Author Topic: Difference between schools and traditions?  (Read 2321 times)

Offline Wonky Badger

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Difference between schools and traditions?
« on: December 01, 2009, 06:07:32 am »
So I'm a bit confused here. Is there a difference between a school and a tradition in the Buddhist sense, or are the terms interchangeable?
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Re: Difference between schools and traditions?
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2009, 08:31:24 am »
Perhaps its on 3 levels:
1. A mere play of words to denote the same thing OR

2. My own attempt at this classification:
Buddhism as a tree with 3 main 'branches' (Tradition): Theravada/Mahayana/Vajrayana. Within each branch you have the stems (School).
E.g The Mahayana Tradition (Branch) E.g The Ch'an/Pure Land/Tientai/Nichiren (and all of its variations in East Asia and worldwide) of today and the early/later Indian Schools of Mahāsāṃghika-Lokottaravada, Madhyamaka, Yogacara, Tathagatagarbha of yesteryears (stems)
E.g The Theravada Tradition (Branch) E.g The Thai Mahanikaya and the Sri Lankan Maha Vihara Schools (stems)
E.g The Vajrayana Tradition (Branch) E.g The Shingon and Tibetan Vajrayana Schools (stems)

3. Definition/classification from others
 
Am I making sense?  ;D Thanks for reading  8)

Offline Monkey Mind

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Re: Difference between schools and traditions?
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2009, 10:54:45 am »
Would love it if someone drew the tree. Would be a useful visual.

Offline humanitas

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Re: Difference between schools and traditions?
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2009, 12:07:55 pm »
The words tradition and school two are often used interchangeably but may be distinguished at times for semantic purposes.   Tradition often colors the way we practice, like what form our practice takes.  And the school refers to the ideology, philosophy, and academic points that tradition embraces.  I think we tend to refer to geographical groups more as traditions, and then different groups within those traditions are schools of thought which focus or emphasize certain aspects of the dharma over others.  For example, Tibetan Buddhism is a tradition within the Mahayana School of Buddhism and the schools of thought within the Tibetan tradition are Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug.  There are differences in how the Tibetan tradition approaches practice to the Zen tradition which also has schools of thought like Nichiren, Rinzai, Soto, etc.  Theravada is often referred to as a school like the Mahayana and since it's a large group that encompasses multiple geographies and subschools.  There are traditions (like Thai Forest Nikayas) within the Theravada School like there are in the Mahayana School.  The main branches of Buddhism are often referred to as Schools.  Within these main schools are traditions and sub-schools.

Buddhist Schools

Also potentially useful:

Schools of Buddhism -Wikipedia
Tibetan Buddhism -Wikipedia
Mahayana - Wikipedia
Theravada - Wikipedia
Vajrayana- Wikipedia

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Offline WonderlandAlli

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Re: Difference between schools and traditions?
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2009, 03:54:33 pm »
Would love it if someone drew the tree. Would be a useful visual.

If someone can provide me with a bulleted list to show what branches from what I can put together a family tree style chart easily. :) I just don't know all the branches myself.
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Offline humanitas

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Re: Difference between schools and traditions?
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2009, 05:00:33 pm »
Schools of Buddhism are classified in various ways.

Normal English-language usage (as given in dictionaries) divides Buddhism into
  • Theravada (also known by the name Hinayana, which many consider pejorative)
and
  • Mahayana.
 

The most common classification among scholars is threefold, with Mahayana split into East Asian (also known simply as Mahayana) and Vajrayana, or Tibetan Buddhism (although Vajrayana properly includes the Japanese Shingon school).

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Offline WonderlandAlli

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Re: Difference between schools and traditions?
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2009, 12:07:58 am »
Schools of Buddhism are classified in various ways.

Normal English-language usage (as given in dictionaries) divides Buddhism into
  • Theravada (also known by the name Hinayana, which many consider pejorative)
and
  • Mahayana.
 

The most common classification among scholars is threefold, with Mahayana split into East Asian (also known simply as Mahayana) and Vajrayana, or Tibetan Buddhism (although Vajrayana properly includes the Japanese Shingon school).


Well that was short :P I'll see what I can do - in a few weeks when exams are over. D:
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Offline Optimus Prime

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Re: Difference between schools and traditions?
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2009, 03:11:25 am »
Bhante Sujato has done some detailed research into how some of the early Buddhist schools came about.  If any of you are interested in his perspective on it, you can read it here:

http://sites.google.com/site/sectsandsectarianism/home
« Last Edit: December 03, 2009, 04:36:26 am by Optimus Prime »

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Difference between schools and traditions?
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2010, 05:03:31 am »
Perhaps its on 3 levels:
1. A mere play of words to denote the same thing OR
2. My own attempt at this classification:
Buddhism as a tree with 3 main 'branches' (Tradition): Theravada/Mahayana/Vajrayana. Within each branch you have the stems (School).
E.g The Mahayana Tradition (Branch) E.g The Ch'an/Pure Land/Tientai/Nichiren (and all of its variations in East Asia and worldwide) of today and the early/later Indian Schools of Mahāsāṃghika-Lokottaravada, Madhyamaka, Yogacara, Tathagatagarbha of yesteryears (stems)
E.g The Theravada Tradition (Branch) E.g The Thai Mahanikaya and the Sri Lankan Maha Vihara Schools (stems)
E.g The Vajrayana Tradition (Branch) E.g The Shingon and Tibetan Vajrayana Schools (stems)
3. Definition/classification from others
 
Am I making sense?  ;D Thanks for reading  8)

What about Nichiren?
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-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline humanitas

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Re: Difference between schools and traditions?
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2010, 03:56:28 pm »
I'd deem it a tradition in the Mahayana School of Buddhism... it is a form of Mahayana, right?  :blush:
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Offline Monkey Mind

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Re: Difference between schools and traditions?
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2010, 07:49:28 pm »
By virtue of following the Lotus Sutra as the pan-ultimate Buddhist teaching. Ron, I think you said you studied with Nichiren Buddhists, how would you classify them, or how do they classify themselves?

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Difference between schools and traditions?
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2010, 01:12:39 am »
By virtue of following the Lotus Sutra as the pan-ultimate Buddhist teaching. Ron, I think you said you studied with Nichiren Buddhists, how would you classify them, or how do they classify themselves?

Never studied or practiced with Nichiren, but was simply aware that they existed.  Have known several practitioners in my time.

That's about it.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

 


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