"Mixing" traditions?

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"Mixing" traditions?

Postby Admiral » Sun Sep 19, 2010 10:41 am

Hi everybody :anjali:

I've read many things about Theravada buddhism late months, but I must say I'm not totally "in love" with it.
I really appreciate the fact it's the closest tradition to what Buddha really taught, but :
A/ I really feel like a need of "devotion" that's more in Pure Land for exemple;
B/ I don't really like that fact that in Theravada its a need to be a monk to reach the goal, and that it's a more personal liberation compared to Mahayana...

So, here is my question : is there any problem with "mixing" traditions? :?
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Re: "Mixing" traditions?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Sep 19, 2010 10:53 am

Admiral wrote:B/ I don't really like that fact that in Theravada its a need to be a monk to reach the goal, and that it's a more personal liberation compared to Mahayana...
Don't believe everything you from a Mahayana point of view about the Theravada. Liberation benefits all and awakening is not limited to monks.
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Re: "Mixing" traditions?

Postby Ben » Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:06 am

Admiral wrote:A/ I really feel like a need of "devotion" that's more in Pure Land for exemple

There is devotion in the Theravada, it is profound and deep and it arises from actually walking on the path.
Just keep walking on the path.
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Re: "Mixing" traditions?

Postby Laurens » Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:03 pm

If you want to mix traditions then do so, so long as you are aware that there may be contradictions and so on. Most traditions that exist today are a mixture of different traditions in any case. Take Tibetan Buddhism for example, that has incorporated a lot from traditional Tibetan religions.

If you find it works for you to take little bits from here and there then its fine, but you may occasionally come across divergences, but if you are prepared for that then its fine.
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Re: "Mixing" traditions?

Postby texastheravadin » Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:34 pm

Is there anything "wrong" with it? No, but I doubt that what you'll wind up with will be a very skillful path. More than likely you'll kind of have this "Frankenstein" of traditions, each contradicting the other on various points, and you'll be more confused than when you started. :shrug:

You stated that you aren't "in love" with Theravada, and that you need more devotion and so on. Religion is not something that you mold into your own image to fit your own needs. I think it was Thanissaro Bhikku who wrote that while moral relativism may have led us to the Buddhist path, once we're inside it has no place. In other words, what you think you need and what you will find to be true may wind up being very different things. As ADD :cookoo: as I am, I hate hate HATE trying to be mindful. It's no fun, it's very frustrating, and sometimes I want to just give up. But I know that the days when I make a real effort to be heedful of my thoughts, words, and actions, I am a much happier person. The Lord Buddha :buddha1: took it as the measure of a wise person who could do force themselves to do something they didn't want to do because they knew they needed to.

My advice would be to remain open minded and study each path well. Put them into practice. Don't get too hung up on what you "like", just find out what works. As the leader of the local Dharma Punx group here in Houston once said, "at some point it's time to man (or woman) up and make a decision to walk down that Zen path, or that Theravada path...

Best regards and much luck

:anjali:

Josh

P.S. I was also under the impression that Theravada was a kind of cold humanism with very little devotional practice. I was very wrong! Most Theravadin teaching I have come across place great stress on setting aside time for formal devotion to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. I do every morning and evening!
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Re: "Mixing" traditions?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:33 pm

Admiral wrote:So, here is my question : is there any problem with "mixing" traditions? :?



It can get confusing because different traditions have different assumptions and different approaches.

However it can be very useful to explore traditions.

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Re: "Mixing" traditions?

Postby Admiral » Sun Sep 19, 2010 3:21 pm

Thanks a lot for all you kind advices! :hug:

tiltbillings wrote:Don't believe everything you from a Mahayana point of view about the Theravada. Liberation benefits all and awakening is not limited to monks.


Oh, really? :? I thought I read awakening was limited to monks in the Theravada tradition. I'm sorry if I misinterprated anything .. :x

texastheravadin wrote:My advice would be to remain open minded and study each path well. Put them into practice. Don't get too hung up on what you "like", just find out what works.


I'm trying to do so but one of my biggest problems about this is "mystical". I mean, when looking at Tibetan buddhism it looks like there are too much "mystical" element for me, while it seems there is not enough of it in Theravada or Zen for me..
I've always been highly attracted by complex cosmologies, but most of the time Theravadins look at it in a totaly metaphorical way. Am I right? :embarassed:

texastheravadin wrote:P.S. I was also under the impression that Theravada was a kind of cold humanism with very little devotional practice. I was very wrong! Most Theravadin teaching I have come across place great stress on setting aside time for formal devotion to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. I do every morning and evening!


That's totally what I'm thinking :? I'd like to know more about this, any thing you would recommend to me on this subject? :D
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Re: "Mixing" traditions?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Sep 19, 2010 3:34 pm

Admiral wrote:A/ I really feel like a need of "devotion" that's more in Pure Land for exemple;
B/ I don't really like that fact that in Theravada its a need to be a monk to reach the goal, and that it's a more personal liberation compared to Mahayana...


A. Actually, I find Mahayana has more of an emphasis on devotion than Theravada. The Theravada sees the Buddha as the fully enlightened one, but someone who was still born a human and became a Buddha, got sick and died. Some Mahayana (many? or most?) see the Buddha as an almost eternal God with different characteristics, such as the Nirmankaya (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trikaya) with what appears to be an eternal Buddha.

B. Enlightenment is attainable by all, monks, nuns, and lay people. Although once a lay person becomes enlightened they probably would naturally feel the need to ordain, but the actual "event" could occur while still a lay person.
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Re: "Mixing" traditions?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sun Sep 19, 2010 3:40 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:once a lay person becomes enlightened they probably would naturally feel the need to ordain
Out of curiousity, is this something you know for sure, something rooted in canon or something you've come to think based on your own inference? :)
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Re: "Mixing" traditions?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Sep 19, 2010 3:46 pm

Mawkish1983 wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:once a lay person becomes enlightened they probably would naturally feel the need to ordain
Out of curiousity, is this something you know for sure, something rooted in canon or something you've come to think based on your own inference? :)


Hi Mawk,

All of the above. :)

It is from the Commentaries. And from inference, it seems to make sense; once you are enlightened, you would not want to deal with the everyday trivialities and worries of a lay person, you may not want to deal with some of the lay livelihood responsibilities; chasing after the next pay check, etc.

I suppose it might be possible as an 8 or 10 precept lay person who was somehow financially independent and not required to make a living where so many fetters and hindrances could come up.

(But again, the actual "enlightenment" event could occur while still a lay person. And there were recorded cases of it happening in the Canon.)
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Re: "Mixing" traditions?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sun Sep 19, 2010 3:55 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:once you are enlightened, you would not want to deal with the everyday trivialities and worries of a lay person
This does make me wonder about people with spouses and dependant families. No conclusions spring to mind, just something for me to ponder...
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Re: "Mixing" traditions?

Postby texastheravadin » Sun Sep 19, 2010 4:17 pm

I'm trying to do so but one of my biggest problems about this is "mystical". I mean, when looking at Tibetan buddhism it looks like there are too much "mystical" element for me, while it seems there is not enough of it in Theravada or Zen for me..
I've always been highly attracted by complex cosmologies, but most of the time Theravadins look at it in a totaly metaphorical way. Am I right? :embarassed:


Not from my humble understanding, I have read a number of Theravadin teachers argue quite forcefully that rebirth within any of the thirty one "planes of existence" should be taken as literally meaning "at the break-up of the body, after death".
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bps-essay_46.html

I am still quite skeptical about this subject, but I have tried my best to approach it as a working hypothesis. Just put into practice what the Buddha taught about living happily in every day life, and check-in to see what kinds of results you get. I think if one starts to understand the effects of kamma, later on it's easier to give Buddha the benefit of the doubt about subjects beyond our purview. Keep in mind that both the Buddha and the Arahants describe being able to recall their past lives. I've read that these issues become clearer as one gets more and more agile with regard to jhanic ability.

If you like complex cosmologies, it doesn't get much more complex than this :jumping:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sagga/loka.html

That's totally what I'm thinking :? I'd like to know more about this, any thing you would recommend to me on this subject? :D


Yup. This link gives a good, concise description of what Theravadins generally do in the course of puja or worship:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/khantipalo/wheel206.html

There's no such thing as a standardized Buddhist devotional service, it's a personal thing. My advice would be to check out any of the local Theravada viharas or wats (temples or monasteries) in your area, if possible. Get a feel for what the laity considers "devotional practices". That's how I learned! (And am still learning!)

:anjali:

Josh
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Re: "Mixing" traditions?

Postby Admiral » Sun Sep 19, 2010 7:46 pm

Thanks a lot for all these answers :group:

texastheravadin wrote:Not from my humble understanding, I have read a number of Theravadin teachers argue quite forcefully that rebirth within any of the thirty one "planes of existence" should be taken as literally meaning "at the break-up of the body, after death".
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bps-essay_46.html
I am still quite skeptical about this subject, but I have tried my best to approach it as a working hypothesis. Just put into practice what the Buddha taught about living happily in every day life, and check-in to see what kinds of results you get. I think if one starts to understand the effects of kamma, later on it's easier to give Buddha the benefit of the doubt about subjects beyond our purview. Keep in mind that both the Buddha and the Arahants describe being able to recall their past lives. I've read that these issues become clearer as one gets more and more agile with regard to jhanic ability.
If you like complex cosmologies, it doesn't get much more complex than this :jumping:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sagga/loka.html


Really? Oh, I guess I didn't read the good books so :/ I thought it was a common point of view in Theravada that Planes of Existence should be taken as metaphors... But I feel more like the need to believe in them actually :?
Thanks for this ATI link, I've read some about these but nothing as detailed as that... I'll read it carefully :anjali:

texastheravadin wrote:Yup. This link gives a good, concise description of what Theravadins generally do in the course of puja or worship:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/khantipalo/wheel206.html
There's no such thing as a standardized Buddhist devotional service, it's a personal thing. My advice would be to check out any of the local Theravada viharas or wats (temples or monasteries) in your area, if possible. Get a feel for what the laity considers "devotional practices". That's how I learned! (And am still learning!)


Thanks again for that link Josh ! I guess that if it's a personal thing, nobody will be yelling at me for being a little bit "too much" devotional haha :shrug:
But I'm afraid I can't really check out local Theravada viharas as there's no Theravada temple or Monastery in France :/
It's all about Zen and Tibetan buddhism around here...
I got accepted in a Zen meditation group but there's a lot of stuff about the Diamond sutra or the Heart sutra, but as they're not part of the original Tipitaka I've some difficulties in following them!
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Re: "Mixing" traditions?

Postby manas » Sun Sep 19, 2010 10:51 pm

Mawkish1983 wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:once you are enlightened, you would not want to deal with the everyday trivialities and worries of a lay person
This does make me wonder about people with spouses and dependant families. No conclusions spring to mind, just something for me to ponder...


Once more, the exact scriptural quote eludes me ( :weep: ) but anyway...I read that in a (distant) previous birth, 'our' Gotama Buddha was the Brahmin Jotipala, and had contact with the current Buddha of that time (Kassapa Buddha). Somewhere in that tale, there was mention of a very attained householder, and this householder is asked something to the effect "Why don't you ordain?", to which he replies, "Don't you know that I look after my aged parents at home?", the implication being that of course you don't just 'up and leave' if you have vulnerable dependents in your care. For myself also, if I ever attained the incomparable good fortune of stream-entry, it would hardly be a very 'saintly' act to abandon my dear children by ordaining, at a time when they are so emotionally dependent on me. (PLEASE NOTE: There is a vast difference between the Bodhisattva's leaving home, and what I am discussing here. To my knowledge, I have not been cultivating the perfections for aeons with the unbroken determination to save all sentient beings from suffering by one day attaining full Buddhahood! Also, as the son of a Chieftan, Siddhartha's wife and child would have been very well provided for in any case by a wealthy extended family. Different rules apply here.)

So yes, having to go to work would be irritating, but then surely an ariyan has a level of detachment from this irritation? One could resolve to ordain when it will not be a cause of suffering for others, and bide one's time till then.
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Re: "Mixing" traditions?

Postby Ben » Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:02 pm

manasikara wrote:Once more, the exact scriptural quote eludes me ( :weep: ) but anyway...I read that in a (distant) previous birth, 'our' Gotama Buddha was the Brahmin Jotipala, and had contact with the current Buddha of that time (Kassapa Buddha). Somewhere in that tale, there was mention of a very attained householder, and this householder is asked something to the effect "Why don't you ordain?", to which he replies, "Don't you know that I look after my aged parents at home?", the implication being that of course you don't just 'up and leave' if you have vulnerable dependents in your care. For myself also, if I ever attained the incomparable good fortune of stream-entry, it would hardly be a very 'saintly' act to abandon my dear children by ordaining, at a time when they are so emotionally dependent on me. (PLEASE NOTE: There is a vast difference between the Bodhisattva's leaving home, and what I am discussing here. To my knowledge, I have not been cultivating the perfections for aeons with the unbroken determination to save all sentient beings from suffering by one day attaining full Buddhahood! Also, as the son of a Chieftan, Siddhartha's wife and child would have been very well provided for in any case by a wealthy extended family. Different rules apply here.)

So yes, having to go to work would be irritating, but then surely an ariyan has a level of detachment from this irritation? One could resolve to ordain when it will not be a cause of suffering for others, and bide one's time till then.


Yes, that's a very good point. I think you'll find that if you have dependent family members is a barrier to ordination for precisely the reason you mention. But make no mistake, the 'dusty life of a householder' is very fertile ground for spiritual development.
kind regards

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Re: "Mixing" traditions?

Postby texastheravadin » Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:15 pm

Once more, the exact scriptural quote eludes me ( :weep: ) but anyway...I read that in a (distant) previous birth, 'our' Gotama Buddha was the Brahmin Jotipala, and had contact with the current Buddha of that time (Kassapa Buddha). Somewhere in that tale, there was mention of a very attained householder, and this householder is asked something to the effect "Why don't you ordain?", to which he replies, "Don't you know that I look after my aged parents at home?", the implication being that of course you don't just 'up and leave' if you have vulnerable dependents in your care. For myself also, if I ever attained the incomparable good fortune of stream-entry, it would hardly be a very 'saintly' act to abandon my dear children by ordaining, at a time when they are so emotionally dependent on me. (PLEASE NOTE: There is a vast difference between the Bodhisattva's leaving home, and what I am discussing here. To my knowledge, I have not been cultivating the perfections for aeons with the unbroken determination to save all sentient beings from suffering by one day attaining full Buddhahood! Also, as the son of a Chieftan, Siddhartha's wife and child would have been very well provided for in any case by a wealthy extended family. Different rules apply here.)

So yes, having to go to work would be irritating, but then surely an ariyan has a level of detachment from this irritation? One could resolve to ordain when it will not be a cause of suffering for others, and bide one's time till then.


Not sure about the exact scripture either, but from Wikipedia (emphasis mine):
It is also possible for a lay disciple to become enlightened. As Bhikkhu Bodhi notes, "The Suttas and commentaries do record a few cases of lay disciples attaining the final goal of Nirvana. However, such disciples either attain Arahantship on the brink of death or enter the monastic order soon after their attainment. They do not continue to dwell at home as Arahant householders, for dwelling at home is incompatible with the state of one who has severed all craving."


This is apparently from In The Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses From the Pali Canon, which I just recently started reading so I haven't come across this section yet.

According to the biography I'm reading on Ajahn Mun (whom at least some of his disciples considered an Arahant, or at the very least a non-returner), he cared for his mother as an ordained monk until the time was right for him to set off on his own and give one last "push" for Nibbāna. He did so, of course, after ensuring that she would be taken care of. So I would have to say that "dwelling at home" would not include taking care of dependents. I imagine more of a scenario of someone hanging out all day playing Wii :tongue:

:anjali:

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Re: "Mixing" traditions?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:22 pm

manasikara wrote:
Mawkish1983 wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:once you are enlightened, you would not want to deal with the everyday trivialities and worries of a lay person
This does make me wonder about people with spouses and dependant families. No conclusions spring to mind, just something for me to ponder...


For myself also, if I ever attained the incomparable good fortune of stream-entry, it would hardly be a very 'saintly' act to abandon my dear children by ordaining, at a time when they are so emotionally dependent on me.


The leaving of the home life for ordination is only 'expected' or assumed for the Arahant, the fully enlightened, not the stream-entrant, once-returner, or even the non-returner (anagami). Even an Anagami could dwell in the home life with a spouse who is like a kalyana mitta and follow at least the 8 precepts and still take care of dependent ones.
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Re: "Mixing" traditions?

Postby manas » Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:48 pm

Hi Admiral

While the Pali Tipitaka is, according to scholars and historians, the most reliable source of the Buddha's original teachings, we should remember that it was only written down for the first time when the Theravada School of Buddhism held its fourth council in 83 BCE in Sri Lanka. That leaves a large window of time when it was being transmitted by recitation alone, furthermore we still have to trust that what was written down was exactly the same as what was spoken about 400 years earlier...furthermore, 83 BC was also rather a long time ago...

When in doubt, sometimes I ask my own heart. I know it's afflicted with the poisons, but somehow it can still give good guidance on occasion. For example, I like the Bodhisattva precept that "while striving for the welfare of all beings, do not (thus) neglect one" (ie: the being before you in this moment still matters, and should not be neglected even though one is on a 'mission' to save many more). Also, I chant Om Mani Padme Hum regularly, and find it uplifting and purifying for the mind. And yet my main practice is based on the Pali Tipitaka. I feel no contradiction partly because of the vast amounts of time that have passed. We don't really know exactly what the original Teachings were. We have to use not just our intellect, but our hearts and our whole being to strive after the Truth. And I do feel that the mood of the Mahayana, with it's attitude of striving not just for the sake of 'me' but for the sake of 'us', is a refreshing one (PLEASE NOTE: I do not imply herein that Theravadins strive 'just' for themselves, just that the Bodhisattva ideal DOES widen the range of one's aspiration somewhat, even though I find myself unable to make that kind of committment at present.) And yet, I cannot deny that their scriptures were composed later, and the Pali Tipitaka earlier...I do know how you feel.

That's my humble offering on the matter, anyway... Peace. :anjali:
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Re: "Mixing" traditions?

Postby manas » Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:57 pm

once you are enlightened, you would not want to deal with the everyday trivialities and worries of a lay person
...
This does make me wonder about people with spouses and dependant families. No conclusions spring to mind, just something for me to ponder


For myself also, if I ever attained the incomparable good fortune of stream-entry, it would hardly be a very 'saintly' act to abandon my dear children by ordaining, at a time when they are so emotionally dependent on me.


The leaving of the home life for ordination is only 'expected' or assumed for the Arahant, the fully enlightened, not the stream-entrant, once-returner, or even the non-returner (anagami). Even an Anagami could dwell in the home life with a spouse who is like a kalyana mitta and follow at least the 8 precepts and still take care of dependent ones.[/quote]

Oops thank you for clarifying that point. I apologize for any offence caused to anyone at all.

:anjali:
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Re: "Mixing" traditions?

Postby mudra » Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:11 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
Admiral wrote:A/ I really feel like a need of "devotion" that's more in Pure Land for exemple;
B/ I don't really like that fact that in Theravada its a need to be a monk to reach the goal, and that it's a more personal liberation compared to Mahayana...


A. Actually, I find Mahayana has more of an emphasis on devotion than Theravada. The Theravada sees the Buddha as the fully enlightened one, but someone who was still born a human and became a Buddha, got sick and died. Some Mahayana (many? or most?) see the Buddha as an almost eternal God with different characteristics, such as the Nirmankaya (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trikaya) with what appears to be an eternal Buddha.

B. Enlightenment is attainable by all, monks, nuns, and lay people. Although once a lay person becomes enlightened they probably would naturally feel the need to ordain, but the actual "event" could occur while still a lay person.


A. Mahayana" is not only the "Great Vehicle" but it is a pretty big concept embracing many different views. Some are more devotional than others if you like. For sure not all see Buddha as 'an almost eternal God with different charcteristics'. You could get into a lot of debate over that statements particularly with those schools which base much of their views on the Madhyamaka pov.
The devotional aspect comes out in other areas, for example with Tibetan Buddhists the big emphasis on Guru devotion.

B. For sure the Theravada as such does not preclude lay people from spiritual attainment. But - unfortunately there has been a tendency in some traditionally Theravadin related cultures to give that impression, and if you are a laywoman in those traditional cultures some people would put you even lower on the scale. If we were to be honest this kind of distorted misinterpretation exists amongst ignorant Mahayanists too. Thankfully now in traditionally Buddhist cultures like Thailand and Ladakh, laypeople, partly encouraged by the example of their western counterparts, have now started serious study groups and "get into it".
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