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7.3: Chapter Summary

  • Page ID
    37095
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    This chapter introduces the application of the framework to whole traditions and then to Buddhism in particular.

    Buddhism divides into two main branches, Theravada and Mahayana, which differ principally in geographic location, doctrinal teaching, specific practices, and what is taken to be authoritative scripture. Whereas Theravada tends to be relatively uniform from culture to culture, Mahayana tolerates within its range a host of divergent subtraditions. What is sometimes identified as a third branch, Vajrayana, may also be construed as a further branching of Mahayana. Aspects of all six ways may be found in each of these three branches. All ways of being religious in Buddhism are conceived as a way of drawing near to, participating in, and being grounded in what it was that Gautama Buddha realized in his Enlightenment: a state of deliverance from all the suffering to which conditioned human existence is subject, called nirvana/nibbana. Dominant in Theravada are the ways of mystical quest, reasoned inquiry, and right action in a close synthesis articulated by the Eightfold Path, but emphasizing a monastic pursuit of of mystical quest. The many Mahayana subtraditions have tended to emphasize a single way, though usually the emphasized way is fused with aspects of other ways. In Mahayana little emphasis is laid on the distinction between laypersons and monastics. Particularly remarkable examples are the Pure Land subtraditions, which focus on the way of devotion, the Vajrayana (and Vajrayana-influenced) subtraditions that employ esoteric ritual forms and shamanic practices, the flowering of a number of wisdom subtraditions, and the uniquely aesthetic synthesis of ways found in Zen. Finally, mention is made of certain Mahayana traditions, notably certain Vajrayana and (Vajrayana-influenced) traditions, which have developed a grand and inclusive vision that grants legitimacy and place to virtually all varieties of Buddhist teaching and practice.


    This page titled 7.3: Chapter Summary is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Dale Cannon (Independent) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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