REL 101 Class notes, Week 3, Lecture 2


Buddhism II: Mahayana Buddhism: Nagarjuna and the Two-fold Truth

100-200 CE: Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti and many other Mahayana Buddhist scriptures
150-250 CE: Nagarjuna, First great philosopher of emptiness

A. Mahayana Buddhism

  1. Nikaya Buddhism - based on attempt to record the literal teachings of the Buddha in the Sutras
  2. Mahayana Buddhism - Same format for a whole new set up scriptures, the Mahayana Sutras
  3. Nikaya Buddhism is centered in the monastic tradition of monks and nuns. Mahayana is a lay-centered philosophy but still monastic in terms of the center of practice.
  4. Mahayana Buddhism: Great Vehicle Buddhism. Hinayana Buddhism: Lesser Vehicle Buddhism (nickname given by Mahayana Buddhists to Nikaya Buddhists).

B. Two Cornerstones of Mahayana Buddhism: Two-fold Truth and the Bodhisattva Ideal

  1. See Nagarjuna and Mahayana Buddhist Philosophy
  2. Form, emptiness, karma, samsara, nirvana.
  3. Bodhisattva Ideal - Bodhisattva as one who refuses enlightenment unless all beings attain enlightenment, a logical outcome of the two-fold truth.