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Schools Of Buddhism Essay

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Over the past 2000 years, since Buddha’s lifetime, the numerous doctrinal and institutional divisions within Buddhism have intensified leading to a variety of faucets or schools of Buddhism. Each school with their own unique teaching and aspects however, all the same in the underlying aim of escaping the endless cycle of samsara and achieving nirvana the way the Buddha had. The three main schools of Buddhism include Theravada Buddhism, which is the most orthodox school of Buddhism and is commonly referred to as “the doctrine of the elders”, Mahayana Buddhism, which translates to “great vehicle”, and Vajrayana Buddhism, which is the more mystically inclined school of the three. This report will examine the unique features of the three schools of Buddhism.

Theravada Buddhism
Theravada Buddhism is one of the first major Buddhist traditions. The Theravada school of Buddhism is considered the most orthodox of Buddhist teachings as the inspiration of their scripture is drawn from the Pali Canon, which refers to the oldest collection of Buddhist teachings. Theravada Buddhists believe that Buddha teaches people to “abstain from all kinds of evil in order to attain what is good to cleanse and purify the mind”. They also believe that this teaching can be fulfilled through the three trainings of developing ethical conduct, meditation and insight. In addition, another unique characteristic of the Theravada school of thought is the idea that all worldly phenomena have three common characteristics. This idea states that these characteristics include: all worldly phenomena are transient, impermanent, and unsatisfactory and all are made up of either the material element or the non-material element. Furthermore, the emphasis placed on the Buddha ...

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...nlightenment one can bring forth the knowledge of ones true nature. Furthermore, unlike Mahayana and Theravada, Vajrayana Buddhism was built on the belief of possible Buddhahood. Moreover, another distinguishing feature of Vajrayana Buddhism are their symbols for instance the Vajra and the bell. The Vajra was a spiritual thunderbolt, which symbolises skilful means as well as the compassion of the Buddha and the bell (ghanta) symbolises the wisdom of the Buddha. Today Vajrayana Buddhism is predominately practiced in Tibet but can also be found in Japan.

It is clear that not only do the schools of Buddhism in Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana have unique features in their teaching but in a variety of other aspects of each school therefore although they all are built on the same central aspects they schools beliefs and teachings vary according to their interpretation.
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