Opening this podcast Professor Thurman lays out the history of the Three Vehicles of Buddhism comparing + contrasting the Individual (Hinayana), Universal (Mahayana), & Vajra vehicles or traditions, tracing their origins, spread across Asia & modern manifestations.
Podcast concludes with a detailed telling of the Buddha’s birth, early life & process of enlightenment from various accounts. In regard to the founding of the fourfold community, the Sangha, he says:
“It was as if the Buddha created holes in the cheese of society- he “Swiss-chessed’ the society. And the holes were the Sangha, the community, the renunciate institution, where people would go for lifelong free lunch.
Around four hundred years after the Buddha had left his body, the Sangha institution had produced many, many free people. And these free people, in a social feedback loop, had begun to make possible more freedom for the lay people as well as the monastics. So, the Sangha institution could intervene more actively in society, in the routine lives of Indians.
At that point, the less individualistic and more social teachings, which the Buddha had quietly planted earlier with a few disciples, became more useful, and people began to spread them as a kind of social gospel— called the Mahayana, the universal vehicle, or the vehicle of society. Those monastic institutions began to reach out and actually change the routine way of living in society. They unfolded the social dimension of the Buddha’s teaching and began to change the social ethic of India.”
Robert AF Thurman
This podcast is apart of the Buddhist History 101 Series presenting seminal teachings drawn from archives of Robert AF Thurman & Tibet House US & is intended for those looking to deepen their historical understanding of Buddhism from a general perspective.
To watch the full recordings from this + other past events please consider becoming a Tibet House US member. Learn about joining the Tibet House US Membership Community with a monthly tax-deductible donation by visiting: www.tibethouse.us.