Posted by: khananwar786 | मई 21, 2011

Mahayana Buddhism

Quotation by Siddhãrtha
Gautama
(Buddha):

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not
believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not
believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.

Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and
elders.
Do not believe in traditions simply because they have been handed
down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find
that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one
and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

Buddhism Continues to Grow:

The original tradition within Buddhism, Theravadan, continues to
flourish even today, but around the First Century BCE, a
split began to develop. The Theravadans held fast to the ideas of monastic
discipline, scholarly attainment, and strict adherence to the scriptures of the
Buddha, while others saw this as being inflexible and difficult for anyone
besides a monk to come to terms with. As a result, a movement to bring Buddhism
to the “common people” began to gain popularity. This movement would eventually
lead to the development of Mayahana Buddhism.

“Theravada Buddhism focused primarily on meditation and
concentration, the eighth of the Eightfold Noble Path; as a result, it centered
on a monastic life a an extreme expenditure of time in meditating. This left
little room for the bulk of humanity to join in, so a new schism erupted within
the ranks of Buddhism in the first century AD, one that would attempt to
reformulate the teachings of Buddha to accommodate a greater number of people.
They called their new Buddhism, the “Greater Vehicle” (literally, “The Greater
Ox-Cart”) or Mahayana, since it could accommodate more people and more believers
from all walks of life. They distinguished themselves from mainstream Theravada
Buddhism by contemptuously referring to Theravada as Hinayana, or ‘The Lesser
Vehicle.’ 1

The story goes that at first, the abilities of Buddha’s followers to
comprehend what he had attained was limited, thus his teachings had to focus on
the most important concepts of enlightenment and Nirvana. It is often said that
The Buddha foresaw a time when his disciples would be ready for more than these
basic teachings. This slow evolution of Buddhist thought beyond the original
teachings of the Buddha demonstrated the great flexibility and openness that was
possible in Buddhism, thus as it moved out of India to other countries, it was
rapidly integrated into the cultures it encountered.

“Many Buddhists, especially Westerners, tend to see both the
Theravada and Mahayana approaches as not being contradictory or in opposition
but rather as complimentary to each other. The Mahayana is often seen as an
expansion of or commentary on Theravadan teachings.”

Bohdisattva Warriors:

Theravada or Hinayana Buddhism embraced the concept of the
Bodhisattva, or “one who achieves perfect attainment.Theravadan
Buddhists saw this as merely a guide or a model to the journey of individual
enlightenment. Thus any adherent of the Theravadan Tradition who through
strict discipline and devotion to scripture became enlightened had lived up to
the ideal of the Bodhisattva. But Bodhisattva was seen merely as a teaching
tool, only as a part of the individual’s path in reaching Nirvana. It would not
reach beyond this until the formation of the Mahayana Tradition.

The Mahayana determined that Bodhisattva was a mandate not for
individual perfection, but to save all sentient beings from suffering.
Mahayana Buddhists take a vow NOT to enter Nirvana, even though they too
strive to reach enlightenment. Instead their vow is to return to the world of
suffering and assist all others in reaching Nirvana first, thus casting the role
of Buddhists as compassionate protectors and saviors.

“The bodhisattva is translated literally as ‘one whose essence is
perfect wisdom’ or ‘one destined for enlightenment.’ The essential
characteristics of the bodhisattva in both sects are compassion, selflessness,
wisdom, and servitude. The bodhisattva takes a vow: ‘I must lead all beings to
liberation, I will stay here until the end, even for the sake of one living
mortal’. “

The spread of Mahayana in Asia:

Theravada Buddhism continued to be dominant in Southern India and
Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and spread South and East through the Indo-Chinese Peninsula
while Mahayana Buddhism grew and spread to the North and East.

Mahayana broke into several sub-types:

bullet In China: Cha’an, (more popularly
known by its Japanese name, Zen), and Pure Land. Both would later
be transmitted to Japan. Zen migrated to Korea.
bullet Vajrayana, or Tantric Buddhism
which moved North and West, finally taking root in Tibet.

Over time, several schools of the Mahayana
Buddhist philosophy evolved, but the main ones today are Pure Land and
the Zen, both of which originally developed in China. A third school, the
Nirchiren group developed in most recent times and is based on the
White Lotus Sutra teaching of the Buddha.

“The dominant group today is the Mahayana following, and this is in
part due to a Royal supporter. In the third century BC, Buddhism was boosted by
the patronage of a powerful king, the Emperor Ashoka who converted after a
particularly vicious victory in battle. He became a major supporter of the
Mahayana Buddhism and funded its growth around many parts of India. In
conjunction with the council, he also sent missionaries to regions outside
India, beginning the spread of Buddhism around the world.

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