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Nick's Completely Unofficial FAQ, vol 1 ed 1

To: talk.religion.buddhism,alt.zen
From: rethinking 
Subject: Re: Nick's Completely Unofficial FAQ, vol 1 ed 1
Date: Thu, 9 May 2002 08:47:58 +1000

In article <>, 
> The major difference between Theravada and
> Mahayana is the "goal." 

oh ok. here is my cut on the deal then.

theravada (the teaching of the seniors or elders) being the only 
hinayana school surviving to this day hence the use of the name as 
being synomymous to the term "hinayana".

"hinayana" (lesser vehicle) is a term used by mahayana (greater 
vehicle) to denote what they consider an inferior system. thus the 
term is not seen as a proper historical category. this term only has 
meaning to the mahayana thinkers.

within before mahayana there were literally hundreds of schools, 
theravad is but one of them. from among the hundrds of these 
schools were several of which formed the ideas of the basic 
mahayana philosophy.

so the mahayana wasn't a school proper until late (from about 1c). 
and these ideas formed gradually. but they can traced to two 
schools: the mahasanghika and the sarvastivada.

the mahasanghika had three characteristics. they stressed 1) the 
transcendental nature of the buddha; 2) the bodhisattva ideal and; 3) 
the notion of emptiness, which becomes central.

the sarvastivada introduced (or emphasiszed) the notion of the 
three bodes (trikaya).

together the philosophy of these two schools form the basis of 

further characteristics of the mahayana are: 1) less emphasis on 
monasticism (than hinayana); 2) nirvana is achieveable by lay 
persons, and he can be hlp by the buddha and the bodhisattvas on 
this; 3) buddha-nature becomes more important than the historical 


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