Buddhism’s Theravāda: Philosophy
It is almost a cliché for contemporary Westerners to approach Buddhism through the lens of psychology. This approach can be distorting, since Buddhism employs different models of the human mind/“self,” does not aim at producing “psychological health,” and is based on far different presuppositions about reality than we find in modern Western psychology. But it can provide a useful way to bridge what can seem like a daunting East/West chasm. Even so, it is helpful from the beginning to understand the immense variety within Buddhism, which, given a history of over 2,500 years that includes most every major Asian culture, is probably better viewed as a family of diverse but interrelated religions.
Theravāda, the “Teaching of the Elders,” dates back to the second great Buddhist council held some 100 years after the Buddha’s passing in 483 BCE. Theravāda spread from India to Sri Lanka in the third century BCE, spreading throughout Southeast Asia, where it still predominates in Burma...
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