Two ‘vehicles’ or methods of achieving enlightenment 1. Greater Vehicle (bodhisattva-yana, mahayana) 2. Lesser Vehicle (hinayana)
At about the time of Christ, Buddhism became divided – Theravada (Hinayana) – small raft (vehicle) – Mah ā y ā na – large raft (vehicle) One striking feature of the Mah ā y ā na is its literature (Prajnaparamita Sutras) – Written in Sanskrit – Proliferated about 100 BC – 400 AD – Too voluminous for any single person to read in a single lifetime “ The wisdom gone to the other shore ” Lotus Sutra, Diamond Sutra, etc. Slide Credit: www.euro-tongil.org/.../PPT/...Carlson/Mahayana%20Buddhism.ppt
Theravada Buddhism: the 3 marks of all existence – Anatta (no self); Dukkha (painfulness); Anicca (impermanence) Mah ā y ā na Buddjsm added “ emptiness, ” as the fourth mark of all existence – Happiness is intrinsic to a healthy mind – Don ’ t grasp; just “ be ” – Reality is not an illusion; but its real nature (its reality) is transparent to analysis – The objective world exists, but its independent existence, separate from its subjective perception, cannot be found – A “ non-verbal ” experience of reality is what is needed Slide Credit: www.euro-tongil.org/.../PPT/...Carlson/Mahayana%20Buddhism.ppt
Comparison between the two schools (chart) Theravada (Hinayana) Mah ā y ā na Teaching of the eldersSpirit of the elders Small vehicleLarge (great) vehicle Man as an individualMan involved with others Man on his own in the universeMan is not alone (grace is real) Key virtue: wisdom (bodhi)Key virtue: compassion (karuna) Religion is primarily for monksReligion is for laypersons as well Ideal: the Arhat (lonely saint)Ideal: the Bodhisattva NirvanaNirvana + heavens, hells Buddha is a saint or sageBuddha is a savior Avoids metaphysics (speculation)Elaborates metaphysics Avoids ritualIncludes ritual ConservativeLiberal Pali textsMany later texts (Sanskrit) Old wisdom schoolNew wisdom school Escape Samsara, and reach NirvanaSamsara is Nirvana (identity) Ceylon, Burma, etc. (Southern Bism)China, Korea, Japan (N Bism) Slide Credit: www.euro-tongil.org/.../PPT/...Carlson/Mahayana%20Buddhism.ppt
Most Mahayanists hold that Buddha privately taught that man does not have to save himself; there is help available. The number of Buddhas proliferated. The authors of salvation are of three kinds: Manushi Buddhas (started from a human base – Gotama Buddha) They came on earth, attained enlightenment, and are now gone. They are teachers Gotama before his enlightenment Bodhisattvas Beings who vowed to become Buddhas and have enormous merit; they postponed their entrance to Nirvana to help us Maitreya, Avalokitesvara, Kwan Yin, Amitabha Dhyani Buddhas (meditation Buddhas, never in human form) They achieved Buddha-hood, but not in human manifestation Vairocana, Amitabha are the most appealing of the D. Buddhas Also, a mythology about the Buddha developed (Buddhology) The Trikaya (Triple Body of the Buddha) Dharmakaya (analogous to the “ Godhead ” ) Sambogakhaya (analogous to the “ resurrected ” Christ) Nirmanakaya (analogous to the historical Jesus of Nazareth) Slide Credit: www.euro-tongil.org/.../PPT/...Carlson/Mahayana%20Buddhism.ppt
The Bodhisattva became popular A being whose essence is enlightenment The bodhisattva vow (to save all sentient beings) [Vision p 41] Daily schedule of the schools of Buddhism (Theravada, Zen, Tibetan) Rise at 4 am Lunch is the main meal To bed by 10 pm A lot of time given to study/work Re: the conduct of the various schools Symbiotic relationship Conduct (gives merit, or punya) includes Rules of restraint (5 and 5) The perfections towards which we should strive Taking responsibility for one ’ s actions Slide Credit: www.euro-tongil.org/.../PPT/...Carlson/Mahayana%20Buddhism.ppt
Rupert Gethin: “...around the beginning of the Christian era there began to emerge scriptures that challenged certain established Buddhist teachings and ways of understanding, and which advocated what is represented as a superior path of practice leading to superior understanding” (Gethin, 224).
New texts on the scene authenticity? Not a problem particular to Mahayana, according to Davidson “The buddhist traditions in India found themselves, at one time or another, inundated with a morass of material that passed under the rubric of the “word of the Buddha” (buddhavacana). As a result, during the course of its approximately seventeen hundred years in the land of its origin, Indian Buddhist communities constantly found themselves encountering tension between the more conservative masters of Buddhist doctrine and those who, either tacitly or not, were open to the prospect of the reinterpretation and recodification of the dharma preached by the Tathagata.” -Ronald Davidson, An Introduction to the Standards of Scriptural Authenticity in Indian Buddhism
Authenticity “But if the comparison is performed by examining the meaning through reason which does not contradict the nature of reality, then a meaning which harmonizes with the significance of discourses and is characterized by reality accordingly demonstrates its own significance. So those discourses which demonstrate the significance of the disciples’ darma belong to the disciples’ vehicle. Those discourses which demonstrate the significance of the private budddhas’ dharma belong to the private buddhas’ vehicle, and those discourses which demonstrate the significance of the bodhisattvas’ dharma belong to the bodhisattvas’ vehicle.” Saramati’s Great Vehicle (408-409)
Authenticity “One who slanders the dharma of the Great Vehicle certainly hastens to the lower states of existence. This person experiences the maturation of his action and its real nature should be stated. He is born sunk in hell, his body burning with a great flame, the great torture of his incineration the reliable result of sinful action.” Saramati’s Great Vehicle (406)
Authenticity “Futhermore, Mara, the Evil One, may come along in the guise of a Shramana, and say: 'Give up what you have heard up to now, abandon what you have gained so far! And if you follow this advice, we will again and again approach you, and say to you: "What you have heard just now, that is not the word of the Buddha. It is poetry, the work of poets. But what I here teach to you, that is the teaching of the Buddha, that is the word of the Buddha".” INSPIRED SPEECH IN EARLY MAHAYANA BUDDHISM I -Graeme MacQueen Quoted from: Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita (The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines) “Other early Mahayana works attest to the same traditionalist criticism in much the same terms, so we are left in no doubt as to its prevalence”
Authenticity “It is my intention to examine certain aspects of the development of standards of scriptural authenticity in India: 1. the method of scriptural transmission of the early Sangha and the general attitudes that contributed to the early scriptural and doctrinal elaboration 2. the role of the councils in the compilation of a canon and the codified standards of authenticity established to effect scriptural purity 3. the claim to authority of the Abhidharmika masters as a model of development and the response of their critics 4. the mythology and apologetics for the Mahayana 5. the steps taken by the Vajracaryas to establish the authority of the Vajrayana” -Ronald Davidson, An Introduction to the Standards of Scriptural Authenticity in Indian Buddhism
Beginnings of the Mahayana Authenticity A bhiksu might claim that certain teachings were the dharma, the Vinaya, the teaching of the teacher, as they were heard from: 1. the mouth of the buddha, 2. a Samgha of elders 3. a group of bhiksus who were -specialists in the dharma -specialists in the Vinaya -specialists in the proto-abhidharma lists -a single bhiksu who was such a specialist -Ronald Davidson, An Introduction to the Standards of Scriptural Authenticity in Indian Buddhism
Authenticity “Abhidharma was the first wholly new form of literature to arise in Buddhist India claiming status as scripture. Its methodologies, both intellectual and apologetic, were to set much of the stage for the Mahayana.” -Ronald Davidson, An Introduction to the Standards of Scriptural Authenticity in Indian Buddhism
Beginnings of the Mahayana Authenticity Abhidharma lists began as “little more than mnemonic devices facilitating the memorization of certain groups of psycho-physical developments” (Davidson, 303). However, they “became the focus of an intense scholastic movement that aspired to remove any doubt about the functional relation of any element of reality to any other element, the sutras being neither exhaustive on all points of doctrine nor written with a clear structural layout. With this in mind, the Abhidarmika masters wished to construct a ‘definitive’ statement about which no doubt could be harbored, since they maintained that the sutras were ‘intentional’ in their content, being spoken by the Buddha for a certain audience in a specific frame of mind” (Davidson, 303).
As a movement: Schopen’s data, page 17 Do you think Schopen’s argument is valid? How confident is he/are we in his evidence? Are certain pieces of his evidence more reliable than others?
“Throughout the history of Buddhism in Asia, the Dharma has been transmitted via cultures that considered women inferior to men. Undoubtedly, many of the outstanding Dharma teachers were male chauvinists. Yet the message of the teachings broke through their cultural prejudices against women. This message inspired female seekers to find true spiritual liberation in spite of their oppressed positions in society.” -Rev. Patti Nakai
“If anyone wanted to present Buddhism as a viciously sexist religion, they could easily do so by quoting out of context passages from numerous sutras or from more recent texts such as Shinran's wasan (poems) or the by-laws of the Shinshu Otani-ha (Higashi Honganji's denomination) which denies female clergy the same status as male priests. But I believe the essential spirit of Buddhism absolutely includes all beings, male and female, in its vision of enlightenment. If I did not believe in that then I would not want to be a part of this religious tradition. In this intermittent series, I hope to make it clear that women have always been involved in Buddhist history and that their role has been very crucial even if often overlooked.” -Rev. Patti Nakai
“In Mahayana Buddhism, since discrimination between beings was a delusion that must be transcended, lay people had as much potential to be enlightened as clergy. "Lay" and "clergy" were only artificial categories created by karmic conditions. For women this meant a new opportunity to be recognized as seekers because women were less free to leave their obligations in the secular world than men.” -Rev. Patti Nakai (breaking down dualisms)
Gandhara “In the rising merchant class, it was the women who were very involved in supporting Buddhist temples. It may be crass to say, but because women were in a position of economic power, Buddhist institutions had to pay attention to their spiritual needs. This explains the emphasis on sutras featuring women such as the Meditation Sutra and the Queen Srimala Sutra.” -Rev. Patti Nakai
China In China, one of the most powerful champions of Buddhism was the Empress Wu (late 7th century). She knew that a woman seizing control of the throne went against Confucian tradition, so she used Buddhist scriptures to justify her rule. Although she was ruthlessly using Buddhism for her own political gain, the new sutras which declared the spiritual potential of women benefited the nuns in various Chinese sects. -Rev. Patti Nakai