that may lead to ...
14
votes
5answers
647 views

What is the meaning of “dhammā” in the context of the four satipaṭṭhāna?

I've been struggling with this one for quite a while now. The fourth foundation of mindfulness is called 'dhammānupassana' - vision in regards to the dhammas. The old translation I was given when I ...
26
votes
5answers
12k views

Is drinking coffee or tea against the fifth precept?

The fifth precept most directly guides us to abstain from alcohol. Coffee is a stimulant and probably so is tea. Drinking either beverage affects our mental calm and makes us behave in ways that we ...
9
votes
4answers
439 views

Was Buddha one man?

On Wikipedia Buddha redirects to Gautama Buddha, but there is also a List of the twenty-eight Buddhas Was Buddha a single human man? Or is Buddha a concept or maybe a spirit often reborn?
29
votes
4answers
6k views

Where is the Buddha quoted as saying do not believe anything I say until you can prove it by yourself?

If I remember rightly the Buddha is quoted as saying something along the lines of: Do not believe anything I say until you can prove it by yourself In what text(s) of the Buddhist cannon is this ...
5
votes
1answer
130 views

What does enlightenment actually entail in Shugendo?

We already have some questions about enlightenment, but this is going to be a bit more... esoteric. What I would like to know is what enlightenment entails in Shugendo, which is a particularly ...
5
votes
1answer
88 views

What distinguishes Japanese Shingon Buddhism from other types?

How is Japanese Shingon Buddhism different from other forms of Buddhism such as Zen?
12
votes
9answers
932 views

In meditation, should one pursue tranquility first, prior to looking for insight?

On the one hand this question has been asked to death on the internet (and yuttadhammo's videos even try to handle it). On the other hand, I personally still don't feel I have a clear answer (and I ...
13
votes
4answers
602 views

Is it possible to “over-train” in samatha meditation?

Every morning I set aside one hour for meditation -- primarily just counting breaths, but occasionally abdominal noting. My overall aim is to achieve some kind of basic tranquility so I can then ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

Why does the Buddha appear androgynous in some depictions?

In quite a few depictions of the Buddha in artwork, he appears androgynous. Does this represent something significant in terms of a Buddhist message or ideal, or is this just an artistic style?
21
votes
6answers
517 views

How can I assess the quality of a local Buddhist group?

I'm located in the West, and, in my local area, there are several Buddhist groups. I would like to join one of them to be more formal in my commitment to learn about Buddhism. My question is, how do I ...
12
votes
4answers
393 views

Please explain when and where to use the terms Theravada and Hinayana

I understand that Hinayana as a term is generally pejorative when referring to Theravadin practitioners. Where is the use of the term Hinayana proper, and why is it still used if it's considered ...
11
votes
8answers
7k views

What is the difference between relative and absolute truth in Buddhist philosophy?

Many Buddhist texts and teachings make a distinction between absolute and relative truth. Please explain the difference and give some examples.
8
votes
8answers
587 views

Is it only humans who can understand Buddhism?

If Buddhism is a general theory of understanding the cycle of attachments, is it possible that any other 'wise' enough creature could achieve the same thing? In the Visuddhimagga English translation,...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

How does making merit affect karma?

I believe I understand the basics of karma as the effects of our intentions and actions (good & evil) which will play some role in this and future lives. But how does merit making affect karma? If ...
7
votes
2answers
272 views

Does enlightenment mean achieving purity?

Usually, the word enlightenment is not directly understandable; a newcomer might understand incorrectly. In the Visuddhimagga (Path to Purification, p. 6), Nibbana is illustrated as follows: "...
7
votes
5answers
292 views

Differences of Ultimate Realities in different traditions

In Theravada Abhidhamma Pitaka there are four Ultimate Realities (paramattha dhammaa) mentioned, Citta Cetasika Rupa Nibbana Is there any variations in these realities in other traditions of ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

What practices are included in (daily lay) life for a Buddhist? [closed]

There are a number of Buddhist traditions, each with different teachings and practices. What are the daily practices lay people normally live by? For instance, living by five or eight precepts, in ...

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