Two mains streams Buddhism

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  • Created on: 30-04-17 12:30

Two main streams Buddhism

theravāda: The Way of the Elders- datailed way of living life, traces itself back to the formation of the Pali canon, onwards through its translation into various SE Asian languages (while retaining the authority of the Pali canon) mahāyāna: more theistic - lots of demigods
Greater Vehicle, emerges about 100 BCE – 100 CE, mainly in Sanskrit and thereafter into East Asian languages- Asoka tried to run his empire according to dhamma , with new deities and narratives; contrasts itself with Theravāda, which it disparagingly calls ‘hīnayāna’, ‘the lesser vehicle’
Centrality of the body of monks and nuns vs emphasis on laity Disciplined life vs devotion to various deified boddhisattvas and buddhas

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The way of the elders traces back to the formation of the pali canon onwards through its translation into various Se Asian languages

Pali canon- a collection of scriptures recorded from oral traditions in 1st bc, divided into one of 3 parts - pitaka sermons, the rules of the dubbidhst order and several tratises on phil and psychology. 

Mahayana the grater vechicle emerges 100BCE mainly in sankrit, contrasts with Theravada, new dieties and narratives calls Thervada 'hinayana' the lesser vehicle.

centrality of the body of monks and nuns vs emphasis laity

discplined life vs devotion to various deified (worshipped) boddhisatvas and buddhas

Theavada buddhsim - cnetral teaching- arahant - perfected person

Arahant comes from pali world 'arahati' meaning worthy, someeone attained enlightenement result of listening & practising Buddha teachings. Like a Buddha, arahant perfected wisdom and compassion, no longer subject to rebirth. 'liberated through final knowledge' (Majihina 1.14) 

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Sāriputta: ‘Nibbāna is happiness.’ Udayi: ‘What is the happiness of nibbāna where there is nothing to be felt?’ Sāriputta: The very fact that there is nothing to be felt is happiness.’ (Samyutta Nikāya 5)

There are four stages to perfection:stream-entry’: successful abandonment of doubt, believing in self, and wrong religious rituals  [pray to be successful embodied in the world]– nibbāna after seven births

‘once-returning’: diminishment of sensual desire and ill-will – nibbāna after one more birth- non-clinging

non-returning’: complete disappearance of sensual desire and ill-will – nibbāna at death

perfection’ or ‘being worthy’ – arahatta: the final disappearance of the clinging to form, the formless, conceit, restlessness, and ignorance – living liberation

Arahant- important Buddha followers 
bodhisattvas - boddhi ENLIGHTENMENT sattvas OF THE LIGHT 

Arahant -> Theravada -> gradual improvement- v slowly -> gradually Buddha himself was once restless asking lots of questions. 

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Central teachings tharavada buddhism

To become an arahant- perfeccted person is the goal ( boddhisattvas were the lives of the buddha before his enlightenment). 
Arahant -> goal for all creatures, the buddha showed the way.

Thatha-gata (another name for the buddha) he left- 8 fold. thus- gone

Three-fold path to perfection, or the Three Trainings: moral conduct (sīla); concentration (samādhi); and continuous understanding (paññā) Structuring our life is what the buddha taught 

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The 3 trainings ( the path of purification)

la(morality/virtue), defined as the restraint of one’s physical and verbal behavior. In the EightfoldPath this aspect is covered by right speech, action, and livelihood. It is different for laypeople and monks/nuns.

right speech - very down to earth -> restrains put v cleary- 5 precepts 

The way to adhere to morality is to obey the five precepts 

      1) Refrain killing 2) refrain taking what is not yours  3) refrain sexual misconduct    4)  refrain from telling lies
5) refrain alcohol- causes intoxication & negligence 
do everything- concrete rules 

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five precepts

‘It is all the states beginning with volition in one who abstains from killing, etc., and who fulfils the practice of one’s duties....There is morality as volition, as intention, as restraint and as non-transgression.’ (Visuddhimagga 1, 18)

Sutta ( Narratives and teachings) 
Vinaya (rules)
Abhidhamma (analysis of experience in world) 

one who fulfils the produces  one's duties.. there is morality as restraint and non-transgression (Vissudhimayya 1,18) 
all buddhas live by the 5 moral precepts. 

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Samadhi concentration

Samadhi - concentration -discilpling yourself

Samādhi(concentration): serentity meditation (samatha bhāvana) and insight meditation (vipassana bhāvana). It is right concentration in the Eightfold Path.

Samadhi is right concentration- right concentration -> 8 fod path
Right concentration is in the Eightfold path.

Morality is to be followed by removing the ‘five hindrances’ – worldly connections; ill-will and hatred; sloth (laziness) and torpor (lethargy); worry and haste; doubt. 

‘Concentration is the gainful unification of awareness...It is the centring of mind and mental factors evenly and correctly on a single object, placing attention on it.’ (Vm 3, 2-3)

Through this practice, one passes through four ‘special meditative states (the jhānas) marked by increasing aloofness[ clinging less and less)  from engagement with ordinary experience. 

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Samadhi concentration

Samadhi - concentration -discilpling yourself

Samādhi(concentration): serentity meditation (samatha bhāvana) and insight meditation (vipassana bhāvana). It is right concentration in the Eightfold Path.

Samadhi is right concentration- right concentration -> 8 fod path
Right concentration is in the Eightfold path.

Morality is to be followed by removing the ‘five hindrances’ – worldly connections; ill-will and hatred; sloth (laziness) and torpor (lethargy); worry and haste; doubt. 

‘Concentration is the gainful unification of awareness...It is the centring of mind and mental factors evenly and correctly on a single object, placing attention on it.’ (Vm 3, 2-3)

Through this practice, one passes through four ‘special meditative states (the jhānas) marked by increasing aloofness[ clinging less and less)  from engagement with ordinary experience. 

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Samadhi concentration continued

Mediative techniques are to be taught according to the nature of the meditators (predominated by lust, hatred, delusin, fait, intelligence or speculation). 

Dpends on who you are, some types of meditation work better for you, how you conduct yourself takes time- depennds on situation of the person and if you get a teacher who specialises in the area that you need. 

There are over forty ‘objects of meditation’, configured to the capacities of individual meditators - personalised 

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Understanding panna

Understanding (panna): it is the continuous activity of being aware of i) impermanence ii) suffering iii) the lack of any core self. 

You don't concentrate blindly - different forms- 4 noble truths

Try to understand Buddha's rules, enacting a particular life rigorously -> undertake mediative technques taught by a teacher who understands you. Then you understand and become a perfected being. These step by step processes make the buddha's heart. 

It covers right view and right thought in the Eightfold Path. In this, one sees things ‘as they have come to be’. It follows from going to the various stages of meditation.

'understanding functions to remove the darkness of delusions' 

Many forms of understanding: The Four Noble Truths; the laws (dhamma) of conduct; skills on how to improve yourself; of the content of mediative states themselves etc. In short MANY FORMS OF UNDERSTANDING.

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Central teachings of Mahāyāna Buddhism

bodhisattva (Buddha-to-be) as sources for spiritual life (arahants only gain their own freedom) understanding in a single fundamental way, the nature of things so as to lead the ideal life karua (universal compassion   Mahayana - big wheel - should try 2b likd how the Buddha was- understanding the world  as the Buddha came to understand it. In doing so, shows that you're free from urself- universal compassion. Look at Boddhisatvas - entire method- all human beings. Arahant- little wheel- selfish wheel aracunt :O 
How can you be free from yourself- when your practices are about yourself?
partcularist try to learn according to urself- FUNDAMENTAL DIFFS between Theravada and Mahayana 

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Mahayana -> boddhisatva

Shift to Boddhisattvas -> Boddhisatvas are the model for Mahayana -> buddha enlightenment ALL human beings.

Need to have vision boddhisatvas had -> encompass all of rality- if you understand this can practice universaly -> what did buddha do? 

Theravada ---> arahant model ---> do what you can do to be better 

Mahayana say arahant selfish idea limited- little wheel 

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Guide to the Bodhisattva's way of life

The Buddha becomes a transcendentalpresence in human guise; the ideals found in his previous lives become the highest model for human life.

guide to the Bodhisattva's way of life Bodhisattva ideal: an ethical path for leading a meaningful life. One must take the bodhisattva vow 'As long as space abides and as long as the world abides, so long may I abide, destroying the sufferings of the world' (BCA 10.55)

Buddha is not thus- gone, Buddha would be selfish if he gained nirvana and left the world suffering 
  Buddha's are sources of guidance - Buddhism gains it model from panthean of deities Buddhas
Boddhisatvas function like gods because they understand the world and continue to engage with the world. 
Extraordinary they have gaind something and help us become the focus. 

‘I should dispel the suffering of others because it is suffering like my own suffering' (8:94) 

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The Six Perfections of a Bodhisattva

1) dāna(generosity): develops non-attachment; cultivates esteem and trust; cultivates compassion

2)śīla(good conduct, good habits): proper etiquette; bodily comportment aimed at pleasing others

3)kṣanti(patience): enduring suffering, reflecting on the Buddha's teaching of suffering, and patience towards others

4) vīrya(strength): virtuous and skillful effort

5) dhyāna(meditation): 'exchanging self and others';

6)prajñā (insight): understanding emptiness

Need to have virtue as a good person only then can you act in these ways - different to Thervada where you gradually become a good person 
Mahayan examplify the qalities of the Boddhisatva when these qualities are mainfested in you, you take the Boddhisatva vow. 

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Bodhisattva means ‘being fixed on enlightenment’ or ‘being’ (sattva) of enlightenment 

In early Buddhist literature a bodhisattva is one who is in the final stages before attaining enlightenment.

The followers of Mahāyāna claim that a bodhisattva is someone who forgoes final entrance into nirvāṇa in order to help all sentient beings. Bodhisattva vs. arhat (perfected person)

 Some bodhisattvas are considered to be divine beings and are worshipped like gods or saints

There is a Bodhisattva who lookes after travellers, who fights demons .

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Charles Hallisey Reading

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Two Truths - Buddhism

understanding the two truths and the relationship between them is vital in seeing through the illusion of inherent existence and realising emptiness/ Sunyata

conventional truth:

-Involves our everyday experiences and understanding of the way phenenomenal world appears & functions. 
- Includes valid cognition, able to distinguish convinving truth from conventional falsehood e.g. distinguishing snake from rope.

- Coherence- conventional truth cannot be constructed randomly. 

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Ultimate truth

Ultimate truth- there is no person individual or 'I'

In reality exist only khandas [means aggregates ;) heaps tehe] made up of mind (Consciousness) 

Non-conceptinal perception, emptiness of phenomena 

- emptiness absence, negation of inherent existence

- conventional and ultimate truth are interralted ways of understandng emptiness. 

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Understanding reality as part of the bodhisattva p

Madhyamaka school (one of the Mahāyāna systems)Two Truths: The buddhas’ teaching of dharma depends equally on two truths: conventiona truth and truth from the ultimate viewpoint; those who do not perceive the not perceive the deep reality (tattva) in the teaching of the buddhas. Without resorting to ordinary conventions, what is ultimate cannot be taught; without recourse to what is ultimate, nirvāṇa cannot be attained. (Nāgārjuna, Mūlamadhyamakakārika 24.2)

Emptiness (śūnyata): We state that whatever is ‘dependent arising’ is emptiness. That is dependent on conventional truth. (Nāgārjuna, Mūlamadhyamakakārika 24.18)

  ‘There is nothing that distinguishes saṃsāra from nirvāṇa; there is nothing that distinguishes nirvāṇa from saṃsāra; and the furthest limit of nirvāṇa is also the furthest limit of saṃsāra; not even the subtlest difference between the two is found’ (Mulamadhyamakakarika 25.19-20).

So, the ultimate truth is that there is no ultimate truth: it is this realization that brings freedom.

Eptiness- profound principle -> in Mahayana you have ideas of emptiness & two truths-> these become a general paradigm, need to understand ultimate truth. 

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Must be one single insight that transofrms consciousness - once this is done ahve good conduct - don't wory about self - no self- free other creatures from clinging. 

Emptiness + two truths Leads to Karuna: a generalised commitment to universal compassion. 

'May I be the doctor and the medicine

And may I be the nurse

For all sick beings in the world

Until everyone is healed. 
(BCA 3:8)

Selflessness two things:

1) Insight self is empty
2) Compassion  

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Therevada criticism - universal compassion

From Theravada POV: YOu can critically assess the concept of universal compassin and say is there such a thing as universal compassion. 

Shouldn't you try to gain your own path of perfection. 

Is it practical to pour universal compassion on everyone with no distinction?

Want children to be successful- these are ordinary things

Theravada ... act -> understanding

Mahayana single overarching insight is necessary to transform consciousness & free it -? once transformation -> all other things will follow. 

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Theravāda Philosophy

Analysis of the world is a continuous act of understanding how to live and be free of delusions about self, permanence and desire. Understanding the structure of the world, contributes to progression to perfection. 

mediative approach to the transofrmation of consciousness

Three teachings 

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Mahāyāna philosophy

Analysis of the world is an intrinsic part of determining how its structure is ‘empty’, thereby leading to freedom from clinging to such a world; but at the same time, even such analysis is part of the clinging, so realization of emptiness must go beyond philosophy

Critisim of  Madhyanaka school:

There is also broad agreement that language is limited to the everyday level of understanding and that the truth of nirvana is beyond the reach of language and of the conceptualization that makes language possible.

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Theravāda Ethics

Moral conduct should be regulated throughout life, and be particularized to the context of each person. The details of conduct are given in the Eightfold Path and the commentaries on it. The monks and laity have an intrinsically interdependent life of proper conduct.

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Mahāyāna ethics

There are abstract moral values that are associated with the ideal character of bodhisattvas, and life should be modelled for everyone, universally, on these general values; most importantly, compassion for all

(no idea of particularisation - universal compassion paramount here) 

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Theravāda Religion

The buddha has shown the way; so is not directly worshipped for grace in ordinary life (strictly speaking, he only revered)

His teachings and their context are strictly preserved in the Pali canon and through commentaries (in several languages) and form the dhamma (the truth)

The monks (and nuns) represent the core of the community (saṅgha)

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The buddha still watches over the world; as also previous buddhas and boddhisattvas, who are worshipped daily

The narrative of his life and teachings take endlessly many forms in different languages

Monks and nuns are only taking one path in life, and laity are equally engaged in buddhist practices

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beep boop

 General revision help- bodhicitta means that awakening mind or the aspiration to become a buddha 8:89,90) 

the cultivation of bodhicitta is considered as the highest virtue and the key to becoming the Mahayana ideal- the bodhisattva

Relates to cultural/social geography- the idea of self/other, in this religion Mahayana Buddhism the notion of self and other do not exist. Since it is believed the self and other only exist relatively, there the absolute difference between self and other is false. This leads to the idea of paratma-samata, that the suffering of all sentient beings should be eliminated which effectively eradicates the idea of exclusion since everyone is recognised as sharing the same feelings and pain- thus the objective is egalitarian and altruist in having universal compassion for everyone and no distinguisher of a self and other- everyone is the same.


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One who benefits neither himself nor another; one who benefits another but not himself; one who benefits himself but not another; and one who benefits himself and another. Of these four the Buddha praises the last, as “chief and best, foremost, highest and supreme.” (Saddhatissa 1975: 1, citing A ṅ guttara Nik ā ya II 94ff.).

God. Similarly, all Buddhists unite in rejecting the ãtman or self that they rightly or wrongly associate with all forms of Hinduism on the one hand or materialistic living on the other. Pg 18

*There are other doctrinal universais as well. For example, the Four Noble Truths are widely, perhaps universally, embraced. The focus on existential suffering represents a dominant theme in all texts and traditions, although what is meant by suffering is not always the same from one Buddhist to the next 18

Charles Goodwin argues that Mahayana ethics is a version of objective-list, perfectionist consequentialism. These objective lists are desirable traits that should be enacted for everyone’s best interests. 20

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on. The idea is that cultivating individuals who exhibit these traits is for the good and should be the aim of ethics both in terms of the way ethics is "taught" and in the guiding purpose expressed in our actions. Hence the connection with forms of perfectionism that emphasize the end of right action as always to correlate in some fashion, causally or otherwise, with the development and expression of such characteristics. 20-21

Can be argued that buddhist ethics is utilitarianism because always thinking about the positive consequences and results of actions which ebenefit other people

Goodman says that the Buddhist ethics essentially aims to make the lives of all sentient beings go as well as possible-  21

Part of the temptation to read Buddhism as a virtue ethic may lie in theTheravãda vision of the accomplished arahant, the one who perfects Buddhist understanding. Such understanding hinges on a kind of individualized cultivation that goes beyond a mere intellectual grasp of the Buddha's words and involves cultivating skillful means (upãya) in the bestowal of enlightenment and remediation of suffering.

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buddhist ethics

Addressing the issue of suffering in Buddhism requires decisive confrontation with the condition of selfhood. The root of all suffering in the end is the delusion of selfhood. To the extent that I perceive myself as an "I," I cling to that page 35 last page

Buddhist ethics should always be understood as naturalistic, meaning that moral terms and concepts will have to be defined in terms of natural properties and their relations.  Buddhist ethics is not separable from buddhist ontology’- 93

Rown Williams argues that the only way selflessness can be derived from the doctrine of no-self is if Santideva adopted the position of nihilism. However, it can be argued that Shantideva is not saying that people do not exist altogether, rather he is reiterating that because people only exist relatively there is no ultimate difference between suffering, because of the lack of division- it makes sense to help everyone to be liberated.

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Nirvana itself is unproducible (< anuppadaniya ) because it is 'made b y nothing at all'. O n e cannot say o f it that it has been produced or not produced, or that it can be produced, or that it is past, future or present. Page 160

 In the same w a y no amount o f effort, no amount o f moral striving, meditational practice and wise insight into reality can ever lead to the attainment o f Nirvana. A n d yet Nirvana has been attained, is being attained, and will be attained. Page 160

T h e Mahayana then identifies all things with Nirvana, 166

the Bodhisattva is not allowed to make distinctions between his own welfare and the welfare of others, except when these distinctions oppose the natural human tendency and favor others over self 22

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a Buddha. 361

Any person not following the noble path is referred to as an ordinary person who lacks the mental balance of those on the novle path. The arahat is one who fully experienced nirvana during life and who destroys the causes of any more rebirths at death he or she passes into final nirvana beyond all time and space and conditions and dukkha ( compare this to the boddhasitva vow where they say they will stay in samsara until all sentient beings are reborn). 39

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what mahayaana

Read Williams and Tribe pp. 75 – 76 from ‘I have referred…’ to ‘…for practical purposes.’

Discuss what this tells us about Mahāyāna Buddhism List as many characteristics of Mahāyāna that emerge from this as you can.

Read Williams and Tribe pp. 79 – 80 from ‘Central to early Mahāyāna…’ to ‘…continuing revelation.’

What do you think is meant by referring to Mahāyāna as a ‘revivalist movement’? Why might the Buddha be understood as ‘not really dead but still around’? Why is ‘immense compassion’ (mahākaruṇā) so central to Mahāyāna?

Look at the Key Points summary on p. 82. Is there anything there that needs clarifying?

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