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Bodhidharma

(134 words)

Author(s): Astley, Ian
[German Version] (Chin. Putidamo, Jap. Bodaidaruma) is a semi-legendary figure of East Asian Buddhism. This South Indian prince is reputed to have journeyed to northern China c. 500 ce, where he spent nine years in the monastery of Shaolin meditating before a wall. This and similar stories provide the first traces within the Buddhist tradition of the Zen school, which is often described as eccentric, and are of g…

Eisai

(175 words)

Author(s): Astley, Ian
[German Version] (alternative reading: Yōsai; 1141–1215; also known as Myōan, Yōjōbō or Senkō Soshi; clan name Kaya), introduced the Rinzai form of Chan-Buddhism (Zen Buddhism) into Japan in 1191, after having been trained in China in 1168 and from 1187 to 1191. On his second visit, his attempt to reach India failed. Instead, he chose to dwell on Mt. Tiant…

Bodhisattva

(367 words)

Author(s): Astley, Ian
[German Version] (Pāli bodhisatto, Sanskrit bodhisattva, Chin. pusa, Jap. Bosatsu: “one whose essence is enlightenment, one destined to be a buddha”). In the Pāli Canon or Jātakas, the term refers to the career of a buddha before achieving enlightenment. In the earliest stages of Buddhist history, the concept of the bodhisattva is relatively simple and of minor doctrinal …

Buddhism Research

(438 words)

Author(s): Astley, Ian
[German Version] The process of discovering Buddhism has been long and difficult. The first European encounter with Buddhism appears to have taken place at the court of the Mongol emperor in the13th/14th century. From the 16th century onward Christian missionaries were present in India, Śri Laṅka, Burma, Thailand, China and Japan, while others arrived in Tsapa…

Trikāya

(392 words)

Author(s): Astley, Ian
[German Version] (Sanskrit, “threefold body [of the Buddha]”; Chinese sanshen, Japanese sanjin). Early Buddhist literature describes the historical person of the Buddha as rūpakāya, “a body recognizable through its physical form”). As an enlightened being, his person was equated metaphorically with the truth of his teaching ( dharma[ kāya]). “Whoever imparts insight into my teaching sees me as well” ( Saṃyuttanikāya 22.87). When the Buddha died, his teaching remained. If all of the Buddha’s truth were the same, his individual identity would necessarily h…

Avalokiteśvara,

(363 words)

Author(s): Astley, Ian
[German Version] also known as Guanshiyin or Guanyin in Chinese, Kanzeon or Kannon in Japanese; Lokeśvararāja. The name means roughly “the one who looks down upon the world.” He is one of the oldest and most beloved Bodhisattva of Buddhism. In eastern Asia, AvalokiteŚvara is often portrayed in a female form; in Tibet the cult of Tārā arose as a female counterpart. The Dalai Lama (I) is regarded as his incarnation. Associated with the Buddha Amitābha, the iconography often depicts AvalokiteŚvara in a triad with him and the Bodhisattva Mahāsthāmaprāpta. The best-known documentary sourc…

Amaterasu Omikami

(183 words)

Author(s): Astley, Ian
[German Version] Japanese sun goddess, “great goddess who illuminates the heavens.” Amaterasu is one of the few female solar deities of world mythology, although this may be a modern development. The daughter of Izanagi and the sister of Susanoo, she is a major deity in Japanese mythology. After an altercation with Susanoo, she withdrew into a cave in protest …

Dōgen,

(217 words)

Author(s): Astley, Ian
[German Version] surname Kigen (also known as Buppōbō; posthumously, Shōyō Daishi or Busshō Dentō Kokushi; 1200–1253). A leading Buddhist in the Kamakura era (1192–1333) (Buddhism: I, 2.d), he was the founder of the Sōtō school (Chinese Caodong zong; Japanese Sōtō-shū) of Zen Buddhism. The son of a noble family, he lost his pare…

Kumārajīva

(161 words)

Author(s): Astley, Ian
[German Version] (344, Kuča [Chinese Qinci] – 411/413, Changʾan) was a Buddhist scholar of noble descent. As a novice, he studied the teachings of the Sarvāstivāda, later specializing in the Mādhyamika, Nyāya, and Sāṃkhya. He was brought to Liangzhou as a prisoner in 384 and from there to Changʾan (Eastern Qin) in 402 by Yao Xing (Yao Ying). In the Caotang Si monastery, where a commemoration stele and a meditation hall are still to be seen, Kumārajīva and his team translated 53 texts by order of the emperor between 402 and 411, including Nāgārjuna's extensive Da zhidu lun ( Mahāprajñāpāramitā…

Buddha

(1,604 words)

Author(s): Astley, Ian | Yaldiz, Marianne
[German Version] I. The Historical Buddha – II. Systematics – III. Buddha and Bodhisattvas in Art I. The Historical Buddha Buddha, “the enlightened one”; family name Gautama, given name Siddhārtha. The designation “Śākyamuni” means “wise one of the Śākya tribe”; other designations include the address “Bhagavat” (“lord”) and the self-designation “Tathāgata.” Although it is p…

Amitābha

(906 words)

Author(s): Astley, Ian | May, John
[German Version] I. History of Religion – II. Missiology I. History of Religion Amitābha (Sanskrit), “(Buddha of) infinite light,” or Amitāyus, “(Buddha of) infinite life” (Buddha); Chinese O-mi-t'o, Japanese Amida (Buddha of the West) is associated with Bodhisattva, Avalokiteśvara, and Mahāsthāmaprāpta. These three figures are a frequent theme of Buddhist iconography. The cult of Amitābha seems to have begun in north-west India, possibly under the influence of the Zoroastrian cult of Ahura Mazdā. By the 3rd century ce, the cult had spread to …

Buddhism

(10,901 words)

Author(s): Astley, Ian | Mürmel, Heinz | Sagaster, Klaus | Baumann, Martin | Yaldiz, Marianne | Et al.
[German Version] I. History of Religion – II. Missiology I. History of Religion 1. The Buddha and his Teaching. Although the biographical dates of the historical Buddha are uncertain, scholars generally put them at 563–483 bce. The Buddha understood his own teaching as a path to redemption, i.e., to liberation from the wretched cycle of rebirths. This teaching (Dharma) is often expressed in a medical…

Canon

(4,367 words)

Author(s): Pezzoli-Olgiati, Daria | Schindler, Alfred | Huizing, Klaas | Troianos, Spyros N. | Felmy, Karl Christian | Et al.
[German Version] I. History of Religion – II. Church History – III. Fundamental Theology – IV. Orthodox Law – V. Eastern Poetry – VI. Islam – VII. Buddhism – VIII. Taoism I. History of Religion The canon can be defined as a complex process of selection of documents regarded as authoritative; from the totality of the extant written tradition, documents are set apart according to certain criteria as holy or inspired (Inspiration/Theopneustia). Although the concept of the canon as a normative collection…