I think the question is simple, why is it important to maintain a single platform for clearly distinct sects of Buddhism ( Theravada and Mahayana )?

I know there is also Vajrayāna tradition but I think that wouldn't cause the same issue if included with Mahayana.

Most of the responses given here are in the form of contention/competition between these sects, and for most people who don't have a deeper knowledge of these traditions, the answers could at times be confusing to say the least.

Clearly, the higher goal for these traditions is not the same, see here for example responses given for a recent question about craving by @Sankha Kulathantille and @ Andrei Volkov.

Why not maintain a distinct SE section for each tradition?


4 Answers 4


I think one of the forces of our site is the diversity and the fact that Buddhism SE harbors all traditions within Buddhism.

We have tags that users can attach to their question, if they want an answer from a particular tradition. If no tag is used, the question can receive answers from all traditions.

Please bear in mind that many of the users on the site know each other and pretty much know which tradition an answer is based in, even when not stated.

In the past we discussed writing a short sentence in the beginning of an answer, to state which tradition the answer belongs to. I myself forget to do that sometimes. I guess we could be better at stating that to avoid confusion for new-comers.

Regarding a separation of Buddhism SE into different traditions, I vote against that. I think that's not conducive to the interfaith dialogue. Also having different traditions give fresh inputs or sometimes another tradition explains a particular Buddhist verse, term or doctrine better than another tradition. That especially goes for the Tibetan descriptions of the Mind, which are some of the best I've ever read.

Liberation from Samsara, doing good, helping others, cultivating/purifying the mind, are goals that all traditions value and work towards. Splitting Buddhism SE would directly oppose those goals.

  • Yes the ability to tag a topic means that anyone who asks a question can "split the platform" (i.e. make it specific to a tradition) for any topic (and any tradition).
    – ChrisW Mod
    Feb 21, 2018 at 13:52
  • Yes, good point. So we actually already have a way of splitting the platform if/when needed:)
    – user2424
    Feb 21, 2018 at 13:59
  • Also there are other web sites, for specific traditions. But I think you're right, that it's a strength of this site, that we try to welcome and let people encounter the whole elephant.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Feb 21, 2018 at 14:11

I don't think it's possible (i.e. I doubt that Stack Exchange would support it, and/or that sufficiently many users would support it).

I guess that, to do it, people (i.e. you) would need to:

  1. Propose new (separate) sites on "Area 51"
  2. Get a lot of support for that proposal (which may be difficult or impossible -- it was difficult, or took a long time, to get enough support for a single site)

Note that other "religion" SE sites don't have separate sites for separate sects or traditions:

Many of the policies discussed on this meta-site were meant to let the different traditions co-exist on one site -- see the topic tagged .

I don't know much about Stack Exchange's policies on this topic (but as I said I guess they wouldn't be keen to split the site, and/or would need a lot of persuading, or rather might require the normal "Area 51" process).

There's a blog post from 2010, Merging Season, about how big a site should be (e.g. whether it should be one site or several).

To start a new (Beta) site I think you need (a minimum) 200 users committing to the proposal on Area 51 (or 100 users who are already active on other SE sites).

I'm not even sure the sects are clearly distinct: you can identify differences but I think they have a lot in common too -- see for example What teachings do all schools of Buddhism share?

Since you mentioned Andrei and Sankha, I also note the interchange in these comments a few years ago:

Could you mention that your answer is based in Theravada Buddhism? Thank you. – Lanka

@Lanka Theravada Buddhists don't really recognize other schools. Mostly historians do that. So it's just Buddhism for us. – Sankha Kulathantille

And we do recognize other schools, it's all Buddhism for us :) – Andrei Volkov♦

Even where there are two traditions I believe that at least some people are interested in both.

  • Well, it may be difficult to split as you say, but as it is now, it's a landmine with two contradictory answers given to almost every question. These traditions are aiming to a completely different outcome. When you look at the outcome only the difference is not like Catholics and Oriental Orthodox or alike where both aim for heaven, it's more akin to Judaism and Christianity for the Jews the earth is what there is and living in harmony here is the end goal whereas the Christian’s aim for heaven. I admit the parallel is not exact but I’m sure you get the idea.
    – user13093
    Feb 21, 2018 at 11:11
  • 1
    Do you know that, when you ask a question, you can add a tag like theravada to the topic: to ask that all answers should relate to that specific tradition?
    – ChrisW Mod
    Feb 21, 2018 at 11:53

I disagree that Buddhism SE should be split into different sects for the following reasons.

Firstly, the fundamental doctrinal core of the different sects or traditions are the same.

In Christianity, all major denominations accept the Nicene Creed. In Islam, all major sects accept the shahada.

Similarly, all major Buddhist schools accept the Four Noble Truths, the Three Marks of Existence, the Noble Eightfold Path, Dependent Origination and the Three Refuges.

Secondly, certain sects or traditions may have additional philosophical content that other sects or traditions do not accept, but are nevertheless ultimately not contradictory to the fundamental doctrinal core.

I've made some analysis of this in this answer.

Thirdly, there are definitely many questions that are tradition-agnostic or sect-agnostic. I think more than half of the questions we have on Buddhism SE are tradition-agnostic or sect-agnostic.

Fourthly, there are some hybrid experts both on this site and those outside this site (who are used as references), who can cater to multiple traditions simultaneously. We would benefit from their diverse and cross-traditional perspectives.

I would completely agree with Lanka's proposal here as the solution to your problem:

In the past we discussed writing a short sentence in the beginning of an answer, to state which tradition the answer belongs to. I myself forget to do that sometimes. I guess we could be better at stating that to avoid confusion for new-comers.


I did not notice any Mahayana answer. The following is not Mahayana:

And suffering is singled out because it's the most obvious difference between Samsara and Nirvana,

In Mahayana, it is said Samsara & Nirvana are the same; but @ Andrei Volkov appeared to not say this.

  • but then he said.... "However, cessation of suffering is just one aspect of The Goal. The other aspect is Bodhi - awakening. If we remember awakening we can see that cessation of craving is not enough, there has to be realization or insight. And achievement of that insight is what most of the Noble Path is about...." which is purely Mahayana.
    – user13093
    Feb 21, 2018 at 10:45
  • 2
    I disagree. I think both the comment you are commenting on & your comment could be better articulated. Feb 21, 2018 at 11:23

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