Mahayana Buddhism and the Bodhisattva
1. Theravada: “The Way of the Elders”
a. No deification of the Buddha. One Buddha at a time, in human realm. Disappeared into nirvana; only reached through teaching and sangha.
b. Salvation for religious elite via effort and self-discipline, rationality. Individualistic (with support from monastic community)
c. Bond between monarchy and Sangha: legitimation, prosperity, spiritual benefit.
2. Mahayana Buddhism: "The Greater Vehicle"
a. Everyone has a chance of liberation.
b. Criticizes elitism and selfishness of Theravadan religious.
c. Mahayana emphasis on compassion:
i. Buddha didn't disappear into
nirvana, stayed behind to help others to liberation. Can be contacted via prayer, meditation, and
d. Boddhisattva (an enlightened one who, out of compassion, puts off his own final salvation till all others are saved)
i. Buddhas continue to exist, always have. Countless numbers, worlds of buddhas -- boddhisattvas.
1. Example: Avalokatashvara:
The Lord who looks down with compassion. “The lord who sees” - capacity to see
the sufferings of others. Smts represented with 1000
eyes. 1000 hands to help in delivering
innumerable beings from suffering
e. Many traditions within Mahayana Buddhism: Vajrayana, Zen, Pure Land Buddhism
1. Buddha Amitabha
2. “Buddha Amitabha”means
“Buddha of Infinite Light” (