It seems like there are a lot of flavors of Christianity, there are several fashions of Buddhist practices.
Which ones is best for our times?
Answer by bnr
Establishment of Theravada Buddhism (Southern Tradition)
Main article: Theravada
This section is a stub. You can help by adding to it.
The only existing record of Asoka, aside from Edicts of Asoka are from Buddhist source. DÃpavamsa, Mahavamsa, Samantapasadika are from southern Vibhajjavada lineage while Divyavadana and Avadanasataka are from northern Sarvastivadin lineage. According to Vibhajjavada record, King Ashoka convened the third Buddhist council around 250 BCE. The objective of the council was to reconcile the different schools of Buddhism. In the assembly, Tipitaka (the three baskets) was composed comprising monastic code (vinaya), discourse of the Buddha (sutra) and commentaries (abhidharma). The language use in compilation was Pali. Schools from Sthaviravada were reorganised as Vibhajjavada and were declared authoritative. The Vibhajjavada, meaning analytica discourse claim that the first step to insight has to be achieved by the aspirant’s experience, critical investigation, and reasoning instead of by blind faith. According to Theravada record, Sarvastivadin and the Dharmaguptaka schools were rejected by the council. However, they became influential in northwestern India and Central Asia and likely to have had some formative influence to Mahayana in later period as their teaching are pareserved in Mahayana tradition. It was long believe in Theravada tradition that Pali is derived or equivalent to Magdhi, the eastern dialect used by the Buddha. However, the comparative lingustic study of Edicts of Ashoka and Pali Tripitaka suggest origin in the western dialect around Girnar in Gujarat where one of Ashoka’s Rock edict still exists. There is no record of the third Council in Sarvastivadin lineage.
According to Theravada record, Vibhajjavada Tipitaka was introduced to Sri Lanka by Mahinda, son of Emperor Asoka.
Rise of Mahayana Buddhism (Northern Tradition)
Expansion of Mahayana Buddhism between the 1st—10th century CE.Main article: Mahayana
Mahayana as a distinct movement began around the 1st century BCE in the area around Kushan Empire (now area within Pakistan) before it was transmitted in a highly evolved form to China and Tibet. On one side, Mahayana was a laity movement focused around stupa devotion. Pictures within the wall of stupa representing the story of the Buddha and his previous reincarnation as bodisattva were used to preach Buddhism to the mass. The devotion to transcendent all precent Buddha and bodisattva which is distinct from Sangha become increasingly emphasised. Sangha, at the same time, became increasingly fragmented both in term of Abhidharma and vinaya practice. This led to widening distance between laity and Sangha. The Mahayana movement, on the other hand, was ecumenical, reflecting wide range influence from various sects. Still, in term of Abbhidharma, Sarvastivadin (who had been rejected by the 3rd council, according to the Theravada tradition) and the Dharmaguptaka which were both dominant in Kushan Empire seems to have had major influence. In term of vinaya practice, Mahasamghaka branch of sects which emphaised greater openeness might played dominant role. Monks representing different theological orientation could live in the same Sangha as long as they practice the same vinaya. Moreover, those who believe that Mahayana sutras were composed during this period speculate that the process of reshuffeling of sutras according to various Abbhidharma eventually led to editing which made the composition of new Mahayana sutras possible.
Around 100 AD, the Kushan emperor Kanishka convened the fourth Buddhist council and is usually associated with the formal rise of Mahayana Buddhism. This council is not recognised by Theravada line of buddhism. This council did not simply rely on the original Tipitaka in the third council. Instead, a set of new scriptures, mostly notably, Lotus Sutra, early version of Heart Sutra and Amitabha Sutra were approved, as well as fundamental principles of doctrine based around the concept of salvation for the mass (hence Mahayana-greater vehicle) and the concept of Buddhas and bodhisattva who embody transcendent buddha-nature who strive to achieve such goal. The new scriptures were rewritten in the classical language of Sanskrit. From that point on, and in the space of a few centuries, Mahayana was to flourish and spread in the East from India to South-East Asia, and towards the north to Central Asia, China, Korea, and finally to Japan in 538 CE.