Mahayana, 22 Definition(s)
AKA: Mahayana Buddhism, Great Vehicle
Mahayana means "The Great Raft" or "The Great Vehicle." It is the largest and most influential of the three main forms of Buddhism (the other two being Theravada and Vajrayana ). It is practiced in China, Japan and Korea. Vajrayana derived from it and shares many similarities with it. Mahayana emphasizes the idea of the bodhisattva over that of the arhat. The goal of an individual is therefore not to pass out of this world into nirvana, but to attain enlightenment with the wisdom, understanding and power that goes with it and then to show compassion by returning to this world to help those in need. Amitabha Buddha did this to establish Pure Land Buddhism. In comparison to Theravada, Mahayana Buddhism emphasizes the help that gods and bodhisattvas can give to people to help them escape samsara. It has elaborate descriptions of how this works and emphasizes prayers and rituals that enable people to seek this help. Zen is another branch of Mahayana Buddhism.
Mahayana means "The Great Raft" or "The Great Vehicle." It is the largest and most influential of the three main forms of Buddhism (the other two being Theravada and Vajrayana ). It is practiced in China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Vajrayana derived from it and shares many similarities with it. Mahayana emphasizes the idea of the bodhisattva over that of the arhat. The goal of an individual is therefore not to pass out of this world into nirvana, but to attain enlightenment with the wisdom, understanding and power that goes with it and then to show compassion by returning to this world to help those in need. Amitabha Buddha did this to establish Pure Land Buddhism. In comparison to Theravada, Mahayana Buddhism emphasizes the help that gods and bodhisattvas can give to people to help them escape samsara. It has elaborate descriptions of how this works and emphasizes prayers and rituals that enable people to seek this help. Zen is another branch of Mahayana Buddhism.
The Mahayana ("Great vehicle") or Northern branch is one of the two major divisions of Buddhism, the other being Theravada. (This latter kind of Buddhism is also referred to derogatively as "Hinayana" - "small vehicle"). Mahayana Buddhism is based on sophisticated metaphysical speculations regarding the nature of Reality (shunyata), or Enlightenment (sambodhi, prajna) and of the Buddha (Trikaya). Soteriologically of the idea not of escape into a quiescent nirvana, but rather, having achieved Enlightenment, one returns as a Bodhisattva to the world for the sake of other beings. Mayahana therefore emphasises that the duty of enlightenment to work compassionately to relieve the suffering of others (upaya - "skillfull means"), and argues that all sentient creatures will ultimately achieve Buddhahood. Mahayana Buddhism spread northeast from India into China (1st century A.D.), and from there into Tibet and Korea, and from Korea into Japan. By convention, Mahayana is divided into two philosophical schools, both of which had a strong influence on the various Mahayana Buddhist sects, but also the Advaita Vedanta of Gaudapada and Shankara as well. The first is the anti metaphysical Madhyamika or dialectic school, which emphasises the negation of all possible phenomenal reality through a kind of logical reducto ad absurdum, in order to arrive at the ineffable absolute or Void (shunyata) that is the only Reality. The second Mahayanist school is the Vijnanavada or "Consciousness doctrine" which uses the experience of meditation in order to prove that all reality is ultimately Consciousness (hence their alternative names of Yogachara - "Yoga doctrine" - and Chittamatra - "mind only"). Unlike the Madhyamikas, they developed a number of metaphysical and occult conceptions, including an emanationist ontology quite similiar to that of Samkhya, but psychologically rather than cosmologically orientated.
Mahayana is one of the two main existing schools of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice. It was founded in India.
(mahayana literally Great Vehicle)
The name Mahayana is used in three main senses:
- As a living tradition, Mahayana is the larger of the two major traditions of Buddhism existing today, the other being Theravada. This classification is largely undisputed by all Buddhist schools.
- According to the Mahayana scheme of classification of Buddhist philosophies, Mahayana refers to a level of spiritual motivation (also known as Bodhisattvayana). According to this classification, the alternative approach is called Hinayana, or Shravakayana. It is also recognized by Theravada Buddhism, but is not considered very relevant for practice.
- According to the Vajrayana scheme of classification of practice paths, Mahayana refers to one of the three routes to enlightenment, the other two being Hinayana and Vajrayana. This classification is part of the teachings of Vajrayana Buddhism, and is not recognized by Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism.
Sanskrit word for "Great Vehicle", the spiritual path to great enlightenment. The Mahayana goal is to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings by completely abandoning delusions and their imprints.
Mahayana Buddhism is strongest in Tibet, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Mongolia. Mahayana Buddhism is not a single group but a collection of Buddhist traditions: Zen Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism are all forms of Mahayana Buddhism.
Theravada and Mahayana are both rooted in the basic teachings of the historical Buddha, and both emphasise the individual search for liberation from the cycle of samsara (birth, death, rebirth...). The methods or practices for doing that, however, can be very different.
Sanskrit; literally, "the Great Vehicle"; one of the three major schools of Buddhism which developed in India during the first century C.E.; it is called the "Great Vehicle" because of its all inclusive approach to liberation as embodied in the bodhisattva ideal and the desire to liberate all beings; the Mahayana school is also known for placing less emphasis on monasticism than the Theravada school and for introducing the notion of sunyata.
'large vehicle' paths/schools which aim for the enlightenment of all beings.
'a large vessel of salvation'; A name for Buddhism after popularization of Buddhists.
Mahāyāna Skt., lit., “Great Vehicle”; one of the two great schools of Buddhism, the other being the Hīnayāna, “Small Vehicle.” The Mahāyāna, which arose in the first century CE, is called Great Vehicle because, thanks to its many-sided approach, it opens the way of liberation to a great number of people and expresses the intention to liberate all beings.
Hīnayāna and Mahāyāna are both rooted in the basic teachings of the historical Buddha Shākyamuni, but stress different aspects of those teachings. While Hīnayāna seeks the liberation of the individual, the follower of the Mahāyāna seeks to attain enlightenment for the sake of the welfare of all beings. This attitude is embodied in the Mahāyāna ideal of the bodhisattva, whose outstanding quality is compassion (karunā).
The Mahāyāna developed from the Hīnayāna schools of the Mahāsānghikas and Sarvāstivādins (Sarvāstivāda), which formulated important aspects of its teaching. From the Mahāsānghikas came the teaching, characteristic of the Mahāyāna, of the transcendent nature of a buddha, as well as the bodhisattva ideal and the notion of emptiness (shūnyatā ). Seeds of the trikāya teaching can be recognized in the doctrine of the Sarvāstivādins.
The Mahāyāna divided into a series of further schools, which spread from India to Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan. In India arose the Mādhyamika school, founded by Nāgārjuna, and the Yogāchāra school, founded by Asanga. Parallel to the development of Tantra in Hinduism, in Buddhism also a magic-oriented school appeared, the Vajrayāna, which today flourishes primarily in Tibetan Buddhism.
The most important Mahāyāna schools in China were Ch’an, Hua-yen, T’ien-t’ai, and the Pure Land school. These schools were further developed in Japan as Zen, Kegon, Tendai, and Amidism, respectively.
The teachings of the Mahāyāna are contained in the Mahāyāna sūtras and shāstras, among which are some of the most profound writings of Buddhism.
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