Quiz about Basic Buddhism
Quiz about Basic Buddhism

Basic Buddhism Trivia Quiz


From Hegel to Nietzsche to Alan Watts, the West has always presumed to know what Buddhism is all about. See if you can distinguish the truth from the falsehood.

A multiple-choice quiz by gti mug pa. Estimated time: 5 mins.
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Author
gti mug pa
Time
5 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
153,170
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Difficult
Avg Score
4 / 10
Plays
2847
Last 3 plays: Guest 200 (5/10), Guest 170 (3/10), Guest 176 (6/10).
This quiz has 2 formats: you can play it as a or as shown below.
Scroll down to the bottom for the answer key.
1. Buddhism developed as an offshoot of Hinduism.

True
False

2. Buddhism developed as a social movement against Brahmanical society.

True
False

3. In essence Buddhist and Hindu philosophy are mostly in agreement.

True
False

4. The Buddha spoke Pali. Hint

it is not certain
no
yes
he never spoke anything else

5. Theravada Buddhism is the original form of Buddhism.

True
False

6. Sometime around the second council, a major schism split the Buddhist world into the Hinayana and Mahayana.

True
False

7. All Buddhists, at least in theory, repudiate the existence of a self.

True
False

8. With the exception of the Tibetan communities in exile, Buddhism is now non-existent in India.

True
False

9. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of all Buddhist Tibetans.
(NB: 'Buddhist Tibetans' because historically a small but persistent minority of Tibetans are Muslim and, more recently, Chinese policy has led to the resettlement of a large ethnically non-Tibetan population in Tibet)

True
False

10. Nirvana, the goal of human existence according to Buddhism, means the 'blowing out' of the self.

True
False


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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Buddhism developed as an offshoot of Hinduism.

Answer: False

Although Buddhism did develop within the milieu of Brahmanical society it did so in many respects contrary to the orthodox religious and philosophical systems of its time. At this early date the ascetic (or sramanic) traditions were very much outside the fold of the establishment.

Moreover, many of the things we now associate with Hinduism (like asceticism) were brought into the fold after, or simply postdate, the birth of Buddhism. Although these traditions do share much in common, the same may be said for Christianity and Judaism as for communism and Christianity.
2. Buddhism developed as a social movement against Brahmanical society.

Answer: False

There is little evidence for this claim. Although the Buddhist order was in many respects antithetical to the values and beliefs espoused in Brahmanical society, Buddhists very rarely attacked Brahmanical society directly - at least until the philosophical debates of the golden age of Classical India.

But even then, for better and for worse, Buddhism has throughout Asia sought the support of, or found itself supported by, society's elites.
3. In essence Buddhist and Hindu philosophy are mostly in agreement.

Answer: False

The defining tenet of Buddhist philosophy, if there is any, is that the purported referrents of words like self and soul do not exist. Suffering arises from the deluded reification of and attachment to the self. In contrast, the six schools of philosophy that would come to be known as Hinduism all (with the exception of later Vedanta) posit a soul, variously defined, the recovery or realization of which leads to liberation.

As for Advaita Vedanta, like Buddhism, it denies the existence of individual souls, however, unlike Buddhism it asserts the existence of a primordial, monistic essence behind the illusory plurality of phenomena.

Historically, proponents of the six proto-Hindu schools regarded Buddhism as tantamount to nihilism.
4. The Buddha spoke Pali.

Answer: it is not certain

Although scholars are not entirely sure what language(s) he did speak. Most likely he taught in Magadhi, another Prakrit.
5. Theravada Buddhism is the original form of Buddhism.

Answer: False

Modern Theravada Buddhism represents the only remaining tradition deriving from the Sthaviravada schools (in contradistinction with the Mahasanghikas or Mahayana) of India. Although modern scholarship identifies at least thirty Buddhist sects shortly before the common era, orthodox Buddhist accounts cite eighteen.

After numerous other schisms, Theravada Buddhism consolidated and reasserted itself against British Imperialism during the 19th century. The evidence for the claim that it is original Buddhism is thus very tenuous.
6. Sometime around the second council, a major schism split the Buddhist world into the Hinayana and Mahayana.

Answer: False

Although there was a schism leading to the Mahasangika and Sthaviravada sects (which were quickly divided in themselves), the moniker "Hinayana", meaning inferior or narrow vehicle, is a pejorative term employed by those who identified themselves as proponents of the Mahayana, "the great vehicle".

Although it may be possible to identify certain distinguishing characteristics between the schools of Mahayana Buddhism on the one hand and the non-Mahayana schools on the other, the view that the latter act in self-interest or are lacking in compassion is more polemical than substantive.
7. All Buddhists, at least in theory, repudiate the existence of a self.

Answer: False

The Vatsiputriya sect which appears to have split off from the Sthaviravada order sometime in the third century BCE posted the existence of the person (pudgala) independent of the five psycho-physical aggregates. Although to be distinguished from the atman as conceived by non-Buddhists, the pudgala was nevertheless thought to explain the continuity of lives in rebirth.

This doctrine was sharply rebuked by other Buddhist sects, but the Pudgalavadins, as they are usually known, were by no means insignificant.
8. With the exception of the Tibetan communities in exile, Buddhism is now non-existent in India.

Answer: False

Buddhism did rather mysteriously vanish from India sometime around 14th century, however, in 1956, shortly before his death, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the architect of India's Constitution and an 'untouchable', or dalit, lead a mass conversion of some 400,000 dalits-himself included-to Buddhism. Since then millions of India's dalits have followed Ambedkar's example in the hopes of emancipating themselves from the social, economic, ideological and psychological violence exacted upon them by the defenders of India's caste system.
9. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of all Buddhist Tibetans. (NB: 'Buddhist Tibetans' because historically a small but persistent minority of Tibetans are Muslim and, more recently, Chinese policy has led to the resettlement of a large ethnically non-Tibetan population in Tibet)

Answer: False

The Dalai Lama is the titular head of state of Tibet and he certainly is the pre-eminent spiritual figure of Tibet. However, Tibetan Buddhism is divided into four major sects (namely, the Nyingma pa, Sakya pa, Kagyu pa and the Gelug pa) and, historically, the relations between these sects have often been less than ecumenical.

The Dalai Lama, by definition, belongs to the Gelug sect, by far the strongest, thus the pre-eminence of his position. However, he is in fact not the spiritual head of the Gelug sect either. That position is conferred with the title of Ganden Tripa, by the Dalai Lama. Suffice to say the various other sects have their own spiritual heads.
10. Nirvana, the goal of human existence according to Buddhism, means the 'blowing out' of the self.

Answer: False

What is 'blown out' in nirvana is desire and not the self, for the self never existed in the first place, but is merely a conventional designation. In fact, the desire for nonexistence is one of three kinds desire (tanha) recognized in Buddhist doctrine, the others being the desire for sensual pleasure and the desire for existence. Nonexistence is different from selflessness. Buddhists deny the former and assert the latter.

It must also be noted that "nirvana" is not even recognized as the goal in numerous later Buddhist texts. Nagarjuna (circa 2nd century CE) suggests that there is not the slightest difference between nirvana and samsara.
Source: Author gti mug pa

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