Question about arguments against Mahayana

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Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby Sonrisa » Mon Aug 30, 2010 4:10 am

I was on youtube and saw this monk who was heavily criticizing the Mahayana path. So I did some research and I found that some scholars said that the Mahayana sutras are a complete invention and not really Buddhism. This Theravada practitioner said that only his sect of Buddhism is true.

Oh, please tell me this isnt true :tongue: The Mahayana path has been so precious to me and I find it very beneficial. Even if a Deva came down from heaven and told me that Mahayana wasnt true, I would kick his butt back to the heavenly realms :tongue:

But it just seems that the scholarly approach to Buddhism is soooo much different from the actual practitioner approach to Buddhism. I mean, the people that have attained what they sought in the Mahayana sutras, the teachings of the venerable masters, and my own experiences as well.
Namo Amitabha
Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva
Namo Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva

May I continue to practice loving-kindness and compassion for sentient beings. May my friends and loved ones be free from suffering. May those who have hurt me also be free from suffering.

Hatred is like throwing cow dung at someone else. You get dirty first before throwing it to someone else.
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Re: Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby plwk » Mon Aug 30, 2010 5:42 am

All these years, I only have this pic for petty sectarians...
Image

If that doesn't work... try this...it's from their own Canon, the Mahaparinibbana Sutta:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .vaji.html
And the Blessed One spoke, saying:
"In whatsoever Dhamma and Discipline, Subhadda, there is not found the Noble Eightfold Path, neither is there found a true ascetic of the first, second, third, or fourth degree of saintliness.
But in whatsoever Dhamma and Discipline there is found the Noble Eightfold Path, there is found a true ascetic of the first, second, third, and fourth degrees of saintliness.
Now in this Dhamma and Discipline, Subhadda, is found the Noble Eightfold Path; and in it alone are also found true ascetics of the first, second, third, and fourth degrees of saintliness.
Devoid of true ascetics are the systems of other teachers.
But if, Subhadda, the Bhikkhus live righteously, the world will not be destitute of Arahats.

This has always been my favourite...from the Lotus Sutra:
http://www.buddhistdoor.com/oldweb/reso ... otus14.htm
He should also not ridicule or malign those who study the Buddha Way, nor should he seek their strengths or weaknesses.
If there are Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, Upasikas, those who seek to be Hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, or those who seek the Bodhisattva Way, he should not torment them or cause them to have doubts by saying to them, "You are all very far from the Path, and you will never obtain the wisdom of all modes. Why not? Because you are careless and lax in the Way."
Further, he should not frivolously discuss the Dharma for the sake of argument.
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Re: Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby Sonrisa » Mon Aug 30, 2010 5:49 am

Please do not think I am comparing myself to highly realized masters when I say this. I am only a speck of dust compared to them.

But, when I was doing some self reflection a few days ago, I found out that some of the stuff I realized to apply to my practice (though very small) were things that masters taught too, thought I never knew (I was reading a book called: Analects of Master Kuang-Chin). I dont know if that made sense. Speaking from personal experience, I have found that the teachings of various masters and Mahayana sutras (like Lotus Sutra, Ksitigarbha Sutra) have brought this sense of inner peace into my life. Well, it didnt "bring" it. But it helped me to aspire and continue in my path. So I cant imagine why it wouldnt be "true" if it is of benefit; not just for me, but for all those who practice this Dharma door.

I dont pretend to understand the abstract philosophies of Buddhism because I do not. My path is only simple and it "works" for me. When I align what I have realized, it helps to instill "faith" for me.

But to me, the Mahayana door makes sense to me on some levels so I would not know why they wouldnt be true. There have been teachers and people who relied on Mahayana Sutras yet still attained realization havent they?

Or else, I would just be (literally) wasting my time reciting Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva's name every day.
Namo Amitabha
Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva
Namo Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva

May I continue to practice loving-kindness and compassion for sentient beings. May my friends and loved ones be free from suffering. May those who have hurt me also be free from suffering.

Hatred is like throwing cow dung at someone else. You get dirty first before throwing it to someone else.
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Re: Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:54 am

Sonrisa wrote:I was on youtube and saw this monk who was heavily criticizing the Mahayana path. So I did some research and I found that some scholars said that the Mahayana sutras are a complete invention and not really Buddhism. This Theravada practitioner said that only his sect of Buddhism is true.


I think I watched the same videos.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that while some Theravadans will insist their canon is the perfect unadulterated records of Shakyamuni's teachings, any honest scholars, including bhikku scholars, will reject such statements.

This is because firstly the Pali canon is the collected and sanctioned texts of a sect which initially tells you something about the quality of it.

While not extant anymore, we also have the canons of other Sravakayana schools (the pejorative is Hinayana which I don't care to use) schools including the Sarvastivada and more importantly the Mahasamghika. This is important because we can compare sutras between the various early sects of Indian Buddhism. There are many differences to be found, particularly in the vision of Shakyamuni (for example was he merely a flesh and blood human with awakening, or transcendental?).


Oh, please tell me this isnt true :tongue: The Mahayana path has been so precious to me and I find it very beneficial. Even if a Deva came down from heaven and told me that Mahayana wasnt true, I would kick his butt back to the heavenly realms :tongue:


The Mahayana path is valid.

However, as it stands now there is no historical or epigraphical evidence that Shakyamuni taught the Mahayana teachings at least to his disciples (however as Vasubandhu points out the disciples were not privy to the teachings given to the Bodhisattvas present). But that doesn't mean they were not taught by the Buddha. If you look at the contents of much of them they're obviously not from the perspective of a basic human walking around North India in the 5th century BCE.

For example look at the Avatamsaka-sutra (Flower Ornament or Huayan Sutra). Much of the contents are written with such inconceivable elements. It is written from the perspective of a Buddha.

Moreover, as Theravadans will affirm, a dharma teaching need not necessarily come from the Buddha in order to be valid dharma. In the Pali canon we see plenty of cases where a disciple gives a teaching and Shakyamuni affirms it as true and good dharma.

In the case of the Mahayana there are true and good dharma teachings taught in the name of the Buddha, if not by enlightened individuals. I would also speculate that many Mahayana teachings were given to Buddhist yogis in visions. In fact we know that Asanga had received lengthy discourses from Maitreya.

Does that make it invalid and not really Buddhism? I would say no. The early Mahayana looked at the origins of their founder, Shakyamuni, and wondered if they could reconstruct the same model for themselves. Could they become Buddhas themselves? By Shakyamuni's own admission he was neither the first nor the last Buddha to arise in the world. People looked at the accounts of Shakyamuni's past lives and coupled with their own understanding of the Buddhadharma initiated Mahayana movements (it was never a single school).

Like a disciple giving a valid teaching in place of Shakyamuni, so too do the Mahayana scriptures give valid teachings in the name of the Buddha.


But it just seems that the scholarly approach to Buddhism is soooo much different from the actual practitioner approach to Buddhism. I mean, the people that have attained what they sought in the Mahayana sutras, the teachings of the venerable masters, and my own experiences as well.


Unfortunately both sides don't dialogue enough. Many scholars look down on practitioners as ignorant of their own tradition's history. On the reverse practitioners look down on scholars for not having the experience that comes with practice alongside reading of texts.

Ideally you combine both, but I don't see many who do. I've even been told I have to be one or the other (nevermind the Bodhisattva pledge that one will study all dharma teachings no matter how innumerable they be).
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Re: Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby ronnewmexico » Mon Aug 30, 2010 6:34 pm

To add to the excellent comments already offered, to include the initial..

If the intentiion is to state that Theravadan Buddhism is a scholarly approach to Buddhism to exclusion of personal experiential conclusiion derived from meditative means....I would in my opinion state that is a error. Perhaps that is not the intent of the initial post but it can be read that way.
That such things as understandings are derived from logical means and rational does not imply scholarship in its most general term.

Mahayanists who simply spout the words of Mahayana without the necessary meditative compliment may similiarily be described as having scholarly only appreciations of such things. So each school may be so abscribed to have scholarly adherants, but neither may constitute the entireity of approach. The logical and rational can indeed be meditated upon and through such consideration what is considered becomes a experiential understanding, not simply a scholars understanding. Nothing suggests Theravadan is exempt from this form of understanding and Mayahanan is solely the holder of this form of meditation.

As regards to the literal fundamental foundation of buddhism.... since the buddha did not have the written to approximate his thoughts..... all rendered into writing are approximations. As such, the pali cannon and other writings can be legitamally called into question as to authenticity, Nothing suggests Mahayanan fundametal writings are more in doubt or suspect as no writings can be absolutely literal renditions of the buddhas words. With time and other factor considered, no thing known, can be known in a literal sense, to be absolutely what was said. So not only are Mahayanan things of the written suspect, it can be said the pot is calling the kettle black.... Theravadan things of the written may be as suspect.
So the question of absolute authenticity is mote.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby Dexing » Tue Aug 31, 2010 3:37 am

Wish I had the text handy now, it would be extremely relevant here...

Maitreya speaks of seven reasons why Mahāyāna is in fact the teaching of Śākyamuni Buddha and cannot be otherwise.

:rules:

:namaste:
nopalabhyate...
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Re: Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby remm » Tue Aug 31, 2010 5:44 am

Dexing wrote:Wish I had the text handy now, it would be extremely relevant here...

Maitreya speaks of seven reasons why Mahāyāna is in fact the teaching of Śākyamuni Buddha and cannot be otherwise.

:rules:

:namaste:


Can you please find it? I would love to read it. Please!

:namaste:
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Re: Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby Astus » Tue Aug 31, 2010 11:37 am

When one has to prove his orthodoxy, his authenticity, it is the case that such position is not an evidence. Theravada, or for that matter, other early schools, had no such problem - except for certain doctrines they argued about with each other - as they and their canon was accepted as Buddhism. So all the Mahayana works, like sutras, shastras, and other teachings had to argue for their authenticity and supremacy while calling everyone else inferiors. Then the same happened with Vajrayana and Zen, both had to fight its way to become accepted and eventually the ruling teaching. They were all building up from a disorganised movement, like Christianity in the Roman times.

However, times have changed. Mahayana is very well established with hundreds of millions of followers and a long history throughout Asia. It was only because of fortunate events that Theravada could survive at all in countries like Sri Lanka and Thailand. One monk arguing on YouTube about how Theravada is the only real Buddhism makes no difference, especially that it is not the opinion of every Theravada monk. So I don't see the need for defending Mahayana (which is actually quite a vague word) against any Theravada attacks. That is because it is now evident that Chinese, Tibetan and other forms of Buddhism are Buddhism. If the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh are not Buddhists then what are they?
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby Indrajala » Tue Aug 31, 2010 11:58 am

Astus wrote:If the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh are not Buddhists then what are they?


Really awesome fellows.
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Re: Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby plwk » Tue Aug 31, 2010 1:00 pm

If the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh are not Buddhists then what are they?

I shudder to think if this was asked on our sister forum site...

As Huseng aptly puts it:
Really awesome fellows.
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Re: Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby Astus » Tue Aug 31, 2010 2:36 pm

We can look at it from another perspective. Theravada's point of argument is that it is the original teaching. As Huseng has pointed to it briefly, that is not the case as far as modern historical research is concerned. Theravada is one of the end results of the developments going on in India after the death of the Buddha and actually Theravada, as a living tradition, is still subject to change, including their canon. Mahayana, if we don't mind summing it up under this one title, is another natural development of Buddhism in India. Many of the Mahayana teachings are actually from established schools like Vaibhasika, Sautrantika and Dharmagupta. Even the Bodhisattva-pitaka was not a new Mahayana idea. So either looking from the past or from the present, Mahayana is not a bit less Buddhist than Theravada. And as far as the doctrines of these two traditions are concerned, what we can find in the Nikayas are mostly common teachings, including the teaching of the intermediate state, of which Bhikkhu Bodhi says, "Though the Theravada Abhidhamma and the commentaries argue against the existence of an antarabhava, a number of canonical texts seem to support this notion." (footnote 53 of SN 35.87 in Connected Discourses of the Buddha, Wisdom Pub., 2000. p. 1406).
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby lisehull » Wed Sep 01, 2010 3:34 pm

I think the argument shows some sense of insecurity. One claiming to be better than the other because it claims to be the original. To me, that doesn't matter. If the teachings are valid, no matter which path one takes, they are valid. Age doesn't make one better than the other.
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Re: Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby 5heaps » Sat Sep 04, 2010 6:37 am

Sonrisa wrote:I was on youtube and saw this monk who was heavily criticizing the Mahayana path. So I did some research and I found that some scholars said that the Mahayana sutras are a complete invention and not really Buddhism. This Theravada practitioner said that only his sect of Buddhism is true.

mahayana is true because it takes the perfect explanation of hinayana tenets and then draws subtler distinctions out of them, thus drawing out subtler meanings of emptiness and dependent origination.

even from the mahayana pov, the mahayana texts which explicitly teach these subtler distinctions are shrouded under exceptional circumstance. they only remained in the world very briefly after the death of the buddha due to various reasons. this plus the fact of "subtle hidden distinctions" are too much for many hinayana lineages to handle. but even then, not all dismissed the mere existence of the texts being the words of the buddha.

in the modern world, just from the philosophical tenets perspective, theravadins dont really have an excuse anymore for not actively studying sautrantika and mindonly tenets
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Re: Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby swampflower » Wed Sep 22, 2010 11:42 pm

I have seen the clip of the unfortunate monk criticizing the Mahayana Dharma.
There are many who do not understand or comprehend the Mahayana Path and so will speak against it as a form of Buddhism. Of course many do not understand or comprehend even basic Buddhist tenants let alone deep and sublime teachings.
Let us hope they may find the level of path for their spiritual improvement.
I have always heard two things which must be brought forth when practicing Mahayana path. These two things that must be brought forth are compassion and taking refuge in the Triple Gem. These two things are very basic to Buddhism and must be part of the practice to be a Buddhist practice. So for me this makes Mahayana Path a Buddhist Path.
The Mahayana path also takes everything into the path. In other words, one may use good, bad, and indifferent things that occur as means to the path. So the Mahayana path can become very complicated and difficult. So best to have a Guru.
I believe some Theravadans may be sensitive to the talk of Great Vehicle and Small Vehicle. However the main difference is that a Mahayanan wishes to attain the rebirth of a Boddhisattva and eventually Buddhahood for the sake of all sentient beings where the Theravadan wishes to attain Nirvana and end this cyclic existence.
It is purely a personal choice and most likely deeply influenced by karmic roots that one takes a Theravada or Mahayana Path, however both should be respected and admired for taking the path of the Buddha.
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Re: Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby neverdowell » Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:30 am

I don't have much to add, except that Theravadins are risking a lot when they claim their vehicle is the most correct, or the only correct vehicle. They had better be darn sure about this claim because they risk causing a rift in the true Sangha and doing the Buddha a great disservice. If they are right... well they're only right. There are other important things in life than just being right.

Such as: :heart:

In my opinion such claims are from their thinking head and not from the knowing, feeling heart. Probably not from any personal experience with Mahayana practices and sutras.

To develop bodhichitta, which is the actual practice, you need to develop such compassion that you simply cannot bear others being tormented by suffering. But in order to develop this compassion, you must know exactly how you yourself are plagued by suffering. And you must understand that the whole of samsara is by nature suffering. But first you must fear the lower realms, for without this you will have no repudiation of celestial and human happiness. You must therefore train your mind in the small- and medium- scope parts of the path. -- Pabongka Rinpoche
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Re: Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby ronnewmexico » Thu Sep 23, 2010 2:52 am

Well to speak for the theravadan as their seems to be not a whole lot spoken in defense...

the theravadan does not have a problem with the idea of bodhistava and ideas such as rebirthing when enlightened to help others as opposed to helping as much as possible and attaining nirvana. The problem for a theravadan is not that one does not find such ideas excellent, but the thinking that such is not possible. It may be logically prohibited. For every HHDL in mahayana we find a Ageon Geoff in theravadan. If equal compassion was not possible we would not find equally compassionate peoples which we certainly do. The idea it is a self serving path as opposed to mahayana is simply fabrication.

And to speak of generating bad effect... virtually every theravadan thinks the term hinayana debaseing. Yet it has been used and continues to be used by many many mahayanans includeing teachers of mahayana, currently.
Everyone knows this is not a preferable term to a theravadan yet it continues unabated.

So the opposeing claim can be made with validity despite one monks Y tube video. This exists on both sides certainly in varying forms.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby ground » Thu Sep 23, 2010 4:39 am

Sonrisa wrote:I was on youtube and saw this monk who was heavily criticizing the Mahayana path.

I recall reading Mahayanists heavily critizising Theravada which is equally unwholesome.


Sonrisa wrote:So I did some research and I found that some scholars said that the Mahayana sutras are a complete invention and not really Buddhism. This Theravada practitioner said that only his sect of Buddhism is true.

Well I recall reading Mahayanists who said that the teachings of the Buddha in the suttas of the Pali canon are for Hinayanists only (and not for bodhisattvas) which is equally disparaging the Buddha's teachings.

Sonrisa wrote:Oh, please tell me this isnt true :tongue: The Mahayana path has been so precious to me and I find it very beneficial. Even if a Deva came down from heaven and told me that Mahayana wasnt true, I would kick his butt back to the heavenly realms :tongue:

Let your practice validate the teachings.


Kind regards
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Re: Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby Sonrisa » Thu Sep 23, 2010 3:02 pm

swampflower wrote:The Mahayana path also takes everything into the path. In other words, one may use good, bad, and indifferent things that occur as means to the path. So the Mahayana path can become very complicated and difficult.

It is purely a personal choice and most likely deeply influenced by karmic roots that one takes a Theravada or Mahayana Path, however both should be respected and admired for taking the path of the Buddha.
:buddha2: :buddha2: :buddha2:


That is the reason why I took the Mahayana path. It matches up with the way I live and think. I think of Ksitigarbha bodhisattva and wonder that I cannot live myself in luxury while there are others suffering with the wish to liberate them. This is just one of my examples.

That is what I admire about the Mahayana as well. I love the idea of making every situation into a teaching (such as I described to TMingyur).

TMingyur wrote:
Sonrisa wrote:I was on youtube and saw this monk who was heavily criticizing the Mahayana path.

I recall reading Mahayanists heavily critizising Theravada which is equally unwholesome.


Let your practice validate the teachings.


Kind regards


This is a wonderful opportunity for us to use others as a reflection and ask ourselves "Do I do this too"? We can then check ourselves and strive to further purify our minds.
Namo Amitabha
Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva
Namo Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva

May I continue to practice loving-kindness and compassion for sentient beings. May my friends and loved ones be free from suffering. May those who have hurt me also be free from suffering.

Hatred is like throwing cow dung at someone else. You get dirty first before throwing it to someone else.
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Re: Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby swampflower » Fri Sep 24, 2010 11:43 pm

Sorry I cannot recall the proper words , however I heard the Dalai Lama say something like Mahayanists are wise and selfish at the same time, ha ha. Kind of like having cake and eating it too!
There is more than I will ever be able to take in or even read in the Pali Canons which are the root texts for the Theravadans.

See Access to Insight for many wonderful Theravadan translations of the Tripitaka http://www.accesstoinsight.org :namaste:
Oṃ Tāre Tuttāre Ture Svāhā
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Re: Question about arguments against Mahayana

Postby swampflower » Fri Sep 24, 2010 11:48 pm

Many Buddhisms, One Dhamma-vinaya

The Buddha — the "Awakened One" — called the religion he founded Dhamma-vinaya — "the doctrine and discipline." To provide a social structure supportive of the practice of Dhamma-vinaya (or Dhamma for short [Sanskrit: Dharma]), and to preserve these teachings for posterity, the Buddha established the order of bhikkhus (monks) and bhikkhunis (nuns) — the Sangha — which continues to this day to pass his teachings on to subsequent generations of laypeople and monastics, alike.

As the Dhamma continued its spread across India after the Buddha's passing, differing interpretations of the original teachings arose, which led to schisms within the Sangha and the emergence of as many as eighteen distinct sects of Buddhism.[3] One of these schools eventually gave rise to a reform movement that called itself Mahayana (the "Greater Vehicle")[4] and that referred to the other schools disparagingly as Hinayana (the "Lesser Vehicle"). What we call Theravada today is the sole survivor of those early non-Mahayana schools.[5] To avoid the pejorative tone implied by the terms Hinayana and Mahayana, it is common today to use more neutral language to distinguish between these two main branches of Buddhism. Because Theravada historically dominated southern Asia, it is sometimes called "Southern" Buddhism, while Mahayana, which migrated northwards from India into China, Tibet, Japan, and Korea, is known as "Northern" Buddhism.[6]
From Access To Insight
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