Later Developments in Buddhism



  • in early days bhikkus with different views could live together as long as they followed vinaya ruules - buddhism was an orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy. result of buddhas attitude that his teachings were to be questioned and tested against an indivdiuals own experience
  • developments continued as it moved to other countries - huge carieties in both practice and belief across buddhist world

Why has Buddhism Changed?

  • Buddhas teachings have always been interpreted in different ways; he encouraged a questioning and open approach to his teachings
  • buddhism developed in the indian sub continent and some early practices of buddhism reflected this culture - monastic lifestyle keeping with the shramana culture within india.
  • emphasis on family is very strong in china and japan - buddhism adapted
  • in some traditions bhikkus can marry and raise families - justified through teaching of upaya.
  • as long as core teachings are maintained, better to adapt and encourage people for nibbana.

Are Later Develeopments in buddhism a betrayal of the buddha's teachings?

  • in the west, first knowledge of buddhism is from theravadin traditions.
  • early Mahayana developments are contemporaneous with the developments of the theravada
  • theravada school has not had a clear and direct link with the times of the buddha. development from one of a number of early buddhist schools, no reason to suppose it has closer links to the teachings of the buddha than any of the other traditions that have not survived. cannot be said definitely that mahayana was later than theravada
  • Buddha always encouraged people to question his teachings and test them, and only adopt those that helped them follow the path to nibbana
  • Mahayna have developed a path to nibbana that works from them as the buddha said to.


  • a particular school of buddhism found primarily in japan or china
  • zen means meditation
  • takes the form of ch'an in china which derived from either pali term jhana or sanskrit term dhyana.
  • importance of meditation over scriptures

The origins of Zen Buddhism

  • derived directly from historical buddha; surrounded by several followers. silently lifted a flower and turned it. kasyapa understood the silent message and smiled which continued in india until spread to china by bodhidharma and later japan
  • bodhidharma is a legnedary figure within zen; meditated facing a wall for 9 years until legs fell off also cut off eyelids to stop him falling asleep furing meditation.
  • first patriarch cut off his arm to convince bodhidharma of the seriousness of his intentions
  • some people point to the similarity between some ch'an teachings and that of Taoism, ch'an is buddhist attempt to accommodate chinese views
  • ch'an very similar to view of other indian mahayana schools
  • stories of bodhidharma emphasise the determination and tough reputation of zen
  • ch'an lead by patriarchs - rinzai and soto

The aims of zen buddhism

  • enlightenment; great deal of emphasis on sunyata
  • enlightenment is not leaving samsara but the recognition that nirvana and samsara arent seperate.
  • can be experienced during meditation called satori



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