The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Dan74 » Tue May 25, 2010 3:19 pm

PeterB wrote:To Japan Tibet and China.. :smile:


Whew! Luckily Korea escaped this evil scourge...

PS We always did know that ours was the maha of the mahayana!

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby PeterB » Tue May 25, 2010 3:26 pm

Yes Korea had to make do with Sun M. Moon.
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Dan74 » Tue May 25, 2010 3:36 pm

PeterB wrote:Yes Korea had to make do with Sun M. Moon.


Luckily for us, he is only the Messiah and the Second Coming of Christ, rather than atman in drag! :D
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Shonin » Tue May 25, 2010 3:52 pm

PeterB wrote:To Japan Tibet and China.. :smile:


Hmm... evasive.

I challenge you to find where Nagarjuna says this. What you're reacting to is either the misunderstanding or misuse of Nagarjuna or subsequent Atman-like extrapolations.

BTW: Holding the view of Buddha or Nirvana as some sort of transcendental metaphysical essence (ie Atman) is not the orthodox Mahayana view. A view like this is expressed in a group of sutras called the Tathagatagarbha sutras. And it is an interpretation held by some of the Yogacara School. Even in the Lankavatara Sutra (one of the Tathagathagarbha sutras) it is explained that the Tathagathagarbha (Buddha Embryo) doctrine is not about an Atman, but is a skillful method to explain egolessness (Anatta) in positive terms to avoid causing fear in those who misunderstand it. The Buddha Nature doctrine is generally interpreted as a positive expression of Sunyata/Anatta.

There is a variety of interpretations, and I agree that some of these developments are unfortunate, however the notion of Buddha or Buddha Nature as some sort of cosmic Atman is certinly not found in Nagarjuna, who spoke almost exclusively in rational, negative terms. Far from speaking in such metaphysical, essentialist terms, if early Buddha was open to being misunderstood as nihilistic, then Nagarjuna was perhaps even more so - although this would be a misunderstanding of both of them. It may have been to address such nihilistic misunderstandings that the Tathagatagarbha doctrines appeared. To much medicine becomes a poison in itself unfortunately.
Last edited by Shonin on Tue May 25, 2010 4:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby PeterB » Tue May 25, 2010 4:05 pm

As you edited your post Shonin the resulting post may well look evasive, rather than the joke it quite clearly was in the context of your unedited post.
As to "challenges"....... please .... :roll:

I really dont care what Nagarjuna says. I am only interested in a positive promotion of the Theravada..
And there is no Buddhadhatu in the Tripitaka.
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Shonin » Tue May 25, 2010 4:14 pm

You did ask:

Shonin wrote: Nagarjuna made the exact opposite point repeatedly.

PeterB wrote:Tell me more about the "exact opposite point " Shonin.


You cannot support this assertion because it is not accurate:
PeterB wrote:In reality of course what [Nagarjuna] did was to go back and drag in Atman. Dust it off, give it a new suit and name badge and send it scampering on its way..


You have a habit of making snipes at Nagarjuna, calling him an essentialist and so on. And while your objections to some Mahayana thought is on target, it isn't accurate with regards to Nagarjuna nor to the concept of Sunyata. As the article I posted stated, Nagarjuna is quite consistent with the Nikayas.

PeterB wrote:there is no Buddhadhatu in the Tripitaka.


There is no Buddhadhatu in Nagarjuna either.

If you don't want to discuss Nagarjuna then the simple solution is to avoid misrepresenting him :)
Last edited by Shonin on Tue May 25, 2010 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby PeterB » Tue May 25, 2010 4:19 pm

Righty-ho.
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby PeterB » Tue May 25, 2010 5:02 pm

Again with the backwards editing.
I dont accept that I have misrepresented Nagarjuna.
The reason that I am not going to discuss that is that this is the discovering Theravada Forum.
If I wanted to discuss mahayana doctrine I would do so on a Mahayana Forum.
I joined a Theravada forum in part because I was fed up to the back teeth with Nagarjuna..
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Shonin » Tue May 25, 2010 5:40 pm

You responded as I edited.

As I said, if you don't want a response about Nagarjuna you might want to steer clear of inaccurate statements like:

In reality of course what [Nagarjuna] did was to go back and drag in Atman. Dust it off, give it a new suit and name badge and send it scampering on its way..


Anyway, I don't think there's anything left to discuss here.
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby PeterB » Tue May 25, 2010 5:46 pm

Did I say that...? Cor spot on. Sometimes I amaze myself. :lol:
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Aloka » Tue May 25, 2010 5:51 pm

PeterB wrote:.
I joined a Theravada forum in part because I was fed up to the back teeth with Nagarjuna..


Me too ! :toast:




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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby PeterB » Tue May 25, 2010 6:00 pm

:toast:


Now I wonder what goddess is up to... ;)
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby beeblebrox » Tue May 25, 2010 8:23 pm

Nagarjuna's In Praise of the Dharmadhatu - not sure if it's relevant to the debate in here.
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Shonin » Tue May 25, 2010 9:29 pm

Gosh - I was unaware of this piece. Looks like I must retract that point. However, I will say that I find it difficult to imagine that this was writen by the same author as the sublime Mulamadhyamakakarika.
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby beeblebrox » Tue May 25, 2010 10:44 pm

I came across that a few months ago, from someone who used this on Twitter to prove beyond doubt that Nagarjuna wasn't a nihilist (the way that some people might interpret his middle way stuff). At first, I thought that this was an excellent way of showing that Buddhism was neither annhilitationist nor eternalist.

I thought that it was also an inspiring piece of poetry that can be very helpful to one's own practice, but then I eventually noticed that this guy (on Twitter) always seemed like he would try to find some excuses to put in an eternalist bias to what the Buddha taught. He would always find stuff related to that, (even in the Nikayas).

His own interpretation of the "Luminous Mind", turning oneself away from the Samsara to the "immortal element", etc. etc. One of the things that he would say is that the impermanence only applies to the five aggregates... beyond that, it's eternal and undying.

I tried to debate with him about these, but my knowledge of Buddhism didn't match with his, unfortunately (it seems like he's been studying this for like 30 or 40 years). :tongue: So, that is one of the reasons why I'm here on this forum (and started to read the Nikayas)... to get to the bottom of this, get some fundamentals under my belt, so that I can debate (or more like correct some mistaken ideas about what this path is really about) more effectively in the future.

So, it seems like one of the problems with this piece is that some people can interpret it as something eternalist, like this guy apparently did. Maybe this was why Nagarjuna wrote one of each. :tongue: Sorry if this is way off-topic for the thread, guys.
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Ben » Tue May 25, 2010 11:00 pm

Dear members

This is a reminder that this thread is in the 'discovering theravada' forum. Please ensure your posts remain consistent with the guidelines for this forum. Discussions of nagarjuna's doctrine are permitted on DW, though Discovering Theravada isn't the place to do so.
kind regards

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saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue May 25, 2010 11:07 pm

beeblebrox wrote:I

I tried to debate with him about these, but my knowledge of Buddhism didn't match with his, unfortunately (it seems like he's been studying this for like 30 or 40 years). :tongue: So, that is one of the reasons why I'm here on this forum (and started to read the Nikayas)... to get to the bottom of this, get some fundamentals under my belt, so that I can debate (or more like correct some mistaken ideas about what this path is really about) more effectively in the future.

So, it seems like one of the problems with this piece is that some people can interpret it as something eternalist, like this guy apparently did. Maybe this was why Nagarjuna wrote one of each. :tongue: Sorry if this is way off-topic for the thread, guys.


you'll find that if someone has an agenda it wouldn't matter if you brought the Buddha himself to the debate the other person will never change their minds so it is pretty much a waste of your own time and effort to try to correct their views. life is much happier just letting them go their own way.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Dexing » Tue May 25, 2010 11:12 pm

Hi everyone,

Boy, three full pages since my post last night, and no one has directly responded to the position. I know the Therevada tradition. I studied in it for years in my early days. It places a lot of emphasis on the Suttas. I wonder if anyone can present some Suttas to counter my understanding. So far all I got was what amounts to; "You're wrong" and "Yeah, you're not right".

Okay, so my basic statement about the Classical teachings (example: Theravada) is that they take for example the Five Aggregates and say each of these Five exist in only a temporary fashion, due to Causes & Conditions and when those Causes & Conditions cease, so do these Five Aggregates. They are constantly changing and thus impermanent. Furthermore, they are "empty" of an eternal unchanging nature or Selfhood within them. This is taught in order to allow the practitioner to become disillusioned by them and to see through the falsehood of the Self. While these Five Aggregates come into being, change and pass away, there is no eternal ever-present Self to be found in them.

Is this not the teaching of Theravada? Let's make sure we agree on this point before going further.

Now for the Large Vehicle teachings, taking again the Five Aggregates as an example, these Five Aggregates are not only "empty" of aforementioned characteristics, but they are "emptiness" itself, meaning "space". That is to say there is nothing there to begin with. In the Large Vehicle Sutras, such as the Shurangama, the Five Aggregates are likened unto illusory and unreal flowers that dance in space when the eyes become fatigued. Nothing more than that.

So the difference here is that Classical teachings deal with the Five Aggregates as existing, but in an impermanent way due to the Causes & Conditions that temporarily sustain them and are devoid of any personal selfhood, i.e. no I-my-me can be found within them. Hence the name Small Vehicle, because it only deals with this much but holds their temporary existence as true nonetheless.

That is Small Vehicle, while the Large Vehicle holds that the origin of the Five Aggregates cannot be attributed to Causes & Conditions, nor to Spontaneity, because actually there is nothing here. It's like space. It has a name, but no form.

Not only does this apply to the Five Aggregates, but also to all phenomena. None of it is truly existent. Of course you get into trouble saying that though, because there is nothing to be pointed to as "existing" or "not existing". There's simply nothing here. Many many Large Vehicle Sutras say this explicitly.

Yet when we read these we don't want to believe that the Buddha taught Nihilism, because this looks like Nihilism. And it certainly is if you stop there and don't learn what follows this realization or do the practice which reveals it; that "All things are created by mind alone".

So learning Large Vehicle teachings like this we'll either have faith in it due to practice in past lives, or disbelieve that the Buddha taught it, or the most likely reaction of one who follows the, for example, Theravada school;

jcsuperstar wrote:it is my own view that knowing whether or not the fridge really exists or not really has nothing to do with my liberation


So, tiltbilings, you said;

tiltbillings wrote:
Shonin wrote:What does Theravada say about "the illusion of all phenomenal existence" ?
One thing that is clearly said is the all dhammas are empty of any sort of self existing thingness.


This is exactly what I was pointing to about Classical teachings, that all phenomena exist impermanently and due to Causes & Conditions only. So in the case of the Five Aggregates, they exist impermanently, due to Causes & Conditions, and have no Self that can be found within them.

Now my point is that this is only dealing with their interdependent existence only, and not with the falseness of their existence altogether- which is what the Large Vehicle teachings say explicitly.

If Theravada also teaches that all phenomena are actually non-existent, and only appear as illusions to the unawakened, I would love to see some Pali Suttas that teach this.

If you would like me to post the Large Vehicle Sutras that speak of it very directly, in a way that cannot be interpreted otherwise, I can do that- if the topic is of any interest to you.

Again my only point here is that Bodhisattvahood requires the insight into the unreality of all phenomenal existence, not just the interdependent existence taught in Classical teachings which assumes they still exist in some way- albeit interdependent and impermanent.

Which means due to the content, Theravada teachings cannot lead to Bodhisattvahood.

:namaste:
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby Dexing » Tue May 25, 2010 11:29 pm

PeterB wrote:Actually I finnd Dexing's post refreshingly honest. What he is saying indeed shows all the triumphalism and assumption of superiority that is prevelant in the Mahayana. even if it is not universal.


It's really not about superiority at all. The Classical teachings are in fact completely necessary to learn before any of the Large Vehicle teachings will make sense. Even if one has only studied Large Vehicle teachings in this life, it means they have already studied Small Vehicle teachings. Otherwise they would either not believe or not be interested.

So it is nothing about superiority at all. The Classical teachings are every bit as necessary as later stages. In fact, perhaps more so because they are what gets the ball rolling in the right direction.

So actually there should be no defensive stance taken, when the position of the Large Vehicle is in no way offensive.

It may look as if it is an assumption of superiority when we say; "First you must learn this, then you can learn this." But really it is like learning addition and subtraction, and then someone starts talking about subtracting 3 from 2. Of course this would not make sense and would not help you in your study of addition and subtraction. Because you haven't been taught about negative numbers yet.

But what about learning negatives is superior or in any way better than only dealing with positive numbers? Would that make sense to say it is greater?

So we first learn about the Five Aggregates to break the false view of eternal personal Selfhood. Then we no longer need the Five Aggregates and discard them as well, because they are not truly existent. They are only a teaching tool, using what ordinary beings are familiar with.

So both are equally necessary. Neither is above or below the other.

The Arahant path is actually venerated in proper Mahayana practice.

Triumphalism and assumption of superiority is a mark of improper understanding and practice.

Hope that makes sense.

:namaste:
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Re: The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada

Postby tiltbillings » Tue May 25, 2010 11:44 pm

Dexing wrote:Hi everyone,

Boy, three full pages since my post last night, and no one has directly responded to the position. I know the Therevada tradition. I studied in it for years in my early days. It places a lot of emphasis on the Suttas. I wonder if anyone can present some Suttas to counter my understanding. So far all I got was what amounts to; "You're wrong" and "Yeah, you're not right".
Since you are the making the claim as to what thew Theravada teaches, let us see your sutta support for your claim, then I'll be more than delighted to counter. Actual teachings, not what you are claiming they. Let us see if you can back it up your claims.
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.

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