Posted on: June 10, 2022 Posted by: admin Comments: 0

During the process of existence and development, over time Buddhism has undergone transformation and change, resulting in the differentiation from Basic or Theravada Buddhism into Sectarian Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism after about 20 years. time since the Buddha entered Nirvana.


Buddhism was born more than twenty-five centuries ago in India, under the enlightenment of a historical personality, Buddha Shakyamuni. During the process of existence and development, over time Buddhism has undergone transformation and change, resulting in the differentiation from Basic or Theravada Buddhism into Sectarian Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism after about 20 years. time since the Buddha entered Nirvana.

What are the ideological characteristics of Buddhism through these periods that are new compared to the early days, this is the responsibility of Buddhist learners to find out on the most objective level, in order to avoid entering the confusion as Some comments are not very positive about Buddhism through this division.

According to the writer personally, learning about the ideological characteristics of Theravada, Sectarian and Mahayana Buddhism is nothing more than learning about the origins of Buddhism. From these sources of thought, it will help open up each individual Buddhist student to have an objective view of Buddhism, and then apply the Buddha’s teachings to each person’s spiritual life and practice in a different way. most positive and practical.


first. Thought characteristics of Theravada Buddhism

Theravada Buddhism was born out of a crisis of philosophy and religion, from anthropological problems, to economic development – agriculture, revolution in political structure, and political system. Philosophical thought in India. These are the main causes leading to the birth of Theravada Buddhism. Therefore, Theravada Buddhism was born not by chance, not as a messianic religion, or by any revelation, but Buddhism was born to meet the needs of society. and human needs. Stemming from these problems, Theravada Buddhism was born and has the following ideological characteristics:

1.1. Theravada Buddhism embodies the spirit of practical reality

In the Central Sutra, the Buddha taught: “My teaching is practical in the present, comes to be seen, has no time, is capable of upward direction, to be understood by the wise for themselves.”. This is an extremely important spirit not only in Theravada Buddhism but also in Buddhism. This spirit is expressed through three characteristics:

Firstly, the purpose of the Buddha’s teaching is not to explain or reason about the world and human life to satisfy the requirements of science and philosophy, but the purpose of the Buddha is to point out suffering and the way to cessation. suffering. Therefore, the problems that do not directly lead to liberation, Nirvana, even though they are worshiped by the world, the Buddha usually does not pay attention. For example, if the world is finite or boundless, mind and body are one or the other….

Second, the Buddha’s teachings always stand on the ground and actual status to teach. Therefore, the Buddha is likened to a physician who gives medicine depending on the illness, and he always finds out the cause of the disease before finding the right remedy. For example, people with a lot of greed contemplating impurity, those with anger and delusion contemplate compassion, and those who are gruff and rude contemplating happiness and discharge… And his teachings are not dogmatic, formal, or superstitious; like a person hit by a poisoned arrow, the first job is to pull the arrow out, and then bandage the wound without having to hesitate to find its causes. In the same way, the Buddha’s duty was to heal the person who was hit by a poisoned arrow without having to worry about other problems.

Third, in the Theravada teaching, be wary of any controversy, because where there is controversy, there will be suffering. For that reason, the Buddha warned people to avoid following in the footsteps of contemporary sophists, for fear that they would forever fall in love with theory and forget about reality. The main task of Buddhism is to open the way to liberation; this teaching is always full of two important aspects: philosophy and religion; theory and practice.

1.2. Survey Methods of Theravada Buddhism

The first method, Buddhism takes human life as the center to survey the universe, that is, Buddhism takes the truth of all things, especially humans as the object of study, to find out the ultimate direction of the universe. man, that is, the establishment and activity of man, or the operation of the five aggregates…. For religious philosophies, humans are created by gods, but not so with Buddhism: “Human is the body of the five aggregates having form, feeling, perception, action, and consciousness; where rupa is the four elements, inner and outer colors are inseparable. and “You are the owner of karma, the heir of karma, karma is the womb, the relatives”. Therefore, the position of man is paramount, the relationship between man and the universe is inseparable; and observing people is observing the universe, which in the Samyutta Nikaya the Buddha taught: “I speak in this one staff body, the world, the cause of the world’s founding, the destruction of the world, and the way leading to the cessation of the world.” That is why, Pythagoras, a noble philosopher of India once said: “Only once in this life, Buddha has sanctified life.”

The second method of Theravada Buddhism is the True Survey; or called Tathagata (Yathatatha): seeing the Dharma As market, True as it is (Yathabhutam): exactly as it is, without having to put on any other image. Observing things as they really are is the method of matching the truth. Commonly known as Prajna (prajna), or Vija (Wisdom) and Panna (Wisdom): this is the highest wisdom in Buddhism, only this wisdom is the wisdom that sees the nature of things, sees things. attain the suchness (tathata) of dharmas, not the suchness (aviathata), changelessness (anananathata) and dharmata (dhammata).

The goal of Buddhism is how to have wisdom, because only this wisdom can see the truth of things. If we see people in their proper place, see the nature of dharmas, which are dependent arising without self, that is called wisdom. How to have that wisdom?, there is only meditation. Thus in wisdom there is concentration, and in order to have concentration there must be precepts. So no matter what sect, no matter what doctrine, these three dharmas are firmly attached. In particular, in Theravada Buddhism, precepts – concentration – wisdom were taught by the Buddha in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, or in the Journeying Sutra in the A Ham volume, this term was mentioned eight times by him, so it is extremely important. . This is the method of Theravada Buddhism.

1.3. Dharma-centered (Dharma-Principle)

For Buddhism, the Dharma is the highest, the center of the universe, but not the Buddha. Dharma is the principle that governs the birth and death of all beings, and is not created by gods or anyone. The Buddha’s purpose of observing the world is to find out the unchanging eternal principle or dharma (Dhamam), the law that unifies all phenomena in the world. That principle is the principle of Dependent Origination or Dependent Origination. It is this principle that will bring people to the supreme ideal of enlightenment and liberation, which the Buddha taught in the Middle East Sutra: “Whoever sees Dependent Origination sees the Dharma. Whoever sees the Dharma sees the Buddha (I).”

The reason, Theravada Buddhism takes the dharma as the center, eliminates the divine subject, because all dharmas are created by the mind of man. And Buddhism attributes the dharma to the human world, on the one hand, the dharma itself is the owner and the person is the experience; At the same time, Theravada Buddhism also identifies man as the subject of dharma, because man is the object of experience of the dharma. The Buddha not only taught that: “After I pass away, you should take refuge in the precepts and the precepts.” which the Buddha himself said: “Is this Dharma not realized by me? Why don’t I worship it and take it as my refuge?”. Thus, the Buddha is called the enlightened one because he has mastered and adhered to this principle, and he also respects and takes refuge in the Dharma.

1.4. The Religious Perspectives of Theravada Buddhism

The first point of view is to promote individual responsibility: Buddhism always emphasizes the role of responsibility in each individual, and the Buddha never thought of himself as the controller of the Sangha. When Devadata asked him to lead the Sangha, the Buddha taught that: The Sangha leads itself, and each individual must be responsible for himself. And the Buddha himself did not want anyone to depend on him, for his teaching had no occult theories, nothing was hidden in his fist. He always stretched out his hand, showing it to all sentient beings, holding nothing back, “…what benefits the gods and humans I have done.” (Central Central) Therefore, before entering Nirvana, he taught: “After I pass away, light the torch yourself and go. Take refuge in yourself and take refuge in the Dharma.”

The second point of view is to promote freedom of thought: It is clearly shown in the Journeying Sutras and the Great Parinirvana, before the Buddha asked: “Monks, the hour of the Tathagata’s Nirvana is coming. Those who have doubts about the Dharma, who still have concerns about the Dharma, should ask the Tathagata.” In addition, this spirit is expressed more liberally and freely in the Kalama Sutta: Lord, I don’t know what teachings you will give, but usually the cardinal who comes later or criticizes the cardinal who comes first and thinks his teaching is the best.”. Buddha replied: “O Kalamas, you are right to doubt, to doubt what is doubtful; You are right to criticize, criticize what is reprehensible. O Kalamas, do not believe what is rumoured, do not believe what others say, do not believe what seems to be true, do not believe what is taught by your teacher, nor believe what is the ancients left….When hearing any teachings, please…


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