User:Peter jackson/Notes

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Mainly on Buddhism.

Doing this in user space for now as I'm not sure where it's going:

  1. Fred still has to decide what to do with 2 sites
  2. Though I hope this will work out fairly SPOV as well as fairly NPOV, I don't know whether it'll be sufficiently so for a main article. [Material in square brackets might be omitted for more SPOV.]

What I want to try to do here is summarize what "reliable sources", roughly as defined by Wikipedia, have to say about Buddhism.

This is, and will remain, WIP. Consider the following.

  1. A 2006 survey identified 189 Buddhologists in North America alone.[1]
  2. The International Association of Buddhist Studies has about 500 members.[2]
  3. The majority of scholarship in the field is Japanese.[3]
  4. It's impossible,[4] or virtually so,[5] for a single scholar to keep track of the whole field.

So it's obviously impossible for me, as an amateur, to do so. I'm just going to use the sources I've come across so far, keep on exploring more, and watch WP for any cited there. Of course anyone's free to post others on the attached talk page.

A further difficulty is that recent scholarship tends to avoid generalization,[6] which is what one would want a Buddhism article to be mainly based on.

Although I'm trying to follow WP policy on verifiability from RSs, I'm not going to try full compliance with their neutrality policy. That would require giving all "significant" points of view prominence roughly proportional to their prominence in RSs. The only guidance given on how to tell what's "significant" is that it should have "prominent" adherents, which is just as vague. In light of the above facts it's obviously impossible for me to do this. Instead I'm going for brevity, a succinct statement of the position as far as I can determine it. Though not fully compliant with WP NPOV policy, this approach still tries to be broadly neutral.

Another thing I'm going to ignore is their guideline saying the introduction should summarize the article. Instead, I prefer the Citizendium idea that it should indicate what's important about the topic (cf. Wikinfo:Significance).

A different issue is exactly what it is that the scholars writing the "reliable sources" have been studying. A useful indicator is found in the above-mentioned survey, where North American Buddhologists were sent a questionnaire, asking, among other things, which Buddhist languages they knew. Of 152 who replied,

  • 48 knew Sanskrit
  • 38 Japanese
  • 38 Pali/Prakrit
  • 37 Tibetan
  • 34 Chinese
  • 2 Korean
  • 1 Burmese
  • 1 Gandhari
  • 1 Khmer
  • 1 Khotanese
  • 1 Lao
  • 1 Newari and
  • 1 Uighur

Thus the average North American Buddhologist knows one and a third Buddhist languages, but more interesting here is which ones. There is a very large gap between 5 major languages and the rest. While the above figures cannot in themselves exclude the possibility that a lot of study is going on into present-day Chinese, Japanese and Tibetan Buddhism, the fact that there is little interest in present-day Buddhism anywhere else suggests this is not so, and that those 3 languages are being mainly used, like Sanskrit and Pali, to study classical Buddhism. The overall picture suggested is that Buddhologists still mainly study scriptures and other "classical" literature, though the survey mentions[7] that there has been some movement in the previous 3 decades. This is rather like studying Christianity mainly through the Bible, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther etc. and paying little attention to actual Christian churches. (But Buddhist sources are even worse. Would you trust the Pope or Billy Graham for a reliable unbiased account of Christianity?)

On the material for scholars to study, note that the concept of "denominations" or "religious bodies" with centralized organization, while characteristic of Western Christianity, is not usually so for Buddhism (or Hinduism or Islam).[8] Many major Protestant churches are far less monlithic and uniform than the Roman Catholic Church, so it can reasonably be expected that Buddhist "schools" will be even less so. As to literature, here's a brief summary of what scholars have to study:

  • Theravada:
    • Pali Canon: 40 volumes in the 6th Council edition, 45 in the Thai edition: texts regarded as the Word of the Buddha: not all translated, and translations often inaccurate
    • commentaries: 52 volumes in the Burmese edition, 49 in the Sinhalese, 48 in the Thai: about 1/2 translated, but usually more recent and so more accurate
    • subcommentaries: 26 volumes: hardly any translated
    • other Pali literature
    • Burmese, Khmer, Lao, Sinhalese and Thai literature
  • East Asian:
    • Taisho Shinshu Daizokyo: 100 volumes, but these are an order of magnitude longer than the Pali and Tibetan volumes: the standard collection of Indian, Chinese and Japanese literature: includes versions of about 1/2 the Pali Canon
    • collections by the main branches of Buddhism in Japan of literature important to them, overlapping the above
    • other Chinese and Japanese literature
    • Korean and Vietnamese literature
  • Tibetan:
    • Kanjur: about 100 volumes: texts regarded as the Word of the Buddha: about 1/3 translated: most also in the Taisho, but not all
    • Tenjur: 225 volumes: other Indian literature: most untranslated: some also in Taisho
    • Nyingma Gyüwum: texts recognized only by the Nyingma school
    • Tibetan and Mongolian literature

Scholarly study also includes sociology, anthropology and archaeology.

I think I've now dealt with all the important "controversial" points apart from the world Buddhist population (see Demographics of Buddhism). I've just got to put together some handy summaries of some uncontroversial facts.


Buddhism is usually considered a religion,[9] though most scholars agree that there is not a clear-cut distinction between religion and philosophy in Buddhism.[10] It is the oldest of the three religions that have transcended ethnicity and spread round the world on a large scale.[11] It is the official religion in Bhutan, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.[12] There are significantly large communities of Buddhists in 126 countries.[13] More than half the world population is located in areas where Buddhism has been dominant at some point in history.[14]


The received wisdom among American and European scholars[, though contested,] is that the central teachings of all or most traditions of Buddhism are the Four Noble Truths,[15] of

  1. suffering
  2. the cause of suffering,
  3. the cessation of suffering,
  4. the path leading to the cessation of suffering;[16]

there are a variety of interpretations.[17]


Buddhism is dominated by the monastic Order,[18] though in Japan nearly all male clergy are married.[19] The Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese traditions preserve an order of nuns[20] subordinate to the monks.[21]


Buddhists identify themselves as either Theravada or Mahayana.[22] These are different vehicles for going along the same path.[23]

Most scholars agree with Theravada's claim to be extremely conservative.[24] It can be regarded as a single denomination.[25]

There is a growing consensus among scholars that Mahayana is not characterized by a collection of beliefs or practices.[26] It emphasizes adapting the teachings to suit different people, and is thus very diverse.[27] The most popular form of Buddhism is Pure Land.[28] It offers a way of salvation based on faith alone.[29] It believes the Buddha Amitabha has the power to take his devotees to his Pure Land.[30] The other main forms of Mahayana are Nichiren, Zen and Tibetan Buddhism.[31]

Religious practices

Nearly all Buddhists use ritual for spiritual ends.[32]

Devotion is a major part of the lives of most Buddhists.[33]

For most of Buddhist history, meditation has been mainly monastic, and by no means universal even in that context.[34]



Different branches of Buddhsim use different collections, though with some overlap.[35]


The founder of Buddhism is known as the Buddha, a title literally meaning "awakened" and often translated "enlightened". He was born in what is now Nepal and taught there and in nearby areas now in India. There is now a more or less established, [36] though not final,[37] consensus among specialist historians that the Buddha died some time around 400 BC. Certain teachings are found with such frequency throughout the early texts that most historians conclude that he must have taught at least something of the sort.[38] Over the first few centuries of its existence Buddhism evolved into a number of schools, of which Theravada is the only survivor.[39] Little or nothing is known of the origins of Mahayana.[40] Buddhism eventually virtually died out in India.[41]

Theravada Budhism was introduced into Ceylon around 250 BC and spread from there to Burma in the 11th century, and from there to what are now Thailand, Cambodia and Laos over the next two centuries or so.[42]

Buddhism spread through Central Asia to China, where it is first recorded in AD 65.[43] It spread from there to Korea in the late 4th century,[44] and was officially introduced from there to Japan in 538.[45]

Buddhism was introduced to Tibet in the 7th or 8th century.[46] The Mongols were converted to the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism in the 16th century.[47] A migrating Mongol tribe settled Buddhism in Europe in the 17th century.[48]

Buddhism has made significant numbers of converts in the West in the last couple of centuries, almost entirely of a style that emphasizes modernist elements.[49]

The Great Schism

It is sometimes known as the Schism of 1054, but this is at least misleading. It is disputed whether there even was a schism in 1054. If there was it was local and temporary. The Schism was a much more long-drawn-out process lasting centuries.

The early Christian church suffered many splits. Before about 200 there is insufficient evidence to establish the relative sizes of different groups. By then the great majority of Christians belongesd to a single church. All the other groups that had existed up to then have long since died out, as have many later groups, though some of them may have influenced surviving groups.

The first schism that continues to the present day occurred in 428, when the church in the Persian Empire declared itself independent of "Western" church authorities. It still survives as the small Church of the East, but played little part in the later disputes.

In the 6th century the Emperor, the Pope and the other patriarchs declared the Patriarch of Alexandria deposed, but the overwhelming majority of Egyptian Christian clergy and laity remained loyal to him (Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity, page 132), forming what is now the Coptic branch of the Oriental Orthodox Church. References to Patriarchs of Alexandria below are to the successors of his replacement.

It is the church that remained after these schisms whose East-West split is detailed here.

Rome had been regarded from time immemorial as the senior see. The East-West dispute was about the nature of this "primacy".

Cerularius wrote to Patriarch Peter III of Antioch (1052-6) with an account of the events. Peter replied saying[50]

  • the events were deplorable
  • they did not constitute a schism
  • differences of practice about clerical celibacy and eucharistic bread were not worth arguing about
  • he had heard that unleavened bread had been used in Jerusalem and Alexandria
  • the Pope was wrong about the filioque
  • his claims of supremacy should be rejected
  • these points of disagreement were not sufficient justification for schism
  • Peter would continue to honour the Pope as first bishop

In 1089, in an exchange of letters between Pope Urban II and Emperor Alexius I, it was agreed that there was no schism, and Patriarch Nicolas and his bishops agreed.[51]

The Crusades, beginning in 1095, were the main cause of the schism.[52]

When the First Crusade captured Jerusalem, the Greek Patriarch had just died in exile, and the crusaders replaced him with a Latin, who was accepted by the native Christans, though a succession of Greek patriarchs continued in exile until 1187, when Saladin recaptured Jerusalem and the Greek Patriarch returned, resulting in a real schism in the Patriarchate.[53]

In 1100, after deteriorating relations with the crusaders, Patriarch John of Antioch went into exile in Constantinople and soon resigned. His clergy, who had joined him in exile, elected a Greek Patriarch, recognized by the Orthodox world, while the Crusaders chose a Latin, recognized by Rome. Thus there was schism in Antioch from this date, a prime cause of the eventual total schism.[54]

Even after the Fourth Crusade, however, Alexandria, which was never captured by crusaders, remained in communion with both Rome and Constantinople for some time, with legates of its Patriarch attending the 4th Lateran Council in Rome in 1215, for example. It is not clear exactly when this communion was broken, but by 1310 the Pope had appointed his own, Latin Patriarch.[55]

The agreement at the Council of Florence effectively became a dead letter in Constantinople after it fell to the Turks in 1453, though it was only formally repudiated some years later. However, there is reason to suppose that the other Eastern Patriarchates did not repudiate it until the 16th century. There is evidence that at least two 17th-century Patriarchs of Jerusalem were in communion with Rome.[56]

In the 17th and early 18th centuries, six Patriarchs of Antioch accepted Roman authority.[57] The last of these was Cyril V, who signed a confession of Catholic faith sent him by the Pope in 1716. After he died in 1720, his successor, Athanasius III, went to Constantinople in 1722 and got the Patriarch and Holy Synod to decree excommunication against anyone reconciling with Rome. After his death in 1724, there was a disputed election for his successor: Cyril VI was elected by a synod of priests, deacons and lay people in Damascus, while the synod of Constantinople, with representatives from the local church present and consenting, chose Sylvester. Pope Benedict XIII confirmed Cyril in 1729, and the clergy and laity of the Patriarchate split into Catholic and Orthodox groups.

Thus, up to about 1724, there were frequently people in communion with Rome and Constantinople simultaneously. Hence it can probably be said that the schism was not complete till then, at least.[58]

In 1729 the Pope forbade sharing of worship and sacraments with the Orthodox. In 1755 the Orthodox Church decreed that any Catholics converting to Orthodoxy had to be rebaptized.


  1. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 30, page 263
  2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2007, page ix
  3. Hirakawa, History of Indian Buddhism, volume 1, English translation, Hawai'i University Press, 1990, page IX
  4. Routledge Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2007, page ix
  5. Lopez, (Story of) Buddhism, Harper/Penguin, 2001, Acknowledgements
  6. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 30, page 289
  7. pages 287f
  8. [1]
  9. Numen, volume 49, page 388/Williams, Buddhism, Routledge, Volume III, 2005, page 403
  10. Schroeder, Skillful Means, University of Hawai'i Press, 2001, page 5
  11. Bechert and Gombrich, World of Buddhism, Thames & Hudson, 1984, page 7; Sopher, Geography of Religion, Prentice-Hall, 1967, page 7; the other two are Christianity and islam; others have done so on a much smaller scale
  12. Fox, World Survey of Religion and the State, Cambridge University Press, 2008, Table 7.1 [page 182]
  13. World Christian Encyclopedia, 2nd ed, Oxford University Press, 2001, volume 1, page 3
  14. Penguin Handbook of the World's Living Religions, 2010, page 371
  15. History of Religions, volume 42, page 389
  16. Jerryson & Juergensmeyer, Buddhist Warfare, Oxford University Press, 2010, page 15, note 5; Keown, Buddhism, Oxford University Press, 1996, chapter 4; Cambridge Illustrated History of Religions, page 78
  17. Jerryson & Juergensmeyer, Buddhist Warfare, Oxford University Press, 2010, page 5
  18. Bechert & Gombrich, World of Buddhism, Thames & Hudson, 1984, page 9
  19. History of Religions, volume 43, page 167
  20. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2004 (Volume Two), pages 607f
  21. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2004 (Volume One), page 353
  22. Keown, Buddhism, Oxford University Press, 1996, page 11
  23. Oxtoby & Amore, World Religions: Eastern Tradtions, Oxford University Press, 2010, page 205/Oxtoby & Segal, Concise Introduction to the World Religions, Oxford University Press, 1st ed, 2007, page 398/2nd ed, 2012, page 394
  24. Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism, Routledge: 1st ed, 1988, page 21/2nd ed, 2006, page 22
  25. Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism, Routledge, 1st ed, 1988/2nd ed, 2006, page 3
  26. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, volume 30, page 219
  27. Williams, Mahayana Buddhism, 2nd ed, 2006, Routledge, pages 1f
  28. Flesher, Exploring Religions, University of Wyoming
  29. Oxtoby & Amore, World Religions: Eastern Tradtions, Oxford University Press, 2010, page 211/Oxtoby & Segal, Concise Introduction to World Religions, 2nd ed, 2012, page 398
  30. Mitchell, Buddhism, Oxford University Press, ist ed, 2002, page 206/2nd ed, 2008, page 226
  31. [ Fowler, Buddhism, Sussex Academic Press, 1999
  32. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2004 (Volume One), page 139
  33. Harvey, Introduction to Buddhism, Cambridge University Press, 1990, page 170
  34. Lopez, Buddhist Scriptures, Penguin Classics, 2004, page xxxii; Routledge Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2007, pages 502f
  35. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2004 (Volume Two), page 756
  36. Gethin, Sayings of the Buddha, Oxford World Classics, 2008, page xv
  37. Routledge Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2007, page 107
  38. Mitchell, Buddhism, Oxford University Press, 1st ed, 2002, page 34
  39. Harvey, Introduction to Buddhism, Cambridge University Press, 1990, page 2
  40. [2], page 91
  41. Harvey, Introduction to Buddhism, Cambridge University Press, 1990, page 140
  42. Gomrich, Theravada Buddhism, Routledge, 1st edition 1988/2nd edition 2006, page 3
  43. Bechert & Gombrich, World of Buddhism, Thames & Hudson, 1984, page 196
  44. Bechert & Gombrich, World of Buddhism, Thames & Hudson, 1984, page 202
  45. Harvey, Introduction to Buddhism, Cambridge University Press, 1990, page 161
  46. Bechert & Gombrich, World of Buddhism, Thames & Hudson, 1984, page 256
  47. Bechert & Gombrich, World of Buddhism, Thames & Hudson, 1984, page 266
  48. Bechert & Gombrich, World of Buddhism, Thames & Hudson, 1984, page 268
  49. Keown & Prebish, Routledge Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2007, page 286
  50. Chadwick, pages 214ff
  51. Chadwick, pages 222f
  52. Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity, page 100; Hussey, Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire, page 136; Runciman, page 168
  53. Runciman, pages 87f
  54. this paragraph from Runciman, page 92
  55. this paragraph summarized from Runciman
  56. Attwater, The Christian Churches of the East, volume II: Bruce, Milwaukee, [1948], pages 40ff / Geoffrey Chapman, London, 1961, page 37
  57. Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, Volume I, page 36; remainder of this paragraph from Charles A. Frazee, Catholics and Sultans: the church and the Ottoman Empire 1453-1923, Cambridge University Press, 1983, pages 199-202
  58. Oxford History of Christianity, pages 151f
  • Henry Chadwick, East and West: the Making of a Rift in the Church: from Apostolic Times to the Council of Florence, Oxford University Press, 2003
  • Steven Runciman. The Eastern Schism: A Study of the Papacy and the Eastern Churches during the XIth and XIIth Centuries. 1955Template:Disambig with def

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