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Mahāyāna

Mahāyāna (Skt., ‘Great Vehicle’; Chin., Tachʾeng; Jap., Daijō; Korean, Taesūng). The form of Buddhism prominent in Tibet, Mongolia, China, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan. It regards itself as a more adequate expression of the dharma than what it calls Hīnayāna (Skt., ‘Lesser’ or ‘Inferior Vehicle’). The absence of the later teaching in early texts is variously explained. Tibetan Buddhism ascribes, within the Trikāya of the Buddha, the Hīnayāna to the historical Nirmāṇakāya and the Mahāyāna to the Sambhoga-kāya; whereas Zen claims a special wordless transmission that could not by its very nature have a literary witness. In any case, such teaching is now recorded in many sūtras. The distinctive teaching of the Mahāyāna is that of compassion for all sentient beings such that the practitioner delays his own nirvāna until all other beings shall have been liberated. The ideal practitioner is the bodhisattva, i.e. one who has given birth to the bodhicitta (Skt., ‘enlightenment-mind’) which strives to manifest Great Compassion. The two main philosophical schools of Mahāyāna are Mādhyamaka and Yogācāra/Vijñānavāda (for the lineages, see BUDDHIST SCHOOLS). Also of importance are the forms of devotion, e.g. to the Buddha Amitābha (Amida) with the promise of rebirth in the paradise of Sukhāvatī; the emphasis on sūtras containing the developed teaching of the Buddha (according to upāya-kauśalya, his early teaching was adapted to the simple-minded); the recognition of the buddha-nature (Tathāgata-garbha, buddhatā) in all things.

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Mahayana

Mahayana (Sanskrit, ‘Greater vehicle’) One of the two main schools of Buddhism, the other being the Theravada or Hinayana. Mahayana Buddhism was dominant in India from the 1st to the 12th century and is now prevalent in Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan. Unlike the Hinayana (smaller vehicle) school, it conceives of Buddha as divine, the embodiment of the absolute and eternal truth.

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Mahayana

Mahayana one of the two major traditions of Buddhism, now practised in a variety of forms especially in China, Tibet, Japan, and Korea. The tradition emerged around the 1st century ad and is typically concerned with personal spiritual practice and the ideal of the bodhisattva.

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Mahayana

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