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date: 17 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

All singular terms for designating a religious tradition (e.g. Buddhism, Christianity) belie their multiplex diversity. Historically evolved, culturally embodied religious traditions are by their very nature dynamic, complex, and multilayered. Buddhism is no exception. The tripartite division that developed to encompass the historical breadth of the Buddhist tradition—Hinayana (Theravada), Mahayana, Tantrayana (Vajrayana)—merely suggests a diversity that includes perhaps hundreds if not thousands of different sects, subsects, and movements. Even broad historical-cultural distinctions such as Thai Buddhism or Japanese Buddhism fail to encompass differences in belief and practice interwoven into the textures of global Buddhisms. This chapter addresses the question of Buddhist encounters with diversity in terms of the tripartite division familiar to all Buddhist traditions, namely, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. While this model is shared by the varied forms of Buddhism, the ways in which it is embodied and expressed have been quite diverse.

Keywords: Buddhism, Dharma, Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana, Sangha, global Buddhism

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