Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions

2013 Edition
| Editors: Anne L. C. Runehov, Lluis Oviedo

Mahāyāna Buddhism/Vajrayāna Buddhism

  • Karim Fathi
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-8265-8_201296

Mahāyāna (“The Great Vehicle”) developed from Theravada and is found throughout East Asia. It includes the traditions of Mādhyamaka, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Tiantai, Pure Land, and Shinnyo-en. According to the teachings of Mahāyāna traditions, “The Great Vehicle” refers to the path of seeking complete enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, also called “Bodhisattvayāna.” In contrast to Theravada, the individual achievement of bodhi (awakening) is therefore not the ultimate goal in Mahāyāna Buddhism. The Buddha nature (Sanskrit: “Tathāgatagarbha” or “Buddha dhātu”) is considered to be present in all beings, creating an immanent link to the awakening, constituting the deathless “essence of the self.” As a consequence of Mahāyāna's nondual philosophy, any being is therefore regarded as already enlightened, whether aware of it (meaning “awakened”) or not.

Vajrayāna (often translated as “The Diamond Vehicle”) or “Tantric Buddhism” is mainly practiced in Tibet...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Viadrina Europe University Frankfurt (Oder)BerlinGermany