The 4 types of Buddhism

The 4 types of Buddhism

Buddhism is not classified, like other religions,according to hierarchies of power at the top of which we find the figure of a person who holds the wisdom of the sacred texts. However, we can find different schools, different branches or different types of Buddhism.

Buddhism is as much a religion – even if it does not correspond completely to the formal definition of the term – as a philosophical doctrine.The set of traditions, beliefs and practices give shape to a behavior shared by Buddhists (between 200 and 1400 people). Like other Eastern practices, the respect of its doctrines became popular in the West.

What characterizes Buddhism?

Buddhism, originally from India,is the fourth religion of the world if we take into account the number of followers.Some attribute to him two main branches: Therevada (or School of the Ancients) and Mahāyāna (Great Vehicle). However, they diversify enormously and there is no precise consensus.

For Buddhism, the Buddhist scriptures, its sacred texts, represent the object of study. The goal is toto cultivate wisdom, to practice meditation, to renounce material things, to foster kindness and compassion,among others. There are monastic variants of Buddhist practices but most of those belonging to this religion are practiced less intensively. Nevertheless, the philosophical principles of Buddhism are shared by the whole community.

The understanding of Buddhism is holistic:the lessons of this practice are interrelated. They are a guide to the Dharma ("things as they are", in Sanskrit).

Branches or types of Buddhism

According to the classification criteria, we can find different ways to practice Buddhism. According to the number of practitioners,the three main branches of Buddhism are mahāyāna, therevāda y vajrayāna.However, when looking for other kinds of classifications, Buddhism seems extremely decentralized.

In a way, it is inaccurate to speak of "types of Buddhism".Its variants often coincide in various aspects, as the historical starting point of the doctrine. The different teachings are getting closer and farther apart, so it is difficult to establish a classification. Nevertheless, it is still possible to organize different beliefs artificially, according to commonalities and differences.

1. Traditional Buddhism and Modern Buddhism

The first classification we can do is related to the origin of the practice.Although traditional or original Buddhism is a set of beliefs, traditions and millennial practices, there are also modern interpretations of this system.

2. Original Buddhism of SchoolsNikāya

According to this classification, there are 19 classes of Buddhism, 19 schoolsNikāya.This name refers to the first schools of Buddhism. Only therevāda Buddhism has survived. This branch identifies as true sutras the contents of the Canon Pāli, a set of sacred texts.

In therevāda Buddhism, introspection has a vital role.Individual experience and critical reasoning oppose this introspection to blind faith in order to liberate oneself and attain nirvana.

3. Mahāyāna Branch

If we pay attention to the mahāyāna branch of Buddhism, the classification of its types is different. As we have seen, this is one of the three majority branches of this set of beliefs. Unlike therevāda Buddhism,the teachings are more of a guide than a doctrine.They aim to find the truth through criticism and reasoning, questioning the theories of the past. We could assimilate it to the scientific method. He also moves away from Buddhism therevāda at the level of acceptance of another class of sutras.

Among the types of Buddhismmahāyāna, we find, for example, Zen Buddhism,who seeks the experience of wisdom, moving away from theoretical and intellectual knowledge.

4. Vajrayana Buddhism

Also called "Tibetan Buddhism", it has developed in the Himalayan Cordillera and constitutes themain religion of Bhutan and Mongolia.It is made up of four schools:

  • NyingmaThis school is related to the purification of the body, the word and the spirit, is related to deities and promotes the absolute truth.
  • KagyuThis school promotes the transcendence of conceptual elaboration, the simplification of phenomena and the possession of the path beyond meditation.
  • Sakyait is based on the Lamdré teaching or "fruit path". The main Dharma system of this school is the "path with its result".
  • Gelugit is one of the main schools of Buddhism in Tibet. The Dalai Lama is one of them. It is also sometimes included in Mahayana Buddhism because they share some sutras.

Divided into more or fewer types, Buddhism has inspired one of the main streams of thought that survive in this world.A world that goes faster and faster, where we look much more outside and much less inside.

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