Prometheus wrote:I'm looking to practice Buddhism, but i have some concerns on where to start. I'm wondering if anyone can help me with these beginner questions
What are the differences between Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism?
There are a lot. The most obvious is that Theravada takes the path of the arhat, of full liberation in this liberation, as the ideal and Mahayana takes the bodhisattva path, working towards eventual Buddhahood for the sake of all other beings, as the ideal.
Besides this, there is the historical factor whereby Theravada is the only one of the pre-mahayana schools that survive today. But there are dozens of surviving Mahayana schools. So the question is not just "What are the differences between Mahayana and Theravada?" but also "what are the differences between all the different mahayana schools?"
If the Buddha only taught one dharma, why are there these two vehicles to choose from?
Buddhism is a living and vibrant tradition. Rather than simply keeping to saying things exactly the same way the Buddha said it and refusing to make interpretation, successive generations have tried their best to present the path in ways accessible to the generations of their time and also to clarify various doubts. It's these differences in presentation and interpretation that have created different schools.
But they nevertheless agree that the Buddha taught only liberation and it is this same core they all seek to point back towards. So although there may be differences in the school, the Nirvana they aim for practitioners to realise is hopefully the same.
Perhaps most important:In choosing a path, how best to find the best one for me?
Whichever one you find yourself to have the most affinity with. This may also boil down to finding a guru you have affinity with.
Sorry if these question have been addressed elsewhere, please direct me there.
I am sure they have, but we shouldn't mind repeating ourselves. Give it a few years of talking about Buddhism and you'll basically find yourself repeating yourself most of the time anyway. It's good practise.
Best of luck and keep the questions coming if you have them.