If you are looking for Buddhist art, the Buddha is a figure that holds particular significance in the Buddhist religion. Buddhism is an Indian religious and philosophical belief and religion based on a collection of original writings attributed to Gautama Buddha, considered by Buddhists to be the third son of Buddha. It spread throughout much of Asia, most notably China, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and other parts of Southeast Asia, and now has branches in over 100 countries. Today, Buddhism is the most populous religion in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, with Islam, Hinduism, and other spiritual traditions following in its wake. The Sramana Buddhist tradition, which predates Buddhism, continues to influence the lives of millions of people in these countries and hundreds of nations around the world today.
While the basic doctrines of buddhism are easily understandable and lend themselves well to explanation, the beliefs and practices of the different schools of thought and practice can be a bit more difficult to understand. The Mahayana Buddhist sect, for example, often talks of bodhisattvas, or enlightened ones, who have already achieved enlightenment but are still learning the ways of bodhisattvas. This terminology can be a little confusing for Westerners who are not very familiar with Indian metaphysics and religious jargon, but it makes sense once you study the underlying philosophy of buddhism. In the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, bodhisattvas are depicted as powerful, bodhisattvas-like beings who have achieved enlightenment but are bound by the dharma, or code of conduct, of their teachers. The teacher’s code is referred to as “the Vehicle,” while the pupil’s seed is referred to as “the Dhyan.”
The teachings of the Vehicle are more concerned with being enlightened and becoming a blessing to all, while the teachings of the Dhyan are more concerned with being productive and being able to achieve liberation from the Three Treasures and the Wheel of Samskara. It is not uncommon among modern buddhists to refer to practitioners of the Vehicle as “Bhagavatas” or “good people,” while those of the Dhyan are referred to as “saints.” In recent years, the Wheel of Samskara has been subject to some discussion in the West, but it should not be read as an attempt to complicate the concepts of karma and Buddhism. The most accurate way to understand the concepts of karma and Buddhism as they pertain to India is to look at the metaphysics of buddhism, and then translate the symbols used to explain the underlying philosophy of buddhism.