Thursday, January 13, 2011

1. The first question is whether or not other people's actions affect each individual or if other's actions have no effect on the outcome of one's life. The second question is whether or not humans are independent of fate and what happens in their life relies solely on free will, or if humans are not independent of fate and there is a reason for everything that happens. The third question is whether or not the mind or the heart is the best or most important part of humans. Smith argues that these distinctions have divided humanity throughout history including within Buddhism because they contribute to our basic fundamental beliefs of the world around us.
2. The main division between the different sects of Buddhism is that one group of Buddhists believed that it was more important for one to work towards enlightenment through extreme diligence and meditation, while the other group believed that it was more important to be compassionate and love others. This main difference translated into other important differences between the two sects and the sect that believed in the importance of compassion was called Mahayana which means "big raft" because it focused more on the ordinary person. The sect that focused on meditation and gaining wisdom was called Hinayana, which means "little raft".
a)In Theravada Buddhism, one's progress relies specifically on his or her actions. In Mayahana Buddhism, one's progress is linked and connected to all other individuals.
b)Theravada Buddhists believe that there is no god and that humans are alone in the universe and do not focus on metaphysics. Mayahana Buddhists believe that there is a supreme power that does not directly controls everything, but keeps the universe in balance and focus more on metaphysics.
c)In Theravada Buddhism, the best way to enlightenment is Bodhi, or wisdom while in Mayahana Buddhism, the main path to enlightenment is Karuna or compassion.
d) Due to the emphasis on wisdom in Theravada Buddhism, the Sangha is very important. Mayahana Buddhism is designed for the normal everyday person.
e) Theravada Buddhists emulate the Arhats, who seek nirvana and enlightenment on their own while Mayahana Buddhists emulate the Bodhisattvas, who help others reach nirvana and enlightenment.
f) All of the differences between the two contribute to how they view the Buddha. In Theravada Buddhism, he is viewed as a saint and more of as an example of what to do. In Mayahana Buddhism, he is viewed as a savior who used his knowledge to help others. This difference in how they view the nature of the Buddha sums up the main differences between the two religions.
g) Theravada Buddhism minimizes ritual and focuses and meditation while Mayahana Buddhism emphasizes ritual and includes prayer as well as meditation.

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