Sub-subject: Buddhist schools: Mahayana Buddhism, Theravada, Zen. Syllabus:
- Buddhist schools
- Mahayana Buddhism
- Theravada Buddhism
- Vajrayana Buddhism (Lamaist/Tibetan)
- ZEN Buddhism
- Pure Land Buddhism
Sample of the Sub-subject: Mahayana Buddhism, Theravada, Zen
Sub-Subject Description: Buddhist schools.
As almost all the religions, Buddhism is not a monolithic block. Throughout its millenarian history different schools have been emerged.
Unlike Christianity, there is no the figure of the Papal, being the main religious authority the sacred texts (Buddha's sermons or sutras). After the Buddha's death emerged the first Buddhist schism.
The three largest Buddhist schools are (figures according to Adherents.com).
1- Mahayana Buddhism (the great way).
- About 185 millions of followers, 56% of all Buddhists.
- Central figure: Bodhisattva.
- Mahayana Buddhism currently, has a strong presence in China, Tibet, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Taiwan.
- One of the largest Mahayana schools is the “Pure Land Buddhism.”
“May I be a balm to the ill, their healer and servitor, until sickness comes never again;
My being and my pleasures, all my righteousness in the past, present, and future I surrender indifferently, that all creatures may win to their end.” Shantideva
- If anything characterizes the Zen Buddhism (Ch'an) is Taoist influence.
- Zen belongs to the Mahayana School, and the translation would be “meditation.”
- Zen Buddhism is perhaps the most influential in the West.
- His vision is based on the so-called “Sermon of the flower of Buddha.”
2- Theravada Buddhism (or Hinayana, the “minor way”).
- About 124
million (38% of all Buddhists).
- Central figure: Arhat.
- The main Theravada countries are Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia (Southeast Asia).
- Theravada's influence is very latent in these countries.
3- Vajrayana (Diamond Vehicle Buddhism).
- 20 million followers (6%).
- Present in Tibet, Bhutan, northern India, Nepal, southwestern China and Mongolia.
The concept of Arhant/Bodhisattva varies in each Buddhist school, and perhaps is one of the main causes that justify the division between the Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism.
- For Theravada Buddhists, this salvation is exclusive to the person; it is an individual spiritual goal, and is reserved for Arhants
- Mahayana Buddhists criticise this narrow vision focused on an individual, for them, the salvation must benefit mankind. The Bodhisattva who being about to attain enlightenment, renouncing it, staying in the infinite cycle of rebirths to save humanity.
For a Mahayana Buddhist:
Buddha is the Saviour of the World and the spiritual guide of humanity.
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