The religion of Buddhism stems fromIndia where it all began and has taken off and stood out amongst the mostunderstood religions in the territory. However,thus some beliefs which may take the historical existence, evidences andaccounts of their religion as something that’s just as important as theirteachings to the Buddhist, this is not the issue here.
This is due to the integral”timelessness” of the Buddha within history and whose ideas were thought by notjust one Buddha but many reincarnated ones throughout many generation which istrue for both of those who may practice Theravada Buddhism or the MahayanaBuddhism despite all of their differences. “Buddha’slife is less important than their mythological and symbolic significance”(Nadeau, 2014, p.143)This timelessness, though true forboth Theravada and Mahayana may mean different things. Particularly, for theMahayana this timelessness of existence is embodied through their cosmic andpowerful mahasattvas— great beings. For the Mahayana, this makes it possible forthere to be multiple Buddhas to exists simultaneously while the same cannot besaid about the Theravada. For the Theravada there is but one buddha for everylifetime whose most recent incarnation took the form of Siddhartha Gautama.
However, one of the most notable distinction between these two are the basis oftheir teachings. Although both types of buddhism promote wisdom, compassion andease of suffering in its teachings, for the Theravada, this can be done throughthe following in everyday life of the holy Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Pathmay be summarized through the acquisition of wisdom by accepting the Four NobleTruths (prajna), practicing of the right conduct (sila) and having the mentaldiscipline to develop the mind and body (samadhi). Compared to the EightfoldPath and the Four Noble Truths of the Theravada, the Mahayana in comparisonwhose live a good and moral life that is guided by the Five Precepts which isthrough and guided by their “great beings” whose traditions appear to have moreconcerns with the world in a bigger picture. “The Mahayana tradition developed agreat cosmic system of multiple realms featuring mythical mountains, parallelworlds, layered destinies of richly described heavens and hells.” (Nadaeu, 2014, p.181)For the Mahayana, ease of sufferingis a collective goal that is shared between all people and so their goal is todelay their “complete disappearance” (pari-nirvana) until this goal is achievedby everyone.
The Mahayana and the Theravada andmost especially their distinctions and central teachings and characteristics isthe first time I am ever really hearing about it through writing this paper. Interms of preference between the two, I would say that I like the simplicity ofthe teaching of the Theravada since it is the most that I think is the mostgrounded with the reality that I live in and so it is easier to follow. Whatmost stood out for me is although both of them have their own distinctions, thecentral teachings is still the promotion of compassion and understanding of notjust of the world but of ourselves as well.