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The schools of Buddhism are the various institutional and doctrinal divisions of Buddhism that have existed from ancient times up to the present. The classification and nature of various doctrinal, philosophical or cultural facets of the schools of Buddhism is vague and has been interpreted in many different ways, often due to the sheer number (perhaps thousands) of different sects, subsects, movements, etc. that have made up or currently make up the whole of Buddhist traditions. The sectarian and conceptual divisions of Buddhist thought are part of the modern framework of Buddhist studies, as well as comparative religion in Asia.
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From a largely English-language standpoint, and to some extent in most of Western academia, Buddhism is separated into two groups: Theravāda (lit. 'the Teaching of the Elders' or 'the Ancient Teaching'), and Mahāyāna (lit. 'the Great Vehicle'). The most common classification among scholars is threefold: Theravāda, Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna.
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