Describe Buddhism in 2 minutes

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Describe Buddhism in 2 minutes

Postby Individual » Wed Sep 29, 2010 4:22 pm

I have to give an information speech for a college class. It can last 7 minutes at most. We get to choose our topic and I chose Zen Buddhism.

I plan to organize the speech:
-Early\Classical Buddhism (2 minutes)
-Mahayana contributions to Zen (2 minutes)
-Distinct Zen ideas and practices (last 3 minutes)

If you had only 2 minutes to describe Buddhism, what would you mention and not mention?
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: Describe Buddhism in 2 minutes

Postby Lazy_eye » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:32 pm

I ask myself this every year or so! As of now, I'd probably talk about anatta, annica, dukkha, and about kamma and cyclical rebirth in samsara. I'd explain that dukkha is not "suffering" exactly, but more a general unsatisfactoriness that can range from the mild to the extreme (the word refers to an ill-fitted wheel axle). I'd be prepared to answer the questions "doesn't anatta contradict rebirth" and "what gets reborn?" The recycling metaphor works well, I think. Because the topic has generated so many problems for beginners, I would say at the outset that Buddhism does not follow a materialist model of consciousness.

I'd also explain the gradual path (generosity, virtue, sila, heavens, drawbacks, renunciation, four noble truths) because this helps show how the Buddha's teaching differs from other models, and it also clears up some possible areas of confusion -- i.e. why didn't the Buddha just teach to monks, how can there be lay practice and monastic practice, why is monasticism important, etc.

Good luck with your presentation.
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Re: Describe Buddhism in 2 minutes

Postby Sobeh » Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:13 pm

I would simply give a talk on the historical Buddha for a moment, next describe the principles of the Dhamma with the Four Noble Truths, then finally cover the Sangha by describing the three main designations (Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana) using an example for each (Thai, Japanese, Tibetan).
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Re: Describe Buddhism in 2 minutes

Postby Tex » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:19 pm

For the early/classical 2 minutes, I would try to briefly hit on:

-- The 4 Noble Truths
-- Segue from the 4th NT into brief rundown of Eightfold Path
-- 5 precepts that lay Buddhists follow
-- Mention that the Pali Canon is the oldest surviving record of the Buddha's teachings, and that most Theravadins study this exclusively and generally do not accept the Mahayana sutras as authentic Buddhadhamma.

That last bit will only take a few seconds to convey, so you can do about 35 seconds or so on each of the first three. Talk really fast!

Good luck.
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Re: Describe Buddhism in 2 minutes

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 30, 2010 2:27 am

Greetings Individual,

I would cut out the first section (because you don't have time for it) and the second section (because it doesn't really matter) and spend the whole 7 minutes on the last section.

If you want any structure - perhaps...

The Principles Of Zen Buddhism (4 minutes)
The Application Of Zen Buddhism (3 minutes)

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Describe Buddhism in 2 minutes

Postby Individual » Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:57 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Individual,

I would cut out the first section (because you don't have time for it) and the second section (because it doesn't really matter) and spend the whole 7 minutes on the last section.

If you want any structure - perhaps...

The Principles Of Zen Buddhism (4 minutes)
The Application Of Zen Buddhism (3 minutes)

Metta,
Retro. :)

Good advice, as always. 7 minutes is a very short amount of time. If I try to mention everything I want to mention, I'll be speaking too quickly to be coherent.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
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Re: Describe Buddhism in 2 minutes

Postby Dan74 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:06 am

Individual wrote:I have to give an information speech for a college class. It can last 7 minutes at most. We get to choose our topic and I chose Zen Buddhism.

I plan to organize the speech:
-Early\Classical Buddhism (2 minutes)
-Mahayana contributions to Zen (2 minutes)
-Distinct Zen ideas and practices (last 3 minutes)

If you had only 2 minutes to describe Buddhism, what would you mention and not mention?


With 2 minutes I would either talk about dependent origination or 4 Noble Truths. Both are key teaching and putting more in such short time will confuse the people.

As regards the other question:

Early classical Buddhism - the 8fold Noble Path. Plenty here - just touch on it and indicate the depths one can research out for themselves. The one to focus on is Right View with dependent origination to be followed on later in Mahayana. The last two also naturally introduce Zen.

"Mahayana contributions to Zen" is awkward phrasing because first there was Mahayana then there was Zen but I get your drift. I would mention Madhyamaka only - link to dependent origination mentioned earlier. If you are very keen, can mention Flower Ornament teaching with the interpenetration of the principle and manifestation. This is important in Zen, but it's an overkill for a short talk.

Distinct Zen ideas and practices: lots of sitting, koan focused inquiry - what is the true nature of the mind? Great Faith, Great Determination and Great Doubt (inquiry). No time for silent illumination :tongue:

Good Luck!!!

PS yes, I think retro's advice is sound. Cut out two sections, whichever ones.
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