Mahayana buddhism

the only temple nearby is Mahayana. i do not know anything about mahayana. is Nāgārjuna an arahant?
they have a lot of teachings bh people who are not the Buddha. Do they assume these teachers have right view and are arahants?

Robinson’s History of Buddhism might be a good place to start to get the basics.

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Bikkhu Bodhi lives in a Mahayana monastery and deals here with the specific differences.

" The Mahāyāna sūtras, such as the Mahāprajñā-pāramitā Sūtra and the Saddharmapuṇḍarīka Sūtra (the Lotus Sūtra), give the impression that the Buddha did teach both ideals. Such sūtras, however, certainly are not archaic. To the contrary, they are relatively late attempts to schematize the different types of Buddhist practice that had evolved over a period of roughly four hundred years after the Buddha’s parinirvāṇa."

It would be advisable to study Theravada through books and periodically travel to a Theravada monastery.

i don’t understand…?

I’m all into EBTs and never was attracted to any traditions including Mahayana but as there is a temple nearby I am wondering if they have right view? do their gurus teach 8fold path and nibbana is cessation? whats the main difference between Tibetan Buddhism and EBT?

Why not just go and politely ask them? I’m sure they will be happy to share their doctrine and teachings with you :slight_smile:


i did so many times!!! they said its the same same but i know it is different as they don’t talk about Buddhas and the main monk speaks Tibetan…

Just wanted to know if it is worth the effort to keep trying or to give up on the community. i would like to get to know some Buddhists and be part of a community

… but… i don’t want to get involved with wrong view if you know what i mean

I’d say give it a go for a couple months and see what effect it has on your mind and practice to spend time there.

Does hanging out there make it easier for you to meditate? Does the community inspire you to become a better version of yourself? If so, then keep going. If you’re harassed there or feel yourself getting competitive or on edge… then maybe it’s not the community for you.

But you shouldn’t go in with an attitude that you already know better!

Be an anthropologist: observe and participate. Only evaluate afterwards.

Hope that helps.


A Theravada practitioner cannot profitably attend a Mahayana monastery, the basic aims are opposed: -helping others ie wrong emphasis in right thought, opposed to personal salvation;
-ultimate reality consists of unity between samsara and nibbana as opposed to duality.

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yes very helpful! I’m open as they are friendly so they must be doing something right that i can learn from :slight_smile:

thank you for the reply


what is their ultimate aim?

"The Mahayana schools, despite their great differences, concur in upholding a thesis that, from the Theravada point of view, borders on the outrageous. This is the claim that there is no ultimate difference between samsara and Nirvana, defilement and purity, ignorance and enlightenment. For the Mahayana, the enlightenment which the Buddhist path is designed to awaken consists precisely in the realization of this non-dualistic perspective. The validity of conventional dualities is denied because the ultimate nature of all phenomena is emptiness, the lack of any substantial or intrinsic reality, and hence in their emptiness all the diverse, apparently opposed phenomena posited by mainstream Buddhist doctrine finally coincide: “All dharmas have one nature, which is no-nature.”

—Bikkhu Bodhi

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Largely their aim is to be like samyak-sambuddha and liberate others as well. It consists of wilfully continuing samsara and accepting both heavens and hells for the sake of others. It also involves bearing all kinds of sufferings of samsara. So it is a painful process, the hardest task one can take upon. It involves taking away(getting rid of) the three signs of impermanence, dukkha(suffering) & anatta(no self) from all the samsara!

Mahayana followers want to emulate Buddha instead of purely following his teachings. Its like we are in a university which teaches liberation from all kinds of suffering and we all are here student under the Lord Buddha. But some want to establish their own University just like lord buddha so that they may teach others as well. Its kind of that…hope you got it.

Also it’s very easy to get lost in those teachings of Mahayana. So I’d advise you to be careful. As it invites people very easily especially those with deep craving/desire for existence.

Hi Paul, this second quote from Bhikkhu Bodhi appears not to be from Arahants, Bodhisattvas, and Buddhas … can you point us to its reference please.


Hi Gillian,

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Almost everything in Mahayana Buddhism is found in EBTs, but it has been developed philosophically and made the centerpiece. Mahayanists were engaged in a debate with other Buddhists in India long ago, and this is largely how their teachings developed. Theravadins seem to have missed out on much of this. At some point later, though, the Theravada school (in particular, it would seem) purposely removed those things Mahayanists liked or shoved some leftovers (like the Jatakas, etc.) into a corner to collect dust. This makes Mahayana Buddhism alien to someone who studies only Pali sources and ignores the parts of the Theravada canon that still contain the material that inspired Mahayana Buddhism.

The truth is, I think, that some people would like to not think for themselves but rather train themselves to think like someone else, whom they assume to be wiser than they are. This avoids the trouble of having to develop their own wisdom and critical thinking skills, which admittedly is difficult. They are the followers, cheerleaders, enforcers of culture and ideology in society. They can be found in every walk of life, be it in business, politics, religion, etc. It’s a dubious strategy to me for a Buddhist since, ultimately, it’s wisdom that liberates a person. I would think at some point, a person will need to stop relying on others and develop their own wisdom.

There are other people who choose to think for themselves. Followers sometimes find them threatening and get angry when they open their mouths, since they do things like:

  • Question assumptions
  • Say original things instead of repeating others
  • Form their own conclusions
  • Prefer to find out for themselves what others claim is true
  • Borrow from different sources of inspiration

The Buddha was actually this type of person, if we are to believe the stories that are told about his life before his awakening. The first Mahayanists identified more with him than they did with the people who were the teachers of the various schools that came later. This was two thousand years ago. These days, many Mahayanists are not independent thinkers, but in the beginning they were the ones asking questions and thinking for themselves.

If you are in the first camp, then there’s nothing wrong with choosing a tradition and staying there. It’ll be simpler to only learn one set of ideas and instructions and not have to think too much about the apparent contradictions that exist between one school of Buddhism and another. The reality is that it doesn’t really matter that much which tradition you choose. Just be sincere and work towards developing virtue and wisdom. All of the arguing about this or that idea is just people who like to argue arguing with each other. It’s like a sport to them, except 99% of the time both sides claim they won. But you really can’t go wrong if you let wisdom and virtue be your guide. If you set either of them aside, they you’ll have trouble with any religious tradition, Buddhist or otherwise.

If you are more of an independent thinker who can reason through problems and who isn’t particularly impressed with rote ideologies, then feel free to learn and explore other schools. There’s a rich diversity of thought and literature that Buddhists have written over the past 2,500 years, which is missed by people who prefer to keep their blinders on and think it’s “dangerous” to read “other things.” Buddhism is a huge subject with a long history in many countries in Asia. Tibetan Buddhism is a late development in Buddhist history, as are modern Chinese and Japanese Buddhist traditions. But, then, so is Theravada Buddhism.

None of these modern traditions are original Buddhism, but how could they be 2,500 years after the Buddha? We don’t know exactly what original Buddhism was like. Theravadins like to think they are closer to it, but we don’t have time machines to go back and see for ourselves, do we? Myself, I think they’ve been too aggressive with the pruning sheers. Mahayana Buddhism has the opposite problem: They’ve grown a thicket of different ideas that’s difficult to sort out. To them, it was “all good” (they even named a bodhisattva that: Samantabhadra). It was more like a club of creative writers than a “school” of Buddhism in the beginning.

It would be nice if we could create a happy medium between the two, but nothing people do is perfect, and the people who run things prefer to keep the boundaries and conflicts in place. I suppose it’s just the sign of the times. Oh, well! Humans have an amazing ability to avoid being human to each other.


I really like what you’ve said there :slight_smile:


do you know if the end goal of mahayan and the path are the same? I heard something that they think after getting enlightened they still come back, which is false. do they believe that? that nibbana is cessation and they practice 8fold path including jhanas?

Your response is not likely to be improved upon.


“Theravada Buddhism is organized around the notion of breaking the cycle of Samsara (escaping reincarnation). Mahayana Buddhism aims to achieve enlightenment through the teachings of the Buddha, but they ultimately choose to stay in Samsara and reincarnate out of compassion for others.”

It might help you to read the whole article at Theravada vs. Mahayana Buddhism: What Are the Differences?.

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