Study Guide Mahayana Buddhism

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Asian Behavior and Thought 10/16/12

Study Guide 7 – Mahayana Buddhism

Questions for reading and discussion. Important terms.

I. For Thursday, October 18. Early Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism.

Read: Ch. 8: pp.134-139. Review Early Buddhism – Basic Teachings (handout, and on Blackboard). On Mahayana Buddhism, read: Ch. 6: pp. 100-106; Ch. 7: pp. 110-114, 121-123. Also: Mahayana Buddhism – Essential Teachings (handout, and on Blackboard.) [2nd ed. Ch.8:125-130; Ch.6:92-98; Ch.7:102-106; 112-115]

1 What are the four sublime states?

2 What is Early Buddhism’s view of material well-being?

3 How does the ethical life of lay persons compare with that of monks and nuns?

4 Outline an overview of the general spread of Buddhism through Asia.

5 How is Mahayana Buddhism distinguished from Early Buddhism (referred to in text usually as Theravada Buddhism)? Which, if either, has more appeal to you, and why?

6 In Mahayana Buddhism what is a bodhisattva?

7 How does the conception of Buddha change?

8 What is the relation of nirvana to samsara?

9 What are the meaning of emptiness (shunyata) and “suchness” (tathata)?


Pure Land





Lotus Sutra

shunyata (emptiness)




dependent co-arising (dependent origination)

Three Bodies (Trikaya)


II Tuesday, October 23. Tibetan Buddhism. In class video: The Reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche

Read: Ch. 6: pp. 103, 106-108. Iyer Pico on the Dalai Lama (on Blackboard). [2nd ed. Ch.6: 95, 98-100]

1 What are some of the special characteristics of Tibetan Buddhism?

2 Based on Pico Iyer’s presentation, how would you describe the Dalai Lama?

3 What stands out most to you personally in Iyer’s presentation? Why?



Dalai Lama

Thursday, Nov. 1, is first acceptance date for optional paper – on Hindusim. For more...