Reply To: Heaven and Hell

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Buddhism is broken down between two schools, the southern school is more in line with the Hindu beliefs of a practice to remove all desire and attachment to the world. This is done over several lifetimes.

Northern Schools teach salvation by trust in the Buddha in his many incarnations, so while there is one “eternal” buddha, one can be devoted to the “historical” buddha, Shakya, or Siddhartha, (in Japan Shakamuni) or the Taho, Amida or any number of other Buddhas.

The basic breakdown between the two camps happened within a generation or two after the death of Siddhartha. One group claims to be the Lesser Vehicle and the other the Greater Vehicle. The lesser is one where people practice great austerities, ie fasting, meditation, avoiding meat and other pleasures, and it says that many lifetimes and austerities will result in few people recognizing that the world and our being are illusions. The Greater Vehicle in the North stresses the chanting of the Name of the buddha you are devoted to and a particular sutra or portion of the sutra. Aside from Zen Monks most do not practice avoidence of meats, although culturally those near the sea are primarily fish eaters. Some of these sects believe that practicing the sutra and chants of the sect and being supplied with a secert Buddhist name by a monk at ones funeral will result in entry into the Buddha Land. Hell in Buddhism is either something you suffer on earth for minor infractions in past lives, or temporary punishment between lives. Most do not believe in an eternal hell.