Buddhism is one of the worlds’ major religious. It was initially founded in North Eastern India based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama (Wayman, 1997). Its main teachings are based on perseverance in sufferings and rebirth of its followers. It emphasizes on meditation and thorough follow up of good moral values. Thailand and China are two main countries which are known to be strong followers of Buddhist religion. Buddhism as a religion is practiced in two main practice. These are: Mahayana and Theravada. The two countries, China and Thailand have different practices since China practices Mahayana while Thailand practices Theravada.
The main difference between the two practices is that Mahayana emphasizes on Bodhisattva and reincarnation ideas leading to Buddha hood whereas Theravada emphasizes on Arahantaship. However, the two practices have a number of similarities. The two practices accepted Sakyamuni Buddha as their teacher. Sakyamuni was a title given to religious person who acted as a teacher in teaching the practices of Buddhism (William, 2005). In Buddhism schools, the four noble truths are exactly the same in both practices. These four noble truths guide Buddhist on areas that they should follow.
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Also, in this school of Buddhism, the eight fold paths are exactly the same in both Theravada and Mahayana practices. The origin of Paticca-Sumuppada is the same in both Mahayana and Theravada practices. The two practices, Mahayana and Theravada rejected the idea of Supreme Being who created and governed the world. They did not believe in Supreme Being who create and governed the country. Both practices accepted three characteristics of existence which include annica, Dukkha and Anata. These characteristic of existence enabled the two practices to exist in either of these ways (Tamura, 1997).
Mahayana and Theravada accepted the three levels of training in Buddhist school. These are Sila, Samadhi and Panna without revealing any difference between the two practices. These main similarities evidenced by the two practices have greatly strengthened the unity of Buddhism and they have helped Buddhist religion to grow and have little differences regarding the two practices. This is much strengthened by the fact that the two practices worship the same golden god Buddha the only difference is evidence by their practices.
The two countries worshipped in temples but difference came in regarding the practices carried out in those temples (Tamura, 1997). In China, the scripture was carried on the back of a white horse. The white horse which carried the scripture was adopted as the name of the temple. In Thailand, practices in temple were different from those of China since in the first place they did not recognize temple as church, but it was considered to be more than a church, since other practices such as village life serving as schools, orphanage theatre, meeting hall, crematorium, youth clubs, and playgrounds and sometime as market place.
Buddhist temples in Thailand have strict dress code similar to those of Christians in west. Men were entitled to wearing long pants and a clean short sleeved shirt while women could wear long pants or skirts but their shoulders should not be exposed. Leather sandals were most preferred in Temple since shoes should be removed during worship (Hattaway, 2004). In China, salvation of one individual generally helped the whole society since they did well to the community through their salvation. In Thailand, those who were saved by Buddhist religion did good deeds like: - Giving money to beggars - releasing caged birds-so that they can be free
- Giving food to monks since they were not allowed to have any money. In Thailand, there were two sects of Buddhist monks: - Orange robed-Mahanikai - Red brown robbed- stricters or Thammayutt. This sect eats only one meal per day provided to them by those who want to make merits since they were not allowed to own anything. In China they had one sect of monks and Sutra, the first Buddhist test in Chinese language provided guidance on the conducts of monks. Buddhist in Thailand was the backbone of Thai culture since more than 90% of Thai populations were strict follower of Buddhist religion.
Unlike Thailand, China, Buddhist had to transform them into a system which could fit and exist within Chinese way of life. This was made compactable with ancestors worship (McDermott, 1981). The establishment of Balma-si of the Han marked the beginning of Buddhism in China while in Thailand, for religion to develop it took different forms and adapted to different environment (Pyne, 1997). In Mahayana Buddhism, the universe is occupied by the celestial Buddha, bodhisattva and deities that assists Buddha in his practices.
The most popular ones are: Kuan yin, medicine Buddha, laughing Buddha and the green and white Taras. In both practices the purpose of life in Buddhism is to end suffering. According to the teachings of Buddha, human suffer because they strive to get things which don’t bring everlasting happiness. Theravada has only one surviving school and as many as eighteen survived at one time whereas Mahayana had many surviving school. In Buddhist scripture, Theravada had palicanon/Tripitaka only whereas in Mahayana scriptures, they had those used by Theravada Tripitaka plus many other sutras.
In Theravada, they had historical Buddha known as Gautama had past Buddha only whereas in Mahayana they had Gautama. Buddha had Amitabha, medicine Buddha and many other Buddha. Theravada Bodhisattva had maitraya only whereas in Mahayana they had maitreya and Avalekitesvara, Mansjuri, ksitigarbha and Samanthabadra (Morgan, 2003). Therefore, the two countries Thailand and China who practiced Buddhism resulted to increased number of its followers. In these countries, Buddhism gained a lot of support and population which made it to be a major religion in the two countries.
Buddhism since then has remained to be major religions in the two countries. Reference: Robert A. McDermott, 1981, Focus of Buddhism, New York. Paul Hattaway, 2004, People of Buddhist World, Amazon. com, New York. Eileen Tamura, 1997, China Understanding Its Past, Amazon. com, New York Paul William, 2005, Buddhism, Amazon. com, New York Alex Wayman, 1997, Untying the Knot in Buddhism, Princeton: London. Richard K. Pyne, 1997, Buddhism, New York. Kenneth W. Morgan, 2003, Path of Buddha, Europe. Kenneth Keulman, 1993, Critical Moments In Religious History, Europe.
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