Buddha died in 486 B.C. Shortly after the Buddhist council was called in an ancient Indian city named Rajagrha. The reason for this council was to create a doctrine that all Buddhist would follow and agree on. However, all Buhddist did not agree on believing one doctrine. A century later the a second Buddhist council gathered to solve issues within the Buddhist religion. Many issue did not resolve so this debate led to the splitting of Buddhism into several different schools and sects. Below are the five sects of Buddhism.
Theravada Buddhism is one of the the largest schools of Bhuddhism. "Theravada" means "teaching of the elders." In southeast Asian Theravada Buddhism is the most dominate. Most people that follow this school of teachings are from, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos. These Buddhist believe that their for of Buddhism adheres the original teachings of Buddha. These Buddhist believe that each person must find their way to enlightment and Nirvana. These Buddhist see Buddha as man alone. They do not worship him or pray to him. Theravada Buddhists, do not pray during worship. When they give offerings to the statue of Buddha they leave these offerings in the hope of earning merit in their following life. These Buddhists have not created families of dieties to whom they offer prayers.
Mahayana Buddhism is the other largest schools of Buddhism. Many Buddhists didnt agree with the Theravada Buddhism school so they came to join Mahayana Buddhism. Mahayana means "greater vehicle". This term is used to show us that there are many different ways to attain Niravana. Mayana Buddhists believe that inorder to attain Nirvana you need guidance from others. As for where Theravada Bhuddists believe you have to attain Nirvana on your own. Countinuing on, Mahayana Buddhists believe that all people are related due to reincarnation and the on going on the birth/death cycle. For this reason all Buddhist must help one another. Mahayana Buddhists also believe this towards criminals. They believe you have to help criminals find enlightment, thinking of how that person could have been your mother or father in the pervious life.
Tantric Buddhism is the third school of Buddhism that exists in the Himalayan nations of Tibet and Nepal. The word Tantric means Tantra. The word tantra means books dealings with rituals, discipline, and meditation. Monks and priests in Tibet are knows as lamas, so Tantric Buddhism is also called Lamaism.
Tantric Buddhism first came to be in Tibet in the 7th century A.D. It mixed together Indian Buddhism and Tibetean beliefs. This form of Buddhism is totally different from other forms of Buddhism. This type of Buddhism consists of worshiping by reciting prayers and sacred texts, along with chanting of hymns. Also, they meditate around mandalas, circular diagrams that represent a universe. There is also, blowing of trumpets and the playing of drums. Dancing lamas wear masks and perform rituals to scare away spirits, which comes into magic charms and mystical incantations.
Zen Buddhism has two types of schools. Soto and Rinzai. Soto Zen holds that enlightment can be attainted gradually. Rinzai Zen teaches that enlightment comes with insight and awareness.
Zen Buddhism derived from China. Then is was called Chan. Chan means "meditation". There is a legend that tells us that there was once a wise Indian man named Bodhidarma. He sat staring at a wall of a cave in China for nine years for intense meditation. He cut off his eyelids because they were causing weight to add on to his weariness. He then lost both his legs for sitting in one positions that Buddhist usually sit in called the lotus position. Eventually he attained enlightment and this intense form of meditation was brought to Japan in the 12 century A.D.
Pure Land Buddhism
Pure Land is also called Jodo-shu. It helped some Buddhist feel like there was a heaven like Nirvana. Pure Land is believed to be a Most Happy Land ruled by a Buddha named Amida.
Pure Land is described to be a place where there is no pain. Everything is fun and pleasurable. There is always heavenly music playing, with beautiful birds everywhere. Lakes are full of gems and ponds filled with gold dust. When a good Buddhist dies he/she is automatically reborn into Amida's Pure Land.