Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

A Spiritual Side to Psychotherapy, continued

As in the case of Christianity, soon there were enough Buddhists to start arguing about the right teachings, and Buddhism split up into many factions.  The first split came about 350 B.C. when the Sangha (or order of monks) split into two groups, the Elders (which emphasized the humanity of the Buddha and the importance of the monastic life) and the Great Community (which regarded the Buddha as superhuman).  The Elders soon split up into two groups, becoming the modern Theravada school of Buddhism and a group called the Sarvastivadins, who taught that the past and the future are just as real as the present.

As Buddhism continued to expand in India, rivalries continued and led to further divisions, and soon there were eighteen different schools of Buddhism.  From amongst the followers of these different schools of Buddhism, there emerged a new form of Buddhism known as Mahayana, or the Great Vehicle.  Many of their views were to be found in the early Buddhist scriptures, but they also wrote their own scriptures, in which they represented anyone who didn’t agree with them as Hinayana, or followers of the inferior vehicle.  The non-Mahayana Buddhists didn’t think very much of the way in which they had been characterized, but they never came up with another word to refer to themselves, so the name has stuck.

When Buddhism spread from India to China, the scriptures which were translated were often from different time periods and represented the views of the different schools Buddhism, all of which, however, were presented as the word of the Buddha.  In response to the large number of scriptures, some groups in China selected particular texts to follow, which they thought represented the highest teachings of the Buddha, while other groups preferred to work out ways of classifying the various scriptures, making sure that their own preferred texts were given the highest place.  And again, this resulted in the development of several more schools of Buddhist thought.  One of these new Chinese schools of Buddhist thought was the Ch’an (or Meditation) school which, in Japan, is referred to as Zen. 

In a paper titled “The Teachings of Roshi” – Roshi being an honorific title meaning “old teacher”  or “old master” – a friend of mine, Dawn DeCunha, wrote:

Zen teaches you reality.  <snip>  Reality is life stripped of illusion. 

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