What are the schools of Buddhism?

General forum on the teachings of all schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Topics specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
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shanyin
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What are the schools of Buddhism?

Post by shanyin » Wed Aug 29, 2018 4:22 am

What are the different schools of Buddhism? What are monks? I have heard the phrase, Buddhism is not a religion, Buddhism is not a philosophy.

shanyin
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Re: What are the schools of Buddhism?

Post by shanyin » Wed Aug 29, 2018 4:23 am

shanyin wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 4:22 am
What are the different schools of Buddhism? What are monks? I have heard the phrase, Buddhism is not a religion, Buddhism is not a philosophy.
I seem to not have the basics of Buddhism. I do not believe in god but I think I don't understand what the schools.

shanyin
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Re: What are the schools of Buddhism?

Post by shanyin » Wed Aug 29, 2018 4:24 am

what the schools are.

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Josef
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Re: What are the schools of Buddhism?

Post by Josef » Wed Aug 29, 2018 5:10 am

Check the subforums.
Kye ma!
The river of continuity is marked by impermanence.
Ceaseless flowing of appearance.
Beautiful and repulsive.
The dance of life and death is a display of the vast expanse.
With gratitude the watcher and the watched pass through the barrier of duality.

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Wayfarer
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Re: What are the schools of Buddhism?

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Aug 29, 2018 6:21 am

There's quite a good Wikipedia entry on Schools of Buddhism. Overall Wikipedia's Buddhism pages are generally pretty well-edited, and there are many references provided.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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kirtu
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Re: What are the schools of Buddhism?

Post by kirtu » Wed Aug 29, 2018 6:48 am

We can divide the schools of Buddhism in different ways. The main way is according to their ultimate goal: Thereavada: attainment of Arhatship primarily but there is also a path for Bodhisattva practice, Mahayana: attainment of Buddhahood for oneself and all beings ultimately. Vajrayana is part of the Mahayana. Therevada can be glossed as seeking individual liberation and the Mahayana schools as seeking liberation for all beings.

There used to be eighteen classic "Therevadin" schools : better to say Sravakayana (yana = vehicle, Sravka basically means Arhat) because the single remaining school is the Therevadin school. It is strongly represented in South Asia now. Main practices: morality, meditation, chanting, sutta study, hermitage

Mahayana : it's probably better to divide the Mahayana by geography than practice : Mahayana is basically the North and East Asian school of Buddhism. The emphasis is attaining Buddhahood and then leading all beings to Buddhahood. However this takes "3 uncountable eons" traditionally, where these eons are on unimaginably long time scales that far exceed the time scales we are used to (4 B years is not much time on these scales, but then nowadays most people don't take "uncountable eons" to really reflect countable time). Practices: morality, meditation, chanting, sutra study, hermitage, pilgrimage

Vajrayana: a branch of the Mahayana developed in India ~600 AD and spread to Tibet, China, what is now Indonesia separately and then from Tibet -> China (maybe China back to Tibet as well) and Mongolia and then China -> Japan and Korea and perhaps Mongolia -> Korea. The goal is to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime (in the best case in 1 lifetime). It's methods focus on visualization and mantra recitation and then many other possible methods. The basic approach is to mentally transform all experience into enlightened experience throughout one's lifetime.

Mahayana: China is the one place where some form of all the Mahayana methods are found and they are broken down into five or so schools: Precepts School, Meditation School (basically Ch'an, Chinese Zen), Vajrayana, Sutra School. In Korea these schools were all combined and then because of history they split into two basic schools that are similar: Chogye and Taego (and there are some smaller remnants of separate schools as well more on the Chinese model). In Japan there are the Shingon (Japanese Vajrayana from China) and Tendai (outer Vajrayana mostly also from China). Tendai became the mother school of all other Japanese Buddhism during the Kamakura Period (around 1200 AD) which are the various Zen, Pure land and Lotus Sutra schools and more recently newer Japanese Buddhism schools.

Vajrayana: aside from the expressions of Vajrayana in China and Japan (technically in Korea as well but there are no separate Vajrayana schools in Korea) in Tibet there are canonically 5 schools + the Bon (which came originally from Persia) : Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu, Gelug, Jonang. Nyingma and Kagyu in particular have many different lineages (all of these schools do but Nyingma and Kagyu in particular).

All of these traditions focus on morality, accumulating merit and taming one's mind. Some of the schools share approaches and all of the schools have their own characteristics. The Mahayana schools all promote vowing to devote all of one's life to attaining Buddhahood. People take vows to fulfill this and these are called the Bodhisattva Vows. Taking the vows and then following though in one's life is considered a very powerful positive practice.

Wrt morality: all the schools emphasize the five precepts (although they can present them a bit differently), avoiding all negative actions and negative states of mind in order to not create negative karma and engaging in merit creation esp. through positive actions (like saving the lives of beings). The basic idea is that everything we say, thing and do is a positive or negative seed that will come to fruition in the future, either in this life or in other lives.

Buddhist schools from BuddhaNet

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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Re: What are the schools of Buddhism?

Post by Bristollad » Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:01 am

Sometimes people divide Buddhism based on regions:
Chinese Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Japanese Buddhism, Northern Buddhism, Southern Buddhism etc.

Sometimes based on goal:
Hearers - Arhats, Solitary Realisers - Prateyka Buddhas, Boddhisattvas - Fully Enlightened Buddhas

Sometimes based on Vehicle:
Hinayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana, Sutrayana, etc.

Sometimes based on scriptual language:
Sanskrit or Pali etc.

Sometimes based on schools:
Ch’an, Sakya, Rinzai, Theravada etc.

Sometimes based on philosophy:
Vaibashika, Sautrantika, Chittamatra, Madhyamaka, etc.

Sometimes the divisions are made praise or belittle, sometimes to explain the apparent differences in emphasis or scriptures.

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