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    What is the difference between Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism?

    (Original post by AbsKeane)
    What is the difference between Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism?

    (Original post by AbsKeane)
    What is the difference between Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism?
    In the most basic/general of terms, Theravada is generally more traditional and believe that only members of the Sangha can reach enlightenment. Whereas Mahayana Buddhists generally believe that anyone can reach Nibbana if they follow the middle way.

    Theravada Buddhism:
    -Means "school of elders"
    -Traditional form of Buddhism which began just a few days after the Buddha's death
    -Commonly practised in places such as Sri Lanka and Thailand
    -Emphasis on becoming a monk, particularly for men
    They believe that the Buddha's dead now, so you can't interact with him; you can only follow his teachings.
    They place importance in the 5 aggregates: Form, Sensation, Perception, Mental formations and Consciousness, which are the key parts of us.
    They want to reach enlightenment and become *arhats*

    Mahayana Buddhism:
    -Umbrella term: examples include Zen, Pure Land and Tibetan
    -Commonly practised in places like China, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam
    -They believe in Buddha-nature and Buddhahood: everyone has the potential to reach enlightenment (achieving Buddhahood) within them.
    They believe that the Buddha is still around and influential today; you can pray to him and he can help you.
    They place importance in the concept of sunyata, which means 'emptiness'. This is basically that nothing has an independent self or soul, which links heavily with anatta of the 3 marks of existence (no fixed self) and dependent arising. You have to accept sunyata in order to reach nirvana. This acceptance leads to trust, compassion and selflessness: nothing has a separate soul.
    They believe that becoming an arhat is only on the way to enlightenment. Their true goal is to become a *Bodhisattva*

    Arhats: (Theravada)
    -Arhat means 'perfect being' (you've reached enlightenment)
    -When you're dead, you escape the cycle of samsara and attain nibbana/nirvana
    -It's a personal journey (look up the Buddha's raft parable if you aren't familiar with it, it's relevant here)
    -Being a monk is the best way to get there

    Bodhisattvas: (Mahayana)
    -Bodhisattva means 'enlightened essence'
    -You remain in the cycle of samsara to help other people reach enlightenment - this is compassionate
    -There are two types: earthly, where you are still reborn physically, and transcendent, where you're between here and nirvana: you can be prayed to and worshipped and help people on earth

    No idea if you'll need that much detail but hope you find this useful, was good revision for me too

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