Buddhist monkaA FRIEND OF MINE ONCE SUMMARIZED THE Mahayana approach to Buddhism by telling a story about his lifeguard training. He said he’d asked his in­structor what he should do if there were several people drowning at once. Whom should he save first? The youngest or the oldest? The women or the men?

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Mahayana means “Great Vehicle,” which indicates that this is a lifeboat so big that no one is excluded, smart or dumb, good or bad. Everybody is free, although few of us realize it; everyone has ultimate responsibility, although we deny it. Those who recognize that responsi­bility to all of life and live

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The spiritual conquerors have proclaimed sunyata to be the exhaustion of all theories and views; those for whom sunyata is itself a theory, they declare in­curable.

Nagarjuna

Sunyata is probably the most important teaching of the Mahayana tradition. Though earlier philosophical schools in India had debated it for many years before the Buddha ever began to teach, the Mahayanists in a certain

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How do you teach what fundamentally can’t be taught but can only be realized by oneself? How can students reach this place they have never been apart from? The path and the path’s fruition are what is called upaya, or “skill in means,” and during the first several hundred years of its unfolding, Mahayana thinkers treated aspiring bodhisattvas to an unprecedented creative flowering of written teachings on how to realize

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Zen traces its history back to an Indian monk named Bodhidharma, who sailed into the heady scholastic Bud­dhism of China and quite literally turned his back on it. Upon arriving, Bodhidharma was challenged by Buddhist practitioners and supporters to present his understand­ing. When he saw that they were unable to grasp the di­rectness

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