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Dhamma Wheel • View topic - Is Theravada more strict or ascetic than other sects?

Is Theravada more strict or ascetic than other sects?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Is Theravada more strict or ascetic than other sects?

Postby Satori » Sat Oct 09, 2010 10:38 am

Is Theravada more strict or ascetic than other sects?

Do they place more emphasis on renunciation than other schools of Buddhism?
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Re: Is Theravada more strict or ascetic than other sects?

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 09, 2010 11:47 am

Greetings Satori

I'm not sure that's a question that has a meaningful answer other to say that the different traditions of Buddhism are...different.
kind regards

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Re: Is Theravada more strict or ascetic than other sects?

Postby Dan74 » Sat Oct 09, 2010 11:55 am

It varies.

Firstly do you mean doctrinally Theravada are more strict or place more emphasis on renunciation? Or do you mean in practice?

Also compared to whom? Vajrayana, Chinese Chan, Japanese Zen, Vietnamese Pure Land, Sokkagakai, Korean Seon? And even within schools, there are different lineages which approach these questions in radically different ways.

And in Theravada too, I am sure. You go to one temple and the monks are committed, disciplined and hard-working. You go to another and the precepts are respected more in breach, while the monks are just slackers in robes.

As for the doctrine, some scholars believe that Mahayana actually arose as a movement towards deeper commitment to following the Buddha's path (see eg Williams). Certainly in many places renunciation is very important. Except for Japan, monks follow Vinaya which is very similar to the one Theravada monks take and dates to an ancient school.

A few Mahayana monastics I know do handle money and generally take a pretty liberal approach to many rules. They also work extremely hard for their communities and are very committed celibate Dharma teachers. In many traditional monasteries life is very simple and austere. There is a great book by Buswell called The Zen Monastic Experience about life in one of the main Korean temples to give one a taste.

I guess Theravada historically placed a great deal of emphasis on preserving the teachings (perhaps more than on practicing them in some instances). I recall a Burmese monk telling me how the monks in Burma at one stage were very learned but didn't know how to meditate. And in Sri Lanka there was a similar story I believe until the Dhamma almost died out. Whereas Mahayana schools having in some way broken away from the letter of the original canon(s) (but not the spirit hopefully!) sometimes felt more at liberty to push the boundaries - crazy wisdom ala Ikkyu or Drugpa Kunley, etc (and sometimes lose it in the process perhaps).

Mind you my take on this matter is not scholarly and probably quite inaccurate, so I will appreciate a correction from the more learned and apologize for any misrepresentation!
Last edited by Dan74 on Sat Oct 09, 2010 12:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
_/|\_
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Re: Is Theravada more strict or ascetic than other sects?

Postby Hanzze » Sat Oct 09, 2010 11:57 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Is Theravada more strict or ascetic than other sects?

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Sat Oct 09, 2010 12:24 pm

Dan74 wrote:It varies.

Firstly do you mean doctrinally Theravada are more strict or place more emphasis on renunciation? Or do you mean in practice?

Also compared to whom? Vajrayana, Chinese Chan, Japanese Zen, Vietnamese Pure Land, Sokkagakai, Korean Seon? And even within schools, there are different lineages which approach these questions in radically different ways.

And in Theravada too, I am sure. You go to one temple and the monks are committed, disciplined and hard-working. You go to another and the precepts are respected more in breach, while the monks are just slackers in robes.

As for the doctrine, some scholars believe that Mahayana actually arose as a movement towards deeper commitment to following the Buddha's path (see eg Williams). Certainly in many places renunciation is very important. Except for Japan, monks follow Vinaya which is very similar to the one Theravada monks take and dates to an ancient school.


A few Mahayana monastics I know do handle money and generally take a pretty liberal approach to many rules. They also work extremely hard for their communities and are very committed celibate Dharma teachers. In many traditional monasteries life is very simple and austere. There is a great book by Buswell called The Zen Monastic Experience about life in one of the main Korean temples to give one a taste.

I guess Theravada historically placed a great deal of emphasis on preserving the teachings (perhaps more than on practicing them in some instances). I recall a Burmese monk telling me how the monks in Burma at one stage were very learned but didn't know how to meditate. And in Sri Lanka there was a similar story I believe until the Dhamma almost died out. Whereas Mahayana schools having in some way broken away from the letter of the original canon(s) (but not the spirit hopefully!) sometimes felt more at liberty to push the boundaries - crazy wisdom ala Ikkyu or Drugpa Kunley, etc

Mind you my take on this matter is not scholarly and probably quite inaccurate, so I will appreciate a correction from the more learned and apologize for any misrepresentation!

I pretty much agree with Dan here.
Different traditons do things different ways and even within those traditions,different schools do things differently.
As you can see by my avatar(yeah that is me)I am a monk in the Theravada tradition.
As you can also see I have internet access.
Not all temples would allow this.My temple pays my internet for me.
I doubt that the forest sanghas would allow this.
I cannot answer for the other traditions as to be honest I do not know enough about them and so will leave it up to people from these traditions to give you there views. :rules:
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Re: Is Theravada more strict or ascetic than other sects?

Postby Hanzze » Sat Oct 09, 2010 12:52 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Is Theravada more strict or ascetic than other sects?

Postby Satori » Sat Oct 09, 2010 12:57 pm

Forest Shangha? Are there monks that live in forests ? Isn't that a bit over the top? I thought the Buddha taught the middle way between very ascetic and self-indulgence in sense pleasures.

I also thought Buddha taught compassion, how can you be compassionate to other people if you live in the forest?
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Re: Is Theravada more strict or ascetic than other sects?

Postby Dan74 » Sat Oct 09, 2010 1:04 pm

_/|\_
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Re: Is Theravada more strict or ascetic than other sects?

Postby Hanzze » Sat Oct 09, 2010 1:07 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Is Theravada more strict or ascetic than other sects?

Postby Hanzze » Sat Oct 09, 2010 1:11 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Is Theravada more strict or ascetic than other sects?

Postby bodom » Sat Oct 09, 2010 1:32 pm

Forest Shangha? Are there monks that live in forests ? Isn't that a bit over the top? I thought the Buddha taught the middle way between very ascetic and self-indulgence in sense pleasures.


The Buddha praised forest dwelling. As Buddhadasa says "The Buddha was born in the forest, lived in the forest, and died in the forest."

Also importantly, found in the Maha-parinibbana Sutta the Buddha gives 'seven conditions leading to welfare and endurance among the bhikkhus, one of which is, 'Cherish the forest depths for their dwellings'.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .vaji.html

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Is Theravada more strict or ascetic than other sects?

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Sat Oct 09, 2010 2:01 pm

Hanzze wrote:
Nanadhaja wrote:I pretty much agree with Dan here.
Different traditons do things different ways and even within those traditions,different schools do things differently.
As you can see by my avatar(yeah that is me)I am a monk in the Theravada tradition.
As you can also see I have internet access.
Not all temples would allow this.My temple pays my internet for me.
I doubt that the forest sanghas would allow this.
I cannot answer for the other traditions as to be honest I do not know enough about them and so will leave it up to people from these traditions to give you there views. :rules:

Venerable Nanadhaja, please let me ask you some questions.

Venerable Nanadhaja, would you say that the way you are walking is the way Buddha had taught?
Venerable Nanadhaja, would you say that the life of monasteries is according to what the Buddha has taught?
Venerable Nanadhaja, would you say that you have given up and live ascetic?
Dear Ven. Nanadhaja, what them is the reason for it?
Why, Ven. Nanadhaja, if there is no different in view of the dhamma, why then is that forum (just as a near example) described as "...on the dhamma of theravada"?
Why, Ven. Nanadhaja, if there is no different in the result of the way, why then publish other schools that this and that way will not lead to Nibbana?
Ven. Nanadhaja, is it useful for the practice to think "This is his way, and I walk my way" if I am identified as representative of one group?

Hanzze,I will try to answer a few of your questions.
I am starting out on the path. Along the way I will make mistakes.
As far as living the life of an ascetic,I have given up a lot to be here in this temple.Ok for sure I have internet connection.
If I did not I would struggle to stay in touch with my aging parents.My family are in NZ and I am in Malaysia.
Also I am able to hopefully share what small knowledge I have with other people.Most of our lay devotees here speak Hokkien chinese.Not a language I am conversant in.
I did not say there is no different views in my post.There are many differing views.It is not up to me to tell others that I think they are wrong.
As buddhism spread and people of different cultures adopted it they often incorporated some of their older belief systems into it.This is just a fact of life.
I know many people from different traditions of buddhism and respect their views even if I may differ in opinion.
For the most part the basics of buddhism are still there.4nt's,8fnp.
With metta
And crawling on the planets face,some insects called the human race.
Lost in time
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And meaning
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Re: Is Theravada more strict or ascetic than other sects?

Postby Hanzze » Sat Oct 09, 2010 7:56 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Is Theravada more strict or ascetic than other sects?

Postby plwk » Sun Oct 10, 2010 1:35 am

I thought the Buddha taught the middle way between very ascetic and self-indulgence in sense pleasures.

Dhutanga

I also thought Buddha taught compassion, how can you be compassionate to other people if you live in the forest?

So...only 'people' are worthy of compassion?
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

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