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What is the Mahayana?

by Nagapriya

This is the first talk in a five-part series by Nagapriya exploring Mahayana Buddhism.

This talk asks the most basic question - What is Mahayana Buddhism? How did it come about as a distinctive branch of the Buddhist tradition and what distinguishes it from earlier and later forms? Nagapriya lays out six distinctive features of the Mahayana that set it apart, and explores the great diversity of practices, philosophies and cultures that Mahayana Buddhism encompasses.

Talk given at Manchester Buddhist Centre, 2009

This talk is part of the series Visions of Mahayana Buddhism.

Tracks (click play to listen)

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1. Introducing series on Mahayana Buddhism; Mahayana as transcendental science fiction; the great diversity within it (9:56) 
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2. The Triyana as a starting point in understanding how the Mahayana and Buddhism as a whole evolved (7:06) 
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3. Six distinctive features of Mahayana Buddhism; vast literature, the trans-historical Buddha, the Bodhisattva Ideal (12:11) 
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4. The variety of paths to Enlightenment, distinctive philosophical ideas, and distinctive practices within the Mahayana (12:53) 
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5. Conclusion; recap of major points and concepts (2:56) 
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6. Question and answer session; relationship between monks and laypeople in Mahayana; where Zen and Taoism fit in (10:58) 

Total running time: 56:00