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GCSE Buddhism Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.

The Life of the Buddha

-Born in Lumbini
-Described as a prince
-Lived in a Palace
-Shielded from Suffering
-Lotus flowers appeared behind him after he took a few steps just after birth
Family Background
-Born into a ruling family
-Most of the place they ruled over was controlled by tribal groups
Intended career
-Intended to be a king
-Told he would be a king or a religious leader (religious leader if he ever saw suffering
What he saw age 29
-He was not satisfied, he thought there must be more.
-Escaoed the castle during the night
-Saw the 4 sights, illness, death, old age, a holy man.
His response
-Decided to rid himself of luxuries
-Trained in meditation
-Joined a group of ascetics and lived as an ascetic for 6 years.

The 5 Aggreg­ate­s/S­kandhas

Raw materials like earth, fire, body etc.
Emotional response
What we become aware of
Mental Formation
What we decide to do, how we process things
Awareness of being alive
- The 5 Aggreg­ates/5 Skandhas relate to Anicca and Anatta because your thought processes change and what we are aware of changes. This relates to anatta because of the idea that the 5 aggregates make up a person, so there is no fixed self.

-This causes Dukkha because sometimes what we are aware of causes us to suffer. Our emotional responses also cause sadness or dissat­isf­action.

The 5 precepts

Harming Living Beings
Taking things not freely given
Sensual misconduct
False speech
Intoxi­cating drinks and drugs
Taking untimely meals
Dancing, singing, music and watching grotesque mime
Use of garlands, perfumes and personal adornment
Use of high seats
Accepting gold and silver
The 5 precepts are recomm­end­ations, not comman­dments. The individual is encouraged to interpret them in the best way they can.

Variations in Buddhism

After the Budhha died the first council agreed on the accuracy of the Buddha's teachings.
100 years later, the second council discussed rules for monks and nuns, with a debate on whether the rules were too rigid or even essential.
Sometime later, the Buddhist community split into Theravada and Mahayana Buddhists. Theravada Buddhists believed the rules should be strictly followed, whereas Mahayana Buddhists adopted a more progre­ssive reading of the rules.
Over the next 300 years, there were more separa­tions and by the end of the 1st century (Year 0) there were 18 or 20 Buddhist sects.
- Vajrayana developed within Mahayana
- Theravada Buddhists think they are closest to the original meaning of Buddhist teachings
- Pure land Buddhists aim to be reborn into this realm
- Zen Buddhism was set by the Buddhist Bodhid­harma.


Identity and the idea of a fixed self is an illusion.
Your body is made up of what it intakes (food, air etc.)
Your body is one with your enviro­nment. They can't be separated.
Constant change links to no fixed self because identity is also in a state of imperm­anence.
This leads to suffering because we become attatched to things that will change.


- Rupa: Images of the Buddha
- 3 Main forms of Rupas;
o Sitting
 Often sat in lotus position or on lotus flower
 May be sat on a throne
o Standing
o Lying Down
 Represents the buddha giving is last sermon, reclining and passing away into nirvana
Long earlobes are symbolic of the heavy gold jewelry the Buddha would have worn had he not left the royal lifestyle. It is to remind people what he gave up.

The bump on the top of the Buddha's head is a symbol of wisdom. It is also seen as a reminder of his royal lifestyle in terms of headgear.

The 3rd eye symbolises the inner eye. 'The Buddha sees with his mind'.

The snake represents the fact that a snake protected the Buddha from being tempted.

The Enligh­tenment of the Buddha

Meditated under a tree
Visited by a devilish character (Mara)
Mara attacked the Buddha (Siddh­artha) with wind, rain, rocks etc.
Mara sent 3 daughters to tempt the prince. They were called Lust, Thirst and Discon­tent. They were sent to emotio­nally attack the prince.
Siddhartha experi­enced intimi­dation, greed and doubt.
Mara challenged the prince's right to sit by the tree, claimed it belonged to him.
When Siddhartha was enligh­tened, it happened in 4 stages known as the 4 watches.
Watch 1 : He remembered all his past lives
Watch 2 : He saw the cycle of rebirth (not reinca­rna­tion) as a result of karma
Watch 3 : He understood what kept poeple and creatures trapped and how to overcome those things.
Watch 4 : He was enligh­tened.

The Questions of Kind Melinda

- As a chariot is simply made up of an axel etc, a human is simply made up of body parts and the 5 aggregates
- The king asks if there is no self to be appreh­ended, why does it matter if someone does something bad. If ‘someone’ were to kill, there would be no ‘one’ to endure the conseq­uence.
- Buddhist teachings suggest that if you light a candle from a lit candle, the new flame is neither new nor the same as the first one. The same concept is true for consci­ousness in rebirth.
- A name is a conceptual term. The 5 aggregates ARE you.


- The Mahayana image of someone who is unenli­ghtened
- Acts entirely out of compassion and selfle­ssness
- Bodhis­attva = ‘Enlig­hte­nment being’ one who wants to become enligh­tened
- Someone who in order to achieve enligh­ten­ment, delays it to help other achieve it. This is so they can achieve it quicker. [THIS IS A PARADOX]
- Free from the 3 poisons
- Can be a lay person or a monk or nun
- Takes a vow to continue to be born into samsara until all sentient beings find enligh­tenment

1. Intention-
o Must be sincere in search for enligh­tenment
o Intention + sincerity are important because they provide determ­ination

2. Vow-
o ‘Fixation’
o Whatever the mind fixes itself on becomes real
o 2 Vows:
 To become a Buddha
 To lead all beings to enligh­tenment
3. The course of the Bodhis­attva-
o Developing the 6 Perfec­tions;
 Charity
• Perfection of giving
 Morality
• Perfection of goodness
 Patience
• Perfection of composure
 Vigour
• Perfection of energy
 Meditation
• Perfection of concen­tration
 Wisdom
4. Buddhahood –

The 8 Fold Path

The Way of Wisdom
Right View
Right Intention
The Way of Morality
Right Speech
Right Action
Right Livelihood
The Way of Mental­-Tr­aining
Right Mindfu­lness
Right Concen­tration
Right Effort

Places of Worship

Buddhists can worship at home or at a temple, as long as they have a shrine.
All Buddhist temples contain a picture or statue of the Buddha
Temples are designed to represent the elements;
o Fire
o Earth
 Square Base
o Air
o Water
o Wisdom
 Pinnacle on top of the temple


Mudras are gestures performed by the hands of Buddha images.


Normally Flowers. Symbolise imperm­anence (anicca) and eternity.
Offring water is a symbol of respect and reverence
Light up the area around it, symbolise enligh­ten­ment.
Purify the air. Symbolises the Dharma being spread around the world
Used to separate sections of ceremo­nies. Sometimes placed on a lotus shaped cushion as the lotus is a symbol of cause and effect.

3 Marks of existence

The idea that things are constantly changing, nothing will stay the same. Everything is in a state of imperm­anence.
The idea that there is not fixed self. No permanent identity. The idea that all beings are interd­epe­ndent. When applied to humans it means that as conditions change, people will too. Unders­tanding this is a key to enligh­ten­ment.
Suffering and dissat­isf­action. If life is always changing, everything we know an love will eventually cease to exist. People cannot have the permanent suffering they seek. Dissat­isf­action with life.

4 Noble Truths

All life involves suffering
The cause of suffering is craving. Craving is the 3 poisons; Greed, Hatred and Ignorance.
To overcome Dukkha you must overcome Tanha
The way to overcome Tanha is the middle way. Just as followed by the Buddha, the middle way between luxury and hardship.


- Legends state that the Buddha had a natural inclin­ation to meditation and was highly skilled from a young age.
- One story says that the buddha and his father attended an agricu­ltural ceremony where they saw worms being killed by small birds, who were then killed by bigger birds. The buddha reflected on this, which turned into a deep medita­tion.
- After leaving the palace the buddha was taught more advanced meditation
- The Buddha’s disciples practiced meditation daily. Each 24 hours was split into 6 4 hour slots, starting at sundown;
o Period 1 – In Seated Meditation
o Period 2 – Sleeping
o Period 3 – Seated meditation
o Period 4 – Washing, Working, meditating and going out to receive food
o Period 5 – Eating then sitting in meditation to digest
o Period 6 – Meditation with the buddha

Types of Meditation

Samatha Medita­tion:
- Meditation where you have something to focus on
- One type of Samatha meditation that suits everyone is that where the focus is our own breath
- You can do this meditation while walking
Brahma Viharas:
- Means ‘Sublime State’
- By meditating upon the Brahma Viharas, a person develops feelings of love, compas­sion, joy and peace towards all living things.

The 4 Sublime States:
- Metta:
o Loving kindness
o The person wishes themselves good will first then spreads positive friendly thoughts
- Karuna:
o Active compassion
o Unders­tanding the nature of suffering
o Sharing others suffering
- Mudita:
o Sympat­hetic Joy
o Sharing the happiness of all other beings
- Upekkha:
o State of peace and serenity


A perfected being who has overcome the 3 poisons and broken out of the cycle of samsara
When someone becomes Arhat, they are no longer reborn when they die.
Must be a monk or nun
A wise and compas­sionate being