Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

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Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Dan74 » Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:26 am

There's been a diversity of views here (as usual!). Some have said that Mahayana is irrelevant or superfluous at best. Some have posted various Mahayana materials as having been useful or inspirational.

So I am wondering if people tend to feel that posts from Mahayana practitioners are unwelcome intrusions (as was recently expressed) or simply irrelevant at best. I knows the admins intentions are to have an inclusive forum particularly in this subforum but I am asking how others feel.

I don't want to detract people from their practice by posting confusing information or even what is perceived as adhamma. :shrug: So if sharing my perspective as a Mahayana practitioner does that, I'd rather cease and desist.

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Ben » Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:40 am

Hi Dan

Everyone is welcome here, that is, everyone who has an interest in the Theravada and who is prepared to abide by the Terms of Service and special guidelines for the individual fora. One does not need to be a Theravadin to validate one's membership. There are a couple of fora, such as those within the Classical Theravada, where a particular point of view (Mahavihara) is considered authoritative and external views, including one's own personal opinion, is considered off-topic. Within the other fora, so long as one doesn't insist on prosetylizing and presents their views in a non-confrontational and respectful manner, then there is no problem.

My own personal point of view is that while I am not a Mahayanist, I appreciate the input and perspective of non-Theravadins. And I am sure I'm not the only one who feels the same. And it is because of this reason I invited many of my Mahayanist and Vajrayanist friends to join Dhamma Wheel when we first began in early January this year.

Dan, in future if anyone has a problem with you posting here because you are not Theravadin, please refer them to me or one of my colleagues.
Metta

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:43 am

Well said, Ben.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby thornbush » Thu Apr 16, 2009 3:37 am

Since this is a Theravada focused Forum, all I can say is, whatever that is compatible with the Pali Canon, found also in the Mahayana, I am somewhat sure that it is of no issue of reading or reflecting for practice. Similarly, vice versa. After 2500 over years, surely, we have learned how to sit down and discuss what have we in common and even in variances, we can learn of our diversity too, isn't it?
It is my firm belief that our shared heritage is and will always be founded in the 4 Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path.
I was thinking of these Lotus Sutra quotes:
http://lotus.nichirenshu.org/lotus/s...lsw_chap16.htm
"Good men, the Scriptures expounded by the Thus Come One are all for the purpose of saving and emancipating living beings. Sometimes I speak of myself, sometimes of others: sometimes I present myself, sometimes others; sometimes I show my own actions, sometimes those of others. All that I preach is true and not false."
"Because living beings have different natures, different desires, different actions, and different ways of thinking and making distinctions, and because I want to enable them to put down good roots, I employ a variety of causes and conditions, similes, parables, and phrases and preach different doctrines. This, the Buddha's work, I have never for a moment neglected."

http://cttbusa.org/lotus/lotus14_1.asp
“Further, Manjushri, in the future Ending Age, when the Dharma is about to become extinct, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva who receives, upholds, reads, or recites this Sutra should harbor no thoughts of envy, flattery, or deceit.
He should also not ridicule or malign those who study the Buddha Way, nor should he seek their strengths or weaknesses.
If there are Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, Upasikas, those who seek to be Hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, or those who seek the Bodhisattva Way, he should not torment them or cause them to have doubts by saying to them, “You are all very far from the Path, and you will never obtain the wisdom of all modes.
Why not? Because you are careless and lax in the Way.”
Further, he should not frivolously discuss the Dharma for the sake of argument.”

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Apr 16, 2009 3:40 am

Hi Dan,
Dan74 wrote:There's been a diversity of views here (as usual!). Some have said that Mahayana is irrelevant or superfluous at best.

I did post something a little like that viewtopic.php?f=16&t=990#p12308 but it was in response to a question about Tantra and it was a statement about tantra being way outside Theravada doctrine:
According to Theravada doctrine Tantra (and Mahayana) is, at best, irrelevant. I presume that the vast majority of people here are like me in knowing nothing about Tantra, so I'm puzzled as to how you think we can help.

I don't have a problem with Mahayana perspectives that might help me understand the Theravada path, or Buddhism in general. However, if someone suggests that Theravada is not a complete path and Arahants still have more work to do then I tend to go straight to the "irrelevant" line... :zzz:

Metta
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Apr 16, 2009 4:17 am

I do wish people would be more explicit in stating whether their answer is intended from a Theravadin perspective or Mahayana perspective or a personal opinion perspective. I think that would save us all alot of time posting "That's wrong" or "That contradicts this sutta" or similar. If we just state up front where the answer is coming from then no one mistakenly thinks an answer is intended to represent something it's not.
- Peter

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby christopher::: » Thu Apr 16, 2009 9:11 am

Hmmm. While I feel most strongly a connection to Zen Buddhism, there are a number of teachers (as well as groovy dharma practitioners, wink, wink, nudge, nudge) in Tibetan and Theravadin Buddhism who's povs just resonate perfectly with how i view the world and my practice. There are also issues, ideas and teachings in Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism that just don't interest me that much...

Sometimes I feel like a transdharmite, someone who's kinda confused about his gender, err, i mean school....

:juggling:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Dan74 » Thu Apr 16, 2009 9:29 am

Peter wrote:I do wish people would be more explicit in stating whether their answer is intended from a Theravadin perspective or Mahayana perspective or a personal opinion perspective. I think that would save us all alot of time posting "That's wrong" or "That contradicts this sutta" or similar. If we just state up front where the answer is coming from then no one mistakenly thinks an answer is intended to represent something it's not.


I think it's reasonable to assume than a Mahayana practitioner will post from their understanding of a Mahayana perspective. But if that perspective contradicts something in the Pali canon, I'd certainly be very keen to know and to understand the reasons why.

So keep up your critique!

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Dan74 » Thu Apr 16, 2009 9:43 am

My own personal point of view is that while I am not a Mahayanist, I appreciate the input and perspective of non-Theravadins. And I am sure I'm not the only one who feels the same. And it is because of this reason I invited many of my Mahayanist and Vajrayanist friends to join Dhamma Wheel when we first began in early January this year.

Dan, in future if anyone has a problem with you posting here because you are not Theravadin, please refer them to me or one of my colleagues.
Metta

Ben


Thanks, guys!

I didn't mean to sound like I am whingeing.

What I am interested in is across the board feedback on the non-Theravada input. I've noticed that posts by guys like pink trike, genkaku and drolma (who from what I can gather are serious practitioners) don't seem to get that much response. So I was simply wondering if people were finding us useful. :thinking:

But the forum itself is a great resource and whether I continue to post or not, I will certainly continue reading!

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Apr 16, 2009 9:46 am

Greetings Dan,

And not to shoo you away of course, but don't forget...

Dharma Wheel (Mahayana and Vajrayana forum)
http://www.dharmawheel.net/

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Fede » Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:20 am

I will tell you how it is with me:

I first encountered Buddhism via the Mahayana/Tibetan Buddhism route.
Much of the preliminary literature I read, was presented from a Mahayana Tibetan/Zen perspective.
had it not been for these, my travels would not have been so fruitful.
It took me a long time for me to decide where to pitch my tent and hoist my pennant.
In the end, after much deliberation and confusion (as many here will attest to) I swerved towards Theravada.
Why? Simply because there were some notions and ideologies in Mahayana I could not easily digest or accept.
This is not to say I considered them wrong, or bad, or even inaccurate.
It is merely to say that they did not sit well with me specifically.

But I take nothing away from that tradition, or path.
I am a cause of exaspertion to myself, in my ignorance of much scholarly knowlege, but my heart, I hope, is in the right place....
I have Mahayana to thank for giving me a good shove in the back and setting me rolling.
Poor Theravada - look what it's ended up with!! :jumping: :jumping:
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Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:21 pm

christopher::: wrote:there are a number of teachers ... who's povs just resonate perfectly with how i view the world and my practice.

I wonder... is this is good criteria for choosing a teacher? that we already agree with their view? I recall the Canki Sutta contains some advice from the Buddha for how to select a teacher.

Dan74 wrote:I think it's reasonable to assume than a Mahayana practitioner will post from their understanding of a Mahayana perspective.

I agree. But as it stands I don't have a way to know which posters are Mahayana practitioners.
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Dan74 » Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:39 pm

As the night moves on and the silence slowly spreads, I am beginning to realise that I've started a pretty stupid thread.

This notion of two camps, Theravada and Mahayana, "you guys" and "your" attitude to "us", that's just bloody nonsense, isn't it? :cookoo:

Are we not just a bunch of people trying to find our way, using the best guidance we know to the best of our abilities?

We could do worse than dropping all pretense and just sharing honestly, without labels getting in the way.

..........
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby christopher::: » Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:26 pm

Peter wrote:
christopher::: wrote:there are a number of teachers ... who's povs just resonate perfectly with how i view the world and my practice.

I wonder... is this is good criteria for choosing a teacher? that we already agree with their view? I recall the Canki Sutta contains some advice from the Buddha for how to select a teacher.


I wasn't talking about choosing a personal teacher, rather choosing to spend time reading what a specific "published" teacher has said or written. There are thousands of things that have been written. How does one decide to spend time with specific Theravada, Tibetan, Pureland, Nichiren or Zen teachers' writing unless there is a resonance with how you view the world and your practice?

We may differ on this, of course.

Dan74 wrote:Are we not just a bunch of people trying to find our way, using the best guidance we know to the best of our abilities?

We could do worse than dropping all pretense and just sharing honestly, without labels getting in the way.



:group:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby genkaku » Thu Apr 16, 2009 3:10 pm

My own personal point of view is that while I am not a Mahayanist, I appreciate the input and perspective of non-Theravadins.


I agree with Ben ... but probably from the other end of the telescope. I appreciate and sometimes find very useful reminders coming from my Theravadin friends. I say that despite the fact that if I had to find a label, I would probably get stuck with "Mahayanist."

PS. I would be grateful if no one asked me to define either "Mahayanist" or "Theravadin." I hate feeling stupid. I feel more comfortable with a business card that might read, "Genkaku's the name. Suffering is the game." :smile:
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby clw_uk » Thu Apr 16, 2009 3:51 pm

"Genkaku's the name. Suffering is the game."



:rofl: :clap:
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby clw_uk » Thu Apr 16, 2009 4:06 pm

Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?


Depends on what is being discussed i would say, if its about Suññatā or the 4NT or NEFP etc then i would say yes, but if its about bodhisatta importance etc then i would say no


Metta
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Apr 16, 2009 9:36 pm

Dan74 wrote:Are we not just a bunch of people trying to find our way, using the best guidance we know to the best of our abilities?

Well, yes, but since much of the language and assumptions are different in different schools things can get confusing. Mahayana concepts to do with Buddha Nature, Bodhisattvas etc, usually make no sense in the context of my practise. That doesn't make them "wrong", but different schools have radically different paradigms.

There is an analysis of the sort of contradictions one can run into in this post:
http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index. ... &p=1068365

My preference is to learn a particular approach thoroughly, rather than worry about other approaches.

By all means discuss things, but be cognisant that Mahayana assumptions can be very different from Theravada ones.

Metta
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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:43 am

I'm sort of naive at times, and I know this. But I like to think that when I'm writing here readers just see me as a person.
Not a Mahayana or Vajrayana this or that. Just a practitioner.

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Re: Is Mahayana perspective useful for Theravada practitioners?

Postby pink_trike » Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:59 am

As a long-time practitioner in both Theravada and Mahayana/Vajrayana, I'm aware of how different they are, and how similar much of those differences are under the surface. I find the tension that exists between Theravada and Vajrayana practice to be extremely revealing and fruitful. I mostly post in the lounge, or at least try to - because it is often difficult enough for me to understand that interesting tension and how the combined path forms my view and actions, let alone someone with no experience with Vajrayana - which may be incomprehensible to a non-practitioner...and at this point I often don't even know which perspective is talking, and don't really care anymore, being more interested in practice and its fruits, and less interested in knowing which side we're supposed to part our hair on. So I understand why those who practice a strict approach to Theravada might not want to engage with some of my posts that may have the seemingly crazy stink of Vajrayana on them, whether they are able to identify the name of the stink or not. And I usually don't comment in threads that have too much of the stink of Theravada "Law". Part of the value of an inclusive forum is that we can just listen without commenting - maybe some recognition will follow at some point.
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