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what are the difference between mahayana and theravada?

what are the difference between mahayana and theravada? and are there any concept of bodhisattva and multiple buddhas in theravada? and who were the bodhisattvas such as manjushri, avalokitesvara, vajrapani, and etc. where were they come from? were they unseeable by normal people?

Comments

  • mahayana is vegetarian and believes that everyone can be a bodhisatva.

    The Buddhas in theravada are very rare.

    There were 27 Buddhas before Siddharta.

    I would recommend studying theravada before mahayana.

    Otherwise, you will be totally confused.
    pegembararohityuneifique
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    edited December 2013
    The concept of Buddhas throughout beginning-less time is from the oldest Pali suttas. The buddha talks about how in every world system, each aeon after the dhamma has been forgotten a buddha arises to bring it back to the people. He even mentions the next Buddha to come. In Theravada a Buddha is no different then any other person(or should I say the potential of every other person) or awakened being except for that their role is to bring the dhamma back to life after it has been forgotten.

    the Mahayana concept of the bodhisattva does not exist in Theravada. the old Pali suttas do use the term for the many lives prior to Siddhartha's awakening, but there is no special system or significance as in the Mahayana. In fact for those who switch from Mahayana to Theravada it is advised to disavow the bodisattva vows so they can strive for enlightenment.

    as far as the rest, being a Theravadin I'm unqualified to talk of such things :).
    lenpadillaClementine
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    Always found this interesting. "Basic Points Unifying the Theravāda and the Mahāyāna"

    Of course it lists the similarities, not the differences. But knowing the similarities I think helps when it comes to understanding the differences too. :)
  • Mahayana, at least the versions of it which are popular in the West, generally focuses on advanced topics in discernment, to the detriment of first establishing a solid foundation in virtue and concentration. I agree with @hermitwin: start with Theravada.
    pegembaraTara1978
  • Don't take some random forum guys/gals view without a grain of salt. I would recommend doing some reading and youtube viewing.

    Mahayana practitioners aren't all vegetarians. I am not.

    I don't agree that you need to study theravada first. I started with mahayana and I did just fine.
    riverflow
  • fivebellsfivebells Veteran
    edited December 2013
    I started with mahayana, and it really screwed me up. :)
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited December 2013
    Yes, but both Jeffrey's and fivebell's experiences are just anecdotes.

    Personally I find the pali sutras harder to understand than modern books designed for a reader of this age. There are more mahayana books selection than theravada, but some theravada do exist such as ajah chahn. Bhante Gunaratana also wrote a good theravadan book called Mindfulness in Plain English. Also there is accesstoinsight website.

    But yeah a big reason I was exposed to Mahayana teachings was because there are a lot of authors. Just go to Barnes and Noble and see for yourself.
    riverflow
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    absolute said:

    what are the difference between mahayana and theravada?

    One is a Yana and the other is not.

    Theraveda is a tradition/lineage much like Kagyu, and Zen are. Kagyu and Zen are a part of the Mahayana
    and who were the bodhisattvas such as manjushri, avalokitesvara, vajrapani, and etc. where were they come from?
    "What" might be a more appropriate question. These Bodhisattvas may or may not be real beings, but in practical terms it may be better to view them as representative of qualities of "enlightened being".

    yes, they are mentioned in various suttras as if they were real. And Lamas such as the Dalai Lama and Karmapa are said to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara. But you have to consider what "real" means in the context of Mahayana teaching. And this:
    were they unseeable by normal people?
    They'll say yes. Bodhisattvas, such as Avalokiteshvara, are said to be emanations in the Sambogakaya, which is unseen but beings such as ourselves.

    If you're just getting started, I wouldn't worry about this stuff. There are more important things for you to study and practice right now.
    Dennis1
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited December 2013
    But to answer your question the Mahayana was affected by Nagarjuna and thus there is the concept of Dependent Origination outlined by Nagarjuna. There are also the prajna paramita (or perfection of wisdom) sutras. Dependent origination is said to be 'the central theorem of Tibet'. Chinese Buddhism (other east asian) also draw from the Prajna Paramita sutras such as the heart sutra and the diamond sutras. The heart sutra is the most concise of the prajna paramitra sutras.

    http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/heartstr.htm

    http://kr.buddhism.org/zen/sutras/conze.htm
    THE HEART SUTRA
    Om Homage to the Perfection of Wisdom the Lovely, the Holy !

    Avalokita, the Holy Lord and Bodhisattva, was moving in the deep course of the Wisdom which has gone beyond.

    He looked down from on high, He beheld but five heaps, and He saw that in their own-being they were empty.

    Here, O Sariputra,

    form is emptiness and the very emptiness is form ;

    emptiness does not differ from form, form does not differ from emptiness, whatever is emptiness, that is form,

    the same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses, and consciousness.

    Here, O Sariputra,

    all dharmas are marked with emptiness ;

    they are not produced or stopped, not defiled or immaculate, not deficient or complete.

    Therefore, O Sariputra,

    in emptiness there is no form nor feeling, nor perception, nor impulse, nor consciousness ;

    No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind ; No forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables or objects of mind ; No sight-organ element, and so forth, until we come to :

    No mind-consciousness element ; There is no ignorance, no extinction of ignorance, and so forth, until we come to : There is no decay and death, no extinction of decay and death. There is no suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path.

    There is no cognition, no attainment and no non-attainment.

    Therefore, O Sariputra,

    it is because of his non-attainmentness that a Bodhisattva, through having relied on the Perfection of Wisdom, dwells without thought-coverings. In the absence of thought-coverings he has not been made to tremble,

    he has overcome what can upset, and in the end he attains to Nirvana.

    All those who appear as Buddhas in the three periods of time fully awake to the utmost, right and perfect Enlightenment because they have relied on the Perfection of Wisdom.

    Therefore one should know the prajnaparamita as the great spell, the spell of great knowledge, the utmost spell, the unequalled spell, allayer of all suffering, in truth -- for what could go wrong ? By the prajnaparamita has this spell been delivered. It runs like this :

    gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha.

    ( Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond, O what an awakening, all-hail ! -- )

    This completes the Heart of perfect Wisdom.
    riverflowAsbestosbuddhaTara1978
  • There are plenty of "modern books designed for a reader of this age" which are based on the Pali suttas. With Each & Every Breath is particularly exemplary in this regard.
  • I've never seen that book @fivebells.
  • thank you guys for your great answers. so i wanna ask about one that is abhidhamma sutra don't accepted by mahayanas? because i heard that mahasanghikas, intial development of mahayana, didn't accept abhidhamma as a buddha's word, but mahayana itself concern more about esoteric and deep philosophical concepts right, so it seems denying itself to me.
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    Most theravadins i know say abidhamma is not the word of the Buddha and is a later addition. In fact the monks i learn from dont even teach it. Obviously my experience is not necessarily universal, but just to give one theravadan perspective on it.
  • hermitwin said:

    mahayana is vegetarian

    Not really, not all of mahayana. But that's a subject for another thread.

    In Mahayana, the precepts are not hard-and-fast rules to adhere to. There's something called the "greater good" principle, whereby one can break a precept if a greater good is being served in so doing. (Classic example: lying to the Nazis about hiding Jews in one's basement, thereby saving lives.) This "greater good" principle doesn't exist in Theravada.

    Mahayana has the concept of "Buddhanature" that is believed to be inherent in everyone. Buddhanature is believed to be a seed in everyone that, with proper care, can blossom into Buddhahood. This goes hand-in-hand with the concept of the "True Self", i.e. Buddhahood or bodhisattvahood, the realization of Buddhanature. These ideas come from sutras said to be the Buddha's final teachings before death. They're not part of the Theravada canon.

    JeffreyDennis1riverflow
  • The abhidharma is about the nature of reality. The mahayana has the prajnaparamita sutras which are a better description of reality in their opinion.
  • Nagarjuna's analysis of Dependent Origination is not esoteric.
    absolute said:

    thank you guys for your great answers. so i wanna ask about one that is abhidhamma sutra don't accepted by mahayanas? because i heard that mahasanghikas, intial development of mahayana, didn't accept abhidhamma as a buddha's word, but mahayana itself concern more about esoteric and deep philosophical concepts right, so it seems denying itself to me.

    riverflow
  • hermitwin said:

    mahayana is vegetarian and believes that everyone can be a bodhisatva.

    The Buddhas in theravada are very rare.

    There were 27 Buddhas before Siddharta.

    I would recommend studying theravada before mahayana.

    Otherwise, you will be totally confused.

    Hermit:
    I disagree that Mahayana is vegetarian-that is a choice.
    I also disagree that hinayana should be studied first. That is nonsensical to me.
    The lesser vehicle doesn't lead into the greater. Start with either one. A good book to start with is The Avatamsaka Sutra around 100 BC. Also called The Flower Ornament Scripture. This is Mahajana for beginners and promotes becoming an enlightening being. That concept is the major difference between the two vehicles. In Mahayana
    anyone can become a Bodhi as we all have Buddha nature which is our basic awareness.
    Good fortune to you.


    TheEccentric
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited December 2013
    Dakini said:

    hermitwin said:

    mahayana is vegetarian

    Not really, not all of mahayana. But that's a subject for another thread.

    In Mahayana, the precepts are not hard-and-fast rules to adhere to. There's something called the "greater good" principle, whereby one can break a precept if a greater good is being served in so doing. (Classic example: lying to the Nazis about hiding Jews in one's basement, thereby saving lives.) This "greater good" principle doesn't exist in Theravada.

    So according the Theravada, you should just hand over the Jew that you are hiding in your house, and let them be killed by nazis? I find that difficult to believe. Never heard such a thing!

    Also, I don't think one needs to start with Theravada. Lots of people start with Mahayana and do just fine.


    BhikkhuJayasara
  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran
    Ultimately, there is no difference between Theravada and Mahayana - they both derive as schools from the buddhas teachings.

    Interpretation of their meaning is where the apparent difference lies and that is down to what the individual interprets.



    Chazriverflow
  • One doesn't need to start with either one, but sensible comparisons can be made between the results from different paths.

    "Just fine" is a very vague term. The key question by which any of these paths should be assessed is the extent to which they foster the cessation of suffering. The Theravada focus on concentration as the foundational tool towards this goal has been extremely useful to me.
    Carrieryman
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    fivebells said:

    The Theravada focus on concentration as the foundational tool towards this goal has been extremely useful to me.

    I feel the same way about Zen. :) That's what I started in and still in it. Tibetan Buddhism never really appealed to me. There is pretty wide variation between different Mahayana sects. But of course, each person will be drawn to what their karma draws them to.
    ChazriverflowCarrieryman
  • Tibetan Buddhism also practices concentration meditations. My sangha doesn't, but I used to be part of an online study group and the leader, who was partial to Gelug Tibetan Buddhism, did some concentration practices with us. Second, there is long run versus short run. Concentration is a contrived state and is best in the short run, but Buddha didn't attain Nirvana strictly by concentration meditation. I'm not sure if I am being sectarian since I don't know if the Theravada teaches that Jhana leads to Nirvana. I've talked to different Theravadans and some say Jhana leads to Nirvana and some don't. In any case the Jhanas are not accessible, usually, to beginners.
    TheEccentric
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    seeker242 said:

    fivebells said:

    The Theravada focus on concentration as the foundational tool towards this goal has been extremely useful to me.

    I feel the same way about Zen. :) That's what I started in and still in it. Tibetan Buddhism never really appealed to me.
    And I feel the same way about the Kagyu. The focus on practice was a big draw for me. There would be study, of course this directed by my Guru who starts his students with Hinayana study and they progress towards Mahayana and eventually Vajrayana. You don't necessarily have to take Hinayana and Mahayana study in that order, but Rinpoche prefers it.

    There is pretty wide variation between different Mahayana sects. But of course, each person will be drawn to what their karma draws them to.
    Indeed. At first I had no interest in Tibetan Buddhism, but that's the direction I ended up going in. Karma.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited December 2013
    seeker242 said:


    So according the Theravada, you should just hand over the Jew that you are hiding in your house, and let them be killed by nazis? I find that difficult to believe. Never heard such a thing!

    The people on the Theravada discussion forum, Dammawheel, are quite adamant about it. No lying, period. No fudging on any precepts under any circumstances.

  • seeker242 said:

    Dakini said:

    hermitwin said:

    mahayana is vegetarian

    Not really, not all of mahayana. But that's a subject for another thread.



    In Mahayana, the precepts are not hard-and-fast rules to adhere to. There's something called the "greater good" principle, whereby one can break a precept if a greater good is being served in so doing. (Classic example: lying to the Nazis about hiding Jews in one's basement, thereby saving lives.) This "greater good" principle doesn't exist in Theravada.

    So according the Theravada, you should just hand over the Jew that you are hiding in your house, and let them be killed by nazis? I find that difficult to believe. Never heard such a thing!

    Also, I don't think one needs to start with Theravada. Lots of people start with Mahayana and do just fine.


    Nice conversation> I believe in the greater good idea but I have a different take.
    If the Nazis (national socialists), show up at your door you shouldn't lie, but you shouldn't give up your family either. And yes that might mean you will give up your life.
    There are two philosophical ideas from a German philosopher, Immanuel Kant. He calls them categorical imperatives (necessary under all conditions). They are: 1. Perform every act as though it would become a universal law that all sentience would act according to. and 2. Treat all humanity whether in your own person or that of another, always as an end and never as a means only. I think both of these are very Buddhist.
    Kant was known as the Chinaman of Konigsberg-Germany. In 'The critique of critical reason' Kant spends a lot of time talking about this stuff and he makes it clear: We wouldn't want a world where everyone just lied to suit their needs-so: Lie no. Die yes.
    mtgby may the good be yours.
    P.S. By this standard any group that asked it's members to treat themselves as only a means to the group's ends, would be an unethical group and unworthy of devotion. Voluntarily sacrificing oneself for the group is worthy and uplifting. Demanding it is unworthy. mtgby

    I think starting with Mahayana is superior because right away you start activity which is based on the well being of others and this helps lift us above the small self. One of the things I don't appreciate about Christianity is all of the me-me-me that is implied in doing what you do for the hope of attaining heaven. Good should be done for the benefit of the other. Evil should be avoided in order to stay true to your higher self and self perfection.





  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Dakini said:

    seeker242 said:


    So according the Theravada, you should just hand over the Jew that you are hiding in your house, and let them be killed by nazis? I find that difficult to believe. Never heard such a thing!

    The people on the Theravada discussion forum, Dammawheel, are quite adamant about it. No lying, period. No fudging on any precepts under any circumstances.

    Do you think they can possibly uphold that?

    riverflowele
  • pegembarapegembara Veteran
    edited December 2013
    The Pāli Canon (Pali: Tipitaka) is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language. It is the most complete extant early Buddhist canon. It was composed in North India, and preserved orally until it was committed to writing during the Fourth Buddhist Council in Sri Lanka in 29 BCE, approximately four hundred and fifty four years after the death of Gautama Buddha.

    The Pāli Canon falls into three general categories, called pitaka (from Pali piṭaka, meaning "basket", referring to the receptacles in which the scrolls were kept). Because of this, the canon is traditionally known as the Tipiṭaka (Sanskrit: Tripiṭaka; "three baskets"). The three pitakas are as follows:

    Vinaya Pitaka ("Discipline Basket"), dealing with rules for monks and nuns
    Sutta Pitaka (Sutra/Sayings Basket), discourses, mostly ascribed to the Buddha, but some to disciples
    Abhidhamma Pitaka, variously described as philosophy, psychology, metaphysics, etc.

    The Vinaya Pitaka and the Sutta Pitaka are remarkably similar to the works of other early Buddhist schools. The Abhidhamma Pitaka however is a strictly Theravada collection, and has little in common with the Abhidhamma works recognized by other Buddhist schools.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pali_Canon

    Mahāyāna sutras are a broad genre of Buddhist scriptures that various traditions of Mahāyāna Buddhism accept as canonical. They are largely preserved in the Chinese Buddhist canon, the Tibetan Buddhist canon, and in extant Sanskrit manuscripts. Around one hundred Mahāyāna sutras survive in Sanskrit, or in Chinese and Tibetan translations.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahayana_Sutras

    Note that the Pali Canon apart from from the Abhidhamma Pitaka is highly similar to the Mahayahist's Agamas.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Āgama_(Buddhism)
  • vinlyn said:



    Do you think they can possibly uphold that?

    How well to Christians uphold the 10 Commandments? "Upholding" isn't relevant. The question was about the difference in doctrine between Mahayana and Theravada. How the precepts are handled is one of them.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Oh, I think it's relevant. Why be "quite adamant" about something you can't do you can't do yourself. If they're being so adamant, and not coming close to fulfilling it, then I'd say it's a bit hypocritical of them. I'm only talking about perfection in effort, not perfection in success.
    riverflow
  • vinlyn said:

    Oh, I think it's relevant. Why be "quite adamant" about something you can't do you can't do yourself. If they're being so adamant, and not coming close to fulfilling it, then I'd say it's a bit hypocritical of them. I'm only talking about perfection in effort, not perfection in success.

    You'd have to ask them if they're adhering to their own beliefs. I think they are. Seems odd to assume they wouldn't be. I imagine that challenges to their commitments come up rarely in life, anyway. You could put up a thread on Dhammawheel, though, and see how people respond. Would probably be interesting.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    I just expect them to be human...albeit human's who are striving.
    riverflow
  • pegembarapegembara Veteran
    edited December 2013
    The name Theravāda comes from the ancestral Sthaviravada, from which the Theravadins claim descent. After unsuccessfully trying to modify the Vinaya, a small group of "elderly members", i.e. sthaviras, broke away from the majority Mahāsāṃghika during the Second Buddhist council, giving rise to the Sthaviravada ("the Teaching of the Elders"). According to its own accounts, the Theravāda school is fundamentally derived from the Vibhajjavāda (or "doctrine of analysis") grouping which was a division of the Sthaviravada.

    Read this for the reason for the Second Buddhist Council - largely due to differences in the practice of the monks (Vinaya) rules.

    http://www.chinabuddhismencyclopedia.com/en/index.php?title=The_Three_Buddhist_Councils
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    edited December 2013
    vinlyn said:

    Dakini said:

    seeker242 said:


    So according the Theravada, you should just hand over the Jew that you are hiding in your house, and let them be killed by nazis? I find that difficult to believe. Never heard such a thing!

    The people on the Theravada discussion forum, Dammawheel, are quite adamant about it. No lying, period. No fudging on any precepts under any circumstances.

    Do you think they can possibly uphold that?

    vinlyn said:

    Oh, I think it's relevant. Why be "quite adamant" about something you can't do you can't do yourself. If they're being so adamant, and not coming close to fulfilling it, then I'd say it's a bit hypocritical of them. I'm only talking about perfection in effort, not perfection in success.

    Dakini said:

    vinlyn said:

    Oh, I think it's relevant. Why be "quite adamant" about something you can't do you can't do yourself. If they're being so adamant, and not coming close to fulfilling it, then I'd say it's a bit hypocritical of them. I'm only talking about perfection in effort, not perfection in success.

    You'd have to ask them if they're adhering to their own beliefs. I think they are. Seems odd to assume they wouldn't be. I imagine that challenges to their commitments come up rarely in life, anyway. You could put up a thread on Dhammawheel, though, and see how people respond. Would probably be interesting.
    Oh for Christ's sake let a Theravadin end this, I should of a few hours ago. I've never been taught or heard of the 5 precepts being hard and fast commandments, nor are they taught that way in the pali suttas. They are training rules to take on as part of the practice, which is more then just meditation. You`'re not going to be punished by the devas for breaking them lol, nor will you fail and end up in a hell realm for lying to Nazis to save Jews... even if you did take on bad kamma for saving people I'd tell my kamma to go f off and be proud of it :p.

    And yes there is agitation in this post, to err is human after all haha.
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    Dakini said:

    seeker242 said:


    So according the Theravada, you should just hand over the Jew that you are hiding in your house, and let them be killed by nazis? I find that difficult to believe. Never heard such a thing!

    The people on the Theravada discussion forum, Dammawheel, are quite adamant about it. No lying, period. No fudging on any precepts under any circumstances.

    I've noticed that too. But then ask "Are the people at Dhamma Wheel enlightened?" Personally, I don't put much stock in what random people on the internet claim. What I want to know is what do enlightened people have to say about such things? Not just people who think they understand because they are good at reading books, but people who are actually enlightened.

    I'm familiar with the kind of people you are talking about though. They remind me of a child at school who is told to never touch the fire alarm thing. Because it's against the rules to touch it. And then one day a fire breaks out and he just sits there, because it against the rules to touch the fire alarm thing. :lol:
    robotriverflow
  • I've done both Zen (Rinzai and Soto) and Kagyu. They all give concentration and the methods for fostering it relatively short shrift. The difference for me has been that discernment is treated more as a support for concentration and virtue than the other way around. Of course, all traditions recognize that the three teachings are mutually supporting, but the shift in emphasis has been very important for me.
    Dennis1riverflow
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Training for what? The sake of training? No.

    Training not to do those things.
  • @fivebells did you mean discernment is the foundation of which school? So you are saying that there is a difference:
    one favors concentration as the foundation of insight
    two favors insight as the foundation of concentration
    Are you saying which is which.

    I would think all Buddhism teaches that concentration is a support for insight. My teacher doesn't teach us to contemplate anything. Nonetheless everyone contemplates (perhaps not in particular states).

    I think shamata and vipashna (sic) arise interdependently. In Tibetan Buddhism concentration is more a raft to get to insight. But insight is not contemplating some test question, rather it is in the present of the meditation.

    Indeed my teacher doesn't teach to contemplate anything. Her teaching has four points: awake, heart (citta - or 'there is a reason I am meditating'), present, space (a sense of the freedom and openness of the awareness that is in the present, awake, and permeated by heart.


    Thanks for your thoughts @fivebells. I know I can learn a lot from your experience.
  • Pegembara: Thank you for your erudition on the scriptures. There are a lot of members here who are very interesting in their ability to shed light. Thank you all.
    I heard the Mahayana is called thus because of the idea of being an enlightening being.
    Thereby it is a vehicle which can carry more sentient creatures to the other side.
    That is a relative term and hinayana is only lesser because it does not so actively promote enlightening activities. Doctrinally they should all extend from enlightened disposition and be edifying. I may have hurt some Theravedan feelings but it is certainly not from any disrespect of the enlightenment which issues from the Pali or other writings. What unites us should be greater than any separation. The Buddha's teachings and our desire for enlightenment for self and others are the important aspects.
    Dhammika
  • What I want to know is what do enlightened people have to say about such things? Not just people who think they understand because they are good at reading books, but people who are actually enlightened.
    On the whole the majority opinion from all schools that lead to enlightenment is to keep it quiet. Fortunately through diligence, discernment and practice both the Mahayana and Theravada schools lead to quiet enlightenment.
    Maybe I'll just go visit the Unitarians for a bit of orthodox peace and quiet enlightenment . . . :D
    riverflowAsbestosbuddhaSwaroop
  • About being quiet: A Tibetan saying is something like this: In India and elsewhere they have great secrets but here we teach our greatest secrets to the dogs. What is Bodhichitta if it is silent for fear of fakes learning the secret doctrine and then pretending wisdom they don't have and etc. What is wisdom for-living and being kind.
    Sharing important information is kind. Although I agree there are some things that can hurt others and that is a different question. I would never teach the ways to attain siddhis. Those things are developed through enlightened compassionate practice and selflessness. Wisdom, like the perfection of wisdom sutra, is for everyone. That is why the Buddha gave it to us-to share.
    lobster
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited December 2013
    absolute said:

    what are the difference between mahayana and theravada? and are there any concept of bodhisattva and multiple buddhas in theravada? and who were the bodhisattvas such as manjushri, avalokitesvara, vajrapani, and etc. where were they come from? were they unseeable by normal people?

    pegembara said:

    The name Theravāda comes from the ancestral Sthaviravada, from which the Theravadins claim descent. After unsuccessfully trying to modify the Vinaya, a small group of "elderly members", i.e. sthaviras, broke away from the majority Mahāsāṃghika during the Second Buddhist council, giving rise to the Sthaviravada ("the Teaching of the Elders"). According to its own accounts, the Theravāda school is fundamentally derived from the Vibhajjavāda (or "doctrine of analysis") grouping which was a division of the Sthaviravada.

    Read this for the reason for the Second Buddhist Council - largely due to differences in the practice of the monks (Vinaya) rules.

    http://www.chinabuddhismencyclopedia.com/en/index.php?title=The_Three_Buddhist_Councils

    From a historical perspective, the differences arise from a variety of things, from splits among early groups in India after the Buddha's death to location and language of the groups textually development and transmission, which all helped influence the flavour of each evolving tradition.

    The historical origin of the 'big split' is a pretty complicated topic going all the way back to about a hundred years or so after the Buddha's death, especially when trying to sift through all the available historical evidence and minutia of what technically constitutes a schism. But according what's most likely the earliest account, the Sariputrapariprccha, the first major schism after the Buddha's death resulting in the creation of the Sthaviravada and Mahasanghika schools (which Theravada and Mahayana eventually evolved from, respectively), centered around a dispute over vinaya or discipline.

    The Mahasanghikas, in their account, accuse the Sthaviras of trying to add rules to the Vinaya. Later texts suggest that either the ten lax practices (e.g., handling money, eating after midday, etc.) of a group of monks identified with the future Mahasanghika or disagreements over five doctrinal issues about the nature of the Buddha and that of arahantship were responsible (the Dipavamsa and the Samayabhedoparacanacakra and Nikdyabhedavibhangavydkhydna, respectively).

    For more on this interesting subject, I recommend Bhikkhu Sujato's Sects & Sectarianism and Charles Prebish and Janice J. Nattier's Mahasamghika Origins: The Beginnings of Buddhist Sectarianism.

    Textually speaking, the teachings of Theravada were transmitted in Pali, but the teachings of Mahayana were primarily transmitted in Sanskrit. I'm certainly not an expert on the subject, so take whatever I say with a grain of salt; but from what I understand, it's mainly due to the combination of when and where each set of texts were initially composed, and when and where they were eventually transmitted.

    Pali, an early form of Prakrit related to Hindi and Sanskrit, is thought to be a composite of several dialectal forms and expressions most likely based on the language the Buddha himself taught in, which is generally held to be a dialect of Magadhi Prakrit; although there's still a great deal of debate among scholars as to the exact dates and place of origin of Pali itself.

    The commentarial tradition of Theravada holds that Pali is identical to Magadhi; but as the introduction to A New Course in Reading Pali: Entering the Word of the Buddha notes, it doesn't share many of the distinctive characteristics found in Magadhan inscriptions, primarily from the time of Asoka (approximately 300–232 BCE). Nevertheless, it's considered by many scholars, such as Wilhelm Geiger and Walpola Rahula, to at least be closely related to Magadhi, especially in the sense of being a type of popular speech.

    Whatever the case, it's believe that at the time of the Buddha (approximately 400 BCE), many of the great wandering ascetics (samana) in the northern area of India known as Magadha, like the Buddha and his contemporary Mahavira (Nigantha Nataputta), taught in the popular vernacular of the people used for general communication and commerce, as opposed to Vedic Sanskrit, the sacred language of Vedas used by brahmins. This was not only done because they rejected the authority of the Vedas, but because they wanted to make their teachings more widely available. The use of Vedic Sanskrit also appears to be in decline by this time.

    Not long afterwards, however, Sanskrit seems to have made a serious comeback as a literary and religious language thanks to the great Indian scholar and grammarian, Panini (scholarly dates vary from 500 to 300 BCE), and texts were starting to be written down as well as passed on orally. By the time the early Mahayana sutras were being composed, mostly in the south but also the north, Panini's Sanskrit had already become the standard, most likely starting in Gandhara, his home, and spreading south and east throughout the rest of India.

    Early Buddhist texts underwent various degrees of Sanskritization, while newer texts were being composed in what's now termed Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit or even classical Sanskrit itself, so the textual basis of both traditions likely developed at about the same time. Much of the former, making the scriptural basis of Theravada, were transmitted via Asoka to places like Sri Lanka, where they survived the decline of Buddhism in India and Central Asia, while much of the latter, making the scriptural basis of Mahayana, found a safe home in places like China. And the cultural influences of those countries, including influence from indigenous beliefs, helped continue to shape each tradition as they evolved.
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    ^^^
    Ditto

  • "The Mahayana does not get to define the Theravada for Theravadins any more than the Theravada gets to define the Mahayana for Mahayanists."

    I agree

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