Evolving Traditions of Buddhism

        Sri Lanka, when Buddhism first arrived in the third century BCE, was a great center of Buddhist learning for the thousand years following Buddhism’s arrival. Therevada Buddhism defines itself by referring to traditions and teachings that were established between the fifth and tenth centuries in Sri Lanka. Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka by Mahinda, after which there emerged three great divisions of the Sangha on the island, each of which centered on a monastery in the ancient capital of Anuradhapura. Mahavihara, great monastery, is the oldest of the monasteries and was established by Mahinda in the third century, the Abhayagiri-vihara in the first century BCE, and the Jetavana in the third century CE. None of the writings of the monks of Abhayagiri and the Jetavana monasteries survived, which makes it hard to tell how their traditions differed from those of the Mahavihara. There appeared to be a rivalry between them due to a Mahavihara opposition to their Mahayana sympathies, which is simplistic and problematic.

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        The schools of Chinese Buddhism are divided into two categories, those that have a more or less direct Indian counterpart and those which have a more or less direct Indian counterpart and those that are native to China. The principal schools are the Vinaya, the Kosa, the Madhyamaka, the Yogacara, and the Mantrayana. Those schools in principal are also the schools of Korean and Japanese Buddhism. Some schools developed more significant local traditions than others. Chinese Buddhists don’t represent separate ordination lineages; instead they focus on a lineage of teachings and interpretations of Buddhist thoughts and practice. It appears that ...

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