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From: Keith (
Subject: Re: Buddhist traditions-question - and meditation
Date: March 26, 2006 at 6:26 pm PST

In Reply to: Buddhist traditions-question - and meditation posted by Camilla on March 26, 2006 at 1:40 am:

The terms "Small Way", "Great Way" and "Diamond Way" are translations of the terms Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana, respectively. The term Hinayana has fallen out of favour in recent years, since its meaning, small or lesser way, is rather demeaning. The more acceptable term for it is "Shravakayana", "Way of the Disciples". The only surviving school within the Shravakayana is the Therevada schools, and, as a result, Therevada is sometimes also used instead of Hinayana.

The three "yanas" do not exactly correspond to shravakas, pratyekabuddhas and bodhisattvas. Shravakas would generally be classed as within the Shravakayana, and bodhisattvas would be within the Mahayana. My sense of what I have read is that pratyekabuddhas would be within another of the schools within the Shravakayana, but one that no longer survives.

There is not a lot of difference between the three main divisions as far as basic meditation goes. In fact, teachers of Tibetan Buddhism (which falls within the Vajrayana) say that you should master Shravakayana and Mahayana meditation before practising Vajrayana meditation.

Any basic meditation technique, even non-Buddhist ones, will serve you well in your Buddhist practice, since the basic goal, awareness, is the same in just about any meditating tradition. I quite agree with Claudine that the best meditation is the one that you can stick with. Persistence is the most important thing in meditation, so a meditation that you don't continue doing is of limited use.

Since you have the chance to take this course, by all means take it!


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