Who Do We Listen To?

There are always other sides to a ‘story’. In any walk of life, experts differ in the way in which they approach or express something; art, music, science, health, education, economics, politics … Buddhism.

Here is a list from Wikipedia of the main traditions in Buddhism. Remember that each tradition then has many outlets, monasteries, and groups in many countries and therefore, many teachers …

  • Indian Theravāda

  • Sri Lankan Theravāda

    • Amarapura–Rāmañña Nikāya

      • Delduwa

      • Kanduboda (or Swejin Nikaya)

      • Tapovana (or Kalyanavamsa)

      • Sri Lankan Forest Tradition

    • Siam Nikaya

      • Waturawila (or Mahavihara Vamshika Shyamopali Vanavasa Nikaya)

  • Burmese Theravāda

    • Thudhamma Nikaya

      • Vipassanā tradition of Mahasi Sayadaw and disciples

    • Shwegyin Nikaya

    • Dvaya Nikaya or Dvara Nikaya (see Mendelson, Sangha and State in Burma, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, 1975)

    • Hngettwin Nikaya

  • Thai Theravāda

    • Maha Nikaya

      • Dhammakaya Movement

      • Mahasati meditation (mindfulness meditation)

    • Thammayut Nikaya

      • Thai Forest Tradition, focused on monastic living in the wilderness.

    • Santi Asoke, a recent reform movement.

  • Cambodian Theravāda

    • Maha Nikaya

    • Thammayut Nikaya

  • Tantric Theravada, includes many esoteric elements not present in classic Theravāda

  • Vietnamese Theravāda

  • Laotian Theravāda

  • Dai Theravāda in China

  • Bangladeshi Theravāda

    • Sangharaj Nikaya

    • Mahasthabir Nikaya

  • Nepalese Theravāda

    • Dharmodaya Sabha

  • Vipassana movement, a strongly lay-focused meditation-based movement, popular in the West (where it is also known as “Insight Meditation”)

  • Western Theravāda Buddhism

Jingtu (Pure Land)

    • Guanyin Buddhism (Syncretized with Chinese folk religion and Taoism)

    • Lüzong (Vinaya school)

    • Chengshi (Satyasiddhi- historical)

    • Kosa (Abhidharmakośa- historical)

    • Sanlun (Mādhyamaka)

    • Weishi (Yogācāra)

    • Niepan (Nirvana- historical)

    • Dilun (Daśabhūmikā- absorbed into Huayan)

    • Tiantai

    • Huayan

    • Chan (Zen)

      • Sanjiejiao (historical)

      • Oxhead school (historical)

      • East Mountain Teaching (historical)

        • Heze school (historical)

        • Hongzhou school (historical)

          • Guiyang school

          • Linji school

        • Caodong school

        • Fayan school (absorbed into Linji school)

        • Yunmen school (absorbed into Linji school)

      • Tibetan Chan (historical)

    • Zhenyan (Esoteric)

    • Humanistic Buddhism

      • Chung Tai Shan

      • Dharma Drum Mountain

      • Fo Guang Shan

      • Tzu Chi

  • Vietnamese Buddhism

    • Tịnh Độ (Pure Land)

    • Thiên Thai (Tiantai)

    • Hoa Nghiêm (Huayen)

    • Thiền (Zen)

      • Lâm Tế (Linji school)

      • Tào Động (Caodong school)

      • Trúc Lâm (Syncretized with Taoism and Confucianism)

      • Plum Village Tradition (Engaged Buddhism)

        • Order of Interbeing

    • Đạo Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương (Millenarian movement)

      • Hòa Hảo (Reformist movement)

  • Śaiva-Mahayana in Southeast Asia (historical, syncretized with Hinduism)

  • Korean Buddhism

    • Tongbulgyo (Interpenetrated Buddhism – including Jeongto, or Pure Land)

    • Gyeyul (Vinaya school- historical)

    • Samnon (Mādhyamaka- historical)

    • Beopsang (Yogācāra- historical)

    • Yeolban (Nirvana- historical)

    • Wonyung (Avatamsaka- historical)

    • Cheontae (Tiantai)

    • Hwaeom (Huayen- absorbed into Jogye Order)

    • Seon (Zen)

      • Jogye Order

        • Kwan Um School of Zen

      • Taego Order

    • Wonbulgyo (Korean Reformed Buddhism)

    • Jingak Order (Shingon syncretized with Humanistic Buddhism)

  • Japanese Buddhism

    • Pure Land

      • Jōdo-shū

      • Jōdo Shinshū

        • Nishi Hongan-ji

        • Higashi Hongan-ji

          • Ōtani-ha

      • Ji-shū

      • Yūzū-nembutsu-shū

    • Risshū (Vinaya school)

    • Jojitsu (Satyasiddhi – historical, syncretized with Sanron)

    • Kusha (Abhidharmakośa – historical, syncretized with Hossō)

    • Sanron (Mādhyamaka – historical)

    • Hossō (Yogācāra)

    • Kegon (Huayen syncretized with Shingon)

    • Mikkyō (Esoteric)

      • Tendai (Tiantai syncretized with Zhenyan, Lüzong and Oxhead school)

      • Shingon (Zhenyan)

        • Kōyasan Shingon-shū

        • Shingon Risshu (Syncretized with Risshū)

        • Shingon-shu Buzan-ha

        • Shingon-shū Chizan-ha

        • Shinnyo-en

      • Shugendo (Syncretized with Shinto, Taoism and Onmyōdō)

    • Zen (Chan)

      • Rinzai (Linji school)

        • Fuke-shū (Historical)

      • Sōtō (Caodong school)

      • Ōbaku (Linji school syncretized with Jingtu)

      • Sanbo Kyodan (Sōtō syncretized with Rinzai)

        • White Plum Asanga

          • Ordinary Mind Zen School

          • Zen Peacemakers

    • Nichiren Buddhism

      • Nichiren Shū

      • Honmon Butsuryū-shū

      • Kempon Hokke

      • Nichiren Shōshū

  • Western Mahāyāna Buddhism

    • Zen in the United States

Indian Buddhist Mahasiddhas, 18th century, Boston MFA.

Esoteric Buddhism, also known as Vajrayāna, Mantrayāna, Tantrayāna, Secret Mantra, and Tantric Buddhism is often placed in a separate category by scholars due to its unique tantric features and elements. Esoteric Buddhism arose and developed in medieval India among esoteric adepts known as Mahāsiddhas. Esoteric Buddhism maintains its own set of texts alongside the classic scriptures, these esoteric works are known as the Buddhist Tantras. It includes practices that make use of mantras, dharanis, mudras, mandalas and the visualization of deities and Buddhas.

Main Esoteric Buddhist traditions include:

  • Indian Esoteric Buddhism (Historical)

  • Ari Buddhism (Historical)

  • Tantric Theravada

  • Indonesian Esoteric Buddhism

  • Philippine Esoteric Buddhism

  • Azhaliism

  • Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, the most widespread of these traditions, is practiced in Tibet, parts of North India, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Mongolia.

    • Nyingma

    • Bön (Indigenous, often considered “pre-Buddhist” in origin)

    • Kadam (Historical)

    • Sakya

    • Bodong

    • Jonang

    • Kagyu

    • Gelug

    • Tibetan Pure Land

    • Rimé movement (Non-sectarian)

    • New Kadampa Tradition

    • Kalmyk Buddhism

    • Buryat Buddhism

    • Tuvan Buddhism

    • Mongolian Buddhism

    • Bhutanese Buddhism

  • Newar Buddhism (Nepal)

  • Chinese Esoteric Buddhism (zhenyan, 真言)

    • True Buddha School

  • Korean Esoteric Buddhism (milgyo, 密教)

    • Jingak Order (Shingon syncretized with Humanistic Buddhism)

  • Japanese Mikkyo

    • Shingon

      • Shinnyo-en

    • Shugendo (Syncretized with Shinto, Taoism and Onmyōdō)

  • Western Vajrayāna Buddhism

New Buddhist movements

Taixu, the founder of Chinese Humanistic Buddhism

Various Buddhist new religious movements arose in the 20th century, including the following.

  • Aum Shinrikyo

  • Buddhist modernism

  • Coconut Religion

  • Dhammakaya Movement

  • Diamond Way

  • Engaged Buddhism

    • Plum Village Tradition

      • Order of Interbeing

  • Forshang Buddhism World Center

  • Gedatsukai

    • Gedatsu Church of America

  • Guanyin Famen

  • Hòa Hảo

  • Ho No Hana

  • Humanistic Buddhism

    • Chung Tai Shan

    • Dharma Drum Mountain

    • Fo Guang Shan

    • Tzu Chi

  • Jingak Order

  • Juniper Foundation

  • Kenshōkai

  • Kokuchūkai

  • Kwan Um School of Zen

  • Navayana (“New Way”), also known as Dalit Buddhist movement, and “Ambedkarite” Buddhism

  • New Kadampa Tradition

  • Nipponzan Myōhōji

  • PL Kyodan

  • Reiyūkai

    • Bussho Gonenkai Kyōdan

    • Myōchikai Kyōdan

    • Myōdōkai Kyōdan

    • Risshō Kōsei Kai

  • Rulaizong

  • Sanbo Kyodan

    • White Plum Asanga

      • Ordinary Mind Zen School

      • Zen Peacemakers

  • Secular Buddhism

  • Shambhala Buddhism

  • Share International

  • Shinnyo-en

  • Shōshinkai

  • Sōka Gakkai

  • Tibbetibaba

  • Triratna Buddhist Community

  • True Buddha School

  • Vipassana movement

  • Western Buddhism

    • Buddhism in Australia

    • Buddhism in Europe

      • Buddhism in Austria

      • Buddhism in Denmark

      • Buddhism in Italy

      • Buddhism in Russia

      • Buddhism in Slovenia

      • Buddhism in the United Kingdom

    • Buddhism in the United States

      • Zen in the United States

  • Won Buddhism

In the end, we listen to our conscience,
and to whatever karma brings up in our life.

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3 Responses to WHO DO WE LISTEN TO?

  1. Wow and I thought Christianity with all of their different denominations was foolishness and confusing. I’d be willing to bet all of the other hundreds of thousands of religions have similar laundry lists of denominations too. Only 1 mind though.

    • tony says:

      It is we who give authority to the teachings and teachers through our re-cognition – that which is already known but wasn’t clear.

      That is why the Buddha said, “Don’t take my word for it; test it for yourself”.


    • tony says:

      It could be that at each age there is a slightly different emphasis to suit circumstances.

      Some stick rigidly to the past, holding onto a culture, while others see ever changing influences that obscure these teachings.


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