Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mahayana Buddhism

"Mahayana is a living faith. We cannot ignore the significance of Mahayanism." --Suzuki

The Buddhist thinker and teacher, Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, wrote a volume about the Mahayana which is titled, Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism. This book first appeared in English translation in 1907; a later edition was produced from that translation in 1963, and still later another edition was rendered from the same translation in 1977. Here, I use the 1963 volume.

It was the desire of master Suzuki to make clear to practitioners of other Buddhist denominations, and other non Buddhist faiths the meaning and significance of Mahayana practice. In the introduction to this volume, Alan Watts writes:
"Mahayana Buddhism is the very basis of both classical and contemporary Buddhism. Unlike Hinayana, in which the accent is on individual salvation, Mahayana stresses social compassion. Intellectually, it is more understandable than its intuitive offshoot, Zen. Mahayana represents one of the great systems of perceptions on the nature of man and his relation to the world. It is concerned with human suffering, and offers a remarkable set of insights on how one ought to live and by what principles."


Suzuki writes to answer some basic, and some more complex questions about Mahayana. Note in a number of instances, Suzuki engages the reader into an understanding of the topic through the use of another, more familiar, western belief in Salvation, the way of the Christ. While some may not have carefully considered it, Buddhism is indeed a salvific practice. It desires to free the self from suffering and to aid others to the same salvation, or liberation in Nirvana.

Mahayana, What is it? This basic question starts the inquiry Suzuki wishes to make. He makes many statements:

* Religion is the innermost voice of the human heart...
* Within Buddhism there exists diverse schools of thought...
* The human heart is not an intellectual crystal...
* Mahayana is the great vehicle of Salvation...
* It is more liberal, more progressive, metaphysical, speculative...
* Mahayana, as Suzuki defines it is, "the highest principle, or being, or knowledge, in which the universal and all beings are manifest, and through which they can attain final salvation...
* Mahayana was first used by the "progressive party"...
* Mahayana originated about the time of Christ...
* Asvaghosa, an Indian philosopher, was the first Mahayana expounder...
* Hinayana was a term given to others by the Mahayana sect...
* Mahayana is a boundless ocean in which all forms of thought and faith can find a congenial and welcoming home...
* Its earliest writings exist in the Pali language...
* Mahayana is a living faith...



1 comment:

Tao1776 said...

May I borrow from this? I enjoy your efforts. Thanks....
Tim