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Does Buddhism Have A Holy Book?
Buddhism is a religion that originated from ancient India, and is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who later came to be known as “The Buddha” or “The Enlightened One”. The basis of the Buddhist faith is the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, which are the core teachings of Buddhism that all followers are expected to adhere to in order to achieve nirvana and liberation from the mundane cycle of death and rebirth, known as samsara.
One of the most important and central aspects of Buddhism is the use of sacred scriptures, many of which have become the core texts of the faith. While Buddhism does not have a single holy book that is universally accepted by Buddhists, there is an impressive and diverse collection of canonical texts that are widely studied and revered, and are known as the Buddhist scriptures.
The Buddhist scriptures are divided into three ‘baskets’ or collections, known as the Tripitaka (The Three Baskets). These are the Vinaya Pitaka, Sutra Pitaka, and Abhidharma Pitaka.
The Vinaya Pitaka, which is the first section of the Tripitaka, contains doctrines and rules for the monastic order, which provides the moral code for Buddhist monks and nuns. It contains a detailed account of the life and teachings of the Buddha, and how these teachings are to be put into practice. This section includes the major ethical and disciplinary aspects of the religion.
The Sutra Pitaka (The Basket of Discourses) is the second section of the Tripitaka, and contains some of the most important and widely studied Buddhist scriptures. This part of the Tripitaka contains many discourses and teachings of the Buddha himself, as well as parables, stories, and dialogues intended to illustrate the Buddhist path to enlightenment. Some of the most famous sutras include the Heart Sutra, The Diamond Sutra, and The Lotus Sutra.
The Abhidharma Pitaka (The Basket of Special Doctrine) is the third section of the Tripitaka, and contains mostly commentaries, systematizations, and scholastic works on Buddhist philosophy and psychology. This section of the Tripitaka contains works such as the Abhidharmakosa, which is a compendium of Buddhist psychological and philosophical theories.
The Tripitaka is the most well-known and widely studied collection of Buddhist scriptures, however there are other important collections that are considered to be sacred texts within the Buddhist faith. These include The Tibetan Book of the Dead, The Lankavatara Sutra, The Milindapanha, and The Avatamsaka Sutra.
The Tripitaka and other collections of texts provide the core tenets of Buddhist philosophy and are studied and revered by Buddhists from all over the world. While there may not be a single holy book that is accepted by all Buddhists, these scriptures contain the messages and teachings which provide the foundations for the Buddhist practice and faith. Ultimately, the scriptures are designed to be studied and followed in order to achieve enlightenment and liberation.