Friday, February 4, 2011

Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism

Note that the main dogma of both schools, presumably, is directly from that of the historical Buddha Gotama or Gautama. Obviously the core teachings are identical and both agree with the same principle. For example, ‘the four noble truth = cat᷂tāri ariyasac᷂cāni’, ‘the Three Characteristics = tilak᷂khan᷂a’, ‘the rule of independent origination or the law of causation = pat᷂ic᷂casamup᷂pāda’, and ‘the laws of karma or karmic laws’.  Merely that Mahayana school describes the law of causation more vividly and profoundly than of the Theravada school. It also introduced the new term used to describe ‘pat᷂ic᷂casamup᷂pāda’ as ‘suň᷂ňatā’.
There had been a clear development of Buddhism after the demise of the master, from the 2th- 3th Century B.C., from its orthodox doctrine [well known in Theravada or Hinayaha] to the new idea of Mahayana which some development of teachings, practices, and philosophical principles should be discussed and observed here;

Theravada (Orthodox doctrine)
  •   The idea of being an ārahat ‘the worthy one, or the one who enlightened’ is accepted as a sublime gold for all Buddhists and practitioners.
  •   The doctrine emphasises the individual attempt and potential to reach sublime goal which is Nirvāna or liberation. Buddha is merely a guider or adviser. To achieve the goal one must strive for it individually.
  •    Theravada is claimed an Atheist doctrine. Supreme-being or the creator is not accepted. The karmic law will steer all walks of lives to either negative or positive consequences. There is no such creator. Theravada Buddhist merely have the three refuges; Buddha, Dhamma, and Sanggha (community of Bhikkhus, Bhikkhuni, and lay people both males and females). 
  • It is claimed that Theravada Buddhism follows the original principles and teachings directly from the historical Buddha. Any miscellaneous change of monastic rules and principles is not accepted. Therefore, it is expressed by some Buddhists that this school is too formative, out of date, merely follows scriptures and text which were written more than two millenniums and put full effort to preserve it. The school is also claimed too individual and selfish.
  •   The school mainly focuses on individual purification and potential to reach liberation rather than concerning that of other’s.
  •  It is claimed a conservative practitioner therefore often said to be pleased of being secluded and solitude.
  •    Theravada denies the existence of ‘self’ or substance. All phenomenons are subjected to impermanence [anic᷂cam᷂], suffering [duk᷂kham᷂], and no self [anat᷂tā]. Thus this school has always been criticized as ‘nihilism’.   

  • Being Bhodisattva ‘the one or being who will be the next Buddha’, and secures as many sentient beings as possible to liberation is highly accepted and revered than that of attaining an ‘ārahatship’. 
  • Sentient beings who still wonder in the circle of worldly life are too engaged with worldly activities. The pursuing of the ideal liberation seems distant to accomplish. Assistance is needed to reach that goal. Thus, later the doctrine has highly emphasis on ‘mettā’ or compassion of Buddha in which it also has potential to lead people to liberation.
  •  The notion that Buddha as the sublime and exalted being is widely accepted akin to that of Gods in other world religions. It is believed Gautama is the reincarnation of Supreme- being comes to the world to become Buddha. However, the view of Dhamakāya is accepted as a pure supreme being who incarnates to the world to assist all walks of life to liberation. Thus to this notion Buddha also is accepted in new term as ‘Amitabha’ literally means ‘the infinite eternal light’.
  •    The school has put an attempt to improve and adjust miscellaneous principles and practices fit best with time, location, environment and condition. Higher philosophical principles ‘Abhidhamma’ has been practiced and discussed profoundly in this school.
  •    Mahayana focuses most in assisting many and concerns in others affairs.
  •    It is claimed a progressive process, always improves all aspects of doctrine and practice to fit best with situation.
  • The school has a philosophical view on purity of the Buddha or Amitābha [Lokuttrakaya] in which it is believed to be permanent and unchanged. 

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