A Jade casket containing relics of a prominent Buddhist has been found in north China’s Hebei Province, local authorities said on Thursday.
A farmer accidentally found a cushion-sized “stone” when he was ploughing fields in the historic site of Yecheng, a 2,500-year-old ancient city located in what is now Linzhang County of Handan City, according to the county’s cultural relics protection department.
The casket is 22 cm long, 19 cm wide and 9 cm high. It is believed to be an artifact of Hinayana, a branch of Buddhism that prevailed in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand, said He Liqun, an archaeologist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Read more.
What are the main characteristics that differ between Theravada, Mahayana and Tiantai Buddhism?
Tiantai is a school within Mahayana Buddhism, so we only have two main branches of Buddhism: Theravada/Hinayana and Mahayana. Tibetan Buddhism is a third, but it also stems from Mahayana, but most consider it a “third” because it’s very different than your “regular” Mahayana.
Theravada is sometimes known or nicknamed as “original Buddhism.” All their teachings are direct teachings from Shakyamuni Buddha. They do not believe in the other Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. The “Buddha” is a titled reserved only for our historical Buddha, Shakyamuni. So the highest level of attainment a Theravada practitioner can attain is Arhatship, and that can only be done if one enters/ordains monasticism.
Mahayana teachings are greatly vast and sometimes very complex. Mahayana has all the original teachings that the Theravada have and practice, and also other teachings and sutras the Buddha gave on other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The Buddha introduced these other buddhas and bodhisattvas as an expedient means to help people with a different way of practice and way of thinking. Pure Land Buddhism is one of the most popular “alternative” forms of attaining enlightenment.
Likewise, Tiantai is another alternative form of practice that particularly emphasizes the Lotus Sutra. Mahayana Buddhism believes that everyone has Buddha Nature, so everyone, monastics and lay people, has the potential to become a Buddha and that an Arhat or Bodhisattva are not the highest levels we can attain, the Lotus Sutra teaches us that.
‘The practice of “letting go” is very effective for minds obsessed by compulsive thinking. You simplify your meditation practice down to just two words - letting go - rather than try to develop that, and achieve this and go into that, and understand this, and read the Suttas, and study the Abhidhamma, and then learn Sandskrit, and then the Madhyamika and the Prajna Paramita, and then get ordinations in the Hinayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana, and then write books and become a world renowned authority on Buddhism. Instead of becoming the world’s expert on Buddhism and being invited to great international Buddhist conferences, just “let go, let go, let go.”
I did nothing but this for about two years - every time I tried to understand or figure things out, I’d say, “let go, let go” until the desire would fade out. So I’m making it very simple for you, to save you from getting caught in incredible amounts of suffering. There’s nothing more sorrowful than having to attend international Buddhist conferences! Some of you might have the desire to become the Buddha of the age, Maitreya, radiating love throughout the world - but instead, I suggest just being an earthworm, letting go of the desire to radiate love throughout the world. Just be an earthworm who knows only two words - let go, let go, let go. You see, ours is the Lesser Vehicle, the Hinayana, so we only have these simple, poverty-stricken practices!’
- Ajahn Sumedho, Cittaviveka Teachings from the Silent Mind.
There are many “types” and schools of Buddhism. Buddhism’s exterior is fairly different in different countries, but the core teachings are almost all the same. The three “vehicles” of Buddhism are Hinayana, or Theravada (the lesser vehicle), Mahayana (the great vehicle), and Vajrayana (the diamond vehicle). And of course you have Zen Buddhism.
Hinayana Buddhism only practices and teaches the “oldest” or “truest” scriptures of the historical Buddha, Sakyamuni Buddha. Hinayana only uses the Pali canon scriptures. Mahayana uses the Pali and Sanskrit scriptures (so all of the very basic teachings of Buddha: four noble truths, eightfold path, dependent origination, emptiness, etc.). Vajrayana has Pali, Sanskrit, and its own Tibetan scriptures (mostly commentaries from high gurus).
Hinayana sometimes has a bad rep because it’s a self-liberating path. A practice of only having to liberate one’s self and escape samsara. Whereas Mahayana is a path of willingly staying in samsara for the benefit of liberating all sentient beings. So you would be forever continuing the cycle of birth and death in order to help all beings reach enlightenment. Only then, when all beings have been liberated may you enter into Nirvana. But both are equally important and neither are lesser or better than the other.
What I have Learned from a Session of the Teachings
A Rinpoche was in Singapore recently to conduct a 3-day
grand puja followed by 3 nights of Dharma teachings. This was the second time the
Rinpoche was in Singapore. Due to work commitments, I could only attend on certian nights of the Dharma discourse. The topic for this year was The 3 Principal
Aspects of the Path: Renunciation, Bodhicitta & Emptiness.
The Rinpoche started by sharing about the importance of
relying on the teacher, recognizing the 3 vessels of faults when it comes to
listening, making use of this precious life as a human form to study the Lamrim
text and having right views. Some interesting questions asked by the audience
included: how to stop the leaking vessel of listening, what really constituted
wrong views and whether Mahayana practitioners believed that Hinayana
practitioners were having wrong views, and vice versa.
Through this short discourse, I am reminded that I do indeed
have a precious human form now, with the complete five physical senses to learn
the Lamrim diligently and incorporate the teachings effectively into my daily
life. The Rinpoche’s discourse has also brought about another layer of
understanding to the three principal aspects of the path: why do we want to
renunciate; and to always be clear about our primary motivation in walking this
At the same time, I am also reminded of Master Ri-Chang. It
is with great gratitude to Master for starting the Lamrim classes, Teacher
Zhen-Ru, Venerable and many virtuous sisters ’ and brothers ’ ongoing efforts
to continue to create the environment for students to attend class
regularly. Being able to attend class regularly, helps to reduce the
leaky vessel syndrome and most importantly, allow the learning of the Dharma to
progress in a systematic manner by relying on the Lamrim as an overall
framework to the Buddha Dharma.