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Hello, my name is Ms. Pauvaday.

Welcome to another lesson on Buddhism.

Today, we're going to be looking at another great tradition, denomination in Buddhism, known as Mahayana Buddhism.

So we're going to look at practises, and we're going to look at how we can recognise them, and main kind of beliefs.

So stick with me, and let's learn a bit more about Mahayana Buddhism.

So what you're going to need today is, you're going to need a pen, a paper.

You need to make sure that we're nice and switched on, that we're not tired.

Go somewhere nice and quiet so that you can focus, if you can.

And go ahead and pause, make sure that you've got all those things, and then join me when you're ready.

For today, what we're going to be looking at is Mahayana Buddhism.

We're going to be looking at the main focuses of belief, and what practises can be found.

And we're going to revisit some cosmology.

So we're going to look at how the Buddhist see reality and the nature of this universe, that kind of thing.

And we're going to look again at some festivals.

But before we start, let's think about this.

Knowing what you know so far about the Buddha, what would you say is the most important stages of the Buddha's life? So, which part can we learn the most from? Would you say it's his early life as a Prince? And so what he discovered as a Prince? Would you say it was the foresight and the journey towards enlightenment? So when he sees the sickness and death and all those kind of things, and then he starts learning how to meditate and all of those things until he reaches enlightenment? Or do you think that it's the teaching of the Dharma after he reached enlightenment? Do you think that is the most important? Have a think, have a good think.

Pause, if you need to, talk to someone who's nearby, who's joining in with the lesson, and then rejoin me when you're ready.

Okay, so, the reason I'm asking this is because there are different focuses on his life.

Theravada and Mahayana, they focus for different parts of his life.

We'll get to that in a moment, Theravada and Mahayana, often known as vehicles, which is quite strange, if you think about it.

Why is a religion, why is a denomination known as a vehicle? And the reason, that comes from this analogy of vehicles or rafts as a way to escape.

And what are they escaping? They're escaping suffering.

Theravada is known as the small vehicle.

And Mahayana is known as the greater vehicle.

Maha means great, and Yana means vehicle.

So Theravada was associated with this other form of Buddhism older, called Hinayana.

And it's seen as like a small vehicle, partly because it focuses on meditation and self-liberation.

So in order to really do that, really do that well, you have to really take it seriously, and join the Sangha.

So Theravada Buddhists believe that everyone can become enlightened.

But that you need to become really, really focused.

So that's one of the reasons it might be seen as that.

I'm not sure they completely agree with that analogy, but that's the way it's put down in some books.

Mahayana means great vehicle, and it's because they have this belief that it's, well, one there's just more schools.

There's just a lot more Buddha schools in Mahayana, so it's one of the reasons.

But we'll look at one of the other reasons a bit later on.

Now, between the two, there were some disagreements about what should be in the Tripitaka, which are the Buddhist texts and the Pali texts, the ones that Theravada Buddhists focus on.

But Mahayanas, there were some other texts that were flying around.

Different sermons of the Buddha had been recited and had been remembered by different Buddhist monks who travelled to different parts of Central Asia.

To initially the Ari Nasr in Afghanistan.

And those kinds of texts, those sermons of the Buddha, might not have ended up in the Tripitaka.

So basically the Mahayana and Theravada, they, in a nutshell, they focus, they have the same teachings, more or less, the same important teachings and beliefs, but they focus on different sermons or teachings of the Buddha.

They have slightly different focuses, which is why I was asking you, which part of the Buddha story do you think is most important? Theravada might focus on one part.

Mahayana might focus on a different part.

So they're still part of the same story, but there's a different focus.

Mahayana Sutras, these are texts in the Mahayana denomination.

There are some additional teachings, because later philosophers have added to them.

And as I mentioned, they emphasised different teachings and sermons of the Buddha.

Mahayana texts are in Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese and Tibet.

And that's just because of the way that it moved.

If you remember back to the denominations lesson, that's how, from North India, how Buddhism spread, the now known Mahayana Buddhism is in China, Japan, and Tibet.

And those were the languages that they were translated into basically.

So before we move on, let's just do a little bit of recall.

Let's try and remember a little bit about the Theravada tradition, so true or false.

What do you think? So have a look at these statements, write down what do you think would be answer, true or false? You can go ahead and pause if you need to, and then join me in a moment.

Okay, so basically, Theravada focuses on the individual's ability to reach enlightenment.

Is that true or false? It's true.

An Arhat's aim's to become an enlightened being or an Arhat.

Is that true or false? It is true.

So an Arhat is someone who's enlightened and then when they die, they're going to going to go to Nirvana.

They accept a wide variety of texts of Buddhism, is that true or false? That's false, they only accept really the Tripitaka.

Their belief in supernatural beings will help you become enlightened, is that true or is that false? It's false, so the Theravada Buddhists, they don't see the point, well, it's not the point.

They don't see that it's necessary because the Buddha was just a man and didn't need any help.

But that's not to say that there is some lay Buddhists that might practise like that, because religions kind of blend together anyway.

So particularly in Sri Lanka where you find Hinduism and Buddhism together, so it could happen.

But, the tradition itself, Theravada, doesn't see any use for looking towards supernatural beings for help.

Okay, so hopefully we kind of remember a bit more about Theravada.

Let's have a look at what the Mahayana's believe.

So the Mahayana, let me just move myself over here.

Mahayana schools believe that it's not just what the Buddha taught.

So when you think about the different parts of the Buddha story, perhaps Theravada believes in the teachings, it's really important that the Dharma exists, and that you follow the Buddha's teachings towards enlightenment.

But in Mahayana, yes, they agree that that's really important.

But they also think what the Buddha did next was really important.

So he didn't initially go to, he was believed to be an enlightened being, but he didn't go into Nirvana immediately.

He delayed that and decided to stay and teach.

And for Mahayana Buddhists they see that as a really important role model, a way Buddha demonstrated how to behave.

He just demonstrated this idea of compassion.

And compassion is important in Theravada, but there's a real focus on it in the Mahayana tradition.

So, and it's because they believe, well, look, the Buddha did that, he decided to stay.

He decided to stay and teach for another 45 years.

And he did that out of compassion for all living beings who were stuck in the cycle, this is what Buddhists believe.

So therefore, Mahayana Buddhists, they take this very seriously that you need to have compassion for all beings.

And Mahayana is not just one school, it's lots and lots of different schools.

So that's one of the reasons why it's known as the greater vehicle, because underneath it, there are many, many, many schools.

They do accept texts outside of the Pali Canon.

So there are other texts.

The Mahayana Sutras are one of them.

And these are other lessons or sermons that are believed to be by the Buddha.

So that's going to be in their texts, but they'll also accept particularly philosophical writing.

So there's a very well known great, Indian teacher called Nagarjuna, and he wrote, he really influenced, particularly Mahayana Buddhism.

We'll look a little bit at him a bit later on.

And what did they focus on? Hey, remember the Buddha said he has this moment where he kind of says, wow, everyone, all beings are already enlightened, and they just need to realise that.

That's what the illusion is, unveiling the illusion and seeing reality as it actually is, and realising that all beings are already enlightened, they just need to realise it.

So it's kind of this escape from prison.

This escape from suffering.

And Mahayana stresses that all beings, everyone, can achieve escape from suffering.

And therefore, if you're going to take a vehicle to escape suffering, theirs is a greater vehicle, because they want everyone on board to escape, that's another way of looking at why it's called the greater vehicle.

So therefore, enlightenment is attainable for everyone.

Everyone can manage it if they have the right tools and the right guidance.

Because of this belief that everyone can achieve enlightenment, there's this focus on Karuna, which is compassion.

Really trying to spread the teaching of the Buddha, really trying to help as many people as possible, as many beings, be safe, be happy and learn the Dharma.

So there's quite a focus on that.

And the reason it's important for Mahayana Buddhists is because the Buddha modelled that himself.

Okay, true or false? Mahayana Buddhism focuses on becoming enlightened.

You can go ahead and pause if you want to, what do you think? It's false, okay, so it doesn't focus on becoming enlightened.

It focuses on compassion.

And so enlightenment is important, but there's a focus on compassion, and trying to help everyone out of suffering.

Mahayana Buddhism has many schools.

Is that true or false? If you want time to think about it, pause and then rejoin me.

It's true, many, many schools under the Mahayana umbrella term.

Mahayana Buddhism accepts only the Tripitaka.

Is that true or false? It's false, so Mahayana Buddhism accepts other texts, most notably the Mahayana Sutras.

And there's some texts by Nagarjuna as well, who is this really well known, brilliant Buddhist philosopher, according to the world of Buddhism.

Okay, Mahayana Buddhism stresses that all beings can escape suffering.

Is that true or false? It's true, so that's one of the reasons why they've got compassion for all beings to help as many people escape suffering.

That's why it's known as the greater vehicle.

Mahayana means great vehicle.

I gave it away, didn't I? Okay, that's nice and easy for you.

It's true, it's known as the greater vehicle.

Okay, have a quick pause, have a think.

I'm sure you nailed that.

I'm sure you did really, really well.

What do you think so far? You've learnt so much about Buddhism, you're virtually experts.

But do you think Buddhists believe in heaven and hell? So have a pause, have a think.

If you're with someone, have a discussion and join me when you're ready.

Okay, so this is a bit of a yes and no, really.

It's a bit of a yes and no answer.

Buddhism, it doesn't have the same kind of idea of heaven and hell that you might know of it through kind of the Abrahamic traditions.

So Christianity and Islam, where your behaviour on earth counts, the way that you behave counts.

And from that behaviour, God will judge you as to whether you have followed his rules, and decide whether you should be allowed back into paradise or heaven or be sent to hell.

It's not really the idea in Buddhism and Hinduism, you don't really have that kind of, in Buddhism, again, they're not really interested in God.

In Hinduism, it's just really different idea of God.

So it doesn't really make sense.

But, there is a sense of heaven and hell, and this is related to the belief in different realms of existence.

So I said to you, at the beginning, we're going to revisit some cosmology, the way the Buddhists see the universe, and different realms of existence.

So Buddhists believe that in the cycle of Samsara, there are six different realms. That does change, depending on the tradition.

There's a bit more detail in other traditions.

But basically there are six realms in Samsara that you can just be reborn into.

And some of them are quite hellish.

So this is where you might find these kind of demon figures, demon beings, really places of torturing, deep suffering.

And some of them are quite heavenly.

So that's where you're going to find gods/deities, heavenly beings.

And then you've got realms of Bodhi's, which are enlightened beings.

They're still in the cycle of Samsara.

They've chosen to stay in the cycle of Samsara to be reborn and what have you.

But, they have delayed that because they want to help.

They want to help teach the Dharma.

All of these realms, interestingly, have a Buddha.

They have a Buddha figure that will help them, the beings in each realm reach enlightenment.

So remember the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, he superseded all of this.

He broke the cycle of Samsara.

He was able to break the cycle.

He was able to break free from this cycle of Samsara, and go into Nirvana.

So, it's strange when we think about a man teaching gods and things like that, but this is what the Buddhists, particularly the Mahayana Buddhists believe.

And, when you look for practises, you will find, it's not uncommon to find some Buddhists in some Mahayana schools who will call upon deities or Bodhi's to kind of guide them towards enlightenment.

So, it kind of looks like they're praying to a god, but, really what's happening is they're praying to, they're calling upon these other deities or Bodhi's are in different realms to help guide them onto this journey of enlightenment.

Bodhisattvas, I started talking about that is a particular difference in Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, the goal is different.

So in Theravada Buddhism, the goal is to become an Arhat, which is an enlightened being who is then going to, when they die, is going to go into final Nirvana.

Mahayana Buddhist, again, they stress this idea of compassion.

So a Bodhisattva is not really, there are some differences between an Arhat and a Bodhisattva.

Bodhisattva is also an enlightened being, but someone who has delayed Nirvana, chosen to stay in the cycle of Samsara.

And the reason that they do that is so that they can teach Dharma to help all these beings in this cycle to escape, effectively.

So they come close to escaping from Samsara, but they stay back to assist people.

Now here's a picture of Obama and the Dalai Lama.

Some of you might recognise him.

He is considered an incarnation of a Bodhisattva known as Chenrezig, who, great Bodhisattva according to the tradition, this is what Tibetan Buddhists believe.

And they believe that this, that he refused Nirvana in order to help people.

And now the Dalai Lama was the 14th incarnation of this Bodhisattva.

He keeps coming back in order to teach Buddhists, well, teach the world, the Dharma, how to escape the suffering.

And you will remember, we, right at the beginning, we talked about The Laughing Buddha, big fat kind of jolly Chinese Buddha.

He's, again, another Bodhisattva who is Chinese Buddhism.

So he's seen as a monk that achieved enlightenment, and some see him as a Bodhisattva.

Not all of them, but some might see him as a Bodhisattva.

And then we've got Guanyin who we've seen before.

Here she is, she's another Bodhisattva in China.

They've all got different kind of focuses.

So Tara, for example, Green Tara and White Tara in Tibetan Buddhism.

They're kind of seen as Buddhas of compassion or healing, that kind of thing.

So you will see people, Buddhists kind of worshipping.

It looks like they're worshipping these different kind of Buddhas, but what's actually happening is that they're asking them for guidance towards enlightenment.

That's what's happening.

So, quick think, are Arhats and Bodhi's the same thing? Okay, nope, they're not the same thing.

There are quite a significant difference where an Arhat, both enlightened beings, but a Bodhi, a Bodhisattva, would delay coming into Nirvana or purposefully stay in the cycle of Samsara in order to assist and help people, beings out of the cycle.

And they do that through compassion.

Now, I did mention that I was going to teach you some Indian philosophy, which is going to be very, very interesting.

I'm just going to briefly talk to you about Nagarjuna.

So he was around 150 to 250, the Common Era.

He's seen as one of the most important Buddhist philosophers, he was a really, really interesting, man.

He's kind of up there with Plato and Aristotle, Emmanuel Kant.

Great, great thinker.

So he's really extremely bright as a young man, and his parents noticed this really early, and they sent him to one of the great Buddhist universities in Nalanda.

Remember you have these kingdoms where they're popping up and down, and they're changing.

One of the dynasties built all these universities.

And then later on, I think it was the Gupta Dynasty that kind of still helped, really helped Buddhism flourish.

And so he joined this university, and eventually he became head of the university.

So, a very gifted man.

He wrote a lot and he got to the point where he thought, okay, there's more to the Buddha's teachings.

So he reached a certain state of consciousness, maybe enlightenment, we don't know.

And there's this belief that he obtained some teachings that had been previously lost from the Nagas.

Now the Nagas, if you're seeing this image, you can see some kind of snakes behind Nagarjuna.

The Nagas are believed to be these beings in one of the realms, and they're kind of like heavenly beings.

So they're more up the scale of, spiritual evolution, if you like.

And the belief is that when the Buddha was trying to attain enlightenment, in fact, I've got a statue here.

You might see a statue of the Buddha with these kind of snake-like guys at the top.

This is supposed to be the King of the Nagas who protected the Buddha whilst he was meditating.

So, and the belief is that when the Buddha became enlightened, he left some of his teachings with these, with the King, in this particular realm.

Now, some people, the legend is, is that Nagarjuna managed to find these teachings.

So he reached a level of consciousness through deep meditation, possibly enlightenment, to be able to communicate with this realm.

And he was able to obtain some lost teachings of the Buddha.

And, from that he developed this doctrine known as Two Truth, which, it's quite complex.

But what you need to know is, that doctrine really, really shaped Mahayana Buddhism.

Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, known as Tibetan Buddhism, really, really shaped them.

So that's why I've put him in here because he's really, really important for Mahayana Buddhists.

So his ideas have really kind of shaped how they see Buddhism and their focus of Buddhism as well.

And he also founded a type of school called Madhyamaka, which is also known as the middle-way school.

Let's have a quick look at Mahayana practise.

Have a go at this, okay? Have a go at this, this is known as a Koan.

You might've even heard it before.

So have a think, what is the sound of one hand clapping? And join me when you're ready.

So, okay, there isn't really an answer to this, and you're going to see why.

You're probably thinking, Oh, I want to know the answer.

There is kind of an answer.

We're going to talk about the purpose of a Koan and then hopefully you understand the purpose.

But basically, being greatly inspired by Nagajuna, and his teachings on emptiness.

So basically Nagarjuna believes that everything, when we mean emptiness, it's not like the things are empty.

He's just saying that everything is impermanent, So we can't really walk around with judgments about things.

So we need to really make sure that we are walking around trying to be as clear-minded as possible.

Not necessarily analytical, but just trying to be fair as possible.

It's the closest way I can really describe him.

So Koans are puzzles usually used in the Zen Buddhist school.

And what they tried to do is they try to develop this, this idea of emptiness that Nagarjuna came up with.

If we go back to the Skandhas, so if you think about how the Buddha deconstructed thought, and he said that, first you see an object, and you've got the physical object meeting with the physical organs of your ears, or your mouth, or your eyes.

Those are just physical and physical.

And then eventually the awareness happens.

And there's no judgement there, it's just being aware of it.

But then what we do as human beings is we start to add attachments.

We start being analytical about things, and we start thinking, okay, that object, is it good or bad? Is it a positive thing? Is it a negative thing? We start to add all of these things.

And this is what Nagarjuna is kind of saying is that we, by doing that, we are putting ourselves deeper into illusion.

So, emptiness is really trying to stop just being aware of that process.

And what Koans do, it helps that process.

So it helps us be less analytical.

So these puzzles are designed to help you think in a different type of way.

A less analytical type of way, basically.

It's to try and invite a different kind of awareness to an experience or an object or something like that.

It's trying to get you to see in a particular different way.

And that is coming back to this Nagarjuna's idea of emptiness.

And this is known as Sunyata, which is the experience of being clear and open.

Again, coming back to this idea of emptiness.

This clearing helps us see reality as it actually is.

It's difficult to describe because it's one of those things that you have to really experience, I think.

I think that's why Zen Buddhism particularly is, has like a bit of a cloud of mysticism around it, because of that.

But it's interesting, nonetheless.

Because at first we kind of talked about, Bodhisattvas as well.

So in Mahayana, these, again, beings that have become enlightened, but remain in Samsara to help all beings out of suffering.

Now you might see lots of different Bodhisattvas, this is Amitabha, who is not Siddhartha.

He's a different Bodhisattva, supposedly in the realm of Bodhisattvas.

Some Buddhists believe that it was him, who kind of projected himself as Siddhartha, to kind of help bring the teachings of the Buddha.

So it's a really interesting way of looking at it, but the most important thing that you need to know is that many Buddahs might practise on focusing on particular Bodhi's in order that to them, to kind of gain insight on how to reach enlightenment.

So I just really want to draw that point back, because that was a really kind of crucial part of quite a few of the big schools in Mahayana Buddhism.

And other common practises are similar to the way that Buddhism grew in India.

It kind of, Hinduism already existed, it already had its practises, it already had certain ideas and they kind of merged.

Similar thing happened in China.

So China already had Confucianism, it had Taoism, it had other traditions when Buddhism arrived.

And so when Buddhism arrived and started becoming popular, the practises of these other religions started to become associated with Buddhism.

So things like chanting, incense, Otto worship, they already existed, but then they started to be practised within Buddhism.

And this is where you kind of see Shaolin monks and things like that.

Some Shaolin monks are actually Buddhist monks.

Some are Taoists, but some are Buddhists.

And that's where you kind of see the practises merging.

So you can see it just created this massive group of loads of different types of schools all over China, Tibet and Japan, so massive, massive school.

But the crucial thing is that they follow the same kind of texts, the same kind of beliefs, and the same philosophers have had a big impact on how they practise Buddhism and believe finding a way of coming out of Samsara.

Let's do a bit of true and false.

A Koan is a teaching of the Buddha, is that true or false? False, you'd say, a puzzle that has been designed by Zen Buddhists to help them reach Sunyata, which is the state of emptying the mind.

Sorry, not emptying the mind, but being aware of, seeing things clearly is probably a better way of looking at it.

So Sunyata is the experience of emptiness, being clear and open.

I did it again, I gave it away, what do you think? True, Mahayana Buddhists pray to deities and Bodhis, is that true or is it false? It's true, that they will call upon Bodhisattvas and deities for guidance on the path towards enlightenment.

Mahayana Buddhism is mostly found in China, Japan, South Korea, and Tibet, is that true or false? It's true, right, let's have a quick look at festivals.

So there is a slight difference in Mahayana tradition.

So Theravada, they celebrate Vesak, but they celebrate all of the achievements of the Buddha in one go.

So his birth, his enlightenment, his death, all kind of the same thing.

Mahayana traditions, they separate them out into three different celebrations.

And this happens throughout the year.

So Vesak, this is in Japan known as the spring festival, and it kind of coincides of the blooming of the flowers.

And so it's a Buddha's birth.

Parinirvana Day, which is a Mahayana tradition.

What happens is they kind of commemorate the day, the Buddha passed into Parinirvana, which is the final stage of enlightenment.

Sorry the final stage of Nirvana.

Buddha taught for 45 years.

He delayed Nirvana through compassion.

And so he was 80 when he died, and Mahayana Buddhists see this as a really important teaching, because again, they are focusing on this idea of compassion.

So they want to recognise that he did teach for this amount of time.

He did delay Nirvana out of compassion for all beings.

So on this day, it's slightly sombre.

People are a bit sad, but they're trying to remember the Dharma.

They listen to or reflect upon his teachings.

They give gifts to the monastery, and in the temple, there'll be lots of meditation and chanting.

So true, or false, Parinirvana Day, records the Buddha's birthday.

It's false, okay? It records that he died and went into final Nirvana.

Right, so, last time you made a kind of a denomination page.

So basically a fact file on Theravada Buddhism, for a small book that you're going to put together.

So you can add your section on Mahayana Buddhism.

So separate the information into three areas.

What focus of beliefs do they focus on? What different schools can be found in the Mahayana vehicle? That's going to require a little bit of research, but I definitely recommend like GCSE websites, those kinds of thing.

BBC, the BBC is very good on religions.

and what main festivals and celebrations are in there.

And you can also add people like Nagarjuna, if you want to.

Some of my students like to research different Bodhi's and kind of talk about their lives.

So, that might be quite nice to add to your fact file.

And as usual get permission, but we would love to see them if you can.

So another lesson done, I'm sure you did brilliantly, I'm sure you learned lots of great new things, and I'm sure you're really getting to know some of the terminology.

So, what I'd like you to do now is go and do this summary quiz so that we can really nail some of that terminology, really clarify some of the big ideas, and as usual go and tell people what you've learned.

It's always really interesting and it helps you remember.

And I will see you again next time.