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 Nyana » Sat Dec 11, 2010 6:09 am

tiltbillings wrote:The Theravāda a teaches the bodhisattva path, but there is no need to put it into a Mahayana framework.

It's a Mahābodhiyāna framework.

There is really no homogeneous "Mahāyāna."
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby alan » Sat Dec 11, 2010 6:16 am

Tedious.
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby Virgo » Sat Dec 11, 2010 6:17 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:The six perfections taught in the bodhisattvayāna . . . The Mahāyāna isn't a sect. It's a vehicle for those to aspire to awaken to buddhahood. Thus there are Theravāda bodhisattvas and Mūlasarvāstivāda bodhisattvas and Dharmaguptaka bodhisattvas.
And it probably should go without saying, but probably should be said, the above is a Mahayana framework that has no real bearing upon the Theravada.
(Hence Ven. Dhammapāla's use of the Bodhisattvabhūmi from the Yogācārabhūmiśāstra when composing his commentary on the Pāramī-s for Theravāda practitioners who wish to engage in the perfections and practice the mahābodhiyāna of bodhisattas.)

I think you left out an important word: 'alleged'.

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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Dec 11, 2010 6:33 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:The Theravāda teaches a bodhisattva path, but there is no need to put it into a Mahayana framework.

It's a Mahābodhiyāna framework.
The Theravada "framework" is not the same as the much later systematized frameworks developed by the Mahayanists, just as the Theravadin Buddha is not the same as the Buddha in much of the Mahayana, not to mention the Theravadin arahant compared with the unfortunate Mahayana arhat stuck in a make believe nirvana

There is really no homogeneous "Mahāyāna."
There certainly is not.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby Nyana » Sat Dec 11, 2010 6:35 am

Virgo wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:(Hence Ven. Dhammapāla's use of the Bodhisattvabhūmi from the Yogācārabhūmiśāstra when composing his commentary on the Pāramī-s for Theravāda practitioners who wish to engage in the perfections and practice the mahābodhiyāna of bodhisattas.)

I think you left out an important word: 'alleged'.

Okay then, Dhammapāla's commentary on the four shackles to giving, and the accomplishments resulting from practicing the pāramī-s, are coincidentally also found in the Bodhisattvabhūmi of the Yogācārabhūmiśāstra.

:buddha1:

All the best,

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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Dec 11, 2010 6:40 am

m0rl0ck wrote:
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.
You should really read the Lotus Sutra. It is far more than a matter of emphasis. Did you know that the Buddha really, truly got himself enlightened ages ago. The Buddha that we think of as the Buddha is naught more than a docetic emanation of that Buddha.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby Virgo » Sat Dec 11, 2010 6:42 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Virgo wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:(Hence Ven. Dhammapāla's use of the Bodhisattvabhūmi from the Yogācārabhūmiśāstra when composing his commentary on the Pāramī-s for Theravāda practitioners who wish to engage in the perfections and practice the mahābodhiyāna of bodhisattas.)

I think you left out an important word: 'alleged'.

Okay then, Dhammapāla's commentary on the four shackles to giving, and the accomplishments resulting from practicing the pāramī-s, are coincidentally also found in the Bodhisattvabhūmi of the Yogācārabhūmiśāstra.

:buddha1:

All the best,

Geoff

Impressive. Integrity. That is rare these days.

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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby Nyana » Sat Dec 11, 2010 6:43 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:The Theravāda teaches a bodhisattva path, but there is no need to put it into a Mahayana framework.

It's a Mahābodhiyāna framework.
The Theravada "framework" is not the same as the much later systematized frameworks developed by the Mahayanists,

The Theravāda teaching on the bodhisattvayāna is centuries later than the earliest Mahāyāna sūtras and commentaries.

tiltbillings wrote:just as the Theravadin Buddha is not the same as the Buddha in much of the Mahayana, not to mention the Theravadin arahant compared with the unfortunate Mahayana arhat stuck in a make believe nirvana

There are Mahāyāna sūtras and commentaries which fully respect the arahant fruition as a valid and final goal, and there are also Mahāyāna sūtras and commentaries which make no mention of the triple body of a buddha, etc., etc. Which is why it's worth mentioning that there is no homogeneous "Mahāyāna."

There is really no homogeneous "Mahāyāna."
There certainly is not.

Glad we can agree.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby Virgo » Sat Dec 11, 2010 7:02 am

Even so. Let's say _hypothetically_ that the Great Dhammapala drew from those Mahayana texts for his works. Well, we know that the Buddha said that if something accords with the principles of Dhamma, it can be called Dhamma, if it does not, it cannot. Now we know that Mahayana authors drew up their own Sutras, and later argued doctrinal points based on those phony Sutras (which makes their point moot), but much Mahayana doctrine is actually drawn from the early literature which does accord with Dhamma, for example the Pali Suttas or the Agamas. Now, it is clear that early Mahayanists tried to draw up a Bodhisatta path based on those early works. They logically tried to work it out. And when you read the texts that Dhammapala allegedly drew from, you see that they did logically work it out well. Now, if those texts accord with the Dhamma and do not go against it like later Mahayana works do, what harm is there in a Theravada Commentator drawing from them to comment on a Bodhisatta path that accords with the true Dhamma, that is as long as what those early Mahayana commentators came up with accords with Theravada Dhamma as found in the Tipitika and does not go against it.

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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Dec 11, 2010 7:19 am

Ñāṇa wrote:The Theravāda teaching on the bodhisattvayāna is centuries later than the earliest Mahāyāna sūtras and commentaries.
If you look in the stuff in the later commentarial stuff, sure, but the basic structure was found in the Buddhavamsa and the Cariyapitaka. Much of this stuff predates the Mahayana and was pan-Buddhist. And much of the early Mahayana, once it gets into the Mahayana/hinayana dichotomy, presents as an oppositional movement.

tiltbillings wrote:just as the Theravadin Buddha is not the same as the Buddha in much of the Mahayana, not to mention the Theravadin arahant compared with the unfortunate Mahayana arhat stuck in a make believe nirvana

There are Mahāyāna sūtras and commentaries which fully respect the arahant fruition as a valid and final goal, and there are also Mahāyāna sūtras and commentaries which make no mention of the triple body of a buddha, etc., etc. Which is why it's worth mentioning that there is no homogeneous "Mahāyāna."
Yes, the sutras – composed over a thousand years time - are all over the place with the very earlier ones tending to be less oppositional, but once the hermeneutic systems start developing, things generally start taking on a more consistent look.

The bottom line is that the Theravada does not need the Mahayana, nor does it really need the bodhisattva notion.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Dec 11, 2010 7:28 am

phony Sutras
Just as a matter of clarifying my stance, I do not subscribe to this locution. While the sutras are not the suttas, they are an expression of insight by the authors into what they felt represented the Buddha's teaching. I do not have to agree with what they said, but I am not going to to dismiss it with such teminology, even when referring to something I find as unsavory as the Lotus Sutra.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby zavk » Sat Dec 11, 2010 7:40 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Virgo wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:(Hence Ven. Dhammapāla's use of the Bodhisattvabhūmi from the Yogācārabhūmiśāstra when composing his commentary on the Pāramī-s for Theravāda practitioners who wish to engage in the perfections and practice the mahābodhiyāna of bodhisattas.)

I think you left out an important word: 'alleged'.

Okay then, Dhammapāla's commentary on the four shackles to giving, and the accomplishments resulting from practicing the pāramī-s, are coincidentally also found in the Bodhisattvabhūmi of the Yogācārabhūmiśāstra.

:buddha1:

All the best,

Geoff


Hi friends

Interestingly--and I learnt about this quite accidentally myself without meaning to look into it per se--there is some evidence that Ven Dharmapala as well as members of the Ceylonese sangha of the time (i.e. late nineteenth century) did engage with what we now regard as 'non-canonical' texts in their practice, considering them to be relevant for understanding the Dhamma. One such text was called the Yogavacara, translated by T.W. Rhys Davids (though strictly speaking it was completed by his wife Caroline Rhys Davids) as The Manual of Indian Mysticism as Practiced by Buddhists. I learnt about this from this article about the Pali Text Society which I've put on Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/doc/36389447/Defi ... xt-Society

Here's an extract from p. 195, emphasis added:

Asian Buddhist patrons funded a number of the society’s publications.53 This was not only a gesture of support and a modern transformation of the traditional merit-making practice of sponsoring the propagation of the dharma. It was also a way of ensuring that texts they considered important were disseminated in the West. Asian patronage and endorsement did not guarantee prompt publication, however. When the prominent Ceylonese Buddhist reformer Anagarika Dharmapala passed through England on his way to Chicago in 1893, he presented Rhys Davids with a manuscript of Yogāvacara’s Manual. When it eventually appeared thirteen years later, retranslated by Mrs. Rhys Davids, she explained that it had been published even then only because “it was incumbent upon us to meet the wishes of one who had shown the Society so much generosity.”54 It was clearly not a priority from her point of view. She apologized that “the publication of a translation of it now, when so much important matter in the Pāli canon is still only accessible to Pāli readers, may seem untimely,” and further undermined its authority by criticizing the quality of the manuscript and the late date of its composition. She warned the reader that this was not original Buddhism; it was of historical interest but was of little value to those who seek the Founder’s true gospel. In spite of the importance it held for practicing Buddhists, the editor’s preface effectively excluded the work as a nonauthoritative copy of a nonoriginal text, on a subject of dubious relation to Buddhism. Even the translated title colored its reception. Mysticism was the antithesis of humanism.

My point is the difficulty Asian Buddhists had in being heard, even though they made considerable attempts to intervene in the discourse. Language was a problem: few local translators would have the specialist vocabulary. They had neither the established authority nor the connections needed for access to a reputable metropolitan publishing house and its systems of distribution. Other obstacles were the rules of the Western academic paradigm that determined which texts were relevant and authoritative representations of Buddhism. These were determined in relation to Western interest, not the recommendation of Asian Buddhists. Though enthusiastic partners in the project to publish the Pāli canon, the aims of the society and its Asian patrons diverged.


Now I do not know if this is related to Yogacarabhumisatra in anyway. But what I found interesting about this is that so-called 'later texts' were not necessarily disregarded by Asian Buddhists in Theravada countries as irrelevant--well, at least before Western scholarship on Buddhism gained a foothold. I must admit that this does not address the question of Mahayana texts per se, but the article does give some indication as to how the notion that 'later texts' are of less relevance to Theravada came about. By analysing the historical circumstances of early Western Buddhist scholarship, the article suggests that our understanding of what is 'canonical' has been influenced by Western academic assumptions--and quite possibly the assumptions of biblical scholarship.

For instance, the article points out that when Rhys Davids began publishing on early Buddhism, he drew upon the existing work of Rev. Robert Spence Hardy. It must be said that Hardy was not really interested in Buddhism per se. His aim in studying the religion was to help him better carry out Christian missionary work. And while his writings eventually fell out of favour (thank goodness!), he nevertheless did produce some of the earliest English writings on early Buddhism which set the tone of approach of later scholars, including Rhys Davids. The article suggests that this approach was based on the assumptions of biblical scholarship, and that because Western scholars adopted such an approach, they often dismissed or devalued certain texts--even though Asian Buddhists considered them to be important and/or have traditionally engaged with them in their everyday practice. To quote another bit from the essay (p. 189):

A most important feature of Hardy’s work was that it offered the first thorough narrative of the life of the Buddha, a “biography” pieced together by Hardy from various sources, covering his previous births through to his death, cremation, and the distribution of his relics.17 As the designation “Buddhism” suggests, Westerners had assumed, ordering the world through a Christian gaze, that the Buddha, whose image was so prevalent in Buddhist cultures, was the founder of the religion. The search for a life of the Buddha was therefore central to early studies, the logical prerequisite of the scholarly paradigms of the time—the pattern of contemporary Biblical scholarship—that sought to retrieve the very words of the Founder from the sacred texts.18 The search had been frustrated by the fact that the Buddhist texts had been composed for a different purpose. While they recount numerous episodes in the Buddha’s life, they nowhere offered the kind of life narrative Westerners sought in a biography.19


Despite the difficulties of the task Hardy proceeded with his work anyway, and Rhys Davids was to later adopt it as the premises for his work. Do have a read of the article for a fuller picture of the historical circumstances influencing the way we now understand 'canonical' Theravada texts.

PLEASE NOTE: I am NOT writing this to defend or support the Mahayana nor am I showing disrespect towards the Theravada or Rhys Davids or disregarding the canon. I have utmost respect for them. But I think it is helpful to be reflexively aware of the historical factors that have influenced our understanding of the Dhamma, so that we do not unwittingly repeat the kind of arrogance that early Western scholars showed towards Asian Buddhists and forget about our own assumptions and projections. This is not to say that we reject what we know today--how can I reject it when it is the basis of my practice?--but just to be a bit more mindful of various influencing factors in our understading.

Hope this is of some use.

:anjali: :smile: :group:
With metta,
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby cooran » Sat Dec 11, 2010 7:45 am

Hello all,

Just so we're all on the same page with regard to the Theravada scholars writings:

The Bodhisattva Ideal In Theravaada Buddhist Theory And Practice: A Re-evaluation Of The Bodhisattva-`Sraavaka Opposition By Jeffrey Samuels
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha123.htm

Bodhisattva Ideal in Buddhism Ven. Dr. W. Rahula
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha126.htm

Arahants, Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas by Bhikkhu Bodhi
We can venerate those who glorify the teaching by showing that it truly leads to ultimate liberation, to the plunge into the unborn and unconditioned state, the deathless element, which the Buddha so often extolled, calling it the wonderful and marvelous, the peaceful purity, the unsurpassed liberation. Again, by taking this approach, we can also venerate those compassionate ones who vow to follow the route of the bodhisattva, and who make this vow as an act of supererogation, not because it is a necessary condition for their own true deliverance. We can revere and cherish their loving-kindness, their great compassion, their lofty aspirations, and their self-sacrificial service to the world. True Buddhism needs all three: Buddhas, arahants, and bodhisattvas. It needs Buddhas to discover and teach the path to liberation; it needs arahants to follow the path and confirm that the Dharma does indeed lead to liberation, adorning the teaching with examples of those who lead the purest holy life; it needs bodhisattvas to bring forth the resolve to perfect those qualities that will enable them at some point in the future, near or distant, to become Buddhas themselves and once again turn the unsurpassed Wheel of the Dharma.
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha335.htm

The Bodhisattva Concept - A. G. S. Kariyawasam
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha238.htm

with metta
Chris
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sat Dec 11, 2010 9:43 am

I read a lot while I was a Mahayana Buddhist - not sure I understood them though. ;) They felt to me more like poetry.

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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby m0rl0ck » Sat Dec 11, 2010 1:12 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:
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.
You should really read the Lotus Sutra. It is far more than a matter of emphasis. Did you know that the Buddha really, truly got himself enlightened ages ago. The Buddha that we think of as the Buddha is naught more than a docetic emanation of that Buddha.


You cant really take everything literally you know :) i have only read excerpts of the lotus sutra, it isnt high on my list, but if i live long enough i may get to it.
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:37 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:[quote="tiltbillings]You should really read the Lotus Sutra. It is far more than a matter of emphasis. Did you know that the Buddha really, truly got himself enlightened ages ago. The Buddha that we think of as the Buddha is naught more than a docetic emanation of that Buddha.[/quote]

You cant really take everything literally you know :) i have only read excerpts of the lotus sutra, it isnt high on my list, but if i live long enough i may get to it.[/quote][/quote]
It is a position that other Buddhists have held and was rejected by the Theravadins. I don't think there is any question about it; they meant it.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby Nyana » Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:50 pm

Virgo wrote:Well, we know that the Buddha said that if something accords with the principles of Dhamma, it can be called Dhamma, if it does not, it cannot.

And Śāntideva gave the same criteria for establishing the validity of the bodhisattvamārga.

Virgo wrote:and later argued doctrinal points based on those phony Sutras (which makes their point moot)

The followers of the mainstream Nikāya schools didn't accept the authority of any non-canonical sūtras, therefore it would be quite pointless to cite scriptural authority based on sūtras which weren't considered authoritative by all parties. Thus the Indian mahāyānika authors relied on canonical statements which are common to the discourses of the Sanskrit āgamas and the Pāḷi nikāyas as scriptural support when engaging in discussions with followers of the Nikāya schools.

Virgo wrote:much Mahayana doctrine is actually drawn from the early literature which does accord with Dhamma, for example the Pali Suttas or the Agamas. Now, it is clear that early Mahayanists tried to draw up a Bodhisatta path based on those early works. They logically tried to work it out. And when you read the texts that Dhammapala allegedly drew from, you see that they did logically work it out well. Now, if those texts accord with the Dhamma and do not go against it like later Mahayana works do, what harm is there in a Theravada Commentator drawing from them to comment on a Bodhisatta path that accords with the true Dhamma, that is as long as what those early Mahayana commentators came up with accords with Theravada Dhamma as found in the Tipitika and does not go against it.

Indeed. No harm at all.

All the best,

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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby Nyana » Sat Dec 11, 2010 4:15 pm

zavk wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:Okay then, Dhammapāla's commentary on the four shackles to giving, and the accomplishments resulting from practicing the pāramī-s, are coincidentally also found in the Bodhisattvabhūmi of the Yogācārabhūmiśāstra.


Interestingly--and I learnt about this quite accidentally myself without meaning to look into it per se--there is some evidence that Ven Dharmapala as well as members of the Ceylonese sangha of the time (i.e. late nineteenth century) did engage with what we now regard as 'non-canonical' texts in their practice, considering them to be relevant for understanding the Dhamma.

This is a different Dhammapāla. The one who wrote the Pāramī Mahābodhiyāna commentary lived over 1000 years earlier. Nevertheless, you do make a valid point.

zavk wrote:One such text was called the Yogavacara, translated by T.W. Rhys Davids (though strictly speaking it was completed by his wife Caroline Rhys Davids) as The Manual of Indian Mysticism as Practiced by Buddhists.

There is a considerable corpus of these Pāḷi Yogāvacara texts which haven't yet been translated into Western languages. There is also considerable historical evidence of Thera's engaging in the bodhisattva path, and even Indian Buddhist tantra (for example, tantric mantras have been discovered at Abhayagiri Vihāra and Vijayārāma Vihāra in Sri Lanka.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby kirk5a » Sat Dec 11, 2010 4:16 pm

tiltbillings wrote: The Buddha that we think of as the Buddha is naught more than a docetic emanation of that Buddha.

True! The Buddha we think of is not Buddha.

"Docetic" from dokein "to seem, have the appearance of, think,"

http://dictionary.reference.com/etymology/docetism
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Do you also read Mahayana Sutras?

Postby ground » Sat Dec 11, 2010 4:55 pm

For me as a Mahayana practitioner the Mahayana sutras are less important than the commentarial Mahayana literature (Mahayana Abhidharma).

But I study the Pali canon suttas :)

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