One branch of Buddhism is Mahayana, which literally means the Great Vehicle. Mahayana can more easily be defined as a loose collection of teachings with large and extensive principles that coexist all together. Mahayana defines itself as penetrating further and more deeply into the Buddha's Dharma, or the way of the Buddha. This practice originates in India, and slowly spread across Asia to countries as China, Japan, Korea through the missionary activities of monks and the support of kings. However, the roots of this religion are still not completely known.
The central beliefs of Buddhism are based on Buddha’s Four Noble Truths the last of which is the Eightfold Noble Path, by which enlightenment may be attained and the individual self annihilated in Nirvana. Buddhism is not dogmatic, but through its long history has developed into many schools (Mahayana, Theravada and Zen) (Ch’en, 1989). With more than 500 million followers in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Japan and elsewhere in the Far East, Buddhism is also currently gaining adherents in the West too. The predominant forms however are Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism, the former of which is practiced in China whereas the latter is prevalent in India. Both of these forms are significantly different from the other and the following essay will attempt to compare and contrast Buddhism in India and China.
However, if one wishes to become enlightened, we should be recall the worlds of the Buddha when he advocates for insight through direct experience. Buddhism has a long tradition of scholarship, as the commentaries and interpretations of the Heart Sutra demonstrate, but even scholarship is empty and we must not forget the need for direct experience on which insight is also dependent. Wisdom is perfected through practice, not intellectual understanding alone. Works Cited Tenzin, Gyatso and Jamyang Gawai Lodro. Essence of the Heart Sutra.
Buddhism is primarily a spiritual philosophy and system of ethics (Frederic 16). It places little or no emphasis on deities, teaching that the goal of the faithful is to achieve nirvana, a blissful state of insight and release from the bonds of the self, the world, and an endless round of births, deaths, and rebirths in successive lives (Maraldo 20). The state of spiritual perfection is achieved through the practice of humility, generosity, mercy, abstention from violence, and above all, self-control. The latter forms of Buddhism, known as Mahayana, however, often worship a pantheon of divine Buddhas and future Buddhas (Zwalf 20). Some have a elaborate hierarchies demons as well.
Christianity and Buddhism, two of the world’s largest religions, each have primary figures perhaps as big as the religions themselves. Jesus Christ, the primary figure in Catholicism, and Gautama Buddha, the founder and key figure of Buddhism, share many similarities as symbols of their respective religions, but generally have stark differences in their roles for each institution. Followed by billions across the world, the teachings of Jesus and Buddha have a profound global impact, even thousands of years after their lives on earth. For Christians, Jesus Christ serves as a definitive, divine symbol of unquestioned moral authority; while Buddha represents an enlightened human being whose teachings offer a more ambiguous set of guidelines for
Although Theravadan Buddhism would later be seen as the "small vehicle," it provides the first idea of the doctrine anatman or having no-self that shapes the ideas of every Buddhist today. Theravadan Buddhism which means "The teaching of the elders," is the teaching of the Buddha in its true traditional form. After attaining enlightenment under the Bohdi tree, the Buddha returns to five ascetic monks he had been associated with previously. He taught them the essential parts of Buddhism which include the vital Four Noble Truths. These teachings were taught by monks, and they give the fundamental truths on which the religion was founded.
It is commonly practiced in Japan, Tibet, and Mongolia. The path to nirvana in Pure Land focuses primarily on faith, whereas, Theravada, the focus is on the individuals’ actions. Theravada, reinforces that one must follow the four noble truths to achieve nirvana. In a person’s life, they accumulate both good and bad karma. The good karma will aid a person in breaking the cycle of rebirth, but if too much bad karma accumulates then the person is automatically reincarnated.
Mahayana further explains that since Buddha was a divine eternal being who came to the earth to help others, than there must be many more who have done the same. Theravada Buddhism holds to the original teachings, therefore they believe that Buddha cared little to nothing about Gods and worship. The Mahayana believes that Buddha was an eternal being, therefore they could focus on the many eternal Buddha’s and worship them. The Mahayana’s like the Hindus are very accepting of other religions; so they believe things like Jesus Christ was an incarnation of Buddha. The basic beliefs of Theravada are far different from Mahayana, which is fascinating since they both believe in the same thing.
It is paramount to understand Buddhism as a whole before breaking it down into its two Tibetan forms, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Buddhism, a non-theistic religion which is very prevalent in Southeast Asia, was founded by Prince Siddhartha Gautama around the filth century B.C. Siddhartha came to realize the correct path to awakening after a series of events like extreme asceticism, failed. Siddhartha, otherwise known as the Buddha, taught his followers that everything of existence was impermanent, meaning there was no such thing as a permanent self. This truth is one of the key beliefs in Buddhism, and one that is still believed and taught to this day.
In other words, every being is capable of reaching Buddhahood as the truth resides within each individual, however, it can only be reached when “they abandon their deluded, contrary views”. It is only then th... ... middle of paper ... ...deed present at the heart of the Mahayana tradition, it has also been expanded upon in order to answer the philosophical questions that the Pali Canons ignored. Mahayana Buddhism introduces the idea of the “inner Buddhahood”, compassionate Bodhisattvas, dharma as empty, and finally may also encourage a bit of clinging to the recitation and repetition of its dharma. However, aforementioned, it still emphasizes the Buddha’s teachings outlined in the Pali Canons, the existence of dukkha and awakening as a way to overcome it, and especially the Noble Eight Fold Path. Mahayana Buddhism is simply a representation of the Buddhist faith being adapted in a way to make it more all encompassing and strives to provide all, not just the clergy, with a closer connection with the Buddha and his teachings.