what's the fundamental difference?

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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby tattoogunman » Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:13 pm

I've also been trying to figure out what the major difference is. The Mahayana temple that I visited this weekend takes the stance that Mahayana and Theavada go hand in hand. The way the monk explained it to me was that Theravada is like getting your college degree and that Mahayana is like getting your PhD. Basically the same thing, just a bit more specialized (at least based on how they practice). I'm presently listening to a five part lecture series done by the Manchester Buddhist Center and it's describing Mahayana as being all magical like someone mentioned above. What drew me to Buddhism was that it was more "grounded" and not supernatural at its root which is something that I really can't get on board with. I'm comfortable with the concept of the Buddha being a normal guy who became enlightened and tried to help others. But I'm not ready to get on board with the concept of the Buddha being a celestial being who can travel the cosmos, can manifest himself on billions of planets at the same time, knows other beings from throughout the universe that are visiting Earth, etc. (which is more or less how it's being described during this lecture series). Bug again, that explanation goes against what the monks and other practitioners told me this weekend, so it's kind of got me doing the big :shrug:

Not trying to beat a dead horse, just trying to figure out what's what. Even things I've found online tend to contradict each other.
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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby Konchog1 » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:00 am

Well, it depends on the teacher sometimes. Some people say Tilopa was Enlightened eons ago and other say he was "a normal guy who became enlightened".

As for magic powers, the Mulamadhyamakakarika shows that Time and Space don't exist in the way we automatically assume. So manipulation of Time and Space is possible.

There is surely some exaggerations and falsehoods in Buddhism. The question is how much? I try to view the things I don't believe as a working hypothesis. Immediately disregarding things as Materialists do is a mistake I think.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby tattoogunman » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:40 am

Maybe I'm looking at the wrong way (will fix that if so) - when I think "Buddha/Buddhism", I think of Siddhartha Gautama as the one who became the Buddha and started the ball rolling so to speak. I understand that throughout history, there seem to be others in the historical records that obtained enlightened status (and therefore became a Buddha if my understanding is correct), but there is still the *one* original Buddha. Again, maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way or going about it the wrong way, but my understanding of the practice of Buddhism was to honor/revere/cherish what the original Buddha achieved and tried to bring to others. I've just recently learned (like within the last few days) of some of the other Buddha figures that are worshiped/revered, etc. such as the Medicine Buddha, Amitabha, etc. and those are the ones that seem to be the basis of the other branches/sects/factions (whatever) of Buddhism. Amitabha threw me off because when I was at the temple this weekend doing the chants, they had told me that was Buddha's name after he became the Buddha. I specifically used Siddhartha Gautama's name when I was talking to them, so I assumed that was what they were talking about. Further reading has led me to find out that's not the case. I'm not blaming the people at the temple, there was a bit of a language barrier :smile: But again, I had assumed that, regardless of which branch/school/sect (whatever) of Buddhism there was, Siddhartha's Buddha was still the main focal point and not someone else. I guess if I take the stance that one Buddha is as good as the other (maybe better???), it really shouldn't matter? But at the same time, I don't want to begin investing time and energy into this pursuit if the predominant view is that the Buddha (whichever one I suppose) was/is an omnipotent supernatural being, that's just something that I cannot get on board with. I'll reference that lecture series that I'm listening to right now where the speaker refers to Mahayana Buddhism as "transcendental science fiction" which makes me cringe. If that's the case, I may as well go become a Scientologist (I mean that in jest and without offense, but the comparison with regards to "science fiction" based religion in that context is a bit unavoidable).

Again, maybe I'm going about it the wrong way or just have some misunderstandings. I really only became aware of much of this in the last few days and I'm sure I've got some semi truck sized holes that can filled in by others more knowledgeable. I'm just trying to make sure I'm on the right path or if I should turn around and try a different fork in the road or if I should just go home :smile: I'm still going to go back to the temple this weekend with a lot more questions now that I am a bit more knowledgeable. Maybe I'll know the right ones to ask this time.
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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby Konchog1 » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:51 am

Even Early Buddhism taught the following: the word for Buddhism in Sanskrit is Dharma. Dharma means 'Natural Law'. Buddhism is a description of how the universe exists and what the nature of human beings are. Therefore, the core of the Dharma never changes and is eternal.

Since beginningless time Buddhas have understood and then taught the Dharma to others. In the current 'Kalpa' or eon (which could be said to have been started by the Big Bang) there will be one thousand Buddhas. Each appearing when the Dharma has faded. Shakyamuni is the fourth. Some people estimate 2000-8000 years to the next one.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby tattoogunman » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:33 pm

Konchog1 wrote:Even Early Buddhism taught the following: the word for Buddhism in Sanskrit is Dharma. Dharma means 'Natural Law'. Buddhism is a description of how the universe exists and what the nature of human beings are. Therefore, the core of the Dharma never changes and is eternal. .



That is one of the things that drew me to Buddhism is the core teachings. I can read that and relate to how the world is, etc. But again, as I continue reading, that also seems to change depending on the school/sect/faction (whatever). I'm almost through the five part lecture series that I've been listening to (it's about 5 hours) on Mahayana Buddhism and they are very clear that it deviates quite a bit from the original (which school/sect that is, I still can't figure that out) and expands on the fact that the Buddha are essentially mystical omnipotent super powered beings. Again, that is something that I just cannot get on board with because of my atheist/agnostic views that I hold. Again, the first couple of books that I read seemed to imply that Buddhism was basically the practice of trying to be a better person and the Buddhist's (original) teachings was the way to go - that's something that I can get on board with.
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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby Konchog1 » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:57 pm

Original Buddhism doesn't exist anymore. The closest one could get would be to read just the Pali Canon, but a lot of the Sutras have been added or interpreted by the Theravada sect.

The 'core' beliefs generally are considered to be:
1. All phenomena are impermanent.
2. All phenomena are suffering.
3. All phenomena lack selves.
4. Nirvana is peace. (This one is just implied in some sects)

If you believe and live by those you are a Buddhist. If you do not, you are not.
Last edited by Konchog1 on Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:58 pm

tattoogunman wrote:Maybe I'm looking at the wrong way (will fix that if so) - when I think "Buddha/Buddhism", I think of Siddhartha Gautama as the one who became the Buddha and started the ball rolling so to speak. I understand that throughout history, there seem to be others in the historical records that obtained enlightened status (and therefore became a Buddha if my understanding is correct), but there is still the *one* original Buddha.
Check this out:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_28_Buddhas
or this:
http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?titl ... unate_Aeon

Shakyamuni Buddha himself said that he not invent a path but merely rediscovered the path of the Buddhas that came before him.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby tattoogunman » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:33 pm

Konchog1 wrote:Original Buddhism doesn't exist anymore. The closest one could get would be to read just the Pali Canon, but a lot of the Sutras have been added or interpreted by the Theravada sect.

The 'core' beliefs generally are considered to be:
1. All phenomena are impermanent.
2. All phenomena are suffering.
3. All phenomena lack selves.
4. Nirvana is peace. (This one is just implied in some sects)

If you believe and live by those you are a Buddhist. If you do not, you are not.


My initial understanding was that Theravada was the closest thing to the original writings when I first started looking into this (and hence the "what's the difference" questions). At this point, I'm just a bit confused :tantrum: Not going to give up, I'm going to continue digging into this. Worst case scenario, I come away known a lot more about Buddhism than I did in the beginning, it's good reading anyway :twothumbsup:
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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby PorkChop » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:47 pm

tattoogunman wrote:My initial understanding was that Theravada was the closest thing to the original writings when I first started looking into this (and hence the "what's the difference" questions). At this point, I'm just a bit confused :tantrum: Not going to give up, I'm going to continue digging into this. Worst case scenario, I come away known a lot more about Buddhism than I did in the beginning, it's good reading anyway :twothumbsup:


The problem is that it was an oral tradition for around 400 years before it was ever written down.
On one of King Asoka's pillars; which dates around 100 years after the estimated death of the Buddha, it explicitly mentions the Nikayas.
This pillar has been the foundation for the belief that the Pali Suttas are original canon, even though written record of them doesn't exist for many years later.
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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby Konchog1 » Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:09 pm

tattoogunman wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:Original Buddhism doesn't exist anymore. The closest one could get would be to read just the Pali Canon, but a lot of the Sutras have been added or interpreted by the Theravada sect.

The 'core' beliefs generally are considered to be:
1. All phenomena are impermanent.
2. All phenomena are suffering.
3. All phenomena lack selves.
4. Nirvana is peace. (This one is just implied in some sects)

If you believe and live by those you are a Buddhist. If you do not, you are not.


My initial understanding was that Theravada was the closest thing to the original writings when I first started looking into this (and hence the "what's the difference" questions). At this point, I'm just a bit confused :tantrum: Not going to give up, I'm going to continue digging into this. Worst case scenario, I come away known a lot more about Buddhism than I did in the beginning, it's good reading anyway :twothumbsup:
It's closer than Mahayana but not quite. And Theravada today...: http://www.buddhistische-gesellschaft-berlin.de/downloads/brokenbuddhanew.pdf
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby tattoogunman » Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:40 pm

Thanks
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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby Jnana » Wed Nov 28, 2012 1:09 am

tattoogunman wrote:I've also been trying to figure out what the major difference is. The Mahayana temple that I visited this weekend takes the stance that Mahayana and Theavada go hand in hand. The way the monk explained it to me was that Theravada is like getting your college degree and that Mahayana is like getting your PhD. Basically the same thing, just a bit more specialized (at least based on how they practice). I'm presently listening to a five part lecture series done by the Manchester Buddhist Center and it's describing Mahayana as being all magical like someone mentioned above. What drew me to Buddhism was that it was more "grounded" and not supernatural at its root which is something that I really can't get on board with. I'm comfortable with the concept of the Buddha being a normal guy who became enlightened and tried to help others. But I'm not ready to get on board with the concept of the Buddha being a celestial being who can travel the cosmos, can manifest himself on billions of planets at the same time, knows other beings from throughout the universe that are visiting Earth, etc. (which is more or less how it's being described during this lecture series). Bug again, that explanation goes against what the monks and other practitioners told me this weekend, so it's kind of got me doing the big :shrug:

Not trying to beat a dead horse, just trying to figure out what's what. Even things I've found online tend to contradict each other.

It can all work together. The Sarvāstivāda were ancient cousins of the Theravāda. Their teachings and the Mūlasarvāstivāda monastic vows have been integrated with the Mahāyāna teachings in Tibet for the past 1000 years.

Two reliable introductory texts that are worth reading are:

Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition

Mahāyāna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations

:buddha1:
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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby tomamundsen » Wed Nov 28, 2012 2:03 am

tattoogunman wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:Even Early Buddhism taught the following: the word for Buddhism in Sanskrit is Dharma. Dharma means 'Natural Law'. Buddhism is a description of how the universe exists and what the nature of human beings are. Therefore, the core of the Dharma never changes and is eternal. .



That is one of the things that drew me to Buddhism is the core teachings. I can read that and relate to how the world is, etc. But again, as I continue reading, that also seems to change depending on the school/sect/faction (whatever). I'm almost through the five part lecture series that I've been listening to (it's about 5 hours) on Mahayana Buddhism and they are very clear that it deviates quite a bit from the original (which school/sect that is, I still can't figure that out) and expands on the fact that the Buddha are essentially mystical omnipotent super powered beings. Again, that is something that I just cannot get on board with because of my atheist/agnostic views that I hold. Again, the first couple of books that I read seemed to imply that Buddhism was basically the practice of trying to be a better person and the Buddhist's (original) teachings was the way to go - that's something that I can get on board with.

Yes, Buddhas according to Mahayana are much more fantastic than according to Theravada. The difference being the notion of the trikaya in Mahayana. The trikaya is interpreted in different ways by the various Mahayana schools, so it's too complicated to try to give a definitive definition. Most interpretations indicate that the sambhogakaya is a pure body made of subtle light energy, which would be something you are hesitant about. Other interpretations are more experiential - nirmanakaya is body (nadi, channels), sambhogakaya is speech (prana, winds), dharmakaya is mind (bindu, drops).

I think the confusion mentioned earlier about Shakyamuni and Amitabha is that Shakyamuni (a nirmanakaya) is said to be an emanation of Amitabha (a sambhogakaya).
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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby tattoogunman » Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:58 am

I found this link and it puts together (rather well in my opinion) the differences between Mahayana and Theravada. It's assembled as a chart, so it's incredibly easy to read and understand:

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/snapshot02.htm

And then the similarities:

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/snapshot04.htm

Quite a huge difference....
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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby PorkChop » Wed Nov 28, 2012 4:14 am

Jnana wrote:It can all work together. The Sarvāstivāda were ancient cousins of the Theravāda. Their teachings and the Mūlasarvāstivāda monastic vows have been integrated with the Mahāyāna teachings in Tibet for the past 1000 years.
Two reliable introductory texts that are worth reading are:

Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition

Mahāyāna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations

:buddha1:


I'm actually waiting for this one to come out...
An Introduction to Buddhism Teachings, History, and Practices 2ed.
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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby icylake » Sat Dec 08, 2012 2:27 pm

tattoogunman wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:.

My initial understanding was that Theravada was the closest thing to the original writings when I first started looking into this (and hence the "what's the difference" questions). At this point, I'm just a bit confused :tantrum: Not going to give up, I'm going to continue digging into this. Worst case scenario, I come away known a lot more about Buddhism than I did in the beginning, it's good reading anyway :twothumbsup:


that's the why buddhism is special. there is only "adding" in buddhism, no "deleting" in buddhist canons. so we can retrace the stream of the great river called buddhism to the small spring well. all of buddha's teachong are in the canon, how beautifully elaborated, how wonderfully exaggerated. his teaching, his real character still are there. unlike other religious traditions, tried to burn out non-authordox editions of their canons. the digging tasks are on your hands. it would be fascinating and boring some times. :bow:
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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby KennC » Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:51 pm

Today the two main branches of Buddhism are Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism. To understand the similarities and differences between Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, we need to trace the emergence of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism by looking at the historical developments of Buddhism. The division of Buddhism can be traced back to the time of the Second Council, in the 4th century B.C., about 100 years after the Buddha’s death.

Here a article with easy to understand tables comparing the similarities and difference between Theravada and Mahayana. Unable to paste here....so please read from here http://www.buddhastation.com/articles/comparing-similarities-and-differences-between-theravada-and-mahayana-buddhism/
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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby lowlydog » Mon Dec 24, 2012 1:33 am

Well I've been here about 2months and so far I see no fundamental difference between Theravaden and Mahayana teachings. There seems to be some differences when one is approaching buddhahood, but I honestly feel these differences would become apparent to the individuals as they reached these higher levels and would not effect any of those who are beginning the journey.

I have noticed differences between meditation practices which I feel is completly in line with the Buddhas teachings, I believe the Buddha saw the differences in his students and offered different practices for these different individuals.

Some people are colourful, some visual, some theoretical, and some of us well we're just sensational :tongue:

There is another fellow who seemed to be quite wise and its his birthday soon, Merry Christmas everyone and enjoy the holidays, may all your practices produce sweet fruits in 2013, or whatever date you go by. :smile:
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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby ground » Mon Dec 24, 2012 5:53 am

lowlydog wrote:Hi all,

What is the fundamental difference between Mahayana, Vajrayana, and Theravaden buddhism?


Different consciousnesses. :sage:
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Re: what's the fundamental difference?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Dec 24, 2012 2:27 pm

ground wrote:Different consciousnesses.
There are different consciousnesses within each type of Buddhism too, oh great Salvia officinalis (that's about as close to being called a sage as you will get on the basis of your statement). :tongue:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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