Pages InformationWriter Jogye Date17 Aug 2015 Read4,795 Comment0
Mahayana Buddhism emerged in the first century CE as a more liberal, accessible interpretation of Buddhism. As the "Greater Vehicle" (literally, the "Greater Ox-Cart"), Mahayana is a path available to people from all walks of life - not just monks and ascetics.
Mahayana Buddhism is the predominant form of Buddhism in northern Asia and the Far East, including Korea, China, Japan, Tibet and Mongolia, and is thus sometimes known as Northern Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhists accept the Pali Canon as sacred scripture, but also many other writings, or sutras, which were written later.
While Theravada emphasizes individual enlightenment, Mahayana emphasizes the enlightenment of all beings. While the Theravada ideal is to become an arhat, the Mahayana ideal is to become a bodhisattva who strives to liberate all beings from the cycle of birth and death. Bodhisattvas enable all beings to be enlightened together, not only out of a sense of compassion, but because we cannot separate ourselves from each other. Mahayana Buddhists also teach that enlightenment can be attained in a single lifetime, and this can be accomplished even by a layperson.
- Adapted from the website (http://buddhism.about.com)
- excerpt from Buddhist English (Elementary 1) published in 2014 by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism