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The World Of Buddhism- Hinayana And Mahayana

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Posted by Glenn on July 17, 2003 06:43:31 UTC

.."My experience has been that many Buddhists tend to be repressed in their ability to express themselves outside the norms of their peers and their elders. This, I feel, has a draining effect on the human spirit, especially the youth."

This description, however, is not the whole truth of Buddhism.As of today there are many schools of Buddhism, perhaps even thousands. The British scholar Christmas Humphreys once wrote: "To describe [Buddhism] is as difficult as describing London. Is it Mayfair, Bloomsbury, or the Old Kent Road? Or is it the lowest common multiple of all these parts, or all of them and something more?"

Your experienced of some Buddhists you've gone is still far to the core of Buddhism and in the lives of its practioner in the world and society they live in. Perhaps, you are familiar only with hinayana Buddhism(i.e.the only existing is Theravada school)as much as most people do of their ideas or practices see Buddhism as pessimistic or nihilistic- something designed only to prepare people for death.Or maybe u look Buddhism as something an otherwordly religion, Quietitude or even fleeing to another world.Or maybe u look into Buddhism as something to do with ORIENTAL MYSTICISM.

But in truth,however, BUDHHISM is above all a religion of LIFE, a philosophy of LIFE that fills to the needs of man's desire to solve to the fundamental problems of LIFE in which people still ask themselves: WHat is LIFE? What is Death? How can i live happily? What happens after we die? Certainly, many still turn to religion to seek answer to these questions, yet when we look around the world, it seems that even some of the most Faithful and religiuos people continue to live in a state of fear, poverty, hopelessness or hatred.

In addition, when we examine the history, it becomes apparent that more than few have fallen victim to acts of violence committed in the name of religion.These facts lead many to reject religion and turn science for an answer.MAny have given up hope of finding answer altogether and merely struggle to survive from day to day.Still others, convinced that happiness lies in the pursuit of material wealth and status, devote their energies to gaining these things, leaving little time opportunity to reflect upon themselves or the important questions of Life.
Ultimately, all people seek to be happy, yet even the definition of happiness is elusive. We suspect that it is a state of satisfaction, og good feelings, but where does it come from?
Ceratainly, happiness is defined differently by different people. Some believe happiness lies in the restricted pursuit of pleasure. No matter what kind of we are, or how we define happiness, none of us can avoid the most fundamental suffering of all, the suffering association with death or the fear and apprehension associated with it.

Also we might say that religion itself arose in order to ease humanity's fear and apprehensions about life and death. Yet most religions offer no more than a simple formula for belief in order to allow us to have confidence about the future and the afterlife. Many religions espouse the existence of an abosolute, controlling a deity or power, so that we may remove the burden of responsibility from ourselves for solving our most fundamental problems.In addition, most teach some kind of theory about what happens after we die,which people are exhorted to believe in.
Nevertheless, belief alone might some confidence, but belief in and itself does not guarantte that what we believe is true. in order to truly undestand the nature of Life and death, and gain genuine confidence, what we need is wisdom- penetrating insight rooted in the depths of Life itself.In addition, we need the internal power and fortitude to conquer our own weaknesses and fears, and to act confidently upon our beliefs, thus demonstrating their validity through our actions.In addition, we need the power of compassion and courage to enable others to transcend their own limitations and establish the true confidence and happiness in Life.

Buddhism ,it may be said, is a religious philosophy that born out of the desire to solve these fundamental problems.

Unlike other Buddhist groups, SGI members, the lay practioner of Nichiren Buddhism, reject any idea of World renouncing ascetism and believe that enlightenment is found in taking on the challenges and difficulties of daily life.

This [Mahayana]Buddhism is essentially nonauthoritarian, democratic, scientific and based on insights obtained primarily through individual efforts toward self-perfection. But Buddhism also has immediate and far-reaching effects on the society around us. Buddhism is a way of life that makes no distinction between the individual human being and the environment in which that person lives. In its conception of the interrelatedness of all life forms in a complex web beyond complete human understanding, Buddhism has provided a spiritual and intellectual framework for environmental awareness. The Western worldview, as expounded by Christianity and Judaism, tends to be anthropocentric, placing humanity at the apex of the natural order. Buddhism on the other hand views humankind as a part of nature, supporting and giving rise to the notion of bioethics. Since every individual is connected to everything on earth, the destiny of our planet is influenced by the individual's actions.

This modern Buddhism is also nonmoralistic. In a world characterized by a great diversity of peoples, cultures and lifestyles, Buddhism does not prescribe one way of living. There are no "commandments." This Buddhism accepts you exactly as you are, with all your foibles and misdemeanors, past and present. However, this does not mean you may lie, steal or murder. Buddhism depends for its moral force not on a list of rules for behavior but on an irresistible inner transformation. Buddhist practitioners find themselves acting more gently, compassionately and with absolute regard for the preciousness of other people's lives.

Going back to ideas[school] of Buddhism, to let you know that there different forms of Buddhism. Mainly there are so-called two major branches- Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism.

The Buddhism that spread to Tibet and China and eventually to Korea and Japan was called Mahayana, meaning "greater vehicle." And Buddhism that which spread southward, to Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka was called Hinayana, for "lesser vehicle," a pejorative term applied to it by the Mahayanists. What's the difference between the two?

First, Hinayana is only attaining the state of arhat or saint,In contast to this, mahayana is more on higher level conditionthan in arhat and that is by observing the practice of Boddhisattva. Hinayana as a whole regarded Buddha as existing on an incomparably high level than themselves, one which they could not possibly hope to attain, and so they are confined their efforts to the attainment of the relatively less exalted level of the arhat, the "perfect being". But, even level of arhat was considered difficult to attain. Man is a creature od desires, and even the most pious are constantly in danger of succumbibg to temptation..Because of this oulook members of Hinayana sects hedge their lives about the great numbers of rules and regulations or keeping the monastic precepts until their attention became wholly fixed upon matters of monastic Discipline..Thus the original aim of Buddhsim, bringing of all salvations to all people was entirely neglected.

In contrast, Mahayana follower seeking out the practice of boddhisattva so that they also enlightenment as what Buddha had..Boddhisattva way does not strive to benefit himself alone.Rather he seeks out the Buddha Way in order to be able to save all other beings from sufferings of life.

Second, There diffrence is in terms between the emphasis upon Karmic Law.... In HInayana is essentially negative attitude, which seeks to escape reality from suffering imposed by Karma(Fate) and transmigration by fleeing or taking away to another realms.Like for instance, Hinayana teaching them to eliminate desires which is the cause of suffering and hoping to live in another world which called "pure Land" where the Buddha dwells ,this place can be found in the western part of the universe which is something common belief in the concept of "Heaven" in CHristianity.While, in contrast to this Mahayana is a positive approach,which deliberately seeks to encounter suffering in order to fufill the vow and practice of the Boddhisattva and to attain BUddhahood.Nicheren Daishonin says ,if we eliminate desires then it just look like that we are opposing the enlightenment that is within ourselves..Therefore, Mahayana teachings look on desire as a driving impetus for self improvement and growth in our lives and then achieve enlightenment.
Of course, Buddha taught that existence is marked by suffering(stated in the 4 Noble truth).But that is not the total sum of the Buddha's message. He went on to urge men(people) not to try escape from this suffering of birth, old age sickness,and death, but we have to face them up boldly and in that way to overcome them.

Third point, as i had explain to u earlier in my previous letter that in Hinayana aim for the self improvement and advancement of the individual or practicing their own benefit.While Mahayana aims for the improvement of society as a whole and for the salvation of all beings- to lead them to enlightenment.

Thus, we can give symbolic expression to this point of their difference, Mahayana means the " GREAT VEHICLE", which conveys all sentient beings to salvation, Hinayan the "LESSER VEHICLE", which suitable only for the salvation of the single individual.

Fourth, of their difference between the 2 is that Hinayana was essentially the concern of the Monks,the especialist in the filled. They valued faith and practice over the theory or in other words, they are more on theoritical speculation and devorce from question of practice... By Contrast, MAHAYANA insisted this matter that any theories that may be set forth must be founded upon practicing buddha's teaching rather than empty speculation.

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