What is Mahayana Buddhism?

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What is Mahayana Buddhism?

Postby johnnywalker91 » Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:28 am

And how does is it different from other schools of Buddhism?
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Re: What is Mahayana Buddhism?

Postby Huifeng » Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:31 am

johnnywalker91 wrote:And how does is it different from other schools of Buddhism?


Mahayana Buddhism: The term "maha-yana" means basically "great vehicle" - this is a term that is used by this school itself. The term "Buddhism" is a bit of a modern neologism (new word), based on the founder, the Buddha. Before this new term, there was more usage of terms such as "Dharma", ie. teachings, to describe it.

The "great vehicle" holds that there are several possible goals of Buddhist practice. Of these, the highest goal is to attain the state of "supreme, right, full awakening" (anuttara samyak sambodhi). This differs from the basic awakening (bodhi) or liberation of other goals. These lesser goals are often referred to as the "sravaka-yana" (hearers' vehicle) and the "pratyekabuddha-yana" (solitary awakened one's vehicle). Together, these two vehicles are often called the "hinayana" (lesser vehicle / inferior vehicle).

Regards distinctions between the vehicles, there are a number of takes. However, the basic gist is to become an awakened one, ie. a Buddha, like Sakyamuni Buddha, or any one of a number of other Buddhas who have lived, do live, or will live, in various world systems across multitude universes. This goal is contrasted with the awakening of the other vehicles, corresponding to the disciples of Sakyamuni Buddha and these other Buddhas.

There are several descriptions of the path to this great vehicle goal of full awakening. However, the six perfections (sad-paramita), is probably the most common. The first five are charity (dana), morality (sila), patience (ksanti), energy (virya) and meditation (dhyana); together when combined with the sixth, knowledge / wisdom (prajna), they lead one to "cross over to the other shore" (param-ita) of "all knowledge" (sarvajnata). This process takes many thousands of millions of billions of eons. However, certain teachings claim to have methods that make all this possible in several, or even a single, lifetime.

The motivation for taking up the goal of the Mahayana, as opposed to the other two vehicles, is given as compassion. It is believed that only a fully awakened Buddha is fully capable of leading other living beings out of the continuous suffering of uncontrolled, recurring rebirth and death in cyclic existence.

Hope this answers the question in a relatively concise fashion. :)

~~ Huifeng
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Re: What is Mahayana Buddhism?

Postby Salatier » Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:29 am

That was helpful to me haha :D
number of other Buddhas who have lived, do live, or will live, in various world systems across multitude universes

By this, do you mean that in Mahayana it is believed that there is more than one universe? Or is this meant like the realms of being, like humans, animals, demons, etc?

Also, slightly off topic, does the universe 'create' new beings? Like, over time, if there have been countless Buddhas, wouldn't the earth be VERY crowded at one point? Or, as some beings become enlightened, some beings first come into existence?

Thanks in advance :)
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Re: What is Mahayana Buddhism?

Postby Noah » Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:45 am

Mayahana Buddhism is the natural growth and progression of the Dharma through the writing down of the teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha. The buddha gave many teachings and those who dwelt in mental states of Enlightenment wrote down text and teachings from the Buddha. As such, many of these texts take place on higher levels of consciousness, experiencing the deepest understanding of reality as it is. One of the greatest ways in which the Mahayana is different from the previous Hinayana is it's focus on following the Buddha's living example of wisdom AND compassion. It was not enough to keep the Dharma wheel rolling for Buddhists just to root out negative qualities and dwell in positive mental states, spiritual practice has to come (essentially) for the sake of others. For the sake of others is the Bodhisattva Ideal- to know there is no true self, no true distinction between self and other, that any kind act to other is the same as a gift to yourself. :D
The "universal" nature of Buddhism was made even more effectively universal. Any culture that has come into contact with the Dharma must actively resist transformation. The more individual Ideal of Nirvana (freedom of suffering) is worthy enough but the promise of Mahayana is that we are all one, any individual attainment is an attainment of all and, aside from meditation, moral practice is the only practice.

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Re: What is Mahayana Buddhism?

Postby Mr. G » Tue Mar 06, 2012 2:35 pm

Salatier wrote:By this, do you mean that in Mahayana it is believed that there is more than one universe? Or is this meant like the realms of being, like humans, animals, demons, etc?


There are many world systems, and this is not referring to realms.

Like, over time, if there have been countless Buddhas, wouldn't the earth be VERY crowded at one point?


Not if there are multiple world systems and realms.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: What is Mahayana Buddhism?

Postby Salatier » Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:05 pm

Okay, thanks for clearing that up for me :)
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Re: What is Mahayana Buddhism?

Postby Kunga Leshe » Wed Mar 07, 2012 11:30 pm

Salatier wrote:Also, slightly off topic, does the universe 'create' new beings? Like, over time, if there have been countless Buddhas, wouldn't the earth be VERY crowded at one point? Or, as some beings become enlightened, some beings first come into existence?


as i understand it, beings come about through accumulations of various types of karma and are not intrinsically real. so, like all things, they come into being and pass away. it is also my understanding that buddhas are free from the necessity to incarnate, so there could potentially be an infinite amount of them since they don't take up any room. since the state of buddhahood is often described as being incomprehensible, i think they defy such distinctions as existing or not existing in the first place.
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Re: What is Mahayana Buddhism?

Postby ground » Thu Mar 08, 2012 5:36 am

johnnywalker91 wrote:And how does is it different from other schools of Buddhism?

There are many kinds of buddhisms and all are based on strange fabrications.

Kind regards
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Re: What is Mahayana Buddhism?

Postby Mr. G » Thu Mar 08, 2012 1:53 pm

TMingyur wrote:
johnnywalker91 wrote:And how does is it different from other schools of Buddhism?

There are many kinds of buddhisms and all are based on strange fabrications.

Kind regards


What is this supposed to mean?
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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