Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby Anagarika » Thu Nov 14, 2013 4:59 pm

Anders wrote:As a Mahayanika with a lot of love for Theravada, maybe I can offer some reasons on why I have always felt very attracted and connected to Theravada:

Coherent presentation - The Pali Canon is just a beautiful presentation of teachings with an internal consistency and coherency that is to me unparalleled. Coming from Zen to the Pali suttas was a revelation in terms of how pedagogical the historical Buddha can be.

Clearer - Mahayana is a kitchen sink religion, with a dozen exceptions to every rule and at least one good contradiction of same. In Theravada, you have a simpler set of practices and views to pick up before digging in.

A beautiful society - I am full of awe and admiration for Kammatthana monks and those of similar habits who follow the vinaya to a tee and show that it is in fact both feasible and worthwhile to do so in modern society - the standard of dana-conomics is to me far too quickly disregarded in modern society. These exist in Mahayana too, but I personally find them harder to come by (a product no doubt of my own karma).

Good western teachers - Theravada has been fortunate to have a solid transition to the west with a good selection of outstanding western teachers with profound cultivation and standards.

I personally feel my own cultivation would be lacking without my exposure to these jewels of the Theravada tradition. :namaste:


:goodpost: Hear, hear!

My two baht: It's not so much that one should reject Mahayana in favor of Theravada. I'm fully in the Theravada camp for a number of reasons, many of which have been stated above. The Pali Canon based approaches best reflect and approximate the original teachings of the Buddha; Mahayana rejected what it calls "Hinayana" in favor of new ideas and practices that are not consistent with what the Buddha taught, as defined in the Canon. Mahayana in the west has introduced some important ideas, including a more pronounced sense of the Bodhisattva ideal, and many Mahayana practitioners are doing excellent work as engaged Buddhists, with environmental issues, end of life issues, etc. So, i give a tip of the hat to Mahayana for taking the lead on some of these engaged practices, and illustrating for the west what engaged Buddhist practice might look like.

However, Theravada scholars like Bhikkhu Bodhi are taking the Bodhisatta ideal and going a step further. Maintaining focus on the Canon Buddhavacana, adhering to Vinaya principles, and then taking that Dhamma-based renunciate sensibility and translating it as action for the benefit for others is a terrific approach, IMO. The Pali Canon's teachings are like pure spring water, unadulterated with artificial sweeteners or colorants. In our thirst for release from dukkha, why drink anything but pure spring water?
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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby imagemarie » Thu Nov 14, 2013 5:32 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:
Anders wrote:As a Mahayanika with a lot of love for Theravada, maybe I can offer some reasons on why I have always felt very attracted and connected to Theravada:

Coherent presentation - The Pali Canon is just a beautiful presentation of teachings with an internal consistency and coherency that is to me unparalleled. Coming from Zen to the Pali suttas was a revelation in terms of how pedagogical the historical Buddha can be.

Clearer - Mahayana is a kitchen sink religion, with a dozen exceptions to every rule and at least one good contradiction of same. In Theravada, you have a simpler set of practices and views to pick up before digging in.

A beautiful society - I am full of awe and admiration for Kammatthana monks and those of similar habits who follow the vinaya to a tee and show that it is in fact both feasible and worthwhile to do so in modern society - the standard of dana-conomics is to me far too quickly disregarded in modern society. These exist in Mahayana too, but I personally find them harder to come by (a product no doubt of my own karma).

Good western teachers - Theravada has been fortunate to have a solid transition to the west with a good selection of outstanding western teachers with profound cultivation and standards.

I personally feel my own cultivation would be lacking without my exposure to these jewels of the Theravada tradition. :namaste:


:goodpost: Hear, hear!

My two baht: It's not so much that one should reject Mahayana in favor of Theravada. I'm fully in the Theravada camp for a number of reasons, many of which have been stated above. The Pali Canon based approaches best reflect and approximate the original teachings of the Buddha; Mahayana rejected what it calls "Hinayana" in favor of new ideas and practices that are not consistent with what the Buddha taught, as defined in the Canon. Mahayana in the west has introduced some important ideas, including a more pronounced sense of the Bodhisattva ideal, and many Mahayana practitioners are doing excellent work as engaged Buddhists, with environmental issues, end of life issues, etc. So, i give a tip of the hat to Mahayana for taking the lead on some of these engaged practices, and illustrating for the west what engaged Buddhist practice might look like.

However, Theravada scholars like Bhikkhu Bodhi are taking the Bodhisatta ideal and going a step further. Maintaining focus on the Canon Buddhavacana, adhering to Vinaya principles, and then taking that Dhamma-based renunciate sensibility and translating it as action for the benefit for others is a terrific approach, IMO. The Pali Canon's teachings are like pure spring water, unadulterated with artificial sweeteners or colorants. In our thirst for release from dukkha, why drink anything but pure spring water?


:goodpost: Anders and Buddhasoup

:anjali:
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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby Monkey Mind » Thu Nov 14, 2013 9:42 pm

In college I took a couple of Buddhist studies classes. Reading the Dhammapada changed my life. It was practical, easy to read and understand, and the metaphors were rich and meaningful. I really struggled with the Lotus Suttra and some of the other Mahayana and Vajrayana readings. They were beautifully poetic with rich imagery, but as practice manuals I found them to be very confusing.

The readings, and my visits to Mahayana groups, required an incredible leap of faith for the entry-level practitioner. I was just not ready for that. I'm not a religious person, but instead always a pragmatist.
"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.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby SarathW » Thu Nov 14, 2013 10:53 pm

I love reading Diamond Sutta. (The doctrine of Anatta taught by Mahayana)
I read it many times with tears in my eyes.
World oldest surviving printed book is the copy of Diamond Sutta which is available in British Library.

See attached link for the translation:

http://www.diamond-sutra.com/diamond_su ... page1.html
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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:49 am

SarathW wrote:I love reading Diamond Sutta. (The doctrine of Anatta taught by Mahayana)


My favourite is the Heart Sutra, which I used to recite every day - very poetic. I still don't understand it though.... ;)
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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby whynotme » Fri Nov 15, 2013 6:03 pm

Mahayana has many wrongs and so Theravada. Don't follow the name, follow the truth. You need devotion and being honest more than the need for a teacher.

Lets think like this, if someone can guide me, it is good. But even without them (the teachers) I will go alone and seek the goal myself. Do not depend on others.
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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby steeltarrow » Fri Nov 15, 2013 6:28 pm

whynotme wrote:Mahayana has many wrongs and so Theravada. Don't follow the name, follow the truth. You need devotion and being honest more than the need for a teacher.

Lets think like this, if someone can guide me, it is good. But even without them (the teachers) I will go alone and seek the goal myself. Do not depend on others.


I think it is important to at least have some direction. Some may take reading the suttas to be enough but I think most probably do better with a teacher either directly or through talks and books. Now if one is just going their own without any direction, I think they have a long and hard and most probably hopeless journey.
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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby pegembara » Sat Nov 16, 2013 4:01 am

The heart of the teachings are there in the Diamond and Heart Sutras amidst the beautiful and poetic verses. I find the words deeply moving somehow.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby hermitwin » Sat Nov 16, 2013 8:49 am

I just want to respond to this question in a different way. It is too easy to defend the religion of your choice. Eg . if a person is born in Thailand, it is easy to defend Theravada or if my teacher is a Tibetan Buddhist nun, so I defend Vajrayana.
Simply, because of your culture and background.

Similarly, a person born in Taiwan would usually defend Mahayana.

Much more difficult to approach the debate with an open mind. To look at the different schools as a scientist would before coming to any conclusion.

First of all, you need to look at the history. Then you need to look at how it is practiced today.

And always remember that the most popular forms may not be the most accurate representative of the school.

But what usually happen is people just defend the school they like and criticise the other schools without knowing much about them.

One good example is Islam.
How much do Americans know about Islam?
Yet many would just condemn it as a violent religion.




Disciple wrote:I've been following Mahayana teachings for some time now but would like to know amongst strictly Theravada practitioners why you have have chosen Theravada over Mahayana. Surely many of you have done your research and know specifically why you have chosen the path you are on.

Thanks.
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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby hermitwin » Sat Nov 16, 2013 8:52 am

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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby dagon » Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:25 am

hermitwin said
I just want to respond to this question in a different way. It is too easy to defend the religion of your choice. Eg . if a person is born in Thailand, it is easy to defend Theravada or if my teacher is a Tibetan Buddhist nun, so I defend Vajrayana.
Simply, because of your culture and background.

Similarly, a person born in Taiwan would usually defend Mahayana.

Much more difficult to approach the debate with an open mind. To look at the different schools as a scientist would before coming to any conclusion.

First of all, you need to look at the history. Then you need to look at how it is practiced today.

And always remember that the most popular forms may not be the most accurate representative of the school.

But what usually happen is people just defend the school they like and criticise the other schools without knowing much about them.


I do not agree with you about the views relating to those born in Theravada countries (I do not have the direct knowledge if Sri Lanka so I will not generalise any statements that far)

My view is that I was born where I was because of my karma - that is why I was exposed to Theravada Buddhism from birth. I hold the view that some born somewhere else with any of the other forms of Buddhism are likely to follow that form. All of us have hurdles that we have to overcome - just as our karma is different so are the hurdles that each individual has to overcome is different. I think that the important thing is that everyone follows the path the best resonates with them - even if that is a completely different belief system. If someone ends up following a Theravada path after following a Mahayana path they owe that path the same respect as they should hold their parents in - because it has brought them to this point. The same should also apply the other way.

What I have seen in my travels people being more susceptible to defensive posture is where they have converted and for some reason feel the need to defend their choice; or where people live at the geographical junction of religious beliefs. Your following post illustrates that point very well I think.

metta
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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby Disciple » Wed Nov 20, 2013 7:57 pm

Many good replies posted here, thanks. If I have any more questions I will come back with a follow up.
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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby binocular » Sat Dec 14, 2013 6:54 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:I don't think many actively choose one tradition over another. It's more a matter of where their kamma leads them.

I think so too.

For quite some time, I desperately wanted to be into Mahayana - it would be so much more convenient and I would have so many friends. But no, it wouldn't stick.
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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby manas » Sat Dec 14, 2013 10:13 pm

I don't reject Mahayana, but I do follow Theravada. We don't have to 'reject' other schools of Buddhism to follow what seems best to ourselves. How we express ourselves matters. Let's live and let live - in peace and harmony.

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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby convivium » Sun Dec 15, 2013 9:47 am

one can't 'follow theravada' in the deeper sense and 'reject mahayana'
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby sphairos » Sun Dec 15, 2013 1:45 pm

I do follow Theravāda and did reject Mahāyāna, because I only have a "limited vision": it is said in Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna texts and teachings, that in order to follow these higher teachings one must have a "great vision", "enlargened", "enbiggened" vision. This vision allows one to see 40 000 monks, 80 000 bodhisattvas and incalculable amount of deities and spirits, in places and occasions when and where the Pāli canon reports only one or two persons, small or - rarely - large (a few hundred people at best) groups. For instance, Mahāyānists claim, that on the Vulture peak (Gṛdhrakūṭa) near the capital of Magadha Rājāgriha the Buddha when giving a "sermon" was surrounded by 40 000 monks, 80 000 bodhisattvas etc., while in the Pāli canon only reasonable number of people is remembered... It's all about the "broadness" of "vision". ;)
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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby Jon. S » Sat Dec 21, 2013 1:29 am

Because Vajrayana empowerments are expensive.
I was born naked.
My beloved parents
kindly gave me a name.
When I reached twenty
I thought "a name is a chain,
I want to abandon it".
Whoever I questioned
No one answers me.
When I hear the wind in the pines
I get an answer.
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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby mettafuture » Sun Dec 22, 2013 7:16 am

I was a Mahayana basher for awhile until I discovered Sōtō Zen, based on the teachings of Master Dōgen Zenji. Although I don't consider Zen teachings, such as those found in The Shōbōgenzō, canonical, I still have an appreciation for many of the ideas they expound. But I'll likely stay with the Theravada tradition because I feel a closer connection with it, and prefer the systematic approach of the canonical teachings.
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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby ES06 » Wed Dec 25, 2013 10:33 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:I don't think many actively choose one tradition over another. It's more a matter of where their kamma leads them.

I didn't "choose" Theravada. It was just that every time I found any inspiring texts on Buddhism, it was most often Theravada. It just makes most sense to me.

Mahayana demands too much faith (Tibetan, Pure Land) or I don't get its philosophy (Zen).

So, technically I didn't choose Theravada, it was only possibility.
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Re: Good reasons to reject Mahayana and follow Theravada

Postby Babadhari » Wed Dec 25, 2013 11:48 pm

i became drawn to the teachings of the Buddha after 3 years engaging in a type of yoga that involved rituals, mantras, visualisation , postures and breath manipulation.

Theravada has more appeal for me than Mahayana because of the lack of those types of practices. the direct nature of the teachings mean more time spent in meditation, more discourses , more understanding and peace of mind.

:namaste:
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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