Other traditions

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Other traditions

Postby gingercatni » Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:54 am

Although I practice Theravada, I'm often curious about the methods other schools adopt for practice. Kwan Yin for example who in my opinion is a made up deity, but to her believers she embodies boundless compassion. From my understanding, the Buddha was the first and most compassionate being on earth, why then would someone supplement the Buddha for this deity?
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Re: Other traditions

Postby Ben » Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:59 am

Maybe you should ask the question to those who do.
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Re: Other traditions

Postby lojong1 » Sun Feb 20, 2011 11:08 am

gingercatni wrote:in my opinion is a made up deity, but to her believers

Many believers believe she's made up, like the Tibetan deities [are believed by many to be imaginary]. It doesn't affect their utility.
Helps some to focus on certain isolated characteristics instead of all at once?
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Re: Other traditions

Postby lojong1 » Sun Feb 20, 2011 11:19 am

I think she has a few easy listening CDs out to put you in the mood for sitting.
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Re: Other traditions

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Feb 20, 2011 11:25 am

Ben wrote:Maybe you should ask the question to those who do.

... and Dhamma Wheel's sibling site, Dharma Wheel http://www.dharmawheel.net/, would be a good place to start.
:namaste:
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Re: Other traditions

Postby Jhana4 » Sun Feb 20, 2011 1:31 pm

gingercatni wrote: From my understanding, the Buddha was the first and most compassionate being on earth, why then would someone supplement the Buddha for this deity?


Do you realize you are emotionally investing yourself in a religious icon ( something not real ) while you are sort of giving others implied criticism for doing the same? The Pali Canon wasn't written down until several hundred years after Siddharthas Death. Everything about who you think the historical Buddhas was could be pure fiction.
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One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Other traditions

Postby meindzai » Sun Feb 20, 2011 2:51 pm

lojong1 wrote:Helps some to focus on certain isolated characteristics instead of all at once?


I think this is a pretty good answer.

That and Bodhisattvas are cheaper than Buddhas. Seriously. I started in the Zen tradition and I wanted something for my altar, and could not afford a Buddha. So I have a 3 inch Kannon Bodhisattva to this day.

There's a fascinating mythology associated with Kannon in mahayana that illustrates the kind of compassion embodied by her, which is the same kind of compassion embodied by the Buddha, but we don't picture the Buddha walking around with 1000 hands and arms.

Symbolically speaking this represents one's ability to respond compassionately and appropriately in any and all situations, reaching everywhere and anywhere.

Of course, you can do that without all those extra limbs, but it's still a nice illustrative visual.

-M
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Re: Other traditions

Postby ground » Sun Feb 20, 2011 3:08 pm

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Re: Other traditions

Postby Lazy_eye » Sun Feb 20, 2011 3:46 pm

I've always liked the story (I think Ajahn Amaro may be the one who told it) about a very serious German student who suffered from doubt over whether Kwan-Yin/Kannon/Tara actually exists. In agony, he asked his teacher for help.

The lama closed his eyes for a few moments, then replied: "She knows she's not real."
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Re: Other traditions

Postby saltspring » Sun Feb 20, 2011 5:08 pm

Hello gingercatni
I think you have hit the nail on the head. I have strayed all over the buddhist landscape in the last twenty years, but when it gets right down to it there is really nothing more compassionate out there than the path layed out by the Buddha. It offers anyone the opportunity to lead the holy life of a monk or a nun, the lay community is vital to support the sangha its all there and it has stood the test of time (with some hicups for sure)very well.
It is also the path most grounded in historical fact if we look at the evidence of modern scholars such as Richard Gombrich. No need for binky the naga.

Chris
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Re: Other traditions

Postby gingercatni » Sun Feb 20, 2011 5:14 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Ben wrote:Maybe you should ask the question to those who do.

... and Dhamma Wheel's sibling site, Dharma Wheel http://www.dharmawheel.net/, would be a good place to start.
:namaste:
Kim


I wanted a Theravada view on it, thanks. :smile:

Jhana4 wrote:
gingercatni wrote: From my understanding, the Buddha was the first and most compassionate being on earth, why then would someone supplement the Buddha for this deity?


Do you realize you are emotionally investing yourself in a religious icon ( something not real ) while you are sort of giving others implied criticism for doing the same? The Pali Canon wasn't written down until several hundred years after Siddharthas Death. Everything about who you think the historical Buddhas was could be pure fiction.


I'm not investing myself in an icon, the Buddha is our guide. What I was asking was since he was so compassionate, why then did all these other "buddhas" turn up and essentially steal his thunder. No need to be so rude either thanks.

meindzai wrote:
lojong1 wrote:Helps some to focus on certain isolated characteristics instead of all at once?


I think this is a pretty good answer.

That and Bodhisattvas are cheaper than Buddhas. Seriously. I started in the Zen tradition and I wanted something for my altar, and could not afford a Buddha. So I have a 3 inch Kannon Bodhisattva to this day.

There's a fascinating mythology associated with Kannon in mahayana that illustrates the kind of compassion embodied by her, which is the same kind of compassion embodied by the Buddha, but we don't picture the Buddha walking around with 1000 hands and arms.

Symbolically speaking this represents one's ability to respond compassionately and appropriately in any and all situations, reaching everywhere and anywhere.

Of course, you can do that without all those extra limbs, but it's still a nice illustrative visual.

-M


Thank you this was the type of discussion i wanted to create. :twothumbsup:
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Re: Other traditions

Postby Prasadachitta » Sun Feb 20, 2011 5:43 pm

gingercatni wrote:I'm not investing myself in an icon, the Buddha is our guide. What I was asking was since he was so compassionate, why then did all these other "buddhas" turn up and essentially steal his thunder. No need to be so rude either thanks.

Hi gingercatni
I see the "thunder" as being shared by all awakened beings by whatever name you call them.

Metta

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Re: Other traditions

Postby lojong1 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:22 am

Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche says --"Tārā [(an aspect of kwan yin)] is the flawless expression of the inseparability of emptiness, awareness and compassion. Just as you use a mirror to see your face, Tara meditation is a means of seeing the true face of your mind, devoid of any trace of delusion".

--"We recognize that nothing in samsara or nirvana is outside mind; all is rooted in it. Our interactions within the sangha serve as a mirror that reflects our mind back to us so that we can use the methods of the dharma to correct ourselves."

--"The mind is like a mirror. Although our true nature is the deity, what we now experience are ordinary mind’s reflections. Enemies, hindrances, inauspicious moments - all of which appear to be outside of us - are actually reflections of our own negativities. If you’ve never seen your image before, looking in a mirror you’d think you were gazing through a window, encountering someone altogether independent of you. It wouldn’t seem to have any connection to you as you passed by. If you saw there a horrible-looking person with a dirty face and wild hair, you might feel aversion. You might even try to clean up the image by washing the mirror. But a mirror, like the mind, is reflective - it only shows you yourself. Only if you combed your hair and washed your face could you change what you saw. You’d have to change yourself; you couldn’t change the mirror. Prayer helps to purify the habits of ordinary, small mind and ignorance of our true nature as the deity.
When we pray in the context of deity practice, we sometimes visualize the deity standing or sitting before us in space as an embodiment of perfection, whereas we ourselves have many faults and obscurations. But praying to the deity is not a matter of supplicating something separate from ourselves. The point of using a dualistic method, visualizing the deity outside of us, is to eliminate duality.
When we visualize ourselves as the deity, we deepen our experience of our own intrinsic purity. Finally, in the completion stage of practice, when the form of the deity falls away, we let the mind rest, without effort or contrivance, in its own nature, the ultimate deity.
Thus we begin with an initial conception of purity as external, only to internalize it and ultimately to transcend concepts of inner and outer. This awareness of the nature of the deity increases the power, blessings, and benefit of our prayer."


Sounds like it should accomplish as much as Brahma Vihara meditations?
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Re: Other traditions

Postby Euclid » Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:33 am

gingercatni wrote:
I wanted a Theravada view on it, thanks. :smile:




Why? Here's the Theravada view on it:
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