I am interested in early Buddhism and the latest theories regarding the emergence of the Mahayana. Recently there have been a number of studies published and I am just wondering if anyone is up to date on all this - I just haven't got the time (or access) to read the vast amount of materials out there.
One theory is that the Mahayanists were actually forest monks trying to get back to the original teachings of the Buddha away from the Abidharmist influence. Another theory is that Mahayana arose as a result of lay communities centering on Stupa veneration. Another is that it arose out of the Sarvastivada etc etc.
Whats the latest research?
Whenever one reads: "The other, the Mahasanghikas, later developed into the Mahayana, the term the later Mahasanghikas call themselves
" then one can rest assure themselves that it is not the latest scholarship and can be ignored without fear of missing any thing important.
Chapter thrree of Paul Williams' BUDDHIST THOUGHT gives a rather nice look at the issue from the basis of very recent scholarship.
What is the use of his knowledge
pertaining to the number of insects in the whole world?
Rather, inquire into his knowledge of
that which is to be practised by us
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.
Níl sa saol seo ach ceo
There is naught in this life but mist
Is ní bheimid beo ach seal beag gearr.
And we will not be alive but a short hard time.