Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Different Varieties (Comment)

A cake is a cake, in whatever shape or size. This was what I said:

To a new comer it is pretty confusing to suddenly being confronted with so many different Buddhist traditions or schools of thought. I still remember when I started to study Buddhism seriuosly, I was actually upset with the sudden knowledge that there were so many schools of Buddhism. What I wanted to learn was the teachings of the Buddha. I had to accept the fact that there existed the various schools and there was nothing I could do about it. So the best strategy was for me to concentrate on the tradition that I had been studying, i.e., Theravada tradition.
In order not to hurt the feelings of our fellow Buddhists who belong to the other traditions, I have to be very careful in answering your query about the different schools. Generally speaking, there are 3 main traditions of Buddhism. In alphabetical order, Mahayana, Theravada, and Vajrayana. Mahayana means the Great Vehicle (Path) Theravada means the Path(Way) of the Elders(Senior monks) Vajrayana means the Jewelled Path Countries belonging to Mahayana are mainly China which spread to Korea, Mongolia, Japan, and Taiwan. So today, you would find mostly Chinese from China and Taiwan practising this tradition. Theravada spread to Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, and all the countries of Indochina. (I practise the Theravada tradition) Tibet is the country practising the Vajrayana tradition. So you can say that it is commonly called Tibetan Buddhism.
The fundamental teachings of the Buddha are to be found in all the 3 traditions. They are the 4 Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. The differences are in the rites and rituals which are purely cultural and traditional perculiar to its followers' cultures and traditions. Apart from this, there are a number of different discourses belonging to the different traditions. You would have to read a bit more to acquaint yourself with these traditions and then to decide for yourself your choice. A few visits to the different temples will help you to decide in due course. Zen Buddhism came from Japan when the Chinese introduced the Chan school of Buddhism there. Please be patient with yourself, and the path will be cleared! Hope to hear from you again.

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