Bodhisattva Path: Historical Aspects In Theravāda

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Re: Bodhisattva Path: Historical Aspects In Theravāda

Postby Jechbi » Tue Dec 28, 2010 3:55 pm

tiltbillings wrote:From the Theravada standpoint, taking the suttas as the touchstone, this analysis is seriously flawed. It seems to assume, though it is unclearly stated in the above, that a bodhisattva practice is more compassionate, more concerned with others welfare than other. There is no justification for such a claim, and the use of the term hinayana, the discarded/abject vehicle, even as suggested above, really only adds confusion, not clarity, to the issue. Basically, from a Theravadin standpoint there is no need to utilize sectarian polemical terms in talking about one’s practice.
The post you reference contains no assumption about whose practice is more compassionate.

I disagree with the position that the term "Hinayana" never has its legitimate place in any context. I agree that in a Theravada context the term isn't useful unless one is discussing it as an example of terminology used in other traditions. But when we are speaking of other traditions or other faiths, in a Theravada context, it's important to be appreciative and respectful. One way to be respectful is to understand the terms used in other traditions in the context in which they were intended, and to describe them accordingly. To do otherwise introduces confusion, not clarity, to the issue.
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Re: Bodhisattva Path: Historical Aspects In Theravāda

Postby Sambodhi in Oz » Tue Dec 28, 2010 4:21 pm

Really appreciate what 'Tilt' said. Plus if everyone in the world decided to become a Bodhisatta then who will those Buddhas in future expound the Dhamma to ! To each his own path.
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Re: Bodhisattva Path: Historical Aspects In Theravāda

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Dec 28, 2010 4:36 pm

Jechbi wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:From the Theravada standpoint, taking the suttas as the touchstone, this analysis is seriously flawed. It seems to assume, though it is unclearly stated in the above, that a bodhisattva practice is more compassionate, more concerned with others welfare than other. There is no justification for such a claim, and the use of the term hinayana, the discarded/abject vehicle, even as suggested above, really only adds confusion, not clarity, to the issue. Basically, from a Theravadin standpoint there is no need to utilize sectarian polemical terms in talking about one’s practice.
The post you reference contains no assumption about whose practice is more compassionate.
The problem is that Mahayana concept of the bodhisattva is held by Mahayanists to be more compassionate, by definition, than the concept of the arhat, and it is clearly portrayed that way within the Mahayana. My point is that that is a sectarian claim that the Theravadin do not need to buy into. The Theravadins do not need to buy into the Mahayana bodhisattva concepts in terms of comparison.

In many significant ways the Theravadin bodhisatta notion is a very different animal from the Mahayana notion and should not without some serious consideration be declared - or suggested - that they are equivalent.

I disagree with the position that the term "Hinayana" never has its legitimate place in any context.
The only legitimate contexts the word hinayana (and its baggage) have -- as I have said more than once here and elsewhere -- is solely within a Mahayana context. There it works fine, but any attempt of usage of a strictly Mahayana concept outside that is at best confusing. Hinayana (and it baggage) is, at its inception, a derogatory polemical term. And we need to keep in mind that the Mahayana does not get to define what Buddhism is for the Theravadins.

I agree that in a Theravada context the term isn't useful unless one is discussing it as an example of terminology used in other traditions.
Sure, as an historical term.

But when we are speaking of other traditions or other faiths, in a Theravada context, it's important to be appreciative and respectful. One way to be respectful is to understand the terms used in other traditions in the context in which they were intended, and to describe them accordingly. To do otherwise introduces confusion, not clarity, to the issue.
Is this point you were trying make in your initial msg? In your initial msg it was certainly less than clear. Of course, the term hinayana needs to be understood as it was used in its inception and how its meaning has changed somewhat over time, to refer to a level of motivation, but the original usage still lurks in the background, still exerts all too often an influence on how some Mahayanists view the Theravada. Theravadins certainly should understand that, which allow them not to get caught up in unneeded wrangling.
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Re: Bodhisattva Path: Historical Aspects In Theravāda

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Dec 29, 2010 1:33 am

Hi Tilt,

I think Ven Walpola Rahula is correct- coming from the Sri Lankan background that he does- he based his conclusion on the prevelant view there: respect, veneration, gratitude, confidence in the Sammasambuddha is immense.. and rightly so- here is a man who decided to strive to become a God(like) on earth...

In any case most Sri Lankan temples have a image of the next Buddha - Meteyya Buddha. So it almost seems like a fusion of the theravada and mahayana.

with metta

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Re: Bodhisattva Path: Historical Aspects In Theravāda

Postby Jechbi » Thu Dec 30, 2010 4:44 pm

Tilt, the point is that if we are going to discuss another tradition, it's important to explain the language of that tradition in the context in which it was intended. By focusing on the perceived "sectrarian claim" behind the term Hinayana, you are providing an incomplete picture of the other tradition that you are discussing.

As I wrote earlier, in any form of Buddhist practice, the approach we take only is beneficial to the extent that it inclines toward liberation. So I can understand that in a certain context, the term "Hinayana" could be useful to some people as part of a teaching about how to pay attention to one's own practice. And in fact that is how I understand the term "Hinayana," namely, not as part of a teaching aimed at judging others, but rather as part of a teaching aimed at helping one see for oneself.

I am merely suggesting, in the context of this thread, that the underlying teachings of various Buddhist traditions share important elements in common insofar as they offer a path of practice that can incline toward liberation. In my opinion, that's worth remembering. It's easy to get distracted by these "sectarian claims," as you put it.
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Re: Bodhisattva Path: Historical Aspects In Theravāda

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:56 pm

Jechbi wrote:I am merely suggesting, in the context of this thread, that the underlying teachings of various Buddhist traditions share important elements in common insofar as they offer a path of practice that can incline toward liberation. In my opinion, that's worth remembering. It's easy to get distracted by these "sectarian claims," as you put it.
Since we continually bump against the sectarian claim embodied in Mahayana and hinayana, it is worth looking at them in an historical context. Hinayana solely within a Mahayana context is not a problem. And as far as value to be found in the Mahayana, outside its polemics, I would not deny - and have not denied - that
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Re: Bodhisattva Path: Historical Aspects In Theravāda

Postby Dmytro » Fri Dec 31, 2010 10:36 am

Hi,

Ñāṇa wrote:Here are some resources for anyone interested in the historical aspects of the bodhisattva path in Sri Lanka and other Theravāda locations:


Perhaps some of my notes will also be useful.

Jeffrey Samuels in his article "The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada" writes that:

"In the early examples, we find the relationship drawn between kings and bodhisattvas in numerous, albeit tempered, ways. For instance, King Du.t.tagaama.nii exhibited the quality of compassion by refusing to enter the heavenly realm after his previous life as an ascetic (saama.nera) so that he could be reborn as a prince and unite the regional rulers of Sri Lanka as well as help develop the sangha and the Buddha's teaching."

There's a detailed article about Dutthagamani at:
http://www.vipassana.info/d/dutthagaamanii.htm

This king did not use any 'Bodhisatta ideal', since there was not such a thing at that time.

Jeffrey Samuels writes that "he appears to demonstrate certain bodhisattvic qualities", which is highly tenuous.

Mahavamsa just states that Dutthagamani was reborn in Tusita heaven, to become later a chief disciple of Metteya.

http://lakdiva.org/mahavamsa/chap032.html

No 'remaining in Samsara to help others' involved. Mahavamsa was written still before the Bodhisattva cult was introduced in Sri Lanka.

The date and place when Bodhisattva's ideal was introduced in Theravada can be established by text where it first appears - A Treatise on the Paaramiis by Acariya Dhammapala, 6th century, Southeastern India.

The first Theravadan text on Bodhisattva's path, A Treatise on the Paramis, by Acariya Dhammapala, borrows from Bodhisattvabhuumi, the fifteenth chapter of the Yogaacaarabhuumi, a voluminous text of the Yogaacaara school ascribed to Maitreya-naatha, the teacher of Asanga.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el409.html
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/37687/Asanga
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maitreya-n%C4%81tha

I posed myself a question of how exactly the idea of 'remaining in Samsara to help others' originated in Buddhism, especially in Theravada.

Evidently, among Theravadin countries, this started in the 8th century in Sri Lanka (see citations in the end of the message). Simultaneously there developed the cult of Lokesvara Natha (Sri Lankan version of Avalokitesvara).

"The cult of Avalokitesvara also spread to Sri Lanka. This is a little surprising as Sri Lanka primarily follows Theravada Buddhism, while Avalokitesvara was originally a strictly Mahayana conception. In Sri Lanka, he is called Natha, which is an abbreviation of Lokesvaranatha, which means "Lord of the World". He has become identified with the bodhisattva Maitreya, the "future Buddha". He is also seen as being identical with several Hindu gods. Natha is seen as the guardian deity of Sri Lanka, and is reportedly worshipped primarily because he is regarded as a pragmatically useful source of advantages in the phenomenal world. Although I have been able to find very little information on it, apparently the cult of Natha has also spread with little change to other Theravada Buddhist countries, such as Cambodia and Burma.

In Nepal, Avalokitesvara is conflated with the Brahman deity Matsyendranath. He is worshipped in elaborate rituals which are performed by a priestly caste. Ordination is handed down from father to son, with some important positions being sold to the highest bidder from within the caste. According to one reporter, the meanings behind the rituals have been largely forgotten. However, they continue to be performed because they are customary and are considered to bring luck."

Avalokitesvara and Tibetan Contemplation, by Karen M. Andrews
http://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php/Aval ... M._Andrews

The name Natha, and the Avalokitesvara connection, points to the Nath (Mahasiddha) tradition. There we find the statements like:

"According to a recent Nath Guru, Shri Gurudev Mahendranath, another aim was to avoid reincarnation. In The Magick Path of Tantra, he wrote about several of the aims of the Naths,

"Our aims in life are to enjoy peace, freedom, and happiness in this life, but also to avoid rebirth onto this Earth plane. All this depends not on divine benevolence, but on the way we ourselves think and act."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nath

"Mahasiddhas are a form of bodhisattva, meaning they not only have the spiritual abilities to enter nirvana whenever they please, but they are so compassionate they resolve to remain in samsara instead to help others."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahasiddha

So it seems that the idea of remaining in Samsara emerged under the influence of such notion in Mahasiddha (Nath, Shaiva Siddhanta) tradition. The two key figures were Matsyendranatha (Lokesvaranatha) and Maitreyanatha.

Relevant citations:

"By the eighth century C.E., the amalgamation between the institution of kingship and bodhisattvas became even stronger. At this time, we find evidence of certain Theravaadin kings in Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand who openly declared themselves to be bodhisattvas. For example, King Ni`s`sanka Malla (1187-1196 C.E.) of Polonnaruva, Ceylon, states that "I will show my self in my [true] body which is endowed with benevolent regard for and attachment to the virtuous qualities of a bodhisattva king, who like a parent, protects the world and the religion." (38) In other epigraphical markings, there is a reference to King Paraakramabaahu VI as "Bodhisatva [sic] Paraakrama Baahu." (39) Finally, the conflation of kings and bodhisattvas on the island of Sri Lanka is established most strongly by King Mahinda IV, who not only referred to himself as a bodhisattva as a result of his bodhisattva-like resolute determination, (40) but who even went so far as to proclaim that "none but the bodhisattas would become kings of prosperous La^nkaa." (41)

...

51 - There is evidence that suggests that certain lay people living in Sri Lanka took bodhisattva vows to attain buddhahood. For example, we find that two Sri Lankans, after freeing their children and wives from slavery, dedicated the merit derived from these actions "for the.benefit of all beings" (Epigraphia Zeylanica, 4:133, nos. 1-4) as well as to their own attainment of "Buddhahood as desired" (ibid., 4:133, nos. 2-3). We also find a similar wish made by a "lay" person who lived between the fifth and eighth centuries and who sculpted or commissioned the sculpting of a rock in the shape of a stuupa.

http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha123.htm

"In Sri Lanka, in the 10th Century, King Mahinda IV (956-972 AD.) in an inscription proclaimed that "none but the Bodhisattvas would become kings of Sri Lanka (Ceylon)". Thus it was believed that kings of Sri Lanka were Bodhisattvas.

A Thera named Maha-Tipitaka Culabhaya who wrote the Milinda-Tika (about the 12th Century AD.) in the Theravada tradition of the Mahavihara at Anuradhapura, says at the end of the book in the colophon that he aspires to become a Buddha: Buddho Bhaveyyam "May I become a Buddha," which means that this author is a Bodhisattva.

We come across at the end of some palm leaf manuscripts of Buddhist texts in Sri Lanka the names of even a few copyists who have recorded their wish to become Buddhas, and they too are to be considered as Bodhisattvas. At the end of a religious ceremony or an act of piety, the bhikkhu who gives benedictions, usually admonishes the congregation to make a resolution to attain Nirvana by realising one of the three Bodhis - Sravakabodhi, Pratyekabodhi or Samyaksambodhi - as they wish according to their capacity.

http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha126.htm

"By about the tenth century, this belief had become so strong that the king of Sri Lanka had not only to be Buddhist but also a Bodhisatta. The Jetavanarama Slab Inscription of Mahinda IV (956-972 AD) proclaimed

"None but the Bodhisatta would become kings of Sri Lanka …….(who) .... received assurance (vyaran) from the Omniscent Buddha."

http://www.lankalibrary.com/Bud/establishment.htm

"The bodhisattva concept had its influence in the evolution of kingship in Sri Lanka, too. For some time between the fourth and the eleventh centuries CE, the kings of Sri Lanka began to be regarded not as ordinary human beings but as bodhisattvas. The Jetavanarama slab-inscription of Mahinda IV and the Pritidanakamanapa inscription of Nissanka Malla are instances where the rulers refer to themselves as bodhisattvas. The Rajatarangani (p. 470 and the Nikayasamgrahava, ed. Kumaranatunga, p. 24) also bear evidence to this. Parakramabahu II says that he would become a Buddha (Mahavamsa, ch. 86, stz. 7).

http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha238.htm

In Burma, the relationship between kings and bodhisattvas is exemplified with King Kyanzittha, who claimed himself to be "the bodhisatva [sic], who shall verily become a Buddha that saves (and) redeems all beings, who is great in love (and) compassion for all beings at all times... [and] who was foretold by the Lord Buddha, who is to become a true Buddha." (42) In another instance, King Alaungsithu wrote that he would like to build a causeway to help all beings reach "The Blessed City [i.e., nirvaa.na]." (43) Finally, kings `Srii Tribhuvanaaditya, Thilui^n Ma^n, Ca~nsuu I, and Naato^nmyaa all referred to themselves as bodhisattvas. (44)

42 - Epigraphia Burmanica, 1:146.

43 - P. M. Tin, "The Shwegugyi Pagoda Inscriptions, Pagan 1141 A.D.," The Journal of the Burma Research Society 10 (2) (1920): 72.

44 - T. Tun, "Religion in Burma, A.D. 100-1300," The Journal of the Burma Research Society 42 (1959): 53.

http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha123.htm

After a war between the Mon and the Myanmar in which the Mon initially attacked and then conquered Ava itself, the Myanmar king Alaungpaya (1752-60), who believed himself a Bodhisatta, crushed Mon resistance once and for all. After Pago had fallen into his hands in 1756, Lower Myanmar was devastated and many of the Mon survivors fled to Thailand or were deported as slaves.

...

Bodawpaya is also reputed to have been beset by a form of megalomania. He wanted to force the Sangha to confirm officially that he was the Bodhisatta of the next Buddha to come in this world cycle, the Buddha Metteyya.

http://www.cambodianbuddhist.org/englis ... el399.html

In Thailand, a similar connection is drawn. One example of a Thai bodhisattva-king is Lu T'ai of Sukhothai who "wished to become a Buddha to help all beings... leave behind the sufferings of transmigration." (45) The relation between King Lu T'ai and bodhisattvahood is also manifested by the events occurring at his ordination ceremony that were similar to "the ordinary course of happenings in the career of a Bodhisattva." (46)

http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha123.htm

Metta,
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Re: Bodhisattva Path: Historical Aspects In Theravāda

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jan 26, 2011 3:56 am

Greetings,

A whole bunch of posts that had no bearing on the topic have been removed, as have the responses to those off-topic posts.

:focus:

Further off-topic posts may result in disciplinary action.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Bodhisattva Path: Historical Aspects In Theravāda

Postby revolutionary » Wed Jan 26, 2011 4:33 am

I guess I need to know where you can actually practice aspects of enlightenment and simply not argue over the interpretation of it...... Does that exist on this forum?
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Re: Bodhisattva Path: Historical Aspects In Theravāda

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jan 26, 2011 4:38 am

Greetings Revolutionary,

revolutionary wrote:I guess I need to know where you can actually practice aspects of enlightenment and simply not argue over the interpretation of it...... Does that exist on this forum?

As you'll see at the heading of this forum, it is "a Buddhist discussion forum on the Dhamma of the Theravada". Thus, it isn't about enlightenment generally, nor even really about Buddhism generally.

There are some sections which are a bit more liberal than others, particularly the Dhammic Free For All - viewforum.php?f=16

But bear in mind, it too has its parameters - viewtopic.php?f=16&t=175

All that said, if you wish to critique the bodhisattva ideal more generally, you may have better luck on another Buddhist forum where the the bodhisattva ideal is widely practiced... I could rattle off such a list of forums if it would be of benefit to you. In Theravada, it's very much a niche thing, and I've never actually come across any Theravadins who claim to be bodhisattva aspirants. Trying to convince us on the futility of the bodhisattva path is therefore rather futile in itself.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Bodhisattva Path: Historical Aspects In Theravāda

Postby revolutionary » Wed Jan 26, 2011 4:44 am

I see, questions have no place here!
Now I understand the treatment, I wish you well then.
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Re: Bodhisattva Path: Historical Aspects In Theravāda

Postby adeh » Wed Jan 26, 2011 4:08 pm

Something of interest that may help the discussion:
http://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg. ... nalayo.pdf
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Re: Bodhisattva Path: Historical Aspects In Theravāda

Postby alan » Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:02 am

Thank you adeh!
I'll read anyting by Analyo with great interest. Perhaps this dismal thread has served a useful purpose after all.

edit--there is actually a lot of good information on this thread. I was referring to the activity of the last few days, when it turned weird and sour. But most of that has been scrubbed, which is much for the better.
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Re: Bodhisattva Path: Historical Aspects In Theravāda

Postby halaha » Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:08 pm

Dear all

I am writing to seek your help to find out where a copy of Ola Manuscript of Pali or Sinhala Kesadhatuvamsa could be found.

Thanking in advance

halaha
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Re: Bodhisattva Path: Historical Aspects In Theravāda

Postby halaha » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:41 am

Further to my earlier query. This manuscript is Chronicles of the Hair Relics of the Buddha.
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