Theravada Motivation

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Theravada Motivation

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:33 am

The Mahayana has set up a dichotomy of motivation in practicing the Dhamma: The superior motivation of striving for Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient being and practicing the Dhamma for one's own self interest. It is something we, as Theravadins, bump into with some frequency. The issue here is not furthering the debate between Mahayana and Theravada (this is not a debate thread), but to get a handle on what the Theradava tradition says. Here is something I have posted earlier on DhammaWheel.

One of the complaints made against the Theravada is that the Theravadin practitioner is concerned only one's own salvation. The "hinayana" is so characterized by the Mahayana polemicists, but outside of the fact that the word "hinayana" is a derisive, disrespectful, divisive and an ugly term, the problem with this term is that it is a Mahayana polemical definition that gets inappropriately applied to the Theravada, ignoring what the Pali Canon, what the Theravada has to say for itself, and it assume that the Mahayana definition of the self centered arhat is the correct one across the board. It is not.

While such vows as the bodhisattva vow may be inspiring and motivating for some, the reality is that the Dhamma is lived in the very moment he find ourselves and in the very choices we make in that moment.

Chavalata Sutta
Trans by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

"Monks, these four types of individuals are to be found existing in the world. Which four? The one who practices neither for his/her own benefit nor for that of others. The one who practices for the benefit of others but not for his/her own. The one who practices for his/her own benefit but not for that of others. The one who practices for his/her own benefit and for that of others.

[1] Just as a firebrand from a funeral pyre -- burning at both ends, covered with excrement in the middle -- is used as fuel neither in a village nor in the wilderness: I tell you that this is a simile for the individual who practices neither for his/her own benefit nor for that of others.

[2] The individual who practices for the benefit of others but not for his/her own is the higher & more refined of these two.

[3] The individual who practices for his/her own benefit but not for that of others is the highest & most refined of these three.

[4] The individual who practices for his/her own benefit and for that of others is, of these four, the foremost, the chief, the most outstanding, the highest, & supreme.

Just as from a cow comes milk; from milk, curds; from curds, butter; from butter, ghee; from ghee, the skimmings of ghee; and of these, the skimmings of ghee are reckoned the foremost -- in the same way, of these four, the individual who practices for his/her own benefit and for that of other is the foremost, the chief, the most outstanding, the highest, & supreme.

"These are the four types of individuals to be found existing in the world."
AN IV.95

Jinna Sutta: Good, Kassapa. Very good. It seems that you are one who practices for the happiness of many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, benefit, & happiness of beings human & divine. So continue wearing your robes of cast off hemp cloth, go for alms, and live in the wilderness. ~ Samyutta Nikaya XVI.5

...the one who practices for his own benefit but not that of others is to be criticized for that reason, the one who practices for both his own benefit and that of others is, for that reason, to be praised. — AN VII.64

These interesting texts points to the fact that the Theravada and the Pali Canon are not concerned with selfish practice, but it is interesting to see that the third individual, the one who practices for his/her own benefit is rated higher than the one who practices only for the benefit of others, but as the Buddha clearly states:

One should first establish oneself in what is proper, then only should one instruct others. Thus the wise man is not reproached. Dhp 158

"Cunda, it is impossible that one who is himself sunk in the mire should pull out another who is sunk in the mire. But it is possible, Cunda, that one not sunk in the mire himself should pull out another who is sunk in the mire.
"It is not possible, Cunda, that one who is himself not restrained, not disciplined and not quenched [as to his passions], should make others restrained and disciplined, should make them attain to the full quenching [of passions]. But it is possible, Cunda, that one who is himself restrained, disciplined and fully quenched [as to his passions] should make others restrained and disciplined, should make them attain to the full quenching [of passions].
-- Majjhima Nikaya 8

By doing evil, one defiles oneself;
by avoiding evil, one purifies oneself.
Purity and impurity depend on oneself:
no one can purify another.
Dhp 165

I [the Buddha] am freed, monks from all snares both celestial and human. You also, monks are freed from all snares both celestial and human. Fare you, monk in a round that may be for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, for love toward the world, for the advantage, the good, the happiness of gods and men. -- S I 131-2.

In Shantideva's compendium of Mahayana thought, the "Sikshasammuccaya," we find quoted from the Mahayana Ayrya-Sagaramati Sutra:

"There is another rule that can serve as the epitome of Mahayana: 'By taking care to avoid stumbling oneself, one will protect all beings.'"

And he quotes from the Bodhisattva-Pratimoksa:

"If, O Sariputra, one wishes to protect others, one should protect oneself."

And here we have the epitome of Mahayana, not shunyata, not Buddha-nature or the trikaya doctrine, not the ekayana. It is worth noting the emphasis on individual practice, individual concern in these two Mahayanist texts. Without individual concern, concern for others is not too terribly meaningful. It is worth noting that the above is a reflection of what can be found in a more expansive earlier Pali texts where we find the Buddha stating:

"'I shall protect myself,' in that way the foundations of mindfulness should be practiced. 'I shall protect others,' in that way the foundations of mindfulness should be practiced. Protecting oneself one protects others; protecting others one protects oneself. And how does one, in protecting oneself, protect others? By the repeated and frequent practice of meditation. And how does one, in protecting others, protect oneself? By patience and forbearance, by a non-violent and harmless life, by compassion and loving kindness." -- S 52,8

While the Theravada lacks the profound mythic structure of the bodhisattva doctrine as developed by the Mahayanists, it casts lovingkindness and compassion into a far more prosaic, down to earth, practical level of practice:

Of these the worse is he who to one angry
Replies with wrath.
Do not reply with wrath to one who's angry
And win a battle hard to win!
You course then for the weal of both,
Yourself and of the other one.
You understand the other's angry mood,
Remaining mindful and at peace.
-- S i 162

All tremble at punishment.
Life is dear to all.
Put yourself in the place of others;
kill none nor have another killed.
-- Dhp 130

What should be done by one skillful in good
So as to gain the State of Peace is this:
Let him be able, and upright and straight,
Easy to speak to, gentle, and not proud,
Contented too, supported easily,
With few tasks, and living very lightly;
His faculties serene, prudent, and modest,
Unswayed by the emotions of the clans;
And let him never do the slightest thing
That other wise men might hold blamable.
(And let him think:) "In safety and in bliss
May creatures all be of a blissful heart.
Whatever breathing beings there may be.
No matter whether they are frail or firm,
With none excepted, be they long or big
Or middle-sized, or be they short or small
Or thick, as well as those seen or unseen,
Or whether they are dwelling far or near,
Existing or yet seeking to exist.
May creatures all be of a blissful heart.
Let no one work another one's undoing
Or even slight him at all anywhere:
And never let them wish each other ill
Through provocation or resentful thought."
And just as might a mother with her life
Protect the son that was her only child,
So let him then for every living thing
Maintain unbounded consciousness in being;
And let him too with love for all the world
Maintain unbounded consciousness in being
Above, below, and all round in between,
Untroubled, with no enemy or foe.
And while he stands or walks or while he sits
Or while he lies down, free from drowsiness,
Let him resolve upon this mindfulness:
This is Divine Abiding here, they say.
But when he has no trafficking with views,
Is virtuous, and has perfected seeing,
And purges greed for sensual desires,
He surely comes no more to any womb.
Sn vv. 143-152

Just as water cools
both good and bad
and washes away all
impurity and dust.

In the same way you should develop thoughts
of love to friend and foe alike,
and having reached perfection in love,
you will attain enlightenment.
JN 168-9

"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.
Sn 705

I am a friend and helper to all,
I am sympathetic to all living beings.
I develop a mind full of love
and always delight in harmlessness.

I gladden my mind, fill it with joy,
make it immovable and unshakable.
I develop the divine states of mind
not cultivated by evil men.
Thag 648-9

Therefore the meditation on love
should be done for oneself and others.
All should be suffused with love:
this is the teaching of the Buddha.
Miln 384

Whoever makes love grow
boundless, and sets his mind
for seeing the end of birth:
his fetters are worn thin.
It 21

In the enjoyment of meditation, in the fullness of knowledge and in the strength of mindfulness a person has full enlightenment [sambodhi] and is a shelter for many. - Sn 503

“Now, brahmana, it might be that you think: ‘Perhaps the samana Gotama is not free from lust, hate, and delusion even today, which is why he still resorts to remote jungle-thicket resting places in the forest.’ But you should not think thus. It is because I see two benefits that I still resort to remote jungle-thicket resting places in the forest: I see a pleasant abiding for myself here and now, and I have compassion for future generations.” (MN.i.23; AN.i.60-1)

The Development of Loving-kindness {Iti 1.27; Iti 19}

This was said by the Lord...

"Bhikkhus, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness. The mind-release of loving-kindness surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant.

"Just as the radiance of all the stars does not equal a sixteenth part of the moon's radiance, but the moon's radiance surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness...

"Just as in the last month of the rainy season, in the autumn, when the sky is clear and free of clouds, the sun, on ascending, dispels the darkness of space and shines forth, bright and brilliant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness...

"And just as in the night, at the moment of dawn, the morning star shines forth, bright and brilliant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness. The mind-release of loving-kindness surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant."

For one who mindfully develops
Boundless loving-kindness
Seeing the destruction of clinging,
The fetters are worn away.

If with an uncorrupted mind
He pervades just one being
With loving kindly thoughts,
He makes some merit thereby.

But a noble one produces
An abundance of merit
By having a compassionate mind
Towards all living beings.

Those royal seers who conquered
The earth crowded with beings
Went about performing sacrifices:
The horse sacrifice, the man sacrifice,
The water rites, the soma sacrifice,
And that called "the Unobstructed."

But these do not share even a sixteenth part
Of a well cultivated mind of love,
Just as the entire starry host
Is dimmed by the moon's radiance.

One who does not kill
Nor cause others to kill,
Who does not conquer
Nor cause others to conquer,
Kindly towards all beings —
He has enmity for none.
This too is the meaning of what was said by the Lord, so I heard.


"Furthermore, the disciple of the noble ones reflects thus: 'As long as they live, the arahants — abandoning the taking of life — abstain from the taking of life. They dwell with their rod laid down, their knife laid down, scrupulous, merciful, compassionate for the welfare of all living beings. Today I too, for this day & night — abandoning the taking of life — abstain from the taking of life. I dwell with my rod laid down, my knife laid down, scrupulous, merciful, compassionate for the welfare of all living beings. By means of this factor I emulate the arahants, and my Uposatha will be observed. - AN 3.70


In other words, with the Theravada we are not talking about hinayana motivation, nor are we talking about Mahayana motivation, but we are talking about Theravadin motivation that understands fully the need for self cultivation, and that knows well in practical, down to earth terms loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity arising from insight into the selfless interdependence of all phenomena from which the Dhamma is lived for the benefit of all sentient beings.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Theravada Motivation

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 17, 2010 9:28 am

Let me make something clear here. This not meant to be another Mahayana vs Theravada debate thread, nor am I trying to establish that the Theravada is superior to the Mahayana. What I am trying to say is that the Theravada, over a number of texts, does address the issue of motivation and compassion. This is sometimes lost is the shuffle of things. What I would welcome here are more texts to support the ones I quoted, and I certainly would not be averse to a text or two from Mahayana sources such as:

For hatred, friendliness is the antidote, not to see unpleasant people; or by encouraging the pleasures that come from associuation in such matters as common meals. Frienliness means to have hopes for the welfare of others, to long for it, to crave it, to delight in it. It is affection usullied by motives of sense-desires, passion or hope of return. Shantideva in his wondeful S'ikshaasamuccya, 212 (tr. Conze)

In other words, I'd like this thread to be a reference, informational thread on the topic.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Theravada Motivation

Postby Sherab » Fri Dec 17, 2010 9:53 am

In Tibetan Buddhism, it is practically standard operational procedure for us to begin any formal practice with the going for refuge prayer followed by the aspirational prayer to practice for the benefit of all sentient beings. At the end of the formal practice, merits are always dedicated to all sentient beings. Even in daily activities, whenever we are going to do something virtuous, we are encouraged to remember to bring forth such motivation and to dedicate all merits away to all sentient beings.

Is there something similar in Theravada or is it left very much to the individual to decide how to motivate himself/herself in his/her practice of the Dhamma and how to dedicate the merits of the practice?

(btw, I will not be free for the next two weeks.)
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Re: Theravada Motivation

Postby Aloka » Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:45 pm

In amongst the refuge and other practice guidelines and reminders in daily chants from the (Theravada) Amaravati Chanting Book can also be found concerns and dedications for others for example :

Reflections On Sharing Blessings

The Buddha's Words On Loving Kindness (Karaniya Metta Sutta)

Suffusion With The Divine Abidings

Reflections On Universal Well Being (The Vajrayana "May all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness etc" is very similar to this)

http://www.amaravati.org/abmnew/documents/ABM_Chanting_Book_2006.pdf

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Re: Theravada Motivation

Postby Sherab » Tue Jan 04, 2011 4:49 am

Hi Aloka,

Specifically, from the perspective of Tibetan Buddhism, the motivation to practice the Dharma MUST be for the benefit of others if it is to be considered a Mahayana practice. It is not an option. The benefit can be temporary or permanent. Temporary in the sense of secular happiness or relief from suffering. Permanent in the sense of total liberation from the cycle of existence or attainment of buddhahood.

In my mind, it would seem that this non-optionality is the key difference.
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Re: Theravada Motivation

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:00 am

Sherab wrote:Hi Aloka,

Specifically, from the perspective of Tibetan Buddhism, the motivation to practice the Dharma MUST be for the benefit of others if it is to be considered a Mahayana practice. It is not an option. The benefit can be temporary or permanent. Temporary in the sense of secular happiness or relief from suffering. Permanent in the sense of total liberation from the cycle of existence or attainment of buddhahood.

In my mind, it would seem that this non-optionality is the key difference.


For the difference to really be a key difference the I think the benefit would have to be quantifiable, you'd have to be able to say I sat for half an hour starting and ending with a prayer and and as a result cured Joe Bloggs of his nagging cold for example.

If not then the benefit is purely one of attitude, making sure the attitude is not one of self centredness but rather one of openness. Sharing merits as we do in Theravada or starting and ending with aspirational prayers or sharing merits as you do in Tibetan practice is one way of reminding ourselves of this but I don't really see that it does anything other than remind us.

The important thing is attitude, not how many times you say a prayer or whether it's compulsory or not.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Theravada Motivation

Postby Aloka » Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:26 am

Sherab wrote:Hi Aloka,

Specifically, from the perspective of Tibetan Buddhism, the motivation to practice the Dharma MUST be for the benefit of others if it is to be considered a Mahayana practice. It is not an option. The benefit can be temporary or permanent. Temporary in the sense of secular happiness or relief from suffering. Permanent in the sense of total liberation from the cycle of existence or attainment of buddhahood.

In my mind, it would seem that this non-optionality is the key difference.


Hi Sherab,

I used to be a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner and the concept of the compulsory motivation"for the benefit of others" you mention, seemed simply a skilful tool designed to help practitioners be less selfish and develop compassion for other sentient beings. On a day to day level there were jealousies, intrigues, and squabbles at centres just like anywhere else where human beings congregate. People can continue to have delusions whatever they try to practice.

Motivation to practice Dhamma must be for the benefit of oneself as well . When people are advanced on the path, they automatically act for the benefit of other beings.

I've found that in Theravada there's always plenty of emphasis on kindness and and compassion as well as on gratitude to others.This little quote from Ajahn Buddadasa from 'Heartwood from the Bo Tree' illustrates that.

".... we may take an even humbler virtue, that of gratitude. With just this one virtue, the world could be at peace. We must recognize that every person in the world is the benefactor of everyone else. Never mind people; even cats and dogs are benefactors of humanity, even sparrows. If we are aware of our debt of gratitude to these things, we will be unable to act in any way that harms or oppresses them. With the power of this one virtue of gratitude, we can help the world."



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Re: Theravada Motivation

Postby Aloka » Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:07 am

The issue here is not furthering the debate between Mahayana and Theravada (this is not a debate thread), but to get a handle on what the Theradava tradition says



Apologies, Tilt, I think my interaction with Sherab was going off topic.

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Re: Theravada Motivation

Postby Sherab » Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:12 am

Goofaholix wrote:For the difference to really be a key difference the I think the benefit would have to be quantifiable, you'd have to be able to say I sat for half an hour starting and ending with a prayer and and as a result cured Joe Bloggs of his nagging cold for example.

While the quantifiability is important, it is the quality of the motivation in practising the Dharma that is the key.
Goofaholix wrote:If not then the benefit is purely one of attitude, making sure the attitude is not one of self centredness but rather one of openness. Sharing merits as we do in Theravada or starting and ending with aspirational prayers or sharing merits as you do in Tibetan practice is one way of reminding ourselves of this but I don't really see that it does anything other than remind us.

The degree of openness is dependent on the quality of the motivation in practising the Dharma - that is the point. When the motivation for practising the Dharma is for all beings, dedication of merits to all beings naturally follows.
Goofaholix wrote:The important thing is attitude, not how many times you say a prayer or whether it's compulsory or not.

Agree. That is why the motivation that one has for practising the Dharma AND the quality of that motivation is key.
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Re: Theravada Motivation

Postby Sherab » Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:21 am

Aloka wrote:Motivation to practice Dhamma must be for the benefit of oneself as well . When people are advanced on the path, they automatically act for the benefit of other beings.

I was taught that the benefit for oneself automatically follows when one's motivation for the practice of the Dharma is for the benefit of others. Whereas if one's motivation for the practise of the Dharma is for oneself, while there will still be benefits for others, it is less extensive as it is a "passive" rather than an "active" benefitting of others.
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Re: Theravada Motivation

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:28 am

Sherab wrote:
Aloka wrote:Motivation to practice Dhamma must be for the benefit of oneself as well . When people are advanced on the path, they automatically act for the benefit of other beings.

I was taught that the benefit for oneself automatically follows when one's motivation for the practice of the Dharma is for the benefit of others. Whereas if one's motivation for the practise of the Dharma is for oneself, while there will still be benefits for others, it is less extensive as it is a "passive" rather than an "active" benefitting of others.
The texts quoted in the OP give more balanced approached.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Theravada Motivation

Postby Aloka » Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:36 am

Sherab wrote:
Aloka wrote:Motivation to practice Dhamma must be for the benefit of oneself as well . When people are advanced on the path, they automatically act for the benefit of other beings.

I was taught that the benefit for oneself automatically follows when one's motivation for the practice of the Dharma is for the benefit of others. Whereas if one's motivation for the practise of the Dharma is for oneself, while there will still be benefits for others, it is less extensive as it is a "passive" rather than an "active" benefitting of others.


I said "oneself as well", Sherab, not for oneself alone.


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Re: Theravada Motivation

Postby Individual » Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:40 am

I would not say that Theravada motivation is defined by its contrast to Mahayana motivation.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: Theravada Motivation

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:50 am

Individual wrote:I would not say that Theravada motivation is defined by its contrast to Mahayana motivation.
Which is the point stated in the OP.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Theravada Motivation

Postby Sherab » Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:44 am

I was trying to confirm whether Theravada's motivation for the practice of the Dhamma is something that is up to each individual.

Thus far, it seemed to me that in Theravada, it does not matter if one chooses solely to practise for one's benefit or for the benefit of others or for both, whereas in the tradition that I follow, the motivation itself determines the type of "path" one treads.

That said, I hear you all and I guess we should just leave it as that.
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Re: Theravada Motivation

Postby PeterB » Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:51 am

Sherab wrote:I was trying to confirm whether Theravada's motivation for the practice of the Dhamma is something that is up to each individual.

Thus far, it seemed to me that in Theravada, it does not matter if one chooses solely to practise for one's benefit or for the benefit of others or for both, whereas in the tradition that I follow, the motivation itself determines the type of "path" one treads.

That said, I hear you all and I guess we should just leave it as that.


I dont think its quite that. The motivation to practice in the Theravada stems from a growing awareness of the pervasive nature of Dukkha and that there is a means to end it. Seeing this in personal terms is less of an issue.
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Re: Theravada Motivation

Postby Aloka » Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:31 pm

Some points I recall Ajahn Sumedho making in his talks at Amaravati monastery, which seem relevant in this thread .

"Unconditioned love is the basis of everything. "

and ...."The delusion of life is not knowing anything beyond the views and conditions we create. "


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Re: Theravada Motivation

Postby Individual » Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:02 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Individual wrote:I would not say that Theravada motivation is defined by its contrast to Mahayana motivation.
Which is the point stated in the OP.

Image

To whom does that point belong?
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: Theravada Motivation

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:01 pm

Sherab wrote:Agree. That is why the motivation that one has for practising the Dharma AND the quality of that motivation is key.


Yes, and how many times one says an aspirational paryer and whether it is compulsory is not a guarentee that the motivation will be any better than when no prayers are said or they are optional, motivation comes from the heart not from ritual, a wise heart will have the right motivation.

Sherab wrote:I was trying to confirm whether Theravada's motivation for the practice of the Dhamma is something that is up to each individual.


Of course, otherwise we'd be a brainwashing cult wouldn't we.

Wisdom sees that what benefits the individual benefits others, and vis versa. You can wish others well until the cows come home but if you really want to benefit others the starting point is to purify ones own mind so that your interactions with others are not tainted with greed, aversion, and delusion.

Making a big show about benefiting others only serves to strengethen the distinction between self and others I think, wheras wisdom sees there is no seperation and that what benefits the individual benefits all and vis versa.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Theravada Motivation

Postby Sherab » Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:08 am

PeterB wrote:
Sherab wrote:I was trying to confirm whether Theravada's motivation for the practice of the Dhamma is something that is up to each individual.

Thus far, it seemed to me that in Theravada, it does not matter if one chooses solely to practise for one's benefit or for the benefit of others or for both, whereas in the tradition that I follow, the motivation itself determines the type of "path" one treads.

That said, I hear you all and I guess we should just leave it as that.


I dont think its quite that. The motivation to practice in the Theravada stems from a growing awareness of the pervasive nature of Dukkha and that there is a means to end it. Seeing this in personal terms is less of an issue.

I would say that that awareness is the basis of going for refuge and the basis of renunciation of samsara. The motivation that I was referring to assumes that there has already been the taking of refuge or renunciation. Apologies for not making this clear from the start.
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Sherab
 
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