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About the antiquity of the Mahayana


The later Mahayana schools may have preserved ideas which were abandoned by the "orthodox" Theravada,[26] such as the Three Bodies doctrine, the idea of consciousness (vijñāna) as a continuum, and devotional elements such as the worship of saints.[11][17][note 5]
According to Schayer, contrary to popular opinion, the Theravada and Mahayana traditions may be "divergent, but equally reliable records of a pre-canonical Buddhism which is now lost forever."[90]
The Mahayana tradition may have preserved a very old, "pre-Canonical" tradition, which was largely, but not completely, left out of the Theravada-canon.[91]
Elements of this precanonical Buddhism may have survived the canonisation, and its subsequent filtering out of ideas, and re-appeared in Mahayana Buddhism.[11][88]