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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:01 pm 
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Hello all. As I delve deeper into Buddhism I keep hearing about the different types of Buddhism and different schools. Is there any place someone could direct me that explains the different schools? Also, is Zen Buddhism something different as well? Thank you for any info and thank you for your time. :namaste:


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:20 pm 
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Hi Gord,

It's true, there are different schools of Buddhism with different emphasis. At the end of the day, Buddhism is Buddhism. Zen is a type of Buddhism, a way of doing Buddhism. Tradition says there are 84,000 different "doors" or entryways to practice. What does that mean? Practically, it means that since we're all confused in our own unique way, there's a path that is appropriate for anyone, regardless of their situation.

One of the best ways to get a feel for what the different traditions are like is to show up at a variety of different centers or temples in your area, if you can. It also helps to read around at a site like DharmaWheel, or to just ask a lot of questions.

I hope that helps a little.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:29 pm 
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Thank you for the reply. It helps greatly. I like how you put "we're all confused in our own unique way, there's a path that is appropriate for anyone, regardless of their situation". That makes good sense to me! :)

Again, thanks for your reply!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:49 pm 
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Well, the typical division of the Buddhist schools is into the Southern School (Theravadin) and the Northern School (Mahayana). Why did I use the terms Southern School and Northern School? Because some Theravadin practitioners dislike what they perceive as a kind of criticism of their tradition on the part of Mahayana practitioners. So I have divided the school geographically, which is one of the tradition explications. Within the Mahayana school there are divisions between various traditions but the main one is the common Mahayana, composed of Pure Land, Vinaya, Mind Only and Zen schools (this division has a somewhat Chinese flavor) and the esoteric Vajrayana schools. Here again I could have gone with a geographic hierarchy but this can be less useful than explaining the schools by major focus.

The main focus in the Theravadin schools (the dominant tradition from Sri Lanka->Bangladesh through South East Asia with Vietnam being more Mahayana but a mixture of Theravadin and Mahayana) is personal liberation from samsara typified by the Arhat/Arahant ideal.

The main focus in the Mahayana schools in the cultivation of the Bodhisattva ideal where one seeks the full enlightenment of Buddhahood in order to save all beings from samsara. The Mahayana traditionally stretches from the Black Sea -> Mongolia south to the Southern School countries and over to Japan and Korea but really from Mongolia south (the Kalmyks on the shores of the Aral Sea in Russia are the remnant of the Mongolian Empire that did not later convert to Islam) and including Korea and Japan.

BTW - when I say Mongolia in this context I am including Mongolia people's to the west of Mongolia but not too far south - so the Buddhist people's in Siberia mostly to the West of Mongolia not quite to the Urals.

So this is one way of beginning a conceptual framework of the Buddhist schools.

Kirt

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:08 am 
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An alternative starting point would be http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schools_of_Buddhism which everyone would disagree with on some points but generally agree with.
Or http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/history/schools.htm

Happy hunting :tongue:

:namaste:
Kim


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2013 5:08 pm 
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Good replies. Thank you for the info. I think I have a basic understanding now. Much appreciated! :)


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