Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Buddhism’s Mahāyāna: Bodhisattvas

  • John ThompsonEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_9343

In the early Common Era, a new movement began in the Buddhist world, the Mahāyāna (“Great Vehicle”). In contrast to Theravāda, Mahāyāna encompasses greater variety from sect to sect and is more “liberal” when it comes to the laity and their capacity for spiritual development. This is most evident in the Mahāyāna spiritual ideal, the bodhisattva (“wisdom being”), a personification of compassion and self-sacrifice. As an inspirational and aspirational focus for monastics and laity, the bodhisattva has been very influential in Buddhist societies. It also has immense psychological power and affords intriguing insights into the positive, spiritual depths of the human psyche.

Buddhist “Theism” and the Bodhisattva Path

The development of a devotional, “theistic” side of Buddhism dates far back in history, certainly to the earliest establishment of Buddhism as a “religion” open to more than renunciates. This process only increased as the faith spread beyond India. As Buddhism came into contact...
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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Christopher Newport UniversityNewport NewsUSA