Why did you choose Theravada?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Dec 24, 2009 7:47 pm

alan wrote:Surely you have all gone through a process of looking at the various interpretations available.
And then after much thought have decided on Therevada....right?
Or maybe I'm living in an intellectual fantasy land.

maybe you are maybe your not? but some peoples first meeting with Buddhism will be Theravada and they never needed to look for or at alternatives!

alan wrote:I'm asking in a spirit of openness. Not trying to upset anyone.
Was there an idea or concept in Mahayana you (all) did not agree with?
If so, which? why?

Everyone can only answer for themselves!

alan wrote:Thanks so much for putting up with my questions.

what is to put up with?
a quote from a sutta I linked in another thread
SN 7.2 Akkosa Sutta: Insult wrote:"When, brahman, one abuses back when abused, repays anger in kind, and quarrels back when quarreled with, this is called, brahman, associating with each other and exchanging mutually. This association and mutual exchange we do not engage in. Therefore you alone, brahman, get it back; all this, brahman, belongs to you."

different topic but could be applied here, more or less.

ps a convert is someone who changes religion.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby alan » Thu Dec 24, 2009 8:27 pm

Thank you for the responses. But I'd like to get back to the original question.
What is it, exactly, that you do not agree with about the Mahayana view?
Exactly. Specifically. In plain English. Without an emotional focus.
Convert me, if you like that idea. Show me why. Tell me why. Give me a glimpse into your world view. Here's your chance. Take it!
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby seanpdx » Thu Dec 24, 2009 8:31 pm

alan wrote:Thank you for the responses. But I'd like to get back to the original question.
What is it, exactly, that you do not agree with about the Mahayana view?
Exactly. Specifically. In plain English. Without an emotional focus.
Convert me, if you like that idea. Show me why. Tell me why. Give me a glimpse into your world view. Here's your chance. Take it!


Why? What's the point?
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Monkey Mind » Thu Dec 24, 2009 8:46 pm

A visitor asked this question: "How is this Sangha different than other Sanghas here in town?"
Teacher: "We meditate differently, we chant differently, our rituals are different, our festivals are different."
Visitor: "Yeah, but how are your TEACHINGS different?"
Teacher: "The teacher we call Buddha told his followers that there were no secret teachings. Other Sanghas learned secret teachings from the one they call Buddha."
Visitor: "Well, what are the secret teachings?"
Teacher: "I don't know, I didn't study with those sanghas."
"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: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Dec 24, 2009 8:54 pm

Monkey Mind wrote:A visitor asked this question: "How is this Sangha different than other Sanghas here in town?"
Teacher: "We meditate differently, we chant differently, our rituals are different, our festivals are different."
Visitor: "Yeah, but how are your TEACHINGS different?"
Teacher: "The teacher we call Buddha told his followers that there were no secret teachings. Other Sanghas learned secret teachings from the one they call Buddha."
Visitor: "Well, what are the secret teachings?"
Teacher: "I don't know, I didn't study with those sanghas."

a man visits a goenka center
visitor - what style of meditation did the buddha teach
goenka teacher - the goenka style
V - imposible!
GT - how so?
V - the MAhasi monk said the buddha taught Mahasi style,& the zen Master said he taught Zazen you all can not be right!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Thu Dec 24, 2009 8:57 pm

What answer would you like to hear Alan? I am under the impression you have an answer in mind that you were expecting to see, but haven't.

I'm not sure how being negative about another tradition would fit with the forum rules. I'm not sure how being negative about another tradition would fit with the dhamma.

Why do you assume we have something on our chests that we'd like to get off? Maybe explore your expectations a bit and be reflective :)
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby seanpdx » Thu Dec 24, 2009 8:58 pm

A man walks into a bar...

Wait, wrong forum. Nevermind.
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Dec 24, 2009 9:05 pm

Mawkish - Sadhu
Sean - ROLF :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby alan » Thu Dec 24, 2009 9:15 pm

I ask a honest question and get no reply. I press further and then my motivation is called out. This is all very discouraging.
If you can't answer the question then please just say so.
Thought I might encounter some wise people here; perhaps I was mistaken...
Goodnight.
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby BlackBird » Thu Dec 24, 2009 9:21 pm

Read some of the Pali suttas, read some of the Mahayana sutras.

Problems I had with some Mahayana Sutras:
- Seemed pretty circular and recursive (ie. the Buddha spends a lot of time extolling the virtues of the particular sutra, within the sutra itself)
- Persistent warnings that anyone who denigrated such a Sutra would go to hell for sure.
- Seemed incongruous compared to the Pali suttas I had read, there seemed to be a completely different voice behind them.

There was also a lot of doubt in my mind that repeating a mantra could actually have such a high kammic intrinsic value as is commonly proposed. My western scepticism just could not reconcile itself with what appeared to me to be just colour a fluff.

Looking back now, I know there's a lot more to the Vajra and Mahayana paths than might appear on the surface, just didn't seem like it at the time. But I think Theravada definitely has that almost 'scientific' appeal to the intellectual mind, it's very stimulating.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Thu Dec 24, 2009 9:23 pm

alan wrote:Thought I might encounter some wise people here; perhaps I was mistaken...
More expectation? More dukkha.

You asked, we answered, you didn't read the answer that satisfied your expectations so you kept asking.

If you feel we have behaved inappropriately, I sincerely apologise. Importantly, we have answered :).
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Dec 24, 2009 9:28 pm

Hi Alan,
alan wrote:I ask a honest question and get no reply. I press further and then my motivation is called out. This is all very discouraging.
If you can't answer the question then please just say so.
Thought I might encounter some wise people here; perhaps I was mistaken...
Goodnight.

Strange. I thought gave an extremely direct answer. I follow Theravada because I wanted to be calm and happy like the Theravada monks and lay people that I met. For me it's not a matter of examining and rejecting other forms of Buddhism. I just didn't see the need to worry about them. I just stuck with what seemed to work, with teachers who I had confidence in.

I try to always keep this Sutta in mind when discussing other approaches: MN 95 Canki Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"If a person has conviction, his statement, 'This is my conviction,' safeguards the truth. But he doesn't yet come to the definite conclusion that 'Only this is true; anything else is worthless.'

The rest of the Sutta is similar to my experience:
"There is the case, Bharadvaja, where a monk lives in dependence on a certain village or town. Then a householder or householder's son goes to him and observes him with regard to three mental qualities — qualities based on greed, qualities based on aversion, qualities based on delusion: 'Are there in this venerable one any such qualities based on greed that, with his mind overcome by these qualities, he might say, "I know," while not knowing, or say, "I see," while not seeing; or that he might urge another to act in a way that was for his/her long-term harm & pain?' As he observes him, he comes to know, 'There are in this venerable one no such qualities based on greed... His bodily behavior & verbal behavior are those of one not greedy. And the Dhamma he teaches is deep, hard to see, hard to realize, tranquil, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise. This Dhamma can't easily be taught by a person who's greedy.

When, on observing that the monk is purified with regard to qualities based on greed, he next observes him with regard to qualities based on aversion...

When, on observing that the monk is purified with regard to qualities based on aversion, he next observes him with regard to qualities based on delusion...

When, on observing that the monk is purified with regard to qualities based on delusion, he places conviction in him. With the arising of conviction, he visits him & grows close to him. Growing close to him, he lends ear. Lending ear, he hears the Dhamma. Hearing the Dhamma, he remembers it.

Of course I can't say that I've finished this bit yet...
Remembering it, he penetrates the meaning of those dhammas. Penetrating the meaning, he comes to an agreement through pondering those dhammas. There being an agreement through pondering those dhammas, desire arises. With the arising of desire, he becomes willing. Willing, he contemplates (lit: "weighs," "compares"). Contemplating, he makes an exertion. Exerting himself, he both realizes the ultimate meaning of the truth with his body and sees by penetrating it with discernment.
...
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Dec 24, 2009 9:44 pm

alan wrote:I ask a honest question and get no reply. I press further and then my motivation is called out. This is all very discouraging.
If you can't answer the question then please just say so.
Thought I might encounter some wise people here; perhaps I was mistaken...
Goodnight.

you were answered!

you were the one who called others wise elders, and I don't remember calling or seeing your motivation being questioned, although it is an impression which can be gotten from your posts which was expressed, but have a read SN 7.2 I quoted it earlier.

if you want to talk about something specific it is best to start a thread on that specific.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Laurens » Thu Dec 24, 2009 10:53 pm

alan wrote:I ask a honest question and get no reply. I press further and then my motivation is called out. This is all very discouraging.
If you can't answer the question then please just say so.
Thought I might encounter some wise people here; perhaps I was mistaken...
Goodnight.


Firstly you got a whole page of answers - perhaps you need to give a more specific question if people aren't answering in the way you would like?

Also I don't think its very kind to imply that the people who kindly replied to your question are unwise.

Goodnight Alan.
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

Carl Sagan
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Monkey Mind » Thu Dec 24, 2009 11:33 pm

I agree with what Black Bird said, nice summary.

For the Theravada, Buddha is the ultimate voice. Any enlightened being who came after him might have helped explain an old analogy in a new way, but at the end of the day it is still Buddha's teaching. In the Mahayana, some of the enlightened teachers who have followed in Buddha's footsteps are considered to be as prominent as Lord Buddha. To me, many of those teachings seemed difficult to digest.
"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: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby cooran » Thu Dec 24, 2009 11:40 pm

alan wrote:What I'd really like to know is, are there specific Mahayana concepts that anyone here rejected? If so, why?
Web searches have resulted in "there isn't really a big difference" articles, but surely there must be.
Thanks!

Hello alan,

Many of us are fairly at ease with Mahayana and Vajrayana and Dzogchen. Many of us understand, after some study, that there are just "different horses for different courses".

Many of us have studied and practiced in other Traditions - but found our Heart's Home in Theravada ~ prefering the 'paired-down' teachings of Theravada, but we do not denigrate the more ornate and decorated teachings in some other Traditions.

Once you look into the teachings and practices closely, there seems very little difference.

metta
Chris
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---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Cafael Dust » Fri Dec 25, 2009 1:48 am

First I want to say that there are fine Mahayana writings by people who know what they're talking about,

but I'm not so centred in that tradition because of things like this:

"At that time, the Buddha Sun-Moon-Lamp Brightness spoke a Great Vehicle Sutra named The Limitless Principles, a Dharma for instructing Bodhisattvas of which the Buddhas are protective and mindful. When he had finished speaking that Sutra, he then, in the midst of the assembly, sat in full lotus and entered the Samadhi of the Station of Limitless Principles; his body and mind were unmoving. Then from the heavens there fell a rain of Mandarava flowers, Mahamandarava flowers, Manjushaka flowers, and Mahamanjushaks flowers, which were scattered upon the Buddha and the entire great assembly. All the Buddha universes quaked in six ways. At that time the entire great assembly of Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, Upasikas, gods, dragons, Yakshas, Gandharvas, Asuras, Garudas, Kinnaras, Mahoragas, beings human and non-human as well as the minor kings and the wheel-turning sage kings and so forth, all attained what they had never had before. The rejoiced and joined their palms and, with one heart, gazed upon the Buddha. Then the Thus Come One emitted from between his brows a white hair-mark light which illumined eighteen thousand Buddha-worlds to the east, omitting none of them. Just like all the Buddha lands now seen."

...

"Following the Buddha�s crossing over into extinction, the Bodhisattva Wondrous Light upheld the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra for a full eighty small aeons, expounding it to others. The eight sons of the Buddha Sun-Moon-Lamp Brightness all served Wondrous Light as their master.. Wondrous Light taught and transformed them, causing them to become firmly established in Anuttarasamyaksambodhi."

...

The light illumined to the east
Eighteen thousand Buddha lands,
Revealing the places of living beings�
Karmic retributions of birth and death.
Seen, too, were Buddha lands adorned
With a multitude of gems,
The color of lapiz lazuli and crystal,
Illumined by the Buddha�s light.
Seen as well were gods and people,
Dragons, spirits, and Yaksha Hordes,
Gandharvas and Kinnaras,
Each making offering to the Buddha.

Thus come ones, too, all were seen
As they naturally accomplished the Buddha Way,
Their bodies� hue like mountains of gold,
Upright, serene, subtle, and fine,
As, within pure lapis lazuli
Would appear an image of real gold.
The World Honored Ones in those assemblies
Proclaimed the profound principle of the Law.


http://www.buddhistdoor.com/oldweb/reso ... lotus1.htm

The Lotus Sutra uses the forms and images associated with Buddhism e.g. lotus position, expedient means and so on, but I get the impression from what I've read of the sutra that the writer or writers doesn't actually understand what Buddha was talking about in the Pali scriptures, what lies beneath the archetypes of Buddhism. Because the sutra seems to be written in order to impress people with the vast scale and glitteriness of the imagery. But all that glitters...
Not twice, not three times, not once,
the wheel is turning.
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby seanpdx » Fri Dec 25, 2009 2:23 am

alan wrote:I ask a honest question and get no reply. I press further and then my motivation is called out. This is all very discouraging.
If you can't answer the question then please just say so.
Thought I might encounter some wise people here; perhaps I was mistaken...
Goodnight.


Oddly enough, people got discouraged when the Buddha refused to answer inconsequential questions, too.
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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby Dan74 » Fri Dec 25, 2009 4:00 am

I guess people have already said this, but I will say it again - people tend to stick with a particular school of Buddhism because it works for them.

If you are hungry, you find a place to eat that looks OK and if when you eat there it is still OK, you return. Bad analogy, but with Dhamma/Dharma it is even more so, because "the food" gets better with time!

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Re: Why did you choose Theravada?

Postby notself » Fri Dec 25, 2009 4:58 am

alan wrote:Oh, I'm a having such a hard time trying to understand this. Will you please explain?
What is a convert, how does it apply to this discussion, and why would most people not put much thought into such an important decision?
Thanks!


What is so important about the decision to pick a tradition? They are all based on the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. Everyone should be concentrating on understanding those two (12?) things. Everything else is semantics and ceremonies. I picked Theravada because I wanted to start with the oldest tradition available. I figured that it would have the least cultural add on. I find the Tipitaka challenging enough without having to deal with deities, ceremonies, rituals, and other bells and whistles. I had quite enough of that as a child raised in the Catholic Church.

Let me reverse the question. Alan, why are you not practicing Theravada?
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he is indeed the noblest victor who conquers himself. ---Dhp 103
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