Simple Living Resource Group


| Index for this Page | Resources for Life Home | QuickLinks? | Map |

Search | MegaLinks?
Excite | HotMail
MSN | Netscape
Simple | Yahoo
Microsoft | PC DOC
Life University
Our Library
Resource Groups
Direct Shopping Home
The Money Tree?
US Phone Book
US Zip Codes

| Visit the Small House Society |



This page contains definitions relating to the philosophy of Simple Living.


Click on a word below to go directly to that definition on this page. Words on this page that are underlined have links - click on them to go to relevant material.

bulletTop of Page
bullet Quick Links?

| Simple Living Home Page |


[Index | Top of Page | Simple Living Home Page | QuickLinks? | Map]

Greek askesis,"exercise", practice of self-denial and renunciation of worldly pleasure in order to attain a higher degree of spirituality, intellectuality, or self-awareness. Among the ancient Greeks, the term originally denoted the training practiced by athletes and soldiers. In Greek philosophy, the adherents of Cynicism (see Cynics) and Stoicism adopted the practice of mastering desire and passion. Asceticism is practiced to some extent by the adherents of every religion. It often requires abstinence from food, drink, or sexual activity, as in fasting or celibacy. It may also require physical pain or discomfort, such as endurance of extreme heat or cold or self-punishment (see Flagellants). It may require withdrawal from the material world to a life of meditation, as in the practice of Yoga. See also Buddhism; Hinduism; Monasticism; Penance. "Asceticism." Microsoft? Encarta? Encyclopedia 2001. ? 1993-2000 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


[Index | Top of Page | Simple Living Home Page | QuickLinks? | Map]

A major world religion, founded in northeastern India and based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who is known as the Buddha, or Enlightened One. Buddhism today is divided into two major branches known to their respective followers as Theravada, the Way of the Elders, and Mahayana, the Great Vehicle. Buddhism has been significant not only in India but also in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, where Theravada has been dominant; Mahayana has had its greatest impact in China, Japan, Taiwan, Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, Korea, and Vietnam, as well as in India. The number of Buddhists worldwide has been estimated at between 150 million and 300 million.

Origins. Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, was born in 563 BC in Kapilavastu near the present Indian-Nepal border, the son of the ruler of a petty kingdom. The young prince was raised in sheltered luxury, until at the age of 29 he renounced earthly attachments and embarked on a quest for peace and enlightenment. At first he adopted a life of radical asceticism, but eventually he adopted a middle path between a life of indulgence and that of self-denial. Having attained the enlightenment for which he had been searching, the Buddha began to preach, wandering from place to place, gathering a body of disciples, and organizing them into a monastic community known as the sangha.

The Buddha left no written body of thought. His beliefs were codified by later followers. At the core of the Buddha's enlightenment was the realization of the Four Noble Truths: (1) Life is suffering. (2) All suffering is caused by ignorance of the nature of reality and the craving, attachment, and grasping that result. (3) Suffering can be ended by overcoming ignorance and attachment. (4) The path to the suppression of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path, which consists of right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right-mindedness, and right contemplation.

According to Buddhism a person is only a temporary combination of aggregates that include the material body, feelings, perceptions, predispositions or karmic tendencies, and consciousness. Buddhists deny the existence of a self or soul (atman). They explain the concept of reincarnation as a tendency for aggregates, through craving and a clinging to existence, to trigger a renewed cycle of birth, old age, and death. The ultimate goal of the Buddhist path is release from this cycle by achieving nirvana, an enlightened state in which the fires of greed, hatred, and ignorance have been quenched. The ethic that leads to nirvana involves cultivating loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. It involves acts of charity, as well as observance of the five precepts, which prohibit killing, stealing, harmful language, sexual misbehavior, and the use of intoxicants. By observing these precepts, the three roots of evil?lust, hatred, and delusion?may be overcome.

[Index | Top of Page | Simple Living Home Page | QuickLinks? | Map]

Early Development. The Buddha refused to appoint a successor, telling his followers to work out their own salvation with diligence. The monastic order met periodically to reach agreement on matters of doctrine and practice. These councils compiled the Buddist scriptures, set standards of monastic discipline, and sent out missionaries. In time, subdivisions developed within Buddhism. While the more conservative monks continued to honor the Buddha as a perfectly enlightened human teacher, the liberal Mahasanghikas developed a concept of the Buddha as an eternal, omnipresent, transcendental being.

For several centuries after the death of the Buddha, the scriptural traditions recited at the councils were transmitted orally. These were finally written down in about the 1st century BC. The Buddhist canon is known as the Tipitaka. It consists of three collections of writings: the Sutra Pitaka, a collection of discourses; the Vinaya Pitaka, the code of monastic discipline; and the Abhidharma Pitaka, which contains philosophical, psychological, and doctrinal discussions and classifications. Theravada Buddhists have traditionally considered the Tipitaka to be the remembered words of Siddhartha Gautama. Mahayana Buddhists have never bound themselves to a closed canon of sacred writings.

[Index | Top of Page | Simple Living Home Page | QuickLinks? | Map]

The formative years of Mahayana were between the 2nd century BC and the 1st century AD. Mahayana considers the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, only one example of a divine being whose purpose is to bring enlightenment to humankind. This new concept of the Buddha led to the development of a significant devotional strand in Mahayana. By the 7th century AD a new form of Buddhism known as Tantrism (see Tantra) had developed through the blend of Mahayana with popular folk belief and magic in northern India. It became the dominant form of Buddhism in Tibet and was also transmitted through China to Japan, where it continues to be practiced by the Shingon sect.

From India Outward. Buddhism spread rapidly throughout the land of its birth. Missionaries introduced the religion to southern India, to the northwest part of the subcontinent, and to Sri Lanka. Buddhism had reached Burma (now known as Myanmar) by the 5th century AD. It was adopted by the Thai people between the 1100s and 1300s, and then moved into Laos and Cambodia. About the beginning of the Christian era, Buddhism was carried to Central Asia. From there it entered China by the early 1st century AD, influencing Chinese culture and, in turn, adapting itself to Chinese ways. Buddhism also expanded into Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. Buddhism was first introduced into Tibet in the AD 600s and soon became a significant force in Tibetan culture. Several important new sects of Buddhism developed in China. Zen advocated the practice of meditation as the way to a sudden, intuitive realization of one's inner Buddha nature. The Pure Land sect stressed faith and devotion to the Buddha Amitabha, or Buddha of Infinite Light.

[Index | Top of Page | Simple Living Home Page | QuickLinks? | Map]

Institutions and Practices. Differences occur in the religious obligations and observances both within and between the sangha and the laity. As Buddhism developed, the most devoted followers of the Buddha were organized into the monastic sangha. Theravadan monks and nuns were celibate and obtained their food in the form of alms on a daily round of the homes of lay devotees. The Zen school required its members to work in the fields to earn their own food. Among the traditional functions of the Buddhist monks are the performance of funerals and memorial services in honor of the dead.

Lay worship in Buddhism is primarily individual rather than congregational. Since earliest times a common expression of faith for laity and members of the sangha alike has been taking the Three Refuges, that is, reciting the formula "I take refuge in the Buddha. I take refuge in the dharma. I take refuge in the sangha." The Buddha's birthday is celebrated in every Buddhist country. Although technically the Buddha is not worshiped in Theravada, veneration is shown through the stupa, a domelike sacred structure containing a relic. In Mahayana countries, images of the buddhas in temples and homes serve as a focus for worship. Prayer and chanting are common acts of devotion.

Buddhism Today. One of the lasting strengths of Buddhism has been its ability to adapt to changing conditions and to a variety of cultures. In Thailand and Myanmar, Buddhism remains strong. Buddhism in India largely died out between the 700s and 1100s. A renewal of Buddhism in Sri Lanka dates from the 1800s. Under the Communist republics in Asia, Buddhism has faced a more difficult time. Growing interest in Asian culture and spiritual values in the West has led to the development of a number of societies devoted to the study and practice of Buddhism.


[Index | Top of Page | Simple Living Home Page | QuickLinks? | Map]

Members of a school of Greek philosophers founded during the second half of the 4th century BC. Diogenes of Sinope is generally regarded as the founder, but Antisthenes, a pupil of Socrates, has also been proposed. According to Aristotle, Diogenes was a well-known figure, nicknamed Kyon, the Greek word for "dog." The word Cynic may have been derived from Kyon and applied to the members of this school because of their unconventional mode of life, or from Cynosarges, a gymnasium where Antisthenes taught. The Cynics contended that civilization, with its attendant ills, was an artificial, unnatural condition and that it should be held in contempt. Hence, they advocated returning to a natural life, which they equated with a simple life, maintaining that complete happiness can be attained only through self-sufficiency. Independence is the true good, not riches or luxuries. It follows that the Cynics were exceedingly ascetic, regarding abstemiousness as the means to human liberation. They did not propose the gratification of natural appetites so much as the nongratification of artificial ones. Diogenes' pupil, Crates of Thebes (flourished late 4th century BC), had some influence on Zeno of Citium, the Cyprian philosopher and founder of Stoicism. The basic difference in attitude between the two schools is that the Cynics viewed the external, material world with contempt, while the Stoics advocated indifference. Although not an important philosophical school, the Cynics attracted attention by their eccentricities and by their insolence, and their name is given to those distrustful of human nature and motives. "Cynics." Microsoft? Encarta? Encyclopedia 2001. ? 1993-2000 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


[Index | Top of Page | Simple Living Home Page | QuickLinks? | Map]

Stoicism, school of philosophy, founded in ancient Greece, opposed to Epicureanism in its views of life and duty. The Stoic philosophy was developed from that of the Cynics, whose Greek founder, Antisthenes, had been a disciple of Socrates.

HISTORY. The Stoic school was established at Athens about 300 BC by Zeno of Citium in Cyprus. Zeno, who derived much of his philosophy from Crates of Thebes, opened his school in a colonnade known as the Stoa Poikil? ("painted porch"). Among his disciples was Cleanthes of Assos in the Troad (area surrounding ancient Troy), whose extant "Hymn to Zeus" sets forth the unity, omnipotence, and moral government of the supreme deity. Cleanthes was followed by Chrysippus of Soli in Cilicia. These three men represent the first period (300-200 BC) of Stoic philosophy. The second period (200-50 BC) embraced the general promulgation of the philosophy and its introduction to the Romans. Chrysippus was succeeded by Zeno of Tarsus and Diogenes of Babylonia; then followed Antipater of Tarsus, who taught Panaetius of Rhodes). Panaetius introduced Stoicism to Rome; among Panaetius's pupils was Posidonius of Apamea in Syria, who was the teacher of the orator Marcus Tullius Cicero. The third period of Stoicism was Roman. In this period outstanding Stoics included Cato the Younger and, during the empire, the three Stoic philosophers whose writings are extant, namely, Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Epictetus, and the emperor Marcus Aurelius.

PRINCIPLES. Stoicism was the most influential philosophy in the Roman Empire during the period preceding the rise of Christianity. The Stoics, like the Epicureans, emphasized ethics as the main field of knowledge, but they also developed theories of logic and natural science to support their ethical doctrines. Their most important contribution to logic was the discovery of the hypothetical syllogism. They held that all reality is material, but that matter proper, which is passive, is to be distinguished from the animating or active principle, Logos, which they conceived as both the divine reason and as simply a finer kind of material entity, an all-pervading breath or fire, such as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus had supposed the cosmic principle to be. According to them the human soul is a manifestation of the Logos. Living according to nature or reason, they held, is living in conformity with the divine order of the universe. The importance of this view is seen in the part that Stoicism played in developing a theory of natural law that powerfully affected Roman jurisprudence. The foundation of Stoic ethics is the principle, proclaimed earlier by the Cynics, that good lies not in external objects, but in the state of the soul itself, in the wisdom and restraint by which a person is delivered from the passions and desires that perturb the ordinary life. The four cardinal virtues of the Stoic philosophy are wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance, a classification derived from the teachings of Plato. A distinctive feature of Stoicism is its cosmopolitanism. All people are manifestations of the one universal spirit and should, according to the Stoics, live in brotherly love and readily help one another. They held that external differences such as rank and wealth are of no importance in social relationships. Thus, before the rise of Christianity, Stoics recognized and advocated the brotherhood of humanity and the natural equality of all human beings. "Stoicism." Microsoft? Encarta? Encyclopedia 2001. ? 1993-2000 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

[Index | Top of Page | Simple Living Home Page | QuickLinks? | Map]

This page complies with Planning & Development Standards - Revision 20010209fr1010

Please use the QuickLinks? below to jump to another location. [Index | Top of Page]


WB00533_.GIF (2156 bytes)

to Resources for Life Destinations
| Resources for Life Home | About Resources for Life | What's New  | Map |
| Technology Services Group | Life University | Resource Groups |
| Search | MegaLinks? | News Room | Direct Shopping | Merchant Links |
| Our Monthly e-News | Online Community | Feedback & Guest Book |

Contacting Resources for Life
P.O. Box 2717, Iowa City, IA 52244-2717 USA

Copyright ? 1964-2002 Resources for Life | Revised: Friday, 21 March 2003 11:11:36 Central Time US