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Buddhadharma : Spring 2014
SPRING 2014 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 69 The word “emergence” in the subtitle of The Bodhisattva Ideal is the key to the book’s central thesis that although the Mahayana teachings are attributed to “the Buddha,” they were not taught by the historical Buddha during his earthly lifetime but developed later, many years after his death. Many Mahayanists deny that Mahayana emerged at a certain point in Buddhist history. Instead, they claim that Mahayana teachings were always part of the Buddha’s message. They love to repeat a story. According to this story, the Heart Sutra narrates an historical event at which the historical Buddha himself was present, as were arhats, the Buddha’s disciples and representatives of older forms of Buddhism, as well as bodhisattvas, representatives of newer Mahayana forms of Buddhism. Some Mahayanists believe that these arhats were so convinced they had already received the Buddha’s complete teachings that they were shocked by the message of this Mahayana sutra and the Buddha’s endorsement of it and suffered heart attacks as a result. Some Mahayanists claim that the historical Buddha then ordered RITA M. GROSS is professor emerita of comparative studies in religion at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, and a dharma teacher appointed by Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche. She is the author of Buddhism After Patriarchy and A Garland of Feminist Reflections. REVIEWS THE BODHISATTVA IDEAL: Essays on the Emergence of Mahayana Edited by Bhikkhu Nyanatushita Buddhist Publication Society, 2013 240 pages WHAT DID THE BUDDHA REALLY TEACH? Reviewed by Rita M. Gross PHOTO | UJJWAL BAJRACHARYA