A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Archive for the tag “Hinayana”

A little on Theravada

Theravada Buddhism refers to the oldest school of Buddhism. It is also known as the “Teachings of the Elders”. It has also been referred to as Hinayana, or the smaller wheel. This has mainly been replaced by Theravada. Here Enlightenment for most requires joining the Sangha. It is mainly concentrated in Laos, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, and the Indian sub-continent. Sri Lanka has what some refer to as the oldest continuous Buddhist tradition. Buddhist scriptures were recorded in Pali in Sri Lanka. Thailand has a monastery that was built to allow westerners to become monks. There are branch monasteries or schools around the world now, in countries such as Canada, Australia, Italy, France, Britain, and America. For more information on these western based branch temples: http://www.watpahnanachat.org   with thanks to Tim Ward and his book” What the Buddha Never Taught”. This book was first published in 1990 and gives a westerners view of his time at Wat Pah Nanachat in Thailand. I don’t agree with everything he wrote, but appreciate the openness and honesty of the feelings he expresses.

Mahayana or Theravada, both are equal

Some say that having 84,000 paths or as we would say an infinite number of paths, means there are no core values or traditions. Nothing could be further from the truth in theory or practice. Buddhism can be divided into two main branches, the Theravada and the Mahayana. The Theravada or Hinayana is also called the smaller vehicle or wheel. Theravada is also known as the way of the elders., from Thera-vada. This is the tradition where to progress a person renounced their secular life and became a monk or nun. This is known as the smaller vehicle as it can’t apply to everyone at once, therefore turns the Dharma wheel slowly. The Mahayana or larger wheel is the way that allows all to progress towards enlightenment, while engaging in their daily lives. Thus the Mahayana is considered to turn the Dharma wheel at a much faster speed. Neither the Mahayana or the Theravada is better, both support each other.

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