Home Discussion Forum Are different kinds of Buddhists aiming at different concepts of enlightenment?

Are different kinds of Buddhists aiming at different concepts of enlightenment?

Is the Zen practitioner, practicing for something different to the Tantric Buddhist? What about a Theravadin monk? etc.
Maybe there are different kinds of realisation?


  1. short answer is, yes.
    several types of ‘zennis’, one of which was inspired by a guy named Dogen, nearly 900 years ago. he said (wisely imho), “Your practice is your enlightenment.”
    in other words, this is as good as it gets! enjoy!

  2. They’re all the same path, just different vessels to get there. It’s said that Mahayana Buddhism, which both Zen and Tibetan tantric fall under, the concept of enlightenment is not to get to there all by yourself, as opposed to Theravadan, but to do it for all sentient beings… this is highly arguable IMO because if you become a Buddha, you’re going to be doing it for all sentient beings because the path includes being altruistic. It’s like saying that doing only virtuous deeds all your life is going to somehow get you a bad result, which is IMPOSSIBLE logically speaking.
    Remember, same path, different vehicles…

  3. I know that here in Japan there are many sects. Some of them believe in “ta-riki” (other power) which says that Buddha through his own attainment of enlightenment opened up the path of enlightenment to everyone and all you have to do is have faith in Buddha to be saved.
    Then there is “ji-riki” (self power) which says that, yes Buddha did attain enlightenment but just believing that won’t save you, you yourself have to walk the true path to be saved.
    Sounds like a common Christian argument, “by faith? by works?”.

  4. I am half Burmese and there are many Buddists in my family. I also used to be one of them.
    They are all seeking merits to gain enlightenment and reach heaven. They seem to make it up as they go along. Usually they give money to the monks, or meditate, or take care of sick relatives. But all of these good works are done to gain merits (points) with Buddha.
    I find their theology flawed. They are basing their religion on buying their way into heaven with good works. It amazes me that people actually think this is how you achieve this so called “enlightenment”.
    20 years ago I found out about Jesus Christ. I realised that God sent Jesus to pay the price for all my sins. Jesus was and is the only perfect being. He sacrificed himself for me so that I might have eternal life.
    There is no way I could ever equal that kind of sacrifice as a Buddhist. No meditating, gift giving or good works could compare to God’s intervention through Jesus.
    The original Buddha was a prince who saw the poverty amongst his people. He left his palace to help the poor. He was a good man but he was not God. He was more like Mother Teresa.
    When Buddha died people started worshipping him. They made him a God. In Myanmar (as in many asian countries) it is full of temples (pagodas) and Buddha idols covered in Gold. The people are very poor but they still worship Buddha. Instead of feeding the poor they give money to the monks and place more gold on the temples to gain merits.
    I wonder what Buddha would have thought of this.

  5. Not really, as vinslave and others have said, the paths are many, the differences may be subtle or considerable, but realization is the same – to become fully aware/enlightened/liberated.
    However, there is a well known Zen saying that the “most important thing, is searching for the most important thing.”

  6. Not from my understanding (which is admittedly limited, I’ve only been Buddhist for 6 months). I practice Theravada, but the literature that I read and learned from was not directed at any particular sect.
    I think the main differences are related to the priority each sect places on certain practices. The eventual outcome would surely be no different.
    I noticed some above me were referring to merits and gaining approval. I’m afraid I have to disagree. There is great emphasis placed on the fact that the Buddha was not a God of any kind, just a normal human being. Therefore, now he is dead, what would be the point of trying to gain merit? His re-birth cycle came to an end when he fulfilled his karma, so there is no spirit now to ‘worship’ or ‘impress’.
    Instead, it is my understanding that through helping others, it actually is helping yourself. You become a much better person through following the five precepts (ten for the monks, though some of those other five seem a little extreme for me). It’s a whole learning experience.
    I think some of you would really benefit from having a read. Do a little studying, you would surely find out more than I could possibly tell you.
    All I can say is that I spent a whole 13 years as an atheist, because I do not believe in any Gods, but during that time I was completely unaware that I was already a Buddhist. I look back and can now say that I just didn’t know myself. I thought I had no religion, but it turns out that my choice to abandon Christianity did not mean I chose to abandon religion, but I now know.

  7. In my little human opinion…
    The only goal is to be “in the moment”, without the BS of our own karma. That’s all enlightenment is.
    Some people get there by racing cars, others by painting, others by listening to music. the form does not have significance in itself. The focus and discipline is what matters.
    It is good to have time away from forms. This is a reason why zazen is necassary.

  8. In short, yes, to all of your questions. The teachings of the Conqueror Shakyamuni Buddha are divided into three: teachings shared in common with beings of small capacity, teachings shared in common with beings of medium capacity and teachings shared in common with beings of great capacity. In brief, a being of small capacity, or small scope, seeks for happiness in this life and a higher realm rebirth in the next. A practitioner of medium capacity, or medium scope, recognizes the downfalls of all six realms of cyclic existence and seeks to liberate him or herself alone, or to achieve nirvana for him or herself alone. The being of great capacity recognizes the suffering of all sentient beings and wishes to help them all. However, he or she recognizes they don’t have the ability to help all sentient beings, but sees that a Buddha can help all sentient beings. This practitioner than resolves to become a Buddha and adopts the wish to attain unsurpassable, true complete enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. For a more detailed description of these stages of the path (lam rim) see an excellent outline at thubtenchodron.com.

  9. Yes!
    But in fact they are all one Buddha in the differing aspects. What once is revealed to you is dependent on your stage of enlightenment AND what is relevant to you at the time. There is Buddha and there is no Buddha. Remember this is a path of self enlightenment. You are always looking inward with a symbolic tool to trigger your psychic awareness. But later on you will find the symbolism is neither here or there. The point is, can you understand the lesson? The teacher is merely a vehicle of knowledge and understanding, how they look and what method they use is insignificant compared to the graduation of the student!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here