Author Topic: Question about Buddhism  (Read 1298 times)


  • Member
    • Theravada
Question about Buddhism
« on: July 31, 2018, 06:05:34 PM »
Hi all,

I've been reading -and learning- about Buddhism.
Due to the vast amount of information, things from time to time get less clear to me, the more I read, So i figure I'll just ask and hope someone can clarify this to me.

From my understanding there are 2 main branches: Theravada and Mahayana (with another subbranch vajrayana).
The biggest differences seem to be related to "Buddha nature", "Bodhicitta path" and more rituals/postures/... are used.

This in turn translates into Theravada being more looked upon as "Orthodox" and The others as more modern.
The reason that Mahayana accept more scriptures, is due to the fact that they are seen as guidance or helpful to understand the Pali Canon.

Whereas in Theravada they only adhere to the Vinaya and Pali Canon.

Now to my question:

Me -as a lay person- can theoretically train in the Theravada tradition, but from a Buddhist point of view it would make more sense to follow the path of Mahayana teachers.
Since I'm not a monk/ascetic and Mahayana accept the idea of a lay person being able to reach higher states of being.
Looking from a different angle, the Bodhicitta path seems odd. I get the "helping other sentient being to reach the goal", but to all reach the goal at the same time to be enlightent seems very unlikely, since many people do not practice Buddhism in the first place... Also -to me- all those statues and deities don't really speak to me.

For that reason, I've mostly been reading Theravada teachings (Ajahn Chah, Sumedho, Bhikku Buddhadasa, Thanissaro,...), so maybe I'm a bit biased?
Maybe I should take a look at some Mahayana teachings (Lama's, Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen,...)
For example I've been following MN 118, Anapanasati Sutta lately from the above mentioned Ajahn's. Would they differ much in the way they approach topics based on the different branches?
Are the teachings the same as in the 8-Fold path, 4 Noble truths,...?
I thought I've read somewhere that for example the depth of teaching into Jhana is not the same, compared as to some Theravada teachers (as Ajahn Brahm).

Just as a FYI, I'm trying to learn and comprehend more about Buddhism, I'm not saying one would be better than the other.

Thanks for the insights,



Dharmic Tui

  • Member
  • Something
    • Some Theravada, some secular
Re: Question about Buddhism
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2018, 07:23:19 AM »
Having been in the game for a little while now, and having read and absorbed a lot of various Buddhist teachings, I would say these specifics do not matter overly, however I do tend to be biased towards Theravada Buddhism, some Mahayana branches don't even delve into 4 noble truths and the 8 fold path, instead honing in on specific suttas.

All the best with it.


  • Member
    • Pali
Re: Question about Buddhism
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2018, 03:07:40 AM »
Buddhism is about realisation. How will ideas such as "Buddha-Nature" or "Bodhicitta" (saving all sentient beings) be realised as true if there is no realisation? Best to stick to the basics, such as Noble Truths, Eightfold Path, Anapanasati, etc. If we try to practise the basics but are unable to reach enlightenment then "Buddha-Nature" is probably not true.


dharma bum

  • Member
  • Certified Zen Master (second degree black belt)
    • vipassana
Re: Question about Buddhism
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2018, 05:52:04 PM »
i started out doing vipassana with Mr Goenka's institution, which casts itself as secular, but it is really close to theravada. i found it somehow unsatisfying to just sit and meditate. then i hung out with the tibetans in dharamsala and read up a bit more and found the emphasis on compassion to be satisfying. there is something attractive in all schools of buddhism including chan and the japanese zen. i don't know if a lay person like me has to follow any specific school. i am part theravadi, part chan, part zen, part hindu and part christian.
Mostly ignorant


  • Member
    • Theravada
Re: Question about Buddhism
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2018, 03:54:52 PM »


Thanks for the responses.

I do tend to agree with Dharmic Tui and Nicky. However, Dharma bum,  I definitely could see how you would be more attracted to Mahayana style of meditation practices.
I've kept on reading this past week and there are so many subtle differences, that I find it rather fascinating.

You can follow any school or tradition that you want, even at the same time. Or change as many times as you want.
However, I would feel that doing so may prevent deeper or more advanced understanding of certain topics or practices.

For example, in meditation practice; One telling you to repeat a mantra, while the other tells you to keep gazing forward onto a picture, another telling you to label thoughts,...
One telling you that Bodhicitta is very important while the other never speaking of it...

Another example, I met 2 different people (different times) at work.
One doing TM, the other doing Zazen in combination with chakra/Yoga. We all did the same meditation practice, in essence, but yet our lingo and understanding were so diverse.

All these angles adds up to a lot of confusion and that is why I would prefer to follow the same Buddhist branch, or at least giving it adequate thought, before changing from one tradition to the other.

Ps, This is why I really like this forum, the diversity of people that practice Buddhism/meditation and the different viewpoints, so thanks for that.


  • Member
  • Who are you?
    • Maharishi School
Re: Question about Buddhism
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2018, 07:11:50 AM »
Buddhism is a way of practice and profound development prompting insight into the genuine idea of the real world. Buddhist practices like meditation are methods for changing yourself with a specific end goal to build up the characteristics of mindfulness, thoughtfulness, and intelligence. The experience created inside the Buddhist convention more than a large number of years has made an exceptional asset for every one of the individuals who wish to take after a way — a way which at last comes full circle in Enlightenment or Buddhahood. An edified being sees the idea of reality totally obviously, similarly as it seems to be and lives completely and normally as per that vision. This is the objective of the Buddhist otherworldly life, speaking to the finish of affliction for any individual who achieves it.


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