Mahayana Buddhism is that branch of Buddhism that developed in India during the first century CE. The emphasis Mahayana places on more tradtionally religious beliefs and practices enabled it to become the dominant form of Buddhism throughout much of East Asia. With it's emphasis on developing compassionate heart (bodhicitta) and it's emphasis on the bodhisattva ideal, Mahayana Buddhism also presents a highly
TEACHINGS & Sources
By the end of this chapter, you should be able to answer the following questions:
What are the basic differences between Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism?
What are the Prajnaparamita Sutras? When were they written and what is their focus?
What is the bodhisattva ideal in Mahayana Buddhism?
What are the paramitas in Mahayana Buddhism?
Define the terms sunyata and tathata in Mahayana Buddhism? Why are the terms so important to understand the ultimate goal of Mahayana?
What is the unique, but often puzzling, understanding of nirvana in Mahayana Buddhism.
A. TEXT REFLECTION ESSAY
Reflect upon the following:
Read the selection entitled "The Way of the Bodhisattva." This text describes the practices that a potential bodhisattva like yourself ought to engage in to achieve liberation. What do you make of the recommendations in the text?
Read the selection entitled "The Perfection of Generosity." How important is the virtue of generosity in your own life? What steps do you think you could take to become a bit more generous.
Mahayana Buddhist believe that there is no difference between ordinary reality (samsara) and nirvana? Why do you think would happen if you really accepted the fact that human life is your ordinary human life is perfect and complete in itself and that there was nothing that you had to aspire to achieve?
B. MEDITATION REFLECTION ESSAY
For this week, before meditating chant the Hart Sutra (p. 195) before meditating. To get a sense of how this chant is supposed to sound, listen to the video below. You can chant on your own or along with the audio from the video. Then meditate as usual for 10-15 minutes.
Chanting The Heart Sutra
The following video gives you an idea of how this chant (found on p. 195) can be done in English. Although it helps to have a mokugyo (wooden fish) to keep rhythm, this is not necessary.