Major Old Earth Buddhist sect, now rarely practised. Mahayana or Great Vehicle Buddhism spread to China, Japan, Korea and much of Vietnam, during the 3rd to 6th centuries c.e.. It differed from traditional Buddhism with the addition of the Bodhisattva, the saviour figure who, although attaining Enlightenment, defers the bliss of Nirvana until all sentient beings are saved. It underwent severe repression during the 20th century c.e. in China during the Cultural Revolution, from which it never really recovered (the post-Communist economic boom of the Chinese Free Enterprise Zones during the 21st century was hardly conducive to spiritual life). Mahayana Buddhism included the T'ein-t'ai, Hua-yen, Pure Land, and Ch'an/Zen schools. During the late 20th and early 21st century c.e. the Zen Buddhist tradition developed a respectable following in the West, particularly in North America. It also spread to some of the orbitals, especially Clarke and Roddenberry. The Orbital Superiors were particularly attracted to Zen minimalism. Offworld Zen totalled 246,415 in the 2274 c.e. census. By the time of the Great Expulsion Mahayana had either disappeared on Earth or merged completely with other new and older religions.
Apart from Zen, no original Mahayanist school survives. However Mahayanist derivatives such as Centauri Vehicle, KuanYinism and Maitreyism continue. These faiths became locally quite influential as official religions of several minor Houses during the Empires Era and were widely worshipped in their domains.