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Theravada (Buddhism)

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Theravada (pronounced ? more or less ? "terra-VAH-dah"), the "Doctrine of the Elders," is the school of Buddhism that draws its scriptural inspiration from the Tipitaka, or Pali (the language) canon, which scholars generally agree contains the earliest surviving record of the Buddha's teachings.1 For many centuries, Theravada has been the predominant religion of continental Southeast Asia (Thailand, Myanmar/Burma, Cambodia, and Laos) and Sri Lanka. Today Theravada Buddhists number well over 100 million worldwide. In recent decades, Theravada has begun to take root in the West. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bullitt/theravada.html

Rituals, Traditions and Basic Belief Systems

The Dhamma,

· The truth taught by the Buddha, unfolds gradually.
· Awakening does not occur like a bolt out of the blue to the untrained and unprepared mind.
· The four noble truths spell out the course of mental training required to realize the highest happiness: nibbana.

Four Noble Truths

1. Dukkha: suffering, unsatisfactoriness, discontent, stress;
2. The cause of dukkha: the cause of this dissatisfaction is craving (tanha) for sensuality, for states of becoming, and states of no becoming;
3. The cessation of dukkha: the relinquishment of that craving;
4. The path of practice leading to the cessation of dukkha: the Noble Eightfold Path of discernment (e.g. right view, right resolve); virtue (e.g. right speech, right action, right livelihood); concentration (e.g. right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration).

Release from Samsara (Cycle of Rebirths)

· Assigning to each of the Noble Truths a specific task:
· The first Noble Truth is to be comprehended;
· The second, abandoned;
· The third, realized;
· The fourth, developed.

The full realization of the third Noble Truth paves the way for Awakening: the end of ignorance, craving, suffering, and kamma itself; the direct penetration to the transcendent freedom and supreme happiness that stands as the final goal of all the Buddha's teachings; the Unconditioned, the Deathless, Unbinding ? Nibbana (Skt. Nirvana). http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bullitt/theravada.html

Meditation (Ritual)

By meditating, a practitioner can gain valuable insight on himself/herself as well as understanding the concepts of Dhamma better. Meditation techniques include:
· Jhana
· Anapana
· Vipassana
· Metta

Levels of Attainment

Through practice, Theravadins practitioner can attain four degrees of spiritual attainment:

1. Stream-Enterers - Those who have destroyed the three fetters (self-belief, doubt, and faith in the efficacy of rituals and observances), will be safe from falling into the states of misery (they will not be born as an animal, hungry ghost, or hell being). At most they will have to be reborn only seven more times before attaining Nibbana.
2. Once-Returners - Those who have destroyed the three fetters (self-belief, doubt, and faith in the efficacy of rituals and observances), and the lessening of lust, hatred, and delusion. They will attain Nibbana after being born once more in the world.
3. Non-Returners - Those who have destroyed the five lower fetters (that bind beings to the world of the senses), They will never again return to the human world. After they die they will be born in the deities worlds, there to attain Nibbana.
4. Arahant - Those who have reached Enlightenment, awakened to the Nibbana and have reached the quality of deathlessness, free from all the fermentations of defilement; whose ignorance, craving, attachments, and karma have ended. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theravada#Philosophy

The Round of Rebirth (notes)

Because of our ignorance (avijja) of these Noble Truths, because of our inexperience in framing the world in their ...

Solution Summary

This solution overviews Theravada (Buddhism) in point form including the rituals, traditions, and basic belief systems of this type of Buddhism. Information for the notes is also provided.