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Buddhadharma : Fall 2018
MOMENTS OF CRISIS sometimes emerge in Buddhism, intersec- tions at which the way forward is not clear and agreement is difficult to reach. History offers practitioners insight into the key moments that have shaped the practice over time. One of the earliest such moments was the first council, convened soon after the Buddha’s death, when it became imperative for his followers to reach an agreement on what he had taught. The second council, now widely seen as the beginning of sectarian divisions within the tradition, was called seventy years later in an attempt to quell growing disputes among the monks around monastic rules. Later councils, held within individual schools, surrounded questions of missionary activity and whether to translate the Buddha’s words into the Sanskrit language. The decisions made in these councils helped to spread Buddhism beyond the Indian subcontinent, bringing it to new cultures. And as Buddhism was adopted into these new cultures, new crisis points emerged. In Tibet, one such crisis came about during the latter half of the eighth century as a result of disputes between Indian and Chi- nese Buddhists at the royal court. According to traditional Tibetan Gradual vs Sudden Awakening: The Samye Debate Sam van Schaik BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 71 opposite | Mural of Samye Monastery (detail), Samye Monastery, Tibet, 2011 PHOTOERIKTÖRNER