Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Yes, all the time
14
20%
Sometimes, in passing
30
43%
No, I only read the Tipitaka
26
37%
 
Total votes : 70

Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby Guy » Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:22 am

I just tried reading a few Mahayana Sutras and I didn't understand most of it, except for some of the names in the introduction. I think I will stick to the Pali Canon.
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1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby fig tree » Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:01 am

I have enough of an interest in Buddhism as a general cultural phenomenon that I think it would be a hassle to avoid the occasional passage from the Mahayana sutras. They're not one of the staples of my reading diet, however.

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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby Dan74 » Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:19 am

Since we are talking about Mahayana sutras, here are some examples:

(from The Sutra of Complete Enlightenment http://www.koreanbuddhism.net/library/sutra/download.asp?article_seq=397&page=1&search_key=&search_value=):

“What is ignorance? Virtuous man, since beginningless time, all sentient beings have had all sorts of delusions, like a disoriented person who has lost his sense of direction. They mistake the four great elements as the attributes of their bodies, and the conditioned impressions of the six sense objects as the attributes of their minds. They are like a man with an illness of the eyes who sees an [illusory] flower in the sky, or a second moon.
“Virtuous man, there is in reality no flower in the sky, yet the sick man mistakenly clings to it. Because of his mistaken clinging, he is not only deluded about the intrinsic nature of the empty space, but also confused about the arising of the flower. Because of this false existence [to which he clings], he remains in the turning wheel of birth and death. Hence this is called ignorance.
“Virtuous man, this ignorance has no real substance. It is lik a person in a dream. Though the person exists in the dream, when [the dreamer] awakens, there is nothing that can be grasped. Like an [illusory] flower in the sky that vanishes into empty space, one cannot say that there is a fixed place from which it vanishes. Why? Because there is no place from which it arises! Amidst the unarisen, all sentient beings deludedly perceive birth and extinction. Hence this is called the turning wheel of birth and death.

from the Diamond Sutra (http://www.diamond-sutra.com/diamond_sutra_text/page4.html):
"Furthermore, Subhuti, in the practice of compassion and charity a disciple should be detached. That is to say, he should practice compassion and charity without regard to appearances, without regard to form, without regard to sound, smell, taste, touch, or any quality of any kind. Subhuti, this is how the disciple should practice compassion and charity. Why? Because practicing compassion and charity without attachment is the way to reaching the Highest Perfect Wisdom, it is the way to becoming a living Buddha."

"Subhuti, do you think that you can measure all of the space in the Eastern Heavens?"

"No, Most Honored One. One cannot possibly measure all of the space in the Eastern Heavens."

"Subhuti, can space in all the Western, Southern, and Northern Heavens, both above and below, be measured?"

"No, Most Honored One. One cannot possibly measure all the space in the Western, Southern, and Northern Heavens."

"Well, Subhuti, the same is true of the merit of the disciple who practices compassion and charity without any attachment to appearances, without cherishing any idea of form. It is impossible to measure the merit they will accrue. Subhuti, my disciples should let their minds absorb and dwell in the teachings I have just given."


From the Large Prajnaparamita Sutra (tr by E Conze):
The Unconditioned cannot be made known7 through the exclusion
of the conditioned, nor the conditioned through the exclusion of the
Unconditioned.
A Bodhisattva, who courses in perfect wisdom, does not review any
dharma. In consequence he does not tremble, is not frightened, nor
terrified. No dharma can cow his mind, and he knows to regrets. And why?
Because this Bodhisattva who courses in perfect wisdom does not review
form, etc., nor the links, nor greed, hate or delusion, nor self, a being, a
soul, etc. (PI 16)
Subhuti: For what reason does the thought of a Bodhisattva not
become cowed, or stolid?
The Lord: Because he does not apprehend or review the dharmas
which constitute thought and its concomitants.8
Subhuti: How is it that his mind does not tremble?
The Lord: He does not get at mind or mind-element and does not
review them. It is thus that a Bodhisattva, through the nonapprehension
of all dharmas should course in perfect wisdom. If the Bodhisattva, the
great being, who follows the perfection of wisdom, does not apprehend
that perfection of wisdom, nor a Bodhisattva, nor the word "Bodhisattva"
—then this is truly his instruction and admonition in the perfection of
wisdom.


_/|\_
_/|\_
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Jan 27, 2010 9:52 am

First two excerpts, elaborations on things said more succinctly in the Pali Canon.
Third excerpt, meaningless outside of a Mahayana context .
I am not sure what point you are making here Dan 74, but it has simply confirmed to me that the Mahayana Sutras need not occupy my attention.
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Jan 27, 2010 10:01 am

Dan74 wrote:I obviously do read Mahayana sutras, being a Mahayana practitioner. Not quite "all the time" but often.

There are different classes of sutras. Those focusing on emptiness (shunyata), the so-called Prajnaparamita Sutras, like the Heart Sutra and the Diamond Sutra (no Spade or Cross Sutras, sorry, these belong to a different category). There are also sutras that have more to do with the Mind-Only school, like Lankavatara, or more with Bodhisattvahood or Non-duality like Vimalakirti Nirdesa.

There are also sutras that focus on meditation like The Complete Enlightenment Sutra and Surangama (which also goes into other matters).

I've read Zen (Chan) material more but it actually makes a lot more sense after some sutric background. For those baffled by Zen, it may be worth keeping in mind that a lot of the material around is very advanced. Whereas letters of Zen masters written to followers of different levels are often much more accessible (like Yuan Wu's and his disciple Ta Hui's letters).

Caveat: I am no scholar and my knowledge is extremely patchy and understanding virtually nil. So beware!

_/|\_

So, basically Theravadins do not understand Zen because they are insuffiently advanced ? Is it possible do you suppose that they are baffled by Zen and its appeal for other reasons altogether ? Or that they are not baffled by it at all. But simply do not accept that there are " special transmissions outside the scriptures " for example ?
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby Ben » Wed Jan 27, 2010 10:06 am

I would like to have the time to explore the Agamas and the early Chinese commentaries, but I stuggle to find the time to study the suttas in a more coherent fashion. And if I were able to create some free some time, I would be seeking guidance from someone knowledgeable from the Mahayana tradition such as Venerable Huifeng.
kind regards

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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:49 pm

Ben wrote:I would like to have the time to explore the Agamas and the early Chinese commentaries, but I stuggle to find the time to study the suttas in a more coherent fashion. And if I were able to create some free some time, I would be seeking guidance from someone knowledgeable from the Mahayana tradition such as Venerable Huifeng.
kind regards

Ben

ditto, i think about reading the agamas but then there's that whole pali canon thing i haven't even read the entirety of so what am i really gonna compare it to?
(that being said i got the cd of Bhikkhu Bodhi's talks on the mahajima nikaya from BPS and so my wife and i are gonna read through that and listen to the talks as we go. should make for some exciting sunday nights eh?.)
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Jan 27, 2010 3:06 pm

Ben wrote:I would like to have the time to explore the Agamas and the early Chinese commentaries, but I stuggle to find the time to study the suttas in a more coherent fashion. And if I were able to create some free some time, I would be seeking guidance from someone knowledgeable from the Mahayana tradition such as Venerable Huifeng.
kind regards

Ben


I do read the MA Agama version of the Satipatthana, but I don't equate that to a mahayana sutra such as the lotus, as it is another schools sutta preserved in the Chinese.
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby Dan74 » Wed Jan 27, 2010 11:12 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:
Dan74 wrote:I obviously do read Mahayana sutras, being a Mahayana practitioner. Not quite "all the time" but often.

There are different classes of sutras. Those focusing on emptiness (shunyata), the so-called Prajnaparamita Sutras, like the Heart Sutra and the Diamond Sutra (no Spade or Cross Sutras, sorry, these belong to a different category). There are also sutras that have more to do with the Mind-Only school, like Lankavatara, or more with Bodhisattvahood or Non-duality like Vimalakirti Nirdesa.

There are also sutras that focus on meditation like The Complete Enlightenment Sutra and Surangama (which also goes into other matters).

I've read Zen (Chan) material more but it actually makes a lot more sense after some sutric background. For those baffled by Zen, it may be worth keeping in mind that a lot of the material around is very advanced. Whereas letters of Zen masters written to followers of different levels are often much more accessible (like Yuan Wu's and his disciple Ta Hui's letters).

Caveat: I am no scholar and my knowledge is extremely patchy and understanding virtually nil. So beware!

_/|\_



So, basically Theravadins do not understand Zen because they are insuffiently advanced ?


It's not what I said, Valerie, so I am not sure who you are addressing here.

Is it possible do you suppose that they are baffled by Zen and its appeal for other reasons altogether ? Or that they are not baffled by it at all. But simply do not accept that there are " special transmissions outside the scriptures " for example ?


I'd rather not speculate when I don't know.

I said what I said for the simple reason that typical Zen exchanges occurred between a master and a monk who had been training (in that tradition) for quite some years and therefore are not really suitable for someone new to Buddhism or possibly those new to Zen (although there is much in Ajahn Chah's talks that has close parallels). The collections of letters I mentioned would be far more suitable or some of the modern classics that are more accessible.

There are suttas in the Pali Canon which are also not for beginners.

_/|\_

PS I picked those excerpts almost at random for those of us here who are unfamiliar with mahayana sutras as some examples of what is being talked about. That's all.
_/|\_
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Thu Jan 28, 2010 1:39 am

Manapa wrote:
Ben wrote:I would like to have the time to explore the Agamas and the early Chinese commentaries, but I stuggle to find the time to study the suttas in a more coherent fashion. And if I were able to create some free some time, I would be seeking guidance from someone knowledgeable from the Mahayana tradition such as Venerable Huifeng.
kind regards

Ben


I do read the MA Agama version of the Satipatthana, but I don't equate that to a mahayana sutra such as the lotus, as it is another schools sutta preserved in the Chinese.


These Agamas are no more Mahayana than the Theravadin Nikayas.
Likewise, coming from a Mahayana tradition is certainly no guarantee that a person ever reads or understands these Agamas.
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby Monkey Mind » Thu Jan 28, 2010 5:31 pm

I clicked "no", but none of the options were a good fit. I have read Mahayana sutras in the past. I read them now from time to time, but only for academic value in understanding my Mahayana brothers and sisters. I do not attribute any importance to them beyond that.
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as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby rainthebat » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:00 pm

Eventually anyone who meditates just to become an Arhat for themselves, is going to come to the finish line and go "this is it? I'm done, but what about all these other people, do I really care about them too?" .

The Mahayana texts give the gift of bringing more life to your meditation (which... has it become a little stale lately?). The potential for some real creative compassionate thinking "I'll help rescue all sentient beings by radiating pleasant thoughts all around", but in your own creative way.

You need something to turn lay people onto Buddhism, and Mahayana is just the key - something flashy, fantastic, fun and still containing some mystery - Something that can include everyone, and still be dazzling. These texts do include the base (precept practicing) core teachings within it, but also add an abundance of joyfulness to the scene.
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:13 pm

rainthebat wrote:Eventually anyone who meditates just to become an Arhat for themselves, is going to come to the finish line and go "this is it? I'm done, but what about all these other people, do I really care about them too?" .

The Mahayana texts give the gift of bringing more life to your meditation (which... has it become a little stale lately?). The potential for some real creative compassionate thinking "I'll help rescue all sentient beings by radiating pleasant thoughts all around", but in your own creative way.

You need something to turn lay people onto Buddhism, and Mahayana is just the key - something flashy, fantastic, fun and still containing some mystery - Something that can include everyone, and still be dazzling. These texts do include the base (precept practicing) core teachings within it, but also add an abundance of joyfulness to the scene.


:guns:

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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:23 pm

Greetings KDT,

:lol:

Yes, rainthebat might like to reign in his or her proselytization in line with the...

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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:48 pm

He could be making fun of the Mahayana sutras from what he just wrote. Hard to take seriously either way.
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby BlackBird » Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:35 pm

I thought it was quite funny :)
"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: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby m0rl0ck » Sat Dec 11, 2010 1:56 am

Everybody watch this :)

Please.











btw i didnt vote since im a mahaweenie and consider myself disqualified since its a theravadan forum.
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby alan » Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:19 am

I've seen that video before and on a second look it is still unsatisfying. Maybe if I ever approach Ajahn Brahm's level I'll understand, but my unenlightened mind sees vast differences between the sects. Differences that are not only impossible to ignore but that really matter in terms of practice.
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby m0rl0ck » Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:29 am

alan wrote:I've seen that video before and on a second look it is still unsatisfying. Maybe if I ever approach Ajahn Brahm's level I'll understand, but my unenlightened mind sees vast differences between the sects. Differences that are not only impossible to ignore but that really matter in terms of practice.



So far i have found most of the mahayana in the suttas, it seems more a matter of emphasis to me.
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what would you say to him ?"
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby alan » Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:37 am

A comprehensive reading will reveal fundamental differences.
But I'm glad to hear you are taking the time to read them, m0rl0ck!
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