hawkinsfinal - Joseph Angel-Field R/St 103 Hawkins 1. Final...

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Joseph Angel-Field R/St 103 Hawkins Final 1. Buddhism, like all major world religions, is a term to unify many different sects and traditions. Since the Parinirvana, or death of Buddha Shakyaamuni Gautama, founder of the religion, around 480 B.C.E., many different ideas about Buddhist doctrine and rituals began to form, and as one person or a group found the current ideas dissatisfying, a new strand of Buddhism would arise in the wake. The first significant strand of Buddhism is called Theravada, “The Way of the Elders.” Theravada arose in 380 B.C.E., at the Second Buddhist Council in Vaishali as a response to lenient interpretations of the Vinaya, a set of monastic rules, amongst the monastic community. The majority of the monks were set to a very literal interpretation of the Vinaya, and these Sthaviras, or elders, formed a foundation for fundamental Buddhism. It is mentionable here, that lay people, lying outside of the monastic community, were not a part of schisms occurring within the religion. This fit Buddhism into India, a country where there was a deep sense of stratification in society. The literalism of the elders of Theravada paralleled an ongoing tradition of intense asceticism and religious devotion in Indian religions. Theravada stands as the most ancient sect of Buddhism, a foundation for the religion, and it remains today as predominant religion in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, and has spread throughout Asia, and even to some extent the Western world. Despite the success of Theravada, its largely exclusive and restrictive nature made it somewhat hard to swallow, and gave rise to the second great strand of Buddhism, the Mahayana or Greater Vehicle. Scholars have pointed out that Mahayana was mainly a response to the fundamentalist Theravada. In the greater vehicle of Mahayana, lay people found more of a voice in Buddhism, and a gradually more even footing with the monastic community. Because
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Mahayana was a response to orthodoxy, it inspired a wide variety of interpretations giving rise to sects within the Mahayana tradition. Mahayana is called the greater vehicle, because within it exist many different sects, and, as a general division in the religion was more successful and populous then Theravada. The power, which had been completely in the hands of the Theravada monks, was being slowly shifted away towards the lay society. The worship of the Stupa (religious mounds with relics) put money and power in the hands of the laity, and the idea of the Bodhisattva as the true denouncer, and savior pulled emphasis away from monks. It has been suggested that new teachings and writings in Mahayana arose to address or change the nature of the Buddha. A strong sense of detachment from the Buddha, which characterized early Buddhism, likely made the devotees uncomfortable, and even void. This cultivated a more personal Buddha and the
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course R/ST 103 taught by Professor Hawkins during the Fall '06 term at CSU Long Beach.

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hawkinsfinal - Joseph Angel-Field R/St 103 Hawkins 1. Final...

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