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Buddhism 10/24 Mahayana Buddhism and the Bodhisattva Ideal

Near the beginning of the common era, a movement appeared that called itself the Mahayana, or “Great Vehicle,” in contrast to the Hinayana, or “Lesser Vehicle.” The word “Hinayana” was used to refer to previous Buddhist traditions.

While Mahayana texts trace their origin to the Buddha himself, the actual origin of Mahayana remains a mystery. There is no mystery, however, about the fundamental teaching of the Mahayana. Mahayana texts promote the ideal of the bodhisattva, or “future Buddha,” who does not attempt to achieve nirvana as an individual goal but vows to return again and again in the cycle of samsara to seek the welfare of others.

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