Why do Buddhists believe that murderers can repent?


1 The five commandments

The Five Silas / Pancasila / The Five Pillars of Buddhism

  • "The first rule: Do not kill. Do not destroy the life of a sentient being. Death is suffering for all living beings. Those who observe this rule nourish their compassion and understanding.

  • The second rule: don't steal. What is not given to us we should not take.

  • The third rule: no sexual misconduct, no relationships that cause suffering for others or for yourself.

  • The fourth rule is not to be untruthful. Do not use words that twist the truth, or that sow hatred or discord. Don't spread news that you are not sure is true.

  • The fifth rule is not to consume intoxicating substances. Those who are intoxicated will quickly break all other rules.

If you follow these rules, you will avoid suffering and discord and multiply other and your own happiness. "

(According to Buddha's words in Tipitaka)

2 The Buddha's "Four Noble Truths"

Like a doctor, as he also called himself, he summarized the doctrine presented by him in the "Four Noble Truths":

  1. There is suffering (in life) / life is frustrating, imperfect (Pali: Dukkha).

  2. There is a cause for suffering. This is the basic ignorance (of the true nature of things - that they are empty in relation to their existence - empty of an essence of their own). (This suffering arises from desire / thirst / clinging, egoism) (Samudaya).

  3. It is possible to get rid of suffering. There is an end to suffering. (Nirodha).

  4. There is a way and means (given by the Buddha) to end suffering. One way to do this is shown in the so-called eightfold path to right life (Magga).

Due to the central position of the concept of suffering in Buddhism, it has been accused of a pessimistic worldview. It can be countered that the Dharma (the Buddha's teaching) shows a way to liberation from suffering - in positive terms: a way to "wellbeing" (Thich Nhat Hanh). Furthermore, one must clearly distinguish between the all-encompassing principle of dependent origination, which these four noble truths represent in concentrated form, and its specific application to suffering. The conditioned origin (Pali: Paticca-Samuppada) is the representation of the mode of being of all phenomena in their dynamic development and mutual conditioning, just as the Arhant Assaji laid out the Buddha's teaching in Sariputra in the shortest form: "The Tathagata (Buddha) has the origin of that Explaining things that arise from a cause. He has also explained their cessation. That is the teaching of the great Sramana (Saint) ". The fact that the Buddha now chooses "dukkha", the suffering and the unsatisfactory of existence as a starting point, comes from his conviction that only an impulse coming from the bottom of the heart can be strong enough to bring the ignorant worldly on a path that leads to the most radical change should effect in its essence. Only understanding the fundamental unsatisfactory nature of our existence can be strong enough to rouse us to action. The goal of Buddhist endeavors is by no means only the abolition of suffering, but the realization of perfection (perfection of wisdom and compassion, nibbana), which is positive and fundamental.

3 The 37 things required for enlightenment

Bodhipakkhiyadhamma 37

The four foundations of mindfulness (Satipatthana 4)

  1. Mindfulness of the Body (Kayanupassana)

  2. Mindfulness of the Feelings (Vedananupassana)

  3. Mindfulness of the Mind (Cittanupassana)

  4. Mindfulness of Mind Objects (Dhammanupassana)

The Four Right Efforts (Samapadhana 4)

  1. Effort to restrain the senses (Samvara Padhana)

  2. Effort to Overcome (Pahana Padhana)

  3. Effort for Development (Bhavana Padhana)

  4. Effort for Conservation (Anurakkhana Padhana)

The four ways to success (Iddhipada 4)

  1. Will, striving, intention (chanda)

  2. Willpower, Effort, Effort (Viriya)

  3. Purity of consciousness (citta)

  4. Explore, Ponder (Vimasa)

The Five Skills (Indriya 5)

  1. Trust belief (Saddha)

  2. Willpower, exertion (viriya)

  3. Mindfulness (sati)

  4. Concentration, concentration (samadhi)

  5. Wisdom (panna)

The Five Forces (Bala 5)

  1. Trust, faith (Saddha)

  2. Willpower, exertion (viriya)

  3. Mindfulness (sati)

  4. Collection, concentration (samadhi)

  5. Wisdom (panna)

The seven links of enlightenment (Bojjhanga 7)

  1. Mindfulness (sati)

  2. Enactment of the Law (Dahamma Vicaya)

  3. Willpower, exertion (viriya)

  4. Rapture, joy (piti)

  5. Calmness, calmness (passaddhi)

  6. Concentration, concentration (samadhi)

  7. Equanimity (upekkha)

The Noble Eightfold Path (Ariya Magga 8)

  1. right view (samma ditthi)

  2. right disposition (samma sankappa)

  3. right speech (samma vacca)

  4. right action (samma kammanta)

  5. right livelihood (samma ajiva)

  6. right effort or effort (samma vayama)

  7. right mindfulness (samma sati)

  8. right concentration (samma samadhi)

4 Buddha

Buddha was neither a god nor a messenger of divine truth, but he made it clear that he was the doctrine, i.e. H. did not receive the Dhamma (Sanskrit: Dharma) on the basis of divine revelation, but rather that he gained an understanding of the nature of his own mind and the nature of all things through his own meditative vision, which is accessible to everyone if he follows his teaching and methodology. He also warned against blind trust in an authority and thereby emphasized human responsibility. In particular, he referred to the futility of grasping the world with the help of terms and language and thus laid the foundation for a healthy and pronounced skepticism towards the written word, which is rarely found in other religions in this radicalism.
Buddhist beliefs include the reincarnation and the law of karma. However, the Buddha himself did not make any metaphysical statements, e.g. about what happens after death, who created the world, etc.

5 Spread of Buddhism

There are around 450 million Buddhists worldwide. However, this figure is not binding as there are strong fluctuations between individual statistics. The countries with the most widespread use of Buddhism are Bhutan, Tibet, China, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, while in its country of origin India it is only a small minority (around 1% of the population ).

6 schools (main Buddhist schools)

HÎNAYÂNA - »Small Vehicle« [5. Century BC, India]

Most important branches:

  • Sthaviravâda / Theravâda [4./3. Century BC, India]
    • Mahâsânghika [4. Century BC, India]
    • Vâtsîputrîya (Pudgalavâda) [3. Century BC, India]
    • Sarvâstivâda [3. Century BC, India]
    • Sautrântika [2. Century, India]

MAHÂYÂNA - "Big Vehicle" [1. Century BC, India]

Most important schools of philosophy:

  • Madhyamaka [2. Century, India]
    • San-lun [5th Century, China]
    • Sanron [7. Century, Japan]

  • Vijñânavâda (Yogâcâra) [4. Century, India]
    • Fa-hsiang-tsung [650, China]
    • Hôssô-shû [660, Japan]

Most important branches:

  • Amidism (school of faith) [1. Century, India]
    • Ch’ing-t’u-tsung [402, China]
    • Jôdô-shû [1198, Japan]
    • Jôdo Shinshû [1224, Japan]

  • Saddharmapundarîka (Lotus Schools) [280, India]
    • T’ien-t’ai-tsung [580, China]
    • Tendai-shû [805, Japan]
    • Nichiren-shû [1253, Japan]
    • Reyûkai [1925, Japan]
    • Sôka Gakkai [1937, Japan]
    • Risshô Kôseikai [1938, Japan]

  • Tantrayâna (Esoteric School) [500, India]
    • Mi-tsung [720, China]
    • Shingon-shû [807, Japan]

  • Vajrayana (Diamond Vehicle) [8. Cent., Tibet, Bhutan, 15th century, Mongolia, 17th century Buryatia]
    • Nyingma [8. Century, Tibet]
    • Kadampa [1038, Tibet]
    • Sakya [1073, Tibet]
    • Kagyu [11. Century, Tibet]
    • Gelug [1409, Tibet]

  • Dhyâna (meditation school) [6. Century, China]
    • Ch’an-tsung [526, China]
    • Zen-shû [12. Century, Japan]
    • Rinzai-shû [1191, Japan]
    • Sôto-shû [1244, Japan]
    • Ôbaku-shû [1654, Japan]

There are two main directions of Buddhism: Hinayana ("small vehicle") [only exists today in the form of Theravada = "teachings of the ancients"] and Mahayana (= "large vehicle"). Theravada is most widespread in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and partly in Vietnam. The Mahâyâna is mainly native to North and East Asia (China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam).

The Tantrayana or Vajrayana is sometimes listed as the third main direction of Buddhism, but despite the existing peculiarities it can be assigned to the Mahâyâna.

Theravada Buddhism has a canon of its basic scriptures written in the Pali language, which is called Tipitaka (better known in the West by the Sanskrit term Tripitaka). The name means "three basket", due to its division into three compendia:

  • The Vinayapitaka contains rules for the community (Sangha) of Buddhist monks and nuns.

  • The Suttapitaka contains the teachings (sutras) of the Buddha.

  • The Abhidhammapitaka contains a philosophical systematization of the Buddha's teachings.

Mahâyâna Buddhism also uses many Mahâyâna sutras originally written in Sanskrit, which are considered to be superior teachings here. Part of it is only preserved in Chinese translations.

7 monasticism


In contrast to the Christian orders, the monastic community existed since the emergence of Buddhism. At first only monastic orders existed, later also nuns. Both orders were founded by the Buddha himself and in the early years only candidates were ordained by him. Later, because of a rapidly growing community, he transferred the right to ordain monks to his disciples as well. The life of a monk or nun is more ascetic than that of the Christian order. At first there were only homeless wandering monks who made a living, begging. It was only later that places of residence and accommodation were donated. Until then, huts were only built during the rainy season and were demolished at the end. In Buddhism there is only one order, even if the ways of life are sometimes quite different. There is talk of different "schools", since division into religious orders is seen as one of the great offenses. Even in Buddha's time there were attempts and tendencies to split the order. But these were mostly politically motivated. When entering the order, life is not consecrated to God and a lifelong vow is taken, as in Christian orders, but the vows are taken for the time of the religious stay and understood less as repentance than as a path of practice. So the order can be left and rejoined at any time. The great veneration that is shown to the Buddhist monks is not primarily for the person himself, but much more for the respect for the Dhamma that the monk or nun embodies / represents. There is neither a missionary mission nor does the faith have to be made known. Therefore there are no real martyrs or martyrdom. Nowadays, however, fewer and fewer people choose to live as a monk. 40 years ago there were more than 110,000 monks and nuns among 1 million Tibetans; today, with a population of 2.7 million, there are only 46,000. The same can be observed in other traditionally Buddhist countries. Buddhist monks are not allowed to touch women or to be with a woman in a secret or non-public place, let alone have sexual intercourse. The presentation of the doctrine to a woman is also only allowed in the presence of another man.

The Patimokkha

The first and most important monastic rules are contained in the Patimokkha. They regulate all areas of monk life. The nuns also have other special rules. Only a few are mentioned here that can also be of interest to laypeople when dealing with Buddhist monks.

Gathering alms

Buddhist monks are only allowed to ask for water or medicine (including hygiene items such as toothbrushes) and, if their robe has been stolen, for a new one. Everything else must have been given to him unsolicited. (Correspondingly, monks do not thank them because it is not given to them, but sacrificed. That is, to achieve good karma and not to make the monk happy). Monks are not allowed to turn down an invitation to accept an invitation made later. You have to accept the first one or reject all of them. Monks are not allowed to accept money or jewelry. No raw grain either (that's why they don't cook themselves). They must not eat meat if they know or suspect that the animal was killed for them. They have to throw away the food they haven't eaten by 12 noon and are not allowed to eat them again until the next morning. Alcohol is completely forbidden, as are all intoxicating substances. 3/4 of the meal should consist of the side dish.

Protection of living beings

Monks are not allowed to kill living beings willingly or out of gross negligence, or induce anyone to do so. Therefore, they cannot mow the lawn, dig up soil, or ask anyone to do so. Monks are also not allowed to incite (su) murder or provide someone with the means to do so.


Monks are allowed to sleep together with non-ordained persons for a maximum of three nights in one room and not at all with women. If a monk is looking for a place to live that is generally dangerous or scary, he is not allowed to receive alms there (but has to get them himself). If a lay person provides a monk with accommodation, he may use it for a maximum of four months. Unless he is sick (this should avoid too close a bond or dependency).

Dealing with others

If there is no valid reason, monks should not attend meetings after noon. Monks are not allowed to visit theaters, cinemas, sporting events or parades. Bathing is allowed, but no water fights, scaring or tickling. Campfires are only allowed on important occasions. Monks are not allowed to serve members or ascetics of orders of other faiths, but are only allowed to offer them things. Monks are not allowed to date criminals (and) walk the same route with them. The teaching may only be presented to someone who shows respect. Monks are not allowed to act as traders.


Monks are also not allowed to urinate while standing.

Theravada (Theravadins)

In the Theravada tradition, the Patimokkha rules are still lived most closely. But here, too, some concessions have been made to modern life. So dealing with money cannot always be avoided. In the Theravada tradition, the monasteries are largely autonomous, in contrast to the Christian orders, at whose head the Pope stands and has the last word.

Mahâyâna (Mahasanghikas)

Far more rules have been changed in Mahayana. The country of origin of Buddhism is India. However, many of the rules in Patimokkha are climate-related. The rule is to have no more than four pieces of clothing, which a monk in Japan can no longer maintain at -5 ° C. But there were also new rules. Meat consumption is completely rejected in many Mahayana schools.

This article is based on the article Buddhism from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and is under the GNU Free Documentation License. A list of the authors is available on Wikipedia.

8 statistics

Buddhists in Germany
Community / tradition
Buddhists from Vietnam60.000
Buddhists from Thailand25.000
Buddhists from other countries in Asia20.000-30.000
German Buddhists40.000-50.000
(Source: REMID)

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