Buddhism is a religion known for its philosophy and peacefulness. In general, Buddhism is a way to find peace within oneself. In this article, I’m going to talk about the mainstream Buddhism that most everyone knows and what it’s actually about.
Many people see the word Buddhism and think about mystical monks who pledge celibacy and live on top of a mountain. Some might also think peace and love. While those things are technically correct, Buddhism isn’t only about peace and monks.
To be accurate, there are three schools of Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana. These, respectively, are the teachings of the Elders, the Great Vehicle and the Thunderbolt Vehicle.
Theravada is the teachings of the elders. It has been called the most orthodox of all the schools and follows the earliest available teachings of Buddha. It’s characterized by its psychological understanding of humans and nature.
Meditation is emphasized as the transformation of consciousness. This school believes Buddha’s teachings are very plain and follow the Three Teachings closely: the development of ethical conduct, meditation and insight-wisdom. Its main focus is insight to oneself and the loss of materialistic qualities in life.
Mahayana, the Great Vehicle, is actually more of an umbrella term for a great variety of schools. The essential teaching throughout those schools is that salvation can be attained only through absolute trust in the saving power of Amitabha.
Amitabha is a celestial Buddha and is known for his longevity attribute, the aggregate of discernment, pure perception and the deep awareness of emptiness of phenomena. Those who follow this belief long to be reborn in his paradise through his grace. According to them, they’re connected only externally with the worldly life.
Vajrayana, the Thunderbolt Vehicle, is named for the ritual use of the vajra, a symbol of imperishable diamond, of thunder and lightning. There are many variances in the various practices but commonly hope to achieve enlightenment through “preliminary practices,” or foundational disciplines. This is expressed in chanting and hand gestures.
While the three types of Buddhism are different, they are very similar. I implore everyone to look more into Buddhism and its teachings, as I myself have come away with a different perspective.