jcsuperstar wrote:when i read these forums (and the other too) the thing is see a lot from Theravada buddhists is there is never any end to quotes. it's like one must know a million suttas.
I think one must know a million suttas in order to answer questions knowledgeably. Also, being able to provide a quote along with one's answer helps instill confidence in the questioner that the answerer is more likely representing the Buddha's teaching. In other words, when I quote it shows you I'm not giving you my answer but rather the Buddha's answer. (If I gave you my
answer your practice might end up being coffee and tv.
now i read way more than i had to, but it seems like in zen, all you need to know is a few key sutras, some old stories and a few books by a few masters and you were set. the rest was just zazen. and you could get rather far with this. direct experience was the key not quotes and study.
I think that in any tradition if you have steady access to a teacher then you can get away with not reading much - any questions or uncertainties that may arise can be worked out between you and your teacher. And since your teacher is likely well versed in the texts it is very close to as if you read those texts yourself. But even if you do not have steady access to a teacher then you can find a good book about
the scriptures and that too would be close enough.
So I think it's really just a difference in style. A Zen teacher might be more inclined to not quote texts and a Theravada teacher might be more inclined to quote but both teachings are grounded in the scriptures.
is this even possible in theravada? is there an equivilent? or must we all become scholars?
You only need to know as much as you need to keep your practice moving forward.
I will add that many people ask more questions than they need; they are often just indulging intellectual curiosity rather than focusing on what they need for their personal practice. Also there are people who have no confidence in teachers at all and try to go directly to the scriptures and figure it all out for themselves.
Oh, there might be another difference. In my sparse experience, a Zen teacher might be more inclined to answer a question with "Don't ask that question; just focus on your practice" whereas a Theravada teacher might be more inclined to answer whatever question is asked.
In the end, only you can know how much scripture you need. I hope this is helpful.
(Actually, genkaku said it well in much less space.