Why Theravada?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Why Theravada?

Postby Anagarika » Wed Sep 25, 2013 11:58 pm

For me, it was important to source the school closest to the teachings of the Buddha. The scholarship in the area of the etiology of the Dhamma reflects that the Pali Canon captures to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty the teachings of Gautama Buddha. Many of the Ajahns and teachers that teach from the Theravada and Early Buddhism perspective are highly credible. We have today teachers like Vens. Thanissaro, Bodhi, Brahm, Gunuratana, and others who are highly intelligent people (some with strong science and research backgrounds) who likely wouldn't waste their time on a fool's errand. Lifetimes have been spent on this Dhamma, and have yielded sound roadmaps for the navigation of mind/ life and release from samsara as the Buddha intended.

After starting with Korean Zen, and spending some back and forth time with other Mahayana traditions, when the time came for me to commit to a practice and a school, there was no question other than choosing Pali Canon/Theravada. There is so much positive to be said of Mahayana, but to be critical, in some respects Mahayana has taken the Buddhavacana and created a practice out of completely new cloth. The Buddha's Vinaya is rejected. The Canon is displaced by 8th century fabrications that were geared more to nationalistic concerns, than Dhamma. Buddha is said to have made statements in later sutras that no independent scholar accepts as valid or true.

There is so much cohesiveness, intelligence, wisdom and authenticity in the Pali Canon based schools, that to practice otherwise would suggest a rejection of Buddhism in favor of, for example, "Dogenism." Try going to a Zen sangha and learning jhana. It was the Buddha who advised his monks to practice jhana, to meditate in a certain way, and this practice was later rejected by Mahayana schools seeking to "brand" themselves in a more populist manner. All forms of meditation are beneficial, but it seems to me important to practice meditation the way that the Buddha taught it.

It's a bit like the barrel analogy. There is a beauty and simplicity to a well made oak barrel. Start creating cracks and pounding pegs into it, and soon it is no longer a barrel, and it no longer holds water. Maybe I'm a jerk for saying this, but the Dhamma can be considered medicine for a deluded society, so why not try to get the antidote as effective and pure as we possibly can?
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Re: Why Theravada?

Postby Myotai » Wed Oct 02, 2013 12:20 pm

I guess its down to the interpretation of 'pure'.
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Re: Why Theravada?

Postby Matteo1972 » Wed Oct 02, 2013 12:34 pm

Dan74 wrote:Hwadu is a great practice but it is not for everyone. Like much of Zen, it is a steep path.


Why should Zen be a steep path?
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Re: Why Theravada?

Postby Matteo1972 » Wed Oct 02, 2013 12:41 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:For me, it was important to source the school closest to the teachings of the Buddha. The scholarship in the area of the etiology of the Dhamma reflects that the Pali Canon captures to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty the teachings of Gautama Buddha. Many of the Ajahns and teachers that teach from the Theravada and Early Buddhism perspective are highly credible. We have today teachers like Vens. Thanissaro, Bodhi, Brahm, Gunuratana, and others who are highly intelligent people (some with strong science and research backgrounds) who likely wouldn't waste their time on a fool's errand. Lifetimes have been spent on this Dhamma, and have yielded sound roadmaps for the navigation of mind/ life and release from samsara as the Buddha intended.

After starting with Korean Zen, and spending some back and forth time with other Mahayana traditions, when the time came for me to commit to a practice and a school, there was no question other than choosing Pali Canon/Theravada. There is so much positive to be said of Mahayana, but to be critical, in some respects Mahayana has taken the Buddhavacana and created a practice out of completely new cloth. The Buddha's Vinaya is rejected. The Canon is displaced by 8th century fabrications that were geared more to nationalistic concerns, than Dhamma. Buddha is said to have made statements in later sutras that no independent scholar accepts as valid or true.

There is so much cohesiveness, intelligence, wisdom and authenticity in the Pali Canon based schools, that to practice otherwise would suggest a rejection of Buddhism in favor of, for example, "Dogenism." Try going to a Zen sangha and learning jhana. It was the Buddha who advised his monks to practice jhana, to meditate in a certain way, and this practice was later rejected by Mahayana schools seeking to "brand" themselves in a more populist manner. All forms of meditation are beneficial, but it seems to me important to practice meditation the way that the Buddha taught it.

It's a bit like the barrel analogy. There is a beauty and simplicity to a well made oak barrel. Start creating cracks and pounding pegs into it, and soon it is no longer a barrel, and it no longer holds water. Maybe I'm a jerk for saying this, but the Dhamma can be considered medicine for a deluded society, so why not try to get the antidote as effective and pure as we possibly can?


I am the utmost pleased of reading this post as this is what I hear from many Theravada Buddhists.
My sincere opinion is at the diametrical opposite of what is stated here.
My only concern is with enlightenment, nothing else.
If Buddha cant bring me to Englihtenment, he would be worth less than a used show (sorry for being too rude maybe heree).
His teachings should be worth nothing.

like in mathematics, it is the laws of gravitation that is important, not newton as he discovered it.
at the same way, it is the path to Enligthenment which should be important, not who taught it.

Whether the path to Nirvana is to be followed reading the Tipitaka, the Bible or X-Men, I would not care.

Same, it is none of my concern what are the "real" teachings of Buddha
My utmost concern is the validity of such teaching, whether it can bring me anywhere
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Re: Why Theravada?

Postby rohana » Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:33 pm

I was looking through Geoff's (Nyana) site the other day and this pretty much sums up most of my approach:

    The ascetic samaṇa Gotama lived in approximately the 5th century BCE. He is considered to be the Buddha of this present age. The earliest, most complete and accurate record of his life and teachings is preserved in the Pāli Nikāyas.
    ...
    Accordingly, the only view which concerns a practitioner of the Buddha’s dhamma is the view which is both “right” and “integral” to the development of the path: the understanding of unsatisfactoriness, the origin of unsatisfactoriness, the cessation of unsatisfactoriness, and the noble way of practice leading to the cessation of unsatisfactoriness. These four noble truths set the parameters for what is necessary and useful for awakening. The entire noble eightfold path has been fabricated to specifically orient and steer the practitioner towards a deeper and more integral understanding of this “right” view, eventually culminating in direct gnosis of the four noble truths. Anything else is quite irrelevant.

If someone told you there's someone coming to kill you, do you hire the bodyguard that's the best around, or other bodyguards who may or may not provide the same level of protection? Most of us can agree that the Buddha who lived in modern-day Nepal/India was a Sammā Sambuddha. Elaborations by later teachers, regardless of the tradition, may or may not be as effective - I don't have time to try them all out and verify them (remember there's a bounty on your head!). So I take the Pāli Sūttas as authoritative and pick any later teachings that minimally deviate from the Sūttas - hence Theravāda. So that's basically my personal method of evaluation.

:anjali:
"Delighting in existence, O monks, are gods and men; they are attached to existence, they revel in existence. When the Dhamma for the cessation of existence is being preached to them, their minds do not leap towards it, do not get pleased with it, do not get settled in it, do not find confidence in it. That is how, monks, some lag behind."
- It. p 43
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Re: Why Theravada?

Postby Myotai » Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:41 pm

..interesting stuff this :coffee:

I personally can't see anything wrong in the Historical Buddhas teachings being embelished. Though I can also see the attraction in feeling a fidelity to the Pāli Nikāyas.

Though the writings of Honghzhi Zhengue, Dogen etc do have a beautiful ring that for many takes them closer to the Buddhas intention I am sure.

What do others think?

M...
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Re: Why Theravada?

Postby Anagarika » Wed Oct 02, 2013 3:12 pm

Myotai, my own bias is that so long as one is mindful of the Pali Buddhavacana, there is indeed a treasure of wisdom in the Mahayana. The Heart Sutra, for example is a beautiful expression. So long as one understands that the statements attributed to the Buddha in many Mahayana sutras are not Buddhavacana, then these teachings and poems certainly have benefit for practitioners. The Bodhisattva ideal is valuable, absolutely. My own sense is that Japanese Zen got into deep waters when various 8-13th century CE schools were competing with each other for the attention and patronage of the Emperors' and the laity's dana. Dogen for example, spent some time ridiculing other contemporary teachers, while promoting his own view of the world/dharma. All of this energy might have been better spent understanding the foundational Agamas (as Dogen undoubtedly did) along with the Chinese Tiantai Dhyanas, and teaching them as they were taught when Dhamma came to China. That's my two (unscholarly) cents. The need to create new "brands" in Japan seems to me to have lead to confusion and some corruption of the dharma. This dharma then made its way to the west, where it flourishes, albeit in contradiction to a lot of what is offered in the Dhamma of the Pali Canon.
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Re: Why Theravada?

Postby Kusala » Thu Oct 03, 2013 5:24 am

Myotai wrote:I have read recently some of the teachings within the Korean Seon schools. The imply that their practices cut out a lot of talk and conjecture going straight to the core. They speak of Hwadu practices as being a direct path to Enlightenment. For those in here who are aware of this path I am curious why would you choose Theravada in the light of these claims?


Thanks for your answers


Listen to Ven. Dhammavuddho...

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Homage to the Buddha
Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
time; inviting one to come and see; onward leading (to Nibbana); to be known by the wise, each for himself.
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Re: Why Theravada?

Postby Dan74 » Thu Oct 03, 2013 8:07 am

This Venerable is spreading his delusion. I would rather listen to the likes of Bhikkhu Bodhi, Ajahn Amaro or Ajahn Sundara:

http://www.theravada-dhamma.org/blog/?p=8901

MR: Why do you think there is such a division between the Theravada and the Mahayana schools?

Ajahn Sundara: I think the divide came up very early after the death of the Buddha. Some scholars have explained that there was a school that was very strongly attached to the idea of the arahat model. Maybe the Mahayana, bodhisattva school, came in reaction to those earlier positions that were taken after the Buddha’s passing away. Maybe it was not such a big divide; maybe it was just a reaction to monks who studied a lot and just didn’t care about the world and didn’t have anything to offer the rest of their society.

MR: What about now? Do you think that there is a big divide now?

Ajahn Sundara: I think the divide between the two schools is more in the text than in reality. I know people have made a big thing about it but it’s a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of bad feelings about the Theravada, “Hinayana” schools. As if the Mahayana bodhisattva is out there busy and not really getting enlightened and the arahat doesn’t care about the world…. Maybe I’m kind of cynical about it. The thing is, if you practice you don’t dwell on such differences at the conceptual level.

MR: Do you think there are any differences in the two schools?

Ajahn Sundara: Each school brings different skillful means to deal with the mind and body. The Buddha’s teaching is basically a long series of skillful means to liberate the heart from suffering. I see the bodhisattva vow as another means, another way to explain how to liberate the mind from suffering. When I hear you chanting that you are dedicating your life to the benefit of all sentient beings, it’s like a means of training the mind to move away from that self-centered tendency which happens very dramatically. We do this in our meditation. In America this is called Insight Practice. We are learning about the mind and its very selfish patterns and self-centered activity, and just listening to the mind as it is. Then we discover we can let it go, let go of that “non-bodhisattva mind,” let it go and so the divide becomes smaller and smaller.

When I was listening to the teaching of the Dalai Lama several years ago, myself and another nun who took the Bodhisattva vows checked all my vows. I checked the bodhisattva vows in great detail and there was nothing that would make me transgress, anything that would keep me from following those vows properly. I see them as training; the Bodhisattva Vow is training the mind just like the precepts are training the mind.


http://www.mro.org/mr/archive/22-2/articles/walkingworld.html
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Re: Why Theravada?

Postby Ben » Thu Oct 03, 2013 8:28 am

Dan74 wrote:This Venerable is spreading his delusion. I would rather listen to the likes of Bhikkhu Bodhi and Ajahn Amaro.


Yes, I agree. I have seen that video before and it does Ven Dhammavuddho no favours.
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Why Theravada?

Postby nibbuti » Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:13 am

Dan74 wrote:This Venerable is spreading his delusion.

Because it does not agree with yours? ;)

Sounds quite reasonable to me what Dhammavuddho said (in his other videos as well). Much unlike this:
MR: Why do you think there is such a division between the Theravada and the Mahayana schools?

Ajahn Sundara: I think the divide came up very early ... Maybe ... Maybe ... maybe ...

:popcorn:
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Re: Why Theravada?

Postby Dan74 » Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:49 am

I guess certainty and simplicity tend to appeal more than lack of such. If you have a question, or have interest in a dialogue, I will be happy to engage, nibbuti.
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Re: Why Theravada?

Postby Reductor » Thu Oct 03, 2013 3:04 pm

Ben wrote:
Dan74 wrote:This Venerable is spreading his delusion. I would rather listen to the likes of Bhikkhu Bodhi and Ajahn Amaro.


Yes, I agree. I have seen that video before and it does Ven Dhammavuddho no favours.


How so?
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Why Theravada?

Postby kirk5a » Thu Oct 03, 2013 3:56 pm

Dan74 wrote:This Venerable is spreading his delusion.

I can't see how that judgment is called for. He is simply sharing his experiences. With a good sense of humor about it all, so it seems to me.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Why Theravada?

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Oct 03, 2013 4:50 pm

Dan74 wrote:This Venerable is spreading his delusion.

Could you be more specific as to which part are delusion?

When he learned Theravada he was unhappy with what he had learned in Mahayana. Do you have reason to believe he is delusional about his own feelings on the matter?

He wrote about Vinaya, the practice of which is undeniably different between the two traditions.

He wrote about vegetarianism which is something T and M disagree on.

He wrote how Mahayana teachings developed much later than the Buddha, which is widely accepted among Buddhist scholars.

He talked about how people were unhappy with what he wrote. Probably this is true.

Which part is his delusion?
What about this video causes you to say something so aggressive?

Dan74 wrote:I would rather listen to the likes of Bhikkhu Bodhi, Ajahn Amaro or Ajahn Sundara

I think what they say is very nice. I also don't see how what one says contradicts what the other says. I think it is a non-delusional thing to have the opinion that while there may be praiseworthy things in Mahayana there may also be blameworthy things. I think one person can have the opinion that Mahayana is a perfectly acceptable path and another person can have the opinion that it is not an acceptable path yet there is no cause to call one of these people delusional in an otherwise polite conversation.

I will add that saying Theravada is the original teaching of the Buddha is stretching a point. It might be closest to the original teaching, but that's as far as I think I'd go. Still, just this comment doesn't strike me as worthy of hostility, especially when said on a Theravada discussion board.
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Re: Why Theravada?

Postby Dan74 » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:59 pm

Peter,

When the Venerable says that 'Mahayana sutras don't have a taste of liberation' he is spreading his delusion and the worst kind of sectarianism. I am not saying he is wrong in everything, nor that he is a bad monk, etc. But on this point he is plain wrong and spreading his delusion which serves to undermine people's Dharma practice and is therefore very harmful. I am just calling him out on it, not being aggressive.

If a Mahayana monk says that Theravada doesn't have a taste of liberation, is a despicable vehicle, etc I think I would word my reply even more strongly. It is not simply a matter of his opinion when it is a youtube video made for public consumption. It is propaganda. And as such it must be called out.

Edit: I may have had another one of his videos in mind, Folks. I have watched several and can't recall which is the nasty one.
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Re: Why Theravada?

Postby nibbuti » Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:34 am

Dan74 wrote: I am not saying he is wrong in everything, nor that he is a bad monk, etc. But on this point he is plain wrong

I'm not sure "right or "wrong" does apply to taste.

Mahayana Sutra, those I've read, had a taste of pomposity (like the Lotus Sutra) and well-meant confusion (Heart Sutra), rather than freedom.

Just my taste. :shrug:

Dan74 wrote: and the worst kind of sectarianism.

Actually, the suttas he says have a taste of freedom are pre-sectarian.

:popcorn:
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Re: Why Theravada?

Postby daverupa » Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:57 am

nibbuti wrote:Actually, the suttas he says have a taste of freedom are pre-sectarian.


As I recently discovered on the other DW, the mere hint that pre-sectarian texts predate & are not Mahayana texts is enough to drum up a defensive formation prior to clearing a room.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Why Theravada?

Postby Dan74 » Fri Oct 04, 2013 1:12 am

nibbuti wrote:
Dan74 wrote: I am not saying he is wrong in everything, nor that he is a bad monk, etc. But on this point he is plain wrong

I'm not sure "right or "wrong" does apply to taste.

Mahayana Sutra, those I've read, had a taste of pomposity (like the Lotus Sutra) and well-meant confusion (Heart Sutra), rather than freedom.

Just my taste. :shrug:

Dan74 wrote: and the worst kind of sectarianism.

Actually, the suttas he says have a taste of freedom are pre-sectarian.

:popcorn:


Nibbuti, not sure if you heard the Venerable. The way he meant it was in the context of a sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.5.05.irel.html rather than his personal taste. And when you say that the Heart Sutra has a taste of well-meant confusion, you should insert the words "for me' because what you are really conveying is your (lack of) understanding rather than the import of the Sutra. The problem arises when these two are confused and the subjective is sold as the objective. Saying "I don't get ..." is very different to saying "... is crap". I think this is all fairly obvious.

I am not sure if I am reading you right, but my impression is that your mind is pretty much made up on this matter.

Dave, some people will of course feel strongly about it and even a few scholars still hold to the traditional Mahayana notion of the genesis of the Sutras. Hardly surprising in traditions where devotion plays a strong role and not necessarily bad if efficacy is to be considered as the prime good. Since we cannot know the precise genesis of all texts, I prefer to be agnostic and defer to the current consensus as to the most likely origin. But for me this is not very important.
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Re: Why Theravada?

Postby nibbuti » Fri Oct 04, 2013 1:21 am

daverupa wrote:As I recently discovered on the other DW, the mere hint that pre-sectarian texts predate & are not Mahayana texts is enough to drum up a defensive formation prior to clearing a room.

Hi dave. Who says they're not Mahayana text?

The Agamas/Nikayas are lost from the Tibetan Kangyur (canon) and hardly noticed in the other branches, but still officially apply for all Buddhists including Mahayana. Whereas the Mahayana Sutras apply only for Mahayanists (non-Mahayanists have no obligation to acknowledge them).

What do honorable leaders of Mahayana say about the original suttas? :spy:

"In due course, these recitations from memory were written down, laying the basis for all subsequent Buddhist literature. The Pali Canon is one of the earliest of these written records and the only early version that has survived intact. Within the Pali Canon, the texts known as Nikayas have the special value of being a single cohesive collection of the Buddha's teachings in his own words."

Venerable Tenzin Gyatso, The Fourteenth Dalai Lama
May 10, 2005

Image

http://books.google.de/books?id=11X1h60 ... &q&f=false

Sutta and Vinaya portion of the Tipitaka shows considerable overlap in content to the Agamas, the parallel collections used by non-Theravada schools in India which are preserved in Chinese and partially in Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Tibetan, and the various non-Theravada Vinayas.

Thich Thien Son

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http://www.phathue.com/buddhism/the-thr ... f-buddhism

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