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Mahāyāna and Theravāda Schools

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The Buddha's message, like other religious dogmas, has multiple interpretations. There are several schools of Buddhism and this paper will outline the dissimilarities between two of them. The Theravāda and Mahāyāna schools view Buddhism in different ways. Both schools share understandings of things such as the Buddha’s teachings and the path to an ultimate goal, however; elements like enlightenment, scriptures, and language are understood differently within the two traditions. Looking at the similarities and differences of both schools, this paper will outline how the two schools were developed as well as the differences between these two subsets of this growing religion.
In order to understand the diversity between the two schools, it is crucial to have an understanding of the similarities as well. One of most common understandings between both the Theravāda and Mahāyāna schools is the teaching of the Four Noble Truths. These four truths include: the truth of suffering (duhkha), the truth of arising (samudaya), the truth of cessation (nirodha), and the truth of the way (marga) to the cessation of suffering. The fourth truth, the truth of the way, can be elaborated by looking at the Noble Eight Fold Path (reference Appendix A). This includes the steps to follow in order to reach the ultimate final goal.
The other important agreement between both religions is the acceptance of Shakyamuni Buddha as the teacher. Born as Siddhartha Guatama of the Sakyas, the Buddha began his life in 563 BCE. He was born in what is now known as Nepal. His father was a king of a subcontinent in India, and Siddhartha lived a fairly luxurious life for his time. It is said he was a wealthy and dignified man who was very attractive and dressed in silks. He...

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